The chronology of the Zimiamvia Trilogy
In a letter of introduction for The Mezentian Gate, written to his brother Colin, Eddison explained the chronology of the Zimiamvia books, ‘Not by design, but because it so developed, my Zimiamvian trilogy has been written backwards’.
The first book, Mistress of Mistresses, covers the two year period following the death of King Mezentius, ‘tyrant of Fingiswold, Meszria, and Rerek’. The second book, A Fish Dinner in Memison, tells of a brief period in midsummer, a year before the king’s death. The third volume, The Mezentian Gate, covers several generations, starting 20 years before the birth of Mezentius and ending with his death. Eddison’s letter continues, ‘Each of the three is a drama complete in itself; but, read together (beginning with The Mezentian Gate, and ending with Mistress of Mistresses), they give a consecutive history, covering more than seventy years in a special world devised for Her Lover by Aphrodite, for whom (as the reader must suspend unbelief and suppose) all worlds are made’.
The books may be read in the order in which they were written, so that the reader’s understanding develops gradually alongside the author’s exposition, or in reverse, following the internal chronology of events in Zimiamvia. In a letter of introduction to A Fish Dinner in Memison, Eddison described each book in the trilogy as ‘a self-contained work complete in itself’ and felt that they could be read in any order. However it is certainly true that each novel adds more depth and richness to the whole and provides a more complete picture of the world of Zimiamvia, the characters who inhabit it, and their relationship to our world.