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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sword" does not disappoint
"Sword in the Stone" is the must-read book of Arthuriana, an imaginative fantasy romp that has inspired all our ideas about the venerable Merlin and about King Arthur's boyhood. White infuses the book with whimsy, poignancy, and a mixture of early 20th-century England and medieval times.
Sir Ector's ward Arthur (known as "Wart") has no idea what he's in for when he...
Published on October 6, 2002 by E. A Solinas

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Educational
The Sword in the Stone is set in the Middle Ages, in a time of knights and magicians. Actual historical details are presented in the context of a fictional story. It is about the upbringing of young King Arthur. With the help of his tutor, Merlyn, Arthur experiences adventures, which help him to see life from different points of view. These other perspectives of the...
Published on May 27, 1999


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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sword" does not disappoint, October 6, 2002
"Sword in the Stone" is the must-read book of Arthuriana, an imaginative fantasy romp that has inspired all our ideas about the venerable Merlin and about King Arthur's boyhood. White infuses the book with whimsy, poignancy, and a mixture of early 20th-century England and medieval times.
Sir Ector's ward Arthur (known as "Wart") has no idea what he's in for when he accompanies Ector's son Kay out on a hunt. When a bad-tempered hawk escapes and refuses to come out of a tree, Wart ends up staying behind all night in the hopes of recapturing it. But he's interrupted by an odd old man called Merlin and his talking owl Archimedes. Merlin captures the hawk -- and then comes home with Wart. Soon he is firmly established as tutor to the two boys.
But they soon discover that nobody is quite like Merlin, and the lessons he has to teach Wart are more than just math and Latin. Merlin transforms Arthur into a fish, an owl, a hawk, and sends him on bizarre journeys with Robin Wood (Wood, not Hood -- a common mistake) and his band of Merry Men, a duel with an evil witch, a gathering of trees, a fumbling King and the Questing Beast, and capture in a sinister giant's castle.
T.H. White was a wonderful author, and an even better comic author. His characters are fully fleshed and endearing (even the nasty ones), but at the same time there is a delightful lightness to them. There isn't a speck of realism in the entire book -- chronology is bent and spindled, magic and realism are twisted together, and readers won't care at all. In a sense, "Sword" seems almost to exist in a parallel universe where animals talk, Robin Hood chit-chats with the once and future king, and carnivorous humanoids roam through Britain.
"Wart" is a good hero -- quiet, unassuming, thoughtful, and occasionally puts his foot in his mouth. His foster brother Kay is also good -- Kay is hot-tempered and a little loud-mouthed, but he is a nice person at heart. Merlin is the perfect crabby gray wizard, eccentric and unashamed to use his magic in a perfectly casual manner, and constantly a little befuddled due to his ability to live backwards in time. He'll endear himself to readers from the first page onward. There are dozens of equally funny characters: The always-questing King Pellinore and his Beast, the worried Sir Ector, the walking mustard-pot, the crabby but kindly owl Archimedes, and many, many more.
White's writing goes at a slightly uneven clip: Sometimes it zips along quickly, at other times it crawls. He displays plenty of knowledge about medieval times, and seems a little too eager to reveal it to the readers. But his descriptions and dialogue are delightful, a mix of the modern and the medieval. There are some extremely frightening scenes, and some (such as the having to put down a fatally-injured dog) that will make you cry.
Readers will come out of this book feeling like they have made a number of memorable, kindly friends. It's a must-read for anyone who loves the legends of Arthur.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fragmented Masterpiece, December 24, 2007
This review is from: The Sword in the Stone (Hardcover)
Finding a COMPLETE version of this book is difficult. When the Sword and the Stone was grafted onto the rest of the series to form the Once and Future King, T.H. White removed several scenes from the book. Growing up enjoying the Walt Disney version of the film, I was disappointed when I read the Once and Future King. Where was the wizard's duel between Merlyn and Madam Mim? Surely, Disney didn't come up with that on their own.

Well, the truth is these lost parts are still out there if you wish to find them. Some of the lost episodes include: Kay and Wart taken captive by Madam Mim, a wizard's duel between Merlyn and Mim, Wart and Kay battle a giant who has taken King Pellinore captive, Wart becomes a snake, and Archimedes takes the Wart in bird form to meet his mother Athene and hear a song from the trees. The version I found that still contained these passages was published in 1963 and features Disney illustrations on the cover. I do not know if other versions include these chapters, but the Once and Future King does not.

Some speculate that White thought these episodes to be too childish and light-hearted, but I think they are wonderful. The Sword in the Stone is a very difficult book for children. I believe it needs these light-hearted moments to offset the preachy life lessons. Don't get me wrong, I think the lessons that can be learned from the book are innumerable, but everyone needs a little fun with their learning.

If you are looking to read the Sword in the Stone, I encourage you to seek out the oldest version with the chapters still in tact. They're worth it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, April 14, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sword in the Stone (Hardcover)
The Sword in the Stone is a truly wonderful book. It is the classic story of young King Arthur, but told in greater depth and detail, and filled with wonderful, humorous characters. The tale so many times retold suddenly becomes fresh and original, as T.H. White's stunning narrative sweeps the reader into the world of Midieval England, and makes the old story come alive in a new and delightful way. Never before has anyone been able to make the old characters of Arthur and Merlyn, Sir Ector and King Pellinore come alive in such a real and fantastic way. The story is brought to life, and is better by far then the traditional telling of the tale. White does not only tell the simple story of the sword in the stone- here he tells the story of the boy who pulled it out. He goes back and tells us about the growing up of this boy, that we might better understand why it was he that was meant for this destiny, and what it was that shaped him for this task. And throughout the entire story, the book sparkles with humour, wit and charm, which is all the better because it is told in Old English. There are too many books these days written in modern language, using slang and twentieth century dialect, so the Sword in the Stone is a delightful change of pace. And while the Old English sounds perfectly authentic, it is not overly used, and is never difficult to understand. My nine year old sister understood it perfectly, when I read it to her. All in all, this story is the best retelling of any Arthurian legend that I have ever read. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in King Arthur to read this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars t.h. c.s. j.r.r, j. k.- doesn't anybody in England have a first name?, March 13, 2006
By 
Amazon Customer (Nashville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
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The Once and Future King, which is built upon and uses text from the Sword in the Stone, is one of my favorite books. Much like the Hobbit is a sometimes silly preamble to the Lord of the Rings, The Sword in the Stone is the less serious story of King Arthur as a boy that sets the stage for the novel, The Once and Future King. And like the Hobbit, while it can be occassionally silly- a deadly serious and powerful story is just below the surface.

White was clearly impacted by the struggle to hold views of evolution and a God-centered world view, and was also clearly impacted by the tensions of war torn Europe. He weaves some fun stories of Robin Hood, life in a hawk mew, and light-hearted jousting in with all his explaining and metaphorizing, though. I can't imagine not liking the vivid imagery and exotic story-telling, and if you are a fan of any of the other initialed British writers you'll certainly feel at home with T.H. White. Read the Sword in the Stone- it won't take much time, but then by all means read The Once and Future King one day for the real masterpiece.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest Arthur tales ever., August 23, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sword in the Stone (Hardcover)
This is the book I read as a child and loved, then read again as a man and loved more. It is part of how I see the King Arthur legend. I will never part with my copy, and I will read it to my son when I have one.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sword in the Stone, March 20, 2000
By A Customer
A boy named the Arthur, called Wart, livng during the Middle Ages, is taught by a magician about the past, present, and future, and about all creatures living on the Earth. When the opportunity arises for the Wart to become King, he must recall everything he has learned to pull the magic sword from the stone and become the new leader of England. I enjoyed this book because it had so many exciting battles and page turning adventures. Even a small bit about Robin Hood! The plot really doesn't appear until the last few chapters, where you realized that every story within the book was connected all along. It is nice to know that there are fun and interesting books to read about the Medeival times. I think that if you are looking for a book with lots of adventure, this is truely one that you should read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Educational, May 27, 1999
By A Customer
The Sword in the Stone is set in the Middle Ages, in a time of knights and magicians. Actual historical details are presented in the context of a fictional story. It is about the upbringing of young King Arthur. With the help of his tutor, Merlyn, Arthur experiences adventures, which help him to see life from different points of view. These other perspectives of the world will help him when he becomes king. Merlyn is training Arthur with quests, and a little magic. The quests Arthur accomplishes help him to be a more understanding person. Merlyn subjects Arthur to many different situations, some of which include; being turned into animals, meeting new people, and seeing different people living different lives. A key revelation about the magic of Merlyn occurs the first time that Arthur is introduced to his future tutor. While eating a meal, a mustard-pot gets up and walks to Arthur's plate, adds some mustard, and returns to its place. Later, Merlyn explains the order in which he lives his life, which is different from most people. As most people live time forwards, Merlyn lives it backwards. The significance of this is that it open's Arthur's eyes to a completely different way of looking at life. This is an example of one of the many perspectives Arthur will gain from Merlyn's influence. This slightly whimsical way to introduce lessons for Arthur's life is part of what makes this story so popular. Merlyn explains his perception of time in one sentence, stating, "If you know what's going to happen to people, and not what has happened to them, it makes it so difficult to prevent it happening, if you don't want to have it happen," (39). This quote is essentially the reason Merlyn is tutoring Arthur. Merlyn's goal is to prepare Arthur for what is going to happen in the future. This gift of Merlyn's came in handy later in the story when Kay, Arthur's brother, and Arthur leave without telling their father. Sir Ector searches for them until he thinks of consulting Merlyn. "The magician for the sake of peace and quietness to go with his nap in, had used his insight to tell Sir Ector exactly what the boys were doing, where they were, and when they might be expected to come back. He had prophesied their return to a minute," (162). Part of what makes this book so fun is the fantasy that someone can be looking out for us and protecting us while we are impetuous youngsters.
While this was an entertaining and educational story, there were many unnecessary details. These frivolous details made for long stretches between the action sequences. I would recommend this book to those readers who prefer careful attention paid to details. For me, the stage setting tended to drag the story down a little. I would have enjoyed a little more action and frivolous and magical events. I like the way the character of the Wart was developed. I was able to notice his leadership ability and maturity level early on, and follow them as they progressed through the story. If knights in shining armor, castles, and mysticism fascinate you, this is the book for you. The Sword in the Stone is the most well known re-creation of Medieval England for young adults. It is a classic story that has been enjoyed by many generations and no doubt will be enjoyed by many, many more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Favorite of Mine, May 26, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sword in the Stone (Hardcover)
"The sword in the stone"
I would definitely recommend T.H. White's "The Sword in the Stone" to anyone faintly interested in The Dark Ages or The Arthurian legends, althought I think someone between the ages 12-25 would appreciate the book more. I say this because I don't think a young child or an adult would enjoy reading, or care for T.H. White's ideas on the simple subjects about some of the parts of everyday life that aren't usually thought about out loud. Some other people I know who are reading "The Sword in the Stone" think it is boring, but I think you just need to be in a reading mood to comprehend what you've read so you may enjoy this exquisite book.
This is the first time I have absorbed any of the Arthurian legends. In my history classes studying The Dark Ages we never really spent any time on the legends or similiar thoughts about that time, because we were pressed for time. So, now, since I liked T.H. White's "The Sword in the Stone" very much, I have a good impression on all the legends about this mysterious era.
Don't be fooled if you have seen the Disney movie "The Sword in the Stone." It has the same general plot, but the book is mucher better (like most movies that come from a novel). The book is not just directed toawrds the taste of children, and there is much more of the story that the movie didn't present to it's audience.
"The Sword in the Stone" is a particular tale about King Arthur of England as a young boy. He is not the king in this story, though. Young Arthur has the nickname Wart(not as a mean gesture, but because it rhymes with Art, which is short for Arthur). This legend tells about the Wart, with his wizard tutor, Merlyn, who turns the Wart into animals to teach him about life lessons. He learns a lot from the animals he converses with. He learns things about the history of the world, the theory of life and education, courage, and respect for all types of living creatures. I think that it is quite interesting what these animals tell him. The Wart also teams up with Robin Wood (probably kwown to you as Robin Hood) and his clan and has an adventure that helped make him valiant. This lessons will help him become a magnificent king.
I have always enojoyed historical fiction by authors like John Steinbeck and James Mitchner. I consider this book more of a historical fiction than a legend. I say this because during the story, it tells many historical facts about The Dark Ages, an era that I am not too familiar with. What I mean by historical facts, are not dates or names of battles and wars, or anything along those lines, but of such things that were part of the everyday life back in those days. Such things like castle structures and purposes, archery and jousting techniques, and all sorts of similar parts of their life. Mr White's reseach about this time has paid off greatly. His novel seems very complete because of the wonderful correct details about all aspects involved in the Wart's life.
I love how T.H. White tries to explain the simple things that just happen without any thought involved. He explains things like how a human would fly like a bird, swim like a fish, or slither like a snake. The Wart doesn't have the instinct to do any of these tasks, so Merlyn teaches him. Someone would think it would be easy to fly, because the birds make it look easy, but I bet it would be very hard and weird. To the animals the skill comes naturally, and without thought, but it wouldn't come easily at all to a human being.
Mr. White also tells the reader his theories on how some things came to be. For example he tells why all embryos look alike with their feeble hands and heavy, large heads. It doesn't matter if they are going to become a tadpole, an elephant, a peacock, or a human; they all are identical. He says that God told the embryos (in the 5-6 day of creation) to choose their specialties, and when alive they all would transform into that thing. I enjoy seeing these types of theories, true or not, about all sorts of the little and big things in life.
If any of the ideas I have put across seems of interest of you, I recommend "The Sword in the Stone" very much. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wondeful story of the boy before he was King!, June 27, 2001
By 
Lesley West (St James, Western Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sword in the Stone (Hardcover)
"The Once and Future King" is a delightful series of stories, but this is by far the superior, and first off the rank. It is the story of Wart, a hapless orphan boy, and his adventures once his new tutor Merlin arrives on the scene (some of you may be aware of the Walt Disney animated movie of the same name).
This is real adventure stuff and is appealing to both young readers and grown ups alike. Wat and his friends have all manner of exciting escapades as birds, as fish, and as combatants with witches, and in the background there is all the fanciful goings on of a very disorganised medieval castle.
There are many novels which deal with the Arthurian legend, some well, most tastefully, and some take themselves entirely too seriously. This is just plain good fun and well written too. Enjoy yourself!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sword in the Stone, March 2, 2002
By 
Chris (Cerritos, CA USA) - See all my reviews
The Sword in the Stone is a fantastic book to read for several reasons.The first reason is the title, which sounds like an exciting adventure story. As soon as I looked at the cover with a magician and a young boy on it, I knew it wouild be something I would be interested in. The short summary on the inside of the cover told me enough about the story to know that I would read this from end to end. The other thind the summary told me was that the book was about King Arthur, who I've always wanted to read about. I picked out the book and immediately decided that this was something I would read.
The main character is young Arthur. He is a young boy who is typical of young people in his time. He is brave, thoughful of others, and very respectful to his elders. When his tutor, the Magician Merlyn, begins his education, Arthur's curiosity and talent for learning become apparent. Even so, Arthur and his brother, Kay, run and play as normal kids would. Not too much is made of the fact that Arthur is adopted.It would be fair to say that Arthur is shown to be somebody who will grow into greatness but will be perfectly normal getting there.
I really like this book because it is a fast-moving story with a great deal of adventure and magic. Arthur's adventures put him into all kinds of circumstances and problems. In fact, each adventure is a unique hapenning. The way the author weaves adventure and magic into his tales makes the book hard to put down. I especially liked the time when Merlyn turned Arthur into a bird. When Arthur was locked in a box and almost cooked by a witch, I enjoyed how Arthur used a goat as a messenger. This kind of descriptive writing made me feel like I was inside the book. I wouild have to say that this book is an exciting, magical adventure story, which I enjoy greatly.
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The Sword in the Stone
The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (Hardcover - September 15, 1993)
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