I am generally not the biggest fan of fantasy books. I know some people and that is all they read but I like variety. I found this book on my boyfriend’s mum’s bookshelf. There are many, many books here all about the Celts, King Arthur and the dark ages, though very few are in English. This one and a few I found are in English and it looked interesting enough. One problem was that the book didn’t last me long enough.

The Once and Future King tells the life story of King Arthur right up to but not including his death. The beginning of the book starts with a small boy (Arthur) and his tutor (Merlin); the bond of education and friendship developing between them. This first part of the book is almost like The Sword in the Stone Disney movie. Merlin is an old man who wears the pointy magicians hat and the long astrological robes. The first books is in fact titled “The Sword in the Stone” and this part of the story is almost like a children’s story and not really a serious “adult” novel.

The most interesting thing about this story and that of King Arthur is that, depending on which version you read, the characters change not just in personality but also in physically appearance. Of course the story would not be complete without the unfortunate love story of Gwen and Lancelot. Reading this part of the book I felt sorry for Arthur but also for Lancelot. It is portrayed that he didn’t intentionally want to fall in love with Gwen but did and subsequently could not live without her. The person I felt the least compassion for in the triangle is Gwen – at times she was cold, unfeeling and unlikeable.

I liked this book, it gave me a broad understanding of the story of Arthur and his knights at the round table (I always thought there was 12 but in this story there is upwards of 100 knights at the table). I was however disappointed that they didn’t include Arthur’s death but I am sure I can read about it elsewhere. This isn’t a complicated book to read and it was something simple to break up the monotony of reading intense challenging stories.

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