Byzantine France was quiet under snow on the first day of December...
It is still 1477, only a few days after the previous chapter (which was November; p129-130).
We have returned to the territory of chapter 2; but the narrative now calls it "France." The shift marks the story's arc; the characters (including Dimi) now oppose Byzantium's colonialism.
It was Marsilio Ficino's Harmonia Platonica, a cheap Swiss edition purchased five days ago in Geneva.
A summary of the group's route since leaving the inn on the Milan border.
[...] there was a small portrait, tooled on leather in high relief, of a hawk-faced, helmeted man. The leather was somewhat worn, as if it had been rubbed for a long time.
His skin was quite pale and a little waxy, with a distinct high flush in his cheeks; there could be no doubt that he was a vampire. Below coarse, dark, curly hair and a lined forehead he wore spectacles with heavy steel frames and glass much darker than Gregory's eyeglasses; [...]
The language that he and Juliette speak must be Romanian.
Cynthia is confirming her thought, that Juliette has offered blood for Stefan and Gregory to drink. By Gregory's reaction, it is human blood -- Juliette's -- and not the animal blood he has been subsisting on since chapter 4.
"Wer zerstört ihn die Augen?" Gregory asked.
German: "Who destroyed his eyes?"
Cynthia said "And the Byzantines infected him?"
Hywel ran a finger around his glass eye. "He was already a gwaedwr. So are all the lieutenants of the Wallachian warlord... so is the voivode himself, Vlad the Fourth. That was his portrait, in leather on the wall. No. The Byzantine coronal pinned Stefan's eyes open with bronze nails, then tied him facing the sunrise."
Note that Hywel unconsciously touches his own lost eye as he recounts the story.
This view of magic could be taken to include any kind of long-term planning. Ptolemy spoke in similar terms (p18), but he seemed to focus more on the damage that magic does to the wielder. It is unclear how different are the worldviews of different wizards.
"I know a little of what looks suspicious," Cynthia said. "One guard for three acquaintances? -- And I know what men... understand."
"In counting generations, the French heralds are as meticulous as Jews. From the day the Partition was signed, they have preserved every noble line on paper; they know every name of every rightful noble of the France that might be [...]"
Here begin three pages of condensed Anglo-French history. The account is nearly the same as our history, but some details differ.
"And it will not end in Paris, it will not end in Gaul, blah, blah, blah," Dimitrios said dryly. "I know that principle. But it did not happen."
"[...] One of them became Edward the Fourth, long live the King."
Dimi said "The Sun Lord? I've heard he was a very great leader, a marvelous general."
"[...] And brother George turned his coat back. There were two very bad battles. [...]"
Probably the Battle of Barnet and the Battle of Tewkesbury, in April and May of 1471.
"[...] Well. The Duke's been half out of his mind since his wife and son died a year ago. He talked about marrying a French heiress, someone from Burgundy --"
All of this matches our history.
George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence was married to Isabel Neville, the daughter of Warwick. She died in 1476 AD, possibly as a result of complications of childbirth. Clarence had a servant, Ankarette Twynho, executed for this, and similarly John Thursby for the death of his youngest son.
In TDW history, of course, Mary's father would not have been a Duke, as Burgundy was under Byzantine control (p25).
"I've told you that Clarence supported Henry the Sixth during the year's Readeption. Since then there has been the rumor of a document, under Henry's seal, that gave Clarence the crown of England should Henry leave no male heirs -- as he did not. It was his price, apparently, for helping the Lancastrians back to power."
Introduces the "exemplification," the document which the protagonists will chase for the rest of the chapter. We do not yet know why. We know that Margaret wants it (see p149) -- as evidence that Clarence is a threat to Edward, so that Clarence will be executed. (As happened in our history.)
In our history, Henry succeeded to the throne as an infant, in 1422 AD. He was crowned in 1429. But the exemplification should have been written in 1470. That puts this "original crowning," 33 years earlier, in 1437 -- the year of Henry's majority.
Quentin looked around. "Is that what you told them? Well, he lied to you: he's at least --"
Quentin took the pan of powdered ink from Dimitrios. Tapping it with a finger, he began to dust the black powder onto the paper. The black specks leaped like ants on a hot plate, and they clung, in the hazy outlines of writing. The images darkened, sharpened.
This magic is clearly related to xerography, familiar to us in photocopiers and laser printers. (Xerography: Latin, "dry (powder) drawing.") In xerography, toner clings to the parts of an image which are electrically charged. Here, Hywel is using "points of correspondence" with an existing (but non-present) document.
Note that the correspondences are analogous, not identical. Hywel told Gregory to write words that would have been on the exemplification, but not to try to imitate the handwriting. The sealing wax and ink belong to a king (Louis), but not the king who signed the original (Henry).
"Now," he said, "we go after the original."
Hywel has gone to great effort to prove that the exemplification exists, and discover what it says. But he is careful to leave no readable copy. This implies that his aim is to destroy the original when he reaches it.
Hywel is putting this glamour on Gregory, but his subsequent explanation implies that he has already put it on himself. He does not try to do the same to Cynthia or Dimi; presumably it is more difficult to maintain at a distance, and the group will be splitting up.
The glamour broke down when Hywel was standing next to Gregory, even though Hywel had cast it on both of them. This implies that the spell cannot bear much suspicion, even when a consistent vision is possible.
The fortress Château d'Angers was built between 1230 and 1240 by Louis IX, called "Saint Louis."
Nonetheless, "Louis the Good" probably refers to the Louis IX of TDW history. He would not have been a saint, obviously, and "the Good" fits him better than it fits the other medieval Louises -- "the Fat," "the Young," "the Lion," "the Headstrong," and so on.
The guard blinked steadily as he examined them. "Very well," he said, and turned away. "You may pass."
The gatekeeper took the ring, held it so it caught the light, saw the six red balls enameled on the boss.
The butler had put down his tray and broom [...] He was sharp-eyed, long-fingered, with a strikingly long pointed nose. He applauded, then reached inside his gown and produced a crown like the first man had worn, but set with sapphires and topazes. Four hands from the crowd settled a gilt mantle on his shoulders, and the steward tossed a length of blue velvet over the canopy supports above the throne.
François Villon was playing the King, as Louis played the butler. This bit of theater was clearly well-rehearsed, as was the exchange of roles. One may gather that the sole occupation of an exiled King is to act like a King; or perhaps this applies to all Kings...
Indeed, Ford presents the transformation very nearly as stage directions. The actions are a sequence of visual foci, movements to draw the audience's attention: crown, mantle, canopy.
A man in a long leather coat, heavy trousers, and riding boots stepped from between two gaudy courtiers. His face was very plain, utterly unmemorable.
"I'm a fifty-four-year-old king, and I haven't taken a woman by force in a very long time." He made a sound half sigh, half groan. "But unlike Edward, I didn't stop too soon for my own good. [...]"
The age matches our history, accepting that it is 1477 AD.
If Edward had satisfied himself by force, Louis implies, the Woodville family would have had much less access to power, and the whole political struggle between the Woodvilles and Plantagenets might have been avoided.
"And you were to have it tonight. In England."
Hywel is fishing blind in this scene. He wants the document, and he also wants to know what Margaret intends to do with it. Margaret sees Hywel and Gregory as people whom she trusts (see p154), but they don't know whom she is seeing, and they want to know that too. Thus Hywel's words remain very carefully ambiguous.
She looked at Gregory. "But you're here as well... are you now necessary to him?" She stabbed a finger at Hywel, turned to him. "Is that so? It's not enough that you've survived every political death around you... you've decided to escape the physical one as well?"
It is possible that Margaret is referring to vampirism here, as a means of avoiding death. If so, she is perceiving Gregory as a vampire despite the glamour. Either she sees Gregory as himself, or as some vampire associated with whoever Hywel appears as.
Hywel said "I suppose the half-latent novice has managed to completely reverse his explanations."
"Half-latent novice" is presumably an insult -- a wizard whose powers are barely awakened. (See p11.)
"[...] He was to send the paper, and you would take it to the usurper..." She looked back to the window. "I saw the moon and thought of you, just before you entered."
These are clues to the person whom Margaret sees in Hywel's place, but we (and Hywel) cannot yet interpret them. Someone waiting in England to receive the magically transported Exemplification; someone associated with the moon.
"The usurper" is Edward IV.
"I was thinking of Suffolk, too... the moon over the Channel, I suppose." She turned back to Hywel. "For a moment, when I saw you in the door, I thought you were William, you had his face..."
William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, arranged Margaret's marriage to Henry. He was a powerful man in Henry's court, but popular sentiment later turned against him. In 1450 he was arrested and banished to France. His ship was intercepted crossing the Channel, and Suffolk was murdered. His body was found on a Dover beach, as Margaret describes.
"[...] Do you think Byzantium will give you miserable, foul-spoken Wales as a payment?"
"Wales, Your Grace?" Hywel said loudly.
Hywel is of course surprised because he is Welsh. But it is not clear what Margaret is thinking of. Possibly she is seeing someone else from Wales, who would have an interest in governing it under Byzantine rule.
She smothered all such thoughts.
(In fact, this is the only scene from within any character's point of view in all of chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7.)
"Hector. Hellene? Byzas?"
Louis is asking "Greek? Byzantine?"
It was Reynard. He bowed, said, "Your pardon, lord, but there is an active magician in the castle. I sensed him a few minutes ago. It is not Flambeau or Wirtz."
Flambeau or Wirtz are presumably other wizards who serve Louis.
She reached into the front of her gown, produced a medallion on a chain; an eight-rayed star in gold, with a central bloodstone. "Do you know what this is?" She dangled the star in front of Gregory, who took two halting steps back, then turned away.
Margaret paused then, as if surprised by the reaction; the medallion jingled on its chain.
Gregory may be repulsed by the presence of a holy symbol (the sign of Ishtar, p164). If so, it is the first time we have seen such a reaction from a vampire; and the TDW world is full of holy symbols of various gods. The difference may be faith. Margaret, mad as she is, is sincere. And we will learn later (p239) that faith is a factor in magic.
On the other hand, it could be some effect of the bloodstone. (Either heliotrope or hematite -- both minerals have been called "bloodstone.")
"[...] And now that the Sun Defiled wears the English lions, it is my sign."
"I am Ishtar. I am the door that lets in the storm. For my sake, brothers will kill one another. [...] And I am the Lamia, who will have Hera's children dead, for my own." She held out her fist with the star inside; a drop of bright blood ran between the clenched fingers. "You. Will steal. The life. From the Woodville Hera's children."
I cannot find a story of fratricide associated with Ishtar.
In Greek mythology, Lamia had an affair with Zeus. Hera (always jealous) killed Lamia's children, or forced Lamia to do so. Lamia became a monster, and began herself killing children, out of grief or revenge.
Edward's children were the "Princes in the Tower," whose deaths remain an unsolved mystery.
Her stained hand fell. Without any fire, she said "Now, go; you are commanded to England. There kill, like good men you are."
Her line is particularly Shakespearean in tone.
"Though I am dispossessed and naked on the floor of the house of the dead," Margaret said calmly, as the two men went out, "still I am the door that lets in the storm."
A reference to the story of Ishtar's (or Inanna's) journey to the underworld. As she descended, Ishtar was stripped of her divine raiment and attributes, one by one. When she came into the presence of Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld, the naked Ishtar was struck dead.
"...I have some reason to believe that the intruder is looking for me. If we left the castle, he would not find us."
"He would not find you here, that is certain."
Cynthia is of course lying by omission. She can deduce that the intruder is Hywel, who will likely be looking for her as soon as he is done with Margaret. She is not hiding from him, but she wants to imply to Reynard that the intruder is not her accomplice.
Reynard now takes a decision to trust Cynthia -- or at least to ignore Louis's wishes, and allow Cynthia to pursue her goals unimpeded. His only explanation is the implied one: he feels some kinship to Cynthia, or her role.
"Now that we've saved him an explanation [...]"
"She said we weren't different," Cynthia said hollowly.
[...] the staggering man and the woman in red with her hair unbound, roaring and giggling through "Forty-four Knights in the Lionheart's Tent."
In The Story of the Stone, Barry Hughart explains that "forty-four dead stone lions" is a tongue-twister in Mandarin. This is almost certainly not relevant.
A. GUILLAUME, it read, ASTROLÓGE PHILOSOPHÉE, KARNACISTE.
French: "Philosophical Astrology, ..." The meaning of "karnacist" is not obvious.
One possibility is suggested by the "figures of gods in the Egyptian style" which fill Guillaume's laboratory. If he is advertising himself as following Egyptian forms, he might call himself an acolyte of Karnak, the great temple complex in Egypt. In our history, Karnak was shut down by Constantine I; TDW history might well include a revival and a magical tradition based there.
Hywel pushed back his left sleeve, knelt, then planted his right hand on the floor, fingers spread.
The wizard, Guillaume, stood up slowly. Hywel tensed, shut his eyes, thrust his bare left arm into the doorway. The sheet of light came down. Yellow-white lightnings danced across Hywel's shoulders, down his right arm. The floor beneath his hand cracked and blackened.
Flame spurted. The seal of Henry VI exploded in glass slivers and bits of bright red wax.
Gregory has shattered the seal (and the mirror-table under it) with his gun. As with the reconstruction spell (p153), the seal's destruction causes the spell to collapse. The exemplification snaps back from wherever Guillaume was trying to send it.
"[...] But he didn't give it any point to stop guarding. I didn't do anything. [...]"
"Only a madman would ever do genuine magic, when there are so many tricks to hand. But we're all mad. And we'll keep it up until we extinct ourselves."