T.H. White, The Once and Future King (1938-58)

Ok, so here goes the very first re-post, as we decided to occasionally make our new readers see some of our early posts. This one is from 2015, one of the first after we decided to fully switch to English. It’s one of my favourite reviews of one of my favourite books. Nothing too add, I stand by what I wrote back then 🙂

Re-enchantment Of The World

Have you seen „The Sword in the Stone”? Nice Disney classic, „not much plot but great for little kids.” as an imdb reviewer noticed. I concur. It’s a nice watch, it’s deeper than most Disney movies even. But it’s just 10% of shiny stuff taken from the top of the novel that inspired it – the first part of “The Once and Future King” tetralogy by Terence Hanbury White.


A tetralogy consist of “The Sword in the Stone”, “The Queen of Air and Darkness”, “The Ill-Made Kinght” and “The Candle in the Wind”. There is also “The Book of Merlyn”, published posthumously, book that I prefer to pretend do not exist. They tell the story of king Arthur, from childhood to (spoiler alert) hist death in battle with Mordred.

The book is not for kids. There is humour and songs, just as in animated version, but it’s…

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13 thoughts on “T.H. White, The Once and Future King (1938-58)

  1. I fully concur, it’s a wonderful book. One of the very few that made me cry 😉 – but then, there is something truly timeless and tragic and very humane in the story of King Arthur. To me it’s a perfect tragedy: a story about how good men can make bad decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I shall need to read it all properly, having skimmed it in a rush in my early twenties and been very snooty about its anachronisms, what I saw as misplaced humour, and its failure to be set in post-Roman times as opposed to the 15th-century.

    I read the posthumous The Book of Merlyn without skimming when, much later, it was first published and knew that, despite its flaws (its preaching, incompleteness and self-cannibalism) that I’d seriously misjudged the original trilogy. I’ve now got a paperback copy of this and think that, like Merlyn himself, that I may read the series in reverse order… 😁

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    1. I fully agree – it is flawed, mysoginist and anachronistic, and some parts of it are too long. And yet, it’s so humane even in its flaws, and the drive visible in all the books of the cycle, the drive to comprehend and empathize with the characters, is something I can fully relate to 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. piotrek


      Well, if you did enjoy The Books of Merlyn, you’re likely to like the first three books even more. They are way more sophisticated and not as bitter.

      Liked by 1 person

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