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Susan: Who is Brother Theo?

Started by Evie, January 20, 2017, 11:21:08 AM

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Unicorn636 (RIP)

Susan: Who is Brother Theo?

From the time Codex Derynianus reached Deryni fans, readers have asked "Who is Brother Theo?" Since both Katherine and Rob remain relatively silent regarding the author's identity, we can only speculate by piecing together the clues hidden in the Codex.

The "Introductio" to the Codex provides a copy of the inscription found on the last page of the Codex volume discovered in the R'Kassi Desert by archaeologists. The inscription can be translated as "Codex Derynianus made by Theophilus Brother of the Order of the Penitents of Saint Willibrord of Valoret at the Royal Library of Rhemuth in the fifth year of the reign of King Kelson." The entry for St. Willibrord reveals that St. Willibrord founded a monastery named the Abbey of Christ of King in Andelon, where his followers set up the mother house for the Order of the Penitents of St. Willibrord after his death. In 1126 the Grand Master of that Order is one Theophile de Chardin.

But are Theophile de Chardin and the Brother Theo who wrote Codex the same person? For that matter, is Brother Theo just one person or a pseudonym for a group of authors or a series of authors? Andelon is located near the R'Kassi Desert which might partially explain how the Codex became lost and buried there, although why Brother Theo would have taken it across the R'Kassi Desert to reach King Kelson remains a mystery, since Gwynedd is in the opposite direction. Perhaps Brother Theo attempted to deliver the text to Kelson while the king was spending time in an Eastern realm. Whatever, we can assume the Codex never reached Kelson since we have no evidence that he learned the truth about the Camber/Alister situation, despite his quest for knowledge about the Deryni saint.

Then again, Brother Theo may have provided Kelson an edited version of Codex. He seems to have carefully edited many entries, since he reveals explicit details about certain events and individuals, yet keeps the details surrounding other events and individuals vague. While he may lack knowledge in some areas, his revelations in others and the pattern surrounding the vague entries suggests selective editing. Brother Theo tells all about the Camber/Alister shape change, yet gives only the bare details about the Coram/Rhydon shape change. He tells much about the real Rhydon of Eastmarch, but very little about Coram or any other member of the Camberian Council, beyond revealing their status as Council members and, often, the dates they joined that group. Since he correctly identifies present and past members, Brother Theo must be a member of the Camberian Council. Perhaps his Council oaths forbid revealing details about his colleagues.

Obviously, Brother Theo is Deryni. His writing definitely contains a pro-Deryni slant. But how does he know so much about so many individuals and so much about events in Torenth and Gwynedd which transpired at roughly the same time or over several centuries? In fact, Brother Theo possesses far too much information for any one scholar in an era of limited communications and travel, regardless of his arduous research. Admittedly, he may have used Transfer Portals to visit both the Gwyneddan and the Torenthi courts, but he must then have been or impersonated (via the shape change spell) a noble high in both courts. And even then, time would limit the amount of knowledge he could have amassed.

Logic suggests that Brother Theo is a pseudonym used by a group of authors, most likely high-ranking Deryni nobles. Obviously these authors are educated men and women (although a woman likely couldn't publish a text under her real name in medieval Gwynedd), probably members of the Camberian Council or some Secret Circle within the Camberian Council. Council members obviously kept secrets: Arilan did not know about Coram/Rhydon in High Deryni and Coram and Laran appear to share a special working relationship in "The Priesting of Arilan." Indeed, Coram's knowledge and skill at shape-changing suggest he must have belonged to the Secret Circle, both because he and others in that group may have used that spell in their pursuit of knowledge and because he seems to possess so much secret knowledge. One could surmise that Laran might also belong to the Secret Circle. (Katherine has admitted that a Secret Circle may exist and that the de Courcy family probably was involved in it, although she has neither confirmed nor denied this group's connection to Brother Theo).

While a team of authors explains Brother Theo's knowledge of events in the Kelsonian era, this does not explain the author's detailed knowledge of historical events, particularly those surrounding St. Camber of Culdi. Thus the Secret Circle must have existed for centuries, probably passing the quill pen down to new members through an elaborate arcane ritual. Its origins may date back to the post-Restoration era, specifically the reign of Rhys Michael Haldane. We know that Camlin MacLean was writing a history in 928 (in The Bastard Prince) at the Michaeline Sanctuary and that Queron and Joram had been working on a special project related to Saint Camber. Could that project have been the creation of Camber's Secret Circle (within the Camberian Council) and the beginning of a Deryni history?
Since Camlin resided at Sanctuary and was close with many of the Camberian Council members it seems likely that he eventually joined the group, But perhaps the Secret Circle dates back even further, to that Secret Circle within Gabrillite Order to which Queron alluded in The Harrowing of Gwynedd when he, Joram, and Evaine explored the ruins beneath Grecotha. Perhaps the Secret Circle even has Airsid origins; Brother Theo keeps his is comments about that group sparse also.

The Nyford entry tells us that the Forcinn Michaelines ran a sea service there, which suggests that some Michaelines were in close proximity to St. Willibrords and may have had connections within that abbey. Perhaps the Secret Circle met at St. Willibrords and hid their manuscripts there. By 1128 the Camberian Council had access to the Rhemuth Library, although given Charissa's knowledge of the Portal there and the fact that Joram and other Council members helped build that Portal, it seems safe to assume they used references there and hence indicated that Codex was written there. The Royal Library notation also lends credence to the facts in the volume by suggesting that the author or authors had access to the court.

The name "Theophilus" (which means "lover of God") appears in the New Testament. Interestingly enough, Luke addresses the Book of Acts to Theophilus, the book which contains the story of Saul's conversion on the Road to Damascus, the very reading profoundly effects Jehana (in The King's Justice) when the Lord's "Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?" becomes Camber saying "Jehana, Jehana, why dost thou persecute me?" (Perhaps Azim, who arranged this event, thus belongs to the Secret Circle, too).

The choice of the pseudonym Theophilus then reflects the Secret Circle authors' desire to free the Deryni from persecution, to remind all of Camber's sanctity, and to hint at their origins without revealing their identities. Perhaps the authors also wished to present readers with a mystery to solve. If so, they have succeeded.

Susan Werner,

Mistress of Complications