Peregrine: Primus/Peregrine: Secundus Analysis

Avram Davidson

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The plot structure of these two novels is highly episodic. Peregrine is the third illegitimate son of the King of Sapodilla. Like all illegitimate royal offspring, he is exiled as a means of preventing dynastic strife. He is sent away to seek his fortune in the company of a sorcerer, Appledore, and a highly intelligent servant lad, Claud. Claud pretends to be feebleminded as a means of avoiding work.

The three find themselves in the world of the late Roman Empire, beset by Christian sects of all kinds, Imperial armies, and barbarian hordes. At the end of Peregrine: Primus, Peregrine is transformed into the bird after which he is named as a means of salvation from a religious sect. He is brought back to humanity only accidentally, at the start of Peregrine: Secundus, by a spell pronounced by the daughter of the King of Alfland. The king is then robbed by the dragon Smarasderagd, and Peregrine sets off in pursuit. At the end of Peregrine: Secundus, he and the dragon are called once more by a spell accidentally pronounced, and Peregrine is installed as the ruler of a rustic city by two old men, once friends of his father.

Peregrine: Secundus comes to an end with the dragon-egg that the hero carries beginning to rock, as if something inside is trying to get out. This stands as evidence that the sequence was never concluded. A number of loose ends in the plot are never quite tied off: Peregrine keeps hearing the warning to “burn the boards of beechwood with the baleful signs,” but readers never learn exactly what these are. He also discovers in a dragon’s hoard what appears to be the Crown of the Kings of Ephtland, but he never reaches Ephtland (although that town is mentioned often) or wears the crown. He is trying simultaneously to trace the whereabouts of his elder brother, but though he hears of him, the two never meet. Possibly Avram Davidson meant in the end to have his hero overcome some baleful hex, rescue his brother, and be crowned King of Ephtland, but this never will be known.