Books Like King Arthur
The first author to provide an English prose retelling of King Arthur was Thomas Malory with his 1485 novel, Le More d'Arthur, which means "The Death of Arthur." The book is one of the most widely known works on Arthurian literature in English. Malory extensively researched the existing tales about King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and Merlin when writing Le Morte d'Arthur. However, it is by no means the only tale about the medieval, mythological figure and numerous other authors continued to interpret the stories in their own way. If you can't get enough of tales of knights, bravery, and valor, then add the following books like King Arthur to your reading list.
by Howard Pyle
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights was first published in 1903 and features a lot of the major events associated with the legendary king. It is actually a compilation of two books in one volume with the first chronicling how a young Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, and goes on to win the heart of Lady Guinevere. The second book deals with stories of Merlin, as well as Sir Pellias and Sir Gawaine. Many readers also believe that this book is the most pure and faithful version of the legendary tale.
by Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote The History of the Kings of Britain around 1136 during a time when Arthurian legends were very fragmented. This meant that he was the first person to really create full biographies for King Arthur and Merlin, which would go on to inspire a lot of the work that was created afterward. While its historical accuracy is very questionable, there is no doubt that this book helped to popularize the King Arthur legends.
by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay is a collection of three high fantasy novels that has been compared to Tolkien's masterpiece by some critics. It is about five students from the University of Toronto who run into a real wizard at a Celtic conference. The wizard transports the students to the magical kingdom of Fionavar to attend a festival, but the group quickly becomes caught up in a conflict between light and dark. The Fionavar Tapestry draws a lot of inspiration from the classic Arthurian mythos, but also combines it with other elements for a thrilling read.
by Rosemary Sutcliff
Sword at Sunset is a 1963 novel by Rosemary Sutcliff and it is one of the first ever novels of the Arthurian legend written using a first-person singular point of view. In her novel, Sutcliff re-imagines the legendary King Arthur as a real warrior-king, called Artos the Bear. The result is a historical story that feels very real and but also more true to the original tales and not the later French influences. The Sword at Sunset is the follow up to Sutcliff's novel, The Lantern Bearer, which also comes highly recommended.
by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Most Arthurian novels tend to focus on the actions of Arthur and his knights, which makes this 1983 fantasy novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley such a breath of fresh air. For The Mists of Avalon, Bradley has decided to shift the focus to the lives of Gwenhwyfar, Morgause, Viviane, Igraine and the other women who form part of the Arthurian legend. Arthur's half-sister, Morgain, is the main protagonist in this novel and the story of her trials and tribulations are a lot more in-depth than in other Arthurian tales. The Mists of Avalon has rightfully gained a reputation as being one of the most original and retelling of the Arthurian legend.
by T. H. White
The Once and Future King by T. H. White was first published in 1958 and was based on the work by Sir Thomas Malory. White collected and revised shorter novels that were published between 1938 and 1940 along with a lot of new material for this book. Although White derived the source material from Le Morte d'Arthur, he reinterpreted a lot of the elements. The Once and Future King is divided into four parts and covers the youth of Arthur, his rule as king, and the character Lancelot. White also wrote The Book of Merlyn, but it was published separately after he passed away.
by Bernard Cornwell
The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell is the first volume of his Warlord Chronicles and offers an epic retelling of the familiar legend. It is narrated by an ordinary man named Derfel who ends up becoming a trusted friend and advisor to Arthur. With this story, Cornwell has managed to make the secondary characters just as compelling as the primary ones who have been featured so many times before. Bernard Cornwell has a flair for historical fiction and his expertise at writing battle scenes is put to good use in The Winter King. It is definitely a different take on the Arthurian legends, but a compelling one nonetheless.