Here’s a Book Riot post: 8 FASCINATING CHARACTERS FROM ARTHURIAN LEGEND
Okay, sure: who’s fascinating from Arthurian legends? The right author can make any character fascinating. The Lady of Shalott became interesting when Loreena McKennitt sang the poem — before that, I didn’t find her interesting.
IMO, the best Arthurian retelling is Mary Stewart’s — I know I’ve said so before right here, I think rather recently. Her characters are the ones I know the best. Who there do I find most fascinating?
Well, Nimue. Mary Stewart does a really intriguing Nimue. Maybe that’s one reason I named my puppy Nimue — the other reason is of course that I named the other puppy Morgan Le Fey. My Morgan does not really deserve that name, I will say: she is a very easy, non-evil puppy.
Anyway, Morgan Le Fey gets almost nothing from Mary Stewart. Very boring character. She is much more interesting in almost any other retelling.
I find Uthur and Ygraine pretty boring. Wild passion and betraying your vows and all that, not my thing. Ditto for Lancelot and Guinevere. In Mary Stewart’s version, almost all the more minor characters interested me more.
Well, okay, let’s stop here and look at the Book Riot post. Whom do they pick?
Ah hah! Morgan Le Fey, right at the top. Nimue is the fourth — I figured she’d be here somewhere.
Most of the other characters picked out for this list are important figures in the legend. Mordred. Mary Stewart did a great Mordred. I don’t care for anyone else’s portrayal — wait, yes I do, Elizabeth Wein’s take in The Winter Prince! That is the BEST Mordred in Arthurian retellings. Talk about fascinating! And conflicted! You probably already know this, but wow does Elizabeth Wein go way, way off canon in the rest of her so-called Arthurian series. Despite the Arthurian connection, I do prefer to think of them as the Lion Hunter series.
Okay, last on the Book Riot list: Elaine of Astolat. I don’t believe she appeared in Stewart’s version. She sort of got subsumed into the Lady of Shalott, I guess. Anyway, call her Elaine and this very odd novel by CJC springs to mind, adjacent to Arthurian retellings.
Here’s the description for Port Eternity:
Their names were Lancelot, Elaine, Percivale, Gawain, Modred, Lynette and Vivien, but they were not characters from legend. They were made people, clone servants designed to suit the fancy of their opulent owner, the Lady Dela Kirn. And they worked aboard the Maid, an anachronistic fantasy of a spaceship, decorated with swords, heraldic banners, old-looking beams masking the structural joints, and lamps that mimicked live flame. They lived in a kind of dream, and had no idea of their origins, their prototypes in those old, old story tapes of romance, chivalry, heroism and betrayal. Until a wandering instability, a knot in time, a ripple in the between sucked them into a spatial no-man’s-land from which there seemed to be no escape. And they were left alone, with the borrowed personas of their ancient namesakes, to face a crisis those venerable spirits were never designed to master.
Who’s read it? Obviously it’s in the Alliance / Union universe, obviously the characters are mostly azi. Only Lady Dela and her current lover are born-men. Then the situation goes way sideways. If you’ve read it, what did you think? Elaine is the point-of-view character in that one, and come to think of it, this is another great portrayal of a sympathetic Mordred. I guess that is one factor that makes an Arthurian retelling work for me.
Also, we have of course by working on back cover copy, so what do you think of this description? I think it’s pretty good, except the “venerable spirits” line, which strikes me as pretty stupid. No matter what fictional character an azi is modeled on, that azi does not have a venerable spirit.
It’s been a good long time since I read Port Eternity. It’s not one of my favorites, though actually I’ve always kind of liked it. I’ve been re-reading this month while working on other stuff. Maybe I should take this one off the shelf and give it another try.