Today we are revisiting my bookshelf, with a look at series, The King of Ys, by Poul and Karen Anderson. I read this series many years ago, in 1989 to be exact. It was featured as a 2-book book-of-the-month selection for those of us who were members of Doubleday's Science Fiction Book Club, and it was always a happy day for me when my new book would arrive.
Ys: Magical city shrouded in legend, where Gratillonius, doomed by the gods to be the last King of Ys, refused to accept defeat, and became a legend that would ring down the corridors of time.
This is the story of Gratillonius, a roman soldier sent by Maximus to act as a prefect for Rome to the country of Ys. Upon arrival he is challenged by The King of Ys for reasons which I was unable to decipher. Gratillonius comes out the victor, and is made king.
The book follows Gratillonius as he navigates both the political and spiritual worlds of Ys. The people of Ys have strong religious ties to their gods, and Gratillonious, a roman soldier, has stong ties to the Roman God Mithras. These beliefs sometimes clash.
He is given nine wives, the Gallicinae, and falls in love with one of them, Dahlis. His preference for Dahlis leads to trouble among the others, and this combined with his lack of understanding about the religion of Ys creates the tension in the tale.
This series has amazing world-building, and rich depictions of the political and religious climate of Breton at the height of the Roman Empire. The characters are real, and in true Poul Anderson tradition, flawed, which leads to their eventual downfall.
I don’t know if the book is still being published. This book can be picked up at a second-hand bookstore, or ordered through Amazon. I do recommend it, if you can get your hands on a copy. It was also published in 1996 by Baen in a two-book compendium, The King of Ys, vols I & II.