The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

Book - 1958
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T. H. White's masterful retelling of the saga of King Arthur is a fantasy classic as legendary as Excalibur and Camelot, and a poignant story of adventure, romance and magic that has enchanted readers for generations.

Once upon a time, a young boy called "Wart" was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn't possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values. A future that would see him crowned and known for all time as Arthur, King of the Britons.

During Arthur's reign, the kingdom of Camelot was founded to cast enlightenment on the Dark Ages, while the knights of the Round Table embarked on many a noble quest. But Merlyn foresaw the treachery that awaited his liege: the forbidden love between Queen Guenever and Lancelot, the wicked plots of Arthur's half-sister Morgause and the hatred she fostered in Mordred that would bring an end to the king's dreams for Britain--and to the king himself.

"[ The Once and Future King ] mingles wisdom, wonderful, laugh-out-loud humor and deep sorrow--while telling one of the great tales of the Western world."--Guy Gavriel Kay
Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c1958.
ISBN: 9780399105975
Branch Call Number: WHITE T
Characteristics: 677 pages : 22 cm.


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From Library Staff

See also: The Sword in the Stone, the work of T.H. White that is the reason King Arthur is a household name, and is the first part of this classic. White acknowledged that his main inspiration for this story was Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, but interestingly claims to have re-imagined the events a... Read More »

List - Lawrence Picks: Bugs
LPL_RandiH Jan 24, 2015

There are actually two editions of this book about King Arthur: the original that came out in the 1930s and the rewrite that came out at the height of Communist paranoia. In the original, Merlin turns young Arthur into an ant to learn about social groups. The ant society is rigid: Their motto: &q... Read More »

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Mar 10, 2018

It's not always easy to tell the difference between the typos and the cockney in the 2013 version. It looks like someone hired the fastest but not most accurate typist available, and published to make a quick buck without even glancing at the result. The 1958 version is much better.

Nov 15, 2017

I greatly enjoyed The Sword in the Stone when I read this book, but my interest waned after that. I thought that the gradual progression of the intensity and scope was very well done, but the humor became less frequent when it could have been helpful. A very good retelling of the Arthurian legends - but not one for everyone. I would also recommend The Squire's Tales series by Gerald Morris for those who enjoy the stories retold.

Mar 05, 2017

“The Once and Future King is full of insights, scenes and flourishes that are really quite astonishing.”—The Guardian (U.K.)

Dec 02, 2016

I have to say writing a review about this series is a bit difficult. I have been taken through a whole series of thoughts, ideas, emotions, and ideas. From childish to quite deep and complex issues. This series covers so much territory, it makes it quite hard to cover it all.

I began this series with Author as a child being taught by Merlin. I was immediately taken mentally, to the Walt Disney cartoon version of this book. As I read it, all that came to mind was the animated Disney movie I remember from childhood. It was all that I could visualize. With that said, I have to complement Disney for staying so close to the original book.

But everything changes after that when Author becomes King by removing the sword from the stone. Here is where Disney left off, but the bulk of the series continues. And I have to say, the tone and nature of the series matures.

For the rest of the series, you will explore a whole series of issues; friendships, relationships, government, politics, intrigue, life, fulfillment, heartbreak, the list goes on. Keeping in mind, that T.H. White wrote this series from 1936 - 1943, a time in which Britain, was being tested to the very core of her survival, entering war with Germany, the blitz, Dunkirk, children moved throughout the country with strange families to protect them. Britain was on the very brink, the edge of her survival, and her future looked very very bleak. Could she survive.

I saw all this being reflected in this series. T.H. White's reflections and questions as to why there is a war, the struggles between countries, the purpose of government, the purpose of friendships and relationships, all comes roaring to the forefront. After all, everything was in peril.

The result of his examinations, wonderings, and reflections, culminates in a well thought out, interestingly presented, and a well told story of Author and the Knights of the round table. You have a myriad of characters centered around three main characters; Author, Lancelot, and Guinevere, all told with the intrigues of life, the mistakes of life, the good and bad decisions we all make, what are the fundamental principles of government and the people whom under that government. What is true friendship, love, and hate. All told in a serious reflection upon the world and life.

I was truly drawn in to the story. At times, so serious, and at others, so fanciful, free, and entertaining. A whole litany of thoughts and emotions will be experienced and ventured. In the end, you will be left pondering many things, but having enjoyed a delightful and well written story that makes you think.

Jun 09, 2016

The summary is confusing. They mention a complete saga of 5 books, none of which have this title. Am I to think that this is a summary of those 5 in 1? Or, that this title precedes or maybe follows the saga? Anyone know? Looking forward to finding out! :)

May 12, 2014

By far the best telling of the Arthurian legend. This is one of those few books that I will reread again and again.

Aug 15, 2013

An excellent book well written and shows parallels between the modern and medieval worlds. However, is it a large book so you'd better pace yourself

Aug 27, 2012

My favorite for the last 35 years. Packed with philosophy masquerading as fantasy. Very well-written with rich language.

Unbelievably brilliant. A definite must-read fantasy classic on the story of King Arthur.

ShadowFX84 Mar 14, 2012

The penultimate Arthurian adaptation. There's nothing else to say. The source of all modern American fantasy. Every time you read it, you find something new.

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reytheking Aug 08, 2012

reytheking thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Violet_Butterfly_31 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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Tells the tragic tale of King Arthur from when he was a young innocent boy named "Wart" to when he became king of Camelot and the Round Table and to how he tried to fulfill his dreams for Britain.

FavouriteFiction Oct 03, 2009

This novel chronicles the life of King Arthur from his birth to the end of his regin and the fall of his beloved Camelot


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Aug 27, 2012

"There is only one thing for it then- to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust , and never dream of regretting." -Merlin

"And do you know another thing, Arthur? Life is too bitter already, without territories and wars and noble feuds." -Merlyn


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