The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Emery, Earl of Poitiers, is urged by castle wise man and philosopher Owain Wanderer to invite his brother-in-law, Henry, to his realm for a celebration. Owain is the head of a secret cult that outwardly worships the devil but seeks to restore a more humanistic philosophy of government and religion to a land oppressed by corruption and taxation. The long-term political aims of this cult include manipulating the earldom of Poitiers to ensure the succession of someone sympathetic to its aims.

Henry brings his sons to the celebration. Raymond, the youngest, captivates everyone with his charm, intelligence, and good looks. Within days, Raymond is adopted by his uncle Emery and becomes good friends with Bertrand, Emery’s only son and heir. Owain convinces Emery that Raymond is his true successor and that the transfer of power must be symbolic, according to the old forms. Emery and Raymond go on a boar hunt, during which Raymond accidentally kills Emery. Unbeknown to Raymond, Emery has arranged the killing, acquiescing to his own murder. Bertrand succeeds to the earldom, and Raymond requests of his cousin the land surrounding the cave where the cult holds its secret ceremonies. There he meets Melusine, high priestess of the cult, who has been brought there to seduce Raymond but who eventually falls in love with him. The castle of Lusignan is built next to the cave, where Melusine conducts services each Saturday evening. Owain arranges for Bertrand to be...

(The entire section is 490 words.)