Arthur the King by Allan Massie

Arthur the King by Scottish author Alan Massie was first published in 2003 and has been waiting in my TBR pile for absolutely yonks and I sort of wish I had just left it there. I usually love books involving King Arthur, the Mary Stewart Merlin series is my favourite but I’ve also really liked T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, which I know some people have found to be very dry.

I’ve enjoyed previous books by Allan Massie but for some reason he decided to employ a really clunky and archaic writing style in this one. His take on Arthur and Merlin and a lot of the minor characters is unusual in that he has them having same sex relationships. It’s all very ‘right on’ I suppose but I don’t think it adds anything to the story. Arthur’s relationship with Morgan Le Fay is a long standing one, not a one off aberration as in most versions of the tale.

I suppose I just prefer my Arthurian tales to run along the more traditional lines but if you haven’t read those ones then you might find Arthur the King to be acceptable, it just wasn’t for me, but as I almost always finish a book which I’ve started to read in the hope that it’ll improve, I struggled on to the end, then was annoyed with myself for doing so.

Ah well, let’s hope the next book is more enjoyable. At least this one counts towards the Read Scotland 2014 challenge. I’ve lost count now, I think this is number 23 or 24.

Read Scotland 2014

Have you signed up for Peggy Ann’s Read Scotland 2014 Challenge yet? If not then have a wee think about doing it as I’m sure you could read at least 3 or 4 books which would qualify for it without even realising. For instance did you realise that Ian Fleming would fall into the category of Scottish author, and almost all of the children’s classic authors were Scottish or of Scottish descent. Now that Jack has actually retired he is going to do this challenge, his first ever, he should have much more time for reading now, have a look at his post about it here. We will both be doing the Ben Nevis which is 13 books but we’ll end up doing far more than that I’m sure. In fact I think I might manage a purely mythical Jings, crivens and help ma boab category, and if you’ve ever read Oor Wullie you’ll know that those are all words which are used to mean flabbergasted, astonished, for goodness sake! Because I plan to read about 50 books for this challenge.

To begin with I’m reading Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe over the month of January, doing it in four chunks and writing about it each week. Join in with me if you think you’re hard enough! Judith are you still up for it?

At the same time I intend to read Lanark by Alasdair Grey as a respite from Ivanhoe. Lanark was voted the second best Scottish book recently, the first was Irvine Walsh’s Trainspotting but I don’t fancy that one at all. Below is a list of some of the Scottish fiction authors that I’ll definitely be reading during 2014, I’ll be adding more though. Books with a Scottish setting are also eligible for the challenge. Have a look at the Scottish Books Trust for more inspiration.

Iain Banks
William Boyd
John Buchan
Andrew Crumey
O.Douglas
Alasdair Grey
A.L. Kennedy
Dennis Mackail
Compton Mackenzie
Allan Massie
James Oswald
Rosamund Pilcher
James Runcie
A.D. Scott
Walter Scott
Mary Stewart
Jessica Stirling
Josephine Tey
Alison Thirkell
Angela Thirkell

If I read just one by all of these writers then I’ll have bagged Ben Nevis and then some, but I still have my non fiction books to look through and list, it looks like 2014 is going to be a very Scottish (parochial) year for me!

Oh and I’ll be writing about some of the many children’s classics which are suitable for this challenge. You’re never too old for a good children’s book. Remember that you don’t have to have a blog to take part in this challenge.

Thanks for setting this up Peggy Ann.