85 pages 2 hours read

Roger Lancelyn Green

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1953

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Summary and Study Guide


King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table is a retelling of the legendary Arthurian tales for children, written by Roger Lancelyn Green and published originally in 1953 by Puffin. Green weaves together the stories from Sir Thomas Malory’s Arthurian chronicle Le Morte d’Arthur with other Arthurian poems and folktales from around Europe. He compiles the stories into a single grand narrative of King Arthur’s rise to power, the gathering of his knights, the quest for the Holy Grail, and Britain’s descent back into darkness. The book has been republished several times and was made an official Puffin Classic in 2008. This guide follows the Puffin Classics paperback edition published in 2015.

Plot Summary

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table is divided into four books, each following a different era of King Arthur’s reign. Book 1, “The Coming of Arthur,” tells how Arthur became king and united Britain. After being raised in secret, the young Arthur miraculously pulls a sword from an anvil, which declares he is the rightful king. Arthur gathers followers and receives the sword Excalibur and its magical scabbard from Avalon, which the wizard Merlin prophesizes will help him create the godly realm of Logres. One of Arthur’s knights, Balyn, has a series of tragic adventures after keeping a cursed sword. Balyn strikes the Dolorous Stroke, cursing King Pelles and his Castle Carbonek but creating the conditions for the Holy Grail to come to Camelot in the future.

Arthur defeats his evil opposition and banishes the Saxons. He marries Queen Guinevere, and Merlin gifts them the Round Table, foretelling the great deeds of the knights still to arrive. To inaugurate the Round Table, Arthur sends three new knights on quests. Gawain, Pellinore, and Tor all confront or succumb to rash behaviors, which lead to disastrous ends. Arthur and Merlin create the Order of Chivalry so the knights will behave properly on future adventures. Merlin leaves to sleep until he is needed in the far future, and the magical Lady Nimue takes his place. Arthur’s sister, Morgana le Fay, concocts a plan to kill Arthur, but Arthur proves his bravery and diplomacy in the trap instead. Morgana steals the magic scabbard and flees, always plotting to hurt Logres.

Book 2, “The Knights of the Round Table,” details the coming of Arthur’s most famous knights to Camelot and the various quests that prove their worthiness. Gawain plays a beheading game with the mysterious Green Knight to right his prior wrongs. He follows the enchanted man into the wilderness and to his castle where his queen unsuccessfully tempts Gawain to betray his knightly oaths. Gawain’s courtesy is later tested again by the monstrous Lady Ragnell, but Gawain breaks her curse of “ugliness” through his kindness. Launcelot next arrives to perform many brave feats, gaining fame across the country as the strongest knight in Logres.

Book 2 then tells the individual tales of Gareth, Tristram, and Geraint’s deeds. Gareth, keeping his noble lineage a secret, takes a quest to save a woman, much to the distress of the woman’s prejudiced sister. Gareth proves his valor doesn’t come from his noble name in many valiant battles, and he marries the Lady Linnet. Geraint, a squire, similarly proves his bravery to his love Enid through a quest, and his defeat of the evil Sir Oringle wins him his knighthood. Tristram arrives as a minstrel, singing the tale of his tragic love for Iseult the Fair. Tristram fought dragons and evil knights in Ireland to win her hand for King Mark but accidentally drank a potion and fell in love with her instead. Arthur invites Tristram to his Round Table where he stays for many years before dying of a poisoned heart.

Gawain’s son Percivale, after being raised in the forest, next comes to Arthur’s court. On his quest, he finds his love Blanchefleur and sees the procession of the Holy Grail at Castle Carbonek. Percivale leaves in haste and loses both the lady and Grail, but he receives honor at the Round Table. Launcelot later comes to Carbonek himself and also sees the Grail. King Pelles’s daughter, Elaine, enchants herself to appear as Queen Guinevere, tricking Launcelot into marrying her and having a child with her. This affects Launcelot’s mental state, but he eventually returns to Camelot when Naciens the Divine Hermit heals him with the Grail.

In Book 3, “The Quest of the Holy Grail,” Launcelot and Elaine’s son Galahad arrives at Camelot and completes the Round Table. The Holy Grail appears to bless the court and swiftly disappears, exciting the knights to set out in search of it. Galahad, Bors, and Percivale all face trials of their virtue and faith; when they prove worthy, they board the Enchanted Ship that takes them to Carbonek. Launcelot confesses his sins and also boards the ship, but a minor quest separates him from the group. Gawain and Launcelot find their way to Carbonek before the others, and the Grail appears, but neither Gawain nor Launcelot can drink from the vessel—Gawain because he is early and Launcelot because of his sins. Galahad, Bors, and Percivale later arrive, and Galahad undoes King Pelles’s curse. Galahad dies and ascends to heaven, Percivale rules Carbonek with Blanchefleur, and Bors returns with Launcelot and Gawain to tell their story.

Logres descends into chaos in Book 4, “The Departing of Arthur.” Launcelot and Guinevere’s secret affair develops after Launcelot saves the queen from an evil knight. Mordred confronts the lovers publicly, forcing Launcelot to fight, flee, and save Guinevere from execution. Arthur goes to war with Launcelot because of Gawain’s need for revenge, as Launcelot killed his unarmed brothers while saving the queen. The knights find temporary peace, but Gawain and his followers force Arthur to follow Launcelot to France. Launcelot fatally wounds Gawain before Arthur’s army returns to Britain to battle Mordred, who usurped Arthur’s crown in his absence.

Arthur and Mordred’s armies fight to the last man, and each leader fatally wounds the other. Arthur’s final followers bring him to the lake where he received Excalibur, and a boat awaits to bring him to Avalon. Launcelot and Guinevere spend the rest of their days in prayer, and the kingdom of Logres falls into darkness. The citizens of Britain keep Arthur and his knights’ legend alive, waiting for the sleeping king to return to restore Logres once more.

Related Titles

By Roger Lancelyn Green

Study Guide


The Adventures of Robin Hood

Roger Lancelyn Green

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Roger Lancelyn Green