Embark marks the arrival of Morgan le Fay and Sir Tor. I wanted to take today’s post to discuss these characters and look at their history.
Sir Tor is a knight whose back-story has become pretty muddled over the ages. Originally he was King Pellinore’s son, later he was tapped as King Pellinore’s illegitimate son, and finally he morphed into one of King Pellinore’s many illegitimate sons who somehow ended up being raised by a cow herder. King Pellinore didn’t even know Tor was his son, until Merlin spilled the beans.
I didn’t like this back-story for several reasons. First of all, my King Pellinore is too noble to cheat on his wife. Secondly, Tor was really the only knight who came from partially humble beginnings. There are several stories about knights who start out as kitchen boys or servants, but in the end it is always revealed that they are the illegitimate son of a king or knight, which gives them a right to become knights. I wanted to create a knight that had truly humble beginnings. I wanted a peasant boy who proved himself great enough to sit at the Round Table. So I made the cow herder his real parent.
Sir Tor is important because he brings low birth to the Round Table, and he brings balance. He doesn’t love and adore Britt like most of her knights do. He will serve her loyally, and he’s glad she’s his King, but he isn’t the type of person who holds another man up as a sort of bigger-than-life king. He’s an excellent vassal, but he’s not moony-eyed, which is key. Britt is an excellent king, but not everyone will love her the way Gawain, Bedivere, Ywain, and the others do. Plus Tor’s countenance is consistently cheerful–he isn’t prone to the passions and fits that most of the other knights are. He is level headed.
Next up we have Morgan le Fay. I discussed this long ago when I first came out with the series, but the original Morgan le Fay was actually a good character. She was an enchantress and healer who lived on Avalon and was one of the nine women who carried Arthur off when he was mortally wounded. Over time Morgan and the Lady of the Lake–who was originally evil or at the very least not nice–switched roles. The Lady of the Lake became the good fairy adviser/friend, and Morgan le Fay became Arthur’s scheming half sister who tried to kill him multiple times because she wanted his throne.
This swap occurred in the 13th century, in the writing of what most people call the Lancelot-Grail/Post Vulgate cycle. This cycle is when–you guessed it–Lancelot is introduced and starts seducing Guinevere. Because of that particular introduction, I used my artistic license and gave Morgan le Fay my leave to HATE and DESPISE Lancelot. (If you think about it, he’s why she was introduced as a villain.)
Finally, and this is a little random but I feel the need to share this information, Lem, Sir Tor’s squire, does become Sir Tor’s squire in the way I depicted. And yes, the stories call him a dwarf and he really does tell Tor “You shall not pass,” in those exact words. The joke was too perfect for me to pass up.
Thanks for reading, Champions. Enjoy the rest of your day!