Arthur, king of Britain and head of the Round Table, a brave, just, and temperate ruler. He values the fellowship of his men above revenge for his queen’s infidelity, and he closes his eyes to her love for Launcelot until Mordred and Agravaine force him to act.
Queen Guenevere (GWEHN-eh-vihr), a jealous, passionate woman whose fury drives her lover Launcelot mad. She repents after the king is betrayed by Mordred, and she dies in a convent.
Launcelot du Lake
Launcelot du Lake (LOHN-seh-lot dew layk), the greatest of all the knights except those who achieve the Grail quest. He is, himself, granted a vision of the Grail, but his love for the queen bars him from success in spite of his deep and sincere penitence.
Tristram (TRIHS-truhm), the great Cornish knight who is the faithful and devoted lover of Isoud, the wife of his uncle, King Mark. Like Launcelot, he adheres firmly to the knightly code of honor and continues to fight for his country even after Mark has tried to have him murdered.
Isoud (ih-SOHD), an Irish princess, married to King Mark for political reasons although she has loved Tristram from the time she cured him of a wound incurred while he jousted with her brother.
Mark, the cowardly, jealous king of Cornwall, who becomes increasingly bitter and vengeful toward Tristram.
Isoud la Blanche Mains
Isoud la Blanche Mains (blah[n]sh mahn), Tristram’s wife, princess of Brittany.
Gawain (GAH-wihn), Arthur’s nephew. He stands for virtue and justice untempered by mercy in his uncle’s final contest with Launcelot, but he dishonors his fellowship earlier by beheading a lady and killing Lamorak de Galis when that knight was unarmed.
Sir Kay, Arthur’s sardonic, mocking foster brother and seneschal.
Galahad, Launcelot’s son, the best of the knights, who sits in the Siege Perilous and draws Balin’s sword from a great stone as a prelude to his successful Grail quest. He dies after a vision in which he receives the sacrament from St. Joseph of Arimathaea.
Bors de Ganis
Bors de Ganis (bohrs deh GA-nihs), virtuous knights who accompany Galahad on the quest of the Grail. Bors alone returns to Arthur’s court to describe their visions.
Palamides (pal-uh-MEE-deez), a valiant pagan knight, for many years Tristram’s deadly enemy and Isoud’s secret admirer. He is finally won over by his rival’s courage and honor and signifies his new friendship by being christened.
Lamorak de Galis
Lamorak de Galis (LAM-o-rak deh GA-lihs), a knight famous for his strength and valor, who is surpassed only by Launcelot and Tristram. He is killed by Gawain and his brothers for his affair with their mother.
Mordred (MOHR-drehd), Arthur’s son by his sister, an ill-tempered, evil knight who eventually destroys the fellowship of the Round Table and his royal father.
Agravaine (AG-ruh-vayn) and
Gaheris (GAY-hur-ihs), Gawain’s brothers, participants in Mordred’s plots and in the slaying of their mother and Lamorak.
Gareth (GAR-ihth), a tall, handsome young man who undertakes his first quest as “Beaumains,” the kitchen boy, but later reveals himself as the brother of Gawain.
Linet (lih-NEHT), the damsel whose quest Gareth fulfills. She mocks and criticizes the inexperienced young knight until after he has rescued her sister.
Liones (li-uh-NEHS), Linet’s sister, later Gareth’s bride.
Balin le Sauvage
Balin le Sauvage (BAY-lihn leh soh-VAHZH), a Northumbrian knight, fated by the acquisition of a magic sword to kill his beloved brother, Balan.
Dinadan (dihn-uh-DAN), Tristram’s witty, commonsense companion, who scorns love.
King Pelles (PEHL-eez), the Fisher King of the Grail legends at some points, although his identity is often unclear. He understands the mysteries of the Sangreal and arranges the conception of Galahad, the knight who is to achieve the quest and cure the wounded king.
Elaine, Pelles’ daughter and Galahad’s mother, who loves Launcelot, in spite of his rejection of her.
Elaine le Blanc
Elaine le Blanc, the fair maid of Astolat, who perishes of love for Launcelot.
King Evelake (ehv-eh-LAYK), an ancient ruler, converted by St. Joseph of Arimathaea. He lives generations beyond his time to have the promised sight of the knight who will complete the Grail quest.
Merlin, the magician whose spell allows King Uther Pendragon to enter Tintagil Castle in the shape of the rightful duke of Cornwall, husband of the lovely Igraine, Arthur’s mother. In return, Uther promises that the child thus conceived will be turned over to Merlin, to be reared under his charge.
Nimue (nihm-oo-EE), the Lady of the Lake, Merlin’s mistress, who serves as a “dea ex machina” for several of the knights.
Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s half sister, who continually devises evil for him and his knights.
Pellinore (PEHL-ih-nohr), a bold knight who singlemindedly pursues the Questing Beast.
Gouvernail (guhv-ur-NAYL), Tristram’s tutor and constant companion.
Brangwaine (BRANG-wayn), Isoud’s maid and confidante.
Ector de Maris
Ector de Maris (EHK-tor deh MAHR-ihs),
Dodinas le Sauvage
Dodinas le Sauvage (doh-DEE-nas),
Breunor le Noire
Breunor le Noire (BROO-nohr le nwahr), and
Safere (sa-FIHR), brave and honorable knights.
Meliogrance (mee-lyoh-GRANS), a treacherous nobleman who kidnaps Guenevere, then accuses her of treason with Launcelot when she refuses to yield to him.