(P) and ©1997 HighBridge Company; Cover Illustration Reproduced by Permission of The Granger Collection, New York.
This work is fairly well known to all lovers of the Arthurian Legend. But the life that Derek Jacobi breathes into every single sentence of the work is just amazing. His reading alone is worth listening to. Sometimes, I hear a sentence, and imagine how I would have read the same sentence; it is at these times that I realize how extraordinary are Mr. Jacobi's powers of interpretation.
Of course, the book itself is filled with tales of the highest adventure, even if the fifteenth-century language takes some getting used to. But in this edition, Derek Jacobi walks away with the show.
This sounds like it was taken from tape, and the audio quality is slightly rough around the edges. But Jacobi's reading is phenomenal, taking the knottiest of Malory's sentences and turning them into shimmering, expressive prose. The abridgement is full enough to capture an accurate flavor of the original. Malory's stories develop endless branches upon branches, and just when you think he's lost the thread of the story completely, he comes back to the main point and ties everything up. This version is particularly fortunate in including some of the narrative that follows the death of Arthur and Mordred: the dilemmas faced by Lancelot and Guinevere after the passing of the kingdom, and the decisions they make, are almost unbearably painful. Jacobi, relating these stories, sounds like an old friend by the fireside on a cold winter's night.
One only has to track down the original text of this book to appreciate the reader's skill in its interpretation of it. I did this,curious to investigate the unabridged version,and found it unfathomable!The text was laid out in the ancient English style,with endless lines running into each other and no paragraphs or punctuation to guide you through it.But Derek Jacobi manages to not only to conquer the text,but to give it life as well.If you can excuse the odd patterning of the result,the book is a very worthwhile investment.
Overall it is a great resource because the narrator trains you in how to read the antiquated prose. Without this training, it would be really tough to know how to read it - in my opinion anyway. However because it's abridged, you don't get the closure on many of the stories, so you have to read the book and use this audio as a supplement.
I've wanted to read this but never found the time so thought I would listen to it instead. The narrator was good but I just couldn't keep up with all the character and location changes. I thought the abridged version would be easier to follow but it was still just too difficult. I gave up after just a few days.
Forever a fan of King Artuhur, and of Derrick Jacoby, i was still a little anxious about the early English. Pleasantly surprised to find that some high school French, as well as Jacoby's superb reading, rendered any language barrier null and void. A collection of adventure and mystical stories, with a bit of history... glorious escape reading! thanks so much for offering it. Having whet my apppetitie, i may have to buy the unabridged in text, for occasional perusal.
Depends. If you like the high adventure of King Arthur, then this is for you.
All of it. Jacobi breathes such life into the characters, and really brought the archaic prose to life.
Didn't laugh or cry, but I did enjoy it very much.
The only thing I could call a problem is that I would have liked to have heard more of Arthur's pre-grail adventures. But such is the way of abridgements.
Being a fan of "Excalibur" and films about King Arthur, I wanted to get the legends from the source. I found this book tough to get through. I had to repeat many parts because my mind would start to wonder. Other times I was engrossed in the story. Overall I enjoyed it but it was a hard journey.
"Only 2 stars for such a classic? Why?"
A good but not great production of the seminal version of the Arthurian legends with a lot to recommend it. But a few factors reduce it to 2 star book. Let's start with the good points:
Although it's abridged that seems to have been applied to whole chapters rather then pieces of description so what you do get does give a wonderful taste of the original book. The stories themselves are some of the most gripping yarns of all time. If you like tales of knights and chivalary then you will certainly enjoy this book.
But here are the bad points:
Whole stories have been cut, most noteably Tristian and Isolode and the tale of Sir Gareth. This ruins the balance of the book as what is left is mostly about Lancealot, whom I got quite bored with towards the end!
Previously I've found Derek Jacobi to be a wonderful reader, saddly his performance here is limited and everything is delivered in the same authoritive tone, this also gets a bit boring after a while.
The sound quality is very poor (you will notice a contrast between the Audible introduction and the reading itself) and the chapter marks/navigation points seem to be in random and unhelpful places.
Overall there's plenty to like if you are a fan of King Arthur. But if you just want to enjoy some tales of chivalary go for Terry Jones reading of Sir Gawian and the Green Knight or the excellent Naxos childrens production read by Sean Bean.
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