cover image Tales of King Arthur: Excalibur

Tales of King Arthur: Excalibur

Hudson Talbott. HarperCollins, $17.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13380-1

An often bewitching but occasionally insipid visualization of an ancient tale, the third in Talbott's series of Arthurian legends (after King Arthur and the Round Table) traces young King Arthur's maturation as he battles King Pellinore and receives the sword Excalibur. The story is recounted prosaically, even awkwardly: ""I need a quest!"" complains Arthur. ""A knight has more fun than a king."" However, the pictures, composed in a traditional and romantic style, gracefully portray the hero's transition from a pretty, wistful youth to a reverent, confident king. Panoramic spreads of Arthur with his army convey a time-honored spirit of honor and adventure. The distinctly bloody fight scenes and a Barbie-esque Lady of the Lake are less than compelling, but Talbott is at his vivid best with animals: rearing horses, eager dogs and a miraculous Questing Beast. The intriguingly misty landscapes lend the classic story an air of mystery. All ages. (Sept.)