Dustin's Reviews > The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King by T.H. White
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May 04, 12

Read from April 20 to May 04, 2012

This is the first time I've actually read any Arthurian legend, and since the legend is so old and pervasive, it felt like reading about real history. You have half remembered names or small details, and when they flesh out those details it feels like when you learn about an authors background that you didn't know about (for example). Maybe I'm not explaining that well. Whatever.

I got a kick out of the anachronisms and 4th wall breaking. Arthur is a sweet and empathetic character but he's a little too perfect to be completely relatable. The Lancelot/Guinevere/Arthur love triangle was a much larger factor than my childhood would have led me to believe. That triangle was frustrating but I guess that's how those types of things go, although she didn't really seem worth it.

The difference in tone between the books was pretty strong. Although I guess it's mostly the tone of The Sword in the Stone vs The Rest of Them. Sword/Stone was so fun and lighthearted but then it all gets heavy and dark. There was more philosophy than I expected which was a pleasant surprise and the last session with Merlyn was really interesting. In that last bit you also really feel sorry for Arthur. Most of the time things are moving too quickly or there's a more direct relationship between ends and means that the bigger picture overshadows the hard luck he's been given. But in that last scene before the end when he's looking back and wishing he could have escaped harsh treatment, you really feel for him.

I still plan to read Le Morte d'Arthur but I wish I'd read it first. White references it quite a bit and completely skips over parts of the legend that he feels were sufficiently covered in Le Morte.
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