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The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White

The Sword in the Stone (1938)

by T. H. White

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Once and Future King (1)

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1,653None4,331 (3.95)105
Recently added byplymouthproprietaryl, MarthaJeanne, mhmr, mkbird, akunzeman, private library, toedebw, Cecrow, savannahb, Colona
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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Loosely based on the legend of King Arthur, this novel reads in places like something Lewis Carroll would have composed. Its language is reminiscent of Barrie's Peter Pan: very advanced for today's young readers, too much for my nine year old who lost interest in the first chapter. Anachronisms crop up throughout, probably for fun; the author acknowledges them subtly and makes little effort to reconcile them. Merlyn is said to live backwards through time as justification, but small details invalidate this explanation. His student Wart is a rather dull character and develops not a whit: he is good-natured and sensible on the first page, and remains so to the last. There's no evident value gained from the so-called education he receives, and by the fourth or fifth time Wart was made an animal I was exasperated.

For a positive there are fascinating descriptions that display the author's enormous medieval knowledge: detailed contents and operations of the hay field, the mews, Merlyn's study, Sir Ector's fortifications, jousting, the uses for various woods, etc. Even an adult can learn a lot here (except from the astronomy, which states the universe began "a few thousand million years ago".) There's some interesting things about this novel and relating to it, but judging this book on its own merits it's not really that brilliant and a bit of a relic. I won't trouble my son with it again.

Note: my review is for the original edition with Madam Mim, the troubling anthropophagi, etc. ( )
  Cecrow | Apr 11, 2014 |
I loved this book as a child, and just started reading it to my 10 year old son, who is rapt.

I don't think this is a "children's book" however, so much as it is a book that children with good vocabularies who already love history and nature may love. Grownups who are well-read in classic literature will get a lot more of the humor and historical references,

I would say that if you enjoyed the Harry Potter books but wished the writing quality was better, you need to read this book.

This book was written before WWII. It is beautifully written by a humorous child-loving extremely well-educated Englishman of that time. It assumes you are someone compatible. It is packed with detail of all kinds; history, natural history, politics, mythology... but if you can't get through anything written before 1945, it is not for you.
( )
1 vote scatterall | Apr 10, 2013 |
Really good read, different take on the Arthur/Merlin legend. ( )
  EmmaBTate | Apr 10, 2013 |
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 well described, like Wart's time with the geese, or when he's turned into a fish, and the narrative voice is so wonderfully understanding of what goes on inside people's minds. I like the way it treats Kay -- like he's good at heart, but he messes things up by trying too hard to be what he's not, the pride in him. And one of my favourite moments is when Ector says to him that he will always be proud of him, and Kay then decides to tell the truth...

So glad I came back to this book. I'm pretty sure I never really got beyond it, now that I'm looking at the opening of the next book, so I hope I do this time, and I hope all the books are as good. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
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 that are almost breathtaking, and Wart can at once be a silly little boy and a very noble one. And Kay can at once be a proud big kid, prone to bullying, and a scared boy who really just wants to hold his own. And Merlyn can be a mysterious wizard and a kindly old man.

I'm looking forward to rereading the rest of it now -- although I think the warm sympathy for Kay is less of a thing in the other books, and they're probably not going to be so useful. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
T. H. Whiteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jason, NevilleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawson, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Sir Thomas Maleore

"I pray you all, gentlemen and gentlewomen that readeth this book, from the beginning to the ending, pray for me while I am on live, that God send me good deliverance, and when I am dead, I pray you all pray for my soul."
Sir Thomas Maleore, Knight.
July 31st, 1485.
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On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales, while the rest of the week it was the Organon, Repetition and Astrology.
"Castor and Pollux blow me to Bermuda!"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
That boy is called Wart,
But Merlin knows he's destined
For far greater things.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399225021, Hardcover)

An old wizard named Merlyn takes care of a curious young boy named Wart and transforms him into Arthur, the future king of Britain, in a beautiful new edition of the classic tale, enhanced by luminous paintings. Children's BOMC Main.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:46 -0400)

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A retelling of the Arthurian legend.

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