The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
Wart lives in a small castle, where he knows that his name isn’t really Wart; it’s Art, and he’s not a true son of the man who lives there. Despite not being a true son and all, Wart does fairly well for himself. He does have tasks to complete, but everyone treats him kindly, for the most part. He even gets a tutor at one point, which he finds on his own. The tutor happens to be a strange man, who happens to also be a wizard, who happens to be named Merlin. It seems like Merlin moves in right away to start tutoring Wart and Kay, who is destined to be a knight.
Merlin’s tutoring isn’t of the normal kind of tutoring. He turns Wart into other creatures, like a fish, where he learns some of the ways of fish. Wart spends many hours in Merlin’s hut where there is a mustard pot that moves by itself and an owl named Archimedes who can talk. Merlin does appear and disappear from time to time, appearing in strange fashions that won’t come around for many more years.
At some point, the king dies and a rumor reaches the castle. There is a sword, in a stone, in London. Whosoever can pull it out will be the next king of England. Wart gets to go along with the whole castle so Kay can compete in competitions and try to pull the sword out of the stone, but what happens is something nobody expected.
What I liked
I have never read this book before, but I love it. I’ve seen the Disney movie, which is great in, and of, itself. I was so pleasantly surprised to find that the movie stuck really closely to the book, maybe not exactly, but you wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if you read the book first and then went to see the movie. I just wasn’t expecting the book to be this good.
Of course, this is a story based in Arthurian Legend, which I am not an expert in. This book is meant to be a funny poke at King Arthur’s childhood. There are some modern elements mixed in with a very old time period, which is fun. I’m pretty sure people weren’t singing God Save the King way back in the year 1000, or whenever Arthur was supposed to have lived. People didn’t even speak English, as we know it, then, so the words would have been a lot different, had the song existed then.
There is a lot of humor in this book. It is light-hearted, but there are also serious issues. We’re talking about a kid who may, or may not, have become a king at a very young age. The responsibility was bestowed upon him by some other-worldly realm. He didn’t get to make the decision himself. He never expected it though. We’re talking about a child who thought he might be a squire, at best, in his life, becoming the king of England, in essence we’re talking about someone who rose to greatness and was humble about it.
The illustration on the particular book cover I have chosen for this post looks like an Arthur Rackham, which is also a thing to like.
What I didn’t like
I really enjoyed this book so I don’t really want to pick at it.
This was a delight.
Did you enjoy the movie, The Sword in the Stone, growing up?
If you turned out to be something really important in society, would you believe it?