The Once and Future King by T. H. White

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Score: 16 blue gerbils

The famous book about the Arthurian Legends, written over a long period of time, starting in the 1930s and stretching into the 50s.

The book was not written as a stand-alone story for the legends. Throughout the book, White refers the reader to Morte de Arthur by Malory to read about events that don’t directly concern the central characters of his retelling. Instead, he focuses on the characters themselves, and gives them a deep, rich complexity that explains their choices.

I find it hard to look at the book as a whole, as White divided it into 4 distinct parts, each having its own feel.

The first part, “The Sword in the Stone,” I found the hardest to read. I can excuse White for this, as it was the first part to his epic, and he was still getting his feet wet. Particularly, he has long passages where he describes in detail various parts of the locations as the reader can find it now, in the modern times. It’s almost as if he’s trying to prove to the reader that he did his research. Unfortunately, the depiction of Merlyn doesn’t stand up too well to the test of time. It all has kind of a cartoony, forced humor feel, where you can see how it was ripe for a Disney adaptation.

By the conclusion of the book, though, White shows why the light-hearted beginning was necessary to balance the impending death at the end of the book, where the decisions and failures of the characters leads to the only possible consequence.


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