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The sword in the stone Unknown Binding – 1974

4.2 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Collins Lions (1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006704174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006704171
  • ASIN: B0008D49V0
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,863,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 Madam Mim!

For years I promised myself that I'd buy this book. I'm glad I did. It's like meeting an old friend that you haven't seen for years.

If you have a pre-teen/early-teens child who enjoys funny stories about magic, this is a good book to give them. If you're an over-grown kid who likes funny stories about magic, like me, get this book. If you're an adult who wants more 'grown-up' Arthurian stories, get 'The Once and Future King'. They're both good books.
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Format: Paperback
This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read, and is highly deserving of its place as a 'classic'. Unfortunately, to many people being dubbed a classic suggests that a book must be boring. Far from it! Forget Disney's rendition of 'The Sword in the Stone', because it doesn't come anywhere near the literary prowess, intricate descriptions and luxurious fantasy of this masterpiece. If, on the other hand, you have seen the film 'Excalibur' then you have an idea of the immensely wise, slightly insane and incredibly funny character of Merlin that you will meet in this book.

White tells a fascinating story, builds interesting and enjoyable characters and fleshes the story out with excellent descriptions of bygone pursuits, such as falconry and questing, ancient customs and agriculture, interwoven with magic that spans centuries and civilisations at times. The character of Merlin is particularly enjoyable, and although the book is perhaps a little slow in the first couple of chapters, once Merlin comes on the scene we are whisked off on one magical journey after another.

Read it, enjoy it. Maybe even share it with a child! Like all the best "children's literature", this book is just as entertaining for adults.
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Format: Hardcover
It's a frustrating book, because there are chapters as good as anything in children's literature, like the joust (which made my sides hurt with laughter the first time I read it) and the boar hunt which conveys both the beauty of a deep-winter day and the thrill of the chase. But others are boring and self-indulgent expositions of the author's philosophy, or his personal interest in falconry; I wanted to skip them as a kid and I still want to skip them now. It's like a Dickens serial: you get a bit of this and a bit of that in each instalment, and favourite characters are brought back every so often to liven things up.

However I think T H White got inside the medieval mind, with all its generosity and strangeness, much better than most modern historians. It's worth reading just for his incomparable re-creation of those times, pitched between the way they probably seemed to those who lived through them and an unashamedly romanticised modern view.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the strangest books I've ever read. Here's a list of some of its qualities (in no particular order). This book is: bizarre; entertaining; erudite; surreal; inventive; free (of most accepted writing conventions); sloppy; funny; characterful; wilfully inconsistent; (randomly) indebted to Shakespeare; (randomly) informative; (randomly) opinionated; (randomly) time-travelling; (consistently) random. I'm giving it four stars on account of the fact that despite all of the above I read it to the end and enjoyed doing so, which gets more impressive the more I think about it. Apparently it's about the Young King Arthur, who like many a young man was fond of mounching on mercy-flavoured bread, which of course has yet to be invented...

Gregory Heath, author of 'The Entire Animal'.

The Entire Animal
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Format: Paperback
Anyone coming to this via Disney is in for either a shock or a pleasant surprise. For me it was the latter. It isn't a particularly easy read for a child but worth the effort, if only for the descriptions of the realities of jousting.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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