Help the Author

Posted: July 27th, 2013 under Contents, Crown of Renewal.
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In the first book of all–Sheepfarmer’s Daughter–there is a comment about the colors worn by Sofi Ganarrion’s cavalry troop and by Vladi’s polearms company.   I can’t find it.   I thought it was in this chapter…then in that chapter…it’s just a casual mention, but…where?   I know it’s there, but I have conflicting notes from another time…and I’m writing a side-story from Crown of Renewal that involves a cohort of Ganarrion’s people, and need the colors.  (If the editor likes it, that story will be in an anthology called Shattered Shields, coming out from Baen.)

So I’d very much appreciate it if someone who’s got the time could  answer that.

In the meantime, revisions are almost done (somewhat slowed by needing to get this story out of its snit and finished.   I’ll post about its intransigent nature later.)


  • Comment by GeekLady — July 27, 2013 @ 10:01 pm


    Vladi’s company wore black and silver, per tenth paragraph of Chapter Nineteen. I don’t recall Sofi Gamarrion’s colors were ever mentioned. Maybe you’re thinking of Sobanai Company? They’re mentioned as red and black in Chapter 30.

  • Comment by B. Ross Ashley — July 27, 2013 @ 11:44 pm


    Right. Just got to the siege of Rotengre on a quick readthrough, and Vladi’s wear black. Don’t recall Ganarrion’s.

  • Comment by Richard — July 28, 2013 @ 12:24 am


    Yes, Vladi’s banner black and silver, UK omnibus page 212; uniforms black from a distance page 144 – five cohorts there with a smaller body of horse. (Their own horse? – plus Clart Company following.) On page 219 a private in black and white is serving food to the wounded in the Dwarfwatch barracks. Vladi himself appears on page 339 – pale narrow face, cold blue eyes, pointed gray beard. Ganarrion’s soldiers are never quite on stage, the nearest they come is when they are in touch by courier; you don’t even name their Company as such.

    Interesting side point about Sobanai colors – those are the colors Barra was wearing when killed.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 28, 2013 @ 6:33 am


    Thank you all! Vladi himself has a moment onstage in CROWN, where he reveals something to Arcolin while in his cups. He appears in the story, but both he and Ganarrion are known to the protagonist, so there’s no description…but I needed the colors so the protagonist would have a way of recognizing certain units.

  • Comment by Jenn — July 28, 2013 @ 1:18 pm


    Will there be a contest for picking Sofi’s colors?

    Not that I will be in it since life has happened and I will be out in rural where ever with little to no access to the internet (how do these people do it? 🙂 ).


    Richard and GinnyW and anyone else frequenting the extras’ breakroom please take care of the Verrakai Children for me and DO NOT under ANY circumstances give them Jello. I was finding it in the oddest places for weeks and it is a bear to clean.

    Hope to be back soon from time to time.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 28, 2013 @ 4:23 pm


    Jenn–Noooooo…! So sorry you’re going to be internet-less. And we’re going to be Jenn-less. The Verrakai children will be–well, I don’t like to think that they’ll Take Advantage, but they are, after all, the Verrakai children.

    Best wishes for you in your new location, and safe travels to and from.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — July 28, 2013 @ 8:39 pm


    Richard, Barra’s move to the “dark side” of the Thieve’s Guild and her service with the Verrakai implies she’s joined the Liartans and adopted their dress code which is also red and black.
    Color musings. With just eight basic colors (red, yellow, blue, orange, green, violet/purple, white, black) and the need for strong contrast to facilitate long-distance identification, there are relatively few “good” combinations, thus likely that two different groups could choose the same colors for their livery/uniforms.
    Would the Gannarions choose colors traditionally associated with Old Aare in order to emphasize their claimed connection to the Aarean ruling class? What colors do Andressat and Fall use?

  • Comment by iphinome — July 28, 2013 @ 9:24 pm


    @Nadine Barter Bowlus

    Andressat uses blue and gold according to chapter 22 of _Sheepfarmer’s Daughter_.

    Sofi Ganarrion is mentioned as claiming to be Kostandan royalty wouldn’t he use those colors?

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 28, 2013 @ 11:57 pm


    Ganarrion may have been barred from using Kostandanyan colors when he was exiled from court. But in the event, Ganarrion Company uses red and gray. (There is a click beetle in the house again. O joy. It will buzz and click all night.) There is no organized, continent-wide agreement on colors, designs, etc., which can lead to…confusion. With each realm, there’s usually clarity, but not across realms.

    Which is giving me a few problems in the scene I’m revising right now, where I have a local militia, two different merc companies, and an invader who designed his troops’ colors with no regard for who else might have something similar. I think, to avoid reader confusion, I’m going to simplify.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 28, 2013 @ 11:57 pm


    Er…meant to add…or to conceal *writer* confusion…

  • Comment by GinnyW — July 29, 2013 @ 8:46 am


    At the beginning of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, during Paks’ first march south with the company, they pass by a tavern and the loungers make some kind of (rather nasty) comment about the vultures going south. Another mercenary company had passed through ahead of the Phelani. I think that was Sofi Ganarrion’s (but perhaps the Sobani). Are colors mentioned there? I am traveling, with internet, but without my copies of the Deed books, so I can not check myself.

    Jenn, we will miss you. We will try to keep an eye on the Verrakai children, and have alerted Farin-cook to the Jello problem. Predictably, she asserted that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES did that Jello come out of her kitchen. She was NOT about to allow pesky children to cart food all over the house. Who knows what would happen. There could be mice, or worse. And how would she explain to housekeeper? No, if the children are hungry, they can sit down to a nice piece of bread and jam. Right there at the table in the corner.

    Whew. I would not like to broach that subject again. Have a good time in the wilds. And bring back a good story for the young Verrakai!

  • Comment by Suburbanbanshee — July 29, 2013 @ 9:23 am


    People can use pattern as well as color, of course. Heck, some patterns would probably double as camo. (Red and gray, or red and black, is probably hard to see at night.)

    So yeah, probably a big difference between guys who wear red jackets with gray piping, guys who wear gray jackets with red piping, and guys who wear particolored red and gray jackets. 🙂 Or red and gray stripes. Or red and gray spots. Or red jackets with a nice gray floral print. 🙂

  • Comment by Suburbanbanshee — July 29, 2013 @ 9:24 am


    And there are probably mercs who think they are in a heavy metal band, and have scary imagery all over everything.

  • Comment by Richard — July 29, 2013 @ 11:08 am


    The Verrakai children will cry,
    then make a mud-pie-in-the-sky.
    Though they have lost Jenn,
    she will come again,
    if wishes, well knitted, will fly.

  • Comment by GinnyW — July 29, 2013 @ 6:52 pm


    Back to the original post, and Elizabeth’s comment about confusion. Obviously we are all participating in the confusion that is natural to the battle. In Siniava’s War, the armies were warned to watch out for the adjacent troops’ colors, but even so there was significant confusion. It probably goes with the job of being a mercenary company (or writing about one). I found the Foss Council militia the most confusing, myself.

    I hope the click beetle finds another home, or a fatal accident, before bedtime.

  • Comment by Richard — July 30, 2013 @ 1:30 am


    Need the invader’s soldiers be in any particular colors? Surely there were many cultures where the baker’s, butcher’s, farmer’s or forester’s son who joined the militia was issued with basic weapons (and perhaps armor) but otherwise kept the clothes he’d worn at home?

    In Tsaia, we’ve seen how each duke and count has a unique combination of colors. Can the system still work for the larger number of barons, or do they have to differentiate themselves by badges?

    I believe one battle in England’s Wars of the Roses ended with the Lancastrian right wing being attacked by their own side’s centre that they’d turned to assist. Couldn’t men see, at bowshot distance in thick fog, the difference between one lord’s silver star surcoat device and another’s sun-in-splendour one?!

    Ginny (#11), that was Sobanai, implying their recruitment area at least overlapped with Phelan’s. Not a problem seeing that they look for horse riders.

    Is there a story behind Clart Company wearing the same (or almost) colors as the Tsaian royal guard?

  • Comment by GinnyW — July 30, 2013 @ 1:52 pm


    Richard, I was wondering about the Clart Company colors too. It is a story only Elizabeth can tell.

    Please? For the pining Verrakai children, as an exercise in history and preparation for their future in the nobility? For the pining readers, who have nine months to wait for Crown to incubate?

  • Comment by Genko — July 30, 2013 @ 4:10 pm


    I’ve found the matter of colors very confusing. The only ones I can state with confidence are Fox company’s maroon and white and Lyonya’s green and gold. I do remember when there was mention of Alured’s colors in Limits, and I looked back a couple of pages to see whether those colors were listed, but didn’t find it. It just says “in his colors.” Unless I just glossed over it somehow, not impossible surely. Alured is confusing enough anyway — different names, designations, and locations. Never quite sure where he is.

    There are obviously colors beyond the primary ones. Rose and silver might look similar to maroon and white from a distance, for example, depending on how light or dark or saturated the color might be. The piping and knots are clearly designed for close-up observation and clarity for those in the know. The business of reversing colors (tunic and trous) for various branches of a family, and I do like the idea of stripes, but again that starts to get more complicated to see at a distance.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 30, 2013 @ 5:05 pm


    Alured’s colors as Duke of Immer are green and black. He had no idea what the original colors were, so chose his own…black for his nickname, green because he always liked it.

    A very bad ruler can have very good commanders (one thinks instantly of Hitler and Rommel), or a good ruler may have bad commanders (either bad as in less competent, or bad in character.) It’s one of the things that makes a useful complexity for plot purposes. Alured is intentionally confusing–anyone with a co-inhabitant is going to be less predictable, more “odd” than a single person. (If the invader has killed off the original personality, then that’s not true.)

    Who Alured is–the original, the man he has become, the person who is sharing his body–is somewhat revealed in the next book. (Stamping hard on the urge to say more, as it would be seriously spoilerish.)

    Another thing about colors. Tsaia, Pargun, and Kostandan are the only remaining northern kingdoms that use color extensively for ID of troops. (Lyonya includes green in all official units, but remember that they haven’t been fighting wars.) The southern mercenaries, as they became more important, chose colors that were not the same as other mercenary colors or existing city militia colors. They didn’t have to worry about the northern colors. Halverics used green (being from Lyonya) and Kieri chose maroon for the practical reason that it doesn’t show bloodstains. The older cities (the ones with Cortes in the name) had colors brought from Old Aare. The newer cities (founded as mercantile cities) chose colors because the older cities had them.

    And what dyestuffs are available determine what colors you find. A true nonfading green was difficult (and greens still fade more than some other colors) in our background, but given elves’ love of green, I decided a range of greens (not every green we have but three or four distinct greens) would be available in Paksworld. Purple is extremely rare; turquoise is nonexistent as a dye, but the stone exists.

  • Comment by GinnyW — July 31, 2013 @ 8:30 am


    We haven’t heard much about dyes and colors in Paksworld. The main characters are soldiers, not craftsmen. I would think that Lyonya would take the honors in that area, since knowledge of plants and a deep appreciation of shades and patterns of color seem to be elven traits, and the humans and elves are closest there.

    As well there seems to be some skill retained by the Lyonyans in formulating the paints and colors that are used for the bones.

    Elizabeth, I never thought much about color and the availability of the dyestuffs. It is rather an interesting line of thought. We are so used to synthetic dyes, and being able to have almost any color we can imagine. That was not always true, but I know almost nothing about natural dyes, and how their availability might have influenced clothing or uniforms. Thank you for the comment!

  • Comment by Linda — August 1, 2013 @ 7:31 pm


    Having messed around a bit with natural dyes … yellow tannish browns are the most common results … depending on what you use for a mordant (something which fixes the dye) and how long you let it steep. There are other possibilities, but around here some of them would drive you nuts. Like that little dark center right in the middle of a Queen Anne’s Lace is supposed to give you a purple … right, I for one never expect to live long enough to pick enough to try that.

    Think of things you spill on tablecloths and the stain which never comes out. Thing which go on red (wine? catsup?) or green (grass stains) and come out ??? tan. There’s a reason purple was the color of royalty, and red was for princes of the Church. Even indigo needs special growing conditions and a lot of processing to make blue.

    When I look at the really old samplers (early 1800s) at Mom’s, the colors are mainly variations on the yellow/brown/tan theme. Of course it could be fading, but look at the historic quilts and how they brighten up as time passes and dyes from India etc. come more into play. Compare the tartans of Scotland, old colors to new. Red came from the plant madder, grown in Egypt and India and strangely enough, easy to dye with. However, it was nothing like scarlet.

    The Confederates wore grey because it could be made from nut shells. Even if indigo grew in the South they didn’t have time or resources to go for blue …

    Red was the first reasonably color fast and cheap artificial dye. Ever seen “redwork” embroidery? There you go, great for beginners just learning their stitches … the patterns could be bought cheap for fancying up an apron or pillow case, and the thread didn’t bleed.

    The whole question of who wore what color is quite interesting in the US Civil War as “friendly fire” was a real factor in the early days.

    Yay for wikipedia and the discipline of identifying “stuff” for the local history museum. Also for historical re-enactors who make their own clothing. When was this made? What is the fiber and what is the color? Takes one down strange paths.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — August 2, 2013 @ 9:22 pm


    Interesting stuff, Linda, thanks.

  • Comment by GinnyW — August 3, 2013 @ 8:55 pm


    Thanks Linda.

    I have heard that some lichens were the source for an orange dye among southwestern American Indians. I have no experience to verify it, though.

    In my experience, many of the things that make difficult stains (blueberry, raspberry, etc) will “wash out” to a dull blue-gray. These are all sensitive to pH- more reddish-purple in acid and more sickly gray-blue in base, so the soap used to wash could be a factor in the stain color. This could be true of other natural dyes as well.

  • Comment by Richard — August 4, 2013 @ 4:22 am


    Dyes from India? Maybe equivalent plants once grew in Old Aare (whether they still do now the place has gone desert is another matter).

    Living long enough to pick enough Queen Anne’s Lace? No problem for an elf, and worth doing for a carpet that will never wear out or even need cleaning. “Never”? Humans cannot know that. Maybe it could do with being cleaned once a vanryn!

    Dyes from lichens? Dwarves could use them as well as mineral-based ones. Do they ever trade their colors?

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — August 4, 2013 @ 10:55 am


    Having just come back from vacation and visiting the Wilson’s Creek battlefield monument–where the Confederates won the battle, in part, because the 1st Iowa Volunteers (Union) wore gray that early in the conflict–but having won the battle, but so run out of supplies, this early victory helped lose the war for the Confederates. Interesting place.

  • Comment by elizabeth — August 4, 2013 @ 11:55 pm


    Cochineal scale insects produce an intense red dye, but you have to live where the cactus they live on grows. We do, but had a huge die-off in the recent several years of extreme drought…and I haven’t had time to play with dyes, anyway.

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