Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sir Gawain - John Matthews

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 208
Format : Non-Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : Arthurian Challenge

A look at the legends around Sir Gawain. Most of the ancient tales have Gawain as the eldest of King Arthur's nephews and his heir, but one has him pinned as his son. Gawain is most well known as the son of Lot of Orkney and Morgause, Arthur's half sister. He has been linked to Cuchulainn and one of the three sons of Lugh in various tales.

Probably his most famous adventure was the tale of the Green Knight which has many different versions all based around the beheading game. The different versions are considered along with their origins. The book also looks at the many women in the life of Gawain. He begins as a chivalrous knight frequently linked to the Goddess, who in later tales has a change in reputation becoming a rogue.

Like Lancelot, in most tales Gawain fails at the grail quest for the same reason as Lancelot. Their weakness is women. However, there are versions of the tale that have him succeeding and again he is linked to the Goddess and frequently the Otherworld. This is a great resource for the older less common Arhturian sources. It has a fantastic bibliography and summarises the main parts of the tales surrounding Gawain.


Unknown said...

I like Arthurian stories as well, and I hadn't heard about this book before.

I've added it to my wishlist on the strength of this review. Thanks for letting me know about it.

Ana S. said...

I hadn't heard of this it, but I quite like the sound of it. I wanted to read the original Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for the Arthurian Challenge, but it doesn't look like that'll happen anymore :P