The Gordian Knot– CH1

10 Jul

Chapter One

Emily placed the bracelet on the table, closed her eyes and undid the spell.

There was a surge of feeling as Aurelius came to life, a wave of strange animalistic emotions that ran down the familiar link and through her mind. The Death Viper wasn’t hungry – she’d fed him weeks ago, before returning him to the bracelet – but he was a little confused. Emily steadied her mind, forcing herself to peer through the snake’s eyes. Her head ached as Aurelius peered around, his tongue flickering in and out of his mouth. It was hard to reconcile her vision of the room with his. To her, the room was tiny; to him, it was vast and cold.

She shivered, despite the warm air. The Death Viper wanted something warmer. His head moved from side to side, hunting for a warmer part of the room. Emily smiled, wanly, as the Death Viper looked at her, then reached out and picked up the snake. Aurelius curled into her hands, enjoying the warmth. She looked warm to her familiar’s eyes.

He sees into the infrared, she reminded herself. And he wants to be warm.

She felt an odd flicker of affection as she cradled the snake in her arms. It wasn’t something she could do very often. The familiar bond kept the viper’s poisonous skin – the rotting touch – from harming her, but the poison would be terrifyingly dangerous to anyone else. She’d have to make very sure she cleaned herself – and the room – before she left. Even a drop could do someone a serious injury. The handful of people who knew about Aurelius had been horrified, knowing – all too well – that accidents could happen. She simply didn’t dare take the snake out to play too often.

The snake brushed against her fingertips, another wash of warm sensations washing down the bond. Emily opened her eyes and peered down at the snake, admiring the blue-gold scales running down its back. Death Vipers hadn’t evolved to remain unnoticed amongst the greenery. There was certainly no way they could hide from hawks, eagles and other predators. But they were so dangerous, so poisonous, that almost every other living creature gave them a wide berth. A hawk foolish enough to snatch a Death Viper off the ground would be dead before it could claw its way back into the sky.

Emily shook her head, slowly, as Aurelius started to climb into her sleeve and up her arm. It was a shame, really, that she couldn’t keep the snake with her – other magicians had far stronger bonds with their familiars – but the danger was just too great. And besides, Aurelius was a secret weapon. The fewer people who knew about him, the better. She caught the snake as he poked his head out of her collar, then put him back on the table. Aurelius shot her a wave of betrayed emotions, silently pleading for her to pick him back up again. The familiar bond drove him to remain close to her at all times.

“Sorry,” Emily muttered.

She worked the spell quickly, before she could talk herself into spending an hour playing with the snake. Aurelius shimmered, then became a silver bracelet. Emily felt her head spin, just for a second, as the familiar vanished from her mind. She picked it up and played with it for a long moment, then placed it back on the table and closed her eyes for a second, centring herself. It had been a long day.

And it isn’t over yet, she thought, as she turned to the bathroom. Lady Barb said she’d be back in an hour.

Her reflection looked back at her as she walked into the bathroom and closed the door. She looked pale, her face almost drained of colour. The summer should have been a time to rest and relax, but she’d spent the last two months desperately cramming before retaking her exams. Lady Barb and Sergeant Miles had been merciless tutors, drilling her in everything from advanced charms to fiendishly complex potion brewing. And then she’d returned to the school to retake the exams.

She ran her hands through her brown hair, feeling drained. The exams had been harder than she’d expected, even though Lady Barb had told her – time and time again – that retaking the exams was always harder. She’d been expected to display a breadth of knowledge and comprehension that had been lacking from the original exams, something that irritated her even though she understood the logic behind it. A person who failed the exams might have failed because they hadn’t been paying attention, rather than going to war. She’d lost weeks of study during the fighting – and another week in Beneficence – and it had cost her. She hadn’t managed to catch up in time to pass the exams.

I suppose I should be relieved I didn’t fail them all, she thought, as she removed her dress and stepped into the shower. It was a very close run thing.

The warm water was almost hypnotic, cascading over her body and washing away the dirt and grime. She wanted to stay in the shower for hours – or perhaps years – but she knew she didn’t have the time. Lady Barb had promised her she’d have her exam results today, even if that meant having to have the papers marked in a hurry. Emily wasn’t sure she wanted to know, not after spending the summer desperately reviewing everything she’d learnt over the past year. If she failed – again – she’d have to retake Fifth Year from the start.

Which would be a serious problem, she told herself. She climbed out of the shower, using a spell to dry her body. I’d have to find a way to tackle the joint project without Caleb.

The thought cost her a pang. Breaking up with Caleb had hurt, but she hadn’t been able to cut him out of her life completely. They’d needed to finish their project – or at least show that they’d moved forward over the past year – or they would both have been threatened with being forced to retake the year. The hell of it was that she didn’t want to cut him out of her life, despite everything. And yet … Her emotions were a jumbled mess. There were times, when she’d been lying alone in bed, when she’d wanted to call him … and times when she’d wanted to make sure she never saw him again.

She walked back into the room, dug through her bag to find a new dress and pulled it over her head. It wasn’t anything fancy – a blue gown designed more for comfort and practicality than anything else – but she felt it suited her. Alassa’s mother had sent her a whole collection of dress over the summer, each one expensive enough to feed an entire village for the year, yet Emily hadn’t been able to wear them. They’d just been too bright and colourful for her tastes.

And I didn’t have time to go out anyway, she thought. I had to study.

Emily couldn’t help feeling another pang at the thought. She was still – technically – banned from Zangaria, but there was nothing stopping her from meeting Alassa and Imaiqah somewhere along the border. Or she could just cross the border and dare Alassa’s father to do something about it. Or … she shook her head, grimly. She knew she hadn’t had time to visit anyone, even her two oldest friends. There had been a time when she’d shared everything with Alassa and Imaiqah. And yet, she couldn’t help feeling as though they were drawing apart.

And Alassa’s last letters spoke of trouble in Zangaria, Emily thought. And of her failure to conceive a child.

There was a knock on the door. Emily glanced down at herself, making sure she looked reasonably presentable, then opened the door. Lady Barb stepped into the chamber, carrying a parchment scroll in one hand. She held it out to Emily without speaking. The charm on the seal glowed for a moment, reading Emily’s magical signature, then faded away into nothingness. She could open the parchment at will.

Emily hesitated as she closed the door. She really wasn’t sure she wanted to know. She thought she’d done well, but she’d thought that before. And that had ended badly. If she’d failed … she wasn’t sure what she’d do. Accept Void’s offer of an apprenticeship? Or swallow her pride and retake Fifth Year? She’d hardly be the first student to retake an entire year.

Lady Barb snorted. “It won’t go away.”

“I know,” Emily said. Her fingers refused to open the scroll. “I don’t want to know.”

“I could read it for you,” Lady Barb offered. “But you will have to find out eventually.”

Emily looked up at her. Lady Barb had been up for hours, longer than Emily herself, but there was no trace of it on her face. Her blonde hair framed a patrician face that made her look striking – and timeless. Emily felt a sudden rush of affection for the older woman, mingled with a faint dismay that she would never have her mentor’s presence. Lady Barb was formidable and everyone knew it.

“Yeah,” Emily said, finally. “If I faint …”

“I’ll catch you before you hit the ground,” Lady Barb promised.

The wax seal broke under her fingers. She unfurled the scroll, feeling her heart starting to pound in her chest. If she’d failed … she forced her doubts aside as she searched for the summery. The tutors would provide a great deal of feedback – she’d been promised entire books of feedback – but that didn’t matter, not now. All that mattered …

“I passed,” she said.

She felt her face twisting into a smile. “I passed!”

“Very good,” Lady Barb said. “Can I …?”

Emily wrapped her arms around the older woman, hugging her tightly. “I passed!”

Lady Barb took the scroll. “Four exams … good marks on all four, plus the joint project … I dare say you did very well.”

“Thank you,” Emily said. She let go of Lady Barb. “I …”

“You won’t get the highest of marks,” Lady Barb added. “Retaking the exams will cost you, no matter how well you do. But you did well enough to pass into Sixth Year. Unless you’ve changed your mind …”

Emily shook her head, hastily. She didn’t really want to leave Whitehall, but she didn’t want to repeat a year either. It would have meant going over spells and rituals she’d already mastered, time and time again. And everyone she knew would leave a year ahead of her, leaving her alone.

Frieda wouldn’t, she reminded herself. But she’d still be a year below me.

She took back the scroll and skimmed through the detailed feedback. Professor Lombardi and Master Tor had attached a series of comments; Professor Thande had written a short note, asking her to pay him a visit after term restarted. She promised herself that she’d sit down, when she returned to her house, and go through them carefully. There was still a week to go before term formally restarted.

“Thank you,” Emily said. She felt her vision go blurry and hastily blinked away the tears. “I wouldn’t have passed if you hadn’t helped me.”

“Don’t forget Miles helped too.” Lady Barb winked, mischievously. “You owe him a thank you too.”

“I will,” Emily promised. Lady Barb and Sergeant Miles had driven her mercilessly. She sometimes thought she’d learnt more practical magic over the last couple of months than she’d mastered in the last five years. It made her wonder just how far she would have progressed if she’d hired private tutors during the summer holidays. “Do I get to rest now?”

“Not quite,” Lady Barb said. “As you’re staying for Sixth Year, the Grandmaster wishes a word with you.”

Emily frowned. “Now?”

“Soon,” Lady Barb said. “I advise you to go now, then … then you can decide if you want to go back to Dragon’s Den or stay here.”

“Oh,” Emily said. She’d always had the impression that Grandmaster Gordian didn’t like her. He’d certainly tried to make it clear that he hadn’t wanted her to return to Whitehall after Grandmaster Hasdrubal’s death. Their relationship was frostily polite. “Did he say what he wants to talk about?”

“No,” Lady Barb said. “It might be nothing more than a formal acceptance to Sixth Year.”

She glanced at the clock. “If you go now, I’ll be in the Armoury until dinnertime. I’ll see you there.”

Emily turned and walked back to the table, picking up the bracelet and slipping it over her wrist. Gordian wanted to see her … why? To ask her to – finally – take the oaths? She couldn’t be still on probation, could she? Or to … suggest … that she left the school and went elsewhere? Or … she sighed, inwardly. Unannounced meetings – in her experience – were always bad news.

“I’ll meet you afterwards,” Emily said, finally. She brushed her hair back as she headed for the door. “And have fun with Sergeant Miles.”

Lady Barb snorted. “Mind your mouth,” she said, warningly. “I can still beat you for cheek.”

Emily concealed her amusement as she walked into the corridor and headed down towards the stairs. Whitehall hummed around her, the wards welcoming her home. She could feel the complex network of spellwork that made up the wards growing stronger and stronger as charm masters and wardcrafters struggled to prepare the school for the next intake of students. There was so much spellwork running through the system that even she had trouble working out what had evolved over the years and what was new. It was the most complex set of wards in the Allied Lands.

Heart’s Eye will grow to match it, one day, she thought. She had plans for Heart’s Eye. A university, for starters. Caleb and her had talked about a lot of possibilities, back when they’d been lovers. She intended to go ahead anyway, with or without him. And who knows what will happen then?

She passed a handful of younger students chatting at the bottom of the stairs – they’d retaken their own exams over the last few days – and walked up, nodding politely to Master Kay as he walked down. He nodded back, clearly distracted with a greater thought. Emily smiled to herself as she reached the top of the stairs and walked down to the Grandmaster’s office. A middle-aged couple was just coming out, looking annoyed. Emily stood to one side to allow them to pass, then stepped into the antechamber. Madame Griselda, Gordian’s secretary, was sitting behind her desk, writing something on a newfangled typewriter. Emily couldn’t help wondering if it had come out of Cockatrice or Beneficence.

“Emily,” Madame Griselda said, flatly. She was a stern-faced older woman with a gimlet stare. Emily had heard she’d once turned an imprudent student into a toad and eaten him, although she was fairly sure that was just another unfounded rumour. “Wait here. The Grandmaster will see you shortly.”

Emily nodded and sat down, resting her hands on her lap. Madame Griselda’s office was bare, save for a bookshelf, a heavily-warded wooden cupboard and a large painting of Whitehall that someone had hung on the far wall. A handful of faces at the bottom were marked as Lord Whitehall and company, but none of them looked anything like the people Emily recalled meeting. Lord Whitehall had never been so handsome in his life.

He might have been, in his youth, Emily thought. But they grew old quickly, back then.

The inner door opened. “Emily,” Grandmaster Gordian said. He stood in the doorway, giving her a searching look. “Come in, if you please?”

Emily rose and followed Gordian into his office. It hadn’t changed. The room was bare, save for a large wooden desk and a pair of chairs. A handful of scrolls rested on the desk, but otherwise it was empty. The bookshelves and paintings had been removed, leaving the walls completely barren of anything that might catch the eye. There was nothing to draw her attention away from him, nothing to distract her …

“Take a seat,” Gordian said.

Emily sat, studying Gordian as he looked at her. He hadn’t changed either, as far as she could tell. He was a tall, powerfully-built man, with long dark hair drawn back in a ponytail. His face seemed somehow ageless, yet lined enough to make it clear he was no longer young; his dark eyes peered at her, as if they could see into her very soul. She could sense the magic humming around him, a grim reminder of his power. Whatever else he was, Gordian was a formidable magician.

His voice was very calm. “Congratulations on passing your exams.”

“Thank you, sir,” Emily said, carefully. She didn’t think Gordian actually wanted to congratulate her. There was … something … in his voice. “I look forward to going into Sixth Year.”

Gordian’s lips twitched. “You worked hard,” he said. He didn’t sound pleased about that either. “I have been told that you deserved to pass.”

Emily frowned. Who’d told him that? And why?

“You’ll join the rest of your classmates in a week, when term restarts for you,” Gordian said, curtly. “However, there is something that has to be addressed immediately.”

The oaths, Emily thought, grimly. She’d anticipated a demand that she swore the oaths months ago. In some ways, it had almost slipped her mind. Do you want me to swear them here and now?

“There was a staff meeting yesterday,” Gordian said. He sounded vaguely displeased. “My staff saw fit to nominate you for Head Girl.”

Emily blinked. “What?”

“You were elected Head Girl,” Gordian said, patiently. “Do you wish to accept the nomination?”

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151 Responses to “The Gordian Knot– CH1”

  1. Enwezor July 10, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

    Awesome! Can’t wait for the book Chris!

  2. gfyork July 10, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    Agreed; damn good start! Nose to the grindstone, please, and — like that. G.

  3. Aileen Gillett July 10, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    Yay!!! She’s back!

  4. Xtriver July 10, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    You Mr. Nuttall are such a tease. Here I am impatiently awaiting for more of Emily’s story, when it finally arrives you cut it short of a most interesting conversation. You exasperating author you, go write that book, so I can throw some money at it!

  5. Daniel July 10, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    love it. Seems like an incomplete chapter for some reason. can’t wait for the book.
    I’m hoping that by the end of the book Gardian will go from “not enemy” to “on her team if not always happy about it”

    • FarWalker July 10, 2017 at 7:30 pm #

      Chapter one definitely left me wanting more. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer. But of course we will wait as long as it takes.

  6. Jared July 10, 2017 at 7:32 pm #

    Can’t wait for this book. Hopefully it will be soon.

  7. Terrie July 10, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

    I’ll be sitting on pins and needles waiting for this book. you left it at a cliffhanger.
    I just might have to buy the hardback copies when you’re done with the series.

    • Jared July 10, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

      I don’t like the hardback book. I have been buying the paperback books though. A little here and there.

      • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

        A hardback of SIM?

        Chris

      • Jared July 18, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

        There was a comment made by someone who wanted to buy the hardback for SIM. I was just saying that I always prefer paperback

      • Wazman July 18, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

        seconded… Sometimes I like to just read something and not worry about not having enough battery charge left to finish the book.

      • Jared July 19, 2017 at 1:23 am #

        Or being stuck to a wall trying to charge the device because you can’t stop reading. Lol

      • Wazman July 19, 2017 at 2:40 am #

        I had to buy a battery pack (overpriced from an airport kiosk) just so I could finish Wedding Hells.

      • Jared July 19, 2017 at 10:27 am #

        LOL reading it’s a love hate thing. LOL

  8. Jensebaum July 10, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    Starts interesting, hope to see more soon!
    Any estimates for a release date?

    • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Probably at least two months. But we will see.

      Chris

  9. Wazman July 10, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    Great chapter Chris after reading it for the fifth time I’m curious if Sargent Miles had forewarned Lady Barb had been selected for head girl. if not then you do have a excellent opportunity to have a scene that has Emily accidentally intruding on a private argument been Miles and Lady Barb. I mention this because you have written that their relationship may be strained in some fashion.

    I just wished that I could find the TARDIS so I can travel to the future, my only other option is to freeze myself. But that didn’t help Eric Cartman to pass the time waiting for the Wii Console Game System

    • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      No, he didn’t. (Staff meetings are confidential.)

      Chris

  10. Jared July 10, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    It’s torture Chris these little taste. And then you make us buy the full hit. LOL

  11. bretwallach July 10, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    Emily: Necromancer’s bane, baroness of cockatrice, and … wait for it … head girl!

    Ummm. I don’t think that’ll do much for her resume relative to all her other accomplishments. 🙂

    • Jared July 10, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

      Your probably right. Being headgirl won’t be a big accomplishment for her. But not being heard girl could hurt her reputation

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 10, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

        Not being chosen for “Head Girl” isn’t IMO the problem.

        Turning down the position might be the problem. 😉

      • Wazman July 10, 2017 at 10:48 pm #

        My thoughts exactly Paul. Based on what we know about Emily she doesn’t runaway from responsibility (ie being Baroness or going to war) she will have self doubt though. Emily may very well ask who was the next person(s) to be nominated, and the Grandmaster may or may not tell her.

        Hopefully there is some sort of tension that arises from the two power hungry girls “Jacqui and Cerise are … are too power-hungry to take on the role without causing problems.” Madame Rosalinda mentions.

        As head girl she will have to handle junior students that are having relationship problems as well. At least according to what Markus had described being head boy at Mountain Top. How is that going to impact Emily with her still dealing with breaking up with Caleb.

        Speaking of Caleb and his younger sister Mariam. Caleb stated that Miriam had wanted to apologize to Emily. Could Mariam feeling guilty over how she had treated Emily try to reconnect Caleb and Emily? I know it sounds corny but I will shamelessly admit that I am sometimes.

      • thehub July 11, 2017 at 7:34 am #

        mh… what would happen if emily doesnt take the hear girl posission? what are the consequenses? king randor made her a baroness and the general aks for her direktly… both times she couldt say no… this time is a little bit diffrend…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

        Basically, the position of “Head Girl” or “Head Boy” is a position of responsibility and honor.

        Refusing the position would be seen as insulting to those who selected her which could have immediate results when she’s still attending Whitehall.

        In addition, it is said that in many military organizations that a person who refuses a promotion “tells” their superiors that the person believes that he isn’t “worthy” of promotion and his superiors take him “at his word” so won’t offer him any more promotions. Often a person who refuses a promotion is put somewhere on the sidelines where he “can’t harm anything”.

        The Magic Society operates in a similar manner toward somebody who refuses a position of responsibility and honor.

        Note, Chris discusses this in one of the chapters posted today in the Baen’s Bar Slush Pile conference. 😉

    • Wazman July 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

      Don’t forget mistress of the nexus points

    • Pyo July 11, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

      I wonder if it’ll come up how it happened? Granted I don’t really remember all the details; the story hasn’t been too school-focused in a while after all, but wasn’t she fairly unpopular by and large? Why would her fellow students suddenly vote for her?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 11, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

        It was the tutors that voted her “Head Girl”.

      • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

        Yep. The students don’t get a say.

        Chris

      • Pyo July 11, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

        Somehow in my brain that “nominated” translated into “nominated by stuff and elected by students”, which, you are right, is rubbish. Need more coffee.

        Makes much more sense now, thanks. There’s at least a bunch of teachers around who like her.

  12. Bradley July 10, 2017 at 9:19 pm #

    A great start! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. G July 10, 2017 at 10:51 pm #

    It would be interesting sometime to get some snippet of the reaction in Cockatrice and Zangaria to Emily defeating another Necromancer, buying up the railroad in Cockatrice, and becoming head girl–how will King Randor respond to knowing that Emily will now be developing a powerful network of contacts in the magical community, as well as still being Baroness…

  14. William Ameling July 11, 2017 at 12:27 am #

    How much the Railroad she and her fellow investors (mostly the banks In Beneficence) owns in Cockatrice is unclear. We know it includes the railroad line between the two cities, but how much of any other track and engines In Cockatrice is included is very unclear. I think that some of it was being built by Imaiquh’s father with unknown supporters as far back as the Faire in Cockatrice, i.e. Book 6 Love’s Labor Won. How much Vesperian owned of the local track in the vicinity of the capital city of Cockatrice, we have no idea.

  15. Ihas July 11, 2017 at 12:50 am #

    More please 🙂

    One minor note: “Caleb and her” should be “Caleb and she.”

    • Ihas July 11, 2017 at 12:53 am #

      Or more likely “She and Caleb.”

      • Jared July 11, 2017 at 1:24 am #

        Look at that Chris a free editor!! LOL 😉

      • Ihas July 11, 2017 at 2:19 am #

        You don’t know the half of it. I’ve been proofing Warren Hately’s work for awhile, but I think Chris works at far too fast a pace for me. I do have a day job, in spite of my English Lit degree.

    • FarWalker July 11, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

      “whole collection of dress over the summer …”. Shouldn’t “dress” be plural? Sorry. Couldn’t help myself after seeing Ihas’s editorial comment. Keep up the good work.

      • Ihas July 12, 2017 at 3:26 am #

        Nice catch. I haven’t encountered an author yet who isn’t grateful for this kind of feedback. I doubt Chris will be the first.

  16. G July 11, 2017 at 2:18 am #

    Why is Alassa’s mother sending Emily an entire collection of very expensive dresses when she’s on the out’s with her husband?? Is she trying to place Emily in her debt because she thinks she or Alassa will need her help in the future? Emily should be experienced enough to think through the politics at this point…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 11, 2017 at 5:48 am #

      Well… One of the things Emily did in Wedding Hells was to end a possible threat to the Queen’s position and Alassa’s position, so the Queen may she herself in Emily’s debt. 😉

      Note, there was a strong concern of Alassa that her father’s unborn child meant that her father would “put away” her mother and he’d put the child in Alassa’s position.

      Among other things, Emily’s actions in support of the young woman could have been also seen as Emily would support Alassa against the King.

      • Pyo July 11, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

        Sending presents as some sort of “debt scheme” is nice and all, but there’s nothing the Queen can actually do if Emily simply says “no” to whatever request she might have in the future.

        I think it’s by now more a mix of genuine goodwill and perhaps trying to retain some sympathy and an OK connection politically, but not outright “diplomatic blackmail material”.

        Who knows? It might actually be more about the King than Emily: a bit of revenge against her cheating husband, essentially using his money to buy nice things for a political “enemy”.

      • Jensebaum July 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

        When the queen startetd sending dresses to Emily, she wasn’t nearly as wealthy as she is now. Back then, it was a big deal, a huge royal favor, but now it’s pretty much peanuts, even if Emily herself doesn’t see it that way. To her, with her upbringing, the price for these dresses it totally absurd, way to much, but for a noblewoman – or sorceress – of her rank and wealth it’s little more than a nicety.

      • Wazman July 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

        Perhaps we should also consider that the Queen is now looking at her husband very differently. The edict rules about having a mistress were probably broken with Emily and Alassa having clear evidence of King Randor’s affairs.

        Also I have been wondering who it was that suggested that Alassa attend Whitehall in the first place King Randor or his wife. The former duchess would have been concerned about her attempts to make to the then heir apparent dependent on others would have been/did in jeopardy. Being a mother the Queen may have seen the warning signs of what her daughter was turning into before her husband.

        Then it was Emily who ultimately discovered the hidden flaw in the Royal Bloodline modification may have at some level angered the Queen because she herself had to undergo the painful treatments. which is evidently causing trouble with Alassa and Jade’s attempt to conceive.

        The Queen may have seen the truth first that her daughter is going to need the help of her only friends to fix the problems that her own husband had a hand in creating.

        If I were King Randor I would be a fool not to think the instant Alassa assumed the crown she would rescind Emily’s Exile. It really must bother him even now how much his daughter admires Lady Emily and her otherworldly advice that has been right more often than not.

        With the King slipping into desperation about keeping control of his kingdom he may start doing things that will make the situation worse than better. Has he considered seducing Emily into his bedchambers to produce a magically powerful heir or may even move into the extreme by pursuing necromancy to keep his crown and kingdom.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 12, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

        I suspect Emily’s exile was a compromise between the King and his daughter.

        Emily’s actions were an act of rebellion (in his POV) which deserved some punishment.

        I’m not sure about the Kingdom’s laws but her death or losing her baronage could be the likely forms of punishment.

        Of course, Emily would be hard to kill and she told him that she didn’t want the baronage anymore.

        His likely position would have been “she’s no longer a Baron and if she comes back, I’ll have her killed”.

        Alassa likely let him know that after his death, she’d restore Emily’s baronage so they “settled” on Emily still being a Baron but in exile.

        He likely doesn’t like that compromise but it might be a “face saver” for him.

        As for what he’d do to “keep power”, I doubt that he’d turn to necromancy.

        He has to know that Jade would spot any attempts by him in those lines.

      • Wazman July 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

        I don’t think that he will turn to necromancy either but people that are desperate have been known to do something stupid. Plus how many necromancers probably started off thinking that they would move down that doomed path.

        Do you think that he might start considering taking Emily by assassination, before she becomes to powerful even for him to deal with. In the epilogue for SA he didn’t seemed very pleased by the war report from Sir Roger. I would think that he might of hoped that Emily either died in the war or was tied up in the conflict for months if not years to come. Instead she defeated another necromancer and if his spies are worth their salt he would suspect something about the Heart’s Eye.

        I would loved to know what he was thinking when he heard his own daughter ask pointed questions about her friend defeating another necromancer or stating that “Emily was right… We have to learn to adapt or die”

        In his eyes he might worry that Emily is even more important/influential than himself and for some one that is worried about their own legacy. it must gall him to know that Emily will be remembered long after both of them have passed on.

      • Pyo July 12, 2017 at 11:24 pm #

        Randor is already on a questionable path, so although I don’t think he’d outright turn to necromancy (the taboo in this setting is just too huge) at this point, between “will he turn into more of an ally or more of enemy” I’d be more inclined to expect their relationship to further decline (until at some point he dies. Surely he’s not going to survive the series…).

        (also, I don’t think the banishment was a compromise between him and Alassa, at the point he did it he was all “Me King. Me make decisions!” It’s only a compromise insofar as that he wanted to keep the door open to “keeping her under control”, I’d say)

      • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm #

        Oh, several reasons.

        But Marlena does like dressing people up

        Chris

      • Bryce July 19, 2017 at 9:45 am #

        I just read that book again and she told the King that she would support Alassa over the king as she is her best Friend.

    • Fairthewell July 11, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

      The Russians er I meant the Zangarians, are obviously trying to influence her. Methinks I have been reading the New York Times a little too much.

  17. sevnlabs July 11, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    Oh I can’t wait anymore… when will the book arrive?

    • Ihas July 12, 2017 at 3:24 am #

      I have mid September in the office pool.

  18. Pyo July 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

    Isn’t it a bit weird to have repeat exams both more difficult and then somehow give worse grades? I don’t really get that logic and how it’s supposed to work. If you do everything correct, do they randomly give you 95 points instead of 100 (don’t really know the grade system, just an example)?

    Seems weird to me. I guess it’s not often that students get called to war, but surely they might be injured, sick, family emergency etc., the usual stuff. So they also get “punished”?
    What’s the point of that?

    • robinsaw July 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

      The exams are most likely graded without the examiner having knowlage of whom the student is, so they wont let personal relation get mixed in, so they may not know its Emily and that she went to war.

      And most of the student that have been forced to retake their exams are student that have been lazy with their studies through out the year. As such a lower grade on their exams may be a way to punish them so they dont repete that,

    • Jared July 11, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

      It actually makes sense if you think about it. They allowed the repeated testing because she went to war. But they make the second test harder because they wish to know if she really knows the subject. But still she failed the first test. Therefore her grades reflect that.

      • Pyo July 11, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

        Why does the exam need to be harder to figure out if she knows the subject? If the normal exams are so easy teachers aren’t able to tell those need to be more difficult, not the repeated ones (but clearly that’s not the case).

        And I’ve never heard of any exam where a repeat gets you a worse grade automatically.

        I think one the “harder” part could be plausible. One could argue that a repeat gives more time to study, so it could be intentionally more difficult to compensate for that. Fine. Sounds like a stretch to me (generally it’s not possible to fine-tune your exam questions to that detail), but maybe makes some sense.

        But what’s the point of an automatic demerit? An exam is there to tell how good someone is at something. Especially for mages I’d assume to potential employers etc would want to know how good somebody is precisely. And not be like “well, she has combat magic 80. Now is she kinda average or was that just because she repeated the exam and she’s actually much better?” It’d just confuse everyone. Don’t think that’s to anybody’s advantage.

        Well, it’s a minor thing and all. Just found it weird ^^;

      • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

        That’s pretty much it.

        Chris

    • Ihas July 12, 2017 at 3:15 am #

      It’s just a punishment for failing the first time. Like when people get suspended and get a zero in every subject. The grade doesn’t need to be an accurate representation of the student’s knowledge or skill. Or at least it’s more important to motivate students to study and pass the first time. Some might argue she’s lucky to be allowed to take remedial exams at all.

      • Dan July 15, 2017 at 8:27 am #

        In real life at the university my wife is studying at if you have to repeat an exam for any reason and you pass the only grade you can get is a 50 which is the lowest pass score.

      • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

        That’s true.

        I’ll probably go into more detail at some point, but the exams are designed to measure comprehension more than anything else. Failing one set of exams sends you to a more complex set designed to push you harder.

        Chris

  19. bretwallach July 11, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

    Also, isn’t Emily still on double-secret probation (I don’t see where the probation has been rescinded or where she’s taken her oaths etc.)?

    So a head girl on probation? How does that make sense?

    • Jared July 11, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

      I was wondering about that myself. It’s almost as if Gordian has forgotten that she’s still on probation. It’s a bit odd really.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 11, 2017 at 8:17 pm #

        After her actions in saving Whitehall, it is very possible that Gordian quietly dropped the probation.

        Gordian’s no fool and after what she publicly did to save Whitehall, he’d be a fool to continue it.

      • Pyo July 11, 2017 at 9:34 pm #

        Isn’t that part of the “Gordian knot” thing? It’s supposed to describe stuff that has many layers and is all kinda connected. So Gordian’s motivations are presumably “Gordian”, ie it might be unclear whether he’s ally or enemy, whether he’s doing it to support or her as a trap for her to fail, whether there’s some secret motivations behind him or just his personal view on the thing.

        Or all of those.

        To only way to know is to cut right through.

        Or maybe it’s just that probation means probation and school policy is that unless something directly affect the probationary status they pretend that it’s not there.

      • bretwallach July 12, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

        Paul … Drak …,

        If “Gordian quietly dropped the probation” then wouldn’t he “quiet” require her to take the oaths?

        We haven’t seen that either, have we?

      • Wazman July 12, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

        I think that the need to take the oaths will come to a head in ‘Graduation Day’ If I was willing to put money on it I’ll bet that she will not take the oaths. I think that might be part of the reasoning that Void offered her a unconditional apprenticeship. It seems that Void as been grooming her to become another lone power like him and in time possibly his successor.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 12, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

        Nod, Emily expected to be “told to leave” or “told to take the oaths” but was informed that she was now “Head Girl”.

        Now, it’s possible that Void’s letter to him requested that she be taken off probation and requested that she not be required to take the oaths.

        I seem to remember something about “oaths” in Book One where the late Grandmaster said that Void didn’t want Emily to take any oaths.

        I’ll have to check that.

      • Jared July 12, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

        I think Void said that he was a graduate of Whitehall in book one are the beginning. As a such he owed fealty to the allied lands as a whole. I know I’ve made a big deal about the oaths in the past. But I’m wondering if they aren’t really that big a deal. After all didn’t Lady barb -or somebody- say that the oaths in fifth year where just loyalty oaths for Whitehall and the allied lands?

        As for Queen Marlena I think aside from her desire to make dresses in general. I think she feels a fondness for Emily. Not only because of the extraordinary services Emily has performed for her daughter. But also I think she genuinely likes her. And in her limited fashion she may be trying to maintain a connection with Emily to insure alassa has that support. Which if alassa really did lose the child. I am willing to bet money that King Randor will put his wife aside and switch heirs.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 12, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

        Void’s wording in Book One implies that he didn’t graduate from Whitehall thus didn’t have to take the Oaths.

        IE He was asked to leave Whitehall.

        Mind you, I’m not sure how much to trust what Void says about his past.

        As for the Oaths, I think you’re correct in that the graduate is to be Loyal to the Allied Lands as a whole not loyal to a given part of the Allied Lands. Also, I think Chris said that part of the Oaths include a degree of secrecy concerning what is taught at Whitehall (IIRC certain spells only taught at Whitehall).

        Mind you, Jade took that Oath to the Allied Lands but was released from them when he married Alassa.

      • Wazman July 12, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

        True but Jade is just the crown consort, how will the White Council react to Emily and the oaths she may or may not make. I still believe that Void wants for his charge to be free in clear to operate in the Name of Nameless world (get the pun) but with out the restrictions that said oath may occur on her. I honestly think that Emily is going to ultimately become a lone power (possibly the most powerful one of them all) and for whatever faults Void has he sees that in her.

      • Wazman July 12, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

        And the oaths should would have to take could restrict her ability to do what it takes to save the nameless world. I get the impression that Void didn’t graduate from Whitehall and may have not taken the oaths himself.

      • G July 12, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

        Years ago on this website, I ventured an opinion that Void didn’t graduate from Whitehall but was asked to leave, and I think Chris repllied and shot that idea down.

        I do think Emily, Barb, or Miles should have checked into Emily’s status in the dueling league after TSA, as this has the potential to pull her back in and kill her…

      • Pyo July 12, 2017 at 11:19 pm #

        Given the kind of crazy stunts that are possible I frankly would be super-surprised if there weren’t ways out of oaths, too.

        Well.

        If the plot demands it, there certainly will be methods 😉

      • FarWalker July 13, 2017 at 12:42 am #

        We know void is a lone power but we don’t know what area he mastered before becoming a lone power. Void must have graduated from one school or another. Otherwise how would he have the credentials to become a master assuming of course he did become a recognized master in some area before becoming a lone power. Paul was going to ask Chris about that from an earlier post about a month ago after void indicated that Emily could apprentice under him but I never saw a response.

  20. William Ameling July 12, 2017 at 12:08 am #

    Is Emily going to manage to graduate without swearing the oaths to the White Council and the Allied Lands, as well as to the School (which may only apply while you are still a student)? That will be highly unusual, if not unprecedented, by what we know. It could also make my suggestion about Emily going to Stronghold for 7th year rather unlikely, since they also require Oaths to the White Council and Allied Lands, and their own School as well.

  21. William Ameling July 12, 2017 at 12:12 am #

    I suppose that she could offer to swear to the School of Heart’s Eye which she plans to reestablish as a School for Advanced Studies (in Magic and maybe technology as well).

  22. G July 12, 2017 at 1:34 am #

    Do we know if Emily ever told anyone other than Gordian about traveling back to the past? And it seems implausible that after Master Gray used dueling to almost kill Emily and Casper and others wanted the dueling championship in TSA, Emily, Barb, or Miles still hasn’t checked on her dueling status…given the obvious opportunity to use dueling to attack Emily this should have been at the top of their to-do list…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 12, 2017 at 1:47 am #

      I don’t remember Emily telling anybody else about her experiences in the Past.

      However, I don’t believe that she’ll tell anybody unless she has to.

      One key thing about Emily is that she hates the “Child Of Destiny” label.

      IMO Emily has to know that if she talks about going to the Past, the “Child Of Destiny” label looks like it fits her.

      IE Without her going to the Past, Whitehall School would not exist. Thus she is a True Child Of Destiny. 😀

    • Ihas July 12, 2017 at 3:07 am #

      I seem to recall Gordian made her write a report about her visit to the past, and for some reason I’m under the impression that the white council is privy to that report. But I still have no idea who is on the white council. Any clues or confirmation?

      • William Ameling July 12, 2017 at 3:33 am #

        He told her to write a written account for HIM, not for the White Council ( and she said she had it already written). What happened to it after that, we have no idea. Although, I doubt think that Gordian will tell the White Council anything that will weaken his own position as Grandmaster, unless he has to; and Emily being master of the Wards and Nexus Point of Whitehall would certainly weaken him, probably a LOT. He has to worry about keeping his position too. Also there is the question about the books and papers from the past that she hid from Professor Locke, she knows and said that they (some of them, particularly the Books of Binding) should be kept in the Black Vault for very dangerous books, although I think that she put them (the Books of Binding) in one of her dimensional boxs that she has other books and notes in.

        I have been waiting for Emily to tell Void, Lady Barb, and Miles about going into the past. If Gordian knows about it, then they need to know as well.

      • Jared July 12, 2017 at 3:39 am #

        I agree, I don’t see Gordian telling anyone about the trip into the past. It would weaken his position if only to punish him.

      • Pyo July 12, 2017 at 3:54 am #

        He’s a politician though, and if I remember right, he has to have “supporters” to get into the position he is in. Depending on how indebted to them he is, or how much he thinks some of them might be interested into Emily’s exploits or other secrets, he might spill it to some select individuals.

        And once that’s starting you know it’s going to come out sooner or later.

        Also, I disagree about Em telling the others about her side-trip. Only increases the risk of the information accidentally getting shared one times too many. And as we saw with Caleb, personal relationships can fall apart pretty quickly, so unless there’s some specific reason for it I don’t see why she should do it.

    • Bryce July 19, 2017 at 9:58 am #

      But she said she was retired so I do not know what happens then, do they have a competition of no lethal duals to come up with a new champion or does the next person on the list get it?

  23. doug lake sr July 12, 2017 at 4:58 am #

    WONDERFUL, just give us a date, if you can. and what the story about the Zero book?

  24. Ian Diggles July 12, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    Looking forward to the latest adventure.

  25. Wazman July 13, 2017 at 4:34 am #

    There is one particular story arc plot point that has never seems right to me. Is it just me or have anybody else felt the same.

    Emily and her closest confidants that know her true origins have speculated. That if it was discovered that Void was not Emily’s Father then she could be attacked without fear of retaliation. For me this doesn’t seem entirely true. Void seems to honestly care about Emily and him giving the familial ring to her make her part of his family. And he seemingly knows where to find Emily without any difficulty and it occurred to me that we might have seen the means back in book five “The School of Hard Knocks” In chapter 38 the passage

    ‘In his hand, he carried a device that looked like a small compass. Emily had a feeling that it didn’t show true north.’

    Based on this I believe that Void has always known exactly where Emily is and I honestly don’t think that he means to use it against her in the literal sense. That seems like too much energy expended by a magician that isn’t looking out for Emily. I’m not saying that he is going to teleport nearby and save her every time she is in danger. However if she is killed under suspicious circumstances he would rain unholy hell down on the would be perpetrator(s).

    Simply put I fervently believe that Void is working behind the scenes watching/guiding her development so she can finally rid the Nameless world of the Necromancer threat.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 13, 2017 at 4:44 am #

      IMO “magicians would kill Emily if they knew Void wasn’t her real father” and “Void cares enough to avenge her” don’t IMO contradict each other.

      IE What others believe that Void would do has nothing to do with what Void would do. 😉

      • Pyo July 13, 2017 at 7:26 am #

        He’s pretended for so long that even if found out anyone with half a brain must conclude that he cares in some way. Otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered, logically. Whether because he sees Emily as an adopted daughter or a valuable asset or just because it’d reflect badly on him to let his charge die or whatever, it really shouldn’t make a difference.

        But why tempt people to do something stupid? The fact that she’s killed necromancers is widely known and that doesn’t keep people from being stupid around her; really, the entire “Emily = Void’s Daughter” seems by now more a protection for those who’d take a risk they wouldn’t survive than for Emily (well, it’d probably also get tedious fast disposing of bodies all the time… 😉 ).

      • Jared July 13, 2017 at 9:38 am #

        Don’t forget get Master Grey tried and failed to kill her. Which definitely adds to her ever growing reputation. And in the last book she killed a god. Of course it’s not a real god yet not even Grandmaster Gordian knew that. People are going to be very afraid of her.
        I think by the time she graduates she will not need Voids protection.

      • Pyo July 13, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

        To be fair, it’s basically impossible to defend against a determined assassin, especially when they are willing to throw away their own life.

        I guess thanks to magic/wards homes and Whitehall and such are uniquely well-defended, but every time she steps outside, eats in public places etc it just takes a single knife or a deadly, quick acting poison, some kind of “sniping spell” or whatever and she’s dead before she can do anything about it, no matter how powerful she is.

        That’s why generally the strategy to foil attempts are multi-layered, and try to incorporate ways to dissuade attempts in the first place. Emily’s reputation is one layer. Void adds another. If one fails, there’s the other.

        Always better to have more protection then less.

      • Jared July 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

        Well said.

      • Bryce July 14, 2017 at 10:23 am #

        Also remember Void gave her the papers to apprentice under him. She could have gone right away but she wanted to finish year 6 first. So now there will be even more protection as she is his apprentice.

    • Wazman July 13, 2017 at 5:06 am #

      There are times when Emily is pondering this or similarly focused question about would anybody IE Void come to her aid. But more importantly would he be upset if she was murdered in cold blood. I’m just curious why Emily has ever asked the loaded question directed towards him. I have a feeling that Void wouldn’t say anything but his own demeanor could speak volumes about how he personally would react to such news.

      It sort of reminds me of Ender’s Game when the adults are build up a environment at battle school that lead Andrew Wiggin to honestly believe that he is on his own and no one is coming to save him.

    • Kell Harris July 13, 2017 at 11:54 am #

      The thing is Void has been a deterrence. And yet people still want to kill her. If they find out he’s not the father then stupid people might feel that Void would not avenge her depending on the circumstances, If he wasn’t her father. Its one thing to protect Emily from a threat another to kill for her after she is already dead.

  26. G July 13, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

    It would add color to Void’s character if some group did try to kill Emily and Void did cold-bloodily kill them in a particularly nasty way…as to credibility, I believe Void spent 2 months watching over Emily while she recovered from her duel with Master Grey…if that doesn’t prove he’s serious, I don’t know what will…

  27. Paul W July 14, 2017 at 1:48 am #

    Can’t wait to read this book. I think Head Girl is something that would go well with Emily becoming one of the the staff at White Hall or Hearts Eye.

    As for oaths, I don’t really think Emily wants or needs Cockatrice. Initially it was a way to make sure her innovations could find a foothold but that does not really seem like a problem at this point . She has only spent one summer there and Imaiqah has been running the place since she left. Also, Emily when to war under the White Counsel banner not as a representative of Zangaria and seems inclined to support the greater good over Zangaria. Emily accepted the Duchy but never made oaths to the King(very odd that). I think ultimately Zangaria gets kicked to the curb and this may be good for Zangaria because how would the king or Alassa control a Duchess who as powerful as Emily is becoming?

  28. William Ameling July 14, 2017 at 2:15 am #

    I would also like to point out that Emily ALREADY IS or WILL BE Void’s Heir to his Tower and accumulated magical books, wards, and artifacts. If she is not now ( he did make her a member of his family) his heir, then she probably will be sometime after she finishes her apprenticeship with him (Void). Anyone, who has inherited the Library of Aurelius (Book 5) and inherited another library from Grand Master Hasdrubal, and then is the heir of Void is in an extremely powerful and potent position in the magical community of the Nameless World, not counting her own deeds. (He did give her that ring just after watching over her for two months while recovering from the duel).

    I think that Void will react very negatively to anyone who goes after Emily to kill her, if they do manage to kill her. He might take a different attitude to Emily dieing while trying to accomplish something, like killing another Necromancer. However, he would probably be opposed to whoever did that, irrespective of anything that happened to Emily. On the other hand he does seem willing to let Emily prove herself, before stepping in afterwards.

  29. William Ameling July 14, 2017 at 2:27 am #

    Actually I am expecting Emily to play a significant role in Alassa finally becoming Queen, and more importantly, I think that Alassa with Emily’s support will “eventually” establish the 3rd Human Empire (but it will take quite a while before we see that happen). But Imaiqah may still become the full Baroness of Cockatrice, while Emily re builds the Heart’s Eye School, perhaps as it’s Grand Master (Mistress). Emily may become only an advisor to Queen Alassa (but an extremely important and powerful advisor).

    • Pyo July 14, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

      I don’t see Emily supporting any Empire-building. She should know that that never goes well. Maybe help with gathering some type of coalition forces or something, at best.

      Or help Alassa with the transition of her country into a democracy. That seems more likely to me 😉

    • Kell Harris July 14, 2017 at 9:21 pm #

      You it’s funny cause Some people fear that Emily will try to do that. That’s why master Tor gave her so much grief at first. I think she is more like to create a stronger white counsel. Make it more cohesive. AS the master of hearts eye and her other title I think she will become more of a world leader. Maybe having more influence over the counsel. I think being head girl will be good for her Emily will have to be more social and get more connected with magical society,

  30. G July 14, 2017 at 4:23 am #

    To fully be able to lead and influence the nameless world, wouldn’t Emily need both mundane and magical power and influence?? Cockatrice and Towers??

    • Wazman July 14, 2017 at 4:50 am #

      She is developing a rather good repor with ‘the common folk, with the new learning and other worldly knowledge has greatly improved their lives. Yes she crippled then literally destroyed a corrupt guild, as well as the major plot point in the most recent SIM book.

      Now recall in the prologue in Wedding Bells when the rebels and Nannette are discussing removing the Royal family. The rebel almost sounded hopeful that Emily would take the crown.

      Playing the what if game it’s interesting to imagine what she would have done. If the coup had been successful, and the rebels had offered her the crown. IMO I don’t think that she would’ve accepted.

      • Pyo July 14, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

        Yeah, the big question here is: does she want that influence?

        She seems to be the heroine type who readily complains about various bad thing in the world and sometimes ends up accidentally fixing them, or being forced into a situation where she has to do it, but she doesn’t seem the type to deliberately maneuver herself into a position where she can do it ^^

      • Wazman July 14, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

        I doubt she would do so willingly. As to your comment that she complains a lot ie about being a baroness or why is everyone not united in defeating the necromancers. I agree with you that she probably wouldn’t support the creation of the third empire, but maybe she would be instrumental in founding a Federation of a sort that has more of a say in membernations. For some of the kingdom’s that might be a hard pill to swallow, but for the small independent city states it might unite them. Where together they are formidable instead of separate.

        Emily says she is not a leader but I think deep inside her there might be one. A good leader is someone that has compassion for their followers, but the willingness to send them into harms way.

        As to the Empire being resurrected maybe that might be the ultimate objective of some of the lone powers. With Void’ s position still unclear.

  31. William Ameling July 14, 2017 at 5:40 am #

    I have realized that my complaint about Final Feast in the Prologue to The Gordian Knot may be wrong. Fifth year does not END until 6th Year Begins so having something called Final Feast in the Prologue can still be consistent with Emily retaking her tests (that she failed) after a summer of study and then being offered Head Girl (if she passes the test remakes). I had been thinking that Final Feast would have been at the end of the regular school year at the beginning of the summer, but there is a different way of thinking about it that I had not considered earlier.

    I think that Emily really does not want to spend the time needed to do a good job as Baron of Cockatrice, and as long as there is someone she trusts to do it, she will let that person, i.e. Imaiqah, have the position with some advice and backing from her (Emily). Even Emily realizes that she would not be a good Queen, there is too much she does not know about the politics and people involved, and she is not native to the culture and will always have some problems understanding it. Also it would demand even more of her time than Cockatrice. Void already realizes this from his own experience and personality/interests, and tells Emily it will be the same for her.

    Emily can be the Advisor to the Queen who can also represent the interests and needs of the common people, without being Baron.

    A Child of Destiny does NOT need to Lead, they just need to cause the changes needed. Unless she retreats into total isolation from the World, she will have a lot of influence via Queen Alassa, Whitehall, Heart’s Eye, Mountaintop, the Banks and Beneficence, and whatever happens in the future of the SIM series. A Child of Destiny could very easily cause the reforming of another Human Empire. I think a previous Child of Destiny may have been involved in forming the 2nd Empire (if I remember correctly). We already know that Emily was essential to survival and founding of the Whitehall School in Past Tense.

    • G July 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

      If Emily helps Alassa transform Zangaria into a nation with a House of Lords and a House of Commons, the political duties of being the Baroness become far less and estate management can be managed by a steward. There’s no reason Emily holding lands with a steward would be more difficult than owning a bank with a manager. Emily with teleportation could easily move around…

    • Ihas July 14, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

      Regarding the previous Childs of Destiny, I’m anticipating possibly another trip to the past. Chris teased us with Myrdden’s mysteries and I don’t recall that we ever learned who was creating those fresh wards at Whitehall that only Emily could remove easily. So I think there is something planned there. Emily could turn out to be responsible for a lot of things in the past.

      • Ihas July 14, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

        Also, the creation of the original castle that became Whitehall.

      • Jensebaum July 14, 2017 at 11:52 pm #

        Yeah, I believe we’ve got something coming from that direction, possibly something unpleasant. In Past Tense, it was very briefly mentioned, that Castle Whitehall is build in the shape of several runes. Runes this large and positioned around a Nexus? They have to be crazy powerful, and no one knows what they actually do.
        Now, if Emily is the one who build the castle, it probably won’t become a problem, but if it was someone else, say the Fairy, it could get interesting.

      • William Ameling July 15, 2017 at 4:48 am #

        Whitehall and Bernard could have left Wards (as well as the message scroll) that were keyed to Emily at the time that they sealed the lower levels under the castle/School.

      • Ihas July 16, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

        I’m talking about the wards in the past right after Emily arrived. Whitehall was filled with old wards and traps, but Emily noted that some of them seemed fresh, which is why only she was able to remove them. I believe she was the first to access the roof for that reason, but I can’t remember exactly. Was it ever explained where those fresh wards came from?

  32. William Ameling July 14, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

    Recall some of Earth’s History, the independent republic and/or merchant City States could very easily use an Emperor/Empress to protect them against the High Nobles (Kings and Barons) and the Emperor/Empress could use their (City States) support in the struggles for political power with the Kings and Barons. As the middle, i.e. nonmagical, class grows, they can become allies of an Emperor/Empress also. The danger would be the Emperor/Empress becoming TOO powerful, i.e. a true absolute monarch. What Emily can do is to introduce ideas about representative government for an Emperor/Empress to use in reducing the power of the Kings and Barons without the Empress (Alassa) becoming too powerful. A fast growing middle class that becomes more educated and literate will normally also become more politically aware, and demand a share in political power as well as legal rights and protections (against abuses by the Noble Classes).

    Of course, sometimes the Monarch (King or Emperor) sides with the High Nobility instead of the Commons. A lot depends on how powerful the commoners are. In the past of the Nameless World, they were often not that powerful (except in the few City States), but that is changing due to the ideas introduced by Emily.

    The Nameless World is different from Earth because of the strong Magical Houses that seem to be independent of both the Monarchies and City States, plus the White Council of the strong Magicians which is also independent of other political entities. The Nameless World is also different from Earth because of the strong politically independent Schools of Magic.

    To rebuild an Empire will require pulling together enough of the White Council, Schools, the Great Magical Houses, the City States, and at least one of the monarchies, i.e. Zangaria, to convince other Monarchies to join. Such an effort (in Earth’s history) almost always requires an outside military threat, which is where the Necromancers come in (and probably the Faerie someday after the Necromancers are dealt with). Independent Political groups do not merge with other political groups without a strong reason, i.e. an outside threat.

    • Max Million July 15, 2017 at 6:17 am #

      An Empire would need the support of much of the magical community particularly influential and powerful members.

    • Pyo July 15, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

      It’s all fine and well but I don’t think it’d work for Alassa.
      a) Free Cities: Why would they support someone who rules Zangaria? If anything, they are rivals. The HRE emperors tolerated free cities primarily for financial reasons, and the cities needed the Emperor because they were otherwise subjects of nobles, but the ones we’re talking about here already have their independence.
      b) Zangarian middle class has already been betrayed by the royals once. Would they trust Alassa now? And would they support an Empire where they have to fear that Imperial policy neglects local policy?
      c) Why would other countries accept an Empress that’s connected to one of the independent countries? Unless Zangaria is somehow much more powerful than everyone else (which I don’t think it is) there’s no way they’ll just go with that. See Austro-Prussian wars, for example.

      d) It’d probably be in the mages (selfish) interest to keep everyone separate, as that makes them (relatively) more influential
      e) all political considerations aside, Empires don’t work once nationalism kicks in. There’s literally no example of that working out fine. Now I have no idea whether nationalism is a thing in this world, but if it is then it’s a futile effort anyway.

  33. William Ameling July 15, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

    Like I said, based on a LOT of Earth’s history, except when you get CONQUERED by someone else, political groups that independent neighbors do not unite into larger political unions voluntarily unless there is a STRONG PERCEIVED OUTSIDE THREAT, otherwise they value their own political power too much, to give up power to a larger political entity.

    You are right about distrust of any of the Royal Families by the commoners and merchants (particularly the Free Cities). Emily’s backing is what could make the difference to the commoners and City States accepting or opposing uniting into an Empire. If they trust her (and her influence) enough and she suggests ways (drawn from Earth) for a larger entity, i.e. a new Empire, to protect the commoners and merchant classes from abuses by the large powerful Noble Families and Monarchs (Kings), she “may” be able to gain a lot of their support. Emily will (may) also be able draw in support from the Schools of Magic (if things continue develope as they have and appear to be going). She will have to gain enough support of the White Council and the Magical Houses because they will understand the threat of the Necromancers (and Faerie probably). The biggest problem will be the independent Monarchies, Zangaria and it’s ruling family is derived from the last Empire, and is already one on the strongest of those Monarchies. It will take a major military threat that can not be countered except by uniting to drawn in most of the Monarchies. This is where the Necromancers and eventually the Faerie will come in. It can also take several steps over a period of time, to meet separate or successive threats.

    Without Emily’s support (and the support she can drawn in) of Alassa and Zangaria, plus the changes coming from her ideas, it will take a lot longer and there is a good chance of military/magical defeat before they could unite enough to stop the Necromancers and Faerie (remember it took Necromancy to defeat the Faerie the last time).

    Emily and Alassa will have to start by reforming Zangaria to protect the commoners and merchants, as well as any nearby Free City States such as Beneficence which is surrounded by Zangaria, except for the Sea. Emily and Heart’s Eye will also be an important step because it is on the border with the Necromancers. A critical step may come when a Necromancer suddenly conquers most of a Kingdom (probably one that has stopped most of the changes caused by Emily) in the middle of the Allied Lands, which requires united action by the Monarchies to stop (and only Zangaria’s improved military and magical forces are effective in fighting it.)

  34. Danna Micolettj July 15, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

    Everyone knows the Gordian knot fable right?? Unsolvable knot. Many tried and failed to untie it. Yet one who finally did, did so unconventionally. Cut the knot in two.

    From that fable, then is the theme. A seemingly unsolvable problem ( for which there’s a simple solution)./

    • Jared July 15, 2017 at 11:22 pm #

      I didn’t know that. I suspected that Gordian knot meant something but didn’t really pursue it. Thanks though now I know what it means.

  35. William Ameling July 15, 2017 at 11:48 pm #

    I am almost certain that it was Alexander the Great that cut the Gordian Knot using his sword while everyone else tried to untie it (and failed).

  36. George VanDeusen July 17, 2017 at 12:15 am #

    Randors relationship vis a vis Emily: Rancor has used his connection with Emily to influence potential threats and allies. He may resent her growth in power/influence but he needs to stay connected. He truly has a tigress by the tail

  37. George VanDeusen July 17, 2017 at 12:19 am #

    I’m curious about the dragon’s comment in book 1. He said it had been a long time since one like Emily had come. Does this prove Emily’s theory that the original human were trans generational?

    • George VanDeusen July 17, 2017 at 12:34 am #

      Transdimentional

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 17, 2017 at 1:12 am #

        At the end of Past Tense (Book 10) in the “Magic and the Magical Community Pre-Whitehall” appendix, Chris confirms that humans aren’t native to the Nameless World.

  38. William Ameling July 17, 2017 at 3:56 am #

    A question: is Gordian the the very difficult to solve problem for Emily, or are the pressures on him regarding Emily the problem? We will have to wait and read the Book to see. It is a question of whose (Gordian’s or Emily’s) actions will solve the problem.

    • Ihas July 17, 2017 at 5:01 am #

      Another thing to ponder is that the originally planned title, Poison Pen, may be a clue as to the nature of the knot. It could have several meanings, but I think it relates to all of the slanderous fake news and yellow journalism that has sprung up in the wake of the introduction of the printing press.

    • Jared July 17, 2017 at 6:07 am #

      That’s an interesting question. I kinda got the feeling from chapter 1 snippet that he is aware of threats. But isn’t involved with them directly. Of course as you say we’ll have to wait and see. I think he is mostly neutral.

      • Jared July 17, 2017 at 6:08 am #

        I meant the first snippet not chapter one.

  39. William Ameling July 17, 2017 at 11:33 am #

    The original title Poison Pen made me think of someone (one or several) conducting a campaign of messages intended to hurt Emily, particularly with the White Council and other important magicians. I suspected that Fulvia might be involved in these behind the scenes manipulations. Some of the results of that campaign would be applied on Gordian to take action against Emily, i.e. kicking her out of the school and trying to disgrace and discredit her.

    The obvious meaning of The Gordian Knot would be him being the problem for Emily to solve. The less obvious possibility would be Gordian take a unusual step or method to deal with his difficult to solve situation he is in regarding Emily and the pressures being put on him. I wonder if he might take the drastic and unexpected step of resigning as Grandmaster rather than yield to the pressures on him (which includes Emily’s control of the Wards around the School).

    • Ihas July 18, 2017 at 1:48 am #

      This whole series has struck me as a somewhat deconstructive mashup of Harry Potter, Honor Harrington, A Connecticut Yankee in King Author’s Court, Pride and Prejudice (or similar), Anime Magical Princess, and maybe some other genre involving court intrigue that I don’t recognize. I felt that the dueling plot line was at least partly inspired by the professional duelist antoginist in Honor Harrington. And if Gordian Knot does tackle yellow journalism as the main antoginist, I think that it will be natural to draw comparisons to the Rita Skeeter plot line in Harry Potter. So I’m curious to learn if there is a comparable antagonist to be introduced in Gordian Knot.

      • Ihas July 18, 2017 at 2:08 am #

        Building on your Fulvia suggestion, and on Christopher’s tendency to deconstruct Harry Potter, it might be reasonable to imagine that he would not have an individual reporter as the antagonist, but would rather reflect reality more faithfully by focusing on the wealthy individual who builds a media empire to promulgate a fake news message via what seems like multiple news sources that have all been purchased and/or started by the wealthy individual. Fulvia seems like a likely candidate.

  40. G July 18, 2017 at 1:57 am #

    If an oath is lodged in a magician’s magic and soul, could a magical oath be erased or modified with soul magic?? (shown to Emily by Aurelious in book 5) Could this allow Emily to outsmart the Fairie?

    • Ihas July 18, 2017 at 2:25 am #

      Unless I’m mistaken, you wouldn’t even have to do anything. Just convince the oath taker that you did.

      • chrishanger July 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

        You would have to convince yourself that you acted in good faith.

        Chris

  41. William Ameling July 18, 2017 at 5:54 am #

    I do not think that Yellow Journalism is involved here. It is MUCH more significant and dangerous, i.e. the actions of Emily’s enemies and those worried about the changes caused by Emily in the magical community, including at least some of the White Council. Some of them just want to kill her, others want to discredit her and keep her from graduating from Whitehall. Any writing that is going on is in the form of person to person letters, etc. plus verbal messages, gossip, all stirring up worries and fears in the magical community about Emily and what she has already caused and what may come in the future. Yellow Journalism would have it’s greatest effect on the lower and middle nonmagician classes where Emily already has a lot of support. I think that Gordian is thinking about things that are happening amongst the magicians. Gordian is a traditional old established magician, and I doubt that he is worried (or aware of) by what is going on in the nonmagicial classes.

    • Ihas July 18, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

      Maybe some students will start a school paper :-p

      • G July 19, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

        One key issue for the author is that after TSA and FOJ Emily should be regarded as a rising power. Other characters should begin treating her with a healthy amount of respect/fear after she’s killed 3 necromancers..it’s simply no longer credible for adult sorcerers to baldly threaten her life…and Emily, being human, should stop being a doormat and threaten right back when threatened…scenes where tutors threaten her with bad consequences are no longer credible as masters should be beating down her door to get her as an apprentice…

      • Jared July 20, 2017 at 1:40 am #

        I think that most of the danger that Emily will face from this point on will be more subtle in nature. And will deal with political pull then anything of a direct approach like Master Grey’s attempt on her life. The teachers can threaten her because Emily has a great amount of respect for their opinion.

        Emily has had a few offers already from a few masters and mistresses. She hasn’t really committed herself. But either way I see her taking Void up on his offer. Learning from a loan power will truly bost her knowledge and magical understanding.

  42. William Ameling July 19, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

    She still has a lot to learn. Even VOID is still learning, although most of it he is creating himself rather than learning from others. Although Emily can teach him some things about Nexus Points and the Wards around them. Emily does not need threats to make her learn more magic, challenges are more appropiate.

    When is Emily going to tell Void, Lady Barb, and Miles about being the Dark Lady and the events of Past Tense (Book 10) ? Grand Master Gordian already knows, she should tell them.

  43. Matthew Harris July 20, 2017 at 4:06 am #

    I really enjoyed the new chapter! Cannot wait for the next book to come out!

  44. David Pollard July 20, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    One thing that I would have had high on Emily’s “to do” list is about getting at least some of the information of her experiences in the distant past to the history monks. Granted they probably wouldn’t be interested in publishing it without independent corroboration …

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 20, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      You’re assuming that Emily wants to talk about her visit to the past.

      IMO She doesn’t because of the “Child Of Destiny” label that she dislikes.

      People knowing about what she did there will only add to the talk about her being a “Child Of Destiny”.

      • Wazman July 20, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

        True but Emily also appreciates the need to have the truth of what really happened in history as a matter of fact. Despite her obvious reluctance of being “Child of Destiny” she will never get away from that aspect. I would hazard to guess that since most of the books written by the history monks is banded by many of the kingdoms that the revelation that Emily has had a greater impact on their world will not be as widely known. Unless they are attending one of the Magic Academies.

        I dare say that at some point Emily herself may be called the most influential of all the “Children of Destiny” by none other than the history monks themselves. Which makes me think back to the first book just after Emily had defeated Shadye and the the tall old man in monkish robes with a large book silently just watching her. Perhaps the history monks have some means of traveling/seeing the events in history.

      • Jared July 20, 2017 at 5:57 pm #

        Chris has said that the monk in the robs was destiny himself.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 20, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

        Chris has said that the old man was Destiny. 😉

      • Wazman July 20, 2017 at 6:11 pm #

        I don’t recall seeing that posting. With all these questions/fact odes about the SIM universe I’m rather surprised that no fan hasn’t created a dedicated wiki page about it. Kind of like what people do for harry potter and etc.

      • Jared July 20, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

        I believe it was in the forum.

      • Wazman July 20, 2017 at 6:38 pm #

        I don’t doubt it Jared I have been thinking about that Wikipedia pages for SIM would be helpful. Not sure is Chris would allow something like that though.

      • Jared July 20, 2017 at 7:29 pm #

        It would be nice to have an authoritative source of facts for all of Chris’s book series. Not just sim.

  45. William Ameling July 20, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    After a while, in these monthly blogs, after several months go by, some of the same thoughts and ideas get repeated by the same person and others (and often revised to fit changes in more recent books). I am just as guilty of this as others.

    • Jared July 20, 2017 at 10:04 pm #

      Well ya, it’s only natural

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