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Summary and Notes
The Orkney brothers are re-introduced. They are all middle aged now and spend all of their time together as they did when they were children. Gawaine is still large and coarse; Gaheris a younger copy of him and Gareth is still youthful and likeable. The reader has met Agravaine and Mordred again in the previous chapter, so they need no introduction.
Mordred and Agravaine antagonize the other brothers by discussing Lancelotís infidelity. It is important to note in this section the other three brothersí surprisingly steadfast loyalty to Arthur; the thirty or so years they have spent at Camelot has not been without effect. This loyalty is the opposite of what the reader might expect, but it is another indication of how much time has passed since Books Three and Four.
Mordred announces his intention to accuse Lancelot and the Queen of treason. Gawaine reacts with horror, and forbids Mordred to do any such thing. Mordred scoffs at his older brother, and Gawaine tells him that he will forcibly stop him if necessary. Agravaine steps in, his fury at years of being dominated by his brothers coming to a head, and threatens Gawaine with a sword.
It is necessary to recognize the feud between the brothers as not just an ancient one between Orkney and British, but as the realization of their childhood conflicts: the incident with the unicorn, the motherís death, etc. Gareth and Mordred fight each other; Agravaine and Gawaine, and Gawaine nearly kills his younger brother before Arthur suddenly appears at the threshold.
Arthur does not seem to notice the tableau of violence in front of him, but kisses Mordred on the cheek paternally, and the situation is diffused.