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22 Reviews
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm just an over-grown kid!
I read this book when I was a child (pre-teen, I think) and loved it. Then I grew up and decided I should read more 'grown-up' books, so I bought T. H. White's 'The Once and Future King'. That contains a version of 'The Sword in the Stone', but that version is pitched at adults and the magic is different. Yes, Wart is still turned into animals, but there's no battle with...
Published on 11 Nov 2010 by Amazon Customer

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a marred edition of a beautiful book
it's wonderful to have this alternate version of the first part of The Once & Future King, but this edition is marred by gormless copyediting that "corrects" much of White's wordplay, destroying part of the book's wit and charm, and sorely disappointing readers who know and love this book. the publishers owe us all a revised edition.
Published on 1 April 2011 by clio


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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An English Classic, 25 Mar 2009
This is of course a classic, sadly not designed to appeal to readers of Twilight and Potter. The writing is elegant and pellucid. Presumably children of a post-twentieth century age have no clear understanding of the natural world - the chapters incorporating falconry, hunting and animal observation must seem as opaque and moribund as a treatise on ectoplasm - more's the pity!
My concern is with the audio recording. There is something a little too rarified, almost effete in the narration. More troubling however, is the version of the siege on the Anthropagai - gone is the taxonomy of goblins and instead is a chapter dealing with Morgan Le Fay and a gryphon!
I appreciate this may seem pathologically geeky but has anyone come across an expurgated/embellished version of the book wherein occur the events of the audio?
Comments gratefully received.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 17 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sword in the Stone (Paperback)
I started, and couldn't help myself. This book is dangerously addictive and entertaining; I warn those who posses enough courage to pick the book up, as they shall be forever enthralled by it's charm and wittyness. A great read, and beggining to T.H.White's exciting version of Artherian Legend!
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the boyhood of King Arthur - infinitely better than Disney, 12 Dec 2002
By 
A. Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sword in the Stone (Paperback)
Firstly, I would like to say the previous reviewer is a chump. Ornithology indeed! Yes, White knew a lot about birds of prey, having kept them, and his knowledge and feeling for them make up some of the best details of the Wart's transformation into a hawk as part of his education by Merlin. Yet that leaves out all the rest - what it feels like to swim as a fish, to grow as a tree, to cower as a snake. All of these magical experiences come together when the boy Wart gathers his strength to finally lift the sword from the stone, and become King Arthur.
If you only know this story from the Disney version, think again. It's a hundred times funnier, more gripping and less crude - the one thing Disney added were the self-washing plates, which I seem to recall appearing in Sleeping Beauty too. The bits about Sir Pelinnor and the Questing Beast a trifle heavy-handed, but otherwise it's a feast. Don't bother with the subsequent novels, though.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it's more than it seems!, 15 Jun 2003
all the reviews so far have been fair, but overlook one important aspect to the books - in particular 'the book of merlyn', the last in the group. as with orwell's 'animal farm', there is an urgent political subtext to them - obvious in say, arthur's life as an ant - that is very much a sign of the times in which they were written.
this is part of a more general questioning of moral, social and political systems. arthur chooses his round table and code, but they do not seem to be enough, and by the end of his life he is questioning more fiercely than ever.
the books are all about the failings of good intentions. in general, the natural world is appealed to as 'better' than our own, but there is no great certainty to be found anywhere. the best white chooses to offer is a general well-meaningness, but he increasingly seems to suggest that this is not enough.
though incredibly intelligent, original children's reads, it is a great mistake to think that these books are nothing more.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Spellbinding book, 2 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This is a must have book for adults and children alike. Unfortunately Harry Potter has stolen the lime light but while you wait for Book 5 read this and let your children read it too. Classic and humerous adventure and written in a light and easy style.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but not great, 28 Nov 2008
By 
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This is an interesting little book. I read it as part of my children's literature course back in 1999. The book is partially Arthurian Legend, part social commentary and part farce.

I did not like the inappropriate references for the time of the story, trains, buses ... As well I didn't appreciate the mixing of Robin Hood (Wood) in the 12th Century with Arthur of the 6th Century.

Yet all in all it was a fun book - easy to read.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The young Arthur - a mystery of history, 22 Aug 2004
I remember being both amused and confused by The Sword in the Stone when I was a child. It was full of words that I didn't understand and couldn't find in my dictionary. What's a fewmet for example? Some part of an animal's anatomy I would guess but perhaps it's better not to know for sure. I was under the impression for years, after reading this book, that Arthur was in Britain in the 13th century and a contemporary of the Saxons under the conquering Normans. And I got Uther Pendragon mixed up with William the Conqueror: "Uther the Conqueror, 1066 to 1216".

So, a bit confusing - but also funny and engrossing. The two boys, Wart (Arthur) and Kay had some lovely adventures. Wart was enabled by Merlyn to experience life as a fish, several species of birds, badger, ant and so forth, as part of his education. Kay was jealous about that but then Kay was to be a knight and poor Arthur, who also wanted to be a knight, was only to be Kay's squire. Still, they had a fairly idyllic childhood, surrounded by nice, bumbling old buffers who loved and cared for them. The adults sometimes seemed quite mad or at least some of their conversations gave that impression and T H White's descriptions certainly paint them an eccentric bunch. For example, when Wart is telling Merlyn how he would behave if only he were allowed to be a knight: "He thrust the end of his beard into his mouth, stared tragically at the fire, and began to munch it fiercely." That kind of behaviour made Merlyn my favourite character in the book.
There's quite a bit of hunting in the book and the boar hunt was something like the hunt in Lord of the Flies. Then there was a reference to cub hunting so I had to ask questions to find out what that was all about. It seems that fox hunters have a season for "cubbing". It's a necessary part of training for young hounds. That put me off hunting altogether. Years later I actually witnessed a cub hunt, where one of the hunters stood with his foot covering a fox hole and dragged out one cub at a time and threw them to the hounds to tear to pieces. I couldn't have been more upset if they'd been domesticated puppies. So I have Mr White to thank for informing me about hunting.
I recommend the book. It entertained me and made me think.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not too bad, 24 July 2010
Well, as a fan of Arthurian legends, I felt I had to read this. I actually have the full set under the name 'the once and future king' but given that I could only manage to read sword in the stone, I felt I should review just it, instead of all the books.

So basically, this is a quite a good story, and I think I would have loved it as a child, where the idea of turning into an animal and having adventures was pure magic. At 20 however, this doesn't hold quite the charm it would have done. I actually started wishing they'd stop turning into animals and going on adventures and give me a real story instead!

I have to say, I was a bit miffed when I got to about 10 pages from the end, and suddenly the sword in the stone was mentioned, then Arthur did his thing (I say this in the off chance you don't already know the story, I don't want to spoil it!) and then it's all over! I read a whole book waiting for the excitement of the sword, but it was a LONG wait!

Basically, this would be a great book for a child, they'd love the characters, although may find the turn of phrase and speech a bit difficult at times. The writing itself is pretty good, it just wasn't for me! I think there are probably some better Arthurian books out there.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars T H White review, 8 Dec 2012
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I have never read this author before but had read in a newspaper that he is good.
It was ok but didn't prompt me to read more of his stuff
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ten thousand black-tongued curses on this book's Merlin!, 1 Jan 2013
By 
Allen Baird (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
I saw the Walt Disney version of this as a young boy and thought it ridiculous then. I wanted something deep, mythical, and spine chilling. I wanted a Merlin who was a cross between the prophet Elijah and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Instead, I watched a muddle-headed idiot talk to cutsie animals, they being, I assumed, his closest neighbours in terms of IQ.

Thus I first experienced the 'Merlin-as-eccentric-old-boff' portrayal. Maybe the book would be better. WRONG! Please take me literally when I say that the only thing good about the whole 'The Once and Future King' saga is its title. It constitutes one large attempt to piss in the face of the Arthurian legend. I merely focus in on 'The Sword in the Stone' as it is White's vision of Merlin that I find most repellent.

Do not even go there. Where instead? Well, that's why I've bothered to write this review. I want to provide alternatives.

IMHO the best lengthy, literary portrayal of Merlin hails from Stephen L Lawhead's Pengragon Cycle. Here we get a brilliant telling of Merlin's parentage, training, madness and mission. Lawhead skilfully weaves together strands such as Merlin's Atlantian origins, his bardic training, and his dealings with the 'little folk' and Christian priests. At the end, you know the guy, and you want to know the guy.

Two other notable Merlins are light and darkness. C S Lewis has an intriguing Merlin in 'That Hideous Strength', the final book in the Space Trilogy (far superior to the syrupy Chronicles of Narnia). Then there is Robert Nye's Merlin, part anti-Christ, part proto Carry On actor.

As for the flat screen, you can't beat Nicol Williamson in the movie Excalibur. Or, if modern adaptations are more your thing, try Patrick Malahide in the 1988 British TV serial drama 'The One Game'.

But whatever you do, leave White alone I beg you.
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The Sword in the Stone (Classic Fiction)
The Sword in the Stone (Classic Fiction) by T. H. White (Audio CD - 2 Jun 2008)
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