Almost two weeks on (!) I surface from the Sea of Words - the Pontus Logia - to say what a swell time I had at Conjecture 2009; met many amazing folk - organisers, readers, writers and editors alike - though no one from here (thank you for asking Portals). Apologies to you Klesita for not letting you know earlier, would have been great to meet you - I could have answered you questions that are still rattling about my noggin, directly... How about I do so now anyway.
The one most on mind is...
One of the things that intrigues me more is how Clementine, been so far away from everywhere and more over been so far inland, became a centre of power. Most centres of power become that because their position is strategic in one way or another. What is strategic about this place?
I must admit when I look at the placement of Clementine/Benevente on the map I do scratch my head a little and wonder how it got to be so powerful. Its strategic significance is not nearly as relevant in the current (MBT) period as it was at the time of Dido and her most immediate heirs when that central portion of the Half-Continent was full of refugee peoples from the arrogance and subsequent collapse of the Phlegms. Clementine's current significance is that it guards the only passage across the great rift the Marrow and is the historied home of Dido's line, preserved now more because it is convenient for the member states to have it that way rather than its actual strategic importance. Does that help?
Alyosha has a triplet of inquiries still outstanding:
1) Near the beginning of the first book Fransitart says to Rossamund, “Say yer prayers and clean yerself afore th’ meal.” Never after, however, is there any mention of prayers, priests, religious beliefs, etc. Are there religions in the Half Continent? Do folks worship the emperor, Roman-style, or do any of the claves have a religious character?
Do you know, this is the hardest aspect for me in the whole invention... To put it simply folks worship any manner of things: Providence (not very common any more), the false-gods, monsters, ancient and potent therimoir swords, the heldins, an idea (re: many of the calendar claves). The most prevalent "religious" position of most Soutlanders is like a humanistic atheistic cross with certain superstitious fears of monsters.
2) The patrolled portions of the Wormway are dangerous, the lampsmen regard the Ichormeer with fear, and even the far-traveling Europe has never followed the road past Haltmire. In your Explicarium you tell how the family of the Warden-General of Haltmire perished due to wandering just a little way along the Wormway into the Ichormeer. Does anybody actually travel through the Ichormeer from Haltmire to Worms?
Not very often, no. In fact it requires a concerted effort to effect a full traversing of the Wormway, and the passage through the Ichormeer was a great military undertaking, lead by Imperial Engineers.
3) The origin of the lahzars is shrouded in mystery; but, an origin there must be. One of the other mysteries you weave into your story is the sad, strange tale of Biarge the Beautiful, and I wonder if the two mysteries are related – if Biarge’s mad experiments to save Freyr are in some way the source of the dark knowledge that birthed the lahzar-creating surgeries?
Hmmm... I like where you are heading, sir...
Now to dear Headtrip Honey, niggled by a couple of questions:
You stated somewhere that you imagined Europe to be about 29. In Lamplighter, we learn that she and Lady Vey were at school together (the calendar-training one). And we also know that Threnody is around 13/14. So how old is Lady Vey, and how old was she when she had Threnody? Because their being schoolmates would suggest she is close in age to Europe (although I suppose it doesn't HAVE to be so), and 29 would be awfully young to have an almost 14 year old daughter.
I have revised my sense of Europe's age just a little since penning (and now re-penning) Book 3, shall we say somewhere betwixt 29 and 33ish. Either way, her contemporaneous attendance with the Lady Vey at a calendar clave does not automatically mean they were/are the same age. Claves are not schools - people from all paths join them - and even schools in the Half-Continent do not function the same way as we find familiar. As for her age when bringing forth Threnody into the world, the Lady Vey was quite young, though certainly not 15.
Her second question is much simpler:
How does one pronounce Threnody's name?
(capitals indicate where to stress the word - I can perhaps hear certain more North American folks possible calling her 'thren-OH-dee'; that is not how I hear it in my noggin or say it, but then again I am Australian...)
Please, keep "overthinking", ma'am...
Excellent queries (as ever). If I failed to answer one of yours, could I ask you to please ask it again...? Now, back to editing for me...