Celebrating the Death of Arthur
October 13, 2012 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever written an Arthurian novel with the Round Table as the bad guys? I am specifically *not* talking about books from the perspective of Mordred or Morgaine (or any of their cognates.) There are lots and lots of those.

I'm curious if someone has tried to tackle the story from the perspective of someone outside the traditional cast of characters, say, the invading Saxons, or perhaps the peasantry, in which the tragic collapse of Camelot is actually a glorious victory.

I assume it has been done, because everything about Arthur has been done - granting that, what are good, effective books from that angle? I particularly like more "historical" Celtic-influenced Arthuriana rather than French Romance-influenced Arthuriana, but either is good if well-executed.

(Er. No pun intended.)
posted by restless_nomad to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
The first bit of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court has a bit of this, though the ending complicates everything. I can't think of a more direct answer to your question, though as you say, it must have been done.

Googling around out of curiosity I see "King Arthur as Villain" in The Romance of Yder and a crazy Sonic the Hedgehog game.
posted by gerryblog at 8:00 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here Lies Arthur portrays Arthur as a fairly petty Celtic warlord trying to band people together to fight the Anglo-Saxons. He's not a villain exactly, but it's very pseudo-historical and well done.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:12 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know of one.

David Drake's first novel, The Dragon Lord (spoilers).

Arthur is a Machiavellian sociopath, Lancelot is a vicious and craven sadist, and Merlin is a whining, obsequious Voldemort.

Dazzlingly well-written; many of the scenes in this novel are burned into my memory, and I haven't looked at it for almost thirty years.
posted by jamjam at 8:38 PM on October 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Arthur Rex written by Thomas Berger is I guess what you'd say a spoof on the Arthurian Legend, definitely a different take and quite hilarious. In the style of "The Once and Future King" but with a modern twist. Thomas Berger is also the author of "The Little Big Man" a really great novel.
posted by PaulBGoode at 11:21 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you read The Camulod Chronicles? Not exactly bad guys, but an interesting take nonetheless.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:13 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Alfred Duggan's Conscience of the King a Romano-British dux who is an Arthur figure appears but in not the protagonist - fantastic book written from the perspective of an amoral chancer who wins a kingdom, and faces the putative Arthur at the battle of Mount Badon.
posted by Abiezer at 11:45 AM on October 14, 2012


Man, I was really expecting more answers to this one. Perhaps I can expand the terms a bit - I would also be fine with slightly obfuscated novels - where, say, the characters have different names and it's not *necessarily* Britain, but the structure is all there. (I'm a little afraid that opens up the floodgates, but since it seems like maybe this angle isn't over-represented after all...)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2012


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