Book review: The Once and Future King by T.H. White


The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King #1-4)The Once and Future King by T.H. White

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4:
T. H. White’s classic retelling of the King Arthur story dramatised by Brian Sibley. England is in turmoil. On the night before a decisive battle, Merlyn and Arthur meet to talk about what has brought the King and country to this perilous state.

Original music by Elizabeth Purnell
Directors: Gemma Jenkins, Marc Beeby and David Hunter

The radio debut of all five books of The Once and Future King in an adaptation by the award-winning dramatist, Brian Sibley, whose credits include dramatisations of The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels and most recently, Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man.

White’s imagining of Arthur’s childhood in The Sword in The Stone, his use of myth to deliver a powerful anti-war message and the humanity of his depiction of doomed love marks this cycle of novels as one of the defining works of 20th century fantasy fiction.

White uses the Arthurian legends to explore epic themes of national identity, democracy and the virtues of right over might.

The Coming of Merlyn

1/6 Merlyn and Arthur meet to discuss what has brought England to its current perilous state.

The Sword in the Stone

2/6 Wart’s remarkable education at the hands of the wizard Merlyn draws to a close.

The Queen of Air and Darkness

3/6 Rebels led by King Lot and Queen Morgause of Orkney challenge Arthur’s claim to the throne

The Ill-Made Knight

4/6 Full of zeal for Arthur’s new chivalric order, Lancelot rides into Camelot.

The Lengthening Shadow

5/6 Murder and betrayal threaten to undermine all that Arthur holds dear.

The Candle in the Wind

6/6 Mordred uses Arthur’s new laws against him, and long-held secrets are revealed.

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