This may be a strange question, so here’s some context – I have recently begun re-learning the Gaeilge language after many years, having forgotten all I learned as a youngster. Oddly, remembering the language connected me to memories of the old stories, that also went forgotten with everything Irish, of the unseelie sidhe. More oddly, the sorts of stories I remember are different to those found on internet searches now, which seem to me rather cartoonish in comparison. The sidhe of the stories I remember were often beautiful and majestic and strange – as was their otherworld – but also treacherous and often deadly. The only story I could find that came close to those I started to remember was “The Conjurer’s Game.” The armies of the Fidchell felt closer to the sidhe I remember – that strange edge between beauty and danger.
I’m curious about what these characters were based on – a facet of Welsh folklore? It’s maddening not being able to remember those stories enough to know where they came from, and that “something” about it is haunting like a half-forgotten dream. I’d be very interested to know what your inspirations were in writing this little gem – it’s still a fabulous book!
It’s interesting to hear you are learning the language- I know a few words but many of my ancestors would have been native speakers from Cork/Waterford. I am very fond of all the Irish stories, and find them very raw and somehow potent.
The Fidchell pieces were based on brief references in Welsh story- the quoted passage from Dream of Rhonabwy, plus various other references to living board game pieces or pieces that move by themselves.I think I may have used the Irish name because the corresponding term in Welsh might have been too difficult for non-speakers.
I always feel the sidhe to be beautiful and dangerous, and have revisited them often, especially in the Chronoptika Quartet. Thanks for the interesting question.