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Discussion Questions for “Dreamers of the Grail,” by Dale Geraldson:


1)    What do you think the Grail actually is?  Are the definitions of the chalice at the first Mass or the magical Cauldron sufficient?  Must it be one or both of these, or is it something else?  You might consider the most recent and controversial interpretation of what the Grail is: a bloodline, from none other than Jesus himself, with the story going that he and Mary Magdalene are wed or at least lovers.  After the Crucifixion, she flees to Narbonne, a religiously tolerant province in southern France, and has their child (or triplets, in some renditions), perhaps even influencing the future monarchies of Europe with this genetic base.  This line of thought avoids the need for drinking or serving vessels, and can even benefit from the distraction of having people aimlessly search for objects.  This is also the story told in the recent hugely successful novel, The DaVinci Code.


2)    Why does the author make Galahad a woman?  Sir Galahad is a literary creation of the later medieval period, and is described as sinless, even a Christ-figure and the only one who can directly approach the Grail, with the more flawed Lancelot as his father.  Why bother making one of Arthur’s knights female, and why this one in particular?


3)    Does the historical influence of the Arthur legends matter, or should tales like this remain fantastic?  Are there perhaps necessary overlaps between the two?  (Most recent Arthur novels attempt to be plausible candidates for historical fiction, and their authors want them in the Literature section of bookshops, rather than in the Fantasy/Science Fiction shelves).  The author’s own concluding section admits that he is focused far more on the elements of fantasy than on the details of 6th-century Britain, reversing this recent trend.



4)   Discuss the philosophical elements of the Arthur legends.  As a cue, you might consider the political philosophy of the Round Table and Camelot, the ethics of chivalry and courtly love, and the aesthetics of the Arthur legends as they appear throughout the arts.  The Round Table is egalitarian, while Camelot is described as entirely just but still demanding feudalistic foundations.  Chivalry, which includes notions of fairness, sportsmanship, and protecting the weak and oppressed, received plenty of lip service in the medieval period, though the historical knights were dedicated killers.  And courtly love, the idea that romantic pursuits could elevate the spirit, and that women might be worth more than just baby machines and laundresses, existed nevertheless alongside the belief that in a world of political weddings, true love could still be destructive and had to be found outside marriage.  Finally, aesthetics considers the value and potential beauty of any art form: consider Arthur’s influence in poetry, prose, painting, music, sculpture, photography, film, or any other medium.

Discussion Questions for “Packs,” by D. T. Kizis:


1) Why use wolves to tell a story about ethics and history and the environment?  Should wolves still be considered a symbol like this, even though they appear as realistic characters in the novel?  Wolves very rarely appear in any other type of fiction, and non-human characters rarely do when depicted in truly non-human ways.  Does this unique format help move the story along?


2) Whose story is it, really: Morgan’s?  Dave’s?  Trap-dasher’s?  Which of the various characters feels the most approachable, or with which do you most closely sympathize?


3) What is the purpose of Kizis using several historical scenes, composed as self-contained short stories, for the flow of the novel as a whole?


4) What do you think of David’s overall arguments at the end, either about immortality, or about wilderness ethics?  Are they plausible and rational?


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