Elves, etc.

Posted: January 7th, 2009 under Background, Contents.
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Elves in Paksenarrion’s world are one of the Elder Races: they believe they are part of the First Song of the Singer, the Eldest of the Elder.  The Earthfolk (dwarves and gnomes) disagree, but don’t bother to argue.   In their own tongue, they are the Sinyi, the Sung.   Most are tall (the average elf is taller than the average human, though there’s overlap.)    From the human perspective, there are multiple contradictions: elves loathe war and claim that their innate love of harmony makes conflict more painful to them–and yet they can be touchy, easy to offend, and even quarrelsome.   Elven grudges last millenia…a fact that comes into play in the second book of this series in particular.   In the immediate area of the first and part of the second book, the ranking elf is Flessinathlin, the Lady of the Ladysforest, referred to as the Lady.  Kieri, King of Lyonya, is her grandson through her daughter.

The most important of the elvish powers,  to elves themselves, is the taig sense–the ability to sense and communicate with the “consciousness” of all living things.   This is believed to result from their being part of the First Song, in which they still participate, and they can “sing the taig awake”.   Next in importance, and related, is the ability to heal the taig, and its components.

Paksenarrion, some of you recall, joined up with Macenion, who told her he was a half-elf (he wasn’t, though he had a touch of elven blood and knew how to present it.)   Part-elves may or may not look elvish, and have varying amounts of elvish power.   This leads to many interesting situations…including in the current series.

Kieri Phelan, now king, is half-elven: his father is part Old Human and part magelord.  His mother was the Lady’s daughter, giving him royal blood on that side.   His elven powers, almost destroyed by abusive kidnappers, have now returned  and he is learning to use them.   But his taig sense is that of a half-elf…and to fix the ability in his children, he should marry a part-elf or full elf.    He is not able to get past the sheer age of the few elven women his grandmother-elf introduces–he realizes that no matter how long he lives, he will  always be as a child to the full elves in Lyonya.

How do elves feel about part-elves?   It depends on their parentage on both sides.  Elves are attractive to most humans, and some elves are strongly attracted to young, pretty humans.    They feel that young humans have a freshness that, by its very brevity,  is more beautiful.   And some elves happily mate with human after human (usually only one at a time) producing (over the centuries) many, many part-elf children.

This is a source of controversy.  Elven parents produce few children, at long intervals, and spend much effort on each child’s rearing.    Unattached elves who start playing with humans, taking them up as they reach early adulthood, starting families with them, and then leaving them when they get wrinkly or otherwise unattractive, are seen as self-indulgent, irresponsible, and even dangerous to other elves who may someday face human resentment.

Part-elves themselves regard their heritage variously.   Some yearn to be full-elves–try to enlarge whatever elven powers they have, ape elven styles of dress, learn the language, hang out with elves whenever they get the chance.    This is easier to do with greater amounts of elven blood; a few with minimal amounts of human in them are even accepted by most elves as “real” elves.   Others try to emphasize their human heritage, make themselves fit in as “real” humans.    This is easy to do for those with little elven blood and sometimes the elven influence is forgotten in a family, only to crop out later when someone marries a part-elf down the line and the baby turns out to have taig-sense.   Many half-elves find a place on the border between elf and human, of value to both peoples for their knowledge of both.

What kind of part-elf might Kieri find in Lyonya  to consider marrying?   There’s a lot he doesn’t know about elves and part-elves and the history of elf-human relations, when he’s crowned king of a realm with a dual monarchy.


  • Comment by Si — January 9, 2009 @ 6:00 am


    Oh my god, more books featuring Kieri set in paksworld? My happiness is complete, since I only just finished re-reading ‘Surrender none’ and I was quietly grumbling to myself about the dearth of paks books I had not read yet.
    Happy, happy day. I now go to read all the rest of the entries, happy that my favourite elves are returning :D

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 9, 2009 @ 9:42 am


    Glad you’re glad!

  • Comment by Melinda Goodin — January 16, 2009 @ 5:45 pm


    If taig-sense is the skill most valued by elves, it seems to me that he needs to marry a half-elf who has strong taig sense (to bring it out in their children), but experienced in both worlds. If he can’t have that, he needs a lady of strong taig sense, good common sense and a grounding in the elven world to balance out his understand of the humans.

    Of course, he should also have a council of sensible women, men, and elves of both sexes who can understand and advise how decisions will impact across both realms without politics, but that just wouldn’t be believeable :P

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 16, 2009 @ 6:45 pm


    Kier’s doing his best to drag Lyonyans in the direction of real cooperation between the races. Gender is less of a problem: there’s Kieri, the male king, and his grandmother elf, the female ruler of the Ladysforest. But racial barriers, yes. Along with unreasonable prejudices. Borrowing from real equestrian cultures, the Lyonyans (both groups) have irrational beliefs about animal coat colors and what they “mean.” The humans, being short-lived, are probably the worst, but the elves don’t help.

    I suppose, if you have beings with color vision, color is going to “mean” something: this fruit is ripe, that one is unripe, etc. I remember a friend in college who could not make herself taste guacamole because of the color. To her, avocados looked rotten and inedible. I’m not a fan of gray food. (And anyone who’s eaten in an institutional cafeteria knows what I mean by gray food.)

  • Comment by Jo Thomas — February 11, 2009 @ 2:29 pm


    First of all, the fan girl moment: squeeeee! more Paks! Sorry, had to do that, I’m re-reading the trilogy at the moment. I read it about once a year. It’s like comfort food, only more comforting.

    And to give my answer to the “who would Kieri marry?” question. I would guess he would go political. Of course, he can’t be seen to favour one family over another but showing favour to, say, the Rangers or a recognised Falkian Captain would probably be welcomed by the Lyonyan court, bearing in mind that he’s basically Girdish in his own religious alliances. How wide f the mark am I?

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 11, 2009 @ 6:29 pm


    You’re right that any royal marriage must be political–in part, at least.

    Kieri’s religious alliance…that’s another curiosity. Remember his parentage: his father, human, was Falkian (like most nobles in Lyonya.) His mother, elven, was not. This was expected, and not a problem. Kieri spent formative years as the prisoner of an evil magelord, where he had no religious training at all, then more formative years with Aliam Halveric, who’s Falkian and sponsored him to Falk’s Hall for knight’s training. But Kieri never wore the ruby. His first wife almost persuaded him to become Girdish–but he could not bring himself to take the vow–and after her death he rejected the Fellowship. In terms of values, what he believes is right and what is wrong, he fits well with both Falk and Gird. He comes down on the side of Falk, as he’s now in Lyonya, but his sense of divinity is much more in line with elves.

    I’m not going to reveal the individual he marries yet–don’t want to distract from the fun of watching him dodge the snares laid for him in that regard–and though I’m now fairly sure, he and that individual have run into a major obstacle I did not anticipate, so getting them to the altar may turn out to be impossible after all…and it may be someone else (maybe I was wrong, in other words.)

    I will say–it will be a woman of character.

  • Comment by Jo Thomas — February 13, 2009 @ 9:08 am


    In that case, I’ll just wish him luck and enjoy the… er… ride. I hope life and the writing goes well for you – if only so I can have the book in my grubby paws as soon as possible ;)

  • Comment by milk — January 22, 2011 @ 8:13 am


    first elizabeth moon book im reading is oath of gold, loving it very much!

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