Sunday, 28 October 2012

Good King Grallon

Like everyone else, Poul and Karen Anderson inherited the French legend of a King Grallon or Gradlon in the city of Ys. In their King Of Ys tetralogy, they created a fictitious character called Gaius Valerius Gratillonius. How is the latter transformed into the former?

The Ysans have trouble pronouncing the Latin name "Gratillonius." One of his nine wives says:

" 'This Gra - Gra-lo - Gratillonius has met the leaders of Ys...' " (Roma Mater, London, 1989, p. 158).

His favorite wife, Dahilis, says:

" 'You are much like Hoel as I remember him, Gra- Gratillonius.' Her Latin weak, she occasionally had trouble keeping the syllables of his name in place." (p. 166)

Later, Dahilis says:

 " '...I am, am with you always, Grallon - Gratillonius...' " (p. 317)

Thus, she gives him his Ysan name for the first time. He will be known as "King Grallon" and even as "good King Grallon" despite all the problems eventually caused by his Kingship. The way in which a heroic character acquires the name by which he will later be known is always an important part of his story but here the transition from "Gratillonius" to "Grallon" is so gradual and understated that it will be missed on a casual reading - and, for me, it was unearthed only by careful rereading.

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