Review for The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King by T. H. White

Genre – Fantasy, Romance, Classic

Stand-alone novel

Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and mild innuendo

Synopsis –

The story begins with a boy named Arthur or Wart as that is the nickname they gave him. Wart lives with Sir Ector and his his son Kay as no one knows who Wart’s parents were. When Wart’s tutor quits quite unexpectedly, he goes on a quest to find a new one. He encounters Merlyn, a wise wizard, in the forest and brings him back to the castle. Merlyn instructs both Kay and Arthur for many years. As part of Wart’s instruction, Merlyn transforms him into various animals in order to teach him valuable lessons. Many years pass before one day Wart pulls a sword out of a stone to give to Kay. This leads to his eventually becoming king. Once Arthur becomes king, he has many adventures in trying to bring unity to England. He brings together a group of knights to reform England. Will Arthur and his band of knights be able to bring unity before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

First off, The Once and Future King is composed of four separate books. They all kinda go together, but they each tell a separate section of Arthur’s life. For some reason it took me quite a while to read this. Not sure exactly why??! Just glad I finally finished!! Overall, it gave an interesting look at King Arthur that is different from the previous books I had read. This was more personal. We could hear what went on his head and his conversations with those around him. Unlike King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, which focused more on telling a legend. I enjoyed this book more!

The characterization in this was great! You could see these characters and feel for them. They felt more human compared to some other tellings which make them out to be legends. I actually liked Lancelot’s character, which was weird for me because in the past I kinda hated how arrogant he was. White does a great job of making this flawed hero conflicted and torn about some his past decisions. Arthur also has some great development that occurs throughout the book. We spent the most time with Arthur and see him transform from boy to wizened king. The one character that was a thorn in my side was Guenever. Her character just didn’t sit well with me. Something about how she is portrayed, but I can’t put my finger on it. The four Orkney brothers while childish at times, were fine, it was just Guenever that didn’t belong.

The plot was slower as it kinda built up the characters from the ground up. We get introduced to many of them while they were still young. So there were a few sections that truly dragged on. One especially slow section was Wart being an ant!! It had no connection to the actual plot! Also, a few political sections that felt like they went on forever!

White has quite the sense of humor. Especially in the first two books he would break the third person narrative and jump to first person. He would then try to describe something using modern terms. I kinda liked this. There was one particularly humorous scene with the Questing Beast and King Pellinore where I truly laughed out loud! đŸ˜‰

I would not call this a Christian book, despite the fact that there are many Christian themes and several characters are considered Christians. The author makes a couple references to evolution and some hints that God might not exist. You can tell the author has a different view then some of the characters. It isn’t shoved in your face though, and oddly enough he does quote from the Bible.

Language – There is some mild language throughout the book. Mostly the same two words used over and over.

Violence – Honestly, there wasn’t much despite this being a book about knights. Yes, there a few battles or tournaments where knights get injured, but not described. Knights knock each other out with their sword. Maybe a mention or two of blood on the grass. There are a couple jousts to the death. Again not much description just a blurb that they died. There is a scene where a women is tied to a stake to be burnt to death for infidelity (She gets rescued).

Innuendo – First, I’ll mention that there are a couple times where the author describes a knight as being naked and then later mentions him having clothes on. So I believe it means that they didn’t have armor not that they were truly naked. Second, is Lancelot’s and Guenever’s relationship. In this story, Arthur is warned beforehand that he should watch out. He dismisses the warning and pays for it. Lancelot hates Guenever until an event occurs where he hurts Guenever’s feelings. This is what sparks him to fall in love with her. Lancelot’s uncle calls him out on it, but Lancelot doesn’t listen. They kiss several times and many characters try to tell the King that Lancelot is sleeping with his wife. Lancelot tries to end it on multiple occasions. Lastly, there are a couple mentions of other character’s infidelity, just brief mentions.

Conclusion –

This gives a good look at Arthur and how he truly wanted to change England for the better. We get to see what makes these classic character tick. There is also a brief history lesson thrown in which I enjoyed. If you want a book that focuses on a smaller cast of Arthurian characters, this is a good choice. While it has some content issues, overall a well done fantasy!

Cannot wait to hear what you all are reading!! Have you read any King Arthur stories? Any favorite retellings?

Review for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green

Genre – Fantasy, Historical fiction,

Series – This is a collection of stories taken from older tales.

Rating – PG-13 for violence and suggestive themes

Synopsis –

This novel tells the of King Arthur’s rises to power in Britain. Merlin, a good wizard, hides Arthur when he is still a child and places him with foster parents. Once Arthur pulls a magical sword from a stone, he lineage is revealed, and he is crowned king. Arthur gathers knights of renown to cleanse the land from evil. His knights embark on various quests to gain glory and honor.

My Thoughts –

My sister and I had recently started watching the BBCs Merlin. After finishing season one, which I really enjoyed, I thought I would go back and reread the book. The author took stories from a variety of poetic version and condensed them for children.

I had read this years ago back when I was in middle school, and I had a vague recollection of a few stories. I enjoyed going back and rereading this classic. I got a lot more out of it the second time. There were several knights that I had completely forgotten about like Percival and Galahad. Also I had forgotten the whole quest for the holy grail.

Overall, I would say that I enjoyed these stories. A few characters got on my nerves *cough* Launcelot I am looking at you. Merlin was only in like the first 3 stories which was surprising as I had thought he was more of main character. After Arthur becomes king, Arthur takes a step back from the story and his knights take over.

I do feel like the story felt a little stifled. It repeated a lot! The knights would joust, break their lance, then proceed to fight until their opponent bled to death. I am not sure how much the author changed from the original manuscripts. So who knows, maybe the original story was different. Also almost every quest involved saving a women from an evil knight. I just wish there could have been a little variety there.

As a side note if you do want to hear another take on King Arthur I would recommend listening to the Myths and Legend podcast. It is aimed at adults though. Here is a link to some of his King Arthur ones. https://www.mythpodcast.com/4/episode-1a-yvainglory/

Violence –

The violence doesn’t go into descriptive detail, but it is there. Many mentions of knights getting their heads chopped off. One night comes back to life afterwards. Since they joust in just about every chapter, the author mentions them fighting until the ground is soaked with their blood. Many characters suffer from a mortal wound. A few characters have odd illnesses that plague them. There is a huge battle where there are literally only 4 survivors. One of the holy relics that goes with the Holy Grail is a bleeding spear that pierced Christ’s side.

Language – None

Innuendo –

Most of the suggestive themes are referenced in veiled terms. The whole thing of Uther falling in love with Igrayne, another man’s wife, only gets about a sentence. There are several kisses between knights and their lady love. Not descriptive at all. Now I do want to mention the whole Launcelot and Guinevere thing. In the earlier parts of the book, just says that Launcelot fell in love with Guinevere at first sight and fought for her, but later on we find out she falls for him as well. They eventually kiss and supposedly going to do other stuff, but they are found out.

I will say Launcelot tries to do the right thing by forgetting about Guinevere, but sadly, this doesn’t last long. It is shown to be wrong and a priest confronts him about it. It is part of the reason why he is not allowed to see the Holy Grail.

Other –

Just a quick mention that there is some magic throughout. Mostly enchantments that are put upon a person unwillingly. Also Morgana Le Fay has the ability to transform herself into other objects.

Conclusion –

This book is great starting point for someone interested in the legend of King Arthur. It is filled with daring quests and fighting for what is right. It is a classic in its own right. I enjoyed going back and rereading this classic, although it is a bit repetitive at times. These stories have been around several hundred years. So, if you haven’t read it, give it a go.

Have you read any books about King Arthur? Do you have a favorite story? or Movie? Love to hear your thoughts!!

Anna