The Ill-Made Knight is departure in the Arthur stories in that it is a story primarily concerned with Lancelot. He labored his entire childhood to become a knight of the round table, for a chance to meet his hero, the King. When he arrives a young man and knighted, he becomes Arthur’s most trusted friend and adviser, and is initially jealous of his wife Guinevere, who takes up too much of the King’s precious love and time. Arthur recommends that Guinevere befriend Lancelot, so she does, and the two eventually fall into a passionate secret love.
Lancelot believes he is “ill-made” because of he is described as ape-like and ugly, with ears that stick out straight from his head. Instead, we find Lancelot is obsessed with being pure, a true Athurian knight, who seeks God, but despite the attempt to achieve perfection, Lancelot proves most fallible, again and again. Lancelot’s search for true chivalry is set against the desire of most men to fight and kill, a desire for a time “when men could be men”. Lancelot’s story fills in between the lines of what living under Arthur’s reign could have been, and his complexity brought the legend to life.
My favorite in the series thus far, which significantly developed my preconceived notions of King Arthur’s court.
“People will do the basest things on account of their so-called honor.”