The best books on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

Cory O'Brien Author Of Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology
By Cory O'Brien

Who am I?

Cory O’Brien, author of such books as Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: a No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology, grew up reading myths and legends of all sorts, and turned that passion into a career with the advent of his extremely serious mythology website. He has always had a fondness for the Arthurian Legend in particular, ever since his father read him Howard Pyle’s King Arthur books as a child, and he realized he could use them as a moral justification for hitting other kids with big sticks.


I wrote...

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

By Cory O'Brien,

Book cover of Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

What is my book about?

From the creator of Myths Retold comes a hilarious collection of Greek, Norse, Chinese, and even Sumerian myths retold in their purest, bawdiest forms! All our lives, we've been fed watered-down, PC versions of the classic myths. In reality, mythology is more screwed up than a schizophrenic shaman doing hits of unidentified... wait, it all makes sense now. In Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O'Brien, creator of Myths RETOLD!, sets the stories straight. These are rude, crude, totally sacred texts told the way they were meant to be told: loudly, and with lots of four-letter words.

The books I picked & why

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Le Morte D'Arthur

By Sir Thomas Malory, William Caxton,

Book cover of Le Morte D'Arthur

Why this book?

If you’re interested in the Arthurian Legend, Thomas Mallory is a great place to start. He’s not the first guy to write about King Arthur and his knights (that honor is widely attributed to French poet Chrétien de Troyes), but he is possibly the first writer to collect all the scattered legends into one cohesive narrative. He’s also the only guy to do it while imprisoned for attempting to overthrow the government/having sex with another guy’s wife, at least as far as I know, and that passion for insurrection and adultery definitely shows through in his work. It’s a very old book, and as such the language can be a bit dense and meandering, but it’s also the basis for every other book on this list, and its age means you can read it for free through Project Gutenberg, so that’s a plus.

Le Morte D'Arthur

By Sir Thomas Malory, William Caxton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Le Morte D'Arthur as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel

By Thomas Berger,

Book cover of Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel

Why this book?

Arthur Rex tells the same story as Le Morte D’Arthur, but in a radically different way. Where Mallory idolizes the knights and nobles of Arthur’s court, Thomas Berger paints them in the most unflattering light possible. Everyone is a cretin, a sex maniac, or both, and their backwards morals are used as clever mirrors of our own modern moral failings. Arthur Rex is probably the funniest version of the Arthurian Legend that I’ve read. It’s got its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek. Even so, the ending managed to make me cry, so props to Berger for capturing the full range of emotions with this one.

Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel

By Thomas Berger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arthur Rex as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reinterpreting and expanding upon the Arthurian legend, the author begins to inject his own personality into the narrative, which constitutes a salute to the Age of Chivalry


The Mists of Avalon

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Book cover of The Mists of Avalon

Why this book?

No list of King Arthur books would be complete without this one. It’s a long read, to be sure, but it makes up for it by also being very, very horny. More importantly, The Mists of Avalon is the only account of the Arthurian Legend that centers the female characters in the story, attempting to explain the choices they make instead of painting them as irrational harpies the way many male authors do. The other strength of this book, which isn’t discussed as often, is its attention to historical accuracy. You’ll find yourself learning a lot about medieval food, dress, customs, and politics in between the horny parts.

The Mists of Avalon

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Mists of Avalon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the tragic tale of the rise and fall of Camelot - but seen through the eyes of Camelot's women: The devout Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's Queen; Vivane, High priestess of Avalon and the Lady of the Lake; above all, Morgaine, possessor of the sight, the wise, the wise-woman fated to bring ruin on them all...


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Why this book?

Sir Gawaine is one of the most interesting knights of the Round Table because of how imperfect he is. He’s not the strongest knight in the world -- that’s Lancelot -- and he’s definitely not the most virtuous -- that’s Galahad, who sucks -- he’s a working-class joe who routinely gets in over his head because he loves to swing swords more than he likes thinking about consequences. Sir Gawaine and the Green knight is a story of one of the knight’s most famous capers, and it does not disappoint. The original story was written in Old English, which is barely even English to be honest, so you’re going to need a translation to read it, and who better to translate such a story than J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Yes, that Tolkien. When he wasn’t making elves and humans kiss each other, he was a prolific philologist and translator, and The Green Knight is some of his best work. He even attempts to replicate the alliterative poetic structure common in medieval English poetry. That said, if Tolkein’s not your thing, plenty of others have translated this story. There’s even an extremely raunchy version of it in the aforementioned Arthur Rex, if that’s more your style.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This elegant deluxe slipcased edition of three medieval English poems, translated by Tolkien for the modern-day reader and containing romance, tragedy, love, sex and honour, features a beautifully decorated text and includes as a bonus the complete text of Tolkien's acclaimed lecture on Sir Gawain.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl are two poems by an unknown author written in about 1400. Sir Gawain is a romance, a fairy-tale for adults, full of life and colour; but it is also much more than this, being at the same time a powerful moral tale which examines religious and social…


The Once and Future King

By T. H. White,

Book cover of The Once and Future King

Why this book?

If you’re only going to read one book about King Arthur, make it this one. White’s five-volume epic on the rise and fall of Britain’s gentlest monarch is equal part whimsical, instructive, insightful, and devastating. Based heavily on Thomas Mallory’s version, Once and Future King breathes new life into the original characters by delving into their childhoods and showing us how they became the people Mallory says they are. White was writing this book before, during, and after World War II, and his thoughts on war and politics found their way into the story, making it a sneaky-good treatise on leadership, pacifism, and nation-building too. Also, tons of facts about birds. Seriously, this book has everything.

The Once and Future King

By T. H. White,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Once and Future King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Voyager Classics - timeless masterworks of science fiction and fantasy.

A beautiful clothbound edition of The Once and Future King, White's masterful retelling of the Arthurian legend.

T.H. White's masterful retelling of the Arthurian legend is an abiding classic. Here all five volumes that make up the story are published together in a single volume, as White himself always wished.

Here is King Arthur and his shining Camelot, beasts who talk and men who fly; knights, wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad; the masterpiece of fantasy by which all others are…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table, and knights?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table, and knights.

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