Rumours of the great love between Lancelot and Guinevere set in motion the tragedy that ends the Fellowship of the Round Table.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Still, despite not matching the artful charm of "The Sword and the Circle" or the intensity and beauty of "The Light beyond the Forest," this book does have one thing going for it--the perfection of its characterization. The dialogue, while lacking the wit and poesy of the earlier books, is extremely touching, perfectly balanced and consistent in mood, and it reveals character extremely well. The reader's love for Lancelot is intensified into a sheer adoration that makes you loathe Gawain the way the character was meant to be loathed; that same Gawain is given solid, understandable motivation despite the reader's justified loathing for him; Arthur is transformed from the wooden hero he is often portrayed as into a true tragic hero, comparable to such other truly great portrayals as those in T.H. White's book or Lerner's "Camelot"--one can almost hear Richard Burton's voice when the Arthur of this book speaks.
As for the true villains, Agrivain, despite his small part, is made almost sympathetic by subtle trends in his portrayal, and Mordred blows away everything else in the book. The moment he speaks, the moment any description turns to him, the rough-hewn-writing style becomes, to use the book's own phrase, "as smooth as silk of Damascus". For Mordred sake alone this book, for all its faults, is definitely worth reading. Order it today!