Needless to say: big time spoiler alert!
There are six of them while they know damn well they should have been a ménage-à-sept, they ask ridiculously few questions about that and the moment they do, the only person holding the key to the enigma slips out of their lives. Welcome to the Seven Sisters’ irritating pool of mysteries! Because none of the d’Aplièse sisters seems to have been granted the virtue of curiosity, I did some thinking in their stead. Follow my lead:
To start with, some mythological and linguistic fun. Author Lucinda Riley sprinkles myths and anagrams like cornflakes indeed, and those contain a fair deal of hints about the overall story.
According to the original Greek legend, the Pleiades were seven sisters whose parents were Atlas, a Titan commanded by the god Zeus to hold up the earth, and Pleione, the mythical protectress of sailors. After a chance meeting with the hunter Orion, the Pleiades and their mother became the objects of his pursuit. To protect them from Orion’s relentless amorous advances, Zeus changed them into a flock of doves which he then set in the heavens. Zeus was also rumored to have fathered children with three of the sisters.
Over to the book’s cast: the surname d’Aplièse of course stands for the Pleiades, while Pa Salt is obviously Atlas -fashioned with the P of Pleione- and the father/son duo Kreeg and Zed Eszu both stand for Zeus. It is unclear who stands for Pleione and Orion, but I’m sure both characters are somewhere in the story, just waiting to pop out like a jack-in-the-cornflakes-box!
Some thoughts on the Eszu men:
Riley has admitted that they both embody Zeus and his mythical shenanigans, which leads to this conclusions:
- The legend clearly states Zeus has power over the formidable Atlas. He had his way with the latter’s daughters, even fathering children with three of them, and even made his wife Pleione pregnant. It is thus more than likely that Kreeg is nòt a friend of Pa’s, rather some looming threat and maybe the starting point of the entire mystery. The two may have fought over the same woman in the past, one of them maybe even had a child with her that may or may not be known by now. It could be Kreeg is the start of all evil and Pa has been running and shielding his loved ones from him his entire life.
- On the other hand: according to the myth, Zeus fancies Taygete in particular but she manages to escape his romantic approaches, while he does succeed in impregnating Maia. Exactly wat happens in the books, with the younger Zed Eszu taking on Zeus’ shenanigans. Pa even states to Electra that the man is dangerous to them. Could it be Zed embodies the god’s naughty side, while his father stands for his more noble deeds?
- Zeus dìd end up helping and saving the sisters in the original story. Could ik be Eszu saved the girls from something by ordering Pa to take them away from their biological families -the myth has Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, and what can be heavier a burden than adopting and raising six girls?
Speaking about Pa Salt, there’s little to talk about at first glance. The man likes sailing, gardening, astronomy, travelling and classical music. He speaks a lot of languages and his office looks like a cabinet of curiosities, filled with vague hints of his past -namely an old fiddle, a weathered leather pouch, a Madonna statue and some unknown poet’s poetry collection. None of Pa’s adult daughters ever saw it fit to ask what he did in life, and the one time Maia may have alluded to it, he claimed to be “a magician of sorts”. At this point, even my childhood teddybear has more background story.
And yet, his presence in the girls’ family histories is clear from the first book on. It’s also obvious to me that he isn’t dead at all, but very busy solving some sort of problem we don’t know about yet. Said problem must be linked to the absence of the mysterious seventh sister Merope, to the Eszus and very possibly also to the fact his wife (or at least the equivalent of Pleione) seems to be missing. The staff of Atlantis -Claudia, Christian, Georg and Marina- are in it as well, with a possible bigger role for Marina who, according to many readers, is none other than Pa’s long-lost biological daughter.
A list of Pa Salt cameos through the book series:
THE SEVEN SISTERS
Pa is obviously the frail little boy saved by Maia’s great-grandmother Bel in 1928 Paris. His age coincides with him being around 80 years old in 2007, he plays the fiddle and is particularly interested in the Pleiades legend Bell tells him. Also, she gives him her address in Rio, which means he is able to trace her and all her descendants down should he ever feel the need -and one thing is clear: the slightly obsessive guy loves nothing more than doing just that. Despite of his vague Eastern-European, probably Polish, origin, the boy is fluent in French.
Little side-track: of course, the secret son of Maia and Zed will pop out at some point in the story. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is under the care of a character, we already know by the end of book six -or that we’ve even met him by then.
THE STORM SISTER
I have to admit I didn’t see this one coming, but a Reddit user recognized Pa Salt in Bo, a character we meet in the late thirties at the university of Leipzig. He’s a late teen by then, not very talkative, speaks German fluidly, has a very vague past and is named after the cello bow he masters so well. He also has a job at a chart maker’s workshop, introducing him to the arts of cartography and navigation -perhaps the biggest hint of all. He is paired with Elle, a Jewish orphan he sort of saved in Paris years before. Together, they flee the Nazi regime in Germany: first to Norway, and in 1940 they manage to secure safe passing on a fisherman’s boat to Scotland. Before they go, he admits to Ally’s grandfather Pip he would like to marry Elle although it’s not possible for them. This is also an important detail as Pa has never been married according to his lawyer Georg (who clearly knows way more than what he says).
Also, just to prove my point about the big link between the Greek myth and the Seven Sisters plot: the original Alcyone’s lover “Ceyx, king of Thesally,” is killed at sea because together they managed to offend Zeus. Theo Falys-Kings, Ally’s baby daddy, is an anagram for King of Thessaly.
What’s more to say.
THE SHADOW SISTER
Over to the British countryside and Star’s assumed great-grandmother Flora, who lived on the High Weald estate alongside her husband and children during the second World War. Also in residence: Mr. and Mrs. Tanit, tending the garden and manning the kitchen. The man is taciturn, tender and knows his way around roses -just like Pa Salt! Besides their domestic prowess, nothing noteworthy is said about them. They make for good candidates for Bo and Elle though, as their surname is an anagram for “titan”. The couple may have come all the way to England after setting foot in Scotland in 1940. Also, he is said to have “haunted eyes”, a trait mentioned for different seemingly uninteresting strangers in the other books. Haunted eyes, as if he’s fleeing something or someone – Kreeg Eszu maybe? The Tanits disappear after having driven Star”s grandmother Tessie to the station in 1944.
THE PEARL SISTER
This is a tough one as the book is rife with orphans and seemingly los characters, but all readers agree we ought to look for Pa Salt on the ship that brings Kitty to Australia in 1949.
There are two theories here. The first one focusses on her on-board valet James, who is said to have worked on a Hampshire estate before. He is accompanied by his friend Stella (Elle?), who takes care of the orphans bellow decks. I think he is a decoy though, as his eyes are blue and we later on learn Pa’s were brown. At the same time, this James character gets a suspicious amount of “screen time”, so he could be another important character in the greater story.
To me, Pa’s cameo is the “gaunt, grey-haired man with haunted eyes” who seems to be missing a lady or girl as the ship is boarding. He screams for her in panic, and Kitty spots a woman with an infant, hysterically crying on the quay as the ship sets into motion. Are these Bo/Mr. Tanit, Elle/Mrs. Tanit and their child, being ripped apart for God knows what reason? (Because they are still fleeing from Kreeg, but she somehow has information that forces her to stay behind?) Whatever the reason, it does fuel the theory that Pa has been searching for his lost wife and/or daughter for the rest of his life, developing a tick for saving other lost souls, adopting six daughters along the way.
According to many readers, the Tanit baby is none other than Marina, who often points out the fact that Pa is old enough to be her own father. She also sheds some minor light on her own history at some point, reminiscing “fate” and the “the kindness of strangers” -sounds like Pa has saved her from something at some point.
Also, Cece’s story features Ace and a doomed piece of jewelry. I guess this must have a link to the final unravelling. Ace’s horrible father David Rutter is probably an anagram too, although I can’t find for whom.
THE MOON SISTER
Pa’s brushing with Tiggy’s gipsy family is loud and clear: he is the tall, kind, sad-looking and tanned -because of all the sailing- stranger buying Isadora an ice-cream in 1951. He is shocked when fortune teller Angelina mentions his daughter -which confirms our theory about him losing a child. What they tell each other, remains hidden, but afterwards Angelina mentions “all the sadness in the world”. Pa even tells Tiggy about the chance meeting in his letter to her: “Before I close, I must also reveal to you that if it hadn’t been for one sentence offered by a relation of yours many years ago, I would not have been given the gift of all my beloved daughters. She saved me from despair and I can never repay my debt to her.”
THE SUN SISTER
A-a-a-and, her is Tanit again. Pa is obviously the man saving Cece from the police stampede in Harlem, tucking into her car with her. He even hands her his card that clearly states Mr. Tanit and mentions his French wife -hi Elle! This happens right after the end of World War II, around 1946, and teaches us Pa and his wife were in New York in between the events in England and their separation in 1949.
Meanwhile, the ongoing mystery surrounding the irritatingly obvious secret chamber in Atlantis is boiling over and screams that everybody at Atlantis is in on the secret except for the six princesses of the house.
THE FINAL SISTER
And then there’s the final chapter, the one that introduces Merope and finally unravels the mysteries of Pa’s past -at least, it better does or I will boil over. What can we predict to this point?
First of all, what does the myth say. Riley writes this about Merope on her website: “Some legends suggest that she became lost because she hid her face in shame at marrying a mortal, King Sisyphus. Others say that Merope hid her face out of shame because her husband was a criminal, whose punishment was to roll a heavy stone up a hill to the edge of heaven though it always rolled back down. There are similarities here to Merope’s father, Atlas, who kept the weight of the world on his shoulders.”
It’s definitely worth searching for an anagram for this King Sisyphus type -I couldn’t find one though. Furthermore, the circumstances of Merope’s birth or family are either shameful or criminal. Given that none of the sister’s biological parents were all sugar and spice, Electra even being born in a crack den, we’ll put the shameful theory aside and focus on the criminal part. Merope is in danger, even more so than her supposed sisters, and has to be hidden from it. In fact, she may be hidden in the cellar -although I don’t think so, Pa had enough money to build her a safehouse extraordinaire somewhere else, no need to go all cellar creep. It also explains why her coordinates are blank on the armillary sphere. What crime is she running from and who is the criminal involved? I’d say the Eszus, who clearly have a hand in whatever happened to Elle/Mrs. Tanit too. Possibly, Merope ìs the biological child of Pa Salt and Elle -although Marina is still in the running too, remember.
Whatever may be, part of the last book will take place in Russia or Eastern-Europe. We know this because Riley has made it clear in previous interviews she was scouting locations in Russia. Also, Pa’s origins are supposedly Eastern-European, he speaks Russian ànd gifts his daughters possible hints to his early childhood. Maia gets a doll from “a palace in Moskou” and Star is given a book on the long-lost Romanov princess Anastacia. Come think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pa Salt was an orphan from the October Revolution himself. A lot of aristocrats sought shelter in Paris after then fall of the Russian empire, exactly the place where we meet Pa for the first time some ten years later.
A final little adjustment to the whole theory: it could also be that Elle/Mrs. Tanit has only been posing as Pa’s lover this entire time, while being his sister in truth. It is said Elle and her brother were separated in Paris when they were kids, which makes this theory plausible. Also, it would give free way to the Elle + Kreeg Eszu theory, making him the father of her mysterious lost child.
With that said, I declare your own journey down the conspiracy rabbit hole open for business. Have fun and try not to get angry while at it…