The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart Essay
The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart
The Wicked Day, Mary Stewart’s concluding volume of the four-book series called the Arthurian Saga proved to be another fantastic display of mastery in Middle Ages inspired literature. Stewart’s primary modification the original Arthurian legends is making Mordred, originally Arthur’s twice-removed cousin, into Arthur’s bastard son to his half-sister Morgause. Although I initially did not like this alteration, this book proved to be an enchanting version of the original legend of King Arthur and his knights after all.
What I liked about it most is its non-typical approach to the characters. In the original legends which I’ve also read, the dialogue used was not very exciting, and the emotional impact of events that unfolded was not so intense. Stewart’s take on Arthur is a lot more mature, making her book stand heads and shoulders above the bland mass of other fairy tales whether in book or screen which is based on the story.
She presents Arthur, Mordred, Morguese and the rest as three-dimensional characters in a realistic world. Arthur himself was not shown as a faultless leader, neither was Morguese shown as evil incarnate as she usually was in the original where she also wasn’t portrayed to have had an affair with Arthur. Morguese in Stewart’s book was shown more like a victim of circumstance, and even Mordred was humanized in Stewart’s tale, a man without lack of conscience who must battle his own demons and settle his grievances against a father who abandoned him.
I think these elements make the entire saga and its inevitable ending portrayed in this installment as a lot more morally gray, it makes it hard for me to judge whether a particular character is good or bad and I ended up not doing so at all. Truly a treat for Arthur lovers everywhere, the magic in her book is subtle yet captivating.
Stewart, Mary. (1983). The Wicked Day. Ballantine Books.