During the earliest development of The Valley of Decision, I established this pattern of naming: of Gaelic origin, unusual enough that the names would not be common in our own world, but not too unusual. I avoided names like Ruairidh because it just looks too foreign. Who would care to guess how to pronounce it? So I ended with names like Torradan and Artek and Belenus – different, but easy enough.
I made various exceptions to this pattern – none without rhyme or reason, except perhaps naming the capital city of Alamir Ataroth. The rhyme and reason of the other exceptions will become clear.
This appendix is not a dramatis personae, listing the characters of the drama, but a compilation of the origins and meanings of many names in the book. Because of this, and how I began the naming process, there are some notable omissions. Neither Caél nor Keiran, the book’s heroes, appear in this appendix; absent with them are other lesser (but still important!) characters – among them all three lieutenants of the Hosts.
The reason for their absence is this: As part of my preliminary research, I made lists of Gaelic names that struck me as fitting the story. With the exception of the Fays (Fays are always an exception), the earliest-existing characters were named from this list without regard for the name’s meaning. Keiran, Caél, Torradan, Artek, Lachann: the cream of those lists.
Other patterns emerged. A majority of the Fays share names with Celtic deities, and several place-names are just two words with the space between them deleted: the Coldlands, the Wildheath, the Northwood. A few names, such as My’ra, have neither a particular origin nor a particular meaning, but the longer I worked on the story the more I rejected these. Even minor characters like Emain and Labras have names of Gaelic origin, and so of a certain flavor.
Appendix of Names
The Valley of Decision
Achadh: A Gaelic place-name meaning ‘field’
Ailill: ‘Elf’; the name of several Irish High Kings
Alaunos: The Celtic god of healing
Ataroth: An obscure Canaanite city conquered by Joshua and Israel
Brandr: A Norse name, meaning sword; Brandr was, after all, an earl of the northern Coldlands
Belenus: ‘Bright, shining one;’ the Celtic god of the sun
Dochraitay: A slightly more phonetic rendering of dochraite, a Gaelic word meaning ‘friendless, oppressed’
Droheda:: A slight alteration of Drogheda, an Irish city cruelly subdued by the English under Oliver Cromwell
Glahs (Forest): Glahs is Gaelic for ‘green’
Hrolfr: Norse, meaning sword
Jarmith: An alteration of the Gaelic name Jarmin, which means German – a foreigner in Ireland, as Jarmith was among the Dochraitay
Kobuld: This elder blacksmith of the Trow was named after the Kobold, a race in German folklore who were said to live in mines and be expert metalworkers
Morrigan: The Celtic goddess of, among other things, war
Muireach: A diminutive form of the Gaelic name Muireadhach, meaning ‘lord, master’; this is the least majestic name owned by a Fay
The Northmen: An old name for the Vikings, on whom the Men of the Coldlands were loosely based
Nuadha: ‘Protector’; the Celtic god of the sea
Sgrios: Gaelic word meaning ‘ruin’
Tullach: A Gaelic place-name meaning ‘little hill’
Volund: Of Norse origin; in legend, the name of a great smith