Fantasy author Lev Grossman has announced his next book project: The Bright Sword, which will be a new take on Arthurian legend.
The Bright Sword will begin following the death of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Galahad, and will feature some of the "minor figures from the margins of Arthurian mythology" as they work to rebuild England, while coming to terms with the toll their adventures have had on them. "I'd been casting about for a new story to tell after the third Magicians book," Grossman told The Verge via email, "and I wanted something that felt substantial and urgent and sweep-you-away entertaining — something that I couldn't not write."
"I asked myself, almost as a thought-experiment, what a King Arthur story might look like now, in this millennium, and immediately I had this idea, and it felt new and different and powerful."
Grossman has spoken in the past about his love for T.H. White’s epic retelling of Arthurian legend, The Once and Future King. "The Sword in the Stone set the standard by which I judge all historical fiction," he told NPR in 2010. "White took hold of the ultimate English epic and recast it in modern literary language, sacrificing none of its grandeur or its strangeness (and it is very strange) in the process, and adding in all the humor and passion that we expect from a novel."
Grossman is best known for his Magicians novels: The Magicians, The Magician King, and The Magician’s Land. The trilogy, which recently became a television show on Syfy, follows a young magician named Quentin Coldwater as he learns of the existence of magic and enters Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. The books were heavily and specifically influenced by C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, but Grossman also weaves in a deep understanding of the fantasy canon.
While The Magicians dealt with a group of characters just starting out in life, Grossman noted that he’s playing with people at different points in their lives. "At the same time, it's a huge canvas, very much on the epic scale, and the characters are in different parts of their lives from where the Brakebills magicians were. Some of them are middle-aged or even, in the case of Merlin, really really old." That said, fans of his earlier novels will recognize Grossman in his work: "In some ways, it's very much in the style of The Magicians. It's my voice. And it's still fantasy, filtered through a lens very much like the one that made The Magicians. If you liked The Magicians, there's a lot more of that in The Bright Sword."
Grossman told The Verge that he has spent the last year and a half writing the novel. "It's a longer book than any of the Magicians books, and unlike those books, it incorporates a huge amount of research, from late pre-Roman Iron Age British culture to the nitty-gritty of medieval longsword combat, which we know a lot more about now than we did in T.H. White's time."
No release date for The Bright Sword has been set.