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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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The Marriage of Arthur and Guinevere

On Friday, Prince William, descendant of King Arthur, will marry. In the newlyweds’ honor, I am posting the marriage of Arthur and Guinevere as written in Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. May Prince William and his future bride have a wonderful life together and a far happier end than Arthur and Guinevere.

Then Arthur charged his warrior whom he loved
And honoured most, Sir Lancelot, to ride forth
And bring the Queen;–and watched him from the gates:
And Lancelot past away among the flowers,
(For then was latter April) and returned
Among the flowers, in May, with Guinevere.
To whom arrived, by Dubric the high saint,
Chief of the church in Britain, and before
The stateliest of her altar-shrines, the King
That morn was married, while in stainless white,
The fair beginners of a nobler time,
And glorying in their vows and him, his knights
Stood around him, and rejoicing in his joy.
Far shone the fields of May through open door,
The sacred altar blossomed white with May,
The Sun of May descended on their King,
They gazed on all earth’s beauty in their Queen,
Rolled incense, and there past along the hymns
A voice as of the waters, while the two
Sware at the shrine of Christ a deathless love:
And Arthur said, `Behold, thy doom is mine.
Let chance what will, I love thee to the death!’
To whom the Queen replied with drooping eyes,
`King and my lord, I love thee to the death!’
And holy Dubric spread his hands and spake,
`Reign ye, and live and love, and make the world
Other, and may thy Queen be one with thee,
And all this Order of thy Table Round
Fulfil the boundless purpose of their King!’

So Dubric said; but when they left the shrine
Great Lords from Rome before the portal stood,
In scornful stillness gazing as they past;
Then while they paced a city all on fire
With sun and cloth of gold, the trumpets blew,
And Arthur’s knighthood sang before the King:–

`Blow, trumpet, for the world is white with May;
Blow trumpet, the long night hath rolled away!
Blow through the living world–“Let the King reign.”

`Shall Rome or Heathen rule in Arthur’s realm?
Flash brand and lance, fall battleaxe upon helm,
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.

`Strike for the King and live! his knights have heard
That God hath told the King a secret word.
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.

`Blow trumpet! he will lift us from the dust.
Blow trumpet! live the strength and die the lust!
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

`Strike for the King and die! and if thou diest,
The King is King, and ever wills the highest.
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

`Blow, for our Sun is mighty in his May!
Blow, for our Sun is mightier day by day!
Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

`The King will follow Christ, and we the King
In whom high God hath breathed a secret thing.
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.’

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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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As the royal wedding approaches, it’s interesting to dig into the royal family’s claims of descent from King Arthur. Here is some information about those claims from my chapter “Arthur and the English Royal Family” in King Arthur’s Children:

Among those who have tried to claim descent from King Arthur, the most prominent and most determined have been the monarchs of England. As we have already seen, little chance exists that any of King Arthur’s children outlived him, and the only grandchildren he had were murdered by Constantine. These two grandsons could have been old enough to have had children of their own before they died, but this theory is only a surmise since no record, chronicle, or romance states they had heirs. Therefore, it is highly doubtful that King Arthur had any descendants who lived beyond the sixth century. Yet the royal family of England has claimed, at least since the time of the Plantagenets, that they are descended from King Arthur.

During the reigns of the Saxon kings in England, from the sixth century until 1066, there is no monarch known to have claimed descent from Arthur. It was not until after the Norman invasion that this idea became popular, and even then it seems to have been the result of the popularity of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain, which appeared around 1136. Geoffrey ended his chronicle with King Cadwallader, whom he states probably died around 689 (289). Cadwallader has numerous descendants living today, but he is not a descendant of King Arthur; neither is he from any records I have been able to locate an ancestor to the present royal family of Britain (although DNA research suggests the odds are that he is). Geoffrey leaves unaccounted for over four hundred years, from the time his book ends until the 1100s, except for making prophecies of what will happen. However, none of these prophecies hint that Arthur’s descendants will reign over England. Since Geoffrey gives King Arthur no descendants, it is inconceivable how the Plantagenets could have claimed an Arthurian lineage.

The popularity of Geoffrey’s book gave rebirth to the tales of King Arthur and made the conquered Anglo-Saxon peoples believe King Arthur would return to rescue them, a belief that might seem strange since the Anglo-Saxons had originally been Arthur’s enemies; however, by the twelfth century, Celtic blood had so intermixed with Anglo-Saxon blood that nearly anyone in England could claim to have ancestors whom Arthur had been king over.

The belief that King Arthur would return might have made King Henry II fearful that the conquered people would become restless, and so as we have already seen, he may have staged the finding of Arthur’s body at Glastonbury. To keep the conquered under control, the royal family decided it needed to prove its members were the rightful heirs to the throne of all Britain because of their descent from King Arthur or at least his family.

Arthur's most likely Faked Grave at Glastonbury Abbey

King Henry II’s ancestors included the Counts of Anjou; his descent from William the Conqueror was through his mother, whereas it was his father who was Count of Anjou. However, William the Conqueror’s great-grandparents included a daughter of the House of Anjou, and a Duke of Brittany, both of whom could possibly have claimed an ancestry from Arthurian times. William the Conqueror’s paternal lineage from the Dukes of Normandy went back to a Scandinavian and Viking ancestry that settled in Normandy in the 800s. The House of Anjou can trace its descent back to Tertulle, Count of Anjou (born about 821), and his wife Petronilla, Countess of Anjou (born about 825), who was a granddaughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (Ancestral File). However, the House of Anjou would have to trace its ancestors back another three hundred years if it were to claim descent from King Arthur, and it is probably no longer possible to make genealogical connections for these families that stretch so far back in time.

Despite these loose claims, the Plantagenet and Tudor dynasties would make many more attempts to link themselves to King Arthur, and even today, both Prince Charles and Prince William have middle names that include Arthur….

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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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