Explorations in Arthurian
A Literature Review
Part 10: Modern Authors
The story of Arthur is still not out of fashion.
In fact, it's more popular than ever. Writers in the 20th century are
just as fascinated as writers in previous centuries. Here is a brief
look at some modern authors:
- Chopra, Deepak: the spiritual living
king entered the fray with The Return of Merlin, a not too
subtle tract of his own teachings that tells the story of a modern
battle between good and evil, captained by Merlin and Arthur one
side and Mordred on the other. Chopra also wrote The Way of the
Wizard to emphasize the ways in which the reader can
incorporate the wisdom of Merlin into his or her own
- Christian, Catherine: author of The
Pendragon, or The Sword and the Flame, a sixth-century
version of Malory narrated by Bedivere. Emphasizing its setting,
this story embraces pagan themes but at the same time incorporates
the Grail Quest.
- Cochran, Molly and Murphy, Warren:
wrote The Forever King and The Broken Sword, both on
the theme of the return of Arthur into a modern body, and the
struggle all over again of fighting an ancient evil with modern
- Hugh, Dafydd AB: "The Troubles" meets
The Matter of Britain. Seems the British government has got hold
of a time machine and is sending back someone to try to prevent
Arthur's death; meanwhile, the IRA has sent someone back to kill
Arthur. In Arthur War Lord and Far Beyond the Wave,
we see Roman Britain interspersed with modern Britain.
- McCaffrey, Anne: the Pern author wrote
Black Horses for the King, a glimpse at Roman times and
Lord Artos (sound familiar?) and his faithful stable boy Galwyn.
This novel gives a realistic depiction of the effects of cavalry
on fighting methods of the time.
- Monaco, Richard: wrote the Grail
Trilogy: Parsival, The Grail War, The Final Quest. These
books are loosely based on Wolfram's Parzival and unusually
bloody and profane in their depiction of the insanity of violence
and war. Monaco also wrote two other Arthur-themed books:
Runes, which posits that Arthur was the son of Spartacus,
he of the slave uprising against the Roman Empire, and Broken
Stone, which continues the saga with Arturus meeting his
half-sister Morga and engaging in a battle of good vs. evil, with
the latter being powered by the Black Grail.
- Saberhagen, Fred: the Books of
Swords author worte Merlin's Bones, a modern romp that
speculates that the bones of the real Merlin give their bearer a
certain higher power. The names are familiar, but the characters
are different. It's all a battle for New Camelot, rising from the
shrouds of history.
- Steinbeck, John: the master of
California fiction told his own version, The Acts of King
Arthur and His Noble Knights. Shot through with the trademark
Steinbeck humor, these tales emphasize the humanity of the knights
and their ladies.
- Yolen, Jane: the fantasy expert wrote
Merlin's Booke, a collection of 13 stories and poems
(including a modern DNA analysis) about Merlin and his influence
on Arthur and other major characters.
Note: This page is always under construction, and
will be updated as the author reads more Arthurian books.
Explorations in Arthurian History and
author © 2000-2009 David White