So, first of all, let me say how amazing this event is, and how great Chachic is to have created and hosted it! I know she’s done a lot of work for it, and I’m already impressed by the posts I’ve seen.
I knew I wanted to write something for this week, because duh. I had a couple of ideas, including a post about clothing that I still want to do sometime. But had this crazy idea last year, a kind of academic paper about the myths in the Queen’s Thief series, which I made copious notes for and then never did anything with. But it’s one of my favorite aspects of the books (along with everything else), and so I’m using this as an opportunity to finish it.
I’m hoping that you all find my ramblings interesting and that I don’t get too dense and academic-y. I’m going to be posting today-Saturday, focusing on one book a day, with an introduction and conclusion.
First, I want to clarify what I mean when I talk about myths. In the context of the Queen’s Thief series, they are the stories which occur in every published book, told by one of the characters and dealing in some way with the pantheon of gods. Like plays within plays, they have their own coherence, while at the same time, they relate to the larger work in some way. They’re not just random stories stuck in the middle to bore us all.
The myths actually serve several purposes. First, they help to establish the culture and thought of the three main nations in this world (Eddis, Attolia, and Sounis. (I know you know this. I just like typing it.)). It’s pretty well established in the books that this world is not based on Ancient Greece–in the language of the books themselves, it is not the archaic. The world is instead a Byzantine-flavored one, a place in which the stories of the old gods are known but not necessarily lived (this especially holds true for the depiction of Sounis at the beginning of The Thief). They also help to illuminate portions of the larger story, without being allegories. The story of Horreon in Queen of Attolia is the most obviously analogous, but they all relate to the book as a whole. And finally, like the books themselves, they build on each other. Threads appear in both the myths and the books, phrases and themes repeated again and again.
The myths all concern the interaction between the gods and humans. They illuminate the characters’ relationship with the gods, and with the past. For instance, for the magus, the myths have been primarily a matter of scholarship, of words on the page. In the Eddisian context, they exist as a living tradition, added to, subtracted from, and given flavor by the voice of the teller, even if that teller does not believe in them as true events. At the same time, we are reading them on the page ourselves. Whatever complex voice the myths have is created in the space between the printed word and our own imagination.
Check back tomorrow for part two, focusing on The Thief. And be sure to check out all the Queen’s Thief Week posts!