A Liitle Magic Always Helps

Moving on from murderous tales and creepy characters, I’ve been watching “The Adventures of Merlin” on Netflix with flashing swords and mythic magic.

The impish young Merlin honing his magical skills in secret in the days when Arthur was a prince of Camelot and Merlin was an apprentice to the court physican, is a treat to watch. Taking more than poetic license with White’s Once and Future King (referenced by the Dragon to Merlin), the plot barely resembles either White’s post World War II tales or the original fifteenth century telling in Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur.”

This BBC version changes many pieces of the well known legend but keeps enough of a foundation to make the stories exciting and somewhat predictable. For example, Guinevere is the lowly serving girl to Morgana (still the villain and Arthur’s half/sister). Arthur loves Gwen, promising to break with tradition and marry her. Whenever Merlin’s eyes glow and he mutters a pseudo Latin or Gaelic phrase, he is the superhero we all love and wish we were.

Raluca Radulescu of Bangor University writes “…our modern appetite for fantasy {is} a reflection of our need to reinvent the past, and bring hope into our present. Moral integrity, loyalty to one’s friends and kin, abiding by the law and defending the weak, form the cornerstone of Arthurian {legend}. They offer the reassurance that doing the morally right thing is valuable, even if it may bring about temporary defeat. In the end, virtues and values prevail…”

We could all use a little hope and some moral integrity in our world these days. Watching the series has inspired me to reread or listen to some old favorites: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mary Stewart’s The Last Enchantment. Have you read them?

Through It All I’ve Always Laughed

51ASSkwHYWL._SX486_BO1,204,203,200_Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously, and a good laugh is in order.  Helen Macdonald, author of “H is for Hawk” – a book on my wait list at the library – mentioned authors and genre (mystery) she enjoys in the New York Times “By the Book” interview.  When she cited Steve Delaney’s hilarious mock autobiography Through It All I’ve Always Laughed, I downloaded a copy on Audible.

Delaney assumes the voice of Count Arthur Strong in this funny fake autobiography.   His British accent and the droll view of his life have been leaving me with a chuckle every night as I listen to a chapter before I go to bed.

Other books Macdonald recommends:

  • Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  • Pack My Bag by Henry Green
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  • And …the complete set of Smiley novels with master spy George Smiley by John le Carré