The best Knights of the Round Table books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Knights of the Round Table and why they recommend each book.

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Le Morte D'Arthur

By Sir Thomas Malory, William Caxton,

Book cover of Le Morte D'Arthur

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.


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.

Arthur Rex

By Thomas Berger,

Book cover of Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel

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.


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 Mists of Avalon

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Book cover of The Mists of Avalon

What an audacious book – a retelling of the King Arthur legend from the women’s point of view. Part history, part fantasy, this book rang true to me in its portrayal of the power of the divine feminine. The female characters own their sexuality and the strength inherent to being a woman. I loved getting deliciously lost in Bradley’s imagination of the mystical skills of our ancient mothers. To this day, I wonder if she might have been writing about reality, not fantasy, and it is our present generation that has lost touch with our astonishing female powers.


Who am I?

There is no place that I find more truth from women than in the books we write, especially memoirs. Starting with my mother, and continuing through my education at Harvard and Wharton, and workplaces including Johnson & Johnson and The Washington Post, women have always fascinated me. Women’s roles are changing rapidly, but not rapidly enough in many ways. From discovering our beauty and sexuality as adolescents to becoming mothers, to navigating the corporate or entrepreneurial climb, to aging while female…it’s all much richer and far more manageable when we tell the truth to each other rather than hiding behind a mask of perfectionism, false chumminess, or cattiness. 

I wrote...

The Naked Truth: A Memoir

By Leslie Morgan Steiner,

Book cover of The Naked Truth: A Memoir

What is my book about?

The Naked Truth explores the intersection of aging, sexuality, and self-confidence of women after age 50 through the eyes of author Leslie Morgan as she audaciously dates five younger boyfriends following the end of a long unhappy marriage. The intensity of marriage and motherhood, along with juggling work and family demands, can result in women (and men) losing touch with ourselves. This book is a road map on how to find your confidence and sexuality again at any age.

The Once and Future King

By T. H. White,

Book cover of The Once and Future King

Who wouldn't want a serious dark age romance to open in horror, and then slip into the Disney landscape of the sword in the stone, before delivering a legendary and literary masterpiece? Make no mistake, this is a serious book from start to finish, capturing the full magical significance of the Arthurian legend, in a spellbinding story of incest, intrigue, plot, and counterplot, set against a heart-rending love triangle, and delivering a coup de grace ending, that is full of both despair and hope, for the future of England and humankind.


Who am I?

Born in the era of the space race and The Sky at Night I was entranced by the moon shots, and avidly read sci-fi and fantasy. An atheist, I became fascinated with world religions, largely due to my increased interest in quantum physics. Which seemed, with its explosion of light and energy from the void, to validate intelligent design. I discovered Gnosticism along the way, and found that it mirrored some of my own conjectures: That a creator may be flawed, misguided, or malevolent, and may not be the most powerful entity, or even the devil, in a pseudo underworld, with an unknown, all-powerful, entity beyond.


I wrote...

Lucifer's Child

By Gideon Masters,

Book cover of Lucifer's Child

What is my book about?

"Expert bodyguard required. High possibility of Death. Leave for foreign parts within the week. Three months or less. Dependent on ability to survive. £75,000.”

John read the psycho ad with incredulity. Against all reason, he found himself considering the prospect: He met the criteria: Thirty years a cop. He was an “expert”. Foreign parts? Who cares! Six-month prognosis? Time enough! Early death? No issue! She would remember the man of action he'd always been, not a cancerous and feeble cripple. £75,000 would nicely replenish the savings he'd taken from Helen, chasing non existent cures. He was in..! And so, the irrevocable chain of events were ignited, that would, ultimately, resurrect and rebuild John's psyche, and thrust him to the forefront of the salvation of humanity.

The Sword and the Circle

By Rosemary Sutcliff,

Book cover of The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

This is a vivid, dramatic and well-paced version of the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It is set in a legendary time full of castles such as Tintagel, or as here: "Meanwhile Sir Lancelot had lain six days and six nights prisoned in the vault below Sir Meliagraunce’s castle, and every day there came a maiden who opened the trap and let food and drink down to him on the end of a silken cord. And every day she whispered to him, sweet and tempting…" I love the resonance of Sutcliff’s writing; rereading it just now, I couldn’t resist reading it out loud just for the beauty of the sound of the language—something I’m very conscious of because I write poetry.


Who am I?

I’m a writer of historical novels and primary literacy books, and a poet. I was born in Trinidad and live in London. So why am I writing about the magic of castles? I’ve loved visiting them since I was a child, when I’d run round them and imagine what had happened there. Back home, I’d immerse myself in reading legends and fairy stories—at bedtime, lying in my top bunk, I'd make up stories to entertain my sister in her bottom bunk. So it was natural to move on to writing fictionthe novel I’ve just completed is about King Canute. I’ve written primary literacy books for Collins, Oxford, and Ransom.


I wrote...

Castles

By Maggie Freeman, Pat Murray, Mike Phillips

Book cover of Castles

What is my book about?

I’ve always loved castles. So when I was asked to write this primary literacy book about them I put in it the things that I enjoyed as a childclimbing spiral stairs, being up on the battlements or down in the dungeon, for example. I feel strongly that children need to enjoy books if they are going to want to read them.

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