The story begins with King Uther Pendragon's use of enchantment to lay with Igraine, Duchess of Cornwall. Arthur is conceived and taken away in secret, returning as a young man to claim the throne by pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone. In retelling the story of Arthur's rule of Britain, Malory intertwines the romances of Guinevere and Launcelot, Tristram and Isolde, and Launcelot and Elaine. Sir Galahad's appearance at Camelot begins the quest for the Holy Grail. Finally, Camelot is brought down by the conflict between King Arthur and his natural son, Mordred.
(P)1997 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"The most authoritative version of the legend in the English tradition." (The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature)
"Le Morte d'Arthur remains an enchanted sea for the reader to swim about in, delighting at the random beauties of 15th-century prose." (Robert Graves)
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
Like so many, I grew up reading the tales of Arthur, and though it's been years since I've read this particular version of it, it's always stood out to me as one of the best versions. Let it be said that it's still a fantastic version, but it's nowhere near as straightforward as I remember it.
The knights and their lineages are given rapidly (it's good to have Wiki or some other resource with you), and many of the story points are told out of order or given through prophecy. I realize that spoilers are a bit of a non-issue for a story like this, but for a first-timer, it's not the most friendly version. Then again, they do kind of give you all the spoilers in the book's description, don't they? Even so, it doesn't detract from the magic of the tales.
This particular reading... skip it. Unless you're already predisposed as liking Frederick Davidson's narrating style, let this be a warning. Like so many other reviewers, I find his voice to be ok, but his tone and presentation make him come across like a British Tommy Lee Jones: bored, annoyed, and otherwise disgusted with the material. I have an abridged version on cassette narrated by Derek Jacobi that I bought some 20+ years ago, and it's a far, far superior reading. I'd love to find an unabridged version by him or someone with equal enthusiasm for the material.
Le Morte D'Arthur is an easy listen and I would listen to it again because these timeless tales are always entertaining.
This book is just as great as other Frederick Davidson's readings. I don't know why some people do not like his voice, I find it great. Have you ever heard him read Les Miserabes by Victor Hugo...FANTASTIC!
I got my MA in medieval literature, and was at first so psyched to see this text available as an audiobook — unfortunately, the choice of narrator is just ... SO bad! I absolutely love Malory's presentation of the Arthurian material, but this narrator sounds throughout the entire production as though he's just caught scent of something foul.
No emotion. Reading too quickly. Seemed to be just trying to get the story over with.
Should have gone with the abridged version
I'd certainly recommend the book to a friend, but definitely not this specific recording.
Well, obviously the stories (which I heard bits and pieces of since childhood).
Honestly, it would be better if it used another reader. I read the other reviews complaining about this reader, but thought that maybe it was just the accent. I grew up in England, so I figured it wouldn't bother me. What I found is that it isn't the accent so much as the reader's style of reading. As someone else wrote, he really does read the story like there is something very foul and distasteful right under his nose. Somehow there also seems to be a constant note of condescension in his voice, like he's reading the story to what he thinks are group of not-too-bright school boys.It's very distracting.
Since I ended up listening to it all over again with a different group of readers, no. Now the actual story (or really set of stories) is definitely worth the time -- it brings together some of the fundamental myths of western culture.
I have listened to hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of recorded books. Readers have their pluses and minus, but this one, with this book, is awful. I struggled through the first two books (about 10 hours) before I gave up and got the LibriVox version -- the amateur readers there do a much better job (and some can even pronounce the French correctly) :)
The chapter markers are completely meaningless for chapters in the work. Really disappointed in that. The reading is good but you really have to pay attention as it is read really quickly without a lot of breaks between sections of the stories.
The narrator tells all in a bored and offhand way which not only robs the story of any possible drama but becomes positively offensive after a while. I couldn't finish this, life is too short.
Bachelor Chef and Mathematician. I don't bother with books shorter than 20 hours, not worth the effort.
A different reader
I hated them all by the end of the second hour of this nightmare rendition of Sir Thomas Mallory's wonderful compilation.
I couldn't finish the book so it may have but I am unwilling to go further with it. I don't let someone hit me in the head twice, this narrator is as bad as Scott Brick.
An avid book "listener". As I own my own dental lab,I make teeth sitting at a bench all day, I have plenty of time to enjoy Audible titles
It is difficult to pick only one thing and so I feel the best part of this book is the fact that you may see the root from which so many other hero stories draw their inspiration.
I have heard a number of Mr Davidson's performances and I feel that this one maintains the high standards that he has set before.
This is not a book for a single sitting. Putting it simply, there are just too many stories, characters and events for a single sitting (I had to break it up with something more modern; Hamlet). This is not truly flowing story because you are introduced to a astounding number of characters and the heroic events of their lives, which, putting it directly, makes this book better to be taken in sections in order to digest the events just listened to.
I was initially nervous about purchasing this book due the number of complaints about Mr Davidson's reading of it, but I can honestly say that his reading was excellent and that I have no idea why there are the complaints that there are or what provoked them. The reading was done by an Englishman about Englishmen and his variation of accent and attitude were excellent. The only complaint that I have ever had with Mr Davidson's characterizations were in the way he reads American accents, but as there are no Americans in this book I have no complaints about his performance.
Ph.D Candidate of Medieval English Literature concentrating on transgender and disability. Writer on theology and the LGBT community.
Le Morte is not just one story but many, not the first but one of the best compendiums of King Arthur's knights. The Roundtable was host to diverse knights with substantially varied personalities and types of adventures. A Sir Tristan tale and a Sir Gawain tale represent different mini-genres within chivalric romance.
Le Morte is most like a collection of super-hero stories like the Avengers and the Justice League, representing the work of many different authors, versions of the characters, and evolving narratives.
The Book of Sir Tristan is a personal favorite for its examination of uncertain truth, depressive madness, and broken love.
"Very poor quality"
The quality of the book is far below par it sounds like it's been recorded from a tape via the world worst mic.
No I still like the genre
Better quality recording
Disappointed by this
I would remove it until you manage to get a recording of better quality
"Fascinating stories, dreadful narration"
One of those books I'd always wanted to read but never got around to, so the chance to listen to it whilst commuting was too good to miss. The stories are often odd, sometimes amusing and regularly exciting. They also give a fascinating glimpse into the way the mediaeval mind worked.
However, I so nearly asked for a refund as the narration is quite simply diabolical. Frederick Davidson has a posh old Etonian-style accent and he enunciates well with no mistakes, but his delivery of the prose is as the dryest sermon you ever heard from some stuffy old vicar who has long since given up trying to win any new souls. There are no changes of mood, no excitement in the heat of battle, no sorrow or love, just stoic indifference (dearly beloved, blah, blah, blah). The dialogue is even worse as he changes hiis voice by moving back from the microphone, looking down his nose and expressing himself like a constipated wombat. Merlin, the kings, the knights of the round table and poor farmers alike are all afflicted with this most unnatural voice. Only Arthur himself (generally) manages to avoid the wombat treatment but instead sounds entirely effete.
In short, I thoroughly recommend the book, but not this version.
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