Friday, February 10, 2012
The Sword in the Stone
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1963
Source: Own, purchased ages ago
I actually really love the Disney film of this story although it is vastly different. There are the same character names such as Arthur, known as the Wart, although not necessarily characterization as well as the famous wizard duel between Merlin and Madame Mim, which is pretty accurately represented in the film. The ending is also faithful as well as some scenes here and there. Both do deal with the childhood of the boy who would grow up to be the mythical King Arthur and end with the sword being pulled from the stone.
But the book is entirely different. The tone is free-wheeling with a narrator who sometimes directs asides to us the reader and is freely peppered with anachronisms. Arthur is called Wart throughout; although it is mentioned that he doesn't know his parents and this prevents him from becoming a knight, this inner turmoil is not dealt with. I feel like a modern YA interpretation of the Arthurian legend would treat that more.
Instead we get the Wart (and occasionally his foster brother Kay) having a series of adventures. He is transformed in to several animals (this is also portrayed in the Disney film but that interpretation has songs and is generally more humorous) and learns valuable leadership lessons from them. He also meets Robin Hood and his band of adventurers and battle a host of magical creatures.
I guess I wasn't expecting quite this lighthearted tone while following a very episodic format. It was actually very dull. I don't know if I would have enjoyed this more when I was younger but it did not appeal to me at all. The best part was thinking about the movie and how I have a soft spot for it!
Overall: The film adaptation already has my heart and the book did not offer enough to challenge its place.