This fic is based on events in the short story, "The True Enchanter", found in the collection of Prydain stories entitled The Foundling: and other Tales of Prydain. A sweet fable, the original introduces the reader to Princess Angharad of Llyr, mother of Eilonwy, and her forbidden elopement with a common man after the eligible enchanters who come to court her fail to impress.
In the case of this fic, "based on" means I ripped the pages from my battered copy of The Foundling, folded them into origami boats, and sent them sailing on an ocean named Conjecture. I have taken enormous liberties, is what I'm saying. Let's just get that disclaimer out of the way.
My justification? - the stories in The Foundling, IMO, have the structure and style of, appropriately, bardic legends. And legends get edited, embellished, cut; they evolve to fit the ends of those who tell them, or the appropriateness of their audience.
So I think of "The True Enchanter" as a simplified fairy tale, a simple romance told as a bedtime story to the children of Prydain, a moral lesson to remind them that true worth is found within, in this land where a peasant can marry a princess and a pig-keeper be crowned king. As such, it works, but in my obsessive mind, discontent with all but exhaustive analysis of this mythical world that feels so real to me, the story raises more questions than it answers.
How does a shrewd, powerful, strong-willed young woman (qualities which are evident in the story) fall into the love-at-first-sight trope? How does she reconcile with her conscience over an elopement wherein she removes the powerful magical elements that, it is inferred in The Castle of Llyr, serve to keep the place safe? Did she know their absence would leave Llyr so vulnerable? What, besides a fancy for a man she had literally just laid eyes on, charming though he is in comparison to the other options (and on that note, why are all the enchanters who court her such assholes?), would induce her to abandon her throne and her people to possible destruction?
There had to be more.
The more I considered Achren's multiple kidnappings of Eilonwy in light of her actions in The Castle of Llyr, the more curious I became. Why did Achren invest so much of her power into this one Hail Mary move; how did she know about Eilonwy to begin with, and what is her connection to Caer Colur and the history of Llyr? So many mysteries, waiting to be explored.
And I did so, lavishly. The story quickly morphed into something with its own will, dragging me along where it pleased in defiance of my attempts at an outline. It became something far, far more complicated, darker, and far-reaching than "The True Enchanter." I don't know whether Lloyd would recognize much about my version of Llyr, but it feels as real to me now as Prydain itself.
I must mention one mistake I made early on, thanks to it being many years since I read the associated passages in The Castle of Llyr; in the Chronicles, by Glew's testimony, the House of Llyr is simply one more royal house, whose stronghold happened to be located on the isle of Mona. Somewhere along the line of my Prydain musings, I came to believe that Llyr was a separate kingdom in its own right, an island nation closely allied to its neighbor but independent in its rule. This is entirely my invention and the premise of my story stands or falls on it, so to call this particular fic an Alternate Universe would not be inaccurate, though I have tried my best to make it fit within canon...if you squint a little.
On the rating: The central story here is an impulsive and turbulent romance, and while my writing style is non-explicit, there are circumstances, references, and innuendo that would be inappropriate for the intended audience of the Chronicles.
Readers will note significant mention of moon phases. I am personally fascinated by the theory of lunar biorhythms - essentially, the idea that women in ancient/primitive cultures without the disrupting influence of electric or gas lighting would have had their monthly cycles align, more or less, with the waxing and waning of the moon. In the absence of other factors, ambient moonlight is thought to influence estrogen production and control the timing of ovulation. The evidence for this is anecdotal, but it suited my purposes in drawing out the significance of the lunar symbolism of Llyr: its women, in tune with their cycles if any woman ever is, blame their moods on moon phases, and they're not wrong.
Many many thanks to all the wonderful readers whose feedback and enthusiasm made this novel such a joy to share. As always, this tiny fandom outdoes many more popular ones in the loyalty of its devotees.