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Publisher's Summary

Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval is the single most important Arthurian romance. It contains the very first mention of the mysterious grail, later to become the Holy Grail and the focal point of the spiritual quest of the knights of Arthur's court. 

Chrétien left the poem unfinished, but the extraordinary and intriguing theme of the Grail was too good to leave, and other poets continued and eventually completed it. This is the only English translation to include selections from the three continuations and from the work of Gerbert de Montreuil, making the romance a coherent whole, and following through Chrétien's essential theme of the making of a knight, in both worldly and spiritual terms. 

It is not hard to see why Chrétien’s unfinished story of the Grail proved such a compelling story, for its fundamental theme could hardly have been bolder, clearer or move movingly simple - or more important to its medieval audience. It is about the making of a knight in the most complete sense. 

It is not by chance that the story begins with a boy who had been brought up in a remote forest with no knowledge whatever of the world of knighthood and with only the haziest understanding of matters religious - he does not even know what a church is, let alone a knight’s hauberk, shield or lance. 

Chrétien’s plan is so forthright and sweeping that he sets out to depict a knight’s development from a point of total innocence and ignorance. The importance of the spiritual alongside the martial in the development of a knight, symbolised so powerfully by the Broken Sword, is a constantly recurring theme. 

Gerbert de Montreuil, whose poem is by far the most inspired and methodical continuation of Chrétien’s themes, shows by his handling of the broken sword motif that he was acutely aware of how much remained to be done before Perceval was fully worthy to know the secrets of the grail and the lance. 

Nigel Bryant’s fluent and engaging translation, with his useful opening introduction to the subject and texts, makes this an absorbing account of the essential Arthurian romance, the origin of the Grail legend. Read with warmth and engagement by Mike Rogers.

©1982 Nigel Bryant (P)2020 Ukemi Productions Ltd

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Great story, flawed performance

The beautiful words were nearly ruined by the reader's ham acting. The reader should focus less on bad accents and the sound of his voice and more on the story.

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Interesting story

I disagree with the above review, I thought the performance was excellent. I really enjoyed the story

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-19-21

Deep Story and Amazing Performance

The story of the book is deep and beautiful, taking the listener back to this time when so much of what makes us who are as a culture is defined and outlined, in an original piece about the medieval time that was actually written in the medieval time in a language that is contemporary to understand and a story that keeps the attention uncovering unexpected twists and turns. The Narration is impeccable. I don't I have listened to other audio books in which the narrator spoke so clearly and yet with variety of voices and accents for each character that can transport you to the story so well.

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  • NICK
  • 04-04-22

Storyline

Why? Because the story, which in Arthurian Romances can often get submerged in the detail, is very clear (despite the apparent digressions, for example when Gawain takes centre-stage). I am comparing here Chretien’s version with the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach, who not only begins with the very lengthy story of Parzival’s father, but at every turn takes a rococo delight in the sumptuous details of feasts, gorgeous robes and fabulous distant lands. Only a little of this in Chretien, but what one loses in imaginative flights, one gains in clarity.

You have to love the Arthurian world to engage in Perceval. I listened up to the point where Chretien’s own narrative breaks off and (as the introduction explains) no less than three other authors continue the story. We are informed in the introduction of much play being made on the symbolism of the broken, or notched, sword in Perceval’s development into a fully rounded knight. Well, that all seemed a bit obvious, or heavy- going to me, which is why I decided to break off.(This is one strength of Wolfram’s style and story: they are always fascinating, and never tedious; and even very charming, as where Gawain becomes the courtly champion of the teenage girl, whose innocent ways are beautifully presented. You only get the facts of this episode in Chretien’s version).

So, for the storyline, although truncated, go for Perceval; for imaginative riches, it must be Parzival.