Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel by Thomas Berger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I read this book in High School, I had a fond memory of it being a new and interesting take on Arthurian legend. Well, this book did not age well at all. While the story loosely followed the well known adventures of the Knights of the Round Table, the characterizations were terrible. Virtually every major character was made out to be not just flawed but so terribly flawed that their flaws out shined their good attributes, the things that made them heroes. The character who took the worst hit was Guinevere.
The representation of Guinevere was terrible. She was represented as a complete bitch, she was shallow and cared for no one except for herself. She did not love either Arthur or Lancelot and made both of their lives miserable. I much prefer the older versions of her, where she loved both men and was eternally torn between them. Lancelot did not fair much better, being characterized as a bitter, miserable man being held hostage by Guinevere. This was not a beautiful if doomed romance, but rather an abusive relationship between two broken people. Arthur himself was nothing more than a buffoon where most all of the events of the books happen in spite of him, rather than because of anything he did or said. The author probably could have made him a minor side character and it would have made no difference to the story.
If you are looking for a good modern retelling of this tale, Arthur Rex is not it. I wish I had left this on the shelf as a memory from my teenage years.
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