The World of Éclatan
How the heck is that word pronounced?
One of the first questions I am generally asked when a new reader picks up The Talent Sinistral (THE first, if the inquiring reader is new to the fantasy genre) is "How do you say that word? It has no vowels!" They are referring, of course, to the name Nwtyrra, which appears on the back cover summary. Well, technically they're right, except in Welsh, where "w" and "y" have vowel sounds. But since Nwtyrra is NOT Welsh, that distinction remains somewhat irrelevant. So, if it's not Welsh, what is it? For those who haven't yet figured it out, the name is pronounced: Noo-tir-ra – as in "New Terra": new land. Nwtyrra is (was) an island continent colonized some thousand years before the book starts, by fugitives from another planet.
But the question got me thinking about other names/places/objects in this world: how are they pronounced, and where did they come from? The name of the planet itself, for instance: Éclatan. We are told in Chapter 1 that the soil/rocks of this world are infused with luminous Magien (ma -gee- in) crystals that make everything glow (and since there are two moons, the glow can be anywhere from subtle to pronounced, depending on the phases.) So the newcomers named the planet Éclatan (Eck - la -tan), from the French "éclatant," meaning: brilliant, sparkling, glowing.
Of course, it doesn't matter a whit how I intend the words to be pronounced. For years I referred to Terry Brooks' world of Shannara as Shan-nar-a (as did a lot of folks) and was rather startled hearing him say that he intended the accent to be on the first syllable, not the second. The revelation did not at all change my reading experience. So the truth is, I don't really care how you pronounce the names, etc., as long as you enjoy the story!
That said, here is a rather incomplete list of my intended pronunciations, and a few derivations. If I've left anything out that really bugs you, please let me know at and I'll try to set it straight.
- SINISTRAL Sin- is- tral (Having to do with the left side.)
- DATHANA Dath- an- a
- TIERNAI Teer - nee
- DYNIAN Din - ee- an
- KIER Keer
- CONNAIL Kon- nel
- CYMWORTH Kum- worth
- LLYDIA Hlid- i- a (again, borrowed from the Welsh)
- ANERYN An- er- in
- CORRELIN Kor- el- in
- LIDIALIS Lid- i- al- is
- MA'ARDHI Mar- dee
- PA'ALAF Pa- laf
- KREUTH Krooth (Wikipedia - The first instrument associated with the harping tradition in the Gaelic world was known as a "cruit." This word may originally have described a different stringed instrument, being etymologically related to the Welsh crwth.)
Maps of Éclatan
Map art by Curtis Craddock
Ancient History: From Tyrra They Came...
(Excerpt from The Sacred Book of Ygair, Origins 3:7--26)
"...And it happened that in the last years of the Fifth Age, the peoples of Tyrra learned that their orb-star, the life and light of their world, was soon to perish, and they sent forth vessels in search of other worlds where they might settle. The first of those to come to Éclatan—a world so named for the crystalline-sheen of its landscape—carried the Eden colonists, a restless folk who sought simplicity, and escape from the teck-knowledge of their home world. Committing themselves to the rigid precepts of their founding Covenants, which forbade use of all but the simplest of tools, the Edenists established their Ten Kingdoms along the western shores of Éclatan's greater continent.
Yet in the years that followed, the Edenists found that certain folk among them began to display arcane talents: the ability to touch the thoughts of others and, some, to see the future—talents despised and forbidden by the priests of the Founding Covenants. And those endowed with such talents, thought to be caused by the glowing magien crystals that infused Éclatan's very soil, often favored the use of their left, or spoil hand. Fearing these gifted few might undermine the roots of their authority, the Covenant Priesthood declared that all spoil-handed be marked with the serpent brand, that they might be easily known, and those found to possess sinistral mind talents, condemned to death.
For two and twenty generations, the Edenists dwelt in isolation and ignorance, forbidden by the Covenant Priesthood to change their ways or even learn the truth of their origins. But then, there arrived from Tyrra a new people. Unlike their predecessors, these sought not escape from the complexities of their civilization, but a source of power with which to fuel the wondrous mechanisms they brought with them. Unbeknownst to the Edenists, they established their realm on Éclatan's lesser continent—an island kingdom they named Nwtyrra, where they discovered an abundant source of miril, the most potent of all power crystals.
For many years, Nwtyrran civilization flourished. Yet, in time, they too came to recognize the talents of mind exhibited by many spoil-handed among them. And these skills surpassed those evidenced by the Edenists, for the power of miril was far greater than that of the simple magien crystals found in the Ten Kingdoms.
Convinced that these sinistral individuals secretly conspired to usurp the kingdom, the Nwtyrran Council condemned all sinistrae as traitors and unleashed against them weapons of great power. Yet that power, sprung from miril crystals, proved unwieldy. It turned against its users, destroying all Nwtyrra in a rain of fire and ash.
Only thirteen survived: wretched fugitives who made their way by sea to the remotest corner of the Ten Kingdoms, where they came to live among the backward Edenists. And these few, thankful for their salvation, pledged to use their advanced knowledge to improve the lives of those Edenists who secretly befriended them.
Yet even blessed, as the exiles were, with sinistral skills, none could foresee the disastrous impact their coming would have on all the world of Éclatan..."