We’re not done with the Liberation War yet. Thracia 776 was the midquel act for Genealogy of the Holy War and it featured an important lord in the Jugdral saga. Today, we look at that final lord of Jugdral: the Liberation Army leader Leif!
What’s in a Name?
As you’ve probably noticed by now, Norse mythological references litter Genealogy of the Holy War. If you know anything of Scandinavian history, the name Leif should jump out at you and bring to mind Leif Eriksson. Leif means “heir” or “descendant.” There’s also the woman Lif from Norse mythology, who was one of the two people who survived Ragnarok by hiding in a wood. She’s like Emzara or Pyrrha in the flood myths of the biblical Noah and the Greek Deucalion, respectively. From the name Lif comes the English word “life.”
Lastly, there’s the Irish mythological hero Lugh. While Lugh and Leif may not appear similar, Lugh and Leif have similar traits. Lugh is the son of Ethliu and Cian. He wields a fiery weapon and his name means “flashing light.” This is fairly consistent with the light-bringing motif of Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776. Leif is the son of Ethlyn and Quan and wields a fiery weapon called the Light Brand.
Leif starts off a little puerile but matures over time. While a generally nice guy, Leif also has streaks of boldness that border on brashness. Distinguishing Leif from most Fire Emblem lords is not easy, given that his game has not come to the West. Therefore, our understanding of Leif’s character is fairly limited. Given what we know of how Shouzou Kaga wrote his protagonists at this time, Leif looks like another basically good person who grows into his role over time.
“Prince of Leonster”
Back to talking about Sigurd we go.
You may recall in Sigurd’s saga how I mentioned he loses his sister and brother-in-law. As it turned out, they are Ethlyn and Quan, who were on their way to reinforce Sigurd’s army at Valhalla Castle. Quan was a good friend of Sigurd and Eldigan during their academy days. He married Ethlyn, Sigurd’s sister, and joined Sigurd at the beginning of Sigurd’s journey to rescue Edain. After Sigurd retired to Silesse, Quan went off to bring reinforcements for Sigurd’s march on Valhalla Castle. In an inexplicably stupid move, Ethlyn brought their baby daughter, Altena, along on the march, and also gave Quan the cursed lance Gae Bolg. King Travant of Thracia, using the war as an opportunity to expand his dominion, ambushed Quan and Ethlyn in the desert and killed them and their entire brigade. Travant then took Altena and raised her as his own.
Leif, heir to the Leonster throne, has his work cut out for him. After Travant’s massacre, the Thracians sweep in and conquer the Manster District, of which Leonster is a part. Grannvale invades and annexes the Manster District, which becomes the Northern Kingdom of Thracia, and Duke Bloom of Friege becomes its king (Bloom is the son of Reptor and father of Ishtar). Leif grows up in hiding in Thracia, on the run from Grannvale because Emperor Arvis of Grannvale wants to eradicate anyone whose genealogy traces back to some of the old crusaders of Jugdral.
One of Leif’s guardians, Nanna, is caught by the empire and he goes on a rescue mission with Eyvel, who helps Finn, another of Leif’s guardians. The whole thing goes south quickly when the empire uses Nanna as a hostage, forcing Leif to surrender to the empire. However, he busts out of jail and rescues Nanna just in time to see Eyvel petrified by one of the empire’s mages, Veld.
Leif tries to strike back where he can, especially since the Grannvale Empire has begun the practice of child hunts: events in which the empire rounds up young children and sends them to arenas to fight to death. Leif’s ambition to stop this atrocity initially goes poorly when he tries to strike against the empire in the Manster District. The Thracians chase Leif out of town but he liberates Leonster from Grannvale. He splits his forces in two and sends half of his army to support a distant rebellion against Grannvale. Just like the Bay of Pigs, this results in utter catastrophe and those troops are pointlessly decimated. Grannvale, now provoked by Leif’s liberation of Leonster, besieges the castle for six straight months. Only when his cousin Seliph blows through town to push back imperial forces does Leif get relief.
Once the siege of Leonster Castle ends, Leif terrorizes the imperials remaining in the Manster District. He defeats Veld, liberates the Manster District, and then goes to join Seliph’s Liberation Army. Along the way, he meets his sister, Altena, and informs her of her heritage. Altena, who had hitherto thought of herself as a Thracian, quickly joins the Liberation Army, which defeats Travant. Following the Liberation War, Leif marries Nanna and becomes King of the New Kingdom of Thracia.
The fourth and fifth Fire Emblem games exist in a dark void as far as the West is concerned. Due to their significantly maturer themes, those games do not appear to be immediate candidates for re-release in the West. Regardless, Leif is another well-meaning hero. He strives to restore honor to his family and grows into a more responsible individual as a result of his trials.
Join us next time when we examine the firebrand who helped bring Fire Emblem to the West, Roy!