70 pages 2 hours read

John Steinbeck

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1976

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Chapter 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “Merlin”

The initial chapter covers events orchestrated by the famed wizard Merlin relating to the early reign of the legendary King Arthur. The tale begins with King Uther of Britain and his infatuation with Lady Igraine of Cornwall. Merlin casts a spell that allows Uther to appear to Igraine as her husband, the Duke of Cornwall, several hours after the duke has been killed during a castle siege. Uther later reveals his true identity and marries Igraine. The result of their first liaison is a baby boy whom Merlin takes away to be raised in secret by Sir Ector and his family.

Years after Uther’s death, the land is divided by warring nobles who all want to claim the throne: “The barons surrounded themselves with armed men and many of them wished to take the crown for themselves. In this anarchy no man was safe and the laws were forgotten” (9). Merlin places a magical sword inside a large stone and proclaims that anyone who can draw it out is the rightful king of England. On New Year’s Day, squire Arthur seeks to retrieve a sword for his foster brother, Sir Kay, and easily removes the magical sword from the stone.