dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #165 - Laurel

Devra at aol.com Devra at aol.com
Tue Jun 13 11:06:36 EDT 2000

I always felt that Laurel was the Faery Queen, folowing the classical pattern 
(Golden Bough, etc), in which the faeries pay a teint.   Sometimes the person 
who dies is the Year King (or the Corn King), who only rules 1 year. (Mary 
Renalt's The King Must Die.)  Sometimes he is the Tanist (substitute? False 
King? Half-year King?) who ritually takes the place of the real king, and is 
sacrificed in his place.  [That's our boy Thomas, who will die for Mr 
Leroy...whose very name means king.]

Now, in order for the Tanist to take the place of the True King, the True 
King has to step down.  In just the same way, Laurel gets divorced from Mr 
Leroy, so that he can marry another woman and breed up a son.  This other 
woman thus symbolically becomes Laurel, since she's the True King's wife, and 
therefore, she dies in Laurel's place, for Laurel, giving Laurel power--every 
9 years a funeral, and every 81 (9x9) the person who dies is a woman.  (So 
Laurel is only giving up Mr Leroy for a while--a very short time, by her 
frame of reference--and then she gets him back again.)

The reason that Mr Leroy is in such bad shape is that Laurel got the virtue 
of the last sacrifice, but it's been 18 years since he was renewed.

In all cases, the death of the substitute gives the King and Queen life 
power.  Laurel takes Seb to be her new consort; he is so full of youth, life, 
and power that she will not need Leslie (as a substitute dying king) for a 
long time.

It is Tam Lin, after all.

Devra Langsam
devra at aol.com
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