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Monday, January 5, 2015

Now that's more like it! Excellent King Arthur graphic novel!

Lee, Tony; Hart, Sam  (2011) Excalibur:  The Legend of King Arthur.  Somerville, MA:  Candlewick

A month or two ago I reviewed a graphic novel about King Arthur that was really pretty bad -- and I said in that review that it was a shame because the King Arthur story is such a good one -- and that graphic novel had horribly mangled and missed it.  I recently read Tony Lee and Sam Hart's graphic novel Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur and all I can say is -- that is what I am talking about!

Seriously, it is all here in words and pictures.  We get to see Arthur's transformation from a skinny straw-haired boy to the king who could unite all of Britain.  There is romance here (and not just the Arthur and Guinevere thing -- but the more complicated web beyond it.  Here are battles and magic and enchanted swords and portals into the realms of faerie and noble knights and evil villains and sorceresses and everything that the story of King Arthur is supposed to be.  The art captures all of it, the heroic stances, the tragic injuries, the rise and fall of an entire kingdom.  It is here and it is right.  And Lee and hart know how to write a graphic novel.  The panel transitions are well-thought out and highly engaging.

This is probably a book that will grab boys first (though there are some heroic female characters here as well -- they just aren't the center of the story.)  There is some violence and some clothed embracing in bed, but nothing that is obviously worthy of a challenge. I would say it is probably ideal for 5th or sixth graders through high school   (and once your student or child is hooked on this one, give them T.H. Whites excellent book The Once and Future King or John Steinbeck's The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights.  Let them find Mallory and the other historical classics on their own.  It is more fun that way.

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