Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just reviewed “The Dragon Variation” and “Mouse and Dragon” at SBR; Comments.

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Folks, here’s the link before I forget:

Now, a few comments from me (otherwise known as the peanut gallery):

These books are excellent.  Truly outstanding.  Magical, even . . . they get all the emotions right.  All the mores right.  All the cultural issues right.  The language is impressive, the descriptions are just right, and the romances are conflicted, realistic, sometimes amusing and touching, all at once.

I wish I could write this like this pair of authors, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller; I truly do.

The end of my review talked about the emotional, powerful impact MOUSE AND DRAGON had on me.   MOUSE AND DRAGON is about the too-brief marriage of Aelliana Caylon and Daav yos’Phelium, and is realistic in so many ways about what happens to a widower when his spouse dies that I can’t even tote them up on a toteboard.  That Aelliana’s presence sticks around (more or less in ghost form) is not the most amazing part of this achievement; it’s that Sharon Lee and Steve Miller — neither of whom have been widowed as far as I know — got it right that our deceased spouses do live on.  In us.

One of the issues I’ve had with widowhood from the beginning is that I didn’t know how to express my feelings over the loss of my husband beyond rage, despair, extreme frustration and loss.  It’s really hard to lose a spouse when you’re only thirty-nine years old, and you’ve only had a few, short years together.  Blissful years, sure.  But still — far too short.

The entire story of Daav’s marriage — how he met Aelliana, in SCOUT’S PROGRESS.  How he married her, then lost her, in MOUSE AND DRAGON.  How he dealt with her continued presence in FLEDGLING and SALTATION — has now been sketched out.  It is a stunning achievement, one that I can’t praise highly enough; it shows two extremely intelligent people who are constrained by circumstances that manage to forge a life together, then manage to keep on loving each other in a meaningful way after one of the pair’s physical death.

Daav’s solution — which I will discuss here, but I warn you it is a spoiler if you haven’t read the end of MOUSE AND DRAGON, or any of FLEDGLING or SALTATION — is to immerse himself in an alternate identity, Jen Sar Kiladi, and thus take a lover.  He has a child, Theo Waitley, by his lover, who is a half-sibling of his son Val Con yos’Phelium by his wife, Aelliana Caylon.  And Aelliana has stuck around; she still views herself as Daav’s wife, and despite him taking a lover (at her insistence, I might add), nothing has changed for them as far as their feelings go.  It’s just that because she no longer has a physical body, she can’t meet all his physical needs.

I’ve been pondering this.  I think there’s something here that might help me, psychologically, deal with something I’ve really not wanted to have to think about — possibly being with another man.

You see, Michael was the ultimate in my experience.  The best husband (as I had two previous ones, believe you me, I know how good a husband he was).  The best, and most supportive person, I have ever had the privilege to know, yet he was not sycophantic and would tell me off if he felt the need (which, fortunately for me, was rarely).

How do you go beyond “the ultimate?”  How do you find any meaning with anyone else?

I don’t know, but I’m finally willing to at least consider the possibility that someone extraordinary — someone like Kamele Waitley was for Daav/Jen Sar — might exist out there.

I’d best end this now, or I’ll get maudlin — and trust me, none of us need that.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm

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