Arthur, the Always King

Arthur, the Always King
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
April 11, 2023
Buy This Book
Translated, adapted, told, and retold, the stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table have captivated imaginations across time. Now comes a lavishly illustrated, masterful retelling sure to enthrall a new generation of readers. From the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the quest for the Holy Grail, stories both familiar and unfamiliar are woven into a vivid tapestry of Arthurian lore that spans from the king’s conception to his final battle. Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot, and other timeless characters come to life as complex men and women in a rich and atmospheric feat of storytelling that feels at once historical and fantastical, otherworldly and fully human. A compelling collaboration between internationally acclaimed author Kevin Crossley-Holland and three-time Kate Greenaway Medal winner Chris Riddell, this beautiful volume is sure to be treasured by readers of all ages.

Editor review

1 review
Arthur and his chivalrous knights
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The narration of the tale is an interesting blend of historical “facts” and storytelling. Arthur is the main character and the book traces his life from birth to his tragic death. He’s dependent on Merlin’s counsel during his early years but slowly learns to incorporate the lessons into his own leadership style. Readers will also notice a reverent, religious element as references to Jesus and to faith are sprinkled throughout the narrative. King Arthur must repel invaders from the Roman Empire and he later heeds an order directly from the pope. Warriors wield time-period weapons including spears, lances, and swords, and their bodies are protected by armor. The narrator shares Arthur’s jubilations, frustrations, and doubts as he tries to lead his faithful followers in Britain.
The entire book has the feel of a collection of short stories rather than one long adventure. Arthur and Merlin imagine the Round Table will be the greatest collection of chivalrous knights in history but it will only come true if they successfully complete seven trials. These steps are identified by Arthur and the next seven chapters share different stories of how various knights triumph and fail with individual challenges. The first trial is “Friendship and Bravery”, followed by the trial of “Love”, and the final test is “The Blood Knot”. Arthur tries to lead his brave knights in a life of chivalry and honor, but in the end, he discovers they’re all human. The book sometimes reads like a medieval soap opera.
The stories present a good deal of magic and fantasy through the wizard Merlin, Arthur’s half-sister Morgan, and different imaginary creatures. Arthur pulls a sword from a stone thus demonstrating he’s the new true king and he later retrieves a magical sword and scabbard from the Lady in the Lake. A girdle protects a knight from harm and a cape engulfs a character in flames. Merlin shares prophecies and visions of the future which may be spoilers for readers without basic knowledge of the legends surrounding King Arthur. Beautiful, colorful drawings adorn the book’s pages, enhancing the descriptions and immersing readers in the tales.
What didn’t work as well:
While the book’s listing indicates it’s written for ages 10 and up, Arthur and the other characters are more adultlike than kids. The book quickly covers Arthur’s childhood as he becomes king and gets married in the early chapters. It’s probably most appropriate for middle-school readers or younger teens.
The Final Verdict:
The short story format breaks the book into logical stopping points and the seven trials give the overall narrative direction and structure. This book will appeal to lovers of medieval times and especially to readers who are familiar with King Arthur. I recommend you give it a shot.
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