Snippet–Fists of Justice (Schooled In Magic 12)

13 Mar

I’ll do a DVD commentary if anyone’s interested …

Prologue

As soon as she was sure her mother was asleep, Alba pulled her wand out of her sleeve and tapped it against the anchorstone embedded within her bedroom window. There was a flicker of magic – strong enough for her to feel, but too weak to trigger the house’s wards – and the protections unlocked. Opening the window, Alba clambered out and scrambled down the uneven wall until her feet touched the ground.

She glanced up and down the alleyway, then waved her wand again. The window slid closed, stopping a second before the lock could snap shut. Alba allowed herself a moment of relief as she carefully recharged the wand, channelling magic and spells into the wood. She thought she’d worked out the spells properly, but accidentally locking herself out of the house would be embarrassing. Her mother would be furious if she caught her daughter outside after nightfall. Alba would be lucky if she wasn’t grounded for the next thousand years.

A shape appeared at the far end of the alley. “Alba?”

“Quiet,” Alba hissed, as she slipped the wand into her belt. “Mum’s wards might notice you!”

She smiled as her boyfriend came into view. They were very different; she was short, with red hair cropped close to her scalp, while Antony was tall, his pale skin contrasting oddly with his dark hair and darker almond eyes. Like many others from the merchant class, his father had been born in Beneficence, but his mother’s family hailed from somewhere on the other side of the known world. She didn’t hold that against him. Beneficence lived by trade. Family connections to distant lands could only come in handy. Besides, he was one of the few boys brave enough to court the daughter of a sorceress. Most young men didn’t have the nerve.

“We’re going to be late,” he muttered, as he took her hand and hurried her down the alleyway. “How far do the wards stretch?”

“I’m not sure,” Alba confessed, sourly. She touched her wand, feeling a flicker of the old regret. She’d been born with magic, but not enough to justify her parents paying for a proper magical education. The spells her mother had taught her – and the spells she’d sneaked out of her mother’s spellbooks – were all she’d ever had. “I think we’ll be safe once we’re out of the allay.”

“I hope you’re right,” Antony said. He glanced at his watch. “Vesperian always throws the best parties.”

Alba had to smile. “Did your father get the contract?”

“And several hundred notes,” Antony added. “We should be sitting pretty for the next few years, at least until Vesperian’s Track is completed.”

“Good,” Alba said. Antony would be first in line to take over his father’s business. It would give him a secure base to support a wife, if they got married. Alba’s family was wealthy – she could support herself, if necessary – but they’d expect Antony to pay for everything. And they should have no grounds to object. Antony might not be a magician, but he could definitely lift Alba up the social scale. “And how much of the negotiation did you do?”

“Just a little,” Antony said. One of the reasons Alba liked him was that he wasn’t as boastful as some of the other young men she’d known. “I purchased a few dozen notes for myself, though, at very good rates. They should pay off in a couple of years.”

The streets grew more crowded as they made their way towards Starry Light, the wealthiest part of the city. Beneficence never slept, not even late at night. Her heart pounded with excitement. It wasn’t something she saw often, not when her mother was a little overprotective. She smiled as she saw a line of dancers making their way down the street, clapping and cheering as they extolled the praises of someone she’d never heard of for guildmaster. Antony pulled her through the crowds, then stopped. There were so many people that they’d be very late.

“We’d better go this way,” he said, pulling her into another alley. “We don’t want to be too late.”

Alba smiled. There were alleys down in the Lower Depths, her mother had warned her, where anyone foolish enough to enter would never emerge again. She’d never been allowed to visit the area, so she didn’t know if it was true. But here, with the City Guard patrolling regularly, the alleys were clear. Drunks, beggars and muggers knew better than to tangle with the Guard. The alleyway even smelled better than the street near her house.

Her smile grew wider as they came out of the maze and walked towards the mansion. No one really knew how rich Vesperian actually was, but anyone who owned a giant mansion in Beneficence – where space was at a premium – had to be immensely rich. The line of young men and women entering the mansion, some of the women wearing dresses that revealed far too much of their bodies, was just icing on the cake. She recognised a number of men and women who were either wealthy and powerful in their own right or heirs to great wealth and power. A handful surrounded them as they made their way through the gates, her skin crawling as she sensed a powerful ward protecting the mansion. Antony waved them away, promising to speak to them later.

“Thank you,” Alba whispered. Antony had promised her a night of dancing, not a night of secret negotiations. Besides, how secret could anything be at this party? “Shall we dance?”

“Of course,” Antony whispered back. “They’ll be waiting for me after I see you home.”

He led her into the mansion and onto the dance floor. Alba shook her head in disbelief at the sheer luxury, ranging from the colossal tables groaning under the weight of food to the golden statues and expensive paintings that dominated the room. A couple were explicit enough to make her blush. She had no idea how the artist had managed to convince anyone to do that long enough for him to make the preliminary sketches. Antony paid no attention to them, much to her relief. Hopefully, they wouldn’t give him any ideas. She liked him more than she cared to admit, but she wasn’t ready to do more than kissing yet. Besides, there were other complications.

“We’re just here to dance,” Antony said, when a pair of middle-aged men tried to call him over. Alba was relieved. They’d been on the dance floor for nearly an hour, but neither of them wanted to leave just yet. “I’ll be back in the office tomorrow.”

Alba smiled at him. “What do they want to talk about?”

“Business,” Antony said. He beamed. “We’re hot at the moment, you know.”

“I know,” Alba said.

She leaned in and kissed him, then jerked her head towards the door. Many of the younger boys and girls were heading home, clearly hoping to get back before curfew. She wasn’t the only one who’d sneaked out, she was sure. Being caught at the dance, particularly as the night wore on, would ruin a young person’s social life. Everyone knew what happened in the wee small hours of the morning, even if no one could put it into words.

Antony grinned back at her as he led her back through the doors and out onto the streets. The air felt colder now, a faint … edge … flickering at the edge of her awareness, but she barely noticed. Antony led her back into the maze of alleyways, picking his way through the darkened streets with easy assurance. And yet … Alba found herself glancing from side to side as she realised what was missing. The allay was completely empty.

“We’re nearly home,” Antony said. He turned to face her. “Did you have a good time?”

“I did,” Alba said. Her heart was suddenly pounding in her chest. “I …”

She leaned forward, lifting her head so he could kiss her. His lips felt soft and warm against hers, just for a second. And then he tensed …

“I don’t want to end up like Jaya,” he said. “Is it safe …?”

Alba felt another flicker of irritation. Jaya and Ridley, Alba’s elder sister, had dated, until he’d put his hand under her shirt and discovered, the hard way, that their mother had layered protective spells on her daughters. Alba had been too young to be interested in men at the time, but she still recalled the shouting match. Ridley hadn’t even known she’d been protected until it was too late. Jaya had left the city afterwards and never been seen again.

“It should be,” she said. She lifted her lips for another kiss. “As long as we don’t go too far.”

He kissed her again. The world seemed to darken, just enough for Alba to notice. An electric shock ran through the air. For a horrified moment, she thought she was wrong, that Antony’s kisses had triggered a protective hex. And then her boyfriend looked up, his eyes looking past her. His mouth dropped open. They were no longer alone.

Alba turned, one hand snatching her wand from her belt. She might not be a powerful magician, but she could make any unwary footpads regret they ever saw her. And then she froze as she saw the … entity … standing behind them. For a long moment, her eyes seemed to blur as her mind struggled to make sense of what she was seeing. The entity was no taller than Antony, yet he seemed to be infinitively tall; he was human, but somehow far more real than any mere human. His face and beard seemed to be carved from granite. His dark eyes were deep pools of shadow. She couldn’t even look at him.

“Justice,” Antony breathed.

Alba started. It was a trick. It had to be a trick. Some sorcerer’s idea of a joke, perhaps. Or maybe her mother had decided to scare them both … she lifted her wand, casting a cancellation charm. The entity didn’t vanish. Instead, it’s presence seemed to grow stronger and stronger until it overpowered her. It was so big. She heard her wand clatter to the ground. A moment later, she fell to her knees. She couldn’t help herself. Her body felt utterly drained of energy.

The entity strode forward, its footsteps shaking the cobbles below her knees. It was all Alba could do to keep watching it as it came to a halt in front of Antony. Her boyfriend had fallen to his knees too. She could see him trembling as the entity stared down at him. Her mouth was dry, with fear and … and something she didn’t care to identify. It couldn’t be a real god, could it?

“Antony, Son of Emil,” the entity said. It spoke in a quiet voice that boomed in Alba’s ears, each word precisely enunciated. “You and yours have led this city to ruin.”

“Mercy,” Antony gasped.

“There is no mercy,” the entity said. There was a power in its voice, a sheer conviction that every word it spoke was unquestionable truth. “There is only Justice.”

Antony’s body blazed with light. Alba screamed, feeling as if daggers were being driven into her very soul. She squeezed her eyes closed, desperately trying to block out the pain. And then the light faded. She fell backwards, bumping her shoulder on the cobblestones. The pain made her jerk her eyes open …

… She was alone.

Her fingers touched her wand. The tingle, the sensation she felt whenever she touched a charged wand, was gone. She couldn’t muster the energy to prepare a spell, let alone power it. The darkness seemed stronger, somehow, as if the moon and stars had been blotted from the skies. And yet …

She stumbled to her feet. Antony was still kneeling on the ground, utterly unmoving. She reached for his arm and touched cold stone. He’d been turned to stone … no, if he’d been petrified, she would have felt a tingle … wouldn’t she?

The moon came out again, shining into the alleyway. And she screamed, again, as she caught a glimpse of his face …

It was twisted in horrific agony.

Chapter One

The air … smelled.

Emily was dimly aware, at the back of her mind, that someone was knocking on a wooden door. And yet, it didn’t seem important. She wasn’t even entirely sure where she was. The ground was shifting beneath her, sending up alarm bells she couldn’t quite hear. And yet …

“Emily,” a voice called. A male voice. “Wake up!”

Emily jerked awake. She was on a ship, she recalled; a merchant ship that did double duty as a warship, when the seafaring states went to war. And she was heading to Beneficence. And Casper was dead …

“I’m awake,” she managed. She opened her eyes. Her stomach muttered rebelliously. “I’ll be along in a moment.”

“Good,” General Pollack said. His voice was so close that she looked around in alarm before realising that he was on the far side of a wooden door. “Come meet me on the quarterdeck when you’re ready.”

Emily nodded to herself as she heard the sound of his footsteps striding away. She was, as far as she knew, the only woman on the ship, although General Pollack had told her stories of young girls who’d run away to sea and somehow managed to conceal their gender for decades. Emily wasn’t sure how that was possible – she’d seen the crew quarters and their complete lack of privacy – but she was prepared to take his word for it. She might have tried to run away too, if she’d thought it possible. And, perhaps, if she’d had any stomach for seafaring. She’d been on the boat for five days and she still felt seasick.

She sat upright, glancing around the cabin. It belonged to the captain, who’d flatly refused to let anyone else give up their sleeping space to the young sorceress, noblewoman and war heroine. Emily would have been more impressed if she hadn’t known that the captain had moved into his first mate’s cabin, who in turn had displaced the officer directly below him … she shook her head, telling herself that she should be grateful. The cabin was cramped and smelly, despite the gilded wooden bulkheads, but it was private. She’d seen the way some of the sailors – and officers – looked at her when they thought she wasn’t looking.

Swinging her legs over the side, she stood, careful not to bang her head on the low ceiling as she slipped on her shoes. Sleeping in her clothes made her feel icky, but there was no way she’d wear a nightgown, let alone sleep naked, on the ship. She took some water from her canteen and splashed it on her face, then examined her face in the mirror. Her hair was a mess – she hadn’t had a chance to take a hair-growth potion back in Farrakhan – and her face was pale, dark circles clearly visible around her eyes. She looked distressingly like a raccoon – or, perhaps, someone who’d come off worst in a fight. Her shirt and trousers looked unclean, as if they hadn’t been washed for a few days. The only real consolation was that most of the crew looked worse.

We should have teleported, she thought, as she felt the deck shifting beneath her feet. Her legs felt wobbly, just for a second. I could have teleported us both back to Cockatrice and we could have crossed the bridge there.

She took a sip of seasickness potion – it wasn’t strong enough to provide more than minimal relief, but anything stronger would have impaired her mind – and headed for the door. General Pollack had insisted on taking his son’s remains home via ship, despite her objections. In hindsight, Emily told herself, she should have asked to remain at Farrakhan with Sergeant Miles or even asked the sergeant to prolong her apprenticeship for an additional couple of weeks. But she hadn’t.

The smell – too many humans in too close proximity, mingled with salt water – grew stronger as she pushed her way out into the corridor. She could hear chatter coming from far too close to her, but she couldn’t see anyone. A metal grate, set within the wooden deck, led down to the lower decks. The sailors would be down there, she knew; the night crew would be trying to rest, even as the day crew went to work. She wondered, absently, why some of the crew were talking. They’d be keeping their comrades awake.

Or maybe not, she thought, as she walked into the next compartment. They’ll be so tired they can sleep through anything.

She drew in her breath as she saw the coffin, mounted neatly on a wooden block. It was a simple design, with a name and a handful of runes carved into the wood. And yet, it was empty. Casper’s body had been blasted into dust, the remains drifting down towards the nexus point and vanishing. No spell she knew could salvage anything that was indisputably Casper. But General Pollack had insisted on taking a coffin home anyway. Emily didn’t think that was healthy, yet she knew everyone grieved in their own way.

You’d think differently if you lost a child, she told herself. You’d want to believe that some of him had been laid to rest too.

A small book lay on top of the coffin, protected by a simple wardspell. Emily felt a twinge of pain, remembering just how many magicians and officers had written a brief farewell into its pages. Casper had deserved better, even if he had died a hero. Far too many others had already been forgotten, after dying in defence of the Allied Lands. No one, as far as she knew, had any idea how many soldiers and civilians had actually died. Most of them would only be mourned by their families.

She shook her head, then turned and headed for the outer door. A gust of cold air struck her as she pushed it open and stepped out onto the deck. Willow was rolling, gently, as she made her way along the green coastland, her deck shivering as she ploughed her way through the uneven waves. Emily felt her stomach twist and swallowed hard, promising that she wouldn’t throw up in front of the sailors. Her legs felt unsteady as she forced herself to walk towards the quarterdeck. Every movement felt, to her, as though the ship was on the verge of capsizing. She told herself, firmly, that her mind was playing tricks on her, but it didn’t feel very convincing. She’d never managed to get her sea legs.

Willow felt small to her, even though she’d been in more confined spaces. Emily couldn’t help thinking that she was tiny, compared to a ship on Earth. Ninety crew and ten guests, all crammed into her hull … she turned as she heard a shout, just in time to see a young boy scrambling up the mainmast and into the crow’s nest. The boy couldn’t be anything like old enough to shave, let alone go to Whitehall. It still surprised her, even now, to see children performing adult tasks. The four sailors who scrambled up to the forward sails dwarfed the cabin boy.

“My Lady,” Captain Rackham said. “Thank you for sharing my table.”

Emily – reluctantly – held out her hand for him to kiss, then withdrew it as soon as she decently could. Captain Rackham looked like a pirate, right down to the black waistcoat and the cutlass on his belt. He probably was a pirate from time to time, she knew; Willow was fast enough to catch and overwhelm anything smaller than a full-fledged warship, if there were no witnesses. No one would ask too many questions either. The Empire had worked hard to keep the seas clear of pirates, but it had been a long time since anyone had been in a position to patrol the waves.

“Please, be seated,” Captain Rackham added. “My table is your table.”

“Thank you,” Emily said.

She sat next to General Pollack, silently welcoming the older man’s presence as she nibbled a piece of hardtack and salt beef. A midshipman – probably under contract to the captain – passed Emily a glass of lime juice, his eyes flickering over her face as if he were trying to memorise every detail. Emily braced herself, then drank the glass at one swallow. It was so sour that she hadn’t been surprised when the captain had told her that some of the sailors refused to drink it, even though it was the only thing protecting them from scurvy. He’d made it clear that he expected everyone on his ship to drink their juice, even if they weren’t part of his crew. It kept them safe.

The other passengers made small talk, making no effort to include her. Emily was silently grateful, even though she knew they probably considered it standoffishness. Her stomach left her in no state for idle chatter. She listened, saying nothing, as the passengers chatted about the war, bouncing question after question off General Pollack. Thankfully, none of them knew who she was. They’d be much more insistent on trying to open lines of communication if they’d known the truth. She might be in exile – technically – but she was still Baroness Cockatrice. Her word was gold.

King Randor probably feels otherwise, she thought, ruefully.

General Pollack elbowed her, gently. “Eat more,” he warned. “We’ll be heading into land soon.”

Emily made a face as the midshipman placed a small bowl of stew in front of her, but tried to eat it anyway. It tasted faintly unpleasant, as if the meat had been cooked in vinegar. And yet, she knew she was eating better than any of the sailors. They were lucky if they got hardtack and salted fish. She’d seen a number of crewmen fishing during the voyage, trying to catch something to supplement their rations. Apparently, anyone who caught a fish was allowed to keep half of it for himself.

She glanced from face to face, reminding herself – again – that the Nameless World was strikingly diverse. Four merchants, one of them accompanied by his eldest son; three noblemen, who could presumably have used a portal and a lone man who said nothing, his eyes flickering everywhere. The merchants were chatting loudly about steam engines and what they’d do to shipping, once the first steamboats set out on the open sea. Emily couldn’t help noticing that the captain seemed vaguely affronted by the suggestion. Willow wouldn’t be able to compete if – when – the steamboats lived up to their promise.

As long as they have wood or coal to burn, she reminded herself. All this ship needs is a strong wind.

“Come,” General Pollack said. Emily looked down at her bowl and discovered, to her surprise, that she’d finished it. “We’re just rounding the headland now.”

Emily followed him, all too aware of eyes watching her as they climbed down the ladder and headed to the prow. The sailors might enjoy looking at a young woman, but the passengers were more interested in marriage alliances. General Pollack had had to explain that his charge was already engaged, much to Captain Rackham’s amusement. He was the only one who knew the truth. Emily would have found it amusing if it hadn’t been so annoying. Had they really expected that General Pollack would give them her hand in marriage?

They think you’re his niece, she reminded herself. And your uncle would have considerable power over your marriage.

She pushed the thought aside as she joined General Pollack at the prow. A young lad was sitting at the very front of the ship, mounted on the bowsprit above the wooden mermaid figurehead. Emily couldn’t help thinking that he looked awfully unbalanced as he carried out his duties, but the cabin boy seemed to take it in his stride. He practically had the sea in his blood. Chances were, Emily recalled, that he was a sailor’s son, born and raised by the docks. Going to sea would have seemed natural.

“The captain is altering course,” General Pollack commented. He pointed a finger towards the shoreline. “What do you make of that?”

Emily frowned, holding up her hand to block out the sunlight as she peered into the haze. A faint smudge of utter darkness could be seen … a black cloud, hanging in the air over a distant bay. It was raining … wasn’t it? Underneath, there were jagged rocks and the remains of a building. A castle, perhaps, or a lighthouse. It stood on its own, completely isolated. There were no other signs of habitation. And yet, the cloud seemed to pulse, as if it had a malignant mind of its own …

A hand fell on her shoulder. She jumped.

“Careful,” General Pollack said. “People have been known to be … to be touched, even at this distance.”

Emily gave him a sharp look. “What is it?”

“It used to be called Roderick’s Bay,” General Pollack said. “Now, everyone calls it Bad Luck Bay.”

He lifted his hand, making an odd gesture towards the cloud. “Roderick was a sorcerer, perhaps one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world,” he added. “He was the lord and master of a small community on the edge of the Barony of Swanhaven. Thirty or so years ago, he vanished into his tower and started work on a new spell. A year after that, the tower collapsed into rubble and that thing” – he nodded at the cloud – “appeared over the remains. Since then, anyone foolish enough to go too close has suffered terrible bad luck. The community he ruled broke up shortly afterwards, most of its inhabitants heading south into Swanhaven. It was quite a scandal at the time.”

Emily frowned. “What was he doing?”

“No one knows,” General Pollack said. “But no one will risk going into the bay. Ships have been known to run aground on rocks that weren’t there before the … well, whatever he did.”

“And no one saw anything of him,” Emily guessed.

“No one,” General Pollack agreed.

The mist hanging over the coastline grew thicker as Willow advanced steadily westwards, the captain and first mate barking incomprehensible orders that rang in Emily’s ears. Seagulls appeared out of nowhere, cawing to one another as they landed on the sails. The sailors cheered as the first bird touched down, then returned to their work. It was proof, Emily supposed, that they were nearly home, even though they’d been close to land for most of the voyage. No one in their right mind would want to set sail on the Great Sea, let alone the Roaring Depths. Very few ships that headed away from the mainland were ever seen again.

But there is a third continent, Emily recalled. She’d seen the map, carved into the stone deep below Whitehall. What’s waiting for us there?

She smiled, despite herself, as she saw the pod of dolphins jumping through the waves, showing themselves briefly before disappearing back under the water. They didn’t show any fear of the boat, even though fishermen sometimes hunting dolphins. Perhaps they were trained … or, perhaps, they realised the large boat wasn’t a fishing ship, let alone a giant whaler. The sailors had told dozens of stories about men who’d set off to hunt the whales, only to discover that the whales could fight back. Without harpoon guns, hunting whales was a dangerous endeavour.

And that might change, she thought. What happens when someone invents a harpoon gun?

“Watch,” General Pollack said. The mist was growing stronger, gusts of wind blowing water into her face. “You’ll never forget this.”

Emily took hold of the rail and held on, tightly, as Willow started to roll alarmingly. She saw – she thought she saw – glimpses of rocks, just below the surface, visible for bare seconds before vanishing under the waves. They weren’t about to run aground, were they? She hoped – prayed – that the captain knew what he was doing. If worse came to worst, she told herself firmly, she could teleport off sinking ship …

… If, of course, she had time to cast the spell.

The mist parted, suddenly. Emily sucked in her breath, honestly awed, as Beneficence came into view. She’d seen the city before, from the shore, but this was different. Beneficence was perched on a towering rock, a strange mixture of buildings mounted on buildings that seemed to reach up towards the sky. Hundreds of people were clearly visible, climbing up and down ladders that went all the way down to the waterline, where they met tiny boats tied up by the cliff face. The sight took her breath away.

Willow rounded the edge of the rock, then seemed to spin in place before lunging into a giant bay. The Caldron was immense, crammed with ships of all shapes and sizes; behind them, Emily could see ladders and steps that led up to the city above. It felt almost claustrophobic to her, as if it was both large and terrifyingly small; the water heaved and boiled, threatening to push the ship in all directions. The tiny beach on one edge of the Caldron seemed almost an afterthought. There were so many children playing in the sand that there just didn’t seem to be enough room. Their older siblings were scrambling over the rocks, scooping up crabs and dropping them into buckets. They’d make good eating, if cooked properly.

“We’ll be the first off the ship, once we’re tied up,” General Pollack said. “Your bag will be delivered directly to the house.”

Emily nodded. She hadn’t brought much, beyond a change of clothes. Her staff and some of her other tools had been left with Sergeant Miles, who’d promised to take them back to Whitehall for her. There was nothing dangerous in her rucksack, certainly nothing of use to anyone else.

“Ah,” General Pollack said. He pointed towards the docks. “The welcoming committee.”

Emily smiled, despite herself. Caleb was standing there, wearing a long dark cloak. Beside him …

“Frieda?”

“Lady Barb suggested that your friend be invited too,” General Pollack said. He looked oddly amused. “I trust she will be a suitable chaperone?”

“I think so,” Emily said.

“Very good,” General Pollock said. Willow bumped against the dock, a trio of sailors scrambling down to secure the lines. “Welcome to Beneficence!”

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88 Responses to “Snippet–Fists of Justice (Schooled In Magic 12)”

  1. Andrea Ungaro March 13, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    Looking forward to reading the book!

    Question: shouldn’t “allay” be “alley”? I saw this a couple of times at least.

  2. Enwezor March 13, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

    Can’t wait!!

  3. Leonard March 13, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Looking forward to it

  4. Bradley March 13, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    It seems like a great start!

  5. William Ameling March 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

    So we have at least two mysteries to wonder about. I would have thought that they could have gone by land back to someplace, probably the capital of the kingdom that the recent war took place in, to find a Portal that would connect them (possibly after several links) to a Portal to Beneficence.

    When you have two new mysteries my first reaction is to wonder if there is a connection between them. I am sure we will find out.

    What about Emily’s batteries, does she have them or did Miles take them back to Whitehall with her other stuff.

    • Jared March 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

      What batteries she used and destroyed the two she brought with her.

  6. Daniel March 13, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    Very interesting. And very happy that the next chapter of Emily’s story is coming along. Perhaps dealing with a literal god. I like.
    So far I have enjoyed most of your books sir but SIM is defiantly my favorite series

    • William Ameling March 13, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

      Is Swanhaven on the other side of Beneficence from Cockatrice? If I am reading things correctly, it is. Also (after rereading) Miles apparently has all of Emily’s magical luggage, even her staff.

      It would have taken a fair amount of land travel just to get General Pollack, Emily, and the casket by land to a seaport to get on this ship. Surely it would have been just as easy to get to a Portal. I think that the main reason for the trip by sea was to introduce us to one of the new mysteries in this book.

      This trip by sea also delayed Emily getting back to her missed classes at Whitehall. She should have teleported back to Whitehall and then used the Portal to Beneficence when the General got home with the casket.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

        I’m thinking that Emily & the General could have traveled to Stronghold via portal or teleportation.

        Chris has a map of the Nameless World on one of his Facebook pages and Stronghold appears to be on the coast.

      • Kell Harris March 14, 2017 at 6:29 am #

        Taking “Caspar” home the long way is probably out of respect.

      • chrishanger March 14, 2017 at 5:27 pm #

        Yep.

        Chris

  7. hans emmerisch March 13, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

    I love it. BUT what would i realy like is a map from the kingdom with more detail. for example from zangaria

  8. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 13, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    Let’s see if this works.

    • Seamus Curran March 13, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

      Whatever you tried didn’t work.

  9. Wolfcry March 13, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

    I’d be interested in a commentary on this. Process is inherently interesting. Maybe I’m the only one though. >_> <_<

  10. William Ameling March 14, 2017 at 12:12 am #

    Hopefully, in FOJ we will finally learn who is the mysterious bad guy magician in several previous books. I had suggested Malefic previously because we knew of him as an evil magician from Book 1 because I did not see a different already named character to fill the role. Now in this new snippet, we have a new candidate, Roderick, who could be behind the magical troubles in Zangaria, particularly in Books 2 and 8, and maybe behind the coming problems (we suspect) of the religion of Justice in Beneficence, and maybe as well in its neighbors, Cockatrice and Swanhaven (which is new info to us coming in this FOJ snippet). This makes the involvement of Swanhaven in the troubles being stirred up by that mysterious magican (in Book 8 Wedding Hells) more understandable if it is a direct neighbor.

    The map of the Nameless World made it look like Beneficence was on the border of the Kingdom of Zangaria. Apparently that is not correct, and the Barony of Swanhaven is East of Cockatrice and Beneficence, as well as in the Kingdom of Zangaria.

    • Jared March 14, 2017 at 12:31 am #

      I think void is the mysterious sorcerer. And as said in the snippet beneficence is next to Cockatrice

      • G March 14, 2017 at 1:42 am #

        This is just a general comment, but I just gave up on a once promising series where the hero became a selfless, perfect, one-dimensional–and very boring–character. It’s human–and interesting–to seek power to hopefully do good things, and to seek wealth and lands to accumulate advantages in life–it’s actually a better series if Emily adapts at least somewhat to being a Baroness and a powerful sorceress and begins to consciously build up and use her power, lands, and wealth (mundane and arcane) to play politics and influence the world around her…

      • William Ameling March 14, 2017 at 4:42 am #

        We already knew that about Cockatrice and Beneficence. What is new is that Swanhaven is on the other side of Beneficence. I know that readers disagree on exactly who the bad guy magican is, hopefully we will find out in FOJ. My only reasons for picking Malefic was that we knew his name, he was introduced to us in Book 1, and we knew he was evil, was not dead yet, and I did Not think that Void was that evil. Any other likely candidates would have to be people that we did not already know by name (before FOJ).

        This Roderick, if he is still around in some functional form, seems like a good candidate, now that we know about him. Since he was a close neighbor of Zangaria, it is a reasonable possibility that he was/is interested in the Kingdom of Zangaria.

      • Jared March 14, 2017 at 5:02 am #

        It’s possible I suppose. And many are for or against it being void, there is another possibility that perhaps you haven’t considered. The bad guy could be Grandmaster Hasdurbal’s brother. The one with the scared soul. But whoever it is we know he’s old. On or near the same level of power as a lone power. And in my opinion far more powerful then Maleifc. And as for this new Charector it’s way to soon to say. But I think either way that Cloak isn’t going to be revealed in FOJ. I think he’s going to play hide’n seek for awhile longer.

      • Jared March 15, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

        William Ameling your assuming the Cloak is a bad guy. We already know that Void is willing to do anything to accomplish his goals. And so far Cloak hasn’t done anything against Lady Emily, Not directly. Assuming Cloak was responsible for Mother Holly, that was Cloak/Void testing and pushing Emily to expand her power. After all all the schools believe in learning through trials and tribulations. Lol. In School of hard knocks, we find that the mysterious guy is called Cloak and again he doesn’t do anything against Lady Emily. Instead he allows Emily to spread her wings and create change. And in the end of the book Void is there and so is Cloak coincidence? I don’t think so, Cloak/Void even helps Emily by removing a very dangerous lose end Aurelius. In Wedding Hells Cloak/Void uses Nannett to free Lady Emily from her shackles called Cockatrice. And at the end of the book Void tells her that the barony would be a milestone around her neck. And that it would prevent her from achieving true mastery of her magical talent. Cloak/Void even holds back on valuable intell about Vicount steems treason.
        In SIM book one the dragon says that Void is playing a very dangerous game. And I believe he is training Lady Emily to fight against the Necromacers. While at the same time giving her the freedom to progress and learn. But instead of telling her not to do this or that. He is arreanging events. And creating experiences to guide and teach her. But he must do this from the sidelines because Emily is a child of destiny and might turn against Him.

  11. Mark Johnson March 14, 2017 at 2:39 am #

    When can I pre-order? (so it get to my kindle before the wife’s)

    • fanfare March 14, 2017 at 9:12 am #

      @G: i am of the same opinion. Emily should use her money and growing influence a bit more. she has a school now and maybe the land around. perhaps create her own armee… you now a real one, not some people playing solders and with no real command strukture…. all this so she can aktually attack the necromancers

      • ioriangel March 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

        I like the sound of that!

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 14, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

        One thing to remember.

        Emily Isn’t Super-Woman.

        Even if she had the skills/mindset to be “everything” some people want her to be/do, she’s only one person.

        At the end of “School Of Hard Knocks”, she & her friends formed a society.

        I think we need to see more of it as Emily can’t do everything. 😉

      • Jared March 14, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

        Emily’s true power lies in her magic. And she is still a student and hasn’t even finished an apprenticeship. Magicians wouldn’t follow her until she is a full fledged sorceress. Besides, If all it took to destroy the Necromacers was a mundane army they would have been defeated long ago. Even if at some point Emily builds an army it won’t be with Cockatrice, King Randor would never allow it after wedding hells. Either way Emily isn’t powerful enough to declare all out war on the Necromacers. But considering that she has now killed three Necros, the other Necromacers have to be very worried. They will be building their armies out of fear.

    • William Ameling March 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

      I will throw out a question that I have no idea about whether it is true or not: Could Roderick also be Grand Master Hasdurbal’s brother? I not sure if that known facts would allow the possibility, but it is worth considering (I am NOT advocating this, just making a wild suggestion)

      • Jared March 15, 2017 at 12:29 am #

        I was re-reading wedding hells. At the beginning when Emily visits House Waterfall, Caleb is walking her through beneficence and she sees the religious “hands of justice” patrolling around with the City Gard. It’s seems this could be a lead to FOJ.

      • chrishanger March 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm #

        It is – something i placed for later use.

        Chris

      • Jared March 15, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

        I think Roderick will be a sideline mystery perhaps for another book down the road or just and unsolved mystery to add depth to the Nameless World. So far Chris shows more forthought in his books then creating a villain and destroying him in one book.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 15, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

        Good point.

      • chrishanger March 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

        Thanks!

        Yes, it may be important later. But not here.

        Chris

  12. ioriangel March 14, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

    I wish we could have the book already. The snippet wetted my appetite, I just hope Caleb’s family or more precisely his mom won’t turn on the hate on Emily.

  13. fanfare March 14, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    @ Paul Howard: true, she isnt super-women but she dont need to be. most of the time she has ideas and place them in the hand of the right people… and they work the rest out. she need more people working for her for example hire General Pollack and let him build a small but better armee with better organisation and logistik usw. train them in new tactics and of you go. I think she is a little bit to passiv…if she use her influence a little bit more she could do a lot of good for the little people…

  14. William Ameling March 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    She is the “Child of Destiny”. They do not have to do everything themselves, they just have start the process of changes needed, while other people do the many different things from those changes. Sometimes, even, they (others not the Child) are busy doing contradictory (or opposing) things and no one knows what the end result will be. In many ways they break up the old social, political. economic, and magical structures of society and the assumptions that underlie them, and the stasis (or logjams) they they created, which kept problems (in this case the Necromancer War) from being solved.

  15. Janitta March 14, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

    So excited! Can’t wait to read the rest

  16. kell March 15, 2017 at 4:27 am #

    I think for me I want to see Emily gain some really allies. All we ever here about our her enemies. I want her to gain some backers besides void. I also kind of wonder were the generals head is regarding Emily. I feel like much can be solved if Emily takes on oath to say she didn’t murder Casper. I also want to know what Gordian thinks of Emily. Also Chris I would love to have DVD commentary for this book at least the first couple of chapters.

    • chrishanger March 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      She has them – and most of them will definitely show up sooner or later.

      Chris

  17. William Ameling March 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    After FOJ, Emily has to finish off school at Whitehall and pass her 6th year graduation tests. I strongly suspect that she will spend what would her 7th year at Stronghold taking classes in Military Magic. This will give her a lot more contacts, besides General Pollack, with the military community in the Allied Lands. As well as give her the training for future military endeavors as well as a base for introducing non magical technologies to warfare on the Nameless World, plus any magical changes to combat she comes up with as well. After that she has to do her apprenticeship. Plus of course, finish off her Courtship at some point. The biggest question there for me is, will she wait to finish her apprenticeship before marrying? (During all of this are her long term projects with Caleb to develope new ways of doing magic).

    Seperately, things will continue in the Kingdom of Zangaria with King Randor, Alassa, and Imaiquh (and Jade). I think that most of us expect that Alassa will become Queen, in the not too distant future, say within a couple of years. I think that Chris is hinting at an arranged marriage by King Randor for Imaiquh to the leader of the musketmen in the recent war against the Necromancer (Book 11 TSA), and we will have to see how that plays out with Emily’s reaction. We may see this (or part of it) in FOJ or maybe the following Book. The events to come in FOJ in Beneficence will likely affect Zangaria, particularly Cockatrice and Swanhaven, as well. I think that the Religion of Justice may be active in them as well as Beneficence.Then of course there is Nanette’s hidden mysterious master evil magican (who I suspect may be behind what is about to happen in FOJ, possibly/probably he is Roderick). Last and least is what Fulvia has been doing since she lost power in her House.

    • William Ameling March 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

      However, do not discount Fulvia, she has a lot of contacts with Magical Houses in the Allied Lands and may try to ruin Emily’s reputation (even more) with those powerful Magicians (in “Poison Pen” perhaps, unless that title is referring to events at Whitehall in 6th year) and the White Council.

      • William Ameling March 15, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

        One thing that we may see happen, is that once Alassa has an Heir, either King Randor and/or other plotters for power, may try to kill Alassa.

      • chrishanger March 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

        Fulvia will show up again – promise!

        Chris

    • G March 15, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

      Emily seems to be more the future powerful sorceress than general or military strategist…wouldn’t it be more likely she’d opt for apprenticeship with Void after Whitehall?? And it’ll be interesting to see if King Randor feels pressure to recall Baroness Emily back to Zangaria now that Emily is the heroine again as he can take shared credit in his vassal’s great victory…it makes him look good…although he’ll still probably dislike her.

      • Jared March 15, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

        I agree political/military contacts doesn’t translate into magical power. Emily has never shown interest in building political power. She has however shown great interest and dedication to developing her magical power. If anything after she graduates I see her taking up an apprenticeship with void. What’s really cool though is that Grodian has her on probation, so far she hasn’t taken any oaths for the allied lands. If this keeps up she will be completely Independent when she graduates and be on her way to being a loan power.

      • Jared March 15, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

        In SA at the end Sir roger of the greenwood noticed King Randors dislike of Emily’s Victory over the Necromacer. I think the King will keep Emily away from Zangaria as long as possible. I believe he truly regrets giving her the barony. And I think he fears the influence lady Emily has over his daughter. No I don’t think King Randor will recall her.

  18. Jared March 15, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

    There is something that should be pointed out I think. Every thing Emily has done has given her nothing but enemies among the rich and powerful. The Aristocats hate what she stands for. And a lot of magicians fear her. And seeing as the army’s of the allied lands are made up of Aristos it would be hard for Emily to build an army. However the commoners love her. She has shown them that she is willing to fight for thier rights. And help them. As seen in book eleven when she helps the commoner soldier. Him and a few other soldiers risk their lives to save Emily. It could be said that Emily is growing more and more powerful with the commoners. To the point where the common people Would drop everything and follow her. That is what King Randor doesn’t understand the entire population of Zangaria, excepting the Aristos, would follow Emily. But I think he knows it on some level and that is why he fears Emily.

  19. William Ameling March 15, 2017 at 10:51 pm #

    I think that Chris wants to show us Stronghold and what it’s training is like, since we have already seen Mountaintop and Whitehall. In fact he has said that Emily will be at Mountaintop at some point, but he had not decided yet on the details (when he made this comment). I think that when we found out a couple of months ago that Mountaintop had a 7 year program, that is how he will work it in without Emily having to transfer away from Whitehall in 5th (already started) year or 6th year. I believe that Miles is planning to push Emily this way, particularly after he signed Emily up for the theoretical half of Military Magic test for the end of 4th year tests. Emily can start her apprenticeship after that, along with some additional graduating tests at the end of 7th year at Stronghold.

    If Emily is going to be involved in future military actions against Necromancers, she needs to understand how the old/present ways of non magical and Magical combat work in order to work closely with them, and eventually make improvements. In particular, she needs to know a lot more about Military Magic and its Spells, and Whitehall does not have a strong program of classes in it. Martial Magic is a somewhat different course of studies, more oriented towards individual and small unit combat by magicians, i.e. Combat Sorcerers(ess) and Mediators. In fact we have never seen any of the Military Magic classes at Whitehall, although they do exist. I seem to remember (after rereading it) that shortly after Emily arrived at Whitehall in Book 1, someone, probably Imaiquh, pointed out to Emily the teacher for Military Magic at Whitehall (probably in the cafeteria).

    As a reader, I would like to see what things are like at Stronghold, and how they differ from Whitehall and Mountaintop. Also if Emily continues on with her ideas of establishing an Advanced Magical Studies School or University, it will be useful/important for her since Stronghold along with Mountaintop and Whitehall will be the major sources of students for it. I think that there are a few other smaller schools of Magic.

    Will we see Emily someday help establish a School for Non Magical Studies? I would not be surprised. But first she will need to see the teachers for it develope far enough in the new technologies.

    • Jared March 16, 2017 at 1:03 am #

      That’s a very good point. Whitehall does not have a strong military focused course. Not compared to mountain top which is mostly a elitist school, and definitely not compared to Stronghold which is a military school first and foremost. But Whitehall does provide in my opinion a more well rounded magical study. And I feel that Emily’s contribution to the war effort will lie more with magical talents then becoming a brilliant tactition.

      I haven’t seen where Chris says she will go back to Moutaintop. Or where he says she will do a year at Stronghold, let me know where I wish to read it. I love this series.

      In the infinite regress when Grandmaster Gordian is railing about kicking Emily out of Whitehall Lady barb considers Laughter Academy not Stronghold/Mountaintop. And even after Emily’s meating with Gordian she doesn’t want to leave Whitehall. Even though she has good reasons for leaving. Whitehall is her home. She loves it. It has also been stated in the books that most of the Aristocracy goes to Stronghold, and we know that Mountaintop is full of old magical bloodlines. And we know that those leaders in School Of hard knocks don’t like her at all. One went as far to say they should kill her. Mountaintop leadership certainly hasn’t changed that much after the collapse of the words. Most of the damage was to Arilious not the other council members. I would say that it isn’t safe to send Emily to the schools where her enemies have strong sway. And her safety would be questionable at best. Gordian with all his hatred for Emily hasn’t tried to kill her. And maybe he’s even come to- slightly- respect her.

      • G March 16, 2017 at 2:16 am #

        In all of the fighting with necromancers, the deciding factor has been magical combat–not conventional military…

      • Gxx March 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

        If Emily should go to another school it will be of her own decision. Gordian owns her a debt for saving the school and he also knows that technically she is a owner of the school. Should it come to a conflict it could end very badly for him.

  20. William Ameling March 16, 2017 at 3:13 am #

    Chris has never said that Emily would be going back to Mountaintop. However, she does own a large library of books there which she inherited from Aurelius which she might want to read someday.

    Regarding Stronghold, I think it might have been in the discussions after Book 8. Going to Stronghold will give Emily contacts with the officers who are (planning to be ) actually serving in the military. She needs to have some understanding of them, and they have to be able to understand her (at least somewhat) and expect and respect her abilities to work with them on the battlefield. Also if she is going to introduce technologies to the battlefield she needs to understand what she is trying to replace and improve. I doubt that she will be doing a lot of direct command of ordinary soldiers, but she will have to work with their officers and leaders in planning and conducting a battle.

    True all the final deciding combats were magical, but there was a lot of non magical combat to deal with large numbers of orcs over large areas. In many respects the magicians are there to defend the common soldier from magical attacks and the common soldiers defend the magicians from the ordinary attacks from the orcs. Emily had a very hard time even getting to the Necromancer to fight him, and that will probably be true in the future.

  21. William Ameling March 16, 2017 at 5:08 am #

    Chris made his comment about Emily going to Stronghold in the discussions following June 2016 Wedding Hells Appendix II History Exam on 29 June 2016. I think it was in response to a suggestion by me that Emily might go to/transfer to Stronghold to study Military Magic, either in 5 or 6th year or after graduating from Whitehall. Around that time I suggested that she might do an apprenticeship in Military Magic instead of Combat Sorceress or Mediator. This was in reaction to Miles putting her into the test for Military Magic at the end of 4th year.

    • William Ameling March 16, 2017 at 5:38 am #

      Even Void and Lady Barb had a very hard time getting to the Necromancer to fight him, until Casper and Emily broke down some of his defenses, and they had to trick their way in to do that. Without the token taken from Gaius they might not have made it in.

  22. G March 16, 2017 at 9:38 pm #

    Would anyone care to speculate how members of the white council are reacting to Emily owning Hearts Eye with a re-activated nexus point and wards? Or what’s happening in Cockatrice with their Baroness being the hero of the siege of Farrakhan? Or how Whitehall’s teachers are reacting to Emily’s having re-discovered how to make Whitehall style nexus points and wards when they themselves don’t know how to do it…the last could be embarrassing…

    • darkpoint March 17, 2017 at 9:24 am #

      I wonder when she gets an invitation to join the White Council. After she killed her third necromancer, nobody can assume it was just luck. And now she is owning Heart’s Eye. A nexus point right at the border to the necromancer’s territory should give her the right to join it and to establish it as a first defense line.

    • chrishanger March 19, 2017 at 8:49 am #

      They’ll react poorly, once it sinks in …

      Mind you, it will take them some time to realise what she’s actually done.

      Chris

      • Jared March 19, 2017 at 8:56 am #

        How many times will they try to get through the wards before they realize? Lol

      • Danna Micoletti March 24, 2017 at 1:24 am #

        The White Council can’t have her killed, they’d never get into Hearts Eye because she modeled the wards after Whitehall AND, told the wards, no one gets in without her. The wards will defend against anyone trying without her and powered by a Nexus point, it would be impossible, without her blood ( Emily sneaked in passed the castles wards using Allyessa blood so they could try blood magic. )

        and like the Black City, its full of mirrors, is Hearts Eye named so because its the heart of fairies?? if so will the fairies call all in their favor Emily swore an oath to??

        How many other nexus points are there in the blighted lands?? According to the map, the blighted lands are pretty extensive, Emily knows now what’s caused the blighted lands, dormant nexus points. Its as if the magic makes the nameless world hospitable to humans. Without nexus points, its a lifeless, dry barren land.

  23. Kell Harris March 17, 2017 at 3:26 am #

    My problem is all were hearing about is everybody rallying against her. It would be nice to hear from another perspective. In book 3 it was mentioned that there were different factions in white hall that wanted to rule the allied lands indifferent ways. Master Tor was giving her grief for a while cause he was worried that her appearance would make Randar too strong and a potential high king. I would like to see the politics of the white tower more.

    One thing I noticed was after Emilys dual several of the tutors didn’t bother to scold Emily. I think Gordian is the only one willing to give her a hard time and he seems to have eased back after past tense.
    One thing is that it was widely published that Emily had a falling out with Randor I could see the common people viewing her with great respect.
    About stronghold it was suggested that Freida go there. Maybe she will after Emily graduates? Another thing I thought off.
    If she does Apprentice with void I wonder if she will be with him the entire time? I can see him training her and leaving her on her own to train maybe. Or telling her to go to stronghold after the 7th year to get some more experience.

    Right now Emily has a lot of power and is still getting the skill. what I want to know is if she studied under Void what would her apprenticeship be called? And Also I wandered if she might double in enchanting( What she does with her battery valve or charms since she doesn’t want to be a mediator what will her mastery be in?

  24. darkpoint March 17, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    I don’t think that Emily can learn a lot more at Stronghold.
    We know she could have defeated Casper in the duel and she has defeated Sawford in training. Both have finished their schooling at Stronghold and they were apprenticed for some time.
    She will learn more in an apprenticeship instead of going to another school.
    She could probably gain some contacts at Stronghold, but she is very bad at making them.

    But, I have three ideas why she could go to Stronghold. First, the wards at Stronghold a very bad and she shows them the wards from Whitehall.
    Second, there will be some sort of school competition and she goes to Stronghold as the Whitehall representative (maybe because of her project or because of a form of dueling championship).
    Third, the 6th year exams will be held at Stronghold.

    But, I am not sure it would be good for the series, if this should result in another “destroy”, “save” or “change” the school story-plot. After “Past Tense” I think it will be to repetitive.

    • kell March 18, 2017 at 4:17 am #

      Were did it say the wards in stronghold were bad? Do you know? I think as far as training at these magical schools go you get what you put in. IF you stayed and studied you would keep learning 7 years isn’t enough to gain the accumulative knowledge of each of the schools library’s or spells from the different teachers. Whitehall tutors have there styles and specialties and so does stronghold. In SA Emily was like in martial magic again with all of those different instructors. I imagine it would be similar in stronghold. Different magic styles would be good.

      I would really like to see Freida go there. I want to see her come into her own a bit without Emily there. Maybe while Emily is on her apprenticeship? That way when they meet again Freda will be more equal to Emily and not just her protégé I wonder why the teacher suggested it. Fraida did also enter martial magic in her 3rd year that’s really impressive and better then Jade. Only Aloha and Emily went earlier. Emily was pushed into it and Aloha is the #1 genius.
      Maybe Emily can go to stronghold and meet another cute boy? A rival for Calab?

      • darkpoint March 18, 2017 at 8:16 am #

        It never was said, the wards in Stronghold were bad, only that the wards from Whitehall are the best and unique.
        I thougth of reasons, why Emily could go to Stronghold and this was one of them, nothing more.
        But I still think that she will learn more and advanced magic in an apprenticeship to Void or somebody else, than to go for one year to another school.
        Furthermore, Emily already dislikes Stronghold from the stories Caleb told and she knows that is not the right place for her.

      • Jared March 18, 2017 at 9:18 am #

        Either way I don’t see Emily going to Stronghold in this book. And why do you assume Emily will find a rival for Calab? That seems a bit out of place for the story. And not to mention completely inappropriate for her while she’s in a courtship. This isn’t our modern day world where nobody keeps their word. Lol it would look really bad on Emily if she was to “show interest” in another guy while she was courting.

  25. William Ameling March 19, 2017 at 1:31 am #

    Emily is not interested in another man, but other men could get interested in Emily, particularly if(when) she goes somewhere like Stronghold with men who have NOT known her for 5 or 6 years , and stays there long enough for her and them to start getting to know each, say in classes or training. (This will be true even when she starts her apprenticeship, if she has not married by then).

    I still think that going to Stronghold would useful to Emily, particularly to study Military Magic and how Stronghold trains future soldiers and officers. Another good reason would be the opportunity to study another Nexus Point in depth.

    I think that Miles will be pushing her to do this, and she respects Miles and Lady Barb a LOT. Even Lady Barb may favor the idea.

    As a reader, I would like to see how another School of Magic works, particularly one that focuses on the military side of things.

    • Jared March 19, 2017 at 2:49 am #

      As a reader I think we’ve seen enough schools. Let’s move on to more exciting stories and adventures. lol sorry I think it’s funny when people say as a reader. As if most people commenting on this thread aren’t avid readers.

      I see your point about others guys liking Emily . But I don’t see anything coming of it. If anything I see Emily breaking off her courtship and hooking up with Freda. As for another nexus point. What do you except to see other then an inferior warding system to Whitehall and Hearts eye. And do you think the schools leadership would be willing to allow Emily to improve the wards effectively making Emily the primary administrator? Giving her great influence and power over the school. And she has a well deserved reputation for destroying the status quo. Honestly, Stronghold has some good reasons to keep Emily out.

      • darkpoint March 19, 2017 at 10:39 am #

        Can only agree. I would rather see the White City, third continent or finally see the fairies again.

  26. John Marko III March 19, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    Everyone has made some excellent comments and suggestions so far but I think that with everything that’s happened and everything that’s been hinted at by Chris in his teaser chapters everyone is still forgetting one major plot twist that’s yet to be explored/exploited… Emily still owes the Fay that favor from way back in the first book so we still have to be on the lookout for one major mindfrak of a plot twist somewhere along the line.. Also, Chris, any idea on just when we can expect this next one?

    • William Ameling March 20, 2017 at 7:18 am #

      I have pointed out the favor she owes to that group of Faerie before on several occasions, in fact I even suggested that she might end up redeeming it while she was in the past in Past Tense, but that did not happen. I think that the old Grand Master of Whitehall even discussed it with Emily at one point, I think maybe in Trial By Fire. He knew about by reading her mind while she was unconscious.

      The thing I really wonder about from Book 1 is her several hour ride on dragonback to get from Void’s Tower to the Whitehall School for the first time. I think that there has to be some very special reason why Void did not teleport her there and instead used a old favor with a dragon which had to be hard to earn, and not lightly to expended. The only general idea I have is that the close proximity to the dragon for several hours did something to Emily, perhaps it significantly enhanced her potential magical abilities, or her potential to be a Child of Destiny.

      Regarding Emily and Caleb and possible ups and downs in their courtship, I wonder when the marriage (if it happens) will take place. In particular, will it happen before they start their apprenticeships or after they finish? I expect them to marry, but Chris may put some more drama in that part of their story before he resolves it.

    • chrishanger March 23, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

      I haven’t forgotten it . And yes, the oath will come into play.

      Chris

      • John Marko III March 24, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

        Oh, I never for a moment thought that you forgot about it, Chris. ::Grin::

        Oh… Oh wow… Now here’s a really twisted thought that just came to me thanks to the recent previous post about Heart’s Eye, the Mirrors within it, the nexus points, and oddly enough a song I just heard off of iTunes… So if those mirrors are just like the one she fell into that took her to the Fey in the first place couldn’t one of the Heart’s Eye mirrors open up a portal back to Earth and leave her with the heavy temptation to finally get that library of books she’s always wanted of everything that could help her in the nameless world?

  27. G March 20, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    Flying her on a dragon made everyone pay attention to her, while placing a person from another world at Whitehall–a center of education–put her in a position where her ideas would spread all over the nameless world–combined, they almost ensured Emily would become a change agent, a “child of destiny.” I don’t see how Emily can live at Hearts Eye, be independent as a powerful sorcerer and/or Baroness, and yet conform to House Waterfall’s conservative expectations–what happens if Caleb, for example, ever disowns one of her children–or if the marriage fails and tries to keep any children…Caleb’s mothers already tells her what to do and they’re not even married yet…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

      Well, there is plenty of tension related to Caleb’s background/expectations toward marriage and Emily’s background/expectations toward marriage, but I found Caleb’s mother request/order about what Caleb & Emily can do (or not do) in her house quite understandable. 😉

      IE Her House Her Rules. 😀

      • Jared March 21, 2017 at 9:35 am #

        I think the tension will come from Caleb’s family. If I remember correctly calebs family is a cadet branch of the waterfall house. And I think the family will have expectations for the marriage because of Emily’s social standing. But because Emily is in exile, and really she doesn’t want to be a baroness, Calebs family may call off the wedding. Now if Casper was still alive this may have not mattered to Caleb. He could just walk away from the family. You know follow his heart. But he is the heir now and I think despite his Apparent abhorrence of his family he will want to shoulder his responsibilities.

        We shall see I guess. I’m not much of a romantic so I’m rooting for her to be a lone power. Similar to Void. Of course I expect to be alone in this desire. Lol

  28. William Ameling March 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

    I would like to point out that actually that most of her early ideas from Earth went out via Imaiquh in letters to her father. To implement in the capital city of Zangaria, after Book 2 when she was Baron Cockatrice some ideas went through Cockatrice, but they were still going out mostly through Imaiquh’s father. Back then Emily did not have many (actually ANY) other connections to anyone in the non magical community, particularly anyone who would have a reason to listen to her ideas. Once her early ideas worked, Imaiquh’s father had reason (money) to listen to more: I think that English letters and the printing press, numbers and accounting, STEAM engines, and GUNPOWDER all went out that way.

    The Whitehall School and it’s teachers and students were/are almost entirely interested only in magical ideas. Her non magical ideas did not spread from Whitehall, they spread out from Zangaria (Imaiquh’s father, then others) before they came back to Whitehall, mostly from the new letters and numbers and printing presses that made books a lot more cheaply. Her early magical ideas were ways of dealing with the Cockatrice and the Mimic, plus Shadye (but only the Grand master knew that), and a only couple of teachers and the Grand Master knew how the Mimic was defeated, and that was kept quiet as well. NO ONE, not even Lady Barb, knows how she defeated Mother Holly. Her ideas on magic are coming out much later and slower, in many cases she is still only starting to develop them, even now. Almost no one even suspects her ideas on batteries, and even those few, do not understand what she is doing (except Lady Barb). Her major contributions to magic were as the Dark Lady in the past, and those ideas were mostly native to the Nameless World, just from the future.

    I think that Emily being thought to be Void’s daughter gave her quite a step up at the beginning in Whitehall, and the dragon helped make that point. However, I still think that being close to the dragon for several hours did something directly to Emily, herself. We know that dragons in the Nameless World are extremely potent magical creatures as well as long lived (maybe it extended her lifespan, which I have never suggested before).

    • Jared March 21, 2017 at 5:03 am #

      I think that the dragon’s magical field changing Emily is highly unlikely. And to say that Void called upon the dragon to purposely have Emily go through some kind of change is even more unlikely. There isn’t anything that points to a magical transformation. As for her ever expanding power, Void said that people would be worried when the realized how much power was willing up inside her. And he said this before she road on the dragon. I’m not saying it’s impossible within the world that Chris has created. But I believe that it’s been made very clear that magical transforms of the flesh are not only very foolish, but also unpredictable. And if such a change was possible I doubt Void could have even been close to predicting the actual outcome. What ever Void’s faults, he isn’t stupid. And he hasn’t showed anything but great care for Emily, At least openly.

      I believe it’s more likely that Void used his connection with the dragon to boost Emily’s fame in order to protect her as well as make her standout.

      • Jared March 21, 2017 at 5:05 am #

        Void is defiantly using Emily as a vehicle for change.

  29. William Ameling March 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

    I think that Void personally teleporting Emily to Whitehall to start school would have been enough to give her a big step in the social pecking order. We will have to see about the dragon and Emily. But in the beginning he could not know just how much affect her introducing ideas from Earth would have. If anything, he would have discounted any ideas that had nothing to do with magic. He seems to be interested ONLY in magical power, and I think that is how he would have viewed Emily and what she might do. Everything else is just a distraction to him.

  30. Jared March 23, 2017 at 6:20 am #

    Here’s a question for Chris. In wedding hells Nannette said that Emily has become more ruthless.
    How much of that ruthlessness is from the death viper?

    • chrishanger March 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

      None . Emily is changing even as she changes the world.

      Chris

  31. William Ameling March 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    I think that Void is Cloak, and that neither of them is the real bad guy magician. I used to think the bad magician was Malefic (from book 1), now we have a new possibility in the snippet from FOJ. I think we may see Nanette as a threat finished off in FOJ, but her master may continue on as a threat. I think that Void is basicly friendly to Emily, in a very hands off manner, and that as Emily continues to grow, Void may go back more into his studies of magic and let Emily do what he would otherwise have to do. Another possibility, is that Void dies at some point and Emily has to take over his Tower and books, etc. In the very long run Void should die before Emily (he IS a LOT older after all), I am thinking about in the medium future timeframe at some point after Emily finishes her apprenticeship and Alassa is Queen. He could very easily die fighting a Necromancer at some point (or be thought to have died and gone back into his Tower permanently instead).

    • Jared March 24, 2017 at 11:51 pm #

      I think void is friendly as well. I just hope we’re right. Think about it. Emily left her purse with Void. And that will have her full name on her debit and ID cards.

      • William Ameling March 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

        I never even considered that Void might have something that gave her full name from Earth. I think Emily is in a unique position compared to any other human on the Nameless World, her FULL NAME has NEVER been spoken ALOUD. I had realized that before. I wonder if she will tell Caleb after (if) they marry? I have wondered why Emily has not tried to get any books, science, math, technology, etc. from Earth. The problem is that if she can do it so can anyone else who is strong enough magically and aware of the possibility, and anyone who SAW (and started reading) those books from Earth would know it was possible. Which potentially lets out a lot of ideas that Emily does NOT want out, e.g. her Nuclear spell that defeated Mother Holly.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

        From what Void said (IIRC at the end of the second book), it would be extremely difficult (even for him) to get anything from Emily’s homeworld let alone travel there.

        Also, I got the strong impression that to travel to otherworlds would involve dealing with extremely powerful beings that would charge a “price” that Void or Emily would not want to pay.

      • Jared March 25, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

        I got the impression that what happened with Emily was done by those great beings was done to spite Shayde. And as Void said it may not be possible. Outside of those beings.

        Ya that’s why I hope I’m wrong about Void. Or at least Void doesn’t realize that earth’ers carry ID on them all the time.

  32. G March 24, 2017 at 11:06 pm #

    This is a shift in topic, but I don’t understand how Fists of Justice moves the schooled in magic plotline along…and shouldn’t Emily show signs of headaches, changes in magical perceptions, or some sign of adjustments if her power expanded at the end of the Sergeant’s Apprentice???

    • Jared March 24, 2017 at 11:56 pm #

      Where did it say her power expanded? I don’t recall seeing that. And as for her headaches Void said giving time she would grow into her expanded power. Her power grows normally just like exercising a muscle. But after her duel with master grey. Her power boosted ahead of her bodies ability to hold/Channel it.

      • G March 25, 2017 at 2:57 am #

        Emily wouldn’t have had a lot of I.d. at 15 or so, and I thought her power expanded again after she mastered the nexus point at heartseye…with headaches and new perceptions following.

      • Jared March 25, 2017 at 4:51 am #

        She had a library card. And she had a debit card. I believe she was thinking about it in the first book. The debit card and probably the library card would have her full name.

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