The Magic Animal

Publication(s)

Summary

A 14-year-old girl named Viviane is asked by time-traveling beings to recruit Merlin and make possible the history of King Arthur, as the Lady of the Lake.

Analysis

  • Viviane suggests Nimue as a name for the small fairy woman. She responds "That is you, I believe." Both Viviane and Nimue are names given to The Lady of the Lake. The fairy takes another form of the same name (Vivien) and takes part of the legendary Lady's role herself.
  • This version of the Lady of the Lake story omits any connection to Lancelot and instead makes her only a love-interest for Merlin. This is more like T.H. White's The Once and Future King instead of the version by Mallory, Le Morte d'Arthur.
  • Merlin living backwards in time, the description of his hut, and many other details are as in The Once and Future King.
  • Myrddin Wyllt is a prophet and madman from Welsh legend, a prototype for the Arthurian Merlin. Gwelliant, the name Merlin gives the fairy, is a Welsh name which means "improvement."
  • The origin of Excalibur is time-looped, with Vivane taking it from Arthur and then giving it to him, the opposite of the order in which Arthur experienced it. The fairies probably needed a human to help with the sword because fairies traditionally cannot handle things made of iron.
  • The Snake, the Coyote, and the Raven are all trickster figures from mythology. What is the significance of Viviane's rejection of the first two and her acceptance of the third? The Snake represents the Tempter in Genesis, so it was probably a wise choice to refuse him. The Coyote has a violent nature (he says he is not afraid to use his teeth) and also he calls himself Dis, which is the name of the city containing the innermost circles of Hell in Dante's Divine Comedy. The Raven is called Nevermore from Poe's famous poem The Raven. Though the narrator in that poem calls the bird a "thing of evil," it is usually not regarded as horrifying.

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