This week, I picked up a copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Blu-Ray. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched this movie and it’s one of a handful that I honestly feel gets better every time I see it. One of the things that makes this movie work so well is that the more you understand Arthurian legend, the funnier it is. Another element is that it actually captures the tone of some Arthurian Legends.
Back in college, I knew people who would discuss Arthurian Legend as though it was a well known story that contemporary authors and filmmakers either got right or wrong. As a result, I got curious about the legends and started seeking out translations of the stories the legends were based on. Not just Thomas Malory’s fine Le Morte d’Arthur but back further to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the King’s of Britain and The Mabinogion. There are even older texts by the Venerable Bede. I’ve read those, too.
Reading these stories, I realized that the story as we knew it evolved over time. Bede essentially lists a series of battles. Later authors like Geoffrey linked those together into a narrative. However, Geoffrey has no grail quest. Instead, he sends the knights of Arthur’s court on an invasion of the Roman Empire itself!
The Mabinogion in particular is filled with many of the oldest, fictional accounts of King Arthur. One of those is “Culhwch and Olwen” in which Arthur’s cousin Culhwch seeks the king’s help to win the heart of Olwen, daughter of Ysbaddaden Chief Giant. The giant agrees to allow Culhwch wed his daughter if Arthur’s knights go on a quest for grooming supplies so he can look good at the wedding! Not so different from the Nights of NI who send Arthur on a quest for a shrubbery in Monty Python and the Holy Grail!
It’s difficult to read these stories and not be captivated. In fact, I even recorded my own versions of two of the stories from The Mabinogion. If you’re interested in some of these older audio books, you can find them at www.hadrosaur.com/audio_books.html
Much as I enjoyed retelling the old legends, I always wanted to delve into my own vision of King Arthur’s court. In Vampires of the Scarlet Order, I made a small reference that the vampire Desmond Drake came from King Arthur’s time. I explored that more thoroughly in Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. For some, adding vampires and a new layers to the King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot love triangle may seem heretical. Then again, so is adding man-eating rabbits, cave-dwelling monsters, and a sorcerer named Tim. I hope you’ll take a moment and visit my version of King Arthur’s realm. Dragon’s Fall is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble among others!