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Publisher's Summary

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".

Merlyn instructs the Wart (Arthur) and his brother, Sir Kay, in the ways of the world. One of them will need it: the king has died, leaving no heir, and a rightful one must be found by pulling a sword from an anvil resting on a stone. In the second and third parts of the novel, Arthur has become king and the kingdom is threatened from the north. In the final two books, the ageing king faces his greatest challenge, when his own son threatens to overthrow him. In "The Book of Merlyn", Arthur's tutor Merlyn reappears and teaches him that, even in the face of apparent ruin, there is hope.

©1939, 1940, 1958 T. H. White (P)2008 Naxos Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

  • AudioFile Earphones Award, 2009

"For those who have never read these five books, prepare to be surprised by their adultness, their laugh-out-loud humor and tongue-in-cheek commentary on modern life; for those who know them well, prepare to be delighted with Neville Jason's transcendent reading. The lovely timbre of his narrative voice, his rhythmic, easy pacing and host of individual characterizations transport listeners into White's weird and wonderful otherworld as quickly as Alice slipped through the looking glass. This long production is so entrancing that one wishes it would never end." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Anne
  • INDIANAPOLIS, IN, United States
  • 03-05-13

An Amazing Experience!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Once and Future King to be better than the print version?

Oh yes. The storyteller was great- singing, having many different voices and accents. I've just finised the book and I feel like starting again.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Merlin because he was so brilliant and befuddled.

Which character – as performed by Neville Jason – was your favorite?

Gawain. His Cornish accent was impeccable. I also loved all the animals.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Fantasy at it's most enjoyable.

Any additional comments?

If you are a fantasy lover, a history lover, an animal lover, or just a lover you will cherish this book and listen to it again and again.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Great Way to Enjoy a Classic

I enjoyed this story as a whole, and Neville Jason is a terrific story teller. I enjoyed him even more than the story itself. My favorite was the humor and innocence of "The Sword in the Stone." My least favorite was "The Witch in the Wood" which was dark and depressing. The rest of the series, the story improved, and I had a profound respect for King Arthur's earnest effort to always to the right and just thing. T. H. White sort of made his philosophy on war and the human condition known throughout the series, but he spends an exhaustive amount of time elaborating on his point of view in "The Book of Merlyn." He wrote this series in a post-WWII era where he was contemplating the atrocities of his time and relating back to the era of King Arthur's day, whenever that was. Give it a listen, yes, you will find your mind wander from time to time, but it is worth contemplating the philosophy, if for nothing else than to hear one man's perception.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Graham
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 12-04-12

Hit and miss

The Once and Future King is in places a great book but definitely could have benefited from a thorough application of "less is more". I was enthralled in places and then bored or frustrated in others. Here perhaps is the first book I've read that I might actually prefer a well abridged version.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jarmo
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • 11-12-12

Brilliant

What did you like best about this story?

The story morphs from a fun childrens story to a tragedy of tormented people and to a critical view of humanity. The beginning is much like the way it was shown in Disneys "Sword in Stone", though with some darker undertones.

What about Neville Jason’s performance did you like?

Usually I'm not fond of the reader "acting" or overacting the parts, but here the performance was just too good to not love. Staying true to the tone of the story, during the tragic parts the telling was well toned down.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Theresa
  • Dexter, MI, United States
  • 11-08-12

Amazing Narrator!

What did you like best about this story?

I don't know how historically accurate it is because I'm rusty on that era of history, but I loved hearing about the different Caesars and life in ancient Rome.

What about Neville Jason’s performance did you like?

His reading was so smooth and correct for each part, it felt like you were there in the story. It never seemed like he was reading it, but that he was acting it.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, if it weren't so long. I hated to stop listening.

Any additional comments?

I listened to it a second time shortly after finishing it the first time.

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  • JackMargo
  • St Petersburg, FL, United States
  • 11-08-12

The Roundtable Rides Again

As a kid, I missed out on King Arthur. This book brought me up to date.
The first two-thirds of the book were wonderful, exciting, and fun. The last third went real slow.
The book is worth reading but you may want to fast forward through some parts of the last third.

  • Overall
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Delightful

What did you love best about The Once and Future King?

The tongue-in-cheek humor that runs through the narration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Once and Future King?

I was fond of Gawaine's story of his escapades in the crusades.

What about Neville Jason’s performance did you like?

The speaking mannerisms of each important character. He did a wonderful job filling out the colorful dialogue present throughout the book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It is FAR too long for that, but I do enjoy listening to long stretches of it.

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  • Leslie
  • BETHEL, ME, United States
  • 11-05-12

Flawless

Where does The Once and Future King rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I am part way in to The Once and Future King on audio. I read it several times as a young adult. Decided it was time to give it another read. When looking for it, I discovered it on Audible and decided it would be fun to listen to this wonderful book. It is one of the best I've read or listened to.

What did you like best about this story?

It is THE book that all of the wonderful King Arthur, Merlin stories stemmed from.

Which character – as performed by Neville Jason – was your favorite?

Neville Jason does an amazing job with all of the characters in this book. Jim Dale (the Harry Potter series) has been my favorite narrator thus far. Neville Jason is right up there with him now.

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Not as epic as we were led to believe...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

This book has a lot to recommend it. If you're looking for a dry, overly-minute examination of the benefits of "Rule of Law" over "Might Makes Right." It's fascinating on one level from the cultural impacts of trying to change the way the world works. But from a narrative standpoint, the story is very dry, overly-long, and very difficult to get through.

Has The Once and Future King turned you off from other books in this genre?

I don't judge a genre by a single book. I will definitely second-guess getting another book by this author.

Have you listened to any of Neville Jason’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not sure if I've heard this performer before. There was nothing wrong with the performance, per se, it was the material that turned me off.

Did The Once and Future King inspire you to do anything?

Move on to another book while I was only half-way through. It was a struggle to finish this.

Any additional comments?

This is not an account of Arthurian legend (myth?). It's a political treatise on different forms of government. And while that's a part of Arthurian legend, it occupies waaaaaay too much of this book to make it a pleasant listen.

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  • Ros H.
  • NSW Australia
  • 11-01-12

Excellent listen

Would you listen to The Once and Future King again? Why?

Yes I think I will again one day

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Once and Future King?

When The Wart was turned into a bird and spent the night with the castles hunting birds.

Have you listened to any of Neville Jason’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first time I have listened to this narrator. But I find him excellent he makes the book so easy to listen to. It is nice to hear someone who can use such great intonation.

Any additional comments?

I have found this a very entertaining book. The characters all are very interesting.
The story of how The Wart meets Merlin is sad yet funny.
I find Merlin to be an extremely likable character, he really lightens the book.
It is interesting to hear the early years of Arthur (known as The Wart) in this book.
Definitely looking forward to the next book.