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Monday, June 04, 2007

Paksenarrion and King Arthur

2 Samuel 8:15 So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. (ESV)

"We will be in the north for a few years -- no fat contracts in Aarenis, no chance of plunder. If you prefer such service, I will recommend you to any commander you name. . . . If you stay, we shall be making, by Gird's grace, a place of justice, a domain fruitful and safe, and a strong defense for the northern border." Duke Kieri Phelan, speaking of returning to his lands, but, unknown to himself, on the verge of trying to establish a just kingdom in Lyonya. The Deed of Paksenarrion (Riverdale, NY: Baen, 1992) p. 806

In a previous post, I introduced Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion, and, later, compared the book to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In this post, I wish to compare the work to the story of King Arthur. There are some interesting resemblances, but the stories are not the same.

Howard Pyle's version of the King Arthur story influenced me the most, but there are other versions. (Part of his version is available from Project Gutenberg.) For other information on King Arthur, see the Wikipedia article, and also this site.

In Moon's book, no one knows who is the heir to the kingship of Lyonya. The heir is found, and his kingship is validated when he draws a sword. (It is not a sword that no one else can draw, but it is a magic sword that reacts to him. The heir is not a boy, but a man who has earned, not inherited, the office of Duke.) There is an order of warriors, who try to fight for only for justice and the good.

These bare bones are there, but there are differences. There is no Guinevere -- Duke Kieri Phelan has no wife during the years covered by the book. There is no Merlin, although there are wizards. There is no Lancelot, unless Paksenarrion, whose Deed is to place Duke Phelan on his throne, and is a tall blonde warrior-maiden, stands somehow in his place. Perhaps she is more like Galahad, the pure. In the closing chapter of the first part of this trilogy-published-as-single-volume, the Duke asks her how an evil man, who has tortured the Duke's soldiers, and their allies, should be disposed of. Paksenarrion is taken aback by the request, but she says that he should be killed quickly, without torture, because ". . . we are not like him, my lord. That's why we fought." (Chapter 31, p. 308. The entire first part of the book, including this chapter, may be accessed here.)

Many stories retell King Arthur's, somewhat. The Lord of the Rings has a king who comes out of obscurity, with a special sword, and a wizard backing him, for example. It is no wonder that Moon's book also retells part of it, but, like Tolkien's, it is a story unto itself.

Thanks for reading.

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