Trials and smiles of an author part 5

I thought it was about time for an update, which currently means an update (more accurately, a trailer…) on progress of the Third Tale from Ragaris,“The Servant’s Voice”.

Where is it coming from, and where/when is it set?

As many of you know, the continent of Ragaris existed long before the names Dorac or Marod did. The country of Jaryar first appeared in the unpublished volume called “People of Makkera”. Jaryar was always on the brink of war with another country called Ricossa, which at that time was more warlike and more formal in manners, and ruled, oddly, by two monarchs. (This isn’t unknown in history.)

Remembering Ricossa when I was writing “We Do Not Kill Children”, it occurred to me to wonder why Marod, even at a time of internal turmoil, managed to have such a peaceful eastern border. I casually solved this problem by providing Ricossa with a civil war (The War of the Throne, 568-575). This is referred to again in “The Tenth Province of Jaryar”. The Jaryari decided to have an election rather than risk civil war (“looking to and fearing the example of the seven-year War of the Throne in Ricossa, in which it is said ten thousand died”, TPOJ chapter 1).


So then I started speculating about the aftermath of this war, and its conclusion; and a possible peace settlement aimed above all at keeping powerful families at peace with each other.

By 641 AL (twenty-two years after the Great Council at Vach-roysh) the Ricossans have become accustomed to the terms of the New Governance, and their two monarchs, who do not inherit but are chosen. (“Nobody knew, Lida remembered, how the Ricossans chose their kings and queens. Nobody in the world knew”, TPOJ chapter 8).

This was one of the inspirations for “The Servant’s Voice.” Another was a minor character in George RR Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire”.

Those who’ve read this work, as far as it’s got, may remember Ser Ilyn Payne, a knight in the service of the Mad King, who made an unwise joke. His punishment was to lose his tongue. Some time later, the Mad King was overthrown, and he entered the service of King Robert Baratheon as executioner.

Ser Ilyn is presented largely as sinister and brutal, but in later books we are given a few glimpses of the desolation of his life, as someone who cannot communicate. But he could have communicated, if any of those who overthrew the Mad King had thought to teach him to write.

I felt great indignation on Ser Ilyn’s behalf. Cutting out someone’s tongue is such an easy way for an author or film-maker to show that a fictional society or tyrant is Totally Evil (Martin’s Joffrey does it, and there’s an example in the film “Solo”) – but what would it actually be like?

I found I wanted to tell the story of someone intelligent and law-abiding, who’s been removed from normal social life in this way. Ricossa seemed the kind of place where this might happen. (“The Ricossans have some vile customs,” TPOJ chapter 5). And so Hridnaya daughter of Haidi, Voiceless servant to the b’Nida Family, was born.

Following the pattern I’ve invented in the two previous Tales, I also needed political intrigue and a murder to solve. And this time I wanted the murder victim to be a man. (In fiction, unlike in life, murder victims are disproportionately female.)

Fourthly, looking back at Dorac and Makkam, Talinti and Meriden and Arrion (and Darilsa in “People of Makkera”, twenty years ago) – I thought it was about time to see if I could ring the changes, and write a character who is fairly sympathetic (or is he?) but dishonest.

So The New Governance + voiceless woman + murder of man + amiable liar = the foundations of “The Servant’s Voice.”

I don’t think it’ll be out in time for Christmas, sadly. But the second draft is nearly finished, which means the third draft will be started soon.

(Anyone who thinks the above is too spoiler-ish should read the teaser already in print at the back of TPOJ, which is still accurate:

“In the powerful eastern land of Ricossa, rich people use brutal and permanent methods to protect their secrets.

An eccentric pauper is knocked down and killed in a tavern. Drunken manslaughter, or deliberate murder? The victim’s niece is determined to find out which.

As an investigator, Hridnaya faces many disadvantages. The case has already been closed; she’s an insignificant servant; she can’t read or write.

And she can’t talk.”)

Next week, an excerpt!

Love from the PPI Blogger

(This week’s post one day early for family reasons)

  • Judith Renton

    27th September 2018 at 8:18 pm Reply

    Sounds brilliant. Hurry up and write it!!

  • Stephen Sheridan

    27th September 2018 at 11:29 pm Reply

    I can’t wait PW, looking forward to the excerpt! You have certainly set some serious challenges for your protagonist and I am fascinated to see how this New Governance system works (or doesn’t) and the Ricossan factions. I am also intrigued on how the church influences the goings on in Ricossa or if its establishment there is tainted and corrupted.

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