Endings is a combination of three traditional Arthurian legends: The Knight of the Cart, the Quest for the Holy Grail, and the war against Rome. I start Endings off with a retelling of the Knight of the Cart–which, historically speaking, is actually one of the first stories Lancelot appears in.
In the Knight of the Cart, Queen Guinevere is kidnapped by Duke Meleagant, the son of King Bademagus. Gawain sets out to reclaim her on behalf of Arthur, and is joined by Sir Lancelot. The pair ride around, searching for Guinevere, when they find a man driving a cart who has some information. The cart driver says he’ll tell them about it, but only if Lancelot rides in the cart with him.
Because Lancelot is a knight, riding around in a cart is incredibly demeaning for him and implies that he is of lower status than he really is, so he’s reluctant to hop in, but eventually does so. Lancelot and Gawain then encounter lots of rude ladies and knights who look down on Lancelot for riding in the cart. Eventually the pair decides to split up.
Lancelot manages to find Guinevere in Gorre, but the queen gives him the cold shoulder after hearing about his reluctance to climb into the cart to save her. They eventually make up, with Lancelot breaking into the tower Guinevere is being kept in to spend a passionate night with her, marking the the beginning of their adulterous affair that eventually destroys Camelot.
Meleagant figures out Guinevere’s indiscretion, but Lancelot rides in to rescue her. (Why didn’t he take her with when he fled the tower after their passionate night? Because this is Lancelot, and logic is not his strong suit.) The two fight, but King Bademagus intervenes. Guinevere is sent home. The story continues as Lancelot is an idiot who gets himself locked up multiple times, but it was this first section with Guinevere that I was interested in using. (Hilarious tidbit: the original author of the Knight of the Cart disliked Lancelot so much he actually never finished writing the story and left Lancelot imprisoned, HAH!)
With the events of Enlighten, the Knights of the Round Table discovered Britt’s real identity, but I hadn’t yet given her the chance to be a female. It was something I really wanted to do before the series came to a close, so I looked for opportunities where Britt could serve as a fill in for Guinevere or something similar. The story of the Knight of the Cart–bringing back Duke Meleagant–was the perfect opportunity, particularly as it would flow quite naturally into the conflict with Rome.
It also gave me the chance to include some of the more quirky King Arthur tales (like Sir Pelleas and Lady Ettard, and the story of Gawain and Ragnelle) and insert some much needed humor in the book. (My main concern with Endings was to achieve a natural balance of humor and battles, and bring back the huge cast of characters to say farewell and finish up a bunch of story arcs.)
That’s it for today, Champions! Later this week we’ll wrap up the last of the King Arthurs posts with the Merlin/Britt interview–which holy cow, turned out to be as long as a short story but was a lot of fun. Thank you for reading, and have a lovely week!