Upon taking a blow to the head, our 19th-century American narrator is transported back in time 1300 years, to England in the time of the legendary King Arthur. However, before gaining even a moment to orient himself in this new environment, foreign in both place and time, he is captured by a Knight of the Round Table, imprisoned and sentenced to death. In a stroke of genius and, from the reader's perspective, frankly uncanny luck, he recalls from his own memory and successfully predicts a solar eclipse, which naturally wows and alarms his captors and cements his new reputation and status as a man of fearsome magical abilities. He immediately sets to work "improving" 6th-century civilization, frequently punctuating his endeavors by embarking on various heroic quests and performing miracles to keep his contemporaries in awe.

While at its heart a clever and jolly tale of adventure, <i>Connecticut Yankee</i> is at once both a tragicomedy (lots of death and explosions) and a timeless social commentary on past and present. A significant chunk of the book details the misadventures of the narrator and King Arthur as they experimentally travel around disguised as impoverished peasant farmers. Noting King Arthur's appalled and insulted reaction their mistreatments, our hero astutely observes that people are generally indifferent to injustice until such time as they find themselves its victim. As a reader, I was surprised at how funny this book was, as well as how relevant and readable its content remains in the 21st century.

ryner's rating:
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