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Robert Yamhill, OR, United States Member Since 2009

Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

  • "My favorite book this year."


    When I read reviewers write, “the best book I have ever read,” I thought yeah right! ‘must not have read many books. Well, I have read a fair bit myself and this is definitely one of the best written books I have ever read. I believe it is a book that one can read and reread and enjoy over and over and find something new in each reading of it. Not to be redundant, it is also one of the most fun and funniest I have ever read. It is a scholarly and even literary work, if you will. And yet, at the same time, the book is totally enchanting, witty and charming.

    The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table arose in the early Middle Ages, when England was just beginning to come under the influence of Christianity. When anyone retells the story, the author brings his own perspective to the tale of chivalry. Here T.H. White often appears to use the education of the young king Wart by Merlyn to educate the reader. While not in so many words, or maybe it is that: Merlin is a time-traveler. Not so much in the context of some science fiction novel but in his memory. Merlin is aware of past, present and the future. Certainly the author is aware of those times and uses those temporal events to tell his story. The book is in many ways a critique of mid-twentieth-century British culture. At first, things seem somewhat anachronistic but then we see that the narrator regularly references events and people in modern times to help tell his tale even more effectively.

    Both T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings were written in the shadow of World War II, and both reflect that context to some extent:

    “No. There is one fairly good reason for fighting - and that is, if the other man starts it. You see, wars are a wickedness, perhaps the greatest wickedness of a wicked species. They are so wicked that they must not be allowed. When you can be perfectly certain that the other man started them, then is the time when you might have a sort of duty to stop him.” (Merlyn)

    Not only is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King full of anachronistic references to places and events of modern times, but it also plays fast and loose with time within the framework of the novel itself. Given the references to the death of Uther Pendragon in 1216 and the appearance of Thomas Malory at the end of the story, Arthur would have lived from 1201-1485. In effect, what White does is telescope almost three hundred years of English history and social development into the backdrop of a single narrative.

    The book is long. But multiple versions of the story of King Arthur are considered within its covers so how short can it be? No, this is the best of several interpretations of the legend and it is not too long. While much of the book’s ending dwells on allegory, philosophy and social commentary, it is done with and eloquence and prose that is hard to compare with.

    One of the young reviewers of this book that I found tried to figure out the audience for for whom the author intended and concluded there were many. I agree:

    For children and young adults-
    “I have been thinking ... about Might and Right. I don’t think things ought to be done because you are able to do them. I think they should be done because you ought to do them.” (Arthur). One of the central themes of the book is War: Right and Might.

    On one level, both Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and T.H.
    White’s The Once and Future King are children’s stories, yet both novels contain very
    serious social commentary clearly intended for adults. Who could argue though that the social satire found in these novels detracts too much from the ability of children to enjoy them. Could a child appreciate all that is contained within TOaFK? Certainly not. However, there are many stories in this legend and many that target the child in all of us. One need not read this entire book though I am sure a lust will always remain to do so.

    No reviewer could possibly do justice to this book. How about some more of the author’s own words:

    On Wisdom-
    “The best thing for being sad ... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never
    fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. 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.” (Merlyn)

    This is a story about great compassion-
    “If I were made a knight ..., I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, a Hob does with
    his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.” (Wart)

    The author writes a great deal about the evolution of man-
    “Here, all you embryos, come here with your beaks and whatnots to look upon Our first
    Man. He is the only one who has guessed Our riddle, out of all of you, and We have great pleasure in conferring upon him the Order of Dominion over the Fowls of the Air, and the Beasts of the Earth, and the Fishes of the Sea. Now let the rest of you get along, and love and multiply, for it is time to knock off for the weekend. As for you, Man, you will be a naked tool all your life, though a user of tools. You will look like an embryo till they bury you, but all the others will be embryos before your might. Eternally undeveloped, you will always remain potential in Our image, able to see some of Our sorrows and to feel some of Our joys. We are partly sorry for you, Man, but partly hopeful.” (Badger)

    Much is written about human morality-
    “Morals ... are a form of insanity. Give me a moral man who insists on doing the right
    things all the time, and I will show you a tangle which an angel couldn’t get out of.” (Lionel)

    This title actually includes Books 1-5 of T.H. White’s magnum opus. It is not so much about world-building per se though there is enough of that. The book is more about us as humans and our nature... our intellectual, psychological, social and even political nature. The book is philosophical, satirical with even a little theology thrown in. Not too much; just the right amount. If it is action that ye seek, knockdown, drag out fighting, best look elsewhere. This is one more about relationships and different kinds of heroes.

    This is brilliant storytelling brilliantly read and performed. The narration by Neville Jason is as good as it gets. I could not recommend a book more highly.


    The Once and Future King

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By T. H. White
    • Narrated By Neville Jason

    The complete "box set" of T. H. White's epic fantasy novel of the Arthurian legend. The novel is made up of five parts: "The Sword in the Stone", "The Witch in the Wood", "The Ill-Made Knight", "The Candle in the Wind", and "The Book of Merlyn".

    Bookoholics Anon says: "Fabulous reading, epic story and a new chapter!"
  • "A Classic"


    While Ursula K. Le Guin wrote several novels about the fantasy world of Earthsea, A Wizard of Earthsea appears to be the first of the main cycle by that name. I found it difficult to pin down whether the series is written for children and/or adults. I concluded that while there are a number of philosophical themes that adults could appreciate, the target audience was probably that of a younger age. Let’s say YAs.

    Further, on the subject of age, this is basically the coming of age story of a young mage named Ged who is drawn to wizardry and develops into just that as the story unfolds. There’s much in the way of magic, spells and personal discovery along the way. However, as Ged learns, all of the power and might of of a wizard comes with a price. Wizardry is not for the faint-hearted nor is its magic lightly wielded by the ignorant or arrogant. Much of this is taught Ged by Ogion his primary mentor along with his own life’s little (and not so little) foibles in and around Earthsea. Does all this sound a bit familiar?

    The monster of the story we learn is… uh, not so fast. That would be a major spoiler. And I believe the book is worth reading to discover that as well as the other things Ged learns along his way through apprenticeship and personal discovery. The book is very straight forward. That appears to be Le Guin’s style. After recently reading a bunch of China Mielville prior to Earthsea, the latter was a refreshingly, relaxing read. However, we probably should not be fooled by her simplicity. Contained within the pages are a depth and breath that can be easily missed if we’re not paying attention. What can I say; it’s obviously a classic and who could not recommend that.


    A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When Sparrowhawk casts a spell that saves his village from destruction at the hands of the invading Kargs, Ogion, the Mage of Re Albi, encourages the boy to apprentice himself in the art of wizardry. So, at the age of 13, the boy receives his true name - Ged - and gives himself over to the gentle tutelage of the Master Ogion. But impatient with the slowness of his studies and infatuated with glory, Ged embarks for the Island of Roke, where the highest arts of wizardry are taught.

    Finance Guy says: "Elegant & unique fantasy, deliciously performed"
  1. The Once and Future King
  2. A Wizard of Earthsea: The...
  3. .

A Peek at Emiko's Bookshelf

Grannis, AR, United States 40 REVIEWS / 93 ratings Member Since 2006 71 Followers / Following 0
Emiko's greatest hits:
  • Magyk: Septimus Heap, Book One

    "Fun Listen"


    As a mother of very young children, I'm always on the hunt for books that interest me, yet are kid friendly. (no cussing, vulgarity, etc) With the Harry Potter series over, I was desperate to find something else. The Septimus Heap books are fun. I really enjoyed the entire series and enjoyed this narrator- and I'm extremely picky.

  • The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1

    "Favorite Book in a Long Time!"


    I love listening to books when I can't read them. But I am rather picky about narrators. With the wrong narrator, I can't even make it through a book I highly enjoyed reading. In the car, or working around the house with my iPod docked, I listen to children's books because I have two small children and I don't want them hearing profanity or adult content. All that being said, this is the ONLY book that I have ever become completely enthralled with in the first 5 minutes of listening! The author was extremely witty and Simon Jones does an excellent job. I can't say enough about Simon Jones with this set of books!!! He easily replaced Jim Dale as my favorite narrator (which I thought could never happen). Some kids books are hard to listen to- this one is not. I can't imagine anyone, old or young, not enjoying this book and this series!

  • The Opal Deception: Artemis Fowl, Book 4

    "Another Great Book"


    As a mother of very young children, I'm always on the hunt for books that interest me, yet are kid friendly. (no cussing, vulgarity, etc) The Artemis Fowl books are wonderful with great narration. You won't be disappointed.

  • Physik: Septimus Heap, Book Three

    "Wonderful Series"


    As a mother of very young children, I'm always on the hunt for books that interest me, yet are kid friendly. (no cussing, vulgarity, etc) This series is wonderful. If you liked the other Septimus books, you'll enjoy this one as well. The narrator is very good (after getting used to him in the second book) and one that I enjoy listening to. Though I do wish the had kept the original narrator from the first Septimus book.


Craig Bellbrook, OH, United States 09-01-11 Member Since 2007
  • "Rick is masterful with history and ..."

    9 of 9 helpful votes

    If you can get your kids to read these books then you are doing them a favor. These books are just plain fun but they also have many hidden treasures. The books have legends and history and ancient tales for them to read and maybe even remember. These are lessons that may creep up in school. These books have some fun mixed with knowledge. I cannot think of a better thing for a kid than to read for fun and accidentally learn something. The 30 Clues series is the same. Many historical and geographic facts mixed with a fun story.


    The Throne of Fire: Kane Chronicles, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Rick Riordan
    • Narrated By Kevin R. Free, Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister, Sadie, have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians. And now their most threatening enemy yet—the chaos snake Apophis—is rising.

    Craig says: "Rick is masterful with history and incrporation."

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