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What are your opinions of Mordred, Arthur's son and his bane? What do you think of his origins? Was his mother Morgan or Morgause? Do you hate him?

Personally, I like Mordred. He's my favorite character out of the whole Arthurian mythology. I believe, if Arthur hadn't tried to kill him when he was just an infant, he never would have been a villain. He's just a victim of circumstances. I also think he was an attention-starved child since, no matter who you think is his mother, she used him as a tool against Arthur, and the king never showed him any affection either. Any child would fall down the wrong path if that happened. And besides, I think, especially in fiction, children born of i*** always suffer a most unfortunate fate. Take Antigone, the sequel of Oedipus Rex. All of the children died unfortunate deaths, even though they were not responsible for any true wrongdoings in the play. Even in anime, like Count Cain, Cain suffers through out his childhood and eventually dies because he's the child of an incestuous relationship. Mordred can be viewed as the same, thus I feel sympathetic towards him and I don't hate him. Anyone who differs of opinion (though I don't really mind it, as this is a discussion, not a war) should read novels in his point of view, like I am Mordred by Nancy Cooper. It's awesome and one of my most favorite books! The Book of Mordred by Vivian Van Velde is also okay, though I personally preferred the author's note at the end, where her sources were, to the whole of the novel. XD Mordred: B*** Son lets you sympathize with him, but the legend isn't accurate, so I wouldn't suggest it as more than a fun read.

I'm actually writing a story in Mordred's point of view, too. I'm trying to keep it both interesting and historically accurate, if anyone's interested in reading it (it's on my profile). But if you don't like slash (homosexual relationships), then I warn you away from it, as I won't tolerate any homophobia (really, at this day in age it would be shameful if anyone was that biased, anyway). But if you don't mind, it's relatively well received (and well-written, too). It's called The Wizard's Apprentice and there are both homosexual and heterosexual relationships, graphic violence, etc. I hope it appeals to you. ^^

8/29/2009 #1
Storyteller Knight

"I am Mordred" was actually written by Nancy Springer. And there are certainly many more books than those three that portray Mordred in a positive (although still usually doomed by fate) light. "Queen of Camelot" is a fantastic retelling by Nancy McKenzie. The story focuses on Guinevere and the Gwen/Arthur/Lancelot love triangle, but Mordred is brought in during the middle to be trained and raised as Arthur's heir. "The Winter Prince" by Elizabeth Wein is probably one of my favorites. It's in first person from Mordred's (Medraut) perspective as he struggles to find a place for himself where Arthur has two younger children with Guinevere (Ginevra) and to break away from his mother's attempts to use him as a tool. Other retellings with Mordred as a prominent and sympathetic character include Mary Stewart's "The Wicked Day", Phyllis Ann Karr's "Idylls of the Queen", Courtway Jones' "A Prince in Camelot", Beric Norman's "Mordred's Version: King Arthur's Dishonour." I've read all these, so if anyone wants a more indepth summary, I'd be happy to give it.

I'd also recommend "Paladins" by Joel Rosenberg for any Mordred fan. While he isn't an actual character, per say, the story takes place in a universe where Mordred defeated Arthur. So, you have a character like Mordred V, ruler of the Pendragon Empire.

12/8/2009 #2

Oh, you're right, it is Nancy Springer. I was thinking of Susan Cooper, not Nancy Cooper. Susan Cooper actually made me interested in Arthuriana in general after reading The Dark is Rising Sequence as a child, which has an original character who is the son of Arthur and Guinevere. However, DiR isn't accurate, as it's more about the protagonist, Will Stanton, and his group of friends. I read and absolutely loved The Winter Prince. That story really talked about stuff I always considered important when learning about Mordred, like his relationship with each parent. I've read all of Mary Stewart's Arthurian themed novels soon after DiR, because I wanted more info, and I found The Wicked Day really informative. I mean, with Stewart, it almost seems believable, like the whole tale of Camelot actually happened -- rather than probably the more accurate theory that Arthur was a Roman warlord that traveled to Britain and became a clan-king. I haven't read any of the others, though. Have you read Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Trilogy? Mordred is a villain later on, but within the whole first book it builds a different relationship between he and Arthur than the canon. In the trilogy, Arthur is the b*** son of Uther. He is seen as a hero by the people for his bravery as a soldier, but his father hates him for letting the legitimate heir, his half-brother, die in battle. Mordred is the son of said heir and Arthur is dedicated to protecting him. It's a good read. :) If you can recommend any more, I'd love to hear. :D

12/8/2009 #3
Storyteller Knight

Man, it's been years since I read "The Dark is Rising" books. But, from what I can remember you, I'd have to agree that the books weren't very grounded in the legends. From what I remember, Merlin, Bran and Excalibur (I think) were the only connections to the legends. As I said, its been a really really long time since I read those.

And I've read the "Warlord Trilogy". Actually, I was reading those books when I started my own retelling, so the first few chapters draw from those books a bit. But those were very good books and I applaud Cornwell's ability to manipulate my feelings towards characters (I hated Guinevere threw the first two books and by the end of the third I liked her and vice-versa for Nimue). Although, my favorite retelling that follows a more historical context is Helen Hollick's "Pendragon's Banner" trilogy (first book is Kingmaking). Mordred doesn't show up until the third book and while he's not evil, he's kinda an idiot. That's probably my biggest complaint about the last book. I prefer it when Mordred is too smart for his own good and a strong character.

And I loved the "Winter Prince" too. There are scenes in that book that honestly break my heart every time I read them. And what I like best about that book is that most of the characters actually form a family (touching on your comment). That's my biggest complaint about the legends and many of the retellings. These characters are supposed to be a family- Arthur, Gwen, Morgause, Morgan, Mordred, the Orkney Brothers, Yvain (depending on the legend)- they're all supposed to be a family and yet they hate each other. That's the part I don't like, so I enjoy legends where they're actually a family and you actually see affection pass between them. That's why Vivian Van Velde's "The Book of Mordred" is my favorite of the retellings I've read, simply because what little interaction you see between Mordred and his half brothers, they actually act like brothers.

12/8/2009 #4

Dark is Rising was my favorite novel series as a child. You're right, the only mention of King Arthur they had was Arthur himself, who showed up only very briefly, Merlin (Merriman), only mentions of Guinevere, Bran and Excalibur.

I like books, too, if they have a familial feel. In I am Mordred, for example, I really liked the portion right before Mordred went questing where he and Arthur have a conversation, and kind of hash out all their regrets. I prefer that to a relationship, as you said, where they don't care at all or even hate each other, and I like it if he has a relationship with his brothers, too. I like how, in the end, Mordred turns into, I believe, a raven and watches over Arthur. It was so sweet. :D Personally, I've only read one book where Mordred has a good relationship with his mother, and that was Mordred: B*** Son, but the book isn't at all like the canon legends. And I honestly prefer her when she's being manipulative and cruel because she seemed so weak in B*** Son.

I also don't like it when Mordred is written as an idiot or an a coward --- I just don't feel it's accurate. That's the reason I didn't like Knightlife so much, even though it was a funny novel. That and I hated whiny, clingy, weak Guinevere.

12/9/2009 #5
Storyteller Knight

It was Mordred's soul, I think, that got turned into a rave towards the end of "I am Mordred". Because there still was a final battle between Mordred and Arthur, but Mordred had removed his soul, which was basically everything good about him and the part that didn't want to betray his father, from his body before that and it was turned into a raven. And I enjoyed that ending too, but on a whole that book isn't one of my favorites. Although, I can't remember why it isn't one of my favorites, so I should probably reread it.

I've read a few retellings where Mordred and his mother have a good relationship. In Phyllis Ann Karr's "Idylls of the Queen", you never meet Morgause, but it's strongly impiled that she and Mordred were close before she was killed. She's a loving mother in Ian McDowell's "Mordred's Curse" (which I do not recommend at all- badly written book). I enjoy it when Morgan le Fay is Mordred's mother and uses him as a tool (as it was in "Mordred, B*** Son") because I think it fits in more with her character than Morgause's. In the tales where Morgan is evil, she's the one who's been working for revenge since her father's death. Morgause is the one who got married and gave birth to four young men who eventually loyally served their uncle.

Oh, I love "Knight Life". I actually enjoy that stories portrayal of Mordred because I don't view him as evil and I found him rather easy to sympathize with (probably not Peter David's intent). It was a very human portrayal of Mordred, I thought, as someone who was bitter at had what had passed between him and Arthur, but at the same time was over it. The only reason he got roped into the whole thing was because he enjoyed living and Morgan was threatening to kill him. My only disappointment with that story came from how the relationship between Arthur and Mordred was played out, because Mordred could have been saved. If Arthur had said to Mordred what he said at that press conference, if he had made it clear that he regretted what happened (which he really didn't when they met up), I think Mordred would have joined them.

I saw in your story (which I am going to review soon...ish) that you're a fan of "Mordred's Lullaby" by Heather Dale. Have you heard any of her other songs based in Arthurian Legends, or just that one?

12/9/2009 #6

Yes, it was his soul. His body did pass on. I haven't read it in a while, either, but I don't know, it stuck with me. I enjoyed it --- I read it about 4 years ago so I can't recall exactly why. They had their final battle and what I've always wondered is why they didn't just not fight, since they both didn't want to (in I am Mordred; I know they hated one another in some retellings). Maybe that's what you didn't like about it? The reasoning seems weak --- they both just deemed it was destiny.

I really should read Idylls of the Queen. As a whole, I don't like Guinevere much, so maybe that's why I don't bother with her, but any good piece of Arthurian fiction merits a read. I just picked something up in my university's library this morning that I haven't been able to put down! It's called The Forever King, and it incorporates so many aspects of fiction: murder, magic, reincarnation. I also love how the two authors weave bits of history all through it --- Babylonia, the fall of Rome, the start of Arthur's Camelot --- and then it jumps to relatively modern New York and London. It's not really about Mordred, though. I'm halfway through and there's been but one mention of him --- of his slaying of Arthur at their final battle. However, it's a great novel nonetheless. I'll probably be done by tomorrow.

I loved the humor in Knightlife and the idea behind it. I keep hoping to see a candidate like Arthur try for presidency, but it hasn't happened yet (if ever, since it's just wishful thinking). The only thing I really didn't like was Gwen. I mean, in a few of the passages, she seemed to assert herself and I could see why Arthur would fall so hard for her, but I felt her character was weak overall. She was too much of a damsel-in-distress. Evil though she may be in some adaptations, I prefer Morgan/Morgause because she is wittier. Depending on how they're depicted, both are powerful female characters in a world of men and I enjoy that about them. What I disliked about Mordred in the book was that nothing seemed to go right for him. Maybe it's my affection for him, but he was just so down on his luck. You're right, though. If Arthur had made that speech to him --- a speech that really stands out to me even months after reading the novel --- it would have made a difference. What I really enjoy in Arthurian literature is when Arthur and Mordred have a strong bond, even if it eventually leads to tragedy.

I've heard King's Sword, Mordred's Lullaby and The Trial of Lancelot. She just sings so beautifully! I love her music; it's so different from all this popular rap and emo rock. I even find myself singing Mordred's Lullaby to my baby cousin, though it's entirely inappropriate for her. I doubt my uncle wants me to refer to him as a traitor or a thief. Have you heard Mordred's Song by Blind Guardian? It has a different feel than Heather Dale's music, obviously, but I think it's a nice song.

12/10/2009 #7
Storyteller Knight

Guinevere doesn't play a huge role "Idylls of the Queen". The story takes a scene from Le Morte D'Arthur where Guinevere is holding a private meal with a handful of knights and one of them is murdered and basically expounds upon that, turning it into a murder mystery. Guinevere is accused of the murder and a knight needs to win in trial by combat to save her from being executed. The story is from Kay's perspective as he tries to figure out who actually committed the murder. A handful of knights (including Kay) travel around Britain trying to find Lancelot so he cane fight for Guinevere. Mordred is Kay's traveling companion. So, it's about her but it doesn't feature her. And I'm kinda 'meh' on Guinevere. I can read just about any portrayal of her character and enjoy it, but I prefer to frame her and Lancelot (especially Lancelot) as antagonists. As far as I'm concerned, those two destroyed Camelot. I have no patience for forgiving their 'true love'. Lovesick idiots-- both of them.

If you're enjoying "Forever King", I highly recomment the sequel, "The Broken Sword". All the elements you seem to be enjoying in "Forever King" are there in "Broken Sword." However, I'd advise reading the third book, "The Third Magic". It's terrible. Warren Murphy and Molly Cochran were married when they wrote the first two books and divorced before they got to the third. Cochran wrote it alone and I'm absolutely convinced she ruined the book on purpose. It defies continuity and timelines established in the first two books. It's really a shame, cause the first two books are wonderful.

I highly recommend Heather Dale's music, especially her Arthurian CD's, "Trial of Lancelot" and "May Queen". Her songs are beautiful and some are so beautiful your heart breaks. And I have heard 'Mordred's Song', but I wasn't really a fan. A little too much rock for my tastes.

12/10/2009 #8

Sorry I took a while to reply. My first semester of college finally ended, so I was studying for finals.

Now I will definitely have to read Idylls of the Queen. I love a good mystery. In fact, I enjoyed the slight mystery aspect in The Forever King, with Hal being an ex-policeman and all. Usually I'm fine with Guinevere. In The Tales of Guinevere by Alice Borchardt, she seems to have a really strong personality and I like that. As I said, it's when she's being a damsel-in-distress that she annoys me. But I agree with you wholeheartedly on the Guinevere/Lancelot relationship. I blame both of them, too. After all, if they hadn't had their little affair, none of Mordred's brother's would have died, since he killed Gareth and Agravaine to save Guinevere; and Gawain died trying to get revenge --- so I'm sure one of two scenarios would have occured: a) one of Mordred's brothers might have advised him against taking up arms with Arthur, b) Arthur would have won the battle with Gawain and Lancelot, two of his greatest knights, at his side. Personally, when I think of characters like Guinevere and Helen of Troy, I remember a song from House of Flying Daggers, a Chinese Movie.

"There's a beauty from the land of the North, She stands alone in her sole beauty With one look she can turn over a city With another look she can turn over a country Even knowing about the cities and states, [I still wish to meet her] because true beauty is hard to find."

Basically it's about beautiful women who can destroy powerful cities (ex. Camelot and Troy). I'm kind of disappointed about the third book of Forever King, now that you've mentioned it. Maybe it's just me, but a broken romance is no reason to destroy such a perfect book. D: Oh well, I'm still going to pick up the second novel asap. There was another musician who reminded me of Heather Dale. For the life of me, I can't remember her name. But she didn't sing about Arthuriana at all, so I guess it doesn't matter. I preferred Mordred's Lullaby to Mordred's Song, too, but I thought it nice that the song writers put an effort to capture the past, you know? Music doesn't seem to appreciate the timeless quality to some legends. Musicians would much rather sing about drugs, violence and depression. Oh well, I suppose they're trying too hard to capture the present to drop it all and try for the past.

12/19/2009 #9
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