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The Master by T. H. White

The Master (1957)

by T. H. White

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T.H. White writes in his inimitable style. There are displays of erudition, most pleasing, excellent descriptions of the wildfowl about Rockall, and discussions of the children's and animal's internal lives as well as the domestic habits of the engineering staff. The book is not as good as "The Sword in the Stone" or "Mistress Masham's Repose" because its science-fiction is slightly ridiculous. It was written at a time when the memory of WWII was very fresh. ( )
  themulhern | Nov 23, 2012 |

A while back Dave Langford quoted an unintentionally humorous passage from this novel:

"Look," said the practical Judy. "Do you approve of being spanked?"
"No, I don't."
"Well, then."
"Well, then what?"
"If you can't make people be good with a hair brush, you can't with a vibrator, can you?"
"I don't think it is the same."
"It is the same," said Judy.

But in fact the vibrators in question are the sinister machines with which the 157-year-old Master plans to Take Over The World from his island hide-out on Rockall in the North Atlantic. Judy and her brother Nicky, twins who, quite by coincidence, are the children of a duke and whose uncle is an American senator, happen to stumble across the Master's secret plans; what can they do to foil his fiendish plan?

And yet that's not fair to this remarkable book either. The Master's entourage are beautifully sketched, and each of them has their own moral dilemma of how to prevent - or take over - the master plan. And most of the time we get the story from the children's point of view (indeed the above dialogue is about as close as they get to a philosophical discussion); with one memorably sympathetic though brief chapter told from the point of view of their pet dog.

White of course is much better known for The Sword in the Stone and its expansion The Once and Future King, but this is a nice example of his skills. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Jan 6, 2007 |
until recently the only book of T.H. White's I have read was Sword in the Stone. This children's adventure story is interesting, easy to read, and well-written. Two children are kidnapped and held hostage on an island. ( )
  Kateingilo | Jul 24, 2006 |
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It was a blistering day in July, and the swell of the sea was like melted lemonade bottles.
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Twelve-year-old twins are kidnapped by the strange inhabitants of a huge rock which houses an ancient man, the Master, who plans to dominate the world with an antidote to the atomic bomb, but he doesn't count on the interference of the children and especially of their dog.
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