ABOUT THE FANTASY SERIES
In January 1993 a book with the title Wetemaa – The Book of the Fate of the Eleven Companions of King Gudleifer, appeared in Czech bookshops. At the time no-one guessed that the author using the pseudonym Adam Andres was the (only) twenty-two-year old Veronika Válková, or that her debut, Wetemaa would win the Golden Icarus Prize for the best fantasy of 1993, let alone that her saga would grow into long series, and would become a Czech cult fantasy. The first book became so popular that its title eventually came to be used as the name for the whole series. Most of the books in the series can be read separately, without a knowledge of the other volumes.
The main inspiration for Wetemaa came from Icelandic sagas. The author started to write at a time when the fantasy genre did not yet exist in Czechoslovakia and not even the category was known. This makes Wetemaa highly distinctive and original, uninfluenced by the traditions of fantasy books elsewhere, and retaining a raw, fresh northern atmosphere. What its readers most value about the series is that while there is no dearth of fantastic and supernatural elements, starting with simple magic and ending with dragon lords, it is nonetheless very realistic.
The author has set her stories in the fictitious land of Ellad with its own mythology, language and culture, which in its real features resembles the European Middle Ages. Like every other country, Ellad has a rich and stirring history. This is recorded with an eagle quill by Fate itself on the pages of a holy book hidden in an ancient mountain shrine. The name of the book is Wetemaa and it is only logical that this title was extended to the whole series, which is in fact the chronicle of the land of Ellad.
The first two books, Wetemaa – The Book of Fate and The Journey to South Edagwon, form an integral whole. The land of Éllad has for four centuries been wracked by a fratricidal wars between two branches of the royal family, descended from a common ancestor King Ane: the Kuns and the Miltids. Both seek to unify the country under their own rule, but the old gods favour the side of King Gudleifer of the Miltid line. When he was born they foretold that he would be the one to unify the country, and each of the eleven gods chose one exceptional man to aid him in this difficult task. Few people believe this prophecy, however, because Gudleifr has been born crippled. The first part of the book describes the fortunes of Gudleifer’s companions before they reach the royal castle, while the second recounts the heroic deeds they perform for their king – whether a quest into the heart of the mountain range Dankrad, from which they must bring the book of fate Wetemaa, which holds important information, or a voyage to South Edagwon for the remains of the founder of the line of the Miltids.
In subsequent books the author takes us further back into the past of Ellad, to a time when Ellad was still divided into many principalities which are starting to compete for hegemony. Taking shape in the background of the stories of individual heroes is the current of complex events that will lead first to the unification of the land of Ellad by King Ane and later to its division into two kingdoms.
Hrútvang, chronologically the oldest story, is at a certain tangent to the main events. It tells of the love of the Dragonlord for the young seer Arambegil, and how he paid for it with his life, of the magic sword Hrútvang, of trickery and treacherous murders in the family of the Dragonlords, motivated by lust for power, of the solidarity of the dragon siblings, and of what can happen to a young man who manages to escape from serfdom and happens to meet a sorcerer with an unfinished education. The one link between Hrútvang and the next books is the seer Arambegil.
The main protagonist of the Saga of Halldor is a young warrior chosen by fate to save the land of Ellad from the destruction that would follow if two eggs, the fruits of the passion of the daughter of the Dragonlord Valabriga and the ruler of the underworld Getenek, are not destroyed before they can hatch. The two eggs are nourished by human blood and both have managed to find someone who will take care of them until the hatch. Halldor has to find the first with the help of the Reborn, men whose souls have not gone to the Underworld after death and who have at least once served as food for the egg – since no one alive knows the way to it. The second egg is worshipped in a temple far to the north in Skaatraavid; on his way there Halldor, on the instructions of Arambegil, is accompanied by his younger brother Halldrin, a gifted mage. The problem is that only a woman can enter the temple…
The Knights of Princess Rhonwen follows on directly from the Saga of Halldor. Although with the aid of Halldrin Halldor has managed to find the second egg and destroy it in the same instant as the first, back in Ellad the tribe of the Sutriwaxes has become a rising power and is one after another the neighbouring principalities are falling under its control. Against his will Halldor is drawn into political intrigue at the court of his prince – who has one basic problem – he has not produced a son. His only daughter Rhonwen is thus the heiress to the princedom of the Aurixes, and the Prince of the Sutriwaxes Ane asks for her hand in marriage. If the marriage goes ahead, the Sutriwaxes will control the Aurixes…
Halldor once promised the seer Arambegil that if necessary he would take under his protection her grandson Wanne, and he has kept his promise. Wanne, who is the subject of the Saga of Wanne, Son of Orlyg, is the son of the most powerful Elladian god, but his father does not acknowledge him – Orlyg has fathered many children on mortals and has little interest in him. Wanne resolves to show his father that he is worthy of him, at any price.
What is so far the last book in the series, The Crown of Ellad, is both a culmination of the preceding line of events and a prequel to the very first book in the series. Here the reader learns what it was that caused Ellad, after its unification, to fall into two kingdoms, which were not to be joined again until four centuries later by Gudleifer. The book is deliberately conceived in a form similar to the first – it also first describes the stories of the knights of Ane (with the exception of Wanne, the subject of a separate book), and only then narrates the events that led to the conquest of Ottwara and so unification of the land. But the one and only mistake of Prince, in fact already King Ane provokes irreconcilable enmity between his sons, which then leads to incessant fratricidal wars.
Wetemaa – kniha osudu jedenácti družiníků krále Gudleifra [Wetemaa – The Book of the Fate of the Eleven Companions of Gudleifer], 1993
O cestě do Jižního Edagwonu [The Journey to South Edagwon], 1995
These two works came out in a new four-book edition in 2005
Hrútvang, 1996, 2008
Sága o Halldorovi z Mortaluny [The Saga of Halldor of Mortaluna], 2004
Rytíři kněžny Rhonwen [The Knights of Princess Rhonwen], 2004
Sága o Wannovi, synu Orlygově [The Saga of Wanne, Son of Orlyg], 2006
Wetemaa – koruna Élladu [Wetemaa – The Crown of Ellad] 2013