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One character is a poet, the other a psychopath, and the women that they meet have more sense than either of them. The author makes thoughtful use of the Old English epic to explore exactly what it is that distinguishes humans from monsters.

Top 10 modern medieval tales

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco This dazzling first novel has brilliant plotting and witty in-jokes its hero — played by Sean Connery in the film version — is William of Baskerville in a nod to the great detective , combined with a profound understanding of medieval intellectual history. Martin has thought long and hard about such topics as the medieval banking system, the success of Mongol horse-lords, the nature of chivalry, the limitations of queenship, and the organisation of military forces, in his exploration of medieval power politics in a world where magic finds a role.

Drawing on medieval pilgrim accounts, folkloric beliefs about mermaids, and meditating deeply on the human condition when stripped down to its barest form, this is beautifully written and vividly imagined.

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In ironic dialogue with the legend of the English resistance hero Hereward the Wake , it is written in a reimagined language which, almost without exception, uses only words that occurred in Old English. Facebook Twitter Pinterest.

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Order by newest oldest recommendations. Furthermore, he would have lived more than years before medieval legends suggest. All that is known, with even the least degree of certainty, is that a man named Arthur, or Arturus, led a band of heroic warriors who spearheaded the resistance of Britons against the invading Saxons, Jutes, and others from the north of Europe, sometime in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. Whatever the truth — and we may never know for sure — the adventures of the legendary King Arthur, with his Round Table Fellowship of Knights based in the mythical city of Camelot, were told and retold between the 11th and 15th centuries in hundreds of manuscripts in at least a dozen languages.

The Round Table is the centerpiece of the Arthurian world. According to the 13th-century poet Layamon, Arthur ordered the table to be built for him by a famous Cornish carpenter, who somehow made the table capable of seating 1, men clearly an exaggeration , yet easily portable to wherever Arthur set up his mobile base of operations. Some knights were said to have sat at the Round Table.

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When they had largely rid the land of monsters, dragons, and evil customs, the knights undertook their greatest task of all — the quest for the Holy Grail. Many did not return.


Many faery women thread together the stories of Arthur and his knights. This is probably because a good number of the stories originated not in Britain, but in Brittany — or, as it was known then, Armorica or Aermorica, where belief in ancient deities and the faery race lived on.

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These faery tales became interwoven with stories of chivalry beloved by the courtly circle. Within the courtly circle these stories were told by roving troubadours — poets who learned dozens of Arthurian tales by heart. In c Geoffrey of Monmouth named nine sisters in his Vita Merlini as the rulers of the enchanted island of Avalon.

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Though this may sound odd to us today, many of the women in enclosed orders were learned, and since learning was frequently equated with magic, thus Morgan came to be considered a sorceress. All knights of the Round Table are said to have gone forth in search of the sacred vessel after it appeared at Camelot during Pentecost [a feast celebrated each year on the 50th day after the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha Easter and 10 days after the Feast of the Ascension of Christ].

Of those who went forth only three succeeded in their quest to find the grail: the saintly knight Sir Galahad, the simple Sir Percival, and the honest, plain-spoken Sir Bors. Love stories feature a great deal in the Arthurian world. But another story, originating in France, became one of the best known of the Arthurian tales: the love story of Lancelot and Guinevere.

culpness.cf But Lancelot hesitates for a moment, and when Guinevere learns of this this later on she spurns him as not worthy of her affections. With the king reluctantly forced to attack Lancelot, the way was left open for Mordred to attack Camelot. War broke out after Lancelot staged an armed rescue of Guinevere, condemned to death for her treasonous love for the great knight.