Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Morgan le Fay’

Here’s a taste of the newest and final book in the Children of Arthur series – the Prologue. You can purchase Arthur’s Bosom at www.ChildrenofArthur.com or Amazon.

Prologue
The Not-Too-Distant Future

Captain Vanderdecker looked up into the night sky and reflected upon what a lonely life it was to wander the earth alone on the Flying Dutchman; he knew those few to whom he had shown himself believed him cursed, but it was not so; rather, he roamed the seas in his phantom ship to put a little fear into them, a fear that might cause them to repent and turn to good. He had committed no great crime, no great sin, but rather he posed as a terrible sinner for the sake of his fellow men, for they were mostly a weak and cowardly race, and so while fear caused them to do evil, at other times, fear could steer them back onto the right path, and so he had taken the path of fear so they might find their salvation.

In Arthur’s Bosom, When a great comet hits Britain, it opens a portal that causes Arthur’s descendants to time travel from the 21st century back to Arthurian times and have many adventures while trying to figure out how to return to their own time.

Years before, he had agreed to this role, in time playing upon the tales told of how he had been led to this cursed life filled with isolation and misery so that those to whom he spoke would tremble before him and then repent and change their ways before it was too late. Captain Vanderdecker enjoyed his fear-inspiring performances immensely, and once he had released his captive victims from his presence, he spent a great deal of time chuckling to himself, and often, he would use his powerful spyglass to watch them later in life and be pleased by the change he had caused in them.

Yes, at times it had been a lonely life, but Captain Vanderdecker knew his mission was nearing completion, for since Lilith had passed from this world, fear had been slowly losing its grip over much of mankind. Soon it would seem as if all his time spent in this wandering state had never happened at all. And in the meantime, he occasionally met with those who shared his mission—Morgan le Fay and Merlin and several others, all believed to be only characters from legend, but who, in truth, served the Goddess-God by serving mankind to bring about good for all.

Most days, however, Captain Vanderdecker’s only companions were the stars in the night sky. They were his true friends, for they guided him upon the sea, and they were loyal and ever-vigilant, never swaying in their trustworthiness. Oh, he knew man’s faulty wisdom believed the stars merely to be great flaming balls of fire like the sun, but he also knew that the stars had loving energetic souls that contributed to the music of the spheres, playing a beautiful visual and auditory symphony for him every night as a reminder that he was alone only temporarily and would one day be reunited with the great Source of All Wellbeing that guided the Universe.

And so tonight, like most nights, Captain Vanderdecker lay upon the deck of the Flying Dutchman, looking up at the stars, listening to them, sometimes wishing upon them, his wishes actually being prayers for the happiness of the human race, of which he had once been a member before he had tasted of living water and taken up his mission.

The stars entertained him, often singing to him songs of kings and queens, heroes and villains, mermaids and magical beasts, and of a world far better than that he knew currently existed because it was based in the beauty of the imagination and the love that someday the human heart would know when it was free from the fear and strife that mankind caused. Only then would mankind have learned enough to evolve into the next stage of its existence.

Suddenly, in the midst of this beautiful symphony, like a jarring wrong note, from high up in the sky, Captain Vanderdecker heard the whooshing of what first appeared to be a falling star, creating a dissonance as it whirled through the heavens. Standing up to get a better look, he saw it blazon with a fiery light through the night sky. Unsure of what he was seeing, he ran down into his cabin to find his spyglass.

Once back on deck, Captain Vanderdecker put the spyglass to his eye, and looking up, he saw a comet with a flaming tail soaring through the heavens. Then, almost in disbelief, he said aloud, “Despite waiting all these centuries, it seems to have come so suddenly.”

*

Prester John never gave thought to the passing of time. In his sacred kingdom, time mattered little, for he knew that everything happened in the time best suited for it, and so there could be no rushing, no hurrying of it, and certainly never any indication that it was too late—that not enough time remained to achieve whatever wanted achieving, for time was infinite, and hence, no need for worry of any sort existed.

Those who came to Prester John’s land to seek wisdom usually came believing time was their greatest enemy, for they had spent all their lives living by its dictates, and they had come to know it as a cruel taskmaster, even if only an illusory one, for humans were ever prone to creating unneeded worry and anxiety for themselves, especially in recent centuries as they invented clocks and timers with alarms and all manner of technological, digital, and electronic taskmasters to capture every second and turn it into profit, affixing a monetary value to it until they came to fear it in their mad rush to produce, produce, produce before it was too late—but too late for what?

When Prester John did think of such matters, he only chuckled, for he knew it was never too late. Still, he felt sorrow for the scurrying madness of the human race, so he rejoiced whenever someone came to his land; once arrived, his visitors would require several days before they were able to relax, to let time’s worry leave them, and once they did relax, they felt the freedom from time’s restraints to be a great relief and then even a joy.

On this particular day as he walked about his kingdom, Prester John was musing over time’s fallacy and reminding himself of the words he had once heard the Savior speak, “Look at the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor do they spin.” Was not all mankind’s toiling and spinning an effort to fight time, to prepare to have enough before it was too late? The Savior had told them to look at the birds and the beasts of the field and see how at peace they were with the earth, never worrying about the hour or day, but simply walking, running, eating when they felt the need, and not an hour or a minute before or after they so desired.

Prester John gazed out across the fields where he was walking, enjoying the solitariness of the moment, for at times he needed to distance himself from those he nourished when they came to his land, for he could still sense their internal anxiety and questioning as if they were bees buzzing beside his ear, and if he did not distance himself from it until it lessened, it could badly upset his spirit. He much preferred the calming presence of animals over humans, although it was the humans whom he was called to serve.

But now, as he sought out the peace of the beasts of the field, he was surprised to find the landscape before him very empty. Where was the lioness and her cubs that he had visited with for so many days past? And why were there no birds soaring through the air? And looking down to see whether the ants were at least about his feet—he often looked down to be sure not to harm anything—he saw the earth appeared to be bare of moving life. But then, unexpectedly, a field mouse scurried between his feet, and then another, and then two or three, and soon he found himself standing amid a stream of mice, many tumbling over his feet in their panic, but what had so frightened them?

Then like a bolt of lightning, the words that the Savior had once said about him to his friend Peter sprung to Prester John’s mind: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

*

Every day since she had become Lady of Avalon some fifteen centuries before, Morgana had looked into the Holy Pool after eating one of the Nuts of Knowledge from the Ancient Hazel that gave the gift of the sight. Some days she saw nothing of concern. Some days she saw the sorrows of mankind. Some days she saw acts of kindness. And now and then, she saw something that required her to take action. It had been several years now since she had been called upon to interfere in the ways of men. The final chapter before the epilogue of mankind’s history had been enacted when Lilith had departed the earth, and now there was only waiting to be done; Morgana knew not how many years she needed to wait, but she had learned patience after all this time.

And so Morgana had expected this day to be the same as any other—doubtless there was some minor squabble in the Middle East, but those squabbles were nothing like they had been years ago; not a bomb had gone off in years; there might be a fire in Montana or an earthquake in Japan, but those were not caused by humans, so they were of less concern to her; what did concern her had lessened in recent years, though she still found interest looking into the Holy Pool and viewing the increased acts of charity and kindness she saw being done since Lilith’s departure, and Morgana felt finally that the fruits of all of her and Merlin and their many compatriots’ works were ripening.

But when Morgana looked into the Holy Pool today, for the first time in many years, she found herself surprised. What she saw was something she had never seen before, and yet something she had always imagined someday seeing since first she had become Lady of Avalon. She watched, eyes wide, her senses more alert than ever before in her life, her whole being caught up in the drama about to be played out, and when she came out of the trance, she knew what she must do.

Through the air, on invisible and inaudible waves, save to the intended receiver, she sent the following message:

“Merlin, the time has come.”

______________________________________________________________________

Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s LegacyMelusine’s GiftOgier’s PrayerLilith’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 historical novels. You can learn more about Tyler at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Camelot’s Queen is Nicole Evelina’s new novel and the second in the Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy. Evelina’s first novel, Daughter of Destiny, introduced readers to a new version of Guinevere, focusing on a part of the story often ignored—her childhood and youth in the years prior to her meeting and marrying King Arthur. Evelina gave us many surprises in that novel, from a childhood spent in Avalon to a lover no one would have expected. Consequently, when Guinevere’s marriage to Arthur is arranged, she is not happy to be parted from the man she truly loves.

Camelot's Queen, the second book in Nicole Evelina's trilogy about Guinevere, covers the years of Guinevere's marriage to King Arthur.

Camelot’s Queen, the second book in Nicole Evelina’s trilogy about Guinevere, covers the years of Guinevere’s marriage to King Arthur.

Camelot’s Queen picks up with Guinevere’s wedding to King Arthur and covers most of her adult life. Never fear, she still has her love affair with Lancelot, is accused of treason, nearly burnt at the stake, and at the end of the novel, is rescued by Lancelot, leaving the door open for what will happen in the upcoming third novel. However, while Camelot’s Queen focuses on the more mainstream events of Guinevere’s life, Evelina clearly makes it her own, not only in her depiction of a feisty, sometimes hot-headed and selfish, sometimes wise, Queen Guinevere, but also in how she rewrites traditional parts of the legend such as Guinevere’s abduction by Malegant and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Evelina also creates new characters such as Guinevere’s new and unwanted female bodyguard, and she realigns other characters’ roles, especially that of Morgan, who is Guinevere’s rival.

For the most part, this is a realistic novel, although Evelina uses Celtic cultural influences in the story with just a touch of magic to them; for example, Guinevere’s training in Avalon allows her to have some small control over the elements, such as being able to create clouds and make it rain.

Evelina also gives a new spin on the conflict between Christianity and Paganism that has become mainstream to the legend in recent years, but no one would have suspected that Morgan, of all people, would convert to Christianity while Guinevere holds out against it—how that situation develops is quite stunning and to explain it here would be to take away pleasure from the reader. I will say, however, that I found this element the most interesting theme in the novel, and I was especially impressed by how Evelina treats the Holy Grail in relation to it.

An Author’s Note at the end gives some of Evelina’s reasons for the changes she made to the traditional storyline as well as insight into her extensive research into the Arthurian period, including visits to Arthurian places and consulting with Arthurian scholar Geoffrey Ashe.

As an Arthurian novelist myself, I found Evelina’s interpretations sometimes surprising, but usually dramatically effective. Her choices were certainly interesting, and not being a purist—why read Arthurian modern fiction if you are?—I was often delighted with her choices and her imaginative realigning of many Arthurian characters and themes. I especially found the family lineages and characters’ relationships interesting because Evelina uses them to explain some often confusing aspects of the legend, including the connections between the different nobles and royals of Cornwall, as well as Arthur’s own family tree and his relationship to Morgan. The book also moves at a quick pace—in a few places a little too quick I thought where I would have liked more details—but Evelina provides plenty of details in the key scenes, and in some of the places where I wanted more, I suspect Evelina intentionally held back to build up suspense for the third book in the series, Mistress of Legend, which will be published in 2017.

Anyone who loves strong female protagonists—or let’s face it, the Arthurian legend—will find plenty to enjoy, ponder, and discuss in Camelot’s Queen.

For more information about Nicole Evelina and Camelot’s Queen, visit her website at www.NicoleEvelina.com

______________________________________________________________________

Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, and the upcoming Lilith’s Love and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly work King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition. You can learn more about him at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.

Read Full Post »

Did you know that King Arthur’s sister Morgan le Fay was the lover of Ogier the Dane, one of Charlemagne’s great knights? In fact, they knew each other since Ogier the Dane was first born. In my new novel Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three, I explore their relationship.

Following is the opening scene in the novel where Ogier begins to tell his story, beginning with his first meeting the legendary woman who would be a guiding influence throughout his life.

From Ogier’s Prayer:

The first remarkable occurrence of my life took place when I was just days old, during my initial presentation to the court; it was not the day of my baptism or christening as the Christians would call it—for my parents and all of Denmark in those days were followers of the old Gods, Odin and Thor and all those who dwelled in the halls of Asgaard—but it was the day I was named and presented to the court as my father’s son and heir.

Although it was a great day of celebration, considering that an heir had been born to the king, the presentation was not expected to be anything beyond the ordinary for such events. But it soon became an extraordinary day because of a visit from unexpected guests. I remember little of the early years of my life, but that day, as I lay in my mother’s arms, facing the court, I witnessed such marvelous events that even a mere babe could not forget them.

From the Red Romance Book by Andrew Lang. The caption reads "How the Fairies Came to See Ogier the Dane." Ogier is a major character in the Charlemagne legends and beloved of Morgan le Fay. He is the major character in my upcoming novel "Ogier's Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three.

From the Red Romance Book by Andrew Lang. The caption reads “How the Fairies Came to See Ogier the Dane.” Ogier is a major character in the Charlemagne legends and beloved of Morgan le Fay. He is the major character in my upcoming novel “Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three.

My memory of that day begins just as my father presented me to the court, and the nobles and his other liegemen had formed a line to pay me homage and to swear to serve my father, the king, and his newborn heir. In the midst of this ceremony, first faintly, then growing ever louder, came the sweetest music that mortals ever heard. It seemed to originate from right outside the castle wall, but then it soared, as if carried on the wind, through the open window, and into the throne room. Nobody knew from whence such bewitching sounds could come, but many murmured how the music was so heavenly that they could only think we were to be visited by an angel.

But that misperception was soon corrected when through the window floated six female fairies. Each bore in her hands a garland of flowers and rich gifts of gold, gems, and other priceless valuables. I will never forget, from where I sat upon my mother’s lap, the sight of these lovely creatures. They were so beautiful and so aglow with light that the courtiers later admitted to feeling great awe and fear at the sight of them, but I only laughed with glee to see their radiant beauty, and I felt a great happiness descend upon me.

My mother, however, seemed afraid of the fairies’ presence, for I could feel her trembling once they had positioned themselves before the throne, the crowd having drawn back to provide a place for them to land, but instead, these six gracious beings hovered a few inches above the floor, their gossamer wings making a gentle, quiet, and cooling breeze.

Then the first fairy approached my mother and me, and said, “Fear not, good queen. We are here to bestow blessings upon your son.”

The fairy took me in her arms, kissed me upon my forehead, and said, facing the court so all could hear, “Better than kingly crown, or lands, or rich heritage, fair babe, I give thee a brave, strong heart. Be fearless as the eagle, and bold as the lion; be the bravest knight among men.”

I remember feeling such deep peace, and at the same time, such joy as she held me in her arms, and that peace and joy continued as I was passed into the arms of each of the fairies in turn.

When the second fairy took me into her arms, she sat down on my mother’s throne for my mother had risen and later stepped aside when the first fairy approached, and though it would have been treason for anyone else to sit on my mother’s throne, not a word was spoken when this fairy did so. For a moment, she dandled me fondly upon her knee, giggling with me, and then she looked me in the eye long and lovingly before she said, “What is a brave heart without the ability to do brave deeds? I give to thee many an opportunity for manly action.”

The third fairy then approached while I was yet on the second fairy’s knee, and kneeling before me, she took one of my hands in her own, and with her other hand, she stroked my hair, saying, “Strong-hearted boy, for whom so many noble deeds are waiting, I, too, will give thee a boon. My gift is skill and strength such as shall never fail thee in fight, nor allow thee to be beaten by a foe. Success to thee, fair Holger!”

The fourth fairy then took me from the second, who, with the third fairy, returned to her sisters, and this fairy then tenderly stroked my mouth and my brow before she said, “Be fair of speech, be noble in action, be courteous, be kind: these are the gifts I bring thee. For what will a strong heart, or a bold undertaking, or success in every endeavor, avail, unless one has the respect and love of one’s fellow men?”

Then the fifth fairy came forward; she clasped me against her breast and held me tenderly for a long time without saying a word. Finally, she looked at all the court, and she then held me away from her so she could look into my eyes and said, “The gifts my sisters have given thee will scarcely bring thee happiness, for, while they add to thy honor, they may make thee dangerous to others. They may lead thee into the practice of selfishness and base acts of tyranny. That man is little to be envied who loves not his fellow men. The boon, therefore, that I bring thee is the power and the will to esteem others as frail mortals equally deserving with thyself.”

And then the sixth fairy, the most beautiful of all, took me from the fifth; she lifted me high and danced about the room with me in rapturous joy, all the while singing sweetly a lullaby of fairyland and the island vale of Avalon, and then, although she never said her name, somehow I and all the court knew she was that fabled one, Morgan le Fay, sister to the great King Arthur and the Queen of Avalon.

When she had finished singing, Morgan le Fay placed a crown of laurel upon my head, and then a fairy torch appeared in her hand; when it lit by itself, it created a gasp of astonishment from all assembled. And then the Queen of Avalon said, “This torch is the measure of thy earthly days; and it shall not cease to burn until thou hast visited me in Avalon, and sat at table with King Arthur and the heroes who dwell there in that eternal summerland.”

And then Morgan le Fay gently placed me back into my mother’s arms, and with the torch still in her hand, she and the other fairies strewed the floor of the throne room with rich flowers and gems until all the air was filled with perfume and the angelic music resumed, and suddenly, a radiant sunbeam broke through the open windows until the room grew brighter and brighter and the light forced all to close their eyes, and at that moment, the music ended. After a second, when everyone opened his or her eyes, the fairies were nowhere to be seen, although the flowers and jewels remained.

And then I felt a great coldness come over me for the fairy’s blessings and their prophecies of my future fortune and mighty deeds were all that a mother could ever desire for her child, and this overwhelming joy must have filled my mother’s heart until it could not be contained and thereby burst. And in another second, my nurse ran to catch me as I tumbled from my mother’s lifeless arms.

 

Learn more about Ogier’s Prayer and purchase a copy of the novel at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

____________________________________________________________________________

Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, and the upcoming Lilith’s Love and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly work King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition. You can learn more about him at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.

Read Full Post »

Marquette, MI, December 9, 2015—Three centuries after she carried her brother, King Arthur, to Avalon, Morgan le Fay is still interfering in the lives of mortals. At the court of Charlemagne is the handsome and virile Prince Ogier of Denmark, and Morgan le Fay has surprising plans for him. Now Ogier tells the story of his amazing adventures in award-winning author Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new historical fantasy novel Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three.

Tyler Tichelaar's newest Arthurian novel takes readers on a magic carpet ride from Charlemagne's France to Avalon, Jerusalem, and the fabled land of Prester John as King Arthur's descendants embark on a quest to fight an ancient evil.

Tyler Tichelaar’s newest Arthurian novel takes readers on a magic carpet ride from Charlemagne’s France to Avalon, Jerusalem, and the fabled land of Prester John as King Arthur’s descendants embark on a quest to fight an ancient evil.

Ogier the Dane is the greatest knight since King Arthur. Blessed at birth by Morgan le Fay and her fellow fairies, he has always known a great destiny awaits him. Even when his evil stepmother Gudrun turns his father’s affections against him, leading to his exile at Charlemagne’s court, he does not cease to aspire to greatness. There he befriends the great knight, Roland, and he achieves many valorous deeds, rescuing princesses and surpassing other men at arms.

Then Ogier’s father dies and his evil stepmother secretly marries Roland’s uncle, Geoffrey, son of the mysterious fairy Melusine. When, soon after, Ogier learns that Gudrun has murdered Geoffrey and taken Melusine’s magic ring, he fears Gudrun has sinister and far-reaching plans. Ogier soon pursues her beyond the limits of the known eighth century world. From France to Avalon, and from the fabled land of the legendary Christian king, Prester John, to the court of Haroun al-Rashid, the caliph of Arabian Nights fame, Ogier finds himself caught up in more adventures and mysteries than he ever could have conceived. Most importantly, before his quest is completed, he will discover that the power of prayer can work wonders that no manner of manly prowess could ever accomplish.

Bookending Ogier’s tale is that of Adam and Anne Delaney, a twentieth century couple who have appeared in each volume of the Children of Arthur series. The Delaneys’ children have just been kidnapped, and they fear it is by the latest incarnation of Ogier’s evil sorceress stepmother, who is preparing to unleash havoc upon the human race. In their efforts to protect their children and stop this ancient supernatural woman, they are guided by the great magician Merlin, who reveals to them their own family’s connections to Morgan le Fay and her lover Ogier.

Arthurian authors and fans have been delighted with each volume of the Children of Arthur series. Sophie Masson, editor of The Road to Camelot, praises the first book, Arthur’s Legacy, as “an intriguing blend of action-packed time-slip fantasy adventure, moving love story, multi-layered mystery, and unusual spiritual exploration.” Cheryl Carpinello, author of Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, proclaims that the second book, Melusine’s Gift, is “reminiscent of those ancient Tales from the Arabian Nights where one story flows into the next…. I can’t recommend this series enough.” And Roslyn McGrath, author of The Third Mary, calls Ogier’s Prayer an “inspirational re-visioning of the past…vivid, suspenseful storytelling will leave you craving the next installment of this thought-provoking, delightfully plot-twisting series!”

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of numerous historical fiction novels, including The Marquette Trilogy, The Best Place, and the award-winning Narrow Lives, as well as the scholarly books The Gothic Wanderer and King Arthur’s Children and the play Willpower.

Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three (ISBN 9780996240017, Marquette Fiction, 2015) 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.

###

Read Full Post »

Knights of the Round Table – movie poster

I remember seeing advertisements for Knights of the Round Table being shown on TV when I was a kid, but I never got the chance to watch it. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t get the chance because it’s surprisingly a rather distorted version of the Arthurian legend in many ways. Still, when I stumbled across it the other day, I watched it with interest.

First, let me say I’m a sucker for these old movies. Just that it is shot in Technicolor makes it beautiful in many places. There is a lot of color and pageantry, and I give it credit for being, to the best of my knowledge, the first film to try to tell the entire Arthurian story. Previously, King Arthur in Hollywood had been mostly limited to remakes of A Connecticut Yankee.

But in telling the full story, the studio must have felt they had to clean up the story. I mean, even if 1950s audiences, not to mention the movie censors, could get past Guinevere and Lancelot’s adultery, they certainly couldn’t accept Mordred being a child of incest and killing his father.

So some rather big changes had to be made. First of all, Mordred replaces King Lot of Orkney as Morgan le Fay’s ally. I was never quite clear in the film if he is her husband or just her lover, but they are obviously a couple and King Arthur’s primary enemies. The film begins with Morgan, Mordred, Arthur, and Merlin meeting to determine who will rule Britain upon Uther Pendragon’s death. Morgan believes she deserves the throne as Uther’s only legitimate child, but Merlin has Arthur draw the sword from the stone, thus leading to his being proclaimed king. Mordred and Morgan aren’t too happy about this decision and cause plenty of trouble before they finally agree to Arthur’s rule, which he achieves largely through battle and the help of Sir Lancelot, making Lancelot and Mordred enemies.

Arthur is soon pushed to the side of the story in favor of Lancelot. Although the movie is called Knights of the Round Table, the other knights get very little attention, except for Percival, who is on a quest for the Holy Grail. He meets Lancelot early in the film and tells Lancelot of his quest. In the same scene, Percival’s sister, Elaine, meets Lancelot and falls in love with him, and eventually, she is married to Lancelot, after Merlin realizes Lancelot and Guinevere have begun to have feelings for one another so it would be best to have him away from court.

I won’t give away all of the plot, and there’s not much to give away if you know the Arthurian legend, but I do need to discuss the end a bit. I do give the film some points for a stab at historical accuracy since it sets the film at the time soon after the Romans have left. That said, I think John Wayne had a stab in writing the script since upon first meeting, Lancelot says to Percival, “Declare thyself, Cowboy.” I think he should have changed “Cowboy” to “Pilgrim”—it would have been funnier.

The Holy Grail legend has always been an oddball part of the Arthurian story in my opinion, and it definitely is here. At one point, Percival comes to Lancelot’s castle to tell him the Holy Grail appeared at court, which I thought a shame, since the filmgoers never get to see the Holy Grail’s appearance in that scene, but it does lead to the knights going off to seek the Grail. At about this time, Elaine also has a dream about their son. Elaine dies soon after Galahad is born. Later the child Galahad is sent to be raised at Camelot.

And then Camelot begins to fall. After Elaine’s death, Lancelot becomes interested in Lady Vivian. Guinevere accuses him of trying to humiliate her in front of the court by making eyes at Vivian. While they are arguing alone, their enemies find them and accuse them of adultery. They manage to escape without any dramatic attempts at burning at the stake (a disappointment)—no dramatic “Guinevere” song for this movie like in “Camelot.” Things go as expected, leading to Arthur being slain by Mordred. Then Lancelot fights and kills Mordred.

The magic at the end of throwing the sword into the lake is missing because no hand rises up to catch it, but we are left with Lancelot and Percival going together to Camelot to see the Round Table in ruins. The film ends with a vision of the Grail, and Lancelot finding comfort in hearing that someday Galahad will achieve it. (A strange twist since Galahad usually achieves the Grail before Camelot falls.)

I certainly don’t think this film as entertaining as Prince Valiant or Lancelot and Guinevere (Sword of Lancelot) which followed in the next decade, although it does have its moments. People familiar with the legend will perhaps find it mostly entertaining for the fun of picking apart the changes made in the film from the usual legend and try to guess why such changes were made. (The opening credits claim the film is based on Malory, but it’s very loosely based.)

The cast has some big names—Robert Taylor as Lancelot and Ava Gardner as Guinevere, among others, but I have never felt very impressed by Robert Taylor. For me, Franco Nero is the best Lancelot. Ava Gardner is beautiful as always, but she just doesn’t have the role to make her acting skills stand out in this film.

If you’re an Arthurian enthusiast, you’ll want to watch the film, although on a scale of 1-5, I probably wouldn’t give it more than a 3. You can still catch it in reruns on TV or buy the video, or watch online at Amazon Instant Video. For more information on the film, check out IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045966/ or Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_of_the_Round_Table_%28film%29

______________________________________________________________________

Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition. You can also visit him at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

Read Full Post »

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot

The Title Card for the colored episodes of "The Adventures of Sir Lancelot"

Back in January, I posted on the 1950s British TV series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. I’ve now finished watching the series and I enjoyed it a great deal. It has a bit of humor and some wonderful sets and costumes. Furthermore, I think William Russell made a very good Sir Lancelot, and he actually is quite handsome and debonair, or at least, he grows on you and grew into the role as the series continued. In the first episode, the swordplay was laughable, but it improved throughout. Also, King Arthur was originally played by Bruce Seton in the first episode, but he looked old and doddering and was quickly replaced by Ronald Leigh-Hunt, who is a tall and fairly commanding yet likable Arthur. I was disappointed there was no love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere, but it was a 1950s TV show, so innocence was important for television, I guess. I also was disappointed that there was nothing that suggested a connection from one episode to another, no overarching storyline or character motivations or desires to keep the story progressing. You could have watched any episode after the first one in any order and it would make no difference.

About halfway through the series, it became colorized, and the color really was splendid because it made the costumes stand out. Some of the costumes look a bit too effeminate for Lancelot to wear, but there’s no accounting for medieval—or 1950s TV versions of medieval—fashion.

Overall, I would give the series a B, or 4 out of 5 stars. I would rank it below the Merlin TV series, but it is far above the Starz’ Camelot series. (See previous posts to my blog for discussions of both series.)

It would be tedious to discuss all thirty episodes, but here are comments on a few of the episodes that are most notable, particularly those that borrow from Arthurian tradition:

Knight’s Choice: This episode is interesting because Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s traitor sister, is included. She was apparently previously banished from Camelot for trying to murder her brother Arthur. Now she hopes to return if she can get her son to be chosen as knight for an opening among the Round Table’s fellowship. Interestingly, Morgan’s son is named Rupert, not Mordred. Arthur agrees to let him compete with the other potential knights. Another contender is Sir Balin, whose father was squire to King Pel. (King Pel is most likely King Pellinore, and Sir Balin is found in Malory, although this episode has no other links to Malory, and I have no idea why Morgan’s son is named Rupert, unless it was to distance the show from Mordred and the incestuous twist—after all if Guinevere and Lancelot’s love is forbidden on 1950 television, incest surely won’t be approved. That said, it isn’t stated who Rupert’s father is). This episode also has a sort of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court twist when Merlin finds a way to delay the battle enough for an eclipse to take place, which will thwart Morgan’s plan to have her son win in battle over Balin by flashing light in his eye with a mirror. In the end, Rupert doesn’t get to join the Round Table—I guess that means he can’t stir up trouble—perhaps although eventually the series ended, this Camelot, then, did not fall.

The Thieves: Another episode drawing on Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee is X in which Arthur and Lancelot disguise themselves as ex-convicts to learn what chances these men have of earning a living.

The Shepherd’s War: This episode stands out because Sir Lancelot has been held a prisoner and grown a beard—the only time Russell sports a beard in the series. Although, throughout the series, Sir Kay, who comes off as a buffoon, sports a ridiculously fake mustache.

Sir Crustabread: This episode plays off the tale of Sir Gareth who plays a kitchen boy and goes off to rescue a maiden; the same concept was used in the first episode when Sir Lancelot found Brian, his squire, who was a kitchen boy. In this episode, Lancelot is mistaken by Lynette of Accolon, as a baker. He ends up being belittled by her as he rides with her to rescue her sister. When all is said and done, Lancelot saves the day and reveals his true identity, then kisses Lynette on the cheek—she says she’ll never wash it again.

Finally, the colored episodes trimmed down the theme song, which could be compared to songs like the theme to “Davy, Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier.” The theme song actually grew on me after watching all these episodes and I found myself singing it around the house:

Now listen to my story, oh listen while I sing.

Of days of old in England when Arthur was the king.

Of Merlin the Magician, and Guinevere the Queen.

And Lancelot, the bravest knight the world has ever seen.

In days of old, when knights were bold,

This story’s told of Lancelot.

In days of old, when knights were bold,

This story’s told of Lancelot.

If you want the second verse, you’ll have to watch the series for yourself.

A complete episode guide to the series can be found at: http://ctva.biz/UK/ITC/SirLancelot.htm

I will post on last blog about this series in the weeks to come.

________________________

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

Read Full Post »

Prince Valiant Vol. 1 hal Foster

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 by Hal Foster

Because it’s the 75th anniversary of the Prince Valiant comic strip this month, I thought I would summarize and review the first volume of the series, now reprinted by Fantagraphics Book, which covers the first two years of the series in print. Fantagraphics is planning to reprint hopefully the entire series, but so far the first five have been released (the 5th is coming in March actually).

The Prince Valiant strip is subtitled “In the Days of King Arthur” and consequently some people have been skeptical about whether it really belongs in the Arthurian canon. In truth, it is often marginal as Valiant goes off on adventures on the Continent, far from King Arthur’s court, but Camelot remains home base throughout the series. Following is a summary of what occurs in this first volume. I usually don’t like to give away full plots, but since this volume is the beginning of the story, it’s important to clarify just how much of the strip is relevant to King Arthur.

The story begins with the King of Thule and his family being forced to flee from their country. They go to Britain, fighting the locals to land on the shore. At this time, Prince Valiant is just a boy. He looks to be between about ages six and eight in the strip. King Arthur, to keep the peace, allows the King and his faithful followers to settle in the Fens, a marshy area where the people live on islands in a swamp and make their way through the swamps on boats and rafts. Lizard type monsters are also hiding in the Fens.

Valiant grows up in this environment until he approaches manhood. One day, after fighting one of the monster lizards, Valiant sees a mysterious light far off in the Fens and is determined to find its source. In the process Valiant is attacked by a monster who turns out to be a “huge misshapen man, horrible in his deformities.” Valiant wounds the man but then cares for him and takes him home to his mother, who turns out to be the witch Horrit (the first time she is mentioned her name is Horrid, but Hal Foster must have decided to change the spelling in subsequent strips). This meeting is significant because Horrit makes a prophecy that will haunt Valiant for the rest of his life.

As the witch makes her prophecy, Val gazes into the fire and becomes dreamy until he has visions of castles and armies, knights in armor, and then a king and queen, whom the witch says is “Stupid Arthur and his flighty wench, Guinevere.” She goes on to prophesy, “And you will confront the unicorn, the dragon and the griffon, black men and yellow. You will have high adventure, but nowhere do I see happiness and contentment,” and she tells him already his greatest sorrow awaits him.

Valiant leaves the witch to discover his greatest sorrow—that his mother has died. After grieving, Valiant decides it’s time to set off to seek his fortune. Soon after, he meets Sir Lancelot and his squire, and when the squire is rude to him, Valiant pulls him off his horse and beats him to give him a lesson. Lancelot is good natured but stops the fight and then rides off with his squire. The incident makes Valiant determined to become a knight. Eventually, Valiant finds a horse, learns to ride, and then saves Sir Gawain from another knight who attacks Gawain. Soon Valiant and Gawain have formed a lasting friendship.

Gawain takes Valiant to Camelot where two conspirators soon after decide to kidnap Gawain and hold him for ransom. They trick Valiant and Gawain to visiting the Castle of Ereiwold where Gawain is captured and becomes a prisoner. Of course, Valiant eventually rescues him. After the rescue, however, Gawain gets wounded in a fight with another knight, and Val has to take his place to go on his first quest to rescue the fair maid Ilene’s parents, who are being held prisoner in their castle by an ogre.

Once he sneaks into the castle, Val soon realizes the ogre is a fake with makeup to make him look frightening. Val decides to use fear, the same weapon, to conquer the ogre, disguising himself and appearing like a flying demon in the castle’s hall. In time, Val defeats the ogre and his men, and he rescues Ilene’s parents.

Val is in love with Ilene by this point, but she is already betrothed to the King of Ord. Val wants to stay and fight for Ilene, but Gawain has gotten in trouble again, kidnapped by Morgan le Fey, half-sister of King Arthur. Val goes off to rescue his friend, making the mistake of confronting Morgan le Fey, who puts him under a spell, but in time, he realizes his food is drugged and he quits eating so he’s in his right mind. Then he is able to escape from the castle. Val goes to Merlin, who works his own spell to scare Morgan le Fey into freeing Gawain.

Gawain is freed in time for Val to be invited to a tournament to celebrate the marriage of Prince Arn of Ord and Ilene. Val is determined to challenge Arn, but the challenge occurs on a bridge, resulting in Arn falling and nearly drowning and Val saving him. They plan to fight again nevertheless, but when they begin, a Viking raid occurs and instead, they become allies against their enemies. Before the battle with the Vikings, Arn gives Val the famous Singing Sword, which bears a charm and of course helps him to defeat his enemies. Despite his success, Val is captured by his enemies and he and Ilene are taken over the sea, while hoping Arn will rescue them. In time, Val and Ilene are separated and Ilene ends up on a ship that sinks, leaving Val and Arn heartbroken.

Once Val and Arn return to Camelot, Lancelot tells them they are fortunate Ilene drowned because now they are friends whereas otherwise there always would have been strife between them and Ilene would have blamed herself as the cause of it all.

To deal with his grief, Val returns home to the Fens. As this first volume ends, Val overcomes his grief and decides it’s time he lead his father’s people to return and re-conquer Thule, but before they can act on their plan, a major Saxon invasion threatens England. Val returns to Camelot to fight beside the Knights of the Round Table.

In addition to the strip itself, which is in its brightest glorious color because it’s reprinted directly from Foster’s colored plates, there is an essay in the back by Kim Thompson about the reproduction of Prince Valiant and the various plates, which is quite interesting to read, and even mentions a few of the more gruesome scenes in the story that were censored out. The book also contains a biographical essay about Hal Foster and an interesting interview with Foster.

The plot of Prince Valiant is more like a soap opera in terms of its cliffhangers at the end of most strips and its constant continuation with no end in mind. Foster reputedly was usually ahead in creating the strip by several weeks, but one wonders if he ever imagined when it began that the strip could run not only for many years but many decades and encompass all of Prince Valiant’s life basically. He had no need to plot it in a specific direction, yet there are still certain arching points to the story, including the prophecy that Valiant can never know happiness and the basics of the King Arthur story as well.

For people still uncertain whether they would enjoy Prince Valiant, I recommend getting a copy of this first volume and trying it out; then you can determine whether you want to continue to read the successive volumes, which would be quite a time commitment, but there are far worse ways to spend your time than with Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »