The book, once and future king explores the life of Arthur Wart. It gives an outline of his childhood, life into adulthood and even his marriage and leadership roles. He is an adopted son of a magician called Merlyn who is a foreteller. Merlyn lives his life backwards from the future into the past and therefore can see the life of Wart as an adult. He is aware of what will happen to him later in life. This knowledge by Merlyn makes him very cautious in observing Wart, as he knows he is a future leader. He is able to give him enough lessons and equip him with the necessary armor and artillery ready for war. Wart is eager to learn and pays keen attention to the lessons and even goes ahead to contemplate on the significance of these lessons. Later in life, we see the kind of administrative setting he establishes. He tries to maintain equality as seen by him setting up the royal table. Lancelot however tries to raise his head above the rest and is quick to become an adulterer with the King’s wife Guenever. The relationship ends up in war though in suspense. The book ends here
The experience of relating with a magician gives him the skills he requires. The background learning he gets later turns relevant as we see. Merlyn is a magician who is able to foresee the future and what awaits Wart. This ability, together with the ability to be able to transform Wart into various species of animals in the animal kingdom sees Wart get very valuable lessons. These become an important setting for a future leader and for a challenging kingdom whose jurisdiction he later obtains. It is seen that the magician is living backwards from the future into the present. He therefore has already lived to see Wart as an adult, leader and king.
It is symbolic that wart is an adopted son of Merlyn. This gives him enough lessons to extend to his kingdom on becoming king. He is an adopted son though Merlyn puts in enough effort to see him through his life successfully. This teaches him to be kind towards people even in cases where there is no blood relation. We see him establish a royal table in a bid to dismantle the traditional administration setting. He wants to administer as a noble and kind king who upholds the principle of equality. He is always fair in his dealings having gained this from his humble background.
Wart loves learning during his childhood. We see how careful he is as he receives lessons from the magician. He loves the ideas he receives from his instructor and this shapes him as a future leader. He is quick to consult as king seen when he sets up a royal table. Knights who sit around him are given powers to administer and report to him. He allows the knights to administer and advice him on matters pertaining the kingdom. He is a good friend of Lancelot though it later works against him because Lancelot maintains double standards. The setting of consultation and learning from other people gives Wart a strong kingdom.
Wart undergoes various transformations in his life, of course seen due to Merlyn’s magical capability. He changes into various animals that include a big fish, an ant, goose, hawk and badger. Each of these transformations in body appearance gives Wart a chance to learn what happens in the species of the animals. The practicality of the animal kingdom is visible in human life and he actually takes advantage of this.
He converts into an ant at a point in his life. This conversion sees him learn that there are individualistic personalities that exist in the world and the negative impact they have on the lives of the people. Ants exercise high levels of cannibalism and actually feed on other animals. This is a setting of leadership that relies on the effort of the helpless yet doing too little to appreciate them. This kind setting makes Wart aware that such leadership is unfair and fails to uphold dignity of life. It prepares him on future leadership and actually directs him to set up a democratic type of government. We see he is quick to implement this when he becomes a leader whereby he sets up a round table. He consults with his knights on making the kingdom stronger. This can however be looked at fro a different perspective. Wart certainly learns the unity and hard work among the ants. He learns that though ants are cruel to other animals, they maintain high standards of commitment. He derives a lesson that building a strong dynasty requires commitment and hard work.
We also see him transform into a big fish. The fish is strong and mighty and with control in the waters. He learns that building a strong kingdom requires one to be strong and to maintain high standards of supremacy. It also teaches him to be firm in his decision. It gives him the background for the rule of might. ( Alan 2007 p 230).
He also turns into a goose. The goose criticizes the behavior of the ants and at one point asks, “What creature would be so low as to go about in bands to murder others of its own blood?” This teaches Wart that unthought-of of decisions will obviously at one point in time receive criticism. He hates the detests the behavior of the ants and learns it’s important to treat his subjects well. Wart becomes an achiever in his leadership position later in his life and this can be attributed to the lessons he receives at childhood.