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Sword of the Rightful King: A Novel of King Arthur (2003)

by Jane Yolen

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6391327,243 (3.74)17
Merlinnus the magician devises a way for King Arthur to prove himself the rightful king of England--pulling a sword from a stone--but trouble arises when someone else removes the sword first.

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The newly crowned King Arthur is unsure of himself; worse, the people are unsure of him. Too many people want the throne, and treachery is everywhere. Merlin must do something before the king is betrayed, or murdered, or—worst of all—gets married. So Merlin magically places a sword into a slab of rock, lets it be known that whosoever removes the blade will rule all of England, and invites any man who would dare to try to pull out the sword. After a bit of showmanship, Arthur will draw the blade (with a little magical help, of course), and the people will rally around the young king. Except someone else pulls the sword out first.
  Gmomaj | Aug 25, 2020 |
I loved this take on the Arthurian tale. A fun and very enjoyable read. ( )
  Shadow494 | Jun 20, 2016 |
What a wonderful change of pace! To read a book that's a medieval fantasy again! Once upon a time these were the only books I ever read, and though not all of them make the cut in my memories, it's always been one of my favorite--if not the favorite--of my genres! And this book was a WONDERFUL addition into that collection of stories I have so long loved! I admit, I have read little to nothing about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, but who doesn't know the story? While I can't say I found this story amazing in terms of what I would be looking for if I was to really want to hunt down something epic on the history/retelling of King Arthur's story, for a spin-off concept of what went on, it was really enjoyable! In fact, I think that was the best part of this story. Jane Yolen just knows how to write something that you can sit down, and really enjoy reading. She knows how to put in suspense and drama without over-doing it, and without ever making things too complicated--or, Heaven forbid, stupid like some people do when they try to add "drama" (Heavily emphasizing those quotations marks!) to a story.

So we've got ourselves a tale of The Sword in the Stone, which I completely love since I grew up watching the cartoon movie of that legend practically every month I was so addicted to it. And it ties into King Arthur in a way that doesn't relate anything to the movie. Which, hey, is all good considering that new perspectives of the same story usually add much more depth to the story itself. And I can't say I didn't enjoy this book, because it was so EASY and quick of a read that I found myself eating it up like one breathes air! It was started and done so swiftly! I know that in between my reading I had a huge pause but that was mostly thanks to school. The moment I got my time back (Ahem, yesterday and today) the book was done with practically the snap of your fingers. And that's what's so COOL about it! It's such a pleasurable thing to read because it had everything you could want in a story and a pace that was quick, playful, ended with a skip and shout and WAH-HOOO!

But I am seriously rambling. Truth be told, the carrying factor for this story wasn't what you would expect it to be. It wasn't the plot-line, which was simple to conceive, experience, follow along with, and conclude. Which! Is what made the story also such an easy read. It also wasn't even the mood to the story, for though it had its serious moments scattered throughout, the familiarity between the characters and the constant exchange and interweaving of humor is what really carried the day. Things were never too down for too long before something pleasing or funny, memorable or just plain endearing happened to uplift it again. And the parts where you thought there was going to be major drama and dramatics unfolding were surprisingly quick to be concluded, fixed, and moved on from. I guess I've just gotten used to all these characters that make the BIGGEST deals out of absolutely the SMALLEST things that I've forgotten that there are people who will stumble upon a crime scene and, when you tell them what happened, will actually BELIEVE you! O:exactly what happened! And I found myself a lot of times starting at shadows, or over-thinking things and being proved wrong countless times. And you know what? It's not the book's fault, not the characters' faults, and it's not the author's fault either. It's mine. I've become so used to books today that just spin things WAAAAY out of proportion all the time, so that now I can't help but suspect everyone, and everything, and make up schemes because of the smallest little suggestions introduced in the story as it goes along. Until, after a while, I just stopped thinking and settled down. I tried, like in the old days people used to do, to just read. And once I did that, and stopped shoving my own thoughts in this story where clearly they did not fit, I was able just to be carried along the ride like one's carried down a swift current in the river. I reacted instead of blatantly trying to interact where it would not work. And doing it that way, I was able to fully enjoy the story on a level that I had to learn again to experience.

Writers today just don't write like our older authors of a couple decades ago.

Once again, I have rambled. So what was the redeeming quality to this book that made it worth the five stars? Well, it was the characters. From Arthur to Merlinnus, to Gawaine and Gawen, to Lancelot and even the errand boys... you have a set of characters that are no more over-complicated than the storyline, but whose traits and personality shine through like the brightest of stars on the darkest of nights, so that you find your entire world illuminated by them. They are unchanging, multifaceted, easy-to-understand characters that can still surprise you with shows of depth that you're not expecting from people that you would think are so easy to read. But almost at every other line they say something or react in someway that makes you pause and blink for a moment, trying to catch up to them and figure out why they just did what they did when you expected them to do something so different! Completely different in some cases! And know what else? Sometimes you never know why, and other times, just like in real life, you don't find out why until later on when they mention the reason to you! Isn't that just epic?! You have people that actually ACT like people!! It's a WONDERFUL experience! To find that the characters aren't predictable! They can't always be figured out or followed to the letter! You have people interacting before you and you have no idea what it is that they're going to do next. How wonderful!!! How EXCITING! How grateful I am for that experience! A book with a MIND of its own! One I cannot trace! One that, even when all the cards are before you, you still aren't sure if you know everything, or if things will go exactly as planned! It's epic! It's wonderful!

Being able to read a story like this, even though it's not "DUN DUN DUNNNN! EPICCCCC!" still is absolutely worthwhile. Just reading Jane Yolen's work is enough of a depth of living that books once carried with them all the time, I feel. It's a relief to read a book that feels alive before you! And no matter how simple the concept may be, everything about this story and its characters makes for a GREAT read: because it's such an enjoyable one! And really, when it comes to books, what more are you looking for?! I suggest you DEFINITELY check out this book! Heck, I'd even say it's worth the buying! Do I think it's as amazing as it can be? *Smiles* Yeah, I think it is. For itself. I wouldn't change a single thing about this book, and I can't really record any complaints that I had or have. It was a good read, and a worthwhile one. Is it the best thing I've ever read? No, I can't say that. I definitely have favorites above this one. But it's still a book that's definitely worth the time. Check it out! I think you'll like the breath of life and fresh air that this one carries! It'll be good for you! Go go! Library time!! Order it! And I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much or more than I did! ^__^ ( )
  N.T.Embe | Dec 31, 2013 |
Merlin plants a sword in a stone for Arthur to remove in order to prove himself a worthy king.
This book is not a retelling of the legend of King Arthur, which could work for or against it. For those familiar with the legend, looking forward to a familiar tale retold, it is a disappointment. Rather than starting out as an ordinary peasant boy, Arthur is already king, and a reluctant one at that, when the story begins. Rather than assisting a boy discover his true power through magic and the removal of a magic sword in a stone, Merlin conspires with the king and his apprentice to place a sword in a stone, telling all that only the true king of Britain (which shall, through his magics, be Arthur) can remove it. This stone, though central to the original story and introduced at the beginning there, in this book doesn’t even show up until midway through. A twist at the end would be a partial redemption…if it wasn’t half given away in the book flap. Though fast-paced, it does drag on. Though Merlin’s (here called Merlinnus) view of magic—a “believing is seeing” point of view—and the history behind the story may be refreshing, in the end, they are not enough to redeem the book. While not a total disappointment, it isn’t a must-read, either. ( )
1 vote MartyAllen | Dec 19, 2011 |
I enjoyed this book. It was a nice twist on the traditional telling of the King Arthur legend. Arthur is king already and Merlin is trying to "rally the troops" behind their king. Merlin and Morgause have their usual little spats with her trying to put one of her children on the throne and being the basic baddie of the novel. I found it a nice read and the narrators' perspectives were different because you weren't in King Arthur's shoes all that much. Mostly, you were following the other characters (I would have liked to have followed Merlin a bit more) but I liked Gawen's method of dealing with the Sword. ( )
  OtwellS | Aug 29, 2011 |
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To editor Michael Stearns, who knows how to wait, and to my husband, David, rightful king of my heart.
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Prince Gawaine took the stone steps two at a time, trying to guess why his mother, the queen, had sent for him.
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Merlinnus the magician devises a way for King Arthur to prove himself the rightful king of England--pulling a sword from a stone--but trouble arises when someone else removes the sword first.

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