Emily and the Barony of Cockatrice

2 Apr

A couple of posters asked about Emily’s decision, at the end of Wedding Hells, to simply abandon the Barony of Cockatrice after her confrontation with King Randor, questioning the value and wisdom of that decision. I’m not saying that it won’t have negative repercussions – for her and for her (former) people – but the decision didn’t come out of nowhere. <grin>

First, Emily was effectively tricked into taking the Barony. Randor offered it to her (at the end of LIE) at a point when she could not politely refuse without embarrassing Randor (and Alassa) in front of their entire court. She felt she had no choice, as Randor calculated, and allowed him to ennoble her without a fuss.

From Randor’s POV, the arrangement had some definite advantages. He rewarded Emily for saving both his life and his throne (and his linage, in Alassa) in a matter that fitted her accomplishment. No one in Zangaria could decently argue that Emily did not deserve reward. (Alassa wasn’t joking when she said Emily would probably have wound up married to her, if Emily had been male.) In addition, it removed a barony from the clutches of the old nobility – Randor had no illusions about just how much he was loved, prior to the coup – and put it in the hands of someone he thought he could control. Randor took Emily’s measure during LIE. He thought she could be controlled and directed – and didn’t realise, at some level, that Emily was growing more self-confident as the years went by.

He also thought (correctly) that Emily would have absolutely no support from the other barons, if she did decide to rebel. Her mere elevation to the peerage would make them her deadly enemies, forcing her to stay on Randor’s side. By his standards, this was absolutely correct.

Second, Emily was utterly unprepared to run a barony. (This suited Randor perfectly, or so he thought.) Noble children – males, certainly, but females too where there was a shortage of male heirs – were trained in estate management from the day they could walk. Even Alassa got some training, although Randor kept hoping for a male heir even as his daughter grew to adulthood, but Emily had none. Seriously, outside the remnants of the landed aristocracy in the UK, how many children do get that sort of training in our world? Emily, quite simply, had no real idea of the magnitude of the two-edged sword that had been dumped in her lap. She had become, overnight, a great lady, a queen in miniature. She was effectively all-powerful, as long as she didn’t annoy the king.

This slowly dawned on her over the following three years.

Third, Emily found herself ill-suited to run a barony. On one hand, she hated the thought of micromanaging her estates; on the other, she found herself trying to impose ‘her’ standards of acceptable behaviour. In doing so, she upset a number of applecarts – a problem made worse by the innovations she had introduced earlier – and found herself grappling with thorny problems caused by her own works. Insisting that girls be treated with the same regard as boys, when inheritance was considered, caused no end of problems. Emily was never comfortable ruling over hundreds of thousands of lives.

If you compare it to the end of The Honour of the Queen, when Honour is given a noble rank on Grayson, you can see a number of differences. Honour is a 50-ish year old naval officer with three commands under her belt, a commander used to giving orders and expecting them to be obeyed, a woman who comes from a society where the nobility wields very real power. She understands their obligations even though she had no reason to expect them for herself. Emily is (was) a sixteen-year-old girl with next to no understanding of friendship, let alone all of Honour’s experience. In short, Harrington is FAR more suited for her position than Emily is to hers.

By the time Wedding Hells rolls around, Emily is torn between a degree of loyalty to her people and a reluctance to waste her time in a barony.

And then she has her confrontation with Randor. By this point, she’s more than a little fed up of him.

Randor had NO idea how powerful she had become. His basic idea was that Emily – who’d killed two necromancers and a combat sorcerer – would intimidate the rebels into backing down. The orders he gave were vague, but he certainly didn’t expect anything else. Emily, however, thought he was asking her to commit mass-murder, if not outright genocide. Knowing that she would need to obey if she wanted to keep the barony, she threw it back in his face and teleported out.

At this point, Alassa worked out a compromise that left Imaiqah in the Barony as Emily’s regent while Emily was ‘exiled’ from Zangaria. Randor (like other monarchs, including the historical Edward I) had occasionally exiled aristocrats from his country, so most distant observers didn’t think it too odd when he ordered Emily out. Just how many people believe this, though, is an open question …

As far as Emily is concerned, at this point she is no longer the baroness and has no intention of resuming her role. However, just about everyone she meets will assume that she’s merely biding her time until Randor chooses to lift her banishment, as they will find it impossible to imagine that someone would give up so much power…

There will be interesting times in the future for everyone involved <grin>

30 Responses to “Emily and the Barony of Cockatrice”

  1. G April 2, 2016 at 11:50 pm #

    Thank you for the detail–I hope Emily does resume her role in some fashion as zangaria’s realpolitik showed Emily interacting with real people along with the real world impact of her ideas/actions–her friendship with allasa and imaquaih also add a great deal to the series…

    • chrishanger April 3, 2016 at 10:54 pm #

      We will see …


    • cmcamp7 April 3, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

      I disagree. I hope Emily doesn’t resume her role. It was much too restrictive for her and for whatever fun situations Chris is creating for her now. 🙂

      I like Chris’/Emily’s choice and I’m excited to see where it will lead her!

      • chrishanger April 7, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

        She certainly doesn’t want to resume it.


  2. Baldur Norddahl April 3, 2016 at 1:40 am #

    But we all know that Cockatrice is just training for when Emily becomes emperor of the allied lands…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard April 3, 2016 at 1:45 am #

      Nah, Goddess of the Allied Lands. 😈

      • KrisP April 5, 2016 at 11:18 am #

        To rule them all in the…. uuups 😉

      • Veraenderer April 5, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

        I think God Empress Emily of Mankind sounds nice.

  3. dreen2920 April 3, 2016 at 6:50 am #

    A thought or not so now. This my be a bit off topic
    (Please understand that these are MY thought and NOT what Chris might have. Think of this more of a WHAT IF then a what will be)

    With the loss (kinda) of Cockatrice this changes some of the way that Emily might upset the apple cart.

    1. Electromagnetic power (or its evil twin ElectroMAGIC. see below) Thermal-electric, Bio-electric, and Magnetic are 3 types. Put in a waterwheel, up a windmill or steam powered Electromagnetic generator you have power and all that goes with it.

    2. Having made a magic battery, magic flow regulator and now spell-tile spell sets. Would Emily next take her knowledge of electrical power then with spell-tiles convert it to magic power, or make a waterwheel, windmill or even steam power type of magic generator. This would go a long way to help fix some of problems she has with Mountaintop and maybe other low magic places.

    It was implied that Cockatrice was a low magic zone and Emily had to feed her magic into the wards to boost them. Mountaintop also.(not to post spoilers). What if magical power could be generated without having to bleed yourself or others. When you could plug a genset into, then powering up the wards around your home and/or what-not. Would this be something of value to Allied lands or just more trouble for Emily.

    Like I said, just some rambling thoughts I had after just rereading all 8 SIM books. I enjoy what Chris has done, is doing and do not want to change a thing.


  4. Jacqueline Harris April 3, 2016 at 7:02 am #

    Yea that makes since I feel like Emily was tied to just Zangria and now she can spread her wings a little. I like that she broke away from his control.

  5. Don Yu April 4, 2016 at 12:58 am #

    I thought that Cockatrice is been used as example for others to look at and show them what Emily is introducing does work. eg. Lower tax and not too much rules make the whole of the population rich and be productive.

    So the new situation is positive results without the direct responsibilities and time involvement. As I expect that Emily will give suggestions to Imaquaih how to run it through the text.

    Funding can be also directed towards Emily through the banks (that Emily made) from the Cockatrice so financially she is not without fund to do anything even without the money already in the banks. I don’t see Imaquaih doing anything negative towards Emily at least for awhile. (Imaquaih’s fathers actions in the Wedding hall been used as leverage.)

    I thought that Cockatrice will be good thing as lot of management of the it has to do with short term to long term plans and goals also people management. Whatever role she end up with in the Nameless world that would be major plus for her.

    As Chris said Honor had lot of command experience before becoming a noble with similar powers. I don’t see Emily gaining experience in the military as she does not do well in groups. She need it if she want to be more long term positive influence to the world she is in.

    So far Emily has been very passive with things happening at her not proactive. Hope she gain more confidence and wisdom though the series to direct events as results can be too much based on luck so far.

  6. PhilippeO April 4, 2016 at 5:35 am #

    ? But in the Duel, one of Emily worries is how People of Cockatrice fate if she get killed. Emily decision in Wedding Hells seems contradictory to her decision before.

    And abandoning Cockatrice also seems contradictory to many her decision before, that is to rescue people she meets (Imaiqah, boy in mountain, her Shadow in MountainTop, singer girl in the caravan, servant during Trial in Cockatrice, etc). Abandoning Cockatrice seems very unusual behaviour.

    Emily ‘softness’ make me wonder if Emily only abandoned Cockatrice because Zangaria already in chaos, and she see Cockatrice as strong enough to take care of itself.

    • Jacqueline Harris April 6, 2016 at 4:11 am #

      the thing is emily leveraged the people of cockatrice with the people in the rest of the country. She thought she was going to be forced to nuke the place. And so it was a no win. In addition she never felt truly responsible for her people she didn’t feel like she could be a good leader so when Randor was like put down the rebellion or loose cokatrice she was like fuck it. I never wanted it anyway. She never really understood the reality of cockatrice untill she had lost it but Emily likes to run away from her problem and cockatrice had become a big problem. It’s not like she didn’t care she just didn’t feel like there was anything she could do.

    • chrishanger April 7, 2016 at 11:16 pm #

      Yes, but she knows those people personally. It’s a lot harder to have feelings for a territory so vast you can’t really grasp it.


  7. shrekgrinch April 5, 2016 at 1:37 am #

    I thought you kinda blew it by creating a barony so large with so many people. Even a magical medieval society would not be able to manage such polities because their size would still be effectively limited by the most common lines of communication used…which would still be horses and mules.

  8. KrisP April 5, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    By the way Chris, how many people lives in Cocatrice – because we got some mixed signals, sometimes Emiliy talks about hundreds of thousands and sometimes milions.

    • chrishanger April 7, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

      Emily doesn’t know. There’s been a lot of immigration.


  9. Bret Wallach April 11, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    I can certainly understand Emily’s decision to bail on Cockatrice/Zangaria. I’m sad, though, as a reader, because Zangaria and quite a large number of the characters there are very familiar after eight books, and it almost has the feel of “home,” or as much a place like that in a fantasy fiction book can feel like home to a reader. Emily’s exile almost feels like it would if Harry were expelled from Hogwarts (though not quite that dramatic). This is exacerbated by the fact that the other home (the school) is now even less homey with the new grandmaster and all.

    There are many reasons why I’ve immensely enjoyed this series, but one of those was definitely the familiarity, yet complexity, of Zangaria, and I’ll miss that going forward.

    • chrishanger April 12, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

      It’s not finished with Emily yet


  10. G May 17, 2016 at 3:32 am #

    Does anyone have a read on whether Alassa even wants Emily to return to Zangaria?? Or is Alassa simply slotting Imaquah in to build her power base as Emily’s eventual replacement…and throwing a sop to a friend…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 17, 2016 at 3:49 am #

      I think Alassa would like for Emily to return.

      However, I also believe that Alassa is working to establish a power base for herself both in terms of dealings with her father and in terms of future dealings with the Barons.

      By having Imaquah controlling Emily’s Baronage, Alassa has a friend with a power base (even if she isn’t the Baroness) and prevented her father from controlling Cockatrice.

      Of course, Imaquah being in charge of Emily’s Baronage would be useful for Alassa in future dealings with the Commoners.

      While I think Alassa would like Emily to return to the kingdom, putting Imaquah in charge of Cockatrice serves other functions beside “just keeping Emily as Baroness Cockatrice”.

      • G May 17, 2016 at 5:55 am #

        Then it’ll be interesting to watch the fireworks if/when King Randor discovers Paren’s involvement in the rebellion…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 17, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

        Yes, very fun.

        Alassa: “Both Jade and I questioned Imaquah under Truth Spells so we know she’s innocent. You know I can’t lie to you so if you punish Imaquah for a crime you know she’s innocent of, then there will be war between us”.

        If King Randor is smart, he wouldn’t push it but sadly the question is “Is he smart”. 😦

    • chrishanger May 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

      Put it this way:

      Friend-Alassa would love Emily to come home.

      Princess-Alassa is very aware that Emily is also a political hot potato .


  11. William Ameling June 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

    I am still trying to figure out who the bad guy sorcerer is. The only possibility I can see is the evil sorcerer who kidnapped her back in book 1 and then let her escape after getting the blood sample which was passed on to the Necromancer in order to control Emily.

    Also it is quite possibly true that magic was used to influence Imaquah’s father into supporting the rebellion, so the threat of exposing his role in the rebellion is not much of a threat to Alassa, Imaquah, and Emily.

    At some point, King Randor is going to go to far with Alassa and Imaquah, and that will bring Emily back into the Kingdom. However, I think that she will not want to take back control of Cockatrice.

    I do find myself wondering about the sword (very old and magical) that she gave as her wedding present. I expect that it will turn out to be significant to the story line. Does it go back to one of the old (human) Empires?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard June 12, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

      The “Obvious” person is Cloak, the magician seen in “School Of Hard Knocks”.

      Of course, Chris has fooled me before. 😉

      • William Ameling June 13, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

        No, I think Cloak has to be Void. I don’t think Cloak is a bad guy where Emily is concerned. I think Cloak is such a powerful magician that he almost has to be Void, if he had been any lesser of a magician, then Aurelius would have been able to learn what his identity was as a member of the council governing Mountaintop.

    • chrishanger June 14, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

      No, Paran felt betrayed (rightly) by Randor and joined the plan to overthrow him.


      • William Ameling June 15, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

        True he felt betrayed, but Emily can argue that magic was used to influence, just like it was being used to cause the rebellion in the Swanhaven. Nanette was certainly encouraging the rebellion and it is hard to image that she was not using magic to influence people without magic, including Paran. To her and others like her anyone without magic is a tool that gets no respect, but is looked down on as deserving anything that happens to them. They would also see no reason not to use magic against Paran. The only reason they would not use magic to influence/encourage both rebellions would be if they thought someone would detect the use of their magic too early for their plans to succeed.. Afterwards, they would not care if their magic was detected

      • chrishanger June 16, 2016 at 11:46 pm #

        That … might not be believed .

        Sure, Paren could have been influenced. But Paren’s daughter is a magician and he worked regularly with Emily, Alassa and Jade. The risk of having someone notice he’d been ‘got at’ would be quite high. (And Randor certainly wouldn’t believe it either.)


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