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The Once and Future King Paperback – November 1, 2011
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“I have laughed at [White’s] great Arthurian novel and cried over it and loved it all my life.” —Ursula K. Le Guin
“I have read [this] book more times than any other in my library.” —Lev Grossman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Magicians Trilogy
“Intense and rich . . . Full of insights, scenes, and flourishes that are really quite astonishing.” —Jane Smiley, The Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
if you're looking for accurate, 'historic' information on King Arthur or the Middle Ages, if you're the type that likes to finish a book in an hour's reading, if you're only interested in fantasy/action packed novels of the 'Lord of the Rings' type (also an excellent book by the way), if you don't like vast, almost poetic descriptions of landscapes, seasons, moods, etc., or if you simply don't like complicated storylines, then steer clear of this book. There are many other novels which will give you far better value for money. For the others: it takes empathy and erudition to fully grasp the depth of this book. Empathy will make you love it when you're young and erudition when you are older and wiser. Added plus: each time you read it you'll discover something new. For the details, I refer to other reviews...
The Sword in the Stone, the most famous of the quartet and the first, was for me the least interesting, perhaps because of its lack of driving conflict. It concerns the education of Arthur, called The Wart, in often hilarious scenes as Merlyn sets out to instruct him in the way of all creatures.
The Queen of Air and Darkness is a better story than the first, though it lacks the substance of the two later books. It tells of the history and childhood of the Orkney clan (Sirs Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, Gareth, and Mordred) as well as preparing for the emotional battles about to begin.
The Ill-Made Knight is simply brilliant, giving Sir Lancelot a humanity I never thought possible, not for a knight living in legend. The love triangle of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guenever (called Gwen by Arthur and Jenny by Lancelot) is given life and understanding, real force. When I finished this book, I had to stop and swallow all the angst and love before I could continue.
A Candle in the Wind begins with some of the most monotonous descriptive writing possible, with White devoting ten solid pages to Lancelot and Guenever looking out a window onto medieval England. I began to believe that White was desperate to incorporate all his research. Once the story got going, however, I couldn't put it down as the tragedy of King Arthur's life unfolded.Read more ›
I won't try to summarize the entire book. Suffice to say, White covers the entire story of King Arthur's life and remains pretty faithful to the traditional version of events throughout the book. What's really amazing, though, is the way that he captures the spirit of the times, making you feel like you're actually in England during the Middle Ages, watching the tournaments and quests and battles yourself. His descriptions are beautiful without ever being unnecessarily lengthy, his characters seem to come alive (especially Arthur, Guenevere, and Lancelot), and his handling of some of the classic scenes is unforgettable.
"THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING" combines all the elements of Arthurian legend, adventure, and history in describing the lives of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and some of the other notables of Camelot. (This is the novel, some of whose elements were later adapted to the screen as the Disney movie "The Sword in the Stone".)
White has written a delightful, entertaining story not without its harrowing moments. We first see Arthur as a boy ("The Wart") living with his adoptive family and serving as a page to his older brother. Merlin's role at the beginning of the novel is as a teacher for Arthur. (Note. Merlin had been entrusted by Arthur's real father with protecting his son.) He leads Arthur on a variety of adventures, which I won't go into here, except to say that the reader will be amazed with the rich imagery White creates.
The novel progresses through Arthur's life, his reign, his sorrows and joys, and the perils and highpoints of life in an England mired in upheaval and turmoil. White shows the reader how the forces of light and darkness interplay in the shaping of a society where magic can be a real factor in everyday life. It's a long novel, so brace yourself for a healthy sprint.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reading this book for the first time at age 64 in 2016 the book seems dated to me. And overly cute. Maybe it was written for children? It seems so. Or maybe teenagers. Read morePublished 2 days ago by grew up in the 1960s
Wonderful book, will teach you to think about how things are. I've read this in the past, decided this time to have someone else read it to me. This was excellently read! Read morePublished 29 days ago by Lida Rose Winler
This is not the type of book for summer reading, the quality and contents were really boring. Quality and content Really discourages teen reading.Published 1 month ago by CROWSINGS
I spent the summer reading this along with my daughter, who had been assigned it for summer homework prior to her freshman year in high school. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Debra Hamel
So many books based on the Arthurian legend - this one was a complete miss. Uninspired writing style combined with a odd and hard to approach narration technique left first son,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Douglas J. Wirnowski