Sunday, 21 October 2012

Gods Of Sun And Sea

If we read through Poul Anderson's historical novels and historical fantasy novels in chronological order of fictitious events, which I do think is a good way to read them, then we find that:

Mitra of the Sun was a powerful deity in the prehistoric period of Conan;

about 100 BC, Mithradates the Great had intended to initiate Eodan into the Mystery of the solar deity Mithras but Eodan left Mithradates' service first;

however, several centuries later, the British Roman Centurion Gratillonius had been initiated to the level of Persian;

Gratillonius married the Nine Witch-Queens of Ys, thus becoming King of that fabulous city which, however, was submerged when an enemy opened its sea gates;

meanwhile, Gratillonius' Irish contemporaries referred to merfolk, to the sea god Manandan maqq Leri (later Manannan mac Lir) and to the goddess Brigit;

a few centuries later, Skafloc Elven Fostering saw sea maidens and sunken Ys and Manannan mac Lir told him a story featuring a guest appearance by Brigit to the grandmother of a later witch-queen;

Odin (Eodan deified) at one point masqueraded as the Devil and in different periods interacted with Skafloc, Hrolf Kraki and Hadding;

in the fourteenth century, the last merfolk were exorcised from Europe;

the Devil made deals in the twentieth century;

in works set later than the twentieth century, environments are controlled technologically, not magically - supernatural beings and magical forces have withdrawn or never existed.

This level of interconnection, if we notice it, generates the impression of reading a single long series. I have referred to thirteen volumes, not counting the futuristic sf. The list grew while being written. In fact, the man Eodan in a historical novel and the god Odin in historical fantasy novels do not really belong in the same timeline.

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