Best King Arthur Books: A Comprehensive Guide

Who hasn’t heard of the legendary King Arthur, his mighty Excalibur, the round table, or the magical Merlin? These tales have captivated audiences for centuries, with their blend of heroism, magic, romance, and chivalry.

The allure of these stories is such that they’ve been retold and reimagined countless times, in many different eras and across many cultures. But with such an abundance of King Arthur books out there, which ones should you dive into?

In this article, we’ll help you navigate the sea of Arthurian literature, from the earliest renditions to the most compelling modern retellings.

Early Arthurian Literature

The roots of Arthurian lore reach back to medieval times, with many tales woven together to create the rich tapestry of legend we’re familiar with today. One of the definitive early works is “Le Morte d’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory. Written in the 15th century, it’s a dramatic and stirring compilation of Arthurian tales that have inspired countless authors since.


Le Morte D’Arthur (Complete, Unabridged and Illustrated Edition)

  • Hardcover Book
  • Sir Thomas Malory (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 950 Pages – 09/24/2023 (Publication Date) – Barnes and Noble (Publisher)

But the Arthurian tales go even further back, and for those interested in the earliest sources, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Historia Regum Britanniae” (History of the Kings of Britain) is a must-read. Written in the 12th century, it’s one of the first books to present a comprehensive story of King Arthur, from his birth to his death.


The History of the Kings of Britain (Penguin Classics)

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages – 01/27/1977 (Publication Date) – Penguin Books (Publisher)

Modern Retellings

Moving onto more modern works, the 20th century gave us some of the most beloved versions of the Arthurian legends. “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White is a masterwork that brings Arthur and his court to life with humor, emotion, and vivid detail.

This novel takes readers on a journey from Arthur’s childhood to his final days as king.


The Once and Future King

  • White, T. H. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 656 Pages – 11/01/2011 (Publication Date) – Ace Books (Publisher)

Another must-read modern classic is “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This novel offers a fresh take on the Arthurian legends by shifting the focus onto the female characters, particularly the enchantress Morgaine (Morgan Le Fay) and Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere).

The book delves deep into Celtic mythology and the clash between paganism and Christianity, making it a rich and thought-provoking read.

The Mists of Avalon

  • Audible Audiobook
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley (Author) – Davina Porter (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/19/2012 (Publication Date) – Recorded Books (Publisher)

These books, each remarkable in their own right, offer different windows into the multifaceted world of King Arthur, ensuring there’s something for every taste.

Arthurian Literature for Young Readers

Introducing King Arthur’s world to young readers is a fantastic way to spark their imagination and interest in history and mythology. For starters, “The Sword in the Stone” by T.H. White is a delightful read.

The novel, which is the first part of “The Once and Future King,” focuses on Arthur’s childhood and his education under the wizard Merlin. It’s full of charm, humor, and life lessons, making it a perfect fit for young readers.

The Sword in the Stone

  • White, T. H. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 241 Pages – 02/03/2023 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)

Another captivating series is “The Lost Years” by T.A. Barron, which explores Merlin’s youth before he became the legendary mentor to King Arthur. The series is filled with magic, adventure, and personal growth, and will certainly leave young readers hooked.


A T. A. Barron Collection: The Lost Years of Merlin; The Seven Songs of Merlin; The Fires of Merlin

  • Hardcover Book
  • Barron, T. A. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 928 Pages – 05/21/2001 (Publication Date) – Philomel Books (Publisher)

Non-fiction Books about King Arthur

For those curious about the man behind the myth, there are several non-fiction books that delve into the history of King Arthur. “The Discovery of King Arthur” by Geoffrey Ashe is one such book.

Ashe, a prominent Arthurian scholar, embarks on a quest to discover the historical King Arthur, sifting through ancient texts and historical records. It’s a fascinating read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the legendary king.

The Discovery of King Arthur (The Geoffrey Ashe Histories)

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Ashe, Geoffrey (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 291 Pages – 04/08/2020 (Publication Date) – Lume Books (Publisher)

Another worthwhile read is “King Arthur: The Making of the Legend” by Nicholas J. Higham. This book investigates the creation and evolution of King Arthur’s story over the centuries, analyzing why and how it became such a pervasive myth. It’s an intriguing exploration of the blend of history and fiction that makes up the Arthurian legend.

King Arthur: The Making of the Legend

  • Higham, Nicholas J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 09/28/2021 (Publication Date) – Yale University Press (Publisher)

Whether you’re a young reader just starting out, or a history buff seeking factual information, the world of King Arthur has something to offer everyone.

Books about Arthurian Characters

While King Arthur often takes center stage in these stories, the characters that surround him are equally compelling. Some books place these characters in the spotlight, providing fresh perspectives on the Arthurian legend.

For instance, “Queen of Camelot” by Nancy McKenzie dives deep into the character of Queen Guinevere. The novel paints a rich and intricate picture of her life, from her early years to her complex relationships with King Arthur and Sir Lancelot.

Queen of Camelot

  • McKenzie, Nancy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 640 Pages – 01/02/2002 (Publication Date) – Del Rey (Publisher)

If you’re intrigued by darker characters, “I am Mordred” by Nancy Springer offers a gripping exploration of Arthur’s nemesis. The story is told from Mordred’s perspective, humanizing a character typically portrayed as a villain and inviting readers to consider the complexities of destiny, fate, and free will.

I Am Mordred

  • Audible Audiobook
  • Nancy Springer (Author) – Steven Crossley (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/23/2008 (Publication Date) – Recorded Books (Publisher)


The King Arthur legend, with its enduring themes of heroism, betrayal, love, and magic, continues to captivate readers centuries after the first tales were told. From early chronicles to modern retellings, from books for young readers to non-fiction historical accounts, and from tales focused on King Arthur himself to those about the people in his life, the world of Arthurian literature offers a treasure trove of reading options.

So, whether you’re a seasoned scholar of Arthurian legend or a newcomer just beginning your journey, there’s a King Arthur book out there that will transport you into the heart of this fascinating mythos.