OUT NOW–The Gordian Knot (Schooled in Magic XIII)

25 Sep

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Gordian Knot Final FOR WEB

The post of Head Girl of Whitehall looks fantastic on anyone’s resume. It places the lucky winner on equal terms to the staff, granting them authority, power and responsibility that no other student can even dream of possessing. A student lucky enough to win the coveted post is destined for greatness. Everyone will want to know their name.

Naturally, Emily doesn’t want it.

But when she returns to Whitehall for her sixth and final year, she discovers that the staff have elected her to the post – and refusal isn’t an option. Worse, the Grandmaster wants her to run his pet project – a formal duelling club – even though it’s the last thing she wants to do. Reluctantly, she starts to carry out her new duties, unaware that deadly enemies are waiting in the shadows, preparing themselves to strike at her when her back is turned. Someone is spreading rumours about her, someone is sabotaging her projects, someone is weakening the ties that bind her to Whitehall …

And, as matters start to spin out of control, as the life and soul of one of her closest friends is thrown into terrifying danger, Emily must decide between carrying out her duties or walking away, knowing that either choice will cost her dearly …

… And leave her alone at the centre of a deadly storm.

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72 Responses to “OUT NOW–The Gordian Knot (Schooled in Magic XIII)”

  1. Jacob September 25, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

    Thank you for making my evening! This is much earlier than I was expecting.

    • Jacob September 26, 2017 at 4:30 am #

      Spoilers Ahead! Read at your own peril!

      After reading the book I am left feeling like a whole lot happened and yet very little happened… I was looking forward to Emily’s sixth year to look into more advanced magic, yet aside from soul magic, all I can remember is one failed class attempting to combine two wards. Aside from soul magic, the magical ethics class and warding I don’t remember any other class being mentioned. I was looking forward to more ritual magic and charms.

      I really liked the soul magic parts though, the concept and execution of know thyself started out incredibly cool. I would have liked to have seen Emily fight more of her internal demons rather than going from piercing headaches in one scene to just succeeding in the next with a very brief description alluding to many other attempts having been made. This would have been an excellent arena to show her internal confidence finally prevailing over her past demons.

      The following soul magic segments with Melissa were also interesting and developed Melissa’s character a lot and made me incredibly curious about her. I hope we get to see her and Emily’s bond grow. I’m honestly surprised we didn’t see more of why Melissa was willing to bare herself to Emily during the soul magic sessions. It seems like the level of openness required to allow Emily to experiment and learn on her would be beyond repayment for the help she had been given. Her advice regarding her former cronies just further added to this mystery.

      Similar to Fists of Justice this book seemed to try to put character development and the non-magical aspects of Emily’s growth at the forefront. While this is not necessarily a negative I do not think this worked as well as the beginning part of the previous expansion did. I liked Fists of Justice as it brought a really interesting problem to the world that couldn’t be solved by magic, unfortunately that real world Ponzi scheme problem was sort of hand waved away after the events with Justice. One thing that kept my attention in Fists of Justice is that Emily seemed to have substantial buy in to the problem and *cared*. That feeling was distinctly lacking in this book. From the outset Emily clearly wasn’t too concerned with her Head Girl responsibilities. While I did enjoy her talking to the three first year bullies towards the beginning of the book, no other real mediating was directly shown. Aside from Frieda, the dueling project took up the majority of the “screen” time, I found these sections incredibly hard to get through. It was like Emily didn’t really care about the whole thing so I found myself bored by them.

      Aside from the dueling ring, the majority of her responsibilities that weren’t summed up in a few sentences related to dealing with Freida. While this plot line was the centerpiece of this novel, I honestly thought that it dragged on too long. I also thought the bracelet foreshadowing was a tad heavy handed as it seemed to be mentioned every time Frieda was doing anything out of character and was being chastised by Emily. Also the starting Emily scene had her calling her snake bracelet deadly and then Emily’s habit of playing with her bracelet being constantly pointed out in Freida.

      I thought the amount Gordian was allowing Frieda and by extension Emily to get away with to be astounding. I know he was walking a tight rope and was being pulled in a million different directions but he seemed far too hands off. The sheer number of incidences stretched the believability for me quite a lot. Though it does raise interesting questions about how Gordian feels about Emily, the potentially disenfranchised common born, or perhaps even the thought that he is just a pawn in Fulvia’s, game complicit or otherwise. His character is incredibly interesting and mysterious. He is wrapped in a web so thick that I can’t wait for the knot to start untying. (pun intended)

      On a final note, how convenient that Void wanted her to study soul magic, the only magic that could have saved Freida.

      • FarWalker September 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm #

        Jacob I agree with most of your observations. I also thought Emily was going through the motions and shirked her responsibilities. I hope graduation day ties things up a little better.

      • Pyo September 27, 2017 at 3:27 am #

        I’ll sign those observations.

        The Void-Soul Magic connection – I HOPE it’s a conspiracy because otherwise it’s a coincidence that stretches credibility too far.

        Unfortunately, I also agree that it’s a big problem of the plot – Chekov’s gun, right? She learns to heal people from attacks against soul magic. Frieda behaves strangely. Oh, surprise, her soul is being manipulated.
        Of course, if she learns soul magic, she has to use it for something, right?

        Emily doesn’t even seem to think of it. She’d make a bad Sherlock: if all possible options are exhausted, then what’s left is the truth. Instead, as some others have posted, she’s reverted to being ridiculously passive. “She pushed the thought aside.” Yeah, right, she kept doing this and similar things through half the plot until it was too late.


        Now, the justification for that was obviously that she was variously busy with other stuff. And that could have worked, but frankly, I found it tough to get back into the school mindset after war and big time economics. That probably wouldn’t have an issue once I got into book, but what’s with the repetitions?

        Has anyone counted how many times she repeats that she doesn’t want to be Head Girl, but can’t say no, and that it takes all of her time? Even stuff like “duels are useless, but they at least learn a little bit” is repeated multiple times. The entire first third or so of the novel is full of Emily’s thoughts repeating themselves one after another. It started to become almost a bad comedy ^^

        A lot here felt like filler material. And I also agree that those soul magic sessions would have been fantastic for real character growth – if she has to be so introspective all the time, at least she could have thought about different things for a while. But they seems squandered into just having the right tool at the right time and little else.

        Gordian – we’ll see. Real people are complex and contradictory and that’d make sense for Gordian, especially since he kinda implies that he knows some of the things Em’s enemies planned for her (which doesn’t mean he is one). But as a character in this novel he indeed came across as vaguely inconsistent. Now, that might clear itself up once all the puzzle pieces are together, or he just might be torn between different things, or it’s indeed a problem. I can’t really judge yet.

        On an aside, what I find rather ridiculous is to what extend people blame Emily for Frieda’s behavior. She’s Head Girl, yes, but since when does that make her personally responsible for every single student at the school? She’s still surrounded by other tutors and whatnot. The only thing she can be accused of is having been lenient … once.
        How’s that not a failure of everybody else around her, too?

        But in classic Emily fashion she of course never defends herself.

        As for cliffhangers – meh. I never appreciate them. The novel could have just as easily ended with an announcement that someone would come to investigate (which would have made more sense anyway since, really, how long were they gone? Stuff takes time to organize ^^) instead of creating a deliberate tense point like that.
        Not that I can’t see how it’d be tempting :p

        I’m a bit worried for the next novel, too. That scheme was beyond disgusting, and at some point Emily really needs to stop being cowed and start being angry.

        Challenge Fulvia to a duel. Kill her. Plot done in three chapters.
        Which is why it probably won’t happen, which sounds frustrating before I even got there ;p

        Well, lots of nagging. dunno if I just was in a particularly critical mood, reviewers so far seem to be happy ^^

      • G September 27, 2017 at 5:57 am #

        One telling point is that this book reveals the shortcomings of being a “Lone Power”–you have no political connections or favors or alliances you can call in when you need to influence political/legal events…this could be an argument for Emily keeping her mundane power base as Baroness of Cockatrice, as well as developing her arcane power and connections as Lady of Heartswhatever–it maximizes her power, position, resources, and personal connections…After 14 books, Emily needs to finally grow up and act decisively and ruthlessly…

      • Puffin Muffin September 27, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

        I liked this book better than Fists of Justice, being as the resolution (or partial resolution) made more logical sense that FoJ. But… I think there’s too many plot threads going to on the point that they bog down the character and plot progression:he needs to bring some of them to a conclusion.

        The other thing that irks me is this presumption that having saved the school umpteen times, Emily is a prime candidate for head girl, which is clearly an administrative and pastoral position. That is a non sequitur, and especially so in her case. She can’t even help herself at times, so why expect her to shoulder the responsibility for other people’s failings without proper support? By failing to do this the school staff are seriously abrogating their own responsibilities.

        Saying that I will be back for more.

      • chrishanger September 29, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

        Being good at the job – in the sense that they’d be a great Den Mother – isn’t actually on the list of qualifications


      • Ihas October 4, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

        Some time ago, I began to suspect that Void is really a back to the future and much older version of Emily, seeing as how she will obviously have to go back in time again to resolve certain loose threads. Void’s too coincidental insistence that Emily be taught soul magic merely strengthens that suspicion.

      • Wazman October 4, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

        I had similar thoughts some time ago, but I think that Void could perhaps be a descendant of her bloodline. After all when Emily first encountered him he was wearing a wooden mask and every time he makes an appearance his facial features are never the same. Since then he has never worn that mask again. Ironically no one else has even commented to her about why does her father change his appearance. I think they are in fact seeing the same but different face.

        Another point family bloodlines are very important in the Nameless World, so why does no one know whose Family Void belongs to? Void even said in the beginning that she could entertain herself trying to figure out his past. What better way to hide it. Of course we could all be wrong, and Chris won’t let us know until it’s time.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 4, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

        ::Eyes Snerk Collar::

        According to Chris, Void isn’t related to Emily.

        ::Exists Snerk Collar Danger Area::

        Family and Blood Lines are important in the Nameless World but there is evidence in the books (especially when Void officially adopts Emily) that Void has no love for his Family and apparently (assuming his Family still exists) there is no love for Void from his Family. There was the comment that Void never received any of his Family’s “Secret Spells”.

        The Nameless World doesn’t have an over-all Governmental registry for recording family data so if both Void and his Family wanted to hide the relationship, it won’t be IMO impossible for the information to remain hidden.

        It’s already come up that Void wasn’t called “Void” when he attended Whitehall and apparently nobody living knows what he was called before he started calling himself “Void”.

  2. robinsaw September 25, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    Amazing! Gonna read this right away!

  3. ander75it September 25, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    Got it! Will start it tomorrow!

  4. sevnlabs September 25, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    That was fast! Already downloading! Too bad I just started The Zero Curse…

  5. TimNN September 25, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    By sheer luck I picked up The Gordian Knot about an hour before this blog post (well maybe not just luck — I have been checking Amazon at least once per day for the past week).

    And then I read this blog post and my curiosity got the better of me. So I read the last five chapters [1]. And then I read the last line. And now I really want to hate you for putting me — and all your other fans — through this but instead I’m gonna say thank you *so much* for providing us with such an awesome series leading to countless hours of enjoyment and many a sleepless night.

    [1]: I know your not supposed to do that. But I have very little self control when it comes to reading a certain kind of story. Your stories fall into that category. It is very difficult to put them away once they get going. So this way I can enjoy the rest of the book without worrying too much about what happens next and also get more than two hours of sleep

  6. robinsaw September 26, 2017 at 12:23 am #

    You need to start realeasing your books earlier in the day. They always mess with my sleep schedule 😛 Again its a beautifully written story, and I found myself finishing it in 1 go. And now its another wait for the next one. I swear I need 5 SIM realeases every day…

    • chrishanger September 29, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

      I can’t really control when it goes live


  7. Jason September 26, 2017 at 12:29 am #

    I’m surprised (and pleased) you released this book so soon after The Zero Curse. Thanks!

  8. William Ameling September 26, 2017 at 1:02 am #

    I am done reading Gordian Knot and you still managed to surprise me. Now we have to wait for Graduation Day to resolve the cliffhanger! Do not wait too long.

    • chrishanger September 29, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

      I’m just planning to finish the first draft tomorrow, then editing …


      • Tony October 1, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

        Thank You! I hate cliffhangers where you need to wait for months and months to resolve them…

  9. allyk September 26, 2017 at 4:33 am #

    > “I suppose it wouldn’t look quite so good on your particular resume,” Lady Barb said, with a grimace. “Necromancer’s Bane, Baroness of Cockatrice, Savior of Farrakhan, Savior of Beneficence … Head Girl.”

    haha, i recognize that line from a comment here on the blog

    gj whoever that was

  10. G September 26, 2017 at 8:10 am #

    Great book! My only criticism is once again, Emily seems to be reacting rather than acting–I hope by Graduation she is more proactive and takes control of events. Finally, what is Void doing behind the scenes…his insistance on Emily studying soul magic is too convenient given that it’s needed to save Frieda–and also dangerous–what happens if Samra sees Emily knows healing magic and/or those forbidden spells she used to kill Master Grey?? It wouldn’t surprise me if Void ends up somewhere in Whitehall in disguise/false identity…he always seems to be involved behind the scenes…

  11. William Ameling September 26, 2017 at 8:15 am #

    You fooled me, I was starting to wonder if Nanette was the manipulator enemy behind the scenes since she knew Frieda as well as Emily, instead of Fulvia who I was expecting.

  12. Yiha September 26, 2017 at 11:15 pm #

    Firstly i want to thank you for this awesome series. Secondly i want to curse you for the clifhanger.

    I think that the manipulation of Frida was obivous to early. Also i see a trend, that most ploting in the series goes around manipulations of minds. Very often with the help of magic.

    Anyway, i couldnt set the book aside after starting (again). Thanks for your Work and excuse my poor english.

  13. Paul W September 27, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    Oddly the book is not attached to your name or the series on Amazon. I had to go in the back door by Google searching the title “The Gordian Knot amazon schooled in magic”. Look forward to reading this installment.

    • chrishanger September 29, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

      It takes time for all the links to go active – I’m not sure why. It should be linked now.


  14. Maggie September 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

    Maybe it is time to end SIM and move on to a stronger MC….This was not worth my time. I had to force myself to finish reading it, I have enjoyed SIM up to this book. I like fiction for fun this wasn’t, no excitement no fun, it was just boring. It would have been better if she had banged Gordian. Sorry, Chris is a excellent writer and I look forward to reading more of his other books.

  15. roxane September 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    Huge fan, have enjoyed your books tremendously! Just got your newest…

  16. William Ameling September 27, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

    It is a very standard feature of fiction, particularly a series of long books, that what is needed to solve the main problem(s) of that book, will be introduced earlier in that book. Particularly, when the series involves a School type of setting, i.e. SIM (and Harry Potter, etc.) what will be needed later in the book will be the subject of classes that the main character(s) have. In some cases this is just because what the author and editors choose to spend story telling time to tell us about, while not telling us a lot about the other classes. This is particularly true of movies versus the books they drawn from, i.e. the Harry Potter Movies versus the Harry Potter Books.

    • Pyo September 27, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

      Well, it’s also the difference between “just” a good series and a very good series when these things are planned ahead of times.

      I agree with the sentiment expressed in the afterword of the novel – a series shouldn’t be “chapter 1-3” (most of the time anyway), it should consist of linked novels that to some extend are also stand-alone. But that doesn’t mean that the foundations for later novels can’t be introduced in earlier novels.

      Emily could have learned soul magic earlier, making the issue less obvious. Frieda’s behavior could have started changing in earlier novels, making her change less blatant. Gordian could have expressed his like for dueling earlier. Samra could have appeared earlier in the series somewhere (well, maybe she did and I forgot ^^; ).

      None of this would have prevented the novel from standing alone.

      Of course, if it’s all a conspiracy of some type instead of just a coincidence than it had to happen like this. But I don’t think it was good for the plot of this novel. Yet I can’t really say what it means for further along the series since I seem to have lost my future-predicting-abilities. So really I can’t say anything ^^ except that I find at the moment it could have been done more elegantly 😉

    • chrishanger September 29, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

      That’s true .

      One problem with a long-running series is that bringing something back from the early books is always problematic – someone might not remember it.


  17. William Ameling September 27, 2017 at 8:54 pm #

    Spoiler Alert: I will be discussing some things that happened in Gordian Knot.

    There is one thing in particular that Emily can ask that will help provide some proof of Fulvia’s involvement: Ask Samra, the Mistress of Soul Magics and the teacher to Emily, to see Daze’s body, without Melissa seeing the body or hearing that Daze was dead or hearing of any of the events involving Daze, Fried, and Emily. Then have Samra use Soul Magic on Melissa to see if she can see the memory in Melissa about Daze and Fulvia, that enabled Emily to realize that Daze was working for Fulvia. At the very least, Emily can request that someone besides Fulvia lead the investigation, since she is biased against Emily and Frieda (and has a grudge against them). She could also request that Samra read Emily’s memories of the events using Soul Magic.

    She can also request that other senior members of House Ashworth be summoned to discuss Fulvia and why she lost power there, i.e. because of Emily, and Melissa’s marriage to Markus. She might even request the presence of senior members of House Ashfall that split from House Ashworth, most likely because of Fulvia.

    I wonder if Emily may end up fighting a formal duel to the death with Fulvia in Graduation Day?

    Also Emily needs to start learning to stop being a lone operator when solving a problem/crisis. She should have returned to Gordian, told him that she thought she knew where Freida has gone and ask that someone, most likely Miles accompany her to retrieve her since Miles knows both of them well.

    I suspect that a set of courses in Military Magic (although she should have learned some of this in Martial Magic) might be just what Emily needs to learn to work with other Magicians in very dangerous situations, particularly combat. Emily needs to learn how to be a member of a team, and eventually how to lead a team. (I am not talking about sports teams, although they might have helped Emily learn teamwork).

    Which gets back to the idea that Emily may go to Stronghold after graduating from Whitehall for a seventh year of schooling, i.e. in the Book with the classified title after Once and Future Queen. I have noticed that Chris changed Stronghold from having 6 years like the other Schools of Magic, to having 7 years, about the time that the classified title came into the list of future books, so I think he may be planning this.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard September 27, 2017 at 9:22 pm #

      Spoilers for Graduation Day and Gordian Knot.

      Fulvia is the Prosecutor against Frieda not “Chief Investigator”. Emily will be finding somebody to act as Frieda’s Defender.

      As Chris posted over on Baen’s Bar, by the standards of the Nameless World, Fulvia is basically seen as standing up for the member of her extended family that Frieda attacked.

      IE When a member of the extended family is attacked, the extended family is required to take some action against the attacker.

      The up-coming trial is something that the societies of the Nameless Worlds see as being better than a war between magic families.

      Yes, Frieda only has Emily to support her but the principle is the same.

      • Pyo September 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

        I thought Fulvia was kicked out from here family? Why would they keep quiet about this, letting their power and authority be usurped like that?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard September 27, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

        Unfortunately, she’s back in power. 😦

  18. G September 27, 2017 at 11:09 pm #

    This is a side issue, but Chris has established that Void is known as an immensely powerful, ruthless sorcerer…yet he doesn’t do anything outwardly, ever. (I recognize he’s acting behind the scenes…) Isn’t this a problem with characterization? Everyone poliitically astute knows Fulvia’s true target is Emily–yet Void never acts, always under the excuse that parents acting would undercut Emily…yet when Celadon or Adana is attacked Fulvia rushes to defend them, Sienna acts to protect and defend her children–.1) isn’t this inconsistent; and 2.) doesn’t not acting undercut Void’s reputation–he’s supposed to be a powerful, ruthless, kick ass character??

    • Pyo September 28, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

      I call this reverse-plot-armor. Instead of being protected because she’s the heroine she generally gets blamed and put in vulnerable positions for the same reason.

      We know that nobles, magicians, students, etc all variously break the social and legal rules. It’s usually no big deal and they can get away with.

      But with Emily it’s always portrayed as if it were a complete disaster and she has to be perfectly conform to everything and every little misstep (even by those around her…) is entirely her fault … of course, she then ultimately also gets away with whatever she’s doing. But not before it causes some type of trouble 😉

    • chrishanger October 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

      I think I mentioned that, at some point .

      The short answer is that Void can help in the short term, but that would hinder Emily in the long term (particularly when he’s dead and gone.) The Nameless World is not particularly fond of helicopter parents. Void could step in when the situation was completely hopeless, but not before then.


  19. George VanDeusen September 28, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    Circumstances at the end of the story seem to create the perfect opportunity for all those who fear Emily to bring her down.
    It’s also the time for those who support her to rally round her.
    For those who complain about Emily not seeking help and creating alliances, remember this is Voids continuing advice to her. It may be possible some of those who fear her fear her because they fear she will become a second Void…unconnected and uncontrollable.

    For the first time, I was disappointed with a SIM book. I’m hoping Emily, like the Cowardly Lion, breaks out and kicks some serious ass in the next book. She is potentially the most powerful magical person in the Unnamed World. Chris, please slap her but and get to grow up

  20. Romain September 28, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

    I don’t know if this has already been mentionned in any other post or comment on SIM but it seems to me that the whole magical community of the unknown world is missing a LOT of discoveries by not having thought to use a very simple spell : the one I name the microscope spell. They already know more or less about micro organisms being responsible for diseases : study them with a microscope spell and discover DNA.
    The concept of atoms predates Jesus Christ. The Greeks thought of it : take a grain of sand and cut it in two till you can’t and you have what constitute the base of matter. Atom means “uncuttable”. That remained a theory for 2000 years and was proved with the first electronic microscope in the 20th century. With magic it can be proved a lot sooner than 2000 years. And Emily herself said her nuke spell was easy.
    That said, SIM is not a hard science fiction series and delving too much into quantum physics can become a nightmare really quickly for the author. Kudos to Chris, I didn’t spot any science mistake or incoherence in any of his novels… I once saw a vid of people answering 10 times the speed of sound when asked for the speed of light (Oh! Did Emily managed a laser spell?)
    I think there could be a lot of microscopic magic to develop, applications in healing and destruction are only the beginning.

    • Pyo September 28, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

      Speculating about scientific discovery in a society with magic is interesting, but I don’t think one can come to conclusive results.

      Personally, could imagine that it’d lead to stagnation. Fire? Well, we can do it via magic, what do we care if there’s another option? And figuring out reasons for anything is twice as difficult: is lightning a natural discharge of magic? Or some effect of clouds and particles in the air rubbing against each other? (trivia: the details of how lightning works precisely is still unknown) So I could see society advancing slowly, with the occasional innovation but everything focused too much on magic to advance natural sciences. Heck, mages probably would have an interest in preventing natural sciences from advancing.

      However, I feel it equally likely could lead to very early discovery of lots of things. The single most important discovery of the modern human I’d say is “scientific method”. Once you’ve got empirical experimenting down, everything else more or less follows. People in this society clearly know about it, so I’m not sure how “realistic” it is that they haven’t progressed further (the constant state of war also should favor innovation).

      The atom example you bring is a philosophical idea. There were competing ideas, like ether, but the big “problem” with such early theories was that they usually have little evidence of backing them up, which limited their use. It was a thought experiment that worked and made sense, but since it didn’t come from empirical results, it couldn’t easily be advanced on or checked for actual results, which is the main difference to modern atom-theories.
      So the big question here would be whether magicians are more like philosophers of old or scientists of today. And the impression I get, well, a bit of a mix, but mostly more science, I think.

      • Romain September 28, 2017 at 11:51 pm #

        Ironically, your mention of the scientific method places you in my mind in the philosophers group. Scientists, as separate entities from the philosophers, if such a thing is even possible, don’t think about the scientific method, they apply it. So you are right when you say it’s a mix.
        Still, I can think of hundreds of reasons why any curious magicians should look at the infinitly small. I’m coming up in my head with many ideas of use for micro magic, most inspired by Chris’ novels ! So many that I’m not going to expose them but I would like one say to read a novel or a series with a take on microscopic magic. I really liked Emily’s nuke spell. It really went “D’Oh” in my head. It’s so simple and devastating, I understand it isn’t used in urban fantasy, but now I think of all these urban sorcerers and witches as such noobs compared to Emily.

    • chrishanger October 2, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

      It’s something she’ll be introducing at some point – mainly later in the series.


  21. William Ameling September 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm #

    Spoiler Alert for Gordian Knot

    Except for her handling of Frieda, Emily did a good job of Head Girl. Even with Frieda, Emily defended her but also spent a lot of time telling her she was wrong and trying to help her. Gordian DID ask her to tell them if she knew where Frieda was, although Emily also thought that Gordian would not allow her to leave Whitehall. So perhaps she should have gone to Miles to explain things and ask for his help with Gordian and Frieda. Emily was the only one besides Frieda (currently available, possibly Void or Lady Barb might have access) to be able to enter the house in Dragon’s Den. Emily NEEDED to have someone with her for help and to serve as a witness when she went to the house.

    Also, why didn’t Emily ask Samra (or some other medical person) a lot earlier, to examine Frieda’s mind to see what was causing her problems? I know the Nameless World has a phobia about mental problems, but they are also highly concerned about forms of magical manipulation of people’s minds, e.g. soul magic, subtle magic, potions, etc. Emily needed to demonstrate that she (Emily) was not using soul magic on Frieda well before the end of the book.

    I think that Emily will have to let someone enter her mind during the soul magic training anyway, so she might as well as use it while defending her actions. Although she may have to ask for an oath of silence about things she does not want revealed.

    I still think that we are headed for a fight between Emily and Fulvia at some point, quite likely as a formal duel to the death.

  22. William Ameling September 28, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

    Emily does need to introduce the idea of microscopes and very small components, i.e. cells, bacteria, etc. I seem to recall someone, probably Void, mentioning invisible demons regarding clean water and boiling the water, and that Emily thought that it was a reasonable way of thinking about it from the viewpoint of the Nameless World.

    She also needs to introduce at the same time the idea of telescopes as well as eyeglasses. All three ideas will have a MAJOR impact on the Nameless world, as important as some of the other ideas she has already introduced.

    • Romain September 29, 2017 at 8:07 am #

      She needs to introduce them very carefully, because some of the simplest applications would be the recreating her nuke and gravitic spells with the potential to end the world. The best place to do so would be to sworn students and researchers of her future university, both magicians and mundanes.
      The leaders of the nameless world are right to fear Emily. They just don’t know all the reasons why. And from their own frame of reference, she is already uber scary with her control of multiple nexus points and her victories over necromancers.
      Just wait till she has her magical computer…
      She can already beat any magician with magically applied science. She has proved it by killing 3 necromancers and one duellist champion. As everyone says, she needs to grow emotionnally, to be more decisive and to stop being a pushover. I would have liked better for her to have come up with her own idea for her Head Girl project. I’m growing bored with this undecisive Emily. Her saving grace in SIM 13 for me is her unshakable loyalty in Frieda. She remained decisivly loyal even when doubting how to act.

  23. Craig September 29, 2017 at 9:00 am #

    The whole part where she sees people trying to subvert the wards then going “oh well, what can you do?” just seems wrong. It looks like that scene is only there so that it takes emilies options of “just saying get the fuck out of my house” away. Otherwise it’s like people coming into you house to change the locks and you just shrugging your shoulders. I can see it if she just saw it a school and didn’t feel attachment to it but it’s really the only home she has known and one of the safest places in the world. So if you know someone is trying to gank your house you will make them stop and leave or kill them. If she was worried about losing to the headmaster all she had to do was kill the people down in the basement and destroy their notes or hide them. Then just get rid of the evidence.

    • Pyo September 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

      Emily overall seems to be fairly emotionally uninvested in this novel. Doesn’t really care about the Head Girl stuff and dueling club. Is willing to give up her joint project. Isn’t really seeking out any new friends or bothers to link up with some of the tutors for any of her problems.

      With bad stuff happening, she doesn’t really get angry and starts having thoughts of vengeance or something, she mostly just seems vaguely numb, maybe a little sad.

      The one thing that causes a bit of a blip on the radar is the soul magic stuff, maybe. But I still think that could have done much deeper.

      • G September 30, 2017 at 12:59 am #

        The soul magic sessions are important not only because they enable Emily to figure out what’s wrong with Frieda, but because both Samra and Melissa now know Emily is from another world and see something of her secrets–although as healers, they are bound to secrecy. This creates two interesting problem though for the author: 1.) hasn’t he now made Samra and Melissa targets of those wanting to learn Emily’s secrets (the healer’s oaths won’t stop them from being tortured) and 2.) if they begin seeing some of Emily’s secret’s why not the healing and cursed healing spells Aurelious taught Emily in the School of Hard Knocks–and then wouldn’t they act against her (it’s forbidden for non-healers to know those spells)?? Chris is going to have a hard time saying Melissa saw this about Emily’s past, but not that…

      • chrishanger October 2, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

        Neither Samra nor Melissa can share anything of Emily’s without permission, regardless of what it is. It’s possible that someone else could read their minds – which they know how to prevent – but it isn’t too likely.


      • G October 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

        But to what extent can Samra ACT on what she knows?? Same for Melissa. She’s already threatened to kill Emily if she abuses soul magic…if she knows Emily knows healer only spells + forbidden cursed healer spells + how Emily killed Master Gray, won’t she ACT?? She’s devoted her life to this…You need to explain in Graduation Day or you have major hole in story…

      • chrishanger October 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

        It’s a problem to address.

        That said – there’s no guarantee that either of them saw anything about Emily’s prior training in soul magic. Unless they thought to look specifically, they might not have stumbled across it.


    • chrishanger October 2, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

      She can’t act quickly without risking a complete collaspe of the whole network – something akin to what happened in IR. So she intended to work out what is actually happening first, then events got in the way.


    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 10, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

      I think it is a case where “while Emily dislike Gordian, she still respects his authority over the School” and where “she doesn’t want to challenge his authority over the School”.

      IMO any action against the people working on the wards would lead to an open fight with Gordian and she wasn’t willing to start that fight.

      Sure she could “destroy the evidence” but that wouldn’t prevent the fight.

  24. William Ameling September 29, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

    I sometimes think that Emily is more willing to defend her friends than herself.

    Also though, with the present state of the introduction of the new letters and printing presses, plus old fashioned word of mouth gossiping, HOW can she defend herself against rumors, etc? (some of this has been happened regarding her since Book 1 when she defeated Shadye, and even earlier with rumors of her being a Child of Destiny). Mostly by behaving in ways that disprove those rumors. Only in rare cases can she challenge someone to a duel for what they are doing to her, as I think will happen with Fulvia now that she has come out into the open. Normally, she can not even identify those who are spreading the bad stories about her. To date she has never challenged anyone to a duel, partly because of the policies of Hasdrubal who strongly discouraged duels and a dueling club at Whitehall.

    Her real ability to act to defend herself against such things, will come when she is no longer a student or an apprentice, i.e. when she is a recognized Master and can go directly to the White Council. At present, she has to rely on others, Void, Lady Barb, Miles, Hasdrubal (before he died) and even Gordian to interact on her behalf with the White Council and the magical community.

    I think that the introduction of microscopes will be very useful to Healers and the study of diseases, and probably of some use in Alchemy. It will become very important when the industrial processes reach the stage of precise sizes needed to make things.

    Telescopes could be very useful in combat, particularly for nonmagicans, but also when long range artillery starts being used. Then there is the interesting question of what using telescopes on the night sky might reveal. As an example, maybe the Faerie are also living a nearby planet as well as the Nameless world. For that matter, maybe the Nameless World is tidally locked to a second (habitable) planet (moon) such that it never sees that that world because it is always on the side of the Nameless World away from where the Humans live. I think either idea is extreme and unlikely (a tidally locked planet would probably have too long of a day), but Chris could do either of them if he wants. They could explain where the Faerie are, besides on the 3rd Continent which I consider more likely.

    Has Emily introduced any mathematical advances such as geometry, trigonometry or even calculus to the Nameless World? I do not think so, although she did introduce new Numbers as well as new Letters. They will be needed as industry and science advances on the Nameless World. I think that Emily needs to introduce a School for Technology and Science. Perhaps it could be colocated with the School of Advanced Magical Studies (at Heart’s Eye) that she and Caleb have been planning.

  25. William Ameling September 29, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

    Also the Nameless World needs to start developing non Alchemical (nonmagical) processes of Chemistry which will also needed for industrial developement. Emily should be able to provide some ideas and backing.

  26. Jensebaum September 29, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

    First of all, it’s a SIM book and, as always, enjoyable. I read it in one go and will liekly read it again at some point, so the following is complaining on a high level.

    It got the feeling with Gordian Knot that there isn’t much progress, unlike earlier books where Emily advances in leaps and bounds and a lot happens in a short time. The whole Frieda-is-being-manipulated thing is quite obvious for the reader early on, so not much of a surprise, and it’s almost annoying how long Emily takes to catch on.
    The whole book feels more like a build-up for Graduation Day, like Infinete Regress was for Past Tense, just with much less action and almost completely without meaningful events. After all, Emily herself doesn’t really have much at stake here. It’s Frieda who’s in trouble, and while I like her, I find myself almost wishing that she goes down, just to see what happens when Emily can finally be bothered to get angry.

    I hope in Graduation Day we’ll see more action and a more proactive Emily. Also, there’s been a lot of loose storyends piling up, and I would very much like to see a bunch of them finally resolved, or at least progressed, before more new problems are introduced.

    That said, I’m already impatiently waiting for the next book! 😉

  27. George E VanDeusen October 1, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

    In retrospect, and after re-reading the book, Emily is showing some classic signs of PTSD. The educational demands of Sixth Year and the additional demands of Head Girl have allowed her no time to decompress from the “trauma” of fighting Justice, the breakup with Caleb, the war and killing the Gaius and the necromancer, and Caspers death, and… There has been no break. It looks like there will be no foreseeable break in Graduation Day.
    I am very curious how Emily will react in the next book. When personally challenged in Trial By Fire, she opted not to run but to face her challenge. Fulvia may have underestimated Emily once more

    • Wazman October 1, 2017 at 4:56 pm #

      I have to agree with you about the point that she is showing signs of PTSD. I would add to that, Emily still hasn’t grown into her expanded mana reserves after her near fatal duel with Master Grey.

      • Pyo October 1, 2017 at 5:26 pm #

        A bit depressed maybe, but if it’s PTSD than it’s to subtle for me (rhyme not intended).

        Doesn’t have memory issue, startle at odd times, shows excessive avoidance (well, only the way she usually does), has dream/sleep issues, angers easily, concentration issues, etc

        If she actually had PTSD, she might have solved the Frieda problem sooner 😉

        I think it’s fair to say she’s stressed, which the book kinda emphasizes often enough (every time something is mentioned it’s mentioned how much time it takes to do it ^^), but if it goes beyond that I didn’t see it.

    • chrishanger October 2, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

      That’s part of her problem . Really, she needs a long holiday.


      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 2, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

        And who’s fault is it that she’s not going to get one? 😈

  28. G October 1, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    If I could make a suggestion, Chris should include an appendix explaining healing oaths at the end of graduation day. One idea he could adopt is that although healers are sworn to silence and to not use what they may learn as a healer, patients may give permission for healers to discuss or act on specific information with non healers…this would solve the dilemma of Melissa possibly needing to act on or share any info she gets from sharing Emily’s mind. And it would make sense…

    • Wazman October 2, 2017 at 4:37 am #

      Another suggestion would be that Chris do another Appendix that had different scenarios about what could have happened.

      • chrishanger October 2, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

        I might do that for a Christmas bonus


  29. Wazman October 2, 2017 at 4:22 am #

    After finishing the latest book I can see why Chris had Gordian fiddling with the wards at Whitehall to reduce Emily’s control over them. If I were in Emily’s position confronted by the very person who had sent Master Grey on a mission to kill her, then had wanted Frieda to loose her mind just to humiliate Emily. to say that she is totally pissed off would be a understatement.

    Fulvia has unwittingly stepped into Emily’s house of power. More than once it has been pointed out that Emily considered Whitehall as her home and from her actions in Past Tense is the rightful master. If Chris hadn’t short circuited Emily’s influence she could have literally put the school into lock down and would have had both Gordian and Fulvia at her mercy. Now I’m not saying that they are working together and it may be just circumstantial.

    I have been considering the fact that the next coming title “Graduation Day” is more than just Emily finally graduating from school. It could also mean that she is going to show the Nameless World that she is not someone to trifle with. Emily has been protected from outside influences almost from the very beginning she showed up at Whitehall on a dragon. For Void to call in his favor just to transport a sixteen year old girl to school. Or how Void convinces Zed behind the scenes not to reveal to King Randor that she had used Blood Magic on his daughter. Then after the Wedding Hells where Emily uses the battery to temporarily quell the feud between the two magical houses.the Grandmaster had stated that many on the White Council wanted Emily to take the oaths immediately, but had resisted the external pressure.

    The insistence from Void that his ‘daughter’ be permitted to study soul magic must have a deeper meaning to it than what was reflected in the current book. If Gordian at the beginning was aware of several ongoing plots regarding the fate of his most troublesome student than it is good bet that so did Void.

    What I personnel think is going to happen in Graduation Day is that based on the intelligence that had been gathered on Emily herself (we saw evidence of that in Master Grey’s trunk when Emily was sorting through it) that Fulvia must know that Emily is very loyal to her friends. So she will use that against her. The trial will be the main focus of the next book and I think that despite a gallant defense of her friend Freida will be forcibly stripped of her magical powers via a ritual. I don’t think the families would technically want Freida executed since she didn’t actually kill anyone (other than Daze). Stripped of magical powers would be seen as a fitting punishment from a magical society standpoint.

    However I think that Emily is going to intervene to safeguard someone she considers a little sister or as a prosecutor Fulvia will find a means of laying the blame on Emily. As a legal guardian she may volunteer/or because of will take Freida’s place and thus fulfilling this part of the demon prophecy.

    “Emily is kneeling on a stone floor, her hands and feet chained with cold iron. The spectators are booing loudly as her judges close in, joining hands in a fearsome ritual that will destroy her magic…”

    How she gets out of that only Chris can figure it out and just thinking about it makes my own head hurt!! So I don’t envy him in the slightest. he could of course just kill off Freida but as for me I have grown fond of this particular character and It could be interesting to see a spin off with her as the main character (just my two cents).. Regardless Freida is not going to emerge from this unscathed.

    I also have a sneaky feeling that we are going to learn more about the White Council and more importantly Void.

  30. Vapori October 2, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

    So I think that this book and Graduation Day are both necessary evils.
    They will not be my favorite books in this awsome series by a long shot but they were necessary.
    While Emily advances in magic. Both this and the following book will give her further obligations and social connections and more important social skills.
    As headgirl she has to deal with a great deal of problems and be a more public figure.

    When she wants to reopen heartseye as a university it will be quite handy that she had been headgirl before.
    Else she would make more mistakes when doing that.

    She needed a position like headgirl were she lead fellow magicans and not peasants in cockatrice. Serving as whitehalls headgirl is perfect for that.

    and this book and graduation day will close at least a few plotlines and open new ones or at least hinting in that direction.

  31. Ihas October 3, 2017 at 1:19 am #

    Based on previous release dates following co pletion of a draft, I expected this one in mid September. When you gave us an October estimate because you were waiting on cover art, I thought, “This better be the best cover art ever!” And then you not only published in September, but you did so with, guess what, “the best cover art ever!”

  32. Kell October 3, 2017 at 5:21 am #

    What I want to know is why did miles out Emily as head girl when he knew she would hate it?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 3, 2017 at 5:35 am #

      Sergeant Miles may have known that Emily would dislike the role but believed that none of the other Sixth Year students deserved the Head Girl/Boy position more than Emily did.

      He may have known officers who disliked being promoted to a higher rank but still deserved the promotion and did a good job in the higher rank.

      Let’s be honest about this, until Frieda’s problem started, Emily was being a fair Head Girl. Maybe not one of the “Greatest” ones but not one of the worst ones.

  33. Alan March 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm #

    I know that I tend to read too fast when I get to the end of these books, but did I miss something obvious about the fate of Emily’s familiar Aurelius? The last that I remember, Aurelius was hurt badly by Daze, but not dead (with the comment that Aurelius’ death would have been very bad for Emily), and put into stasis. But I keep waiting for that to resolve. I didn’t pick up anything in Graduation Day either. Here’s quietly hoping for an eventual recovery!

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