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King Arthur (Hardback)

Man or Myth?

British History P&S History Medieval Royal History

By Tony Sullivan
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526763679
Published: 18th May 2020

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History Hit

An article by the author for Dan Snow's History Hit:'The Evidence for King Arthur: Man or Myth?'

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The book is an investigation of the evidence for King Arthur based on the earliest written sources rather than later myths and legends.

The evidence is laid out in a chronological order starting from Roman Britain and shows how the legend evolved and at what point concepts such as Camelot, excalibur and Merlin were added.

It covers the historical records from the end of Roman Britain using contemporary sources such as they are, from 400-800, including Gallic Chronicles, Gildas and Bede.

It details the first written reference to Arthur in the Historia Brittonum c800 and the later Annales Cambriae in the tenth century showing the evolution of the legend in in later Welsh and French stories.

The work differs from other books on the subject in not starting from or aiming at a specific person. It compares the possibility of Arthur being purely fictional with an historical figure alongside a list of possible suspects.

The evidence is presented and the reader is invited to make up their own mind before a discussion of the Author’s own assessment.

What impressed me about this book is Sullivan’s passion for this subject and his willingness to go the extra mile to show both sides of the argument, that there was a historical Arthur and a mythical Arthur. He dives deep into the sources, from the earliest annals and chronicles to the 11th and 13th centuries legends and romances. It was extremely fascinating to see how he treated this book like a criminal investigation, using different fields of study to figure out the origins of the legend, how it evolved, and whether or not there was a king named Arthur.

Read the full review here

Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

King Arthur is a legend among legends. With the myth persisting, many have insisted that he was, indeed, a real person.

I think it can be argued, and very well, from the tenor and information provided in this book, that Arthur was indeed a real person - one who was imagined and formed from the characteristics of many. As the legend has grown over the years, so have the qualities and the feats of the supposed king.

I really enjoyed this book! The facts, the layout, the information was easy to follow and very enjoyable!

Which are you - real person or complete myth? This book might just help you determine where you stand.

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

Although complex and heavy, it was a great, thought-provoking reading. The author left no stone unturned and no possibility unexplained.

NetGalley, Alan D.D.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm sucker of everything related to King Arthur and I found this book informative and interesting.
It's full of facts and interesting ideas, well written and engrossing.
Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always been a sucker for Arthurian stories and I was thoroughly impressed with this book. Mr. Sullivan has discussed in great detail the many Arthurian stories and even provided a form of timeframe to keep track as you read.

NetGalley, Melissa Smith

King Arthur: Man or Myth? by Tony Sullivan is an intriguing exploration of Arthurian legend and British history. I particularly like that this book gives consideration to all options, the skeptical and the mythical, when trying to piece together real life history. Plus, it's laid out in chronological order which made it a bit easier to keep up.

NetGalley, Lauren Stoolfire

I've always been fascinated by King Arthur (thanks, Dad!), so when the opportunity came to read and review this book, I couldn't resist. I wasn't disappointed. I think the author was very brave to tackle this subject in the way that he did. There is a huge jumble surrounding the history/myth/legend of "King" Arthur - manuscripts, "histories" that don't match, and even a stone engraving... The only reason I gave this book 4 stars, rather than 5, is because it has given me far too much to think about!
A very good read for those interested in the early history of "Britain" or those who hear the words "King Arthur" and get a gleam in their eye.

NetGalley, Dawn Lewis

About Tony Sullivan

Tony is 52 years old and live in Kent with his wife and children. He spent 31 years in the London Fire Brigade and have recently retired. He has been interested in dark age history and King Arthur in particular for many years and noticed the vast array of different theories from amateur historians and others. The discrepancy with academics and historians also interested him and he began to study the source material. The field seems to be split between one hand amateur enthusiasts with a particular theory and on the other sceptical professionals. He has applied a forensic approach similar to investigating a fire but from the point of view of a sceptical enthusiast. At the very least he hopes to clarify the difference between good and bad evidence, what questions to ask and where we can look for the answer to the mystery.

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