Easter Basket: Egg-shaped Snippets

Posted: April 14th, 2014 under Crown of Renewal, snippet.

As the rest of my week will be solidly busy,  here’s an Easter treat…little snippets from here and there.

All snippets have the potential to be a spoiler for someone,  though I try hard to keep them “clean,” so crack open the chocolate rabbits, candy eggs, and so on with care.   Some are from earlier drafts and may not be exactly the same in the final book.  They are not in order, either.

#1  Dorrin in Chaya, visiting Kieri

Dinner reminded Dorrin of dinners at Kieri’s old steading, or her own at Verrakai house.  Squires, the king and queen, and Lady Tolmaric, all talked freely, as if with equals, about the affairs of the day or tenday.  Lady Tolmaric seemed entirely different from the distraught and helpless widow Dorrin had met before.  In fact, she seemed to have much the same character as Farin Cook: practical, capable, and firm.  She and Kieri discussed the growth of trade on the road from the new port, and her plans for her land near it.  Squires chimed in with their observations from their courier trips about the kingdom.  Nobody mentioned the reason for Dorrin’s visit…

#2 Alured/Vaskronin in battle

Vaskronin disappeared from his mind, leaving Alured, survivor of many desperate times.  He called on the magery his advisor had given him, clutching the red jewel on a chain around his neck.  His troops roared and held their ground; he cast a dark cloud laden with fear at the enemy.  For a moment the massed pikes faltered; the cavalry horses shied, bucked, bolted out of control.  His troops advanced again, pushing the enemy back toward the creek, while Alured aimed the fear and anguish trapped in the advisor’s jewel.

Finally the enemy broke and ran.  He held his troops back from pursuit and pressed on to the vill.  That fortified vill would make an excellent camp, a base from which to advance again.

He had won.  He could conquer Fallo, and next year–next year he would take the rest of Aarenis.  The year after that, the north.  King.  King of all.

You are strong and brave; you deserve to be king. 

Familiar warmth spread through his body, this time more flame than warmth along his bones.  He felt more alive than ever, filled with strength, power, the wild joy of victory.  In that moment of exultation, he had no thought of the disfigured child, of Andressat’s curse, of possible treachery.  He dropped the reins, raised both hands high–sword and jewel symbols of his power, and spurred his mount toward the vill with the others, yelling in triumph.

#3  Camwyn in a particular valley

Next morning Camwyn woke when something tickled his face.  He opened his eyes to find a horse’s head hanging over his bed…a long milk-colored forelock and mane, bristly whiskers, a soft muzzle.  After the first startled jerk, he lay still, fascinated.  Was it a wild horse, like the others, or Mathor’s?  It seemed to wink at him, stiff golden lashes coming down across a deep brown eye, then pulled its head back out of the window.  Camwyn sat up just as he heard the sound of ripping grass.  Out the window were three horses: the cream and gold one that had wakened him, a red chestnut mare, and a foal whose spindly legs were spread wide as it sniffed at something in the grass.

#4  Easter Egg in the extended DVD sense

Some horses must be accounted for.    Illusion, who died last fall but was already clearly aging fast as I wrote this book,  put in a cameo appearance just above.    When I wrote it, I knew it was Illusion intruding into the book, but not that he would die in the next six months.  There’s more of his story, and Camwyn’s, to come, much of it not in Crown of Renewal.

But there’s a horse some of you have asked about from a previous volume.   A black bay belonging to a certain thief enforcer, a horse he could not find after he escaped the death intended for him.   A horse to whom he had taught certain tricks, as all thieves’ horses are taught certain tricks.   They are not, let us say, a safe ride for anyone who takes them for granted.   That horse reappears in this book, and to my surprise (because I had a different situation planned for him) became a plot point of note.   That horse may show up again–though I don’t know if it’s going to find its way back to Arvid.

And then there is one of the horses in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5XJbSqwriM .

You will probably pick the right one, although the rider in the video is not the rider in the book and the situation is different.   I had not anticipated this, either…I’d watched the video many times,  for my own enjoyment, but had no intention of putting a horse like these into the book.   When this horse appeared, my first thought was “Oh, no–that can’t be right,” followed by “But of course it’s right.   Because [very large spoiler redacted.]”




  • Comment by Suburbanbanshee — April 14, 2014 @ 8:07 pm



    Seriously, there’s some darned interesting stuff in here! Love it!

  • Comment by Maggie — April 14, 2014 @ 8:30 pm


    Those horses have been my favorite for a long time. Excited to see one in the book!!!

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 14, 2014 @ 9:09 pm


    Maggie: The story I wrote for Shattered Shields also has an interesting horse in it, but not one you’ve seen before. Again, it wasn’t what I expected. Glad I picked the right ones for you, for the Egg.

    Suburbanbanshee: So glad you like it!

  • Comment by John McDonald — April 14, 2014 @ 11:56 pm


    These spoilers give me quite a bit to ponder as I sit outside waiting for the Lunar eclipse to begin.

  • Comment by Mette — April 15, 2014 @ 3:22 am


    Love them!
    Especially the small Vaskronin piece- so many possibilities!

    And always loved Camwyn. Happy to hear more about him.

    Thank you for the eggs – and happy easter to you.

  • Comment by GinnyW — April 15, 2014 @ 5:48 am


    I am so glad to see Lady Tolmaric again!

  • Comment by Joyce — April 15, 2014 @ 6:43 am


    THANK YOU for a lovely Easter treat!
    As a choir singer I send good wishes for strong clear voices and lots of energy in your choir as you lead in worship this week. Happy Easter to all.

  • Comment by becky — April 15, 2014 @ 7:04 am


    Beautiful video. But is it right that the horses have a hooked neck and look down when in harness or saddled? When they are running free, they look ahead, without the horrible neck arch. Made my neck hurt.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 15, 2014 @ 7:47 am


    becky: The “horrible neck arch” is natural to horses, especially breeds with that conformation, when doing certain things (courtship, breeding, fighting.) Horses do not look down when their necks are arched–their eyes are set on the sides, not in front, so that even when a horse is grazing, head down to the grass, it is seeing a wide arc on each side and ahead. We can’t do that because our eyes are set in the front of our skulls. The neck position you see assists a horse carrying or pulling weight because it causes a horse to “lift its back” (by tightening the abdominal muscles) and shift its center of gravity back toward the hindquarter.

    Imagine yourself on all fours on the floor, with a small child on your back. The child’s weight tends to make your back sag, and if you do that, your head will come up, with your neck bent backwards. And you will get one whale of a backache if that child “rides” you for very long. Now imagine tucking your chin under, causing your (shorter, less flexible) human neck to straighten. Immediately your back will arch, rather than sag; your abdominal muscles will tend to tighten (if you’re in good shape, they’ll definitely do so) and the strain on your back will be eased–your core muscles are supporting the weight, not leaving it up to your spine’s ligaments. You will be able to play “horsie” with the child longer with less back pain. Ballet dancers, like well-trained horses, emphasize the same muscle groups in order to move gracefully and strongly.

    Horse breeds (and individual horses) vary in conformation and thus suitability for different kinds of riding. Horses with a high-set neck (skeletally, this is) can obtain and benefit from more collection (a term that means a shifting of the horse’s center of gravity to the rear, making the horse both stronger in the back and more agile) than a horse with a low-set neck. The latter will find collection more difficult, but will find extension easier…and you find that many race-horses–both ridden and in harness–have low-set necks and run or trot/pace with necks stretched forward.

    If you’re interested in more detail on horse anatomy, breeds, and the theories behind horse training methods, I have shelves of books I could recommend, but some of them are hard to find. Deb Bennett’s books on anatomy and its implications for training are excellent. Podhajsky’s “The Complete Training of Horse and Rider” is also excellent.

  • Comment by Fuzzy — April 15, 2014 @ 8:19 am


    Beautiful horses! And thank you for the treats.

  • Comment by Margaret Middleton — April 15, 2014 @ 10:02 am


    I’m betting on one of the seashore scenes.

    And is that 3-horse hitch called a “unicorn” hitch? I’ve read descriptions of that but never actually seen one.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 15, 2014 @ 10:47 am


    Margaret Middleton: Yup. Unicorn hitch. I think, anyway. Did you notice that in one of them, the lead horse has broken to a canter? Error. I’ve only ever driving a single, and that to a “training cart,” (in south Texas, kind of like a sulky, but not quite.)

  • Comment by Annabel — April 15, 2014 @ 11:34 am


    Lovely snippets. And lovely horses, too – what incredibly long manes they have, compared with the Hanoverians my brother used to breed.

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — April 15, 2014 @ 12:34 pm


    The video of the horses show that they really do fly – all four feet off the ground at the same time.

  • Comment by Margaret Middleton — April 15, 2014 @ 12:53 pm


    No, I had *not* noticed the one leader breaking gait. I was too busy watching the feathery feet and the flowing manes.

  • Comment by Joyce — April 15, 2014 @ 4:22 pm


    Pargunese blacks, no doubt…

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — April 15, 2014 @ 4:29 pm


    Thank you for the Easter treats. Especially the video. “Elegant” is the word that popped into my mind to describe the Royal Friesians.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 15, 2014 @ 7:53 pm


    Joyce: An interesting comment: the horse-in-the-back-of-my-head for Pargunese Blacks (and the Tsaian Greys) is taller…more like a halfbred Shire; Paks’s “Socks” is definitely (in our terms) a Shire. But in late Roman/early Medieval times, the low countries bred black horses that were foundational to the English Great Horse (thought to be a progenitor of the Shire), and to the Friesian. And it’s noteworthy that the Percheron breed is composed of blacks and greys, higher-stepping than the Shire, with less feather on the lower legs. So in my head, where far too many horses dwell sometimes, the Pargunese Black is taller than the Friesian, built similarly, but only moderate “feather” on the legs and without the very long mane and tail. It’s possible that’s a result of grooming. Practically speaking, that long a mane is a management problem–a lot of work (I’ve seen a video on how to wash and care for a Friesian’s mane)–and though beautiful is not something a farmer or soldier would want.

    The Friesian lookalike that appeared in the story without warning didn’t have quite that lush a mane, and did not look like any of the other paladins’ horses I’d seen in my head. It’s…a one-off, or maybe…related to Torre’s mysterious mount. It wasn’t wearing a necklace of coals, though. Or any necklace at all, for that matter.

    Nadine: Yes, Friesians are elegant, but so are some other breeds, and each one differently. I do love the species, in its variety.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 15, 2014 @ 8:40 pm


    Jonathan Schor: They do, but not in the pose shown in the old paintings–the suspension comes at a different part of the gait (except in trot–some of the older pictures showed that accurately. But the gallop, I mean.)

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — April 15, 2014 @ 10:47 pm


    The horse for me is the Norwegian Fjord horse. I can see over the horse’s back and mount without a ladder. 😉 Probably used by some of my ancestors, those short ones who stayed home on the farm.

  • Comment by Richard — April 16, 2014 @ 2:24 am


    Resorting (as ever) to Wikipedia, I see that Friesians’ ancestors made good war horses so long as knights wore mail, but not plate.

    One video leads to another – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxuqbZ0Q_9c
    This New Zealand bareback rider, Alcyia Burton, has her own YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/lisey8888 and her own website http://freeridingnz.com/international/

  • Comment by Richard — April 16, 2014 @ 2:30 am


    Sorry, typo – Alycia

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 16, 2014 @ 7:08 am


    Nadine: Norwegian Fjords are indeed great small horses. I got to ride one once, taking a lesson at a riding center far from home. It wanted to convince me it could not bend into corners (the instructor warned me) and probably that conformation did make that more difficult, but after one corner’s resistance, and my very firm inside leg, it cooperated nicely. Then I had it for a ride outside on the trail. Perfect for that, sure-footed and well balanced for going up and down hill trailed with some muck and some slippery places and some steep bits, both up and down.

    Another one I’d like to try is the Halflinger, an Austrian breed. They also, however, have a very heavy mane, so I worry about their ability to handle heat.

  • Comment by Celina — April 16, 2014 @ 8:28 am


    Those horses was so incredible beautiful… So full of grace and power… *starts to daydream*

    My mother had a Norwegian Fjord, she was a kind and a calm horse. She wasnt even afraid of mooses and cows. The norweigan fjord is now gone, but I still remember her fondness of bananas and mintpastilles.

  • Comment by GinnyW — April 16, 2014 @ 9:45 am


    The beautiful horses were a special treat. I never imagined seeing such a magnificent mane on a running horse. Thank you.

    I am intrigued by the red jewel that Alured is wearing and the lack of any mention of a certain necklace.

    Only 6 weeks to wait!

  • Comment by Sherri Campbell — April 16, 2014 @ 10:23 am


    Love horses, thanks for the snippet.horse videos… I do have a question, and don’t know where to ask… Will there be any stories about Cracolnya? I find him intriguing, but info is lacking…

  • Comment by Kerry aka Trouble — April 16, 2014 @ 11:09 am


    Thank you for the snippets – they will help curb (pun intended) my impatience for the book to drop.

    Wishing you and yours a safe, happy, nap-filled (once services are over) Easter.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 16, 2014 @ 11:16 am


    GinnyW: Bwah-hah-hah-hah…(evil author laugh.)

    Sherri: Cracolnya defeated my efforts to drag him into this as a major POV character. I don’t know if he’ll have a story or not. What I know is little enough: he is from a horsefolk family, and there’s a lot of prejudice against the nomads. (They eat weird foods, they’re thought to be dirty, sneaky, and smell funny, they ride undersized runty horses with rough coats, they don’t respect farmers and townsfolk, and they worship strange gods. Oh, and they rob caravans across the western grassland or demand tribute, and are believed to steal horses from northern breeders and sheep from northern sheep-farmers. They, on the other hand, claim that horses straying onto the unfenced grasslands belong to them, that the so-called civilized folk cheat them when they bring something to market, that a family with 100 sheep won’t starve if they’re hungry and eat one, and that anyone who needs stirrups doesn’t deserve to ride.) I know Cracolnya has maintained a not-quite-clandestine contact with some of his relatives despite being immersed in the Duke’s Company and spending all that time in Aarenis, where horse nomads are unknown. Although he liked Kieri, Arcolin, and Dorrin well enough, he was always somewhat reserved and has never really confided in anyone but another horse nomad of his own lineage.

    His nomad relatives tell him he’s gone soft, that he couldn’t live their life (though, despite being born in, and partly brought up in, a town, he was sent back to the nomads for several years to learn those skills. Although he likes Arcolin, he would now like to leave the Company and rejoin his tribe, but…he’s not that young anymore. There’s a tiny bit of that connection showing in CROWN, but I need more to go on for a whole book, or even a solid story.

  • Comment by Kathie G — April 16, 2014 @ 7:07 pm


    Enjoyed the snippits, but loved the Fresians!
    It’s been too many years since I attended a horse show (over 40 — eek!), but I remember I loved watching the gait of the Tennessee Walking Horses. Isn’t the Fresian gait rather like the TWH? or not?
    The last time I was up close and personal with a full-size horse was when I was a teen, and it bit me on the arm. But I do love watching them from a distance.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — April 17, 2014 @ 5:50 am


    As Paks would say, only eight hands of days left until release of the crown jewel.

  • Comment by Sully — April 17, 2014 @ 6:51 pm


    Will he hear more of Camwyn’s story?

    He’s entertaining, I like him a lot.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 17, 2014 @ 7:13 pm


    Richard: Alycia Burton’s You Tube videos are one of my favorite “goodnight, computer” escapes. I actually showed one of them to a guy at the gym who seemed to think that women only did dressage. (I may have misinterpreted a comment, but never mind.) ANYway. Burton’s really, really good. I love the one about the day at the beach.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 17, 2014 @ 7:45 pm


    Tennessee Walkers and Friesians both have a high-stepping style, but the gait is different–so you get the look of the knees snapping up in both. Tennessee Walkers belong to the group of horse breeds/types (since some show up in non-lateral-dominant breeds) known in the US as “gaited” and elsewhere as “lateral-gaited” or “easy-gaited.” These horses have a tendency to pace, rather than trot–all horses have a lateral walk available to them, but most then extend into a trot, where the diagonal pairs of legs move together. Some extend into a pace, where the legs on the same side move exactly together. The horses with a more lateral gait are likelier to develop one of the “broken pace” lateral gaits–it’s a four-beat gait like a walk, but faster (like a person race-walking, rather than walking) and is very easy to ride. Horses in Shakespeare’s England, by Anthony Dent, points out that horses showing this kind of gait were very popular then for people who rode to get places (not to fight with), but those riding to war or (as nobles needed to do, when required to ride in a royal procession) needed horses that were dominant trotters. The mechanics of the gait make a difference to what the horse can do and how comfortable it is to ride. The Friesian is a natural trotter; the Tennessee Walker’s “running walk” is a broken pace. Some horses can do both a diagonal and a lateral gait, and a few do a “broken trot” instead of a running walk/country walk/broken pace. The American Saddlebred, for instance, is shown in a flat walk, a slow-gait (a slower broken pace, a trot, a canter, and the “rack” (a broken pace that is fast and elevated both.) They can also, of course, gallop and jump. There’s an advantage to the horse in trotting some of the time, because of the lateral flexion in the spine produced by a diagonal gait, as opposed to a pure pace. But because the easier-to-ride lateral gaits are also easy on the horse (no human getting off-balance and pounding its back) the Saddlebred, Missouri Foxtrotter, Tennessee Walker, etc. were prized for long-distance travel, and some of these breeds (or halfbreds of them) are still used on ranches where the ability to cover ground smoothly is paramount.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 17, 2014 @ 7:47 pm


    Sully: There’s more of Camwyn’s story in Crown of Renewal, but not all of it.

  • Comment by Susan Malcolm — April 17, 2014 @ 10:50 pm


    Elizabeth, thank you so much for the basketful of Easter goodies!

  • Comment by Richard — April 17, 2014 @ 11:36 pm


    I thought Alycia Burton worth bringing to people’s attention for more than her riding ability – and the link video (from the Friesians) apposite now because it was posted by her church.

    What prompted me to follow the link in the first place was imagining a horse the color of the one she rides on the beach as a paladin’s mount – and the rider being cast as Cami for the Paks movie.

  • Comment by BobP — April 18, 2014 @ 9:19 am


    So glad to hear we’ll learn more of Arvid’s horse — Arvid clearly misses him!

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 18, 2014 @ 11:15 am


    Richard: Hmmm. That’s a thought.

    BobP: Arvid has had other things to think about…(evil grin of writer.)

  • Comment by Chuck — April 19, 2014 @ 2:44 pm


    My dad’s grandfather had a Tennessee Walking Horse mare, and two of her mule offspring were also gaited (“singlefoot” and “pacing” are the terms he used). I don’t know if these gaits actually matched the definitions used today, as these were farming folk with working animals. The mules were trained to plow and pull in teams, as well as to be ridden (mostly bareback). Dad said sometimes they would unhitch the mules down in the field at dinnertime and ride bareback up to the house for lunch if it was too far to easily walk.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 19, 2014 @ 8:53 pm


    Gaited mules were prized in medieval and Renaissance times, as mounts for traveling clerics and also ladies. In Dent’s book, he talks about the breeders’ understanding that the foals, though born with the ability to gait, needed to be allowed to follow their gaited dam and learn from her by imitation how to do it. In another book, I read about someone having the foal amble along with the mare while she was in harness or under saddle–kept them both happy, the foal could nurse at times. When the foal was confined in a stall or paddock, the mare would become very uncomfortable and antsy as her bag filled and sometimes tried to run away with the cart on the way back to feed the baby.

  • Comment by GinnyW — April 20, 2014 @ 2:08 pm


    Happy Easter to all who celebrate it. Good wishes to all who do not, for the renewal that is bursting out at this season in the northern hemisphere.

    Richard, Thank you for the video link, both the horse and rider (good casting) and also the other dimension appropriate to the season.

    I am enjoying the horse stories that are emerging in this thread. Thank you all, and especially Elizabeth.

  • Comment by Dawn Roseberry — April 21, 2014 @ 7:50 pm


    Thank you for the Easter Eggs. Looking forward to my birthday present (in about eight hands of days).

  • Comment by Linda — April 22, 2014 @ 7:09 pm


    In snippet #3 Mathor … owner (I presume) or a nifty horse … does that name sound familiar because it’s like Mathin the horseman/warrior in McKinley’s The Blue Sword? Or has he/she turned up before?

    I can’t imagine how you will tie up those loose ends, I have a vision of a book bursting out of it’s binding and pages flying everywhere because there’s just too much good stuff to be contained.

    Hope you all had a joyous Easter. The snow finally disappeared here and the spring flowers are marvelous, new ones appearing daily.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — April 22, 2014 @ 7:56 pm


    Only seven hands of days!

  • Comment by Richard — April 23, 2014 @ 1:12 am


    Everyone, remember the snippet (maybe an outtake by now) in which Poldin M’dierra rides his aunt’s horse.

    Linda – maybe you are remembering the names Mathol and Matthis. “Mathor” must (by all we know) be foreign to Camwyn.

    My aunt has told me about how, after a UK winter (just after the war) when snow lay on the ground until spring, three months’ worth of flowers were all out together.

  • Comment by elizabeth — April 23, 2014 @ 7:13 am


    Linda: Mathor is a new, minor, character, unique to the, um, situation. He doesn’t own the horse(s.) As for loose ends…there are always loose ends left flapping in the breeze but the fat ones are tied up.

  • Comment by Eowyn — April 25, 2014 @ 1:31 pm


    I’m getting very excited for the new book. I’m also getting excited to see what will show up at the event in July. I know they will have an Icelandic drill team and a Fresian exhibition as well as full-contact jousting. I’ll admit to having dreamed of breeding my chestnut mare to Fire Magic (liver chestnut Fresian that is pedigreed but obviously not in the registry).

    I wish you could have seen the demo at the World Equestrian Games in KY of the Andalusian doing the bull-fighting. The ‘bull’ was a wheelbarrow with horns on it with a person wheeling it around trying to get to the horse and the horse and rider trying to thwart it. Amazing action/reaction on a gorgeous animal.

    I hope your Easter went will and the spring brings lots of blooms and happiness to you.

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