Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Review: Arthur of Albion Will Knock Your Chainmail Socks Off

By Matt Blum Email

Arthur_3 It's a rare storybook that blows you away with the beauty of its art. Rarer still are such books where the stories are captivating as well. Arthur of Albion, a new book of King Arthur stories, is one of those. It's the sort of book you might buy for your kids—say, as a way of getting them interested in the Arthur stories—and then find yourself sitting on the couch reading it and staring at the art after your kids are in bed.

The stories in the book will be familiar to anyone who knows the Arthur legends: The story of the Questing Beast, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the quest for the Grail, etc. But each story is written in a simple, yet richly detailed, style, with the occasional old-style wording (e.g., "he knew not"), and you will find yourself drawn in by them even if you know the plot by heart. Some of the stories are written with morals, but none too heavy-handed, and all true to previous versions. The stories are separated by short two-page spreads on subjects related to the following story, providing quick glimpses into the characters and settings. The book is very faithful to the history of Arthurian legend, written as it is by John Matthews, a noted expert on the subject (he was even the historical advisor for the 2003 movie King Arthur).

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