The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
This is the author's retelling of the saga of King Arthur, a fantasy classic as legendary as Excalibur and Camelot, and a poignant story of adventure, romance and magic that has enchanted readers for generations. The complete saga is made up of five books: The Sword in the Stone, The Witch in the Wood, The Ill-Made Knight, The Candle in the Wind, and The Book of Merlyn. In the first book, Merlyn instructs Arthur and his brother Sir Kay in the ways of the world. One of them will need it; the king has died leaving no heir, and a rightful one must be found by pulling a sword from an anvil resting on a stone. In the second and third books, Arthur has become King and the kingdom is threatened from the north. In the final two books, the aging king faces his greatest challenge, when his own son threatens to overthrow him. In The Book of Merlyn, Arthur's tutor Merlyn reappears, and teaches him that even in the face of apparent ruin, there is hope.
Publisher: New York : Ace Books, 2011, ©1958.
Edition: 2nd Ace trade paperback ed.
ISBN: 9780441020836
Characteristics: 647 pages ; 23 cm
Subjects: Arthur, King -- Fiction.
Merlin (Legendary character) -- Legends.
Knights and knighthood -- Fiction.
Arthurian romances -- Adaptations.
Kings and rulers -- Fiction.
Britons -- Fiction.
FICTION / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology.
FICTION / Fantasy / Arthurian.
FICTION / Fantasy / Epic.
Historical fiction.
Fantasy fiction.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
LPL_IanS Oct 23, 2020

Published in 1958, The Once and Future King is an all at once hysterical, beautiful, silly, philosophical, joyous, and heartbreaking retelling of Thomas Malory’s "Le Morte D’Arthur."
It's a tragedy lovingly interpreted by someone intimately acquainted with grief. And, for me, it’s absolutely unforgettable. One of my very favorite books and the Arthurian apple of my eye.

OPL_JacobL Apr 10, 2020

One of the greatest stories ever told chronicling the life of Arthur Pendragon, son of Uther Pendragon, the first true king of Briton. While this is an adaptation of the original legend, it is held as one of the best. If you have ever seen the Disney animated feature film, "Sword and the Stone," the first third of this book was used as the source material.

Feb 10, 2020

Loved this book when I read it as a teen. Enchanting and fun.

Oct 03, 2019

I've always loved this book as it makes good points for both the past and the current history. Some of the story is shown in humor - and that is truly needed.

Mar 10, 2018

It's not always easy to tell the difference between the typos and the cockney in the 2013 version. It looks like someone hired the fastest but not most accurate typist available, and published to make a quick buck without even glancing at the result. The 1958 version is much better.

Nov 15, 2017

I greatly enjoyed The Sword in the Stone when I read this book, but my interest waned after that. I thought that the gradual progression of the intensity and scope was very well done, but the humor became less frequent when it could have been helpful. A very good retelling of the Arthurian legends - but not one for everyone. I would also recommend The Squire's Tales series by Gerald Morris for those who enjoy the stories retold.

Mar 05, 2017

“The Once and Future King is full of insights, scenes and flourishes that are really quite astonishing.”—The Guardian (U.K.)

Dec 02, 2016

I have to say writing a review about this series is a bit difficult. I have been taken through a whole series of thoughts, ideas, emotions, and ideas. From childish to quite deep and complex issues. This series covers so much territory, it makes it quite hard to cover it all.

I began this series with Author as a child being taught by Merlin. I was immediately taken mentally, to the Walt Disney cartoon version of this book. As I read it, all that came to mind was the animated Disney movie I remember from childhood. It was all that I could visualize. With that said, I have to complement Disney for staying so close to the original book.

But everything changes after that when Author becomes King by removing the sword from the stone. Here is where Disney left off, but the bulk of the series continues. And I have to say, the tone and nature of the series matures.

For the rest of the series, you will explore a whole series of issues; friendships, relationships, government, politics, intrigue, life, fulfillment, heartbreak, the list goes on. Keeping in mind, that T.H. White wrote this series from 1936 - 1943, a time in which Britain, was being tested to the very core of her survival, entering war with Germany, the blitz, Dunkirk, children moved throughout the country with strange families to protect them. Britain was on the very brink, the edge of her survival, and her future looked very very bleak. Could she survive.

I saw all this being reflected in this series. T.H. White's reflections and questions as to why there is a war, the struggles between countries, the purpose of government, the purpose of friendships and relationships, all comes roaring to the forefront. After all, everything was in peril.

The result of his examinations, wonderings, and reflections, culminates in a well thought out, interestingly presented, and a well told story of Author and the Knights of the round table. You have a myriad of characters centered around three main characters; Author, Lancelot, and Guinevere, all told with the intrigues of life, the mistakes of life, the good and bad decisions we all make, what are the fundamental principles of government and the people whom under that government. What is true friendship, love, and hate. All told in a serious reflection upon the world and life.

I was truly drawn in to the story. At times, so serious, and at others, so fanciful, free, and entertaining. A whole litany of thoughts and emotions will be experienced and ventured. In the end, you will be left pondering many things, but having enjoyed a delightful and well written story that makes you think.

Jun 09, 2016

The summary is confusing. They mention a complete saga of 5 books, none of which have this title. Am I to think that this is a summary of those 5 in 1? Or, that this title precedes or maybe follows the saga? Anyone know? Looking forward to finding out! :)

May 12, 2014

By far the best telling of the Arthurian legend. This is one of those few books that I will reread again and again.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
reytheking Aug 08, 2012

reytheking thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Violet_Butterfly_31 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary

Tells the tragic tale of King Arthur from when he was a young innocent boy named "Wart" to when he became king of Camelot and the Round Table and to how he tried to fulfill his dreams for Britain.

FavouriteFiction Oct 03, 2009

This novel chronicles the life of King Arthur from his birth to the end of his regin and the fall of his beloved Camelot


Add a Quote
Aug 27, 2012

"There is only one thing for it then- to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust , and never dream of regretting." -Merlin

"And do you know another thing, Arthur? Life is too bitter already, without territories and wars and noble feuds." -Merlyn


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at GCPL

To Top