Parents' Guide to

Here Lies Arthur

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Exciting but darkly cynical view of Arthur legend.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+

a poor choice for an Arthurian retelling

If you are really looking for a story that accurately and poignantly retells the story of King Arthur, you will not like this book. There are no heroes in this book and everyone is about themselves. King Arthur is supposed to be a story about heroism, not cowardliness and greed.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Cynical teens may love this, while those who are in the thrall of the magic and wonder of the Arthurian Cycle, one of the great epic tales of our culture, will be revolted. But even if the subjects of this story weren't named Arthur and Myrddin (Merlin), there would be no doubt -- this is an exciting story with compelling characters and some big ideas that relate to our time at least as much as to the Middle Ages. These have to do with the role of storytelling in the creation of public perception, how much our ideas about our leaders are shaped by deliberately crafted stories that may bear little resemblance to the truth, and the manipulation of irrational fear in the making of a leader.

But it is about Arthur and Merlin, and one has to wonder what drove the author to demystify and demythologize them in this way. Arthur here is just a brutal thug, little more than a gang leader, who comes to a bad end, and Merlin is a liar and manipulator whose dubious ends don't justify his means. All of the things that have made the tale last for centuries -- magic, might for right, chivalry, the grail, Lancelot -- are stripped away, replaced by a gritty realism that may be no closer to the truth than the myths. What the author has done here will just add to the themes of media manipulation to make this a great discussion book for teens.

Book Details

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