Orlando, a paladin of France and King Charlemagne’s nephew, the Roland of the Carlovingian cycle of chivalric romances. Stricken by love for Angelica, the beautiful princess of Cathay, he, like Rinaldo and Ferrau, sets out in search of her after she has disappeared during a tourney to determine the bravest and most skilled knight, who may claim her as his bride. Discovered in the company of Angelica, Orlando is forced into combat with Ferrau, a jealous Spanish knight. Later, during his wanderings, Orlando slays Agrican, the king of Tartary, another suitor for Angelica’s hand. He battles also with Rinaldo, who, having drunk from a fountain whose waters are a cure for love madness, now hates the princess. Later, Angelica dupes Orlando into escorting her to France so that she may continue her pursuit of Rinaldo, with whom she is in love. In the meantime, Rinaldo has drunk from the waters of love. When he meets the travelers, he becomes insanely jealous of Orlando and challenges the knight to a duel. Orlando loses the maiden when she flees to Charlemagne’s camp while he and Rinaldo are engaged in a bitter struggle.
Rinaldo (rih-NAHL-doh), another of Charlemagne’s paladins, the brother of Bradamant, the maiden warrior, and the cousin of Malagigi, a famed magician. Although aware of the sinister beauty of Angelica, he sets out in pursuit of her. In the forest, he drinks from Merlin’s magic spring, and his love for the damsel turns to loathing so great that at the siege of Albracca, during a war between the kingdom of Cathay and the pagan Tartars, he fights on the side of the invading infidels. Angelica, lovesick for the knight who spurns her, continues to pursue him until she drinks from the waters of hate and he from the waters of love. Then Rinaldo pursues the fleeing Angelica. Meeting Orlando and Angelica in the forest, Rinaldo challenges Orlando to a duel. Angelica flees while the two knights join in combat.
Charlemagne (CHAHR-leh-mayn), the king of France. With his paladins, he defends Christendom against the pagans.
Angelica, the lovely princess of Cathay, sent with her brother Argalia to demoralize King Charlemagne’s knights. The possessor of the magic ring to overcome all spells or give her invisibility, she uses her wiles to ensnare Orlando, his friend Rinaldo, Ferrau, and many others, including Charlemagne himself. Fickle or enchanted, she manages many intrigues and escapades. Coquette that she is, she cannot win Rinaldo, and she refuses to accept Orlando.
Argalia (ahr-GAY-lee-ah), the son of Galaphron, the king of Cathay, and Angelica’s brother. The owner of invulnerable armor and a magic spear that unhorses any knight it touches, he jousts with the Christian knights for the hand of Angelica and takes captive all whom he vanquishes. His four giant bodyguards are killed and he himself is mortally wounded by Ferrau, a Spanish knight. Astolpho, an English knight, gets possession of Argalia’s magic spear and with it performs deeds of great valor against both foes and friends.
(The entire section is 1350 words.)