Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Cycle was originally the "Pendragon Trilogy", but after Arthur's rather abrupt ending, and the existence of many unexplored stories and plotlines, Lawhead decided to expand on his trilogy by writing two prequels. Avalon is not considered to be a true member of the Cycle, but rather a 'related semi-sequel' to it.
Rough Overview of the Series
The series takes place in the 5th and 6th Centuries (despite some anachronisms and inaccuracies), and attempts to present the Arthurian legends in a historical setting. Lawhead bases his stories on the Mabinogion, the History of the Kings of Britain and other works of Geoffrey of Monmouth, the writings of Taliesin, Gildas, and Nennius, and several other legends that he manages to interweave into the Arthurian legend.
As a result, some of the plotlines differ rather substantially from "traditional" Arthurian stories. In addition, because Lawhead based his stories upon these earlier works, they contain some major historical errors.
The books, with the exception of Taliesin and Avalon, are narrated in the first-person, and, except for Pendragon, Grail, and Avalon, are each split into three sections (Pendragon has four, Grail none, and Avalon five). Merlin and Pendragon are narrated by Myrddin (Merlin). The first third of Arthur is narrated by Pelleas, the second by Bedwyr (Bedivere), and the third by Aneirin/Gildas. Grail is mostly narrated by Gwalchavad (Galahad), with a short narration by Morgian (Morgan le Fay) at the beginning of most chapters. Taliesin follows Taliesin and Charis (the Lady of the Lake), alternating in each chapter; Avalon mostly follows James Stuart (the reborn Arthur), Merlin, and the fictional Prime Minister Thomas Waring.
A listing of the locations and place names used in the series, and their modern equivalents:
(see also List of Roman place names in Britain)
Many historical personas (some already included in the Arthurian legend) exist in the Cycle, alongside less "factual" characters: Taliesin, Magnus Maximus, Theodosius, Ambrosius Aurelianus, Vortigern, Constantine III, Myrddin Wyllt, Clovis I, Gwyddno Garanhir, Elphin, Horsa, Hengest, Cerdic, Aelle, Gildas, and Aneirin (in the series, it is revealed that the last two are the same person; born with the name Gildas, he changes it to Aneirin after Arthur's death).
|Series Character||Historical/Legendary Basis/es|
|Arthur/Artos/Artorius ap Aurelius||King Arthur|
|Charis||Lady of the Lake|
|Fergus mac Guillomar||Leondegrance/Fergus mor|
|"Joseph's Thorn"||Holy Thorn|
|Macsen Wledig||Magnus Maximus|
|Morgian||Morgan le Fay/Nimue/Modron|
|Paulinus/Paulus||St. Paulinus of York|
The series (so far, at least) procedes as told in the following descriptions:
Narrated by Myrddin
Narrated by Myrddin
- Taliesin Book 1: A Gift of Jade (Atlantis segments)
- Taliesin Book 1: A Gift of Jade (Britain segments)
- Taliesin Book 2
- Taliesin Book 3
- Merlin Book 1: King
- Merlin Book 2: Forest Lord
- Merlin Book 3: Prophet
- Merlin Prologue
- Merlin Epilogue
- Pendragon Book 1: Hidden Tales
- Arthur Book 1: Pelleas
- Arthur Book 2: Bedwyr
- Pendragon Book 2: The Black Boar
- Pendragon Book 3: The Forgotten War
- Pendragon Book 4: The Healing Dream
- Arthur Book 3: Aneirin
- Arthur/Pendragon Prologues & Epilogues
- Avalon Prologue
- Avalon Book 1
- Avalon Book 2
- Avalon Book 3
- Avalon Book 4
- Avalon Book 5
- Avalon Epilogue
- Taliesin, Elphin, and Gwyddno lived centuries after the time the books take place (it is debatable whether or not the latter two lived, but their stories are set the same time as Taliesin). Taliesin wrote about King Arthur, which makes it more confusing as to why Lawhead had him live before.
- In Taliesin, Maximus makes reference to "Imperator Constantine." The last emperor commonly referred to as Constantine in Maximus' time (Constantine II) died in 340, 43 years before Maximus' revolt in Britannia. Even assuming he's referring to Constantius II, there is still a 22-year gap between the death of "Constantine" and Maximus' revolt. In the books, he is protrayed as a younger/middle-aged; it's unlikely he'd have been stationed in Britannia for so long.
- Myrddin's mother, Charis, is the half-sister of Morgian. Hence, Morgian is the aunt of Myrddin, and Myrddin is the nephew of Morgian, and they refer to each other this way for the first two books. However, from then on, they call each other 'cousin.' Also, Pelleas and Myrddin are cousins, and are aware of the fact, but never address each other as such.
- In the second book of Pendragon, which takes place a year or two after Badon Hill, the Vandali invade Britain. The Vandal leader, Amilcar, tells how they were driven from Carthage by the soldiers of the "Emperor of Constantine's great city;" "Amilcar" is a Phoenician name, and Belisarius drove the Vandals from Africa in the year 534, well after Badon. The Vandali are described as Asiatic pagans, when in reality they were Germanic and Arian Christians; and it need not be mentioned that there never was a Vandal invasion of the British Isles.
- In the series, all of the various tribes of England, Wales, Ireland, Armorica, Orkney, and Scotland speak the same language; in reality, there were differences (some minor, some major, some nearly a different language altogether) between them.
- In the last part of Arthur, Arthur is sent a message from a certain "[Emperor] Lucius, Procurator of the Republic" of Constantinople, who never existed, although Lawhead here is obviously relating to the History of the Kings of Britain, which mentions such an emperor. In addition, in the Roman Republic, there never was a position called "Procurator of the Republic," and while the early Empire maintained the fiction of the Republic's continued existence, by the 6th Century the Byzantine Empire acknowledged itself as a monarchy. It should also be said that, in the later books, there is still much reference to the Western Roman Empire as a continued polity, despite the fact that it would have fallen by that point.
- In Pendragon, the monk "Paulinus" appears to be St. Paulinus of York; however, St. Paulinus lived three hundred years after the book takes place.
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