The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Baron of Magister Valley Chapter 16 Support Group

| 104 Comments

There are going to be SPOILERS for MAGISTER VALLEY here, but I’ll keep them in the comments.

So, you’ve read chapter sixteen, and you’re ready to yell at Steven about it?

Readers of Dragaeran historical romances will be familiar with wishing to yell at Paarfi and Steven. But this one is really going to cause some wailing and gnashing of teeth. Comments here for us to commiserate together.

104 Comments

  1. A few years ago, Steve was reading his new manuscript to me. His Paarfi books are some of my favorite books of all time, so it was VERY exciting to hear him read his new draft in person. So he’s reading, and I’m shocked by what’s happening, and he finally looks up and notices my face, contorted by outrage.

    “What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

    “Did you just STEAL their BOAT?”

    “No!”

    “Yes you did! He just got in their boat and sailed away! They’re gonna be stranded!”

    I mean, you can imagine how delighted he was to provoke such a reaction in me. And I have continued to give him grief about being a BOAT-THIEF ever since.

    But now that you all have the book in your hot little e-readers, I can finally reveal that I’ve continued to yell about the boat-theft mostly because I couldn’t publicly spoil the thing that has really made me want to yell at him every time I think about it: the Interregnum.

    I mean, there we are, reading this fun historic fantasy, when all of a sudden, BOOM. He just oh so casually ends a chapter by dropping in the fucking Interregnum! Argh! NO ONE EXPECTS THE DANG INTERREGNUM. I dunno, maybe some of you were paying enough attention to the dates or something and you knew it was coming. BUT I DIDN’T.

    DAMMIT, STEVEN. QUIT LAUGHING. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF.

  2. skzb

    Me? Happy with myself?

    Uh, well, yeah, kinda.

  3. UGH whatever!

  4. I always knew Jen was correct about the boat stealing, but to learn the truth of the matter at last… *shakes head*

  5. When I got to this point I said to myself “The rest of this book is going to be a bunch of near misses to reunite the main characters, isn’t it?”

    Yeah.

    On a not particularly related note, how is Paarfi still alive? Because the Demon doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would tolerate a couple of centuries of having his personal affairs being dug up by a self-absorbed novelist who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “discretion”. Paarfi’s atypical tolerance of Jhereg in this particular book suggests that he received a visit from some intimidating individuals, but I’m a little surprised that that visit ended in some editorial help rather than a fall face first into a lit fireplace.

  6. At the end of Chapter 15, when I read that it was the 11th hour after midnight in the 532d year of Tortaalik’s reign, I damn near had a digestive incident.

  7. skzb

    Bwa ha ha…

    I mean, I’m sorry to hear that.

  8. Kragar –
    Yes. I also shuddered a bit at the very first mention of trellenstone….

    BUT THAT’S BECAUSE I STILL HAVE PTSD FROM WHEN STEVE DID THE TERRIBLE THING TO LADY TELDRA.

    Yes, yes. The boat is now stolen. And I see what has occurred.

    And it is bad, indeed terrible.

    BUT STEVE KILLED LADY TELDRA.

    ahem. sorry.

    Also, man Paarfi is throwin some shade.

  9. Well Lady Teldra is only MOSTLY dead…

  10. That doesn’t make up for the horrible stabbing.

  11. Daifan is Old Serioli for Demon.
    …and who is Kefaan …holy shit…Kragar? Naaaah.

  12. skzb

    We haven’t met Kefaan in the Vlad novels, at least not yet.

  13. Can we talk about the WAAY too intense ending of Chapter the Twenty-Third?

    This is when I knew and I squeed and had to walk around the block to shake it off. Holy hells:

    “I … my lord Dust, the House of the Jhereg, well, we do not sell titles.”

    “We do now,” said Dust.”

    IN-TENSE

  14. skzb

    *grin* I wondered if anyone would respond to that; it kind of gave me the shivers when I wrote it.

  15. skzb

    anathos: Do you know much about how organized crime operates, either in our world or in its Dragaeran reflection? Historians, journalists, biographers, and novelists write about it freely, because if the mob were to so much as threaten one of them, law enforcement would be all over them–you don’t mess with civilians. Same in the Dragaeran Empire.

  16. Unless those civilians have skipped out on a gambling debt of, say, several hundred gold imperials…

    For me: “We do now” were only three words that conveyed chapters of meaning. Just the kind of compact language that Paarfi loves and wields so proficiently.

  17. The further I get into this book, the more I realize I need to reread all of the Vlad novels again.

    And I have some suspicions about the cave, and think I might need to reread at least The Paths of the Dead, if not the entire Viscount of Adrilankha.

  18. THANK YOU! The Demon’s actions – or should I say choice not to act – as harshly with Vlad as one would expect of a Jhereg now make perfect sense. And thank you again – I now have the perfect way to get my anti-Paarfi sons to read the Paarfi novels. 🙂

  19. Just finished. I expected a lot of things from this book. I did not, however, expect the Demon’s back story.

  20. I did not see the other thing coming either. Baron Demon.

  21. Yes, I was not expecting the Demon’s backstory (assuming Paarfi has got the story right). I did realize the interregnum was going to show up in the book once I learned the Phoenix reign had started. I note from the Demon’s point of view the story is good publicity; it depicts him as extremely dangerous to any Jhereg who had doubts on that matter and were considering testing him.

  22. Questions for the support group:

    (I strongly suspect skzb will not answer these, as he will choose to default to the text of what he wrote, and he enjoys the speculation).

    Did Dust use his final “wish” from the little red guy to separate Yanis from his escort of 100 men, bringing him to another world, so he could fight him one on one and kill him?

    If so, was that a wise use of his last wish? Why not just wait until later, when Yanis was alone or something?

    And why did Dust let all the other main conspirators live, just deprived of their fortunes, power and position, but had to make sure Yanis was croaked?

  23. … I haven’t finished the book yet. There has been a half-description of where the name ‘Daifan’ came from (something like “the jhereg in northport decided to call me that”). Is there a more complete/better description?

  24. Jeff L.

    Haven’t finished the book yet? I advise returning when finished.

  25. SPOILERS

    Kragar – My take on Dust vs Yanis:

    1) Yanis was directly responsible for the death of his parents and the destruction of their home. Dust, at this point, was confident enough and had amassed enough wealth and influence, that other than isolating and killing Yanis, anything else he could have saved the last wish for would just have been a constant temptation and demean all the confidence and self-reliance he’d worked so hard to achieve.
    2) Yanis exhibited enough symptoms of a sociopath that leaving him alive as a punishment in any form would never have resulted in his acceptance of responsibility or lead him to atonement or reform. For someone without a soul, death is the appropriate response, otherwise you’re just causing someone pain for no reason.
    3) Just as Livosha needed to kill the Sergeant who slaughtered her mother and sister, Yanis had to die by Dust’s hand.
    4) All of the other participants in the conspiracy were so in love with their influence and power that I think it was more painful for them to live without those assets, and perhaps learn something about compassion and empathy in their paucity.

    Obviously, these are just my opinions after a first read and I welcome dissenting opinions and reserve the right to change mine based on further re-reads ;-)~

    Derek

  26. Derek–

    Thanks. You (and mostly skzb) have given me a lot to think about.

    Funny that the investigation into why Cryden Manor exploded in a giant fireball was still ongoing more than 600 years later. By golly we will get to the bottom of that mystery eventually!

    Signed,

    Those In Power Who Were Behind The Whole Thing

  27. skzb

    Derek: Wow. I certainly can’t say you’re right, because who knows. But, FWIW, that is exactly how I figured it.

  28. SKZB – I never want to be right (about fictional works; obviously I want to be right about anything and everything else)…if I’m right, all of my speculative and imaginative permutations suddenly have a definitive answer and ending…thus negating all further speculation. Know what I mean?

    That being said, I’m still pissed at myself for being blindsided by the name drop in Chapter 25 after at least two obvious (and 1 not so obvious) hints you dropped in the lead up to said name drop. Just awesome.

    Kragar – I would question the attention given to, and the validity of, any investigation into the Cryden Catastrophe (please pardon the alliteration). In the feudal system described, and especially given Adron’s Disaster, I seriously doubt that any investigation into the Cryden Catastrophe could have ever gained serious traction. Remember, Cryden was a Barony, completely subject to the whims of Dorin, the Count and Magistrate of Westward County which included the Cryden Barony, and with the failure of the Orb, which rendered the rule of law ambiguous at best, I doubt any investigation, with any amount of evidence, could have, or would have, merited attention by anyone at all in a position to render judgement other than Count Dorin. Thus the need to have certain villains incriminate themselves under the auspices of Daro, in the County of Whitecrest, to at least adhere to some semblance of law as an acceptable means of involving the Kinsmen.

    Anyway, that’s my take.

    D

  29. For my part, I am glad the two star-crossed lovers did not reunite and live happily ever after in the end. A lifetime of trauma and the quest to build up power and take revenge strikes me as inevitably transformative. Eremit became 81, 81 became Dust, Dust became Daifan. By that point, there is going to be very little left of the young Iorich from chapter one. Livosha, of course, transformed as well. She, too, made the best of an unexpectedly hard life. Perhaps the concept of being taken care of by a strong man went by the wayside after a few centuries of fighting, scrapping, running, and scheming to successfully save her brother and herself.

    Derek–I would be taking a victory lap right now. Nice work. It helps that we have such a damn good book to chew on.

  30. I was, by necessity, sober while attending the Virtual Release Party, had some responsibilities later in the evening and an early appointment the next morning. Apropos, thanks for the encouragement, I am now taking a victory lap in the form of a chilled, double shot of Don Julio 1942, with a single Castelvetrano olive in the bottom of the glass.

    And I’m enjoying it even more than usual due to this kind of engagement about such a wonderful book. Cheers!

  31. Kragar –

    I have since forth finished the novel and received the definition/meaning of Daifan… I have found it somewhat unsatisfying.

    Also, am I the only one who was pretty sure that Daifan was using Elder Sorcery during most of his boat rides to ensure that the winds were favorable?

    I am still also missing the great trauma of the stealing of the boat. It was simply resolved in a perfectly reasonable way without distress or confusion to the people involved.

  32. That’s the great thing about a good book–we can all react to the words differently, depending on our own experiences, desires, hopes, dreams and aspirations.

  33. Oh, sorry. Let me a be a bit clearer.

    I found the definition/meaning/origin of Daifan to be somewhat unsatisfying.

    The book was great – especially all the shade that Paarfi threw around.

  34. Steve, was the Magister’s failed pupil a Phoenix by any chance?

  35. skzb

    Thomas: No, an Iorich. To be precise, Traanzo.

  36. Did I miss Devera? I don’t recall her showing up, but I kinda forgot to look for her…

  37. Something I really loved about this book was that it was NOT just a carbon copy of that other book with names changed and a bit of magic or pixies added. My favorite thing was that even though the couple don’t get back together at the end, it’s not because he did something unforgivable to her like causing her son to be killed.

  38. Jeff Lowrey :

    1) Do you recall Dust’s first meeting with Keen? Read Keen’s exclamation after Dust’s action. The exclamation is in Serioli and includes the word diafan, which I interpreted as either a mistake on Paarfi’s part and meant to be daifan, or a variation on the word daifan in this particular context. That was later mentioned by Dust as the name he would come to adopt being given to him by a Jhereg in Northport. I believe he found its use, and meaning, amusing as applied to him. I did as well.

    2) I recall the passage regarding favorable winds and also momentarily thought he was using Elder Sorcery and the pendent left to him by Magister, but revised that opinion when he and his pirate fleet had such a hard time catching up to Dorin & Hadrice. So I now believe that he had no practical knowledge of Elder Sorcery and that the pendent was enchanted by Magister and only relevant with regard to the design in the cave in Magister Valley for the specific purpose of summoning a demon.

    3) I don’t think the great trauma lay in the stealing of the boat…it was the trauma of stealing the boat that his one-time lover and her brother had sailed to the island for the express purpose of rescuing him, and instead he steals it and leaves them stranded by the wayside and thus a welcome reunion that could well have prevented his corruption from an Iorich to a Jhereg…

    Steve, care to comment?

    Derek

  39. skzb

    Jon: She likes to hang around the docks in Adrilankha sometimes.

    Derek: Ooops. That IS a typo, and I’d never noticed it. Maybe I’ll go with regional variation. 🙂

    And, yes, you’re right, it was that part of the boat stealing that got Jen so upset, but, afterwards (as she said) most of the time she was talking about boat-stealing, she was really talking about the Interregnum plopping itself in at the end of chapter 15, and didn’t want to give spoilers.

  40. Derek–

    Ah, but was not the “corruption” complete before the former Eremit ever left his cell for good? Magister trained him mind, body and soul to do anything and everything to achieve his goals. Dust had already gone to the dark side. Didn’t he scratch the words on his cell, something like “don’t bother looking for me, I will be looking for you?” He had already transformed, the rest was just putting things into action. No longer restrained by any “misguided” reliance on quaint notions of right or wrong!

  41. Kragar – Ahhh, another time to turn your tail and see what comes of it ;-)~

    1) Magister did nothing of the sort. His attention was never to do “anything and everything” to help Dust achieve his goals, merely to teach a worthy student and thus prove his theories about truth and knowledge and the ability to learn. Of course, this is my interpretation of Magisters’ motivations, but I’m willing to entertain others…however, I’d like to see quotes that denote other such motivations on his part because I didn’t find any.
    2) An Iorich who believes in JUSTICE would feel perfectly justified in leaving a message to those miscreants involved in running an illegal jail. So the inscription, “You need not find me, I will come back for you,” is, in my opinion, in keeping with the highest standards of an Iorich. It was not until the stealing of the boat to facilitate his escape from the island, his arrival in Ivaacim and subsequent stealing of provisions from the tavern, his alliance with Alishka and her band, and, finally, and to seal the deal, his slaying of Keen’s two thugs and purchase of a Jhereg title, that completed his transformation into a Jhereg.
    3) Right and Wrong are, to me, far more important notions than legal and illegal. Morals vs Ethics. I attempt to be a moral individual. I leave notions of ethics to lawyers. They are vastly different subjects in my opinion…To illustrate my point, I leave you with this quote, “The ethical man knows that it is wrong to sleep with his friend’s wife; the moral man does not do it.”

    D

  42. skzb–

    I usually read your new books within a day or two of publication, then wait a few months before a second reading. Not this time! I am diving back in starting tonight, what with all the stimulating discussion and tantalizing clues.

  43. Steve – Yeah I get Jen’s point. Bit of a deus ex machina if I really felt the urge to be critical, but the non-reunion and subsequent heartbreak, I felt, made up for any discontent I felt with the contrived event leading to Dust’s escape 😉

  44. I will say, with all due respect to the Princess of Mermaid Cove, that I have read the entire book, but did not observe the theft of any boat described within its pages.

    There was an incident where a boat was chartered from an individual, used for the exact purpose for which it was hired, and then returned to its rightful owner. The inconvenience of certain persons involved in this transaction notwithstanding, I do not believe even the most skilled advocate could make a convincing case for /theft/ against the individual in question, given that the owner of said vessel had had his property returned to him even faster than the terms under which he had leased its service.

    Also, having tracked the names of the characters in Dragaera closely for many years, I nearly burst a gasket upon the first utterance of the name “Daifan”. Well done, Steve. That one caught me off guard, and made the rest of the book an utter joy to finish (not that I wasn’t having a good time already).

  45. Oh, one further thought… The matching paragraphs where Paarfi identically explains the hazards and uselessness of repetition in subsequent chapters… brilliant.

  46. Majikjon – You argue like an advocate sir, but with a macro focus, as opposed to a micro focus. Upon the acquisition of said boat from said fisherman, by Livosha and Kefaan, a contract of transfer of title was thus entered into and not only implied but agreed upon by said persons for a period of time agreed upon by all. Regardless of whether said boat was returned to said fisherman, and in what time-frame, the fact that it was appropriated by an individual not originally party to the initial and agreed upon negotiations, is therefore not subject to, and in violation of, the initial contract. The fact that this appropriation also left adrift the initial signatories of said contract, could also be considered an actionable offense.

    Yours, most sincerely,

    Derek

  47. skzb

    Derek: There is no question that dropping the interregnum in at that moment was bending coincidence to the breaking point in terms of plot. However, in my (not Paarfi’s) defense, I will insist that doing that kind of thing is exactly in line with the Romantic writers to whom I was paying homage, and so I make no apology.

    Majikjon: Less than three.

  48. SKZB – Completely agree and absolutely appreciated the homage, thus no apology wanted, warranted, or yearned for. And, as previously mentioned, the heartbreak and tension thus incurred more than made up for any contrivance that was a possibility ;-)~

  49. Derek Smith – Ah, but Eremit WAS in fact a party to the original lease agreement, albeit in absentia. The terms under which the boat was leased included him, explicitly, as an intended passenger on the boat for its return journey–with the clear and unconditional agreement of the boat’s owner, who appeared to be fully aware of the risks and hazards associated with the mission, and yet nevertheless did agree to the arrangement in exchange for the compensation offered by Livosha.

    In terms of coincidences… They do happen. When they don’t, we just don’t hear about it. This is what is called “confirmation bias” and is the same reason celebrities and lottery winners like to go around saying “It could happen to you to, you just have to believe!” while the countless throngs of failed believers suffer silently and unheard.

  50. Majikjon – Well fuck me running…well done sir! I’m not, you understand, giving in, or submitting to, your counterpoint presented, however, I beg leave for a continuance while I reread relevant passages that could precipitate further debate…whilst also tipping my hat to you.

    As to coincidences, we’re in agreement in spirit here, if not in detail. Also, I find myself wanting to disagree with you just because of your reliance on celebrities and lottery winners to make your point. For shame…you’re better than that!

    Challenge accepted! More to come.

    D

  51. Steve – better make a big batch. I’m currently engaged in a paprika debate with you on twitter, whilst also researching source material for my inevitable Majikjon rebuttal…

    Derek – AKA DeadMetaphor…

  52. Steve – Hold on to whatever floppy hat and feather you happen to have close at hand, (and, perhaps, put it on your head first, for dramatic effect, and then hold on to it). Paprika originated in Central Mexico, many, many centuries ago. Then it made its way to Portugal and Spain in the 16th Century. It did not become commonplace, or even popular, in Hungary until the 19th century. Perhaps you were already familiar with said history, perhaps not, but I now feel at least somewhat vindicated in my preference for Spanish smoked, and mildly sweet, in terms of authenticity.

    Majikjon – I have not forgotten you. Your time is fast approaching!

    D

  53. skzb

    I wasn’t familiar in detail, but I knew it was a “New World” plant and only came to Hungary late, but I had thought 18th Century. (Which ignores the degree to which the Hungarians pefec,,,I mean, modified it.)

  54. In flagrant violation of my previous post, I must admit that I much prefer the flavor of hot (non-smoked) paprika from Budpaest (in very, very small quantities) over all other varieties I’ve tried. That should not, however, detract in any way from the points I’ve made on authenticity above…

  55. Majikjon – I would refer you to pages two hundred the seventh, and eighth with regard to any implied or explicit contract between our Fisherman and our erstwhile rescuers of Emerit. I have now examined said pages in detail, and hereby aver and swear that no such mention of a rescue of Emerit, or indeed any other party, was mentioned as part of said contract. The only material agreement agreed upon was that in exchange for one day’s catch upon the fisherman’s part, two days of worth of such work would be reimbursed by Livosha and Kefaan.

    Your move my good sir…

    D

  56. I would jump in here, but I feel I might be punching above my weight class. Intellectually, be it understood.

    Mind passing the popcorn, skzb? I have some melted butter here that might go well with it.

  57. skzb

    *Passes the popcorn, eyes never leaving the combatants*

  58. Derek,

    The fisherman warns Livosha and Kefaan against approaching the island surrounded by mists, indicating his awareness of such a place, even prior to the duo’s departing on their errand to free Eremit.

    Further, said fisherman’s statements upon rescuing Livosha and Kefaan from the dock indicate that he had at least some idea that the island was used to hold prisoners (whether as a jail or a prison in this case being irrelevant).

    I put it to you that the fisherman was well aware ahead of time of the pair’s intention to approach this island, (in which case, there can be little question that he would have deduced their intention to rescue one of the prisoners from confinement, and that the prisoner in question would necessarily be expected to be a passenger on the boat upon the return journey, should their rescue prove successful) and that, in full knowledge of this, his failure to attach any objections or imposition of conditions to the contrary upon the lease agreement, he was implicitly consenting to this specific set of activities.

    Even further, this worthy fisherman (for such we can assume based on the actions that are about to be described), upon finding his vessel returned (without the concurrent return of those who had leased the craft from him) came to the immediate (and correct) conclusion that the pair of lessees had become stranded on this island, and that the individual for which they had come to rescue had, in fact, returned on his vessel to the village the previous evening. This resulted in his immediate trip out to the island in search of Lishova and Kefaan (to his credit, while it is clear that he was hopeful of being rewarded, he did not in fact insist upon recompense as a condition of the successful rescue).

    Lastly, I would direct your attention to Chapter the twenty-seventh, whereupon Eremit (Dust) learns that the boat upon which he escaped had been delivered by Lishova and Kefaan, and Lishova says:

    “Think nothing of it, my friend. After all, we brought the boat with the intention of rescuing you, and, well, that is exactly the use to which it was put.”
    “And yet–”
    “Besdies, as you returned it intact, it was then able to rescue us in turn.”

    Is this not a free admission on the part of the purported “victim” of the theft that no such theft had, in fact, taken place?

  59. In a word, no. Despite such an astute and in depth analysis of various participants’ thoughts or actions, nothing you’ve referenced has convinced me that the initial transaction was based on anything other than a strict 1 day, for 2 day material transaction. Compassion on the part of the fisherman notwithstanding, has no legal bearing on such a transaction…no matter how much you might attempt to sway me to your point of view with appeals to empathy or not. I’m holding firm on my initial point, which strictly details the initial interactions described on 207/208… Anything else could, and should, be construed as superfluous and thus not relevant to the initial contract.

    Morally, I agree with you. Ethically, I find your argument lacking.

    D

  60. I do not dispute with you that Lishova might have some actionable private civil grievance to file against Eremit in this case. I merely submit that proving “Theft” requires demonstrating that a rightful owner of property has been unjustly relieved of that property against their wishes.

    In this case, as Lishova is not onlyt NOT the rightful owner of the property, but the rightful owner actually had the vessel returned to him per the conditions of the lease. Nor can it be stated that any actions on Eremit’s part were actually against Lishova’s wishes. Therefore, “Theft” is not an appropriate description of any wrong committed here.

  61. Hmmm…once more I’m forced to rely upon the letter of the law (ethical interpretation) vs spirit (moral interpretation) of the law. Since none of the parties involved in this dispute have claimed aggrieved status, I’m forced to admit that no real crime has been committed. I still believe that the Fisherman has no cause for complaint, while Livosha and/or her brother COULD have claimed aggrieved status, but chose not to, and that Dust did, by action of commandeering a boat without permission (otherwise known as piracy) start his descent from an aggrieved Iorich to a willing Jhereg, I think we’ve reached an impasse, as well as a tacit agreement…yes?

  62. skzb

    I love this so much.

  63. If my semi-coherent blathering can provide even a moments enjoyment for you, after the hours of joy your works have provided me, well, I’m a happy blathering idiot ;-)~

  64. skzb

    My problem, you see, is that I underestimated my fans. In the Vlad books, “Daifan” is mentioned, what, once? I figured one or two people would get it, but everyone else would be amazed with the big reveal when he explains, in the Conclusion, that his name means Demon. But it seems like *everyone* caught it. You guys are too good.

  65. skzb–

    Crunch crunch crunch. Is this stove-top or air popped? Not microwave bag popcorn!

  66. I am just glad the “combatants” did not have to resort to steel rapiers, since their rapier wits never failed them. Well, a bit glad about no steel rapiers…

  67. Especially since, well, I have no rapier. I’m a Kendo/Aikido guy, thus have several variations of shinai and bokken, but the closest objects to a rapier in my house are the skewers I use to impale various olives for my cocktails…

  68. Heretofore, the name Daifan comes up only while Vlad is researching the current situation of the House of the Jhereg during /Dzur/ (with the aid of a friendly Tsalmoth named Deleen) at the Imperial Library. Here he also learns of the death of Curithne (the only time THAT name has come up, as well).

    If it had been in any other book but /Dzur/, I think your plan may have worked. The problem is everyone loves /Dzur/ so much because of the food.

  69. Mmmm…Valabar’s…

  70. Can’t wait for Saturday morning. Farmer’s Market. Fresh mushrooms. Garlic. Brandy.
    Pepper essence. These are a few of my favorite things.

  71. Okay I have to talk about another section of the book that I really love.

    After the orb is lost and the sorcery that keeps the volcano continously erupting fails, a single ship returns to shore with its fisherman owner, Livosha and her group aboard.

    They bring back a tale of injustice–prisoners illegally held and now stranded. On a volcanic island. With armed jailers wandering around. Where there used to be an impenetrable mist.

    What do the townsfolk do? Grab some clubs, get EVERYBODY, and man the ships. There is a wrong to be righted, and there is a concrete action to be taken. At great personal risk, not for personal profit or glory, but because it is the right thing to do, they act without hesitation.

    Talk about a working class consciousness!! If you want to talk about “human nature,” let’s TALK.

  72. If the earlier examples of Paarfi’s writings may be viewed as a series of blades, each displaying an incremental improvement over its predecessor in terms of flexibility, edge retention, and ease of use… this latest is an astonishing example of finest damascus, sourced from meteoric iron, tastefully embellished with sapphires of exquisite cut and clarity, that nearly leaps from its sheath to pass through the heart of anyone foolhardy enough to violate the laws of courtesy.

    Hot damn, sir.

  73. skzb

    Kragar: Thanks. Fishermen, in particular, are well known for that sort of thing. “Someone needs rescuing; let’s go.”

    Andrew: Thank you. 🙂

  74. skzb – You certainly didn’t underestimate me. I didn’t remember the name Daifan. In fact, I had to google around and find it in http://www.panix.com/~alexx/dragtime.html before I even understood that part of the conversation here.

  75. I will say you’ve left me with a bit of a conundrum, dealing with the wiki entry for the Demon. Do I need to make a separate article for Eremit and cross-reference it with the existing Demon page? Re-title the page to Daifan, and make aliases that include Dust, The Demon, and Eremit as redirects? Break out separate articles for each name?

    Argh! What a mess for the diligent Lyorn librarian to catalogue!

  76. I have confidence in your abilities sir 😉

    I could easily see a separate page for Eremit though. Whatever Eremit once was, The Demon is a very different being indeed, along with any of the names he’s used since the transitional “Dust” period…

  77. Just dropping by to say how much I loved the “We do now” reveal. Damn. That’s good writing even by your standards, Steve.

  78. Well, now I feel sheepish. The answer, of course, was staring me in the face the entire time. I just need to deal with the situation the same way that was done with Sethra and a certain other character who may or may not also be Sethra. There. Sorted.

  79. Really enjoyed the book, and the twists, but was a bit disappointed, since I was expecting/hoping that the character backstory would be that of Kragar.

    Also, Iorich was mis-spelled at least once in the Kindle copy, “Iroich” — reported it as a typo and there were a couple of places where there might have been an article missing, only reported one though.

  80. Coming here late, having just finished the book. For the record, I did *not* recognize Daifan until the end. (I did kick myself a bit over “We do now”, though.) Part of why I wrote the Timeline is because I *don’t* have a perfect memory for all this stuff 🙂

    (I answer questions quickly for our esteemed host, but that’s mostly due to my skill with using search programs to supplement the patchy memory in my meat-brain.)

    (Oh, and one of those questions was “Have I ever given a physical description of the Demon?” To which the answer was basically no.)

  81. I recall there being a vague description of The Demon in one of the Vlad books. But my meat-brain could be wrong, too.

    Anyway Eremit/Dust/Daifan could all look quite different from one another, even though now we can strongly suspect that all three are the same person.

  82. Maybe I read too much into it, but my understanding was that Magister’s motive was the hope that Eremit could escape (by learning to breath underwater?) and avenge Magister’s illegal incarceration, not to mention Eremit’s. If this was his motive, his hopes were entirely fulfilled–in spades. Aside from that it did help keep them occupied and sane.

  83. Don’t forget Magister was an Athyra. They believe in acquiring knowledge, with the idea that knowledge is power, and that having power is better than the alternative.

    Magister says his life was changed when he came across a book about how people learn, and that this led to his own extraordinary abilities as a polymath. Later, when he agreed to take on a student whose in-aptitude (and ineptitude) led to his incarceration (Traaznzo the Younger, apparently), Magister was presumably testing the theories he had used on himself to see if they would work for anyone. This led directly to his addition to his hypothesis of the caveat that got him imprisoned (er, jailed). “The student has to want to learn”.

    This further caveat he was then able to test successfully on Eremit. The opportunity to complete his life’s work study in spite of the conditions of his incarceration must have been very appealing and motivating for Magister.

  84. I’m of the firm opinion that Magister cared absolutely nothing for revenge. He cared about finally finding a worthy student, passing on his knowledge to such an individual and testing his theories on someone other than himself. I doubt he would find the work such knowledge was put to of much concern at all… It would be nice to think that everyone cares about right and wrong, good or bad, justice and injustice, but to someone imprisoned for thousands of years, the opportunity to teach Eremit was, I think, the absolute most Magister could have asked, or hoped for…what Dust and Daifan did afterwards with said knowledge, I doubt mattered to Magister in the slightest. And yes, I am intentionally using different names for different actions and different aspects of Eremit’s life and conscience. It makes it easier for me to keep track of my opinions on his slide towards full-on Jhereg-hood ;-)~

  85. Hmm…while I’d love to get more of Kragar’s backstory re:booted from the House of the Dragon and becoming a certain someone’s front-man before becoming Vlad’s lieutenant, I’m not sure how that would have fit with the whole, you know,NOT “The Count of Monte Cristo” theme.
    Then again, how Steve pulled off the Demon’s backstory to a similar tune is still pretty damn astonishing to me, so, hell with it, go full tilt and put Kragar’s backstory to the tune of Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge! You can do it!

  86. I was thinking the protagonist would be Kragar’s father, so more the Dumas/Black Count vibe

  87. If we have to wait another decade or so for the final Vlad novels to be published, because there will be more Paarfi, well, I, for one, am willing.

  88. Kragar – BLASPHEMY! I want my Vlad v Vera showdown before the next Paarfi novel…we’re so close!

    I’m just (mostly) kidding; I’ll be more than content with whatever Steve publishes…

  89. I don’t think Magister would have been so insistent on Eremit’s escaping if revenge had not been in the back of his mind. Yes, he was happy to have an apt pupil and all the prisoners would have welcomed human contact so his motives would have been mixed.

    One (extremely minor) crack, or maybe shard. In Orca, during the conversation with Keira the thief in which Vlad reveals who Keira really is, the idly remarks that the toroidal rolls they were eating would go well with butter cheese and smoked redfish. I howled at that. But here in Baron, the fishermen are catching salmon. So which is it, salmon or redfish?

  90. Is it that surprising that the narrator of Orca, Vlad, who grew up on the streets, learning culinary terms in Fenarian from his Easterner Grandfather and father, uses a different word to describe the same fish as does Paarfi, the narrator of Magister, a noble of the House of Hawk, speaking formally and to an academic audience?

  91. “My problem, you see, is that I underestimated my fans. In the Vlad books, “Daifan” is mentioned, what, once? I figured one or two people would get it, but everyone else would be amazed with the big reveal when he explains, in the Conclusion, that his name means Demon.

    Never fear… I thought the name sounded familiar, but was distracted at the time, and therefore was, indeed, shocked and amazed (and literally fell out of my chair… bad habit, slouching that way) at the reveal at the end. Well done, sir!!! I’ll meet you at dawn.

  92. These comments were nearly as much fun as the book. Thanks!

  93. skzb

    Majikjon: Just looked over the Lyorn Records entry for Eremit. Perfect.

  94. *Bows*

    I’m taking your advice, and having fun with it.

  95. Michael Barr:

    I nearly think you are referencing a scene from the beginning of /Issola/, not the one late in /Orca/.

    In that scene with Teldra and Vlad, they comment that the house rolls (round, with holes in the middle) would go well with buttercheese and pinkfish.

    However, these scenes are set in completely different parts of the Empire, and local names for various seafood are likely to be different from region to region. There can be different names for the same type of thing. I mean, you can call it Salmon… and I can turn around and call it Steelhead trout, or Sockeye… or Coho, or Chum… you get the idea.

  96. Majikjon–

    I loved the fact that the Lyorn chronicler writing about Eremit is HIGHLY suspicious regarding the veracity, or lack thereof, of Paarfi’s account.

  97. skzb

    Yeah, me too. I mean, seriously, it reminded me so much of a historian discussing the man in the iron mask and kind of dismissively mentioning Dumas’ theory about him.

  98. Michael Barr:

    You know Dragaera is a completely different world, correct? Some of the fauna and flora may superficially resemble those of our own planet, but a lot of it is going to be translations to evoke rough equivalents. Also, salmon and redfish both swim in Earth’s oceans, and they are totally different types of fish.

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