In preparation for the third book in this series, Sonnedragon, I’ve been putting together reference material and background information: a new and more expansive map, family trees, dramatis personae. While looking through some very old files to recover what I’d already done in this area, I found the following guide to pronouncing proper names.
The language spoken by the characters in this novel is an Anglo-French amalgamation similar to Chaucerian English; though the language itself is rarely represented, the spelling and pronunciation of proper names reflect its use. There are a few, simple, general guidelines to correct pronunciation:
Y is usually pronounced like long e: Ah-dee-nah, Oh-leer.
An initial I is a long i: Eye-gren, Eye-oh-bethe. Exceptions are the Spanish words, in which an initial I is pronounced with a modern y sound: Yar-din-ez.
The use of U as a consonant is frequently, but not consistently, employed. Names such as Houarde, Eduarde, and Uinmerchant should be pronounced as if the U were a W: Win-merchant.
When a word ends with a consonant followed by an E, the consonant should be stressed with a slight aspirate afterwards, a sort of uh sound: Da-feeTH-uh, Ed-warD-uh.
The accent usually falls on the second or middle syllable: Mar-GEER-reet, Kat-HER-Reen, Go-DEF-roi, An-DEM-ee-on.
I’ve found my original, hand-drawn map of the Northlands (which was called Norelande then). Not up to the graphic skills of Molly Kiely, who redrew the map for The Wizard’s Son and Maiden In Light, but it shows more geographical detail and features my own calligraphy.
While the family’s overly fair appearance is a literary device to make them instantly recognizable as related, in Maiden in Light, it also gives them an aura of being truly strange and exotic people.
Lord Ambris’s encounter with Laurel in the first chapter of this story not only foreshadows his introduction to the rest of her family, but also suggests that the staid and dutiful nobleman has touched upon a magical experience, with just a hint of romance. While he lives in a world where magicians exist, they aren’t the sort of people one encounters in ordinary circumstances. But here is this extraordinary girl. When Ambris meets Laurel’s aunt Kaiese and young cousins later that same day, their fair coloring tells him that the four are related. While the lady and her daughters are not overtly magical themselves, their relationship to the wizard Redmantyl, whom Ambris knows slightly, makes them all the more intriguing to him.
When he leaves New York, the experience stays with Ambris. Although many years pass before he sees Laurel again after this first, brief encounter, he does not forget her.
Both are authors I discovered in my late teens and who have had an influence on my writing, but it’s an odd match-up. The two are radically different in tone as well as scope.
Austen focused her literary attention on personal and domestic scenes–what she called her “two inches of ivory,” portraits in miniature of families and social circles in country villages. Lovecraft’s vision, on the other hand, was of the incomprehensibly vast gulfs of time and space and things that lurked beyond the perceptions of the limited human sphere. So how does one reflect the influence of both at once?
In Maiden in Light, I’ve tried to do it via the experiences of my heroine Laurel. As a budding magician, Laurel has perceptions beyond the human norm and in the course of her apprenticeship with her wizard-uncle, gains a terrible knowledge of dark cosmic forces outside the cozy little world she has grown up in. When she returns to her old home in the city of New York* burdened by the responsibilities attendant on her knowledge, she lives among ordinary people who remain ignorant: her young cousins, her match-making aunt and Mr. Bennet-like uncle. The juxtaposition between Laurel’s duties as a magician and the petty social concerns of her family make up the second half of the novel.
New York is a medieval merchants’ city rather than a country village, but it does have gambrel-roofed houses with eaves nearly meeting across narrow and twisted streets, which Lovecraft so admired in Providence, RI.
*Not to be confused with any reality-based New Yorks the reader may be familiar with.
“From the top of the gate, Alys smiled down. There was no evidence of evil, yet Laurel felt it. That absence of living energy concealed something grotesque. She shuddered when she met those night eyes, repulsed as she might be by a dead mouse accidentally trod underfoot or a cold, scaly water-thing brushing against her body in a stream. Her nerves thrilled with danger. She’d seen this girl before, watching and smiling secretly. She’d sensed this presence months ago, though she hadn’t understood until now what it was. This was why she had come to New York…”
When Laurel Windswift enters an apprenticeship under her uncle, the great wizard Lord Redmantyl, she sees only the delights that her magic can bring. But her desire for more knowledge brings her too soon into the dark secrets that all magicians of power share, and forces her to take up a wizard’s duties of night vigils against monstrous and inhuman forces before she is ready. When Laurel returns to her home city to investigate a small magical anomaly for her uncle, this maiden of light meets a child of darkness, and must undertake a task too terrible to perform.
On an alternate earth filled with wonder and danger, the wizard’s niece must make a decision that will affect the rest of her life. As she struggles with the unbearable obligations of a magician, she also faces the ostracism of the merchant families who cast her out as a child, her aunt’s matchmaking efforts, and finding an unexpected love.