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This essay will discuss the novel wryd. It will explore some of the concepts

that are found in the novel and attempt to extend the issues to a point at

which they become more clear, and prove the assertion that, just as Wyrd is

a fast moving narrative that spans continents and ages, it is a novel of


Wyrd was, in length, a short to medium novel that was written by Sue Gough.

Briefly, it was the story of Berengaria, Saladin's daughter and wife of King

Richard. After her husbands death, she was moved to a French nunnery with

her handmaiden and son, the prince (incognito). There she kept an explicit

and wise diary, recording the events in her life. She founded a healing

order, and invented a cordial that was surprisingly popular among the

village folk. She continued to practice Viking religion in subtle ways, and

encouraged spiritual openness, as opposed to the dogmatic teachings of the

time, vesting confidence and a sense of worth in her fellow devotees.

However, she was plagued by her evil anti-thesis, the Abbe De Ville, who

encouraged her son to join in a 'children's crusade' -- and unwise and

dangerous religious march. Pat, her son, was eventually sold as a slave in

the middle east, but the Abbe did not know this and told Berengaria the

'news' of his demise. Unable to cope with such a revelation, she died and

was entombed, as a mummy, with her book beneath the priory. Found by two

archaeologists in modern times, her book was recovered and her tomb

destroyed. Sent to a group of Australian women (in order to keep it out of

the claws of the modern De Ville, Professor Horniman), the book found it's

way into the hands and heart of Trace, a street kid from Sydney, come north

as part of a modern children's crusade. Unwilling to return to the slums of

Kings Cross, Trace had found her way to the women's homes and beguiled herse-

lf of them. To conclude the story, Professor Horniman attempted to steal the

book, and it was destroyed. All of this was spoken by one Dr Renouf (a

possible future Trace and modern day Berengaria), in an attempt to draw

together the warring factions of the middle east.

One of the most primary themes in the book, apparent even in the summary, is

the repetition of events: recurrence and echoing of past events and people.

The binding threads of time, so to speak, are constant and absolute: even in

different times, the same forces are still at work throughout the novel. The c

change of setting is incidental, and the characters are a constant equalling

force. The children's crusade, the concepts of war and peace, good and evil

are all tied together in the plot, past mirroring future. However, another

theme that is important is the power of the undecided (* - wyrd, the blank

Viking rune, is the rune of 'maybe'), and the outcomes are different --

Professor Horniman was defeated, De Ville was not. Although this only lead

to Horniman's defeat, it was substantial, and the cosmic superbeing could

have turned to favour the powers of 'good' (Berengaria, Trace, the wyrd

sisters/the three women) or 'evil' (De Ville/Horniman, war, etc). The future

is merely a continuation of the past, but events may be replayed. Change

only occurred with respect for the future, the past remained stained, but

was a valuable lesson. The repetition of events occurred mainly because

lessons of the past were unheeded, and present changes are the force behind

the it's cessation. The blank rune, the undecided future, the last, blank

page in the old Queen's diary, are all a means by which these events can

occur: change and exploration of possibilities is vital to allow

continuation. Who controls the past controls the future only in that the

past is part of the present and the present is what controls future events.

Another theme, discussed mainly in the book's feminist undertones, is one

that is heavily discursive of the rules of society. Religious dogma, meaningl

ess legal writings, unwritten rules placing different people in situations

beyond their control, and the concept of elitism -- our class system, are

all discussed, if briefly, in the texts. Non conformity was all but preached:

it clearly stated that the rules of society, the laws we make for ourselves,

are not compatible with the needs of the people. Religious laws were obeyed

to the letter in the main time frame and our own, to a lesser extent because

times have changed: Berengaria was a nun, and De Ville was an Abbe. The laws that govern Christianity are mostly good, but intervention on the part of the church, often with the best of intentions, can lead an uneducated and oppressed society (like that of, say, medieval England or France) into ruins. In the novel, Berengaria was seen to actively opposed rules she thought were 'wrong', and refused to submit to the system: a self perpetuating autocracy, in which the supreme power lies in the ability to bluff and blunder through situations, and keep a crowd entertained. Her major disadvantage, at least at that time, was the fact that she was a woman: strong, intelligent and a leader, yes, but existing in a time and reality that did not judge a person by such qualities. Power in our society is driven by corruption, in many cases, and hope for the future lies in the powers that be. The same was true, to extremes, in Berengaria's time, but her knowledge and charisma were not about to be bound by half-truths and lies (the lies seeded by her time's power system). In any time and any system

there are the high, the middle and the low. The aim of the high is to stay

there, the middle want to get there, and the low want to survive. With a few

exceptions, a system that acknowledges and works with this social and

economic hierarchy is one that allows for very little personal growth: true

now and then. Her system and ours are clearly corrupted by this and the

novel clearly demands that we do something about it. The unwritten,

unknowable future is a powerful force here: the future is the right place to

escape to.

Another powerful and recurring issue is that of knowledge: it's power,

importance, and ultimate truths. Learning and self healing are important

factors discussed by Berengaria in her life and writings, factors that

affected people in many different ways. She understood the importance of

understanding and wisdom and shared it with others, who gained those

qualities and shared it with others.....etc. Learning is a mighty influence

that can heal wounds and spread enlightenment. In many ways it is the only

force by which to fight corruption, but seeds must be planted. The complete

amalgam of knowledge discussed in the novel is contained almost wholly in

Berengaria's book, which planted it's seeds in many ways. It shared it's

message of healing and medicinal lore with nurses and other assorted healers;

it shared it's knowledge of love and spirituality with the emotionally

recluse, encouraging growth and healing; it shared it's artistic beauty and

knowledge of the assorted wonders of our planet with the artistically

inclined, enhancing their lives and through them: ours. The concept of the

search for the self is another constant in this novel: people with no

identity grow and learn to become their own person, unique and independent:

through knowledge. It is through knowledge and understanding that peace can

be won: the hope lies not only in the unknown but in the ability to make it

the known: through knowledge.

This novel is very fast moving. The constant swapping of time frames and

scenery are affective in drawing the reader in and swiftly making the

novel's compact point. It is also a novel of ideas: the concept of recurring

history and unknown future, the rules of law and the laws of nature, and the

importance of knowledge. Even having unravelled the threads of metaphor and

elusive historical reference that the author has woven into the story, the

message remains the same at the outset. Times change but people don't --

despite the uplifting mores of this novel, the battle of good versus evil


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