The Once and Future King Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Once and Future King

This story follows the young King Arthur (known to his friends as "the wart") through numerous allegorical adventures most of which involve him being changed into various types of animals, before Arthur finally stumbles upon the sword in the stone and discovers his destiny as king of all England.
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"The Witch in the Wood", which explores the meaning of war and family, is mostly concerned with Arthur's exploits immeaditly after he becomes king, details the formation of the round table, and lays the seeds for his ultimate destruction at the hands of Mordred with his seduction by Morgause, and his marriage to Guinevere.

"The Ill-made Knight", which focuses on the character of Lancelot, relates his friendship with Arthur and his developing love for Guinevere - Lancelot is easily the best concieved character in the book, he's flawed, neurotic but horribly believable.

"Candle in the wind", is a tear jerker as the various plot strands in the earlier volumes link to the final catastrophic conclusion - Lancelot and Guinevere's betrayal of Arthur is made public when Arthur's scheming illegitmate son, Mordred, forces him to put on trial his two closest friends, and this action causes civil war throughout England, leaving Arthur alone and friendless.

If you find a five volume edition it will include a final book entitled "The Book Of Merlyn", this harks back to Arthur's childhood and the lessons about pacifism that he learnt from Merlin. T.H White was an ardent pacifist and although the book is based on Mallory's "Morte De Arthur" it is also heavily influenced by his political views and his feelings about the second world war, the book therefore has a strong anti-war message, this strengthens the book and enhances the ultimate tradegedy, but is a little over-egged in the Book of Merlyn.
The review of this Book prepared by mal Faloon

One of the best takes on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It focuses strongly on Arthur's desire to put right above might and the tragedies that waylay his best intentions. Arthur, under Merlin's tutelage, grows from boy to young man, unaware he is heir to the throne until the fateful day he pulls the sword from the stone. Arthur uses his position as king to form the Knights of the Round Table and to overthrow his kingdom's notion of might over right and to establish justice. Things start off very well and Arthur's reign initially transforms the formerly violent land to one of peace and prosperity. Then after many years Mordred uses Lancelot and Gweneviere's traitorous love affair to his own advantage in oder to usurp the throne. White gives a human and thoughtful perspective to the story.
The review of this Book prepared by sayruh

Chapter Analysis of The Once and Future King

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% Tone of book    -   very upbeat FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   King Arthur Coming of age    -   Yes Youngster becomes    -   ruler Political power play    -   Yes Political plotlets    -   saving govt/kingdom from external overthrow Tech./$$$/Info hunt    -   Yes Stealing/recovering/destroying    -   magical artifact Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   Prince/Nobleman/King Age:    -   a kid    -   20's-30's


Terrain    -   Forests Earth setting:    -   during "Tolkien" (fairytime) times Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment    -   moderately detailed references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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T.H. White Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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