The Cluviel Dor

May 19, 2011 in Character & Plot Analysis, Dead Reckoning - Book 11, Mythology, Sookie Stackhouse

The cluviel who-ie what-ie? The cluviel dor my friends, the cluviel dor.

Sookie’s inherited magical get-out-of-jail-free card containing one wish but with an exceptional amount of restrictions. Eh.. At least its not a Horcrux. Introduced in Dead Reckoning and found stashed in a secret compartment of an old desk, the cluviel dor is first mentioned in Gran’s letter as she recounts Mr. Cataliades’ visit while executing Fintan’s will:

Then he came by one more time, a few years ago. He gave me the green thing. He said fairys give it to each other when they’re in love, and Fintan had given it to him to bring here to me if Fintan died before I did. It’s got a magical spell in it, he said. You won’t ever need to use it, I hope, he said. But if you do he said to remember that it was a one time thing, not like a lamp, like in the story, with a lot of wishes. He called this thing a cluviel dor, and showed me how to spell it.

While curious it is that Gran can’t figure out the plural spelling of words that end in y, even more curious is the notion that Fintan loved Gran so much he waited until he was dead to give Adele the cluviel dor. Bizarre.

As is the fact that Fintan watched both Jason and Sookie, then ultimately decided that Sookie should be the one to have it. The same Fintan who would run around in a Mitchell suit. That guy’s judgement. *sniff.* Smells mahi-mahi to me, like Sookie was the one Fintan always meant to give it to. Why?

Sookie describes her new magical object thusly:

Before I could stop myself, I picked up my other relic, the worn velvet bag. I loosened the drawstring, which crumbled in my fingers. I opened the bag and let the hard thing inside -the cluviel dor, the gift from my fairy grandfather – fall into my palm.
I loved it instantly.
It was a creamy light green, trimmed in gold. It was like one of the snuffboxes at the antiques store, but nothing in Splendide had been this beautiful. I could see no catch, no hinge, nothing; it didn’t pop open when I gently pressed and twisted the lid – and there was definitely a lid, trimmed in gold. Hmmm. The round box wasn’t ready to yield its secret.

Sookie then reflects on the C.D’s magical charisma, rubs it against her cheek as she “felt like purring,” and then does a very cute Sméagol impression. She continues the physical description of the cluviel dor as the size of “two stacked oreo cookies” and that it looked “like a minature powder compact.” So comparatively it probably looks like this but smaller in circumference, a little fatter in thickness, and minus the latch:

Did anyone else imagine it was stuffed in a Crown Royale bag? Something tells me Gran was a boozer.

Wooooooooooooo!!!!

It is so exciting looking!!

Erm… I’m going to pretend it looks like this:

You say Sookie's magical compact, I say Sailor Moon's magical locket.


Glorious! Okay, it’s pink but it just screams mucho magical – see that awesome 1992 animated residue? Hmm? And it comes with a midi. Moon Prism Power!

So what’s in a name that Gran made sure to write down properly? One of the benefits of an advance reader’s copy, was the ability to trawl the internet without any Dead Reckoning mainstream reaction. The internet was pure and uncontaminated, okay not that pure, but it was free from any theory or speculative spaghetti involving the C.D.

Your search – “cluviel dor” – did not match any documents.

The closest thing to informative results was an obscure entry in Scottish rituals from the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 10 about an annual ceremony called the “Burning of the Cluvie,” alternatively spelled as the Burning of the Clavie. I’ll allow Professor Wikipedia to explain:

Burning the clavie is an ancient Scottish custom still observed at Burghead, a fishing village on the Moray Firth. The clavie is a bonfire of casks split in two, lighted on 11 January, i.e. the first day of the year by the Julian Calendar. One of these casks is joined together again by a huge nail (Latin clavis; hence the term, it may also be from Scottish Gaelic cliabh, a basket used for holding combustibles). It is then filled with tar, lighted and carried flaming round the village and finally up to a headland upon which stands the ruins of an altar, locally called the Douro. It here forms the nucleus of the bonfire, which is built up of split casks. When the burning tar-barrel falls in pieces, the people scramble to get a lighted piece with which to kindle the New Year’s fire on their cottage hearth. The charcoal of the clavie is collected and put in pieces up the cottage chimneys, to keep spirits and witches from coming down.

While this ceremony itself might not have much to do with anything in the Sookieverse, it does have some crossover with what we know about the cluviel dor. 1.) The root of the word “cluviel” appears to derive from “clavis,” which is also the Latin word for ‘key,’ (see also clef or clé in French). Or it could be from the Irish “cliabh,” the word for basket. 2.) The presence of the word ‘Douro’, which is represented in the Proceedings as Dorrie / Dourie. 3.) The implication of an annual event in opposition to the cluviel dor taking a year to make. And 4.) The ceremony being extremely rare in occurrence, as it seems to only be practiced in one fishing village nowadays.

Is this all a coincidence? Perhaps. Though I think until Charlaine is asked about the etymology and we get an appreciable answer, I’m settling for the understanding that it is a somewhat fictiony but almost truthy word suggesting a small container of great magic.

But what is the cluviel dor, really?

PLOT COUPON, I CHOOSE YOU.

While the term ‘deus ex machina’ has been passed around a bit in these parts, I think the more succinct term for this new item CH has introduced could be “MacGuffin.” Potentially it is driving the plot forward and everybody seems to want it, at least Sookie questions the possibility.

What if they’d come to live here in hopes of finding it? What if they knew or suspected I had such a thing? Or (more likely) what if they were staying here because they were made happy by its proximity? Though I was sure there were holes in that idea, I couldn’t shake it. It wasn’t my fairy blood that drew them; it was the presence of the cluviel dor.
Now you’re being paranoid, I told myself sternly, and I risked one more glimpse of the creamy green surface.

Was Fintan killed for it? Were the Water Fae originally after it? Does it lure other Fae, Supes and even Vamps to Sookie’s house? If so, why can’t they locate it within her house? Iconically, it seems to be the SVM’s holy grail.

I'm glad you asked, Serena.

BUT WHAT DOES IT DO?

From Mr. Cataliades’ email:

I think you must have found the cluviel dor, since I plucked the term out of Miss Amelia’s head when I saw her at the shop. I don’t know where your grandmother hid it, I only know she was given one, because I gave it to her. If you have discovered it, I advise you to be very careful about its use. Think once, and twice, and three times before you expend its energy. You can change the world, you know. Any series of events you alter by magic can have unexpected repercussions in history. I’ll contact you again when I can, and perhaps stop by to explain more fully. Best wishes on your survival.

Desmond Cataliades, attorney-at-law, your sponsor.

From Amelia’s email:

After we got back home, I did some more research and found the cluviel dor. I guess one of your fairy kin must have been talking about this? There hadn’t been one on earth for hundreds of years. They’re fairy love tokens, and they take a year to make, at least. The cluviel dor gives the beloved one wish. That’s why its so romantic, I guess. The wish has to be personal. It can’t be for world peace, or something global like that. But on an individual level apparently this magic is so potent it can really change a life in a drastic way. If someone gives a loved one a cluviel dor, its a really serious gesture. Its not like flowers or candy. Its more on the level of a diamond necklace or a yacht if jewelry or the boat had magical powers. I don’t know why you need to know about fairy love tokens, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen something amazing. I don’t think the fae can even make them anymore.

Sookie’s discussion with Mr. Cataliades:

“And my grandmother never used the cluviel dor.”
“No, its a one use thing. A very pretty gift from Fintan to Adele.”
“Can I use to take away my telepathy?”
“No, my dear, it would be like wishing away your spleen or your kidneys. But an interesting thought.”
So I couldn’t help Hunter with it. Or myself either. Damn
“Can I kill someone with it?”
“Yes of course, if that someone is threatening someone you love. Directly.”

Pertinent quotes from Charlaine Harris’ Community Board:

206 duckpond100 2008-11-13 07:13
Once a vampire, always a vampire.
Charlaine Harris.

From the FDTW tour: “Is it theoretically possible that Sookie’s lifetime can be extended by magical means?”
CH: “It’s possible but it’s not gonna happen.”

From all these sources we can set the following rules that govern its use:

  • Cannot take away Sookie or Hunter’s telepathy
  • Cannot make Eric human
  • Cannot solve any world issue, must be used on the individual level
  • Could kill someone who is directly threatening a loved one
  • Will not expand Sookie’s lifespan
  • Will have ramifications
  • Must be used on a loved one
  • These letters raise more questions then they give answers, specifically what’s a demon lawyer doing at the Genuine Magic Shop? Was he there on business? Also noteworthy is the use of the number three in Dead Reckoning; there were three letters, Sookie had to walk in a circle three times to break the blood bond, Sookie remarking to herself about having to repeat to Alcide three times before he got the point, and Mr. Cataliades telling Sookie to not only think long and hard on the C.D.’s use, but thrice. Is there a numerological significance here that we should be worrying about?

    As for the possibilities that Sookie could use the token for while remaining within the rules over its use – summoning, protecting, magical barrier breaking, or something we cannot foresee at this juncture are most likely in my opinion. That won’t hinder our endless and incorrigible speculation however.

    My theory du jour:

    Judith. Freyda. Felipe. Claude. Potentially they are all threats to Sookie going forward, will one of them cross the line? Mr. Cataliades noted the elven wards on Sookie’s house, to me that’s major foreshadowing that the wards will repel someone who wants to harm Sookie. Judith knows Sookie killed Lorena, and as the obsessive goes, I can hear Lorena’s maker Solomon whooshing back from Europe as I type. Perhaps Freyda, having been politically thwarted will send an assassin to kill Eric. Felipe might not to be pleased with the telepath and her crew either.

    Yet Claude presents the biggest physical threat to Sookie. The foreshadowing is now rampant that Claude will turn against her; from this gaggle of Fae that is gathering at his club ‘Hooligans,’ to the reminder of the viciousness of fairies with the disposal of Sandra’s body via the portal, to Mr. Cataliades’ warning not to let the riff-raff Fae know she has the cluviel dor for they would kill her for it, and even back in Dead in the Family when Sookie believed Claude entertained the thought of killing her while sipping coffee on her front porch.

    Moreover, Claude’s motives were basically spelled out in Dead Reckoning:

    “I want to get back into Faery because I want to see Niall once more.” Claude said, picking his words. “He’s my grandfather. I’m tired of receiving the occasional message. I want to visit our sacred places, where I can be close to my sisters’ spirits. I want to come and go between the worlds, as is my right. This is the closest portal. You’re our closest relative. And there’s something about this house. We belong here, for now.”

    Ayecurrumba! Why would Harris include this if she wasn’t going somewhere with it? And we know Sookie already harbors suspicion of her Fae relations and their intentions regarding the C.D. – Can Claude demand, snaffle, or otherwise extract the cluviel dor from her without knowing she has it? Also, we know Niall will show up again but he has zero impetus to walk back into Sookie’s life currently. Something will have to break the status quo, and wrenching Niall from Fairy would have repercussions whether she actually wishes to open the portal again or just for Niall’s bodily presence.

    Interestingly enough, Sookie already alluded to Niall with the cluviel dor:

    Touching its smoothness was pure pleasure, like the happiness I’d felt when I’d hugged my great-grandfather – but times about two hundred.

    Very interesting indeed. Hmmm.

    My theory du jour part deus: Save the teacup human!

    Remy doesn’t seem the type to dump Hunter on Sookie’s doorstep as he does seem to genuinely love his son, though this girlfriend flux thing doesn’t bode well. Regardless of the how, I believe it is a matter of time before that plotline goes somewhere and Hunter tangos into Sookie’s life. Most likely Hunter will be ensnared in some plot down the road and will need rescuing. He’s in this story for a reason, right?

    Could Claude use Hunter against Sookie? Claude knows he’s part Fae, he knows he’s Sookie’s cousin since she told him their exact relation in DITF. Worst of all, Sookie is obligated to Claude. Just how far does that obligation go? Most likely it will allow him to be invited in to Sookie’s house – past Bellenos’ wards, but it remains to be seen just how much more obligated Sookie really is.

    My theory du jour part trois: No, I’m not ageist, I just find the elderly suspicious.

    Fintan and Niall. What would Niall do if he knew she had the cluviel dor? Did Niall know Fintan had one? How the hell did Fintan get his paws on it anyway?

    There is some real explaining to do with these two characters. Fintan wanted to protect Sookie from the water fairies and Niall, yet Fintan was Niall’s favored son. What made him better than Dermot? Well, the one difference that we know between the two half-fairy brothers is Fintan had children. As for Niall’s Stackhouse favoritism, Niall didn’t want anything to do with Jason because he didn’t have the essential spark, but when he found out Sookie did he was smitten. Fintan saying that the C.D. should go to Sookie over Jason also aligns his favoritism with Niall’s – just because she is part fairy. Eh??

    Upon Fintan’s death his wards were dropped, his protections eliminated, and his lawyer passed on a massively powerful trinket. It seems to me he didn’t will Adele the cluviel dor purely because he loved her – he left it as failsafe in case he bit the dust. But was the person he wanted to protect so late in the game really Gran or her granddaughter; Sookie who has the essential spark, Sookie who was given the the gift of telepathy because Fintan thought it was a swell idea and advantageous, Sookie who now has a very rare item that could get her killed for possessing. Surely, Fintan knew she’d need it someday.

    While I’m still open to the idea that Niall wants into Sookie’s good graces expressly for the cluviel dor, I have a hard time believing everything Fintan did was merely to pass on a hot potato.

    My wild stab in the dark: Prrrrrrrrophecy!

    Umkay, there isn’t one that we know of.

    But wouldn’t it make a lot more sense for Niall to be interested in part-fairy offspring and for all the protection Fintan provided if there was a prophecy? Something like a human fairy hybrid would be the end of the fairies? Or like one is needed to be sacrificed in order to bring about “X”? Perhaps whatever Sookie chooses to do with the cluviel dor is intrinsic to why the Fae have involved themselves in her life and they are genuinely trying to protect her, although presently I don’t feel like her living fairy brethren have her better interests at heart and above all I can’t let it go that two of the words in Gran’s letter that she misspelled repeatedly were ‘fairys’ and ‘enemys.’

    Currently we only know three people who are aware of the cluviel dor outside of Sookie; Amelia, Mr. Cataliades, and Sam via Amelia’s phone call. Bleeping Amelia, it is one thing for her to tell Sam to tell Sookie to check her email, it is another to actually use the word cluviel dor for frak’s sake! Did anyone overhear that phone call? Was Bob or Jannalyn around on either end at either time? It seemed to be early morning when Sam called Sookie and presumably he was at his trailer, though we don’t know where he was when he was on the receiving end of Amelia’s call. How did Ames ‘research’ the C.D. even? Mayhaps she asked the local witches and by doing so raised their suspicions of its existence? Or maybe it is as simple as someone like “Just Call Me Cope” peeking at the search history on Amelia’s computer or even someone seeing the search word entered by Sam in the shifty shifter’s database. (You know he did. You know it).

    From Charlaine’s current DR book tour, we know that Sookie will use the cluviel dor in either book 12 or 13, so its only a matter of time before this plot voucher is cashed in. What ought Sookie to do with it? What would she wish for? I can’t fathom Sookie using her trump card on a whim, her own vanity, or for anything without a dire and pressing reason. The odds of her using it in relation to the Fairies and / or her enemies is high in my opinion, though admittedly, the possibilities and circumstances in which and for what she could use it are numerous. Maybe she won’t even use it in 12, for the best magical objects usually open at the close.


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