Martha Wells (marthawells) wrote,
Martha Wells

Raksura Answers

First, here's a link back to an older post that might be handy for people: Plot Stalls, and Tips for How to Unstall them


nojojojo said Speaking of Stone, what is up with the line-grandfathers? In "The Tale of Indigo and Cloud" it was mentioned that l-gs are apparently a weird occasional quirk that runs in certain lines, and it's not actually a good thing. But it also seems like they're just really, really different -- they're not considered consorts anymore (although other old Raksura are still treated as full members of their respective castes), they're not even recognizable as Raksura (by the groundlings at uhhh that city in THE SIREN DEPTHS), Moon can't see Stone's face unless he's semiconscious, and they can't talk. I'm kind of getting the idea that they're like... were-kethel, or something? Raksura who aren't quite Raksura anymore, or maybe a rare fourth caste of Aeriat or... I don't really have a question, here. :) I really just wanted to gush about how awesome it is that you have a species so notoriously cranky that their irascible old men turn into giant monsters.

Line-grandfathers! I think my original idea was that they were sort aging into proto-dragons and that yes, they were a sort-of Raksuran version of the major kethel. I say my original idea because I don't plan my worldbuilding out meticulously in advance like a lot of writers. It's kind of like my plotting, it's much better when I let it sort of evolve naturally as it goes along. This was especially true with The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea, where I started out optimistically thinking they were marketable books and gradually realized that there was a good chance no one would ever read them but me and a few friends. That they sold at all was mostly luck and my agent. So when I was writing the first two books, I was discovering bits and pieces of the world as it grew, and thinking I was never going to get much further into it. Now that I have had chances to get further into it, I'm figuring out more things that were mentioned in passing and that I didn't really have any chance to reveal to the reader. (Like, in one of the upcoming novellas, there's a clue about what actually happens when the Raksura shift, that they exist simultaneously in two dimensions.)

curtana asked I have a question about daughter-queens and sister-queens. Am I right that those are more like ranks rather than literal descriptions of biological relationships? Does a queen change from a daughter-queen to a sister-queen in relation to who is the current reigning queen, or based on her own age/power/influence? Are there ever ... I guess they'd be mother-queens? Older queens who haven't been reigning queen but are still around the court? Or would it be unlikely that such a power dynamic would persist that long before someone split off to form their own court, or killed each other quarrelling? ;)

and related, otterb asked That makes me wonder ... is there any such thing as a queen emeritus? Or do reigning queens reign until they die? And is succession by seniority or could there be power struggles within the court over who becomes the next reigning queen?

Yes, sister queen and daughter queen are ranks, not contingent on being related to the reigning queen. And yes, there are queens who never become reigning queen, and remain sister queens. These would be queens who are possibly less aggressive, possibly just enjoy being more free to travel outside the court on diplomatic trips, and possibly just don't want the burden of being a reigning queen. If a sister queen did want to become a reigning queen, and the current reigning queen wasn't interested in stepping down, the sister queen would have a couple of options. She might go to another smaller court and "marry" into it by taking one of their unattached consorts, if the other court was agreeable. Or, if her original court was getting crowded, the sister queen could take her consort and a group of warriors and Arbora off to create a new court. This could only happen if she had enough Arbora willing to go with her. Because the important part to being a reigning queen is having the support of the Arbora.

Couple of examples: In Opal Night, Malachite and Onyx are about the same age. Onyx was actually reigning queen before Malachite returned from the east with the survivors of the eastern colony. Malachite took over the main court from Onyx and became reigning queen. At this point, Onyx could have taken part of the court and gone off to create a new court, but because of what happened with the Fell attack in the east, the Arbora wanted to keep the court together and basically made everyone stay where they were and get along with each other. So Onyx became a sister queen.

In The Cloud Roads, Stone and Flower's original idea was to get Pearl to give way to Jade, and basically step down and let Jade become reigning queen. Pearl is so depressed at this point, and doesn't seem to want to be reigning queen anymore, that it seems like a reasonable solution. But when Pearl gets away from the Fell influence, she starts to rule the court again, and replacing her with Jade is no longer necessary.

michael_mock had a great idea for a fanfic fusion Great. Now you've got me crossing books, and picturing a Dowager Queen -- specifically Ravenna, from The Element Of Fire -- as a Raksura.


As a Raksura.

I was about to say that, wow, that wouldn't end well for anyone trying to keep her out of power, but on further thought I'd guess that given Raksuran social dynamics, there'd be nothing to stop her from resuming her role as reigning queen. Raksuran courts are more fluid, that way.

...And those poor Unseelie Fay wouldn't know what hit them.

thesaraghina asked I've actually wondering why Indigo Cloud left the Reaches, only to end up in the smaller ruin? I'd gotten the impression that the court was too big, and/or the Reaches were too crowded when they left, but from the descriptions of the ruin in the 1st book, would the ruin have been able to house everyone from the colony tree? Or did parts of the court split off and go elsewhere? Or, from what Stone said about the Kek dying out in their part of the forest when they left, was the court growing smaller at the time, making them able to fit well in the ruin?

This is just something I'd been thinking about in my latest re-listen to the audiobooks. ;) Anyway, I love the books, and am very much looking forward to Volume 2 of the Stories! :)

Thank you!

Yes, Indigo Cloud was fairly small when it left the Reaches, and one of the reasons why it left was a belief that the overpopulation of the Reaches was affecting Indigo Cloud's growth somehow. (We don't know if they were right, but that was their thinking at the time.) They actually stopped and lived in a few other places for a few generations before they finally settled on the ruin.

From Dreamwidth, spatz asked Oh, I have a question! I was re-reading the series and noticed that some Raksuran senses are different in shifted form and some are not. Moon mentions repeatedly that his sense of touch is more keen in groundling form, and smell is stronger in shifted form, and I *think* I remember Chime shifting to eavesdrop at some point, which implies that hearing is stronger as well. Anyway, I couldn't recall anything about sight or taste, so I was curious if they are different as well.

and voidampersand commented What an excellent question! I remember Suzette Haden-Elgin writing about how she gave linguistics seminars to groups of people with different dominant senses — doctors tend to be touch-dominant. Of course, different body forms would have different dominant senses.

I can't remember if I've nailed this down anywhere, but sight would be keener in their scaled forms and taste would be keener in their groundling forms. Though with sight, it might not make that much of a difference, and they do have very good night vision in both forms.
Tags: books of the raksura, writing question

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