Falling Into Place

Posted: March 2nd, 2013 under Contents, the writing life.
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Today’s work finally cleared up one nagging problem and may have also improved some other things.   Well…on second thought it cleared up a couple of nagging problems, one of which is a definite untied knot, and the other of which may create new nagging problems if I’m not careful.

I’m trying to draft with one part of my head and braid the strands with the  other and that’s not going too well.   It finally dawned on me that I need to take one entire day on the braid, because then I’ll see more clearly where the gaps are.  DUH.  I do this time after time and you’d think I’d remember how to do it.    At least by now I remember how to turn the heel on a sock without having to look it up!

At any rate–and not much spoilerish, I don’t think–we know from the first series that Kieri was said to have inherited some of all three mageries: elven, magelord, and Old Human of the north.   I’m still trying to figure out which part of which goes into his putting the magelords into enchanted sleep and then waking them 500 years later,  because I should know, but a more present problem was “How can he access a magery he inherited very distantly from a people who no longer exist in the present, and whose heritage of mage-knowledge was completely lost?”   You can’t just go from knowing there are well-spirits to placate and that blades should be blooded before plowing in respect to Alyanya to re-acquiring the knowledge of Old Human magery.    The very language in which to think and chant and tell those things has been lost.

But.   Kieri was talking to an elf (no surprise there) and something brought to mind his Midwinter experience in the ossuary.     There is one source of Old Human magery who just might help him understand what he inherited.


  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — March 2, 2013 @ 11:37 pm


    The Midwinter event in ossuary had a wonderful, dream-like quality, and left me with the feeling that there would be very important consequences. The timing and quality of the episode made it seem very strong foreshadowing.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — March 3, 2013 @ 4:43 pm


    Kieri just has to go find the old skull under the hill. Kind of depends on what has happened since the Lady has fallen as to elven displeasure. But we’ll find out about that in a few months. 🙂

  • Comment by climbski — March 3, 2013 @ 4:53 pm


    I always had the impression that the magerey that put then to sleep was Elven in nature. It was imposed by the Elves certainly. I would not expect the solution to be otherwise. Exceptfor Gird and the highlords power. Paks is present and it seems clear there is a theme of misplaced law and justice regarding the proper treatment of mages and megerey.

    A justice it would seem that Gird himself through Paks in cooperation with Kieri might help to rectify.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 3, 2013 @ 6:59 pm


    It did seem that something fairly powerful was trying emerge from the long buried past in that episode. And I thought Flessinathlin’s reaction in the aftermath rather strange. I would like to hear the rest of the story.

    More importantly for your question, it would appear that the bones allow Kieri access to a very distant past – when they want to communicate. So do the elves, but they have a very different take on the same past, or so I suspect. And the elven glamor carries an enormous potential for deception, even self-deception which is potentially the worst kind. But perhaps the easiest way to block an ability is to make it unthinkable to use it.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 4, 2013 @ 7:50 am


    Right now it’s difficult for me to remember which part of the whole story is in which book (making it difficult to look back at them for continuity-checking!) because the whole story is running together. Yesterday I discovered I’d spelled a new character’s name four different ways in ten pages (I could see and hear him–the spelling was…just a clue, sort of. And it’s fixed now. I hope.) But he’s not completely new…he’s there in Limits of Power. I think. I can’t find the ARC (which is a lot easier to check in than the file online, since he didn’t have a name when he first appeared. I think.) The ARC, which I was marking things in, has slipped beneath the surface of the late-in-series paper/books/journals/notes chaoe. Today, though, is Braiding Day. Like it or not (and I’m not thrilled) I have to get things nailed down in chronology.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 4, 2013 @ 8:08 am


    I was just reading this over, and thinking that this must be a very tough time for the Writer. We readers are still at the end of Echoes with new story lines opening up before us, and no real idea how they begin to weave together in Limits. You on the other are far enough along so that some of the potential avenues are closed off, but you can’t tell us which ones without spoiling the development.

    So, thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time for us. And we hope that the extras breakroom contributes some helpful hints.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 4, 2013 @ 12:02 pm


    I was rereading Oath of Fealty, with the question of Old Human magery in mind. The scene with Kieri’s first encounter with the bones of his ancestors and the Seneschal contains a great many hints about that magery, I think (Chapter 9). And perhaps the heritage is not entirely lost, since the Senescal seems to know some things, and has been training others to take over. No man who works with the bones would be heedless about his own mortality.

    As well, there are people who create the bone paintings. Write the ancient script, match the colors to the events. Most significantly of all, there is a passing mention of Kieri’s growing taig sense as he leaves. Could the magery of the Old Humans be masked in part as the taig sense of the elves? As the ancient sacred place is masked by the mound?

  • Comment by Rob — March 4, 2013 @ 2:46 pm


    I was at the bookstore with my son (10 years old), and he is looking for something new to read. He has finished several dozen of the older Hardy Boys books. He grabbed a book and told me that he was ready to go.

    It wasn’t until we were checking out that I realized he had grabbed The Deed of Paks book. I have all the individual books at home, and several of them are threadbare from me re-reading them so often.

    As of last night, he was far enough into it that he was marching around the house. It is so awesome to see my son enjoying the same books that I still love to read. He was upset because his class is going through state testing this week and he is not allowed to bring the book to school and read when he is done with his tests…

    A huge thank you to Elizabeth for making this moment possible!

  • Comment by Susan — March 4, 2013 @ 8:16 pm


    Isn’t it wonderful when our children get old enough to enjoy our favorite books!I love that special bonding. And this is such a great series for him.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 5, 2013 @ 7:13 am


    That is a rare joy. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I hope the braiding has gone well. The thread I noticed in #6 continues in the conversation between Amrothlin and Kieri in Chapter 12, and perhaps in the Coronation scene in Chapter 24 of Oath of Fealty.

  • Comment by Richard — March 6, 2013 @ 6:23 am


    Old Human magery – this is new to us. “Of their own, they had certain magic (powerful but limited in extent)” – that comes from the website here (the page about Peoples), but we’ve not really seen the magic “in action” in the books. Just little bits in the Gird-Luap ones, such as laying pain upon a stone, and maybe parrions. (Those are natural aptitudes and inherited skills but, is that magic?)

    Ginny, in the fight at the end of EoB, Kieri “reached for the taig” (through his elven sword and coronation dagger from the Lady) “and for the bones in the ossuary”. Was that drawing power from Old Human magery? Lets hope we find out more in LoP.

    “The taig was ours as much as theirs” (in the ossuary at Midwinter, not from the old skull under the Grove but from one of the other kings). If Old Human magic worked with the taig, then is a Kuakgan’s magic the same (just more so, through the -ahem- partnership with a tree) or quite different at root?

    Elizabeth, when you do look at which bits of which magery Kieri uses to put the sleepers into the time capsule or whatever it was, how about, for good measure, how much was his, how much Luap’s, and how much (if any) tapping into the elven (and rockfolk) magic already there? And is the royal magery different enough from other magelords’ to be a fourth element in Kieri’s inheritance?

    Mind you, I’d happily accept with magic, as with music, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 6, 2013 @ 9:56 am


    At Kieri’s coronation, there is a reference to the elfane taig and the forest taig. Also his taig sense seems to be strongest in the King’s Grove, which we know from the midwinter event with the bones is built over a powerful sacred site for the Old Humans. He seems to have trouble learning to sense the taig from elves as well, so perhaps the Old Human and elven heritages augment each other, when all is well, and conflict when all is not. It may be that this is part of his conviction that the elven and human halves of Lyonya must work together better. The greater part of course is the practical needs of the kingdom (trade, roads, resources, crafts, etc.).

    I had thought that the paladins and mage-born together had put themselves to sleep, perhaps with the aid of the mage patterns. In that sense, I had considered their sleep in the same category as the trance that came on Ardhiel when he blew the horn, or Paks when she braved the fire in Master Oakhallow’s house. The ability to wake them lies in part with the gods.

    I would love to read Limits of Power.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 6, 2013 @ 10:31 am


    I have to say it: I am SO lucky to have such intelligent, perceptive, alert, thoughtful, sensitive readers. You’re amazing. I am enjoying the interactions among you, and the way you’re thoughtfully processing the various books as they come out.

    And I wish it had been possible to collect you all ahead of time, and have these conversations all the way through before any of the books were published, with no need to hold back and not discuss things because it wasn’t time yet.

    On Amrothlin: I was talking to my husband about him this morning, with the specific question in mind: if Amrothlin was/is a traitor or bad guy, why didn’t he let Paks die when he found her in the snow, back in _Divided Allegiance_? And if he’s a good guy, why was he such an uncooperative, difficult person later? Motivation is essential (for me to write, anyway)–motivation drives the plot; the “why?” matters. We discussed his past (Amrothlin’s, not my husband’s) and R- brought up the idea that perhaps along with loyalty, Amrothlin’s flaw is his belief in his own ability to intellectualize, to use logic in a way that elves don’t usually, to counter the influence of his rotten-no-good half-brother of the banast taig. Only he’s not as good at it as he thinks, nor as bad at elven stuff as he thinks. I’m leaning that way now.

  • Comment by greycats — March 6, 2013 @ 9:06 pm


    In “Deed” Amrothlin seemed to me to be a person who exemplifies elven extremes. He seems to have no middle range of behavior at all. He goes from being over-ready to assume the worst about Paks to cheer-leading her rescue. He’s not the only elf to behave this way, but he’s the first we meet who does so.

  • Comment by Susan — March 6, 2013 @ 9:07 pm


    Elizabeth, I’m coming to appreciate more and more how much work you’re having to put into making all the pieces fit, and to braid in all the loose ends. In a series this size, that has to be a monumental task! Thank you, thank you for all your efforts. They are so very, very much appreciated.

  • Comment by Richard — March 7, 2013 @ 3:06 am


    Off topic. Heard on the radio: today is World Books Day. What that entails I don’t know, except that children in the UK are being encouraged to go to school dressed as fictional characters (or, in one instance mentioned, a publisher’s logo).

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 7, 2013 @ 12:14 pm


    World Books Day sounds fascinating.

    Richard, Your comments about the kuakgannir being related to the Old Human magic seems to fit with other hints. They seem to belong to the north, not so much to Aarenis, and certainly not Old Aare. At least not what we know of Old Aare. So the first Kuakgan may well have been Old Human, and they may preserve some of the Old Human lore. The Old Human magic seems also to be very much entwined with the worship of Alyanya as well, at least the rituals concerning the bones. And she appears to Kieri in vision before he proposes to Arrian in Kings of the North.

    It is significant that worship of Alyanya seems to have survived among the Verrakai peasants as well – even if there is suspicion of Gird and the saints. I get that impression from the interaction between Dorrin and the villagers when she heals the well in Oath of Fealty, and again when she brings the Marshall General to the village in Kings. She was also very much involved when Paks becomes a paladin in Oath of Gold.

    Elizabeth, Concerning Amrothlin, and elven magic, I wondered how significant the ability to cast a powerful glamor would be for the Lady or her successor. The glamor is strongly related to the ability to persuade others to agree or go along with the agenda of the leader. But it has a downside, if one exerts power to conceal or dampen the ability of others to make the ruler aware of unpleasant facts. I am not saying it well, but it is a power that could (did?) fatally augment a capacity for self-deception. It could also function to make other abilities seem less significant. This, I think, is Amrothlin’s problem. He has strong elven abilities, and probably a good heart, but he has been blinded to his own value, and to some of the truth of Flessinathlin’s decisions by his loyalty to her, and her own power. Perhaps he will emerge as the whole and strong elf that he was meant to be. Or perhaps he is too wounded by long suppression. It would go a long way toward explaining how touchy he is if he has been prevented from using his true abilities to the fullest.

  • Comment by David Valenze — March 7, 2013 @ 1:02 pm


    Happy Birthday to one of my favorite authors.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 8, 2013 @ 7:51 am


    I second those birthday wishes.

    In Echoes, at the end of Chapter 8 where Flanits approaches Beclan in the trap, he has a conversation with one of his soldiers about the kuakgannir and Old Humans.

    Elizabeth, much as I (we?) would love to sit down and converse with you about these, everything we get to see and process about this world is only there after you write it for us. I am constantly amazed at how consistently these various background threads emerge in the story. I am also having an enormous amount of fun tracing them. Thank you!

  • Comment by Susan — March 8, 2013 @ 8:39 pm


    Wishing you a very happy birthday, Elizabeth!

  • Comment by Naomi — March 9, 2013 @ 1:39 am


    Belated birthday wishes to you Elizabeth! I’m on the rereading trail again, roll on June!

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 9, 2013 @ 6:57 am


    There are two more bits to this thread, maybe. In Chapter 39 of Kings, Kieri and Orlith are trying to consider how to raise the taig without the Lady, and discuss Oakhallow. Then in Echoes, chapter 22, Kieri and Arian visit the ossuary to announce the child, and Arian feels a strong connection to the taig there.

  • Comment by Richard — March 9, 2013 @ 9:37 am


    World Books Day was your birthday, and I forgot!

    You’ve made the luck you deserve, by being so generous here with your time and patient when we ask silly questions or get the wrong end of a stick, and so open and generous at sharing the world you’ve developed even as you develop it.

    I for one have processed the books so much better through discussing them.

    If you like, Amrothlin did try to kill Paks when he found her in the snow (on the pretext that she must be an evil minion to have come from the banast taig), but couldn’t talk the others into it fast enough.

    One of those others responded to her mention of Three Firs – could this be the same elf as another character in Oath of Gold, the one who conducted Paks from Master Oakhallow’s to the rangers?

    In that book, what was Amrothlin thinking (if a traitor, or a traitor’s accomplice – no problem if he is true) when he went, with two others as witnesses, to stand watch as she slept on the king’s dying offer of the throne (and found a Squire already there)?

    Should he be an undercover traitor, here are four more attempts against Paks that could be blamed on information Amrothlin provided: the daskdraudigs placed in her path after he saw her name on the official list of rangers (he could easily have discovered the patrol area to which her group was assigned); his cousin Serrothlin incited to confront her at Aliam’s, hoping they would fight; Achrya herself going to Aliam’s, and Liart sending his knights to intercept Paks when she left there.

    About the banast taig, you wrote just enough to whet curiosity without spoiling Limits; no more yet, please!

  • Comment by Jenn — March 9, 2013 @ 11:41 am


    Happy belated birthday Elizabeth. I am sorry I missed it yesterday.

    This is how I see the human powers/magics working in the books. It relies on a give and take.

    The Old Human practice of men blooding instruments in essence giving their life (blood) back. Whereas women were exempt as they were the life bearers and gave fullness of life to another. It stagnated from lack of use forced by the ban of the Mage lords
    Mage lords had their power fade and die because it became solely taking and eventually only death was returned.
    Paladins are great in their power because they give the greatest: their will and therefore all of their whole life.

    Kieri has given much in the series. Add it to his heritage and that he is chosen by the gods and I can see why magics are converging in him.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 9, 2013 @ 7:52 pm


    I like that.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — March 10, 2013 @ 11:18 am


    There is also at the very end of EoB when Kieri has to reach for his power to battle the unsinger he reaches his sister and father’s bones and they are the ones that let off enough power to let the others through the locked door. So they have the power that the Lady couldn’t unleash at the time.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 10, 2013 @ 12:17 pm


    The question of Amrothlin as traitor, I think is a sticky one. There are so many potential loyalties involved. There is/was his loyalty to the Lady and the elfane taig. There is his loyalty to the Singer. Then there is his loyalty to the joint kingdom of Lyonya, which seems to be secondary to the first two. I think that when Paks first approached him in Chaya about the sword, he felt there was a conflict between the first two loyalties and the kingdom.

    I did not perceive any resentment of Kieri himself though, particularly not as king. But there could be sibling relationships involved there. Amrothlin’s relationship to his sister, Kieri’s mother, which we know nothing of, really. Amrothlin’s relationship to the no-good half brother. And other relationships related to the Severance and the banast taig.

    The feature that is really disturbing is that the elves, Flessinathlin, Amrothlin and others, did not seem to investigate the possibility of the iynisin involvement in Kieri’s disappearance and his mother’s murder. As though they created an illusion of defense against their kin, and fooled themselves.

  • Comment by Richard — March 10, 2013 @ 6:48 pm


    Yes, the elves do seem to be living in a state of denial that they are living in a state of siege. Maybe they really cannot bear to remember. Flessinathlin did say ugliness is to them as disease is to humans. That was about the sight of wounds, but maybe the thought of moral ugliness is as bad or worse. “Patterns mangled are constant pain”.

    By the way, Kieri’s mother was called Averrestinil, at least that is the name her (half-)brother-in-law, Kieri’s predecessor as king, knew her by and told Paks. Does anyone remember Amrothlin, or Flessinathlin, or any other elf ever saying it?

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