The Sword and The Circle is the first part of The Eagle of the Ninth author Rosemary Sutcliff’s trilogy of tellings of the King Arthur legend. In the introduction she wrote about the real man Arthur.
Many people believe, as I do, that behind the legends of King Arthur as we know them today, there stands a real man. No king in shining armour, no Round Table, no fairy-tale palace at Camelot, but a Roman-British war leader, who when the dark tide of the barbarians came flooding in, did all that a great leader could do to hold them back and save something of civilisation. In The Lantern Bearers and Sword At Sunset, I have written about this war leader, trying to get back through the hero-tale and the high romance to the real man and the world he lived in. But if the hero-tale had never grown up, and gathered to itself the mass of Celtic myth and folklore and the medieval splendours that we know now as the legends of King Arthur, we should have lost something beautiful and mysterious and magical out of our heritage.