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The Once and Future King | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • England early 1200s

    Merlyn begins to tutor Wart (Arthur).

    Part 1, Chapter 5
  • Months later

    As a goose, Wart learns political boundaries are imaginary.

    Part 1, Chapter 18
  • Six years later

    Wart pulls the sword out of the stone, making him King of England.

    Part 1, Chapter 23
  • Several years later

    Queen Morgause abuses her sons in a way that makes them devoted to her.

    Part 2, Chapter 1
  • Months later

    King Arthur gets the idea for the Round Table.

    Part 2, Chapter 8
  • Days later

    King Arthur defeats King Lot at Bedegraine, subduing the Gaels.

    Part 2, Chapter 12
  • Months later

    Morgause enchants King Arthur and gets pregnant with a son, Mordred.

    Part 2, Chapter 14
  • Three years later

    Lancelot is knighted by King Arthur and falls in love with Queen Guenever.

    Part 3, Chapter 4
  • Three years later

    Lancelot sends captives to pay homage to Guenever, kindling her passion.

    Part 3, Chapter 9
  • Months later

    Lancelot and Guenever begin their love affair.

    Part 3, Chapter 13
  • Fifteen years later

    King Arthur starts the quest for the Holy Grail, inspiring Lancelot.

    Part 3, Chapter 27
  • Two years later

    Lancelot's imperfection prevents him from finding the Holy Grail.

    Part 3, Chapter 33
  • Two years later

    Lancelot rescues Guenever, and they resume their affair.

    Part 3, Chapter 45
  • Fifteen years later

    Agravaine and Mordred tell Arthur about Lancelot and Guenever's affair.

    Part 4, Chapter 5
  • One week later

    Lancelot rescues Guenever from execution and kills two of Gawaine's brothers.

    Part 4, Chapter 8
  • Six months later

    Prodded by Gawaine, Arthur lays siege to Lancelot's castle.

    Part 4, Chapter 9
  • Months later

    The pope pardons Lancelot and Guenever; she returns to Arthur, and Lancelot is banished.

    Part 4, Chapter 10
  • Months later

    Arthur rescues Guenever from Mordred, who has claimed the throne.

    Part 4, Chapter 12
  • Months later

    Before fighting Mordred, Arthur wonders why he failed; he entrusts the Round Table idea to the page, Tom.

    Part 4, Chapter 14

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Part 1, Chapters 1–3 Part 1 of The Once and Future King begins with an epigraph taken from a poem by Rudyard Kipling called "Puck's Song." ... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 4–6 Wart returns in triumph to Sir Ector's castle, accompanied by Merlyn and Archimedes and carrying the goshawk Cully; he... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 7–9 Merlyn and Wart sit in the shade near a jousting field where a sergeant-at-arms trains Kay in the art of jousting. Mer... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 10–12 Following Merlyn's instructions, Wart takes Kay to Hob's barley strip. Wart says according to Merlyn, they will find a... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 13–15 Wart recovers in bed from his collar-bone injury and soon grows bored. He begs Merlyn to turn him into an animal. Beca... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 16–18 Wart wakes up in the morning, anxious to go on the boar hunt. He eats breakfast with the other hunters, including Will... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 19–21 As a goose, Wart listens to Lyo-lyok explain how geese live. They do not have kings or laws and do not own things in c... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 22–24 At the Castle in the Forest Sauvage, King Pellinore tells Sir Ector, Sir Grummore, Kay, and Wart that King Uther Pendr... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 1–3 Part 2 begins with an epigraph taken from a poem by A.E. Houseman titled "The Welsh Marches." In an austere room... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 4–6 As peasants harvest Arthur's fields, Merlyn, King Arthur, and Sir Kay sit at the edge of a cornfield. Merlyn explains ... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 7–9 At Morgause's castle in Dunlothian, Morgause meets King Pellinore, Sir Grummore, and Sir Palomides. Pellinore had chas... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 10–12 The night before the battle of Bedegraine, the armies of King Lot and King Arthur receive blessings from their respect... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 13–14 King Pellinore and his fiancée, Piggy, sail toward England, where they will be married. Out of love for Grummore and P... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 1–3 Part 3 begins with an epigraph taken from Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. In France, in the castle of Be... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 4–6 Lancelot rides toward Camelot, accompanied by Uncle Dap, who now acts as his squire. He meets a knight in black armor,... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 7–9 During his first quest Sir Lancelot confronts two Celtic knights, Sir Carados and Sir Turquine, who uphold the notion ... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 10–12 Sir Lancelot confesses his feelings about Guenever to Uncle Dap, asking him if Dap thinks the queen loves him. Dap tel... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 13–15 Guenever, 22 years old, sits in her room working on petit point. She still does not have much knowledge of the world, ... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 16–18 Elaine decides to go to Camelot in an attempt to win Lancelot's love. She brings her baby, Galahad, with her. Lancelot... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 19–21 Sir Bliant visits King Pelles at his castle. The two men eat pastries by the fireplace as they talk about the wild man... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 22–24 Elaine helps to nurse Lancelot back to health. One day while resting in bed, Lancelot talks to Elaine about their futu... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 25–27 Fifteen years pass after Lancelot returns to Camelot. His relations with King Arthur and Queen Guenever continue much ... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 28–30 The Knights of the Round Table set out on the quest to find the Holy Grail. During the next two years, many knights re... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 31–33 One by one, dejected knights return from the quest for the Holy Grail. However, Lancelot has not yet returned. Rumors ... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 34–36 Queen Guenever takes a hot bath attended by her servants. Although she was often petulant and miserable when Sir Lance... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 37–39 Sir Bors agrees to serve as Guenever's champion if no one else can be found. The combat between the two champions take... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 40–42 When Lancelot returns from Corbin castle, Guenever is still enraged at him. They have a heated argument, during which ... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 43–45 During the night at Meliagrance's castle, Lancelot comes to Guenever's window and cuts his hand while removing the win... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 1–3 Part 4 begins with an epigraph taken from the novel The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler. Sir Agravaine and Mor... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 4–6 Sitting in a tower by a window, Sir Lancelot and Queen Guenever sing a song. After they finish, Lancelot says he and G... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 7–9 Sir Lancelot comes to Queen Guenever's room. He lovingly brushes her hair as they talk about the legendary lovers Tris... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 10–12 In the Justice Room, Mordred and Gawaine wait for the procession with Lancelot and Guenever. The couple has repented o... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 13–14 A fierce storm strikes northern France, including Lancelot's castle. In the castle Bors and Bleoberis try to figure ou... Read More
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