Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Cluviel Dor

Instead of studying up for a Latin exam, I have been reading the entire series of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, aka Southern Vampire Series. It is a bit trashy but I like it anyway. Dead Reckoning ended in a bit of a cliffhanger, part of which was questions about the nature of the 'cluviel dor' that Sookie's fairy grandfather gave to her grandmother Adele.
It would be nice to have an idea what a 'cluviel dor' is but it has no precedent. In an interview, Charlaine Harris said she made up what she hoped would be a mysterious-sounding name for the gift. She has a BA in English and does not appear to have an fluency in other languages. I would bet some exposure to Creole but not to any Celtic languages( some online speculation is that it is something Gaelic. Sounds very French to me.) I also get the sense she is more influenced by popular culture than by ancient civilizations. There is another interview where she said she did little research:

Crescent Blues: What kind of research did you do for Dead Until Dark?

Charlaine Harris: Surprisingly little.

This is what we know about the 'cluviel dor' from the novel:

  1. It is a fairy love gift.
  2. Fintan wanted it given to Adele if he was dead
  3. It can only be used once by the beloved.
  4. It makes Sookie feel happy to touch it, like when she is with her grandfather but more intense.
  5. You don't have to be a fairy to use it.
  6. It was given to Adele before Sookie's aunt Linda had died of cancer.
  7. It could have cured Linda's cancer.
  8. It can change the world.
  9. She can alter events in history by using it.
  10. It takes a year to make one, so they are very difficult to prepare.
  11. The wish has to be personal.
  12. Sookie can't use it to take away the telepathy.
  13. She can kill someone with it if they are directly threatening someone she loves.
  14. Other fae would kill Sookie for the cluviel dor.
So, on with the speculation. 'Dor' could be either French for 'of gold' as in d'or or it could be 'door' but I doubt that. It is contains something of gold since it is a box of green that appears to open. The theories are that 'cluviel' is derived from Latin, clavis, that is 'a key' which is a good choice. I have also read 'viel' could be French for 'old' but it is really spelled wrong. 'Vie' is French for 'life' which has a possibility. 'Clue' does not just mean evidence in a mystery but it is a ball of thread, especially one that can lead one out of a labyrinth. 'Golden thread of life'? The Oxford English Dictionary states for one of many definitions that a 'clue' can be 'the thread of life which the Fates are fabled to spin and determine'. I think I will go with that.

Charlaine Harris has also said in her faqs that Sookie will never be a vampire, cannot be impregnated by a vampire.There is another quote on the forums on her site that 'once a vampire always a vampire'. It is not clear if it is Harris saying this or if someone is repeating something they heard her say.
Now for my thoughts on what it might be used for. My first thought was that it might be used to make Eric human. If the comment was correct, then that is not possible. Maybe it is in the phrasing. Perhaps she could use it to bring Eric back to life. There is a passage in Dead and Gone, chapter 15, where Sookie had a dream, "that night I dreamed of Eric. In my dream, he was human and we walked together under the sun. Oddly enough, he sold real estate." Would Eric give up being a vampire to be human with Sookie? He said, while he was under Hallow's spell that he would give up everything for her.
What else could it be used for? If Eric is not forced to marry a vampire queen and he and Sookie stay together, Sookie wants a child. The cluviel dor appears in the story just before Tara's baby shower. Everyone in Bon Temps is getting pregnant at this point. It is even mentioned to Sookie by Andy Bellefleur that it is time for Sookie but that she would not be having any babies if she keeps dating dead men and what would her grandmother think about that?
I wonder if the fairy gift, since it was given to Adele so late, may have been really intended for Sookie, who at the time was the only other one to have the 'essential spark'. Perhaps Sookie will use it to relieve her childlessness since Fintan had already helped Adele in that way. Maybe it will make Eric able, just once, to give her a child and, in true fairy fashion, she'll have twins.
It depends on who Sookie will end up with. Humans are too challenging because of her telepathy. I can't see her marrying a human. Alcide and Quinn have burned their bridges. In spite of everything Bill has done for Sookie, she won't forgive him for how they met. That leaves Sam, who has never been more than Sookie's friend and who is dating someone else, or Eric. Or someone new. There are only two books left so it might be late to introduce a new character. We shall see. Book 12 is written and due to be out in May, 2012.
Add: at the beginning of chapt. 7 Sookie had just received an email from Tara showing her baby bump.
"I took out the cluviel dor and held it to my chest. touching it seemed important, seemed to make it more vital. My skin warmed it quickly. Whatever lay at the heart of that smooth pale greenness seemed to quicken. I felt more alive too." Sounds like a baby.


Tracy said...

I still think I'll give this series a miss :)
Good luck with your latin exam.

Anachronist said...

Tracy you prove you have more sense than both of us! I know the series is quite cheesy but still I like it!

Cluviel d'or sounds French to me too and I loved your explanations about possible origins of this term, The Red Witch.

I can't see Eric being turned into a human again. I bet he will be killed (I would HATE it but it is my closest guess after reading the eleventh book anyway). Eric is being more and more entangled in vampire politics - it doesn't bode well, not to mention the fact that he was promised to a vampire queen as a consort and he has to either kill that queen or "divorce" Sookie.

My bet is still on Sam but introducing a new character is also a possibility.

Kristin said...

I haven't read the series but it reminds me of a Horcrux or the One Ring or something along those lines of an external soul that's so common in fantasy literature.

The Red Witch said...

Ah Tracy, you don't know what you are missing. I swear it is nothing like Twilight. Thanks, the exams were last week, results should be out soon.
I can't see Eric being killed. Harris is not like George Martin. Not everyone is fair game for dying. I am more inclined to think something might happen with Sam. They have so much history together, there would be no need for explanations.
Kristin, it is funny you mention the Ring. At one point when Sookie is holding the cluviel dor, she says she felt like Gollum and even said 'precious' because she didn't want to put the thing away.

Tracy said...

I just cannot see the appeal of vampires! I'm probably the only female in the western world who doesn't go weak at the knees at the thought of those zombiefied bloodsuckers - I seem to be immune to their dubious charms.

The Red Witch said...

LOL I am not into vampires either. The Southern Vampire Series has fairies, demons, weres, shapeshifters, maenaeds, elves and goblins. It seems the bayou is the gateway to the Otherworld. Harris has made it clear that her vampires are animated by magic; that they are dead people. It is a different approach than other 'vampire' writers; it has a light hearted touch in spite of the darkness of some of the material. I think you would like it.

Tracy said...

OK, I'll try and keep an open mind :)

Amy_Fries said...

I found your post in a google search to see if anyone was having similar thoughts to mine about upcoming Sookie events. I am a late coming to the series but am not ashamed to say i just finished the 11th book after starting them all 2 weeks ago. I decided to give them a try since books are always better than movies/shows. Boy was I NOT disappointed!!!!!! I find myself increasing getting the ominous feeling that Eric is going to break Sookie open with heartache. This poor woman went from having no experience to 4 boyfriends who have never been able to put her first. I think she may use the Cluviel to wish she's never met BIll Compton. There has been text talking about how it would change everything so you have to be careful about what you wish...anyway i enjoyed your post!

The Red Witch said...

Thank you. I find that I am no longer able to enjoy the tv series after reading the books. I can't see Sookie going back. She has enjoyed the company of vampires too much plus once you know about all this other stuff going on, who would want to be ignorant? After a closer look at Dead in the Family, I am not sure a baby would be possible. Think how vulnerable living family will make Eric. 'golden thread of life' seems the best guess for what cluviel dor means but what Sookie will do with it is challenging to predict.