Saturday, March 5, 2016

22:120 The Once and Future King by T.H.White

A 20th century telling of Arthur, Guenever, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table.  The book itself is split into four different books that were actually published separately when originally published.  The first, The Sword in the Stone, chronicles Arthur's childhood meeting with Merlyn and the subsequent tutoring of him by Merlyn and ends with his drawing the sword from the stone and becoming king.  The second, The Queen of Air and Darkness, goes more into the daughters of Igraine, the feud between them and Arthur due to his father's actions, and we see how that plays into Arthur's tale.  The Ill-Made Knight is really the story Lancelot and Guenever and their love and how it plays out over many years.  It ends with The Candle in the Wind where Mordred driven by jealousy and hatred of Arthur is bent on destroying him and taking the crown.  The book closes with Arthur knowing that he will be facing Mordred in the morning and will not likely live out the day and he is working to set things in order.

So I've grown up knowing the basics of the Camelot and King Arthur. I loved Disney's Sword in the Stone and later the 1980s Excalibur (pretty and shiny).  I had always meant to read some of the stories but as usual, it took a kid reading it for school that got it in my hands.  I found this an interesting rendering as it's got a much more modern feel to things and the language is modern and easy to understand.  You can tell the author definitely had a thing against war (not a bad position in my opinion) and it comes across as almost heavy-handed sometimes.  I also didn't feel like the author had much affection for women as they are almost entirely portrayed as either manipulative, cunning, creatures who will do whatever they need to do to get whatever they want or they are simply a set piece to move a character.  None are full-fleshed characters such as we see with the knights which while I get it was still disappointing to see that not even Guenever was generally anything more.  Otherwise, an interesting take on the old tales and had me getting many of those older tales for my Kindle so I can read those.

Page count: 692p/6,619p ytd/256,666p lifetime

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