Register and Custom

Posted: June 12th, 2012 under Background, Craft, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,

I really admire Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden books, because they handle issues of register and custom so well.  For those not dragged backwards through a linguistics course at some point, “register” refers to the way people speak in reference to social roles.    Most of us learn as children that one mode of speaking is fine with another child–a friend, say–but another is needed to satisfy expectations when talking to a friend of our parents.  That’s register: everything from the choice of words to the tone of voice to the topics considered appropriate…communication changes with social situations.

I was working over some of Editor’s comments yesterday and the day before, and came across a scene where a character changed registers drastically (for a good reason.)   We do that all the time in daily life:  you’re chatting with a friend while eating lunch at a sidewalk cafe–friend-to-friend, casual–and you see someone at the next table suddenly fall out of his chair and lie motionless on the pavement.  You call out for help in a completely different tone than you had just said to your friend “And you wouldn’t believe what that cat did next!”   If you have the experience you may take charge and continue to give orders–the register of command.   When the ambulance shows up, you subside from “I’m in charge for now” into “intelligent bystander” and answer their questions.

Register–when to change, and into what–varies with culture.   I grew up in an area with two main cultures and multiple variants of each….and like most of the kids there, learned how to get along in more than one.    So when I was imagining Paksworld, the various cultures arrived in my head each with its own set of registers, and the rules for using them.   But those rules have been used without explanation…I “hear” the character speaking and write it down, and figure that you readers will grasp (subliminally, possibly) that manners in Fintha aren’t like manners in Tsaia, that the relationship between, say, Kieri and Aliam Halveric are clear even though you haven’t been told what signifies the exact status moment to moment.   Every element of a conversation is intended to convey more about a relationship than is specifically stated–whether it works for a given reader or not.

Since I deliberately left out some this-world usages for nobility and royalty, what Paksworld has does not conform to the usage of any this-world court.  But the degree of difference sometimes bumps into the expectations of unfamiliar readers–copy editors and the like–who want to make it fit the British model or the Chicago Manual of Style model.  Neither fits.    Some of the characters are expert in managing communication, formal in speech. Some are blunt, but with no intent to be discourteous (and in their own culture, they’re not.)

I’ve been trying, for the past several books, to figure out how to make it easier for editors and copy editors to work with my books, (and readers, perhaps, to understand them better) but it’s complicated.  I almost need to write out complete etiquette manuals, anthropological treatises, etc.    And that’s a lot of work…a lot of work that, if put in the actual books…would be so much infodump.   I could simplify further, but then I’d lose the nuances that please me–that I enjoy.

So–if anyone’s interested–if this is the kind of thing that intrigues you–have any of you noticed changes in register, and different customs between the Paksworld cultures when it comes to the ways people speak in different situations?


  • Comment by Moira — June 22, 2012 @ 4:28 am


    Hmmm, remember when Paks was studying with the Girdish in Fin Panir? At the Midwinter Feast, she met a female paladin (Camwynna? Cam for short? sorry, too tired to go look it up) and I would swear this one was referred to as Sir Cam-whatsername. I think.

    But it’s entirely possible that I’m dreaming. My pillow calls.

  • Comment by pjm — June 23, 2012 @ 4:05 am


    Camwynya, abbreviated to Cami, but her real name was Rahel. (see Deed ch 53; Divided Allegiance ch 22). She was referred to as Lady Cami by the dwarves; I didn’t find Sir Cami, Sir Camwynya or Sir Rahel.

  • Comment by Richard — June 24, 2012 @ 10:56 am


    I’m not Elizabeth, so people had better check my answers and shout whenever I get one wrong. I’ve just remembered that the man in charge of Kieri’s stable is a Knight of Falk, and IS called SIR Ganeth. So now I’m suggesting that:

    – The customary honorific for a knight in Phelan’s Company was “Captain”;

    – The correct title (when one is needed – the King addresses them by name only) for a Lyonyan King’s Squire who is also a Knight of Falk (as all of them have to be) is “King’s Squire”;

    – The Lyonyan rangers eschew titles between themselves, making no distinction between the many who are Knights of Falk and the many (many more?) who are not.

  • Comment by pjm — June 24, 2012 @ 10:12 pm


    I would imagine that the usual practice in a moderately formal situation is to use the highest title (thus King’s Squire rather than knight). However I would also expect that “Sir So-and-so” might be used to distinguish between two of them.

    Given that knighthood was earned I would doubt that a knight in Phelan’s company would be ranked lower than captain, but I would be even more surprised if a knight in a lower rank would be called “Captain” as a courtesy title. Consider Hornblower, Maturin, etc – a midshipman could be the son of a king and might on occasion be entitled to be called “Your Highness”, but not Lieutenant, Captain, or whatever until that rank was earned. Ranks on board ship could be very different from social rankings. (eg “Mr Prince” in one of the Hornblower books – I think “Hornblower and the Atropos”).


  • Comment by Moira — June 25, 2012 @ 12:16 am


    (52) Peter – Thanks, yes, it was Cami I was thinking of. Still haven’t had time to go back and look, so I’m not sure where the “Sir” part came from. Maybe wishful thinking. 😉 (I was always very much in favor of the gender-blind military address in the Serrano series.)

    (54) Your reasoning is perfectly fine – IF we assume that the eight kingdoms follow the same formal etiquette as Britain. I’m not sure I’d want to make that assumption, since it’s a different world and Elizabeth may have made different decisions in places. As we’ve discussed before, Paksworld owes a lot of its power to compel and absorb our attention to its familiarity and its use of real-world historical sources, but familiarity doesn’t necessarily mean duplication.

    Or to put it in a nutshell, with apologies to Gershwin: it ain’t necessarily so. 😉

  • Comment by Richard — June 26, 2012 @ 2:17 am


    Dorrin as a knight (of Falk) in Phelan’s Company we’ve never seen given any other title than “Captain”.

    All this still leaves slightly open the question, are Knights of Falk as a general rule (and as opposed to other knights) no more inclined to flaunt their status than university graduates in our world are to insist on having the letters “B.A.” (or whatever their degree is) included after their names?

  • Comment by pjm — June 26, 2012 @ 8:09 am


    Moira and Richard,
    Hmmmm! (Pauses to think, but not too long. Opens mouth, changes feet)

    I don’t think we know how Dorrin was addressed before she was a captain. I stand corrected on knights in lower ranks though.

    Making up a world doesn’t mean you can do just anything – it still has to make sense and work. I can’t see that addressing a corporal or a sergeant with the courtesy title of “Captain” would make any sense.

    That said, there may always be reasons why things which seem to make no sense, really do make sense. (if that makes sense)

    (changes feet again)


  • Comment by Richard — June 26, 2012 @ 8:18 am


    Another piece of the jigsaw (I keep spotting them one at a time): on the way from Harway to the Verrakai house, Dorrin met some militia and made them pledge fealty. For that formality, she styled herself “Sir Dorrin, Duke of Verrakai”: knightly rank as well as noble title. She’d already decided to use the male form Duke rather than Duchess (which she associates with a Duke’s consort).

    Elizabteh, one difficulty you will have if you do write an etiquette manual is that the way your characters have been shoved around, many of them haven’t read the right chapters and have been struggling to adapt as they go along.

    The oath itself makes an interesting comparison with the one Kieri’s soldiers swore back when he was Duke Phelan (in chapter 7 of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter).

    Notice how Verrakai is not only a family surname, but also the name of a domain. We saw the same usage from Arcolin when Mikeli asked his opinion of Dorrin. Also Mikeli’s letter to Dorrin mentioned “Kieri Artfiel Phelan, Duke of Phelan” (which domain then reverted to the name “North Marches” when given to Arcolin; no wonder all the village charters had to be rewritten). Which makes me wonder is “Andressat” also both surname and domain name? (remembering that Tsaian customs for noble titles come from Aare by way of Aarenis). Was the city of Cortes Andres named after the man who founded it?

  • Comment by Richard — June 26, 2012 @ 8:33 am


    #57: Peter, Dorrin went into the Company as a junior captain. I don’t know that Phelan ever had any knights under him who weren’t captains. (Certainly not as squires: those left him to BECOME knights. I wonder what title was put against Paks’ name in the records once she was obviously a paladin.) My point was that the title “Captain” replaced the knightly one. He may have had captains who weren’t knights (Arcolin for one, I now suspect) and deliberately not discriminated.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 26, 2012 @ 5:41 pm


    Richard: Trying to cover many points at once…hope I don’t stumble.

    Yes, Andressat is both the family name and the surname, and that’s true for the “old” domains established by at least one branch of magelords in Aarenis. The fortified cities (Cortes Immer, Cortes Cilwan, Cortes Vonja, Cortes Andres and a few more no longer existing in that form) were intended as the centers of power for a region. It is noteworthy that Alured the Black, when he chose/made up his new name, did NOT take on the family name Immerdzat. There are spoilers in saying any more….both about the naming conventions and the reasons for Alured’s choices.

    The rank structure in Kieri’s company, as in other mercenary companies, was kept simple for practical reasons: one commander, captains under the commander if the company was large enough, soldiers under them–and for most such, no more than three grades, though they didn’t all choose the same names for those grades. An officer in a merc company used the terminology of the merc company, no matter what his/her rank had been before, unless that officer was the commander, when–like Kieri–he might choose to use a title.

    For the nobility and royalty, both titles and terms of address do not conform exactly to British (or any other) usage. That is intentional. About the time you throw in all the levels and all the terminology of any one this-world aristocracy, you’re creating a crossover effect that I didn’t want. I needed enough familiar terms to make it believable (to those who knew little of court etiquette but the little they knew was British) but enough difference to signal (to those who knew a lot of British court etiquette) that no, we’re not in the Court of St. James.

    Knights are in an ambiguous situation…the foundation of knightly orders under Gird’s fellowship, for instance, was a source of some dispute back down the line. Here were elite warriors–on horseback, with armor–who looked all too much like the magelords of old. And yet…you may need a troop of elite warriors capable of looking impressive. And yet…Gird could look impressive in an old patched shirt and nothing more in his hand than a longstaff. Girdish knighthood started in Tsaia, on the foundation of existing traditions (and the dangerous proximity to magelord traditions was noted!!) Note that the Tsaian knights are in the Order of the Bells, not the Order of Gird. Girdish knights in Fintha were founded in somewhat the same spirit as the German Navy in the late 1800s/early 1900s in rivalry with the Royal Navy…”You think you’re so hot, well, we can do better.” The Knights of Gird are specifically a religious order…with all that implies of the combined military/religious power. That’s about to become interesting. More would be spoilerish. Knights of Falk have a really complex history and tradition, one that weaves together the Falkian core beliefs in the nobility of good breeding and the humility of Falk himself, the prince who suffered slavery to free his brothers. It is entirely proper (in the Falkian tradition) for a Knight of Falk to show no pride and demand no deference, using either his/her plain name or a rank achieved in another field…but wearing the ruby. So the Lyonyan rangers and Squires who are knights (all the Squires, some of the rangers) wear the ruby but no other sign of knighthood, and are not addressed as “Sir”. A Falkian paladin (always a knight…so far…) will be clearly recognized as a knight, and addressed formally except by companions.

  • Comment by pjm — June 26, 2012 @ 9:58 pm


    Thanks Elizabeth.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 27, 2012 @ 7:25 am


    One other thing, which bears on the consistency issue. When I wrote the original DEED, I had never published fiction, or written anything near that long. I’d kept trying to write short stories (which never ended, so I abandoned them and started new ones.) This time, I decided to just stay with it and see what happened–and you know the rest.

    But though I knew what the story needed, instinctively, I was not aware of how I was getting there, for the most part. I was not nearly as analytical about the process as I am now. I hadn’t been an English major, hadn’t spent time analyzing how other writers did it, and had only audited one semester of creative writing (did the assignments, but that’s all.) It either felt right, or it didn’t, and I wrote that section differently. It went through three full-length drafts, with some sections having more, so a lot of words flowed under the story-ship, but it was still instinct.

    By the end, I was just barely becoming aware of how I was doing what I was doing. I had learned through the whole process; I learned a lot from my first editor, Betsy Mitchell. But the only way I knew to actually write a story was to plunge in and let the story tell itself. I remember, a few years later, being asked to teach a workshop–which I did–but realizing that I had no way to talk about process. My students were English majors who had the words, but not the experience. My “feel” for what I was doing had nothing to do with the way they’d been taught to analyze fiction. It was a bumpy ride.

    At any rate…we adopted our son as I was writing through what became the second volume, and by the time I’d finished the DEED we knew he had developmental problems. I started researching…and as we groped around trying to help him with his language problems, I found myself back in linguistics, needing more than my one course had given me, as well as neurology and what was then known about developmental psychology and neurology (a lot less than is known now.)

    This gave me additional tools, and working with our son made me more aware of how I myself used language. Slow process, but 20 books and a years later I was understanding more of what I do…enough so I can talk about it, though I still don’t know all the English department vocabulary and am not at all sure we’re on the same page. The story-instinct is still there, the story still comes the way it did in the DEED (which is the fun part) but instead of just grabbing a few basic tools out of the toolkit and hoping they’ll do the job, I’ve now got a big rolling case of them, many drawers in that case, many sizes of many tools, and the groping hand automatically knows which drawer and which tool. Usually. (Never always. You’d think by now I’d type without error. HA!)

    I still plunge in and let the story tell itself to me. I still don’t know where stuff is coming from until afterward (if then); I still the instinct run the show. But book after book I’ve looked at and questioned myself: why did I make that choice (of words, of phrasing, of punctuation?) How did it work once done? Would this other choice have worked as well? Better? When an editor (any editor) changed something, the same analysis: better? Worse? The same but different? What difference did the difference make?

    The writer I am now reads the original Paks books with considerable respect: how did someone as ignorant as I was of process accomplish that monster? At the same time, the writer I am now (and without the notebooks that I kept, that did explain some things I’ve forgotten) looks at the details and thinks “Could’ve used a smaller chisel there” and “Missed a spot with the stain.” And still at the same time, I’m still happy with it…for all the little things that 20+ years more experience would have done differently, the core of it still works. Changing a word here and a word there–not essential.

  • Comment by Moira — June 27, 2012 @ 10:47 pm


    I’m one of those strange creatures who are both artistic / creative *and* highly analytical (boy, am I one crazy, mixed-up kid!)

    All I can say, Elizabeth, is that your books appeal to both halves of my brain and always have done. So don’t sweat it, just keep doing what you’re doing.

    And as always – thank you.

  • Comment by Iphinome — June 27, 2012 @ 11:20 pm


    @Lady Moon
    The idea that something that huge could be written without a nice detailed outline confuses and terrifies me.

    But then I.. well I wasn’t an English _major_, it was my minor. Who could resist a few composition classes for the chance to get credit for reading Chaucer and Shakespeare?

    Too bad studying french and picking up bits of other languages can kill one’s ability to manage English spelling and grammar.

  • Comment by Richard — June 28, 2012 @ 4:04 am


    It’s not just story dynamics you gave to the DEED but a depth and sureness of characters and a richness of detail. If you’d been an English major you’d not have had the history to mine and distill for us. If you’d a large toolkit but no story you’d have been an editor not a writer, and we’d have been the poorer for it.

    If I didn’t know your old notebooks were missing, and didn’t know how much detailed attention you give your craft, I’d not so often be bringing back your words from the past to haunt you. At times I’m not sure how you put up with it. Anything you have to tell differently this time round, do so. It is a bit like going into the supermarket and finding the jams and marmalades have moved to a different aisle: I’ll soon get used to it.

    Do you remember now why you had two parallel Orders of knights in Fin Panir (Gird and Cudgel)? Paks told us she’d been nominally assigned to one of them when a paladin-candidate, but not which one, so the differences between them (if any) can hardly matter. As to why Fintha has knights at all, one possible reason I can see is that neither bashing people on the head with staves nor poking at them with pikes would be any good for Girdsmen on foot against horse nomads with bows riding rings round them.

    I’m glad to know I was on the right track regarding Knights of Falk being very different. I’ve come to imagine them as graduates of a college who if they’ve no family business or farm to return to, must go out into the world to seek a living. Whereas are novices in the Bells enlisting in an army for years (Tsaia’s Royal Guard, as its heavy cavalry and its officer corps) as surely as are recruits in Fox Company?

    We (your readers) have come to learn Paksworld’s customs the same way the people in it learn them: by example. As you said at the start of this thread, the problem is how to give Editor a concise shortcut to our (or rather, your) knowledge, without begging the question or going astray.

  • Comment by Richard — June 28, 2012 @ 4:24 am


    Two subpoints.
    1) as well as the German Navy viz-a-viz Royal Navy, how about the US Navy revival at the same time (Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet”)

    2) about the academic study of English literature: Asimov wrote a short story “The Immortal Bard”, imagining someone using a time machine to bring Shakespeare on an anonymous visit to the present day.

  • Comment by Richard — June 28, 2012 @ 5:40 am



    We all know this, but maybe Editor hasn’t picked it all up yet. If she has then no harm done retelling it.

    Lyonya has only one rank that we know of, which is Sier. (Aliam, to whom Sier Halveric has handed over his land but not his title, is “Lord Halveric”). Back in Oath of Gold a king once summoned to a special court session “all the Siers in Chaya, and the kyllan-siers of those who are not here”, but whether the latter term refers to an heir or to a delegate we don’t know.

    Tsaia has Dukes, Counts and Barons (descending order). Many Baronies are part of Counties but some come directly under the King. Putting my point from #58 the other way round, Dorrin Verrakai Duke of Verrakai is commonly “Duke Verrakai”. Jandelir Arcolin, currently odd-man-out for being Count of the North Marches rather than of Arcolin, is commonly “Count Arcolin”. A Duke’s – maybe a Count’s or Baron’s too – eldest son (heir) is a kirgun. About younger sons all we know is that one Duke’s brother was “Lord Verrakai”. What about grandsons? A nephew or cousin is a nigan.

    Aarenis (from where the magelords who set up Tsaia’s system came) has Dukes, Counts and Barons, but at least one Sier too (of Westland). He has barons under him because a renegade one hired out as a somewhat disreputable local mercenary.

    From the seafolk kingdoms of Pargun and Kostandan with their own language and traditions we know of one rank, translated as Count. Pargun has a Sagon of the West but this may be a royal military appointment akin to Constable in Tsaia.

  • Comment by Richard — June 28, 2012 @ 4:16 pm


    Here’s one last topic from me under the heading of customs of speech we’ve noticed that might interest Editor. (I hope she’s been following all this.) Again this is in the style of an exam answer, so anyone who spots a mistake for which to deduct a mark, please shout.

    By the way, (1) a brother or sister is a sib (never sibling that I recall, and not to be confused with Paksworld’s hot drink).

    (2) Dorrin calls Haron (the previous Duke Verrakai) her uncle, though I expect he was her great-uncle’s son and her father’s cousin. I’m taking it that in large families living together, all adult relatives (other than their parents) are “Uncle” or “Aunt” to all children. (I must say again how much I loved the moment Paks had taught the Verrakai children to say “Auntie Dorrin”.)

    The occasion: the Company paraded after a battle to give some soldiers the equivalent of a medal. The captain announces “Simisi Kanasson, who … Sim [did so-and-so]”. Notice both the patronymic and the shift from formal name on first mention to common abbreviation thereafter.

    Because Paks herself has a patronymic (Herself Fathersdotter as opposed to Himself Fatherson), Master Oakhallow at Brewersbridge – southeast Tsaia bordering Lyonya – guessed she must be from the northwest. Many characters (and casually-mentioned persons offstage) in the Company and in Fintha and Tsaia have patronymics.

    In Fin Panir there was talk of a Jori of Westbells and of an Elis of Harway: two placenames that happen both to be in eastern Tsaia, but whether that (rare in the books) form of name is particularly associated with that area I do not know.

    Other humans have personal first name plus family surname (not just nobles, but also ordinary folk like Mal Argonist the woodcutter). Those from noble families (royal ones in particular) can have second or even third personal names as well. Falkieri Amrothlin Artfielan, for example (we were never told the Lyonyan royal house’s surname to complete that mouthful).

    Half-elves (if they choose to follow elven rather than human ways, for example by becoming rangers, like Arian) do not use surnames.

    The same word can be both one family’s surname and a personal name for others (like our own world’s Scottish surnames Bruce, Douglas, Malcolm and Stuart); this isn’t a mistake. Ganarrion (Gan for short) and Serrostin are two examples.

    As in our own world, the same popular names keep circulating, leavened by some unusual ones (like Paksenarrion). Elven-inspired names have spread across the north to humans who’ll never in their entire lives see an elf.

    Even more than in our world (with Andy for Andrew, Bill for William, Tom for Thomas), long names in Paksworld get shortened. Like Paksenarrion to Paks, presumably so the Company sergeants could give orders quickly. By contrast the Fin Panir Hall’s steward wanted names long enough not to be mistaken in anyone’s handwriting.

    How to shorten a name is usually obvious (not so with Arñe for Arianya) but there can be alternatives: Paks, Pakse or Enarra for Paksenarrion; Falki (usually) or Kieri (there’s a little story behind that) for Falkieri.

    Different long names can have the same abbreviation. Selis is a boy’s name in its own right (in Tsaian noble families, Elizabeth has said) but a boy Seli can be a Seliam or a Seliast. In Gird’s time we had a girl called Seli. (Girls’ names and boys’ names have been discussed on this site before; suffice it to say Elizabeth knows which names are which, but there is little discernable pattern.)

    With hundreds of soldiers in the Company, those with the same first name are distinguished by nicknames more often than patronymic or surname: Black Sef, Bald Seli, Little Tam, Eyes (Suli, could be Suliya or Sulinarrion, because she was Stammel’s Eyes – guide – for a while). Even the captains know and except on formal occasions use the nicknames.

    Kuakkgani adopt special names like Oakhallow (who has a grove) and Ashwind (who wanders). Gnomes use first name, patronymic and –fulk (tribe). As for dwarves, we had for example Balkon son of Tekis son of Kadas, mother-son of Fedrin Harasdotter, sister-son he of the Goldenaxe.

    P.S. For anyone avoiding Spoiler/Speculation Space, by the way, comments #66 to #69 there are safe: they are about how to give Arñe her squiggle. Thank you.

    Moira, you think some of your posts are long! I prepared this one offline. If the subject of customs and culture into register isn’t exhausted, I am.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 28, 2012 @ 7:56 pm


    Richard, you are doing wonderful things, and I thank you. When I have time (raucous laughter from the peanut gallery, right?) I am coming back to pick these things up and stuff them in a file and then consider how to include them in the website. I’m not sure, just reading them piecemeal, what the best organization is. Feel free to share your thoughts when you’ve rested up from the labor.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 28, 2012 @ 7:58 pm


    I’m grateful, Richard. You’re not doing this in a snarky “Gotcha!” way, but in a scholarly way, and that’s deligfhtful.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 28, 2012 @ 8:23 pm


    Iphinome: I avoided English classes in college because the ones I had to take were so…well, they interfered with my joy in reading as much as they taught me anything. The creative writing class in my university when I was there was….not for me. (Genre writing was ridiculed and outlawed; the ideal was depressive self-absorbed angst by young white males convinced of their genius. Or so it seemed when I looked into it.) I didn’t want to analyze texts I loved, and I didn’t want to write stories about endless angst.

    The non-outlining thing works for some writers and not others. I think (but this is a guess) what it takes is a very very solid grasp of Story. Or maybe the irascible character in my brain I call my “plot daemon” really exists. He handles plot while I just report on what’s happening. Asking him “What next?” results in a tirade about my ingratitude and either a sulking fit when nothing comes, or a shower of plot bombs so fast I can’t write them all down.

    I just realized this past week that there’s a pattern here starting way, way, back in childhood. This is how I learn and do things…ignoring the neatly lettered signs that lead other people to their learning-goal, I jump off the track early, into the swamp, and bushwhack my way across country, arriving at whatever destination covered in mud, twigs, bug-bites, scratches and bruises, but…happy. Directions and maps are just for thinking where I might like to go. (I realized this in a conversation of knitting in another venue. Apparently it’s not the usual thing to decide now is the hour to knit socks, and then start knitting socks with only the vaguest idea of size, parts, connecting the parts…I figured I had the foot the sock was supposed to go on, so making sure the foot would continue to go into the sock as it grew would get the job done. Barring the heel, for which YarnHarlot provided excellent guidance and without a string of knitting jargon. In plain English, with wit. I did it with Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, tools and materials for making something (I made something else), fixing my bicycle, fixing a radio, sewing, painting, writing…whatever it is, it’s a deep structure and not one that schooling every dislodged.

    My friend Doranna Durgin has two beagles she runs in agility…one, Connery, is very focused and determined to be right. The other, Dart, is more like me…”Whee! New place! Jump, tunnel, A-frame…wow, sniff THAT…OK, yes, another jump…that was fun, let’s jump it again! Course? Everything in order? That’s silly–this is a dog playground!” Keeping Connery on course is just a matter of giving him the right cues at the right time. Keeping Dart on course requires constant correction, attention-getting strategies, etc. They both also do tracking…each with his own personality and thought structure behind it.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 28, 2012 @ 8:27 pm


    Moira: I have some analytical strengths–my mother was an engineer, after all, and I was brought up in it. My father’s also was an engineer, though he was no longer part of the family, so I’ve got that on two sides. I write pretty decent nonfiction with that side of my head, and am quite good at dissecting scientific/medical research and finding the holes. Enjoy it, even. It’s probably why the invented worlds hang together…stuff has to make sense to me.

  • Comment by Iphinome — June 28, 2012 @ 10:29 pm


    That’s it, focused and determined to be right. Everything in order, check the little boxes and fill it all out in triplicate. *happy sounds*

  • Comment by Richard — June 30, 2012 @ 8:31 am


    #67: kirgan, not kirgun. *bangs head*

  • Comment by Richard — June 30, 2012 @ 12:30 pm


    #69: have you picked up my e-mail a few days ago with the single list of quotes? For the rest, can Editor do the picking up from here as part of her homework, and produce crib-sheets for copy-editors? Since the whole thread started with you thinking about that.

    Girdsmen keep saying “Gird’s grace”. The quotes show that Falkians do sometimes say “Falk’s grace”, but that were anyone to say “Falk’s gut” or “Gird’s oath” for example, then copy-editor should be questioning the remark. That’s one thing the list is for.

    Does Editor recognise the cult backgrounds of all the characters I’ve attributed quotes to? If she doesn’t already remember that Dorrin is Falkian, and Arcolin Girdish, etc, that would be bad. One facet – I chose that word deliberately – of the series you handle so naturally is people from different cults, and cultures, rubbing along together. Sometimes turns of phrase rub off, and sometimes there are raw feelings.

    I’ve the scholar’s fault of wanting to include everything just to show how thorough I’ve been. For Editor’s benefit, I hope that’s good for clueing her in to the range of expressions available for nuances, and to some of the casual – throw-away almost – references that have enriched the books. On the website maybe not so good.

  • Comment by Richard — June 30, 2012 @ 12:49 pm


    Girdish knights (your #60) something I left out of my #65 (hadn’t seen it then):

    Girdsmen arguing about whether to have knights suggests a good political reason for, maybe even a political story behind, Fintha having two orders.

  • Comment by Moira — June 30, 2012 @ 5:29 pm


    @Elizabeth – Yes! Things have to make sense. My dad is also an engineer (and even at 84, still delights in quoting equations and imperial-to-metric conversions, and doing the calculations in his head…), and everyone always commented on how I was so darn logical even as a child. And that sits cheek by jowl in the same skull as the musician, artist, incurable romantic, yadda yadda. So I consider that a fine excuse, now and again, to throw everyone’s staid expectations to the wind and do something radical out of sheer whimsy.

    There’s not enough whimsy in the world, I always say.

    Just a quick note, in case anyone was going to post at me: the old Chinese curse has caught up to me and I’m living in Interesting Times. I hope to keep tabs on y’all for the next couple of months, but my contributions will most likely be sporadic. I’ll look forward to getting back in the swing of things in the fall (autumn, for those on the other side of the Pond). Have fun!

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 30, 2012 @ 7:32 pm


    If I understand it correctly (and haven’t worked through this in detail), one of the orders is for home-grown Finthan-Girdish knights, and the other is where they train other realms’ knights. The tuition, so to speak, is higher for non-residents.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 30, 2012 @ 7:35 pm


    Moira: best wishes for your Chinese-curst months. May you come back to us with good health, good news, and good fortune.

  • Comment by Ginny W. — July 1, 2012 @ 11:28 am


    I have never been able to produce an outline for anything written until after I wrote it. I could make an outline, but then what I wrote had nothing to do with it.

    On the other hand, outlines help me to go from the first draft to a finished product. I tend to wander off in every interesting direction, and the outline streamlines things so I can see the direct route and separate the side trips. But I don’t write fiction

    Richard, I am very much enjoying your collections of titles. Thank you.

    Incidentally, the Knight-Commander of Falk is addressed as sir – by Dorrin and Paks in Oath of Fealty. There is also a Captain-General of Falk,who seems to have very high rank in Lyonya (since he accompanies Kieri up the mound at his coronation). Hmm – I need to think this question through some more.

  • Comment by Richard — July 3, 2012 @ 7:26 am


    I forget where Elizabeth wrote about Marshal-General, High Marshals, Marshals and Yeomen Marshals of Gird; about the Captain-General, Captains and Sergeants of Falk; about Swordmasters and Blademasters of Tir – but it was somewhere in the blogs, some while ago.

    Tsaia has various posts including Constable, Knight-Commander of (the Order of) the Bells, Training Marshal ditto, and both a Marshal-Judicar and (never met) Judicar-General.

    Of gnomes we have seen a “most noble prince and law-warden”, an estvin and also (with Gird) a Lawmaster, a Warmaster and an Armsmaster.

    I see a potential problem with putting such lists up as background info. As a reader I can comment here, “this is all we’ve seen”. From you on the webpages it could come across as “this is all there is”, losing the sense that there is always more out there to wonder about.

    Similarly I can say “I don’t know how a female knight is called” but how can you say there that you don’t know yourself yet? (if that be still true) – simply because the question has never arisen except in the special cases of paladins and of Duke Verrakai.

    #78: the number of Knights of Gird we’ve seen compared to Knights of the Cudgel suggests the former are the locals who signed up for life, and the latter the rich kids e.g. from Guild League cities who’ll be going home to a military career in the South. High Marshal Suriest (whom we saw just once in Arianya’s office) is Knight-Marshal of the Cudgel, whereas High Marshal Connaught (the Knight-Marshal of the Order of Gird) came in several chapters and two books of the DEED, including the expedition to Kolobia.

    By the way, more head-banging from me: #68, NAMES. Seri not “Seli” as the girl’s name – I’d a blind spot there – but that still duplicates the diminutive from male Seriast. Its a real world. (Is the latter a southern name? The only one in the DEED was a small boy in Cha. What fun to be left guessing.)

  • Comment by Ginny W. — July 3, 2012 @ 3:05 pm


    Richard: Yes.
    The thing is that although there is a Captain-General of Falk, and he obviously has high rank in Lyonya, there does not seem to be a High Lord’s Hall in Chaya. The mound and the King’s Grove seem to serve that function, perhaps because of the elven influence. We have not seen anything comparable to the bone house in Tsaia or Fintha, although it seems to be common practice in Lyonya. And seems very natural in Lyonya, too.

    But then I went to thinking about Falk, and the Falkians, and their actual practice. Falk seems to be connected with the ancient mage-lords somehow, not at all with the old humans and their practices. Yet it is the old human practices that seem to actually dominate in the life of the king, given the regular visits to the bone house and rituals there. So I am wondering how the official Falkians process the old human customs, and whether their practices or teaching vary from the Falkian fields in Aarenis.

    On the other hand, so far we have really only engaged Falk and the Falkians through Aliam Halveric (Falk’s Oath of Gold) and Dorrin so far.

  • Comment by Richard — July 4, 2012 @ 4:35 pm


    Ginny, the way the Knight-Commander comes and goes we can guess that Falk’s Hall where novices under him live and train to be Knights is well within a day’s ride there-and-back from the palace at Chaya. For the rest – including whether the Captain-General lives there too, and the clerics (Captains) and paladins are trained in the same place – over to Elizabeth.

  • Comment by Richard — July 4, 2012 @ 5:31 pm


    Oh yes, one other thing we think we know about Falk: when Paks got to Fin Panir the Hall porter (Argalt) showed her a picture of “Falk with a sword and the tyrant of Celias” – a placename we don’t know so does that place Falk’s story in Aare itself, long before Gird?

    The picture was not one of the windows but one of the designs on the doors which had been remade hundreds of years ago (after “the Black Lady fought to the steps”) but that could still be since Gird’s time.

    Falk’s story stands in contrast to the magelord ideal we’ve heard about, of the ruler whom everybody else serves because his magery makes him the most charismatic. Old Humans if they knew about him would admire him as one who gave, but most magelords despise him for that very reason. So what does that tell us about when and where his cult rose to prominence, and to its present organisation?

  • Comment by Richard — July 6, 2012 @ 3:51 pm


    Elizabeth, my #81 re #78: I’ve just discovered there were more Knights of the Cudgel in Divided Allegiance than I remembered, so trying to infer which lot of knights you thought might be which is quite unwarranted. Sorry.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — July 8, 2012 @ 12:08 pm



    Could be it’s on “the other continent”? After all that’s where the slavers seemed to have taken Keiri so it’s possible another king’s son would wind up there.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment