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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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Major Characters

King Arthur ("Wart")

Arthur is the son of King Uther Pendragon and Igranie, an Orkeny queen. He is the product of a kidnapping, and presumably rape, and thus is taken as an infant by Merlyn, a magician, to be raised by Sir Ector and his son Kay at the Castle of the Forest Sauvage. "Wart" is his childhood nickname, and is used throughout Book One. He ultimately becomes the King of England at the age of eighteen by pulling a magical sword out of a stone. He is the protagonist of the novel; this is the story of his life.


A wizard whom Wart meets in the forest at the beginning of Book One. Merlyn is Wartís tutor when he is young, and as the necromancer knows the future, he prepares the boy for his inevitable reign by changing him into various animals. Merlyn is kidnapped by a witch named Nimue in Book Two and does not appear again.


She is the daughter of King Leodegrance and is married to Arthur at the age of eighteen. She falls in love with his premier knight, Lancelot, and much of the conflict of the novel is due to this unfortunate event. Her fate is to become a nun at the end of the novel.


Lancelot du Lac, or the Chevalier Mal Fet, is a French knight who joins Arthurís Round Table and becomes the best knight in the world through rigorous training and discipline. He begins an affair with the kingís wife, and is simultaneously Arthurís best friend and confidante.

Minor Characters

Sir Ector

Arthurís guardian, a dithering old man, featured exclusively in Book One.


Ectorís son; he is a few years old than Arthur and functions as an antagonistic older brother in Book One and an advisor in Book two. He is not heard from again in the rest of the novel.

King Pellinore

Arthur meets him in the forest in Book One and idolizes the knight as a boy, even though Pellinore is feckless and comic. Pellinore is kind and generous to Wart and a great friend to him throughout the first two books. Pellinore is in perpetual search for a beast called The Questing Beast. He marries the Queen of Flanders, named Piggy, and has five children (including Lamorak, Percy, and Aglovale), most of whom die in Arthurís service. Pellinore himself in killed by the Orkney King, Lot.

Sir Grummore

Ectorís best friend and confidant.

Morgan La Fay

A witch whom Kay and Arthur defeat temporarily at the Forest Sauvage. She is the daughter of the Earl of Cornwall and Igraine, and is Arthurís half-sister.

Robin Wood

Popularly known as Robing Hood, he is a Saxon rebel who lives in the forest. He provides Kay and Arthur with a great adventure, which is fighting against Morgan la Fay.


Robinís wife. Wart admires her strength and prowess tremendously.


A boar hunter who is sent to the Forest Sauvage by the King, Uther Pendragon.


A goose who teaches Arthur the meaning of peace and the cruelty of war. Merlyn turns Arthur into a goose and Lyo-Lyok is his teacher during his transformation.

Uther Pendragon

The King of England during the first book, and Arthurís father. He dies suddenly towards the end of the first book, leaving Arthur to inherit the throne by pulling the sword out of the stone.


Arthurís half-sister, Morganís sister, the daughter of the Earl of Cornwall and Igraine, Arthurís mother. She is a witch as well, the wife of Lot, and the mother of the Orkeny brothers. She seduces Arthur with magic and the product of their union is Mordred.


Moraguseís oldest son, the leader of the Orkeny brothers, fierce, nationalistic, sometime friend and sometime foe to Arthur. He becomes a knight of the Round Table, eventually runs against Arthur because of his hatred for Lancelot, and dies of a head wound at the end of the novel.


Morgauseís son; he is confused by his mother sexually and is violent and a drunkard.

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