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The Sword in the Stone    by T. H. White order for
Sword in the Stone
by T. H. White
Order:  USA  Can
Dell, 1978 (1938)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Young Wart grows up with his foster brother Kay in Sir Ector's Castle of the Forest Sauvage. He studies subjects like Summulae Logicales in the mornings, and tilting and hawking in the afternoons. One day he gets lost in the forest, meets poor King Pellinore on his perpetual quest for the beastly Beast, and then comes on a snug little cottage in a clearing, where he encounters Merlyn and his owl Archimedes.

Merlyn explains to Wart that he was 'born at the wrong end of time, and I have to live backwards from in front, while surrounded by a lot of people living forwards from behind. Some people call it having second sight.' Merlyn returns to the castle as Wart's tutor, and teaches him by turning him into a fish, a bird and a snake. As Merlyn says ... 'Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance.'

Wart falls afoul of Madame Mim, but is rescued by Merlyn in the guise of microbes. He meets Robin Hood and Maid Marian and joins them in battle with Anthropophagi. Merlyn takes him to visit the giant Galapas, whose dungeons they succeed in emptying ... and every year Merlyn gets younger. Then King Uther dies, Sir Ector's household heads to London for the tournament and the rest is legend. Of course, the story ends with 'The Beginning.'

Sword in the Stone is a fantasy classic for all ages about the young King Arthur - the Disney version does not do it justice. Read the original, it's funny, endearing and satiric all at once.

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