The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Prince Ralph, youngest son of the King of Upmeads, resolves to seek the Well at the World’s End and receives a charmed necklace. Ralph wins a kiss from a lovely damsel at Bourton Abbas. In the Wood Perilous, Ralph frees a captive maiden whom he thinks of as the Lady of the Wildwood. He encounters again the maiden of Bourton Abbas, who also seeks the Well at the World’s End.

After further adventures, Ralph takes refuge in the House of Abundance, a keep ruled, he hears, by the fair Lady of Abundance. Riding away, Ralph encounters two knights fighting over the Lady of the Wildwood. He battles the Knight of the Sun and is overpowered, but his life is spared at the request of the Lady. As the knight sleeps, the Lady draws Ralph away, tells him she is the Lady of Abundance, and gives herself to him. They live briefly in bliss, but the Knight of the Sun appears, slays her, and is in turn killed by Ralph. Ralph continues his quest.

Ralph hears that the Well-questing maiden from Bourton Abbas has been sold into the bondage of the cruel Lord of Utterbol. In his attempts to rescue her, Ralph is himself taken captive, but eventually he wins his freedom. In the woods outside Utterbol, Ralph encounters a figure who appears to be a knight but turns out to be the maiden, named Ursula. He and the questing maiden find the Sage of Swevenham, a friend of the Well. He instructs them and accompanies them for part of their journey.

Ralph and Ursula...

(The entire section is 483 words.)