Lugodoc’s summary of Book 14 – Sir Percivale on the Quest
Percivale was still with the recluse, who turned out to be his aunt and called herself the Queen of the Waste Lands. She told him about how his mother died of grief when he left home, and how Merlin created the Round Table to represent the world, and hence how knights valued its fellowship so much that they gave up the world and their families for it. She also made a veiled reference to the three Sangreal-achievers-to-be: Galahad (virgin), Percivale (virgin), and Bors (almost-a-virgin), as three white bulls.
She also told Percivale where to find Galahad, at his cousin’s Castle Goothe (or failing that, back at Castle Corbin), so off he went. He spent the next night in the same house where the ancient, crumbling, blind King Evelake still waited “till the good knight of my blood of the ninth degree be come”, so that he could see the Sangreal achieved.
Then Percivale rode off and was soon ambushed by twenty knights, who slew his horse, but Galahad appeared from nowhere and chased them all off. Stranded, Percivale tried to follow Galahad on foot, but lost him, and after losing another borrowed horse to another knight, eventually received a suspiciously fine black steed from a strange woman. The horse carried him four days’ journey in a single hour.
He eventually recognised the rampant fiend between his legs when it paused at a roaring water, and he drove it off by making the sign of the cross on his own forehead, only to find himself stranded on a rocky island. He made friends with a lion by slaying the serpent it was fighting, and as he slept under its protection, he dreamed of two ladies: a maiden on a lion, who warned him that the next day he would “fight with the strongest champion of the world”, and a crone on a serpent, who threatened to “take” him for earlier slaying her other serpent.
When he awoke, an old priest arrived in a white samite-draped ship, who comforted him by explaining that the serpent-bourne crone was the old pagan law, and the lion-bourne maiden, the new Christian one. Then he sailed off, and Percivale spent another night with the lion.
Next morning, a black silk-draped ship arrived, and the beautiful woman aboard it told Percivale that the old man was evil, and that she would help him. Her servants prepared a picnic, and it being a warm day, all her clothes soon fell off, and even Percival ended up naked and in terrible danger of losing his virginity. Fortunately, in the nick of time, he happened to glance at the red cross in the pommel of his sword lying nearby, and made the sign of the cross again, driving the temptress off shrieking.
For penance, he stabbed himself through his own thigh, then the old man came back and explained that the evil temptress was, in fact, Lucifer in drag. Then he also vanished, and Percivale sailed away from the Island of Temptation in the priest’s boat, with his virginity intact.
At A Glance:
Book 14 Chapter Summary
1. How Sir Percivale came to a recluse and asked counsel, and how she told him that she was his aunt.
2. How Merlin likened the Round Table to the world, and how the knights that should achieve the Sangreal should be known.
3. How Sir Percivale came into a monastery, where he found King Evelake, which was an old man.
4. How Sir Percivale saw many men of arms bearing a dead knight, and how he fought against them.
5. How a yeoman desired him to get again an horse, and how Sir Percivale’s hackney was slain, and how he gat an horse.
6. Of the great danger that Sir Percivale was in by his horse, and how he saw a serpent and a lion fight.
7. Of the vision that Sir Percivale saw, and how his vision was expounded, and of his lion.
8. How Sir Percivale saw a ship coming to him-ward, and how the lady of the ship told him of her disheritance.
9. How Sir Percivale promised her help, and how he required her of love, and how he was saved from the fiend.
10. How Sir Percivale for penance rove himself through the thigh; and how she was known for the devil.