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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 TWO: THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS

Chapter 10

Summary and Notes

Back in Bedegraine it is the night before the battle, and the mood is solemn. Merlyn tells Arthur that he will win the battle, but that he is concerned about something else. He tries to remember what he is supposed to tell the young king, and he cannot. He has warned Arthur about Guenevere, about Excalibur, about his father, but he is forgetting to tell Arthur something crucial and he can’t remember what it is.

Arthur asks him to not tell him, because he doesn’t like the feeling of knowing the future. Then the wizard and the king have an interesting conversation: Merlyn asks him if he remembers being turned into animals when he was a boy, and the king does not. Arthur merely has the feeling of understanding the various animals, but not the actual memories.

Then, Merlyn tells Arthur another parable about a man who is trying to elude Death. The story reiterates the theme brought up in an earlier story of Merlyn’s in Book One: fate cannot be changed. Arthur understands the point of the story: he has a Destiny, and so does Merlyn (to be kidnapped by Nimue), and no amount of discussion of the future will change that Destiny.


The mood is quite sad at the end of this chapter; the tension of the all-important battle and the dawn of the new age is nerve-racking for both Arthur and Merlyn.

Chapter 11

Summary and Notes

Pellinore goes in search of his friends because he has become lonely. He finds the men dressed up as the Beast, and he, humorously, has no idea what they are up to. The real Beast is holding them hostage on a cliff, and the knights plead with Pellinore to kill the Beast so that they can go home.

The Questing Beast is positively lovesick, and Pellinore sympathizes with her (it) far too much to lay hands on her. He suggests that the two knights should flirt with the Questing Beast in order to get out of their predicament. This plan is successful in that the knights are able to make it into the castle to safety. The Beast stands outside “besieging” the castle.

As Palomides and Grummore wait inside the castle, they see Pellinore at a distance arriving with his arm around a “horsy-faced” lady. This is Piggy. She hadn’t received any of Pellinore’s letters because he hadn’t addressed them, and she went in search of him. The Questing Beast has helped her find Pellinore.

As Pellinore announces his engagement to Piggy, St. Toirdealbach, drunk, appears and announces that he too is about to be married, but to Mother Morlan. There will be a double wedding, uniting, in effect, the Old Ones and the British.

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