The REAL Tuesday Snippet

Posted: March 15th, 2011 under Contents, Kings of the North, snippet.
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Since the previous snippet was supposed to be posted Monday (but, fooled by DST, I sent it after midnight) here’s the snippet that *should* come today.

I’ve previously posted a snippet that comes shortly before this one, about Stammel’s first experience in unarmed combat drill after his blinding.    Those who haven’t read the earlier snippet might want to look at it before reading this one.    They’re both in Chapter 9.

And spoiler warnings do apply:  don’t read below the line if you don’t want to know what happens.

Where: Arcolin’s camp in the Vonja outbounds

The messenger from Cortes Vonja carried two letters for Arcolin, one with the seal of Gird on the flap, and the other addressed in Arñe’s writing, sealed in the same wax as the other, but without a seal.  Arcolin felt his heart sink.  Good news would have been Stammel riding into camp with the others.

He slid his dagger blade under the flap of the Marshal’s letter first.

Your sergeant lives, the Marshal had written.  But he is blind, and like to remain so.  Despite this, he has been drilling with my yeomen, greatly to their improvement, I may say.  The first time he attempted unarmed fighting, with the biggest in my grange, he threw him down.  Though he is not yet recovered to his full strength, I judge his health improved enough to leave the grange, and so does he. The Council, at the urging of all three Marshals and the Captain of Tir whom you met, and also a Captain of Falk you did not meet, awarded him a small pension, enough to survive on if he chooses to stay.  I understand he will have a pension from your Company as well. He knows of the pension, but has said nothing to me.  He wants to know your will in this, and considers himself still under your orders.

Arne’s letter was less formal:  Captain, Sergeant Stammel is well and strengthening daily, but he is blind.  We have all done what we can; Suli has a blind uncle, and so guides him the most.  We have been calling her Stammel’s eyes.  I know– That was scratched out.  Arñe added He wants to come back but he won’t ask.  He would do any work you gave him.

What work could he give a blind man, when they might be in combat any time?   Yes, he had hired a half-blind captain but the man still had one eye.  Stammel…Arcolin squeezed his eyes against the thought of telling Stammel he must leave the Company.  At least he must take Stammel back north, back to the Stronghold, to safety.  He called Burek into his tent and showed him the letters.

“Blind!” Burek said.  “I thought he would live or die, and if he lived, recover.”

“It is…hard to imagine,” Arcolin said.  “Hard for us all; you knew him only a short while, but for many of us–”

“You will pension him, surely.”

“I will think,” Arcolin said.  “Go find Devlin, and send him to me.”  Devlin, who had been Stammel’s corporal so long before the disruptions of Siniava’s war promoted him.

“You have word,” Devlin said, as he came into the tent.

“He’s alive, but blind,” Arcolin said.  Devlin looked stunned, the way he himself felt.   “He can walk; he can even drill, after a fashion.  He threw a yeoman in an unarmed fighting drill.  The Marshal pressured the Council to give him a small pension, if he wants to stay there, and will find him a room in someone’s house.”

“No,” Devlin said.  “No, that can’t be.”

“I’m sorry,” Arcolin said.  “But it’s true.”

“That’s not what I meant, sir.  I understand: he’s blind.  But he can’t–he will die–if he’s penned up in some spare room, alone, without us.  Sir, you have to bring him here.  He can walk; he can march with us.  If he can drill, he’ll get stronger.  He knows so much–he can teach me, and Arñe and Jenits and the rest…”

“But if we’re in combat–he can’t fight–”

“He can at least be with us,” Devlin said.  “I know that’s what he’d want–he probably won’t ask you–but it’s what he wants.  What he needs.  And we need him.  If he’d lost a leg or something, if he couldn’t keep up–but you say he can–”

“I say the Marshal says he’s well enough to move out of the grange, but–ours is a hard life for men with sight.”

“And the life he knows,” Devlin said.

“The Duke,” Arcolin began; Devlin interrupted him.

“It’s not Phelan’s company any more, sir, but yours.  Maybe you think Kieri Phelan would have sent him back north, but you can do what you want.”

He wanted Stammel back, but he wanted the Stammel who no longer existed, the Stammel who had not lost his sight because Arcolin agreed to a civilian’s request.  But he wanted Stammel back, here, to talk to, to steady the troops.

“They’ll need horses,” he said.  “Let me think–Stammel should have my ambler; he’s steady and a smooth ride.  He won’t have ridden in awhile.  Arñe or Doggal can ride the fast one I left up there.  And four more.  We don’t have four spares, unless we don’t move and send the wagon teams…or switch out mules…”

“I’ll take care of that, sir,” Devlin said.  “Thank you, sir!”

Arcolin wrote out the orders for Arñe.  He wanted to go himself, but the cohort could not afford to lose another senior person; the courier could take the orders back.  He wrote a letter of thanks to Marshal Harak and one each for the Captains of Tir and Falk.

Only a few days later, a small party of horse travelers proved to be the missing six, all wearing absurd floppy straw hats over their helmets.  Arcolin thought Stammel looked perfectly normal at first, and wondered if he had regained his sight, but then he saw Suli, riding beside him, touch his arm and take the rein of the horse.


So Stammel returns to the  Company.   But that’s not the whole story.


  • Comment by Sully — March 15, 2011 @ 7:51 pm


    Stammel is such a compelling character to me, I’m glad he’s going to still get some attention.

    Thanks for these additional snippets.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 15, 2011 @ 8:14 pm


    Stammel’s always been one of my favorites. His life has become markedly more difficult but he’s still and always will be Stammel, to his last breath.

  • Comment by Kerry (aka Trouble) — March 15, 2011 @ 8:25 pm


    Thank you, again. These snippets do make the wait easier to take.

  • Comment by Kerry (aka Trouble) — March 15, 2011 @ 8:26 pm


    Hmm…Your server does not appear to have migrated to DST – or does it live in a different time zone?

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 15, 2011 @ 10:09 pm


    Kerry, my computer hasn’t migrated, because it’s old and still thinks DST doesn’t start until sometime in April. Which I wish were true (actually, I wish DST didn’t exist, but that’s another rant.)

  • Comment by Nay — March 15, 2011 @ 11:37 pm


    Gah, I hate DST. It makes me think I get up at regular times when i get up at somewhere around what used to be 4 am.

    Anyway, Stammel is such a powerful and compelling personality, that even blind I’m glad he’s still got his fifteen seconds of fame.

    So, I’ve officially driven all my friends crazy with my countdown to this book. (Started as soon as I got the date) *chews on end of pencil* These snippets are good though. Thet do make the waiting easier. It’s too close to really be spoilerific…in my mind at least.

  • Comment by Roger — March 16, 2011 @ 2:10 am


    Got my book yesterday 🙂
    Now I know what to do after work today – thanks Elizabeth!
    Br//Roger (from sweden)

  • Comment by Louise — March 16, 2011 @ 2:32 am


    Yay! I came back from holiday and found my book waiting for me, so I picked it up yesterday. Could have actually picked it up last Thursday, if I’d been around. Am a bit sleepy this morning here in Amsterdam, but thank you Elizabeth for a wonderful, wonderful tale! I will start again on the train home today to go more in depth.

    Kind regards,


  • Comment by green_knight — March 16, 2011 @ 2:42 am


    Thanks for going there. No heroic death for Stammel (and, I hope, no death): alive and inconvenient to the plot, but still _Stammel_,.. and the characters have to deal with it, because life sometimes *is* inconvenient.

    I wanted read these anyway; now I want to read them even more.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 16, 2011 @ 7:43 am


    If/when Stammel dies, it’s likely to be a heroic death because of who he is. Wrapping him in cotton wool isn’t likely to work. But we’ll see.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 16, 2011 @ 7:44 am


    Happy for you! Thanks for letting us know (though I’m sure there’ll be champing at the bit of those who can’t get theirs yet.)

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 16, 2011 @ 7:44 am


    Thanks for letting us know, Roger.

  • Comment by Richard — March 16, 2011 @ 10:35 am


    Following Roger’s report, here in UK I have seen Kings in local bookshop (Waterstones), held it in my hand, but Amazon are still sticking to 25th as release date for my pre-ordered copy.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 16, 2011 @ 12:27 pm


    “Leaking out into the environment” is it? Probably propelled by the people who really, really want it. But too bad Amazon’s falling behind.

  • Comment by AJR — March 17, 2011 @ 8:26 am


    Yes, I’m a bit peeved Amazon is holding back till next week Usually they’re very hot off the mark. Not that my yearning to hold the book in my hands has anything to do with my disgruntlement, of course… 🙂

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 17, 2011 @ 10:04 am


    Of course not!

    If someone in Authority had declared me Empress of the Universe, would even now be scrambling to mail your book. Alas, I’m still waiting for that spotlight from above and the official announcement…

  • Comment by Eir de Scania — March 17, 2011 @ 12:35 pm


    My copy arrived yesterday, through SF-bokhandeln in Stockholm and I’ve already finished the first rushed readin to see what happens. A slower re-reading will follow in the weekend.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 17, 2011 @ 12:57 pm


    Sweden and The Netherlands seem to have been the front-runners in this year’s race.

  • Comment by Annabel (Mrs Redboots) — March 18, 2011 @ 5:09 am


    I was so furious with you when Stammel went blind – I very, very nearly tweeted you to say so, but realised it probably wasn’t your fault, but was how the story told itself. I am so glad he is coming back to the Company, at least for a time. He is almost my favourite character in the whole series.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 18, 2011 @ 6:26 am


    It’s how the story tells itself, yes. I’m frequently not happy (as a reader) with how the story goes but know (as a writer) that I have to tell it as it comes to me. And some characters put on the Red Shirt and refuse to take it off. (Arguing with a character that he/she’s popular and must not wear the Red Shirt gets the writer nowhere.) So I’m glad you understand that.

  • Comment by PocketGoddess — March 18, 2011 @ 11:13 am


    I guess you’re talking “red shirt” in terms of sports, where the red shirted players are not to be tackled in practice?

    When someone says red shirt, I immediately think Star Trek, where red shirt = death, or so it seems.


  • Comment by Carolyn Rau — March 18, 2011 @ 12:06 pm


    I think she does mean the star trek red shirt – I hope not but….. I am always afraid of the worst.

    I prefer looking through the bars….not at a blank wall. Four more days.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 18, 2011 @ 2:39 pm


    It’s the Star Trek kind of Red Shirt.

    Sometimes stories demand that important, even beloved, characters die. I always wail at that point, and pound on the walls and try to save them. Sometimes I can save them for awhile and then later they step off a cliff, while grinning at me and flapping their Red Shirt.

    Sometimes, of course, I don’t see the Red Shirt until the character is one half-second from death. Just as I’m saying “But that can’t be–that makes no sense–” there’s that glimpse of Red Shirt and a depth of backstory that tells me WHY that character was doomed five chapters ago and I didn’t see it.

    The thing is…if I insist on keeping them, they aren’t really alive. They turn from living breathing characters full of life to plastic mannequins that I can pose or move around…but only as puppets. They’re no longer real. And that, it seems to be, is the cruelest thing I could do to them.

  • Comment by Carolyn Rau — March 18, 2011 @ 3:31 pm


    I get your point about not really being alive – I can’t imagine Stammel living quietly in Koyla’s apple orchard as an old man. He would always need to DO something.

    Oh well.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 18, 2011 @ 8:32 pm


    Kolya would have been glad to have him…but though I leaned on the story, it wasn’t meant to be.

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