Kingdoms of Amalur and Celtic Mythology, Part One

(c) Kingdoms of Amalur

Hello readers, I understand it's been a few weeks since our last post here at The Modernist Son. Sometimes, life just gets in the way. Today, we are diving into the mythology surrounding one of my favourite video games of all time, Kingdoms of Amalur.

(c) THQ Nordic

The 2012 video game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s fictional lore is somewhat inspired by Celtic mythology from the real world, within the last 1,000 years. In terms of world building, publishers THQ Nordic draw from Celtic mythology to craft a world that contains richness and depth for players as they become part of its vibrant atmosphere. Not surprisingly, Kingdoms of Amalur’s “Faelands” becomes a living, and interactive world for those entering the world of video games. Although Kingdoms of Amalur isn't one of the most famous role-playing games of all time, love for the role-playing genre has resulted in a subculture of its own. With respect to the issue of world building writer Anne Reid argues:

"World building usually involves creating the rules and structures of the imaginary world so the imaginary world will feel consistent with depth. It also helps support the themes the creators wish to engage with.”

(Anne Reid, “Ethical World Building in Video Games,” Massive Entertainment. 2020.

Something to consider is when a video game provides interesting lore throughout the world players become part of, this allows for a more enjoyable and engaging experience. Although Kingdoms of Amalur was originally released in 2012, it was a commercial failure. Unfortunately, the video game did not receive its deserved attention due to the popular The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was released in late 2011. However, Kingdoms of Amalur was remastered in 2020 with plans for a sequel within the next few years.

The Sidhe, and Why It Exists:

Drawing from Kingdoms of Amalur’s in-game environment, a section of the world map is referred to as “The Sidhe.” The Sidhe establishes a link between the mortal world, and the realm occupied by spirits and other creatures of fantastical nature. Furthermore, this video game emphasizes the issue of fate, as well as life and death.

(c) IGN

Throughout Kingdoms of Amalur’s main narrative, players assume the role of a character known as the “Fateless One.” Despite the fact the main character is technically dead, they have been resurrected through Gnomish technology. Prior to the beginning of the game’s narrative, the main character is killed in battle during the Crystal Wars. However, the Fateless One is resurrected through a type of Lazarus pit called the Well of Souls- which was created by Fomorous Hugues.

With respect to the issue of world building, actions and decisions made by the Fateless One determine whether the Crystal Wars will be brought to an end. The Fateless One’s original death comes as a result of the Crystal Wars. Therefore, the Fateless One is eternally linked to the on-going event, and their choices determine whether Amalur and its surrounding kingdoms will survive.

Video by: GameBanshee

The Sidhe is an enchanted forest that surrounds the Gardens of Ysa- which is home to the Summer Fae. Despite being from different planes of existence, as the Summer Fae reside primarily in the spirit world; they are proven to be useful allies to the mortals of Amalur. In terms of world building, the Shidhe separates the Fae from the mortal world. Prior to the Crystal Wars, there was seldom interaction between mortal beings and the Summer Fae. However, the Tuatha and Red Legion wish to destroy the entirety of Amalur- reducing it to a wasteland.

With respect to Kingdoms of Amalur mythology, the Shidhe is a place that protects the Summer Fae from the mortal world, as well as the Red Legion. Despite their extended longevity, the Fae are ultimately mortal- especially once they enter the world of human beings. Although the Summer Fae have a similar appearance to human beings, their presence serves as the embodiment of nature in the physical world. Drawing from the physical presence of the Fae, their existence highlights the importance of nature in correspondence to a life cycle for all mortal beings:

"Though Fae are found in the wild places of Amalur, they can be most often found at the Court of Summer in the Gardens of Ysa. Yet the Fae themselves claim to originate from a realm of pure magic, where no mortal being has gone and returned from.”

( “Summer Fae,” Amalur Wiki.

Furthermore, the presence of nature in Amalur reinforces the issue of life and death. Consequently, the physical environment of Amalur is preserved through the Summer Fae’s existence and interaction with those from the outside world.

The Modernist Son, 2020-2022

Further Reading:

Anne Reid, “Ethical World Building in Video Games,” Massive Entertainment. 2020.

“Summer Fae,” Amalur Wiki.

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