Posted by: Natalie | January 3, 2011

Making Amends. At Some Point.

One of the aspects of British culture I love the most, is just how ancient it all is. We have a luxurious past full of great daring do, dastardly deeds, heroes, heroines, Kings and castles. It is so rich that one can only begin to appreciate all the intricacies and intrigues our history has to offer. I feel a little sorry for any international visitors who wish to know more, because even I struggle to know where to begin.

I think I would always suggest Arthurian legend as a starting point; it is quintessentially us despite its dubious reality. Mystical fantasy, romantic entanglements, witches and wizards mixed with power struggles and war; what more could anyone want? There is an entire breed of author who strive their whole lives to create a holiday novel with such juice and gossip, I hate to tell them there is no need.

However, having said this, I know precious little myself. I have been to Tintagle Castle in Cornwall said to be Arthur’s home, and seen the supposed graves of Arthur and Guinevere at Glastonbury Abbey. I have also sat upon Glastonbury Tor, thought to have been the Isle of Avalon whence the downs were flooded, and looked across the land once covered in knights battling for some fair maiden’s virtue. But this is about it. I haven’t actually read anything of fact, or indeed of fiction.

When this information was shared with Steve’s Dad, horror crossed his face. The fact that I had not read the following series appears to be something of sacrilege. Mary Stewart’s trilogy, The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment (although a quick Wikipedia search suggests there are two more . . .?) are thought to be some of the finest Merlin-Arthur based stories around. Published in the 1970’s, this is just another series of books I have missed but now they have been brought to my attention (and conveniently borrowed) so that more amends can be made. Eventually. They have been added to the pile and will, I am sure, be lovingly devoured as soon as possible. However, Steve has other ideas – he has removed my order to place his Christmas Book, How I Escaped My Certain Fate by comedian Stuart Lee. This probably isn’t the worst idea as I do really want to read it and, it not being fiction, will be rapidly forced to holding up the pile once avoided.

So yes, a little more Arthurian knowledge awaits me, and in the mean time I can watch the BBC’s cheesy adaptation Merlin on DVD as Santa willed it so.




  1. Oh My Gosh! I read those in 8th grade. My older sister gave me the boxed trilogy for Christmas. I had no idea they were so well though of, especially in the UK. They were fabulous! They still come to mind, some 30-odd years later, when I think of my all time favorite reads. Of course, at the time I was heavily into all things Arthurian, and holding out hope that one day I would wake up in that long-ago Brittain (don’t all romantic American girls eventually go through that phase?); they really fed my soul. I think I may have to dust them off, take another look, and then pass them down to my own daughters for their appreciation! Thanks for the reminder!

    • Oh I don’t think it’s just American Girls who dream of those days, when visiting some of the more ancient parts of the country I get a longing to be whisked back in time to when ladies ran around castle in huge dresses. For some reason I always have them running with candles through darkened tunnel like corridors, away from some unknown foe. All terribly romantic. Hmmmm. I think I may still be in my teenage girl phase! Hope your daughters enjoy the books, I am very much looking forward to them.


  2. Wow – that takes me back! I read Mary Stewart in the 70s when I was at high school – great books. I can confirm thay were very popular with teenage girls in UK – well in Edinburgh, at least. Thanks for that wee bit of nostalgia. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: