Monday, 29 October 2012

The King Of Ys, Volume Two

Volume One of Poul and Karen Anderson's King Of Ys tetralogy culminates with the death of Dahilis. Volume Three culminates with the drowning of Ys. Is there a comparable culmination to Volume Two? I will find out by rereading.

Two important events follow the death of Dahilis, the Caesarian birth of her daughter, Dahut, and the divine choice of a new Queen.

Volume Two, Gallicenae (London, 1988) begins with the child Dahut's point of view:

"The child knew only that she was upon the sea." (p. 21)

- but some of the narration refers to knowledge that she does not have:

"The child did not recognize a piece of driftwood as being off a wreck." (p. 23)

Dahilis is present as a seal that accompanies the yacht, watching Dahut, then, when she falls into the sea, holding her until she is rescued by her father.

The second section of Chapter I reverts to the father's point of view and reveals how much time has elapsed since Volume One:

"The summons came to Gaius Valerius Gratillonius in the third year during which he had been Roman prefect and King of Ys." (p. 25)

This also tells us that Dahut is between one and two years old.

As when reading any series of books, we recognise names and contexts. After reading the summons, Gratillonius "...sent for Bodilis and Lanarvalis...", names which remain meaningful if we have read Volume One sufficiently recently (p. 25).

For those who have not read or do not remember Volume One, the text of Volume Two is preceded by a ten page italicised "Synopsis" (pp. 11-20).

The question before the reader is whether Gratillonius will be able to maintain his difficult balancing act of prefect for Rome and King of Ys. Ysans expect him to remain King until killed by a challenger whereas he expects to leave when he has completed his duty as prefect.

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