Foreword by Neil Gaiman
The world’s leading Arthurian authority reimagines one of the most beloved and influential legends—the story of King Arthur and his Knights—for a new century in this gorgeous keepsake edition, illustrated with luminous full-color paintings and drawings by internationally acclaimed Tolkien artist John Howe.
The stories of King Arthur and Merlin, Lancelot and Guinevere, Galahad, Gawain, Tristan and the rest of the Knights of the Roundtable, and the search for the Holy Grail have been beloved for centuries and are the inspiration of many modern fantasy novels, films, and shows. These legends began when an obscure Celtic hero named Arthur stepped on to the stage of history sometime in the sixth century, generating a host of oral tales that would be inscribed some 900 years later by Thomas Malory in his classic Morte D’Arthur (The Death of Arthur).
The Great Book of King Arthur brings these legends into the modern age, using accessible prose for contemporary readers for the first time. In addition to the stories in Morte D’Arthur, John Matthews includes many tales of Arthur and his knights either unknown to Malory or written in other languages, such as the story of Avenable, the girl brought up as a boy who becomes a famous knight; Morien, whose adventures are as fantastic and exciting as any found in Malory’s work; and a retelling of the life of Round Table favorite Gawain, from his strange birth to his upbringing among the poor to his ascension to the highest position—Emperor of Rome.
In addition, there are some of the earliest tales of Arthur, deriving from the tradition of Celtic storytelling. The epic hero is represented in such powerful stories as “The Adventures of Eagle-boy” and “The Coming of Merlin,” which is based on the early medieval text Vita Merlini and tells a completely new version of the great enchanter’s story.
The Great Book of King Arthur includes 15 full-color paintings and 25 pencil drawings.
John Matthews is a world-renowned authority on the Celtic wisdom tradition and the Arthurian legends. He is the author of numerous books, including The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom.
John Howe was born in 1957 in Vancouver, Canada. After finishing High School, he moved to France in 1976, where he attended the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg, gaining a Diploma in Illustration. Aside from illustrating jackets for numerous Tolkien and other fantasy works he has also illustrated many children’s books. He lives in Switzerland with his wife and their ten-year-old son.