Vania, Dukes, and Neal’s Mother

Is [Vania] named after someone?

Tammy: I think it’s a classic name from Thayet’s family.


Tammy: It is possible to be a duke without being royal–you just have to have a really powerful, wealthy, old family.

I wonder what Neal’s mother is like?

Tammy: Tired. Very tired. :p

SOURCE: [MR:FT:7.1, 7.2]

PotS Cast Based On…

Tammy: Actually, I didn’t think I described either Joren or Ralon as effeminate. They’re also both based on real guys. Ralon was a guy I knew in high school who was seriously twisted, though his return after being scarred was fiction, and Joren was based on a guy I knew in college who liked to go hunting “high school chicks” with his dope dealer friends. I didn’t know enough to do anything about it, though I’m not sure what I could have done. Fortunately someone told the dorm advisor they were dealing pot and they had to flee. Good riddance. My Joren-seed gave me the chills. And thus a character was born. The fact that he was so angelically beautiful made it worse, somehow.


Tammy: I was basing Kel in part on the women who were the first to enter the military schools, folks. Y’all might be interested in reading their accounts of their plebe years at places like Annapolis, West Point, and the Citadel. They did not dare show emotion in the face of “hazing,” because it got so much worse if they did. Kel understands that, and the etiquette that she learned among the Yamanis–that it’s rude to show extreme emotion–is saving her grits here.


Tammy: Did I ever mention that I based Dom on actor Jerry O’Connell? When I wrote these books he was in a series called Sliders, and he was the right age for Dom. I had a picture of him coming up out of the water in a swimming pool. Blue water, blue eyes, big grin . . . Dom.


Tammy: I based [Wyldon] on Assistant Director Skinner from the X-files, but it’s not a requirement.


Unicorn District, ‘Dogs’, Beka Reflecting Tammy, and Slavery in Tortall

Tammy: Unicorn District is so named because the wealthy live there.

And it’s Mat-TESS.

People started calling them “dogs” as a sneer, and they turned it around with terms like “kennel” and “puppy” and in other ways, to show they take pride in being dogs.

“…it’s interesting how Beka is the shyest of the Tortall protagonist yet has the most people oriented position…”

Tammy: She reflects her author.

Tammy: But I wasn’t writing to preach: I was writing what Beka encountered as she and her partners pursued the Hunt. These are the conditions she lived with every day, compounded by the fact that her quarry was using the slave transport system to torment their victims. I was writing the natural effects of a slave culture. (I was also writing to explain why there is no slavery in the “modern” era of that universe!)


Alexander Siddig as Zaimid, Junai to the Greater Cause, and Topabaw

Tammy: Re: Zaimid: At the time I used Alexander Siddig, then on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and currently on Atlantis (he’s older now).

Tammy: Sarai’s cause, and you have sworn your life to it–your life is no longer yours to dispose of. It’s the same as being in the military. Your life is no longer your own; it belongs to your superior officers. Call it privilege, and perhaps it is, but it is the privilege of an officer of the greater cause to which Junai promised her body and her life, not that of the daughter of a noble house.

Tammy: No, [Topabaw]’s a thug and a punk who relies on fear. He’s lazy, relying on the terror built up by the generations of his predecessors to do his job for him. Aly got lucky with Topabaw. He’s the direct reference to the tactics of the Gestapo and the apartheid intelligence service, ruling with a club rather than his head.

Those who are training as knights aren’t in the palace–they don’t have the facilities to train there.

Tammy: And Topabaw does too have a spy among the Balitangs — he has Aly!

SOURCE: [MR:TQ:4; MR:TQ:5.1, 5.2]

Daine’s Social Life, Love Magic, and Roger’s Charisma

Tammy: I couldn’t show Daine’s casual life and her other friends, though y’all should know some of them — and most of them are older. The Queen, Buri, Sarge, members of the Riders, Onua, Kuri, the children at Pirate’s Swoop and the palace, Maura of Dunlath and her guardian Douglass of Veldine, Stefan, George and Alanna, members of the palace staff, Raoul and members of the Own, members of the army, people in assorted fiefdoms, all kinds of animals and immortals, Lord Imrah of Legann and his lady . . . . Come on, people! Honestly, all these months and years covering Tortall far and wee, and you think she doesn’t have friends and she didn’t date before Realms? And they did a couple of trips to Carthak, Tusaine, Galla, and the Copper Isles in goodwill journeys for the Crown. She’s a popular young woman with plenty of correspondents and open hospitality invitations wherever they go!

Tammy: There is love magic in this world — hedgewitches make their living off of it, and even the higher-up mages learn not only love spells but counters to them — but like lighting a candle, it’s delicate stuff.

“…did Roger use some kind of (not romantic) love magic to make everyone like him?”

Tammy: No, not at all. Think of the amount of work he’d have to put in to keep touching up such spells for years for a number of people. Since people’s emotions change so often, love spells have to be maintained more than other kinds, unless you want to put a really heavy one on someone — and that kind of spell is really easy to spot, unlike the amorphous veil spell he used on the royals.

He didn’t need love spells. He was very attractive; he’d learned all the tricks to make people feel he cared deeply for them (like attending to no one else but them when they were talking, and soliciting their opinions on important issues), and he knew how to make people feel important. He’d’ve made a great politician.

SOURCE: [MR:LK:7.1, 7.2, 7.3]

Marriages and Naming in Tortallan vs. Raka Cultures

Tammy: But not all marriages are going to be the same; it’s a world where most people of the middle and lower classes begin to marry at fifteen and sixteen and many young women marry around 18; and not everyone is going to go into marriage with a solid and sedate marriage plan or way of dealing with one another in their relationship. Some of us–most of us–make it up as we go. Remember, we haven’t seen the Contes or the Coopers in their married life before the kiddos arrived.

Also, if you look at post-war populations, marriages and childbirths skyrocket. People want to prove they’re alive; they want to prove they survived. They want to get married and they want to have children. That’s what Aly and Nawat did. They lost three people they were close to, and they were still alive. Also, they weren’t exactly counting on having three kids at once. No, Nawat didn’t do things as we think people should do them. He is what? Three years old? He’s still learning.

Tammy: A word about people getting named.

In Tortallan culture, it is considered very bad luck to name a child after someone who is still alive. In our culture, plenty of people name their children after someone who is alive or someone who has passed. I got the idea for the Tortallan/Eastern Lands bias from Quaker belief, actually. People name their children for someone who has died because there is something about that person they miss or they want to honor. This is particularly true in families that have fought in wars, like the royal family and the household at Pirate’s Swoop. The familes at Mindelan and at Trebond, with one or two exceptions, have chosen different names.

Raka belief is stricter. You may not name a child exactly for one who is passed until three generations have gone by, for fear of bad luck. You may only refer to the lost one if the name is changed to a masculine or feminine variant. Thus the names of the Crow children.

Other faiths believes different things, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.

SOURCE: [MR:N.1, N.2]

On Aly

Tammy: What if it’s not privilege and just the private, internal comment of a highly gifted brat who works differently?

Tammy: Working with Aly was extremely difficult for me. We are not at all alike; she has that smugness in her own cleverness that drives me wild even with my closest friends. […] I would quite literally come out of my office at the end of the day and bang my head against the wall. Only knowing that she works beautifully kept me going.

I am more like her mother than I ever realized.

SOURCE: [MR:TQ:19, MR:TQ:20]

Jaguar Goddess/Kyprioth and Prophecies

Tammy: Well, [the Jaguar Goddess] is, sometimes. And she remains captive because she is a chaotic element (not as in Uusoae-chaotic, but as in destructive chaos), a goddess of the jungle run riot, and of destruction without redemption. Just think what Kyprioth’s married life is like! Every now and then, when he’s thinking too well of himself, someone lets her out.

Tammy: The Jaguar Goddess doesn’t get along well with anyone. Particularly not her husband.

Tammy: What if Dove has been the Chosen One all along? Prophecies are murky things and, if those of you who read Lioness Rampant will recall, things get murky the closer we get to a crossroads in time. Who is who and what is what become impossible to predict, let alone outcomes.

Tammy: Visions sent by the gods may always be hard to interpret, depending on the ability of the person who receives them. That’s a lot of power going from the mind of the god into the mind of the human. The more visions the human receives, the more overload in that human’s brain. By the time she got to that particular prophecy, the Prophet of the Chosen Promise was kinda wonky.

Not all prophets go wonky, but they are deemed wonky because they are far more accustomed to conversing with gods than with human beings. They always have one ear tuned elsewhere, and one eye.

SOURCE: [MR:TQ:12; MR:TQ:21; MR:TQ:13.1, 13.2]

Sarai and Zaimid, Queen of Scots, and Graveyard Hag

Tammy: Oh, no, Sarai’s character didn’t change at all. I just introduced Zaimid and went from there. He’s a wonderful guy who knows about working uphill for change — he’s one of Emperor Kaddar’s close friends, remember. So he understands her frustrations perfectly. And there will be work for her to do for change in Carthak, plus a very lonely young empress to befriend!

“Sarai’s well-intentioned, she’d make a wonderful symbol to rally around, but the idea of trying to tell her she literally can’t do what she thinks is right the moment she thinks of it would be a disaster. “

Tammy: Think Mary, Queen of Scots — all heart, very little head. And that was before the execution.

“I think Sarai might have left with Zaimid even if she’d known about the raka conspiracy and their plans for her.”

Tammy: How do you know the Graveyard Hag didn’t tell her? It’s just the kind of thing the old bat would do, meaning no disrespect.

SOURCE: [MR:TQ:12.1, 12.2, 12.3]

Raka Names, Men of Probity, and Plot Devices

“Maybe I’m projecting, but the Raka names seem very Indonesian to my eye…”

Tammy: This would be because that’s where I stole most of the raka names, fashions, language, etc., from. 😉

Tammy: I always referred to the picture I used to based Mequen on as A Man of Probity, and that’s who he always was to me. Men of probity can do well in peacetime and in a stand-up fight, but in a dirty one? It’s so much harder, particularly when the enemy wears the face of a friend. Julius Caesar wasn’t even a man of probity, and he never saw the Ides of March coming.

Tammy: Mequen’s death is strictly “shit happens,” as was Lokeij’s (a blow to that circle of the revolution). I would have happily kept both alive if the impetus of the story hadn’t demanded it. (My editor, Mallory Loehr, and my writing buddy, Bruce Coville, have both mentioned the issue that in my books people will die, and Mallory preens herself for showing me a story arc in which Sarai lives.)

Bronau, like Tom Seymour, is out of control at this point with frustration and greed for power, and he knows Rubinyan is hard on his tail, with prison keys, if not the executioner’s axe, in hand. The only way he can survive is to get his hands on Sarai.

And this is the point where the mortal events do tumble forward, out of any god’s control. It’s taken decades for things to build to this. Now the explosive reaction needs only the Balitangs to return to Rajmuat to begin. After that, Kyprioth will control elements — I had to do some fast talking with Bruce, on whom I based Kyprioth, when the god decided to intercede and take care of the boys, because Bruce, a kids’ writer, loves kids — but he has no more control over the greater picture than Aly at that point.


Gary’s ‘Desk’ Squire and Blayce

Tammy: And as Gary’s “desk” squire, none of the gang realizes that he travels all of the time and ends up in some hot spots. Yes, there’s loads of paperwork involved, but I, like so many of you, kinda like paperwork. (Duh)


Tammy: Blayce is common-born, and left his family behind him long ago. They’re just well-to-do farmers who know very well he was ashamed of them. They thought he had notions above his station, as well as understanding he thought himself too good for his family now that he had an education. They would be bitterly ashamed if they knew what he had done. Someday the word will get to them (they live on the far side of Galla), but by then the story will be so overblown they’ll think it just a Player’s tale.

SOURCE: [LJ 4173770]

Tammy: I based [Blayce] on a historical person — I won’t tell until after the book is done — and physically I based him on Woody Allen.

Tammy: I was definitely mindful of Arendt. Also Jeffrey Dahmer, and a very nasty little man named Ed Gein —  only look these guys up if you can deal with serial murderers. Both seemed mild-mannered and boring to everyone who knew them. Plenty of very bad people are like that — it’s protective coloration.

I wanted to make that point, that some of the worst criminals are the ones you don’t see coming, as opposed to the gigantic, bejeweled, self-indulgent monster that was Gilles de Rais. This book actually helped me to free myself of him, mostly.


Queenscove and the Crown

Tammy: Command is trying to leave Duke Baird a son to inherit his title — it was often done, even when having a son near the front was unavoidable. Neal understands it, and he understands his duty to his family; he also understands his duty to the crown and the realm. Talk about a dilemma. Kel helps as she can, but she needs him more as a healer, and she’ll risk taking him from the camp if he can learn more from his father.

Tammy: Not considerate, exactly: Queenscove is one of the great houses of the realm, and it’s to the Crown’s interest to continue the line of inheritance and any connections that can be forged between the members of the family and the Crown. That’s the way it’s always been, and both Queenscove and the Crown work hard to maintain and increase those bonds.

SOURCE: [MR:LK:8.1, 8.2]

Terms of Endearment, George’s Ear Collection, and Delia’s Fate

Tammy: And the sexism thing — that’s still part of [Jon’s] time. If it were a male squire before him, he’d say “my lad,” or “my boy.” He actually likes what he knows of Kel — “my dear” was a real slip from what would have been “my girl” normally. He only usually refers to his daughters as “my dear,” or his wife.

 “Are [the ears George used to collect] in a box somewhere”

Tammy: In a specially locked storage room under the eaves, after Nyl found it in the last storage room and unlocked the box.

Tammy: [Delia]’s been in a tower prison since the coronation–all the mod cons, visitors (family only) under surveillance, all outgoing and incoming mail and packages searched, any servants and guards very carefully vetted by the Whisper Man and some of each chosen by him. She is very lucky to have her life. They are never, ever going to let her live among family or anywhere else again. One little misstep on her part and the delay on her writ of execution will be removed. They take treason very seriously in this world.

“Also, her house arrest is probably magicked!”

OOOHHH, yes!

SOURCE: [MR:S:9, MR:S:10, MR:S:16]

Respecting Lalasa’s Choice and Vinson’s Victim Blaming

TW: sexual assault, abuse

Tammy: But isn’t the situation vis a vis Kel and Lalasa on this issue an illustration of what you say here? Lalasa tells Kel, when Vinson first attacks her, of the consequences to her and even her uncle Gower if she or Kel reports; she begs Kel not to, and Kel does as Lalasa asks. She’s deeply conflicted, but she listens to the survivor.

Regarding your prediction of what would happen if Kel had reported it, this is what happens too often in our modern world, the few coins being a settlement if the survivor sues in civil court.

I’m happier that Kel respected Lalasa’s choice.

Tammy: The Chamber made it clear to [Vinson] that, should his ideas truly change, the manifestations will stop. Should he stop believing his attacks were justified, should he stop victim blaming, the beatings will end. But he has to realize that what he did to his victims was what he wanted to do and had nothing to do with their behavior.

SOURCE: [MR:S:13.1, 13.2]

Raven Armory, the Social Contract, and Royal Messages

Tammy: I was pretty sure about the master and the people working under him using his brand, and Raven is a long-enduring family forge and armor-forging business in Corus, but Raven Armory is also my salute to my absolute favorite smithy in the world, located in England, swords going for fifteen hundred pounds (2500-3000 dollars, depending on the exchange rate) and up. Just to hold one of their blades in your hand is to swoon. I saw their work at the New York Knife Show years ago, and I have never been the same.

Tammy: But guys in palaces have been known to get run through with swords and other pointy things.

Locke and Thomas Paine haven’t come along yet, but when it comes to his people, Jonathan understands the social contract very well. He and Thayet rule with the consent, and the taxes, of the governed. To get anything done, he must have some kind of consensus with his nobles and his merchants.

Folks, monarchs aren’t all-powerful. If they are wealthy enough, if they are canny and/or brutal enough, if those who enforce their will are invested enough, they can live absolutely, but their heirs inherit the mess. If they aren’t, their people turn on them, those who enforce their will leading the way. Jonathan and Thayet are doing a lot fast, but they have to follow the law even while they work to dismantle parts of it. And in and around all this is the added threat of magic. It keeps everyone on their toes.

Elizabeth I of England did so well that James I did okay–but look what happened to Charles I. Louis XIV of France was one of the great absolute monarchs. Louis XV skated along on the remains of grandpa’s state–and Louis XVI reaped the whirlwind. Japan’s emperors got to thinking they ruled the country, and Japan’s shoguns–the generals-in-chief–locked them up and paid them tiny allowances for more than 500 years.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. (The Russians are a whole `nother kettle of snakes.) In Protector I’m trying to show a king and queen scrambling to repair the damage of the Old King, who nearly ruined the treasury with his wars, and the don’t-upset-anyone attitude of King Roald. You may not like Jon as a person (and as a man of a feudal time, he doesn’t even know from sexism when he says “my dear”), but he is fast becoming a great king, as Thayet is becoming a great queen.

“Kel forgot to ask Raoul why their majesties attended the trial.”

Tammy: Because they wanted to make the very official point that their eyes were on this particular case; that a legal matter between two squires had drawn their attention; that they were most displeased with the squire who had offended and those who supported him, and they wanted that message sent. By Jon meeting with Kel privately afterward he also sent the unmistakable message that the Crown’s favor was with Kel, in case anyone was feeling stupid.

Turomot was cranky because he thought they were saying they did not trust him to uphold the law, until he realized that they were there for the plaintiff and defendant.

SOURCE: [MR:S:6; MR:S:9.1, 9.2]

Eda Bell and Wyldon as a Commander vs. Hero

“I wonder if Wyldon has an easier time dealing with the Wildcat because she isn’t part of his culture. She isn’t a knight, she isn’t noble, she isn’t trying to change the way he does things or how his part of Tortall is run, so he might see ‘the rules’ as different for her (and other women in Shang).”

Tammy: To him Eda Bell is an anomaly from an institution that has been around for centuries. He knows what the Shang warriors put themselves through to become named, and he respects it. Beyond that, he just doesn’t deal. It doesn’t fit his world view.

And Shang warriors come from all over the Eastern and Southern lands, as well as the ocean islands.

Tammy: Wyldon is an okay commander — he lacks that touch of warmth that inspires loyalty. He is actually — don’t laugh — a hero. Remember why Jonathan felt he owed Wyldon to the point of allowing Wyldon to dictate how Kel would be handled as a page. If all of life were a pitched battle, Wyldon would cut a far better figure than he did as Kel’s training master.

SOURCE: [MR:P:7, MR:S:6]

Sons of Great Men

“I suspect Roald thinks that it’s outside the scope of what he’s allowed to do as a page. Which is interesting, compared to what Jon was doing when he was a page.”

Tammy: Ah, the sons of great men. Look at the difference between Henry VIII and Edward VI. Or Warwick and Dudley (who married Lady Jane Grey) around the same time period. Or Edward II and his son. Or the first Tokugawa shogun and his entire line of descendants. How about Henry V and his sons, Richard the Lionheart, Geoffrey, and John Lackland? Even in everyday life, most kids you know struggle to be different from their parents or, in the more extreme scenario, to defy their parents utterly. In Roald’s case, it must be really hard to grow up in the shadow of two such dynamic, attractive, active parents, don’t you think? He has to figure out who he is on his own.


Wyldon and Piers on Kel’s Probation

Tammy: Actually, [Wyldon] didn’t want Kel dragging Joren down. He wants Joren to succeed, not to get involved in the clusterf**k he is certain Kel’s time will be. Since he knows already that Neal is a screw-up, it’s okay if Neal gets her.

Tammy: Piers A) understands that he doesn’t have the influence at court to buck the conservative bloc, Yamani accords or no (Wyldon is just the tip of the conservative iceberg), B) parents aren’t allowed to interfere in knighthood training, and C) the king agreed to it and Piers is a servant of the crown. Piers also has a very good idea of what Kel will face and won’t be sad if she decides to quit. He has other daughters and sons to marry off, which will be harder if Kel goes for her knighthood.

IOW, he can’t win. Either he betrays his youngest daughter, or he makes things much, much harder at court for the the rest of his children. Letting Kel choose and keeping his mouth shut is his best path.

SOURCE: [MR:FT:2.1, 2.2]

Tortallan Court Politics

Tammy: In To Kill A Mockingbird Jem describes the legal term entailment to Scout as the condition “of having your tail in a crack.” That’s where Jon is right at this point in time with his conservative faction. He has to keep them happy–not only did they supply knights and men-at-arms during the (3 months ago) Immortals War, but they have been supplying funds and labor for the subsequent repairs. Jon is having to be far nicer than usual. (And no, this has nothing to do with anything later in the book or series; it’s just political backstory.)

Tammy: If Wyldon’s womenfolk knew the kind of trash he’d been talking at court, they would make his life a living hell.

Tammy: Alanna didn’t deal with a large portion of Tortallan society. She was usually with the prince and his friends, or George and his friends. And she was disguised as a boy. By the time she came out as a girl, she was on the road. When she came home, events went quickly–we didn’t see her interact with the court at large, or I might have shown you the greater picture. And in Daine’s quartet she only appeared briefly, among people who were used to her.

SOURCE: [MR:FT:1.1, 1.2, 1.3]