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Once And Future King (Berkley Medallion Book) [Paperback]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (261 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales, while the rest of the week it was the Oragon, Repetition and Astrology. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong link in the chain Feb. 9 2006
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
One commentator once said, 'T.H. White has a genius for recreating the physical conditions of the past; the child who reads him will learn far more than all the historians and archaeologists could tell of what England was like in the Middle Ages.' This tale, 'The Once and Future King', is a classic of English literature, crossing the ages to be a tale both of modern times in the language and treatment of characters as well as the misty, mystical past with its subject matter.
Like many classics, this book inspired both great love and great irritation. It is a classic retelling of the Arthurian legends - White does not add to the legends with his own additions, but rather sticks closely to manuscripts and stories that have gone before, most notably Thomas Mallory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur', also considered a classic. The book is divided into four major sections: 'The Sword in the Stone', 'The Queen of Air and Darkness', 'The Ill-Made Knight', and 'The Candle in the Wind'. The overall tone of Arthur's legend goes from hopefulness to tragedy, as even the final conflicts become unresolved, hence the idea that Arthur will come again.
The title of this work comes from the supposed inscription on Arthur's tomb: HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS. The sweep goes from Arthur's childhood to the final battle with his son Mordred. Like many works, this is both a piece of entertainment as well as a political commentary (think 'The Wizard of Oz' here) - Mordred's thrashers are Nazi stormtroopers, for example. This book was the product of the time just before World War II. Merlin's preaching of just war theory (the only acceptable reason for going to war is to prevent another war) is apropos of the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A celebration of Humanity July 19 2004
Format:Hardcover
The once and future king, by T.H.White, is the tale of one mans attempt to deter the brutal dream of dictatorship, violence and dominance.It is a modern classic which provides a unique potrayal of the Arthurian ideology within its vast account of the struggle against the inevitable dark, and the various quandaries and qualities of which the human condition is comprised. A fitting appropriation of Thomas Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur', it is a rambling amalgamation of five novels with a precise objective- to illustrate the brutality and futility of belligerence.Witty, perceptive and superbly crafted in Whites formidible and delectable grasp of the English language, it is a glorious and intensely passionate literary piece which grasps and delightfully questions the nature and fabric of human kind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A strong link in the chain Feb. 9 2006
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
One commentator once said, 'T.H. White has a genius for recreating the physical conditions of the past; the child who reads him will learn far more than all the historians and archaeologists could tell of what England was like in the Middle Ages.' This tale, 'The Once and Future King', is a classic of English literature, crossing the ages to be a tale both of modern times in the language and treatment of characters as well as the misty, mystical past with its subject matter.
Like many classics, this book inspired both great love and great irritation. It is a classic retelling of the Arthurian legends - White does not add to the legends with his own additions, but rather sticks closely to manuscripts and stories that have gone before, most notably Thomas Mallory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur', also considered a classic. The book is divided into four major sections: 'The Sword in the Stone', 'The Queen of Air and Darkness', 'The Ill-Made Knight', and 'The Candle in the Wind'. The overall tone of Arthur's legend goes from hopefulness to tragedy, as even the final conflicts become unresolved, hence the idea that Arthur will come again.
The title of this work comes from the supposed inscription on Arthur's tomb: HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS. The sweep goes from Arthur's childhood to the final battle with his son Mordred. Like many works, this is both a piece of entertainment as well as a political commentary (think 'The Wizard of Oz' here) - Mordred's thrashers are Nazi stormtroopers, for example. This book was the product of the time just before World War II. Merlin's preaching of just war theory (the only acceptable reason for going to war is to prevent another war) is apropos of the time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive read. July 10 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I must say, the first time I perused this particular selection, I was bored to tears by it. A high school student forced to do as such, I found reading through White's tome of knights and adventures to be extremely tiresome. It was only on my second go through, some years later, that I recognized this work as one of the best pieces of literature to grace my library.
T. H. White goes to great depths to properly craft his characters, and remains true to his depictions throughout the five books comprising his depiction of the Arthurian legend. All the famous figures - Arthur, Guenevere, Lancelot, and Merlyn, to name a few - are given a new lease on life, and for the first time, we are given a good look at their personalities, from fears to secret desires. White reminds us through his ingenuity and silver tongue that even the greatest of people are fallible, as witnessed in the fall of Lancelot. The reader is given, for the first time that I can recall, a deep look into the thoughts of each character, and what drives their actions throughout the course of each novel.
White's derivations from traditional Arthur also give his work a strikingly original air, casting old characters in occassionally new roles while still largely following the legend. His work with Merlyn struck me as particularly interesting: a man travelling backwards in time, who knows already the sad fate of Arthur yet who does his best to steer Arthur in the proper direction. Of special note is Merlyn's outlook on 'might' versus 'right', and the struggles Arthur has with this issue throughout the tenure of his reign.
On the whole, it is well worth the read, especially if one is a fan of the Arthurian legend. My only complaint comes in the scope of White's narrative; he is, at times, very long-winded, supplying several expansive passages and descriptions that are rather superfluous, and excessive. If you can suffer such things, however, I would highly recommend this brilliant story.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, entertaining and funny
So much has been written about this book not sure what else I can add. The book starts off very childlike in its narrative and grows into more explicit adult themes advancing the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tim Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece!
this book, or rather these four books, are a masterpiece! T.H. White has written a book that has expertly blended both pathos and humour, and has done an incredible service to the... Read more
Published on June 22 2012 by Anthony
5.0 out of 5 stars Best ever!
This book is a toss up between itself and The Three Musketeers as my favourite book of all time. A definite must read.
Published on July 14 2011 by toysparta
4.0 out of 5 stars Wart and Art
Re-reading this book recently, I was struck by the way having artwork of King Arthur and Merlin on the cover almost spoils the beautiful and complex images T H White conjures up. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2011 by Donna from T'ranna
5.0 out of 5 stars Tha true version
Currently reading my very worn copy of "The Once and Future King" I realised what a beautiful book it is and how T.H. Read more
Published on June 11 2010 by George F. Fry
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic with plenty of themes to ponder
I found this to be a terribly slow book to read. The frequent narrative asides (many extremely anachronistic) were a major distraction and prevented me from settling into a rhythm... Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by Andrew W. Johns
4.0 out of 5 stars A work of Art!
A wonderful book that tells of a great tale of epic fantasy and chivalry. When I read it for the first time as a 6th grader I became very bored witht the book, but now that I have... Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by "chris1238911"
1.0 out of 5 stars BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING
OMG THIS BOOK SUCKS IM FORCED TO READ THIS BOOK FOR SUMMER READING AND ITS BORING ITS GOES SO DETAILED THAT ITS REALLY SLOW. Read more
Published on June 13 2004 by Venay M. Chapman
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprise
When I started reading this book, I was surprised: it was not what I expected. I thought that White's work would be a fantasy book, dealing with the magical aspects of King Arthur,... Read more
Published on April 7 2004 by J R Zullo
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