The Fall of Arthur. I was excited about this release as it is new material released by a posthumous J.R.R. Tolkien. It is an epic poem about King Arthur and, as I understand it, unfinished.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
A new release by a dead man is almost always cool. I mean, why do people still buy new Tupac albums?
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
I read to the end of the sample–the sample of actual narrative is only a few pages long–but I skipped most of the foreword by Christopher Tolkien. I have to say, I was unimpressed. It’s kind of clear why Tolkien didn’t publish this–it’s kind of dry. It lacks the imagination he shows in other works in terms of language alone. I admit I’m not big on poetry, but Tolkien writes in blank verse, and he’s competent at it, so that’s not my complaint. It’s just kind of dull.
Even imagining the Arthurian Goon squad as dudes from Monty Python and Camelot the Muscial didn’t generate interest for me.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
Going back to my earlier point, I guess the reason I was so disappointed is there’s no mystique; this work reads like a to do list left behind by Arthur’s frumpy widow. It’s just a list of events that happen and it’s hard to see why I should care. Arthur as a character probably has a built in audience of people who give a shit about him, but I need to be given some empathy for the man.
In order for novices in the Arthurian mythos to care about Arthur, more time needs to be spent developing the character.
RECOMMENDATION: DON’T READ
Runaway! This one didn’t wow me. It’s not terrible, but there are much better epic poems and much better books about Arthur out there.
If you’re looking for a good Arthur book try The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Kind of reminds me of Harry potter, but Arthur style.