Book Review, Children's Fiction, Illustrator, Middle Grade Fiction

BOOK REVIEW: The Adventures of King Arthur Graphic Novel by Russell Punter and Andrea Da Rold

– Short Review –

Really great artwork bringing to life a classic of English folklore and myth. A little quick in places, without enough developing of certain characters, but made up for by brilliant action scenes. This is a nice introduction to the big stories of the Arthurian legends. Perfect for a reluctant reader or lover of comic books.

– Longer Review –

It is really great to see Usborne putting out a series of graphic novels. They have three so far: King Arthur, Robin Hood and Dracula. These are all great epic stories. I really enjoyed reading The Adventures of King Arthur, the story had some great moments, the artwork was brilliant and the book itself is a nice thing to hold, with a feeling of real quality.

Usborne Graphic Legends

The fight scenes were probably the best thing about the book for me. I would linger on the page, enjoying the art work. The art and the story telling also largely worked well together.

I did have one issue with the story as it was presented in the book. The problem with retelling the King Arthur myth, is that it is really a collection of myths, stories and poems which have been added too over the years. So, for example, the story of the quest for the Holy Grail is one of the later stories in the Arthurian myth. This was included in the graphic novel, but I felt it didn’t really fit in. A potential problem with the Arthurian legends and a graphic novel is that there are so many characters, with all the knights of the round table, plus all the other characters, and there isn’t a lot of space in this graphic novel. Therefore, I think the space taken up with the Grail story would have been better given to other things. I thought Arthur needed developing as a character. We actually don’t get to see much of Arthur and why he is such an important myth. He is supposed to be the just king, whose perfect court contains the seeds of its own downfall.

If I had been script editing this book, I would have said the start of the story is great, leading up to the sword in the stone. However, we are then just told Arthur brings peace and is a just king. We need to see more of this. What we do see of Arthur he seems a bit foolish and foolhardy, rushing off into fights, trusting people he clearly shouldn’t. This is his flaw, but it needed developing more for it to be understood. Arthur’s flaws are also ultimately why his myth endures. Heroes aren’t perfect people. They are imperfect but doing the best they can in difficult situations despite their flaws. The ending of the story is good but not as good as it would have been if we cared more about Arthur.

King Arthur battle.jpg

I noticed there isn’t an ebook version of Usborne’s graphic novels. This is a shame. Comics are maybe even better on a tablet. I have an HD screen and the artwork looks brilliant when I read comics on it. Also, you can’t see the next page on a tablet, which makes the anticipation of the next page even better. Usborne should definitely think about bringing out an ebook version.

To sum up, this is a good graphic novel and at around £10 it is a nice price. The artwork is very good, and they have written an engaging story with only a few flaws, but they do need an ebook version too.

The Adventures of King Arthur is published by Usborne Books and is available here.

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Russell Punter

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Russell Punter was born in Bedfordshire, England. From an early age he enjoyed writing and illustrating his own stories. He later trained as a graphic designer at art college in West Sussex before entering publishing. Since then, he has written over fifty books for children, including original fiction in both picture book and young reader formats.

Some of his most popular books are The Dinosaur Who Lost His Roar, Stories of Piratesand Stories of Mermaids. He has also adapted many classics, ranging from Greek myths to novels such as The 39 Steps and King Solomon’s Mines.

He has a keen interest in the golden age of Victorian and Edwardian adventure stories, as well as the more modern world of science-fiction. His most recent project is a range of graphic novels for young readers.

Reviewed by Daniel Soule

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