A Legend of Ethshar
Ithanalin's Restoration, which had the working title Ithanalin's Collection, is the eighth Ethshar novel. It's a story of an apprentice wizard named Kilisha whose master, Ithanalin, has a spell go wrong through the interference of a spriggan and a tax collector. She's forced to work without guidance to restore the household to its natural order.
This novel was not very closely tied to any of the previous novels, though when the series continued at least one subsequent novel followed up on some of the events in it. Few characters from other Ethshar stories appear, and none play major roles. It's set in the city of Ethshar of the Rocks at the exact same time that The Spell of the Black Dagger is taking place in Ethshar of the Sands, a fact that is important to the plot, but one need not have read The Spell of the Black Dagger to follow and appreciate the story.
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by Lawrence Watt-Evans
he room was quietly comfortable, not at all like the popular image of a wizard's workshop. There were no cluttered shelves, no steaming cauldrons, no mysterious books, just ordinary furniture, most of it in need of dusting.
Some of the pieces appeared as if they might be rather valuable, Lady Nuvielle thought, as she looked around with interest. The mirror above the mantle, for example, had no visible flaws at all, either in the glass or the silvering. Glass that fine surely came from Ethshar of the Sands, more than fifty leagues away, or from somewhere even more distant, and must have cost a goodly sum.
Other items, like the oval braided-rag rug just inside the door, were nothing special at all -- at least, not to her untrained eye. She smoothed out a large hump in the rug with the toe of her velvet slipper and wondered idly if any of the furnishings might have unseen magical attributes.
It didn't seem very likely.
She waited for a few moments, expecting some response to her entry, but eventually she got sufficiently bored to call out, "Hai! Is anyone here?"
A young woman's head popped through the doorway at the back. Her face was unfamiliar.
"You must be Lady Nuvielle!" she said. "Please forgive us; we hadn't expected you quite so soon. I'll be right out."
"That's quite all right," she said in reply, but the girl had vanished before the visitor had completed her sentence.
She smiled wryly, then settled cautiously onto a smallish couch, built of some very dark wood and upholstered in crimson velvet that clashed horribly with her own forest-green velvet gloves, skirt, and slippers. Always aware of her appearance, Lady Nuvielle spread her black cloak over the cushions to provide a neutral buffer between the two colors.
She was still adjusting her skirt when the young woman reappeared. This time she entered gracefully, stopped a few feet away, and curtsied politely.
"Hello, my lady," she said. "I am Kilisha of Eastgate, apprentice to the master wizard, Ithanalin the Wise."
Lady Nuvielle smiled. "And I am Nuvielle, Lady Treasurer of Ethshar of the Rocks." She nodded an acknowledgement of the formalities. "Where's your master?"
"In his workshop, my lady, finishing up the spell you ordered. He should be out in a moment."
"And the spell succeeded?"
Kilisha hesitated. "Well, to be honest," she said, "I'm not really sure. You wanted an animation of some sort?"
"A pet," Nuvielle agreed. "Just a pet, to ride on my shoulder and keep me company. Something out of the ordinary, to amuse me."
Kilisha smiled with relief. "Then I think it's succeeded," she said, "and I think you'll be pleased."
"Good!" For a moment the two women stared silently at each other; before the silence could grow awkward, Nuvielle asked, "How is it I didn't meet you before?"
"Oh, I was away, running some errands for Ithanalin -- for my master," Kilisha explained, with assumed and unconvincing nonchalance. She glanced about nervously, and tried to unobtrusively wipe the worst of the dust from the back of the little sofa.
It didn't work.
Kilisha hoped that Lady Nuvielle hadn't noticed the dust -- and in particular, that she hadn't noticed the footprints visible in it. Kilisha recognized them as spriggan tracks, and some people thought spriggans were disgusting, unclean creatures.
Kilisha thought they were probably right -- but spriggans were attracted by wizardry, and keeping them out of the shop was almost impossible.
Lady Nuvielle smiled, debating whether to try to put the girl at ease, or whether to tease her and enjoy her discomfort. Still undecided, she asked a neutral question.
"Ithanalin -- an unusual name. Is it Tintallionese?"
"I don't know, my lady," Kilisha replied. "I'm not sure it's any known language. Wizards often take new names, for one reason or another." She shifted nervously.
"I take it you have not dealt with many of your master's clients?" Nuvielle asked.
"Well," Kilisha said, shifting her feet, "none of the other customers were as... as distinguished as yourself, my lady."
Nuvielle suddenly grew bored with the apprentice's unease. "Oh, calm down, girl," she said. "Sit down and relax."
"Yes, my lady," the apprentice said, settling cautiously onto a straight-backed wooden chair, tucking her brown wool skirt neatly under her.
Nuvielle looked Kilisha over. She was a little on the short side, and plumper than was entirely fashionable just at the moment. Her hair was a nondescript brown, pleasant enough, but utterly dull, worn long and straight and tied back in a pony-tail. Her eyes were hazel -- not brown flecked with green, or green flecked with brown, either of which might sometimes be called hazel, but the real thing, a solid color somewhere between brown and green, neither one nor the other. She wore a plain wool skirt a shade darker than her hair, a pale yellow tunic that came to mid-thigh, and an assortment of pouches and purses on her belt or slung from her shoulders. A leather-and-feather hair ornament was the only touch of bright color or interest anywhere about her, and even that was something worn by any number of girls in Ethshar of the Rocks. Her appearance was absolutely, completely, totally ordinary. The city held thousands just like her, Nuvielle thought.
Though most, of course, weren't apprenticed to wizards. What sort of a future could anyone so boring have, in so flamboyant a profession as wizardry?
The noblewoman watched the girl for a moment, then turned away, determined to ignore the poor little thing.
For her part, Kilisha was admiring this gorgeous customer -- or rather, client, as the lady would have it. The long black cloak, the rich green velvet, the white satin tunic embroidered in gold and scarlet, the long gloves, the black hair bound up in an elaborate network of braids and ribbons, all seemed to Kilisha to be the absolute epitome of elegance. When she turned her head, Kilisha marvelled at the graceful profile and the smooth white skin.
Kilisha had always thought that Yara, Ithanalin's wife, was just about perfect, but she had to admit that that common soul's appearance couldn't begin to compare with Lady Nuvielle's.
And her own looks, she thought, weren't even up to Yara's.
Then, at last, before she could pursue this line of thought any further, Ithanalin finally emerged.
"My apologies for the delay, Lady Nuvielle," he said, with a sketchy sort of bow. "I wanted to be sure everything about your purchase was perfect."
Kilisha grimaced slightly, unnoticed by the others. The real cause for delay had been the need to change clothes, from the grubby, stained old tunic that Ithanalin wore when actually working to the red-and-gold robes he wore for meeting the public. It wouldn't do for customers to see the wizard as dirty and unkempt as a ditch-digger.
"It's ready, then?" Nuvielle asked.
"Oh, yes," Ithanalin said, holding out his hand.
There, standing on his palm, was a perfect miniature dragon, gleaming black from its pointed snout to the tip of its curling tail, with eyes, mouth, and claws of blazing red. It unfurled wings that seemed bigger than all the rest of it put together; they were black on top, red beneath. It folded back sleek black ears, hiding their red interiors, and hissed, making a sound Kilisha thought was very much like little Pirra's unsuccessful attempts to whistle.
Nuvielle studied it critically.
"Does it breathe fire?" she asked.
"No," Ithanalin replied. "You hadn't said it should, and I judged that fiery breath might be unsafe -- a spark might go astray and set a drapery aflame."
"Does it fly?'
For answer, Ithanalin tossed the little beast upward; it flapped its wings, then soared away, circling the room once before coming to land on the arm of the couch, where it eyed Nuvielle intently.
She stared back.
"What's it made of?" she asked.
"Glass, wood, and lacquer, mostly," Ithanalin said, moving to the end of the couch nearest the door. "I'm not certain of everything, as I subcontracted part of its construction. My talents lie in magic, not in sculpture." Noticing something, he turned and surreptitiously kicked his heel back, straightening the rag rug, which had humped up again.
"It will never grow?" Lady Nuvielle asked.
"No. That's as big as it will ever be."
"Is it male or female?"
"Neither; it's an animated statue, not a true living creature."
Nuvielle nodded slowly. For a moment she was silent. The dragon lost interest in her and began studying the crimson fabric of the sofa.
"Can it speak?" Nuvielle asked at last.
"Only a few words, as yet," Ithanalin said, apologetically. "I thought you might prefer to teach it yourself. I also didn't name it, but it responds to 'Dragon.' "
At the word, the little creature looked up, then craned its long neck around to peer at its creator.
"Dragon," Nuvielle whispered.
The head swung back. She held out a hand.
"Say, 'here,' " Ithanalin advised.
"Here," she said quietly.
The dragon leapt from the arm of the couch to the back of her hand. It stared up at its new owner, and she stared back. Then she looked up. "Excellent, wizard," she said. "Excellent. I'm very pleased." She rose, and Kilisha hurried to help her on with her cloak -- with the imitation dragon perched on one hand, Lady Nuvielle was limited in what she could manage by herself.
Her free hand brushed against a small purse on her belt; the thong came loose and let it drop to the upholstery. Kilisha started to say something, and then realized that this had been deliberate, a way of paying for the purchase without the indignity of haggling.
Nuvielle headed for the door, then stopped and turned back. "Does it bite?" she asked.
"No," Ithanalin assured her, "it has no teeth. And its claws are as dull as I could make them without spoiling its appearance. It needs only a few drops of water each day, no food, so you needn't worry about feeding it."
"Excellent," Nuvielle said again. She swept out onto Wizard Street, her pet held high before her.
Kilisha watched her go, but Ithanalin didn't bother; he picked up the purse and opened it.
"You can come out now," he called.
So where'd the story come from?
Well, I noticed that I'd written several stories set in Ethshar of the Spices and the Small Kingdoms, and a major novel (The Spell of the Black Dagger) was set in Ethshar of the Sands, but I hadn't written anything set primarily in Ethshar of the Rocks. (There are a few scenes in Night of Madness and The Misenchanted Sword in Ethshar of the Rocks, but never an entire story.) That decided my setting.
And the premise... I'd been rereading the Oz books by Frank L. Baum, and decided there were some ideas there I wanted to play with.
That was it, basically. No great issues I wanted to explore (though some themes did develop along the way), just things I thought would be fun.
I started writing what was then called Ithanalin's Collection many years ago -- the earliest fragment is dated 1989. I intended it to be the seventh in the series at Del Rey, but then Del Rey and I had our falling-out and the series was put on hold. I stopped work on Ithanalin's Restoration about two chapters in, and left it there for ages.
Finally, though, I was settled in at Tor Books, and they were interested in picking up the Ethshar series, but it seemed as if we ought to relaunch with something a little bigger and splashier than Ithanalin's Collection. So I wrote Night of Madness for them instead.
When that was done and published it was time to work on the next one in the series, and hey, that was Ithanalin's Restoration!
The title changed from "Collection" to "Restoration" because my editor, Jim Minz, commented that putting the word "Collection" in the title might confuse some booksellers into thinking it was a collection of short stories, rather than a novel. This had not occurred to me in over a decade of having the story planned, but once it was pointed out it was so obvious that I changed the title immediately.
(As far as name changes go, for a time Kilisha was named Amari; I changed that because there's a very minor character in Taking Flight named Amari who, I realized while preparing the Wildside edition, will be a far more important character in Azraya of Ethshar if I ever get it written. Two Amaris in major roles might get confusing.)
- Copyright 2002 by Lawrence Watt Evans.
- First edition published December 2002 by Tor Books, in hardcover, ISBN 0-765-30012-5, cover price $24.95. Cover art by Daniel Horne.
- The Science Fiction Book Club published a hardcover edition in December 2002.
- Mass-market paperback edition published October 2003 by Tor, ISBN 0-765-34055-0, cover price $6.99, with the same cover art.
- Trade paperback edition published June 2014 by Wildside Press, ISBN 978-1434442444, cover price $13.99. Cover art by Charles Bernard.
- E-book edition published July 2014 by Wildside Press.