Thanks for reading.
Balin is a set of contradictions in Malory. He's the best knight in the world - before Lancelot grows up - yet everything he does comes out wrong in the end because of his rigid adherence to the chivalric code. (We know he's the best knight in the world because Merlin tells us, and Merlin's whole purpose of existence as a character is to tell us true things.) In the end he gets himself killed over it only a few pages after he's introduced, having done nothing important to later events that couldn't have been told in flashback when those later events come to the fore.
He could easily be left out of a retelling of the legend, and often is. I
decided his tendency to muck things up might be a good running gag; then I
thought of something I could actually use him for, down the road. However,
when he's introduced in Malory, he's just been released from prison for
having killed one of the king's kinsmen. What the? How does the best knight
in the world come to kill one of the kinsmen of the king, especially a new
king who was his predecessor's only heir? Well, by being an idiot.
Arthuriana sources I use or recommend:
Arthuriana - the Journal of Arthurian Studies; the website of the quarterly journal of the North American Branch of the International Arthurian Society.
The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester.
Camelot In Four Colors: A Survey of the Arthurian Legend in Comics
Mystical-WWW - The Arthurian A2Z knowledge Bank which has encyclopedically-arranged entries on the characters of the Arthurian legends.
Le Morte Darthur: Sir Thomas Malory's Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Volume 1 and Volume 2.