85: Excalibur, The Legend of King Arthur: A Graphic Novel by Tony Lee

Excalibur, The Legend of King Arthur: A Graphic Novel by Tony Lee. Art by Sam Hart (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 144
Ages: 15+
Finished: Apr. 4, 2011
First Published: Mar. 8, 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: YA, graphic novel, folklore, legends, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Long ago, Uther Pendragon was king, and the land of Albion was in disarray.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.

Reason for Reading: I had read Lee's earlier book Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood and was anxious to read this one.

This book, surprisingly, takes very different angles of the King Arthur legend to focus on than the usual run-of-them mill retelling aimed at children/teens. The story of Camelot and the knights' adventures is not a focus here. Camelot is briefly in the story but the main focus is on Arthur's early years, obtaining the sword in the stone and his early years as king. All the major plot points are there: the sword in the stone, Guinevere & Lancelot, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, Morgana & Mordred, and The Lady in the Lake. Major focus is put on the Fairy Realm in this retelling. On Morgana's background story that made her hate Arthur so much, the seelies and the unseelies, the Realm of Avalon, the love story of Arthur and the Lady of the Lake and, of course, Merlin's part in all this.

I especially enjoyed this version of King Arthur's tale. There are plenty of battle scenes but more than anything it is the coming of age story of Arthur as a great king and the coming to pass of the vision he has seen since his early childhood of his dying for his kingdom. The unique focus brings a fresh presentation of the story forward to even die-hard Arthurian readers. The artwork is exquisite using various monochromatic colour schemes throughout to match the mood of the story with an emphasis on golden yellows and browns. A masterful new retelling of an ancient legend.


  1. Oh, I want to read this! The library bought Outlaw for me back when it came out and I wanted to read it after your review, so hopefully they will buy me this one, too!

  2. Yes, I can see you enjoying this one, especially with the emphasis on the Lady of the Lake.


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