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26 Best King Arthur Books: Top Reads of Arthurian Legends

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Hi there! Welcome to this list of King Arthur books!

As an avid reader, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting books to dive into. And one of my all-time favorite subjects to read about is the legendary British leader, King Arthur (seriously though, I write about him a lot on this site).

The tales of King Arthur and his knights of the round table have captivated the imaginations of people around the world for centuries. So when I decided to write this article, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Also be sure to check out all the other book lists I have on this site.

What’s On This List?

In this article, we will explore both fiction and nonfiction books about King Arthur. 

I’ve chosen to only include one classic book in the list, as I want to focus on modern takes on the legend. 

The books are listed in no particular order, so feel free to jump around and read about whichever ones catch your eye.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the legend of King Arthur or are just starting to delve into these epic stories, I hope this article will help you find some new books to add to your reading list. 

So let’s dive in and explore the best King Arthur books out there!

Complete List of King Arthur Books

First, if you’re just looking for a convenient list, here are the best King Arthur books I’ve found, assembled in a table.

King Arthur Books: My Complete Review

Alright, it’s time to start my complete review of all the King Arthur books on my list. And yes, I’ve read every single one of these, so strap in.

1. Le Morte d’Arthur

by Sir Thomas Malory

Le Morte d'Arthur Book Cover

Hook: It’s the best classic version of the legends.

Le Morte d’Arthur is included on my list of best King Arthur books because it is a classic work of Arthurian literature from which many modern retellings derive. It was written by Sir Thomas Malory in 1485 and is one of the most famous and influential works on the subject. 

If I had to pick only one older book to include on my list, Le Morte d’Arthur would be it.

As a classic work of Arthurian literature, Le Morte d’Arthur is considered a foundational text on the subject. Many modern retellings of the legend of King Arthur draw heavily from Malory’s work, including characters, plot points, and themes. 

In fact, many of the most well-known elements of the Arthurian legend, such as the sword Excalibur, the quest for the Holy Grail, and the chivalric code of the knights of the round table, gained their popularity in Le Morte d’Arthur.

Additionally, Le Morte d’Arthur is a beautifully written and engaging book that is still enjoyable to read today. Despite being written over 500 years ago, the book’s language is accessible and the stories are captivating. It is a must-read for any fan of King Arthur and the legends of his knights.

2. Of Crowns and Legends

by Chelsea Banning

Of Crowns and Legends Book Cover

Hook: It’s about King Arthur’s kids after his death

Summary: In this story, the power of Camelot hangs by a thread and its fate is tied to the children of King Arthur who was not supposed to have any. Anwil and Ariadne Pendragon are twins who are haunted by their late father’s shadow. It has been nearly 20 years since Arthur’s death and peace has reigned, but now abbeys are burning and relics are going missing, threatening the kingdom. Anwil and Ariadne must face the harsh realities and lies their mother has tried to shield them from.

Why it’s on this list: I included this book on my list of the best King Arthur books because I genuinely enjoyed reading it. I am also good friends with the author, Chelsea, which may have influenced my decision to include it on the list. However, I would not have included it if I did not genuinely like the book.

The story is a fresh take on the legend of King Arthur, with a focus on his twin children. I found the plot to be engaging and the characters to be well-developed. Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of the Arthurian legend who are looking for a modern take on the classic story.

3. Legendborn

by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn Book Cover

Hook: A extremely fresh and culturally important take on the Arthurian Legends

Summary: In the book, Bree Matthews is a high school student who witnesses a magical attack and learns about a secret society of students who hunt creatures like the one she saw. A teenage mage named Merlin attempts to erase her memory of the event, but fails, unlocking Bree’s own magical abilities. 

As she begins to investigate her mother’s death, she teams up with another student, Nick, and they learn that the society is made up of descendants of King Arthur’s knights. They must decide whether to fight against or join the society in an upcoming magical war.

Why it’s on this list: I included this book on my list because it features a secret society of students who hunt magical creatures and explores themes of identity and belonging. The story is fresh and engaging, with contemporary and fantasy elements as well as a diverse cast of characters. It also touches on important societal issues and offers an original take on Arthurian legends.

4. The Once and Future King

by T. H. White

The Once and Future King Book Cover

Hook: The book that my favorite adaptation is based on.

Summary: The Once and Future King is a fantasy novel that tells the story of King Arthur. The book follows Arthur from his childhood as a young boy named Wart, who is tutored by the magician Merlyn, to his rise to power as the king of Camelot and the founding of the legendary Round Table. 

Along the way, Arthur must navigate treacherous political alliances, forbidden love, and betrayal. The novel is a retelling of the Arthurian legend and has been praised for its mix of humor, wisdom, and sorrow.

Why it’s on this list: I chose to include The Once and Future King on my list because it is a fantasy classic that has influenced many other works of fiction, including the musical Camelot (my favorite adaptation) and the animated film The Sword in the Stone. 

The book offers a unique and engaging retelling of the Arthurian legend and has received critical acclaim. Its enduring popularity and relevance make it a must-read for fans of fantasy and Arthurian literature.

5. The Mists of Avalon

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon Book Cover

Hook: The ultimate feminist retelling of Arthurian myth.

Summary: “The Mists of Avalon” is a reimagining of the Arthurian legends from the perspective of the women behind King Arthur’s throne. 

The book follows these women and the diverse cast of characters that surround them as the great Arthurian epic unfolds. 

The novel explores the struggle for control over Arthur’s kingdom and the role of magic in shaping its future. The New York Times Book Review called it “a deeply moving and at times uncanny experience” and “an impressive achievement.”

Why it’s on this list: “The Mists of Avalon” is included on my list of King Arthur books because it is one of the best modern treatments of the Arthurian legends and the definitive feminist retelling. 

I appreciate the novel’s unique perspective on the story, which explores the experiences and motivations of the women behind the throne.

6. The Winter King

by Bernard Cornwell

The Winter King Book Cover

Hook: The most epic historical retelling from the legendary Bernard Cornwell.

Summary: The Winter King is the first book in Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles series. It is a retelling of the Arthurian legend set in Dark Age Britain, a time when Arthur has been banished and Merlin has disappeared. 

The book follows Arthur as he returns to a desperate land and fights to protect the child-king and keep civilization alive. 

Why it’s on this list: I included The Winter King on my list because I think it is the most epic of the Arthurian tales included and offers the best historical treatment of the legend. 

I was drawn to the book’s focus on Arthur’s humanity and the themes that are at the heart of the story. I also appreciated the way the book brings the legend to life in a way that feels fresh and compelling. Overall, t is a tale of honor, loyalty, and passion, and has been praised for making a familiar story feel fresh and compelling.

7. King Arthur and Her Knights

by K. M. Shea

King Arthur and Her Knights Book Cover

Hook: Arthur is a girl this time.

Summary: In the series, a modern young woman named Britt is pulled back in time and finds herself pretending to be King Arthur. Britt has no interest in the throne, but is forced to take on the role in order to protect her true identity and the kingdom. 

She is aided by the wizard Merlin, but also faces numerous challenges and enemies. The series follows Britt as she fights for her people and falls in love with Merlin, and is known for its strong characters and sprinkling of humor, love, and magic. 

Why it’s on this list: I included this on the list because it offers a unique take on the Arthurian legends by gender-swapping the main character. This is an intriguing twist that provides a fresh perspective on the story, and adds to the series’ exploration of themes like identity, power, and love.

If you enjoy reimagined versions of classic stories and engaging character-driven narratives, this series is worth checking out.

8. The Crystal Cave

by Mary Stewart

The Crystal Cave Book Cover

Hook: The story of Merlin from childhood to Arthur’s advisor.

Summary: In “The Crystal Cave” by Mary Stewart, the novel covers the time from Merlin’s sixth year until he becomes a young man. Merlin is the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess, and has clairvoyant visions that cause him to be mistreated. 

He is educated by a hermit and eventually finds his way to the court of Ambrosius Aurelianus in Brittany. There, he helps Ambrosius prepare to invade and unify Britain and defeat the Saxons.

Why it’s on this list: I included The Crystal Cave on the list because it is one of my personal favorites and because I grew up with the BBC adaptation, which I think is one of the better television adaptations of the Arthurian legends, adding to the appeal of the novel for those who enjoyed the show. 

If you are a fan of the Arthurian legends and character-driven narratives, this book is worth checking out.

9. The Seeing Stone

by Kevin Crossley-Holland

The Seeing Stone Book Cover

Hook: Two Arthurs form a unique connection.

Summary: The novel follows a 13-year-old named Arthur de Caldicot, who lives on a manor and longs to become a knight. He is given a “seeing stone” by his father’s friend Merlin, which allows him to see visions of King Arthur and the legendary events of Arthurian legend. The novel explores the connections between the two Arthurs and how the young Arthur’s destiny is intertwined with that of the legendary king.

Why it’s on this list: I included this novel on my list of King Arthur books because it’s just so dang unique! It’s not every day you get to see a classic tale like this from a whole new perspective, so I knew I had to check it out. Plus, who doesn’t love a good Arthurian legend retelling? This one definitely didn’t disappoint.

10. A Tail of Camelot

by Julie Leung

A Tail of Camelot Book Cover

Hook: Knights of the Round Table, but with mice.

Summary: Mice of the Round Table is a middle grade series inspired by Arthurian legend and told from the perspective of Camelot’s mice. The story follows Calib Christopher, a young mouse who dreams of becoming a Knight of the Round Table, and his friend Cecily as they work to defend Camelot from a new threat. 

Why it’s on this list: I wanted to include Mice of the Round Table on my list of Arthurian books because it’s just too cute and epic to pass up! I mean, who wouldn’t want to follow the adventures of a group of anthropomorphized mice as they defend Camelot and try to become Knights of the Round Table? I just had to add it to my list. I can’t wait to see what Calib and Cecily get up to next in the rest of the series!

11. Young Merlin

by Tony Bradman

Young Merlin Book Cover

Hook: Another great young Merlin series

Summary: The book follows the story of Merlin, a young man with special abilities, as the King summons him and becomes involved in a quest to save the kingdom from the Saxons. Along the way, he befriends a dragon and struggles to avoid being killed by the King. 

The book is a retelling of a classic myth and works for readers with a reading age of 8, particularly those who may be reluctant, struggling, or dyslexic. 

Why it’s on this list: I decided to include Young Merlin on my list of the best King Arthur books because not only is it full of action and adventure, but it also does a great job of introducing readers to the world of King Arthur and the legend of Merlin.

One of the things that I really love is that it is accessible and engaging for younger readers. The characters are well-developed and the plot is easy to follow, so it’s a great choice for kids who are just starting to get into historical fiction or fantasy.

But even as an adult, I found myself thoroughly enjoying Young Merlin. The writing is crisp and the storytelling is top-notch, so it’s a great choice for readers of all ages. 

12. Once and Future

by Cory McCarthy and A. R. Capetta

Once and Future Book Cover

Hook: Arthur reincarnated as a teenage girl in an interstellar society.

Summary: King Arthur has been reimagined as a teenage girl named Ari Helix in this YA novel. Ari is a fugitive refugee who has always had to hide her true identity, until she discovers Excalibur and becomes the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. 

Alongside the teenage Merlin, Ari sets out on a quest to defeat a tyrannical government and bring peace and equality to all humankind. The novel has received a starred review from Kirkus and is praised for its fresh, affirming take on the legendary king and her knights.

Why it’s on this list: I included this novel on my list of Arthurian books because it’s such a unique and different take on the classic story. I really enjoy how it’s set in an interstellar sci-fi genre and features a female protagonist as King Arthur. 

It’s always refreshing to see classic stories being reimagined and told from new perspectives, and this novel does that in a really exciting and innovative way. I also appreciate the themes of equality and social justice that are woven into the story. 

All in all, I think it’s really compelling and worth reading for fans of Arthurian legend or just a good sci-fi adventure.

13. By Force Alone

by Lavie Tidhar

By Force Alone Book Cover

Hook: A retelling for the age of Brexit and Trump

Summary: By Force Alone is a retelling of the Arthurian myth set in a modern context, characterized as a “timely political satire” and a “subversive masterwork.” The story portrays King Arthur as an over-promoted gangster, Merlin as an eldritch parasite, and Excalibur as a product of a shady deal. The novel is described as a savage and cutting epic fantasy that is both poetic and profane. It is written by Lavie Tidhar, a World Fantasy Award-winner.

Why it’s on this list: I included By Force Alone on my list of Arthurian books because, while I’m not always a fan of overtly political satires, I do think there’s a place for them and this one definitely fits the bill. 

If you enjoy Arthurian literature and are looking for a modern retelling that doesn’t shy away from tackling current political issues, then this book might be right up your alley.

14. Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit

by Mercedes Lackey

Gwenhwyfar Book Cover

Hook: Gwenhwyfar the warrior…nuff said

Summary: This is a novel that tells the story of Gwenhwyfar, King Arthur’s legendary queen, written by the bestselling author of the Valdemar series. 

Set in a world where gods and pagan worship coexist and where women have two paths to choose from – the path of the Blessing or the path of the Warrior – Gwenhwyfar opts for the latter and gives up the power that comes with her birth. 

However, as the daughter of a king, she is expected to serve as Arthur’s queen and must navigate a series of challenges including temptation, intrigue, and love, ultimately finding redemption along the way.

Why it’s on this list: I included this on my list of Arthurian books because it’s a fantastic feminist retelling of the story of Gwenhwyfar, King Arthur’s legendary queen. 

It’s refreshing to see a woman at the center of the story and to watch her navigate challenges and ultimately find redemption on her own terms. I think it’s a must-read for any fans of Arthurian literature or feminist retellings.

15. Taliesin

by Stephen R. Lawhead

Taliesin Book Cover

Hook: This one is highly mythical.

Summary: This is a book about a time of legend, set in a fictional version of Britain and Atlantis. It follows the story of a princess from Atlantis named Charis and a seer and druid prince named Taliesin as they navigate a world of chaos and mythical wonders. 

The book has been praised for its epic scope and beautiful writing, and has been compared to the work of C. S. Lewis. 

Why it’s on this list: This book is definitely a must-read for fans of epic fantasy! Not only is it a classic in the genre, but it has also received high praise from Library Journal, with comparisons to the esteemed C. S. Lewis. 

16. Avalon High

by Meg Cabot

Avalon High Book Cover

Hook: If King Arthur was a high-school student.

Summary: This book is a New York Times bestseller that combines elements of the Princess Diaries series with a supernatural twist on the Arthurian legend. The protagonist, Ellie, becomes friends with a popular football player named Will and begins to notice strange things about him and her school. She experiences déjà vu and has a feeling that everything has happened before. 

The book is a stand-alone novel and is written by the author of the Princess Diaries series. It involves a love triangle, a medieval sword, and a pool raft.

Why it’s on this list: I added this book to my list of King Arthur books because I just couldn’t resist the blend of the Arthurian legend with the wit and charm of the Princess Diaries series. 

As a New York Times bestseller, this book is definitely a hit, and you should all check it out.

17. Over Sea, Under Stone

by Susan Cooper

Over Sea, Under Stone Book Cover

Hook: What if you found a treasure map to the Holy Grail in your attic?

Summary: Over Sea, Under Stone is a book about three children, Simon, Jane, and Barney, who go on holiday with their parents and an old family friend, Merriman Lyon, to a fishing village in Cornwall. While staying at a house in the village, they discover an old manuscript that seems to be a map related to King Arthur and his knights. 

They decide to keep the discovery to themselves, but their secret is soon discovered by Mr. Withers and his sister Polly, agents of the Dark, who try to stop the children from finding the treasure indicated on the map. 

Why it’s on this list: I am so excited to have included Over Sea, Under Stone on my list of King Arthur books! This is perhaps my most beloved book from my youth, even more than The Hobbit or Narnia, and it’s a true classic in my eyes. 

The adventures of Simon, Jane, and Barney as they try to solve clues and find the hidden Grail are just as thrilling and memorable now as they were when I first read this book. 

Let me reiterate: YOU. MUST. READ. THIS. SERIES.

18. The Skystone

by Jack Whyte

The Skystone Book Cover

Hook: A brilliant historical take on the legend.

Summary: The Skystone is the first book in a series by Jack Whyte that reimagines the story of Camelot and the legend of King Arthur. It follows the lives of two Roman citizens, Publius Varrus and Caius Britannicus, who decide to stay in Britain amidst the violence and chaos of warring factions, and try to create a new culture from the wreckage. 

The book explores how their actions and the choices they make may have shaped the legend of Arthur and the creation of Camelot, and how the sword Excalibur came to be.

Why it’s on this list: This first novel in Jack Whyte’s Arthurian series offers a fresh and unique take on the familiar story of Camelot, imagining the events leading up to the rise of King Arthur and the creation of the legendary sword Excalibur. 

As someone who enjoys historical fiction, I was drawn to this book because it imagines some level of historical accuracy within the largely fictional Arthurian legends.

19. The Lost Years

by T. A. Barron

Lost Years of Merlin Book Cover

Hook: A young Merlin meets his destiny.

Summary: The Merlin Saga is a best-selling series that tells the story of a young boy who washes up on the shores of ancient Wales with no home, no memory, and no name. As he sets out to find all three, he is guided by the inhabitants of the enchanted land of Fincayra, a place located between earth and sky that is being destroyed by blight. 

The boy, who is destined to become the legendary wizard Merlin, learns that his own quest is closely tied to the fate of Fincayra. 

Why it’s on this list: I included The Merlin Saga on my list of Arthurian books because it’s a series that I absolutely fell in love with back in the 90s and still can’t get enough of today! 

I recently reread it and was so happy to see that it still holds up today. I think it’s definitely worth a read for any fans of Arthurian legend or just a good old-fashioned adventure tale for younger and older readers alike.

20. Cursed

by Thomas Wheeler

Cursed Book Cover

Hook: From the perspective of the Lady of the Lake.

Summary: Cursed is a retelling of the King Arthur story in which Nimue, a young woman with a connection to dark magic, is chosen by the Sword of Power to be the one true queen. After her village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, Nimue is given a mission by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer. She sets out on a quest, aided by a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Follow Folk, to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny. 

Why it’s on this list: I just had to include Cursed on my list of King Arthur books because it brings a fresh and exciting twist to the familiar tale. I was particularly drawn to the character of Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, who is a true hero in her own right. I feel like she doesn’t get enough love in traditional Arthurian stories, so it’s great to see her take center stage in this book. 

21. Lancelot

by Giles Kristian

Lancelot Book Cover

Hook: A focus on the most skilled knight

Summary: Lancelot is a book by Giles Kristian, set in fifth-century Britain during a time of invasion and conflict. It tells the story of Lancelot, a warrior and one of King Arthur’s knights, through his own words. 

The novel follows Lancelot as he grows from a boy into a man with the help of Merlin and the Lady Nimue, and meets Guinevere and Arthur. The author set the story against a backdrop of betrayal, jealousy, and the struggle for power, and the fate of Britain hangs in the balance. 

Why it’s on this list: I just had to include Lancelot on my list of King Arthur books because it’s one of my favorites. Giles Kristian is a master at bringing historical events and characters to life.

And let’s talk about Lancelot himself – he’s always been one of my favorite characters in the Arthurian legend. In this novel, we get to see his journey from a young boy to a respected warrior and knight, and I enjoy seeing how he develops and grows.

Plus, the setting of fifth-century Britain is super interesting and adds an extra layer of depth to the story.

22. The Green Knight

by Chris Dietzel

The Green Knight Book Cover

Hook: Arthurian Legends as space opera.

Summary: Space Lore is a science fiction novel that combines elements of Arthurian legend with a Star Wars-like world. The story follows two separate events, one involving a destroyed vessel and the other a challenge in a bar, that eventually lead to a planet under attack. The novel is described as epic space fantasy and takes place in a distant corner of the solar system.

Why it’s on this list: As someone who loves both science fiction and classic myths, I was really drawn to the idea of combining the two in this novel. It’s just such a unique and creative concept, and I was really excited to see how the author would bring Arthurian legend into a world like Star Wars.

And I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed! The story was action-packed and full of interesting characters, and I loved the way the Arthurian elements were woven into the sci-fi setting. If you’re a fan of retellings or just enjoy a good sci-fi adventure, I’d definitely recommend giving Space Lore a read.

Nonfiction King Arthur Books

In addition to all of the fiction books, I had to include a few nonfiction as well. These four have been instrumental in my own personal education on Arthurian Legends.

23. The New Arthurian Encyclopedia

Edited by Norris J. Lacy

The New Arthurian Encyclopedia Book Cover

I included The New Arthurian Encyclopedia on my list of the best nonfiction King Arthur books because it is simply the best resource out there for learning about the legend of King Arthur. 

It’s the perfect balance of being academic and informative, without being too dense or overwhelming.

One of the things that I really appreciate about this book is that it covers all aspects of the Arthurian legend, from the historical and cultural context to the various retellings and interpretations of the story over time. It’s truly comprehensive, and it really helped me to understand the complexity and depth of the legend.

Overall, if you’re looking to learn more about King Arthur and the legend that surrounds him, I highly recommend giving The New Arthurian Encyclopedia a read. It’s a fantastic resource that will provide you with a deep understanding of this fascinating and enduring tale.

24. The Discovery of King Arthur

by Geoffrey Ashe

The Discovery of King Arthur Book Cover

The Discovery of King Arthur is a book by Geoffrey Ashe, a leading scholar in the field of Arthurian studies. The book explores the historical basis for the legend of King Arthur and traces the development of the myth over time.

I included The Discovery of King Arthur on my list because I’m fascinated by the Arthurian legend and wanted to learn more about its origins. 

Geoffrey Ashe is such a respected and knowledgeable figure in Arthurian studies, so I knew I could trust his research and insights.

25. The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend

by Alan Lupack

Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend Book Cover

The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend is a comprehensive resource on the Arthurian mythos. It includes critical essays on the evolution of the legends, as well as encyclopedic entries, bibliographies, and an index for easy reference. 

The book covers the full range of Arthurian literature and adaptations, from medieval works to modern literature, arts, film, and popular culture.

It’s an essential resource for anyone interested in Arthurian studies, medieval literature, or the cultural significance of myth and legend.

I included The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend on my list because it’s the definitive resource for Arthurian literature. As someone who loves the Arthurian mythos, I was really drawn to the idea of having a comprehensive reference guide that covers all of the different sources and adaptations.

26. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends

by Ronan Coghlan

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends Book Cover

I included The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends on my list because it’s an amazing visual companion to learning about King Arthur and related topics. 

The book is filled with beautiful illustrations and photographs that really bring the stories and characters to life. It’s a great way to get a better understanding of the Arthurian mythos and see how it has been depicted in different works of art and literature over the years.

In addition to the stunning visuals, the encyclopedia also includes detailed information on a wide range of Arthurian subjects, from the knights of the Round Table to the legends of the Holy Grail. 

Overall, I’d definitely recommend The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends as one of the best visual companions to learning about King Arthur and related topics.

Which One Are You Going to Read?

If something stuck out to you on this list, let me know in the comments! And if you know of an amazing King Arthur book that I have not covered on this list, let me know that as well.

I’m always looking to read more retellings in the land of Camelot.

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Jason is a Mythic Fantasy Author and creator of MythBank. He loves mythology, history, and geek culture. When he's not writing, his favorite hobbies include hiking, chilling with his wife, spouting nonsense words at his baby daughter, and developing this (and other) websites.

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