Blog Tour: Tristan/Yseault, Harry Bonelle

Book Review: Tristan/Yseault, Harry Bonelle

Tristan/Yseault, Harry Bonelle

Poetry: Tristan/Yseault, Harry Bonelle

Blog Tour February 20, 2024


The story of Tristan and Yseault (or Isolde) dates back to at least the 12th Century C.E. In the traditional telling of the story, Yseault from Ireland is meant to marry King Mark from Cornwall. Tristan is sent to fetch the bride, but the two fall in love and carry on an affair in the palace.The tales diverge in many parts, depending on whether they are from Cornwall, from Ireland, or from France, but what remains consistent throughout is the clandestine love story between the two.


The original tales were told in verse, partially because that’s the way great stories were told in that time and on that continent (think of the Viking Sagas, the Canterbury Tales, Beowulf) and partially because the verses made it easier for people to learn and repeat the stories before the printing press. Reading Middle English is not one of my skills, so more recent translations allow me and others to share a story that was first told almost 1000 years ago.


Harry Bonelle has revived the tradition of telling the story in verse. His version of Tristan/Yseault is a very short book, or a very long poem, or both in a singular package. In his version (which is true to some of the ancient documents), Tristan is wounded when fighting a giant warrior on an otherwise empty island. He arrives in Ireland near death. Yseault finds him, nurses him back to life, and the two begin their tale. It is more of a vignette than a full retelling, covering only the early part of the whole story.


I enjoyed the work immensely. Bonelle’s verse has a rhythm and cadence that kept me engaged. His use of language, metaphor, and sentence structure kept me unbalanced in a good way. My only regret is getting the book as an electronic ARC–my guess is that the nature of the electronic version obscured some of the magic in the words. Getting background information, I saw the cover of the hardback version and realized just from that view that this is a book with beauty that just doesn’t translate well to my ebook.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Tristan/Yseault, provided so we could write an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

Tristan/Yseault, Harry Bonelle









Book Review: Tristan/Yseault, Harry Bonelle

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