Bryan's Reviews > The Book of Merlyn

The Book of Merlyn by T.H. White
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's review
Dec 13, 11

did not like it
bookshelves: fiction, mythology, mythopoeia
Recommended to Bryan by: Mrs. Barker
Recommended for: Arthurian scholars
Read from November 09 to 15, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

While the prequels to this book are at least engaging on a narrative level, I thought this book was both uninteresting and thematically flawed.

It's not so much of a story, but a collection of philosophy dialogues between Merlin, Arthur, and the many 'wise' animals of Merlin's acquaintance.

Here Merlin tries wholeheartedly again to convince Arthur that intellectual growth is the purpose of man's existence. I simply don't agree with that, as intellect can be used for evil as easily as good.

The first four-fifths of the book are straight philosophical inquiry, then Arthur gets tired of the discussion and goes home to the final battle with Mordred.

While the last fifth of the book picks back up its charming narrative pace, the thematic conclusions fall short. Most of this can be summarized in the final paragraph in which the narrator states that of all the theories of Arthur's mysterious departing from our world (whether it be because of death, or because he was taken away to the isle of Avalon, or any of the other many theories surrounding the events) the narrator believes that Arthur went back into the ground to continue the discussions with Merlin's animal friends about the solution to world peace. What a strange conclusion to a story which traditionally is so focused around the pursuit of our divine creator, God, that it should end in this version with a revert to shamanic/pagan animal wisdom.

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