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The Sword And The Circle



The Sword And The Circle: King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table by Rosemary Sutcliff is a retelling of the timeless Arthurian legends. The book weaves together the tales of King Arthur's rise to power, the establishment of the Round Table, and the adventures of his knights. Sutcliff's narrative captures the essence of chivalry, bravery, and the quest for honor that defines these stories.

Key Themes

The Birth of a King

The story begins with the mysterious circumstances surrounding Arthur's birth, his early life under the care of Merlin, and his eventual ascension to the throne by pulling Excalibur from the stone. This act symbolizes his rightful claim to the throne and his destiny to unite Britain.

The Formation of the Round Table

Arthur's creation of the Round Table represents his vision of a just society where all knights are equal, and decisions are made in fairness and truth. It becomes a symbol for unity, equality, and the pursuit of a higher ideal.

The Quests and Adventures

The knights embark on various quests, from the search for the Holy Grail to the battles against Arthur's adversaries. These tales highlight the virtues and vices of the knights, showcasing their valor, loyalty, and sometimes, their fallibility.

The Role of Women

Women in these tales, such as Guinevere and Morgan le Fay, play pivotal roles, influencing the course of events through their actions and decisions. Their stories intertwine with the knights', adding depth and complexity to the narrative.

The Fall of Camelot

The tragic end of Arthur's reign is marked by betrayal and the disintegration of the ideals the Round Table stood for. The fall of Camelot serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility of ideals in the face of human weaknesses.


  • King Arthur - The central figure, whose leadership and vision create the legendary Camelot.
  • Merlin - The wise mentor who guides Arthur and plays a crucial role in the king's destiny.
  • Sir Lancelot - Arthur's most loyal knight, whose affair with Guinevere leads to the downfall of Camelot.
  • Guinevere - The queen whose love and loyalty are torn between Arthur and Lancelot.
  • Morgan le Fay - A powerful enchantress with complex motives, often seen as both a foe and a helper to the knights.


The Sword And The Circle is not just a collection of heroic tales but a reflection on the ideals of chivalry, the complexity of human nature, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. Sutcliff's retelling invites readers to explore the depths of these legends, revealing their enduring relevance and the timeless lessons they hold about leadership, loyalty, and the human condition.