Study Guide

Le Morte D'Arthur

Le Morte D'Arthur Summary

Okay, folks, get ready for a whole lot of names that have not been in use for hundreds of years, and a whole lot of swordplay. Here we go!

To start us off, King Uther of England falls in love with Igrayne, the wife of one of his vassals. With the help of the wizard Merlin, he disguises himself as her husband and sleeps with her, conceiving a son, Arthur. Arthur is hidden away with another of Arthur's vassals, Sir Ector, until one New Year's Day some time after Uther's death.

Then, Arthur manages to pull a sword from a stone (yep, that sword in the stone!) bearing an inscription that declares that anyone who can get that sword out becomes the King of England. Here's your king, England, whether you like it or not. Some grumbling of powerful barons and lords ensues, but by Pentecost, Arthur has been installed as the king.

Arthur's reign begins in turmoil as an alliance of twelve northern kings, led by Arthur's uncle King Lot of Orkeney, disputes his kingship. King Lot dies, however, in a fight with Sir Pellynore, and Arthur solidifies his kingship by marrying Gwenyvere, who brings with her a round table with room for 150, including 100 knights. With Arthur supplying forty-nine more men and a seat left for one as-yet-unknown, the fellowship of the Round Table is born.

And just in time, too, because soon after this, Arthur receives a demand for tribute from Lucius, Emperor of Rome. At the advice of his nobles, he goes to war with him, wins, and becomes emperor of Rome. Nice work, Artie. On his way home, he makes all the lands he passes through become part of his kingdom.

At this point, the story diverges from Arthur to focus on a few of his knights. In "A Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake," we learn that Launcelot has great success on many quests, and frees some of Arthur's knights from their captivity in the dungeon of an evil knight, Sir Tarquin.

"Sir Gareth of Orkeney" recounts the arrival in Arthur's court one day of a mysterious young man who begins life there as a kitchen knave. This new guy soon proves his worth in a series of battles with a family of knights, through which the lucky duck wins a wife. The young man turns out to be none other than Sir Gareth, Arthur's nephew and the brother of Sirs Gaheris, Aggravayne, and Mordred.

"The Fyrste and the Secunde Boke of Syr Trystram de Lyones" tells the story of Sir Trystram, a Cornish knight whose love for the beautiful Isode gets him into trouble, since she happens to be the wife of his uncle, King Mark – oops.

Finally, the focus returns to Arthur's court with "The Noble Tale of the Sankgreal." Here, Arthur's knights ride off in a search of the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus drank at the last supper, which possesses some seriously miraculous powers. All the knights long for even just a glimpse of the Grail, but only Galahad, Percyvale, and Bors – the knights who are chaste and pure, after all – are able to see it.

Launcelot, the "best knight in the world" in all other ways, discovers that the energy he has wasted on earthly glory and love don't do him any good in this spiritual quest, so the Grail is not for him. Yet Launcelot's back in full form with "The Tale of Sir Launcelot and Quene Gwenyvere," in which he successfully defends Gwenyvere against a charge of poisoning and rescues her from the evil clutches of Sir Mellyagaunce. Phew. Never a dull moment in Camelot.

All good things must come to an end, however, and "The Death of Arthur" finds Launcelot and Gwenyvere's illicit love exposed by Sirs Aggravayne and Mordred, who have some seriously sinister motives. Rather than let the Queen be burned at the stake, Launcelot rescues her, accompanied by an alliance of knights who take his side rather than Arthur's.

In the battle to save Gwenyvere, Launcelot accidentally kills Sirs Gareth and Gaheris. These deaths cause Sir Gawain, their brother, to goad Arthur into war with Launcelot, in the hope of avenging them. Arthur and his forces besiege Launcelot's castle in France, leaving England in Sir Mordred's hands. Mordred forges letters claiming that Arthur has died, and declares himself king. Arthur must return to England to take control back from Mordred. Soon after his return, Arthur and Mordred kill one another in the Battle of Salisbury Plain.

But does Arthur really die? The story gets a bit murky at this point, stating that some people believe Arthur is simply in another place, from which he'll eventually return to help England in the crusades. In any case, Queen Gwenyvere blames herself for the fall of the kingdom and takes to a nunnery. Launcelot and his knights follow her lead, and at the end of the book, Launcelot, now a monk and priest, buries Gwenyvere's body next to Arthur's before he dies as well.

  • Book 1

    How Uther Pendragon Gate the Noble Conqueror Kyng Arthur

    Part 1

    • When our story begins, Uther Pendragon, King of England, calls the Duke of Cornwall to him in order to form a peace agreement.
    • Naturally, the Duke brings his wife Igrayne along, too. Bad move. Upon seeing her, Uther falls madly in love. But the poor woman refuses him and asks the Duke to take her away as quickly as possible. Tough luck, Uther.
    • An angry Uther orders the Duke and his wife to return to him, but the Duke refuses. So Uther tells him to get ready for a fight. Apparently Uther is used to getting his way.
    • The Duke places his wife in the fortress of Tintagel and himself at Terrabyl. There, Uther lays siege against him. All this over a woman.
    • During the siege, Uther grows sick from anger at the Duke and love for Igrayne, so one of his knights, Sir Ulfius, fetches the wizard Merlin to try and cure the king.
    • Uther swears upon the Gospel that he will give Merlin whatever he wants in exchange for Igrayne. So Merlin asks Uther to give him the child he conceives with Igrayne to do with as he wishes, and Uther figures that's plenty reasonable.
    • Merlin, who turns out to be totally sneaky, tells Uther he will transform him into the Duke and that he and Sir Ulfius will accompany him to Tintagel in the likeness of some of the Duke's knights.
    • The real Duke sees Uther riding away from the siege and rides out at night to meet him. In the battle, he dies.
    • Just three hours after the Duke's death, Uther enters Tintagel looking exactly like the Duke and sleeps with an unsuspecting Igrayne.
    • Afterwards, Uther's barons entreat him and Igrayne to marry. They agree.
    • Igrayne's sisters also make good marriages, with Morgause marrying King Lot of Orkney, and Elayne ending up with King Nentres of Garlot. Another sister, Morgan le Fay, is sent to school in a nunnery where she becomes a great sorceress. Afterward, she marries Uriens of Gore.
    • Keep those names on the back burner, because they just might come in handy later.

    Part 2

    • Uther informs Igrayne that he's the father of her child. We bet that was a bit of a shock.
    • Merlin arranges to have the future child fostered by Sir Ector, one of Uther's knights, so after the baby's birth, Merlin has Arthur christened and delivered to Sir Ector's wife for nursing.
    • King Uther grows ill and his enemies take advantage of his weakness to attack his kingdom. Merlin advises him to go into battle himself, and Uther's presence there brings about a victory.
    • But after the celebration, Uther takes to his bed again, poor guy. In the presence of all his barons, he declares Arthur his heir, and then dies.
    • After Uther's death, his kingdom falls into disarray, with every strong lord fighting for the now empty crown.
    • Merlin counsels the Archbishop of Canterbury to tell all the great lords of the realm to arrive in London at Christmas, during which time the Christ-child will work some sort of miracle.
    • The lords come to London and, as they're busy praying in the cathedral, a sword appears in the churchyard, stuck in a stone bearing the inscription "Whoso pulleth oute this swerd of this stone and anvyl is rightwys kynge borne of all Englond." In other words, if you can yank this sword out of this rock, you're king. Sounds like a miracle to Shmoop.
    • Although many men try to pull the sword out, none of them manages. The Archbishop sets ten knights to guard the sword.
    • On New Year's Day, there's a joust. As Arthur, his foster-brother Sir Kay, and Sir Ector ride to it, Kay realizes that he's forgotten his sword. Uh-oh. He sends Arthur back to their lodgings to look for it.
    • Major moment alert: Finding the house empty and locked, Arthur rides to the churchyard and pulls the sword out of the stone. Gasp.
    • When Kay and Ector see it, they recognize it and understand that Arthur must be the king. Ector swears his loyalty to Arthur and asks him to make Kay his seneschal, to which Arthur agrees.
    • On Epiphany (a Christian holiday), the barons assemble and find that none of them can withdraw the sword from the stone except Arthur. Angry at the prospect of being ruled by a complete nobody, they propose to put off the decision until a month later, and then until Easter, and then until Pentecost.
    • Finally, at Pentecost, the common people decide enough is enough and declare their allegiance to Arthur. At this, most of the lords of the kingdom go with the crowd and also swear allegiance to him.

    Part 3

    • Arthur schedules a feast in Carlyon for the next Pentecost, to celebrate his coronation.
    • To this feast comes an alliance of six great kings, who declare hostile intentions toward Arthur.
    • Despite learning from Merlin that Arthur is Uther's legitimate son, the kings refuse to submit to Arthur, and instead fight a great battle with him and his forces. These Englishmen are always stirring up trouble, huh?
    • So Arthur forces the six kings to withdraw, then travels to London where he calls his barons to council.
    • Merlin advises the council to seek the help of brothers Ban and Bors of Gaul in exchange for helping them defend their kingdom against a King Claudas. So the council sends messengers to summon them.
    • Ban and Bors arrive in London around All Hallows' Day, and join in the feasting and jousting. They make an alliance with Arthur and send messengers to summon their forces to join the fight.
    • Meanwhile, the force opposing Arthur has grown by five kings and includes fifty thousand mounted knights and ten thousand footmen. They besiege the castle of Bedgrayne, then withdraw, leaving only a few men there to continue the siege.
    • Arthur's forces set upon their encampment and a long battle begins. Both sides fight bravely and it looks like the battle could last for a long time.
    • Merlin advises Arthur to withdraw, predicting that the eleven kings will have their hands full with Saracen invaders for the next three years and won't be a problem for Arthur for the foreseeable future.
    • Arthur withdraws, rewarding his knights and Ban and Bors richly with the spoils of battle.
    • Meanwhile, an earl named Saman shows up with his daughter, Lyonors, to pay homage to Arthur. Arthur promptly sleeps with Lyonors and conceives a son named Borce with her.
    • Then, Arthur, Ban, and Bors help King Lodegreaunce of Camylard defend his Kingdom against King Ryons of Wales. While there, Arthur meets a girl named Gwenyvere for the first time. Ah, so this is the famous Gwenyvere.
    • Ban and Bors return to their kingdoms, and sure enough, as Merlin has predicted, the lands of the opposing alliance are invaded by Saracens and the eleven kings are too busy defending their kingdoms to attack Arthur's.

    Part 4

    • Arthur returns to Carlyon, where King Lot's wife, Morgause, soon arrives. Apparently, she's there to deliver a message, but in reality, she just wants to spy on Arthur's court.
    • Arthur sleeps with her, too, and conceives a son, Mordred.
    • After this, Arthur dreams that griffins and serpents come into his lands and fight with him, but he kills them in the end. Gee, we wonder what inspired that dream…
    • To get his dream out of his mind, Arthur goes hunting. He chases a hart (a deer) but it gets away. Then Arthur sits down by a fountain to think, and boy, does he have a lot to think about.
    • The questing beast, an animal whose belly makes a great noise like the sound of thirty baying hounds (just roll with it), passes by, followed by a man named King Pellynore in hot pursuit. Pellynore argues with Arthur about which one of them should pursue the beast further, then steals Arthur's horse, the jerk.
    • Later, Merlin, in the guise of a young child, tells Arthur that his father was Uther and his mother was Igrayne. Then, in the guise of an old man, he tells Arthur that he has conceived a child with his sister, and that that child will destroy his kingdom. Oops.
    • Arthur wants to know if this is true, so he asks Ector, who backs up Merlin. Then Arthur sends for Igrayne and has a joyful reunion with his mother. Aww.
    • Meanwhile, a squire brings the body of his master to Arthur's court and tells how a knight in the forest killed him. He asks for a good burial, and revenge.
    • A very young guy named Gryfflet asks to be made a knight so he can undertake the challenge. But when he fights with the knight in the woods, he's defeated. He returns to Arthur's court, badly wounded, and good doctors heal him.
    • Twelve knights arrive from the Emperor of Rome, demanding homage, or a show of respect. Arthur's totally not having that. He offers instead to give them homage with a sharp sword or spear. Oh snap.
    • Arthur rides out to avenge Sir Gryfflet and engages the mysterious knight, who turns out to be Sir Pellynore. Just as Sir Pellynore is about to kill Arthur, Merlin appears and enchants him into a deep sleep. Nice timing, Merlin.
    • Merlin takes Arthur to a lake. As creepy as it sounds, they see an arm clothed in white samite, rising out of the water, holding a sword. A woman boating on the lake tells Arthur that the sword is hers, but that he can have it if he promises to give her whatever she asks – a favor she'll cash in at a later time.
    • That sounds fair, so Arthur and Merlin ride out on a barge to the middle of the lake and take the sword from the woman.
    • After that, Arthur returns to court, passing an enchanted Sir Pellynore, who fails to recognize him, on the way.
    • King Royns of North Wales sends a message to Arthur, saying he has defeated and taken the beards of the alliance of eleven knights, and wants Arthur's beard, too. Um, gross. Arthur refuses to pay him homage. He's pretty stubborn, our Arthur.
    • At Merlin's advice, Arthur acts on the mother of all bad ideas and has all the babies in the land who were born on May Day put out to sea in the hope of destroying Mordred, who, you'll remember, was predicted to destroy Arthur's kingdom. All the babies die in a shipwreck except for Mordred, who is fostered by a good man until he is fourteen.
    • King Royns receives Arthur's message and gets crazy angry.
  • Book 2

    The Tale of Balyn and Balan

    • While Arthur's in London, a knight arrives and tells him that King Ryons has amassed a large force and is burning and pillaging the lands of Arthur's vassals. Shmoop smells trouble.
    • Arthur calls a council of all his men. During the council, a woman arrives saying she comes as a messenger from Lady Lyle of Avillion. When the lady raises her mantle, everyone sees that she's wearing a sword.
    • When Arthur inquires why she wears the sword, she tells everyone that she must wear it until a knight without treachery and treason draws it from the scabbard. Okay, what's with all these swords?
    • All the knights at the council try to remove it, but none can (big surprise).
    • As the lady is leaving, a poorly-attired Northumbrian knight named Balyn asks to be allowed to attempt to pull the sword despite his poor appearance, and succeeds.
    • The lady asks for her sword back, but Balyn refuses. Then the lady tells him that it's for his own good that she asks for the sword back, because if he keeps it, he will kill the person most dear to him with it. We bet he wasn't expecting that.
    • In a moment worthy of a soap opera, the Lady of the Lake arrives in court and demands the favor Arthur promised her in exchange for Excalibur (the sword he got from the lake): she wants the head (i.e. death) of Balyn or the sword-lady, claiming that Balyn killed her brother and the sword-lady killed her father.
    • When Balyn finds out the Lady of the Lake demanded his head, he kills her, disgracing Arthur and getting himself exiled from court.
    • So an Irish knight named Sir Launceor asks permission to be allowed to pursue and fight with Balyn to avenge Arthur's disgrace, and Arthur grants it. Launceor and Balyn fight, and Balyn kills Launceor.
    • A lady riding in pursuit of Launceor comes upon the scene and declares herself Launceor's love, then falls upon his sword, killing herself. Goodness, will the drama ever end?
    • Balyn's brother Balan (gee, that's not confusing at all) rides onto the scene, and the two agree to head off together in pursuit of King Ryons so that Balyn can get back into Arthur's good graces, which is going to take some serious groveling.
    • Meanwhile, King Mark of Cornwall arrives and erects a rich tomb for the two lovers, Sir Launceor and Lady Columbe. While he's doing this, Merlin arrives and prophesies that Launcelot du Lake and Trystram will fight a battle in this place. Who? What? Hey, at least we know the where.
    • Merlin tells Balyn that because of the death of Lady Columbe, he will strike a "stroke most dolorous," through which three kingdoms will be destroyed.
    • When Mark asks Balyn's name, Balan tells him to call him "the Knight with the two Swords," because – you guessed it – he carries two (his own, and the one he refused to give back to the sword-lady).
    • Balyn and Balan ride off in pursuit of King Ryons. Along the way they meet Merlin, who offers to help them catch the king. The three take shelter in a grove along the roadside.
    • When Ryons passes by on his way to a rendezvous with a lover, Balyn and Balan leap out and strike down forty of his men, then capture him, piece of cake.
    • They send Ryons to Arthur as a gift from the Knight with the Two Swords and his brother, whom Merlin explains to Arthur are Balyn and Balan. Hopefully that will be enough to make Arthur a little less ticked off.
    • Ah, if only it were that simple. Soon, Ryons' seriously angry brother, Nero, attacks Arthur at Castle Terrable. Luckily, Balyn and Balan are around to fight bravely in the battle.
    • When Lot (remember him? Morgause's husband?) finds out that Arthur has just fought with and killed Nero, he takes advantage of the fact that Arthur's forces are tired and mounts an attack.
    • But King Pellynore kills King Lot during the fight, and the rest of his alliance flee and are later killed too.
    • Unfortunately, this does not exactly sit well with Lot's son, Gawain, who vows to take revenge on Pellynore for his father's death.
    • Merlin warns Arthur never to part with the scabbard of Excalibur, for as long as he wears it, he can't lose a drop of blood. But Arthur makes the mistake of giving it to his sister Morgan le Fay, who substitutes a fake one in its place.
    • Merlin prophesies that Arthur will fight a great battle near Salisbury with his own son, Mordred.
    • This rather upsetting news causes Arthur to become ill, and he pitches some tents in a meadow where he tries to rest. Nothing like a campout to help you cope with the fact that your son just might kill you one day.
    • A sorrowful knight passes by on a horse and Arthur asks him to stop, but he refuses. When Balyn passes by a few minutes later, Arthur asks him to bring the knight to him.
    • Balyn finds the knight with a lady and promises him safety if he'll come with him. On the way back to Arthur, however, an invisible knight kills the sorrowful one with a spear.
    • Balyn promises to continue this knight's quest and avenge his death, whom the dying knight informs Balyn is named Garlonde. Is it just Shmoop, or are these dudes way too into avenging things?
    • Balyn and the lady continue into a forest, where they meet with another knight, Peryne de Mounte Belyarde, who joins their party. Unfortunately, Garlonde kills him, too.
    • Balyn constructs a tomb for Peryne. The next morning, he and the lady find the following written on it, in gold lettering: "Sir Gawain shall revenge his father's death on King Pellynore." Okay, good to know.
    • Balyn and the lady ride into a castle where the custom is to bleed young women in the hope that the blood of a maiden will heal the lady of the castle. The lady agrees to be bled, but her blood doesn't work. Oh well. There's always another young lady.
    • Then the lady and Balyn lodge with a gentleman whose son has been badly wounded by Sir Garlonde and cannot be healed except with some of Sir Garlonde's blood.
    • The gentleman tells Balyn he can find Sir Garlonde at a feast held by King Pellam of Lystenoyse, so they immediately take off in that direction.
    • Once there, Balyn sees Garlonde, who slaps him for staring. So Balyn kills Garlonde. Boy, does he have a temper.
    • The knights of the castle and King Pellam set upon Balyn for killing Garlonde, who turns out to be King Pellam's brother. Oops. That probably would have been useful information.
    • After a stroke from King Pellam causes Balyn's own sword to break, he runs through the castle until he comes to a richly-decorated chamber in which someone lies in a bed.
    • From the bedside table, Balyn grabs a strange spear. He uses it to kill King Pellam, which prompts the whole castle to crumble, killing or trapping everyone inside.
    • Luckily, Merlin's there to rescue Balyn from the castle, then tells him that he has struck the "Dolorous Stroke," for which vengeance will fall upon him. Balyn, it seems, can't do anything right.
    • Next, Balyn meets with a knight weeping by a tree, and finds out that the man, Sir Garnyssh, is sad because his lady has failed to meet him as promised. The two of them ride to the castle where she lives.
    • When Balynx goes inside, he finds the woman in the arms of another man – yikes – and brings Garnyssh there to see. Garnyssh promptly kills the two lovers, then kills himself.
    • Balyn rides away quickly to avoid blame for the deaths. He decides to ride into another castle, despite being warned away from it by a sign that says "it is not for no knight alone to ride toward this castel," as well as an old man telling him to turn away. Well this can't be good.
    • Once he reaches the castle, the chief lady tells him that the custom is that all entering knights must joust with a knight who refuses to let anyone on his island.
    • Fearless, hot-headed Balyn agrees. Before leaving for the island, he trades shields with another knight who thinks Balyn's is too small.
    • The Knight of the Island is actually Balan, who fails to recognize his brother because he's now carrying the wrong shield.
    • The two knights fight a fierce battle, disarming one another completely and wounding one another fatally (ugh, this just gets sadder and sadder).
    • After both knights have fallen, Balyn asks the other knight his name and learns that it is Balan.
    • The lady of the nearby tower arrives on the scene and agrees to Balan's entreaty to bury the two brothers together. Then she wrangles a priest who gives them their last rites, and they die within a day of one another.
    • The lady erects a tomb for the brothers. Merlin arrives and inscribes it. He places Balyn's sword in a marble stone that's floating above the water. He leaves the scabbard on the shore near the island.
    • Merlin prophesies that the man who is able to handle Balyn's sword next will be the best knight in the world: Launcelot, or his son, Galahad. Merlin always seems to know what's up, huh?
    • Merlin tells King Arthur what happened to Balyn and Balan, who declares it a great pity. Agreed.
  • Book 3

    The Weddyng of Kyng Arthur

    • On to happier notes. Merlin arranges for Arthur to marry Gwenyvere, daughter of King Lodegrean, with whom he is madly in love.
    • As a wedding gift, King Lodegrean gives Arthur a round table with seats for 150 knights, and a hundred knights, to boot.
    • Arthur knights his nephew, Gawain, and a poor cowherd named Torre, who turns out to be King Pellynore's illegitimate son.
    • Merlin seats King Pellynore in the "Sege Perelous," the place for the best knight of the Round Table. Lucky him.
    • Arthur marries Gwenyvere, and during the wedding feast, a white hart pursued by a white hound enters the hall and runs round the table. After one of the knights scoops up the white hound and rides away with it, a lady enters asking for her hound back. Shmoop smells trouble again.
    • This lady's pursued by another knight, who carries her away by force.
    • But Merlin tells Arthur he must retrieve the hart, hound, and the lady or else the event will be a dishonor to his feast. So Arthur sends Gawain after the hart, Torre after the hound, and Pellynore after the lady. We get each of their stories in turn, so Shmoop'll go ahead and break them down for you, one by one.

    Gawain's Quest

    • Gawain sets off in search of the elusive deer.
    • Along the way, he kills Sir Alardyne of the Out Isles when he annoyingly refuses to allow Gawain to follow the hart over a river without fighting him first.
    • Gawain follows the hart into a castle where it's killed by some of his hounds. Then a knight from the castle kills some of Gawain's hounds, so Gawain fights with that guy, too. Don't mess with Gawain's dogs, people.
    • At first, Gawain totally refuses to grant the knight mercy for killing his hounds, but when Gawain accidentally kills this knight's lady when she covers his body with hers, Gawain sends the knight, who has survived the attack, to Arthur.
    • Four other knights come into the room and start fighting with Gawain as vengeance for their fallen comrade, until four ladies ask for mercy for Gawain.
    • The four ladies send Gawain back to Arthur's court wearing the head of the dead lady around his neck and her body before him on his horse. Ick.
    • As a judgment upon Gawain for failing to grant mercy, and for killing a lady, the Queen and her ladies decree that Gawain must help ladies as long as he lives, be courteous, and grant mercy to anyone who asks for it. Hey, there are worse punishments.

    Torre's Quest

    • Sir Torre, who's out looking for the hound who crashed the wedding feast, defeats two knights and sends them to Arthur. The dwarf that was their servant joins Sir Torre, and directs him to the hound. Torre takes the hound from the arms of a sleeping lady.
    • Later, Sir Torre fights with a knight named Abelleus who rides in pursuit of the hound, then kills him at the request of a lady who claims Abelleus killed her brother.
    • Sir Torre returns to court with the hound, and Arthur grants him an earldom. Job well done.

    Pellynore's Quest

    • Pellynore rides in pursuit of the lady that the knight led away, and in his rush to catch them, refuses to help a lady by a well with a wounded knight in her arms. We have the sneaking suspicion this just might come back to haunt him.
    • Pellynore kills the knight who kidnapped the lady back at court, then is granted custody of her by her cousin, Sir Meliot de Logurs. We learn that the lady's name is Nenyve.
    • Taking shelter in a grove for the night, Pellynore overhears two knights from the northern alliance plotting to poison King Arthur.
    • Pellynore and the lady pass the knight and lady he refused to help at the beginning of his quest, and find them eaten by wild beasts, except for their heads.
    • Pellynore returns to court carrying the dead lady's head. Merlin tells him that the lady was his own daughter and the knight was her lover, a man who would have served the Round Table well.
    • Merlin tells Pellynore that his punishment for failing to help them is that the man he trusts most will betray him. Hmm. Let's make a mental note.
    • Arthur establishes the Knights of the Round Table by giving them riches and lands, and by making them swear an oath of chivalry, which they will always repeat at the feast of Pentecost.
  • Book 4

    Aftir Thes Questis

    • Merlin falls in love with Nenyve, the lady Pellynore brought back with him from his quest. Then, Merlin tells Arthur that he, Merlin, will soon be buried alive. Good to know.
    • Merlin travels to the land of King Ban with Nenyve, and, while there, prophesies that Ban and Elaine's son, Launcelot, will be a great knight.
    • But Nenyve tires of Merlin's attentions and buries him alive inside a huge rock. Saw that one coming, didn't we?
    • An alliance of five northern kings attacks Arthur's lands, so Arthur summons King Pellynore and his forces, and then rides out against the alliance, bringing Gwenyvere with him.
    • One night, the alliance of five kings ambushes Arthur's camp, but they're defeated and killed by Arthur, Kay, Gawain, and Gryfflet, with Sir Kay proving particularly brave.
    • At the advice of Pellynore, Arthur installs eight new knights, four young and four old, to replace the eight knights killed in the ambush. Among the four old knights is Uriens, Arthur's brother-in-law. The young knights are Gawain, Gryfflet, Kay, and Pellynore's son, Torre.
    • Arthur, Uriens, and Sir Accalon of Gaul chase a white hart into a forest one day, riding so hard that they kill their horses and must take shelter in a mysterious houseboat attended to by beautiful ladies. Hey, you win some you lose some.
    • When they wake up the next morning, Uriens finds himself at home in bed with his wife. Arthur finds himself in a prison with twenty woeful knights. No fair.
    • Arthur learns that the knights have been imprisoned by an evil knight named Damas because they refuse to be his champion in a land dispute against his brother, a good knight named Sir Outlake.
    • Arthur agrees to be Damas' champion against his brother as long as Damas releases the twenty knights if he wins.
    • Meanwhile, Sir Accalon awakes by the edge of a well, then meets with a dwarf who brings him the sword Excalibur from his lady-love, Morgan le Fay (remember her?) and tells him he must use it to kill a knight he'll fight tomorrow. Uh-oh – this cannot be good.
    • Accalon takes lodging in a priory where Sir Outlake also lies, recovering from a wound. Outlake asks Accalon to be his champion against Sir Damas' champion (whom we now know to be Arthur), and Accalon agrees. Let's get ready to rumble.
    • Accalon and Arthur fight and, thanks to Excalibur, Accalon seems to be winning the battle. That is, until he drops Excalibur (thanks to a handy enchantment by Nenyve, who also happens to be hanging around) and Arthur gets the sword.
    • After forcing Accalon to yield, Arthur learns his name. Accalon confesses that he is Morgan le Fay's lover and that she's planning to kill Arthur and her husband, Uriens, and make Accalon king. Morgan's quite the busy lady.
    • Arthur forgives Accalon, attributing any treachery on his part to Morgan's magic. Then he demands that Damas yield his lands to Sir Outlake.
    • Arthur and Accalon travel to an abbey to recover from their wounds, but sadly Accalon dies.
    • Morgan le Fay believes Arthur to be dead, too, so she tries to move forward with her plans and kill Uriens but is stopped by their son, Uwayne.
    • When Morgan learns that Accalon is dead, she travels to the abbey where Arthur lies and steals his scabbard, then rides away with Arthur and Sir Outlake in hot pursuit.
    • After escaping Arthur by turning herself and her men into stones (clever girl), Morgan meets with Sir Accalon's cousin, Sir Manessen, whom she releases from the captivity of another knight.
    • Morgan sets herself up in the land of Gore, and we have to say, that's a fitting name, given all the havoc she's wreaked.
    • While there, she sends a bejeweled garment to Arthur, but Nenyve advises Arthur to have the messenger-lady try it on first. When she does, she immediately burns up. Yikes.
    • Arthur exiles Uwayne from court, fearing he's in cahoots with his mom. In protest, Gawain and Gaheris accompany their cousin on his journey.
    • They meet with two knights and twelve damsels, who are flinging saliva and excrement on a shield hanging from a tree. Um, yeah.
    • The damsels tell Gawain it's the shield of Sir Marhaus, whom they believe hates ladies. Gawain knows Marhaus and defends him of this charge.
    • Then Sir Marhaus himself comes onto the scene and kills the two knights. He jousts with Gawain and Uwayne, just for fun. They retire to Sir Marhaus' house for a week.
    • The three men ride into an enchanted forest where they meet with three damsels of sixty, thirty, and fifteen years of age. The damsels offer to take the knights on an adventure. Uwayne accompanies the eldest, Marhaus goes with the middle, and Gawain is with the youngest.
    • On their journey, Gawain and his damsel see another knight defeat ten other knights on horseback, then refuse to fight them on foot, allowing himself instead to be bound up and carried away under a horse's belly.
    • The damsel asks Gawain to rescue the knight but he refuses, saying that the knight must have some reason for allowing himself to be captured.
    • Then Gawain mediates a dispute over a lady between a knight and a dwarf. The lady chooses the dwarf, and after the way all these knights have been behaving, that seems like a good choice.
    • Later, two knights challenge Gawain and as Gawain fights with one, the other rides away with Gawain's damsel, who's eager to leave him because she's mad at him for refusing to rescue the knight who got carried away tied to his horse's belly.
    • After their joust, Gawain stays with his opponent. Gawain's host explains that the knight was Sir Pelleas, who, it turns out, is in serious need of a confidence boost. He allows himself to be bound up and imprisoned because that's the only way he can see his love, a proud lady who scorns and humiliates him in this manner.
    • Gawain meets with Sir Pelleas and promises to help him win his lady, Ettarde.
    • But then Gawain meets with Ettarde and tells her that Sir Pelleas is dead, and then sleeps with her. Wait a minute, Gawain, how is that helping?
    • Sir Pelleas finds Ettarde and Gawain in bed together and resolves to kill himself, but instead Nenyve enchants Ettarde to fall in love with Pelleas. But Pelleas rejects Ettarde in favor of Nenyve, and Ettarde dies of lovesickness. Oh what a tangled web.
    • Meanwhile, on their adventure, Sir Marhaus and his damsel stay in the home of a man with six sons, who bears a grudge against King Arthur and his knights for the death of one his sons.
    • Marhaus is forced to fight with them all, but he spares the six sons, then forces the father to yield and makes them all allies of Arthur.
    • Later, Marhaus wins a great fortune in a joust, and saves the lands of the Earl Fergus from a giant. Nice one, Marhaus.
    • Meanwhile, Uwayne and his damsel ride westward on their adventure, where they meet with the Lady of the Roche.
    • Uwayne restores the Lady to her lands by defeating two brothers who have stolen it. He kills one, and sends the other, Sir Hew, to Arthur's court.
    • After a year, Marhaus, Gawain, and Uwayne meet up where they parted and then return to court together, where they tell everyone about their various adventures.
    • Sir Pelleas also arrives at Arthur's court and, along with Marhaus, is made a knight of the Round Table. Unfortunately, there will always be bad blood between Pelleas and Gawain, on account of Ettarde.
  • Book 5

    The Noble Tale Betwyxt Kynge Arthur and Lucius the Emperour of Rome

    • Lucius, Emperor of Rome, sends two senators to Arthur's court to demand tribute, which – let's face it – never ends well.
    • Arthur's vassals totally support in a war with Rome, especially because Arthur believes he has a claim of lordship over Rome as his ancestral right. Well that's awfully convenient.
    • He sends the senators back to Rome with a refusal of tribute and a declaration of war.
    • Not surprisingly, Lucius gathers his vassals and begins a (long) war march toward Arthur's lands.
    • After appointing Sir Baudwen of Bretagne and Sir Constantyne of Cornwayle as guardians of Britain in his absence, and declaring Sir Constantyne his heir, Arthur and his men set sail for northern Europe.
    • While on board the ship, Arthur has a dream about a fight between a dragon and a bear, which the dragon wins. A "philosopher" tells him that the dragon represents Arthur, and the bear, his enemy. So that's a good sign, at least.
    • Arthur saves Normandy from the clutches of a gruesome ogre, called a "werlow," who has kidnapped the Duchess of Bretagne, raped many women, and – ick – eaten many infants.
    • Arthur sends Sirs Borce, Lionel, Bedewyr, and Gawain to Lucius's encampment with a message telling him make like a banana and split. No Romans are welcome in England, thank you very much.
    • Gawain kills a knight of Lucius that insults him, leading to a battle between Lucius' and Arthur's forces. If only Gawain weren't quite so hot-headed.
    • In the battle, Gawain is badly wounded, but Arthur's forces manage to capture some important political prisoners, so it's not a total loss.
    • Arthur tasks some of his knights, including Sirs Launcelot and Bedewyr, with transporting the prisoners to Paris for safekeeping, escorted by ten thousand of their men.
    • Then Arthur's force meets with a sixty-thousand man ambush of Libyan "Saracens" in the woods on the way to Paris. In the battle that follows, Launcelot and his cousins do remarkably well.
    • A Roman who escapes from this battle travels to Lucius and warns him to give up the fight, because Arthur's forces are crazy-brave and crazy-strong.
    • Lucius, of course, ignores the warning and travels to the Valley of Sessoynes with all of his men, where he battles Arthur's forces.
    • In the battle, Kay and Bedewyr are grievously wounded, and Arthur kills Lucius.
    • After the battle is over, Arthur sends two senators back to Rome along with the elaborately-casketed bodies of Lucius and some of his highest-ranking vassals, with the message that now he has paid his tribute. Here's hoping the Romans take the hint.
    • Arthur and his forces ride south through Europe, conquering every city along the way, until they meet with one that refuses to yield and so they must lay siege to it.
    • During the siege, Arthur sends some of his knights, among them Sir Gawain, into a nearby forest to hunt for provisions.
    • In the forest, Gawain jousts with a knight he meets there and receives a wound that just won't stop bleeding. The knight tells Gawain that any injury dealt by his sword will never cease to bleed except with a remedy that only he knows.
    • This knight's name is Priamus, and he has defected from a nearby town of Saracens because he wants to become a Christian.
    • So Gawain and Priamus return to the encampment of Arthur's knights, where Priamus administers a remedy of enchanted water to both of them so their wounds stop bleeding.
    • Arthur's knights ride against the Saracens and defeat them, despite being outnumbered at first. During the battle, Priamus' men defect from the Saracens to ride with their lord and Arthur's forces. Then Arthur's forces return to his encampment, where Priamus receives baptism at Arthur's hands.
    • The town finally yields to Arthur, who imprisons the duke of that town in Dover forever, but allows his wife and children to continue living there.
    • Then Arthur rides victoriously into Rome and is crowned emperor by the Pope. Sweet.
    • In honor of their help in battle, Arthur grants a dukedom to Priamus and the ransom of Sir Claudas to Sir Launcelot and Sir Bors.
    • Arthur and his forces return to England, rich with the spoils of battle. All is well, at least for now.
  • Book 6

    A Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot Du Lake

    • Sir Launcelot has proven himself to be the best of the Knights of the Round Table in jousting, tournaments, and deeds of arms. In other words, Lance is a total stud.
    • Queen Gwenyvere loves Launcelot more than any other knight, and he, in turn, is totally devoted to her. There's just the tiny problem of the fact that she's married to the king.
    • One day, Launcelot decides to ride away from court in search of adventures. He takes his nephew, Sir Lionel, along with him.
    • Feeling tired in the mid-day sun, Lionel and Launcelot fall asleep in the shade of a large tree.
    • While Launcelot sleeps, Lionel rides away in pursuit of a knight he has seen capture three other knights. Unfortunately, Lionel's defeated and captured, too, and put in the knight's dungeon.
    • When Sir Ector de Maryse, Lionel's brother, learns that Launcelot and Lionel have left the court, he rides out in pursuit of them.
    • Soon, he comes to a large tree with many shields hanging from it, including Sir Lionel's. Near the tree is a copper basin. A forester has told Sir Ector to strike the basin if he wants adventure, so he does (no surprise there; these knights are always on the lookout for adventure).
    • A knight rides up to the tree and defeats Sir Ector, then throws him in his dungeon as well, where Sir Ector finds Sir Lionel.
    • Meanwhile, four ladies, including Morgan le Fay, ride by Launcelot sleeping under the tree. They decide to enchant him into a deep sleep and carry him to their palace in the hope of winning his love.
    • When Launcelot wakes up, Morgan le Fay tells him to choose one of the four ladies, but Launcelot refuses because he's totally devoted to Gwenyvere.
    • One of Morgan's ladies-in-waiting kindly helps Launcelot escape from the palace in exchange for his promise to help her father, King Badgemagus, win a tournament. No big deal, thinks Launcelot.
    • Sleepy again, Launcelot falls asleep in a tent he finds along his journey home. The knight whose tent it is crawls into bed with Launcelot accidentally, mistaking him for his lady-love. Oops.
    • After they joust for a bit, the knight's actual lady-love convinces Launcelot to knight her lover, Sir Pelleas (sound familiar?), at the next high feast, and Launcelot agrees.
    • Launcelot meets with King Badgemagus and his daughter at an abbey, and gets three of Sir Badgemagus' knights, all dressed in white, to help him win the tournament.
    • Of course Launcelot wins the tournament against the King of North Gales, engaging with some of Arthur's knights in the process.
    • After this, Launcelot meets with Sir Tarquin, the knight who has imprisoned Lionel, Ector, and many more of Arthur's knights in that dungeon we heard about earlier. Sir Tarquin has just captured Sir Gaheris. They joust.
    • Tarquin tells Launcelot that he hates him and has imprisoned many of Arthur's knights because Launcelot killed his brother, Sir Carados. Launcelot's response? He cuts Sir Tarquin's head off, of course.
    • Then he sends Gaheris to free the knights in Sir Tarquin's dungeon.
    • Later, Launcelot rescues a lady from a downright evil knight who has been kidnapping and raping all the ladies in the area. The lady asks Launcelot why he doesn't have a wife or a lover, and he replies that a wife would constrain his adventure-seeking, and that it's not seemly for a good Christian knight to have a lover. (Notice that he doesn't mention dear Gwen.)
    • Then Launcelot rescues the fortress of Tintagel from two giants that have captured it. Is there anything this guy can't do?
    • While lodging in a little cottage, Launcelot is woken up by the sound of three knights fighting against one, and rescues the single knight, Sir Kay, from the three who have overpowered him.
    • Launcelot switches armor with Sir Kay and rides away before he wakes, and later jousts with three of Arthur's knights who realize he's not Sir Kay when his strength and prowess become clear.
    • Then Launcelot follows a black hound into a castle, where he meets a lady weeping by the body of a dead knight. The lady tells Launcelot it is her husband, Sir Gilberd the Bastard.
    • So Launcelot leaves the castle and meets with the sister of the man who killed Sir Gilberd. She asks Launcelot to go to the Chapel Perilous to retrieve a bloody cloth and sword that can heal her brother's wounds.
    • After Launcelot retrieves the sword and cloth, he meets with the weeping lady again. She asks him to kiss her, but he refuses.
    • She tells Launcelot that she has enticed him there in an attempt to either win his love or keep his body embalmed with her forever (crazy woman alert), but since Launcelot has refused to kiss her, she has failed with at least that first goal. Close call.
    • Launcelot rides away and heals the wounded knight, Sir Melyot, with the sword and bloody cloth he took from Sir Gilberd's body.
    • Sir Launcelot comes upon a castle, next to which he meets a lady who asks him to retrieve her stray falcon from a tree.
    • You'd think he would have learned his lesson from the last favor he did for a lady, but nope. Launcelot promptly takes off all his armor and climbs the tree. When the lady's husband, Sir Phelot, arrives and announces his intention to kill him, he realizes it is a trap. Launcelot, dude, didn't you see that coming?
    • But our guy's quick on his feet, so he knocks Sir Phelot out with a tree branch, and then cuts off his head. Problem solved.
    • Later, as he's riding in a valley, Launcelot comes upon a knight chasing a lady, his wife. The knight claims the lady is unfaithful to him, but she denies it.
    • They joust, but the knight distracts Launcelot in order to cut off his wife's head. Launcelot sends him to Queen Gwenyvere for judgment.
    • Launcelot returns to Arthur's court where he recounts his adventures and meets again with many of the defeated knights he sent there. Awkward.
  • Book 7

    The Tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney

    • During the feast of Pentecost, a tall, handsome young man appears at Arthur's court with a dwarf and two other men, and asks Arthur to grant his request, or "boon."
    • His request is that he be given food and lodging in Arthur's household for one year, plus two other requests to be made at a later time.
    • Because he doesn't ask for knightly things, everyone assumes the young man is low-born.
    • Kay, who taunts the young man mercilessly, nicknames him Beaumains, or "fair-hands," because of his beautiful hands that look like they've never done a day's work.
    • On the feast of Whitsuntide, a lady appears in court asking for the help of Arthur's knights to rescue her sister from the Red Knight, who has besieged her castle.
    • Beaumains asks for his final two boons: to be allowed to undertake this quest, and to be knighted by Sir Launcelot at a later date. Good ol' Arthur kindly grants his requests.
    • The lady is unhappy to be given only a "kitchen-boy" (rude, much?) to help her and tries to ride away without him, but he follows her anyway.
    • Kay rides after Beaumains to joust with him, pursued by Gawain and Launcelot.
    • Beaumains jousts with Kay and defeats him. Then he jousts with Launcelot. It's a tie, and Launcelot knights him. Beaumains then continues on his journey.
    • Beaumains rescues a knight from six thieves who have captured him. Then he defeats two knights who are guarding a river-crossing. Despite his past victories, the lady continues to taunt him, telling him his victories are only dumb luck. She's not the nicest traveling companion.
    • Then Beaumains kills the Black Knight, too, and then faces off with the Black Knight's brother, the Green Knight, and refuses to show him mercy unless the lady requests it, which she does, grudgingly.
    • Then Beaumains overcomes the Black and Green Knights' brother, the Red Knight. He's got those colors covered.
    • All but one, it turns out. Soon, Beaumains and the lady come to a beautiful plain before a great city, where the Blue Knight, Sir Persaunte of Inde, is on vacation.
    • The lady suddenly has a change of heart towards Beaumains, and begs him to save himself, warning him of the Blue Knight's prowess.
    • But Beaumains totally has more prowess, and defeats Sir Persaunt of Inde, who turns out to be another brother of the three knights he has previously defeated. He and the lady stay with Sir Persaunt that night.
    • Sir Persaunt sends his daughter to seduce Beaumains, but when he learns who she is he refuses her out of respect for his host. When Sir Persaunt learns this, he declares Beaumains must be nobility.
    • So Beaumains reveals his identity to Sir Persaunt and the lady (who, we have learned, is named Lyonet). He is Sir Gareth of Orkney, nephew to the king and brother of Sirs Gawain and Gaheris. Oh so that explains it.
    • Lyonet's sister learns of Sir Gareth's arrival and sends food and wine for him to a nearby hermitage.
    • Then, Gareth defeats the Red Knight (there's yet another one), breaking the siege around Lyonet's sister's castle.
    • Apparently the Red Knight laid siege to the castle in order to provoke Gawain and Launcelot, who killed the family members of a lady he loved. Or so he tells Gareth.
    • Gareth falls in love with the lady of the castle, Lyonesse, and she with him. She sends him away to adventure for a year's time, which doesn't strike us as all that loving, but hey, what do we know?
    • Lyonesse sends her brother, Sir Gryngamour, to capture Gareth's dwarf so she can learn Gareth's real identity. At the castle of Sir Gryngamour, the dwarf reveals Gareth's identity to Lyonesse, who is pleased by it (who wouldn't be?).
    • Sir Gareth arrives at Sir Gryngamour's castle in search of his dwarf, and is lodged there and seduced by Lyonesse in disguise.
    • Lyonesse reveals her true identity to Gareth and they become engaged. They make a plan to have sex. Lyonesse goes to Gareth's bed, but the lovers are interrupted again by a knight enchanted by Lyonet, who has discovered their plan. Irked by the interruption, Gareth cuts off that guy's head.
    • The Red, Green, and Blue Knights arrive at Arthur's court to pay homage. Arthur makes the Red Knight a member of the Round Table.
    • Lady Morgause (the mother of Gareth, Gawain, and Gaheris) arrives at Arthur's court demanding to know what has happened to her youngest son, Gareth.
    • When Arthur and the knights learn the true identity of "Beaumains," they are eager to find him, too, so they send for Dame Lyonesse.
    • When Lyonesse receives the message, she tells Gareth, who advises her to request that Arthur and his knights declare a tournament, to be held at her palace, with the winner receiving her hand in marriage. She does so. Our Gareth must be a pretty confident dude.
    • The Red and Blue knights agree to fight on Sir Gareth's side against Arthur's knights during the tournament.
    • Lyonesse gives Gareth a magic ring that makes him change colors. We're assuming this just might come in handy later.
    • Gareth does well during the tournament, but when his identity is discovered (because it's written on his helmet) he uses his magic ring to ride away in disguise.
    • On the run, he receives lodging in a castle in a forest in exchange for his promise to yield to the owner of the castle whenever he meets with him.
    • While out and about, Gareth defeats and escapes from the castle of Sir Bendelayne, he rescues the castle of thirty weeping widows from the Brown Knight, and he meets the Duke de la Rowse, at whose castle he had formerly lodged, and jousts with him, too. How's that for adventure?
    • Sir Gawain meets with Gareth and they joust until Lyonet arrives and tells him it's his brother. The two men embrace. Ah, brotherly love.
    • King Arthur and Lady Morgause arrive on the scene, and Arthur immediately gives Gareth and Lyonesse permission to marry, which they do, at Michaelmas (another Christian holiday).
    • Their other brother, Sir Agravain, marries a cousin of Lyonet and Lyonesse. Happy times.
    • Arthur makes the Green Knight and the Duke de la Rowse Knights of the Round Table. He and the Red, Green, and Blue knights all pledge their fealty to Gareth, the lucky guy.
  • Book 8

    The Fyrste and the Secunde Boke of Syr Trystram de Lyones

    • Elizabeth, wife of King Melyodas of Lyones and sister of King Mark of Cornwall, dies giving birth to her son, Trystram, in a forest.
    • King Melyodas remarries a woman who wants the kingdom for her own child, but accidentally poisons that child instead of Trystram. Whoops.
    • After King Melyodas discovers his second wife's plotting and sentences her to death, Trystram, who seems like quite a nice guy, pleads for mercy for her, and grants her life.
    • Trystram travels with his tutor and servant, Governayle, to France, where he becomes a master of the harp, hunting, and hawking.
    • Meanwhile, King Angwysh of Ireland sends a message to King Mark demanding a tribute, or that Mark fight his champion, Sir Marhalt.
    • Trystram asks King Mark to knight him and let him be his champion in the fight against Sir Marhalt. King Mark does.
    • Trystram defeats Sir Marhalt in the fight, but he's really badly wounded and has to travel to Ireland for healing.
    • Trystram arrives at the court of King Angwysh, but tells everyone his name is Tramtryst so they won't try to avenge Sir Marhalt's death. Good thinking, dude.
    • King Angwysh's daughter, Isode, heals Trystram's wounds. Is it just us, or are there sparks flying?
    • Isode asks Trystram to defeat a pagan, Sir Palomydes, in a joust her father has planned. Apparently the outcome of the joust will decide her marriage.
    • Trystram defeats Sir Palomydes in the joust and forces him to relinquish any claim to Isode's hand. Nice save, T.
    • Isode's mother (and sister to Sir Marhalt) discovers that Tramtryst is really Trystram. She tries to kill him while he's taking a bath, but a nearby knight stops her.
    • King Angwysh sends Trystram away from his court, but they part on good terms.
    • Back in Cornwall, Trystram and King Mark get into a fight over the same lady, the wife of a knight called Sir Segwarydes. From this point on, they hate one another.
    • Trystram rescues Sir Segwarydes' wife after King Mark allows her to be kidnapped by a knight of the Round Table named Sir Bleoberys.
    • Because Trystram allowed Bleoberys to ride away with her, Segwarydes' wife refuses to go with Trystram, choosing instead to return to her husband. Tough luck, buddy.
    • King Mark asks Trystram to go to Ireland to arrange a marriage between himself (Mark) and Isode.
    • Trystram lands in England on his way to Ireland and, in Arthur's court, serves as King Angwysh's champion in a dispute with the family of Sir Launcelot. Trystram sure serves a lot of different masters.
    • As his reward for winning the dispute, King Angwysh allows Trystram to do whatever he wants with Isode.
    • Trystram leaves with Isode and her handmaid, Brangwyn, for Cornwall.
    • On the boat, Trystram and Isode mistakenly drink a love-potion that was meant for Isode and Mark, causing them to fall more deeply in love than they already are.
    • On a detour at the Castle Pleurs, Trystram and Isode are forced to submit to a custom wherein Trystram must compete with the lord of the castle in a joust, and Isode, with the lady of the castle in a beauty contest. The losers get their heads chopped off. Thankfully, Trystram and Isode win, otherwise we wouldn't have much of a story would we?
    • Eventually, King Mark and Isode marry, but Trystram and Isode are lovers. This has disaster written all over it.
    • Sir Palomides (Isode's would-be husband) rescues Brangwyn after she has been kidnapped and held captive. In exchange for her return, he forces Isode to swear that she'll grant him whatever he desires. Of course his desire is that he be allowed to kidnap Isode, and King Mark says she has to agree, to save her honor.
    • A friend of Trystram named Sir Lambegus rides after Palomides to try to rescue Isode, but Palomides defeats him, leaving him wounded.
    • Isode runs away during the fight and tries to drown herself in a well, only to be stopped by Sir Adtherpe, who takes Isode into his castle.
    • Adtherpe seeks vengeance for Isode's kidnapping, but when Sir Palomides defeats him, he must reveal Isode's whereabouts to Palomides. Nice try, buddy.
    • Trystram finds his way to the castle in which Isode has barred the doors against Palomides. He fights and defeats Palomides, but Isode, feeling generous, asks for mercy for her kidnapper. She then exiles him from Cornwall.
    • A Cornish knight named Sir Andred reveals Trystram and Isode's love to King Mark, but King Mark's barons counsel him to keep Trystram close to him – the better to monitor what he's doing.
    • In a show of power, King Mark forces Trystram to fight with a knight who's already exhausted by a joust. The knight, Sir Lamerok, becomes angry when Trystram refuses to engage with him on foot after he has knocked him off his horse.
    • In his anger, Lamerok sends a magical horn to King Mark. Why? Because this horn's power is that only women who are faithful to their husbands can drink from it cleanly. Sounds handy.
    • When Isode and one hundred of her ladies drink from the horn, only four pass the test. Isode is not one of them. No surprise there.
    • Later, Sir Andred catches Isode and Trystram in bed together. He and his henchmen bind Trystram and take him to a chapel to be judged.
    • But Trystram escapes, and rescues Isode from a leper-house where King Mark has imprisoned her. He takes her to a forest-manor where they live together for a while. Ah, the quiet life.
    • While enjoying himself in the forest one day, Trystram receives a poison arrow-wound from a man whose brother he has killed.
    • While Trystram is out of the house, King Mark captures Isode from the manor and imprisons her.
    • Isode, as resourceful as ever, manages to get a message out to Trystram that he must travel to the court of King Howell to be healed of his wound by King Howell's daughter, a woman named Isode le Blaunche Maynes, which Trystram does.
    • While there, Trystram marries Isode le Blaunche Maynes, but refuses to sleep with her when he remembers his love for the other Isode.
    • Trystram, his wife, and her brother Keyhydyus get shipwrecked off the coast of North Wales, where Trystram meets Sir Lamerok and Sir Segwarydes and reconciles with them both. At least something good has come from this big old mess.
    • The trio kills Sir Nabon and his son, who hold this land captive with an iron fist.
    • Then, Sir Lamerok rescues a knight named Sir Froll from a battle of three-against-one. It's all perfectly nice until Lamerok kills him in revenge for his fight with Sir Gawain.
    • Sir Froll's lady tells his brother, Sir Bellyaunce le Orgulus, who killed Sir Froll. Sir Bellyaunce fights with Sir Lamerok, but then reconciles with him.
  • Book 9

    The Tale of Sir La Cote Male Taylé

    • A young man in a rich but ill-fitting coat arrives at Arthur's court and asks to be knighted. Kay nicknames him La Cote Male Taylé, which means "the badly-tailored coat." He's not too creative with these nicknames, our Kay.
    • Sir La Cote Male Taylé kills a lion that attacks Queen Gwenyvere one day when all the other knights are out hunting. That should be enough to earn knighthood, don't you think?
    • A lady arrives in court asking that one of the Knights of the Round Table take up the quest of her recently-departed lover, and La Cote Male Taylé does so. He's ready for action.
    • Sir Kay makes King Arthur's fool (or clown), Sir Dagonet, follow La Cote and joust with him. La Cote defeats him, but the lady makes fun of him for having to joust with a fool.
    • Sirs Bleoberys and Palomides, our old friends, also joust with La Cote, knocking him off his horse. Then they refuse to fight with him on foot, so the lady makes fun of him for this, too.
    • Eventually Sir Mordred joins up with La Cote and the lady, Dame Maledysaunte.
    • On his adventure, La Cote defeats the one hundred knights of the Castle Orgulus.
    • When Maledysaunte learns of this victory, she feels bad for making fun of La Cote. Serves her right.
    • Mordred makes the point that even Launcelot was easily knocked off his horse when he was a young knight, even though, like La Cote, he was fearsome on foot. It happens to the best of them, it seems.
    • Sir Launcelot rides after La Cote, meaning to help him, but before he meets him, six knights from the Castle Pendragon take La Cote prisoner.
    • Ever brave, Launcelot rescues La Cote and seventy other knights and ladies from the Castle Pendragon and its lord, Sir Bryan.
    • La Cote and Lady Maledysaunte thank him for his help.
    • A little miffed, Launcelot tells Maledysaunte off for making fun of La Cote, but she swears she only did it out of concern for his life, hoping to deter a knight so young from undertaking the quest.
    • Next, La Cote tries to win a fortress-bridge from three knights that are holding it. He defeats the first two. But the third knight, Sir Plenoryus, takes pity on La Cote's weariness and takes him into the castle to heal his wounds.
    • Thinking Sir Plenoryus has taken La Cote prisoner, Launcelot jousts with him, forcing him to yield and promise to pay homage to Arthur from that day forward.
    • Because Sir Bryan refuses to pay homage to Arthur, Arthur gives his lands to La Cote.
    • Maledysaunte, meanwhile, marries Sir Breune La Noyre.
    • And that's the end of the Tale of Sir La Cote Male Taylé. Book 9, however, keeps right on going by returning to the sordid story of Isode.
    • Isode sends letters to Sir Trystram asking him to return to Cornwall, so he and his brother-in-law, Keyhydyus, get in a boat and head that direction.
    • Unfortunately, an unfavorable wind strands them on the coast of north Wales near the Forest Perilous. Well that doesn't sound too promising.
    • Trystram and Keyhydyus joust with Sir Lamerok, whom they meet on their journey. Keyhydyus is wounded in the joust, so they carry him to a foresters' lodge to rest for a few days.
    • Sirs Launcelot and Mellyagaunce get into a joust with Sir Lamerok for saying that Queen Morgause is more beautiful than Queen Gwenyvere, until Sir Bleoberys breaks up the fight by reminding them of an age-old truth: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
    • Meanwhile, Sir Trystram meets with Sirs Kay, Tor, and Braundiles and they all joust for a bit.
    • We learn that Arthur has been seduced and led into the Forest Perilous by a woman named Aunowre, and that all his knights have come to the forest in search of him.
    • Lady Nynyve tells Sir Trystram of the danger that Arthur is in, and leads him to the King, who is nearly overcome by two of Aunowre's knights. Trystram rescues Arthur, just in the nick of time.
    • Trystram and Keyhydyus reunite and leave the Forest Perilous for Cornwall, back on task.
    • Isode lodges Trystram and Keyhydyus in a tower where she visits them often, unbeknownst to King Mark.
    • Trystram discovers love letters between Isode and Keyhydyus, chases Keyhydyus out of the tower, and then goes mad with grief, the poor kid.
    • Eventually, he goes so crazy that he becomes the fool (clown) of a fellowship of herdsmen and shepherds, living naked and wild in the woods.
    • Sir Andred tells King Mark that Trystram is dead because he wants Trystram's lands.
    • Of course this news causes Isode to go mad with grief and try to kill herself, but King Mark catches her just in time and keeps her under watch in a tower.
    • While frolicking in the woods, Trystram rescues a knight named Sir Dynaunt from a giant.
    • When Sir Dynaunt tells King Mark about the madman who rescued him, King Mark decides to trap him and bring him to his castle. Once he's in the castle, Trystram returns to his right mind.
    • Isode discovers that Trystram is there. She tells him to go to Arthur's court to avoid punishment from Mark, and that she'll come to him whenever he asks for her.
    • Mark finds out that the madman is really Trystram, and exiles him from Cornwall all over again.
    • On his way to Arthur's court, Trystram sends a message to Mark sarcastically thanking him for the way he has rewarded him for all the times he's saved his bacon.
    • Trystram and his companion, Sir Dynadan, takes a break from the sea-journey and, at the nearest landfall, meets with Sirs Dynaunt, Ector, and Bors and – yep – they all joust for a bit.
    • A lady tells Trystram and Dynadan about a plot of Morgan le Fay's to ambush Sir Launcelot with thirty knights, and asks for their help. Trystram promises it despite Sir Dynadan's protests about being badly outnumbered.
    • Trystram and Dynadan defeat the thirty knights.
    • They seek lodging in a place where the custom is that all guests must joust for their lodging with knights who are already there. Is there anything these guys won't joust for?
    • After they've won their lodging, Dynadan gets upset that they now have to keep the "custom of the castle" by jousting with Sirs Palomydes and Gaheris, who have just arrived there in search of a bed for the night.
    • After the fight, Dynadan refuses to stay in this particular lodging anymore, so he and Trystram ride to a nearby priory where they meet with Sirs Bors, Bleoberys, Ector, Dryaunt, and Launcelot.
    • Sir Trystram hears about a joust between King Carados and the King of North Wales, and decides to serve the champion of the latter king.
    • On his way to the joust, Trystram goes on a little detour to help a lady. What else is new?
    • Sir Gawain meets Sir Trystram and the lady. He quickly recognizes her as one of Morgan le Fay's henchwomen. Bad news. He gets the lady to confess to leading Trystram into a trap.
    • Understandably ticked off, Gawain and Trystram travel to Morgan's castle and challenge her knights to a fight, but Trystram is so frightening, the knights refuse.
    • On to other things. Gawain and Trystram rescue a lady from Sir Breunys sans Pité.
    • Then Trystram meets Brangwayne by a well. She has come in search of him, bearing letters from Isode.
    • Brangwayne and Trystram lodge incognito at the home of Sir Pellownes and meet his son, Sir Persydes, who hates Trystram for defeating him and stealing his lady.
    • Persydes and Trystram see Sir Palomydes on his way to a tournament. Of course, they joust with him, and he knocks them both off their horses.
    • Meanwhile, Launcelot jousts with and defeats a group of knights from North Wales.
    • The defeated knights ask Palomydes to redeem their honor by fighting with Launcelot, so he does, and Launcelot defeats him, too.
    • The group from North Wales follows Launcelot to a well, where they ambush him and he defeats them all again. Can't they take a hint?
    • Trystram fights incognito during the first day of the tournament on the side of King Carados, and wins the prize for being the best fighter that day as "the knight with the black shield."
    • Trystram fights incognito during the second day of the tournament on the side of the King of North Galis, because Sir Palomydes is on the other side. He wins the prize of the day for the King of North Galis.
    • Trystram (still incognito) rescues Sir Palomydes, who has been tied up in the forest by Sirs Ector and Bors, and Palomydes tells of his despair that he can't seem to get the better of this Trystram guy. Ha.
    • On the third day of the tournament, Trystram leaves early with Sir Dynadan and they lodge at the home of a nearby knight, Sir Darras.
    • Arthur awards the prize of the day to Launcelot, who humbly rejects it in favor of Trystram.
    • Sir Darras rides out to invite Palomydes to lodge with him, too.
    • Arthur sends ten of his knights on a quest to find the "Knight with the Black Shield."
    • One of the ten knights, Sir Lucan, comes to where Trystram is lodged and jousts with Sir Darras' nephew, who wounds him. Sir Uwayne rescues Sir Lucan and carries him to the abbey of Ganys to be healed.
    • Sir Darras discovers that Trystram killed three of his sons in the tournament, so he imprisons Trystram, Dynadan, and Palomydes.
    • Meanwhile, another of the ten, Sir Gaheris, rides to Cornwall and tells King Mark about the "Knight with the Black Shield."
    • King Mark realizes it must be Trystram, and is angry that his enemy has won such honor.
    • Uwayne arrives at King Mark's court and jousts with and defeats Sirs Andred and Dynas.
    • Gaheris at first agrees to fight for King Mark against Uwayne, but then he lets him ride away without fighting because Uwayne has reminded him of his oath never to fight with another knight of the Round Table.
    • King Mark rides after him in secret and wounds Uwayne in a sneaky, dishonorable ambush.
    • Sir Kay arrives at Mark's court and Mark sends him and Gaheris to the Perelous Lake, where he promises they'll meet with an adventure.
    • Mark and Andred ride to the lake and assault Gaheris and Kay, who defeat them then grant them mercy. They make Mark promise to be nice to Trystram from now on.
    • Meanwhile, Sir Darras releases Trystram, Palomydes, and Dynadan from prison. He and Trystram reconcile.
    • Sir Dynadan defends a lady who has been kidnapped by Sir Breunys sans Pité.
    • Morgan le Fay imprisons Trystram in her castle for a while. Eventually, she lets Trystram leave, making him promise to carry a shield with a hidden message about Launcelot and Gwenyvere's illicit love. That Morgan is so devious.
    • Morgan's jealous lover, Sir Hemyson, rides after Trystram to fight with him. Trystram defeats and kills him and Morgan erects an expensive tomb for him.
    • Trystram arrives at the tournament called by Arthur at the Castle Roche Duré, carrying the shield Morgan gave him.
    • Arthur notices the strange shield Trystram carries and learns its meaning. He interrogates Trystram about it and learns it came from Morgan le Fay. Uh-oh…
  • Book 10

    • Arthur doesn't believe Trystram doesn't know the meaning of the shield. He gets angry when Trystram refuses to reveal his name.
    • So Trystram fights with and defeats Arthur, then Uwayne. Then he rides away from the tournament.
    • Along the way, Trystram rescues Sir Palomydes from nine knights.
    • Sir Palomydes refuses to fight with Trystram after learning his identity because Trystram has just rescued him, and is now tired. Instead, they agree to meet one another in two weeks at a special place near Camelot.
    • Sir Palomydes and Sir Trystram find a strange knight sleeping under a tree. They wake him and he attacks them, then rides away.
    • Sir Trystram rides in search of the strange knight, discovering a trail of defeated knights in his wake. No one knows the identity of the strange knight, because he has covered his shield.
    • Trystram arrives at the special place near Camelot where he's supposed to meet Sir Palomydes.
    • The knight with the covered shield arrives there instead and engages with Sir Trystram.
    • The knight with the covered shield reveals himself to be – gasp – Launcelot. Trystram reveals himself to be Trystram, and the two men embrace then ride together to Arthur's court, where Arthur makes Trystram a knight of the Round Table.
    • Meanwhile, the spiteful King Mark is angry when he hears of Trystram's renown, and rides to Camelot to kill him.
    • On the way, Mark kills a companion named Sir Berluse because he refuses to help kill Trystram. His other companion, Sir Amant, abandons him too, heading for Camelot alone.
    • King Mark meets with Sirs Dynadan and Lamerok, and jousts with Lamerok. Dynadan makes fun of him for losing, but nevertheless he and Lamerok promise they'll help Mark travel to Arthur's court safely.
    • Dynadan, Mark, and Lamerok lodge at the castle of Sir Berluse, who reveals his hatred for Mark, because Mark killed his father.
    • Sir Berluse rides after his houseguests the next day and tries to fight Mark. Lamerok and Dynadan are forced to fight on Mark's side because they have promised him safe travels
    • Later, Sir Dynadan jousts with a knight for passage over a bridge and gets knocked from his horse. The knight then allows the three men to pass.
    • Mark makes Dynadan promise not to reveal his identity to Arthur's court because he knows he's hated there.
    • Dynadan sees six Knights of the Round Table and rides toward them as if to joust with them. King Mark, on the other hand, rides away in fear of being outnumbered.
    • Dynadan and Arthur's knights send Arthur's fool (clown) Dagonet after Mark, dressed as Launcelot, and Mark runs away in fear of him.
    • Sir Palomides "rescues" King Mark from Dagonet, then leaves him at a priory to sleep.
    • Wondering who the strange knight is who has struck down Dagonet, Arthur's knights pursue him through a forest. King Mark does the same, separately.
    • Mark and Dynadan both overhear Palomydes raging about his love for Isode and his hatred of Mark, but Mark rides away for fear (isn't he always?) that Dynadan will reveal his identity to angry Palomydes.
    • Mark arrives at Arthur's court only to find that Sir Amante, one of the knights with whom he traveled from Cornwall, is already there and accusing him of treason for killing Sir Berluse and for planning to kill Trystram. So, of course, Mark fights with Sir Amante and kills him.
    • Angered by this, Launcelot fights with Mark and forces him to yield, but cannot kill him because Mark begs for mercy, promising to do Arthur homage and treat Trystram well from now on. No one believes he'll keep these promises, but they show him mercy anyways.
    • Meanwhile, Sirs Palomydes and Dynadan have met in the forest and agreed to ride together to Camelot.
    • When they arrive at the castle of Morgan le Fay, a strange "Knight with a Red Shield" refuses their offer to help him fight the large number of knights who stream out of the castle to engage him. So Palomydes and Dynadan opt instead to joust with the Knight with the Red Shield, who overcomes them.
    • The knight reveals that he is Lamerok, the son of King Pellynore. Small world.
    • Dynadan leaves Lamerok and Palomydes to recover from their wounds in a priory. He rides to Camelot on his own, where he reunites with Trystram and tells Arthur's court about his adventures.
    • Arthur declares a joust. During the joust, two mysterious knights arrive and begin defeating everyone. They are revealed to be Sirs Lamerok and Palomydes. Hey, aren't they supposed to be healing their wounds?
    • Trystram goes back to Cornwall with King Mark, despite Launcelot's warning that Mark will betray him. Remember, no one trusts this shady Mark guy.
    • Meanwhile, a knight named Sir Aglovale arrives and asks that his brother be knighted. The brother turns out to be Sir Percyvale de Galis, Sir Lamerok's brother.
    • Then, a mysterious woman suddenly speaks for the first time, revealing Percyvale to be the knight who deserves to sit in the Perilous Seat (the place for the knight who will be successful in the Grail Quest).
    • Queen Morgause of Orkeney, mother of Gawain, Gaheris, Aggravayne, and Gareth, arrives at Arthur's court.
    • When catches his mom and Sir Lamerok having sex, he cuts off his mother's head. Yep, you heard us right. He decapitates his own mother. Talk about family drama.
    • Because of all the drama, not only with this incident, but also with the fact that Gawain killed his father, King Pellynore, Lamerok decides to ditch the court.
    • Angered by letters Trystram receives from Camelot, which warn him to beware of Mark's treachery, Mark sends Arthur a letter telling him to "look to his own family."
    • This causes Arthur to reflect on what he has learned about the illicit love between Gwenyvere and Launcelot, which he then dismisses since the news came from Morgan le Fay, who's not exactly trustworthy.
    • Dynadan is so angered by Mark's letter that he writes a mean song about him and sends a minstrel to Cornwall to sing it.
    • In Cornwall, Trystram receives some gnarly wounds in a joust and retires to a nearby castle to recover.
    • Elsewhere, Mark's lands are attacked by a force of Sessoynes. Close to defeat, Mark calls for help from Trystram, who arrives a few days later, not fully recovered from his jousting injuries.
    • Led by Trystram, Mark's forces are able to push back the Sessoynes. Their leader, Elyas, calls for a man-to-man combat to determine who will yield tribute.
    • Mark sends Trystram to fight the combat, and Trystram defeats Elyas, despite being so badly wounded. In the end, what helps him win is his love for Isode, which gives him courage.
    • When the Sessoynes retreat, Mark's brother, Prince Bodwyne, kills all the homeward-bound Sessoynes in a naval battle.
    • Jealous of the renown Bodwyne wins for his naval victory, Mark calls him to court, then kills him. Bodwyne's wife and son, Alysaundir, on the other hand, escape from Cornwall.
    • Much later, when Alysaundir grows up, his mom presents him with the bloody shirt and doublet of his father and asks him to avenge his death. So Alysaundir travels to England hoping to become Launcelot's protégé.
    • Instead, he arrives at the castle of Morgan le Fay, where he is wounded in a battle with one of her knights. Morgan le Fay kindly heals Alysaundir, but then imprisons him for a year, which seems rather unkind.
    • Morgan le Fay's cousin becomes Alysaundir's lover. She helps him escape Morgan's clutches by having her uncle burn the castle down. Effective? Yes. Practical? Not so much.
    • Nevertheless, Alysaundir remains on the site of the castle for a year, offering to do battle with anyone who wants to challenge him.
    • A woman named Alys le Beall Pylgryme says that she'll marry whichever knight is able to defeat Alysaundir, then sets up her tent side-by-side with his. Sparks fly, inevitably.
    • After Alysaundir defeats Sir Sagramour le Desyrous, he and Alys fall in love and marry. At the end of Alysaundir's year of jousting, they travel to Benoy, where they settle down, unlike most other couples of Camelot.
    • In other news, Sir Galahalt the Haute Prynce calls for a week-long tournament in his country of Surluse, to which Launcelot and Gwenyvere travel together.
    • On the first day of the tournament, Palomides defeats a knight named Sir Gonereyse, who has wrongly taken the lands of a lady. The lady then falls in love with Palomides. Totally saw that one coming, didn't we?
    • On the second day of the tournament, Palomides defeats Sir Gonereyse's brother.
    • But on the third day, a mysterious knight enters the field and defeats Sir Palomides. He turns out to be Lamerok.
    • On the fifth day of the tournament, Palomides fights against a fellow pagan named Sir Corsabryne at the request of a lady who wants Corsabryne to leave her alone. When Corsabryne dies, a horrible odor leaves his body with his soul. Gwenyvere and Galahalt interpret this as a miracle, and encourage Palomides to convert.
    • On the sixth day, Sir Lamerok and his family engage with the family of Arthur's nephews.
    • Then, on the seventh day, Sir Launcelot dresses up as a woman and fights with Sir Dynadan. When he defeats Dynadan, he dresses him as a woman, too, and parades him before Gwenyvere and Galahalt.
    • At the end of the tournament, Launcelot encourages Sir Lamerok to remain in Arthur's court, but Lamerok doesn't trust Arthur's nephews, and refuses to stay.
    • The Haute Prince and King Badgemagus declare a tournament, hoping to kill Launcelot during the jousts.
    • Unfortunately, this gives sneaky King Mark an idea. He betrays Trystram by sending him to this tournament dressed as Launcelot, which is dangerous to say the least. Then he imprisons him under the pretense of healing the wounds he receives as a result.
    • Sir Percivale rescues Trystram and makes King Mark promise not to betray him again, which sounds like a plan until Mark catches Trystram and Isode together and – yes – imprisons Trystram again.
    • Luckily, Trystram has become quite the escape artist, and he and Isode escape from Cornwall together on a boat.
    • Launcelot and Trystram meet during a joust and Launcelot invites Trystram and Isode to stay with him at Joyous Guard.
    • Arthur declares a joust of Ireland and Scotland against Ireland and North Wales.
    • One day, while hunting, Trystram meets up with Sirs Palomides and Breunys sans Pité.
    • Sir Bleoberis arrives to joust with Sir Breunys in revenge for all the awful things he's done, but Sir Breunys runs away.
    • Sir Breunys tricks Sirs Ector de Marys, Harry and Percivale into defending him against Bleoberis by saying that Sir Breunys sans Pité is chasing him.
    • The Knights of the Round Table discover Sir Breunys's ruse when he begins beating up on Sir Bleoberis after he's been disarmed.
    • Suddenly, Sir Palomydes arrives and tells these knights that Sir Lamerok was killed by Gawain and his brothers after a tournament, which makes Percivale, Lamerok's half-brother, very sad.
    • Elsewhere, Trystram meets up with Sir Dynadan while out hunting, but he doesn't reveal his identity. Dynadan teases Trystram about being a lover, and renounces love himself.
    • When Trystram arrives back at Joyous Guard, he finds the people there upset that two strange knights have killed one of their knights for saying that Sir Launcelot is a better knight than Sir Gawain.
    • So our noble Trystram fights with and defeats the two knights, who turn out to be Sirs Gaheris and Agravain, and rebukes them for killing Sir Lamerok.
    • When Isode learns of Dynadan's arrival, she sends for him and jokes around with him, defending lover-knights as the best in the world. She's one to know, after all.
    • Trystram rides after Dynadan the next day and, still choosing not to reveal his identity, puts himself under Dynadan's protection. Sir Gareth soon runs into them and jousts with Sir Dynadan.
    • Then they run into Sir Palomides, too, and he jousts with Sir Gareth, then reveals that Sir Trystram is the knight he hates most in the world, for love of Isode. This lady has caused more trouble than we can imagine.
    • The time has come for Trystram to reveal his identity. He jousts with Sir Palomides, who decides Trystram is such a good knight that he'll be friends with him instead, and they reconcile.
    • The fellowship mourns the death of Sir Lamerok, but Sir Gareth reveals that he doesn't approve of his brother's actions and declines to hold fellowship with them.
    • The four men head to the tournament Arthur is putting on. On their way, they come across a boat in which a dead, bloodied knight named Sir Harmaunce holds a letter in his hands.
    • Sir Harmaunce's letter asks some good knight to avenge his death at the hands of two of his favorites who murdered him. Deciding to undertake this particular quest, Sir Palomides departs in the boat.
    • Later Sir Trystram defeats a knight who invites him to dine with him, then attacks him when he learns Trystram is the knight who killed his brother.
    • Sir Segwarydes and the King with the Hundred Knights attack Sir Trystram and his friends because the helm Sir Trystram wears once belonged to the King's lover. They lose. Haven't people learned not to mess with Trystram by now?
    • Meanwhile, Sir Palomides arrives at Sir Harmaunce's castle and learns that he was murdered by two of his favorites, whom he promoted over his own family members. Sir Palomides promptly kills the two murderous protégés, and then rides back to England to meet Trystram before the big joust.
    • As Trystram, Isode, Dynadan, Palomides, and Gareth ride to the joust, they fight with Sir Galyhodynes, who wants to kidnap Isode but gives up when he realizes what a brave, honorable knight Sit Trystram is. Smart man.
    • News of Sir Trystram's group reaches the tournament ahead of them when a force led by Sir Gawain (which they encounter and defeat) carries word of them to Arthur.
    • Trystram refuses to reveal his identity to Arthur, or to pledge his support to one side or the other during the joust.
    • Trystram, Gareth, Dynadan, and Palomides enter the jousts against the knights of Orkney on the first day. They joust in disguise, dressed in green, but smarty pants Launcelot suspects their true identities.
    • Inspired by Isode's presence, Sir Palomides does wonderfully during the tournament, even besting Sir Launcelot, and takes the prize as the best knight of the day.
    • Sir Dynadan mocks Sir Trystram for allowing Palomides to show him up, but his true intention is to motivate Sir Trystram to do better the next day.
    • On the way to the tournament the next day, King Arthur insists upon meeting Trystram's party to ogle the beautiful Isode, causing Palomides to knock him off his horse in anger.
    • Trystram chides Palomides for taking it upon himself to defend Isode, a task Trystram says is rightfully his.
    • During the joust, Palomides breaks from Trystram to fight alone with the knights of Orkney, winning all of the honor for himself.
    • Trystram sees this and it motivates him to fight even harder to win the attention of the crowds back from Palomides.
    • As part of this plan, Trystram returns to his encampment and disguises himself, then goes back to the joust. Of course when Palomides discovers the new, strange knight's true identity, he, too, disguises himself, and then attacks Trystram.
    • Sir Trystram wins the prize as the best knight of the day.
    • After the joust, Trystram realizes Palomides was the knight who attacked him, and accuses him of treachery. Palomides' excuse is that he didn't realize the knight in disguise was Trystram, which is a big fat lie.
    • Back at the encampment, Isode has seen everything and believes Palomides to be guilty of treachery. However, she gives in to Trystram's decision to accept Palomides's explanation and pardon him.
    • Arthur and Launcelot arrive at the encampment. They wonder why Trystram, Gareth, Palomides, and Dynadan decided to fight against them. They also want to know why Palomides attacked Trystram.
    • The next morning, Trystram and his friends discover that Palomides has cried all night, the poor guy.
    • At the joust the next day, Trystram suggests to Palomides, Dynadan, and Gareth that they switch sides and join up with Arthur and his forces. Everyone totally agrees, except for Palomides.
    • Unfortunately, his side loses, and all the honor of the day goes to Trystram and Launcelot.
    • A big old mess, Palomides flees the battle, wailing and weeping like crazy. At a nearby well, he meets up with the kings of Scotland and Ireland, who are also fleeing the joust, and they decide to keep each other company.
    • Before leaving with them, Palomides rides to Trystram's tent and promises to take revenge on Trystram for shaming him during the joust.
    • During his travels, Palomides meets with a weeping, wounded knight named Epynogrys, who explains that he has suffered more for love than Palomides because he kidnapped his lady from her kinsmen, then lost her to another knight, Sir Helyor.
    • While Epynogrys heals from his wounds at a nearby priory, Palomides watches Sir Helyor lose the very same lady to another knight. Palomides wins the lady back from the other knight, who turns out to be his brother, Sir Saphir.
    • Saphir and Palomides lodge with Epynogrys for a while.
    • Later, the two of them hear a great weeping in a manor and, when they ride inside the gates, are attacked by the knights within, who recognize Palomides as the knight who killed their lord in the jousting at Loneghep.
    • The knights overcome Saphir and Palomides and find Palomides guilty of their lord's death. Uh-oh.
    • Some knights on their way to Joyous Guard see Palomides being taken to the father of the knight he killed to be executed. When they tell Trystram about it, he rides out to rescue him.
    • Ah, but Launcelot rescues Sir Palomides instead. When Trystram arrives on the scene and Palomides sees that he has come to rescue him, the sometimes buddies, sometimes enemies reconcile. Palomides remains at Joyous Guard for a while.
    • But soon, he grows ill because of his unrequited love for Isode and his jealousy of Trystram.
    • When Palomides sees his reflection in a stream, he realizes the toll his love has taken on him and begins to sing a lament about it.
    • Trystram, out hunting, hears the lament and challenges Palomides to a duel in two weeks.
    • But when a stray arrow does some serious damage to Trystram's thigh, he's unable to make it to the duel.
  • Book 11

    The Birth of Galahad and the Quarrel between Launcelot and Gwenyvere

    • In King Arthur's court, a hermit prophesies that a knight who is to sit in the Siege Perilous will be born that same year. Let's keep that information handy, shall we?
    • Launcelot rides into a town whose people beg him to rescue their lady from a tub of boiling water where she has been imprisoned because Morgan le Fay is jealous of her beauty.
    • Thankfully, Launcelot is able to break the curse and rescue her because he is the best knight in the world, after all. When he and the lady go to a chapel to give thanks, Launcelot kills a dragon that lives inside.
    • The King of the land, Pelles, invites Launcelot to dine with him in the Castle Corbin. During dinner, a maiden carrying a golden chalice enters, before which Pelles and his men pray.
    • Pelles tells Launcelot that the chalice is the "Sankgreall," or Holy Grail. Whoa. That's kind of a big deal.
    • As it turns out, Pelles wants Launcelot to sleep with his daughter, Elayne. He and a wise-woman, Dame Brusen, conspire to enchant Launcelot into believing he is sleeping with Gwenyvere when it is really Elayne.
    • When Launcelot awakens from the enchantment and realizes what has happened, he's super angry and raises his sword against Elayne, who begs for mercy and tells him that she has conceived a son with him in fulfillment of a prophecy. Could this be the kid who'll sit in the Siege Perilous?
    • In any case, Launcelot leaves the Castle Corbin.
    • Sometime later, his cousin, Sir Bors, arrives at the Castle Corbin and sees the Holy Grail, and the young Galahad, whom he learns is Launcelot's son.
    • Bors spends the night at Corbin. While there, he has a vision of a dragon with "King Arthur" engraved on its head. The dragon fights with a leopard, then spits out of its mouth hundreds of smaller dragons that tear it to pieces. Serious business, folks.
    • He also has a vision of an old man who sings a song about Joseph of Arimathea, and four children surrounding an old man bearing the Spear of Vengeance. In the vision, the old man tells Bors to recount his visions to Sir Launcelot and tell him that although he's the best knight in the physical world, others will surpass him in things spiritual.
    • So Sir Bors returns to Arthur's court and tells everyone what he has seen.
    • When Gwenyvere learns about Elayne and Galahad, she's really angry with Launcelot, but she ends up forgiving him when he explains how he was tricked.
    • Elayne travels to Camelot for a great joust. While there, she and Dame Brusen trick Launcelot into sleeping with her again.
    • As luck would have it, Gwenyvere discovers Launcelot in bed with Elayne and banishes him from Camelot, causing him to go mad and jump out the window completely naked.
    • Elayne chides Gwenyvere for destroying the world's greatest knight, which sounds suspiciously like the pot calling the kettle black.
    • Sir Bors, too, berates Gwenyvere for what she has done, and then rides away with his kinsmen to seek Sir Launcelot.
    • King Arthur sends Sirs Gawain, Uwayne, Sagramour, Agglovale, and Percivale out in search of poor, crazy Launcelot.
    • Agglovale and Percivale first ride to their mother's house. Although she begs them to stay longer, because she's lonely after the death of her husband, Pellynore, and son, Lamerok, they tell her it's just their nature to seek adventure.
    • After they take off, their mother sends a squire in search of then. But he is killed by a lord whose brother was killed by Agglovale. Agglovale of course immediate avenges this death.
    • Percyvale leaves Agglovale sleeping at Cardycan and rides out on his own adventures.
    • He rescues a knight named Sir Persydes from a woman who chained him to a pillar when he refused to become her lover, and he jousts with Sir Ector de Marys, too. They both wound one another mortally, but are healed by the Holy Grail, which Percyvale is able to see because he is a virgin.
  • Book 12

    • Meanwhile, Launcelot, having run away, comes to an encampment where he finds two swords hanging from a tree. He knocks out the knight who comes out of the tent, then jumps into bed with his lady. Well that was quick.
    • The knight, Sir Blyaunte, calls for his brother, Sir Selyvaunte, to bring six men and a horse-litter, upon which they carry Launcelot back to their castle, where they care for him (while keeping him prisoner) for a year and a half.
    • One day, Launcelot sees Blyaunte and Selyvaunte being attacked by two other knights and breaks out of his chains to come to their defense. After that, Blyaunte and Selyvaunte don't lock him up anymore.
    • They even let him go out boar-hunting, which of course results in Launcelot getting badly injured. A hermit finds him and heals him, but is unable to feed Launcelot enough, which makes him all the more crazed. Our man has totally lost it.
    • Launcelot leaves the hermitage and arrives in Corbin, where King Pelles' nephew, Sir Castor, makes him into the court fool, which is a far cry from the great knight he once was, no?
    • Elayne discovers Launcelot sleeping by a tree in the castle courtyard. She has Launcelot borne before the Holy Grail, which handily cures him of his madness.
    • Launcelot asks Elayne to petition her father for lands for him, and receives the castle of Blyaunte on the Joyous Ile, where he and Elayne live together. Wait, what about Gwenyvere?
    • While he's living there, Launcelot takes the name, "Le Shyvalere Mafete," or, "the Knyght that Hath Trespast."
    • Soon enough, Launcelot hears of a nearby joust. He says that Le Shyvalere Mafete of the Castle Blyaunte will go up against any takers for the hand of a fair maiden and a falcon.
    • Because of this, Sir Percyvale and Sir Ector arrive at the Joyous Ile and joust with Sir Launcelot, and their true identities are revealed.
    • Meanwhile, Sir Bors arrives in the country of King Brandegorys, with whose daughter he has conceived a son, Elyne le Blanke. Bors takes his kid back to Camelot, and he becomes a great knight.
    • Ector and Percyvale convince Launcelot to return to Camelot, telling him of the resources Gwenyvere has expended for his recovery.
    • And when Launcelot returns to court, everyone is elated. King Arthur wonders what caused him to go mad, concluding that it must have been love of the Lady Elayne.
    • Finally, the story of Launcelot's madness is over, and things can get back to normal. Or at least as normal as things can be in Camelot.
    • When Trystram hears of Launcelot's return, he decides to travel to Camelot for the celebration.
    • On the way, he meets with Sir Palomides, who refuses to joust with him because he's unarmed.
    • Trystram takes the arms of a knight Palomides has just defeated, and the two battle it out, with Trystram defeating Palomides in the end.
    • Palomides decides he is ready to be baptized, and receives the sacrament with Trystram as his godfather.
    • In other news, Galahad arrives at Camelot. This can't be good.
  • Book 13

    The Noble Tale of the Sankgreal

    Introduction

    • At Camelot, during the feast of Pentecost, a woman sent by King Pelles summons Launcelot to an abbey in a nearby forest, where he meets his son, Galahad. Launcelot promptly makes Galahad a knight, so add another one to the list, folks.
    • When Launcelot returns to Camelot, he and the other knights discover that the Sege Perylous has a new inscription written on it, which says that the seat will get an occupant 450 years after the death of Christ.
    • A squire comes into court and announces the presence of a sword in a stone floating in the river, which bears an inscription saying that only the best knight in the world will be able to pull it out. Sounds familiar, right?
    • Launcelot refuses to try to pull it; Gawain and Percival try together and fail.
    • An old man enters the court accompanied by a swordless young knight. The old man tells the court that the young man is a descendant of Joseph of Arimathea, and then seats the young man in the Sege Perylous, whose inscription changes to bear the name of Galahad, its new occupant.
    • Sir Galahad pulls the sword from the stone, and identifies it as the sword with which Balyn killed Balan, and which he will use to heal King Pelles. It appears there's a new sheriff in town, folks.
    • A lady on a white palfrey arrives in court and laments how far Launcelot has fallen in status since Galahad's arrival. After all, Launcelot is no longer the best knight in the world and is a pretty sinful guy when you compare him to his son.
    • She brings a message from Nacien the hermit announcing the beginning of the quest for the Sankgreall, or Holy Grail.
    • Arthur calls one last joust before the quest, during which Galahad defeats everyone except Sirs Launcelot and Percivale.
    • The Queen remarks upon how much Galahad resembles Launcelot. She's absolutely positive that Launcelot is his father.
    • During the feast after the joust, a great blast shakes the palace. This is followed by a bright light, the presence of the Holy Spirit, wonderful odors and foods, and the Holy Grail, covered in white samite.
    • After the Holy Grail departs, Gawain gives thanks for the Grail's presence but complains that no one was able to see it (because it was covered). He announces his intention to embark on a quest in search of it, not to return until he has seen it.
    • After Gawain's announcement, most of the Round Table makes the same vow. Arthur blames Gawain for the loss of his knights to this quest, which will probably prove pretty inconvenient.
    • When some ladies announce that they intend to go with their knights, a messenger from Nacien announces that the quests must be undertaken by the knights alone, in chastity.
    • Prompted by Gwenyvere's inquiries about who his father is, Galahad tells her that the identity of his true father will be revealed in good time.
    • Gwenyvere rebukes Launcelot for leaving her, but he promises to return to her as soon as he can.
    • Then, 150 of Arthur's knights depart together on their quest, but split up after they spend one night in the Castle Vagon.
    • Now, the story splits into several different episodes, each with one night as the star. First up? Galahad.

    Galahad Episode 1

    • Galahad rides off without a shield. First, he makes his way to a Cistercian Abbey where he meets Sirs Badgemagus and Uwayne.
    • Apparently, they have come there in search of a shield that supposedly no one can wear without meeting with misfortune – unless he is the best knight in the world, that is. What do you want to bet Galahad can wear it?
    • Despite admitting he's not the best knight in the world, Badgemagus decides to ride out wearing the shield, and immediately takes a beating from a knight dressed all in white. Tough luck, buddy.
    • The White Knight sends a squire back to the abbey to tell Galahad that the shield is his to bear, and Galahad rides out wearing it.
    • Galahad meets the White Knight, who tells him the shield once belonged to a converted pagan named King Evelake and is painted with Joseph of Arimathea's blood, which gives it miraculous healing powers.
    • Galahad exorcizes a demon that haunts a dead body in a tomb. He learns that the demon represented the sins of mankind for which Christ died.
    • Then, Galahad knights a squire, named Melyas, and agrees to let him ride with him.
    • The two knights come to a cross in the road, which is inscribed with a message saying that the right-hand fork is for only good men and worthy knights; the left shall not be taken without some trial to follow.
    • Sir Melyas goes left; Galahad heads right.
    • Now we move on to the Tale of Sir Melyas de Lyle, and Galahad's next adventure.
    • Two days' ride into an old forest, Melyas finds a beautiful gold crown inside a little house. He takes it.
    • No sooner does he take it then a knight rides after him to get the crown, and bests Sir Melyas.
    • The gallant Sir Galahad rides up and fights with the knight who defeated Sir Melyas.
    • Galahad takes Melyas to a nearby abbey where a monk tells him he'll heal Sir Melyas within seven weeks.
    • A man tells Melyas and Galahad that the whole reason Melyas was wounded in the first place was because he didn't receive confession before being made a knight.
    • He also tells them that the two forks in the road represented deeds knightly and heavenly, and that Melyas' theft of the crown represented the sin of covetousness.
    • Galahad rides to a deserted chapel where he hears a voice telling him to go to the Castle of Maidens and end the wicked practices there. Will do, says Galahad.
    • When he arrives there, he sends seven knights packing. Inside the castle, Galahad meets a gentlewoman who tells him to chase after the seven knights he defeated and force them to end their wicked customs.
    • A priest tells Galahad that the seven knights killed the lord of the castle and took its lady prisoner. They then killed all knights and ladies that passed there as they waited for a knight to defeat them.
    • Galahad soon learns that the seven knights have been struck down by Sirs Gawain, Gareth, and Uwayne.

    Sir Gawain, Episode 1

    • While we're on the subject, let's check in with Sir Gawain, shall we?
    • Gawain reaches the abbey where Melyas is quite sick, and learns that Galahad will not keep fellowship with Melyas because he's too sinful.
    • So Gawain meets with Uwayne and Gareth and they ride for the Castle of Maidens, where they handily defeat the seven knights of the Castle.
    • Afterwards, Gawain takes shelter at a nearby hermitage where he confesses.
    • The hermit rebukes him for his sinful life and tells him that the Castle of Maidens symbolized the souls that were in Hell before Christ's incarnation; the seven knights, the seven deadly sins; and Galahad, Christ.
    • The hermit gives Gawain a penance, but he refuses it, saying that his knightly adventures give him enough woe and pain.

    Sir Launcelot, Episode 1

    • Now it's time for us to check in with everyone's favorite ladies' man: Sir Launcelot.
    • When Galahad rides away from the Castle of Maidens, he meets with Sirs Launcelot and Percivale, whom he jousts with and defeats.
    • After this little jousting match, Sir Launcelot comes to an old chapel inside of which is an altar decorated with six candlesticks.
    • Launcelot is unable to enter the chapel. He falls asleep and, while asleep, sees a sick man borne inside the chapel. The man is healed by the Holy Grail.
    • When Launcelot awakes, he hears a voice telling him he is "harder than stone, more bitter than wood, and more naked than the fig tree," whatever that means. Time to go, he thinks.
    • Launcelot leaves, feeling pretty bad about the fact that he has spent so much time seeking worldly honor that he's now unfit to achieve spiritual bliss.
    • So when he arrives at a hermitage, he says his confession to the occupant, hoping to do a little better on the spiritual front.
    • The hermit tells Launcelot that he has been blessed by God with his physical prowess and success, and ought to thank God for it.
    • Launcelot confesses that all his great deeds were undertaken for worldly honor and the love of the Queen, and not for God.
    • The hermit explains the words of the mysterious voice, saying that Launcelot is harder than the stone because the Holy Spirit cannot enter him, bitterer than the wood because he is sinful, and barer than the fig tree because he bears no fruit for Christ. Oh so that's what that means.
    • Launcelot repents and promises to live a clean life from now on. We'll see how long that lasts.
  • Book 14

    Sir Percyvale de Galis

    • After Sir Percyvale separates from Launcelot, having been defeated by Galahad, he rides to a hermitage where he meets with his aunt, a recluse living inside it.
    • His aunt tells him that his mother is dead, which bums him out for a bit. She also tells him all about the history of the Sege Perylous and the Grail Quest, and that he can find Galahad by riding to the Castle Gooth and questioning Galahad's cousin, who lives there.
    • At a nearby chapel, Percyvale hears mass at an altar that has what appears to be a dead body behind it. Yikes.
    • The dead body turns out to be a man, who is still alive, but covered in wounds. Suddenly, the wounded man rises and takes communion.
    • The priest tells Percyvale that the man is King Evelake, who has asked God to let him remain alive until he meets his descendant, the knight who will achieve the Grail.
    • Percyvale encounters with twenty knights. Galahad rescues him, but rides away before Percyvale, who's on foot, can catch him.
    • Percyvale attempts to retrieve a stolen horse for a servant, but fails. So what does he do next? Go to sleep, of course.
    • When he wakes, a mysterious woman standing over him offers him a horse if he promises to be her servant. Sounds like a good deal. He agrees.
    • Percyvale rides the horse three days' distance in the space of one hour, and then abandons it in a river when he realizes the horse is a fiend. Good call, Percy.
    • On foot, now, he walks to a valley where he sees a lion chasing a serpent that carries the lion's young. He lends a hand and helps the lion defeat the serpent.
    • That night, the lion keeps Percyvale company, sleeping at his feet. Sir Percyvale dreams that a lady riding on a lion tells him that he's about to fight a great battle with the strongest champion in the world, while a lady on a serpent tells him that he has offended her by killing her serpent. He just can't win, it seems.
    • When Sir Percyvale awakes, an old man arrives on a ship and tells him that the lady on the lion represented the New Law of Christ, while the one on the serpent was the Old Law.
    • After the old man departs, another ship arrives, this one covered in black silk and carrying a beautiful lady, who promises to bring Percyvale to Galahad if he swears to do her will. He's game.
    • According to this lady, her husband stole her inheritance from her after she angered him, and now she wants Percyvale to help her get it back.
    • She pitches a tent and procures a feast for Percyvale, who promptly asks the lady to have sex with him, which she agrees to after Percyvale promises to be her servant.
    • As Percyvale is about to have sex with her, he sees his sword, which reminds him of his knighthood and chastity. He makes the sign of the cross, which causes the tent to turn into a black cloud.
    • The lady sails away in her ship, telling Percyvale he has betrayed her.
    • Percyvale cuts himself in the thigh as a way of punishing the flesh that he had allowed to control his actions.
    • The old man on the ship arrives again and tells Percyvale that the woman was the greatest devil in hell, and that Percyvale should be duly warned by the adventure he has had. Phew, that was a close one, Percy.
  • Book 15

    Sir Launcelot, Episode 2

    • And it's back to Launcelot, folks. You didn't think we'd forgotten him did you?
    • Launcelot rides to a chapel, inside of which he sees a dead man wearing a white shirt. He also spies a monk from the same religious order as the dead man, who claims the dead man broke the rule of his order by dressing this way. Picky picky.
    • When the monk performs an exorcism, a fiend arises and tells the men the story of the dead man:
    • He advised his nephew in a war against an earl, for which two of the earl's henchmen tried to take revenge on him by burning him. They were unable to kill him, however, because he was protected by God.
    • The next morning, Launcelot and the monk bury the dead man. The monk commands Launcelot to wear the dead man's hair shirt, and to abstain from meat during his quest.
    • Then, Launcelot has a vision of a man crowned with stars and gold, who leads a fellowship of seven kings and two knights. In the vision, an old man descends from the clouds and tells one of the knights that he has betrayed him by doing all his worldly deeds out of vainglory, or pride.
    • Next Launcelot rides to another hermitage. This hermit explains his ancestry, stretching back to Joseph of Arimathea, and tells Launcelot that his son, Galahad, will outdo all earthly knights.
    • Launcelot comes across a tournament of white and black knights. He decides to help the black knights, because they're losing, but finds himself overcome by those in white.
    • Still in disbelief at his defeat – an experience he's never had before – Launcelot meets a recluse who tells Launcelot that he can't expect to be the best knight in spiritual quests, which is fitting, given all we know about our Lance.
    • She explains that the white knights represented those who live chaste, holy lives, and that Launcelot's defeat was due to his lust for earthly glory, of which God is not a fan.
  • Book 16

    Sir Gawain, Episode 2

    • Back to Gawain, on his quest for the grail.
    • Sir Gawain meets with Sir Ector de Maris, and they rest for the night at a nearby chapel.
    • That night, Gawain dreams that he sees 150 bulls in a meadow full of herbs and flowers, all black except for three white ones. They starve to death and then separate.
    • Next, Sir Ector dreams that he sees his brother, Sir Launcelot, beaten and made to ride on an ass, then unable to drink from a well. He also dreams of being refused entry to a wedding.
    • Both knights wake up and see a vision of a hand covered in red silk, bearing a candle and a bridle. What's going on with all this?
    • Hopefully, a hermit will have an answer. So Ector and Gawain ride in search of one who can interpret their visions, and are directed to a rugged mountain pass by a young squire.
    • On their way to the hermit, Sir Gawain jousts with Sir Uwayne whom he kills. They bury him in a nearby abbey, then continue on their way to the hermit's lodge.
    • The hermit explains the meaning of the knights' visions, which have to do with the Grail quest and the failure of most of Arthur's knights to achieve it except for three.
    • The hermit warns Gawain that he has lived an evil life and offers to counsel him, but Gawain stubbornly refuses.

    Sir Bors de Ganys

    • Shmoopers, we feel bad. We've been neglecting Sir Bors de Ganys on his quest. Let's check in with him.
    • After leaving Camelot, Sir Bors meets a hermit who counsels him to eat only bread and water, and to wear a scarlet overcoat as a sign of penance. Sir Bors agrees. All the better to be worthy of the grail.
    • After riding away from the hermitage, Bors sees a dead tree, in which a huge bird feeds the other, starving birds with its own blood, then dies.
    • Later, Bors takes lodging in the tower of a lady whose lands have been stolen from her by another lady, and agrees to be her champion in the dispute the next day.
    • That night, Bors dreams about a white bird and a black bird, both of which ask Bors to serve him, and of a dead tree and two lilies.
    • The next day, Bors defeats the other lady's knight in the dispute, restoring her lands to her. Good one, Bors. He continues on his way.
    • When Bors comes to a fork in the road, he sees his brother, Sir Lionel, on one fork, being led away in defeat by two knights. On the other fork? A maiden being chased by a knight who wants to rape her. Which one will he choose? Well, remember that nights are all about damsels in distress, so after rescuing the maiden, Bors rides in search of Sir Lionel.
    • Unfortunately, a priest on a black horse tells Bors that Sir Lionel is dead and leads him to a body, which he helps him to bury in a nearby chapel.
    • As luck would have it, it seems this priest is well-versed in dream interpretation. He tells Bors that the white bird of his dream represents a lady who will die if Bors does not return her love, and implies that if Bors maintains his chastity, he does it out of a desire for worldly glory. Wait a minute. That doesn't sound right…
    • Bors meets the lady, who threatens to jump off a tower with twelve of her maidens if Bors does not take her as a lover. Bors refuses, and the tower and ladies disappear. Uh oh.
    • An abbot explains to Bors that the priest on the black horse was a fiend sent to distract him from his quest, and that Lionel is actually still alive. This is tricky stuff, friends. How can Bors know whom to trust?
    • He also explains the symbolism of Bors' adventures and visions (unlike the priest, this abbot actually knows what he's talking about): the lady whose lands he restored, and the bleeding bird, represented Christ. The black bird stood for Holy Church and the white bird, the devil. The dry, dead tree represents Sir Lionel, who is without virtue, while the two lilies represent the maiden and the knight Bors prevented from raping her.
    • Bors finds Lionel at a hermitage in the forest. Lionel is angry with Bors for choosing to rescue the maiden first, and so he attacks him.
    • When hermit emerges and lays his body over Bors to defend him, Lionel kills the hermit.
    • Sir Colgrevaunce, another knight of the Round Table, arrives and tries to help Bors, but Lionel kills him, too. He's pretty ruthless, we must say.
    • A miraculous cloud interposes itself between Bors and Lionel and commands Bors to flee rather than kill his brother, which he does.
    • Bors boards a ship covered in white silk, and while on board, he meets Sir Percyvale.
  • Book 17

    Sir Galahad, Episode 2

    • What's that? You Shmoopers want an update on Galahad? Gladly.
    • Sir Galahad has decided to rescue the inhabitants of a castle from a siege. While battling, he engages with Gawain and Ector.
    • Near the Castle Carboneck, a gentlewoman instructs Galahad to follow her on an adventure. She leads him to the ship carrying Percyvale and Bors.
    • The ship carries them all to another ship, which bears a message warning that only steadfast knights should come on board. Well Galahad definitely fits that bill, right?
    • Outside the ship, they meet Sir Percivale's sister, who explains the history of the boat and the marvelous sword they will find inside it. The knights encourage Galahad to take the sword, which he does, naturally.
    • The knights and maiden re-board the other ship (the one that Percyvale and Bors were on), which carries them to the Castle of Carteloyse in the Scottish Marches.
    • There, they meet with hostile occupants and kill them all. Then they learn from the priest of the castle that they rescued the castle from three brothers who committed incest with their sister.
    • Next, the knights and maiden come to a desolate forest, where they glimpse four lions led by a white hart. The four lions change into a man, lion, eagle, and ox. They learn that the hart represents Christ, and the lions stand for the four gospel-writers.
    • The company arrives at a castle, where the knights must fight to prevent Percivale's sister from having to give a basin full of blood. Ick.
    • When the fight ends in a draw, the party agrees to lodge in the castle for the night and continue fighting the next day.
    • When Percivale's sister learns that the custom of the castle that involves bleeding a maiden is to save the life of its lady, she agrees to be bled, but loses her life in the process. So was all that fighting for nothing?

    Sir Launcelot, Episode 3

    • Back to you, Launcelot.
    • A voice tells Launcelot to enter into the first ship that he finds. When he does, he finds Sir Percivale's dead sister on board and reads a letter telling of the adventures that led to her death.
    • Sir Galahad boards the ship also, and he and Launcelot sail together for six months, fighting a ton of wild beasts and having wild adventures. Sounds like fun, right?
    • And it is, until a white knight on a white horse arrives and tells them it's time to separate, and that this will be the last time they see one another. And so ends the ultimate father-son bromance.
    • The boat takes Launcelot to a castle, which he enters, arriving before a locked door. What's behind the door? What's behind the door? The grail, of course.
    • Launcelot prays before the chamber door and it opens. He then sees a silver table and a holy vessel covered in red silk, but when he tries to enter, a fiery breath knocks him right out. No dice.
    • The people of the castle care for Launcelot, and he awakes from his sleep after twenty-four days, which represent the twenty-four years he lived in sin.
    • The people of the Castle (which turns out to be Carbonek, King Pelles' place) tell Launcelot he'll never see more of the Grail than he has already seen, so he decides to return to Logres.
    • On his way to Logres, Launcelot sees Badgemagus' tomb and learns that he was slain by Gawain.
    • Launcelot returns to Arthur's court, done with his grail quest.

    Sir Galahad, Episode 3

    • Checking in with Launcelot's son, Sir Galahad, we find out that he has come to the chapel where King Evelake (here called Mordrayns, his Christian name) waits for him. After embracing Galahad, Evelake promptly dies.
    • Galahad performs some miracles in Logres, and then meets up with Percyvale and Bors again.
    • The three knights arrive at the Castle Carbonek and are greeted by King Pelles and his son, Elyazar.
    • Sir Galahad, who is becoming more and more impressive with each new feat, repairs a sword with just his touch.
    • Nine other knights from Gaul, Denmark, and Ireland arrive and take seats at a feast table.
    • The knights see an old man borne in on a bed, then another old man, whom they learn is Joseph of Arimathea, plus four angels from heaven bearing the Holy Grail. Then, four more angels enter with some candles, a towel, and a bleeding spear.
    • The twelve knights see Joseph of Arimathea celebrate mass with the Holy Grail, and as crazy and miraculous as it sounds, Christ appears in person during the Eucharist. Major cameo alert.
    • Joseph tells the knights that they'll see even more of the Holy Grail when they carry it to Sarras over the sea.
    • Galahad uses the bleeding spear to heal the old man on the bed, the so-called "Maimed King."
    • Percyvale, Bors, and Galahad depart from Carbonek, enter a boat bearing the Holy Grail, and sail to Sarras.
    • In Sarras, they're imprisoned by the reigning king, until he asks for their forgiveness on his deathbed and releases them.
    • A voice tells the people of Sarras to make Galahad their king, which they do. Well that was easy.
    • Galahad and his fellows pray before the Grail every day for a year, and then one morning they find Joseph of Arimathea there. He gives the Eucharist to Galahad before Galahad asks God to take his soul.
    • After Galahad dies, Percyvale lives as a hermit for a year and two months before he dies too.
    • Bors returns to Camelot and recounts his adventures. We're betting that was a long story.
  • Book 18

    The Tale of Sir Launcelot and Quene Gwenyvere

    • After the Grail Quest, Launcelot, who was never really known for his short-term memory, forgets the promise he made to live a good Christian life and becomes Gwenyvere's lover all over again.
    • To avoid scandal, Launcelot champions the causes of many different women. But that only causes Gwenyvere to be jealous and exile him from the court.
    • At Sir Bors' advice, Launcelot doesn't leave the kingdom, but takes shelter nearby with a one-time knight-turned-hermit named Sir Brascias.
    • To throw everyone off the scent, Gwenyvere hosts a dinner for some of Arthur's knights, which is meant to dispel rumors of her favoritism for Launcelot.
    • At the dinner, a kinsman of Lamerok, Sir Pyonell, carrying the old grudge about Lamerok's death at Gawain's hands, attempts to poison Gawain with an apple but misses and poisons Sir Patryse instead. Whoops.
    • Adding to the drama, Sir Patryse's cousin, Sir Mador de la Porte, accuses the queen of the poisoning and none of Arthur's knights will defend her, because they fear being accused of the treachery, too.
    • At Arthur and Gwenyvere's request, Sir Bors agrees to fight as Gwenyvere's champion in the upcoming trial unless another, better knight, offers to take his place.
    • Tipped off by Sir Bors, Launcelot arrives just in the nick of time and (in disguise) defeats Mador, then reveals his identity and explains that he will always defend the Queen because of the great kindness she showed him at his knighting.
    • Meanwhile, the sorceress Nyneve reveals Sir Pynell as the poisoner and Sir Patryse's tomb bears the truth, as well as testimony to the Queen's innocence in his death.
    • Arthur declares – what else? – a joust and tournament at Camelot, but Launcelot, still recovering from his fight with Mador, declines to attend until Gwenyvere tells him off.
    • Before the tournament, Launcelot lodges with a baron named Sir Barnard, whose daughter falls in love with the fine knight. No surprise there.
    • Launcelot decides to carry the shield of Sir Barnard's son as a disguise, and to wear the favor of his daughter, Elayne, the Fair Maiden of Ascolat.
    • Launcelot and Barnard's son Sir Lavayne take the side of the kings of Northumberland and North Wales in the fight against Arthur, and Launcelot wins the prize.
    • He then retreats to the hermitage of Bawdwyn of Britain to recover from his wounds, which are pretty nasty.
    • In search of the "White Knight with the Red Sleeve," Gawain reveals Launcelot's identity to Sir Barnard and his daughter when the young lady produces the knight's real shield.
    • Gawain tells Arthur's court that the mysterious knight was Launcelot, and that there appears to be great love between him and the Maiden of Ascolat. Gwenyvere is quite jealous.
    • Elayne travels to Camelot to find Launcelot and, once brought to the hermitage by Lavayne, spends all her time caring for him as he continues to heal.
    • Sir Bors finds Sir Launcelot and tells him of Gwenyvere's anger. He also laments Launcelot's refusal to marry Elayne, whom he believes would be a very suitable wife. So many women, so little time, Lance.
    • Bors and Lavayne mount and arm Launcelot because they want to see if he's ready for a Halloween tournament; in the process, his wounds re-open, and painfully so. Needless to say, he won't be jousting in this go-around.
    • Bors returns after the tournament to find Launcelot healed, and they ride together with Elayne and Lavayne to Sir Barnard's.
    • Elayne asks Launcelot to marry her or be her lover, warning that she'll die if he refuses. He refuses anyway out of loyalty to Gwenyvere, then returns to court.
    • Predictably, Elayne does die because she loves Launcelot so darn much. Her father promises to send her in a funeral barge down the river to Camelot with a letter telling how she died.
    • When Arthur and Gwenyvere discover it, Gwenyvere rebukes Launcelot but Arthur gives a speech about how a knight who is bound in love loses himself.
    • Arthur declares a Christmas joust, for which Launcelot promises to wear Gwenyvere's favor and let his identity be known, for once.
    • When resting by a little well, Launcelot gets wounded by one of those stray arrows that keep flying around. This one was shot by a lady-hunter. He enters the tournament anyway and, with Sir Gareth in disguise, wins great honor against Arthur's nephews.
    • May arrives. The narrator celebrates spring as the season of love and laments the lack of steady lovers nowadays. There are lovers, sure, but they're anything but steady.
  • Book 19

    • Gwenyvere rides with her ladies and eight un-armed knights to celebrate the arrival of spring. That sounds nice enough, but of course something goes wrong. Over the course of the ride, they all get captured by Sir Mellyagaunce, who has a secret love for Gwenyvere.
    • A young boy escapes from the party and tells Sir Launcelot what has happened; he immediately departs for Mellyagaunce's castle, entering it in a horse-cart after Mellyagaunce's knights wound his own horse.
    • When Mellyagaunce learns that Launcelot has come, he begs the Queen for mercy, claiming that he has changed his mind about kidnapping her. Oh so now you feel bad, eh?
    • At Gwenyvere's request, Launcelot declines to fight with Mellyagaunce, and spends the night in the castle instead.
    • That night, Launcelot climbs to the chamber where the queen is lodged with her wounded knights. He cuts his hand tearing apart some iron bars on her window to get in to her. Smooth move, Lance.
    • In the morning, Mellyagaunce discovers the blood from Launcelot's hand on Gwenyvere's bed and accuses her of the treason of sleeping with one of the wounded knights.
    • Launcelot agrees to be Gwenyvere's champion in the battle, swearing that "none of the wounded knights slept with the Queen." After all, he would know, wouldn't he?
    • Mellyagaunce betrays Launcelot by throwing him down a tunnel during a tour of the castle. Everyone returns to Camelot without him, assuming he has gone off on a quest.
    • One of Mellyagaunce's ladies offers to free Launcelot if he becomes her lover, but he refuses. She finally lets him off easy, and frees him on the day of the battle in exchange for a just a kiss.
    • Launcelot arrives just in time to the fight with Mellyagaunce. Phew.
    • Once overcome, Mellyagaunce refuses to fight anymore until Launcelot binds one hand behind his back. But even with this handicap, Launcelot still kills him.
    • A Hungarian knight named Sir Urry is hurt pretty badly in the tournament.
    • His mother, a sorceress, discovers that the only way to get the wounds to heal is for the best knight in the world to probe them. Um, that sounds pretty painful…
    • A hopeful Sir Urry arrives in Camelot looking for the best knight in the world, but neither Arthur nor any of the knights who first probe his wounds are able to heal them.
    • At first hesitant because he doesn't want to seem prideful, Launcelot finally agrees to try healing Sir Urry, and succeeds after praying to God for help. Looks like Lance is the best knight in the world once again.
    • After the healing of Sir Urry, Sir Launcelot weeps like a child who has been beaten. What's that all about?
    • Oh, and Sir Lavayne and Sir Urry are made Knights of the Round Table, as if you didn't see that one coming.
  • Book 20

    The Deth of Arthur

    • One day, in Arthur's chambers, Sir Aggravayne openly announces that he thinks it's totally uncool that the knights of Arthur's court tolerate Launcelot and Gwenyvere's continued affair.
    • Despite Gawain's attempt to persuade him not to stir up trouble, Aggravayne voices his feelings to Arthur.
    • An angry Arthur agrees to Aggravayne's plan to catch Launcelot and Gwenyvere in the act: he will say he's spending the night away while Aggravayne and his men barge into the queen's chamber.
    • Once Sir Arthur is gone, Gwenyvere predictably calls Launcelot to her chambers.
    • Aggravayne, Mordred, and other Scottish knights bang on Gwenyvere's doors, demanding that Launcelot and the Queen yield themselves to be slain or stand trial. We'd like to see you weasel your way out of this one, Lance.
    • Launcelot opens the door, letting through one knight, Sir Colgrevaunce. He kills him, dons his armor, and then kills all the knights except Mordred before escaping the palace. Oh, okay, well done after all.
    • Launcelot, Bors, Lionel, and all the knights on their side withdraw to a nearby wood. All are agreed that Launcelot must rescue Gwenyvere if she is sentenced to death.
    • Mordred bears witness against the Queen, convincing Arthur to burn her at the stake. Whoa. Harsh, guys.
    • But of course Launcelot and his allies arrive and rescue Gwenyvere in the nick of time. Unfortunate, in the battle, Launcelot accidentally kills Gareth and Gaheris.
    • Because of his brother's deaths, Gawain now swears to avenge himself upon Launcelot. This just got even messier.
    • Launcelot and his knights withdraw to Joyous Garde with the Queen. And Arthur and his host lay siege.
    • Launcelot speaks to Arthur and Gawain from the battlements, insisting upon his and the Queen's innocence, his continued loyalty to Arthur, and his deep sorrow over the deaths of Gaheris and Gareth. They're unconvinced (which makes sense, because he's totally lying).
    • In the battle that follows, Sir Launcelot prevents Sir Bors from killing Arthur, then re-horses him and sends him on his merry way.
    • The Pope commands that Launcelot and Arthur reconcile, and that the Queen be returned home safely, so Launcelot and his men give the Queen back to Arthur.
    • Then Launcelot gives a speech reminding Arthur and Gawain of all the times he has rescued them in the past. He also proposes to make amends for the deaths of Gareth and Gaheris by doing penance barefoot in a smock and founding religious houses every ten miles along the way, but Gawain remains unmoved. He's pretty peeved.
    • So Launcelot and his followers withdraw to France, where Launcelot gives them all lands and titles.
    • Unfortunately, it appears the English Channel isn't enough to calm Gawain's anger. So he convinces Arthur to invade Launcelot's lands.
    • Arthur leaves England and the Queen in the care of Sir Mordred, his son. Hmm. This reminds us of a little prophesy we heard a while back.
    • Launcelot's barons advise him to defend his lands against Arthur, but he first tries to make a peace treaty. Arthur's all for it, but Gawain still refuses, so Arthur's forces lay siege to the city of Benewick.
    • Gawain challenges Launcelot to one-on-one combat, and in the battle, Launcelot wounds Gawain, who recovers for three weeks, and then challenges Launcelot all over again. And again, Launcelot wounds Gawain severely but refuses to kill him at such a disadvantage.
  • Book 21

    • Meanwhile, Sir Mordred has been up to some shady business back on the home front. He has produced false letters claiming that Arthur is dead, and has declared himself the King of England. Sneaky sneaky.
    • Mordred also tries to marry Gwenyvere, but she locks herself in the Tower of London. He's that gross.
    • The Archbishop of Canterbury excommunicates Mordred for trying to marry his father's wife, and then withdraws to Glastonbury Abbey when Mordred tries to kill him.
    • When Arthur receives word of Mordred's treachery, he sails to England, forcing Mordred's troops into retreat at Dover.
    • In the battle, the wound Gawain received at Launcelot's hands worsens, causing him to take to his deathbed.
    • Before his death, Gawain writes a letter of reconciliation to Launcelot, asking him to pray at his tomb, and to come to Arthur's aid.
    • Arthur manages to force Mordred's army back to Salisbury Plain, where the two parties agree to do battle on the Monday after Trinity Sunday.
    • The night before the battle, Arthur dreams that he's tied to a wheel that plunges into black water full of serpents and horrible beasts. That doesn't sound like a very good sign.
    • What's worse, he also dreams that Sir Gawain tells him that he will die the next day if he does battle with Mordred.
    • Because of this vision, Arthur's knights advise him to make peace with Mordred and cede some lands to him, so he can, you know, stay alive.
    • Mordred agrees to this, but during the signing of the treaty, the presence of a black snake causes one of Mordred's men to draw his sword, leading all the knights to begin to fight.
    • Arthur kills Mordred by running him through with a spear but, before he sinks to the ground, Mordred plunges his own sword into Arthur's head. Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.
    • Aware that he has received his death-wound, Arthur tells Bedivere to throw his sword into a nearby lake. Bedivere hesitates at first, but upon his third attempt manages to throw the sword in, upon which he sees a hand rise from the lake and catch it.
    • When Arthur hears this, he tells Bedivere to take him to the lakeside. There, a barge bearing three ladies takes Arthur's body to Avylyon where, Arthur says, he will either be healed of his wounds, or die.
    • Bedivere comes to the chapel where the Archbishop of Canterbury has withdrawn, and there, finds Arthur's body. He decides to become a hermit there.
    • The narrator tells us that Arthur was taken away on the barge by his two aunts Morgan le Fay and the Queen of North Gales, along with the Queen of the Waste Lands and Dame Nyneyve.
    • He also tells us that some people believe that Arthur did not die, but only went to another place from which he will return to complete the Crusades.
    • People also say that written upon his tomb is "Hic iacet Arthurus, rex quondam rexque futurus" – "Here lies Arthur, king who was, and king who will be."
    • When Gwenyvere learns of Arthur's death, she withdraws to Amesbury and becomes a nun.
    • When Launcelot receives Gawain's letter of reconciliation, he heads to Dover, where he prays at Gawain's tomb.
    • Then, he finds Gwenyvere at Amesbury, but she tells him that she has forsaken his company forever and become a nun in penance for the sin they two committed, which she believes caused the downfall of Arthur and his knights. Well, she kind of has a point.
    • Launcelot travels to the abbey where Bedivere resides and becomes a monk and priest there, too.
    • After six years, Launcelot has a vision telling him that Gwenyvere has died, and that he must fetch her body and bury it beside Arthur, which he does.
    • The sight of Arthur and Gwenyvere's bodies buried together causes Launcelot to refuse food and water, and he dies within six weeks.
    • The Archbishop of Canterbury has a vision of Launcelot being received in heaven at the moment of his death.
    • All of Launcelot's knights take holy orders, and become monks, too.
    • Sir Cador's son, Sir Constantyn, becomes King of England.
    • The narrator asks everyone who reads this book to pray for his soul, and declares his story at an end. And we Shmoopers collapse on the floor from exhaustion.