gvdammerung writes "The life of Prince Thrommel of Furyondy has captivated the Flanaess like no other story. In numerous subsequent works recounting the tale, he has become romanticised as the perfect prince and Jolene as his perfect match. Together, their's is accounted the perfect love. The four works that comprise the Thrommel Cycle are the greatest of their kind and mark a literary watrershed. A uniquely Flanaen literature here first sees full blossom. At the same time, conspiracy theories abound, relating one or another "secret history" of Thrommel's disappearence. It seems Thrommel is for the ages with something to say to everyone - pauper, prince, lover, even conspiracy theorist.
Literature in the Flanaess: The Thrommel Cycle
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Posted with permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Whatever the political consequences of the Common Year 573, this year marks the generally accepted boundary between early and modern literature in the Flanaess. In 573 CY, Prince Thrommel, son of King Belvor and heir to the throne of Furyondy, disappeared just prior to his scheduled marriage to Jolene of Veluna, daughter of the Plar. The marriage, had it been concluded, would have united the Kingdom of Furyondy with the Archclericy of Veluna. Prince Thrommel would have reigned as King and Provost. Such, however, did not occur and it has been divined that Prince Thrommel is dead, although his body has never been recovered.
To understand why the disappearance of Prince Thrommel marks such a literary watershed, it is necessary to understand who the Prince was, the life he lead and the impact of his death on the general imagination.
Prince Thrommel was a dashing figure and a worthy heir to the throne of Furyondy. His fame was never greater than when he distinguished himself in 569 CY at the Battle of Emridy Meadows. Leading assembled hosts from Furyondy, Veluna and lesser states, Prince Thrommel took to the field to defeat the Horde of Elemental Evil. The day belonged to him and his fame was assured. All anticipated that he would realize the dream of a united Furyondy and Veluna committed to the cause of weal.
This anticipation was, of course, fostered by the announced nuptials that would see Prince Thrommel wed the daughter of the Plar of Veluna, Jolene, uniting the twin champions of all that seemed good and bright. Jolene was herself a figure of great repute. Of surpassing beauty and intelligence, Jolene’s fame was wide spread. Many had sought her hand but only Prince Thrommel had succeeded in winning it. Critically, the marriage of Thrommel and Jolene was not merely to be a political matter; it was also a love match. The idealized prince, the Hero of Emridy Meadows, had found his idolized princess to be in the ravishing Jolene. Or so the bards and an avid public would have it.
Other forces, however, conspired to tear the lovers asunder. While it remains a matter open to some doubt, it is variously said that fell Iuz, the Scarlet Brotherhood or some great undying lord abducted and did away with the young Prince, breaking Jolene’s heart and dashing the hopes of those who imagined a fairytale wedding and the rise of a new power in the West. The impact of the Prince’s disappearance and the subsequent confirmation of his death shattered the hopes and dreams of two realms, with political repercussions that reverberated across the Flanaess. Prince Thrommel and Jolene instantly became epically tragic figures and fodder for bards and poets.
In the public imagination, then, Prince Thrommel and Jolene were perfect lovers, he strong, handsome and victorious, she beautiful, intelligent and full of grace, torn apart by sinister forces that destroyed the dream of a shining city on a hill. As told by bards and poets, their story is at once an epic love story, a story of military heroism and an epic tragedy. This is Prince Thrommel’s literary legacy. He and Jolene have been idealized and immortalized in a series of wildly popular tales that have spread their story. They continue to be inspirational figures to writers, poets and bards and the popularity of their storey with the public continues to grow. They have transcended the facts of their origins and lives to become literary archetypes adopted throughout the Flanaess. Prince Thrommel and Jolene belong to every land and the ages.
The four works generally characterized as comprising the Thrommel Cycle variously recount the life and death of Prince Thrommel. Written in the twenty-five plus years since Prince Thrommel’s disappearance, they are foundational to any discussion of modern literature in the Flanaess. The works owe no debt to a particular culture but are uniquely Flanaean. Their popularity has spawned countless imitations and retellings of the basic story. Others have simply been inspired by the style of the Thommel Cycle writers to apply those styles to completely unrelated tales. With the Thrommel Cycle, a new literary age begins that finds value in well told tales without the practical or historical considerations of the past as necessary reference. The Flanaess has found its own voice at last.
The four works in the Thrommel Cycle are described below.
by Boiard (1 Volume)
1st Edition - 576 CY
Note - Published in Dyvers and Greyhawk simultaneously, this volume marked the opening of a publishing war between the two cities. While Greyhawk would ultimately prevail, many writers began to look for more peaceful confines in which to publish, contributing to the rise of Willip as a literary city.
Boaird was a bard and writer from Verbobonc. According to himself, he was present on the field at Emridy Meadows. The truth of this claim is not established. However, his ability to claim a first hand account of events has increased his currency in the public’s eye. Such is not, however, really necessary as his literary powers on display in Thrommel Innamorto are formidable. Here is the work of an accomplished writer and master bard at the height of his ability.
Thrommel Innamorto principally confines itself to the romance between Prince Thrommel and Jolene. It is a sighing, sweepingly epic romance that crystalizes Thrommel and Jolene as perfect, but doomed, lovers. The volume was an immediate sensation and has become a staple at practically every civilized court in the Flanaess. Even in Furyondy and Veluna, where there is first hand knowledge of the principles, Boiard’s charged prose has swept up knight and lady alike. Among more common folk, Boiard is commonly recited by attentive and calculating swains in their efforts to sway the objects of their affections.
by Aristo (1 Volume)
1st Edition - 578 CY
Note - This volume continued the dueling publishing efforts in Greyhawk and Dyvers, having then two alternate 1st through 4th Editions.
Aristo was Boiard’s great rival, also from Verbobonc. Possessed on an equal talent, Aristo chose to focus on Prince Thrommel’s military adventures. While it might be thought that Boaird would have the better of Aristo as he had all the resources of an epic love affair with which to work, Aristo proved that military campaigns can be no less compelling. Aristo knew his intended audience, a feudal nobility that would respond to seeing military matters glamorized and a common audience ready to find something other than inconvenience and drudgery in their service among feudal levies. Aristo hits precisely the right notes, building a tale that speaks to common soldiers and their noble leaders alike. To do this, Aristo adds numerous characters to his story, any number of whom may not have actually existed.
Hardly a military textbook, Thrommel Furioso is an idealized military fantasy. This has not stopped detractors from pointing out the more implausible exploits of it characters, nor supporters from arguing a greater accuracy, allowing for literary license. Most notable has been the supposed reaction of the real life counterparts of the foemen depicted in the volume. Lending some credence to claims that Iuz or others have been infuriated by the volume is Aristo’s virtual disappearance from public life and performance. His reticence to explain matters has many puzzled but has only served to popularize the work.
Le Morte de Thrommel
by Malore (1 Volume)
1st Edition - 581 CY
Note - Published anonymously, the precise location or locations of publication are unknown. Identifying a 1st Edition is virtually impossible. The earliest known works date from 581 CY.
Le Morte de Thrommel is a masterpiece. Drawing on the same elements present in Boiard and Aristo, Malore expands well beyond either of his peers. The entirety of Thrommel and Jolene’s story is laid out for the reader in the most romantic, vividly imagined manner possible. No detail is left out of this huge volume and minor characters are brilliantly developed to stand beside the principles. In this sense, the book is almost a collection of individual stories woven together with that of Thrommel and Jolene.
Causing an immediate controversy was Malore’s depiction of love affairs among the characters, said by some to test the bounds of decency. This is an obvious overreaction, but in his depiction of wooing lovers in more than strictly idealized terms, Malore humanizes and makes real what might otherwise have become too easily caricatures, after Boiard and Aristo having previously explored these figures. It is, then, the humanizing quality of Malore, and not simply in his romantic passages, that elevate this work above all others in the Thrommel Cycle.
Malore is justifiably famous for his work. He is also entirely unknown. No one knows precisely who he, or she, is. Any who have stepped forward to claim the mantle of literary genius have, to this date, been proven frauds. No other works by Malore are known to exist. The anonymous publication of the work only adds to the mystery. Le Morte de Thrommel simply appeared. Conspiracy theorists allege that Malore is merely a pseudonym adopted to throw off those fell agencies described, in startling detail, within the book as having caused, participated in or condoned Thrommel’s disappearance. Le Morte de Thrommel is rife with hidden plots, wheels within wheels and the subtle and gross machinations of Iuz, the Scarlet Brotherhood and other malefactors. In these depictions, Malore adds substantially to the mythology of Prince Thrommel’s disappearance. Many of the details of Malore’s claims are entirely original and something of a cottage industry has sprung up among certain adventurous types determined to follow Malore’s "hints" to bring justice to the Thrommel conspirators or, most bizarrely, to "rescue" Thrommel.
Ye Idylls of Ye Kinge
by Tenhson (1 Volume)
1st Edition - 585 CY
Note - This volume has spawned many spurious "editions," beyond, but including, the first. All authentic editions have richly illuminated panels immediately before and after each chapter. Spurious editions may have no panels or only some panels, ostensibly to lower the cost of reproduction.
Ye Idylls of Ye Kinge is an outlandish text. It supposes a history where Prince Thrommel lived and married Jolene to unite Furyondy and Veluna. The actual story of Thrommel and Jolene comprises only the first quarter of the text. The remainder is a complete fiction of a future history. The book does, however, play to the fondest wishes of many who have read the other Cycle works or whose politics run toward an eventual union of Furyondy and Veluna. The writing is also brilliant. The book is essentially a great, multi-part poem but the poetics are so well crafted that Ye Idylls of Ye Kinge can be read almost as prose. The author, Tenhson, is an obscure and itinerant figure, known to variously frequent Hardby, Greyhawk, Dyvers and Verbobonc.
Theories abound about the author’s intent. It this a disguised political tract that is using Thrommel and Jolene to promote the union of Furyondy and Veluna? Is the author mad? Is this simply a good yarn? Is Prince Thrommel (somehow) the actual author? Is this, in fact, a prophetic work of some sort, couched in metaphor and the symbolism of the illuminated panels? This last theory and its popularity among certain circles is responsible for the accounting of subsequent editions without all of the illuminated panels as spurious, rather than merely lesser or variant, editions. Some collectors of this book are obsessive to the point of collecting and comparing copies of the first edition in an effort to identify a supposed "first, true edition," that would more certainly reveal the supposed prophecies.