The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

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King Arthur or Wart Character Analysis

Arthur is the main protagonist of the novel. He is the illegitimate son of King Uther Pendragon, although he spends his childhood thinking he is a lowly squire. King Arthur is married to Queen Guenever, although she has an affair with Arthur's best knight and friend Lancelot. It is Arthur's life-long endeavor—influenced by his childhood tutor Merlyn—to curtail violence, prevent warfare, and instill justice in England.

King Arthur or Wart Quotes in The Once and Future King

The The Once and Future King quotes below are all either spoken by King Arthur or Wart or refer to King Arthur or Wart. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ace Books edition of The Once and Future King published in 1987.
Book 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

The Wart was not a proper son. He did not understand this, but it made him feel unhappy, because Kay seemed to regard it as making him inferior in some way…Besides, he admired Kay and was a born follower. He was a hero-worshipper.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart, Sir Kay
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

After a storm, the Wart and Kay (two boys who are being raised in the castle of Sir Ector, Kay's father and Wart's guardian) go out falconing -- with Kay carrying the falcon Cully, as usual. Kay typically dominates Wart, who, according to the narrator, is "a born follower" and "hero-worshipper." The narrator is not oblivious to the irony of this statement; he has already alluded to the fact that the Wart's actual name is Arthur (when he acknowledged that Art, which rhymes with Wart, "was short for his real name"). Already, the sometimes satirical narrator is mocking medieval British traditions of knighthood and of King Arthur; the most influential king in history began as a submissive boy, not as a precocious or bold one, as often happens in medieval folktales and legends. As The Once and Future King opens, we can begin to appreciate the way that the narrator layers the content of this story with humor, wit, and a dose of disbelief.

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Book 1, Chapter 23 Quotes

The Wart walked up to the great sword for the third time. He put out his right hand softly and drew it out as gently as a scabbard.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

Wart cannot find Kay's sword, which he has forgotten, so he goes up to a sword which is stuck in the anvil of a stone in a church courtyard. Wart twice fails to remove the sword from this stone, but before his third try, he speaks aloud, asking Merlyn to help him. Immediately after Wart makes this request, "hundreds of old friends" (the animals from his lessons with Merlyn) surround and encourage him, giving tips and instructions on ways Wart can more easily remove the sword. He does not seem to use the specifics of their instructions, but rather pulls the sword out smoothly and easily, as if it is his fate. This action, of course, is the mythical removal of Excalibur, the "sword in the stone," and the moment Arthur is revealed as king.

Book 1, Chapter 24 Quotes

I know all about your birth and parentage, and who gave you your real name. I know the sorrows before you, and the joys, and how there will never again be anybody who dares to call you by the friendly name of Wart. In future it will be your glorious doom to take up the burden and to enjoy the nobility of your proper title.

Related Characters: Merlyn (speaker), King Arthur or Wart
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator comically describes Wart's coronation as it would appear to a boy; it was an occasion where Wart was lucky enough to receive wonderful gifts. Yet, after the coronation has ended, Merlyn suddenly appears next to Arthur and reveals that he knew all about Arthur's true name and title (or, in other words, Arthur's fate as the King of Camelot). Merlyn renames Wart as King Arthur in the last lines of the narrative's first book, moving the story beyond its childhood phase and into a more complicated phase, where antagonists such as Kay may not become truthful at the end (as Kay did, when he admitted that he had not pulled the sword out of the store) and hostility that was previously unimaginable may occur within an entire kingdom.

Book 2, Chapter 10 Quotes

I will tell you something else, King, which may be a surprise for you. It will not happen for hundreds of years, but both of us are going to come back. Do you know what is going to be written on your tombstone? Hic jacet Arthurus Rex quondam Rexque futurus. Do you remember your latin? It means the once and future king.

Related Characters: Merlyn (speaker), King Arthur or Wart
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:

As Merlyn continues conversing with Arthur the night before the battle at Bedegraine, he claims he will "tell you something else." This inauspicious start leads into one of the most clarifying moments of the narrative, when Merlyn explains why it is titled "The Once and Future King." Arthur is indeed a king of the past, present and future; his existence was predicted by legend, he exists now, and apparently he will "come back," again. This reveals how Arthur's story, and his tragic death, does not entirely belong to the medieval era which the narrative focuses on; it is a broader pattern, indicative of enduring human truth.

Book 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

But Arthur had a different idea in his head. It did not seem to him to be sporting, after all, that eighty thousand humble men should be leu'd against each other while a fraction of their numbers…manoeuvred for the sake of ransom. He had begun to set a value on heads, shoulders and arms—their owner's value, even if the owner was a serf.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart
Page Number: 297
Explanation and Analysis:

At the battle of Bedegraine, Lot's forces fight in the "Norman way," the traditional medieval way in which noblemen engage in sport (more like "foxhunting" than fighting) while commoners engage in deadly warfare that creates a martial background for the knights. Because of Merlyn's instruction, Arthur sees how brutal this sort of combat is, and he inspires his forces to engage in the most brutal and barbaric form of warfare possible. In doing so, he reveals the intrinsic barbarism of medieval fighting; he paradoxically advocates for more pacifistic forms of fighting through making his army display the brutality of medieval battle at its finest.

Book 2, Chapter 13 Quotes

The way to use a Spancel was this. You had to find the man you loved while he was asleep. Then you had to throw it over his head without waking him, and tie it in a bow…Queen Morgause stood in the moonlight, drawing the Spancel through her fingers.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart, Queen Morgause
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:

As Morgause prepares to return to England, she is sure to bring the supernatural Spancel, a magical piece of human flesh which can make a man “fall in love” with the woman who wields it and places it around his head. Morgause even sinisterly runs her fingers over the spancel -- an act which visually suggests that her spancel will have a terrible symbolic significance in the story. Antagonists such as Morgause (and the later Mordred) often act with such clearly malicious intentions; the novel certainly gives us plainly evil figures, in addition to contradictory persons such as Lancelot, who destabilize this binary between good and evil.

Book 3, Chapter 16 Quotes

The effect of such an education was that he had grown up without any of the useful accomplishments for living—without malice, vanity, suspicion, cruelty, and the commoner forms of selfishness. Jealousy seemed to him the most ignoble forms of vices. He was sadly unfitting for hating his best friend or for torturing his wife.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart
Page Number: 389
Explanation and Analysis:

Before the narrator starts to detail an encounter between Lancelot and Arthur in the rose garden, in which they only discuss Elaine, our narrator informs us that Arthur does indeed have a sense of Guenever and Lancelot’s inappropriate attraction towards each other. But again, the narrator claims that Arthur is still controlled by Merlyn’s teachings; Merlyn taught him the importance of love, justice, and simplicity, and Arthur cannot move beyond these principles enough to accuse his best friend or wife of infidelity, or even to punish them. It is Merlyn, not Arthur, who wields the power of the kingdom – and even controls Arthur’s own mind. This results in Arthur lacking the ability to exert his influence over Lancelot and Guenever, but only because of a kind of moral purity on his part. Even Arthur’s feelings are merely what “completed the misery of the court”; this suggestive phrasing allows us to realize that Arthur is a king without some kinds of the control associated with the crown.

Book 3, Chapter 27 Quotes

Simple because we have got justice. We have achieved what we were fighting for, and now we still have the fighters on our hands. Don't you see what has happened? We have run out of things to fight for, so all the fighters of the Table are going to rot.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Round Table
Page Number: 433
Explanation and Analysis:

Gareth informs Lancelot and Arthur that Mordred, Agravaine, and Gawaine have killed their mother Morgause and Sir Pellinore for having sexual relations with each other, but this does not spur Arthur to punish these three knights. Rather, it inspires him to pinpoint a flaw in the Round Table, which he had begun to notice before: his knights are growing restless, having “run out of things to fight for.” The Round Table has served its purpose, to establish “justice” in the kingdom, and Arthur’s court must occupy itself with another project of sorts. It is in this vacuity that Lancelot suggests the Quest for the Holy Grail – a quest reminiscent of the Quest for the Questing Beast, to the reader; a quest which (like all others) may not serve an actual purpose at all, but will hopefully keep the knights from starting fights with each other.

Book 3, Chapter 36 Quotes

Half the knights had been killed—the best half. What Arthur had feared from the start of the Grail Quest had come to pass. If you achieve perfection, you die. There had been nothing left for Galahad to ask of God, except death. The best knights had gone to perfection, leaving the worst to hold their sieges.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart, Sir Galahad
Related Symbols: The Questing Beast and Quests, The Holy Grail
Page Number: 477
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator categorizes different parts of Arthur's reign into four main feelings, or "tones": the "companionship of youth," when knights and the Round Table were young, the "chivalric rivalry," which blossomed after the threats to the kingdom had been eradicated, the "enthusiasm of the Grail," and now the bleakest yet -- the "knowledge of the world" phase, one of intrigue and gossip and "the fruits of achievement." With the context of this timeline established, the narrator suggests that the current moment is a critical time, in which half of the "best knights" have been killed. Again, the narrator associates destiny with death; once you live out your destined perfection, "you die," according to the narrator's blunt appraisal, which seems to stem from Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur" itself.

Book 3, Chapter 43 Quotes

Nobody knows what they said to each other. Malory says that "they made either to other their complaints of many diverse things." Probably they agreed that it was impossible to love Arthur and also to deceive him. Probably Lancelot made her understand about his God at last, and she made him understand about her missing children. Probably they agreed to accept their guilty love as ended.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart, Sir Lancelot, Queen Guenever
Page Number: 503
Explanation and Analysis:

At Meliagrance’s castle, Lancelot arrives and Guenever “won the battle by mistake”; she had allowed Lancelot to live apart from her, pursuing holiness and religious piety, and this relenting had spurred Lancelot to come back to her. They become lovers again, and Lancelot goes to the window of Guenever’s inner room, where she meets him and they converse. The narrator does not reveal the nature of this exchange; instead he provides us with Malory’s description, and then speculates on what “probably” transpired between the two of them. The two lovers “probably” discussed the reasons against their behavior – Lancelot’s God and Guenever’s “missing children” – before Lancelot completely breaks the window and comes in anyways. This suggests that the “old electric message” between Lancelot and Guenever’s eyes creates a kind of inevitable attraction between the two of them, which makes their lovemaking a matter of destiny, despite their best attempts to avoid such inappropriate behavior.

Book 4, Chapter 4 Quotes

"You see, Lance, I have to be absolutely just. I can't afford to have any more things like those babies on my conscience. The only way I can keep clear of force is by justice. Far from being willing to execute his enemies, a real king must be willing to execute his friends."

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart (speaker), King Arthur or Wart, Sir Lancelot
Page Number: 550
Explanation and Analysis:

In Guenever's solar (private upper chamber), Lancelot, Guenever, and Arthur sit during the "sundown of chivalry" and discuss the problem of Mordred -- how Mordred was conceived by Morgause and Arthur, and likely bears hatred that threatens Arthur's kingdom. Although Arthur should perhaps kill Mordred preemptively, as Lancelot advocates (and as Arthur tried to do long ago, and ended up killing many innocent babies instead), Arthur claims that he cannot do so because he is king and must act according to justice. This scene is overwhelmingly ironic; at this very moment, Arthur is purposefully neglecting to punish Lancelot and Guenever. He only follows the principle of justice so strictly when it does not interfere with his powerful but simple loyalty to his best friend and wife.

Book 4, Chapter 14 Quotes

What was Right, what was Wrong? What distinguished Doing from Not Doing? If I were to have my time again, the old King thought, I would bury myself in a monastery for fear of a Doing which might lead to woe.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart (speaker)
Page Number: 631
Explanation and Analysis:

Arthur sits, dejected, at his pavilion in Salisbury, occupied by his thoughts. He is "nearly dead," primarily existing in his reflections instead of acting in the world. The narrator lists Arthur's many complaints -- about his wife, his best friend, his son, his Round Table, his country -- but then claims that Arthur's intense dejection is due to his disappointment in humanity. Arthur had learned, from Merlyn, that humanity was "decent," but this lesson has proven tragically, terribly false. This contrast between belief and reality is incredibly depressing. 

Arthur wonders "Why do men fight?" and then moves to a fundamental binary of the book: that of Might vs. Right. Here, as the narrative slows to a close, we have our answer: Right cannot be above Might (as Arthur once thought) because Right is an unstable, uncertain construct -- one can never know all the consequences of any action or decision. 

There would be a day—there must be a day—when he would come back to Gramayre with a new Round Table which had no corners, just as the world had none—a table without boundaries between the nations who would sit to feast there. The hope of making it would lie in culture.

Related Characters: King Arthur or Wart
Related Symbols: The Round Table
Page Number: 639
Explanation and Analysis:

The very end of this narrative is fittingly tragic; Arthur only comes to his most significant realization after he has already sent a page (the future Malory, who writes “Le Morte d’Arthur”) to share the ideals which founded the Round Table with the rest of the world. Malory’s famous text, thus, cannot express Arthur’s most important realization.

When Arthur remembers Merlyn, the character whose beliefs and lessons seem to control so much of Arthur’s actions and Arthur’s very self, Arthur finally understands that wars occur for fictitious reasons and national boundaries are merely imaginary lines. For Arthur’s Round Table to be effective, it would have to be truly “cornerless,” not affected and divided by geographical or national divisions. Arthur sees why the Round Table failed, at last – right before he dies. Death and destiny have the ultimate power, over men’s little attempts at reason and right.

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King Arthur or Wart Character Timeline in The Once and Future King

The timeline below shows where the character King Arthur or Wart appears in The Once and Future King. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
Two young boys in medieval England, Wart and Kay, live in the Castle of the Forest Sauvage. Kay is the son of... (full context)
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Walking across the fields, Wart suggests that they not fly Cully as they hadn't correctly roused... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2
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After a while, Kay loses his temper and returns home, leaving Wart to retrieve the hawk. As Cully flies from tree to tree, Wart tracks him deeper... (full context)
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Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
As it gets dark, Wart curls up at the foot of the tree that Cully has settled in. Just as... (full context)
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Wart approaches the knight, who jumps and raises his visor, revealing a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles.... (full context)
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The Questing Beast, according to King Pellinore, has the head of a serpent, the body of a leopard, and the haunches... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
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Wart sleeps in the forest. When he wakes he hears a sound and goes in search... (full context)
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Merlyn invites Wart into his cottage, in which there is a breakfast set for two. The room is... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
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Wart, Merlyn, Archimedes and Cully return to the Castle Sauvage. Hob, the caretaker of the hawks,... (full context)
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Wart declares that he has been successful on the quest for a tutor—he has found Merlyn,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
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The Castle Sauvage, still standing today, is a paradise for a boy like Wart. More like a village than a castle, it has a moat and drawbridge and eight... (full context)
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"I think it's about time we began lessons," Merlyn announces. It is hot, and Wart wishes he could swim in the moat instead. "I wish I were a fish" Wart... (full context)
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
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...swims around her, singing a strange song. Mrs. Roach suddenly rights herself and Merlyn and Wart continue on their adventure. Merlyn points out how Wart, who is acting carefree, should be... (full context)
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Mr. P—the King of the Moat—is an enormous pike, almost four feet long with a face ravaged by... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
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...to observe their Thursday afternoon ceremony: they each shoot a farewell arrow into the air. Wart's soars, swimming golden in the fading light, before a gore-crow flaps suddenly up and snatches... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
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It is nearing Autumn and Wart is lying in the shade with Merlyn while Kay has his tilting (jousting) lesson. Wart,... (full context)
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Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
Wart finds himself deep in the Forest Sauvage with Merlyn at his side. King Pellinore emerges... (full context)
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...ramming into trees. With the knights lying stunned and motionless on the ground, Merlyn and Wart return to the Castle Sauvage. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
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Wart is moping in the castle. He goes to Merlyn in the hope of some education.... (full context)
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...stately in the August moonlight in the Mews. A few moments after Merlyn had left Wart, there is a gentle ringing of a bell and the great peregrine falcon announces, "Gentlemen,... (full context)
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Might vs. Right Theme Icon
Wart, passing the questions, is sworn in as a new officer and must now pass an... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
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Wart and Kay argue in the morning and Kay accuses Wart of sneaking out. They begin... (full context)
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
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Merlyn lives in the tallest, most beautiful tower in the Castle Sauvage. Wart demands that Merlyn transform Kay, too, the next time he transforms Wart. In response, Merlyn... (full context)
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
...why certain things happen, but there is usually a reason—and therefore he cannot transform Kay. Wart, upset, does not understand this logic. Merlyn, meanwhile, has a tussle with his magic as... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10
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War Theme Icon
Wart and Kay venture out to the patch of barley and continue walking into the forest.... (full context)
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The giant corrects Wart: it is not Robin Hood, but rather Robin Wood. Little John leads them to a... (full context)
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...taken prisoner Tuck, one of Robin's men, and also Dog Boy from the Castle Sauvage. Wart & Kay, enraged, decide to help Robin and Marion free the prisoners. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 11
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
...cannot bear iron because their ancestors had been conquered by people with iron swords. So, Wart and Kay will enter the Castle clutching small iron knives to keep them safe. Robin... (full context)
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
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...smells like a butcher's, a grocer's, a dairy's and a fishmonger's all rolled in one. Wart and Kay are tempted to run away, but instead plod over the filthy drawbridge, leaving... (full context)
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...pork. Kay asks Morgan for her guards to release them, but she only ignores him. Wart and Kay hold hands and begin to approach her, brandishing their iron knives. The Queen... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
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...archers swing around to see the griffin charging. The air is awash with arrows. For Wart, everything happens in slow motion and he struggles to fit an arrow to his bow.... (full context)
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The band pulls Wart out from under the dead griffin—Kay had killed it with an arrow. Robin sets Wart's... (full context)
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...greet them. Sir Ector claims he will mount the griffin's head upon the wall and Wart is rushed off to bed by the nurse. When he wakes later that day, he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 13
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Wart is confined to his bedchamber for three days and howls miserably through the keyhole to... (full context)
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Wart slowly becomes aware of a noise in his head. The music is monotonous and the... (full context)
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As he explores, Wart comes across two dead ants. Soon, a live ant arrives carrying a third corpse. Wart... (full context)
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The live ant and the voice quickly decide Wart has fallen on his head and can't remember his role, and so assign him to... (full context)
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After this, religious services begin. It is peculiar to Wart that the ants are unmoved by these broadcasts, but simply accept them as rituals. When... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 16
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
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...whole hunt gathers outside the castle in the frosty dawn. Master Twyti is a shriveled looking man—he is not particularly fond of his job. The whole castle shivers with excitement; boar-hunting... (full context)
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...clearing and charges Sir Grummore. The boar escapes the clearing and everyone runs after it. Wart sticks to the Huntsman like a burr—although everyone else quickly disappears into the foliage behind.... (full context)
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...cry. The foot-people soon gather and a small barrel of wine is provided. However, suddenly King Pellinore appears frantically, exclaiming the most horrible thing has happened. The gathering moves off after... (full context)
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King Pellinore says that he had not meant to leave the questing beast alone, and he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 17
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...milk—had bounded off into the snow weeks ago, to be followed two hours later by King Pellinore. Merlyn, in his tower with Wart, asks him what he would like to be.... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 18
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Wart is woken later by Archimedes, who gives him a mouse to eat. Wart, finds himself... (full context)
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The place Archimedes takes Wart to is absolutely flat and only one element lives there: the wind. The wind here... (full context)
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When daylight comes, Wart finds himself standing among a crowd of beautiful, white geese. When the goose next to... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 19
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Days and nights passed. Wart becomes fond of Lyo-lyok; she teaches him about the geese—how they have no kings, they... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 20
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Six years pass. The boys continue their lessons and Wart is changed into many different animals. Kay becomes more difficult; he loses his temper easily,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 21
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The day for the ceremony draws near and Wart becomes sulky. Merlyn decides the best thing for Wart is to learn something and decides... (full context)
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Wart finds himself at the entrance to an enormous molehill. Being obstinate, Wart decides to enjoy... (full context)
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Wart finds Badger at the entrance to his den. The Badger explains he is writing a... (full context)
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Badger and Wart discuss Man's rule, or tyranny, over the other animals. Badger states that man is the... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 22
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King Pellinore arrives for the knighting ceremony with news from London: King Uther Pendragon has died.... (full context)
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At this moment, Wart comes in with Merlyn to hear they will be travelling to London and Wart will... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 23
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...has left his sword at the inn! Kay demands that "his squire" fetch his sword; Wart looks as if he is going to strike Kay but instead humbly agrees. (full context)
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When Wart arrives at the inn, it is closed—everyone had gone to watch the tournament. Wart does... (full context)
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Wart strides over to the sword and grasps it. He feels extraordinary—as though he can see... (full context)
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Wart arrives back to the tournament and gives Kay the sword. Kay exclaims that this is... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 24
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The coronation is a splendid ceremony. It feels more like a birthday to Wart because of all the presents he receives. There had been some revolts at first, from... (full context)
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Merlyn tells Wart that his father had been King Uther Pendragon. Merlyn, disguised as a beggar, had delivered... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1
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Gawaine is telling the story of their grandmother, Igraine the Countess of Cornwall, with whom King Uther Pendragon fell in love. The King tried to seduce the Countess although she was... (full context)
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...finishes the story—stating this is the reason why Cornwall must forever more be against the King of England, and why their father, King Lot of Orkney, has gone away to fight... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 2
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The King of England stands with his tutor on the battlements of the Castle Camelot. It is... (full context)
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Arthur is unfazed by this prospect. Merlyn, Arthur notices, is upset and asks what he has... (full context)
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Merlyn gives Arthur some advice about battles: Arthur should not say a battle was lovely, he needs to... (full context)
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Two men far below are walking back to the castle. Arthur wonders what would happen if he dropped a stone on... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 3
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Kay, Arthur and Merlyn are riding back from hunting. Kay asks Merlyn about Queen Morgause and what... (full context)
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...Gaelic race; they were then conquered by the Saxons; who, were then conquered by the Normans—Arthur's father. But, Merlyn continues, this is not the reason the war is going to happen;... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 5
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...they see a magic barge on the water. Inside of the barge are three seasick knights—King Pellinore bursts into tears after being reprimanded by Sir Grummore. Upon landing, the knights hop... (full context)
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The boys gather around the knights with their mouths open. They are Knights of King Arthur against whom the Gaels are revolting. Why had they come, the Gaels wonder. The... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6
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King Arthur's court is in tumult—no one can decide how to fight the second campaign against... (full context)
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Arthur continues: why does Merlyn help him to fight battles if they are bad things? The... (full context)
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If, Arthur goes on, he can win this battle, he will institute a new order of chivalry.... (full context)
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After Arthur has finished speaking, Merlyn stands up and stretches his hands to the ceiling. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 8
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The plain of Bedegraine, where the battle is to take place, is awash with tents. King Arthur barely leaves his own pavilion, and talks instead to Sir Kay, Sir Ector and... (full context)
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The most important thing, Arthur says, is to catch the knights young before they are impressed by the old chivalry—for... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 10
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...is the night before the battle. Merlyn is concerned that he has forgotten to tell Arthur something—they have spoken about the battle, about Guenever and Lancelot, about Arthur's sword Excalibur and... (full context)
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Arthur reflects on this and realizes that destiny is something you cannot elude. Merlyn decides to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 12
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The traditional way of fighting battles, and the way in which King Lot and the Gaelic Confederation were going to fight, is that the kerns (the serfs... (full context)
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Arthur begins the battle by not observing the traditional hour for warfare. Instead, he attacks by... (full context)
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At around noon, King Lot recognizes he is being dealt a different kind of warfare. Lot's nerve begins to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 14
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King Arthur is excited to see his old friends again and quickly arranges a wedding for... (full context)
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Later that night after the festivities, King Arthur is sitting in the Great Hall alone. It has been a tiring few months,... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1
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Lancelot is fiercely in love with Arthur. When they were embarking for France after Pellinore's wedding, King Arthur had called him over.... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 2
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Lancelot will grow up to be the greatest knight King Arthur had. But, for now, he practices every day in the Armory. He will spend... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 3
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...that feature in this story have a sort of genius or tutor in the family: Arthur had Merlyn, Gawaine and his brothers had Sir Toirdealbhach, while Lancelot has Gwenbors or Uncle... (full context)
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...complexion. Merlyn (the old man) announces to Lancelot that he will be the finest knight Arthur ever has, and that Arthur and Guenever send their love. Lancelot asks if Arthur has... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 4
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...yet to be noticed or knighted. He is jealous of Guenever, who always comes between Arthur's love for him. They come to a clearing in the woods and see an enormous... (full context)
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...simply laughs good-humoredly and looks with admiration at Lancelot. He takes his helmet off—it is King Arthur! Lancelot quickly kneels before him, but Arthur is so impressed with Lancelot's skill that... (full context)
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Arthur knights Lancelot the very next day. He then introduces Lancelot to Guenever—a young woman with... (full context)
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Weeks pass. In the second half of summer, Arthur gives Lancelot a hawk for the season. Lancelot, however, does not have a hawking assistant... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 5
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Uncle Dap and King Arthur begin to notice that Lancelot and Guenever are falling in love. Arthur had been... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 6
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When Arthur and Lancelot arrive in England, Lancelot quickly realizes Guenever would come between them: he sees... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 8
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It is tradition at Pentecost in Arthur's court for returning nights to tell the tales of their questing and for all conquered... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 13
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Guenever is stitching her tapestry and thinking of Lancelot: she is twenty-two and rife with emotions. It isn't that she doesn't love... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 14
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One morning, Arthur announces that he has received a letter from Lancelot's father—he is being attacked and needs... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 15
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Finally, King Arthur returns from France and Lancelot and Guenever's bliss is destroyed—but not because of Arthur's... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 16
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One afternoon, Arthur comes across Lancelot in the rose garden looking wretched. Arthur knows deep down about Lancelot... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 18
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...Lancelot and Elaine. Finally, Lancelot (who has been sitting in a ball on the floor, speaking "Guenever" and "Arthur") gives a loud shriek, hurls himself through the window (the room is... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 24
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...knights—he will not leave Elaine. They tell him that the Queen spent twenty thousand pounds looking for him; they talk about gossip from the court; how distraught both Arthur and Guenever... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 25
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...knights are still at court, except there are a horde of new ones who know Arthur only as the accepted conqueror and Lancelot as the hero of a hundred victories. The... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 26
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Arthur and Lancelot are watching Gareth practice with his bow. Gareth became a knight by escaping... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 27
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...his actions and penitent in the cold light of day. The two wait upon the King; Gawaine bows to the floor in humility, Mordred bows too but looks Arthur sardonically in... (full context)
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When the two leave, Lancelot and Guenever look questioningly at Arthur who is awash with rage. Finally, Arthur begins to speak: he recognizes that the ideas... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 29
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...knight to return is Sir Lionel who has been questing with his brother Sir Bors. Arthur and Guenever sit in the Great Hall and listen to his tales. Lionel talks about... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 30
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The next arrival is Sir Aglovale, one of the young sons of the late King Pellinore, wearing a black sash for his late mother. Aglovale wants to kill Mordred and... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 31
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...comes back, leading a white mare out of the rainstorm. The whole court gathers but Arthur quickly ushers them away. Two hours later, Uncle Dap presents himself to the King and... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 32
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...same girl of twenty, trying desperately to defy the doom of human destiny. Lancelot tells Arthur and Guenever about his altered state of being—he has become more devout and spiritual. (full context)
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He had started his Quest by travelling to King Peles' castle, but was waylaid on the journey when he was dismounted by Galahad. Angry... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 34
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...knows he will eventually. The real tragedy of Guenever's life is that she is childless: Arthur has two illegitimate children and Lancelot has Galahad. But she will never have a child;... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 36
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...half of the knights have been killed in the quest for the Holy Grail. What Arthur had feared has occurred: if you achieve perfection, you die. Now, the court is too... (full context)
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...by a Court of Honor—where two champions fight on behalf of the prosecutor and defendant. Arthur cannot, by the rules, fight on behalf of his wife and Lancelot is absent from... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 37
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The morning of the fight dawns—Arthur and Guenever barely slept the night before. A pavilion has been erected for the event... (full context)
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...dismounts Sir Mador and, after a brief skirmish with swords, unhelms him. After the victory, King Arthur comes down from the box, leading a sobbing Guenever, and bows before Lancelot. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 38
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Just at this time, Arthur arranges a tournament that happens to take place near the Castle Corbin—where Elaine now lives... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 41
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Life at court continues. At the next tournament, something strange happens: Arthur challenges Lancelot, sets upon him and tries to hurt him. It is as if, for... (full context)
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...up to scratch; he is also madly in love with Guenever. So, one afternoon, while Arthur and Lancelot are playing bowls, a young messenger arrives the Queen, on her way back... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 43
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...Lancelot finds a ladder in the garden and climbs to her window. They speak, about Arthur and their betrayal of him, about Lancelot's God and about Guenever's childlessness. While they speak,... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 45
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Arthur, Guenever and Lancelot are on the eve of their Indian summer—gossip has been silenced and... (full context)
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...the wounds. Sir Urre has finally made it across the Channel to Britain and is asking for Lancelot to heal him. Arthur arranges it that at the Pentecost feast at the... (full context)
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Finally, it is Lancelot's turn. He kneels next to Sir Urre but pleads with Arthur not to make him do this. But Arthur commands him too. Over in the stands,... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 1
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...at Camelot. They are arguing over the best way to start a rebellion against the king. Mordred's hate for Arthur knows no bounds; he wants to rebel because Arthur slept with... (full context)
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...Agravaine has an idea: suppose they were to raise the issue of Lancelot's infidelity under Arthur's new judicial laws; Arthur would have to do something about it then. Doing so, Arthur's... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 3
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Lancelot and Guenever, now aged lovers, are sitting in the window of her solar, looking out over Arthur's medieval England. The land is unrecognizable to what it was before Arthur's... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 4
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...night, Guenever is hesitant, scared of being caught. As they talk, neither of them notices Arthur's profile in the gathering twilight. Arthur leaves to find a page to announce him. The... (full context)
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Arthur looks older now, but with a noble oldness. The King is worried about the Orkney... (full context)
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Arthur fears Mordred still bears him a grudge—which is why he tells the lovers this story.... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 5
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The Orkney brothers are waiting for Arthur in the justice room—a peculiar square-shaped room lined with tapestries. The brothers are arguing—Gareth, Gawaine... (full context)
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...every person in this court has always known. Queen Guenever is Sir Lancelot's mistress openly." Arthur only looks at the floor. He asks if they are ready to prove that accusation... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 6
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...is pacing up and down his room, waiting for the Queen's summons; he knows that Arthur is away hunting and so the two can spend the night together. Suddenly, Gareth asks... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 8
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...It appears Lancelot killed all the knights outside his bedchamber, apart from Mordred. Quietly, the King enters, looking tired. Mordred is crying because his brothers have been calling him a coward... (full context)
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Mordred announces that Lancelot will try and rescue the Queen; Arthur tells him he has made the guard as strong as he can. But Mordred disagrees,... (full context)
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Mordred leaves, and Gawaine and Arthur turn to watch the Queen's execution from the window. Arthur hopes that Lancelot will come.... (full context)
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Arthur and Gawaine embrace and then call the page for some wine to celebrate. Mordred, unarmed... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 9
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...still cannot understand how he could have done it. Lancelot now has to fight the King, his best friend—all because of Gawaine's grief and Mordred's wicked refusal to allow Lancelot to... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 10
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The pageant reaches the justice room. The king, tired and somber, enters at the end of the processions. Finally, Lancelot and Guenever enter... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 11
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...in the Queen's chamber at the Carlisle Court. It is winter, cold and lonely. The King is away in France with the Army, laying siege to Lancelot. She talks with her... (full context)
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...in his sly manner, tells her that he is going to make an announcement: that Arthur has been killed in battle (although he has not) and then crown himself king. Then,... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 12
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It is dark in Gawaine's tent. He is lying facedown and crying in pain while Arthur strokes his head. He has been injured twice now by Lancelot in battle. They talk... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 13
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...are confused as to why the siege was lifted so quickly. They wonder if the King is ill, or if there has been a revolt in England. Lancelot enters suddenly, shouting... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 14
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A wind of sorrow whistles around the King's battle pavilion. It is late and his head is bowed over his papers. He is... (full context)
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...a raging flood, only to have it break through in places he has overlooked. The King realizes the Bible is right in saying the heart of man is deceitful over all... (full context)
A page enters and Arthur asks his name—he is Tom of Warwick. Arthur asks him not to fight in the... (full context)
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Arthur sleeps and dreams of Merlyn. When he wakes he begins to remember: Lyo-Lyok and the... (full context)
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The King feels refreshed and clear-headed. He is ready to reform the table and bring his new... (full context)