10 books like The History of the Kings of Britain

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

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The History of the Kings of Britain. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Hero with a Thousand Faces

By Joseph Campbell,

Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

I have to include this book because, just as it was for the original Star Wars film, it was a direct inspiration for my first novel. To be a good writer, you have to be aware of the existing patterns and how it relates to the collective unconscious. And Joseph Campbell dedicated his life to understanding the impact of storytelling and mythology and how it relates to the growth of civilization. If you’ve never read this book, it may just blow your mind. It is a bit long though, so you may want to find an audiobook version.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Hero with a Thousand Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell's classic cross-cultural study of the hero's journey has inspired millions and opened up new areas of research and exploration. Originally published in 1949, the book hit the New York Times best-seller list in 1988 when it became the subject of The Power of Myth, a PBS television special. The first popular work to combine the spiritual and psychological insights of modern psychoanalysis with the archetypes of world mythology, the book creates a roadmap for navigating the frustrating path of contemporary life. Examining heroic myths in the light of modern psychology, it considers not only the patterns and stages…


Myth

By David Leeming,

Book cover of Myth: A Biography of Belief

This short book takes a deep dive into the nature of mythology and its relationship to the human mind. As well as the mythologies of past civilizations, Leeming examines modern-day myths and cultural beliefs and shows how myths are living and evolving things that serve a human need to understand the universe. If you have ever wondered what makes a myth a myth, or why everyone seems to have them, this book has some interesting answers.

Myth

By David Leeming,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell wrote that mythology is "the wonderful song of the soul's high adventure." In Myth, David Leeming considers the role this "wonderful song" has to play in a world increasingly dependent on scientific and technical information.
Exploring classic works such as the Song of Songs, the Tao Te Ching, the Rg Veda, the New Testament, and the Indonesian myth of Hainuwele, Myth reveals the cultural energies that ancient "mythmakers" sought to corral in their creations. Leeming argues that myths are, by definition, evolving creations that live on in the work of modern-day "mythmakers" such as W.B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf,…


The Quest of the Holy Grail

By Unknown, Pauline M. Matarasso (translator),

Book cover of The Quest of the Holy Grail

This is an early example of mythology being used for a deliberate purpose: in this case, the promotion of Christian chivalric virtue. Full of dreamlike images and allegories, it also had a great influence on early fantasy writing, even if those creating early fantasy tales had never read it. And then, of course, there’s Monty Python.

The Quest of the Holy Grail

By Unknown, Pauline M. Matarasso (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quest of the Holy Grail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Composed by an unknown author in early thirteenth-century France, The Quest of the Holy Grail is a fusion of Arthurian legend and Christian symbolism, reinterpreting ancient Celtic myth as a profound spiritual fable. It recounts the quest of the knights of Camelot - the simple Perceval, the thoughtful Bors, the rash Gawain, the weak Lancelot and the saintly Galahad - as they journey through danger and temptation to reach the elusive Holy Grail. But only one of them is judged worthy to see the mysteries within the sacred vessel, and look upon the ineffable. Enfused with tragic grandeur and an…


Holy Blood, Holy Grail

By Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent

Book cover of Holy Blood, Holy Grail

I first read this book while at university. I re-read it after touring the Langue d’Òc region of France focusing on the folklore surrounding Mary Magdalene. This book advances the hypothesis that the historical Jesus married Mary Magdalene and travelled to the south of France, where their children married into nobility and established what became known as the Merovingian dynasty. This book provided a source of information as well as support, given my subject matter and the two entwining histories: the biblical era of Jesus and the 13th C siege of Montsegur. Its extensive bibliography provided a rich source of research, including academic articles, essays, and books.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail

By Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Holy Blood, Holy Grail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is the traditional, accepted view of the life of Christ in some way incomplete?

• Is it possible Christ did not die on the cross?
• Is it possible Jesus was married, a father, and that his bloodline still exists?
• Is it possible that parchments found in the South of France a century ago reveal one of the best-kept secrets of Christendom?
• Is it possible that these parchments contain the very heart of the mystery of the Holy Grail?

According to the authors of this extraordinarily provocative, meticulously researched book, not only are these things possible — they…


The Age of Arthur

By John Morris,

Book cover of The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles from 350 to 650

John Morris was an ancient historian specializing in the later Roman Empire who late in life turned his attention to Dark Age Britain. I only met him very briefly at a conference in the mid-1970s, by which time he was already very ill. He wrote by far his best-known work while presiding over the translation of a host of source materials for early medieval Britain and their publication by Phillimore, all the time fighting his own battle against cancer. He didn’t just accept Arthur as a real historical figure but made him the pivotal figure of British history in the decades around 500, accepting as authoritative all sorts of stories written many hundreds of years later. In so doing he was largely responsible for bringing the Arthurian Period of British history into existence and certainly gave it enormous popular appeal. Rarely has one writer had such an impact on a…

The Age of Arthur

By John Morris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lifetime's scholarship enabled John Morris to recreate a past hitherto hidden in myth and mystery. He describes the Arthurian Age as 'the starting point of future British history', for it saw the transition from Roman Britain to Great Britain, the establishment of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales from the collapse of the Pax Romana. In exploring political, social, economic, religious and cultural history from the fourth to the seventh century, his theme is one of continuity. That continuity is embodied in Arthur himself: 'in name he was the last Roman Emperor, but he ruled as the first medieval king.'


Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature

By O.J. Padel,

Book cover of Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature

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…

Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature

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.


Concepts of Arthur

By Thomas Green,

Book cover of Concepts of Arthur

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…

Concepts of Arthur

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…


The Arthur of the Welsh

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

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

This is a volume of papers by lots of different scholars each speaking to their own specialism. This provides a brilliant introduction to numerous parts of Arthur’s story as it began and was then carried through inside the Celtic World both before and after its eventual transmission to England and France, where it took off so spectacularly. Reading through this provides insight into the development of Arthur in what must be assumed to have been his original setting. The book is getting a bit old now and there is a replacement in the offing but it is still a great place to start and opens all sorts of exciting doors through which to pass and explore.

The Arthur of the Welsh

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

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


Excalibur

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of Excalibur: A Novel of Arthur

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.

Excalibur

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.


The Winter King

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Winter King

This trilogy presents a clever reimagination of the Arthurian legend which I found delightful, of irreverent. It presents Arthur as a talented warlord protector of the infant King Mordred. Successful at first, Arthur devolves into an anti-hero when he is betrayed by power-hungry Guinevere and Lancelot, and again when Mordred comes of age. Merlin’s magic appears as a combination of plausible manipulation of the physical and the metaphysical with a healthy dose of credulity among the populace.

The pure creativity in this series makes it a keeper and I often refer to these pages for inspiration when writing. The author once declared that this was his personal favorite of the several series he has in publication, and as a fellow author, I can understand why.

The Winter King

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

7 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.


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