Lelia and André joke (well out of ear-shot) that Arthur’s family tree is more like a thorn-bush. He’d probably give Lelia A Look over his reading glasses, and then chuckle once she’d left for the day. He wouldn’t argue too much, though, because there’s some truth to it. It’s a very good thing that adoptions and out-marriages are permitted in the Hunter clans. And probably good that succession as clan leader is not automatic father to son, or brother to brother.
Arthur is the third-from-youngest sibling, and his older sister is the oldest. She’s the only living child by their father’s first marriage, and is at least sixty years older than Skender. At least. There was a baby boy who died, and his mother died of complications of the delivery. The siblings’ father re-married, and had a boy, a girl, another boy, a girl, Skender, a girl who died as an infant, Arthur, Dumitra’s mother, and then another girl. The oldest sister was already married and living in North America by the time Arthur was born. The rest of the family moved to Argentina when Skender was a child, and Arthur and the others arrived in South America. It was that older sister’s presence, a blood-link, that made the escape from disaster possible when everything went to H-ll. In Arthur’s case, near literal H-ll.
Of the ten children, six lived to adulthood. The brother closest in age to Skender died as a young man when he got kicked in the head by a horse and never regained consciousness. Skender and Boianti (later Arthur) was as close a brothers in the clans ever get, gave each other grief as brothers do, and took care of their siblings. Arthur was fourteen or so when the youngest girl was born. She latched onto him as a toddler, and he came to love her dearly. She didn’t mind his introspection and need for occasional near-solitude.
A decade or so later, when everything fell apart for the southerners, Skender, Arthur, and their two younger sisters managed to get away using two gates. The youngest sister died from the backlash when the second gate collapsed just as they reached North America. She’d been a strong sorceress, and was controlling the spell. The magic workers in Pennsylvania couldn’t grab the surge of wild magic in time, and she died in Arthur’s arms. What little sanity and capacity for love he had left almost died then, too. Almost. The clan had a very good mind-Healer who was able to help him and the others recover from what they’d seen and endured. A handful of other survivors from the Southern branch of the clan also eventually found their way to safer places, but chose not to join the Pennsylvania group.
Given all that had happened, Arthur should be the paranoid one. He is, just not as overtly as Skender. Dumitra’s mother quickly married into the clan and had Dumitra and a few other children before her husband died in a farm accident. She has not remarried. Skender didn’t find anyone who suited, or who was not related too closely through his older sister, until Corava arrived. Arthur . . . He did his duty to the family in ways other than marriage, and such isn’t unheard of in the clans. Then his relationship with Lelia and her son was confirmed. He now had descendants so the point became moot.
So, in time, Skender became the leader of the clan in River County. By the start of Preternaturally Familiar, he and Corava have four children. They are fostered among other families in the clan, as is traditional. It helps build alliances, and reduces favoritism. Also, since leadership is by a combination of proven skill, experience, and general agreement among the clan members as a whole, it lets everyone get a sense of how young people might fit in. Skender knows that one of his sons might not follow in his footsteps. He also knows, intellectually, that Arthur does not want to be clan head. Arthur has said that on multiple occasions. Even so, Skender doesn’t exactly trust his brother’s words. After all, things change, and his younger brother did a very good job guiding the clan while Skender partially withdrew for reasons Not Discussed. And Arthur has grandchildren, had them before Skender even married. That also chafes. It shouldn’t, but Skender’s Skender.
His younger brother? Well, as Lelia has observed, “Arthur’s Arthur. And strange.”
Arthur must have been really freaked by the gates in M-Familiar. Even more than he showed that last time–though that journey had enough to freak anyone out.
He was. That’s why he was adamant that he was NOT going through the “home” gate first. The thought of watching Lelia die if the gate collapsed and backlashed, while he was safe . . .
It also goes a long way toward explaining his confusion when Lelia’s first gate went to the Garden. His only prior experience with point-to-point gate-travel probably used an ‘in-between’ plane that wasn’t nearly as nice.
Re: “Even so, Skender doesn’t exactly trust his brother’s words.”
Not really surprising. Skender doesn’t trust anyone about anything.
“It helps build alliances, and reduces favoritism.”
And scatters the potential targets.
Not enough coffee yet. 😉
Like Celtic clans who selected leaders by tanistry, not plain inheritance. Fostering also makes it harder to eliminate competent competition within the immediate family.
I had an idea that Arthur’s reactions were driven by something like that, but not that personally traumatic. Now that family is accepted, it also explains his slow and then deep afgextions for his sufiit fica and nepatisha. Threaten either, and he’ll kill you; harm either, and you’ll thank him for a quick death … finally.
These short descriptions add a huge amount of depth to the series.
Yes. It goes back a long ways, to the days when succession tended to be more frequent. It encouraged the competent to become more so, since they might have a chance to become the clan leader. Or might have to be come the clan leader, if things got that bad.
Just think about “Arthur having to become Clan Leader” and thought he’d likely do it but would be looking for somebody to give the job to. 😉
Interesting and complex backstory. It adds a lot of depth to some of the scenes that went on in the earlier books. Now, with all that new information, I may have to go back and re-read certain sections of the series. Happy sigh.
I’ll second Ed’s comment!
As someone who has a family tree that would shame a mangrove, I get this! It does explain some of Arthur’s behavior.
Aahhhh. I had wondered whether Arthur had lost a wife and children. Now, clearly not, but I’m sure the trauma runs as deep. (Insofar as trauma can be measured, which I would never attempt.)
It does. He lost all of his family and friends except Skender and his two sisters, and before that, well, I’ll just say horrible things happened that began with a young woman’s obsession with him, thread-spells, forcible seduction, and then went down-hill for him. Then his family got dragged in . . .
If the oldest sister is at least 60 years older than Skender, who is of mature years, that’s quite a lifespan, and there have been hints that others in the clan are even older. Will we learn more about this?
You will, eventually. Art, Hiram, and Deborah will have to make a decision at some point about joining the clan in full, and what the price of longevity might be.