The Once and Future King
Why this book?
Don’t be dissuaded by the fact this awesome and thoroughly delightful novel is a distilled, updated, and generally card-sharp-reshuffled version of Sir Thomas Malory’s story Le Morte d’Arthur written in 1485. Basically, it’s a deftly imagined re-telling of the tale of the humble kid who would grow up to become King Arthur – yes, the stable boy who pulled the sword from the stone and went on kingly glory. Why notable for world building? Because: boy-educated-by-wizardly-morphing-into-all-sorts-of-animals. When Wart (the young Arthur) is bodily transformed into a fish, hawk, ant, goose, and badger, he gains first-person insight into how humans are like and/or unlike these various creatures and so gleans vital life lessons that will serve him well in his eventual rise to medieval leadership in the future – a future that, of course, is actually Merlin’s past. So, yeah, character’s-psychology-building is all part of powerful world-building.