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In the beginning of the Malloreon (Guardians of the West), Ce'Nedra and Garion are having difficulty producing an heir to the Rivan throne. Polgara comes with a Dryad, some dirt, and some water. The book seems to gloss over many of the details as to what happened, and provides no explanation as to what was wrong, and how it was fixed. So, what was wrong, and what did the things done do to fix it?

This seems to be the sequence of events:

  1. The dirt was kept near the Royal bed for a period of time.
  2. Eventually, it was planted in the middle of the winter.
  3. The tree was carefully monitored for it's health for some time.
  4. Ce'Nedra was forced to drink some special tonic.
  5. After several months of this, it seems the problem was resolved.

Is there any more detail provided?

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  • 2
    Only in the X-Rated Director's cut.
    – Valorum
    Jan 24 '15 at 14:23
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Dryads appear to have a tertiary stage of sexual development focused on their becoming receptively fertile. The stage is evidently linked to them psychically bonding with a particular sort of tree (a great oak) found in their homeland, the Woods of the North. The dryads form a close bond with this planted tree and its well-being becomes an analogue of their own well-being.

There's a fleeting reference to this earlier in the Guardians of the West:

"She's only nineteen, Brand."

"Most Alorn girls have had at least two babies by the time they're nineteen."

"Ce'Nedra isn't an Alorn. She's not even entirely Tolnedran. Her heritage is Dryad, and there are some peculiarities about Dryads and the way they mature."Guardian of the West

and a fair amount of additional detail in the sequel; King of the Murgos.

"Ce'Nedra's background makes her peculiarly sensitive to trees," Polgara explained. "I didn't know that Tolnedrans were that interested in the out-of-doors." "She's only half Tolnedran, Liselle. Her love of trees comes from the other side of her heritage." "I'm a Dryad," Ce'Nedra said simply, her eyes still dreamy. - "I didn't know that." "We didn't exactly make an issue of it," Belgarath told her. "We were having trouble enough getting the Alorns to accept a Tolnedran as the Rivan Queen without complicating matters by telling them that she was a nonhuman as well." - King of the Murgos

Due to the psychic connection, when the tree is young and frisky, the dryad is frisky. When the tree sheds in winter, the dryad becomes saddened and when the tree nears the end of its life, the dryad becomes tired and depressed.

"Are you unwell, Xantha?" Polgara asked her. The queen sighed. "The time is growing close, that's all." She looked up affectionately at her enormous oak. "He's growing very tired, and his weight presses down upon his roots. He finds it harder and harder each spring to revive himself and put forth leaves." "Can I do anything?" "No, dearest Polgara. There's no pain — just a great weariness. I won't mind sleeping. Now, what brings you into our Wood?" King of the Murgos


Ce'Nedra's oak tree wasn't thriving (in the harsh soil, because of the accidental ice age that Garion had nearly triggered and because it was suffering (psychically) from the argument between her and Garion) and as a result, she hadn't entered a fertile phase.

By re-planting the tree in loam that had been psychically charged with the couple's sexual enegies (hence why the supplies needed to be near the marriage bed) and by having her drink a tonic made from the oak's own buds, Polgara was able to convince Ce'Nedra's body that it was time to breed.

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  • @PearsonArtPhoto - I think the emphasis on spending time in the garden and drinking the oak-bud tonic was to kickstart her fertility. You're right though, I need to rewrite this slightly.
    – Valorum
    Jan 24 '15 at 17:11
  • @PearsonArtPhoto - It's reasonable to assume her psychic link was with the closest tree.
    – Valorum
    Jan 25 '15 at 10:56
  • No, it specifies the she drank an oak bud tonic. Re-reading, I can't remember/find where I saw the reference to Dryads consuming acorns so I've removed it entirely.
    – Valorum
    Jan 25 '15 at 10:57

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