Monday, August 9, 2010

The Sword and the Stone by White, Book 21 of 52 in 52

The Sword in the Stone by White is the first book in a series of four which together form the work The Once and Future King. The first book is a fanciful retelling of the early life of King Arthur as a boy in Sir Ector's castle. A poor decision to go out hawking with Kay leads him on his first quest in which he discovers his tutor Merlin. Under Merlin's teaching, he embarks on a variety of adventures sometimes as a boy and other times as a fish, a hawk, a badger, or some other animal until finally he heads to London where Kay is to participate in a tournament and pulls out the sword in the stone to become king.

I have mixed feelings about the story overall. (This might possibly be the first time I like a movie better than the original book.) At some points, it is excruciatingly detailed about medieval life with accurate descriptions of topics such as castle life and falconry which can either be fascinating or tedious depending on your level of interest. At other points it can be hilariously funny such as the chapter detailing the battle between King Pellinore and Sir Grummore. Merlin's lessons are generally interesting although there are several Darwinian style arguments spattered throughout the text which I personally found irritating. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 11. It will definitely be one of the more challenging literature selections for Jessie this upcoming year. (I think I may have to break down and assign some vocabulary along with this one, which will end up helping both of our understandings.)

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