Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book IX Chapter 15
Malory has gotten bored of talking about Lamorak, again, so it’s back to Tristram. This will be an exciting chapter, I tell you what!
Tristram! The jerk! He’s riding around, going from wherever he’d been to nowhere in particular, and along comes Sir Kay. Tristram and Kay immediately get into an argument, the salient points of which run like so:
1) Cornwall is a country that has produced zero good knights.
2) Sir Kay is a braggart and doesn’t deserve the honors he claims.
3) Tristram doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
4) Kay only gets to be in the Round Table because he’s Arthur’s adoptive brother.
Anyway, the two of them ride along together, arguing, until they reach a bridge. Hanging out at the bridge is, and you were not expecting this, Sir Tor! Good ol’ Sir Tor, Trixie’s son, whose tale was told at some length back in Book III. Tor declares, just for fun, that neither Tristram nor Kay can cross the bridge unless one of them joust him. So Kay jousts him real quick and loses, and the three of them share a laugh about it, and then go off to dinner together. They have dinner with Sir Brandiles, Kay’s assistant caterer mentioned back in chapter 9.
At dinner, Kay gets back into his Cornwall smack-talking, and Tor and Brandiles play along, and Tristram just sulks through dinner, hear[ing] all that they said and he said but little, but he thought the more.
In the morning Tristram gets up early. He wants to ride off without bidding a proper farewell to Kay, Tor, or Brandiles. But they won’t have that! Brandiles offers to joust Tristram, just to the dehorsing, and he and Tristram joust until Brandiles is dehorsed. Then Tor jousts Tristram, too, and gets dehorsed. Then Kay tries to joust Tristram, but Tristram is still sore at him and won’t even joust the man. Tristram rides off.
“You know, I never caught his name,” says Sir Brandiles.
“Tell you what, let’s mess with him. We’ll ride him down and get him to tell us his name,” says Kay.
“Don’t you know him from before?” asks Brandiles. “Couldn’t you just tell me?”
“Hush,” says Kay. “Let’s ride!”
So Kay and Brandiles ride after Sir Tristram, catch up to him. Tristram assumes they want to joust some more, but no, Brandiles just wants his name. Tristram supplies his name. Brandiles wonders aloud if Tristram would like sponsorship into the Knights of the Round Table. Tristram declines, as he doesn’t feel worthy. Kay assures him he’s plenty worthy. Everyone marvels about how great Launcelot is, for no reason. Then they go their separate ways. The end!
DISCUSSION QUESTION: What the hell was the point of this chapter? I’ve read lots and lots of chapters of Malory now, and I gotta say, this one is the single least memorable. But that’s just my opinion.
SECOND DISCUSSION QUESTION: Which chapter do you think has been the most skippable so far?
Next chapter’s better, because it’s got Nimue in it.
I think the point of this chapter is to finally set up Tristram for eventually joining the Round Table? This seems to be the first mention of it, I was assuming he would end up on the Round Table by the end of the first book about him. I dunno, that’s all I can think of.