A schol­arly take on the ori­gins of the leg­endary King Au­thor Ni­cholas J Higham Pub­lisher Yale Uni­ver­sity Press Price £25 Re­leased Out now

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For cen­turies, sto­ries of King Arthur have fas­ci­nated those who have heard them. It seems that there are end­less the­o­ries on ex­actly where his court of Camelot might be lo­cated, in which lake the Ex­cal­ibur-wield­ing lady of the leg­ends could be found and on just how grand his fa­bled round ta­ble was.

Yet as the sto­ries have been told and re­told and the mag­i­cal and ro­man­tic el­e­ments teased to the fore, the pos­si­bil­ity of a “real” King Arthur reign­ing in Eng­land has been for­got­ten.

In his new book, King Arthur: The Mak­ing of a Leg­end, Ni­cholas J Higham seeks to re­dress this bal­ance. It is his be­lief that too many schol­ars of the pe­riod have de­cided to take an ag­nos­tic stand­point on the mat­ter of whether King Arthur ac­tu­ally ex­isted and in this weighty vol­ume, he at­tempts to dis­cover once and for all whether King Arthur was a monarch of fact or folk­lore.

Higham’s search for the truth takes him back in time to the ear­li­est men­tions of Arthur and searches for the ev­i­dence of the king’s ori­gins in fact.

He ably tack­les other works on the king and car­ries out a thor­ough in­ter­ro­ga­tion of pre­vi­ous at­tempts to prove the ori­gins of the king, search­ing for the ker­nels of truth in the fic­tion and fa­ble. His in­ves­ti­ga­tions take him as far as an­cient Rome and Greece as he seeks men­tions of the fa­bled king of the Bri­tons, who is cred­ited with de­fend­ing his realm against Saxon in­vaders in the 5th cen­tury.

From the the­o­ries of a Dal­ma­tian ori­gin to Arthur all the way to the king’s place in the his­tory of Britain, it seems as though Higham has left no stone un­turned in his search for the truth be­hind the leg­end.

Higham is an au­thor­ity on Arthur and his pas­sion and en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of his sub­ject is ev­i­dent on ev­ery page of this book.

With so much of Arthur’s story em­bel­lished and ro­man­ti­cised over the years, the task of de­ter­min­ing ex­actly when and why his leg­end took off is a painstak­ing one, but it makes for a fas­ci­nat­ing read. Higham ably nav­i­gates the some­times ob­scure ma­te­rial that he is work­ing with and demon­strates a laser-guided fo­cus on his sub­ject, fol­low­ing Arthur from text to text across the cen­turies to paint a fas­ci­nat­ing pic­ture of the ori­gins of the fa­bled monarch.

King Arthur: The Mak­ing of a Leg­end is an in­tel­li­gent and em­i­nently read­able work which takes an un­usual ap­proach to the sto­ries of

King Arthur. It is schol­arly but never stuffy and Higham’s en­gag­ing writ­ing will be sure to keep read­ers turn­ing the pages as they join him in his search for King Arthur.

For schol­ars of the king, those with a ca­sual in­ter­est in the his­tory of Eng­land and its folk­lore or even just fans of a fas­ci­nat­ing story that is won­der­fully well told, this is the per­fect book to take you back to

King Arthur’s time.

An en­gag­ing, in­ter­est­ing and ac­ces­si­ble search for the facts be­hind the leg­end of King Arthur.

“It seems as though Ni­cholas Higham has left no stone un­turned in his search for the truth be­hind the leg­end”

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