A Small Bouquet

Posted: September 27th, 2012 under Life beyond writing, Limits of Power, Reader Help, snippet, the writing life.
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This is a small bouquet of gratitude to someone on the list who–reading the snippet–found an inconsistency with Oath of Gold and emailed me privately about it overnight.  So this morning I hauled out my copy of that book, and the manuscript, and knew he was right–it was an inconsistency and it needed to be fixed, if possible.   The book’s already past copy editing, so I didn’t know if it could, but I set to work looking for the smallest possible fix that wouldn’t mess up any other previous books.

Since he emailed me privately (which I very much appreciate, before I’ve had a chance to fix things) I don’t know if he wishes public acclaim for saving the writer from publishing yet another blooper…..so I’m not saying who, but someone here, one of your colleagues (those of you who aren’t the one.)

But in all fairness, he deserves a bouquet, and so the rest of you also get to smell the roses (as it were.)   We’ll start with a picture of  The Author Riding Her New Bike, or the Stripe-topped Purple Bikeflower:

There are more of these pictures up at my LiveJournal.   This is me on the way back from the Dry Woods (dark mass in the distance)  after riding up there from near the house and nearing the ditch crossing.   You will notice I’m wearing a helmet and gloves and long pants and shoes…no safety violations here.   Thanks for all the bike advice I’ve gotten–this bike is definitely a better fit and safer than the other (which is however,  set up on the bike trainer so I can make bad-weather use of it.

Oh, and the results of my emailing a fix to the problem one of you contacted me about?    The fix is in (so to speak) and with any luck will appear correctly in the final version.    Again, many, many thanks!   One of the best things was that the fix gave me a chance to suggest a time and place for something else–well, two somethings else.   And no, I can’t tell you.   But you can always compare the snippet as posted here with the book itself, and make some new connections.

What else?   A snippet?    This deserves another snippet, but with the hope that it won’t generate another Oopsie on my part because eventually “Yes, we can squeeze that in”  becomes “No, of course not, what were you thinking?”  However, if one of you bright people spots one that’s quickly fixable…fine.  Note that because I used a break above, there’s none here, so if you’re really spoiler-averse, don’t peek below the dotted line.   This is from an earlier draft, as it was easier to find than hunting through the whole big book file.

Who: POV is Arcolin, in Aarenis, near Ifoss


Arcolin finished the day’s report just as Burek came to his tent.

“Captain, there’s a fellow out at the gate who says he knows you and must speak with you.  From Horngard, he says.”

Arcolin’s stomach lurched.  “Horngard?  Did he give a name?”
“No, captain.  That’s why I made him wait outside the camp.  Or I can bring him myself.  He’s armed, but not like us.  A short thrusting spear and a short curved blade.  Do you think he’s one of Alured’s men?”

“From Horngard?  Unlikely.”  Not even Siniava had attacked Horngard, though he had taken Pliuni and threatened the mountain kingdom.  “I’ll see him,” he said.  “Bring him here.”

“Leave his weapons outside the gate, sir, or outside the command area?”

“Let him retain them.”

Burek gave him a startled glance then turned and went back out.  Arcolin grimaced, then went to the back of the tent, to his private room, and opened the little casket.  Gold gleamed in the light that came through the tent canvas.  Arcolin put on the ring, just in case, but turned the dragon’s head inward, also just in case.  It could not be, but…just in case.  He left the earrings, the necklace, and the bracelet in the casket, then pulled out his dagger and stared at it a moment.  His father’s parting gift, it bore the family crest on the hilt, hidden under the thick leather wrapping he’d put over it.

Kieri had understood family troubles, estrangement, a flight in the night.  He had never asked more than that.  Arcolin felt sure Kieri had known there was more than that, but in all the years he’d never asked.  “Somewhere in the Westmounts,” he’d told Kieri, as he’d told Aliam Halveric, and that was true.  “Some little place you’ve never heard of,” he’d told Kieri, which was not true.  His heart twisted when he’d said that.  It twisted now.

What to do. He must see the fellow, hear what he had to say–but he was Count of the North Marches now, a vassal of Tsaia’s king, a prince of a tribe of gnomes, and–not least–commander of Fox Company under contract to Foss Council.

Whatever the problem was, it could not be his problem.


Well…maybe.    But it’s about to walk in the tent, that problem.    And there’s another visitor on the way.

Arcolin’s always been an enigmatic character to his writer.   Very controlled, contained,  a very good commander (as Paks realized) but she, as a private, knew nothing about his life.   Neither did I, except that unlike Dorrin (whose background opened to me quickly) and Kieri (about whom I wrote many thousands of words that didn’t go into the original books) Arcolin was just the tall, dark-haired, quietly competent commander from…different places different times he told others, and me, about his background.  The little he did tell.   Since he wasn’t a protagonist or POV,  it didn’t seem to matter.

But in the new books, he became a POV character and I began to sense conflicts in him that had not been evident before.   He wasn’t a knight.   He claimed a background with both Halveric and the Tsaian Royal Guard.  How did that happen?   He’s not Lyonyan–so Halveric must have recruited him in Aarenis…maybe?   Or from Tsaia and then he went back?   Silence from my character.   He’s polite, urbane, compassionate,  but not mushy.  He was in love with Aesil M’dierra as a young man, as I (and you) learned early in this series…and clearly they know something about each other they haven’t revealed.

And as it’s getting on toward midnight, and there’s more work to be done, that’s the size of the small bouquet–small, but I hope interesting and fun for all of you, especially my helper.


  • Comment by Daniel Glover — September 28, 2012 @ 6:47 am


    OK, I’ll go on record and say it wasn’t me. Thank you to whomever did contact our good author. Though I think I know what it is. My head went “huh” when I first read it but I have to go back and check, it’s been busy lately–or maybe I’ll just wait to see if the tweak makes the release. 🙂

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 28, 2012 @ 8:47 am


    I hope it does; he made a good catch, and it deserves (for his sake AND mine) to be fixed. I wish I’d known before, because some additional feathering in of edges would be useful, but that’s my own fault for not spotting it. There was a tiny tingle in the backbrain, but not enough to trigger a search all the way back to the original books.

  • Comment by Jenn — September 28, 2012 @ 9:19 am


    Thank you to the unknown snippet editor. Perhaps he needs to go on the Alpha Reader list?

    Elizabeth, this was a great snippet. How am I going to wait till JUNE? Oh my life is so difficult.

    BTW I was peeking through a knitting magazine and apparently they have Gwenno as their designer. It was awful.

  • Comment by Rolv — September 28, 2012 @ 2:57 pm


    Looking forward to see the mystery of Arecolin’ background and the impact knowledge of it would have on the Siniava War.

  • Comment by Richard — September 28, 2012 @ 5:57 pm


    One guess turned out right. When Elizabeth posted once (having just written the scene, I seem to remember, but I’m not going to hunt out the post) that someone gets news (meets someone) from his past, I wondered if the someone might be Arcolin.

    I missed until too late Paul’s #230 (June 28) in http://www.paksworld.com/blog/?p=1491#comments (Spoiler Space 1) about Arcolin amongst other things, and Eizabeth’s reply. One thing has struck me since: although we naturally read the story, that Stammel had heard after joining the Company, as claiming Arcolin had been in the Tsaian Guard, this needn’t be so: pedantically, “hired away from” could mean that Arcolin, when he had a chance to join the Tsaian Guard, had accepted Kieri’s offer instead.

    Kieri’s presence in Tsaia’s war shows Tsaia was looking in the market for mercenaries and free swords. So nothing implausible about a Halveric veteran, if a good Girdsman, being acceptable to the Tsaian Guard in some capacity. Indeed I almost wonder if the Tsaian Guard wouldn’t have hired the whole of Halveric Company for the war if they could have got them.

    By the way, we talk of Tsaian Guard and Tsaian Royal Guard interchangeably, but I’ve noticed a possible distinction between rose-and-silver (officers, and maybe the whole of the inner palace guard) and rose-and-gray (border guardsmen and Vérella city militia).

    An interesting question, though only as a footnote (and if you can get any of them to answer it, Elizabeth) is whether Arcolin, as well as Siger, knew Kieri when the latter was a Halveric squire.

    That’s the old question out of the way; plenty of meat on the bones in the snippet itself. Gnome prince for example, as hinted before.

    Elizabeth, wishing you a long and happy relationship with (that’s too long a name to keep repeating).

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 29, 2012 @ 10:09 pm


    Usually, when I hear a character say his/her name, I can quickly convert it into letters (more or less accurately, the first time) and then later decide how to spell it for the rest of the world. Occasionally…not. Very long names. Names with a lot of sounds not usually (ever?) found in English. Names that sound like the odd noise made when a smith works a particular shape of bellows, combined with grinding, melting, and crystallizing.

    I’ve been pestering Dragon since Dragon appeared (all the way back in the story Judgment) because I was (and am) convinced that dragons have names. Dragon finally said Dragon’s name. I can’t even begin to spell it, and its only visualization is very…lava-like, only it’s not the usual lava but something else.

    Dragon. “If you were wise enough to understand me, you could say it.” Not that wise.

  • Comment by ellen — September 29, 2012 @ 11:11 pm


    brilliant snippet, thank you so much, but HOW can we wait til June! And the names, I’m from a Dutch background and tend to pronounce them Dutch. So that gives me some idea of the sounds you’re describing. (really! you should hear some of the old Dutch dialects, or for that matter our local weqtherman when he first started. Sounded like someone choking on a wad of barbed wire while falling down a mineshaft while embracing a chainsaw with terminal emphysema) You go into coughing fits just listening to them. Mmmm and I was thinking of reading Paks to my grandsons when they”re a little older, do you think you could include a phonetic pronunciation list sometime? (author clutches head in desperation emitting the sounds described above) sorry, I’ll now go and exercise my vocabulary on a few rounds of Scramble with Friends:-) great game! 🙂

  • Comment by Rolv — September 30, 2012 @ 9:36 am


    Someone able to write
    “If you were wise enough to understand me, you could say it”
    is wise enough for me. 🙂

  • Comment by Richard — September 30, 2012 @ 2:41 pm


    I meant “Stripe-topped Purple Bikeflower”. (I’ve just cheated by using cut-and-paste there.)

    And there I was thinking the dragon in Judgement had to be a different dragon (the archetypal green dragon of Paksworld legend).

  • Comment by Chuck — September 30, 2012 @ 3:01 pm


    Lava-like in the sense of rounded, umlautish vowels and gutteral consonants? Lava-like in jerky, glowing rock-fountain sprays of stressed and unstressed syllables? Lava-like in a talking with a burned tongue from taking a bite before the enchilada cooled off enough fashion? Or an ashy, gritty rolling feeling in the throat as the syllables poor out? This is an interesting concept, lava-like, since the usual metaphor is metallic (golden, silvery). Another sign that your dragons are the real thing, this unique description of Dragon’s name! Good luck in trying on the transcriptions!

  • Comment by Chuck — September 30, 2012 @ 3:15 pm


    Argh! “pour” of course, not “poor.”

  • Comment by Sharidann — October 1, 2012 @ 3:19 am


    And now you make us all even more curious about Arcolin. Nice one. 🙂

    Can’t wait till february… grmmmble. 🙂

  • Comment by Ginny W. — October 1, 2012 @ 7:50 pm


    A Lava-like name. Lyrically looming on the distant horizon. It seems a long time until June. It seems even longer until Book V.

    I feel that a Dragon should have a name too. But it does seem highly in character that he wouldn’t tell you (or even Stammel) what it was. Is there a short version for allies?

  • Comment by Richard — October 2, 2012 @ 2:42 pm


    Ginny, we’ll just have to call him Sir Camwyn, like he did in Vérella, and try not to get too confused.

  • Comment by Margaret — December 26, 2012 @ 9:13 pm


    For some reason, the description of the “image” of Dragon’s name as “very lava-like” reminded me of the “magma disturbance” phrase used by the sonar-analysis program Jonesy was running in _The Hunt for Red October_.

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