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The Trillium series is a series of five fantasy novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Andre Norton set in the World of the Three Moons. The series title is unofficial and is used solely because every novel of the series had the word "trillium" in its title. The concept of "trillium" or trinity (also a plant with a threefold flower: Trillium) plays an important role in the novels, probably because there were three lead characters and three authors working on the series. However, only the first book of the series, Black Trillium, was created by all three of them, while the other four were written by individual authors.
- Black Trillium (1990, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Andre Norton)
- Blood Trillium (1992, by Julian May)
- Golden Trillium (1993, by Andre Norton)
- Lady of the Trillium (1995, by Marion Zimmer Bradley)
- Sky Trillium (1997, by Julian May)
The idea of a story of three princesses, who were robbed of their kingdom and try to survive in a hostile world, originally belonged to a German literature agent Uwe Luserke in 1989. His vision was for three of the most notable fantasy authors of the time to come together and collaborate to produce a novel describing three different life stories bound together by a single A-Plot. However, his plan was very difficult to realize, given popular authors seldom agree to work on large-scale collaborations.
Nevertheless, Luserke managed to get Andre Norton, famous for her Witch World series, on his side and together they found the second collaborator - Marion Zimmer Bradley (The Mists of Avalon), who was a friend of Norton. As for the third, Luserke's attempt to stir Anne McCaffrey's (Dragonriders of Pern series) interest in his project was a failure, so he tried Julian May (Saga of Pliocene Exile). At first, May considered his letter a joke, but after some negotiations, she agreed to think about it.
May wrote her own vision of the story, called Black Trillium, and to her astonishment, Norton, Bradley and even Luserke himself agreed to it. Moreover, Bantam Books immediately agreed to publish the novel and to buy the rights for it. Uwe Luserke was so happy that his plan might come into reality that he did not mind that May slightly changed nearly all details of his story. After the initial meeting, where primary cast of characters and many small details of the setting were decided upon, all three authors worked separately, sharing the material via post and Internet.
According to the plan, each one of the three authors was to write a story of one princess: Bradley chose the intellectual eldest sister, Haramis, Norton - the Amazon-like warrior princess Kadiya, and May was entrusted with the youngest sister, Anigel. However, the collaboration became frustrating for all of them, for various reasons, therefore after the novel was finished in 1990, it was decided that eventual sequels should better be written completely separately.
The only truly canonical part of the series is the first one, Black Trillium, written by all three authors together. The other four were created by them separately and often contradict one another. Blood Trillium, Golden Trillium and Lady of the Trillium are all direct sequels to Black Trillium, while Sky Trillium is a sequel to Blood Trillium. Zimmer's Lady of the Trillium is set 900 years after the first novel and contains very few contradictions to Golden Trillium by Norton, but both novels go against the continuity of May's Blood and Sky Trilliums.
One approach is to consider Norton's (BT - GT), Zimmer's (BT - LotT), and May's (BT - BT - ST) series completely separate sets of novels. Alternatively, Lady of the Trillium and Golden Trillium can be considered parts of one continuity.
Norton and Zimmer only wrote about their respective heroines (Kadiya and Haramis) in their sequel novels, whereas May continued the stories of all three princesses in hers.