At Joyous Gard Tristram, Palomides, Dinadan, and Gareth spent some time just chilling. They still planned to attend the big tournament at LONAZEP that keeps getting mentioned, but they were in no hurry. Palomides and Tristram went out riding a lot. One day they bumped into Pitiless Bruce, out in the woods, and he shrieked and ran away, which was supposed to be funny, I guess. They didn’t even know it was him, until a passing knight told them.
Eventually the four knights hit the road, and the lovely Isoud surprised everybody by wanting to come with. Sir Dinadan was down with it, as was Sir Tristram (who thought to bring an extra tent for her), but Sir Palomides bit his knuckle and stoically said nothing. He still pined after the lovely Isoud, you see; her presence left Palomides ravished so he might unethe speak. Palomides couldn’t eat, he was so wan over his unrequited love for Isoud. Kind of brought everybody down; there was all the cheer that might be had.
So when they headed out, it was with a medium-sized entourage: traveling light, but with an extra tent, three ladies-in-waiting for the lovely Isoud, plus varlets to bear their shields and their spears. Possibly Sir Gareth was with them, possibly he’d left separately.
Along the road they met up with Sir Galihodin and his twenty knights with him.
“That’s a nice lady you have there,” Galihodin said to Tristram, by way of conversation.
“I’ll joust you for her.”
“Dibs!” cried Palomides, eager to fight for Isoud’s honor.
Even though he was outnumbered twenty to one, Palomides jousted Galihodin and all his knights. He dehorsed Galihodin pretty easily, conveying the idea that he was a badass knight. Galihodin surrendered and apologized before his twenty friends could converge on Palomides and hack him to pieces.
“None of you meddle with this knight, for he is a man of great bounte and honour,” said Galihodin. “Also, I want everyone to know that I am a relative of Sir Galahalt, and also a prince of Surluse. So there!”
“Good job, Palomides,” said Tristram. “Way to defend the honor of the woman I love!”
“There are some more knights over there,” Palomides said, pointing. Sure enough! In fact they were four Knights of the Round Table: Gawaine, Uwaine, Sagramour the Lusty, and Dodinas the Thug. “I’ll go defend Isoud against them, too, okay?”
“If you want,” said Tristram. He and Isoud and the rest of their entourage headed on into LONAZEP, while Palomides charged Gawaine et al to joust them. After a lovely joust, Palomides beat all four of them and had to rush to catch up with Tristram.
“Dang, who was that guy?” asked Gawaine, afterwards, as he picked himself up off the ground. None of his comrades had any idea — Palomides just showed up and started jousting, with no preamble.
But then Galihodin approached, with his twenty friends. “That was either Sir Palomides or Sir Tristram,” he said. “At least, I know both of those knights were riding this way.”
“Frickin’ Tristram,” grumbled Gawaine. “He’s always up in my business.”
Meanwhile Tristram and his cohorts arrived at LONAZEP, finally! There Tristram saw all the kings arrayed against Arthur, for the tournament (JOUSTING TOURNAMENT 31!). There was King Marhalt of Ireland, who was somehow the king of Ireland even though Isoud’s father King Anguish (also of Ireland) was alive and Marhalt’s son-in-law. Malory really falls down in terms of sense-making, here.
But Marhalt wasn’t the only king! You’d got the king of Surluse, the king of Northumberland, the king of Listinoise, and the king of the best part of Wales with many other countries. All these guys had decided to work together and ally against Arthur’s jousting delegation, because his delegation was the best and would stomp them all otherwise.
Tristram thought this sounded really unfair, and went to Arthur to proffer his services. But of course he wanted to be anonymous, because he was kind of a dick, so he disguised himself as ‘the Green Knight’ first.
When Tristram arrived at Arthur’s pavilion, Arthur had already heard about him. Thanks to Malory’s terrible sense of pacing, we flash back a couple of seconds!
“Uncle Sire!” cried Gawaine, just before Tristram arrived. “This knight came and beat up me and a bunch of my associates!”
“Oh?” Arthur perked up. He was always happy to hear about someone hitting Gawaine. “Who?”
“Um.” Gawaine was not expecting to have to answer any questions. Fortunately he saw Tristram coming in. “That guy, Uncle Sire!” Flashback over!
“Okay. Great. Guy all in green, you there! What’s your name? Are you someone I know?” asked Arthur.
“Not telling,” said Tristram, and leaves. What a jerk!
“Go bring him back,” Arthur told the closest knight who wasn’t Sir Gawaine. This turned out to be Sir Griftlet.
Griftlet ran after Tristram and fetched him back.
“I’m only back on the condition that you not ask my name,” said Tristram.
“Okay. Whatever. Is there a reason you won’t tell me your name? Or is it cheating to ask that?”
“Sir, without a cause I would not hide my name,” said Tristram.
“So you have a reason, okay. And that reason is….?” Arthur gestured for Tristram to complete the sentence.
Tristram remained obstinately silent, however.
“Okay, whatever. I don’t really care about this. Have you picked a side in the big me versus all the other kings thing that’s happening this tournament?”
“Mmmmaybe,” said Tristram.
“You’re just being a jerk for no reason,” grumbled Arthur. “If I didn’t know better I’d say you were Sir Tristram or something. Get out of here, I changed my mind.”
And then the LONAZEP tournament began! Basically a lot of jousting happened. Sir Gareth jousted Mister 100’s nephew Sir Selises. Knights who weren’t Scottish jousted knights who were. It was a big chaotic mess.
“Who are all these knights?” asked Arthur, watching. “Are some of them my knights? I can’t even keep track. Launcelot, do you have any idea?”
Launcelot, sitting with Arthur in the box, shrugged helplessly. Arthur scowled and turns to Kay, sitting on his other side.
“Kay, run out and do a head count. Are we missing any knights of the Round Table?”
Kay did a quick count, and confirmed that Arthur’s company was short ten knights. Tristram, Palomides, Percivale, Gaheris, Epinogris, Mordred, Dinadan, Breunor (aka Sir Ill-Fitting Suit), and Sir Pellas the Good (Nimue’s husband), were all scheduled to attend but hadn’t checked in yet. (That’s nine knights, because Malory can’t count. He does this all the time.)
Some of Gawaine’s lesser cousins, Edward and Sadok, jousted on Arthur’s behalf against the kings of Scotland and North Wales, respectively, and won, which vexed Sir Palomides. Palomides had anonymously sided with the Scottish king, along with Tristram (who’d changed his mind about the whole working for Arthur thing). The two of them engaged various of Gawaine’s relatives, including but not limited to Edward and Sadok.
“Who are those guys?” asked Arthur, but no one could tell him. He watched as Tristram and Palomides just laid waste, in their fight against the Orkney faction. “Man that is some quality jousting!”
Arthur pointed at Tristram. “Whoever that guy is, he’s like to a wood lion.” He pointed at Palomides. “And him? He’s like to a wood leopard. But Gawaine and his cousins, they’re all things that get badly defeated by wooden animals. Hmm.” Arthur considered. “That was an analogy that kind of got away from me. Good thing I’m basically just talking to myself.”
While Arthur talked to himself using medieval idioms which we can no longer understand, Gawaine and the rest of the Orkney knights decided that getting walloped by anonymous Scottish knights (secretly Tristram and Palomides) wasn’t any fun at all. They quit the field and went off to sulk, en masse.
Then Arthur talked Launcelot into taking on Tristram, putting together a scheme wherein Launcelot fought one knight (Tristram in disguise), Bleoberis fought the other knight (Palomides in disguise), Ector the Lesser fought the other other knight (Gareth in disguise) and finally Arthur himself fought the last knight of the mysterious foursome (Sir Dinadan, also in disguise). Blah blah blah jousting. Arthur’s team almost won, but then the King of Northgalis rescued Tristram, and then Tristram dehorsed King Arthur. Then Tristram ran away and changed clothes. Instead of a Green Knight disguise, he donned a Red Knight disguise.
When Tristram ran away to change clothes, the lovely Isoud lost track of him and worried that he’d been killed. But when he reappeared all in red, she recognized him immediately, and cheered up. Palomides saw her cheer up, and assumed it was because she was rooting for him. He fought with renewed vigor! He was all badass, with double his strength, and won the prize for the day. Dinadan grumbled about how Palomides had only won because Isoud had been there.
The crowd turned on Palomides, when he accidentally killed Launcelot’s horse. Killing a dude’s horse was unknightly in the extreme; it’s something poor people would do! To assuage the crowd Palomides had to surrender to Launcelot, who was at least gracious about the whole thing.
Dinadan recognized that Launcelot out-fought Tristram on points, and scolded Tristram for not giving it his all. Tristram got defensive and said that he wasn’t ashamed to have been dehorsed by Launcelot, but Dinadan kept ragging him until Tristram awakened his spirits and was wroth. This was all because Dinadan ultimately wanted Tristram to succeed and felt he needed more motivation.
Later, Arthur and Launcelot strolled through the forest near the tournament grounds. They spotted the lovely Isoud lounging by a well. Launcelot pointed her out and Arthur decided to go greet her.
Launcelot thought this was a bad idea. “What if her bodyguard leaps out and attacks you?”
Arthur shrugged. “I’ll live.”
Sure enough, Sir Palomides jumped out of nowhere and railed against Arthur for daring to approach Isoud like that. Arthur ignored Palomides, so Palomides knocked him off his horse. Of course Sir Launcelot couldn’t ignore that. So they joust!
Things escalated further once Tristram appeared. When he saw Launcelot and Palomides jousting, he demanded they quit it, or else he’d have to join the battle on someone’s side. They ignored him, though, until Launcelot dehorsed Palomides, at which time Tristram picked a side and demanded to joust Launcelot.
“Come on,” said Launcelot, but by the sound of his voice Tristram recognized Launcelot, whom he had promised not to joust (back in the early days of Book X, when we were all so much younger). So no joust happened. Instead Arthur and Launcelot left.
Palomides, annoyed at how Tristram kept butting in on him like that, defected to a different jousting team. As part of the tournament, the two of them jousted. In the middle of the joust Tristram suddenly suffered a depressive episode and wanted to just quit! He found Sir Dinadan, who talked him through it. We’re moving quickly here because all this is incredibly dull, even by Le Morte D’Arthur standards.
Afterwards Tristram and Dinadan fought together for a chapter or two, but then Palomides and Launcelot (both in fresh disguises) drove them from the battlefield. Launcelot felt bad, either about beating on a depressed guy, or about beating on his sworn no-hitsies buddy Tristram, and apologized afterwards. He refused the prize for the second day and instead gave it to Tristram, to make amends.
That night Tristram and Palomides went to have dinner with the lovely Isoud. She refused to even talk to Palomides, and scolded Tristram for bringing him into her tent; she held Palomides responsible for Tristram’s depressive episode earlier that same day. Tensions ran high! Before the situation had resolved, Arthur and Launcelot invited themselves in for dinner. Everyone at the table sat in stony silence — Isoud, Palomides, Tristram, and their friends Gareth and Dinadan. Arthur and Launcelot didn’t know what was up with all this stony silence.
Tristram and Palomides resented Arthur’s intrusion. The third and final day of LONAZEP they jousted Arthur and his entourage: Kay, Launcelot, Ector the Lesser, and a new character, a knight of the Round Table who has the best knight name we’ve seen in a while: Weird Kainus. Sir Kainus le Strange. Palomides dehorsed Weird Kainus, and then Tristram dehorsed Kay in a very flashy four-in-one-stroke thing that got the crowd all riled up! Also Sir Launcelot beat like thirty guys, Malory says.
A bunch of guys jousted a bunch of other guys, and finally the tournament ended. Launcelot and Tristram shared the prize. Palomides felt robbed! He’d been winning the day until Tristram pulled that very flashy move that brought down Kay. Palomides ran off to have a good long cry about it.
Tristram found him but refused to apologize for being better than Palomides (it doesn’t sound any more sympathetic in the original Malory, either) so Palomides was all “fie on you, traitor!” He left. Then the lovely Isoud invited everyone back to Joyous Gard for a big long party that Sir Palomides wasn’t allowed into.