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Book of Merlyn: Unpublished Conclusion to the "Once and Future King" [Paperback]

T. H. White
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 13 1983 Flamingo

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.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Review

“Superb reading.”—The Kansas City Star

“Filled with poignance and marvelous power…Enthusiasts for White’s touching, profound, funny, and tragic story will not want to miss this version, for it is the true and intended ending of the great work.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“And so the grand epic comes full circle, ‘rounded and bright and done,’ as White had wished it would be.”—Boston Sunday Globe
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

T. H. White is the author of the classic Arthurian fantasy The Once and Future King, among other works.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
"MY FATHER made me a wooden castle big enough to get into, and he fixed real pistol barrels beneath its battlements to fire a salute on my birthday, but made me sit in front the first night-that deep Indian night-to receive the salute, and I, believing I was to be shot, cried." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A happy surprise April 12 2010
By Brooke
Format:Paperback
I absolutely loved this novel. Yes, it wasn't exactly the most exciting story, but it was very philosophical and satisfying in that way. I enjoyed hearing his description of man from the animals' points of view and the way it discussed government and such. Don't get this book if you are looking for a fast paced action adventure because you will be greatly disappointed. However, if you are looking for the true ending to The Once and Future King, as well as a philosophical analysis of war/government/mankind in general, then this book is perfect for you. I honestly was surprised at how much I liked it...maybe you will be too!
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Curiosity , Vital for T.H. White Completists June 24 2003
By Theseus
Format:Paperback
So, we learn that T.H. White's ultimate design for his saga was to bring things full circle. The final book takes Arthur underground to meet with Merlyn, and some animals for a grand debate about the nature of humankind. This is a pretty tedious read...long on ideas and short on action. This certainly doesn't come across as a final version of the text. Things that White normally nails, like characterization, aren't always on the mark here.
Of course, there are some chunks of prose that are absolutely brilliant. We're talking T.H. White, after all. Things are enlivened by Arthur's trip to the worlds of the ants and the geese. (However, I feel these episodes functioned better in Book 1.)
Editorially, I found this edition tantalizing but unsatisfying. A highly personal introduction provides details about White, but fails to explain some basics -- how did the goose and ant segments ultimately ended up in Book 1? How and why was the text "lost?" Frustrating.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Deceptive. Sept. 13 2002
Format:Paperback
This is the fifth and final volume in The Once and Future King pantalogy (after The Sword in the Stone, The Witch in the Wood, The Ill-Made Knight and The Candle in the Wind).
The day before the final confrontation with his son Mordred, Arthur follows Merlyn to the Combination Room, where lives his menagerie. There he listens to the magician and Archimedes, Badger, Urchin and so on, who are in a political debate on how the human way of considering life and the world is different from that of animals.
I was disappointed with the Book of Merlyn, which in fact is hardly a novel. Merlyn's supposedly natural history lesson is but an excuse for discoursing on war and the bellicosity of Man. The only passages where there's an actual story are when Arthur visits the ant nest and travels with the wild geese, but these chapters were already included in The Sword in the Stone. As for what happened to Lancelot and Guenever, it is briefly mentioned in the manner of history books. The introduction on T. H. White's life is interesting, and there are some nice illustrations, but as a whole I found nothing worth recommending this book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Deceptive. Sept. 13 2002
Format:Paperback
This is the fifth and final volume in The Once and Future King pantalogy (after The Sword in the Stone, The Witch in the Wood, The Ill-Made Knight and The Candle in the Wind).
The day before the final confrontation with his son Mordred, Arthur follows Merlyn to the Combination Room, where lives his menagerie. There he listens to the magician and Archimedes, Badger, Urchin and so on, who are in a political debate on how the human way of considering life and the world is different from that of animals.
I was disappointed with the Book of Merlyn, which in fact is hardly a novel. Merlyn's supposedly natural history lesson is but an excuse for discoursing on war and the bellicosity of Man. The only passages where there's an actual story are when Arthur visits the ant nest and travels with the wild geese, but these chapters were already included in The Sword in the Stone. As for what happened to Lancelot and Guenever, it is briefly mentioned in the manner of history books. The introduction on T. H. White's life is interesting, and there are some nice illustrations, but as a whole I found nothing worth recommending this book.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
The cover of this book touts itself as the TRUE final chapter to The Once and Future King. It very well may hold that distinguished title, however after reading The Book of Merlyn it becomes abundantly apparent why it was not included in the complete novelization of the first four books. In fact, what relevance The Book of Merlyn does hold for the series is severely negated by the fact that much of its impact was integrated into The Once and Future to make that novel complete in and of itself, without the hassle of a superfluous subsequent novel.
And that is what The Book of Merlyn appears to be: superfluous. It was originally intended to be King Arthur's climax, where he finally discovers the truth of the eternal battle between Might and Right as it is capitulated into war. The problem with this amended work is that all of the character development and thought processes that devlops Arthur into the final great Monarch, the one who stops the war, were added to The Sword in the Stone before it was first published. The experiences and situations detailed in The Book of Merlyn ultimately become repetitions, and therefore, anyone who has read The Once and Future King has no reason to read the book of Merlyn.
Moreover, however, standing alone by itself, the Book of Merlyn should not and probably could not be read without the background presented in The Once and Future King. So, inevitably and under any multitude of scenarios, the Book of Merlyn becomes superfluous for any fan of great or minute devotion to White's work. If, in fact, the published version of The Once and Future King had been complete with this amended work, it surely would not have become the classic that it is revered to be today.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars White out of his element
This is the "Lost Ending" to the classic "Once And Future King." Aside from the Disney movie and a quick passage in a high-school anthology, I am clueless to E. B. White. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2003 by Kendal B. Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars from story to archetypal myth
If you like the Once and Future King as an amuzing story, then watch out, this book is not for you. Here White elevates his discussions to probe humanity's own lack of humanity. Read more
Published on June 19 2000 by R.B.
1.0 out of 5 stars Click for great reasons why you should'nt read this book!
"The Book of Merlyn" is about the understanding of how cruel the common man is to nature. The main characters are King Arthur, who depends on other people, and Merlyn the... Read more
Published on March 24 2000 by Corey Gillette
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but still...
I was rather disappointed at the novel. Not to say that I didn't enjoy it, for I zipped through it that afternoon. But "The Book of Merlyn" is not really a novel. Read more
Published on March 13 2000 by Emily J. Morris
3.0 out of 5 stars a lost chapter to an epic!!!
The Book of Merlyn is like a lost chapter out of white's larger work, the once and future king...here King Arthur meets his tutpr Merly for the last time yo find the antidote to... Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2000 by McGrath-Muniz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Piece of Wizardry
The Book of Merlyn was an incredible book, once again proving the genius of T.H. White. This book is the only sensible conclusion to the Once and Future King and should have been... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2000 by M.McC
5.0 out of 5 stars White's political views abound in this fantasy gem
Professor/author T.H. White wrote a powerful work that provokes inquiries from the reader. The complex characters serve as backboards for the major themes that vary from war to... Read more
Published on Aug. 15 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Just read the last chapter.
After reading all four books in The Once and Future King, I was eager to read The Book of Merlyn. But the book scarcely mentioned the characters found in TOFK; instead, White... Read more
Published on June 19 1999
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