Trials of Arthur by CJ Stone
The Trials of Arthur - a book review
Whilst delving through some of my older articles, I found this book review I wrote in 2005. I have posted it on several websites including Loyal Arthurian Warband.
Like CJ, I was inspired to meet Arthur and I did eventually track him down at the Halloweenfestival in London 2004. I had the opportunity to ask him questions on an online interview - mine being 'what's the most stupid question you have been asked, other than this one?' can't remember the answer now but when I asked him in person, he remembered.
I joined the Warband message boards after some divine intervention and soon started going to Avebury for the Gorsedds. I was Knighted Warrior Priestess last Summer Solstice at Avebury. I would like to think I am quite close to Arthur (as close as he choses to be that is) and I am active in helping him with the Free Stone Henge Protest. What does that mean? He trusts me to help run his website and Facebook pages. He knows he has my support and in turn, I can call him for advice. I am very aware though of the many that have gone before that have since moved away from the Warband.Whilst he may worship the goddess in all her forms - I am not one of those groupies I hasten to add!
All will be told in his new book -coming soon! In the meantime, this is the book review I wrote before I had even got involved with his lot. There is an element of starry eyed though... I'm not blind and I have seen the world I stepped into as it truely is. Many have become disillusioned by Arthur and his ways... yet he continues to inspire. Yeah, I do still think he's the dogs bollox!
The Trials of Arthur
The life and times of a modern day king
By Arthur Pendragon & Christopher James Stone
I spotted this book at the Beltane Bash last year (2004). I picked it up, thought ‘uh’ do I/don’t I? I did. It was signed by Arthur - I felt it was a good start. So I brought it. I did not regret it either. I normally go for Terry Pratchett or Anne Rice novels as a rule or mythology books. Once I started, I just gobbled it up. I had only heard mention of Arthur once or twice before, I had even posted a question for the interview. I since got the chance to meet him in person and ask him if he remembered my stupid question, he did and laughed. If this book is indeed a true reflection of his life, then I believe that he is the dogs bollox.
Ok so how do I start this book review off? It starts with the author CJ trying to track down and interview the illusive and very busy Arthur at Imbolg. It sort of reads like a Tarrantino film, it’s segmented. The book then moves on to Arthur’s childhood. He grew up as John Timothy Rothwell and well, was a bit naughty and got in trouble with the police. One of the most memorable bits of his teenage years was working with his dad in a dustcart when it got stuck on the rail tracks and then hit by a munitions train. Jonny and his dad walked away from the wreckage and met the firemen when they arrived. They did not believe that they had crawled out of the mangled wreck that was left on the tracks. This was a turning point for Arthur. The description of the crash will leave you with no illusions to what went through his head in that moment before he was about to die. So at 14 years old, he started reading up on Zen Buddhism, occultism and druidary to work out what the experience meant. He joined the army.
Now for those who think he suddenly got up one day and said ‘I’m King Arthur Pendragon reincarnate’ this is how it happened.
“June 1986 - The Whippet’s squat. ‘and then he began writing on a board. It was a shelf from an MFI cupboard unit, white laminated chipboard. And he had a marker pen. And he started writing all his names down. He put ‘King John’ in the middle, that being his current nickname. He always wrote ‘King John’ with a three pointed crown above the K. And the all around it he put all his other names: Johnny Reb; Bacardi; Mad Dog; Ace; John the Hat; Terry Solo; Rev It Rothwell; and his social security numbers; his army numbers. All his names. Every name he had ever been known by. Everything he had ever been. It was like he was searching for something in this welter of identity, as if, perhaps this dumb white board could explain it to him.
He passed the board to the Whippet. ‘I’m bored’ he said. He meant ‘my whole life is on this board and I’m bored of it’. He knew the Whippet would get the pun. They were like psychic brothers, connected on a fundamental level. It was as if they could read each other’s minds. ‘You’re not King John’, said the Whippet, after a significant pause.
‘No I know I’m not King John. But I’m not any of the other names either’ he said. He thought the Whippet meant ‘You’re not King John, you’re just John, my mate’.
No what I mean is’ the Whippet said, catching his eye with a raven’s piercing glance, ‘you’re not King John, you’re King Arthur, the Once and Future King’.
His first reaction was ‘No, I don’t want to be King Arthur. I want to be Merlin or I’m not playing’.”
At this point Whippet throws him a book by Gareth Knight. It pretty much evolves from there. Arthur goes on to run as a local MP; sees the sword from the film Escaliber in a shop window and is so convincing to the maker opens the shop and gave the sword to Arthur. Each chapter unveils new episodes of Arthur finding his journey. Events that were legend, surfaced in his life. The more he went along, the more he started to believe that he was. But the charm of it is, that he doubted himself as the Once and Future King for years.
Eco-warrior.. The stories of Newbury bypass alone are eye opening. I had no idea the shit that was going on there. My favourite bit was when he was in battle with a chainsaw operator, during the third battle of Newbury. Arthur had climbed this massive beech tree to stop chainsaw guy cutting it down. They chased each other up and down this tree for ages. Then all of a sudden, Arthur gets his sword out and Knights the chainsaw guy!
I suppose I should wrap this up. I have barely scratched the surface of this story. The whole book is fab. CJ finally got to met Arthur after many failed attempts and he has put the story across well. The ‘reclaim the streets’ bit is good. The naked defiance with the prison gov’nor is brilliant. The stories of his wild biker days when he was known as Mad Dog and John the Hat… if we are the sum of all our experiences.. Then Arthur is rich in life. Even if you don’t believe he is the Once and Future King, it’s the fact that so many others have met him sceptical and walked away believers. His followers are loyal and many. This alone makes him great and his deeds greater.
If I was to rate this book in Arthur terms it would be 1, 2 and lots.
so there it is...... if you would like to know more www.warband.org or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthur-Pendragon/18894188726
Sometimes I wish he would be John the Hat again and sort the power-hungry ones out for his throne... but he is a man of peace now - unless he's had a pint of apple then there's no shutting him up =o)
Oh by the way, if you can find a copy of the book unsigned - it's worth a fortune follow the link or contact me for a copy. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trials-Arthur-Life-Times-Modern-day/dp/0007121148/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218069211&sr=8-1
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