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The Prince Valiant saga continues in the latest two volumes reproduced by Fantagraphics, and I must say these are two of the best volumes yet in the series. Ironically, Volume 22 contains the last of creator Hal Foster’s contributions to the strip. He had already quit doing the final artwork some years earlier, handing it over to John Cullen Murphy, but through 1979, he continued to create the scripts and concepts for the artwork, until at age eighty-seven, he fully retired. The writing was then taken over by John Cullen Murphy’s son Cullen Murphy. With all due respect to Foster—for we would have no Prince Valiant without him, and his incredible work marked the strip’s first forty-two years—I feel there is no falling off in artwork after he left, and the plots, as evidenced at least in the first three years completely in the Murphys’ hands, may well be even stronger than in Foster’s original work. Having your successor keep up the momentum and quality of your work is rare indeed, and countless examples can be provided of works that have retained popularity but still fell off in quality when the original creator was no longer involved. One example is L. Frank Baum’s magnificent Oz novels. The series has continued for thirty-plus volumes after his original fourteen novels, but while they continue to be written and be popular, none of his successors ever really achieved the quality and whimsy of his original novels, as readable and enjoyable as many of those sequels are.

Volume 22 of Prince Valiant continues with one of my favorite elements of the strip, watching Valiant’s children grow up. We see his oldest son, Arn, now a squire to Sir Gawain and setting off on his first quest. Valiant’s youngest and fourth child, Galan, becomes a page so he can learn the manners of the court. The twin girls get less attention in these volumes, but they are ever present. Among the highlights of this volume are Arn and Gawain’s journey to the Isle of Man to help protect it from Viking raiders. In another storyline, Valiant is captured by brigands and sold into slavery, causing Arn to travel as far as the Sahara to find him, with a dramatic rescue happening during a sandstorm. Perhaps best of all, Mordred moves into the forefront of the plots beginning in this volume. In Prince Valiant, Mordred is Arthur’s half-brother, not his son, but he is just as evil. He begins to poison King Arthur to try to take the throne for himself, but of course, his plot is discovered. After Arthur recovers, he banishes Mordred from court, declaring “May your children scorn you and your grandchildren call you Judas.” This is a significant moment in the storyline, although the reader will not realize it for some time, but more of that in a moment. Several other adventures occur in this volume that I will leave for readers to discover on their own.

Volume 23’s highlights begin with a wild boy who comes to Camelot. When his presence leads to some tragic results, a female wanderer appears and tells Arthur and Valiant that they must pay for their pride. She then sends Valiant to find an old man in the Alps and ask him for humility. The quest has surprising results for Valiant, who receives from the old man a gold casket that he can’t believe is “humility.” When he brings it back to the female wanderer, she tells a story of how it contains her beauty, which she lost because of pride. She will return into the strip later.

Next, Valiant journeys to his father’s kingdom of Thule where he meets up with Arn. Mordred reenters the plot because he is in Thule, plotting behind the scenes to get his revenge on Valiant for foiling his plot to poison Arthur. He ultimately overthrows Valiant’s father, King Aguar, driving him from the kingdom and back to living in Britain’s fens, bringing the strip back to its origins, since Aguar refuses to take charity from Arthur. Then Mordred makes an alliance with the Picts and attacks Camelot. We are told many records of the events of this time are lost because they were destroyed during the pillaging. Valiant’s twin daughters and son Galan are sent for safety to Ireland where Galan learns a secret of the High King of Ireland; he then basically blackmails the king into going to Camelot’s aid. All is righted in the end; Camelot and Thule are returned to their rightful rulers. A dramatic fight at sea between Mordred and Arn as Mordred escapes results in Arn falling into the sea and washing up on the shore of a remote island where he meets the beautiful huntress Maeve. He is smitten with her, but she rejects his love, and through the rest of the volume, we find him pining over her.

Meanwhile, Aleta is pregnant again, to Valiant’s surprise. She decides to return to her kingdom of the Misty Isles to give birth to the child. On the way, she and Valiant visit Constantinople, where they meet Justinian, nephew of the Emperor Justin. Justinian has feelings for Aleta, but he also has a wife, Theodora. He wants a male heir, but Theodora, though pregnant again, has only produced boys. Through his evil plotting, Justinian has Aleta’s newborn son kidnapped, planning to switch babies if Theodora has a girl. When Theodora has a boy, the doctor who lied and told Aleta her son was stillborn decides to take Aleta’s baby and give it to a peasant couple. Eventually, Valiant learns what has happened, and Arn sets out on a quest to find his baby brother, who has been adopted by a Jewish family and named Nathan. As the volume ends, Justinian, now emperor, is plotting to kill all the Jewish babies to stop Valiant from finding his child, but Arn has just discovered him.

Interwoven into the search for the lost child is the story of Galan’s friendship with Yuan Chen, a scholar from Cathay (China) who makes the boy begin to be curious and think about math and science topics. Eventually, Yuan Chen convinces Valiant to let Galan travel with him to India. Valiant agrees but sends a guard with him. Galan and Yuan Chen have their own adventures when they arrive at their destination.

What I loved especially about Volume 23 was that often two plots were going on simultaneously, which made the pacing better. Frankly, in some of the earlier volumes the plotting got kind of boring.

Like all previous volumes, there are opening and closing essays. Volume 22 begins with an article by Cullen Murphy first published in The Atlantic in 1994. I loved reading it because I read it when it was first published in The Atlantic at the time I was beginning work on my book King Arthur’s Children. It was my first introduction to the Prince Valiant strip and revealed something interesting to me—that Valiant’s son marries Mordred’s daughter and their child will inherit Arthur’s kingdom. Although it would be years before I would religiously begin reading the strip, I was intrigued from that point on. Spoiler alert: In Volume 24, it appears it will be revealed that the woman Arn loves, Maeve, is Mordred’s daughter and a love affair will ensue.

The final essay in Volume 23 discusses historicity in the Prince Valiant strip, which is interesting because it points out both the depth of research Foster and the Murphys did to make the setting appropriate to the days of King Arthur and where they introduced anachronisms. For example, by providing a timeline of Valiant’s life, he would have to be ninety-nine years old to live long enough to meet the Emperor Justinian. Oh well, the storylines are fun if we don’t try to impose too much historical accuracy on them.

Volume 24 has an essay on art, including the role of nature in the strip. It includes mention of other strips that were influenced by Foster, including mention that he was himself influenced by Howard Pyle. The concluding essay is really a collection of the drawings/scripts Foster created to work from.

Overall, I would say these volumes created a real resurgence of interest in the Prince Valiant strip for me, especially with Mordred being brought more to the forefront. I eagerly await Volume 24, to be released in December 2021.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other novels and nonfiction works. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com, www.GothicWanderer.com, and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

A lot of bad King Arthur movies have been made over the years. Fortunately, Arthur and Merlin: Knights of Camelot (2020) is far from the worst of them, though it’s not one of the good ones either. Overall, I would give the film a C+ because it does a few interesting things, despite the pacing being slow, the picture often dark and dreary, and the story, as usual, not following the tradition.

First off, the film is badly titled. Merlin makes an appearance, but it’s pretty brief and not super-integral to the plot. If he had been left out it, it would have been no great loss. The subtitle is ridiculous since it suggests Arthur and Merlin are Knights of Camelot, but one is a king and the other a wizard. The knights are in the film but it’s not about them either. A better title would have been Arthur and Mordred or Mordred and Guinevere.

The best thing about the film is that it tells the story of Mordred’s attempt to take over the kingdom, including marrying Guinevere. In many Arthurian films, Mordred is the villain, but this is the first one in which he tries to force Guinevere into marriage as happens in traditional versions of the legend. The film supposedly takes place in 463 AD when Arthur goes to Europe to fight the Roman Emperor, leaving Mordred at home in charge of the kingdom. The date is too early as any Arthurian scholar would know. Arthur’s journey to the continent was likely in the 520s or 530s, depending on what date you want to give his death at the Battle of Camlann, but it was definitely after Rome fell and an upstart claimed to be Roman Emperor.

While on the continent, Arthur is pretty pathetic. Honestly, I didn’t follow much of this part of the plot other than that Arthur was self-doubting of his abilities and seemed to be kind of a weenie. I would have missed a lot of what was going on if not for having read the film description on the back cover of the DVD. (I found it for $7.99 at Menards—I wouldn’t pay more for it.) The film moves slowly, and it is very dark—it’s often hard to see which man is which since many look alike and all have beards, and I admit I closed my eyes more than once and nearly napped while watching so I probably missed some plot points.

The strongest part of the film are the portrayals by Mordred and Guinevere. Mordred wants the throne for himself and he tries to force Guinevere into marriage, even telling her that if she will not marry him, he will kill her. We see him making sexual advances to her, stating the kingdom is his and that makes her body his. Sir Lancelot shows up and tries to help but ends up imprisoned and ineffective for most of the film. Nothing special about this Lancelot at all. Kind of a dud.

There are a couple of other female main characters, but honestly, I never figured out quite who they were or what they were doing. I thought one might be the Lady of the Lake, but I think they were Saxons Mordred was in league with. The dialogue is also often quiet, not necessarily hard to hear, but neither is it written so that the watcher can easily follow who is who or what their relationships are.

Time for a spoiler alert: So of course, with a little help from Merlin, Arthur quits being pathetic and decides he’ll be the king his country needs. He returns to Britain and fights Mordred. The filmmakers’ choices here are interesting but not necessarily understandable. A battle ensues fought inside Camelot, in which Lancelot is freed. Arthur battles Mordred and defeats him, but lets him go free, warning him never to show his face again. Mordred scrambles away, leaving us to wonder if he’ll live to fight another day. Was this battle in the castle meant to be the Battle of Camlann, or is it a prelude to the battle to come since Arthur and Mordred are both still alive? Arthur is left back in control of his kingdom, but he sees Lancelot and Guinevere ride off together, meaning he is basically alone. The film has played fast and loose with the chronology of the traditional events that led to the downfall of Camelot, and it’s not clear at all why the filmmakers didn’t have Mordred and/or Arthur die in the end. The result is no going off to Avalon, no hand catching the sword as it is thrown into the lake. Instead, we have a flat ending that leaves more questions than answers and no cathartic moment that the legend usually evokes.

I do give the film credit for trying. As I said, I was intrigued by the depiction of Mordred and Guinevere’s relationship, which I don’t think has been depicted in film before. Guinevere’s marriage to Mordred has always been controversial among scholars, causing debates on whether or not Guinevere was in alliance with Mordred or forced by him into marrying her. (See my previous blog “While Arthur Was Away, Did Mordred with Guinevere Play?”) In this film, it is clear Guinevere is only interested in Lancelot, not Mordred.

The other aspect of the film I enjoyed was the scenery, including the castles. Camelot appears to be on the coast of Britain, which is wrong, but while the lighting in the film made it hard to enjoy the story, it did show how light would flow through large castle windows and reflected the reality of the dinginess of the era.

All in all, I think this film may bear a rewatching so I can better follow the plot and figure out who some of the characters were. I’ll have to watch it when I’m less tired since it nearly put me to sleep. If you really are desperate for a new King Arthur movie to watch that won’t make you completely appalled, you might give Arthur and Merlin: Knights of Camelot a try.

A few other reviews of the film are a little harsher than mine, though I have to admit I agree with them about everything. If you’re still undecided whether to watch, check out:

https://readysteadycut.com/2020/07/13/arthur-merlin-knights-of-camelot-review/

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/arthur-merlin-knights-of-camelot/

You can view the trailer at: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/arthur-merlin-knights-of-camelot

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other books. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

Paul McLerran’s new novel Gawain: A Novel of Arthurian Legend is a retelling of Sir Gawain’s life in one volume that sheds new light on the character, and especially his friendship with Sir Lancelot. McLerran obviously has done his homework in researching the character of Sir Gawain, and in his end notes, he discusses his sources for various parts of the novel. While largely following traditional Arthurian sources, he also makes some surprising and enjoyable changes.

Paul McLerran’s Gawain is a faithful and fun retelling about one of King Arthur’s greatest knights

The novel opens with Gawain in his youth. His father Lot was killed by King Arthur when he rebelled against him, leaving Gawain and his brothers in the care of his mother Morgause. McLerran wisely has Gaheris dead in childhood since he’s always been a rather pointless character. The other brothers, Gareth, Agravain, and Mordred, however, are all here. Morgause decides to send Gawain, Gareth, and Agravain to Camelot to a tournament early in the novel. Her purpose is to have her sons infiltrate Camelot and eventually avenge their father, but Gawain shows such skill and promise that Arthur quickly notices him and convinces him to stay at Camelot and become a Knight of the Round Table.

From there, Gawain’s story follows the traditional pattern. He quickly befriends Lancelot, and we are treated to several familiar stories, including Guinevere’s abduction by Meliagaunt and Lancelot’s rescuing of her, which Gawain doesn’t partake in, but it makes him observant of Lancelot and the queen’s relationship going forward. Other more typically Gawain-focused stories include twists on the story of Dame Ragnell, here named Raquel, and Gawain’s encounter with the Green Knight.

Ultimately, the fall of Camelot begins, and Gawain ends up waging war with King Arthur against Lancelot, due to his anger over Gareth’s death at Lancelot’s hand.

None of these stories are really surprising to fans of Arthurian legend, but they are enjoyable to read for the twists McLerran gives them. I won’t give them away and spoil the fun of reading them for yourself.

However, one departure from tradition that surprised me but also gave some new life to the legend was how Lancelot is treated as rather coarse and as a ladies’ man. In more traditional sources, Lancelot is virtuous and only just fails to achieve the Holy Grail because of his love for Guinevere, which he is usually depicted as being tormented over. Here, however, he is a bit of a man whore. Gawain also is far more virtuous, or at least virginal, than in some more medieval versions where he tends to be the one more likely to be a ladies’ man. Regardless, they become friends and nicely balance each other out in the novel.

I’ve never been a big fan of the Holy Grail stories within the legend, but I was surprised that McLerran leaves them out for the most part. The Holy Grail figures in the novel, but McLerran does not have the knights go questing for it. It has always been rather an interruption to the main tales in my opinion, but it also allows for Lancelot to be more virtuous and sympathetic, which is perhaps a reason to shy away from it in this novel. Still, I felt like a bit of the story was missing here, though it may have been too much of a distraction.

One additional clever change I liked is that McLerran makes Mordred a bit more conniving than in other versions. While Mordred has always taken advantage of the situation of Arthur’s departure, here it is clear he purposely allows Lancelot to escape from being caught with Guinevere. He does this so Arthur will go to wage war against Lancelot, thus leaving Albion and making his throne more vulnerable.

While Camelot does fall, the end of the novel is rather a surprising departure I did not see coming that added a bit of a happier ending to the story that I think readers will find satisfying.

Finally, I have to mention that I liked that McLerran stated that his depiction of Gawain as a general waiting to battle Lancelot, which starts each section of the novel, is a tribute to the frame of the play/film of Camelot that begins with Arthur as a general on the eve of battle. Anyone who wants to pay tribute to Camelot is all right in my book since it’s my all-time favorite movie.

All in all, Gawain: A Novel of Arthurian Legend is both a revealing and entertaining new interpretation of the legend and particularly the character of Gawain.

For more information about Paul McLerran and Gawain: A Novel of Arthurian Legend, visit https://paulmclerran.com/. When there, be sure to check out his blog posts where McLerran discusses more about why he wrote the novel and how he fell in love with Arthurian legend.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other books. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

Prince Valiant’s story continues in these two volumes produced by Fantagraphics. This time, they are solely the work of John Cullen Murphy, Hal Foster’s successor, other than the 2000th installment of the strip in Volume 20, which summarizes the key points of Valiant’s story and was drawn by Foster. The years of these volumes run from 1975-1978. I’ll summarize a few of the highlights here. But be forewarned there are some spoilers.

As this cover shows, Aleta always steals in the show in the Prince Valiant strip.

Volume 20 includes more of Prince Arn, Valiant’s son, who has become one of my favorite characters as we have watched him grow up. Here he meets twin princes, one of whom ends up murdering the other.

Aleta, Valiant’s wife, is another favorite character of mine. This time she and Valiant return to the Misty Isles, and on the way, Hashida the Sorcerer falls in love with her, kidnaps her, and hypnotizes her. Of course, Valiant rescues her, but Aleta won’t let him kill Hashida, explaining to him that if he kills everyone who loves her, he’ll decimate the male population.

Aleta’s banished sister, Helene, figures in the story also. Years ago, her husband plotted against Aleta. Now the husband is killed in a gambling fight and she is taken as a prize by the winner, so Valiant has to rescue her also.

Finally, Arn is sent to Camelot to begin to learn statecraft so he is ready someday to be a king.

In addition, a short but interesting essay is included at the end of Volume 20 by Michael Dean about stereotypical racial characters in the Valiant strip, particularly a very short segment in which a moneylender’s depiction led to an outcry by Jewish readers that he was a stereotype, even though the strip did not name him as a Jew. While Murphy was writing the strip at this time, Foster saw fit to respond with an apology. The essay mentions that in earlier strips Foster was sensitive to depictions of Jewish characters, but also that a larger study of racism and stereotypes in Foster needs to be made—something I agree with, for there are a lot of stereotypical racial characters in the strip, but at the same time, the strip is partly a product of its time and also has the problem of being very wide-reaching in allowing Valiant to travel over most of the known world at the time and consequently to come into contact with people from many different lands, some of whom have to be villains and some decent people to add interest to the plots. That is an oversimplification so I hope someone will write an in-depth article or book on racism in the strip.

John Cullen Murphy’s art work perfectly captures the style Foster created for the script.

Volume 21 begins with an interesting article about the “historicity” of Prince Valiant, which discusses the strip’s connection to the Arthurian legend and gives a fair overview of the development of the Arthurian legend and its sources while noting that Foster made reference to many events such as the quest for the Holy Grail and the love story of Tristan and Iseult while going off into Valiant’s own stories rather than focusing on the Arthurian ones. What is important and interesting here is how hard Foster tried to be historical, clearly setting the strip in the fifth and sixth centuries in the time when the Roman Empire had fallen and before the rise of the high Middle Ages. In fact, Foster was writing one of the earliest versions of Arthurian fiction that tried to be historical rather than being simply romance, although a few Arthurian novels predate it such as W. Barnard Faraday’s Pendragon (1930).

While there are several stories in Volume 21, for me the best were Valiant’s daughter Karen’s desire to become a warrior queen, and then the story of how Arn travels to Thule and reunites with Lydia, daughter of King Haakon, whom he has fallen in love with. Sadly, Lydia dies in a tragic accident, leaving Arn mourning. I trust Arn will find love in a future volume—there are even hints by the end of this one that he will. Meanwhile, Arn grown a mustache, showing us he is now fully grown.

The upcoming Volume 22 promises to return us more closely to the Arthurian plot as Arthur’s half-brother Mordred plots to usurp the throne. Stay tuned for more.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other books. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

While many people seem to have enjoyed Cursed, those of us who are diehard Arthurian legend fans approached it with skepticism and little hope of anything good, and we were not wrong. Cursed is little short of a travesty—for many reasons. Spoiler alert if you read farther.

Cursed is at best a mediocre fantasy series. As an Arthurian fantasy, it is a disaster. There are so many things wrong with this show that I am not going to waste my time listing all of them. I thought it was terrible from the first episode, and I was ready to quit, but when others told me they had gotten through the whole thing and enjoyed it, I decided to keep watching. There were a couple of decent episodes, but the overall concept of the show is basically insulting to anyone who loves the Arthurian legend like I do. I have read well over 100 Arthurian novels, have written five of my own, as well as one nonfiction Arthurian book, and have watched every TV show and movie possible about the Arthurian legend. Many of those books, TV shows, and movies have been discussed at this blog for the last decade. In my opinion, the lowest of the low is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, but Cursed comes in second, even edging out the Starz Camelot TV series.

Lily Newmark (left) as Pym and Katherine Langford as Nimue. Pym is one of the few entertaining characters in the show even though she’s completely not Arthurian. Langford does a good job as Nimue–too bad she didn’t have a better script to work from.

Here’s a short and far from complete list of what’s wrong with this show:

  • The characters’ backstories are obliterated
  • Uther Pendragon is illegitimate and not Arthur’s father, which destroys Arthur’s backstory
  • The Weeping Monk is Lancelot—this will likely be explained in Season 2 if Netflix continues the series (hopefully it won’t)—but it completely removes all of Lancelot’s backstory, including his being raised by the Lady of the Lake
  • Merlin has a fictional backstory of having lived for centuries, which isn’t in keeping with the legend
  • Merlin claims to have known Charlemagne, which is completely unhistorical since Charlemagne lived three hundred years after King Arthur
  • Uther is said to be King of England, but there is no England at this time—it’s Britain. It became England after the Anglo-Saxons conquered the country, which happened after the time of Arthur
  • The Sword of Power is just a cheesy name—just call it Excalibur already
  • Gawain is not the Green Knight—the Green Knight is his adversary historically
  • Many of the characters have little if anything to do with the characters whose names they bear in Arthurian legend. A good website explaining the Arthurian versions of the characters is https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/cursed-characters-explained-arthurian-names-references. In any case, it feels like the creators of this show just picked names to give to people regardless of their origins.

I could go on, but like I said, life is too short. The show did do a couple of things right:

  • I like that Morgana is in a nunnery when she is first introduced
  • I liked the references to Celtic myth—e.g., Ceridwen’s cauldron—and to historical people like Queen Boudicca

But the number one reason this show fails so abysmally is that it can’t decide just what it is—history or fantasy or even a plausible mix of both. Traditionally since the twelfth century when the Arthurian legends first became popular in written form, the legend’s retellings have fallen into two primary categories: chronicles and romances. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain is an example of a chronicle. Chronicles at least pretend to be telling historical, realistic tales of British history. Romances began with Chretien de Troyes’ The Knight of the Cart and his other works. These works tend to be less interested in claiming King Arthur is historical and instead focusing on romances between the characters and on magic.

This division between chronicle and romance has continued into modern Arthurian fiction. We have more fantastical works like T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, which would be considered romance or fantasy fiction, and we have works like Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset, which tries to create a historical King Arthur, making it part of the chronicles tradition.

The multicultural fey

At times, given the strong propensity for magic in the Arthurian legend, modern authors try to create relatively realistic and historical works—especially in recent decades as interest in the search for the historical King Arthur has grown—while throwing in just a pinch of magic. Novelists have tried overall to depict Arthur in his historical period in the decades after the Romans left Britain and just before the Saxons took over the majority of what is England today. This period is roughly 410 A.D (the year the Romans left Britain) and 539 A.D. (the year Arthur traditionally died at the Battle of Camlann). Most novels try to maintain this time period, and even the fantasy novels tone down the magic, trying to make it feel plausible or tying it to Pagan religious traditions. Books fitting into this category would include Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, and my own Children of Arthur series, which I describe as historical fantasy. In such cases, the authors makes a lot of effort to be historical in terms of dates and historical people included, while at the same time having a little magic for the excitement of the plot.

I am fine with playing a little fast and loose with the Arthurian legend because it is set in a period we do not know enough about historically to determine if Arthur was real or not, and consequently, authors can use artistic license. This is a true benefit of the legend that has allowed it continually to reinvent itself for centuries. However, there comes the point where it can be over the top. Giant magical snakes the size of castles in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword are one example.

In Cursed, the over-the-top historical distortions leave me appalled and almost completely unable to suspend disbelief. One example is the way the Catholic Church is treated in the series. The Pope and his followers are completely corrupt and intent on stamping out not just Pagan religions but the “fey” or fairies. The problem with this is that in Arthurian times, the Celtic Church still held sway and the Catholic Church had not acquired the power over Britain that it would by the end of the sixth century. Furthermore, the Church would not have had an army of Paladins as depicted in the film. This is just yet another cliché about the corrupt Church, which is constantly attacked in the media today, never giving any credit to the many good things it did in the Middle Ages or in modern times. Also problematic is that in some scenes, one wonders if the show is set in Britain or in Africa. I am all for multicultural casts in stories with modern settings, but this “blackwashing” of history does a disservice to people of all colors. It is not historically accurate. It is as much an insult to people of British descent who value their culture as was John Wayne being cast as Genghis Khan was an insult to Asians. I understand the pendulum is swinging the other way now, and perhaps this is warranted, but it gives a very distorted and unrealistic view of history that ultimately does a disservice. Any perversion of history is ultimately detrimental to the human race in understanding its own past. Granted, many of the members of the multicultural cast are fey in the show, but Arthur is not fey. He is not even the son of Uther Pendragon in the film. Perhaps a second season will explain how he will justifiably become king, but right now, his presence in Britain is a confusion. I am sure many will disagree with me on this point. As I said, I am all for multicultural programs. I am just not for distorting history.

In short, Cursed does not at all pretend to be in any way depicting a historical Britain. When it does drop historical references to the “King of England” and Queen Boudicca and Charlemagne—it just seems to make a bigger mess by being anachronistic. Then it creates a bunch of characters who are not in the legend at all, and it plays fast and loose with the traditional characters until they are not recognizable as their Arthurian counterparts.

The BBC’s Merlin TV series was far more successful than Cursed, although I know it had its critics, because it did not pretend to be working within the time frame of British history. It took our Arthurian characters and placed them in a fictional land called Albion (granted, a historical name for England). It never referenced Christianity or any past moments in British history. Even the Old Religion that Uther was fighting against was kept vague enough to be clearly fantasy and not any legitimate Celtic religion. Merlin also better developed its characters. It was lighter in tone and allowed you to get to know the characters. Cursed has so much action and bloodshed all over the place there is hardly time to get to know anyone.

Finally, what is most lacking in Cursed is any sort of spiritual or moral element. No one in this show has any vision of what they are fighting for. There is no belief in restoring peace and order to Britain. There is no sense of creating a land of justice. There is not even mourning for the good old days of the Roman Empire or even the pre-Roman Celtic days. At one point, there is a passing reference to the Holy Grail, but what does that mean to the show? We are given no clue. There is no religious element—the Church is utterly corrupt, but we don’t know why. We don’t understand why the Church is against the fey. Most importantly, no one seems intent on being a good person. I can’t imagine one person in this show would go on a quest for the Holy Grail. I think they’d all laugh at it. There is no sincerity and no reverence for what the legend is based on. Even Merlin is a drunk. At its roots, the Arthurian legend is a deeply spiritual body of work. It is about using might for right. It is about overcoming your sins and cleansing and purifying your soul. It is about following the impossible dream. At the end of the traditional legend, Lancelot becomes a monk. Cursed turns this on its head by making him into a murderous monk from the outset. It is sacrilegious. It is cheap. It is disgusting. It is insulting.

Left to right, the Weeping Monk (Lancelot), Nimue, and Arthur

Sadly, no great Arthurian film has yet been made. My favorite remains the 1967 Camelot based on the Broadway musical and loosely based on T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. Besides the fact that I love musicals, it is my favorite because I feel it is the film that gets most to the heart of the deep spiritual and philosophical message that the Arthurian legend tries to portray. Excalibur (1981) also has its good points and is one of the closest in telling a complete version of the legend, although Arthur is a bit too cheesy for me. Perhaps Knights of the Round Table (1953) comes closest to Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, which is the true epitome of the legend—both the culmination of the medieval versions and the work that everything since has built from, consciously or not. And I only gave Knights of the Round Table 3 out of 5 stars when I reviewed it at my blog because it is overly morally cleaned up for a 1950s audience, but the magic, the spirituality, and the adventure is all there. By comparison to Cursed, it is near-perfection.

At the end of the day, Cursed will be forgotten beside these stronger shows. Cursed is just a fantasy that stole a bunch of Arthurian names and a magical sword for its own purposes—which can only be to make money for Netflix, because it doesn’t seem to aim for anything higher despite all the hype that it’s a feminist retelling of the legend—as if there haven’t been countless retellings from the female characters’ points of view—anyone ever heard of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Persia Woolley, Rosalind Miles, Nancy McKenzie, or Nicole Evelina’s novels? Cursed doesn’t care about creating strong female characters unless it means ratings for Netflix. It only uses Arthurian names for publicity. I cannot call it real Arthuriana. Consequently, I give it a D+. If it commits the travesty of continuing into a second season, it deserves a D- unless major efforts are made to redeem it. Had it been simply a fantasy series and it had changed its characters names to be non-Arthurian—because most viewers wouldn’t have realized it was Arthurian anyway—I’d have given it a C. After all, it does work as a fantasy, albeit a violent, amoral one.

Hollywood and Netflix, you can do better.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other books. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.

Scott Telek’s Swithen series about the Arthurian legend just keeps getting better and better. The fourth book, The Flower of Chivalry, has just been published, and in it, Telek imagines an incredible childhood for King Arthur, culminating in his pulling the sword from the stone.

I have previously reviewed the first three books in the series, beginning with Our Man on Earth. The first two books focused on Merlin’s early life and the third book on Arthur’s conception. This fourth book begins with Arthur as a young boy living with his foster parents, Sir Carlyle Ector and Nerida, and foster brother, Kay. Neither his adopted family, nor Arthur know who he really is, and Arthur does not even know he is not Carlyle and Nerida’s real son, although as the novel progresses, Kay comes to guess the truth, resulting in Arthur becoming very conflicted about who he is.

Telek’s goal is to retell the Arthurian legend, sticking to the early and most revered of the medieval texts without in any way swaying from them, other than to fill in the blanks. Here he has had a lot of room for liberties since little was written of Arthur’s childhood by the medieval authors other than that Arthur went to a tournament with his brother Kay as Kay’s squire, forgot to bring Kay’s sword to the tournament, and unwittingly borrowed a sword he found in a churchyard, not realizing it was the sword—the sword in the stone, the pulling out of which would make one rightful king of Britain. Consequently, Telek has a lot of fun getting the reader to that important event, and he imagines Arthur’s childhood fully in surprising ways that are both entertaining while still keeping the tone of the earlier texts.

There are many good things to write about in this book. Arthur’s rivalry with Kay is fully explored as Arthur comes to realize he is different from his foster brother who is rather a lout, at times jealous of Arthur, and far more violent and far less thoughtful. Things come to a head in Arthur and Kay’s relationship when they discover a giant frog that Kay tries to kill and Arthur tries to protect. Kay ends up ripping off the frog’s leg, but Arthur manages to arrange for the frog to get away. Kay then declares he will find the frog and kill it, so Arthur finds it first and takes it a new place where it will be safe.

This is not just any frog, but one that grows to be about three feet tall. It is seen as a monstrosity by Kay, who declares it a threat to children so it must be killed. Arthur, however, ends up befriending “Frog” and developing a relationship with him. In time, Frog becomes something between a friend and a pet, being intelligent enough to interact with Arthur while not quite being able to speak. Frog also has the ability to regenerate his leg.

I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes between Arthur and Frog while wondering what made Telek decide to include Frog as a character since he seems rather out of place in this Arthurian universe, but eventually, Frog’s purpose in the book becomes very clear and I totally embraced it.

Another important theme in the book is the treatment of women and a knight’s duty to protect them. This theme hearkens back to Malory where there is initially a great deal of violence against women in Arthur’s early reign, including the violence of Balin against the Lady of the Lake. Telek remains focused on Arthur’s childhood in this book although there is the occasional chapter that briefly reminds us of Balan and Balin, Morgan and Morgause, and other characters who will play bigger roles in later books. But the primary issue concerning the protection of women in the novel is that Sir Ector is a knight of Duke Moreland and Duke Moreland has his eye on Nerida, which puts Arthur’s family in a difficult situation. There is no real justice in Britain since Uther died and no new high king has been found. Ultimately, Arthur must take matters into his own hands.

To say more about these events that Telek creates where there was a void in the Arthurian legend would be to give too much away, but I’m not spoiling anything by mentioning the tournament where Arthur pulls the sword from the stone. I marveled at all the detail Telek provides about the tournament. He completely brings it to life, showing us the excitement of the boys in going to the tournament, their feelings of being in a large city for the first time, the noise and crowds, the meals served at the inn, the excitement over the contest to pull the sword out of the stone, and finally, when Arthur does so, the mayhem that results as people try to fathom how a boy can become their high king.

I don’t think anyone has as thoroughly and convincingly imagined Arthur’s childhood as Scott Telek has done. This book far surpasses T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone for being far more serious and far better thought out, both as a stand-alone work, and as a vital link to the previous novels in Telek’s The Swithen series and those yet to come. Finally, I would like to mention that Merlin’s mother Meylinde makes her final appearance in this novel. She has become a favorite character of mine for her wisdom in the previous novels and her ability to keep Merlin in line, and she does not disappoint in this novel. I am only sorry to see her go, but Telek has planted plenty of other interesting characters in these pages for us to enjoy journeying with in the future books.

I highly recommend The Flower of Chivalry and all of the Swithen series and am eagerly awaiting the rest of the books in the series. There will be twenty-five total. Keep them coming, Scott!

For more information about The Flower of Chivalry, Scott Telek, and the Swithen series, visit https://theswithen.wordpress.com/.

Cheryl Carpinello’s The Legend of Guinevere: Book Three completes her Guinevere trilogy and picks up right where the second book left off. (The first two books were previously reviewed here at Children of Arthur: Young Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend and Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.)

Book Three of Carpinello’s Guinevere Trilogy depicts a future queen who thinks with her heart more than her head.

Guinevere is fifteen in this book, and she already knows she will one day be wedded to King Arthur. When the second book ended, Guinevere’s friend, eleven-year-old Cedwyn, had been kidnapped along with a group of younger children by a group of renegades. The renegades, led by Baard and Ulf, plan to sell the children into slavery.

Guinevere is following the renegades, planning to rescue them, although she doesn’t know how. Fortunately, Merlyn and Arthur learn of her plans and agree to help her, despite their displeasure at how she has gotten herself and Cedwyn into trouble in the first place. This will be a dangerous journey, forcing them to travel over the channel to Gaul to try to find Cedwyn and the children.

I won’t give away the whole story of what happens next, but author Cheryl Carpinello loves to weave a bit of magic into her stories. In the first book in the series, we were introduced to a unicorn, and in the second to an ancient Celtic goddess. In this third book, the goddess communicates with Guinevere and Cedwyn through their thoughts, helping Guinevere to find Cedwyn.

Also of interest are the caves in Gaul (ancient France) where Cedwyn and the children hide when they manage to escape from the villains. Carpinello is an educator who loves to teach children about history and interesting places, so she has them hide in the caves in Lascaux, which are today known for their cave paintings. The back of the book contains additional information about the cave paintings as well as other places and items featured in the book, such as medieval armor.

I also commend Carpinello for creating realistic, yet scary villains. These are not over-the-top villains like Captain Hook, but real men who are not above becoming violent to get what they want. Perhaps my favorite part of the book is when one of the villains later commends Cedwyn for being brave enough to stand up to them.

Altogether, The Legend of Guinevere: Book Three is a fun, if dangerous, story. Beyond the suspense, Carpinello raises questions for young readers to consider about friendship, standing up for what you believe in, having courage in the face of danger, and taking risks to help the people you care about. Because of this added depth, the books would be great for classroom discussion and for children to think about priorities and what matters most to them.

For more information about Cheryl Carpinello, her Guinevere trilogy, and her other young adult books, visit www.BeyondTodayEducator.com.

These two latest volumes of the reprint of the Prince Valiant comic strip by Fantagraphics cover the years 1971-1974. For the most part, they contain the same typical adventures of Prince Valiant and his companions as in every previous volume, with the exception that on May 16, 1971, Hal Foster drew his last Prince Valiant strip and the week after John Cullen Murphy took it over. It should be noted, however, that Foster had been trying out different possible successors for quite some time, and once he settled on Murphy, he allowed Murphy to do backgrounds and then draw characters before he completely handed the strip over to him.

In Prince Valiant 18, John Cullen Murphy takes over for Hal Foster as Prince Valiant must win back his wife after he and Aleta have an argument.

Although Foster got some complaints, including people saying they would never read the strip again, if one did not know which day Foster quit drawing the script, it is unlikely anyone would have noticed the difference. Murphy continued in Foster’s tradition, and nothing noticeable is different about the strip from the drawing and the colors to the storylines.

Among the last strips Foster did, his humor remains apparent. In the April 11, 1971 strip, Val has been traveling with Sir Lancelot when he meets up with Boltar and his Vikings. They stay at King Ban of Benwick’s castle where “The Vikings behave so well that only one is killed and two wounded.”

As for the storylines in these volumes, my favorites concern not Val but his children. One of the great joys of the strip has been watching Val and Aleta’s oldest son, Arn, grow up. Now he is basically a man. Although at one point in these volumes the strip refers to him as being fifteen, he looks and acts more like eighteen. Here for the first time Arn falls in love, with a young maiden named Lydia. A misunderstanding that Lydia’s brother is a man she’s interested in causes Arn to go on a journey to distance himself from her, only to have her brother follow him and explain the situation. After many adventures throughout Europe, Arn returns home to Lydia. We will have to see if marriage will ensue for them.

As for Val and Aleta’s other children, the twins are now teenage girls as well and willing to continue to cause mischief as young men are first starting to notice them. And young Galen takes the place Arn previously had of an imaginative and adventuresome young man getting into troubles that can be described as cute. Aleta also names Galan as heir of the Misty Isles since Arn will inherit Val’s father’s kingdom of Thule.

There are plenty of adventures here, stories of love lost and won, giants to fight, sea battles to wage, evil conspirators to overcome, adventures ranging from Thule to the Misty Isles, and tender moments of love between Val and Aleta who because of an argument are estranged for much of the story.

Also of note is that Sir Gawain is now appearing with gray hair. He looks like a hearty knight who can’t be more than fifty yet, but while the characters in the Prince Valiant strip age very slowly, age they do, which adds to the realism.

In Volume 19, Prince Arn, son of Valiant and Aleta, loses his heart to love for the first time.

Each volume also has an article at the beginning and again at the end of interest concerning Foster or the strip. Volume 19 ends with the illustrated novel of The Song of Bernadette, which Foster drew. Foster was not really religious so his illustrating a Catholic story is surprising, and little information exists about why he may have done it, but the story of St. Bernadette seeing the Virgin Mary in a grotto in Lourdes may have been why Valiant and Aleta ended up being married in a woodland grotto outside rather than a church—an odd departure for the Middle Ages and even for the early period when the strip was written in an age before hippies and outdoor weddings were common. Certainly, Foster was no fan of organized religion as often evidenced in the strip. For example, in Volume 18 a fanatic Muslim gets angry when Val is praying to the Christian God. I have also written about Christianity in the strip previously, especially in Volumes 7 and 8, and Volume 9 about how Christianity comes to Thule. Foster was obviously interested in Christianity from a historical perspective, but in illustrating The Song of Bernadette, it might also have just been a job for him. It certainly, being black and white, does not reflect his best work, but it is an interesting side note to Prince Valiant.

For this reader, the change to John Cullen Murphy as illustrator is no reason to quit reading Prince Valiant, and while at times the storyline becomes redundant, the artwork remains as resplendent as ever. I look forward to Volume 20, to be released in November.

If you’d like to visit some of the places Prince Valiant sojourned over in Britain, consider taking the Scholarly Sojourns’ Arthurian tour Uncovering Camelot.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other books. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.

Surprisingly, I had not come across mention that King Arthur was connected to the White Horse of Uffington until recently when reading Benjamin Merkle’s The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great.

The White Horse of Uffington

Early in the book, Merkle mentions speaking to someone who suggested King Alfred the Great may not have been real. This outlandish statement, since we know Alfred was King of Wessex from 871-899, reveals that King Arthur and King Alfred the Great may be confused in the popular imagination. The same may be said about their legends associated with the White Horse.

The White Horse of Uffington is located in the Berkshire Downs. It is 374 feet in length and made of chalk. Every few years, it is rechalked to maintain its appearance. The White Horse is believed to be the oldest hill figure in Britain, some experts dating it back to 1000 BC. Some even think it represents a dragon, although it more closely resembles a horse in my opinion. In fact, similar images have been found on coins from the period which have caused scholars to think it may have represented some sort of local horse goddess, one form of Epona, a fertility goddess who was worshipped throughout the Celtic world and known to be a protector of horses.

As for King Arthur, Whitehorse Hill is also sometimes referred to as Mount Badon hill, the site where Arthur allegedly defeated the Saxons in 516 AD. Another story connected to King Arthur is of Wayland, the Norse god of blacksmithing, who is said to have had his forge about a mile away. Some legends even say that Wayland forged Excalibur. One legend says the horse leaves the hill once a year to graze, but others say it will not leave the hillside until King Arthur returns, and then the horse will dance on the Berkshire Downs to welcome the king home. These legends are all entertaining, but given that the horse is about twice as old as King Arthur would be, a connection between them seems unlikely.

The belief that the White Horse of Uffington actually looks like a dragon has also given rise to the stories that this is the very spot where St. George, England’s patron saint, famously killed the dragon.

The White Horse at Westbury

As for King Alfred, he also was said to have fought a decisive battle here, the Battle of Ashdown against the Danes in 871. He fought under his brother Aethelred who was king at the time but would die a few months later. Ashdown was the only of several battles that year that the Anglo-Saxon House of Wessex won. We also don’t know for sure that this hill was the sight of the battle, though Merkle says it is the likeliest candidate. Interestingly, at Westbury is another White Horse. This one we know dates only to 1778 when a local resident created it. Evidence exists, however, of another White Horse at this location facing toward the current horse. Records of that horse date only to the seventeenth century but many think it was created to commemorate Alfred’s victory over the Danes at the Battle of Ethandium in 878.

We will likely never know the truth about the history of the White Horse of Uffington, but one thing is for sure, it was there long before King Arthur or King Alfred, who probably both knew it well.

To discover more interesting places associated with King Arthur, I highly recommend Scholarly Sojourns’ Arthurian Tour, Uncovering Camelot.

Not surpringly, a white horse was chosen for King Arthur to ride in the 2004 film “King Arthur” starring Clive Owen.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other books. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

 

If one were in search of the worst King Arthur movie ever, while I hesitate to say this one is the worst—I really think King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) takes the cake there—King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (2017) would likely make the top ten list. That said, this poorly made and poorly conceived film does have a few—though very few—good points.

Knights of the Round Table’s descendants use machine guns – what’s not to like?

My title for this article is a tad misleading. King Arthur doesn’t end up in Thailand, but most of the film is set there. The gist of it is that King Arthur and his knights have been fighting Morgana and Mordred to the point where the king and the knights have had to go underground. In a last battle, Arthur overcomes his enemies and sends them shooting off into space in a giant rock. Fifteen hundred years later, we are introduced to the present-day descendants of King Arthur and his knights who for whatever reason are hanging out in Thailand. (I suspect it’s because Thailand was the cheapest place to make the film, which apparently had a $300,000 budget. One would think that was reason enough to make this the worst King Arthur film, but since King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’s $175 million budget couldn’t save it, it’s definitely a bigger flop.)

Anyway, Morgana and Merlin now return and fight the Arthurian descendants (How they know to go to Thailand, when it would make more sense to go to Stonehenge or Cadbury Castle or even Winchester where the fake Round Table is, is unexplained). Some of the descendants are descended from Kay, Tristram, and Lancelot, but at least one, possibly two, is descended from King Arthur. During the scuffles that follow—with some martial arts tossed in since they’re in Thailand—the Holy Grail that they have in their keeping is revealed to be Excalibur melted down. Only the rightful heir to Arthur can wield it, and he turns out to be the descendant least proud to be a descendant: Penn, who thinks he’s only Sir Kay’s descendant. (Come on, Penn. Didn’t being named Penn, short for Pendragon, give it away?) Penn has just proposed to his girlfriend Jenna (think Jenny from Camelot aka Guinevere), and we later learn Jenna is pregnant with twins, so King Arthur’s line will obviously continue.

Sara Malakul Lane as Morgana and Russell Geoffrey Banks as Mordred. Banks’ performance is the only one of any note in the film.

Mordred is forced to do most of Morgan le Fay’s dirty work during the battles, and he’s heartily sick of it, so he eventually changes sides. Of course, he gets killed during the fighting but not before he redeems himself, and so on his deathbed, Penn tells him he truly thinks of him as his friend. He also dubs him Sir Mordred, which makes no sense since Mordred is always Sir Mordred already in the legends.

But before Mordred dies, we are subjected to Morgana turning into a robotic/china doll-looking giant who destroys most of Bangkok. Think the Ghostbusters ghost/Godzilla destroying New York/Tokyo. (Yes, this film is that original.) The only good thing here was that we weren’t subjected to New York getting blown up yet again. I had enough of that with The Avengers films, and oh, maybe a dozen other films as well).

The film ends with the Arthurian and knightly descendants triumphant and calling themselves the “Knights of New Camelot.” At least one website suggests this film was intended to be the lead-in to a television series, which the final scene also suggests. Thankfully, that never happened, though the ending does feel like it stole something from The Librarians films that led to that TV series.

Penn (left), King Arthur’s descendant and Lucas, Lancelot’s descendant, face off here in their rivalry for Jenna, in a modern Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere triangle. Only this Guinevere stays with Arthur and turns out to be fertile. (Apparently the historical one was too in this series or Penn wouldn’t exist.)

As always, I like the idea that King Arthur’s descendants live on, so that descendants of the other knights also live on and they have a fellowship is a rather cool idea. I also thought Mordred’s angst was quite well done. In fact, Mordred was the only really dynamic character in the film. Most of the other characters were fairly indescript and just remembering their names was difficult. That said, the film did do a good job of having some of the knights be female.

Thankfully, I don’t think Thailand will be on any Arthurian sites tours anytime soon just because of this film. But if you want to visit the sites traditionally associated with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, check out Scholarly Sojourns’ Arthurian tour.

Unless you’re a real diehard King Arthur movie buff, you can skip seeing this film. However, I’d love to hear what other movies you think might be contenders for the worst King Arthur movie ever.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, Lilith’s Love, and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly works King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, plus numerous other books. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.