Lady of the Trillium Themes
The search for balance in the personal, the social, and the natural worlds is realized in the novel's controlling theme of growing up — initiation, and education. The children Mikayla and Fiolon, innocent but adventurous, are spirited away by Haramis to be trained in magic and specialized knowledge, including traditional magic such as visioning, weather magic, and illusions, but also venturing on their own into the secrets of the ancient technological contraptions left in the tower by Orogastus, the evil magician-scientist Haramis defeated by Haramis long ago. They communicate with magical spheres, multimedia-type screens which allow them to speak at distances and call up faraway places in a solar-powered magic mirror, which functions somewhat like the computer screen in a game of Myst, but their ultimate goal is to develop the "land sense," a mental and emotional bond by which the Archimage becomes one with the land.
Their education takes a quantum leap, however, when the children embark on their own quest, a search for a body for their friend Uzun, the loyal Oddling counselor, turned into a harp by his mistress Haramis long ago. Her search takes Mikayla into the unknown, the Temple of Meret on the "other side" of Mount Gidris in Labornok, where devotees worship a kind of neolithic fertility goddess in seemingly harmless, even exotic, ceremonies. In return for Uzun's new body Mikayla agrees to become one of Meret's Daughters, returning each year to take part in temple rituals. This initiation, however, turns deadly near the end of the novel, when Haramis heroically replaces Mikayla as the jubilee sacrifice, whose bleeding heart is offered to Meret in a barbaric fertility ritual, and passes the torch to Mikayla, whose marriage to Fiolon, by then Archimage of Labornok, restores the missing balance.
Thus bonding, between a people and their land, between men and women, between friends, and even between people and other creatures, such as the lammergeiers, is the dominant theme of the novel. In this world those in touch with their inner selves, as Mikayla and Fiolon are, develop actual psychic bonds with others who are their soul mates — emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Haramis, in her desire to sunder these bonds (here, between Fiolon and Mikayla) in order to better control others, violates basic natural and moral imperatives. Her death at the end of the novel is appropriate as restitution for homage paid to the goddess' dark side (Meret).