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The Once & Future King by T.H. White

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The Winter King, Enemy of God and Excalibur by Bernard Cornwell. He does a more historical fiction take - no castles and fairies - that's true to pre-Saxon Britain,.

 

Of course it's still fiction, and has some fantasy elements, but like his Saxon stories (The Last kingdom, etc) it's a brutal early medieval world.

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Mary Stewart's books are always highly recommended too, first one is The Crystal Cave and I think they are more from Merlin's point of view, but they're often called some of the best books on the Arthurian legends.  They were out of print until a few years ago but should  be pretty easy to find now.

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I read The Sword in the Stone, The Queen of Air and Darkness,The Ill-Made Knight, and The Candle in the Wind as a child. My childhood imagination of the Arthurian legend were formed by these books. It's been such a long time since I read those books last. Next time I visit my parents I'll see if those books are still on Dad's bookshelf.

 

Thanks for bringing back the memories.

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T.H.White's The Sword In the Stone was one of our set books at school and I remember loving it, it introduced me to anachronisms which I thought very funny. I rediscovered and reread it about 8 years ago. It wasn't quite as I remembered, but childhood books never are.

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Yes, I know what you mean about childhood books. Maybe it would be better to treasure memories than potentially ruin them by re-reading the books in my jaded, cynical adulthood.

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Yes, I know what you mean about childhood books. Maybe it would be better to treasure memories than potentially ruin them by re-reading the books in my jaded, cynical adulthood.

 

Yes, it can be rather a disappointment, especially when a childhood book has had a big impact on you. But the flip side of that is wishing I'd read some children's books I've loved but not discovered until adulthood because I wonder if I'd have felt the same way about them as a child.

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I never encountered this series as a child, nor have yet to read it as an adult, though I might now, but have been mostly aware of it because Magneto is reading it in prison in the original X-Men films! I remember reading or hearing somewhere that it is supposed to have been the first book the character read in English, and actually, because I've moved around a fair bit, reading children's books in a second or third language, as an adult, has often been the case for me too. It's not at all the same as reading children's classics as a child, but it does convey something of the same sense of limited understanding simply due to the hazy nature of one's linguistic absorption during the middle stages of language learning!

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Yes, it can be rather a disappointment, especially when a childhood book has had a big impact on you. But the flip side of that is wishing I'd read some children's books I've loved but not discovered until adulthood because I wonder if I'd have felt the same way about them as a child.

That's an intriguing idea. In childhood, the world has this magical quality to it - as if anything can happen. I remember planning to lead an expedition to find the entrance to the middle Earth, or to find living dinosaurs in the Amazonian tepuis. I see that sense of wonder in my five year old son. It definitely has to affect how we perceive the world of literature. If I do find those books, I won't read them, but I will make sure my son does.

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You've summed up the power of reading perfectly, especially for children.  I hope your son enjoys them when he's old enough, and wants to go on similar expeditions!

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I never encountered this series as a child, nor have yet to read it as an adult, though I might now, but have been mostly aware of it because Magneto is reading it in prison in the original X-Men films! I remember reading or hearing somewhere that it is supposed to have been the first book the character read in English, and actually, because I've moved around a fair bit, reading children's books in a second or third language, as an adult, has often been the case for me too. It's not at all the same as reading children's classics as a child, but it does convey something of the same sense of limited understanding simply due to the hazy nature of one's linguistic absorption during the middle stages of language learning!

 

That's a very interesting and perceptive observation Kolinahr!

 

That's an intriguing idea. In childhood, the world has this magical quality to it - as if anything can happen. I remember planning to lead an expedition to find the entrance to the middle Earth, or to find living dinosaurs in the Amazonian tepuis. I see that sense of wonder in my five year old son. It definitely has to affect how we perceive the world of literature. If I do find those books, I won't read them, but I will make sure my son does.

 

It would be lovely if that sense of magic and wonder lasted through adulthood. But one of the great pleasures in life is sharing some of your favourite childhood books with your own children, especially if they enjoy them as much as you did.

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I think the problem is that this sense of wonder gets bashed out of us as we get older (as in the "Logical song" by Supertramp). Maybe the reason why I like science fiction and stories by Neil Gaiman and the like, is hopefully because a vestige of that childhood wonder was left in me. I'd still like to explore the Amazonian tepuis one day, but the certainty that I won't find a lost world of dinosaurs does dampen the enthusiasm. I many ways, I envy Colombus - he lived in a world where there were still things left to be discovered.

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I think the problem is that this sense of wonder gets bashed out of us as we get older (as in the "Logical song" by Supertramp). Maybe the reason why I like science fiction and stories by Neil Gaiman and the like, is hopefully because a vestige of that childhood wonder was left in me. I'd still like to explore the Amazonian tepuis one day, but the certainty that I won't find a lost world of dinosaurs does dampen the enthusiasm. I many ways, I envy Colombus - he lived in a world where there were still things left to be discovered.

 

I probably didn't express myself very well, I don't think we necessarily lose our sense of wonder and magic as we grow older, it's just different as a child, we are far more impressionable then. I'm getting a bit off topic here, but it was talking about T.H White's books that reminded me of this.

I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman too, his imagination and originality are amazing.

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