SNIPPET – Infinite Regress (Schooled In Magic 9)

10 Mar


“I want her gone!”

Lady Barb sighed. She’d had a feeling what the staff meeting was about, two days after Grandmaster Gordian had been formally invested with the robes and power of the Grandmaster, but she’d hoped she’d been wrong. The death of the previous Grandmaster – and Master Grey – had rattled more than a few cages in the White City. Far too many powerful people wondered just what sort of monster Void had introduced to Whitehall.

But Emily isn’t a monster, she told herself, as her eyes swept the room, silently gauging how much support she might expect from the senior tutors. She’s … she’s a very flawed person, but a great one. And Gordian …

Grandmaster Gordian dominated the room. He was a tall, powerfully-built man, with long dark hair drawn back in a ponytail. His face seemed somehow ageless, yet lined enough to make it clear he was no longer young; his dark eyes seemed to flicker backwards and forward as they moved from face to face. As the new Grandmaster, a word from him would be quite enough to end the careers of anyone in the room. Lady Barb doubted that many would dare to challenge him openly. But she had no choice.

She took a breath and leaned forward, drawing his attention. “You have no grounds to expel her,” she said, flatly. It was unwise to challenge a senior magician in his place of power, but she wasn’t planning to remain at Whitehall anyway. “She could challenge your decision in front of the council.”

Gordian stared back at her, evenly. “No grounds?”

He forced himself to calm his voice, then went on. “In her first year, the school is invaded by a necromancer,” he snapped. “A number of students are killed …”

“Before she killed the necromancer,” Lady Barb said. She wasn’t sure how Emily had managed to kill Shadye, but she had. “You cannot blame her for the invasion.”

“In her second year, the school is infested with a Mimic,” Gordian continued. “That … creature … would not have escaped, were it not for her!”

“You cannot blame her for that either,” Lady Barb said.

“She also conducted experiments that could have proven disastrous, if unchecked,” Gordian snapped. “She should have been expelled for those alone.”

He tapped the table, sharply. “In her third year, she goes to Mountaintop and leaves the school in ruins,” he added. “And in her fourth year, she kills a tutor!”

“Who manipulated her into issuing something that sounded like a challenge,” Lady Barb pointed out, curtly. It was true, but it wasn’t the version of the story everyone believed. “I don’t think you can blame her for that either.”

“She should have been expelled for her actions in Second Year,” Gordian insisted. “And all of that does not include the results of her conduct outside the school. The Ashworths and Ashfalls nearly went to battle because of her.”

Lady Barb pressed her fingertips together, a mannerism she knew had always irritated her father. “Grandmaster Hasdrubal was the one charged with determining her punishment for her actions,” she said. “He chose not to expel her. You do not have the legal right to retroactively overrule your predecessor and expel her from Whitehall.”

“I am the Grandmaster,” Gordian snapped. “I do have that authority.”

Lady Barb forced herself to meet his eyes. “If you expel her – a very big if – she will have no trouble finding a place at Mountaintop, Stronghold or Laughter,” she said. “They will be delighted to offer her a place.”

“Laughter is very exclusive,” Gordian pointed out.

“The core requirements are breasts and a vagina,” Lady Barb said, knowing the crudeness would irritate him still further. “And I assure you that Emily qualifies on both counts. Her marks in the exams were high and would have been higher still, Grandmaster, if she’d had more time to prepare. She will have no difficulty gaining admittance to any of the other schools.”

“Then let her go,” Gordian insisted. “They can have her.”

“That would be dishonourable,” Sergeant Miles stated. “She saved the school, Grandmaster; three times, by my count. We are indebted to her.”

“After plunging it into danger,” Gordian snapped.

Lady Barb leaned forward, calmly. “There is another problem,” she said. “She may be apprenticed to her … to her father. A girl with such remarkable talent, trained by a Lone Power of his reputation … the potential for disaster is staggeringly high.”

“There are any number of prospective sorcerers who would sell their souls to train under a Lone Power,” Gordian said. But he sounded a little uncertain for the first time since the meeting had begun. “Let her father take her, if he wishes.”

He doesn’t know, Lady Barb noted. Emily’s true origins had leaked in Zangaria, but they hadn’t leaked very far. He believes the cover story.

“I submit to you that allowing Void to take her would not be optimal,” Lady Barb said, gently. “Right now, she has friends at Whitehall and tutors she respects. There is time to shape her, to help guide her down a path that will keep her from becoming a danger to the Allied Lands. Letting her go will cost us that opportunity, once and for all. The very best we could hope for is that she would allow herself to be guided by other tutors in other schools.”

“And that would reflect badly on Whitehall,” Professor Locke stated.

“Merely expelling her for daring to save us would be bad enough,” Sergeant Miles added.

Gordian scowled. “There is no guarantee that a Child of Destiny will be favourable to us,” he pointed out. “Destiny may have his own plans.”

“Keeping her here is the best chance we have of ensuring that we can ride the rapids of change,” Lady Barb said. The prospect of Emily being apprenticed to Void was not to be borne. Void was dangerously unpredictable at the best of times. “We should not consider expelling her.”

“She is dangerous,” Gordian said.

“Not intentionally,” Lady Barb said.

“She is not a malicious student,” Mistress Kirdáne said. “I have never caught her playing tricks on the younglings, or being cruel to dumb animals.”

“One does not need malice to be dangerous,” Gordian said. “Letting her return to Whitehall goes against my better judgement.”

Lady Barb smiled, inwardly. She’d won.

“Allow me to propose a compromise,” she said, pressing her advantage. “You take her back as a probationary student.”

“That would mean she wouldn’t be taking the oaths,” Gordian said.

“But it would also mean you could expel her if things went wrong,” Lady Barb reminded him. Gordian wouldn’t want Emily to take the oaths, not when they were binding on the staff as well as the students. “Apprentice her to Sergeant Miles. She’ll need additional training in martial magic …”

“Out of the question,” Gordian snapped. “She knows quite enough dangerous magic already.”

And she’s quite capable of inventing her own, Lady Barb thought. She’d given a great deal of thought to taking Emily on herself, even though it would have meant staying at Whitehall for another two years. What will Emily do without proper supervision?

“Then let her work with me,” Professor Locke said.

“You already have one probationary student working under you,” Gordian said.

“I can use two,” Professor Locke insisted. He shot Gordian a look that Lady Barn found impossible to interpret. “My new … project … could use an additional pair of hands.”

“It could,” Gordian agreed. “And it would keep her out of trouble.”

Lady Barb scowled. “Emily is not short of enemies,” she said, flatly. “She needs training in protecting herself.”

“I rather doubt that will be a problem,” Gordian said. “She killed a combat sorcerer!”

“That doesn’t make her invulnerable,” Lady Barb snapped.

Gordian held up his hand. “My mind is made up,” he said. “I will summon Lady Emily to Whitehall and speak with her personally. If she’s willing to be a probationary student until I see fit to lift her probation, she may return for her fifth year. Professor Locke will ensure she is kept out of trouble. If not … she can transfer to another school. Whitehall has stood for a thousand years …”

“More like eight hundred,” Professor Locke said. “Although, to be fair, we have no idea when the castle was actually built.”

Gordian silenced him with a glare. “Whitehall has stood for over a thousand years without her and it will stand for a thousand more, with or without her,” he said. “One student, no matter how interesting she is, cannot be allowed to put every other student at risk.”

He rose to his feet. “Lady Barb, you may inform her of our decision,” he added. “And we will hold your exit interview after I have spoken to her.”

It was a dismissal, Lady Barb knew. A rude one, against all the etiquette that had been drilled into her when she’d been declared her father’s heir. And yet, a dismissal none the less. She thinned her lips as she rose, nodding in curt understanding. She’d have a long chat with Emily before taking her back to Whitehall. If nothing else, she had to be warned that the new Grandmaster wasn’t her friend …

She shook her head, irritated. It was going to be a far from easy year.

Poor Emily, she thought. May the gods help her.

Chapter One

Whitehall felt … different.

Emily could feel the chance as soon as she stepped through the main doors, leaving Lady Barb and Frieda behind in the Courtyard. The wards were different, no longer echoing with the personality of their former master. She felt a pang, deep in her heart, as she recalled the old Grandmaster, a man she’d loved and admired in equal measure. He’d given his life to save hers, back when the demon had infected the school. And he’d had enough faith in her to believe she’d survive the duel after his death.

He didn’t deserve to die, she thought.

She braced herself, then walked slowly up the stairs towards the Grandmaster’s office, her footsteps echoing in the empty hall. Lady Barb had offered to teleport Emily and Frieda to Whitehall, but Emily had insisted on hiring a carriage, even though it took longer. She’d needed time to think about what Lady Barb had said, when she’d come to fetch her. But now there was no more time to think. The wards grew stronger as she reached the top of the stairwell and walked down the long corridor, glancing from left to right as she realised that the portraits hanging from the walls had been changed. She didn’t recognise any of the figures looking back at her with disapproving expressions.

At least they took down the picture of me, she thought, wryly. She’d never liked that painting, although she did have to admit that anyone who used it to look for her was going to be disappointed. She’d never been that beautiful – or muscular – in her life. But is that actually a bad sign?

A large portrait of the former Grandmaster hung at the end of the corridor, by the door to the Grandmaster’s office. Emily paused to study it, silently admiring the artist’s talent. The Grandmaster stood in the midst of a crowd of hooded inhuman creatures, holding his staff in one hand and a book in the other; it was hard to tell, somehow, if he was fighting the creatures or directing them. She smiled in sudden amusement as she realised the artist had never seen the Grandmaster in person. His eyes had been drawn in shadow, instead of covered with a blindfold. She still shuddered when she thought of the Grandmaster’s missing eyes.

Former Grandmaster, she reminded herself, sharply. The man she’d come to see would not be pleased, Lady Barb had warned, if she treated him as a temporary Grandmaster. He holds the post now.

She braced herself, then cast a reflection spell and checked her appearance. Lady Barb had advised her to wear sorcerer’s black, a long dark robe that obscured her curves and made her look studious. It contrasted oddly with her pale skin, brown hair and dark eyes, she considered, yet it was probably better than wearing trousers or a dress. She’d considered wearing school robes, but that would have seemed presumptuous. Grandmaster Gordian didn’t want her here. The thought caused her another pang as she raised her hand and tapped once on the door, feeling a ward shimmering in response to her touch. Whitehall was the first true home she’d had, even before she’d come to the Nameless World. She couldn’t bear the thought of leaving.

You’ll have to leave at the end of Sixth Year anyway, she reminded herself, as the door swung open. They won’t let you stay on as a teaching assistant until you have far more experience.

The Grandmaster – the former Grandmaster – had allowed visitors to step directly into his office, but Grandmaster Gordian clearly felt differently. Emily stepped through the door into a waiting room, dominated by a horse-faced woman wearing red robes and sitting in front of a wooden desk. The former Grandmaster hadn’t had a secretary either, Emily thought. She couldn’t help wondering if that was a bad sign.

She stopped in front of the desk, resisting the urge to curtsey. On one hand, it would be a sign of respect; on the other, the secretary might think she was being mocked. There was no way to know just how close she was to her boss, but she wouldn’t have the post unless her master trusted her completely. Or had bound her to him with unbreakable oaths. Emily shuddered inwardly at the thought, then forced herself to meet the older woman’s dark eyes.

“Lady Emily,” she said. Her voice was very cold. “Be seated. The Grandmaster will see you as soon as possible.”

Emily turned and saw the bench, placed neatly against the wall. She felt a flicker of irritation as she walked over to the bench and sat down, understanding that the Grandmaster was playing games. Alassa – and her father – had taught her more about such power plays than she’d ever wanted to know. By making her wait, he was making it clear that she was coming as a supplicant, putting her firmly in her place. She was tempted to pull a book out of her bag – either one of her textbooks or a novel Frieda had recommended to her – but she forcibly resisted the temptation. There was nothing to be gained by antagonising the secretary or her master. Instead, she toyed with the snake-bracelet and ran through some of the mental disciplines Lady Barb had hammered into her head. She needed to be calm when she faced the Grandmaster.

It was nearly ten minutes, by her reckoning, when a low chime echoed through the air. The secretary glanced upwards, her lips moving silently, then turned her head until she was looking directly at Emily. Emily resisted the urge to shrink backwards under the older woman’s gaze and merely looked back, neither resisting nor bending. There was a long moment of silence, then the secretary nodded curtly.

“You may enter,” she said, flatly.

Emily rose and paced through the door, clasping her hands behind her back as she entered the office. It had changed too, she discovered; the office was bare, save for a large wooden desk and a chair. A single scroll rested on the desk, but otherwise it was empty. The bookshelves and paintings had been removed, leaving the walls completely barren of anything to catch the eye. It served a double purpose, she realised, as the door closed behind her. There was nothing that would tell her anything about the room’s occupant, no hint as to his personality and disposition; there was also nothing that would distract her from him. The man himself, sitting behind the desk, rose to his feet and nodded once to her. There was no attempt to shake hands.

No chair for me, Emily noted, as Gordian sat again. The room felt very cold. And no Kava either.

That, she knew from her etiquette lessons, was a bad sign, a touch of calculated rudeness that made it clear she was far from welcome. A welcome guest would always be offered a drink, which could be politely declined. She pushed the flicker of irritation aside and studied Gordian for a long moment, wondering when the genial man she’d met last year had turned into a cold-hearted bureaucrat. But then, being given responsibility for an entire school had to change a man. And Whitehall was far more than just a school.

Gordian studied her back with equal interest. “Lady Emily,” he said. “Thank you for coming.”

I wasn’t aware I had a choice, Emily thought.

She resisted the urge to say it out loud. Lady Barb had warned her to be on her best behaviour, no matter what provocation she faced. The Grandmaster would seize on any excuse to expel her from Whitehall, casting her adrift to an uncertain future. Emily had no idea what she’d do, if she couldn’t return to Whitehall. Go to Mountaintop? Or try Stronghold? Caleb had told her enough horror stories about that school that she knew she didn’t want to go there, unless there was no other choice.

“I do not want you at this school,” Gordian said, bluntly. She’d expected it, but his words still stung badly. “You are a disruptive influence. Whitehall’s existence has been placed in danger, because of you. The Kingdom of Zangaria has been turned upside down, because of you. The Allied Lands themselves have been changed, because of you.”

Emily kept her mouth firmly closed. It was true enough, she supposed, that Whitehall had been in danger because of her, but she hadn’t done any of it deliberately. She’d never even known about magic before Shadye had kidnapped her, let alone just how much power her knowledge – from a far more advanced world – gave her in the Allied Lands. And she had to admit that her changes, her innovations, had had bad effects as well as good. She’d unleashed forces that might never be tamed by the current ruling class.

“You are reckless, headstrong and dangerous,” Gordian continued. His voice was very calm, but she had no difficulty in hearing the underlying anger. “If it was up to me, you would have been expelled back in your second year. You chose to ignore rules devised for your safety and the safety of your fellow students. Grandmaster Hasdrubal should have expelled you on the spot. It set a poor precedent for later disciplinary action. Challenging a tutor to a duel …”

“He manipulated me into challenging him,” Emily said, unable to keep her mouth closed any longer. “If he hadn’t wanted the duel, he could have refused the challenge …”

“Yes, he could have done,” Gordian agreed. He made an odd gesture with his hand; it took her a moment to recognise that he’d conceded her point. “But a student challenging a tutor does set a grim precedent.”

Emily met his eyes. “And a tutor accepting a duel does … what?”

It was hard to keep the bitterness out of her voice, the grim awareness that Master Grey had meant to kill her leaking through. He would have killed her too, if she’d lost. And it would have been perfectly legal. There would have been some consequences for him, she was sure, but he could never have been charged with her murder. As far as the Allied Lands were concerned, an idiotic student would have been killed before she got anyone else in trouble.

Gordian ignored her point. “And then you turn Zangaria upside down,” he said, repeating his earlier point. “Teleporting out of King Randor’s castle, tearing his wards down in the process … what do you think that did to his reputation?”

“You’re the one who told me to divest myself of my holdings in Zangaria,” Emily pointed out. Hindsight told her she’d been wrong; hindsight told her that King Randor hadn’t intended to order her to unleash a holocaust on countless rebels and everyone else caught up in the blast radius. But by then it had been far too late. “He thought he could use me to his own ends.”

“I’m afraid you will find that’s true of almost everyone,” Gordian said. “And you have not – quite – divested yourself of your holdings, have you?”

Emily frowned. Alassa had patched together a compromise, ensuring that while Emily was persona non grata in Zangaria for the nonce she wasn’t exiled for good. Imaiqah would rule the Barony of Cockatrice in Emily’s absence. In truth, Emily wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She’d never wanted to be a great feudal landlady, she’d certainly never wanted to rule the lives of countless people she would never meet. And yet, throwing the Barony back in King Randor’s face almost guaranteed that whoever took her place would try to roll back her reforms. Imaiqah, at least, would hold the barony in stasis.

“They are no longer in my possession.” Emily said, flatly.

Gordian studied her for a long moment. “You should have been expelled several times over,” he said. “Do you understand that?”

“Yes, sir,” Emily said. It struck her, suddenly, that she should have been calling him ‘sir’ all along. Calling attention to it might have been a very bad move. But it wasn’t something she’d done with his predecessor. “I understand.”

“If Grandmaster Hasdrubal saw no reason to expel you, I have no legal right to do so,” Gordian added, slowly. “But I can refuse to allow you to return to Whitehall, if you refuse to attend on my terms.”

Emily waited, not trusting herself to speak.

“You will be a probationary student for a set period of time,” Gordian told her. “During that period, you will be under close supervision, from both myself and the other tutors. I will be keeping a very sharp eye on you. Should you do anything that concerns me, you will be formally expelled from the school. Your father will have no legal grounds for protest.”

She’d known it was coming. Lady Barb had warned her. But it still hurt.

“I understand, sir,” Emily said, quietly.

“A probationary student is apprenticed, until they are either removed from probation or expelled, to a tutor,” Gordian continued. “That tutor will take responsibility for their conduct, in exchange for which they will work for him in whatever manner the tutor deems suitable. You will be apprenticed to Professor Locke. He has a … research project that could use your input. Your free time will be his as long as he has a use for you.”

Emily scowled. She would have preferred to be apprenticed to Lady Barb or Sergeant Miles, but Lady Barb was leaving Whitehall and Sergeant Miles had too much else on his plate. She liked the history professor, yet she knew from Aloha that Fifth Year was hard, very hard. If she spent all of her free time, such as there was of it, on his project, how would she manage to keep up with her fellow students? She wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do with her life, after leaving Whitehall, but she did know that higher grades would help open doors in the future.

And besides, she thought, remembering the ring on her finger, I don’t want to let Void down.

“I understand, sir,” she said. She’d have to find a book on probationary students and read it quickly, just to discover what else she’d be expected to do. “What is his research project?”

“I believe he would prefer to tell you himself,” Gordian said. “It is his project, after all.”

He cleared his throat, then unwrapped the scroll. “Your exam results,” he said. “They would normally be sent out a week from today, but I made the decision to unseal yours early.”

Emily leaned forward, torn between anticipation and dread. She’d never cared about her exam results on Earth – it wasn’t as if they would have any bearing on her life – but on the Nameless World they were the difference between a brilliant career and remaining just another sorceress. She would never be poor – she could brew Manaskol, if nothing else – yet she wanted to do more with her life, even if she wasn’t quite sure what yet.

“You passed all of your exams,” Gordian said. It didn’t sound as though he was deliberately dragging out the moment, but it certainly felt that way. “Overall, I would have no hesitation – barring the current issue – in allowing you to progress into Fifth Year and take the courses you requested. As it is, there will be one major change.”

Emily felt cold. Lady Barb hadn’t warned her about this.

“You have requested permission to continue to study combat sorcery under Sergeant Miles,” Gordian said. “He ensured that you would take the theoretical side of the Military Magic exam, which you passed. However, I am not minded to allow you to continue in your studies, even in exchange for working as a teaching assistant. Your apprenticeship to Professor Locke will preclude any other such commitments.”

“I need the training,” Emily said.

She swallowed, hard. Nanette was still out there, along with Fulvia and countless other enemies who resented the changes she’d brought to their world. She needed to know how to defend herself. Lady Barb had taught her, more than once, that raw power alone didn’t guarantee victory. As it was, her enhanced magic made her a target for more than just the necromancers.

“Regardless, you will not be training under Sergeant Miles,” Gordian said, flatly. “It would not be proper.”

Emily fought down the urge to say something sharp and unpleasant. She needed that training, but there were several other options. Mistress Danielle had offered private lessons, after all. She made a mental note to write to the older woman once she escaped the office, then looked up at the Grandmaster. He was regarding her with an unreadable expression.

“I advise you to remain in Whitehall until the start of term,” Gordian added. “Griselda has the details of your classes, reading lists and other details. Collect them from her, then Lady Barb will show you to your bedroom. Your … friend … will also be staying here.”

“Yes, sir,” Emily said. Lady Barb had warned her to expect it, so she’d shut up the house before calling the carriage and heading to the school. Besides, there was only a week until the Fifth Year students were expected to return. A week sharing a room with Frieda wouldn’t be unpleasant. “And thank you.”

Gordian eyed her, darkly. “I’ve done you no favours, Lady Emily,” he said. His voice was suddenly very cold. “And I would advise you not to think otherwise.”

He pointed a finger at the door, which opened. “When you see Lady Barb, ask her to attend upon me when it’s convenient,” he added. “And I hope I don’t see you in here again.”

Because I’ll be in trouble, Emily finished, silently. And you’ll be expelling me.

She dropped a curtsey, then turned and walked out of the room. Griselda – Emily had to admit that the name suited the sour-faced secretary – passed her a sheet of papers as she passed, then nodded to the door. Emily walked through, feeling sweat prickling down her back, and caught sight of the portrait of the former Grandmaster. His death meant that nothing would ever be the same again.

Behind her, the door slammed closed.

102 Responses to “SNIPPET – Infinite Regress (Schooled In Magic 9)”

  1. ander75it March 10, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    Very nice! Sounds like a difficult year for Emily, yet again, poor girl 😀
    What’s the ETA for SiM9, more or less?

    • chrishanger March 10, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

      Roughly two months, at least. Updates will be provided when events warrant


      • Kyle L. June 3, 2016 at 11:54 pm #

        So First and foremost thank you for keeping this series interesting. its one of the few Series of this Genre that has not got painstakingly stupid or boring after the first few chapters.

        With that said, here is my take so far on the last book and why:

        With the last book Emily was essentially placed in political Exile. Now I say exile because of the “compromise” that Alissa pushed through on her behalf. I see this as smart political move based less on friendship and more securing powerful allies. For all Alissa’s strengths and her new husbands strengths, the political turmoil that will continue to show up will be problematic in the extreme and will effect every facet of the kingdom before it finishes. And that is with the changes that have thus far been introduced by Emily.

        With that in mind, if things really start to hit the fan they can recall her from exile and pronounce her Baroness once again. This would then make her personally responsible for the people living in her domain. Emily may not want the responsibility, but she has shown several time that she will not shirk her duty. Even is she does not agree with the current status quo. This was tactically brilliant showing cunning and a good amount of forethought from Alissa. (this move really raised my respect for her character) Not to mention it would allow her friend to stay in her live. which was a bonus.

        Beyond that, my impression from the last book was that Emily was still not sure what her overall goal was once outside of White hall. The fact the she is apparently striving for Mediator, surprises me. Based off her actions so far I would have thought Combat sorceresses/R&D to coin a phrase. My points are thus. First she uniquely understands the threat of the Necromancers as she has faced two of them in personal combat under different circumstances, combined with already having to face of against one of her enemies via proxy. After beating these opponents she knows with out a doubt that she needs more training and experience, and while a mediator does get combat training it is not enough unless I am mistaken. My thoughts on that position would be lot of reading to identify different laws, and the undertones that go with it. Not to mention depending on where you went the law would change greatly, as would the etiquette required to do your job effectively.

        Second: R&D would allow her to experiment more with magic maybe coming up with new ways to use magic not just for the war but also for every day use to make people’s live easier and less arduous.

        As to the snippet-

        I find that the New Headmasters Reaction to be very much in character with a political win. From his point of view he needs to make sure that everything goes off with out a hitch proving that he was the correct choice. Emily as a Main Character is essentially fates punching bag and draws danger and attention like flies to carrion. Trying to get her away from the school make a certain amount of sense from a political stand point. However the out right hostile nature that he shows her does not fit the parameter. If It were me she would never learn from me that I did not want her there. For a few reasons. First she is powerful and innovative meaning that (assuming she lives) will be a major player down the road. Its not wise to antagonize a possible threat. Second, I find it odd that he was either not informed upon taking the mantle of headmaster of her origins or that he does know and is willfully dismissing it. If he knows and is dismissing it then he has another motive all his own and i would watch him closely, If he does not know then again something else seems to be going on.

        Again I love the series and cant wait to read the book!

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard June 4, 2016 at 12:02 am #

        Mild spoiler, we learn in this book that the previous Grandmaster had kept something else secret from the White Council.

        The new Grandmaster was “slightly” annoyed when it came up in this book.

        So it is very likely that the previous Grandmaster had not informed the White Council of Emily’s origins.

        So IMO the new Grandmaster doesn’t know that Emily is from another world.

      • chrishanger June 4, 2016 at 8:17 am #

        No, he doesn’t know – as far as he knows, Emily is Void’s daughter.


      • Gxx June 7, 2016 at 10:20 am #

        @Kyle L.
        I think, her choosing Mediator as a profession allows the author to explore different (possible) storylines in the future. A Mediator is part combat sorceress (which would explain Emily becoming more powerful), but also an envoy of the White Council, a negotiator and a judge. A concentration on R&D would be a bit “boring” and could not explain how she defeats her opponents in the future.

  2. iheartdeer March 10, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    Awesome teaser! Can’t wait to read it when it comes out. 🙂

  3. masgramondou March 10, 2016 at 4:42 pm #


  4. joe beaufait March 10, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    When, when, when, Please, can’t wait!

  5. georgephillies March 10, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    You had the cover painted *before* you wrote the book? Did you commission it?

    • chrishanger March 10, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

      The artist had a free slot, so the publisher snapped it up.


  6. Jack Hudler March 10, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

    Nice difficult start.
    Have you noticed that her right eye makes her look of Asian descent, and her left, European. Cover the left side of her face and vica-versa and you’ll see.
    Voids ring is missing, and no bracelet.
    Hope I’m not being too picky, it’s just my 2 cents’.

  7. cb March 10, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

    I am half way through book one in my first re-read of the series. Now this teaser…. excellent!

  8. Chryssie March 10, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    Please who would want to take ANY oaths. It’s like she’s getting more training free. Same with Zangaria thing. She gets to essentially keep her changes and not deal with the responibilitys. Her friend who she elevated to that status will most likely rule as she tells her. She is rich educated and powerful. She made powerful allies. I don’t understand why she doesn’t just become a lone power herself. Build herself a nice comfortable tower and lay low for awhile. Her life seems pretty fckin good if her biggest problems this book are gunna be having someone else not like her.

    • chrishanger March 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

      There is that


    • Thomas Tomiczek March 18, 2016 at 7:54 am #

      I have to agree. I also wonder about her power levels. SIM8 saw her doing quite the feat of flooding a casle wards with raw magic and then doing a teleport out of this castle. And then teleport again after a relatively short time. Without in any moment being totally out of power. She seems to be on the way to a lone power power level.

  9. Jacqueline Harris March 10, 2016 at 11:50 pm #

    yay so exited!

  10. G March 11, 2016 at 12:42 am #

    Wonderful snippet–lady barb’s comments though beg the question–from Emily’s point of view, why doesn’t she pursue customized training from some other school or master now that she’s past the basics of sorcery–she has to know she has alternatives and would be highly desirable to others…why not simply spend a year studying combat sorcery full time with lady Danielle before pursuing a customized apprenticeship?? You might want to flesh out Emily’s reasoning–now that she’s an adult, fondness for Whitehall is not enough…

    • chrishanger March 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

      Basically, she does have a good grounding but she needs more general education before being able to move to a proper apprenticeship. (I touch on this in CH2). Anyone who would take her now (with the possible exception of Lady Barb) is going to be doing it, at least in part, for the wrong reasons.

      And yes, she is very fond of Whitehall.


  11. John Stoddart March 11, 2016 at 5:45 am #

    It would seem from the snippet, that her education is to be limited. She will not have sufficient time to do more than others’ drudgery. She will be prevented from learning to defend herself better. She is to be programmed into acceptance of historical precedent by Locke
    It seems at this stage that Jacqueline is absolutely correct. She should grab her trunk and leave. Just give her apologies and say that she’s thought better of the situation and will try to make the Grandmaster’s life easier
    She then prevents Melissa and Frieda from being targeted and she’ll have time to buy Frieda that house

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 11, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

      Disagree on the “programmed into acceptance of historical precedent by Locke”.

      Professor Locke has been shown as being skeptical about “written history”.

      IE In an earlier book he made it clear that the written history of the Nameless World is full of contradictions.

      I can’t see him in the mind-set of “history says this is correct thus we must do it this way” (which is how I take your statement).

      I suspect that Professor Locke’s project has something to do with “finding out what really happened in the past” because he knows that written history is very likely wrong or at least incorrect.

      • chrishanger March 11, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

        The problem – as i noted in the essay at the back of WH – is that no one really knows what happened back then. They know less about it than we do about just what happened in Rome, just prior to the civil war.


    • chrishanger March 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      We shall see …

      Although, to be fair, i think you’re painting Gordian worse than he is.


      • Joel Li March 14, 2016 at 2:39 am #

        I think Gordian is just doing his job.

        He has not affiliations to Emily and in all seriousness Emily is a ticking time bomb. It is in the school’s best interest to get rid of her.

        As he is not invested in her, but in the school. The best decision is to get rid of her. If you see it from a administration perspective. To many issues can be tracked back to her.

        She is a troublesome student by circumstances and her own behaviour. Also she is a political nightmare.

      • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

        That’s basically his point.

        He doesn’t hate her – he thinks she might be a good person – but she’s trouble. So he really wants her gone; he just doesn’t have the clout to just expel her at will.


      • G March 19, 2016 at 7:09 am #

        If Gordian won’t provide “official” combat training, why doesn’t Emily meet Lady Danielle over the weekend at her home in Dragon’s Den–she has spellchambers she used at the beginning of Wedding Hells. She could go for a walk and secretly teleport with power to spare…

      • chrishanger March 31, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

        She will


  12. PhilippeO March 11, 2016 at 6:09 am #

    Awesome !! Thank You for Snippet !!!

    ” Roughly two months, at least. ” Wow, you write extremely fast

  13. John Stoddart March 11, 2016 at 8:14 am #

    And if you plan on sending her back in time to become The Dark Lady that you’ve alluded to on a number of occasions, then there are simultaneity, continuity and perception problems eg does she arrive back in her own time with knowledge and experience as if she has acquired them instantaneously. This would indeed separate her from everyone especially friends an associates Or do you have a time when she apparently ceases to exist
    Too many problems with this route and its a cop out used In other books. So probably not this route in your story. Time travel would unnecessarily complicate a great premise

    So if she gives all her free time to a history professor, when does she do her homework, what happens to her friends, is she a prisoner and not allowed to leave
    That sort of apprenticeship needs a lot of explanation

    • G March 11, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

      I actually think traveling back to the beginning of Whitehall could be fascinating, I just think Emily should flesh out her reasoning for staying at Whitehall…and with all her enemies, combat training–staying alive–would be my top priority whether at Whitehall or elsewhere…

    • chrishanger March 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

      These are details that will be explained later in the book.


  14. Rich Olson March 11, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    As a lady who studies, I am surprised that she hasn’t done some future planning to see options. Not just career options (which, is what your magic schools primary purpose appears to be – along with an almost indoctrination into being a citizen of the civilized lands, as opposed to necromancy), but how the society actually works and fits together so that she can find a place in it. Why does she insist on attending this school, when she has already turned the world upside down with gunpowder & printing? Tear down the education system and build it over into a system that works if she feels that is a goal, or at least pull herself out of it with the intention of meeting her own, personal goals. She seams concerned about her exams, but her “father” doesn’t appear to worry about them at all – he just does what he wants.

    I enjoy the stories, but some of the inconsistencies are starting to get big.

  15. John Stoddart March 11, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

    With regards to Drak’s comment about Professer Locke being a sceptic, I would suggest that even though he might be a sceptic about the past ,he is still a product of his society with tacit acceptance of its values and opinions.
    He may well be sceptical of what things have happened in the past,but would be unlikely to reject the outcomes. We don’t reject ours even though many question what really happened in History as it’s written by the winners
    I have to agree with Rich. Any 20 year old girl who hasn’t started getting her act together by that age, is in a world of trouble. People get harder as they get older. She needs to stop acting likes she’s 12 and prepubescent.
    Rich Olson is right. The inconsistencies are starting to show. She doesn’t need an apprenticeship anyway. She already has money, power and position. Why on ‘earth’ would she allow herself to be subjugated by oaths and idiots. And it’s in distinct contrast with her beliefs and actions. Someone who’ll stand up to Randor but back down to a schoolmaster.
    It’s unbelievable! Why does she need to stay?

    • chrishanger March 11, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

      I’m not sure that comment on history makes sense – one can argue that England lost its first French empire (a vast over simplification, but never mind) because France had an unbeatable advantage or that King John was a very bad king (or both). You could come up with a convincing argument for all three possibilities, but it wouldn’t change the end result.

      For example, there are people who argue that Italy did much better in WW2 than is commonly realised (the general perception is that Italian troops ran away the moment they saw British Tommies advancing on their position.) That might be true – so what? Italy still lost the war, it’s empire, etc.

      Regarding Emily’s future plans, there are several points that should be mentioned.

      First, Emily prefers being at Whitehall to anywhere else. It’s the closest thing to a modern society in the Nameless World. She’s comfortable there despite the various threats to life, limb and sanity she’s encountered. She doesn’t really want to leave.

      Second, she has more-or-less settled on Mediator as a career path. That means she needs to graduate Whitehall without a major stain on her record (i.e. being expelled) and then start an apprenticeship under a currently-serving Mediator. So yes, she has good reason to want to stay.

      Three, being in Whitehall gives her a considerable amount of safety (you can now snort in unison) that she wouldn’t have elsewhere. She’s got enemies, hundreds of enemies; enemies who won’t think twice about trying to arrange an accident, but would hesitate before attacking Whitehall. (Even now.) Again, she has good reason to want to stay.


    • Jacqueline Harris May 17, 2016 at 1:09 am #

      I actually get Emily’s character. She is not a 20 year old from there she is from earth. Her character is more realistic then other stories. On earth her life would be about going to college getting into student dorms maybe paying some bills if she didn’t have family help.

      Instead Emily is at the very center of this political drama quite by accident. All she really wants to do is stay in the library and read or something. But she knows she can change things and things need to change cause the world she is in now is the dung ages and whether the world at large wants to admit it she knows very well, cause she has seen first hand, that the necromancers want to destroy everything.

      Emily is not invincible and she is just starting to get emotionally strong as off the 10th book. She was always a character with emotional weaknesses and she is just starting to overcome them and learn about this world. Up until this point she has changed things with out thinking and she has mad colossal mistakes just cause she didn’t know things about the world, she is not ready to strike out on her own yet.

      Emily hates change and new things (ironically) she doesn’t have alissa and imaiqe anymore so it’s not surprising that she doesn’t want to get out off her comfort soon and try a new school especially since she only has 2 years left it would be mountain top all over again. She just wants to learn, she wants the safety and home of whitehall. She wants to grow more before she has to face the whole world at large. And lastly she is there cause void and Barb want her there.

  16. John Stoddart March 11, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

    Empires, people’s and religions in Europe’s past were a a smorgasbord of contrasting loyalties, banditry and parochialism. Few examine how the society they live in results from such a high level of conflict. We don’t really question the past. We have no reason to .We can’t change it (but Emily might very well change the future drastically or has she already done so?)
    We live in a present in which we struggle to get by on a daily basis. No one ever refers to history except to dabble. We repeat our mistakes mainly because the past and others examples are closed to us
    We don’t have time from the daily grind for calm professorial analyses and considered action. Humans react and then think about it later
    Why would she want to limit herself to being a Mediator. She may like Lady Barb but wouldn’t be blind to her obvious shortcomings and inconsistencies . She can change a society and has evidence that she can do it. Why then aspire to a limited career like Mediator. She’s obviously far superior and more modern in viewpoint than any of them could be. She us the product of a society which is not feudal and she wants to go from Baroness to conciliator?
    She can even do that from the protection of Voids castle which is far safer than Whiehall has ever been for her

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 11, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

      A few thoughts John, yes Emily would like to change this world.

      However, she faces the same problem as any “world changer” in that it is easier to destroy something than to change or build something.

      If she destroys/damages the current system, she risks turning over the Nameless World to the Necromancers.

      IMO, Chris has strongly implied that she’s not powerful enough or experienced enough or knowledgeable enough to be a Lone Power at this time.

      Of course, not even Void is powerful enough to “single-handedly” change the Nameless World.

      To change the Nameless World, she’ll have to work with others and IMO within the current power structure.

      IMO she needs the training and contacts that continuing to go to Whitehall (or other schools) would give her and of course Emily still sees Whitehall as her home.

      • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

        That’s something of the problem. Real change will cause upheaval – and upheaval will make it easy for the necromancers to walk in and take the remaining Allied Lands.


    • Jacqueline Harris May 17, 2016 at 1:40 am #

      I feel that you are making a critical error. You are talking like the conflict in the middle ages is just because of poor underdeveloped men. But look at the conflicts that we have experienced in the past century alone. 2 world wars Vietnam a cold war were we hovered over a nuclear war Even now the world is at war with syria developing nukes all t,he tension between the US north korea and Russia. Some have hinted that we could be heading towards a third.
      Yea are advances are great, woman have political freedom in some countries, we have democracy in some countries, Slavery isn’t wide spread in every country anymore.{though still thriving in secret} But we have entire contents starving and riddled with diseases like aids. We have radical religious groups trying to start an apocalypse.

      As Alissa put it.” You weren’t happy there, are you sure you want to make our world like yours?” What’s worse is they have magic. Emily can already make nukes. Magic can advance technology much faster and her ideas can advance magic.
      Emily is from modern “civilized” society so she is better equipped to change the world. That is the same kind of hubris that the aristocrats and the magical families have. They believe they are ‘better’ and so they should make decisions for the whole world? It helps that we see things from Emily’s perspective. But to other people Emily is just as bad Auralius planning to do what’s best for society. Emily knows now and for every advantage upheaval happens. Zangria is turning into France during the revolution. Whatever changes she makes has to be balanced.

      As a mediator she works directly for the mage council. She travels the world and makes important choices that effect countries. She fights and goes after necromancers. I think a mediator is an in between step to becoming a lone power, Void used to work for the council and when Barb was a young mediator she was put with Void. As a baroness she had a title but she was basically a bureaucrat. If anything it was hilding her magical carrier back. Either way she is still the necromancers bane she is still the magician the killed a combat sorcerer. People are politically exiled all the time so people will probable still treat her like a high noble. And she is still freekin rich. SHe didn’t loose anything but a leash. Working for the councel gives her legitimacy to change things in any case.

  17. G March 11, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

    Chris, in Work Experience, Lady Barb told her certain powerful magics such as rituals were only taught to some, but not all of the fifth year students. Can Emily trust the new grandmaster to give her a thorough background in all the magics?? Also, could you clarify the school system–I thought her general education on all major topics ended in 4th year, and 5th and 6th year specialized in one topic like charms…I’m confused…

    • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

      I’m probably going to have to address this in an appendix, if anyone’s interested.

      Basically, Years 1-4 are basic background stuff; Years 5-6 are more intensive training based around a student’s career goals and/or aptitudes. She needs that training if she wants an apprenticeship with a decent tutor, post-Whitehall.


      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 14, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

        Yes to the appendix. 😀

      • chrishanger March 15, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

        Remind me when i finish the book


      • G March 15, 2016 at 1:17 am #


      • Darkpoint March 15, 2016 at 9:48 am #

        I’m interested.

  18. Kaesha March 12, 2016 at 12:49 am #

    Amazing starter, wonder what the surprises and drastic event of this book will be compared to the others?

  19. John Stoddart March 12, 2016 at 1:24 am #

    A mediator in a feudal society, had to know the forms a disputes ie threat, counter-threat, negotiation and treaty. Emily was not brought up in such a society and would have no conceptual understanding of its nuances .Witness the furore over her minor judgements in Cocatrice She would never be accepted as a Mediator in such a society
    No one person or even a clique can direct the conflicting mishmash of a feudal level civilisation. Time can do it. Combined with ideas and a brutal series of Roman style dictatorships which Alassa has the ruthlessness to provide if she harnesses the power of a sympathetic assembly

    Chris has now taken her out of Sergeant Miles training so she won’t have the qualifications to become a Combat Sorcerer and then Mediator
    I don’t know what he’s planning for her but he made her smart enough not to meddle too much beyond issuing basic instructions in Cockatrice And she hated that!!

    • Darkpoint March 12, 2016 at 10:29 am #

      Emily can still become a Combat Sorcerer or Mediator, since she has already successfully taken the Martial Magic courses. Master Grey’s training was only additional and to prevent that her skills will deteriorate.

      • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

        That’s part of the problem – Emily took those courses ahead of time, which leaves her ahead of the game at Whitehall, but needing more.


  20. ZZZ March 13, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    — Emily frowned. Alassa had patched together a compromise, ensuring that while Emily was persona non grata in Zangaria for the nonce she wasn’t exiled for good. Imaiqah would rule the Barony of Cockatrice in Emily’s absence. In truth, Emily wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She’d never wanted to be a great feudal landlady, she’d certainly never wanted to rule the lives of countless people she would never meet. —

    Since Emily become a Baroness she doesn’t know how she should feel about it, but I thought that everthing came to a conclusion at the end of book 8. Now it starts all over again? Shouldn’t she have come already to a decision, because if not, I fear she will have the same doubts even in the last book in the SIM series.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

      I think Alassa’s actions had more to do her “pushing back” at her father than something Emily agrees with.

      Of course, Emily isn’t going to “slap Alassa in the face” by publicly rejecting Alassa’s compromise.

      • Joel Li March 14, 2016 at 2:46 am #

        Alassa’s compromise can be seen as:
        1. A favor to a friend, she does not want to lose (want to see again)
        2. Political Power Play (cementing her position)
        3. Ensuring 1 less problematic area that needs handling
        4. Keeping Emily invested in the kingdom. Aka keeping an Assets in play (to use when required).

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 14, 2016 at 3:26 am #

        Agree on all counts.

        Once Alassa “got over the spoiled brat stage”, she has shown herself to be a “political thinker”.

        IE seeing things from the point of view of the good of the Kingdom and the good of her position.

        Yes, Alassa knows the value of having friends but she has to think about the Kingdom and her current & future position.

        Oh, it is interesting that Alassa allowed herself to fall in love with somebody that could be an asset to the Kingdom and not be a treat to her future position of Ruling Queen. [Smile]

      • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

        Pretty much so, yep.


    • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

      As far as Emily’s concerned, she’s an ex-Baroness.

      Alassa patched together a face-saving compromise that gives her the option to return without weakening her father’s position, softening the blow a little. Emily shrugged, noted she wasn’t planning to return and went on with her life.


  21. Shoelessme March 14, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    I have been reading to much in the way of Eastern translated Wuxia lately I guess. Connections to, or better yet indebted, powerful people are what makes an institution powerful. I think pissing off someone who is certain to be a future power instead of cultivating a relationship is incredibly stupid. Generally new school masters are not stupid people. That being the case I would think he would desperately want to get her to make oaths to Whitehall. Giving her a limited role with no oaths and a bad taste in her mouth seems to be the worst of all possible roles.

    Likewise, from her point of view, as you jokingly mentioned (Mr. Nuttall), Whitehall has never protected her before and with an antagonistic headmaster it is less likely to do so now. I have to join my voice to the refrain and say her staying at Whitehall sounds unwise and uncharacteristic.

    As an aside since no one else mentioned it. What do you mean by;
    “Hindsight told her she’d been wrong; hindsight told her that King Randor hadn’t intended to order her to unleash a holocaust on countless rebels and everyone else caught up in the blast radius.”
    Umm, I thought you made that pretty explicit in the last book. That’s exactly what he ordered her to do. Kinda sounds like a crook on the witness stand claiming he didn’t mean it….

    • G March 14, 2016 at 6:11 am #

      I think the new Grandmaster wants to solidify his position with no controversy or trouble–and trouble seems to follow Emily. I have more difficulty seeing where the author has Emily depicted going from here–she should be smart enough to realize that she’s too controversial and has too many enemies to be accepted as a politically neutral mediator and yet she’s thrown away her position in Zangaria. After 4 years in the nameless world at the highest levels, her character should have more political savy–she should be building up her power base, not tearing it down…On a personal note, I loved the friends and politics in Zangaria, so I hope she’ll be back–the series is less interesting without the friends and politics of Zangaria–and the politics affecting real people…

      • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

        Zangeria will be back


    • Darkpoint March 14, 2016 at 9:09 am #

      Maybe King Randor wanted her to go to Swanhaven as Commander of a few thousand soldiers and conquer the city in the “normal” way??? (a lot of rebels would probaly capitulate out of fear, when they hear she is coming).

      But you are right, in the final version of the book it would be better to clarify this, because it is a bit confusing.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 14, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

        IMO Randor wanted Emily to use magic against the city to force the city to capitulate but Emily wrongly assumed that he wanted her to use the “Magical Nuke” that she had developed.

        Emily has realized that Randor didn’t know about her “Magical Nuke”.

    • chrishanger March 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

      There’s some truth in that.

      On the other hand, there’s a question of balance. Does the prospect of future favours override the certainty of current dangers? Yes, Emily probably will be a major power – barring death, enslavement, necromantic madness, etc. But she’s also a trouble magnet – Nanette was not the only person to try to sneak into Whitehall because of her, or find a way to plant a spy in the school – and dangerously irresponsible at times. (And her ‘father’ isn’t really liked or trusted by many.)

      BTW, the Whitehall Oaths impose obligations on the school too. Gordian thinks he might find those awkward (particularly the one about not ending an education without due process) so he lets them slide.

      Emily wants to stay at Whitehall because it’s the closest thing to a true home she’s had. And Caleb is there.

      Randor didn’t realise just how powerful Emily was, so he thought he was telling her to ‘make a show of power to force the rebels to submit’ and she heard ‘destroy the entire city, killing everyone; the innocent along with the guilty.’ She jumped to the wrong conclusion and teleported out.


      • Shoelessme March 14, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

        Ah, good to know Chris. I think you did to good a job on Emily’s misinterpretation though. Because I thought the same as Emily did. Perhaps a good example would be the archbishop of Canterbury and whichever king (i forget which one sorry) said “Will no one kill me that priest!” He may not have meant it that way, but he certainly sounded like it and he was responsible for the bishops eventual murder. The wording in the last book sounded like an order for some mass murder.

      • chrishanger March 15, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

        It does – if you realise that mass murder is possible

        Reminds me of a story from a set of riots in America (Rodney King?). The police had some marines to help, so they asked the marines for some cover. The marines promptly opened fire and cleared the building. much to the shock of the police. I’m not sure how much of the story is true, but it’s the same basic idea.


      • Joel Li March 15, 2016 at 3:15 am #

        I think we sometimes forget that Emily is still a really young lady.

        From a world and country that at her age, you are not supposed to be responsible but have fun and yolo. Add to that, she is from a dysfunctional household.

        She has limited abilities to take responsibility properly and limited critical political savvy thinking. That is my take.

        Unlike her new world in which from a young age, things like that are drummed into them.

      • Veraenderer March 15, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

        “You can deal with the rebels”
        What Randor means: She can speak with them if they don’t capitulate because she spoke with them her magic and canons should make it easy to take the city.

        What a normal powerful mage would have understood:
        I ask them to capitulate, if they refuse I melt their walls and ask them again.

        What a stressed Emily understood: He wants me to kill everyone.

        What I have understood: Do whatever you want to bring the barony back into the kingdom

  22. Shoelessme March 15, 2016 at 5:46 am #

    Hello Joel,
    I hope what you said does not continue to be true. Not ripping on you or anything. Its just that she has been in her new world for what 4-5 years now? She is an adult now. I have had some friends from dysfunctional households. Once your out on your own that excuse doesn’t get you very far. After all, just because your father beat you as a child does not make it ok to beat your own children. If the chain doesn’t break then your just as bad as your father. Dysfunction explains where she came from. Now its time to move on. It can’t explain where she is going or else she becomes a very obnoxious character.

    • chrishanger March 15, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

      She will grow up – she IS growing up. It just takes time


  23. Veraenderer March 15, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Will the book make clear how powerful Emily is at the moment in terms of raw power?
    I mean we do only know that she is far more powerful than most in her age and probably more powerful than the average sorcerer, but how powerful is she compared to Lady Barb, a Lone Power like Void or a Necromancer?

    • chrishanger March 15, 2016 at 10:28 pm #

      In raw power terms, Emily is roughly twice as powerful as Aloha. What she doesn’t have is the training and experience to use that power effectively (yet) so Aloha would probably win an all-out fight.

      Magic power is really a combination of power reserves (including the ability to rebuild them) and knowledge. Necromancers have vast levels of (stolen) raw power, but relatively little knowledge (because if they did have that knowledge, they wouldn’t be necromancers.) Lone Powers have both, which makes them dangerous.


      • G March 16, 2016 at 2:36 am #

        Chris, a brief thought–in the real world a special ops commando would easily kill an academic who has been studying battle tactics for a decade. Emily has the same combat training as Aloha–the one additional year of wardcrafting or academic charms doesn’t necessarily mean she’s any better in split second combat. Also, you’ve established that Necromancers, with massive power, can defeat any combat sorcerer with years of training–massive power matters…though massive power combined with knowledge would be best…

      • chrishanger March 17, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

        That’s true – in our world. (And here, Emily basically won by the skin of her teeth (and cheating)).


      • Veraenderer March 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

        As far as we know Aloha can’t power a teleport, if Emily is twice as powerful and can teleport without beeing completly exhausted afterwards she can power between 1.1 and 1.999 teleports. That means that Aloha can power between 0.55 and 0.999 teleports.

        We know that Lady Barb can atleast power one teleport without beeing completly exhausted (so she can power 1.1+ teleports)

        While Void can power atleast 2 teleports and a bunch of other spells (probably without being completly exhausted) so he should be able to power 2.5+ teleports

        Is that roughly correct?

  24. Boobah March 16, 2016 at 2:22 am #

    Zeroth: Awesome series. Read it over the past weekend; well, technically, started Thursday afternoon and finished up Sunday. It’s my new favorite Potter fanfic, beating out _Harry Potter and the Natural 20,_ now apparently abandoned.

    I kid. It’s not any closer to Potter than, say, Niven’s _Ringworld_ is to Baum’s _Wizard of Oz._ I do have the urge to hear Emily ask Void “Why so Sirius?” though.

    First up: Spellcheck. The eighth word of Chapter One should almost certainly be ‘changes,’ rather than ‘chances.’ Unless that’s a Britishism I am unfamiliar with.

    Second, I find myself annoyed that not once, but twice in the latter parts of _Wedding Hells_ I allowed Emily to talk me out of the correct interpretation of what was going on; first, with Paren’s recruitment pitch, and second with Randor’s command to deal with the rebellious barony.

    It occurs to me that Alassa would understand where Emily’s coming from so, so much better if Emily ever points out that A) back home her family was about the same place socially and economically as Frieda’s and B) as Emily has often remarked to herself, Whitehall is a step down from her home graded on a creature comforts perspective, especially if you adjust for her abused/neglected status.

    Does Emily have a funny accent, now that she’s presumably not constantly using a translation spell? I mean, Great Britain has been more-or-less sharing English for centuries now, but there’s a plethora of accents & dialects denoting combinations of social class and place of origin, which only gets more complicated when you look at the UK’s English-speaking (former) colonies. I’m just picturing some Prof. Higgins type trying to place her.

    Also, the idea of using English as a way to simplify writing is delish. Although, to be fair, romanji.

    Also also: apparently the EASY method of moving things with magic is a freakin’ inertia-less drive. Or at least momentum-less, inasmuch as that’s different. I mean, it’s so much easier that pretty much nobody ever does it any other way, to the point that no one routinely wards against kinetic strikes when facing another mage. To my mind, that breaks physics worse than teleportation does.

    • chrishanger March 17, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

      I’ve never read that fan-fic. I lost interest in Methods of Rationality halfway through.

      I think everything you see in the books, save for the prologues, comes from Emily’s POV and she’s not always right. .

      I’m not sure Alassa would understand Emily making such a claim – a person on minimum wage in the UK/US has a far better life than their closest counterparts in Zangaria. (Hot running water, supermarkets, legal protections, etc). Alassa might well assume Emily was whining (even though we would know she isn’t.)

      Emily’s accent is very like Lady Barb’s – upper-class aristocratic/magician. She doesn’t sound that out of place for where she is, though she couldn’t pass for a commoner easily.


  25. 4stodjohn March 16, 2016 at 5:49 am #

    The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and

    to Quote the lovely Ronnie Ancona
    It was basically led by an Italian fop with a Polish accent with a bunch of highlanders, some Irish and a few French fighting some Scottish lowlanders, some English led by a fat German from Hanover
    William Wallace was born in Kenya
    His mother was Masai
    S Fry
    There were more scots there beating Charles Edward Stuart than there were English
    And this was well after the so called feudal period which had far more local vendettas complicated by religion, origins, political suasion and perceived personal interest. Nationalism is a recent phenomenon, dependent on rivers,canal, and railways facilitating trade and communications
    Prior to modern nationalism life was dangerous.
    Eg Jane Austen writes that Mr Bennet communicates to his family when he has arrived safely in London!

    Further to Aloha being able to beat Emily even though Emily has much more power. Didn’t they both just finish Master Grey’s martial magic course. And wasn’t Master Grey the Nameless Worlds duelling champion.
    Is a young girl like Aloha so much more powerful than a seasoned Master Grey
    At the end of Wedding Hells , Emily teleports to Cockatrice,is extremely busy doing things and feels that she has enough energy left to teleport to Whitehall or Dragons Den. She is not going to be exhausted by a one off teleport. This seems totally jarring when read. It’s as if you’re trying to weaken your character so you can give her problems.

    I love your stories Chris, and I really don’t like to nitpick, but when things don’t jell, they make it jarring to read and I swap over to critique reading ,instead of being able to immerse myself in a rattling good yarn

    • chrishanger March 17, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

      Good point. I’ll deal with those in the edits.

      That said, Master Grey underestimated her and Aloha wouldn’t be so likely to make the same mistake.


  26. G March 18, 2016 at 12:17 am #

    Chris, this is just an idea, and it may not fit in your narrative, but one way of ultimately resolving Emily’s ties to friends and Zangaria and her focus on sorcery/allied lands could be for Caleb to ultimately end up as the Baron with Emily living in Cockatrice but focusing on sorcery and the allied lands…thank you for the wonderful series…please keep the books coming…

    • MADness March 18, 2016 at 1:29 am #

      The Crown can’t afford to destroy Cockatrice’s economy but they also can’t really afford to have a traditional baron in control of that much wealth, power and influence.

      I think that they should establish a hereditary regency (like Gondor?) with Imaquaih being the first regent. This would help to get around any problems stemming from trying to raise a former merchant class citizen to the level of baron.

      Regency of Cockatrice would be less important than a true barony but far more valuable than pretty much anything except for a barony. It would also make Paren’s daughter a very valuable marriage asset for the kingdom.

      • chrishanger March 31, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

        That’s a good idea, but it probably wouldn;t occur to Randor or Alassa.


    • chrishanger March 31, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

      It’s a possibility , but Emily only got the post because she saved Randor’s crown.


  27. Don Yu March 20, 2016 at 4:59 am #

    One of the things that attract me to this series is what a person from the present goes back to dark ages and introduce social, economical and tech into that society.

    What does small changes like introduction of stirrups do?

    From my read is that feudal society is jumped from there to a industrial revolution without any of the political, social, agricultural changes to better hold the society together and enable it to occur. IE farming methods and tech allowing freeing of man power from production of food so that factories can be supplied with manpower.

    There don’t seem to be major plan about what type of concepts and tech should be introduced to limit the social changes occurring from those changes. Like introducing print press then development of gunpowder. Does allow the common people able to counteract and maybe win again the nobles military power that keep them there. Without guns no underclass revolution won.

    It seem that Russian, French revolution reasons from occurring and winning is already set from Wedding halls. It seem that there is just one major occurrence away from full on revolution that will draw in all the kingdoms and when enough guns are produced the common people will win.

    While people in the stories keep saying that there can be no major disruption because necromancer will destroy all but what Emily is doing seem to drive towards that outcome especially giving Barony of Cockatrice as an example what their own lives can be with bank system promoting capitalism and growth of the middle class.

    I can understand Emily want to changes to occur to strengthen, make people’s lives better but without the political power base to ensure soft landing to occur so Emily’s actions is not explained very well.

    Emily is young but her actions is not responsible and with her knowledge of history there can be no excuses. She can’t just say I advise the king what to do but he reject the advice so I am not responsible is a child’s argument while effecting countless lives that will lead to lot of innocent deaths and hardship.

    At least it will lead to more detrust between the kingdoms and arms race.

    • Jacqueline Harris May 17, 2016 at 2:03 am #

      You have a lot of good points that I agree with however you are aoso forgetting magic. In someways they are like the middle ages in other ways they can do things already that you can’t do now with technology. With the magicians you have somewhat off a safeguard. Once you through in magic it’s hard to predict how things will turn

      • Don Yu May 17, 2016 at 6:41 am #

        True but what I was thinking was that Emily would introduce scientific and technology for non-magician and non-nobles to be able to improve their lives for better and not be just a victim of them. Guns and cannons will allow non-nobles to fight them more equally with enough numbers. Magicians can be also be attacked with good planning.

        But also need government structure and laws to prevent replacement with something similar after the revolution.

  28. Michael March 21, 2016 at 3:39 am #

    I love it Chris. Please don’t finish this series ever 🙂
    The grammar doesn’t phase me at all as the plot and characters are truly first class and the imagination fills in the rest 🙂
    Any chance of any magical accidents with her battery knocking her around? You write about Emily and her emotions and how she feels extremely well. SIM is the best series I have read……ever

  29. Chance March 26, 2016 at 1:28 am #

    Chris these books are beautiful. I can’t wait to see more of Emily doing Emily stuff and pissing people off

  30. dreen2920 March 30, 2016 at 8:10 am #

    Just found this site and read the snip of book 9, Nice hook Chris can wait. Hope you enjoy writing SIM and keep it up.

    • chrishanger March 31, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

      Thank you!


      • Kahlenberg May 9, 2016 at 7:34 am #

        I have not being this exited about a series since Bloody Jack… the way one can get lost in the world… fantastic… one of my dream team ups would be Emily and Jackie… good god… being the trouble magnets that they are… I could just see them facing judgement… and them explaning to the tribunal “that it seem so reasonable at the time, and so unreasonable when others look back at it… Keep up the good work…

  31. G March 31, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    Chris, as the writer, could you help me understand why you wanted Emily to end her position as baroness…after developing it for so many books…you could have written that storyline so many different ways…I also still struggle with the realism of a maturing Emily having a screaming fight with king rancor and walking away from a barony–the thinking “I never wanted tremendous wealth and power or the ability to help so many people” or abandoning people who have come to depend on her doesn’t seem to mesh with the caring person Emily portrays…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 31, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

      I’m not Chris, but IMO Emily’s problem is two fold.

      Yes, she cares about other people but has doubts about her ability to rule over other people.

      Second, her position as Baroness had obligations toward the King that she wasn’t prepared to accept. Look at her attitude toward the King wanting to approve or disapprove of her relationship with Caleb. He had perfectly understandable reasons by his standards to be consulted on that matter and Emily by her standards didn’t see “why it was any of his business”. Of course, there’s the problem that by accepting the Baronage, she put herself under his authority. While Emily misunderstood what he wanted her to do to the rebels, he had the authority to order her to do something about the rebel. Emily found it impossible to accept his authority over her actions.

      Thus, we see Emily having doubts about her ability to rule (for good reasons) and Emily not accepting the King’s authority over her.

      Of course, there was also the problem of her “magical career”. Whitehall (and the White Council) expected her to have a role independent of any individual Kingdom of the Allied Lands.

      Remember that Alassa had to leave Whitehall after her fourth year because of her role as her father’s only Heir. Alassa could not be expect to see the Allied Lands as more important than Zangaria.

      • G March 31, 2016 at 11:44 pm #

        Any position Emily takes is going to entail obligations–whether to the white council or zangaria–it seems like Emily is headed towards becoming a lone power, but I believe even void took the Whitehall oaths in graduating from Whitehall–there is no free lunch…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 31, 2016 at 11:58 pm #

        Well, in general I don’t think Emily has a problem with the likely oaths she’ll take on graduating from Whitehall as they appear to be in line with what she wants to do.

        The obligations of being a Baroness conflicted (in her mind) with her values and what actions she wanted to take.

        Her choices, in her mind, was to obey the King by doing something she hated to do or kill the King (which would bring her into conflict with Alassa) or to resign her position as Baroness.

        Did she make the correct choice? Only time will tell but I understand her decision.

      • G April 16, 2016 at 1:43 am #

        The only problem with the “what she wants to do” explanation is that I don’t recall anyone in history–in the middle ages or the modern day–who willingly walks aways from a massive fortune or hundreds of thousands of acres of land–because it’s “not what I want to do”–instead they fudge, delegate, and/or try to muddle through…can’t recall anyone screaming at Kings with armies or assassins, either…though it does up the drama…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard April 16, 2016 at 2:19 am #

        Instead they fudge, delegate, and/or try to muddle through.

        What do you think she’s been doing about the Baronage since the end of the second book?

        No, she’s been attempting those things but here she’s been put on the spot.

        The King has the authority to give Emily an order and does so.

        She wrongly believes that he is ordering her to commit mass murder and that’s not something she is willing to do.

        A wiser person might have tried to “talk the King into another course of action” but even a wise person might realize that the rebels have good reasons to distrust the King and the wise person might realize that any agreement he makes with the rebels will be broken by the King.

        No, in Emily’s mind the King has given her an order that she can not obey.

        So, she has a choice between “obeying the King”, killing or rebelling against the King (which would cause problems with her friend) or rejecting the Baronage.

        Abandoning Wealth?

        To a degree, but she’s wealthy without the Baronage and she believes there is too great of price involved in keeping the Baronage.

        “What profits a man to gain the entire world but loses his soul?”

        Rightly or wrongly, that’s the position Emily saw herself in.

      • chrishanger April 19, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

        Yep. But Emily does not have that mindset


    • chrishanger April 2, 2016 at 8:15 pm #


      I’ve tried to answer this in a seperate blog post, seeing it’s a growing part of the story.

      (Although from the writer’s POV the real answer is ‘more drama’ )


    • 4stodjohn April 7, 2016 at 9:13 am #

      John Stoddart liked your message with Boxer.

  32. Karl Cornelius April 2, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    Chris, I have really enjoyed the series and have been working through your other books also. Great books.

    My question concerns obligations, oaths, wards, and the Child of Destinty influences. How much, if any, is Emily being influenced by the magic? Some of those influences could be extremely subtile. Does Emily want to stay at Whitehall because the Whitehall wards wants Emily to be there type thing? Does magic have its own will?

    Also IMO Alesss was influenced at least in part to broker a compromise because of the magic obligations of the blood magic healing spell Emily used. That works nicely with the point Chris made about Alessa wanting to remain friends. Of course Emily and Alessa also formed and belong to the same clique. That should be creating some interesting magical tension between the clique oaths and the under laying blood magic obligations.

    • chrishanger April 3, 2016 at 11:06 pm #


      There’s a lot of stuff here I don’t really want to go into (if only for later wriggle room). However, some minor observations:

      -The local culture (at least among magical/noble society) places a high premium on meeting one’s obligations and repaying one’s debts. This is both formal and informal; failing to repay what you owe will get you shunned, but failing to repay gifts (in kind) will do the same. For example, if someone gives you a Christmas gift worth £50, you are expected to present them with something along the same lines.

      It’s considered very rude to give someone a gift they cannot actually repay, although there is quite a bit of wriggle room. If you made a good-faith attempt to give me something you thought I would like for Christmas, I can’t hold it against you if you accidentally get it wrong; if I give you a watch and you give me a book, we may both be quite happy even though (on the surface) I didn’t get an equal gift. The thought counts .

      -Magical debts (mainly life-debts and suchlike) are soul magic and, as such, can be dangerously unpredictable. Making a magically-binding contract is fairly straight-forward as it gives clear obligations (and you can’t be forced into making one), but life-debts are tricky things. Amongst other things, the debtor has to understand that they were saved when there was no obligation to do so. There also has to be some element of risk to the person who saved the life – and he must not have any prior obligations. A family member cannot claim a life-debt, nor can a Healer (they swear oaths to forsake life debts).

      Emily (probably) has no claim on Alassa, as they are close friends. But Jade is right to worry.

      Emily wants to stay at Whitehall because it’s the first place she’s ever really considered home, while Alassa brokered a compromise to prevent a political nightmare.


  33. Puffin April 7, 2016 at 12:45 am #

    Now I’m looking forward to this (and intrigued by the cover). I only discovered this series by accident on Amazon.

    On a related note, there’s a school in my town that’s called “Whitehall”. Every time I pass by, I wonder what is being taught there.

    • chrishanger April 7, 2016 at 11:18 pm #


      Feel free to drop them a copy


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