At Last…a Snippet

Posted: March 4th, 2014 under snippet.

Because it’s the week of my birthday, you get a snippet.    One with some judicious excisions, alas, because  Crown is so very full of spoilers this close to the end of the whole story arc.   It’s still supposed to raise more questions than it answers.

Where: Verella, Marrakai House

Who: Dorrin and Duke Marrakai

Gwenno Marrakai wants to go to the Bells for knight’s training.   Dorrin has agreed that she’s ready.  Now the question is, will her father agree?  But it’s not the only question.


Dorrin explained again.  Marrakai nodded.

“I understand.  If you’re sure she’s ready for the Bells, I’ll talk to the right people–though she would be the only girl, at present.”

“What about the Company of Gird, in Fin Panir?  Aris was there, wasn’t he?”

“In the junior school, yes.  But I’m not sending any of my family to Fintha.  Too dangerous.  I don’t suppose you’ve seen any mage hunters over where you are.”

“No, none.   But surely not in Fin Panir itself.  The Marshal-General spoke out against it, didn’t she?”

“She did.  She’s been physically attacked.  Riots in the city.  Children taken, tested for magery, and the ones that the mage hunters believed are mages killed.”  He shook his head.  “No, no daughter of mine is going to Fintha.  It’s the Bells or nothing.  She won’t like it if they refuse, but I can send her down to the country where she can ride horses and play at being a soldier without causing talk.”

Dorrin opened her mouth to say that Gwenno was far beyond “playing” at being a soldier, but…it was not her concern anymore.  This was between Gwenno and her parents.


Excisions are not marked; you’ll notice them when you get there.  They were too spoilerish.  Some of you will guess, but some will not.


  • Comment by Richard — March 5, 2014 @ 12:57 am


    I did wonder if the start of Bells training would be a come-down for Dorrin’s squires after the real responsibilities they’ve had, (as opposed to the usual make-work given to lads like Rothlin Mahieran and Roly Serrostin when they were squires, to get them out from under people’s feet, or at least put them under somebody else’s feet, for example the palace riding instructor’s).

  • Comment by Naomi — March 5, 2014 @ 2:27 am


    Happy birthday week Elizabeth!

  • Comment by pjm — March 5, 2014 @ 2:52 am


    Yes, happy birthday!

  • Comment by David Bugg — March 5, 2014 @ 7:36 am


    Happy Birthday, Elizabeth! I’ve forgotten which one this is for you, but I remember that we are close in age (I was born in August 1944). I have read most if not all of your books and always enjoyed them immensely. May I ask when your next volume will be published? I know it will be sometime later this year, but have not heard when it will be.

  • Comment by LarryP — March 5, 2014 @ 10:45 am


    Grats on the level up Ding!

    Or in non gamer speak Happy birthday.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — March 5, 2014 @ 11:19 am


    Yes–what Elizabeth said, there’s stuff in the middle of this text–I don’t think any of you will be disappointed in the conclusion. Lots of good stuff in the finale. Go out and buy it when it comes out–oh, wait, I’m preaching to the choir. 🙂

  • Comment by Tuppenny — March 5, 2014 @ 11:42 am


    ‘Playing at being a soldier’ ouch! Poor Gwenno. With Dad having that attitude,(No matter how much I have liked him in general) I foresee some very interesting family ‘discussions’ in their future.

    I had a few too many similar comments from my late aunts and their friends. And it never stopped even when I was more than grown up … went on till they died.

  • Comment by Ed Bunyan — March 5, 2014 @ 12:06 pm


    Happy Birthday and may you enjoy many more in good health and happiness.

  • Comment by Tuftears — March 5, 2014 @ 2:14 pm


    Happy Birthday! Looking forward to the book. ^_^

  • Comment by John McDonald — March 5, 2014 @ 3:05 pm


    Happy Birthday week; celebrate it all week long.

  • Comment by Linda — March 5, 2014 @ 3:20 pm


    I fear that too many men and women still see the work women do as “playing at”. It may not be stated aloud, but one sees decisions made which give that away. Funny thing is, some of those who suffer most from the prejudice are the very ones who can’t put manage to speak without using sports metaphors.

    I’ve made it all the way to retirement, working steadily since leaving school, facing sometimes daunting responsibilities, supporting myself and yet my Mother has never believed that what I did mattered to anyone. All the best Gwenno, hope you can maintain a good attitude.

    I hate it that the snippet makes it sound as if things are very bad in Paksworld. I do hope there’s enough happiness by the ending to allow us to sigh with contentment.

    As a not “Happy Birthday” song says “We wish you merry birthday, a joyously celebrated birthday. And our dear friend, may you have a long, long life.”

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 5, 2014 @ 3:53 pm


    Linda: In the last months of my mother’s life, she asked a friend of mine if the friend thought I’d ever make a success–e.g. enough to live on–as a writer. The friend didn’t tell me until a year or so after my mother died. My mother loved me, and she was a terrific mother–a mother who had struggled with poverty and prejudice most of her life. But though she had high hopes for me, I was different enough from her that she could not really believe in that my talents would sustain me. She felt I wobbled from one enthusiasm to another, never showing what she considered a steady application. It is one of the tragedies of parenting that parents and children are often different enough that this sort of thing happens, and lessens the happiness of both.

  • Comment by Gareth — March 5, 2014 @ 4:03 pm


    Happy birthday week and may you enjoy many more.

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — March 5, 2014 @ 7:00 pm


    Happy Birthday also.

    I sometimes also worry about earning a living – it certainly is not quality of your writing, but in my former career working for the IRS I learned that it is never easy to live by your wits. Good reviews do not put bread on the table. People who purchase your books do. I can appreciate your Mother’s worry.

    So far as women “playing at” anything , what do you think most men are doing? Ignore those who would put you down because you write – from reading your posts, it is really hard work worthy of reward.

    Am looking forward to the next book.

  • Comment by Ken Baker — March 5, 2014 @ 7:50 pm


    First of all Happy Birthday, you just turned 21, right? Seriously I love all your book and this one is on pre-order, anxiouly awaiting it. You writing ranks right up there with my favorite author J.R.R. Tolkien. Keep up the great work!

  • Comment by Iphinome — March 5, 2014 @ 8:45 pm


    Happy birthday your ladyship.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 5, 2014 @ 9:10 pm


    Thank you all for your good wishes. They are much appreciated.

    I am marginally better this evening (the bit of boiled potato has not yet caused a rumpus) and hope that by Friday I will be eating normally and by Saturday (the day my friend whose birthday is two days early than mine will celebrate with me) I can enjoy cake and ice cream. Without repercussions. My friend’s birthday was today and I wrote her a faux opera chorus as a morning greeting, having run out of variations on the Happy Birthday song and limericks years ago. (Yeah, we’ve been friends since college, which is considerably over forty years ago now. I can’t believe she’s Route 66 this year. [Yes, we make jokes about the ages, too. Prime numbers are a favorite, but so are ones with lots of factors, or that are related to something in a book…on my 33rd, she told me that clearly I wasn’t grown up yet, and thus could not be a hobbit, so the only thing left, with a longer time to majority, was elf. Mischief runs in the friendship.])

    Anyway, once I can really eat again, the sort of shimmery feeling that comes with nibbling crackers for six days should go away and I will be bouncing off walls. Gently.

    Thanks again for the birthday wishes. I’m taking an early bedtime.

  • Comment by Susan Malcolm — March 5, 2014 @ 10:55 pm


    To quote Pooh’s card to Eeyore: “Hppy Ppy Bththdy!)(roughly quoted, as my youngest is 21 and it’s been a long time since I’ve read the book.)Elizabeth, you are an amazing author, your knowledge base is extensive, and you are most gracious in sharing it with us. I’ve learned so much about so many different things from this blog! Sweet dreams!

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 6, 2014 @ 12:12 am


    David Bugg: The next book CROWN OF RENEWAL, will be out in 82 days, on May 27 this year. I’m getting antsy about it already. (I should at least wait until it’s only 60 days, right?)

    All: I was headed for bed when a partly-finished story grabbed me and insisted on being taken another few pages forward. More than a few, as it turned out. It’s a side story to OATH OF FEALTY. NOW I’m going to bed. (Amazing how much energy a bit of boiled potato can give you when you’ve been living on a few crackers and water.)

  • Comment by ellen — March 6, 2014 @ 2:20 am


    Love the snippet, can’t wait for the book. Just back from Canada, was lovely to get of the Aussie heat, and great seeing son, daughter in law and gorgeous grandson! Happy Birthday and feel better soon!

  • Comment by Richard — March 6, 2014 @ 2:40 am


    Six days! How awful. At least you’d finished shovelling the earth back over the septic tank. Hope your husband has been OK.

  • Comment by Richard — March 6, 2014 @ 3:49 am


    By the way, I misinformed people last year (7th March) by sharing what I heard on the radio. This year I’ve checked on Wikipedia and found that the UK is the only place in the world to mark World Book Day on the first Thursday in March. 23rd April elsewhere.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 6, 2014 @ 8:25 am


    Happy Birthday! Thank you for being hobbit-like and giving US a present. I hope you get to enjoy the cake and ice cream, and am sorry that you have had such a shaky week.

    The “playing at soldier” comment pulled some chains for me. I have known too many women who had to work (including my own grandmother) to support themselves and their families AND had good skills. Yet their careers were “playing at” while others were “building careers”. (Now tries to be fair.)

    Perhaps Duke Mahieran regards the soldier-training for his children as discipline and preparation for political position rather than an end in itself. It would not be surprising if he felt that Gwenno might make a good Duchess or even a queen – in time. And I must say that the Royal Guard of Tsaia has come across as “playing soldier” through out the story arc. They are there, but their leaders do not have the strategic competence of Dorrin or Arcolin. They are there, but do not have the experience or mobility of Fox Company.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 6, 2014 @ 11:23 am


    Tsaia has not been at war as a kingdom since the short and dirty war with Pargun when Kieri was a very young man, just a year or two, at most three,out of Falk’s Hall. Its army then was a force combined of lords’ militias and the Royal Guard (a typical feudal army: each lord is supposed to bring x-many at the king’s command.) The Royal Guard had been, and still is, primarily the king’s personal guard, not a national army, although some effort has been made to use them to staff border forts. Most have no combat experience (not their fault–there’s been no combat to get experience IN.)

    In general, the effectiveness of a military force drops with the length of time since it was in combat. Modern training methods with realistic scenarios help with the experience gap, but even so…if you kill too many people in training exercises, they aren’t there to face the enemy. The Royal Guard is good at what it’s been doing–being the ceremonial guard unit. That they fought as well as they did in the battle on the way to Chaya speaks well of them; their deficiencies were those of inexperience.

  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — March 6, 2014 @ 2:00 pm


    First Happy Third 23rd Birthday tomorrow! Always good at our ages to put another one on the odometer. Especially when you consider the alternative.

    Thanks for the snippet. Even with the redactions, it tells us a lot about Tsaia’s perceptions of what’s going on in Fintha. Not good.

    Your comment of March 6 seems to suggest that the the granges didn’t send soldiers to the war with Pargun? Which would make Dorrin’s notion of involving the granges in defense against Alured even more unusual. And Paks’ recruitment of the eastern granges in the defense of Kieri even more remarkable…

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 6, 2014 @ 2:35 pm


    Wickersham’s Conscience: On the matter of granges and war, it’s not really accurate to say the granges didn’t send grange members…most if not all the feudal troops *were also* grange members. The king at that time called up troops from his vassals–the lords–and the lords brought their troops–who were Girdish. The king did not call on the granges specifically, because he knew that the lords’ troops would members of the granges on the lord’s lands. (Um…it’s like the feudal situation in England: the king calls on his nobles to bring their required troops, and does not contact the parish priests to get more.)

    Dorrin recognized and pointed out the difficulty this could (did not always) create: as yeomen, Girdish look to their Marshals, and their Marshals think of war in terms of Gird’s war: Girdish protecting themselves from the impositions of the magelord nobility. At this point, most of the nobility has little or no magelord blood and no mage powers. But Marshals, who have not fought a war since Gird’s War, still think in those terms and train their grange members in the methods of a peasant army. They do not, for instance, have cavalry; they do not consider a separate unit of archery; they do not (with some exceptions) understand how different units coordinate because they’ve never had them. They are extremely good with fitness training, supply issues, and getting grange members to work together. If a commander understands the military implications of grange training, adding on what a professional soldier needs is pretty easy (if you don’t run into the “Not Invented Here” problem with some of them.)

    Lords, however, have a weak grasp of what a fully functional fighting force needs to succeed in a full-on battle, and they do not know the implications of grange training. (For that matter, neither do the Marshals. They have not fought as an army in 500 years.) Both lords and Marshals can turn out a force capable of repelling a band of brigands…but that’s not the same thing.

    Dorrin had in mind working toward integration of training by granges and local lords, to produce troops capable of meshing together into what she considered a real army…and she knew it would be a hard sell when she was first tasked with the job of Constable. Given events, it proved impossible. It was often impossible in real history, where similar situations occurred. Locals who have trained together are not always willing to subordinate their way of doing things to a larger organization (see US history: Revolutionary War, Civil War, Mexican War…)

    Realms like Tsaia cannot afford a professional standing army…the only one they’ve got (the Duke’s Company) is supported by its earnings outside the realm. In medieval & Renaissance times, professional standing armies were too expensive for anyone to keep on hand all the time. In northern Europe, everyone understood that there was a campaign season and then a non-war season when soldiers had to go tend crops or everyone starved. In Italy, in the 13th c., city-states hired mercenaries because you only paid them while they were actually fighting, and meanwhile your citizens could go on doing the necessary work. Sometimes that backfired and the mercenary commander turned into your city’s ruler.

  • Comment by Marit — March 6, 2014 @ 3:46 pm


    Happy birthday!

  • Comment by Chad Merkley — March 6, 2014 @ 9:52 pm


    One of the best examples of problems with integrating a professional army with militia troops comes from the war of 1812, during the US invasion of Canada: A troop of New York State Militia refused to cross the river into Canada and come to the aid of a US Army unit that was under heavy attack (Battle of Queenstown Heights). I could imagine a similar situation coming up in Paksworld, with a grange unit refusing to go outside their own geographical area, especially with the anti-nobility attitude of some marshals.

  • Comment by Richard — March 7, 2014 @ 2:16 am


    Chad, yes, what Stammel told Paks in the Deed (Oath of Gold) was “an expedition to Pargun”. That implies to me that the Tsaian army were going to be the aggressors and invade, albeit the Pargunese surprise attack came when the expedition was “at the border”. Whereas the eastern granges that turned out for Paks did so on her and their own initiative against their natural enemies (Liartian bandits, foreign infiltrators, evil lords) in their own area.

    Marshals (with some exceptions) not thinking about archery and cavalry units – would the exceptions be those, mainly Finthans, who’ve spent time in granges along the horse-nomad frontiers? Also, can we take it that Marshal-candidates from Aarenis, familiar with larger armies and militias, get sent back to granges there?

  • Comment by Richard — March 7, 2014 @ 2:29 am


    Susan Marshal,

    Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.
    A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.

    I’d quite forgotten how much is in that chapter.

  • Comment by Richard — March 7, 2014 @ 2:39 am


    *Bangs head*, abject apologies, Susan Malcolm. Wishes yet again for the after-posting edit function some forums have.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 7, 2014 @ 9:55 am


    Richard: The Tsaian force was invading Pargun. The previous history of Pargun/Tsaian relations was marked by almost constant border raids, larger incursions (both sides), and steadily growing determination by both to “finish this.” The Pargunese were operating under the influence of Achrya, but the Tsaians didn’t know that Achrya had appeared to Pargunese as a helpful, kindly power (at first) and that it was she who had given them permission to push into the (now disputed) uplands north of the falls on the Honnorgat. As Tsaia’s population (always larger) continued to grow, this put pressure on the agriculture of the eastern regions to produce more…which also made those domains more attractive to the Pargunese.

    Very few Marshal-candidates come from Aarenis because most are not interested in spending years in Fintha (to them, it sounds horrible.) The north supplies nearly all Marshals in Aarenis. You are correct in thinking that southern-reared Marshals are assigned to the south.

    There’s an interesting article on “bastard feudalism” in England in the 14th c. I’m only partway through it, but there are parallels (not exact) between the shift from “pure” feudalism earlier to what’s described here, and the rather peculiar form of feudalism found in Tsaia.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 7, 2014 @ 10:41 am


    Today I start my last year of being 60-something. Sixty-nine is one of those ages that gets overlooked by the decade bump ahead of it. Yet every year has its own flavor or shade of color…a few of them, unexpectedly, have a BIG change. They aren’t often the decadal jumps (at least not in my experience.)

    I don’t, by the way, plan to retire from writing at 70. Or 75, when I get there. IF I get there. Or any particular age. Eventually, some older writers say, the brain says “Enough already.” Others are writing until they fall on the manuscript. (I would prefer to be out birdwatching at the critical moment, personally–or like a Victorian woman who said she’d like to die by breaking her neck in a fall over a big fence on a fast horse–but we don’t get to choose. Neither peaceful birdwatching nor dramatic/heroic riding is guaranteed.)

    ANYway. So far it’s being a pleasant birthday with family, the best kind (except that tomorrow it will be family and friends and the cake & ice cream.

  • Comment by Kerry aka Trouble — March 7, 2014 @ 4:42 pm


    Congratulations on completing another solar circumnavigation 🙂

    Thank you for the snippet and hope the recovery proceeds at a rapid pace so you can enjoy your joint party tomorrow.

  • Comment by Celina — March 8, 2014 @ 12:52 am


    Happy birthday week 😀

  • Comment by Catmadknitter — March 8, 2014 @ 6:19 pm


    “Locals who have trained together are not always willing to subordinate their way of doing things to a larger organization”

    As a Nat’l Guard wife in a unit that always goes to the Big Things (they may even have managed Viet Nam), the Army isn’t quite sure what to make of us, either. Husband heard a few stories about Gulf I from the unit along these lines.

  • Comment by cgbookcat1 — March 8, 2014 @ 7:00 pm


    Happy Birthday!

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 8, 2014 @ 9:53 pm


    Catmadknitter: As someone who used to subscribe to Army Times (was, at the time of Gulf 1)–yes, I’m aware of some of the difficulties (even greater during ‘Nam, with the way governors then had more control of the Guard), but did not want to single out Nat’l Guard/regular military organizational problems. The nature of war and emergency work offers infinite possibilities for friction and screwups.

    cgbookcat1: Thanks!

    Iphinome: Love to hear the squeeee! Glad you’re excited by the prospect.

    Linda: I’ve been trying to get Kolya’s story into shape…I think it may require a longer length but I’m not sure yet. It’s not going to be a quick one to write, that’s definite. Daryan’s a very interesting young person and nobody knows yet what’s going to happen with him. At the moment, he’s delighted his other thumb has sprouted and basically expects to be “normal” and like everyone else. Another Daryan story will start (I think) when he realizes that no, he’s permanently changed in a way he does not understand–and neither does anyone else. I don’t think he’ll become a Kuakgan, but if he develops magery (I don’t know if he will) things will be very interesting indeed.

    On the plot daemon’s tap on the shoulder: Yes. I will wait, on each story, to be sure it really is a Paksworld story, and that it flows from the same spring as the existing and any future books. No matter how much the Paksworld fans want new material (and I want to write it), this is something I won’t fake. If and when more comes–I’ll write it. If it doesn’t–we’re all stuck with the existing (whenever that happens) material. I can somewhat control length…beyond that, Paksworld stories are what they are; they come out of a mysterious deep part of my brain and they turn plastic if I try to construct them rather than let imagination rule. So though I would like to write more Paksworld books, and more Paksworld short fiction…and right now it’s flowing nicely…there’s no guarantee any of us will be pleased with the final amount, ten years or twenty down the line.

  • Comment by Sharidann — March 10, 2014 @ 9:49 am


    Happy Birthday week. 🙂

    Can’t wait to get Crown in my greedy hands.

    Duke Marrakai seems to completely misunderstand his daughter AND Dorrin, who gave Gwenno real traning.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 10, 2014 @ 6:34 pm


    A little less than 3 months to wait. I am looking forward to rediscovering the snippets in context, and discovering just how incongruous my take on them was.

    I wonder what caused the Tsaia/Pargun conflicts to settle into the uneasy truce that seems to be in effect during Deed?

  • Comment by Richard — March 11, 2014 @ 2:03 am


    I wonder about the personalities. It was not the King of Tsaia but the Crown Prince who was killed leading the army. One of the current books has pretty much confirmed that the man was Mikeli’s grandfather, which would put him well into middle age at the time and make his father, the King, an old man – so was it infirmity that stopped the latter from being there himself? Had the Pargunese sensed political weakness and instability they hoped to take advantage of at the end of his reign? Then there was Duke Marrakai – perhaps the present one’s father – no love lost between him and the Crown, according to the gossip young Stammel heard afterwards. OK that could have been slander from Verrakai agents, but does it indicate that whatever had been going on was such that Marrakai strongly disapproved?

    So a few years later we had a new young King of Tsaia (Mikeli’s father) likely to be there for many years ahead, Pargun still recovering from its losses, and the previously disputed northern lands firmly in Kieri’s capable grasp. We also had Achrya knowing that if the Pargunese lost any more ground, they would lose the hills where the hidden gnomes were guarding Dragon’s eggs.

    I’m thinking that if Siniava with his ambush in the forest had succeeded in killing Kieri and all the Company, then Einar would have demanded Torfinn do something aggressive the next year (especially with Mikeli a minor, and what we know about the people on the Regency Council).

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment