The Once and Future King: Just a general forum

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Rizlatnar, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. Rizlatnar

    Rizlatnar Hung out on a briar with Honorable Jorg

    Alright, so I'm sitting procrastinating from doing work, and I'm wondering:
    Hey, I wonder if anyone else has anything to think about The Once and Future King by T.H. White?
    It's just one of those books that grew on me. I disliked it at first, then, after a while, I became convinced of its worth.
    Then, after more thinking, I am convinced that this is a masterwork of Fantasy Literature; on par with Tolkien, Martin.
    And I don't see many people talking about it. So, I think, perhaps I should just start a forum of people who've read this text.

    Reasons why this book is really, really good:
    Lancelot is an awesome hero. Full stop. And he's written in such a way that it's just that much better.
    Arthur is developed in such a unique way. Seeing him develop is so much fun.
    Guinevere is written really well.
    You care about the side-characters. Not all of them (I could not care less about the geese), but I care about pretty much all of the knights. From the eternally pissed off Gawaine to the bully Kay, all of Arthur's knights are presented in such colourful ways.

    The above is to convince you to read it, if you haven't already. And if you have, I would like to start a forum for discussion on the book.

    And my first question to all of you is a specific one:

    Do you think Mordred cared about Agravaine? Truly? Or was he just using him? And vice versa.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  2. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    I've read the whole series last year (5 books) and I liked 3 of them. Each book is quite different to the other. First one, The Sword in Stone is traditional growing up fantasy with usual boy becomes hero trope, but it's well done. Middle-grade kids can read this and it would be fun for them, but the rest of the books are another story. A middle grader wouldn't have a comprehension skill for them. I liked books 3 and 4 better, they were more adult themed.
    Book 3 is Ill-Made Knight which is a Lancelot book and book 4 is The Candle in the Wind, which deals with few last weeks of Arthur's reign and Lancelot's and Guinevere's demise.
    Book 2 is ok (The Witch in the Wood), but kind of weird and I wouldn't recommend book 5 (The Book of Merlyn) to anyone, it's a complete waste of time.

    Overall the series is what you would call a mixed bag.

    I agree with you that Lancelot is probably the best written character in the whole series.
    I didn't like Arthur, he had too many faults to be the fabled king. He was somehow too ordinary and horrible at the same time.
    He drowns a bunch of babies in an attempt to kill Mordred as an infant. That's some bible style atrocity right there. He failed of course, just like the pharaoh.
    Couldn't look at him as the righteous king of England after that.
    I can't say that any female character is written well. They are all quite neurotic, manipulative or downright malicious and evil.

    The main thing about this series as I understood it is pursuit of Justice. Arthur inherits England as a country where chaos and the mightiest rule.

    In the first third of his rule, he tries to subvert the chaos and rule of might that are rampant in England he has inherited from his father Uther Pendragon, by channeling the mighty (i.e the aristocracy) toward chevaliersim, which he presents as some sort of high fashion idea.
    When that fails, he sets the Holy Grail for the knights of the round table as a goal. But the problem is as he says in the end, you can't bring heaven down to earth. And all the knights that succeed in that quest are gone from earth and those that failed are left with no purpose.
    So in the last third of his life he tries to write the civil law for England and in such a manner extinguish the idea of might as means to justice altogether.

    This is a philosophical series about Justice in a fantasy setting. It's definitely a classic, but it's not an easy read. It's certainly not just Arthur's story. T. H. White was too preoccupied with philosophy to just write a fantasy series. (book 1 is kind of an exception)
  3. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    When i was Growing up, My dad had a whole bookcase filled with nothing but Arthurian literature (and very few literary analysis) he considered himself a very novice in Arthurian lore. He then expounded the level knowledge a real novice had was greatly more than his.

    This sentiment had me too overwhelmed to try reading Arthurian stuff for decades. Now i have gotten close enough to have a few books but still procrastinating on getting started (with malory)

    So your spirit if daunting literature, overt procrastination follows on me.
  4. kenubrion

    kenubrion Journeyed there and back again

    I read it decades ago during my King Arthur period. I even read Le Morte d'Arthur back then. Now that you've mentioned it I might read Once and Future again, as it was my favorite of the Arthur books.
  5. Rizlatnar

    Rizlatnar Hung out on a briar with Honorable Jorg

    The first time I read The Once and Future King, I thought the same. I do still enjoy the Ill-Made Knight the most, but I thought that once you know the ending, it makes the beginning even more tragic.

    I haven't read the Book of Merlyn so I can't comment there (it wasn't part of my edition of the book). And to be honest, I'm going to take your suggestion and stay away from it. It seems to ruin the ending.

    Hmm... Interesting. That's actually a good point. It doesn't really have too much 'fantasy'. But... I do think it's Arthur's story. Just told in a way that drags the mythological figures back to human (just my opinion).

    From what I understand, White did not have a high opinion of women, so he had a tendency to make them either irrelevant (Sword in the Stone) or just downright evil (Morgause). But I do think that Guinevere is well-written, even if she is the ONLY well-written character, she does have a lot of complexity to her.
    But yes, it is one of the most major faults of the book. (Then again... Tolkien isn't too much better)
  6. Rizlatnar

    Rizlatnar Hung out on a briar with Honorable Jorg

    I'll be honest, I gave up on Malory a couple chapters in due to work, though it was thoroughly interesting.
    I have a bit of a problem of finishing books, rather than starting them.
    Also, I just noticed that my first post made less sense than I thought it did (I was trying to say that I was procrastinating from doing work... then I just forgot to add a word)

    What other books did you read on Arthur?
  7. kenubrion

    kenubrion Journeyed there and back again

    Can't remember. Are there any others that you have read? One about the Green Knight, one about Galahad, lot of Lancelot.

    By the way, I'm going to piggy back on your thread to mention that another book titled The Ill-Made Knight is the best street urchin to knight tale you will ever read. Written by Christian Cameron aka Miles Cameron of Red Knight/Traitor Son series fame. Have you read Red Knight, Rizlatnar?
  8. Rizlatnar

    Rizlatnar Hung out on a briar with Honorable Jorg

    No, but I will now seriously consider it if only because of the suggestion. I like the sound of it already. I've heard of Traitor Son (though that's about it).
    Is it just one book, or a series?
  9. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    I do not think anybody mentioned this but there is a book that is is the story of King Arthur from Gueniverams point of view. it was a couple of bucks on a kindle deal but I passed on it. But somebody here may be interested.

    I read the Once And FutureKing by White around 25 years ago. I thought it was good. There were parts wherev I felt like it dragged. It was so long ago but if I remember correctly Arthur was sort of a tragic hero. I actually looked it up to see if it was a real story. Duh. How embarrassing.It was done really well. I knew the Merlin part was not real although maybe to some extent there could've been a magician. It was probably great for when it was written. The king Arthur theme shows up so much. I believe wheel of time touched on it and it was a big part of the Finovar Tapestry. I guess this legend started in medievil times.
  10. kenubrion

    kenubrion Journeyed there and back again

    Ill-Made Knight is two books now and the third dropping later this year. Book 2 is The Long Sword. These two are a bargain at $4.99 each. Cameron has two other long running series, plus Red Knight/Traitor Son series. Very productive and excellent author.
  11. Sir Arthur

    Sir Arthur Journeyed there and back again

    I have fond memories of those books. The first book is just like the Disney movie of the same name. I loved it when I was a kid. The third and fourth books we're my favorites though. The Ill Made Knight, and A Candle in the Wind. Emotionally heavy books, but very well written.

    I'd like to read Cameron's Ill Made Knight. It piqued my interest when it came out, and now the second book is out. I thought The Red Knight was forgettable, but I read the first two books in his The Long War series, set in the early part of the Greco-persian war. Both excellent reads. I bought the third book, but they're not light reads nor are they very cheerful. I needed a break.
  12. kenubrion

    kenubrion Journeyed there and back again

  13. Rizlatnar

    Rizlatnar Hung out on a briar with Honorable Jorg

    Mist of Avalon? I think?

    I actually have never watched the Disney film in full. Probably should.
  14. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    That is the most famous ( best?) , but told from several women's perspectives. But others told only from Guiniveres. One was inspired by the book you mentioned.
  15. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    I know some people think The Once and Future King is wonderful. Well, its OK I guess.
    For a really good run through the Arthurian Legend, go to Mary Stewart's trilogy in four parts, beginning with The Crystal Cave. Its the Arthur Legend told from Merlin's POV. A version of Merlin with very little magic - but that little is real enough, and gets used at just the right times! 5 stars is not enough!

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