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Raymond Camden
Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2007 - 01:21 pm:   

First off - I just finished Dangerous Offsprings. I have absolutely loved the series so far. The Year of Our War had one of the best lines I've read in literature to date. Unfortunately I didn't copy it down so I have to go by my memory, but it was something like "Don't trust a person whose native language has 30 words for drunk."

Hopefully Swainston can correct me - and let me say I'm shocked to see an author actually participate in her forums. :-)

Anyway - sorry to get sidetracked. Is there any official or unofficial list of all the Circle positions?

Also - if all the roles are meant to be in support of fighting the war against the Insects, how did the Lawyer fit into it?
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Posted on Tuesday, January 01, 2008 - 06:34 am:   

Hello, Raymond, Happy New Year. I'm glad you're enjoying the Castle books. Yes, here is an official list of all the Circle positions and characters that have been described so far. As you know there are fifty members of the Circle but I don't want to give too much away, so these summarise the nineteen who have appeared or been mentioned in the books.

Blacksmithnot mentioned
Javelin MasterSirocco
Macernot mentioned
Master of HorseHayl
Polearms MasterHurricane
Shield Masternot mentioned
Treasurernot mentioned

As you can see some Eszai have close connections but they divide their duties carefully so they don't overlap - for example the Blacksmith looks after weapons and other metalwork, the Armourer looks after armour only. Some Eszai will be in charge of more than one class of warrior on the battlefield and in preparations beforehand, for example Hayl the Horseman is in charge of the scouts/outriders and the heavy lancers, and lightly armoured mounted spearmen. Lightning looks after both longbowmen and crossbowmen.

The Lawyer's role in the war is explainined in Dangerous Offspring: she is in charge of the military police, the provosts. They are reponsible for maintaining discipline in the fyrd, preventing soldiers fleeing from the Insects and prosecuting soldiers for offences committed when in service. So, like the Doctor, she usually works behind the lines and she makes sure that :

  1. The provosts work well and fairly
  2. Soldiers are recruited according to the law
  3. The Emperor and the other immortals are advised on the changing laws of the Fourlands
  4. If any immortal gets in trouble she'd advise them or defend them in court (Eszai are still subject to the laws of the Fourlands, although the Governors tend to overlook any minor offences)
  5. If any immortal needs help against a mortal she would advise them
  6. Her knowledge of a hundred years of jurisprudence is available to the world and she is frequently consulted by Zascai lawyers
  7. The law books in the Castle's library are up to date.

Her role isn't just bookish, though - she's stalwart and fearsome; her provosts scour the camp and force any unwilling fyrdsmen to join the fray. The soldiers and many of the Eszai are terrified of her. She is trained to face an Insect if pressed, but the Emperor needs her expertise, brainpower and is preserving her genius for the Fourlands. She wouldn't venture into the frontline unless there was an emergency.

Oh, yes - the line you're thinking of in YOOW goes like this: "Never trust a language that has no future tense and twenty words for ‘drunk’." It's the inebriated Rhydanne you have to watch out for! In NPLT I listed some of their words for drunk - we all know the many different states of drunkenness and I'm still looking out for suggestions...

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