The Yellow Tree is a novel for adolescents, with a matriarchal slant. The story involves two races of people: the Lupaka tribe, who are descended from wolves, and the humans of the city of Kynopolis. The city’s royal clan are hybrids, partly Lupaka and partly human.
Kynopolis is an imaginary place, not far from the southern shore of the Mediterranean, in an unspecified but extremely ancient time. A priestess of the Goddess predicts a special destiny for the girl Vio, but she is lively and rebellious and has a privileged life as a member of the royal clan, and she refuses to believe her world will change. Continue reading
1. THE PREDICTION
Vio first heard of her unusual fate when she was still a little girl. She was making mud houses in the garden, on a hot, lazy afternoon, when her nurse, Gora, called her inside.
“What do you want?” shouted Vio. “I’m busy.”
“You’re going to the Temple with your mother. Come and change your dress.”
“I don’t want to,” shouted Vio.
6. A DECLARATION
Vio wondered, as she and Samal walked home from the port where they left the old boat, what kind of welcome she would get from their parents. There was no one around when they reached the house, except Gora, who hugged them and told them to hurry and have a bath before supper.
Vio ran downstairs just as her parents were entering the dining-room, and they sat down at their places as if nothing unusual had happened at all.
There were no immediate repercussions. Vio knew neither Jinis nor Jalkan would forget the insult to their family pride, but for the moment they did nothing to avenge it. Perhaps because the merchant class was not as strong and threatening as it had recently appeared to be. Most people, especially at the port, were still loyal to the Queen. The merchants were not ready for violence. They couldn’t even agree among themselves on what they wanted, Pepi said. Some wanted a share of power, while others, including Jinis, wanted to get rid of the Queen and the royal clan.
17. THE MALE IS GREATER
For a few more moons the changes at Kynopolis appeared to go no deeper. In spite of all she had learnt about it, Vio felt the town was still itself, the home she recognised. She was constantly aware of tension, however, in herself and in the air.
The group of friends, the old boat crew, had taken to meeting in the evenings at Samal and Vio’s home. It had always been their natural meeting place, and now it was a haven. They played games and told stories to distract themselves from worry, but they often discussed what was happening in Kynopolis as well. It was impossible not to; no plans could be made without wondering whether the royal family would be overthrown and what that would mean in their lives.
22. THE JOURNEY
They set out before dawn, Vio, Gora, their hosts’ son, Isak, who knew the route they had to take, and Anil, who wanted to see them on their way. The old couple, who had watched over them without sleeping, wept as they walked quickly away. The fastest way to escape from the city was by boat, but it was too dangerous with the army watching for royal survivors, so they walked out into the countryside. By the time the day grew light, they were already leaving the farmers’ fields behind, and the terrain was becoming harsh and lonely.
Vio and Sirion were married a few days later, at the main altar in the Temple. Mamia said the marriage rite. Vio wore a simple dark blue robe Aunt Bibis had been making for her as a surprise, with a paler blue veil and chains of forest flowers round her neck, and Sirion looked magnificent in a long white tunic. Vio could hardly keep her eyes off him long enough to concentrate on the prayers.