Norton, $26.95, 301 pages
No one but Simon Armitage, poet and translator of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight could bring Le Morte Arthure into the 21st Century with such respect to poetic meter and alliterative language. The Death of King Arthur presents the legendary tale of Great Britain’s most famous king in the original Olde English 4350 line poem beside Armitage’s meticulous translation into modern English. Fans of this legend will be pleased to read this composition which is as close to the original legend as one can come without attempting a translation themselves. The poem begins after Arthur’s reign has been established and follows the man through war and betrayal, to his last breath. Seductively compelling, Armitages’ translation promises to be the definitive version of this epic work for our generation.