100 books like The Age of Arthur

By John Morris,

Here are 100 books that The Age of Arthur fans have personally recommended if you like The Age of Arthur. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The History of the Kings of Britain

Nicholas J. Higham Author Of King Arthur: The Making of the Legend

From my list on the origins of King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a university historian and archaeologist my focus has been the Early Middle Ages. In the 1990s I wrote several books about the fifth and sixth centuries which barely mentioned Arthur but popular histories and films based on his story just kept coming, so I decided to look again at his story and work out how and why it developed as it did. I have published three well-received books on the subject, each of which builds on the one before, plus articles that have been invited to be included in edited volumes. I disagree with much in the five books above but collectively they reflect the debate across my lifetime. It is a great debate, I hope you enjoy it. 

Nicholas' book list on the origins of King Arthur

Nicholas J. Higham Why did Nicholas love this book?

Geoffrey’s History of the Kings is the work that picked Arthur up from the somewhat obscure backwater of Welsh story-telling and launched him onto the European stage, in the process creating a story that had an enormous influence on how the insular past was understood across the rest of the Middle Ages. Geoffrey was writing for the new Norman elite, who welcomed a view of the past which downplayed the Anglo-Saxons and centred instead on their rivals for control of ancient Britain, the Britons. He based his magnificent new work on the Historia Brittonum, a set of Welsh genealogies and various stories, all of which he embroidered from his own fertile imagination to construct a complex vision of insular history no closer to what had really happened than modern works such as Lord of the Rings or Star Wars

But by tapping into political and cultural needs in…

By Geoffrey of Monmouth, Neil Wright (translator), Michael D. Reeve (editor)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The History of the Kings of Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This imaginative history of the Britons, written in the twelfth century, is the first work to recount the woes of Lear and the glittering career of Arthur. It rapidly became a bestseller in the British Isles and Francophone Europe, with over 200 manuscripts surviving. Here, an authoritative version of the text is presented with a facing translation, prepared especially for the volume. It also contains a full introduction and notes.

MICHAEL REEVEis Kennedy Professor of Latin Emeritus at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge; Dr NEIL WRIGHT is a Senior Language Teaching Officer at the Faculty of History, University…


Book cover of Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature

Nicholas J. Higham Author Of King Arthur: The Making of the Legend

From my list on the origins of King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a university historian and archaeologist my focus has been the Early Middle Ages. In the 1990s I wrote several books about the fifth and sixth centuries which barely mentioned Arthur but popular histories and films based on his story just kept coming, so I decided to look again at his story and work out how and why it developed as it did. I have published three well-received books on the subject, each of which builds on the one before, plus articles that have been invited to be included in edited volumes. I disagree with much in the five books above but collectively they reflect the debate across my lifetime. It is a great debate, I hope you enjoy it. 

Nicholas' book list on the origins of King Arthur

Nicholas J. Higham Why did Nicholas love this book?

Oliver Padel is a linguist specializing in early Welsh and Cornish and as such the ideal guide to Arthur’s presence in early Celtic literature. While acknowledging that the earliest datable instances come in the Historia Brittonum in 829-30, his view is that Arthur began as a figure of Celtic mythology and was only later converted into a pseudo-historical figure fixed in the past. In that sense, the early Arthur is the individual in the Historia Brittonum in the section called Mirabilia (Wonders), where he is used as a way of explaining landscape features and the names given to them, who has then been adapted to be a British general fighting 12 battles in chapter 56. This has strongly influenced ways of looking at the evidence in recent years and it deserves our attention.

Personally, I don’t agree with it for two reasons. First of all is the whole issue of…

By O.J. Padel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating survey of the numerous references to Arthur found in medieval Welsh literature emphasising the diverse literary genres used and the multifaceted portrayal of the character. New edition.


Book cover of Concepts of Arthur

Nicholas J. Higham Author Of King Arthur: The Making of the Legend

From my list on the origins of King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a university historian and archaeologist my focus has been the Early Middle Ages. In the 1990s I wrote several books about the fifth and sixth centuries which barely mentioned Arthur but popular histories and films based on his story just kept coming, so I decided to look again at his story and work out how and why it developed as it did. I have published three well-received books on the subject, each of which builds on the one before, plus articles that have been invited to be included in edited volumes. I disagree with much in the five books above but collectively they reflect the debate across my lifetime. It is a great debate, I hope you enjoy it. 

Nicholas' book list on the origins of King Arthur

Nicholas J. Higham Why did Nicholas love this book?

Green’s book is a great read, very scholarly, and inclusive of a great deal of comparatively early source material on Arthur. If you want a good discussion of how you could go from a figure of Celtic myth to one of history, again and again in multiple stories, this is the best guide to that journey and deserves a hearing, whether ultimately you agree with it or not. You’ll probably not be surprised to hear that I am not persuaded, despite my considerable respect for the arguments made herein, largely for the same reasons as I noted in looking at Padel’s work above. It is extraordinarily difficult to determine whether Arthur passed from ‘history’ to folk-lore or folk-lore to ‘history’, better in my view to not distinguish these as two separate genres with this much clarity.

As usual, it all comes down to the Historia Brittonum, which is called…

By Thomas Green,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever since Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his 'History of the Kings of Britain' in the twelfth century, there have been numerous attempts to prove that the Arthur of Celtic legend was in fact based on an actual historical figure. This trend continues to the present day, although as yet no definitive literary or archaeological proof has emerged for Arthur's existence.
In this new and vigorous re-examination of the Arthurian legend, Thomas Green considers the earliest surviving literary and folkloric sources for Arthur and contests the belief that he was an actual person. Far from being an historical figure, Arthur emerges…


Book cover of The Arthur of the Welsh: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature

Helen Fulton Author Of A Companion to Arthurian Literature

From my list on sensible stories about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to the Arthurian legends through the medium of medieval Welsh literature, a subject that had intrigued and challenged me since I was an undergraduate. I found the language impenetrable and yet beautiful, while the literature it encoded was fascinatingly unlike the literary traditions of England and France. I wanted to connect with a version of Arthur that preceded the romance traditions of France and England and bears witness to a much older culture and social organisation. Though I've learned to love other versions of Arthur, and indeed I teach the Arthurian legends as part of my academic work, the stark drama of the Welsh poems and tales continues to intrigue me.

Helen's book list on sensible stories about King Arthur

Helen Fulton Why did Helen love this book?

For any serious Arthurian fan, an understanding of the Welsh origins of Arthur is essential, and yet unpicking these early threads of Arthurian material can be difficult.

This book provides the perfect guide, a series of accessible articles about the various stories and poems that circulated in Wales before the fourteenth century. As someone who has studied medieval Welsh literature in depth, I enjoy sharing knowledge of this fascinating culture with others, and this book opens a door into the world of early Wales where Arthur first took shape as a legendary battle warrior.

Arthur’s Welsh origins have perhaps attracted more extremist views than any other part of the legends, so this book, based on documentary evidence, is a welcome corrective to the more far-fetched speculations about the origins of Arthur.

By Rachel Bromwich (editor), A.O.H. Jarman (editor), Brynley F. Roberts (editor)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Arthur of the Welsh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Little, if anything, is known historically of Arthur, yet for centuries the romances of Arthur and his court dominated the imaginative literature of Europe in many languages. The roots of this vast flowering of the Arthurian legend are to be found in early Welsh tradition, and this volume gives an account of the Arthurian literature produced in Wales, in both Welsh and Latin, during the Middle Ages.

The distinguished contributors offer a comprehensive view of recent scholarship relating to Arthurian literature in early Welsh and other Brythonic sources. The volume includes chapters on the 'historical' Arthur, Arthur in early Welsh…


Book cover of The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman

Helen Fulton Author Of A Companion to Arthurian Literature

From my list on sensible stories about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to the Arthurian legends through the medium of medieval Welsh literature, a subject that had intrigued and challenged me since I was an undergraduate. I found the language impenetrable and yet beautiful, while the literature it encoded was fascinatingly unlike the literary traditions of England and France. I wanted to connect with a version of Arthur that preceded the romance traditions of France and England and bears witness to a much older culture and social organisation. Though I've learned to love other versions of Arthur, and indeed I teach the Arthurian legends as part of my academic work, the stark drama of the Welsh poems and tales continues to intrigue me.

Helen's book list on sensible stories about King Arthur

Helen Fulton Why did Helen love this book?

I love this description of the power that the Arthurian legends exerted in nineteenth-century Britain and its cultural imagination.

With the re-printing of Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur, poets, writers, and artists were inspired by these tales of chivalry and sacrifice at a time when the British Empire was at its height and ideals of service, governance, and personal endeavour were central to norms of masculinity.

Girouard perfectly captures the mood of the times and shows us why the vision of Camelot, doomed in its own Arthurian context, was even more flawed, and yet magnetic, in the context of empire.

By Mark Girouard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Return to Camelot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

. 1981, bright clean copy, with dustjacket, no markings, Professional booksellers since 1981


Book cover of Excalibur

Adam Lofthouse Author Of The Centurion’s Son

From my list on inspired me to start writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became obsessed with the ancient world at around seventeen, and have spent the subsequent years researching and gathering knowledge on all aspects of ancient life. It was through fiction that this love first blossomed and the yearning for books has not yet ceased. In 2015 I decided I didn’t want to just be a reader anymore, and I began work on what would in 2017 become my debut novel, The Centurion’s Son. I have no plans to stop any time soon.

Adam's book list on inspired me to start writing

Adam Lofthouse Why did Adam love this book?

I was about seventeen, at an airport waiting for a flight to Cyprus when I picked up this book whilst browsing. Didn’t realise at the time it would change my life forever. I read it three times in two weeks, despite finding out after the first time it was the third in a trilogy. I was hooked on the blood and the battles, the brotherhood of Arthur’s soldiers, the bygone era Bernard Cornwell seemed to so effortlessly breathe back to life. I haven’t looked back since.

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A story of love, war, loyalty and betrayal, EXCALIBUR begins with the failure of Lancelot's rebellion and the ruin of Arthur's marriage to Guinevere. The Saxons, sensing the disunity of the Britons, seize the chance to destroy Arthur. The climax of the war comes with the legendary triumph at Mount Badon, and Arthur`s great victory. But the promises he made then come back to haunt him after the years of peace and glory.


Book cover of The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Helen Fulton Author Of A Companion to Arthurian Literature

From my list on sensible stories about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to the Arthurian legends through the medium of medieval Welsh literature, a subject that had intrigued and challenged me since I was an undergraduate. I found the language impenetrable and yet beautiful, while the literature it encoded was fascinatingly unlike the literary traditions of England and France. I wanted to connect with a version of Arthur that preceded the romance traditions of France and England and bears witness to a much older culture and social organisation. Though I've learned to love other versions of Arthur, and indeed I teach the Arthurian legends as part of my academic work, the stark drama of the Welsh poems and tales continues to intrigue me.

Helen's book list on sensible stories about King Arthur

Helen Fulton Why did Helen love this book?

This was one of the first Arthurian reference books and remains one of the best.

Its comprehensive scope, covering Arthurian legends and characters across many European literatures, provides answers to all possible questions about the world of Arthur. The format of short alphabetical entries is perfect for browsing – you will find all you need to know about the Bleeding Lance or the ‘Gargantuan Chronicles’ among many other lesser-known Arthurian curiosities.

I found this book invaluable when I was preparing my own book and I still dip into it when teaching students.

By Norris J Lacy (editor), Geoffrey Ashe (editor), Sandra Ness Ihle (editor) , Marianne E. Kalinke (editor) , Raymond H. Thompson (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Arthurian Encyclopedia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discusses the literary, musical, and film versions of the story of King Arthur and surveys the characters, themes, and history of the Arthur legend


Book cover of By Force Alone

RJ Hore Author Of The Dark Lady

From my list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

An avid reader, and a spec-fiction/fantasy reviewer for CM Canada online, I’ve wanted to tell stories for as long as I can remember. I write “pantser-style” and let the characters run loose, looking at their motivation to steer the tale, often starting with little more than an idea and, if lucky, a character or two. My love of history led me to writing mediaeval or historical fantasy, as my first group of published novels attest, but to avoid stagnation added science fiction and a fantasy detective series of novellas. To date have fourteen novels and three anthologies of my novellas published and have appeared on panels at several cons.

RJ's book list on fantasy with a touch of darkness in its soul

RJ Hore Why did RJ love this book?

A brutal re-telling of the King Arthur legend, this novel reimagines the familiar story, retaining the feeling of weird magic, while pulling no punches about the characters. Arthur is a thug, Guinevere is no better, Merlin is a frustrated sprite beset by his female counterparts, and Britain is best described as a “clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.”

The first of a five-book planned series to tell the story of the Matter of Britain, this is a ruthless and dark take that grabbed me from the beginning. I’ve always loved history, even a warped version like this. It left me eager for more and set me tracking down what else this author had written. I was not disappointed.

By Lavie Tidhar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Force Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a legend...

Britannia, AD 535

The Romans have gone. While their libraries smoulder, roads decay and cities crumble, men with swords pick over civilisation's carcass, slaughtering and being slaughtered in turn.

This is the story of just such a man. Like the others, he had a sword. He slew until slain. Unlike the others, we remember him. We remember King Arthur.

This is the story of a land neither green nor pleasant. An eldritch isle of deep forest and dark fell haunted by swaithes, boggarts and tod-lowries, Robin-Goodfellows and Jenny Greenteeths, and predators of rarer appetite yet.

This…


Book cover of The Skystone

Catherine Wells Author Of Macbeatha

From my list on legendary characters from the British Isles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a graduate student in library science, I stumbled across an entry on Macbeth in a biographical dictionary. It stated he was actually a good king who ruled for seventeen years. Furthermore, he claimed the throne in his own name and that of his wife. I was hooked. I did extensive research trying to find the man behind the legend, and how the tale got twisted into what Shakespeare gave us. From Celtic, Norse, and English sources, I extrapolated the culture of 11th-century Scotland, and a man who might well have been the historical high king Macbeatha.

Catherine's book list on legendary characters from the British Isles

Catherine Wells Why did Catherine love this book?

Mentions of the historical Arthur—a war duke, not a king—date him to the late 5th and early 6th centuries. Merlin’s dates are fuzzier. Whyte sets this tale of Merlin’s origins in Roman Britain, consistent with the historical Arthur, as the withdrawal of Rome’s legions leaves the colony subject to invasion and insurrection. Young Publius, nicknamed Merlin, is a soldier and a blacksmith. He and his cousin Uther battle to keep Britannia from crumbling around them as Roman society is beset by external marauders and internal strife. Through it all, Merlin is intrigued by stories of a stone that fell from the sky—an iron-rich meteorite that has rendered steel, and which Merlin can forge into an incredible sword. In this richly developed story, Merlin is not a druid or a sorcerer, but a smith.

By Jack Whyte,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Skystone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a time preceding King Arthur and Camelot, two Roman men, Publius Varrus and Caius Britannicus, Arthur's great-grandfathers, try to preserve the best of Roman life and build a new culture out of the wreckage of the old and, in doing so, create a legend, in a new edition of the first volume in the


Book cover of The Winter King

Murray Dahm Author Of Finis Britanniae: A Military History of Late Roman Britain and the Saxon Conquest

From my list on thinking about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved stories about King Arthur–what’s not to love–Arthurian stories are about the underdog triumphing, destiny, knights and quests, swords (and stones, or lakes), great heroes and villains, and magic. My university studies made me into a military historian (among other things–including an opera singer and a historian of film), and I loved revisiting my love of Arthur in various guises. I have sung him on stage, played him in roleplaying games and miniature wargames, and I have written articles and books about him in film and history. I hope my list of recommendations provokes you to think about King Arthur in new ways!

Murray's book list on thinking about King Arthur

Murray Dahm Why did Murray love this book?

There have been too many novels featuring the story of King Arthur to count; this is my favorite. I found it (and the following two books in the series) really captured the idea of who Arthur was, why he was needed, and why he did what he did at the time for me.

It was the first Cornwell novel I read, and he has become my favourite novellist. I think he writes battle scenes better than anyone–he puts you in the middle of the action and makes you feel the visceral nature of combat (especially in his Arthurian and medieval books). If anyone is looking for a place to start with Arthurian fiction but doesn’t know where to begin, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and series. 

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Uther, the High King of Britain, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos - threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade. As he struggles to unite Britain and hold back the Saxon enemy, Arthur is embroiled in a doomed romance with beautiful Guinevere.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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