Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XVII Chapter 19
At Castle Corbin, Sir Galahad, Sir Percivale, and Sir Bors are greeted by the whole of King Pellam’s court. Everyone is excited about how the roller-coaster thrill ride which is the Grail Quest is, at long last, coming to some kind of conclusion. I mean, yes, Sir Bors has been in this very castle and seen the Grail, and yes, Sir Galahad grew up in this castle and presumably also had plenty of opportunities to learn about the Grail being there, and therefore they could have just gone direct from Book XIII straight to here, but apparently that wouldn’t have been sporting.
Sir Eliazar (King Pellam’s son, Sir Launcelot’s brother-in-law, and Sir Galahad’s uncle), last seen in Book XV Chapter 6 at a jousting tournament, presents the three knights with a particular broken sword. It’s not Narsil, it’s Sir Balin’s sword from Book II Chapter 15! The one he used to strike Pellam with the dolorous blow? Malory is not particularly eager for you to go back and review that chapter, though, since at the time it was a spear (the Spear of Destiny) and not a sword at all, nor was there any mention of it breaking. We just take it as read: there was a sword that broke, and no one gets to say otherwise.
“Let me see if this broken sword will miraculously knit itself together when I try to pick it up!” says Bors, because he is extremely optimistic. But nothing doing. Sir Percivale tries picking up the sword in hopes it’ll restore itself, to no better result.
“You try it, Galahad,” says Percivale. “You always get all the best stuff anyway.”
And sure enough, when Sir Galahad touches the sword, boom, flash of light, it’s all of a piece and whole again. Galahad feels kind of bad though, since he already has a magic sword from the stone (which was also Sir Balin’s, but that’s why they called Sir Balin ‘Mister Two-Swords’) and a magic shield that used to belong to Joseph of Arimathea and also the Sword of Strange Girdles that Magdalena gave him back at the end of Chapter 7. He’s rolling in loot, nobody else gets any! So he passes this third magic sword to Sir Bors, for it might not be better set; for he was a good knight and worthy man, Malory says.
As soon as this sword business is squared away, or even a little bit before, an angelic voice announces it’s dinnertime and everyone who isn’t a major character needs to clear the set. In short order it’s just Pellam, Eliazar, Galahad, Percivale, Bors, and some girl, Galahad’s cousin who Malory can’t bother to name.
Nine additional knights march in at this point! Team Grail is truly multinational: there’s the three English knights we’ve been talking about all this time, but also three Irish knights, three French knights, and three Danish knights. Twelve total.
Evelake comes in, on a litter borne by four pretty ladies, and he tells Pellam and Eliazar to get out, it’s just Team Grail from here on. (Malory has already forgotten about the girl he mentioned before.)
“Wait, wasn’t he dead?” someone, probably Sir Bors, asks. No one answers or addresses this question.
Exit Pellam and Eliazar!
Enter Joseph of Arimathea! I bet you weren’t expecting him!
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XVII Chapter 19 — No Comments
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