The Writer Is Recovering & Snippet

Posted: January 2nd, 2013 under Life beyond writing, snippet.
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OK, gang, I’m a lot better today…not well yet, but definitely on the way.  So: last day of contest entries (in case you’ve been holding back) is Friday, January 4, 2013 with a time-stamp deadline of midnight.    I should have an answer for you by Sunday night (giving myself extra time to be sure I get an accurate count of entrants and am not confused by multiples.  The old brain isn’t necessarily 100% yet.)

Meanwhile, to celebrate being able to sleep more than an hour at a time, and cough less than once an hour (hurray!!!!)  and also in thanks for you folks’ incredible patience with The Writer, herewith a snippet:

Setup:  Arcolin has been steadily urged to consider marriage and getting an heir–he’s been considering a group of women others proposed for him, not too successfully.


Finally one crisp autumn day, the king invited a crowd to picnic on Mahieran lands, including the women Arcolin mentioned as still under consideration.  Arcolin rode beside Dorrin, behind the other dukes as they left the city.

“How’s the wife-hunt going?” she asked.

“Not well.  Either I am too critical or they are.”

“Mmm.  Well, I can make no suggestion.  Though as I told Beclan, Lyonya has many pretty girls.”

“I don’t want a girl,” Arcolin said.  “But surely there’s some woman in this realm who is mature enough to be a true helpmate and young enough to bear.”

“You could adopt an heir, if you found a widow with a likely child.”

“How do you feel about Beclan as your heir?”

“He’s going to make a good duke someday,” Dorrin said.  “But of course, he grew up in a ducal household far healthier than mine was.”

“I would still rather sire one,” Arcolin said.  “But if I don’t live to see one grown–”

“You’re not that old,” Dorrin said.

“Old enough to feel it on cold mornings,” Arcolin said.  “And your idea of adoption may be sensible.  If I can find the right woman.”

“Jandelir…are you truly over M’dierra?”

He felt heat rise to his face.  “You knew?”

“Of course,” she said.  She did not say what he could see in her gaze, that Kieri and the other captains had known as well.

And probably, he thought gloomily, half the Company.  Too late now to be embarrassed.  “Then yes, I am.  I am not comparing these women to her, if that’s what you were thinking.”


Any more than that would be spoilerish.


  • Comment by Jenn — January 2, 2013 @ 6:49 pm


    Thank you for the snippet. I wonder who he will choose? Or who is on the short list? What is his cut off age for girl? 25 or 30?

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 2, 2013 @ 7:23 pm


    Well…I know how this comes out, but I can’t tell you yet. I will say that the people making suggestions to him didn’t necessarily think the way Arcolin did. Or, for that matter, the way the women did…for some of them, the distance of his holdings from Court made a huge difference; for some it was the gnomes; for some it was his long absences + the isolation. Etc. It was an interesting set of problems for The Writer, too.

  • Comment by Margaret — January 2, 2013 @ 8:27 pm


    After a few days of catching-up / reviewing DOWNTON ABBEY via Amazon Prime & ROKU, with the ENTIRE PLOT being driven by the need to find an heir for a mere Earldom, I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to this sequence!

    Just knowing it is going to be in there makes the wait bearable.

  • Comment by Linda — January 2, 2013 @ 10:11 pm


    I’ve been re-reading the Thief books where succession is also major concern (but reading them in reverse order which is proving to be really interesting) and this snippet takes me by surprise. As a childless, happily single senior citizen in a family which is coming to a dead end with my generation, I really am curious about Arcolin and Dorrin’s spiritual/emotional response to this new challenge, one so unexpected given their previous career paths.

    I remember (sort of) a thought which passed through someone’s head about men who looked on women mainly as “breeding stock.” Funny how fatherhood seems to have a whole different tone to it.

    I’m also thinking about the hint about Arcolin’s ancestry which was never explained, and of course M’dierra has rather suggested she might be interested.

    Well between your comments on Robin’s blog (much appreciated by me by the way) and this, you’ve given me a whole bunch of new things to think about.

    Which is good, as I’m getting bored with endlessly poring over the seed catalogs and thinking about the number of months to go until there’s even a hope of seeing bare ground.

    Best wishes overcoming the remnants of your illness.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 3, 2013 @ 12:33 am


    Margaret & Linda: Limits of Power does get involved in more than one…situation…in which power may be passed on, and there are some details of the ways. I had written another comment, but it didn’t work when I tried to “submit reply.” I hope this one goes. Limits reveals much more about Arcolin’s character–some of the tangles he’s knotted in, and his decisions as a result. Where he came from, why he left, etc., and other things implied but not stated that result from that. He has been trapped by his own youthful determination to hide his past and it’s been more irksome as he gained stature–especially since he’s been enobled. I see one of the big tasks of mid-life and late-life major change as having to disclose truths from the past and incorporate the truth about oneself into one’s understanding of oneself…in order to take on the new roles, the new demands, that change brought. For both the boaster, who has to face being more ordinary than he/she wanted to admit, and the immoderately humble, who has to quit pretending to be less than he/she is, this is a tough thing to do. By midlife and later, the predominant self-view has hardened into that protective shell most of us carry around. And it’s often pretense, one way or another, and to keep growing…it has to break.

    All the characters affected by Paks are having to face the reality of themselves–things they didn’t know at all (like Kieri not remembering that he was a king’s son), things they knew but hated knowing (like Dorrin being the daughter of magelords practicing blood magery, or Alured avoiding the knowledge of desire for Good), things they knew but had carefully hidden from others (like Arcolin), and so on.

  • Comment by pjm — January 3, 2013 @ 7:36 am


    Elizabeth, I am glad you are getting over your illness. Thanks for the snippet too.


  • Comment by Jenn — January 3, 2013 @ 11:12 am


    I wonder if there will be a short side story from the “main charatcter’s” breakroom where they all gang up on Paks because this is all her fault! 🙂 everyone was happy being the Duke, captain, thief, sergeant, etc. until she came around and messed everything up. Ah the tales from the aftermath. I can’t wait for June.

  • Comment by Richard — January 3, 2013 @ 1:03 pm


    Mikeli urging Arcolin to marry? He’s a fine one to talk! (or has something else already happened?)

    This is relevant: what noble parents putting a daughter on the marriage market will recommend any County to their girl, let alone the remote and primitive North Marches, while she still has a chance to be queen?

    By the way, Elizabeth: “Alured avoiding the knowledge of desire for Good” – did you mean Arvid? Thank you for struggling off your sickbed to post.

  • Comment by Annabel — January 3, 2013 @ 1:07 pm


    I’m really looking forward to Limits of Power! And glad you are feeling better today – don’t go and overdo things, you’ve had a nasty doing and need to build yourself up gradually.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 3, 2013 @ 3:48 pm


    Richard: Clearly my brain wasn’t 100%. Yes, it’s ARVID, not Alured. As for Mikeli…he has designated heirs, even though they’re not his children: there’s Camwyn, then his uncle, then his uncle’s son Rothlin…surely three is enough. At least, it’s more than Arcolin has. A frontier duke without an heir imperils the kingdom’s physical safety…will that crowd of soldiers turn into bandits, without Arcolin? Would one of the other captains take over? Mikeli doesn’t know the other captains, except the young fellow who had been Dorrin’s junior. Cracolnya wasn’t ever considered the right person to send to Court on errands. Mikeli hasn’t met him, or Arcolin’s new recruit captain, and some of his captains, hired in the south, have never been north. So Mikeli wants that domain’s future settled.

    Jenn: It has occurred to more than one character that things could have been nice and peaceful and ordinary if not for that interfering paladin. They’re wrong, of course, but “Why do things have to change? I was fine where I was.”

    Mikeli is thinking about marriage, but the discovery that there might be magery lurking in the nobility (if there’s one, surely there’s more) makes his choice far more difficult than it was before Beclan’s little adventure. While I’d like to get him married off before the end of the group, just for neatness, I can’t promise.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — January 3, 2013 @ 11:28 pm


    I suspect that real people as well as fantasy people are very good at ignoring emotional or psychological irritants and walling them off like the oyster does a bit of sand.

  • Comment by Richard — January 4, 2013 @ 3:09 am


    “I think she [Paks] made us all more what we were rather than changing us to something else” – Arcolin to Stammel, in Echoes. That’s an interesting way of looking at it.

    Jenn, my guess is that something else – mentioned in Speculation Space, and best kept there – is “all Paks’ fault” too.

    Elizabeth, yes of course, Arcolin’s succession is a more urgent issue than Mikeli’s, and from the snippet Arcolin is looking for someone older than Mikeli would marry. I remember you told us, when writing it, that Arcolin does marry, though Dorrin’s suggestion raises the question, Why? – if he could marry and adopt, then couldn’t he adopt without marrying, as she had to? Provided it is someone Mikeli can approve. (I presume Mikeli not only doesn’t know Cracolyna, for example, but knows him to be “another foreigner”.)

    Of course if Arcolin should marry, beget an heir then get himself killed on campaign a year or two later, his wife could take charge of the domain (as regent for the child), but Mikeli would still have to worry about who’d take charge of the soldiers.


  • Comment by Jenn — January 4, 2013 @ 9:59 am



    I always love reading your posts

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 4, 2013 @ 11:09 am


    Nadine: Yes, they do, real and fictional both. But unlike oysters & their pearls, the walling-off is rarely that attractive, and can be undone by certain kinds of trauma. Drop a pearl in vinegar…or a walled-off memory into a parallel situation…and the sand grain/old memory comes out as fresh as ever.

    Leaving aside the aliens we SF writers try to create, a fictional character should be built on the reality of human experience. Not all-inclusive, because none of us have that much experience, but true to what we know, and can learn.

  • Comment by Caryn — January 4, 2013 @ 4:43 pm


    It’s not just the characters in the books who were/are affected by that meddling paladin, but readers, too.

    Looking forward to reading this when it comes out!

  • Comment by Susan — January 4, 2013 @ 4:59 pm


    Elizabeth, I’m so glad you’re feeling better! I’m confused, though; which book is the snippet from?

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 4, 2013 @ 11:17 pm


    Susan: Snippets are nearly always from the next book–so in this case, Limits of Power..

  • Comment by Richard — January 5, 2013 @ 6:09 am


    thank you, I enjoy reading yours too, not least your tales from the break room. Elizabeth’s posts first, of course, and it is also fun following the digressions I cannot contribute to, such as discussions on knitting.

  • Comment by Linda — January 5, 2013 @ 7:14 pm


    Just been re-reading about Beclan learning to knit, and my mind came up with an unlikely scene (perhaps from the main characters break room) of Dorrin and Beclan sitting by the fire knitting socks because those knit by others just never seem to fit right.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 5, 2013 @ 7:40 pm


    Linda: You just opened a big window into something for me. Not just Dorrin and Beclan, but a knitting circle in the characters’ break room and a discussion (not between those two) of Old Human knitting magic. Shiver.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — January 5, 2013 @ 11:31 pm


    My older daughter-in-law and I would very much enjoy a discussion of Old Human knitting magic. We’ve also got a couple hundred grams of high quality yarn to contribute to a yarn exchange in the break room. 🙂

  • Comment by Jenn — January 6, 2013 @ 11:28 am


    How did I miss the breakroom knitting circle?!? Argh!

  • Comment by Ginny W. — January 7, 2013 @ 3:59 pm


    I am looking forward to the Old Human knitting magic and the breakroom knitting circle. And very glad that you are feeling better.

    Although Mikeli needs a wife (and sons or daughters), I would think that he has more time. After all, he is much younger (about 21?), and not actively campaigning the way Arcolin is. Does Arcolin’s wife have to come from the nobility? Kieri seemed to be fine with Tamarrion, even though she was a common Girdish soldier!

  • Comment by Sam Barnett-Cormack — January 12, 2013 @ 6:19 pm


    It would be a bit odd of Jandelir to end up with a part-elf as well, but that would solve the can-bear-but-mature thing.

    Would be very odd though, and probably of discomfort to the Tsaian nobility.

  • Comment by H liu — February 20, 2013 @ 3:11 pm


    If kieri has a daughter and arcolin a son…. Hmmm. The daughtr is nentioned the end of the first book

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