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Rude Tales and Glorious:  A Retelling of the Arthurian Tales
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Rude Tales and Glorious: A Retelling of the Arthurian Tales

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Author: Nicholas Seare
Publisher: Crown Publishers, 1983

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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Picture a wintry night in a remote corner of Wales-- sleet and rain lashing the great stones of the castle of Dolbadarn. Within, imagine a baron sitting comfortably before a roaring fire with his wife, his fulsome daughter and their guest, the new clerick. But the Baron is restless. the clerick is a dull fellow, good only for 'confessing' the women in the upper chambers. What the Baron yearns for are stories. When a scurvy beggar and an ancient hag gain entrance claiming that they are in truth Sir Lancelot and the Fair Elaine, the Baron is only too glad to listen. Fortified by good food and drink, Sir Lancelot begins telling the tales of Sir Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they "really happened."

We meet the Knights milling about trying to decide how to choose their King. Merlin, a bearded, sly old man with a magic act, announces that the matter will be settled by a contest called the Sword and the Stone. He contrives for his assistant, Arthur, to win not only the adorable Gwen, known for her generosity in granting her favors far and wide. We meet Sir Gay and Sir Gervais, each blinded by the beauty of the other, and the Black and Red Knights-- will they ever find out what the grail is? We meet the marvelous Percival and his "flaw", a physical distinction "like the clapper of a great bell", and we follow his travels that, despite his affliction, finally earn him his place at the Round Table. What brave deeds were done by these honorable fellows!

These wonderful tales and more, so different from the ones in our history books, were penned in the fourteenth century by a forebear of the author, Nicholas Seare, who clearly has a sense of the ribald and satiric. Seare has at least seen fit to share them with us all. Medievalists will be edified, the general reader, amused and delighted.


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