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The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

T. H. White

The world's greatest fantasy classic is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot, of Merlyn and Guinevere, of beasts who talk and men who fly, of wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad. It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged. The series is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, from Arthur's birth to the end of his reign, and is based largely on Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'arthur. After White's death, a conclusion to The Once and Future King was found among his papers; it was published in 1977 as The Book of Merlyn.

The Sword in the Stone

The Once and Future King: Book 1

T. H. White

Growing up in a colorful world peopled by knights in armor and fair damsels, foul monsters and evil witches, young Arthur slowly learns the code of being a gentleman. Under the wise guidance of Merlin, the all-powerful magician for whom life progresses backwards, the king-to-be is trained in the gusty pursuits of falconry, jousting, hunting and sword play. He is even transformed by his remarkable old tutor into various animals, so that he may experience life from all points of view. In every conceivable and exciting way he is readied for the day when he, and he alone of all Englishmen, is destined to draw forth the marvelous sword from the magic stone and become the rightful King of England.

The Witch in the Wood (The Queen of Air and Darkness)

The Once and Future King: Book 2

T. H. White

The Witch in the Wood, is a the second book in T. H. White's epic work, The Once and Future King. It continues the story of the newly-crowned King Arthur, his tutelage by the wise Merlyn, his war against King Lot, and also introduces the Orkney clan, a group of characters who would cause the eventual downfall of the king. First published in 1939, it was re-released under the new title after some editing.

Also published as The Queen of Air and Darkness.

The Ill-Made Knight

The Once and Future King: Book 3

T. H. White

"The Ill-Made Knight" is the third book in the epic novel The Once and Future King, by T. H. White. It was first published in 1940, but is usually found today only in collected editions of all four books of the novel. Much of The Ill-Made Knight takes place in the fabled Camelot, full of blue castle tops, red banners and white castle bricks. Against this happy backdrop, White constructs a tragedy. The Ill-Made Knight is based around the adventures, perils and mistakes of Sir Lancelot. Lancelot, despite being the bravest of the knights, is ugly, and ape-like, so that he calls himself the Chevalier mal fet - "The Ill-Made Knight". As a child, Lancelot adored King Arthur and spent his entire childhood training to be a knight of the round table. When he arrives and becomes one of Arthur's knights, he also becomes the king's close friend. This causes some tension, as he dislikes Arthur's new wife Guinevere. In order to please her husband, Guinevere tries to befriend Lancelot and the two eventually fall in love. T.H. White's version of the tale elaborates greatly on the passionate love of Lancelot and Guinevere. Suspense is provided by the tension between Lancelot's friendship for King Arthur and his love for and affair with the queen. This affair leads inevitably to the breaking of the Round Table and sets up the tragedy that is to follow in the concluding book of the tetralogy, The Candle in the Wind.

The Candle in the Wind

The Once and Future King: Book 4

T. H. White

The aging King Arthur faces the greatest challenge of his reign, when his own son threatens to overthrow him and destroy everything he has worked for.

The Book of Merlyn

The Once and Future King: Book 5

T. H. White

This magical account of King Arthur's last night on earth spent weeks on the New York Times best-seller list following its publication in 1977. Even in addressing the profound issues of war and peace, The Book of Merlyn retains the life and sparkle for which White is known. The tale brings Arthur full circle, an ending, White wrote, that "will turn my completed epic into a perfect fruit, 'rounded off and bright and done.'"