The Sorcerer’s Widow: Progress Report Thirteen

Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen of The Sorcerer’s Widow are now online. This completes the serial and the first draft.

All fourteen chapters will remain online until the contracts with Wildside are signed, and I haven’t yet received said contracts, but I expect them any day now.

I’ll accept donations until August 1st. Right now I’m $14 short of my target, though obviously I took in enough to pay for the whole thing.

I’m two chapters into the second draft. I expect to have the whole thing done by the time we leave for Worldcon. No idea when it’ll be published, though — that’s mostly up to Wildside. I’ll keep donors posted on progress.

I intend to continue doing Ethshar serials, but I don’t know when the next one will start. I don’t know which story it’ll be, either. Easiest would be Ishta’s Companion (which keeps changing title, but is actually one of the very oldest unfinished stories in my entire collection). More ambitious would be the untitled-as-yet one I’ve referred to as “the Big Fat Ethshar novel.” Azraya of Ethshar is also a viable option. We’ll see. It’ll be at least a few months before I launch, as I want to do other stuff for awhile; might be much longer than that.

So — hope you like the story.

25 thoughts on “The Sorcerer’s Widow: Progress Report Thirteen

  1. All in all, a very nice story. A slightly bittersweet ending, and again, it reminds me a little of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer–the bit at the end where Huck has grown up and Tom really hasn’t.

  2. I have to echo the Mark Twain-like sense at the end. Kel’s apparent age through the story really rockets up in a believable way.

    I love these serials, but looking forward to whatever you do next.

  3. Definitely a a fine novel in the tradition of Ethshar stories being coming of age tales. I do have some minor questions that I didn’t see answers to; Did Nabal have any apprentices? The weapon sitting in the field was just left long term? What did Dorna finally do with the fil drepessis?

  4. Well, it’s a very nice ending to a good story.

    I agree that the ending was a bit Twain-like, but very good , Kelder (his adult name) finally grew up and got away from his old life.

    Good for him.

    I also hope there will be more Ethshar works coming.

    Thanks, Lawrence for a nice story. I am sure i can say for everyone that we hope more will be coming.

    Montreal Canada

  5. No, Nabal didn’t have any apprentices, or they’d have inherited all his talismans.

    The weapon sitting in the field was a bahidad, and yes, it was just sitting there long-term, left from the war. It had been there, non-functioning, for three hundred years or more.

    I don’t know what happened to the fil drepessis. Yet.

    There will definitely be more Ethshar stories, just not right away.

  6. Without getting into a big discussion about inheritance in Ethshar, I thought that the widow might have a higher claim, even on things like talismans, and it seems strange that a sorcerer as seemingly notable as Nabal wouldn’t have any apprentices.

    Bahidad… most of these names seem to suggest something in english, but I’ve got no idea on that one right off. Hrm.
    My curiosity was more whether Dorna would do something to move/remove/profit on it being there or if it’s just going to go back to sitting, gathering moss.

    I think I’ve seen that scene at the end of movies; a collection of items in an upstairs room, the picture closes in on one in particular when suddenly lights under the surface turn on, a pair of red eyes staring at the camera. dun dun duhhhn…

    Anyway, fun to visit Ethshar as always.

  7. I could have sworn Dorma called herself Dorma the clever when she mentioned that she WAS her village’s magistrate and had been on to Kel and Enzak all along.

    But Kelder thinks it’s the first time he’s heard her full name when she mentions it in Chapter 13.

  8. Nope — I gave her name as “Dorna the Clever” here in the Serial Box, but it was never mentioned in Kel’s hearing until she told Uncle Vezalis.

  9. Inheritance is an interesting question. The same applied in With a Single Spell, Tobas inherited everything, prior to his accident. However, it is likely he was the only claimant anyway. This suggests that it is a law for all magicians, or at least a very strong custom.

    Presumably, the master has some say in the matter. Nabal was his master’s “best” apprentice. However, maybe it was just because he was the last one.

    The rule could simply be that you must designate a magician to inherit, and normally that is the master’s favourite apprentice.

  10. I would imagine that the rule that an apprentice get’s all of his masters stuff upon his master’s death is a rule that goes back to the Great War. After all it would be kind of pointless to have a magician in your army with no spells and no spell ingredients.

    Further I suppose that the apprentice gets the magical stuff, but the more mundane such as the house, money, etc would go to the widow/kids.

  11. Okay, it’s never been explained in a story, but: An Ethsharitic master’s last apprentice automatically inherits all the tools of the trade, whether that’s a carpenter’s tools or a wizard’s ingredients or whatever. The master’s family inherits everything other than tools of the trade. If the family is left poverty-stricken, it’s the former apprentice’s responsibility to ensure they don’t starve.

    It’s the last apprentice because it’s assumed that all earlier apprentices are already established in their trade now, or he wouldn’t have taken on another one.

    If the former apprentice is a master himself, then he’s expected (but not required) to pass the inheritance on to someone else, either the family or his own apprentices.

    If there are no apprentices — which was Nabal’s situation; he was eccentric, as living where he did demonstrates — then the family inherits.

    This isn’t necessarily tied to the Great War. There might be a connection, but that wasn’t a conscious decision on my part.

  12. Interesting, it does create incentives for old masters to transfer their tools of the trade to younger family members.

    That is especially true for sorcerers, since talismans are so valuable.

    Also, in Nabal and Dorna’s case, it would have created an incentive for her father to not take on any more apprentices, once he saw where things were heading.

  13. I think that the matter of inheritance was briefly touched on in The Spell of the Black Dagger when Sarai is trying to figure out a motive for the killings of magicians… but there were just some specific examples given, not the rule behind them. IMHO, that’s an example of good world building; it’s not essential to the story to explain what the rule is, even though the author (and the characters) knows what it is.

  14. I find it somewhat interesting that Masters of the art (for the sake of this discussion, magicians) only take on one apprentice at a time – at least that’s what I understand from your comment above. I would think it would be more efficient to have a senior and a junior apprentice. Teach the senior how to teach while observing teaching the junior, etc.

  15. One apprentice at a time is the rule in Ethshar because there’s a general belief that if you have more than one at a time it promotes squabbling and favoritism, and one of them may be neglected and not get the education he should. I’m well aware that historically it was common to have multiple apprentices — my grandmother was one of three, I believe. (She was a milliner’s apprentice, but never became a milliner; she got married and became a housewife instead.) Still, that’s not how it’s done in Ethshar.

    Passing the tools of one’s trade on to family members who aren’t in the trade seems kind of pointless to me; better to just leave them a good house and plenty of money, if you can. Of course, it’s also common for one’s own children to serve as your apprentices, if they’re at least six years apart in age.

    It’s good to know that somebody besides me is looking forward to Azraya of Ethshar.

  16. It was more that if they all go to the last apprentice, the only way to keep them in the family is to make sure your last apprentice is a family member.

    I guess it depends on how valuable they are. For many craftsmen the tools wouldn’t be that valuable, since they can make new ones. In fact, teaching how to make tools would be one of the first things an apprentice learns.

    For someone like a merchant, that could be all their stock in trade.

  17. The one apprentice per master rule makes that whole system much more interesting to me. It almost suggests planned pregnancies, seeing as the masters with the best reputations would have a fairly regular (or at least somewhat easily discernible) schedule for when their one and only apprentice would move on. If you want your child to have a shot at apprenticing to one such, you would need to time it right.

  18. I like the ending, right to the point and a good coming of age story.

    One question I have is when is the story set, I don’t remember seeing anything too obvious to clue me into an exact date?

  19. In our world a six year apprenticeship and maximum of one at a time might well have resulted in some crafts going more or less extinct as there weren’t neccessarily all that many masters as opposed to journeymen.

    There really doesn’t really seem to be a journeyman equivalent in Ethshar, almost everyone who’s finished apprenticeship seems to be self-employed or in government service.

    One master and one apprentice applies serious limits to the size of a workshop. Are there lots of workshops with multiple masters each with their own apprentice, or does Ethshar simply lack significant industries that take more than two skilled workers?

    The inheritance rules could well also be crippling to things like early printing, where a punch set was extreamly valuable (I believe normally more valuable than the rest of the printshop combined including the cost of the real estate and structure). Would you really take an out of family apprentice if it meant he got to keep the punches for your font?

  20. I don’t know the exact date. 5215 was the number I arbitrarily chose, but if there’s anything that contradicts that I’ll happily change it. It’s clearly after 5202, since warlocks are a known phenomenon, and it’s before 5221 for reasons I don’t really want to explain.

    As for shop staffs, you can have all the employees you want, it’s only apprentices who are limited. Kel isn’t an apprentice, he’s an assistant, for example.

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