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‘The Magicians’ author Lev Grossman previews his novel ‘The Bright Sword,’ a King Arthur reimagining

The New York Times bestselling author takes on a legendary tale in his new book due out next year.
Lev Grossman's "The Bright Sword" debuts in 2024.
Lev Grossman's "The Bright Sword" debuts in 2024.Beowulf Sheehan / Viking Books
/ Source: TODAY

Lev Grossman is inviting you to take a place around the round table.

Although King Arthur only had room for 150 knights, countless readers are likely to read the author's anticipated upcoming novel, "The Bright Sword," his take on Arthurian legend out July 2024.

Below, see your first glimpse at the book cover. Naturally, it involves a sword, a nod to the title and the centerpiece of the myth: Arthur was crowned king after being the only one able to pull a sword from a stone.

Grossman says his team went through dozens of cover iterations before landing on this illustration.
Grossman says his team went through dozens of cover iterations before landing on this illustration.Viking Books

"I love the cover," Grossman told "You can see all the different contradictory elements of Arthur’s world in it — the sword, the crown, the pagan antlers, even the Roman laurels. But also it’s just beautiful. It should be! We must’ve tried two dozen covers before we got to that one."

Grossman is known for his "Magicians" trilogy, a series of adult fantasy novels set at a magic academy, which was also turned into a TV show on Syfy that's now available on Netflix. His latest novel is the start of a new world (or the return to an old one), showing "another side" to a familiar tale.

"'The Bright Sword' isn't so much a retelling of King Arthur as it is a reimagining, with all the triumph and tragedy of the original, the sword and the Grail and the romance, but from a new, fresher, darker angle. There’s another side to Arthur’s story that we’ve never seen before," he says.

Grossman has "always loved" King Arthur: "It’s so sad and so glorious, an epic adventure and a family tragedy all in one."

Since Arthur's story was first recorded in the 12th century book "History of the Kings of Britain," by Geoffrey of Monmouth, many authors have given their takes — from T.H. White in "The Once and Future King" (1958) and Thomas Malory in "Le Morte d'Arthur" (1485).

"It’s different in different times. I wanted to find a King Arthur for this moment we’re in right now," he says.

"The Bright Sword" spans the "classic" King Arthur myth. "It's all in there, from his growing up in the woods with Sir Ector all the way through to the Isle of Avalon. But there’s a lot more that people have never seen before. A lot more," he says.

After many pages of world-building "The Magicians," which wrapped in 2014, and literary thrillers, he describes writing this book as "humbling."

"It was incredibly fun getting to build a whole new world, but I also realized pretty quickly that King Arthur was a very different proposition from 'The Magicians.' People have been telling his story for a thousand years. With Arthur you’re not just making things up, you’re joining a long and ancient tradition," he says.

As for whether he would try to wrench the sword from the stone? 

"I would pull till my fingers gave out! You never know."