Each of these stories deals with the "dark side" of the human character. Heart of Darkness is a journey up a Congo river to where an ivory agent, Kurtz, mentally disintegrates into a grotesque creature. The Secret Sharer is about a murderous captain who is tragically alienated from other people.
Based on medieval Arthurian legends, The Once and Future King is a twentieth-century version of young Arthur's quest for the sword Excalibur and his claim to the throne of England. Including many well-known and much-loved episodes with Merlyn, the sorcerer; Morgan La Fay, the witch; and knights jousting and hounds engaged in the hunt, White's novel adds to the lore surrounding the person of King Arthur.
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