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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Important Quotes

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“The outcome of the battle would decide whether Arthur would be King of England to rule with peace and justice the whole realm, or whether the chaos of little quarreling ambitious kings should continue the unhappy darkness that had fallen on the land since Uther Pendragon’s death.” 

(Chapter 1, Page 22)

Although this comment fits the political climate of Arthur’s time, it applies equally well to Malory’s. Sir Thomas lived during the War of the Roses, a period of immense social unrest. Malory himself changed political allegiance to suit the circumstances surrounding him. 

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“‘But you should be glad that you will have a clean and honorable death. I am the one who should be sad, for my death is to be shameful and ugly and ridiculous.’” 

(Chapter 1, Page 36)

Merlin foretells both Arthur’s death and his own. Knowing events before they happen doesn’t mean he can do anything to thwart destiny. He bemoans his own fate even as he rushes with open arms to meet it. 

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“‘Somewhere in the world there is defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.’” 

(Chapter 1, Page 44)

After Arthur sulkily complains that he’s been beaten in battle and lost his sword, Merlin reminds him that Arthur isn’t exempt from failure. Because of Arthur’s youth, Merlin frequently offers advice on how to be a man as well as how to be a king.