Monday, July 27, 2009

T. H. White's The Once and Future King

This 1939 book is for highly motivated, very bright fantasy fans who have read everything else in your library and really, really want some heavy-duty Arthurian legend. The vocabulary in this lead me to read it with a dictionary by my side, and the concepts of friendship, world peace, and doing good in the world are handled very philosophically.

That said, I enjoyed this. It has moments of humor, was beautifully written, and laid out the main story of Arthur and the knights of the Round Table in a fairly easy-to-follow fashion. The one thing that I enjoyed, but which gives me pause when recommending it to students, was the Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot love triangle. The levels of stupidity on all sides was fascinating, and since the circumstances often devolved into chaos and violence, I think that it would keep the interest of those reading this for the action and adventure, but I doubt that students would have quite the interest in the soap opera quality of this sub plot that I did.

I'm glad I got a copy. It's something that will challenge readers that I can hand to them more happily than, say, The Three Musketeers or Vanity Fair (which I finally deaccessioned because if I couldn't finish it after 20 years of trying, what are the odds that one of my students could?).


wlomano said...

Oh, gee... I was going to beg you to hand Once and Future King and/or Three Musketeers to eldest son this coming year. Then I realized he's not at your school any longer. *Sigh.*

Younger son has read four Percy Jackson books in about as many days. This is a good pace for him: he's really not much of a reader (though please do hand him back that Odyssey book he had -- he really does want to finish it, I think).

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