100 Novels: The Once and Future Dud

The Once and Future King The Once and Future King by T.H. White

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
The first thing I ever read relating to the Arthurian mythos was Hal Foster’s Sunday newspaper comic strip Prince Valiant. Years later was the movie Excalibur. And in college I read Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight. Recently I began reading The Once and Future King, and about halfway in decided to set it aside. It’s considered a classic, and the first section of the novel inspired the Disney movie the Sword in the Stone. The novel is epic in scope, following King Arthur’s life from young boy who yanks Excalibur from the stone to become king to the decline of the round table and Camelot and the death of Arthur. Curiously, White narrates the novel as he’s a museum guide, and it abounds in anachronisms. The device is intriguing, and lends to comic effect. But, overall the novel lost me. It doesn’t seem to hold up, especially its “war is bad” preachiness — the first sections of the novel were published as World War Two was beginning. Anyhow, it wasn’t an engrossing novel. Excalibur is a much better treatment of the Arthurian story.

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4 thoughts on “100 Novels: The Once and Future Dud

  1. Hey, I would recommend you read Stephen Lawhead’s Arthurian novels “The Pendragon Cycle”. They are EXCELLENT, and you won’t be disappointed!

    I’m a big fan of Lawhead, and in particular, the second book, MERLIN, is the best. The later ones added on after the first three books are not quite as good.

    He weaves together the legends of Atlantis with King Arthur, and places King Arthur in a more historical post-Roman Britain. Very fascinating, and excellent writing.

    -Robert Treskillard

    • Robert, Thanks for the comment. I may have to check out Lawhead. I used to read a lot of fantasy and White’s novel just didn’t meet the expectations I had of the genre. Even in the sections that were geared more toward adult readers, there seemed to be a children’s book author speaking.

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