I Read King Arthur So You Don’t Have To // book roasts, vol. 1

Finding a book to read that properly matches the mood I’m in is an Olympic sport.

Having just read Beren and Luthien, shortly followed by Ivanhoe and Men of Iron, I felt a deep hankering in my soul for more books containing saccharinely perfect characters and the word “quoth.”

(As can be expected, few modern books live up to this standard.)

My eyes alighted on a compilation of Rosemary Sutcliff’s King Arthur stories, and with a cry of triumph, I snatched it from the shelf. Because what, I ask you, could possibly be more good and wholesome and saccharinely perfect than the honorable knights of the Round Table?!

(This is the part where people who’ve already read the book start coughing into their sleeves.)

To be fair to myself, my only exposure to King Arthur was an illustrated guide I stumbled across when I was eight and made the error of mistaking for a picture book. I managed approximately four pages before coming to the story where Gawain hangs the lady’s severed head around his neck by her hair.

Yes. That happened.

Needless to say, eight-year-old Sarah didn’t finish the book. And was also psychologically scarred for the rest of time.

(But did she learn her lesson? Clearly not, as this post bears evidence to.)

Since then, my only point of reference for the King Arthur story came from cheesy rip-off fantasy books. I retained a vague understanding that the original didn’t end as well as Disney would have you believe, but, y’know. The glorious love between King Arthur and Guinevere! The noble Sir Lancelot! Chivalry! Heroism! Honor!!!

Thus began my disillusionment arc.

Before we get into this, I’m going to make three statements for the sake of the Arthurian nerds (and for the sake of my bodily safety at the hands of aforesaid Arthurian nerds):

1.) I understand these are Rosemary Sutcliffe’s retellings and not the actual King Arthur legends.

2.) Despite appearances, I got more out of the stories than what I’m about to harp on. But saccharinely perfect morals-of-stories are boring. (Unless they contain the word quoth.) Therefore, I woke up and chose violence. Literally. Refer to Example A — Gawain and Severed Head.

3.) There aren’t really spoilers in this post, but considering the story has been around for 600+ years, you should probably already know they all die. Oops.

With those disclaimers out of the way, if you’re one of my three friends who went to college specifically to study the legends of King Arthur, please don’t kill me.

Let’s begin with this gem I found in the preface explaining what the book is about.

Innocent little fool that I am, I believed her. Then I kept reading. Only took about ten pages. I came for knights and dragons and chivalry but instead I got—

MERLIN HELPED UTHA PENDRAGON DO WHAT TO IGRAINE????

Apparently consent is not a thing when you’re king.

That was the end of my pretty fantasies about chivalry.

But did that stop her?

Gentle reader, it did not.

Thus commenced Stage #2 of Sarah’s Arthurian disillusionment arc. AKA “The Point Where She Almost Threw the Whole Thing Out.”

But I am a hard-headed Polish idiot and we do not back down from a challenge. Or from Margawse doing icky things, apparently.

Guys… Lancelot is secretly a middle-school girl in disguise…

He’s…

*deep breath*

He’s not like other boys…

Me when the creepy old men at Walmart start flirting.

I have no idea what this smells like or if it even smells pleasant (unlikely), but every single female in this entire book smelled like it which prompted this text to my mom.

She couldn’t understand why I was so enraptured with sweat and deodorant

Were they even trying with these names?

Fair words, dear sir, but read only a little further and—

Sir Lancelot, at forty-five years of age, releasing his petty inner teenage girl. (Who isn’t like other girls, mind you.)

He… he named his spear… Ron…

RON.

Two things:

1.) What is a Rood.

2.) Shouldn’t these people, I dunno, ASK WHAT THEY’RE SWEARING BEFORE THEY SWEAR IT??

Case in point.

I live for Gawain randomly letting rip a Scottish accent and then never doing it again. Stunning continuity.

Ah yes, I too look to my digestive organs for insight on complicated moral decisions.

This kid’s insults are truly inspired.

I will allow a brief interruption in my fest of mockery because this line made me shed a tear.

Anyway.

Thus concluded book #1, The Sword and the Circle. I was feeling a bit mentally unstable at this point. To give a brief summary—

• Sir Lancelot is not like Other Boys.™

• All women are either seductresses or evil seductresses and somehow we should be able to tell the difference.

• These guys’ spears do nothing but break.

• Gore.

• Despite having the entire story named after him, Arthur had a disappointing lack of screen time.

• There was only one instance of quoth. I felt cheated.

And thus, I moved on to book #2, The Light Beyond the Forest. No one told me it was about a heretical cup. I discovered this necessary bit of information too late.

Is this Benedict Cumberbatch?

*blinks*

New vocabulary word, kids.

Dude, this is like, soooo coolth.

Unsurprisingly, she was an evil seductress. Except she wasn’t. Because of the weird heretical cup.

And HOW, pray tell, is this supposed to help ANYTHING?

Don’t you just love when the chapter title is a spoiler.

So… a disembodied arm just… floated… into the room… and these guys merely nodded and smiled at it like a museum display…

Little kids when they’re trying to get out of something.

Signs you need therapy, 101.

And thus concluded The Light Beyond the Forest. I was 500 pages into this thing and determined to stick with it to the end, regardless of my rapidly diminishing sanity. For an entire week my mind was consumed with nothing but shattering spears and disembodied arms. It was creepy.

Enter The Road to Camlann, where we are reacquainted with an old and trauma-inducing nemesis:

HER.

*gags*

I have never related to her sons so much as in this sentence.

This forest has been spending too much time with Sir Lancelot.

*blinks*

He did what.

Then everything descended into death and chaos and I lost the will to live, let alone mock. Which says a lot about the ending of The Road to Camlann.

And so my foray into Arthurian legend came to a rough and dreary close, during which I witnessed more weak spears and evil women than I ever care to read about again. If you’re a fan of incessant jousting, gore, infidelity in mass quantities, names like “Bleoberis” or “Sir Gryflet le Fise de Dieu,” and potentially heretical drinking vessels, this book is definitely for you.

For the rest of you — or should I say, the sane ones…

The two instances of quoth aren’t worth the amount of cut-and-paste jousts you have to suffer through first.

Thus concludes Book Roasts, Volume 1. Stay tuned for more. This will be an ongoing series.

~Sarah

34 thoughts on “I Read King Arthur So You Don’t Have To // book roasts, vol. 1

  1. I am immensely excited for this series. And also immensely grateful that I’ve now been spared the necessity of reading King Arthur. (To be fair, I read multiple King-Arthur-related tales in school, but I don’t remember much at all from them. Perhaps I’ve blocked them out of trauma. *shrugs*)

    Like

  2. Haha, I got a good laugh out of this. 🙂 I’ve never read much King Arthur–note to self–don’t. But hey, I can actually tell you what a Rood is–Old English phrase for ‘Wood’, and in cases such as that (Holy Rood), it refers to the Wood of the Cross. #becauseIownalargebookofOldEnglishhymns
    God bless, Sarah!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Agh I cannot wait for the rest of this series. Please go on roasting books for as long as you shall live, Sarah, and I will be here to behold the gloriousness of your roasting.

    My foray into King Arthur has been courtesy of fantasy books with little relation to history or myth: the Books of Pendragon by Stephen Lawhead (fairly unclothed girls wrestle oxen??) and The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White (Merlin lives life backwards and Arthur is called Wart). Will I read more of the actual myths? Or the Rosemary Sutcliff versions?

    Doubtful.

    (Btw, Sutcliff is actually a fantastic author. I love her Knight’s Fee very muchly. I suppose retellings weren’t her strong suit.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As long as I walk this earth, I will continue to roast books, and even once I’m dead and buried my body shall rise up from the earth to haunt people’s memories with the spirit of literary ridicule.

      FAIRLY UNCLOTHED GIRLS WRESTLE OXEN. I’M DYING. 😂😂😂

      I haven’t read much of Sutcliff’s work, but I’m inclined to agree with you. I have several friends who are rabid about her.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Forsooth, this is a worthy lampoon! I’m looking forward to more!

    Reminds me of my introduction to Le Morte d’Arthur, which was a bit of a biff in the face. I couldn’t understand why everyone was running about making terrible decisions, not to mention the historical anachronisms. I’m still glad I read it, as it was interesting, but it’s not something I’d let kids see.

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  5. Ugh, this is HILARIOUS. Help.

    One of my favorites was “a forest not like other forests”—”been spending too much time with Sir Lancelot.” 🤣 (Poor ol’ misfit Sir L.) And “he placed his hand on his belly”—”Ah yes, I too look to my digestive organs for insight on complicated moral decisions.”

    *dies*

    Thank you for sparing us the trouble of reading it ourselves. (Kind of a real shame it wasn’t worth much tho. I like the idea of the Arthurian legends, but don’t know much other than the basics. This is sad.)

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    1. That one by Percival about stomachs and consciences is my absolute favorite in the entire post.

      Honestly the aesthetic of the Arthurian legend absolutely slaps. 100% in favor of it. Which is why the book was so disappointing. 😂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. …it “absolutely slaps.”

        Yes. Definitely. That’s the way to describe it. (B’lieve it or not, I have never heard that term before. “Slaps” in that context. 😂)

        Well I guess the aesthetic can just slap by its lonesome, regardless of the actual stories.

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  6. Sarah, I’d like you to know that my life has expired. Fortuitously, I left this world in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

    Two culprits: The Forest’s time with Lancelot, and the Consultation of Digestive organs 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    My ghost looks forward to future posts in this series!!

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  7. Oh my goodness, this had me laughing so hard. 🤣 Seriously though, my exposure to Arthurian legend has primarily been BBC’s Merlin and THAT is the best TV show ever, so . . . I’m glad I didn’t start with this King Arthur series. 🤣 (Btw, if you’re interested, I nominated you for the Single Line Story Challenge!)

    Like

    1. I’ve heard lovely things about BBC’s Merlin. Tainting the experience with the actual account isn’t worth it.

      (ALSO, thank you muchly for the challenge, it looks like a super fun!)

      Like

  8. I have not read any King Arthur legends yet, but it was on my agenda. However, after reading this, my desire to acquaint myself with the Knights of the Round Table is greatly lessened. I think I much prefer reading these roast posts to any actual legend. They are too entertaining! xD

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    1. …yep, I’m definitely going to be burned at the stake by the hands of some angry Arthurian nerds. It’s a worthwhile sacrifice. My life has been noble spent if by my demise poor innocent souls are spared the angsty clutches of Lancelot’s mood swings.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. SARAH
    I’m in a cafe and have gotten a multiplicity of stares because I am laughing out loud at this because…
    AAAAAAAH I AM DEAD!!!
    Lancelot is not like other men.
    He swarms up ropes.
    THE SPEAR’S NAME IS RON.
    *wipes tear from eye*
    If I knew that I had only five minutes left to live, I would read this post so I could go to my grave with tears of critical, literary joy.
    Bless you for this masterpiece and may you live to write many more.

    Like

    1. Truly Lancelot is a most unusual man. I was waiting for him to let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding, or some other such habit he might have picked up from his fellow YA heroines.

      I guess literary derision is a good way to go out. 😂

      Like

  10. This was absolutely hilarious. Highly disappointing, as Rosemary Sutcliffe is one of my favourite authors, and this sounds ridiculous, but still hilarious. May I suggest Roger Lancelyn Green’s King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table next? It is quite good (sounds better than this one anyway) but still has enough bizarre content to satisfactorily mock. Stephen Lawhead’s Arthur books are good too, more LOTR like and with less infidelity.

    Like

      1. Ooh, I’ll add those to my TBR list! Honestly I really do want to find a good King Arthur book, because the idea of the story is just… *chef’s kiss* fabulous.

        Percival stole my heart and soul. He deserved the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello there Sarah!
    ‘Tis I, your best friend’s ISTP brother 🙂
    I have a confession to make *coughs*… I have been stalking your blog for years (ever since you started it actually) ‘cuz that’s the type of creep I am 😉
    I have laughed my way through your posts probably harder than I should have, and I usually end the post staring at the screen with a cheesy grin because it was just SO GOOD.
    Your humor/sarcasm are truly incredible, and I have never read one of your posts that didn’t at least make me smile, no matter how the rest of my day went, it’s always a bright spot in it so thank you for that 🙂
    Your serious/spiritual posts are truly beautiful as well and they always resonate very deeply.

    I’m not even going to get started on your art because I don’t have the right words for it but lemme just say that the Peter/Edmund watercolor is in my top 3 favorite paintings of all time, just so much feeelz…

    I’ve never felt the need to comment on anything before but this post was especially fun (scathing criticism usually is) and I just wanted to let you know!
    In short, you and your blog are coolth… 🙂

    There you have it, I’ve been stalking you for years, mostly for stomach hurting laughter, and will continue to do so in the future 🙂
    Keep it up!

    ~William

    P.S. Your tags section just keeps getting better! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. WILLIAM!! Pardon me as I beam like a fool, but I feel enormously proud to have dragged you from the corner of creepiness. Apparently scathing criticism is a powerful combatant against stalking! Who knew?

      Seriously though, this made me smile extra hard. I have been dubbed coolth by a master of coolthness. What more could I ask for. Thanks for emerging from the shadows; this was a lovely and encouraging surprise.

      …and I apologize to your stomach. It doesn’t deserve that kind of torment. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow… I gave somebody a lovely and encouraging surprise… that just made my whole week! 🙂

        Apology accepted 😉

        Btw, you’re supposed to read that last line in a Balin voice 😛

        The first time I saw your Peter/Edmund piece (without knowing who they were) I was like “Oh, that’s cool, the guy on the left kinda reminds me of Peter Pevensie…” and then I kept looking at it more and realized “WAIT, WAIT, IT IS PETER… AND EDMUND!!! I almost died from sheer feels right at that moment of realization, it got 1,000 times better in that instant, lemme tell you… 😀
        I SHALL NOT FORGET. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t know if I should be concerned that I read that line in a Balin voice even before I realized that’s how you intended it, but here we are.

          *prolonged cackling* The amount of times I’ve watched people squint long and hard at my fanart and then out with a perplexed, “but who IS it?” is a struggle for the soul. The select few people who actually understand deserve a medal. (Actually, once upon a time I was going to do a similar painting of Boromir and Faramir, and then for some Sarah-ish reason, didn’t. Huh. I’m going to revive that idea.)

          Liked by 1 person

      1. “(Actually, once upon a time I was going to do a similar painting of Boromir and Faramir, and then for some Sarah-ish reason, didn’t. Huh. I’m going to revive that idea.)”
        YOU MUST DO IT, IT WOULD HURT SO GOOD. XD

        Liked by 2 people

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