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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

BOOK ONE: THE SWORD IN THE STONE

Chapter 3

Summary and Notes

Wart’s night in the forest wears on, and he thinks about ways he could survive while waiting for the wayward Cully to return. He suddenly hears a noise and decides to go investigate. He discovers an odd looking cottage and an old wizard drawing water in front of it. The wizard is dressed in elaborate clothing and speaks of electric light and gas. Wart asks him the way to Ector’s castle and the wizard introduces himself as Merlyn.


Merlyn invites Wart in for peaches. Wart is astonished at the interior of Merlyn’s cottage; it is full of stuffed animals, books, potions and hundreds of other curiosities. Furthermore, Merlyn has an owl that can talk. Archimedes, the owl, is simultaneously shy and arrogant; Merlyn allows Wart to feed the Archimedes a dead mouse and Wart is quite taken with him, although the feelings are not reciprocated. Wart makes the error of nicknaming Archimedes “Archie” and the owl is offended.

Merlyn and Wart have breakfast together, and the wizard’s singing utensils that wash themselves after the two are done eating enchant Wart. Merlyn then tells Wart that not only is he coming back to Sir Ector’s with him, but that he will be his new tutor.

This chapter is important because it introduces Merlyn as a charismatic and influential character not only in Wart’s life but also in the novel overall. Moreover, the reader is treated to Merlyn’s prowess with magic, which sets the tone for Wart’s instruction in the rest of Book One.

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