Saturday, 27 October 2012

Elven Gardens

I think that the most haunting place name in Roma Mater (London, 1989) by Poul and Karen Anderson is "Elven Gardens." When Gratillonius first saw the city of Ys:

"He could scarcely believe that human beings dwelt there, not elves or Gods." (p. 104)

- so it is appropriate that the city contains an Elven Gardens.

The Gardens are shown on the map of the city. In the text, they are first mentioned on page 137 and again on page 248.

"...he could look over roofs to Elven Gardens; arbours, topiaries, early-blooming flowers. Adjoining, the Temple of Belisama..." (p. 137)

A wall with guarded entrances excludes the public. The area is small but hedges and narrow, curving, tree-roofed paths provide privacy. There are statues, a stream, staircases, arched bridges and a fountain with stone dolphins. One staircase leads to the temple from where there is a view of the city, its gleaming towers, headlands and the sea. The King meets with all nine Queens in the temple.

Having established the atmosphere and physical description of the Gardens early in Volume I, the Andersons are able to refer to it as to other parts of the city periodically throughout Volumes II and III of the tetralogy. Unfortunately, the city is destroyed at the end of Volume III.

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