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Authors: E R Eddison

Tags: #Fantasy

Mistress of mistresses

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Mistress of mistresses
Series:
Zimiamvian Trilogy [3]
Published:
2010
Tags:
Fantasy
Fantasyttt

MISTRESS OF MISTRESSES was the first published novel in E.R. Eddison's celebrated Zimiamvian trilogy. Like Tolkien's Middle-Earth, Zimiamvia is a world which mirrors our own - but passions run stronger there, and life, love and treachery are epic in their intensity. And magic, of course, is a reality. Mezentius had ruled the Three Kingdoms with a firm hand, but his legitimate heir is a weakling, frightened of the power of his half-brother, Duke Barganax, and of that of the terrifying Horius Parry, Vicar of Rerek. As Parry and Barganax manoeuvre, intrigue and plot, it is clear that the new king isn't long for the world. The key to the control of the Three Kingdoms lies with Lessingham, Parry's cousin, the only man both sides can trust. But then Parry decides that Lessingham must die. As heroes and villains clash, an even darker game is being played - for the Lady Fiorinda is testing her own powers to decide the fates of men...

MISTRESS OF MISTRESSES is as powerful, exciting and intriguing today as when it was first published.

"From whatever heaven Mr.
Eddison comes, he has added a masterpiece to English literature.'

James Stephens

The author of this extraordinary and reverberating book has
dared to be completely imaginative, to brush aside the world, create and order his
own cosmqs, and with this background give us the death and transfiguration of a
hero.

The scene is that fabled land of Zimiamvia (already
mentioned in the previous volume,
The Worm Ouroboros)
of which philosophers tell us that no mortal foot may tread
it, but that souls do inhabit it of the dead that were great upon earth...Here
they forever live, love, do battle, and even for a space die again.

Lessingham—artist, poet, king of men, and lover of women—is
dead. But from Aphrodite herself, Mistress of Mistresses, he has earned the
promise both to live again in Zimiamvia and of her own perilous future favors.

This volume recounts the story of his first day in that
strange Valhalla, where a lifetime is a day and where— among enemies,
enchantments, guile, and triumph—that promise is fulfilled.

 

 

BY E. R. EDDISON

THE WORM OUROBOROS

A FISH DINNER IN MEMISON

 

 

MISTRESS OF MISTRESSES

 

A VISION OF ZIMIAMVIA BY

 

E.
R.
EDDISON

 

 

BALLANTINE BOOKS   •   NEW YORK

Copyright 1935 by E. P. Dutton Co., Inc. All rights
reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without
permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to
quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in
magazine or newspaper or radio broadcast.

This edition published by arrangement with E. P. Dutton
Sc.
Co., Inc.

First Printing: August, 1967 Second Printing: September,
1967 Third Printing: May, 1968

First Canadian Printing: November, 1967

Printed
in Canada

BALLANTINE BOOKS, INC.

101 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10003

W.G.E

TO YOU, MADONNA MIA

AND TO MY FRIEND

EDWARD ABBE NILES

I DEDICATE THIS

VISION OF ZIMIAMVIA

CONTENTS

 

the overture

 

ZIMIAMVIA

 

I a spring night in mornagay

II the duke of zayana

iii. the tables set in meszria

iv.  zimiamvian dawn
v. the vicar of rerek

vi. lord lessingham's embassage

vii. a night-piece on ambremerine

viii. sperra cavallo

ix. the ings of lorkan

x. the concordat of ilkis

xi. gabriel flores

xii. noble kinsmen in laimak

xiii. queen antiope

xIv. dorian mode: full close

xv. rialmar vindemiatrix

xvI the vicar and barganax

xvii. the ride to kutarmish

xviii. rialmar in starlight

xix. lightning out of fingiswold

xx. thunder over rerek

xxi. enn freki renna

xxii. zimiamvian night

 

note

 

maps of the three kingdoms

 

 

Mere
des souvenirs, maitresse des mattresses,

O
toi, tous mes plaisrs! o toi,        tous
mes devoirs!

Tu
te rappelleras la beaute des caresses,

La
douceur du foyer et le charme des soirs,

Mere
des souvenirs, maitresse des maitresses!

 

Les
soirs illumines par l’ardeur du charbon,

Et
les soirs au balcon, voiles de vapeurs roses.

Que
ton sein m'etait doux! que ton cceur m'etait bon!

Nous
avons dit souvent d'imperissables choses

Les
soirs illumines par l'ardeur du charbon.

 

Que
les soleils sont beaux dans les chaudes soirees!

Que
l'espace est profond! que le cceur est puissant!

En
me penchant vers toi, reine des adorees,

Je
croyais respirer le parfum de ton sang.

Que
les soleils sont beaux dans les chaudes soiries!

 

La
nuit s'epaississait ainsi qu'une cloison,

Et
mes yeux dans le noir devinaient tes prunelles,

Et
je buvais ton souffle, O douceur, O poison!

Et
tes pieds s'endormaient dans mes mains fraternelles.

La
nuit s'epaississait ainsi qu'une cloison.

 

Je
sais l’art d'evoquer les minutes heureuses,

Et
revis mon passe blotti dans tes genoux.

Car
a quoi bon chercher tes beautes langoureuses

Ailleurs
qu'en ton cher corps et qu'en ton cceur si doux?

Je
sais I'art d'evoquer les minutes heureuses!

 

Ces
serments, ces parjums, ces baisers infinis,

Renaitront-ils
d'un gouffre interdit a nos sondes,

 Comme
montent au del les soleils rajeunis

Apres
s'etre laves au fond des mers profondes? —

O
serments! O parfums! O baisers infinis!

Baudelaire

 

 

 

The Overture

 

THE
UNSETTING SUNSET   AN UNKNOWN LADY BESIDE THE BIER   EASTER
AT MARDALE GREEN   LESSINGHAM   LADY MARY
LESSINGHAM   MEDITATION OF MORTALITY   APHRODITE
OURANIA   A VISION OF ZIMIAMVIA   A PROMISE.

 

Let
me
gather my thoughts a little, sitting here alone with you for the last time, in
this high western window of your castle that you built so many years ago, to
overhang like a sea eagle's eyrie the grey-walled waters of your Raftsund. We
are fortunate, that this should have come about in the season of high summer,
rather than on some troll-ridden night in the Arctic winter. At least,
I
am fortunate. For there is peace in these Arctic
July nights, where the long sunset scarcely stoops beneath the horizon to kiss
awake the long dawn. And on me, sitting in the deep embrasure upon your
cushions of cloth of gold and your rugs of Samarkand that break the chill of
the granite, something sheds peace, as those great sulphur-coloured lilies in
your Ming vase shed their scent on the air. Peace; and power; indoors and out:
the peace of the glassy surface of the sound with its strange midnight glory as
of pale molten latoun or orichalc; and the peace of the waning moon unnaturally
risen, large and pink-coloured, in the midst of the confused region betwixt sunset
and sunrise, above the low slate-hued cloud-bank that fills the narrows far up
the sound a little east of north, where the Trangstrommen runs deep and still
between mountain and shadowing mountain. That for power: and the Troldtinder,
rearing their bare cliffs sheer from the further brink; and, away to the left
of them, like pictures I have seen of your Ushba in the Caucasus, the
tremendous two-eared Rulten, lifted up against the afterglow above a score of
lesser spires and bastions: Rulten,
that
kept you and me hard at work for nineteen hours, climbing his paltry three
thousand feet. Lord! and that was twenty-five years ago, when you were about
the age I am to-day, an old man, by common reckoning; yet it taxed not me only
in my prime but your own Swiss guides, to keep pace with you. The mountains;
the un-plumbed deeps of the Raftsund and its swinging tideways; the unearthly
darkless Arctic summer night; and indoors, under the mingling of natural and
artificial lights, of sunset and the windy candlelight of your seven-branched
candlesticks of gold, the peace and the power of your face.

Your
great Italian clock measures the silence with its ticking: 'Another, gone!
another, gone! another, gone!
1
Commonly, I have grown to hate such
tickings, hideous to an old man as the grinning
memento mori
at the feast. But now, (perhaps the shock has
deadened my feelings), I could almost cheat reason to believe there was in
very truth eternity in these things: substance and everlasting life in what is
more transient and unsubstantial than a mayfly, empirical, vainer than air,
weak bubbles on the flux. You and your lordship here, I mean, and this castle
of yours, more fantastic than Beckford's Fonthill, and all your life that has
vanished into the irrevocable past: a kind of nothingness. 'Another, gone!
another, gone!' Seconds, or years, or sons of unnumbered time, what does it
matter? I can well think that this hour just past of my sitting here in this
silent room is as long a time, or as short, as those twenty-five years that
have gone by since you and I first, on a night like this, stared at Lofotveggen
across thirty miles of sea, as we rounded the Landegode and steered north into
the open Westfirth.

I
can see you now, if I shut my eyes; in memory I see you, staring at the
Lynxfoot Wall: your kingdom to be, as I very well know you then resolved (and
soon performed your resolve): that hundred miles of ridge and peak and
precipice, of mountains of Alpine stature and seeming, but sunk to the neck in
the Atlantic stream and so turned to islands of an unwonted fierceness, close
set, so that seen from afar no breach appears nor sea-way betwixt them. So
sharp cut was their outline that night, and so unimaginably nicked and jagged,
against the rosy radiance to the north which was sunset and sunrise in one,
that for the moment they seemed feigned mountains cut out of smoky crystal and
set up against a painted sky. For a moment only; for there was the talking of
the waves under our bows, and the wind in our faces, and, as time went by with
still that unaltering scene before us, every now and again the flight and wild
cry of a black-backed gull, to remind us that this was salt sea and open air
and land ahead. And yet it was hard then to conceive that here was real land,
with the common things of life and houses of men, under that bower of light
where the mutations of night and day seemed to have been miraculously slowed
down; as if nature had fallen entranced with her own beauty mirrored in that
sheen of primrose light. Vividly, as it had been but a minute since instead of
a quarter of a century, I see you standing beside me at the taffrail, with that
light upon your lean and weather-beaten face, staring north with a proud,
alert, and piercing look, the whole frame and posture of you alive with action
and resolution and command. And I can hear the very accent of your voice in the
only two things you said in all that four hours' crossing: first, The sea-board
of Demonland.' Then, an hour later, I should think, very low and dream-like,
This is the first sip of Eternity.'

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