Fantasy books: Spoiler alert.

There is the general spoiler page for general questions.

I’m making this set of pages for more specific questions.

The rule is: do not ask or comment about a book until it has been at least a month in issue. I think that will make everybody happy re spoilers.


  1. CJ

    Remember the stories are written ‘in viewpoint’ and you know only what the observer knows. The author may know more.

  2. joekc6nlx

    Thanks….I will keep that in mind. I didn’t mean to seem as if I were trying to catch you in incongruities, I just didn’t understand where certain things were going in FoI.

  3. CJ

    No, the who-named-whom thing was something I’d looked for and failed to find, but the other—it’s just viewpoint. Hasufin has handholds in various places.

  4. joekc6nlx

    Do I understand correctly:

    Let me see….when Elfwyn was born, they thought he was stillborn, everyone except Tristen, that is. Tristen went through the gray space and found Elfwyn standing on the Edge. When he called the boy by that name three times, it was established that his name was Elfwyn. When Tristen gave him back to Tarien, he said, “His name is Elfwyn” and Tarien’s eyes flashed wide. FoD Book Two, Chapter 3, pp 226-227.

  5. CJ

    ah! Thank you. SO it can be ambiguous, as to whether the mother did it or Tristen did it. I love ambiguity. 😉

  6. joekc6nlx

    Yep, always keep ’em guessing. That way, when they move the way they think they should move, hit them from the other side and give them a surprise.

  7. Hanneke

    This coincidence is too much for my resolution to stay quiet for a bit. I’m reading the Fortress series for the first time, and just arrived at the above-mentioned bit yesterday evening. The end of the quoted sentence is: ‘Tarien’s eyes flashed wide, lips parted, perhaps to protest she wanted some other name. But she said not a word.'(p.305 in my edition).
    Just a after that, in chapter 4 book 2 of Fortress of Dragons (p.310 in the recently available paperback edition), Ninévrisë is getting the news from Tristan’s magic blank letter. “The baby’s name is Elfwyn,” she said. “Tarien called him Maurydd, after the old wizard, I think; but Tristen said he was Elfwyn, so Elfwyn he is, now.”
    All the rest of the information she gets that way is accurate as far as I can see, but it is of course too chancy a method to be proof of an incontrovertible fact, so there is still some ambiguity. The name Tarien wanted to call him is marked as what Ninévrisë thinks, and she might be wrong. The ambiguity might even be inside Tarien’s mind: perhaps a balance between what Orien had pressured her into calling him, and what she in the deeper parts of her mind privately wanted to call him. So there’s still some wriggle room left, but not very much.
    Her wanting to call him Maurydd has me wondering about possible advantages to that: could O+T have tried to bind Maurydd to the boy that way, with Orien intending to send him over the Edge and clear the way for Hasufin? Names do have some power in that universe, but I rather doubt it would have worked that way. Or was it Tarien’s choice, hoping to get Maurydd’s protection for her unborn son, against Orien´s plans to give him over to Hasufin? Are there future plot elements locked in that tidbit? And Elfwyn by all accounts was a gentle king, a scholar and not a fighter or a killer, so that seems a hopeful kind of name for the developing character of the baby.
    (Looking forward eagerly to reading Fortress of Ice).

  8. CJ

    Interesting thoughts, Hanneke. Thanks.

  9. Hanneke

    My mistake, haring off in all directions: the old wizard’s name is Mauryl, not Maurydd, so naming him that would not have done any name-magic. With these unusual names I have some trouble remembering their details and spellings, and sometimes stupidly mistake them when they’re a similar. The final consonant is somehow not a very strong part of a word, for me – I think there’s something in linguistics about that, that those shift easily over time; but I hadn’t expected to bump my nose on the effect so directly.

    Just leafing through Fortress of ice, somewhere in the beginning Cefwyn is thinking about the boy’s (non-)acceptance at court, and how by now they all know that his mother named him Elfwyn, not Otter – so ‘his mother named him’ in this instance is just what the court thinks, not what Cefwyn thinks or knows as a fact: it’s a matter of perspective and who-knows-what, as CJ already said. Near the end Emuin very clearly knows it was Tristen who named him Elfwyn, and tells Elfwyn: “I suspect you were bound to that name long, long ago, and your mother had no choice in naming you.” (book 2 chapter 9 part iii) (The latter part is clearly true, considering the FoD chapter 3 quoted above).

    I’ll start reading FoI in earnest tomorrow, and shut up again. Sorry CJ, I know it’s not the way a book is written to be read, but I always read the end first, to know at least some things will end all right: otherwise I’d not be able to stop reading tonight till the people I care about in the story have won past their most pressing difficulties and troubles. You do have a way of bringing lots of trouble on our favorite characters! And if they don’t get a breather, somewhere near my bedtime, I wouldn’t either.

  10. joekc6nlx

    When Tarien is in labor and just about to deliver Elfwyn, Orien and possibly Heryn, along with Hasufin and Tristen’s Enemy all fight to get to the baby before anyone can prevent them. But, Tarien rejects Orien’s wishes when she realizes that Orien has other plans and that they do not benefit either Tarien or the baby. “Orien’s will drove Tarien’s body, and Orien’s presence, stronger than ever she had been in the gray place, swallowed Tarien’s will like the Edge itself…..” “He [Tristen]…wished the pain away, seeking her presence in the gray world, feeling her sever that connection to Orien strand by strand as it pulled her toward the edge.” “Rejecting her sister, perserving the life within her…” FoD, pg 225 and on pg 393, “it was a bond more magical than wizardous that extended through the stones…” In this paragraph, Tarien rejected Orien the final time, upholding Ninevrise, and the shock of that rejection resounded through the gray space. In FoI, though Tarien appears to be once again under the spell of Orien, since she has become hateful of everyone, especially her son. When Elfwyn is taken by Hasufin, Orien, and Tarien, the sisters are once again allied. Is Tarien’s will overshadowed by Orien’s? Tarien has never been more than a catspaw in Orien’s plans, from the time Orien bespelled Cefwyn to impregnate Tarien instead of her. Let Tarien spend her energies bearing a child and Orien would be that much more powerful than her sister. Also, even though it was never spoken, I’m willing to bet that Tarien is extremely conscious of the fact that she is the younger of the two and that Orien never lets her forget it. So, Lady Tarien is not as evil as she might seem in FoI, unless her years of imprisonment in the Zeide have darkened her to the point of extreme evil. Which now brings me to thinking, is Elfwyn meeting with his mother in her room, or is it his aunt behind Tarien’s green eyes? Based on the meeting of Elfwyn with Hasufin and the two women, he mistakenly thought that Orien was Tarien because of the resemblance, and having never met his aunt, didn’t know what she looked like. Okay, with that incident in mind, why not “assume” Tarien’s identity whenever someone would meet her, and when Tarien was alone, leave her to herself to grow more and more bitter as she aged in isolation?

  11. joekc6nlx

    Another question, and I know you’re extremely busy and had wanted to work on this eventually. Eventually is a long time, though, but I thought I’d nudge your memory a little.

    The maps of Ylesuin and Elwynor aren’t clear (to me) as to location of various places. The maps in the books seem to use the same symbol for the cities as the forests. I am also not sure which way is north, since the stories say that Ilefinien is east and north of Amafel, and Althalen is west of Amafel.

    I think a larger version of the map would allow more detail and would give a better picture of where things are in the stories. Same with the Atevi world. Morgaine doesn’t need any more detail than she already has, since she and Vanye are on each world for such a short time.

  12. purple_reading_giraffe

    I am very surprised to hear that Fortress does not have its publisher’s continuing support. Have they been taking stupid pills? I do have to say that I wanted Tristen & Cefwyn to be happier, though. The continuations of both Bren & Tristen’s adventures have been high points of several years now for me.

    I recently reread the Rusalka series and was struck at how the magical ideas you had there are further (and better) developed in Tristen. Also, the Fortress in the Eye of Time is the most charmingly delightful use you have yet made of your third-person intensive viewpoint – it is SO marvelous to see the world through the mind of this very special man-child; it never fails to make my world so much brighter when I spend time with brand-new-Tristen.

    I surely am glad I discovered AND got a Kindle for Christmas if that’s my only hope for future Fortresses.

    I note that Exile’s Gate seems harder to obtain in print than the first three. It also helps satisfy the romantic/happy itch. Might be good to ebook that one before the other three… (my copy’s gone and lost its cover)

  13. rollingstone

    Write me down as also thinking the publishers are crazy for not supporting at least one more Fortress novel to tie up the series. Just another example of short-term thinking. Oh, WHY can’t intelligent sci-fi/fantasy ever be truly supported? The “us vs. them” take on other life forms seems to be all that’s produced these days. Very trite, very overdone. For instance, I would have thought Game of Thrones would be unfilmable due to it’s length and over-abundance of characters, and I frankly feel sorry for anyone who watches it who hasn’t read the series because they’re going to hate the ending. And I’m not a little resentful that Mr. Martin has been so distracted that the next installment of the series is now…six years overdue? Getting back to my point, I think that project has only attracted backing because it is so horribly violent, which is what publishers/producers seem to want to see. Television–where women’s privates are nearly completely exposed, every sexual deviance is discussed openly, you can see hundreds of people brutally murdered at any given time of day–but they’ll bleep the word ‘shit’ because it might offend someone. To Perdition with those publishers, I say! Kindle, here I come!

  14. pyroclast

    Something of a semblance of flavors is intriguing: the Qhal and the Qenes caught or dallying in loops of time… The beginning of “Gate of Ivrel” and Tristen’s musing about the Fortress where Barrakketh and the other Sihhe stayed until called out suggest beings who can manipulate time or at least can step outside of it.

    Just a thought about a tie between universes.

    And only trans-dimensional beings can create fortresses without garderobes 😉 though dealing with them can dispel some of the romance of a story.

    I would earnestly plead for another volume in the Fortress series! If there’s anything to be done – mashing recalcitrant software into submission for instance – which would speed that creation, I’m sure there are volunteers… count me one!

  15. Sorwen

    Since I asked this here before I’ll put it here again. Still a chance we will see The Goblin Mirror some time on CC?

  16. CJ

    It’s coming. I have some ahead of it. But it’s coming.

  17. sleo

    I just started the first Fortress book, my first venture into your fantasy, CJ, and I am loving it. Just thought I’d pop in and say that for now, B&N has them all available in eformat, so I gobbled up all five. I’m in the cheering section for you to do your own eversions! A pox on stupid publishers who don’t know quality when they see it and measure everything in terms of bean counting. I’m a huge fan of all your books and have been reading them all summer. I still have a lot of catching up to do, but I can see the Fortress series is going to be monopolizing my time for a while.

  18. sleo

    Whew! I just finished Fortress of Dragons and thought my heart wasn’t going to make it a few times. I absolutely love this series and the love/friendship between Cefwyn and Tristan, but Tristan is SUCH a great character! Love and appreciation of the world just oozes out of him. I’m so sad there’s only one book left! What can we all do to urge you to write the next book???

  19. CJ

    Well, everybody could rush out and buy Closed Circle books! In huge numbers! But we’re kinda slow.

    • sleo

      LOL, well I bought Heavy Time and Hellburner.

  20. sleo

    Well, I just finished Fortress of Ice. My review is here:

    I have to say I feel satisfied on the one hand, but can see many directions the story can continue. After all, Hasufin, Tarein, and Orien are still loose in the shadows (or Tarien is still alive?) — not to mention the older evil that Tristan came up against in Fortress of Dragons!

    And what becomes of the book? Does Tristan have it now? Will it ultimately bring about his unmaking? Oh my oh my oh my. Well I guess I have to go buy some ebooks!

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