Monday, April 10, 2017

Mythical Monday #74 - Tale as Old as Time

Art work by: @Burntlaughter on Twitter

It seems there are many books influenced by or based on Myths and Mythological Beings.

There are many different Mythology's and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in.  The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.

Tale as Old as Time:
The Tragedy of Tristan & Iseult

“King Mark carries the bodies of Tristan and Iseult back to the shores of Cornwall where they are buried side by side. From their tomb grows a vine and a rose that intertwines symbolizing their love. The union after death still angers Mark who constantly has the plants cut back but the vine and the rose continue to grow. A symbol of the strength of the love between Tristan and Iseult.” - Celtic Legend, The Vine and the Rose

Before Romeo took a poisoned vile and Lancelot stole the forbidden heart of Guinevere, there was the legend of Tristan and Iseult. A tale made popular in the 12th century through Anglo-Norman literature, and perhaps most famously as a 19th century opera by Richard Wagner. Tristan & Iseult is a tragic romance, that has withstood the test of time

A chivalrous figure often associated with Arthurian legend, Tristan was a noble knight, a hero of the British isles and a trusted envoy of his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall. Tristan was chosen by his uncle to escort the Irish princess, Iseult, back to Cornwall to become King Mark’s bride. However, as often happens in legends of tragic romance, Iseult's fate and magic dictate a different course for the knight of Cornwall and princess of Ireland. During their journey, a magical love potion intended for Iseult to share with King Mark on her wedding night is accidentally drank by Tristan and Iseult. From that moment on, their hearts become irrevocably intertwined.

Tristan’s desire for Iseult brings great shame to the Arthurian knight, who loves Mark both as a nephew to his uncle and knight to his king. A romantic figure, chivalry defined Tristan’s character, yet he was unable to deny his affections for Iseult. The two become lovers and their betrayal is eventually discovered by the king. As a result Tristan leaves Cornwall and journeys to the court of King Arthur, leaving Iseult behind.

Tristan becomes a hero of Arthurian legend, winning many battles and eventually marries. However, the love he continues to carry for Iseult causes his wife to become jealous. A jealously which manifests after Tristan is poisoned and must return to Ireland for the healing arts known only by Iseult.

Sailing back to Cornwall, Iseult is sent a message of Tristan’s ailment. She is asked to fly a white flag if she will come to him, and a black flag if she no longer loves him. When the boat approaches, the flag is white, however Tristan’s jealous wife lies, stating that the flag is black and Iseult has refused to come to Tristan’s aid. Upon hearing the lie, Tristan dies moments before his love reaches his side. At finding him dead, Iseult’s heart breaks and she joins him in death.

They are buried side by side. Legend says there grew a vine and a rose constantly intertwined, symbolizing the power of their love. The vine and rose were said to be enchanted, as no matter how many times the plants were cut back they always reappeared, forever uniting the lovers.

The first time I heard this legend was shortly after moving to Ireland. I was enthralled by the tragic Black Rose Guard dark fantasy series. Black Rose is the tale of two captains of the immortal guard, Mara and Edward, continually separated by honor, duty and fate. Their love is symbolized by enchanted, immortal roses which appear whenever the lovers have need of them.
romance, the beauty of the immortal love that transcended time and the profound image of the vine and rose forever intertwined. This legend inspired me to begin writing the

Their story takes inspiration from Tristan and Iseult. For one, Mara, like Tristan, is a knight of the realm and blood relative to the ruling monarch, though the genders have been switched for the nephew and king. Also, much like Tristan’s love of Iseult, Mara’s love for Edward is forbidden by royal decree.

To separate the lovers, the queen sends Edward, on a dangerous quest, taking him far from his love. As he attempts to return, Edward is captured by a rival royal court and held for many years. The enchanted roses however, refuse to accept the separation of the lovers and appear in Edward’s cell and grant Mara visions which eventually lead her to save the man she loves.

In my fictional world, the roses themselves become a living entity. They whisper prophecy and glimpses of the future to those chosen few known as the immortal rose heirs. In exchange for these glimpses, the roses feed on blood of the heirs. Some see this connection as a blessing, but others, like Mara, view it as a curse. This results in the roses feeding from the reluctant princess by force.

The association with death and the roses also exists in my series, as the roses turn black at the death of one of their chosen, Princess Liza. After Liza’s death, Mara embarks upon a quest to avenge her death which was committed by another of the roses chosen. The fight between the two rose heirs is among the most devastating in the royal courts, and a battle from which none escape unscathed.

The Black Rose Guard, was heavily influenced by the story of Tristan and Iseult. Like the doomed lovers of legend, Mara & Edward’s struggle to maintain their forbidden love. The symbolic unity of the roses is also drawn form this ancient story of the Irish princess and Arthurian knight, a reflection of the ebony and crimson blooms which sway the love of Mara and Edward in my own story of immortal devotion and tragic desire.

About K.L. Bone:
Bone has a master’s degree in modern literary cultures and is working toward her PhD in literature. She wrote her first short story at the age of fifteen and grew up with an equally great love of both classical literature and speculative fiction. Bone has spent the last few years as a bit of a world traveler, living in California, London, and most recently, Dublin. When not immersed in words, of her own creation or studies, you’ll find her traveling to mythical sites and Game of Thrones filming locations.

Find K.L. Bone:
Her Site
Twitter:  @kl_bone
Facebook Author Page

Purchase The Black Rose Guard books:


Blodeuedd said...

The sail thing like in that Greek tale

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I have to say that Tristan and Iseult has always been the romance that Romeo and Juliet wasn't. I did prefer that story and I'm curious about the retellings now. :)

LilyElement said...

Thank you for the reminder, I still need to listen to Black Rose!!!