Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book IX Chapter 5
Things get weird, okay? Bear in mind that at this point we’re doing
THE STORY OF ARTHUR
THE SUB-STORY OF TRISTRAM
THE SUB-SUB-STORY OF BREUNOR
Now add to that the Sub-Sub-Sub-Story of Launcelot, because there’s this whole thing Malory needs to tell us, and it’s about Launcelot. Malory apologizes for this. He’s a master storyteller but sometimes things get complicated. Jump cut back to Camelot. Launcelot comes in, finds the whole court is abuzz with the tale of Sir Ill-Fitting Suit and Marcie and her shield that she’d recovered and so on.
“Whoa,” says Launcelot. “That sounds like a very dangerous strange adventure to send a wet-behind-the-ears knight on. You all know the backstory behind Marcie and that shield, right? Back in Book VIII, Chapter XXI, Marcie met up with Sir Tristram, and explained how Pitiless Bruce had stolen the shield, and Tristram got it back for her?”
“Wait a second,” says Arthur. “That was a baby. That was a baby for you, for some reason. I don’t remember why you were expecting a baby be dropped off by courier, but it was a baby.”
“It was a shield, it was always a shield, it was never a baby,” Launcelot says firmly. “Sire.”
“Another continuity error, no doubt,” grumbles Arthur. “I suppose you want to go find Sir Ill-Fitting Suit and make certain he’s all right.”
So Launcelot rides off and quickly catches up to Breunor, Marcie, and Mordred. When Mordred sees Launcelot, he’s like, whew, new shift, and takes off back to Camelot. Launcelot falls in where Mordred had been, nice as you please. Now for whatever reason, Launcelot introduces himself as Sir Nobody Important instead as Sir Launcelot, so Marcie doesn’t feel obliged to accept him as an expert on knightliness. She and Launcelot argue for a while about whether Breunor is or could ever be a good knight.
But not for long! For right after that, a damosel shows up with a telegram for Launcelot from Tristram. Remember Tristram?
HOWDY LAUNCELOT STOP AM MARRIED TO ISOUD THE WHITE STOP WHOA STOP SLOW DOWN STOP ONLY GONE TO SECOND BASE WITH ISOUD THE WIFE STOP STILL LOVE THE LOVELY ISOUD STOP AM ALREADY DRAFTING LETTER TO LOVELY ISOUD STOP DONT BE MAD STOP YOUR BUDDY TRISTRAM
“I need to compose the proper response to this message,” Launcelot says. “You two go ahead; I’ll catch up.”
So while Launcelot composes a response to the telegram, Breunor gets captured. I mean, it happens really fast: they come a castle — Castle Pendragon — where the knights joust Bruenor, but instead of jousting him one on one like they agreed to, they all rush him en masse, and boom, they take him prisoner.
Launcelot gets up the next morning, sends the damosel-courier on her way, and starts after Breunor and Marcie. Along the way he bumps into a knight, who offers to joust him. After Launcelot defeats him handily, he recruits the guy — who turns out to be Launcelot’s old friend Sir Nerovens — into joining up. The two of them ride on in the direction Breunor and Marcie went, which is towards Castle Pendragon. On the way, Nerovens fills Launcelot in on how Castle Pendragon is full of jerks who probably took Breunor prisoner.
Castle *Pendragon*. Is anyone going to say anything? Anyone? Malory? Bueller?
I am confused. Wasn’t there already a SUB-STORY of Lancelot? Didn’t it take a whole book?
Imagine a Venn diagram. The biggest circle is ARTHUR. Inside there are smaller circles: BALIN (Book 2), LAUNCELOT (Book 6), TRISTRAM. Inside that smaller TRISTRAM circle, there’s another, smaller BREUNOR THE KNIGHT LA COTE MAL TAILLEE circle, with its own tiny LAUNCELOT cirlce inside *that*.