Other books by Dave Whitaker:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Character Study: Sir Kay

Sir Kay (aka Cai, Caius, Cei, Kai, Kei, Kes, Keu, Kex, or Queux) is one of the earliest figures to appear in Arthurian legend, having surfaced in the tenth century poem Pa Gur, classic early Welsh texts such as Culwch and Olwen, and the 12th century French poem Tristan and Iseult. The Vulgate Cycle and Le Morte d’Arthur established the story of Kay’s father, Sir Ector, adopting Arthur and raising him as Kay’s foster brother. When Arthur became king, Kay became the senseschal at Camelot, which meant he oversaw operations at the castle such as the supervision of the servants. He was one of the first Knights of the Round Table.

The works of Chrétien de Troyes depicted Kay as a troublemaker prone to incompetence, stubbornness, bragging, and a volatile temper. He is often depicted of manipulative of his brother, but ultimately as one of Arthur’s most loyal knights. Different accounts have Kay being killed by the Romans or in the war against Mordred, Arthur’s traitorous son. The 13th century French Arthurian romance Perlesvaus is one of the few sources which characterizes Kay as a traitor with him murdering Arthur’s son, Loholt.

image from tumblr.com/tagged/sir kay of Peter Mooney as Kay in the Starz TV series, Camelot

Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone follows Kay and Arthur as they are tutored by Merlin. The book unfolds the familiar tale of Arthur as a squire for Kay in a jousting tournament. Arthur searches frantically for a replacement when Kay’s sword turns up missing and ends up pulling the sword from the stone and becoming king.

In the sequel, Otter and Arthur and the Round Table, Kay has been made seneschal at Camelot, but is secretly plotting against his brother. He aligns himself with Arthur’s bitterest enemies – King Lot and Morgan, Lot’s wife and Arthur’s half-sister.


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