Not many years after the passion of Christ, there lives in Lesser Britain a Christian king named Garinter. His older daughter is married to the king of Scotland. The younger daughter, Elisena, finds none of her suitors attractive until the day her father brings home King Perión of Gaul, whom Garinter watched defeat two powerful knights and kill a lion. The scheming of Elisena’s attendant, Darioleta, allows the young people to meet secretly in the royal garden. King Perión departs ten days later without knowing the results of their nights of love.
When Elisena’s son is born, Darioleta conceals her mistress’s indiscretion by putting him into an ark, along with his father’s sword and ring, and a parchment declaring the boy to be “the timeless Amadís, son of a king.” She sets the ark afloat in the river beside the palace; it drifts out to sea, where it is found by a knight, Gandales, who is on a voyage to Scotland. Gandales, who rears the foundling with his son Gandalin, calls the boy “Child of the Sea.”
Gandales, riding through the woods when the boy is three years old, rescues Urganda, an enchantress who is being pursued by a knight. The grateful witch, after prophesying that the adopted boy will become the flower of knighthood, the most honorable warrior in the world, promises to aid him should he ever need her help.
When the boy is seven years old, King Languines of Scotland and his queen see him and offer to bring him up at court. Five years later, King Lisuarte and Queen Brisena pause in Scotland on their way to claim the throne of England. They ask permission to leave behind their daughter Oriana until conditions are safe. King Languines appoints the “Child of the Sea” to be her squire.
The two children fall deeply in love with each other, but they dare not let others know of their feelings. To be worthy of Oriana, Amadís determines to be knighted, and when King Perión visits Scotland to seek help against his enemy, King Abies of Ireland, Oriana asks her father’s old friend to knight Amadís. The young knight then rides away in search of fame through adventures.
Urganda meets him in the forest and gives him a lance with which he rescues King Perión from Irish knights. Although neither is aware of the blood relationship between them, Amadís swears always to aid King Perión in time of danger. Then follows a series of fantastic and extraordinary adventures, among them the encounter with haughty Galpano, whose custom is to stop and rob all who pass through his realm. Amadís defeats the bully and his two brothers, although he is so severely wounded in the battles that he has to be nursed back to health by a friendly noble.
Meanwhile, King Perión marries Elisena. Although they lament their lost son, they take pleasure in a...
(The entire section is 1153 words.)