Bits and Pieces of King Arthur and His Knights Sir Thomas Mallory's King Arthur and His Knights [New York: Oxford University Press, 1975] is a book of selected tales from the King Arthur legend. This book contains tales such as "Merlin", "Pelleas and Ettard", and "The Holy Grail". King Arthur and His Knights was a very difficult book to read.
"Merlin" was a story about the birth of King Arthur. It was a difficult story to understand: the plot of King Arthur's birth in "Merlin" differed from the plot of his birth which we read aloud in class. Uther Pendragon was king. He was in love with the duke of Cornwall's wife, Igraine. Uther sent for the duke and told him to bring his wife along with him. The king lusted after Igraine but she would not give her consent to him (3). The king and Merlin make an agreement like the one in the story we read aloud.
Uther slept with Igraine and when the baby was born it was forcedly given to Merlin.
Although "Pelleas and Ettard" was also difficult to read, it was easier than "Merlin". The plot was unfamiliar which made the story more understandable. Sir Gawain met a knight named Sir Pelleas. "and he loveth a great lady in this country, and her name is Ettard" (43). Sir Pelleas did not feel loved back from Ettard so Sir Gawain devised a plan where he would go and tell her that he killed Sir Pelleas. He would then go to where she lives and become close to her where he would to his true duty and coax Ettard into loving Sir Pelleas. In three days Sir Pelleas was to come to a pavilion in the evening and Ettard would know he was alive. Sir Pelleas liked like plan. Sir Gawain carried out his plan, and in three days he went to the pavilions. In the first pavilion he saw three knights in three beds. In the second pavilion he saw four gentlewomen in four beds. Finally in the third pavilion he saw Sir Gawain in bed with the Lady Ettard. Sir Pelleas was so hurt by this the he decided he was going to kill Sir Gawain and Ettard both. Sir Pelleas could not go through with killing them so he placed his sword upon there throats. When they awoke they knew it was the sword of Sir Pelleas. Ettard was angry with Sir Gawain for betraying Sir Pelleas, because she loved him. Sir Pelleas was angry with Sir Gawain and Ettard. Even though Sir Gawain did what he promised Sir Pelleas realized that he was better than Ettard. He wished to never see her again.
"The Holy Grail" was difficult to read as well. I found that words such as very or rest were confusing because they had different meanings than the ones which I was used to. In this story Sir Galahad went on a quest for the holy grail. On this quest he met up with two men. The first man he met up with was Perceval. The second man was Sir Bors. These three men stopped at King Estorause's castle. While they were they King Estorause died.
"When the kind was dead all the city stood dismayed and wist not who might be their king. Right so as they were in council there came a voice amoung them, and made them choose the youngest knight of three to be their king, 'for he shall well maintain you and all yours.' So they made Sir Galahad king. . ." (109) At the end of this story Sir Galahad died. Perceval lived a year and two months longer, and then he died. After Perceval's death Sir Bors returned home to Camelot.
I would not recommend this book for recreational reading but it is more appropriate for a school reading assignment. The difficult vocabulary and the changing plots will make readers think more about what is really going on in this book.