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The Once and Future King (1958)

by T. H. White

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Once and Future King (compilation 1-4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,397159331 (4.09)2 / 650
"A deluxe hardcover edition of the world's greatest fantasy classic--part of Penguin Galaxy, a collectible series of six sci-fi/fantasy classics, featuring a series introduction by Neil Gaiman T. H. White's masterful retelling of the saga of King Arthur is a fantasy classic as legendary as the sword Excalibur and city of Camelot that are found within its pages. This magical epic takes Arthur from the glorious lyrical phase of his youth, through the disillusioning early years of his reign, to maturity when his vision of the Round Table develops into the search for the Holy Grail, and finally to his weary old age. With memorable characters like Merlin and Owl and Guinevere, beasts who talk and men who fly, wizardry and war, The Once and Future King has become the fantasy masterpiece against which all others are judged, a poignant story of adventure, romance, and magic that has enchanted readers for generations. Penguin Galaxy Six of our greatest masterworks of science fiction and fantasy, in dazzling collector-worthy hardcover editions, and featuring a series introduction by #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman, Penguin Galaxy represents a constellation of achievement in visionary fiction, lighting the way toward our knowledge of the universe, and of ourselves. From historical legends to mythic futures, monuments of world-building to mind-bending dystopias, these touchstones of human invention and storytelling ingenuity have transported millions of readers to distant realms, and will continue for generations to chart the frontiers of the imagination. The Once and Future King by T. H. White Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein Dune by Frank Herbert 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin Neuromancer by William Gibson For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators"--… (more)
  1. 100
    The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck (g026r)
  2. 71
    Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (LamontCranston)
  3. 52
    The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin (LamontCranston)
  4. 20
    Guinevere's Gift by Nancy Mckenzie (wordcauldron)
  5. 20
    The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris (foggidawn)
  6. 20
    The Age of Scandal by T. H. White (BINDINGSTHATLAST)
    BINDINGSTHATLAST: Anotherside of White
  7. 20
    Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel by Thomas Berger (eromsted)
    eromsted: For a comic take on the legend
  8. 10
    Queen of Camelot by Nancy Mckenzie (wordcauldron)
    wordcauldron: My favorite retelling of Arthurian legend. Period.
  9. 22
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: I thought of making this recommendation when reading the magical education section of The Magicians, which reminded me of the first book of The Once and Future King. But the wider idea - that magical powers can't stop us from making stupid human mistakes - is also relevant to both books.… (more)
1940s (18)
1950s (32)

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English (155)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  All languages (159)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
I’ve put this book on “finished” to say that I’ve tried it before. Quite simply and quickly put, I liked this book (especially the first installment), but I don’t think now is the right time for it for me. I may pick it up again, either at the beginning of book two or all over, but for now I think it’s time to let it be, and it’ll come back to me when it’s ready. There’s no shame in that. ( )
  priorfictions | Jun 24, 2020 |
Simply amazing. The story of Arthur, from his tutelage (as "the Wart") under Merlyn, to the rise and fall of the round table. Hilarious and heart-rending. ( )
  pjohanneson | May 5, 2020 |
The Sword in the Stone: *****
The Queen of Air and Darkness: ***
The Ill-Made Knight: *
The Candle in the Wind: -

I love stories about King Arthur and I expected this one to be my favorite. I mean, this is THE King Arthur book. I loved The Sword in the Stone. Arthur's adventures, Merlin's teaching, the wit, the humor...it was all great! Then it all went downhill. The Queen of Air and Darkness at least had some humor. But The Ill-Made Knight just...I don't even know how to describe it. While some of it was funny, mostly it just fell flat. It was boring. That, and Lancelot was seriously irritating. And there was So. Much. Talking. The battles and romance weren't really shown, so much as told. And that is the first thing you're told not to do in writing classes. Show. Don't tell. Because it bores the reader.

Basically, I was bored. And that makes me sad, because I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't finish all of the stories. ( )
  book_lady15 | Apr 3, 2020 |
A re-read which confirms this is a classic for a reason. What could have been an awkwardly cobbled-together pastiche of Arthurian legend, pacifist philosophizing, medievalist minutiae, and Waughsian (if that's the word I want) wittiness somehow comes together as an epic, grand whole. It has some of the most beautiful passages I've ever read in any book. Most importantly, for the first time, it really made me care about Lancelot, Guinevere, Arthur, and even poor Mordred. The characters are portrayed compassionately and realistically - and even humorously.
And it reminded me that everyone needs a Questing Beast to give their lives meaning. ( )
  Jawin | Mar 11, 2020 |
A nicely graduated fantasy graduation. The relatively juvenile "the Sword in the Stone" of 1938 begins a deeper and deeper study of the ways of power until we reach "The Candle in the Wind.",(1958) a sad, but hopeful final look at why the rule of law, opposed to the personal vagaries of rulers, makes for better lives for the bulk of the population. I enjoy the book, and dip into it now and again, as I pass my seventies. ( )
1 vote DinadansFriend | Sep 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
White, T. H.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crossley-Holland, KevinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jason, NevilleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marvin, FredericCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vat, Daan van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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She is not any common earth

Water or wood or air,

But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye

Where you and I will fare.
When shall I be dead and rid
Of the wrong my father did?
How long, how long, till spade and hearse
Put to sleep my mother's curse?
"Nay," said Sir Lancelot "... for

once shamed may never be recovered."
"He thought a little and said:

'I have found the Zoological Gardens of service to many of my patients.  I should prescribe for Mr. Pontifex a course of the larger mammals.  Don't let him think he is taking them medicinally...'
For J.A.J.A.
First words
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. The governess was always getting muddled - she would take it out of the Wart by rapping his knuckles.
“If I were to be made a knight,” said the Wart, staring dreamily into the fire, “I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, as Hob does with his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.”
“That would be extremely presumptuous of you,” said Merlyn, “and you would be conquered, and you would suffer for it.”
“I shouldn’t mind.”
“Wouldn’t you? Wait till it happens and see.”
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
These editions of The Once and Future King do not contain The Book of Merlyn. Please do not combine with the editions that do contain The Book of Merlyn.
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Book description
The whole world knows and loves this book.  It is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot; of Merlyn and Owl and Guinevere; of beasts who talk and men who fly; of wizardry and war.  It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad.  It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged.
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Average: (4.09)
0.5 3
1 25
1.5 5
2 105
2.5 16
3 371
3.5 89
4 743
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