Skip over navigation

The Once and Future King

T. H. White

Book III: “The Ill-Made Knight,” Chapters 21–29

Book III: “The Ill-Made Knight,” Chapters 16–20

Book III: “The Ill-Made Knight,” Chapters 21–29, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary: Chapter 21

Elaine has decided to become a nun and does not think much about Lancelot anymore. One day, she comes across the wild man asleep in her father’s robe and immediately recognizes him as Lancelot. She tells King Pelles, and he summons doctors to heal Lancelot’s spirits. Lancelot finally wakes from his madness, completely unconscious of anything that has occurred since he went berserk.

Summary: Chapter 22

Lancelot and Elaine eventually move into Sir Bliant’s castle, and Lancelot goes by the name of Le Chevalier Mal Fet, which means “the ill-made knight.” A young knight tells Lancelot that he has uncovered Lancelot’s true identity. Lancelot asks him to respect his wish to remain incognito. The young knight apologetically promises to keep Lancelot’s secret.

Summary: Chapter 23

In the spring, Elaine arranges a huge tournament. Lancelot, in disguise, defeats everyone else at the tournament, and the others leave, grumbling about the mystery knight. Elaine cries at this social fiasco, then finds Lancelot standing on the castle ramparts, where she sees that the symbol on his shield is that of a knight bowing before a queen. One day, two knights come to Bliant Castle and ask to fight with the mysterious Chevalier Mal Fet. They are amazed by his prowess, and he eventually reveals that he is Lancelot. The two knights turn out to be Sir Degalis, one of the Round Table knights, and Sir Ector de Maris, who, not to be confused with Arthur’s old guardian, is one of Arthur’s knights and also Lancelot’s brother. Elaine watches the joyful reunion, knowing that these knights will break her heart by taking Lancelot away.

Summary: Chapter 24

Sir Degalis and Sir Ector de Maris urge Lancelot to return to Camelot with them. Lancelot feels doggedly obliged to Elaine and says he will return. One day, a squire appears and sits at the castle moat, saying he is waiting for Lancelot. Elaine asks Lancelot what she should do about Galahad if Lancelot does not return. Pretending not to know what she is talking about, Lancelot assures her he will return. The squire turns out be Uncle Dap, who has brought all of Lancelot’s armor, polished and patched. Guenever has stitched a mantle onto the back of his helmet, and when he sniffs it, Lancelot is reminded of her. He rides away with Uncle Dap without looking back.

Summary: Chapter 25

Fifteen years pass and England has grown much more civilized. Instead of thieves and murderers and towers going up in flames, the new civilization has scholars and hospitals. Arthur is now accepted as a great king, and Lancelot as a legendary hero. A new and eager generation of knights comes to Camelot, among them Gareth and Arthur’s son, Mordred.

Summary: Chapter 26

Arthur tells Lancelot a little about the Orkney boys and describes how they are so violent and unhappy because of Morgause. Of Morgause’s children, Lancelot thinks the least of Mordred, though he is unaware that Morded is Arthur’s son. Lancelot casually tells Arthur that Morgause has seduced King Pellinore’s youngest son, Lamorak. Arthur is aghast—it turns out that Pellinore killed Lot by accident in a tournament and was in turn killed by one of the Orkney clan. Arthur worries that Lamorak may be in danger.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us