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Literature / Celydonn

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Celydonn is the setting of two fantasy trilogies by Teresa Edgerton: the Green Lion Trilogy and the Celydonn trilogy. It can be thought of as an Alternate Universe mediaeval Britain in which magic is real, but it isn't a straight Alternate History setting.

For example, the setting as introduced in Child of Saturn has recognizable analogues to various figures of the King Arthur legend - the kingmaker wizard Glastyn, the High King and his queen, the knights of the king's Order of St. Mark - but with significant changes to the characters and a different culture and history.

The Green Lion Trilogy consists of:

  • Child of Saturn
  • The Moon in Hiding
  • The Work of the Sun

The titles of the Green Lion trilogy (including that of the trilogy itself) are references to alchemy. (The king's wizard, who is the female protagonist, is an alchemist, as was her predecessor. They both pursue alchemy not for the sake of becoming rich, since it's simply not cost effective, but for how it tries and purifies the one who seeks wisdom by its study.)

The Celydonn trilogy, a sequel trilogy to the Green Lion trilogy, focusing on a different subset of the original trilogy's cast, consists of:

  • The Castle of the Silver Wheel
  • The Grail and the Ring
  • The Moon and the Thorn

This series provides examples of:

  • Alien Sky: In The Grail and the Ring, the Inner Celydonn's version of Tir Gwyngelli currently has three moons. Its neighbours have differing numbers of moons.
  • Altar the Speed
    • The Castle of the Silver Wheel: Tryffin hadn't planned on courting, let alone marrying, his cousin Gwenlliant for years, since she was only twelve years old. When her father planned an Arranged Marriage for her with a man known to have killed three wives and several mistresses with bad treatment, however, Tryffin stepped in at the last minute, claiming a Childhood Marriage Promise with Gwenlliant's help.
    • The Moon and the Thorn: Mahaffy's Arranged Marriage was moved up due to war — in case Mahaffy died in battle, the girl's father, Lord Macsen, wanted to ensure that his daughter would have the legal rights of a widow. Since Lord Macsen's troops were vital, Mahaffy had no choice but to agree.
  • Alternate Universe: the Inner Celydonn plays this role to Celydonn proper, so that, for example, the version of Tir Gwyngelli known in traveller's tales really exists as the home of The Fair Folk.
  • Arranged Marriage
    • The Grail and the Ring: Princess Tinne was forced into marrying one of the Sons of the Boar (who faked an omen to pressure her into agreeing to it).
    • The Moon and the Thorn: Lord Macsen makes it a condition of his support that Mahaffy Guillyn marry his daughter Tiffanwy.
  • Artifact of Doom: The grail in The Grail and the Ring became this because it was corrupted when its powers were first revealed. Subverted Trope in that the object can be redeemed, and doing this is a necessary step to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Bigger on the Inside: In The Grail and the Ring, Dame Ceinwen's cottage appears to be an ordinary one-room cottage from the outside, and even from the inside — except that you can never quite see the entire room from inside. When you explore the perimeter of the room, you find doors opening into other rooms, cupboards, and so on.
  • Bizarrchitecture
    • The Castle of the Silver Wheel: If you visit various portions of the complex in a specified order, pattern spells associated with them act as magical shortcuts (e.g., if you go through the double arch behind the South Tower after visiting various courtyards, buildings, and gardens in a certain order, you will find yourself on the opposite side of the castle rather than in the place just beyond the arch).
    • Dame Ceinwen's house is sometimes in the Marshes-Between-Here-and-There (as in The Grail and the Ring) and sometimes in other places. It seems to be Bigger on the Inside, although it's hard to tell, since someone inside the house can never quite see all of the room he or she is standing in.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Prince Tryffin has, as one of his geasa, that he must never knowingly tell a lie. Since breaking a geas brings terrible bad luck, this makes Tryffin's life interesting.
  • Chess with Death: In The Grail and the Ring, Tryffin plays a series of chess matches with the king of The Fair Folk for the freedom of his party (not realizing, upon entering the series, that the local rules of the game are different from those with which he is familiar).
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Invoked in The Castle of the Silver Wheel, in which Prince Tryffin pulls a Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace in the nick of time to prevent Gwenlliant from being forced into an Arranged Marriage with a notoriously abusive man. When asked if they have a Childhood Marriage Promise (which would constitute a pre-contract, thus acting as an impediment), Gwenlliant claims that they do — because Tryffin Cannot Tell a Lie, so she has to do it.
  • Curse: The second trilogy revolves about the curse on a land, and breaking it.
  • Evil Mentor: In The Castle of the Silver Wheel, the dwarf Brangwengwen, a partially trained, elderly witch, knows the castle well enough to get into the Princess Diaspad's old rooms and thus to her old spellbooks (which feature Black Magic), and offers instruction in witchcraft to Gwenlliant (who otherwise has no teacher, and few people to talk to).
  • The Fair Folk: The Alternate Universe version of Tir Gwyngelli in The Grail and the Ring is Fairyland — the version of Tir Gwyngelli popular in many travellers' tales.
  • Full-Boar Action: Talking pigs are frequently alluded to as a possible marvel. One two-headed and enormous boar does appear, and may even have spoken a few words (though they may have been grunts).
  • Functional Magic: Celydonn contains different types. Even people who are considered learning disabled in-story (see The Castle of the Silver Wheel) are expected to know the difference between witchcraft and wizardry, so it is never explained by any Mr. Exposition. One may be both a witch (or warlock) and a wizard; all Adepts are both.
    • Witchcraft is explicitly stated to be the result of an inherent gift for harnessing Wild Magic, which also appears to be Force Magic. In all three volumes of the Celydonn trilogy, it is stated (in varying degrees of detail) that both men and women can possess a talent for witchcraft. In women, the inherent gift usually manifests in early childhood, and in places like Mochdreff, where witchcraft is accepted, it is then subjected to training. In men, the inherent gift is usually latent unless some shock sets it off, when it manifests full-blown (and is often associated with mental instability).
    • The science of wizardry is Rule Magic. From the conversation between Lord Cado and Gwenlliant in The Castle of the Silver Wheel, it appears that anyone can study it without necessarily possessing an inherent gift.
  • Geas: Prince Tryffin is bound by several, including 'never knowingly tell a lie' and 'never take iron from the dead'.
  • The Jailbait Wait: In the second trilogy, Gwenlliant is married to her cousin when she is twelve; he is more than a decade older and would have preferred to wait at least four years before courting her, but her father forced the issue by setting up an Arranged Marriage for her with a Domestic Abuser. A long period of innocent cohabitation follows.
  • Prophecy Twist
    • At the beginning of The Moon and the Thorn, a brief segment of backstory describes the effects of the wizard Glastyn's presence at major events—while he sometimes gave genuine prophecies, people tended to read too much into what he said (which once led to an unfortunate baby being given the name of the wizard's horse). One of his genuine prophecies led to Gwenlliant's mother giving her her name, which translates as "the White Flood"—the meaning of which is revealed later on in The Moon and the Thorn.
    • In The Moon in Hiding, it is prophesied that Gwenlliant will be married three times. She goes through a marriage ceremony in The Castle of the Silver Wheel when Tryffin rescues her from her would-be husband and marries her himself. Then in The Grail and the Ring, since they have been separated for a year under circumstances that legally dissolved their marriage, she and Tryffin remarry. It's pretty clear that when his term as Governor as Mochdreff is complete, Tryffin will arrange a proper royal wedding in his father's capital, thus completing the prophecy.
  • Relationship Upgrade
  • Religion of Evil: the Black Canons (the villains formerly known as the cult of Cerridwen)
  • Royal Brat: Calchas in the first trilogy. His mother, the Princess Diaspad, knew that the worst revenge she could take against his biological father — a man raised in a culture that is deeply sentimental, particularly about children and family life — would be to raise his firstborn son as a warped creature, even though the father didn't know for sure that the boy was his.
  • Rightful King Returns: Mahaffy turns out to be this in the second trilogy.
  • Royal Blood
  • Royally Screwed Up: It is revealed in The Grail and the Ring that Mochdreff has been politically unstable for centuries largely due to the land having been cursed due to the sins of its last ruling prince. He committed an action so terrible that every single member of his family changed their names and refused to take up the sovereignty — although only people like Dame Ceinwen remember even that much of the story, and nobody remembers the specifics. Ever since, there have been Lords of Mochdreff rather than rulers styling themselves princes, until finally, due to the lack of a clear heir to the previous Lord, Prince Tryffin was appointed Royal Governor and took it upon himself to try to clean up the matter once and for all by getting to the bottom of the curse.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The Grail and the Ring has an interesting take on this. Strictly speaking, Time Travel is not possible. However, Functional Magic allows one to travel to the Inner Celydonn, to a shadow of the past, where one can see what really happened if one doesn't try to derail events. This quasi-Time Travel is used to find out What Once Went Wrong, so that it can be Set Right in the present, thus avoiding any Temporal Paradoxes.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: In The Castle of the Silver Wheel, Prince Tryffin learns that his very young cousin Gwenlliant is being forced into an Arranged Marriage, and interrupts the ceremony to allow her to claim that they have a Childhood Marriage Promise (which in their church constitutes a precontract, and thus is a legal impediment to any other marriage if it isn't dealt with). He also tells the groom — a man notorious for abusing all three of his previous wives as well as his mistresses — that the man is lucky; if the marriage had gone through, Tryffin would have killed him.
  • Trial by Combat: Discussed after a villainess demands that the king's greatest knight fight for her as champion before she will consent to help his party. He explains that it's just a popular superstition that if you get the strongest knight, you win, that there is more in the combat. (She escapes before being brought to trial, making the matter moot.)
  • The Un-Favourite: Ceilyn in the first trilogy. His parents were Kissing Cousins in a notoriously strait-laced segment of society, and felt that their marriage was all right only if it were platonic, so they were ashamed to have had him. Sometime after Ceilyn's birth, his father had a vision and felt that he and his wife had been absolved and blessed, so Ceilyn's younger siblings are beloved but he is seen as a reminder of shameful behavior.
  • Visions of Another Self: In The Grail and the Ring, travel between the "real" world, Ynys Celydonn, and the Alternate Universe of the Inner Celydonn, is introduced. One of the first rules of such travel is to avoid meeting yourself if possible, because to do so courts madness.
    • Prince Tryffin is sent to Fairyland, which is an Alternate Universe version of his own father's castle — the version of his homeland featured in travellers' tales, in fact. When he meets his own counterpart he finds the experience very disturbing, and quickly takes a dislike to the man. He comes to the conclusion that this is largely due to being unsettled by seeing himself from the outside.
    • The Big Bad of the story is the Inner Celydonn version of an historical figure who went mad from experiencing this.
  • The Watcher: Dame Ceinwen often plays this role — she considers it part of the responsibility of having great power that she must not interfere too much.
  • Wedding Deadline: If a marriage is not consummated and the couple are not living together, it can be broken by a year's separation. Since Tryffin and Gwenlliant are living apart at the beginning of The Grail and the Ring while she is receiving magical training, and have had innocent cohabitation until then, they must get back together by midsummer or they will no longer be married. They don't, but since they both agree that they still want to be married, they just have another ceremony as soon as possible.
  • Wizard Workshop: Deconstructed in The Castle of the Silver Wheel by Gwenlliant's reaction to Lord Cado's wizard's laboratory. When Gwenlliant — who grew up at court and was taught by the resident alchemist / wizard — first sees Cado's laboratory, she is immediately uneasy, knowing that he must be a bad wizard — "either not very principled, or not very wise". No proper wizard would bother to keep so many showy magical experiments running at once; they would be set up one at a time for research purposes, and would not be shown off to visitors.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: In The Moon and the Thorn, Lord Cernach causes the Cauldron of Cerridwen to be recreated, which has the power to create an army of phantoms every twelve hours. Cernach's stated intention during the design phase of the work was to use it to extort concessions from Mochdreff's Governor, who preferred diplomacy to military action. Cernach becomes Ax-Crazy, and uses the cauldron.

Alternative Title(s): Child Of Saturn, The Moon In Hiding, The Work Of The Sun, The Castle Of The Silver Wheel, The Grail And The Ring, The Moon And The Thorn