One More Week & Snippet

Posted: March 15th, 2011 under Kings of the North, snippet.
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Seven days.   And I’ve been absent (mostly health-related) more than here–apologies for that.   However, here’s a snippet from Chapter 11 of Kings, which begins the unwrapping of a long-held secret: what really happened in Old Aare?

This will be a fairly big chunk, and thus some of you might find it spoilerish.  Hence, spoiler warning–don’t venture beyond the break if you want to know absolutely nothing about what’s coming.   For those who go on, there’s a several-paragraphs gap in the snippet, not to hide anything but to shorten it for blog use.

Location:  Cortes Andres, in Andressat

Who:  Jeddrin, Count of  Andressat

Jeddrin, Count of Andressat and the South Marches, sat in the cool of his loggia on the east side of his residence, overlooking the walls of Cortes Andres.  He had a fine view of the pastures where his horses grazed, steep vineyards, and the walls of a village clinging to the slope, its white walls gleaming in the late afternoon sun.  Though the day had been hot, on this side of the house he had a little breeze, and the damp cloths his servants had hung chilled the air just enough to make it pleasant.

He had been up at dawn, as always, for a Count of Andressat (as he said daily to his sons and grandsons) must be diligent if he was to do the best for his people.  He had duties, not merely privileges; it was in the performance of such duties that a true nobleman distinguished himself from pretenders, those who thought wealth alone or power could make gold from lead by painting it yellow.  Ruling–ruling well–could never be easy, and was less easy now, though he had hoped–believed–that with Siniava gone, it would be easier.

Now, having brought up another stack of documents from the family archives, he spread them on the table and began looking them over.

He ran his eye down the pages of a bound book–very old, the leather binding flaking away; he preferred scrolls–recording the yields of wheat and the produce of vineyards in a time before his father’s father’s father’s father.  Rainfall records, damaging storms–the same kinds of records he himself kept.  Nothing in that one about families, politics, or even trade.  He put it aside for a stack of flat sheets tied with a ribbon faded gray from its original color; it had left marks on the outer pages.  He turned them one by one.

One page had genealogy…he recognized his great-great-great-great-grandfather’s name at the bottom, in spidery writing.  Up the page…he began jotting the names down; this was older than the Family Roll in which he’d listed his sons.

The sheet beneath, the ink much faded, bore the inscription: “to the right honorable, the faithful, the most noble Va-Jeddrinal:  This being the copy you asked for, the which I most humbly present for your pleasure, of the oldest known record in the north, of the Fall of Aare and the King’s Quest, as recorded by Mikeli himself in the fifth year of exile in the north.”

Jeddrin stared.  No one had a copy of the Fall of Aare, though the story was known…the lords of Aare suffered a defeat of some kind and came north across the sea…could this treasure have lain so long in his archives unrecognized?  Apparently so.

In another hand, the work began “I, Mikeli, heir of the kings of Aare, sing the lament of Aare’s fall, the Sandlord’s ruin, the towers that shattered and the waters that vanished, as a lament but also a warning to those who follow, that they may escape the ruin that still roams the world below.”

That was plain enough.  Ibbirun, the Sandlord, god of chaos, had sent waves of sand to swallow the cities of Aare.  Jeddrin felt his skin prickle with awe and dread.  He read on and on, as the light faded, and servants brought lamps and food and drink.  He ate nothing, absorbed in the story he thought he knew, but had known wrong, from the start.  Though the language was archaic, he had studied old texts before and few of the words puzzled him.

When he finished at last, in the dark, silent hours, and lifted his gaze to the sky, the stars before morning hung before him, challenging.  The men of Old Aare, the men he had thought of with respect–his ancestors, those who had survived the Fall and the hard journey north, the sea and its storms, to land on the shores of this land and conquer it, who had even–in attenuated blood, as he thought–gone over the pass of Valdaire to conquer the north–those man, those magelords, had not been, but for Mikeli and perhaps a few others the nobles of Aare.

They had been servants, crafters, merchants, and–Mikeli made it clear–thieves and whores as well, the scum of the city, lifted on a tide of disaster and tossed away, while the nobles–nearly all of them–died.

“For of the princes of Aare, and the princesses, the lords and ladies, all those of high degree, now so few are left that to populate one palace with those of pure blood is scarcely possible…”

The nobility of Aarenis, Jeddrin read, had been created out of what was left–“As I was sent ahead, to be saved against my will while all around me knew their doom, so I must do what I can to redeem my guilt, and theirs, and make this story plain…and for Aare to continue in men’s hearts, I must create from nothing a semblance of its greatness.”  Mikeli then explained how he had chosen this one and that to be duke or count or baron, and how he had striven to ensure that literacy survived, and arts and crafts.

For a long bitter time Jeddrin stood looking out at the night, hands clenched on the railing of his loggia.  So the despised mercenary captain proved a true king, the born son of a king and an elf-queen, while he–who had been so sure of his lineage–traced back, as the tale made clear, to a stonemason and a count’s bastard daughter.  Kieri Phelan was royal, and he himself as common as dirt, all his pride of blood based on lies, on the accumulated wealth of a fellow–a great-father those many generations back–who was strong and honest–the qualities for which he was chosen–and whose wife, chosen for him by the prince, could read and write…


What Andressat’s Count  chooses to do with his discovery will have an effect far beyond the borders of Andressat.   You see the beginning of it in later chapters of Kings of the North; more is coming in Crisis of Vision.


  • Comment by Rune Ulset Furberg — March 15, 2011 @ 2:08 am


    Brilliant. I can’t wait to hear more about Old Aare. 🙂

    Another question that’s been puzzling me for some time: is the similarity of the nouns “Aarean” and “Aryan” coincidental? I can’t help to notice that the word is not present in the Deed (only references to Old Aare), but appears several times in the Gird and Luap prequels.

  • Comment by Anette — March 15, 2011 @ 3:37 am


    In the real world, a lot of noble bloodlines actually started out from such low beginnings. Men who used physical strength to bully others, or men who used their intelligence to build fortunes or men who managed to marry the right woman. In modern times, most people are aware of this and it’s not really that important. A few hundred years ago, though, saying something like that could start a war. It’s something most people today can’t really understand.

  • Comment by PocketGoddess — March 15, 2011 @ 7:26 am


    Wow, thanks–that was interesting and gave me much food for thought.

    BTW I’m reading Moon Flights now, to fill the time until Kings next week. FABULOUS book, can’t believe I haven’t read this until now! So far “Gifts” and “Ladies of the Club” are my favorites. A tax on women’s armor indeed!

    Purely imaginative and simply delightful.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 15, 2011 @ 8:42 am


    Since you’re reading Moon Flights, take a look at “Judgment.” It gives some background on something that happens later in the book. Not necessary, of course, but you’ll have a head-start on other readers.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 15, 2011 @ 8:52 am


    Rune…absolutely coincidental. In fact, it never occurred to me that anyone would connect them (I never did.) Once having come up with “Aare” as a name for the far south (largely by sound–it sounds like a hot wind to me), the natural adjectival form was “Aarean.”

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 15, 2011 @ 8:59 am


    Yes, of course. And making real to the modern reader how someone like Andressat feels is a reason to present him with the challenge. Many people rest on their family myth–and it’s not always one of high birth. Years ago, an American writer of “life history/life cycle” books interviewed people in many different occupations and social classes and found that a person convinced that their family had always been “honest blue-collar working class” could be locked into that pattern even when opportunity for change was clear and present. To go to college was seen (by some) as a violation of their family mythology–it was “not for the likes of us.” The family myth forecloses some choices, and enables others…it’s often easier to be a teacher in a family of teachers, a plumber in a family of plumbers, or a banker in a family of bankers.

    Finding out that the myth isn’t reality shakes people up, whether it’s good news or bad.

  • Comment by PocketGoddess — March 15, 2011 @ 9:03 am


    Awesome, thanks for the tip!

    Should I also be reading the Paks prequels in anticipation of Kings of the North? I can clear my calendar to re-read this weekend if necessary. . . .


    Do you know if Phases is available anywhere as an ebook? It seems to be out of print, and Baen doesn’t have an ebook version listed for sale. Are there any Paksworld stories in it, making it more urgent to track down a used copy?

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 15, 2011 @ 10:19 am


    You don’t need anything but Oath of Fealty (re-reading the others wouldn’t hurt, of course… ;-)) I missed (probably when sick) getting Editor’s notice that they’d put up all of Chapter 11 connected to my post on having a messy desk on the Suvudu site, so anyone who wants the full chapter can get it here.

    As for Phases: it’s not available as an e-book as far as I know. It has two Paksworld stories in it, “Bargains” (short-short humor) and “Those Who Walk in Darkness”, a side-story from Oath of Gold that is up on the Paksworld website.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — March 15, 2011 @ 10:46 am


    Reminds me of the last television show I watched the last time I was in the U.K. (too many years ago now) where the archeology program was looking at one of the minor March nobility’s home. They looked and looked and couldn’t find traces of the original manor that the robber (real robbers at first!) baron had constructed. Turned out it was repurposed as the village inn. But they found a lot of stuff from the intervening years in the process. Nothing so grandiose as above but certainly similar. (It was one of the archeology programmes for those able to get really old UK tele reruns.)

  • Comment by Naomi — March 16, 2011 @ 1:35 am


    I had a call from Waterstones here in Belgium and surprise, surprise, they had my copy of ‘Kings’ – congratulations, Elizabeth, it’s brilliant! I’m on the reread now, having stormed through it on the first read.

  • Comment by Richard — March 16, 2011 @ 7:33 am


    might that have been Time Team on Channel4? That has been going for many years now. One of my favourites, not so much for the archaeology as the archaeologists. Hunt around the net and you may well find episodes from old series as well as the current one.

    I guess the reference is to Marcher nobility as in (England’s) Welsh Marches, not the town of March in the east. Historical-linguistic quirk: Marchers on the edge of Wales, Borderers on that with Scotland.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 16, 2011 @ 7:46 am


    Wow, Naomi, I’m impressed. (Though that’s also my normal reading pattern if I like a book–storm through at high speed, then immediately re-read.)

  • Comment by arthur — March 17, 2011 @ 9:50 pm


    This is Arthur. So the song lyrics i found on FilkArchive are correct… “Fair were the towers…” So Jedrin, Count of Andressat, who prides himself in “Sheepfarmer’s Daughter” on his noble blood, is actually decended from a commoner! Of course, William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy was a tanner’s son…

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 17, 2011 @ 10:23 pm


    I’m not familiar with Filk Archive and so have no idea if the lyrics there are my “Fair were the towers” or not.

    Andressat: Finding out who one’s ancestors are has very different effects depending on how much someone’s invested in their genetic background and/or family history. What does it mean culturally, socially, politically, economically, as well as to them personally? And at what age does someone find out? Everyone has vulnerable stages in life, in which they are more emotionally fragile and apt to react to discoveries. When people find out as adults that their parents had a previous marriage, other children…or that they are adopted and have siblings they never knew about…it’s usually at least a temporary shock.

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