The Sword and the Stone
T.H. White
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The Sword and the Stone (The Once and Future King #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  11,534 ratings  ·  370 reviews
T.H. White's classic tale of the young Arthur's questioning and discovery of his life is unparalleled for its wit, wisdom, and colorful characters.
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Thomas T. Beeler Publisher (first published 1938)
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The Disney movie is only about the first twenty pages of this book...and not really because they changed all the characters. This book is sweet, intelligent, funny, and endearing.

If you decide to read this, look for an unabridged edition with the author's illustrations. I read the Time-Life edition. There should be lots of words and terms you've never encountered before. Unless, of course, you are an expert on Norman England, falconry, hunting boars, long-ago dog breeds, tilting, jousting and medieval butchery.

I want to label this a quirky fantasy. It's certainly can't be taken seriously. The audience seems to be juvenile, but the language, specifically the terminology,...more
My love of the television show Merlin, could not get me through this book. I finally finished it, and all I really have to say is that I shall not be starting "The Once and Future King" any time soon.
When I picked up this book up at a library book sale I had such high expectations for the story, which quickly evaporated within the first four chapters. The book was not exactly poorly written (and I've read worse), but the tone of voice conflicts with the overall narration, which prevents the rea...more
Sep 19, 2007 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Arthurian legend
Setting: Great Britain
Time Period: Middle Ages
Series: Part 1 of The Once and Future King series

Plot Summary: Wart (Arthur) is a young orphan living with Sir Ector and working as a page in medieval Great Britain. While fetching one of Sir Ector’s birds, which his companion and foster brother Kay has lost, he encounters the wizard Merlin who becomes his and Kay’s tutor. Through a series of adventures made possible by Merlin, Wart learns about the world, nature and man’s duty to nature. His adventu...more
Dissertation reread time! I acquired a distaste for T.H. White sometime during my MA, and I'm not sure exactly why: rereading The Sword in the Stone, I still rather loved it, with its gentle humour and the character of the narratorial voice and its understanding of each character. I note that in my first review I noticed the way it treats Kay, which is a good sign for this dissertation...

It's written in a conversational way, but it's also beautiful. There are descriptions of the natural world th...more
Scott Sheaffer
This is a great book for anyone into medieval, Arthurian legend. I enjoy stories about chivalry and white knights in search of damsels in distress but just can't get thru the lengthy and boring Sir Thomas Mallory text, "La Muerte De Arthur". This book is a fine combination between Alice in Wonderland and Sir Thomas’s work. In other words it's the entire story with more fun and imagination. I'm glad this is only part of a series. I'm off to start book two.
I read this when I was younger, but I don't remember loving it so much then. I didn't remember how the narrative voice blended humour and beautiful descriptions, anachronisms and explanations of relatively historically accurate details. I forgot how intertextual it is -- Merlin putting his fingers together like Sherlock Holmes, and all the hints at Lancelot's doings and so on, and Robin Hood...

But it is all those things. There are parts of it that are beautiful, parts that are so wonderfully wel...more
“The Sword in the Stone” is the first book of “The Once and Future King” volumes written by T.H. White during the same period Tolkien was writing The Lord of the Rings and C.S Lewis creating the world of Narnia—other epic, fantasy novels, which gave birth to the new movement of magical realism—a movement in which magical elements are part of an otherwise realistic environment. The Once and Future King is such an Arthurian fantasy novel.

Although it might appear as a novel for young readers, it’s...more
I found this on a list somewhere of 'books everyone should have read', so picked it up from the YA section of the library and dutifully did so. It was a bit of a curate's egg. The anachronisms were a bit strange and the plot was light-to-non-existent. I found the dialogue punctuation irritating after a while - there were a lot of new paragraphs with the same speaker as the previous one, where the quotation marks suggested it should be a new one. Often I wasn't sure which 'he' was being referred...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
3.5 Stars

I think my plan was originally to read all of The Once and Future King and then review all the books at once. But oh well, to hell with that plan. I haven't started the other books in the collection and it's been like three months and I've been sidetracked by too many other things, so ... oops.

I will keep this pretty short since I am trying very frantically to catch up on reviews and I don't remember enough about what I was going to say to write a detailed review. This is what I get for...more
Greg Deane
This is an amusing work for children, though entertaining for all ages, with a number of interesting mediaeval words, like 'austringer', 'alaunt' 'solar room' and 'fewmets. The novel offers a good many insights into life in feudal households and the unfolding of the seasons in rural England. White gives interesting insights into haymaking, jousting, the path to knighthood and archery

But the story is heavy with anachronisms, so that Robin Hood who resisted the tyranny of King John in the 12th an...more
I loved The Sword in the Stone. I watched the Disney movie before I read the novel and I loved that too. However, the book is a lot different from the movie and even though I know the story I still enjoyed it immensely. The book is about a boy named Wart who lives with Sir Ector and his son, Kay, in a castle. Wart never knew his real parents, but Sir Ector treats him like a son and Kay is a brother to him. Wart's adventures begin when he is lost in the woods and stumbles upon the cottage of the...more
‘The Sword in the Stone’ is a deeply strange and awkward book, a fact that is immediately apparent but rarely commented on. This, I suppose, is a measure of its greatness – that its greatness is acknowledged by all despite its palpable absurdities and clumsinesses, its endless digressions, flagrant anachronisms and startling shifts of tone.

But there is simply so much good humour (even though its opening paragraph contains a very off-colour joke), so much good writing (and a lot of engagingly bad...more
Awesome story. It is the first part of the "Once and Future King." Everyone knows this story thanks to Walt Disney. The book is a fascinating mixture of modern and medival. It has King Arthur, Robin Wood (a.k.a. Robin Hood), Merlin, giants, witches, and more.
Drew Graham
Young Wart lives in the castle of his guardian, Sir Ector, and studies jousting and riding and hawking alongside (and secondary to) Ector's son, Kay. When Wart meets the mysterious and mercurial wizard Merlyn in the Forest Sauvage roundabout the castle and is taken into the mage's tutelage, he finds he has quite a lot to learn, and also quite a destiny to fulfill.

I had always planned to read The Once and Future King in its entirety when I reached this movie in my Disney source material read-thr...more
I loved it and will definitely write more later as I read the follow-ups with the kids. My brats absolutely enjoyed it, even if many of the jokes, the funky blending of the Medieval with the Modern, might have floated a bit over their tiny wee heads. We three (my brood and me) are excited to push forwad and read the rest of The Once and Future King.

Anyway, I think White perfectly captured the magic, power, fears and the joy of both youth and myth with this retelling of early Arthurian legend. W...more
I love thinking about this book. T.H. White has an amazing ability to allow some rather simple lines to speak depths that stretch through the entirety of the book. Not that the lines are allegories, symbols, or even foreshadowings of things to come later but that they express a fullness of world, character, and story. Merlin's interaction with the Wart, and the Wart's interaction with the world he encounters, is fathoms deep, and in this way it is one of the best children's book I've read: we do...more
I have dim memories of having read the book when I was 12 or 13. It was good to revisit it forty years later. Like so much 'classic' children't fiction it doesn't seem to be written for children at all.

The mixture of playfulness, pastoral and mysticism reminded me rather of Kenneth Grahame. The scene where Wart meets the goddess Athena reminds me of the 'Pan' section in Wind in the Willows. And it's not surprising to learn that TH White was an influence on JK Rowling. Hogwarts is what the Castle...more
The later books in this series are darker and more suitable for older readers, but this one, the story of Arthur's boyhood, is an all-ages delight. The philosophy and some of the jokes were beyond Nick's level, but fun for me. The underlying story, however, was absolutely perfect for a little boy who likes knights and fantasy. Young Arthur (the Wart) has a series of adventures over the course of a year, involving his foster brother and father, his new tutor Merlyn, the ordinary people of the cas...more
I really wish I could give this classic a better rating. It's a vibrant read, full of lively characters and interesting magic. More importantly, it's the story of a slightly misunderstood boy becoming the greatest king of England.

But as much as I loved it, I couldn't ignore some of the awkward scenes it had to offer. Merlyn's lessons, for instance, drew me away from the story. What was the point of turning Wart into different species? By the third time, I had grown bored of it.

Another thing that...more
Oof - how to say anything sensible about this book! I remember reading it while ill (and being given milk-toast - something I'd read about in children's books, and found dreadfully disappointing - just soggy toast covered with hot milk?) when I was about 10 or 11 and I loved it. But I clearly didn't remember it at all, as I only remembered the being a fish bit from the film (and dimly, at that) and had no memory of the Wart's being turned into a falcon or the lengthy digressions about falconry,...more
Eva Silverstone
I loved this book when I read it as a child and I admit I've been looking forward to reading it with Everett just so I could enjoy it again. It turned me on to the whole Arthurian Legend thing which I studied in college and really absorbed. The writing can be challenging at times and we changed words here and there when reading aloud so Everett would understand. The writing is also beautiful and the descriptions are excellent. It is quite funny and the scene of the fight between Sir Grummore and...more
May 31, 2014 Ron added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young
I read this book years ago. While it is better than the Disney movie derived from it, I didn't like it enough to finish the series.

Still, a good read.
Mar 01, 2009 Robin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pre teens and up
Man! Disney really did a number on this book. In essentials, they kept the general story the same. But they took quite a lot of liberty in the details. And they completely slaughtered the essence of the characters Pellinor, Ector, Kay and Archimedes. It wasn't as fun to read as I hoped; mostly because of the way it was written. White makes frequent references to his contemporary time and it is very distracting from the story. It's impossible to get caught up in a story that constantly reminds yo...more
I'm a big fan of the Disney film, so I thought I would check this book out, especially after I heard about T.H. White's influence on J.K. Rowling. I was disappointed, however, to find a complete lack of structure. It's an episodic story that bumbles along from one event to another without any sense of cause and effect. It got old after awhile. And Wart is the most boring protagonist ever. And Archimedes, my favorite character in the film, is almost non-existent. I tried to like it, I really did....more
Anne Holly
I'm not sure how I missed this book in my 30-odd years, but I'm pleased I've finally read it (sort of). (I should also note that I have not watched the Disney film that shares the book's name, either.)

The Sword in the Stone was vastly entertaining, and kept my attention quite well (aside from a few windy passages and a few segments that went on a bit long). The text has some dated portions (generally relating to racial terms and similes), but it's otherwise held up well. The prose is interestin...more
Aug 03, 2008 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This classic version of the King Arthur story is, in a word, incredible. Young Arthur, or "the Wart" as he is called, plays second fiddle to his cousin, Kay. It is only when the wizard Merlyn becomes the Wart's teacher that a world of magic and knowledge is opened to him. The tale also includes great characters such as Robin Hood and Little John, Miss Mim, and Grummore. I highly recommend this one!!!! The pictured edition also has beautiful illustrations.
Norman Cook
I read this book because it was nominated for the Retro-Hugo Award. Dumb old me, who successfully avoided English Lit in school, didn't realize this book is the first part of The Once and Future King, which has the reputation of being the definitive story of King Arthur. The Sword in the Stone nevertheless stands on its own. The book tells, in episodic manner, about the life of a young boy nicknamed Wart, who is the adopted son of Sir Ector. Wart and Sir Ector's real son, Kay, are best friends w...more
Aaminah Khan
The writing style - something like Tolkien in The Hobbit, but less charming - made this a little frustrating to get through. I suspect I'd have liked it more had I read it as a child. I did enjoy the way in which Wart's education eventually pays off. This is a book I'd recommend to my younger siblings, but I found that the very things that make this a wonderful novel for younger people made it quite tiresome to get through.
This, the first part of T.H. White's "Once And Future King", is a delight to read as an adult as well as in younger years. White's whimsical, silly tale of clumsy wizards and bumbling nobility is buoyed by an undercurrent of very seriously expressed commentary on morality, common sense, and the social mores of the time.
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Born in Bombay to English parents, Terence Hanbury White was educated at Cambridge and taught for some time at Stowe before deciding to write full-time. White moved to Ireland in 1939 as a conscientious objector to WWII, and lived out his years there. White is best known for his sequence of Arthurian novels, "The Once and Future King", first published together in 1958.
More about T.H. White...
The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-4) The Book of Merlyn (The Once and Future King, #5) The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-5) Mistress Masham's Repose The Ill-Made Knight (The Once and Future King, #3)

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