The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Cry Silver Bells, first in the trilogy by internal chronology, begins as Hora, a beautiful courtesan, and her cousin Lordan, a petty thief, are banished to the dreaded Country of the Beasts. They are befriended there by the dryad Zoe. The Beasts, far from being hostile, protect the two humans and even give them new names. Now they are Marguerite (for her beauty) and Oryx (for his nimbleness). Marguerite is deeply attracted to the Minotaur Silver Bells, so named for the dec-oration he wears on his horns, but he has had no interest in any woman since the death of his wife, the naiad Alyssum.

Disaster strikes the two humans when the King of the Beasts, the centaur Chiron, declares that they must depart the Country of the Beasts. As soon as the boat bearing the exiled pair leaves the shore, it is seized by sea beasts called Tritons. Silver Bells swims out to rescue them, but he too is taken prisoner. The unfortunate trio eventually are taken to the city of Phaistos, where they are sold to be sacrificed at the Games.

Meanwhile, Zoe gathers a group of Beasts to accompany her on a mission to rescue Silver Bells, Marguerite, and Oryx. Disguised as a Nubian queen and her retinue, the group reach Crete and attend the Games, where they see Marguerite and Oryx tied to a pole in the center of the arena. They are to be the prize for a Sphinx if the foul creature can defeat Silver Bells. The Minotaur manages to kill his monstrous foe, and the entire group, including the two humans, sails back to the Country of the Beasts. Marguerite and Oryx are invited to remain as long as they wish.

The apparently happy conclusion is destroyed by the sudden death of Silver Bells. The tragedy is muted, however, by the appearance of a snake, on whose head can be seen tiny horns; on the horns are silver bells.


(The entire section is 747 words.)