[Now referred to as the “Prospero’s Children series” on the author’s website.]
This trilogy consists of the books Prospero Lost (2009), Prospero in Hell (2010) and Prospero Regained (2011). The author has taken the characters from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (first published 1623), and continued the story forward to the present day. Prospero and his family have managed to live such long lives by drinking the magical Water of Life. It is now more than 500 years after the events of The Tempest, which according to the timeline on the author’s website, occurred in 1474.
The series is written in the first person from the point of view of Miranda, Prospero’s daughter.
In addition to The Tempest, plus some character names from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the author uses various other mythological sources: Christian, Greek and Norse, and classical literature such as Dante’s Inferno, and Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
L Jagi Lamplighter’s website is at: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/
The site contains a timeline of historical events for the Prospero family, plus a list of the Prospero family members, and other major characters.
Summary of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Prospero, the Duke of Milan, had been deposed by his brother Antonio. Prospero had fled by boat with his infant daughter Miranda, and become stranded on an island for 12 years. Prospero is a magician. Now, as the play begins, he has detected a passing ship, and commanded his spirit servant Ariel to raise a tempest to bring the ship to the island.
Among the passengers that come ashore are King Alonso of Naples, his son Ferdinand, and Prospero’s brother Antonio.
Prospero also has a servant called Caliban, an unpleasant, not-quite-human creature, the son of the witch Sycorax, who is now deceased.
Miranda meets Ferdinand, and they fall in love. The other travellers experience Prospero’s and Ariel’s magic, and eventually Prospero negotiates with the King to be reinstated as the Duke of Milan. As the play ends, Prospero and Miranda are preparing to return to Milan with the travellers.
Backstory to the Prospero’s Daughter trilogy
Shakespeare got some details wrong in writing The Tempest. Prospero did not destroy his books and magic, and did not release Ariel and the other Aerie Ones.
After the events of The Tempest, Prospero had several more children over the centuries that followed, who assisted him in his goals. Prospero’s children are: Miranda (from The Tempest), Mephistopheles (Mephisto), Theophrastus (Theo), Erasmus, Cornelius, Titus, Logistilla, Gregor and Ulysses.
Prospero and family captured and bound by oath the Aerie ones – the spirits of the air, the winds – in servitude to themselves. These beings – particularly Ariel and Mab – frequently ask for their freedom. But Prospero is unwilling to do this – his goal is to keep the world safe for humankind by controlling devastating weather conditions.
Among the adventures experienced by the Prospero family were the Great Wind Hunt, which had taken centuries, to capture the eight great Winds of the world, and the raid on the Vatican in 1623, to take possession of the holy (or sometimes unholy) – and therefore magical – relics.
Prospero created several magical staffs, and gave one to each of his children. Miranda’s staff is the Staff of Winds, actually a flute – the one used by Prospero to summon the original tempest. She can use it to call on the spirits of the air to control the winds.
Prospero also established a multi-national corporation, Prospero Inc. The more secret part of the corporation’s goals are to negotiate with supernatural beings to prevent natural disasters.
Prospero has now retired from the business, and Miranda is the CEO of the corporation. Her siblings were more involved with the family’s business in the past, but have now gone their separate ways, to Miranda’s regret.
Miranda was to marry Prince Ferdinand of Naples, following the events of The Tempest, but he disappeared just before their wedding. Miranda always assumed he had jilted her.
As a child, Miranda was consecrated to the Lady Eurynome, a spiritual being who is (possibly) a divine emanation of God. Miranda must remain a virgin until she reaches the rank of Sibyl. (Back when she was supposed to get married, she was willing to leave Eurynome’s service.) As Eurynome’s handmaiden, she has access to the Water of Life, which extends life, and cures injuries and illnesses. She also receives guidance from Eurynome, when she prays to her.
If she manages be become a Sibyl, she will have greater magical powers. This includes the power to absolve oaths. This potentially could be useful, as various characters in the story unfortunately find themselves bound by oath to the powers of Hell.
Prospero Lost (2009)
Miranda is living in Prospero’s Mansion in Oregon, USA. Prospero has gone missing. Miranda finds a note from him, warning her that the Three Shadowed Ones – demons from Hell – have been released, and are after the family’s magical staffs, and that she must warn her siblings.
Prospero had given some of the Aerie Ones human bodies. One of these is Mab, who serves as a detective to Miranda, and has the appearance and mannerisms of a detective from a 1940’s movie.
Miranda and Mab set out to find Miranda’s brother Mephistopheles, and eventually find him, living in poverty on the streets of Chicago. Mephisto suffers from insanity and memory loss, but despite his erratic behaviour, he knows where the other siblings can be found, so they take him along.
Over the course of the book the Three Shadowed Ones attack them several times, and Miranda and her companions use their various magical devices to retaliate.
They find Miranda’s brother Theophrastus living on a farm in Vermont. To Miranda’s sorrow, Theo has given up magic, including the Water of Life, and is now aging.
Prince Ferdinand, whom Miranda had been supposed to marry, turns up again, and wants to resume their courtship. Where has he been? How has he lived so long, and without aging?
They then travel to St Dismas’s Island, where Miranda’s sister Logistilla lives. Logistilla has the Staff of Transmogrification, with which she can turn people into animals.
Knowing that her brother Titus has children, Miranda and Mab take the company jet to the North Pole, to the mansion of Father Christmas – given Father Christmas’s ability to determine the location of all the children of the world. (Mephisto joins them on the way.) Father Christmas has elves serving him, but these are the elves of legend – tall, slender and dignified (think of the elves in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) – rather than the kind we usually associate with Santa. While they are there the Elf Lords arrive for a High Council meeting, and Miranda and company join them as guests of Father Christmas for their feast and dancing. Miranda meets again Astreus, Elf Lord of the Air, whom she had danced with centuries before.
Over the course of the book, Miranda remembers various events from the past, which gives us the history of the Prospero family over the centuries. She also realises that various family members have secrets to which she doesn’t know the answers.
Prospero in Hell (2010)
Astreus had given Miranda the Book of the Sibyl, which lists the Gifts a Sibyl would have, and how to become a Sibyl. This is something Miranda had wanted for a long time. But she discovers that she cannot become a Sibyl while she keeps the Aerie Ones in captivity.
Miranda has learnt by now that Prospero is in Hell. He had created a new staff for himself, the Staff of Eternity, and had gone to Gregor’s grave (Gregor had died in 1924), apparently intending to resurrect Gregor. But something had gone wrong – the Three Shadowed Ones had been released, and Prospero had ended up in Hell.
Miranda goes to Erasmus’s mansion in Boston, where he is holding a New Year’s party, and where all the family will be gathered. Erasmus has always hated Miranda for some unknown reason. He tells her that he believes her mother was Sycorax the witch (referred to in The Tempest), rather than Lady Portia, and shows her passages in Prospero’s diaries which seem to support this. This is quite a shock to Miranda, and she doesn’t know whether to believe it.
The Shadowed Ones attack the mansion, and it is touch and go for a while, until the Prospero family manage to defeat them. The family flee from the mansion to Prospero’s Island (the island from The Tempest) using Ulysses’ Staff of Transportation.
A big man has accompanied Mephisto, and Miranda, to her surprise recognises him as Caliban (from The Tempest) whom she knew from her youth on the Island. Then he had been a hulking brute, now he has a more civilised appearance. Someone has been providing him with the Water of Life.
And Miranda learns that Gregor is not dead after all. The family manage to rescue him from where he is imprisoned.
Something happens which causes Eurynome to abandon Miranda. She is devastated. No longer will she have Eurynome’s guidance, and she can never become a Sibyl. And she won’t have access to the Water of Life, so the family will no longer have their lives extended. This will have a devastating effect on humanity, as the supernatural powers will no longer be kept in check after the Prospero family dies.
She meets the Elf Lord Astreus again, and learns some distressing information about him. She has fallen in love with him, but it now seems that she has lost him.
But an angel, Muriel Sophia, visits her, and tells her that she and her siblings must rescue Prospero from Hell.
Miranda and her siblings, and Mab and Caliban set off into Hell. The place is nasty and dangerous, and they are soon attacked by demons.
Prospero Regained (2011)
Miranda had played her flute, the Staff of Winds, inadvertently calling up the Hellwinds, which caused her companions to be scattered throughout Hell. But Gregor had managed to rescue Miranda, Mab and Erasmus before they were taken. So the four of them must travel together to find the others.
Hell is divided up into many regions, with different landscapes, each allocated to the souls of the dead according to their predominate sin. So Miranda’s lost companions would each also have landed in the region of his or her predominate sin.
So Miranda, Gregor, Mab and Erasmus start their search in the swampy region dedicated to the sin of lust, where they expect to find Mephisto. They meet the soul of Malagigi, a sorcerer they had known in past centuries, who now belongs to the Brotherhood of Hope. They learn from him that the souls of the dead can escape from Hell by practising hope, prayer and love. Malagigi guides them to where Mephisto is. Mephisto has a crystal ball, which will enable them to locate the others.
But it takes a lot of travelling, mostly on foot, through difficult terrain, to find the others. They travel through swamps, bogs, regions with molten lava and fire, icy glaciers and steep mountains, gradually recovering all of their companions. Sometimes Mephisto uses his Staff of Summoning to call up creatures to carry them part of the way. They encounter many hazards, and engage in fights with demons. And Miranda learns more of the secrets of her various family members.
Eventually, having recovered all the party, they find Prospero, in a cage of thorns. Each thorn is magically linked to a different Staff belonging to a member of Miranda’s family. A single touch on any of the thorns will cause it to contract and kill Prospero. They can’t use the magic of their Staffs, because this will also kill him.
Prospero had been imprisoned by Lilith, one of the seven fallen angels who are the rulers of Hell. If they don’t free their father by a certain deadline, Lilith is going to have him killed.
Miranda realises there is a solution. But there is also a great risk.