Thursday, March 26, 2009

the once and future king

Over dinner at Noodles, I finished Stephanie Spinner's Damosel: in which the Lady of the Lake renders a frank and often startling account of her wondrous life and times. It was wonderful. It starts with Merlin asking the Lady of the Lake to make a sword for the young Arthur, a sword to help him become king. It tells Damosel's story and the story of Twixt, a dwarf who becomes an important part of the court at Camelot.

My fascination with Camelot began in junior high when my parents and I, on a very cold Saturday night, saw the movie, starring Richard Harris (the start of my admiration/crush on him), on an extremely cold winter night. The romance of it all really captivated my teenage heart, though I never could understand why Guinevere would choose Lancelot when she could have Richard Harris!!!! I soon was driving my parents insane with my incessant playing of the soundtrack, loudly and dramatically singing along. Next came the obsessive reading of T.H. White's The once and future king which I accepted as gospel truth about King Arthur. In ninth grade English, I made a speech about the book starting with, "Imagine Mr. Williams (my poor long-suffering English teacher whose father had been my father's best friend growing up) as Lancelot. Most think of Lancelot as handsome (Mr. Williams was positively preening) but, in truth, he was as ugly as a monster (Mr. Williams, who was not a handsome man, had the good grace to laugh) in the king's menagerie." My enthusiasm earned me an A on the project.

Next was toting around the massive volume of Marian Zimmer Bradley's The mists of Avalon. I carried it with me everywhere and, whenever I had a spare minute, I read, instantly transporting myself to that enchanted world.

As a children's librarian, I was thrilled to learn that kids are still fascinated by King Arthur. A few of the children's/young adult books about Camelot are:

The squire's tales by Gerald Morris, a multi-volume series of knights tales, told with great humor.

The young Merlin trilogy by Jane Yolen, Merlin's life told through a series of bird-like developments in his character.

The lost years of Merlin by T.A. Barron, a five volume telling of Merlin's progression from orphaned boy to wizard.

Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Scieszka, the Time Warp Trio visits Camelot, leaving chaos in their wake.

I know there are many more books about Camelot in my reading history, and, with luck, there will be many more. I never get tired of the well-loved story.

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