Who is the King of the Faeries?
Updated: May 14, 2020
In The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries, it was difficult to choose a king of elves, sidhe and other fae folk. There are plenty to choose from in mythology. Which faerie inspired the character of the King of Sidhe and Elves in the book Elixirs and Elves?
In Book 3 of The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries, Elixirs and Elves, Moss Hill is visited by the King and Queen of the Sidhe and Elves. I wanted to link the elves and sidhe together under one rulership to create a sort of balance of power between elves and sidhe on the island of Moss Hill. But which mythological figure could best fit into that role?
The first historical/mythological figure I considered was Nuada. He was the leader of the Tuatha de Danann when they first settled in Ireland (Gregory,& Yeats, 2014) . However, he was shortly replaced because he had lost an arm in battle and the Tuatha de Danann have a rule about their leaders being physically perfect. A physician later gave him an artificial limb, changing his title to Nuada of the Silver Hand, and he reclaimed leadership. That, however, didn't last long.
Another Tuatha de Dannann, Dagda, took over after Nuada. His reign was interrupted by others including Nuada himself, and Lugh, the adoptive son of Manann MacLir. Dagda's sons, Bodb Dearg and Midhair, were also Kings of the Tuatha de Danann. In Irish myth, there's often smaller kingships and a high king.
Bodb Dearg, being the elder, was supposed to be the successor to Dagda. He is King of the Sidhe in Munster, making him a good candidate for King of Sidhe in the books(Rose, 2006). However, he's not mentioned as king of other fae kinds.
Myths say all fae originated from the Tuatha de Danann, but in my series the elves and sidhe have evolved so far from their origin that they are now two distinct races. I did want them under one rulership, making the Tuatha de Danann good candidates. After a lot of thought, I realized that the Tuatha de Danann are too far removed from all fae kinds in the series for this role and should be their own separate powerful beings. So, I decided not to use any of the Tuatha de Danann.
With the Tuatha de Danann off the table, the best choice was Finvarra and his wife, Onagh, who are considered to be the supreme King and Queen of the Sidhe (Rose, 2004). Finvarra is also referred to as King of the Faeries of Connaught, meaning he could be interpreted as king of elves and other fae as well. Though, interestingly, there are other kings and queens for specific fae races, such as Iubdan, King of the Leprechauns (Rose, 2006).
In Irish folklore, other royal members of faerie legends owe their allegiance to Finvarra (Rose, 2006). He is known to be benevolent in many ways such as ensuring good harvests and providing riches to allies. Unfortunately, he is also known for kidnapping human women, though he generally returns them without harm. In faerie folklore, men and women are often kidnapped to dance or dine with the fae, so this is not uncommon. Despite this fault, he is generally thought of positively in mythology.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Finvarra is that he is a gatekeeper of the dead as well. This would essentially link him to Manann MacLir, who is a central character in The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries. While I haven't explained this part of his character yet, it will be explained in later books. So, my final choice for the role of King of the Sidhe and Elves ended up being Finvarra.
On a side note, I did briefly consider fae from regions outside the UK, but ultimately decided to stick with Irish mythology for this figure. I did not consider fae from literature, such as Shakespeare's Oberon. However, I did use some literary interpretations of different fae as inspiration for personalities of certain characters such as Maeve, who is mentioned in Elixirs and Elves. I will discuss Maeve more in a future post.
Gregory, A., & Yeats, W. B. (2014). Lady Gregory's Complete Irish mythology. London: Chancellor Press.
Rose, C. (2006). Spirits, fairies, leprechauns and goblins: An encyclopedia. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.