The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

A poet, novelist, and playwright (he worked with William Butler Yeats at the Abbey Theatre), Lord Dunsany draws upon Irish fable and myth to situate the story of The King of Elflands Daughter. The novel opens with the Parliament of Erl asking for a “magic” lord to rule them because for seven hundred years there has been “no new thing.” To accommodate them, their present Lord asks his son Alveric to “pass the fields we know” into Elfland in order to marry Lirazel, the kings daughter. Alveric’s father gives him his ancient battle sword for his journey, but Alveric knows that only a magical sword can prevail against the King of Elfland. He visits the witch Ziroonderel, who fashions a new enchanted sword from thunderbolts.

Traveling east to the Elfin Mountains along the border of Elfland, Alveric stops at an old leatherworkers cottage to obtain a scabbard for his magical sword. The old man makes the scabbard but refuses to discuss matters pertaining to Elfland. Alveric thanks him for his hospitality and strides away. Once inside Elfland, Alveric succeeds in fighting Lirazels guards. Lirazel falls in love with Alveric’s powerful grace and chivalry, and she elopes with him back to Erl. Unfortunately, Lirazel cannot easily adjust to the vastly different customs of Alveric’s people or to Earths passage of time. She never quite fits into Erls community. When their child Orion is born, the witch Ziroonderel becomes his nurse and protects him with her magic.

The King of Elfland, recognizing that his daughter will age and eventually die on Earth, writes a powerful spell in order to call her back to...

(The entire section is 672 words.)