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Posts Tagged ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’

For Immediate Release

King Arthur Returns in Final Novel of The Children of Arthur Series

Marquette, MI, May 31, 2017—Ever since Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, people have fantasized about time-traveling back to the time of King Arthur. But in Arthur’s Bosom, when a cataclysmic event sends Lance Delaney back in time, he’s more concerned about getting back to the twenty-first century than taking a tour of Camelot.

Arthur’s Bosom – the cover image is Sir Frank Dicksee’s The Two Crowns – the first crown is on the head of the king on the horse – the second crown is Christ’s crown of thorns – the crucified Christ is on the back cover of the novel. This painting largely inspired the novel since the True Cross plays a key role in the plot.

Arthur’s Bosom is the fifth and final volume in Tyler R. Tichelaar’s The Children of Arthur series. The series began with Arthur’s Legacy, in which modern-day Adam Delaney met Merlin, learned he was descended from King Arthur, and was shown what really happened at Camelot. The sequels, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, and Lilith’s Love, followed Arthur’s descendants over the centuries, depicting them at various historical events, including the Battle of Roncesvaux in 778, the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, and World War I.

Now in Arthur’s Bosom, Adam Delaney’s adult twin sons, Lance and Tristan Delaney, find themselves sent back in time when an apocalyptic comet strikes off the coast of Cornwall while they are out sailing. Tristan, wounded by the comet’s debris, is unconscious, so Lance goes ashore to seek help, not realizing he is now in the sixth century, or suspecting that the sailboat will carry his helpless brother off to sea before he can return. Desperate to learn whether Tristan is dead or alive, Lance embarks on a journey through Arthurian Britain to locate his brother and find someone who can help him return to the twenty-first century.

Along the way, Lance will befriend Sir Palomides, the only Knight of the Round Table of Middle Eastern descent. Unfortunately, Sir Palomides is more intent on slaying a strange creature he calls the Questing Beast—which appears to be an amalgamation of a lion, a deer, and a snake—than in helping Lance find his brother. Other characters Lance meets and seeks help from include the Lady of the Lake, a knight turned hermit, and Morgan le Fay, but each one has his or her own agenda for Lance to fulfill. Could it be, however, that they know something Lance doesn’t know—that to achieve his goal, he must undertake a quest to make him worthy of that for which his heart most longs?

Arthur’s Bosom, like its predecessors, blends myth and history to create a new imagining of mankind’s past and the possibilities for its future. Most significantly, it depicts the return of King Arthur and the reestablishment of Camelot in an innovative way that will leave readers both stunned and optimistic for mankind’s future. The title is taken from a line in Shakespeare’s play Henry V. It is a wordplay on the biblical phrase “Abraham’s Bosom” and refers to an Arthurian version of heaven.

Each volume of The Children of Arthur series has delighted fellow Arthurian authors and fans. Rowena Portch, award-winning author of the Spirian Saga series, proclaims that The Children of Arthur series is for those who “love the mystical magic of Camelot but thrive on the excitement and tribulations of Game of Thrones.” Cheryl Carpinello, author of Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, declares, “With Arthur’s Bosom, Tyler R. Tichelaar’s enlightening tour through medieval legend comes to a striking and satisfying end…. In fact, it’s a true tour-de-force that can change minds and change the world. Put this one on your shelf between Malory and Marion Zimmer Bradley as a genre-changer.”

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of numerous historical novels, including The Marquette Trilogy, The Best Place, and the award-winning Narrow Lives, and of the scholarly books The Gothic Wanderer and King Arthur’s Children, the latter of which served as research and inspiration for The Devon Players’ upcoming independent film Mordred.

Arthur’s Bosom: The Children of Arthur, Book Five (ISBN 978-0-9962400-4-8, Marquette Fiction, 2017) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.ChildrenofArthur.com. Review copies available upon request.

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King Arthur, known as “The Once and Future King,” has long been prophesied as destined to return in the hour of Britain’s greatest need—in fact, people thought he might return during the Battle of Britain in World War II. But currently, his return remains something we dream of and hope for in the future. What that return will be like and how to depict it in fiction is a true challenge that only a few novelists have attempted, such as Stephen Lawhead in Avalon and Susan Cooper in her The Dark Is Rising series. However, in my opinion, no novelist has succeeded in creating a plausible and enjoyable return for King Arthur.

Is there a Prince Arthur in England's future - and will he bring about King Arthur's return? Read "A King in Time" to find out.

Is there a Prince Arthur in England’s future – and will he bring about King Arthur’s return? Read “A King in Time” to find out.

The problem is if Arthur returns in a novel, then we in the real world are left realizing it’s just a novel—and at least this reader is upset that he missed that return as part of reality. However, I believe Mary Enck has come the closest to solving this problem in her novel, A King in Time, by doing two ingenious things.

First, she sets her novel in the future—the year 2100 A.D., a time that may seem far into the future to her readers until she draws us closer by telling us one of her main characters, Prince Arthur, is the great-grandson of the current Prince William of England, so this is a royal family with which we are familiar. This Prince Arthur is destined to become King Arthur of England. I was ready to expect then a novel completely set in the future in which Prince Arthur becomes King Arthur, so that his return is carried out through a reincarnation of his earlier self.

However, Enck had another plan up her sleeve—time travel. After she introduces us to some of her other main characters—Prince Arthur’s mother, Queen Elizabeth III, a man recently released from a psych ward who has lost his memory, and a mysterious man in flowing robes among others—strange events begin happening. A series of magnetic shocks occur, signs of bizarre weather change. One day the characters find themselves walking on the royal grounds when they again experience these magnetic shocks; afterward, they realize they are still in the same place but that some aspects of the landscape have changed. Ultimately, when they find a castle in the distance, they realize they have been transported back in time.

I won’t go into all the details here; the point is that Enck solves the problem of how to depict Arthur’s return by having the reincarnated Prince Arthur go back to meet the earlier King Arthur. The issue then arises that if people time travel and interact with the past, they can change the future. Prince Arthur knows that such interaction is considered a taboo, but he decides that he will interfere regardless to see whether he can stop how things play out between King Arthur and Mordred and thus prevent the fall of Camelot.

You’ll have to read A King in Time to find out what happens, but I thought Enck’s concepts for handling Arthur’s return to be quite enticing. The novel might sound a bit like Back to the Future meets Excalibur, but this concept worked for me. Of course, Enck isn’t the first author to create time travel in Arthurian literature—I’ve done it in my own Children of Arthur series, and so have many other authors—and in that respect, we all owe a debt to Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; I was pleased that Enck gives a nod to Twain in her book.

Enck also takes quite a few liberties with the Arthurian world, expanding especially on the concept of the two dragons under Vortigern’s tower—dragons that generally represent the Saxons and Britons in their battles, or simply the forces of good and evil—but Enck’s dragons become major characters in the story with surprising results.

I admit I thought the plot a bit complicated with quite a few minor characters and subplots going on so that it wound about a bit more than I liked, but it’s definitely a novel worth reading and one that will bend some readers’ minds for how it pushes the limits of Arthurian legend. So many Arthurian novels are retellings without anything really new about them. A King in Time is a refreshing surprise of new ideas and new energy.

Perhaps best of all, a cliffhanger ending suggests a sequel will be forthcoming. I can’t wait to see where the story will go next.

For more information about Mary Enck and A King in Time, visit http://www.amazon.com/King-Time-II-Mary-Enck-ebook/dp/B00SRFRDIW

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and award-winning author of The Children of Arthur series

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Esther Bernstein is a longtime lover of the Arthurian legend. Before she even started her Ph.D. in English at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, she already had her dissertation planned out—a complete overview of the Arthurian legend from the Middle Ages to contemporary literature. While she may end up refining that plan before she’s finished, her love for the legend continues. Recently, she was invited to attend a summer course in Arthurian literature at the University of Exeter in England. She’s eager to go, but she needs some financial help, so I’ve invited her to be my guest and tell us why she loves the Arthurian legend and how we can help support her Indiegogo campaign.

Tyler: Welcome, Esther. You sound like a girl after my own heart since I wrote my MA Thesis on the Arthurian legend and also earned a Ph.D. in English. For starters, tell us a little about how you first fell in love with the King Arthur legend and what about it appeals to you so much?

Esther: Thank you!

Ph.D. Candidate Esther Bernstein is raising money to further her studies with an Arthurian course at the University of Exeter this summer.

Ph.D. Candidate Esther Bernstein is raising money to further her studies with an Arthurian course at the University of Exeter this summer.

Part of what appeals to me about the Arthurian legend is that I don’t know when I first heard about it. It’s like it was just always a part of my general knowledge. To me, that pervasiveness of the legend, the way it just is and permeates even twentieth and twenty-first-century thought so much, is so intriguing.

But more than that—the Arthurian legend is just so much fun! The tales, especially the medieval tales, are usually really long and convoluted, and there’s plenty of exaggerated chivalry, love and lovesickness, bravery and violence, pleading and forgiving.

There’s also a certain appeal to knowing I can meet these characters and not have to part with them after one or two books. Knowing I can simply find the next text, and that no matter how many books I read or how quickly I read them, I will never exhaust all that’s been written and is still being written about it—knowing I can leave these characters for a while but always come back to them—there’s a sense of comfort in that, and also of adventure. This specific quest may have ended, but never fear—another one will spring up real soon.

Tyler: Do you have a favorite Arthurian book, film, and/or television show, and what about it appeals to you?

Esther: I think the first time I actually read about King Arthur was an abridged version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain when I was about ten years old. I remember being amazed at the year—528 AD! It was the first time I’d read about a year that wasn’t four digits.

The beginning, as Hank thinks everyone is crazy until it finally dawns on him that he’s the only different one, made a huge impression on me. There was the interesting question of what’s normal, and it was fascinating to think about how “normal” changes over time. And when Hank introduces all the new technology, and the effects of that on all of society—wow.

I think my ten-year-old self was intrigued by the way different times interact. Now it’s one of my favorites because of the way it plays with Arthurian legend, just has fun with all of it. It incorporates so many details that show up in various texts and traditions, but introducing a “Connecticut Yankee” allows for viewing all of that in a totally different way than the original texts do.

I also love the 1967 movie Camelot. What most appeals to me in that one is the blooming love between Arthur and Guinevere. That scene where she runs away from her traveling party and she and Arthur accidentally meet in the snowy woods—I love that. I watched that scene about a million times. The whiteness, the stillness, the little buds of Guinevere thinking she might be able to love this man—so romantic. (I skip the parts about Lancelot in this one. I love Lancelot, but this movie I reserve for Arthur and Guinevere! Their romance is so often overlooked because of the burning passion between Guinevere and Lancelot, but the simple romance deserves its own attention, too.)

Tyler: I think an abridged “Connecticut Yankee” was my first reading of the legend also and I love Camelot. My whole family got sick of listening to me play the record over and over until it was scratched and I still listen to the music almost every day. There are lots of people like us who are enthusiasts of the legend, but not everyone wants to be a scholar of it. What about studying the legend appeals to you so much?

Esther: Arthurian legend is so adaptable. Not only does it survive and thrive in modern times—Monty Python (which plays with it but in a very different way than Mark Twain!), the movie King Arthur, the TV show Merlin, countless video games, novels like your own—but various political powers have appropriated the legend for their own use—like John F. Kennedy’s “Camelot.”

What that says to me is that something deep within the legend and the tradition speaks to people in wildly different circumstances, and I want to find out what that “something” is.

I think one way of doing that is the kind of thing I did with my undergraduate senior thesis, where I looked at Chrétien de Troyes’s Old French Arthurian tales and the Arthurian tales included in the Old Welsh Mabinogion. It was really fascinating to see the ways that each culture and society influenced the way the same tales were written.

That just looked at the differences, though. I want to use that kind of analysis to look at what is the same among the adaptations of the legend in all these languages, cultures, and time periods.

One way I plan on doing that is looking at contemporary Young Adult literature, both books that are explicitly Arthurian and books that don’t mention Arthur at all. I read a lot of YA literature, and I’ve always felt that there are some Arthurian undertones to a lot of what I read. But I don’t yet know enough about the broad sweep of the legend and tradition to start writing about that.

Tyler: Yes, there are undertones to so many of our modern stories, young adult and adult—Star Wars is just one example with its father-son, Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker conflict. Well, we could talk about this topic all day, but tell us about the program at Exeter this summer. What do you hope to learn as a result of attending it?

Esther: The program is arranged to cover one topic per day, in two two-hour sessions per day. Some of the topics are of course the historical background, the theme of chivalry, the life of the court, and magic in Arthurian legend. Besides the class discussions, I will write a final paper for the class on a topic I’ll choose with the guidance of the instructor.

The way the class is arranged is perfect for what I want to gain from it, because we’ll be looking at the way each of these themes appears in the broad sweep of Arthurian literature—which will allow me to study how and why each one appeals to all the different audiences.

I’ve just begun thinking about creating my orals lists—three lists of books that I will read over a period of about a year, after which I’ll sit for a two-hour oral examination on these books as part of the process to earn my Ph.D. No matter how I think about organizing these lists, what “title” to give each list, Arthurian literature shows up in all of them.

Again, that points to the way Arthurian legend permeates so much of everything else. But the same way I’ve just felt Arthurian undertones in YA literature but couldn’t necessarily explain what I thought it was, most of the time I can’t fully rationalize why I think Arthurian texts should be on all of my lists. After this course, I should be able to do that, which will of course enrich the way I create these lists in the first place.

Tyler: I understand you also hope to visit some Arthurian sites in England and France. What do you hope to see?

Esther: Yes! The program will take us to some places, like Stonehenge and the archeological site at Glastonbury, but I want to visit other places like Caerleon where Arthur’s court was, Tintagel, and the site of Merlin’s grave. In France, I want to visit Poitiers, where Eleanor of Aquitaine, the mother of Chrétien de Troyes’s patroness Marie de Champagne, ostensibly held “courts of love” and ruled on such things as whether love in marriage or adulterous love is preferable. (Spoiler: adulterous love is preferable because marriage imposes obligation, and adulterous love like that between Guinevere and Lancelot is based on passion and not obligation. Of course, that had no effect on the reality of the times.) I’m still building the rest of my list of Arthurian places I want to see.

Regardless of whether or not Arthur ever existed, I know I won’t see any Arthurian remnants in these places. But there’s something about standing in a place that I’ve read about so much and so often, something about being able to picture the landscape when I read about it in the future.

Tyler: Tell us about your fundraising campaign. How much do you need to raise, how soon, where do we go to contribute, and what rewards are you offering?

Esther: I’ve been awarded a scholarship of ₤800, and I need to submit a deposit of ₤250 by April 25. The rest of the tuition, ₤1395, is due by May 23. (In American currency, that’s a total of about $2800.) I also need to book a flight as soon as possible, which right now is about $1500, but will of course increase the closer I get to the date of the flight.

The Indiegogo campaign includes “perks,” and I’m offering a few of those for donations from $10 to $500. They are:

  • $10 – a postcard sent during my stay, with details of what I’ve been reading and doing
  • $25 – a souvenir, which you can request to be from a specific place I’ll be visiting!
  • $50 – a poem I’ll write personalized for you according to your request
  • $100 – a short story I’ll write, again personalized for you according to your request
  • $500 – my services as an editor or copyeditor for your writing, whether poetry, short stories, or a novel

(The Indiegogo page includes links to samples of my writing, both poetry and short stories, and I’ve worked as a writing tutor and freelance editor for a number of years.)

Anyone who donates any amount will also get a detailed update from me once I get back about what I’ve learned and how I think I’ll be able to use it in the future.

The link for the campaign is https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/guest-of-the-round-table-studying-medieval-arthur.

Tyler: Thank you for joining me, Esther. I hope you have a wonderful trip, get all the funding you need, and if you bump into Merlin or figure out how to get to Avalon, please come back and tell us all about it.

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I first learned about the British television show The Adventures of Sir Lancelot back in 1999 when I found the TV show tie-in Whitman Big Little book in an antique shop. I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to watch the program, so I was surprised to discover it on Amazon recently; of course, I had to order the complete 3-DVD series.

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot - 3 DVD set

The program is well worth watching, in some ways being more, and in a few ways less, than I expected, but overall, for 1950s television, it stands up well. The Adventures of Sir Lancelot aired on the ITV network from 1956-1958 for thirty episodes and nearly half of the later episodes were actually in color—the first British television show to be in color, which speaks well for its popularity. It was also one of the few British television shows ever to be shown in the U.S. on a major network—first on NBC and then it moved to ABC. The series starred William Russell as Sir Lancelot and includes other apparently well-known British actors of the time, although I had never heard of any of them.

The sets/castles are well done considering they were made in television’s infancy. Apparently, the producers wanted to be historically accurate in recreating the Arthurian legend, so they recreated a fourteenth century Britain, an entire pre-Norman Conquest Village, and filmed at Allington Castle in rural Kent to provide grand visuals. At least, that’s what the back of the DVD states. Actually, the program is not all that historically accurate. It’s time period is unclear, but it seems to be set in the sixth century since in episode 10, Lancelot encounters the last Roman outpost in Britain whose members have held out for generations after the fall of Rome. The costumes and castles are of a much later medieval period as is usually to be expected. The television series Camelot is actually more accurate in its historical context, but the desire to be historically accurate for the series is important in itself since the 1950s is when interest in the historical Arthur really became significant during that decade, and Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset, the first historical novel about King Arthur, was not published until 1963.

The sword fights are poor and very fake looking, especially in the first few episodes, and the battle scenes, which are few, usually have only half-a-dozen people laying siege to a castle. There are no grand and epic battle scenes with a gigantic cast. But if one can overlook these minor flaws of the production and its time period and expect a series of fun TV sitcom 1950s style episodes, a person can find much to enjoy in the show. William Russell makes a pretty fine Lancelot—perhaps he’s not a heartthrob, but he’s clever and a bit of a comedian without falling into corniness. He is not the lover of Guinevere, although they definitely check each other out when he arrives at Camelot in the first season. I imagine the 1950s television codes weren’t ready for adultery on television yet. (I’ve only watched the first ten episodes so far and will post again when I finish watching the series to see whether this changes.)

The producers who wanted to be historical must have also wished to be realistic. Magic does not exist in this Camelot. Merlin is clearly a fraud, and although he may have everyone else at Camelot fooled, Lancelot right away realizes how Merlin uses tricks to make things happen, using simple technology such as mirrors and invisible ink to make his magic work, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, without Merlin being the villain here.

One reviewer at Amazon asked whether the writers and producers did any research into the legend. The answer is a definite yes. Although none of the episodes follow Malory or other writers’ storylines directly, it is clear there is familiarity with many of the stories, such as that of Sir Gareth being a kitchen boy, since Lancelot’s squire Brian begins as a kitchen boy. The King Mark and Sir Tristram plot is also referenced in episode 6 “Sir Bliant” without the adultery plot woven into it. Other plot elements in different episodes also make it clear the familiar stories of Camelot were modified to fit the program.

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised by this television show, and while I don’t like it as much as Merlin, the writing is better than Camelot. It may not have high aspirations for recreating an accurate or fantastic Arthurian world, but The Adventures of Sir Lancelot succeeds at what it sets out to do, and it provides some light entertainment. I give it four out of five stars.

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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When I found this book at the bookstore, I had never heard of Kinley MacGregor or the Lords of Avalon series. I bought this book because it was relevant to the King Arthur legend–I’ll buy just about any King Arthur novel out there, although I’d say half of them disappoint me. This one turned out to be near the top of my list of disappointments.

First of all, it wasn’t until after I finished reading it and I went to Amazon to read reviews by other authors that I even realized I had read the 2nd book, not the first, in the series. I had thought it was the first since inside the book is a list of the author’s other works and it is listed above Sword of Darkness, which made me assume it was the first and Sword of Darkness the second in the series. Nowhere on the front or back cover was it indicated in which order to read the books. However, I don’t feel I missed anything by not reading the first in the series and I have no intention of reading it in the future.

I also discovered at Amazon that Kinley MacGregor is a pseudonym for Sherrilyn Kenyon, whose name I had heard in reference to her vampire novels, although I had not read them. Those vampire novels might be worth reading, but when I did a little more research and found this author has written over 60 novels and is only in her mid-40s, I understood why Knight of Darkness is so bad. No author can whip out that many books in 20 years and expect to create quality. That she is a bestselling author is just a sign of how good marketing can sell anything. The attractive cover must have helped sell this book–the writing inside sure couldn’t.

Actually, Knight of Darkness didn’t start out too badly. The main character, Varian duFey, is the son of Sir Lancelot and an evil woman who is Morgen le Fey’s right hand. Varian, however, works for the good guys–including Merlin, but a female Merlin–and as a hired assassin for them. The book is set in modern times as well. I was slightly intrigued by the situation.

When a grail knight is assassinated, Varian is supposed to find out who the murderer is. So far, so good, and for about fifty pages, I was interested, despite the writing not being of the first quality, but then the book falls into campiness. Varian is captured and imprisoned, and in his efforts to escape, becomes involved with an unattractive woman, Merewyn, who agrees to seduce him in exchange for becoming beautiful–and Varian’s mother is the one who makes the deal with her. I just read this book a couple of days ago, but I’m having trouble remembering the details of what they even wanted from Varian–a sign the plot wasn’t thought out well. Varian has magical powers they want to prohibit, but they also want to stop him from learning who murdered the grail knight.

But what makes things really difficult is the whole mystery gets forgotten in the ridiculous overuse of magic throughout the novel, Varian and Merewyn’s escape into some sort of inbetween realm that doesn’t make sense–really is nonsensical, not to mention cheesy–and a whole lot of erotic scenes between Varian and Merewyn that go on and on and tend to be more boring than titillating. Add into it Merewyn falling into a slough of despond or some such name that sounds like something out of Pilgrim’s Progress, and mix into that a bunch of characters who keep quoting from Spamalot–a show I like but which I don’t need to have replayed for me in the pages of the book (I won’t even get started on the book’s other faults, including the talking rock that’s supposed to grow up to be a gargoyle and all the ridiculous geeky dialogue). Suffice it to say, this book may well be tied with the movie Quest for Camelot for the title of the ultimate Arthurian cheesefest!

Seriously, I don’t mind some humor–I find Spamalot very funny–but cheesiness is more than I want. The Arthurian legend has prevailed for centuries because of its tragedy, its romance, its awe and mystery, its sense of ideals to strive for, even if they may not always be reached. None of that exists in the pages of this book. All that is here is a badly-written, badly-thought out story, that I would not have even finished reading if it hadn’t been the only book I had to read while on an airplane.

If you want some cheesy Arthurian time travel in other dimensions type story, go check out the worst of the remakes of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court–there are plenty of them, and they are all better than this book. Knight of Darkness is truly a dark night for Arthurian literature.

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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