Someone needed to save Monsalvat. Parzival knew he wasn’t the man to do it. But here he was, naked, smeared in vomit – and sitting on Monsalvat’s throne…
Parzival of Waleis escapes a sequestered and strange childhood to join Artus of Britain’s Chosen Men. He wants a normal life, but is under pressure to sort out his own estranged family’s troubles. But Parzival doesn’t want to cooperate because that means he’d be responsible for the kingdom of Monsalvat and the power of the Gral. However, circumstances conspire against him and, reluctantly, he acknowledges that he has to heal his uncle, bring his wife and young sons to Monsalvat and become king. This is his journey.
Parzival has a sheltered childhood in Waleis where his education revolves around how to resist the call of the Gral urging him to go to Monsalvat, the ancient domain of his mother’s family. His widowed mother, Herzeloyde, poisons his mind against Monsalvat, the terrifying power of the Gral, and his uncle, the wounded king Anfortas, so that he resolves never to go to Monsalvat. But he rebels against some of his upbringing as he persuades the castle guard to teach him, in secret, the combat skills which his mother has forbidden him.
When two of Artus of Britain’s Chosen Men stray into the valley, Parzival leaves with them and joins the forces of his kinsman, Artus, under whose command he learns more about warfare and experiences military campaigns in Francia and Britain. He makes friends for life: Gawan and Garet of the Orkneys, Tristan of Kareol & Lyonesse, Kurwenal of Kareol, and attracts the uncomfortable attention of Gwenhwyfar, wife of Artus.
When Parzival kills Ither, Artus’s unacknowledged half brother, in a tourney, he is banished, and goes to Graharz in Southern Francia, with Gurnemanz, an old family friend, who tells him the other side of his mother’s stories of Monsalvat.
In Graharz he meets Condwiramurs of Brobarz, Gurnemanz’s niece, and, as a result of winning another tourney, marries her.
He is persuaded by his wife and uncle to return to Waleis to be reconciled with his mother. What he finds there leads him to visit Monsalvat, where he reacts with horror and incomprehension at the sight of his uncle Anfortas, who in agony is forced to call down the power of the Gral.
Cast out of Monsalvat and fleeing the Gral, Parzival finds himself – two years later – back in Artus’s Britain, and resolves to make his way back to Monsalvat. He first heads for Waleis and Condwiramurs but chances upon Klinschor’s castle, where he is taken prisoner. Parzival survives the destruction of Klinschor’s castle and is rescued from the ruins by Gawan and Garet. Still recovering from his ordeal, he continues his journey alone. He is making his way over the mountain pass to Waleis when he meets Trevrizant, a hermit living in exile from Monsalvat. With Trevrizant’s help, he is able to find his way back to Monsalvat.
Parzival heals Anfortas’s wound and, still reluctant, takes on the kingship of Monsalvat. His first priority is to bring his wife and their two infant sons to the kingdom of the Gral. He begins to accept that controlling his Gral-power will take many lifetimes and much bloodshed. His stories are just beginning.