Within many stories today, there are names that stand out when spoken, induce fear and awe into others and make a character imposing. Names like Gandalf the Gray, James Bond, and Elric of Melnibone are known all around the world.
When I began writing Forever Avalon, I wanted to create a protagonist with just such a name. A name that would be remembered by anyone who read my story. That’s when I created the Gil-Gamesh.
In history, the Gilgamesh was known as a hero, a Demigod and a King from ancient Mesopotamia. He was the main character of the Epic of Gilgamesh, considered the first great work of literature. The first half of the story discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop him. After an initial fight, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close friends until the Gods kill Enkidu. In the second half of the epic, Gilgamesh’s distress at Enkidu’s death causes him to undertake a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life. He eventually learns that “Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands.”
In Forever Avalon, I wanted to reimagine the story of King Arthur and continue the adventures after his death. As the last remaining member of the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Percival was to be a champion of Avalon, not its King, after Guinevere began her reign over Avalon. I needed a name to make Percival stand out and be recognized as the champion of Avalon. So this is where I took my own spin on history and the story of King Arthur and the Gilgamesh.
Before his death, King Arthur sent his knights out on a quest for the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus and the disciples drank from at the Last Supper. In his search, Percival travelled through Persia and Mesopotamia. There, he heard the stories of the Gilgamesh, about his strength, his courage and his love for his people. That resonated within the knight.
Percival was given Twilight and Dusk, the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon, by Queen Guinevere to take up arms against the forces of Morgana Le Fay and defend to Avalon. He accepted the task and took a name that would strike fear in his enemies and bring hope to the people of Avalon.
He declared himself the Gil-Gamesh, the champion of Avalon, protector of the realm and defender of the innocent. He took the name from one culture and brought it into his own, to honor the demigod King and bring hope to the people of Avalon.
This is something we do as writers … We honor and recognize the past by including their stories in what we write today. I know many people have never read the Epic of Gilgamesh and don’t know who he was; but I hope through my stories, they will.