Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Blood, Oak, Iron" by Janny Wurts

This short story reminds me a bit of "The Tale of Sir Bors," from Sir Thomas Mallory's Morte Darthur in that both stories deal with a main character that accepts a fate they cannot change. In the case of Wurts' story, Findlaire, the son of a dying king, comes to accept his fate as the next vessel for a demon that has plague his family for centuries. One of Findlaire's ancestors made a deal with a demon, presumably to guarantee his rule of the kingdom of Chaldir. In return, the demon possesses the king of the realm, and passes to the closest male heir as each successive king dies, leaving the chancellor and king's council to rule Chaldir in the place of its king. As the story opens, the current king is dying, and Findlaire is the next in line of succession. However, instead of trying to escape his fate; instead of trying to find a way out, Findlaire learns to accept it.

To me, this acceptance seems very similar to Sir Bors' acceptance of his fate in Mallory's tale. In his acceptance of his fate, Findlaire is like Bors, who accepts that he cannot avoid the prophecy that states that he will kill his own brother, instead choosing to act as valiantly as possible despite the prophecy. However, Findlaire's acceptance of his fate and his resulting sacrifice goes much farther than in the case of Sir Bors. While Bors still retains a tinge of the tragic to his character, Findlaire achieves a sort of zen-like peace in accepting his fate. This allows him to accept what must happen without entirely giving up hope, while Bors simply goes on despite the absence of hope. Findlaire is able to recognize that, because life itself is temporary, his possession will only be temporary, and that, while the demon may pass to the next male in the line of succession upon his death, someone will someday be able to break the curse. In realizing the transience of his own life, and if the curse, Findlaire is able to accept his fate without even losing hope that, someday, life will be better for his heirs. It is this sort of grand scale, long-term thinking and the strength that goes with it that allows Findlaire to accept his fate.

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