Richard's Reviews > The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King by T.H. White
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's review
Jan 14, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: classic, fantasy, fantasy-epic-fantasy, young-adult
Read from April 14 to May 15, 2012

I got to page 377 before I resigned to the fact I wasn't enjoying this book and only read a couple of chapters a day after that.

There is so much wrong with this book I cannot understand why it is so popular.

Firstly there is virtually no action, adventures or quests that you would expect from a King Arthur book. It plods along painfully slowly with little or nothing going on for pages and pages at a time. Every thing is described in huge detail, even really mundane activities that are going on that have nothing to do with the plot and boring conversations go on and on when the could have been easily summed up in a few lines rather than a page or two of dull dialogue. Conversely many of what should be exciting parts are summed up in a couple of paragraphs.

The story as well as being slow, bumps along without any real book long plot almost like a group of short stories that have been hashed together.

Many major events are told after the events by characters. The death of some characters are talked about by other characters some time after they have died. The entire Grail Quest is told only by those that return from it (none of those were successful) to the king and queen. Two major battles are told about in a letter and Arthur's final battle against Mordred isn't told at all. All of this gives a huge disconnect to the story and turns what should have been exciting passages into something fairly dull.

The characters are often comic without being funny. Others are unbelievable and unrelatable and act in ways that make no sense. Many of the characters act irrationally and are very inconsistent making it even harder to understand or like them.

Lancelot is an awful characters, he regularly kills and injures others for little or no reason, goes to great lengths to cover up his affair with the queen and generally acts very deceitfully. One example is that he finds a tent and goes to sleep in a bed in it, the owner of the tent returns, Lancelot wakes up and he tries to kill the owner. Another time he is caught in the queens bedchamber by 14 other Knights, he tricks one of them into coming in by himself, Lancelot overpowers and kills him, takes his sword and armour, kills all but one of the other knights, the one that he 'spares' comes away with a broken arm. Despite all this most other characters think Lancelot is the best knight ever and the knight who got the broken arm is in the wrong because he should have died fighting!

The Lancelot and Queens affair is horribly written with no warmth to it, they spend most of the time behaving like a mixture spoiled children and a bitter old couple. I had no sympathy for them at all.

The king is very weak and boring, he started of great as a child but once he is an adult he is pretty pathetic. He even knows about the queens and Lancelot's affair and does nothing about it.

There are quite a few analogies that have either dated very badly or would not makes sense to most people outside of Britain. A couple are even pretty racist, sexist or otherwise offensive by today's standards.

If I was given the choice of re-reading this book or actually reading Twilight for the first time, I think the tween vampire romance novel would win out...
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Reading Progress

04/15/2012 page 85
04/19/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Titus (new) - added it

Titus Welch thank you! I browsed the other reviews and couldn't believe that so many people liked this!

Michelle I liked it but thought as well that the dialogue was drawn out and boring and skimmed alot of it. I wish there would have been more about Arthur himself. I feel he was robbed of his true character in White's Adaptation. And, you should read Twilight. It's a fun, quick read that I think you may surprise yourself and enjoy!

Lucy March Agree to disagree. I understand this book is not everyone's cup of tea, though personally it's one of my favorites.

Berber Lancelot doesn't kill for 'no reason', it's because he's constantly attacked. And the owner of the 'tent' (hint: it was not a tent) tries to kill him while Lancelot is unarmed and running to his armour and weapons, and in self-defense he cuts the man's stomach open, while afterwards he tends to the wounds and such.

Any racist or sexist analogies are done on purpose and out of sarcasm, for T.H. White's clearly against them (he even states so in the book). I'm wondering whether you really read the whole thing or just skimmed through so you could give it one star just to stand out in the reviews section.

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