SparkNotes: The Once and Future King: Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 10–13Eventually, they encounter a seven-foot-tall giant named Little John. Little John leads them to the camp of a man he calls Robin Wood, known to the villagers as Robin Hood. At the camp they meet Robin and his love, Maid Marian. Robin tells them that one of his men, Friar Tuck, has been kidnapped by Morgan le Fay, a woman of uncertain origin who is believed to be the queen of fairies. The Wart and Kay agree to help rescue the three men. Robin gives the boys a small knife, which he explains will protect them because fairies are afraid of iron.
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Six years pass. Kay becomes more temperamental, insisting on using weapons he cannot handle and challenging everybody to fights in which he is invariably defeated. Merlyn tells the sulking Wart that the best thing for sadness is to learn something new. Merlyn tells the Wart that this is the last time he will be able to turn him into an animal, since they will soon part ways. Merlyn then turns the Wart into a badger and sends him to visit a wise badger. In the beginning, all animals looked like shapeless embryos. God offered to alter each of them in three different ways.
The birds all place a high premium on the importance of lineage and ancestry, and they refer to each other with military titles. Cully, who has been driven to the point of psychotic behavior, is referred to as Colonel, but even his military discipline cannot prevent him from acting on his murderous tendencies. White renders the battle between King Pellinore and Sir Grummore Grummursum ridiculous, using it to poke fun at traditional notions of knighthood. The fight is relatively pointless, since the knights turn a cordial conversation into a joust simply to satisfy the requirements of their social station. There is also humor in the way the fight unfolds, since each man is so heavily padded that he is barely able to hurt the other or even see well enough to avoid running into a tree.
A summary of Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 5–9 in T.
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Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 14–19
Power of the body decides everything in the end, and only Might is Right. See Important Quotations Explained. On a hot summer day in August, the Wart meets his new tutor, Merlyn, for his first lesson. Merlyn transforms the Wart into a fish and accompanies him in the moat in the form of a large, wise-looking tench. At the behest of a roach—another, weaker kind of fish—they visit a family of fish whose matriarch is ill, and although Merlyn thinks she is making up her illness, he cures her all the same.
In medieval England, Sir Ector raises two young boys—his son, Kay, and an adopted orphan named Art, who has come to be known as the Wart. Drinking port one day, Sir Ector and his friend Sir Grummore Grummursum decide that they should go on a quest to find a new tutor for the boys, since their previous tutor has gone insane. One day after working in the fields, Kay and the Wart go hawking. They take the hawk Cully from the Mews—the room where the hawks are kept—and head into the fields. Even though the Wart is better at handling Cully, Kay insists on carrying the hawk, and he releases him prematurely in the hopes that the hawk will catch a nearby rabbit. Cully, who is in a temperamental mood, flies into a nearby tree instead and perches there, glaring evilly at the two boys. Cully flies deeper and deeper into the forest.
Sir Ector is expected to house Twyti, his dogs, and his men. On Christmas night, the whole village comes to the great hall of the castle to feast. William Twyti is there with his men. The castle and its fields are beautiful under the snow, and everyone is in a good mood. Early the next morning, Twyti gathers his men and his dogs for the hunt. With the help of Robin Wood, they find a boar.