Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 3, Chapter 8

By T.H. White

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Book 3, Chapter 8

  • The little adventure Lancelot just went on lasted an entire year.
  • England's in a sort of civil war between the old conservative barons and Arthur's new-fangled ideology.
  • Lancelot has two other adventures during this time that the book tells us are important.
  • This one time, he meets up with a lady whose falcon has gotten away from her. If she doesn't get it back, her husband might beat her.
  • And it is at this point that we find out Lancelot's kryptonite: he's not very good at climbing trees. He had no time for that during his knightly training.
  • On his way down with the falcon, all of a sudden a fat knight comes galloping up, saying he's got Lancelot just where he wants him.
  • The fat knight is the lady's husband, and now that he has Lancelot without his armor on, he's going to really let him have it. How noble.
  • It seems there's a rumor going around that Lancelot roasts and eats children. What in the world…?
  • The fat guy won't let Lancelot arm himself and have a fair fight, so Lancelot hops down, takes a tree branch and kills him with it.
  • He tells his wife he's not sorry he killed him, but he actually is.
  • Next, Lancelot's making his way through the moors, and a knight and lady gallop up to him. She's screaming that the knight (her husband) is trying to cut off her head because he thinks she's been hooking up with another knight on the side.
  • Lancelot's not about to put up with this treatment of women for a minute. He rides between them to stop them from arguing (and to stop the lady from getting hurt), and then makes the knight promise that he'll not kill any woman.
  • He has this knight swear it upon his knighthood—remember, honor is important to Lancelot, so he thinks it's just as important to everyone else.
  • While Lancelot's attention is distracted, the knight whacks off the lady's head.
  • Lancelot's so mad at this and he really wants to fight the knight to the death, but the knight begs for mercy and won't fight Lancelot under any circumstances: not even if Lancelot removes his armor.
  • Feeling sickened with himself, Lancelot lets the guy go.
  • Arthur's yearly tradition is to have all of his knights return to court at the feast of Pentecost and have them tell their stories and bring their prisoners, who will hopefully be reformed after they see Arthur's magnificent court.
  • All the people Lancelot has dealt with in his huge adventure show up, yielding themselves to Arthur's court.
  • Specifically, Lancelot has instructed all of these people to give themselves up to Guenever—not Arthur.
  • This ends up being not so good.

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