There are books of the same chemical composition as dynamite. The only difference is that a piece of dynamite explodes once, whereas a book explodes a thousand times. ― Yevgeny Zamyatin
The book was moving and amusing, and D. Thorn's performance was superb. The stories are meant for children and big boys and girls who love fairy tales.
Here is the list of the stories:
How the whale got his throat; How the camel got his hump; How the rhinoceros got his skin; How the leopard got his spots; The elephant's child; The sing-song of old man kangaroo; The beginning of the armadillos; How the first letter was written; How the alphabet was made; The crab that played with the sea; The cat that walked by himself; The butterfly that stamped.
'The Tabu tale' is missing.
The only thing I'd like to warn readers about is that the recording is a bit messed up. While downloading the audio, it struck me as odd that the length should be 6 hours and 39 minutes. That's a bit too long for the 12 stories, eh? It turned out that the book should have lasted 3 hours and 29 minutes, but some of the stories repeat themselves.
I'm so lucky to have bought this audiobook. I've never been a fan of such a genre, but this is truly a classic. I lost my heart to it! I had so much fun listening to the Wart's adventures and metamorphoses in Part 1! The narrator's rendition was outstanding! King Pellinore's tragic voice will stay in my memory. I enjoyed the accents he did.
The Sword in the Stone (Part 1), depicting the Wart's training by Merlyn, is perhaps the most carefree and happy-go-lucky part of all. It verged on mock heroic and parody. But things got more and more brooding and momentous, and there were more sacrifices and deaths as the denouement drew near (though The Ill-made knight, telling the story of Lancelot, was mostly ironic).
Just like Merlyn teaching young Arthur magic to "maturate", in each part of the book T.H. White teaches the reader to become wiser, get real and stop seeing only the bright side of life. Life (or rather people) can be hilarious and comical, but it can also be cruel and nonsensical, like the killing of the unicorn episode.
The plot is consistent, but each part is somewhat different and has its own mood. Definitely The Sword in the Stone stands out in terms of humour and atmosphere. The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight, and The Candle in the Wind tell a grave story of Arthur’s life. The book of Merlyn is an insightful conclusion to the epic.
The Once and Future King is not a humorous story of King Arthur and the Round Table as one might think after reading The Sword in the Stone, but it's a philosophical fantasy novel that brings up such subject matter as power, justice, war, greed, treachery, love, and religion, to name a few.
I first read this book in 1963, and it was always a great favorite; the layers of Arthurian myth with White's dry wit and time-bending sensibilities as if Camelot were set in circa WWI Great Britain. This version is an admirable reading, Neville Jason provides finely-honed voices and the perfect slightly-ironic intonation that catches the tongue-in-cheek nature of this book. There is a chapter new to me, actually two. The "Mrs Mim" section was absolutely not in my edition, and features a wizard's duel between Mrs Mim and Merlyn. Reminds me of some other book about wizards I've read recently, can't think which one, though. And the Book of Merlyn is at the end, an addition to the version I read, advice to the king from his departing tutor. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this for the most enjoyable listening.