Zimiamvian Trilogy

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The Zimiamvian Trilogy is the title given to a collection of three novels by the author E. R. Eddison.

Books in the trilogy[edit]

The novels take place in the land of Zimiamvia, composed of the Three Kingdoms of Fingiswold, Meszria and Rerek.

Zimiamvia and Ouroboros[edit]

The relationship between the Zimiamvian novels and Eddison's more famous work The Worm Ouroboros is peculiar and by no means clearly explained. In The Worm Ouroboros, Lord Juss describes Zimiamvia as a land south of the high mountain of Koshtra Pivrarcha on Eddison's "Mercury"; "no mortal foot may tread it, but the blessed souls do inhabit it of the dead that be departed, even they that were great upon earth and did great deeds when they were living, that scorned not earth and its delights and the glories thereof, and yet did justly and were not dastards nor yet oppressors." The Zimiamvia of the Trilogy, so far as can be told from the stories themselves, fits this description only in a very broad sense, in that it seems to be a world specially created for an incarnation or avatar of Lessingham, whose life in our own world fits Juss's description (and our own world may itself be such a creation).

Ouroboros and the Trilogy do share references to one character, this same Lessingham; he appears in the "Induction" to Ouroboros, and as a sort of ghost or immaterial astral being in the first chapter, and thereafter discreetly disappears. An apparently identical character appears in Mistress of Mistresses and is much more fully described in A Fish Dinner in Memison. Another character, also called Lessingham, is a main character in Mistress of Mistresses, but the Lessingham of Zimiamvia and the Lessingham of Earth, though connected, are two different people. Judging from Fish Dinner, we should perhaps regard the Lessingham of Zimiamvia as the original, and the Lessingham of Earth as a projection of him. This concept makes it even harder to imagine Zimiamvia as being on Mercury, but then the Mercury of Ouroboros could certainly never have been imagined as being in any sense the astronomical planet Mercury.

Ouroboros and the trilogy, however, share similarities in terms of the elaborate and deliberately archaic prose style (in Ouroboros much like that of sixteenth-century English, and in the trilogy rather a seventeenth-century style, more Latinate and more convoluted in sentence structure), and evidence of a philosophical likeness between the behaviour of the principal characters in all four novels.

Scholarship[edit]

Literary critic Don D'Ammassa has claimed that the Zimiamvian trilogy has "powerfully drawn" characters, especially the villains. He notes that none of the protagonists, with the exception of Lessingham, comes across as "entirely admirable".[1]

All the books contain a romantic ethic of fame, fate and eternal recurrence, in which the supreme value is chivalry, both in the sense of heroism and in the sense of the idealization of women.[2] In Mistress of Mistresses the underlying philosophy is explained: a Spinozistic pantheism in which God is identified with the eternal feminine, temporarily incarnated in the two queens whom Lessingham serves.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Villains of Necessity: The Works of E.R. Eddison" by Don D'Ammassa, pg. 88-93, In Discovering Classic Fantasy Fiction, edited by Darrell Schweitzer, Wildside Press, 1996.
  2. ^ "The Ouroboros Principle: Time and Love in Zimiamvia" by Verlyn Flieger, Mythlore 15(4):43-46. Summer 1989. (No. 58).