Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Sword in the Stone

He who pulleth this sword, shall be king of all England

The Sword in the Stone-Part one of The Once and Future King by TH.White

I must thank the director of  X Men United.  It is through the movie that I came to know about this wonderful book. So adored by Magneto and Charles Xavier, each seeing a different version in his POV.

One of the scenes in X2  shows Magneto(portrayed powerfully by Sir Ian McKellen), the mutant who has power over all metals and who can create magnetic fields, reading a copy of this book. And at the end, Charles Xavier(Patrick Steward) mentions this to his students. Curious, I ordered a book through flipkart and lost myself in the Arthurian legend.

Having finished book one, I must vouch for this excellent classic. I am a guy who has never heard or read about King Arthur(only a brief idea is in my mind, having read about him some where).  I was floored. It is a book of potential and one can realize why when one goes through this book. The first of the five part series, it is a delightful, adventure laden, mysterious, ecstatic one.

To any one not yet acquainted with the book, ths was written by Terence Hanbury White or better known as TH.White. It retells the story of King Arthur, the most just king to rule England, his conquests, boyhood, his mysterious tutor Merlyn, who lives time backwards and hence has knowledge of everything that ought to happen, the ultimate fall of the king at the end.

The narration is so enchanting, captivating that you jump head long  into the adventure with the characters. This first part tells the boyhood years of King Arthur or Wart as he is known then.  His raising, his brother Kay who trains as Aa knight and the Wart, unknown of his great destiny, trains as his squire to be.

In the process, destiny chooses the Wart as in one of his sojourns he comes upon the magician Merlyn, who agrees to be his tutor. Merlyn is accompanied by his trusty Archimedes(a delightful bird!).  Both take refuge in Sir Ector’s(foster father of the Wart) castle.

There starts the education of Wart. For six years, Merlyn trais n him on all that he knows. Education in those times was delightful, we come to know. As it is mostly outdoor activity, getting transformed into birds, fishes, ants and various others. The Wart is thus trained by Merlyn and in the process, understands each living being’s nature and learns to love them, as only a king who can bestow equal love and affection can rule all. The Wart innocently believes that these are part of the training for being a squire to his brothewr Kay and Merlyn lets that belief stay.

Meanwhile, king Pellinore (the meeting between him and the Wart is a hilarious read), a friend of Sir Ector, brings news about a sword stuck in a stone and anvil which no one can pull out and if at all one does so, can become ruler of all England. And the pace is set..

At last there arrives the day when Kay, the knight get’s to show his training and the Wart is given toe job of finding a sword.  In the process, he chances upon the sword with the legendary words that belies him to pull it out. The rest is….magic.

Yes, prepare to fall under the spells of  Merlyn.  I shall be back with the rest in no time!



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Filed under The Once & Future King

The Scarlet Pimpernal

We seek him here;

we seek him there;

those Frenchies seek him everywhere;

is he in heaven? Is he in hell?

that demmed elusive Pimpernal!

Reading The Scarlet Pimpernal again after so many years gave me the same thrill I experienced when I first read it as  an edited version in my tenth standard non-detailed class. And what a joyous experience it was!

The novel opened many doors for me. It made me decide to take up French as my second language in my High school. It created a desire in me to visit France. And the feeling of a ha when I read the exploits of the elusive Pimpernal.

Many of you would not have heard about Baroness Emmuska Orczy, the author of The Scarlet Pimpernal (or have you?) The rest may wikipedia her and get the details. This is a fine book and a compelling read which makes you yearn for more such adventures. The novel has the French revolution as its backdrop and how a band of daring Englishmen under the leadership of a a cunning plotter known as the scarlet pimpernel risk their necks in saving the aristocrats just for fun.

The original scarlet pimpernal, a small English wayward flower, after which the daring plotter takes his name:

It also has a fine love story or two in its backdrop and a devilish, equally cunning agent of the French roiyalists by name of Chauvelin.  His character is a perfect set to the plot and makes you read with excitement and with unhurried leisureness.

Do read and enjoy the book. It will be in your memory for a long time.

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When you get a book which you never knew existed till the moment you set your eyes on it, which turns out to be a treasure, is a boon to every book worm.

Such was my state when my  quest for some interesting books in Vijaya Publication House, Coimbatore turned up the novel Yali (Tamil) by Mani Thanigai Kumar, published by Karpaga Industries, Kanyakumari Disrict.

The cover drew my attention.  It depicted an ancient beast by name of Yali depicted in all our Tamil Nadu temples , in all its splendor, towering over an elephant. As a small boy, I have often wondered at this mythical beast statue in  the temples I visited-Thanjavur, Iravatheeswara temple, Sri Rangam , et al.For the cover of the book, please visit

That some one could fashion out a story on this mythical beast, with a background of Indo-British connection with a twist along the plot was an enticing one. The novel is in Tamil, with the original short story in English at the end of the book.

The plot revolves around the mythical beast called Yali with a lion’s face, elephant’s tusk. What happens if a beast, 4 times bigger than an elephant and being the predecessor to the  dinosaurs was alive even today? This inquisitive thought leads Beckman, a design architect in London and Saravana Kumar, an Indian working in London to team up together and begin a search for the Yali.

It would have been a mere search had not for the excellent information the writer gives you about the various temple architechture of Tamil Nadu through out the book. Via Beckman’s words, he makes the reader aware of the immense potential and cultural value of our temples and the need to preserve them.

As Beckman researches each temple in search of the Yali, Saravana Kumar has a transforming experience trying to explain to him the significance of the temples and the habits and customs. As he explains them, Saravana Kumar undergoes a transformation from a skeptical person to one who resolves to protect the knowledge and heritage of his country. Such is the effect that the writing produces that we, the reader is left amazed at the wealth of informastion and knowledge that lies hidden in our temples. It is not for time pass that our elders asked us to visit temples. Any one who reads the history of our country, particularly Tamil Nadu will understand the point easily. Even easier for a person who has actually visited these temples and observed them.

This is a must read book and worthy of collection. For only through book of this genre that we come to know our own value as there is none left to tell us.

All is there for us to find out ourselves. We only have to go and see for ourselves.

Some more Yali pictures for you:

Yali in Vittala temple

Yali face-


Darasuram Yali-


Filed under Book Review