Things always make more sense to me when they’re visual, and since I’m in the process of finishing up Queen of Fury, I needed to get some things straight. I’ve had some folks ask for family trees for my particular take on the Arthurian genealogy, as it goes, without any spoilers (if you read the book, you may smirk at a few of the things I’ve got here, but y’know… gotta keep the mystery going sometimes).
The Pendragon family tree is relatively straightforward, but the Avillion tree is quite a bit of my own creation. I took some names from Geoffrey of Monmouth, who’s my guy. And then just had a little bit of fun.
Yes, ultimately, Hwyfar and Gawain, the two main leads in Queen of Fury, are related. But, given some of the other pairings in Arthuriana, it’s pretty distant. Ninane of Avillion is Gawain’s great-grandmother, and Hwyfar’s great-great grandmother (technically second cousins once removed, but listen… )
And, a short excerpt from Queen of Fury (in progress). Gawain and Gareth have just arrived in Avillion, where Hwyfar has (very reluctantly) taken up the mantle of Queen Regent. King Leodegraunce, her father, has fallen into violent dementia, and she is making an effort to act the part. In between drinking herself silly.
“At last, we are gathered,” said Sir Cador. “I know it is something of an unusual practice, but we dine and discuss here in Avillion. We believe in the sacred connection garnered from eating among each other as equals.”
Sir Gareth bobbed his head. “I could get used to such a concept. I have had to endure many long, thankless discussions with a very empty stomach. A welcome departure, I say.”
“These are called the Braids of Una,” I said, picking up one of the sweet confections and holding it up to our guests. “You may have already noticed we enjoy decorating our bread, and braids are sacred here on Avillion. Una was a priestess who became a saint for her contributions to bread-making, bringing to us our recipe for sourdough. The honey is from the same hives she began over a thousand years ago.”
“It tastes marvelous, your majesty,” said Sir Gareth, who had already commenced upon a second braid. “I am in awe, indeed.”
“Try it with the spiced currant jam,” I offered, giving him an indulgent smile. “I promise you will be surprised how the addition of spices compliment the sour-sweetness of the bread.”
“You seem quite the culinary historian, your majesty,” said Sir Gawain, while his brother closed his eyes to indulge in that beautiful harmony of flavors. When I had lived away at Carelon, it was one of the combinations I never could replicate on my own. One ingredient or another was always wanting, no matter how many different breads and honeys I acquired.
He was not exactly giving me a compliment, but as regent I could choose how to interpret the conversation as I wanted. “You, no doubt, are aware of my reputation at Carelon,” I said, not waiting for him to answer. “And you will have learned that I value experience and the miracles of the senses above politics and pageantry. It is but a mere preference. Do not mistake my understanding of one game to be a lack of the other.”
“Clearly that is not the case, your majesty,” said Sir Gawain, one scarred brow raised just a bit above the other. He had an oddly expressive face for one with such a brutish expression, and I watch as only picked at the fruit on his plate, far less enthusiastic of fanciful nourishment as his younger brother. They were so very unalike. “Perhaps I am just not accustomed to nobility speaking in such plain terms about food and drink. I had always assumed it beneath the station of nobility.”
Sir Cador bristled, but I held up my hand. I felt a thrill in my chest at this lively discussion, and I was not afraid of Sir Gawain.
“The nobility of Avillion have lived a thousand years of peace in our ways so beneath you,” I said. “But I’m certain that counts for the same in the rule of our great Arthur. It’s been how many weeks since the last war, now?”
The reaction was immediate. Sir Gawain glared at me. Glared! I could swear I felt the air sizzle between us, hot like fresh ash. “I doubt I can count more years than you do, Queen Regent,” he said, words clipped and precise. “But I have fought more battles, upon more fields, and looked into the eyes of more dying soldiers than you can fathom. So do not presume to lecture me on war while you dine on your precious braided bread.”
“Do please excuse my brother,” said Sir Gareth, snatching another Braid of Una from Sir Gawain’s plate. “He has not had enough sleep.”
“I slept perfectly fine, thank you, my brother prince,” said Sir Gawain, biting back on whatever he actually wished to say.
I was quite wonderfully entertained. Having grown up with sisters, and with a very strict leash at court, we never were allowed to tussle in public in such a manner. I wondered if Arthur’s knights all were at one another in such a way. And if they were, I might be enticed to pay more attention to politics.