Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book VIII Chapters 26 and 27
Long story short, Tristram and Breunor fight, and Tristram wins. Eventually Breunor loses his head, which is to say, he tries to surrender and while he is, in Malory’s words, grovelling, Tristram decapitates him. Sir Tristram: kind of bloodthirsty!
Afterwards the folks in the stands cheer, and start to argue among themselves whether Tristram is as good as Launcelot, or only almost as good. Launcelot isn’t quite as big a guy as Tristram, but Tristram doesn’t quite have Launcelot’s legendary endurance, so it’s a tough call.
Around this time, one of Breunor’s men rides off to find Sir Galahad, a name we all recognize. Let me tell you straight up: this Sir Galahad is not the one you’re thinking of. He’s just a dude. This particular Sir Galahad is not a friend of Tristram’s; he’s the son of Sir Breunor and Sir Breunor’s concubine. “So you know how your parents used to have heads,” the man starts off…
Cut ahead a little bit in time, and we’ve got a whole new action sequence. Bruenor is gone, old news, now it’s all about Sir Galahad and his friend. You might remember his friend — it’s the King with a Hundred Knights! Good ol’ Mister 100, last seen valiantly holding together a coalition of minor kings against a young Arthur way back in Book I. Galahad immediately challenges Tristram to a joust.
Long story short, they joust. Tristram and Galahad are very evenly matched. After a few hours, Galahad gets a lucky break or two against Tristram, and Tristram nearly gets his head chopped off! But then Mister 100 and his men jump the gun and start rushing the jousting field in victory celebration, which prompts Tristram to cry foul. This is supposed to be a Galahad versus Tristram match, not a Galahad versus Tristram (b/w a hundred and one of Galahad’s friends) match.
“You sure you’re a knight?” jeers Tristram. “Knights fight fair! I don’t joust non-knights, and you don’t seem to qualify! This isn’t a joust, this is murder! I quit!” Tristram punctuates this by grabbing his own sword by the blade and holding the point against his own throat, while sticking the pommel into Galahad’s hand.
Mister 100 is ready to just kill Tristram and be done with it. Galahad stops him, though. “I’m moved by Tristram’s knightliness,” he announces. “This joust is over; mark it down as a draw.”
“Are you sure, kid?” asks Mister 100. “He did kill your parents.”
“Yeah, well, I loved my father but he was kind of a crazy supervillain,” says Galahad. “I see that now.”
“Well, yeah, sure,” admits Mister 100. “His whole murder-joust thing wasn’t my cup of tea.”
“Probably we should have held an intervention or something for Dad before all this happened. I mean, this noble knight nearly died! You know, I almost thought he was Sir Launcelot, he’s so noble?”
“I’m not Sir Launcelot, I’m Sir Tristram,” Tristram says. “Sir Tristram de Lions, sent by King Mark of Cornwall to fetch back the lovely Isoud, daughter of King Anguish of Ireland.”
“And here I am!” the lovely Isoud interjects, because she hasn’t had a line in a while.
Galahad nods. “Okay, listen, here’s the deal. You go and meet Sir Launcelot, who is awesome we can all agree. I stay here and shut down the bloodsports at Castle Weeping. Deal?”
“Deal!” says Tristram.
This Galahad’s my new favorite character. You’ve got to admit his father was sort of a dick.