Saturday, February 2, 2013
Book Review of #3 The Ill-Made Knight by TH White
Author: TH White
Publisher: Berkley Novel
Part of a Series: The Once and future King
Type of book: messed up details, King Arthur, Fantasy, Holy Grail, relationships, cuckolded husband, friendship, Medieval Ages
Year it was published: 1940
The Ill-Made Knight is based around the adventures, perils and mistakes of Sir Lancelot. Lancelot, despite being the bravest of the knights, is ugly, and ape-like, so that he calls himself the Chevalier mal fet - "The Ill-Made Knight". As a child, Lancelot loved King Arthur and spent his entire childhood training to be a knight of the round table. When he arrives and becomes one of Arthur's knights, he also becomes the king's close friend. This causes some tension, as he is jealous of Arthur's new wife Guinevere. In order to please her husband, Guinevere tries to befriend Lancelot and the two eventually fall in love. T.H. White's version of the tale elaborates greatly on the passionate love of Lancelot and Guinevere. Suspense is provided by the tension between Lancelot's friendship for King Arthur and his love for and affair with the queen.
The characters are complex and drawn well; Arthur who knows but refuses to acknowledge the deeds; Sir Lancelot who loved King Arthur but then becomes smitten with Queen Guinevere and Queen Guinevere who is haunted by her bareness and can only watch in distress as Elaine gives a son to Lancelot. I guess I would have wanted to see a relationship between the father and son but that's not done. Also, I would have liked to know more about the Orkney Brothers.
Nothing is secret for long.
This is in third person narrative, mostly from Lancelot's point of view, although once in a while we do get to stay with Arthur and Queen Guinevere and any others. I had hoped to learn how King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were married but the author never divulged that type of information unfortunately. Unfortunately I cannot recall anything else about the book.
May 29, 1906 in Bombay, India
January 17, 1964
Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Historical Fiction
About this author
Born in Bombay to English parents, Terence Hanbury White was educated at Cambridge and taught for some time at Stowe before deciding to write full-time. White moved to Ireland in 1939 as a conscientious objector to WWII, and lived out his years there.
The novel completely focuses on Sir Lancelot's point of view, and I have to commend the author for trying to portray Queen Guinevere sympathetically rather than as evil as in Bulfinch's mythology. It also gives an interesting portrayal of Arthur as being aware of the deeds but choosing not to heed them for one reason or another. Interesting psychology in the story. This is probably the longest book in the series and at some parts I was angry and disappointed how women in general were viewed, as well as the negative portrayal of Galahad's mother and the whole holy would get holies. The book moves past the golden age so to speak and things are starting to break down; what happens when your too perfect team makes sure all the evil is rid of? What to do then? Answer? Religion and quests for holy objects.
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)