The Candle in the Wind

The Candle in the Wind is the fourth book in the series by T.H. White.  It is also the final book in The Once and Future King (although White wrote a fifth book, it was not included in the compilation).

The Candle in the Wind is the only book included in The Once and Future King that was not published as a standalone.

The Candle in the Wind describes the decline and eventful fall of Arthur and Camelot.  In it, Arthur is undone by two of his best characteristics: his kindness and his sense of justice.

His illegitimate son, Mordred, arrives at court.  Although Mordred is often antagonistic toward Arthur, and sometimes downright hostile, Arthur permits Mordred to stay, because he feels he has an obligation to him.  Meanwhile, Mordred plots for Arthur’s demise.

Arthur’s kindness toward Guenever and Lancelot also contributes to his undoing. Despite rumors swirling about their affair, Arthur refuses to investigate it.  Mordred decides to take matters into his own hands and sets a trap for Lancelot and Guenever, and catches them together.

Lancelot escapes, but Guenever is tried for adultery.  Although Arthur wants to save her, his sense of justice commands that he sentence her the same way he would a stranger – to death.  But due to his kindness, he secretly hopes that Lancelot will rescue her.  As a result, he leaves the site of her execution poorly guarded.  Lancelot attacks and rescues her, but accidentally kills Gareth, the youngest of the Orkney brothers during the escape.  Lancelot and Guenever travel to his family’s castle in France.

Gawain, the eldest of the Orkney brothers, demands that Arthur wage war against Lancelot and Guenever.  Gawain’s appeal for retribution for his brother’s death appeals to Arthur’s sense of justice, and Arthur goes to France, leaving Mordred in charge of Camelot.  Mordred plots a take-over, and by the time Arthur and the others realize it, it is too late.

The Candle in the Wind ends on the eve of the battle with Mordred, where Arthur will die, with Arthur telling his life story to a young Thomas Malory.

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