A Concordance for John M. Ford's The Dragon Waiting
[Feb 1479 - Nov 1479] 8. Down

They had a boar, in the Yorkshire snow.

As best I can figure, this is February or March of 1479 AD, a full year after Dimi, Gregory, and Richard left London. See p206.

A squire, perched on the hump of earth above the nest, started to raise a cheer. "Hush," Dimi said, without thinking. Everyone was silent.

The boar rose again, fighting.

The squire's name will turn out to be Bennett. (Possibly he was the idiot with the hunting horn on p197.)

See also: p206 (half a year)

They were both of Miles rank, for different causes but the same reason -- too much else to do.

Dimi was a Raven when he fled Gaul (p60); he must have taken further initiation among the soldiers he has lived with since then.

Richard is also a Miles. Recall from p32 that religious rank does not follow temporal rank. There it was the policy of the Byzantine empire; but the same custom is followed in England, which speaks to the influence of Byzantine culture across Europe.

There was a strange, messy case of a poacher taken wearing green clothing, with robin feathers in his cap and a robin's eggshell hung around his neck with ribbon [...]

See p350.

"No? Well, [Robin Hood is] a sturdy yeoman who springs up to shoot at bad Plantagenet kings when their good relatives are away. If he can't shoot us personally, he takes out his grievance on our deer."

The common Robin Hood story (in our time) has him taking up arms against John of England, when his brother Richard I of England was fighting in the Crusades. However, Richard is a late (16th-century) addition to the story, and John a later one. This is therefore a slight anachronism.

Richard looked thoughtful. "Mend-All was a respectable gentleman named Conyers, hired by my infinitely ambitious father-in-law Warwick to raise the countryside. But they're both years dead." He fingered the hilt of his dagger. "As is Henry the Idiot, and Coeur-de-Lion. So I don't know what this man is."

There was such a rebel in 1469 AD: Robin Mend-All (or Robin of Redesdale), who was probably a local noble named John Conyers. This Robin fought in Warwick's aid in the Battle of Edgecote, which led directly to the capture of Edward. Whether Warwick actually hired him is uncertain.

Someone suggested that, in the spirit of the poem, the head ought to be presented to one who had stayed in the castle, in exchange for whatever he had won that day.

Other fiction:

In the poem Gawaine and the Green Knight, Gawaine rests at the castle of Lord Bertilak. The lord says he will go out hunting, and give Gawaine what he killed, in exchange for whatever Gawaine wins in the castle.

(Gawaine agrees, and then spends the rest of the poem trying to kick Bertilak's wife out of his bed.)

Wasn't that a dainty dish, Dimi thought [...]

Quoting the nursery rhyme about "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie."

See also: p210 (sotelties)

He could have any choice, as long as it was final, and as long as it was now.

For the second time in his life Dimitrios Ducas knew how utterly weak he was; how fatherless.

"She is a beautiful mount," he said, "and I would be honored to have her."

Thus Dimi accepts Richard's offer of liegeship.

The first time he felt weak was when he refused the rebellion planned by Iphigenia and Philip (p53). There, as here, his perception has little to do with the actual moral strength that he shows. In both cases, he feels he is clinging to a father-figure (first his idealization of the dead Cosmas, then Richard); but in both cases, the figures are in fact worth his loyalty.

On the other hand, Dimi's loyalty (or need for guidance) may be stronger than is healthy. See p209-210.

"To check a measurement from one of the Halbkulverins." He adjusted the stack of papers. "We had a student saying, that if you doubted your results at night suddenly, you must test them at once, or the Heinzelmännchen -- the little ones -- would by morning have changed them."

Halbkulverins: German, "half culverins" (small cannons). See p201.

Heinzelmännchen: Little People, as Gregory says. Their role is more commonly the spirits that do your work for you, if you don't offend them -- as in the shoemaker's elves. Perhaps the ones associated with scientists are more whimsical; or perhaps they consider unexpected results to be a scientist's treasure.

He'd spoken of his old circle of friends, his cohors equitata, their adventures, his pretty white Luna.

And she had struck him across the face and gone out storming.

Cynthia is of course recalling "bella Luna," Lorenzo's nickname for her. (See p66, etc.) It is unclear whether she thought Dimi was calling her that, or whether she simply reacted to the phrase.

See also: p244 (white horse)

It was, Dimi kept forcing himself to think, the only war they had.

Quoting Richard's comment (p196) to himself.

"Do you... do you think they're shamming, sir?" It was Bennett, the squire who had cheered for Richard's boar hunt, half a year and a war ago.

Bennett appears to have learned at least one lesson from the boar (p199).

It is now September of 1479 AD.

The date is confusing; the text does not say explicitly that a year and a half have gone by since Dimi, Gregory, and Richard left London at the end of chapter 7. However, we can trace events forward: Dimi returns from the North on p210, and immediately sets out again after Albany. Chapter 10 follows shortly thereafter (p268-269), and that's the end of 1479 (p265).

Counting back half a year puts the boar hunt (p197) in February or March of 1479.

"Maccabees," Tyrell said, and spat. "Outlaws. They live in the hills, and now and again they come down and burn a temple of a god they don't like -- and they hate 'em all, save their own."

"They're Jews, then?"

"No. Nazarenes. Jeshites."

Suddenly Dimitrios understood the significance of the cuts: the crosses.

The first mention of Christianity, more than halfway through the book. The Christians -- this group, at least -- seem to have taken their monotheism as the primary motivation of their lives. They are defined by their struggle against a world of many gods: they refuse to interact with society, except to burn temples.

Our history:

The story of the Maccabees is usually considered to be a Jewish story -- it is the setting for the Hanukkah legend. The land of Israel was under the rule of Antiochus, of the Greek Seleucid dynasty. He prohibited Judaism and ordered the people to sacrifice to the Greek gods. Mattathias Maccabee and his sons led a rebellion and reestablished Israel as an independent nation.

Dragon history:

The term "Maccabee" is applied to Christians -- probably by outsiders, not the Christians themselves. This is presumably because of the story's theme of religious self-determination and the rejection of pagan influences. The Maccabee revolt occurred in the first or second century before Christ, so it is as much a part of Christian heritage as Jewish.

"[...] I've never seen a style quite like yours; I can tell the German power cuts in it, and the Italian surgery--"

"It's just a bastard style, my lord, picked up here and there."

Dimi must be interrupting Richard very sharply, although the text does not say so. (See p209.) He is reacting to the reminder of Cynthia ("Italian surgery").

"Brother Edward has a wife, and three mistresses all at once, and Father knows what temporary help [...]"

Edward's wife is Elizabeth Woodville.

It is likely that Richard is swearing not by his father, but by the Father, the Mithraic figure. (As initiates elsewhere in TDW swear by the Raven, etc.)

"What? Oh, no, no. I wouldn't suggest a thing like that; you'd do it. [...] I was suggesting that we were both very lucky men, that we should both have been able to be faithful." He turned back. "Dog's teeth, Captain Ducas, you're bleeding."

Dimitrios looked at his hand, saw the streak across his left palm where he had gripped the blade without feeling it at all.

Dimi does not see himself as faithful, but as helpless and in need of a leader. (See p204.)

And Richard perceives something of this; he knows that his suggestions to Dimi are liable to be taken as orders. (But Richard does not seem to see this as a weakness. Or rather: he sees it as a weakness which it is his duty, as Dimi's lord, to guard.)

A young woman caught his eye as she ducked out of his sight; it was one of the kitchen girls... he'd forgotten her name. She had been willing, when he got back from the North, and he hadn't been able. Now she had some notion that he would murder her if the word got out.

Probably the same girl Dimi was thinking of earlier (p209). It is also possible that this is Elayne, who is introduced later.

Cook kept the boards full of hot spiced wines and sotelties -- meat shaped into peacocks and elephants to disguise that it was salt beef or pork again.

The word is an archaic spelling of "subtleties." They were a real feature of feasts of that era.

The "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" (which Dimi alluded to, p202) would have been considered an elaborate soteltie.

[...] a little man seated before the fire, dressed in not quite rags. A spy, of course, Dimi thought. No one would have traveled from the heart of Scotland in this weather with ordinary news.

Introduces Colin.

"[...] Jamie hasn't the bent for secret murder."

There was nothing in Colin's tone, but Dimi saw Richard's shoulders arch.

Because Richard has been accused of that himself; see p186, for example. (And also all of Shakespeare's history.)

"I've done it." Since I was a child, he thought.

First in the raiding game (p39), and then in the actual raid to reach Lucian (p53).

Colin the spy had a crooked grin: in a very light voice he said "And what comes when you're taken, and I can't recall ever having met you?"

This was his moment, Dimi knew. He wondered if the old Welsh wizard had known this was coming, all along. "How is to you know me?" he said, in atrocious English with the accents of a Greek fisherman. "I are come out of the Eastern Empire, and everything I say is the biggest lies."

Colin has a cover among the Scotsmen (as Inver Drum); he will be in Edinburgh Castle openly, as Dimi sneaks in. He is making it clear that he will not incriminate himself to help Dimi openly. He is also paraphrasing the line...

Other fiction:

"Should you or any of your force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions." -- Mission: Impossible

"Some call it the Lion," Colin said, following Dimi's look, "and the Mithras-men have their cave in it somewhere. And the spire, the head, that's Arthur's Seat."

"King Arthur ruled here?"

"Why, didn't you know, man? Arthur was a Scot." Colin did not seem to be telling tales, but then he was a spy by trade.

Spies must above anything else know how to lie.

The geography matches our Edinburgh, with the obvious exception of the Mithraeum.

Around the first guard's neck was a silver charm that Dimi at first thought was a Jeshite's Latin cross hung inverted; but it was only a hammer of Thor.

The Latin cross is the Christian one, with an extended lower arm. In TDW history the more common cross symbol would be the Greek (equal-armed) one.

"It's Inver Drum, that's who," Colin shouted, "and you'd better let him in, 'cause he's cold an' wants his whisky."

Colin's name among the Scottish loyalists.

There were banners and racked weapons and plenty of black iron, but no gilt and little glass, and none of the manor-house pleasantries like clocks or mirrors or dwarves.

Mechanical clocks existed in this period of our history, albeit as large and new-fangled inventions. TDW history, with its slightly advanced engineering, seems to have better ones; see p87-88, p300. However, Scotland is not the place to find them.

"Dwarves" is unclear; Dimi is probably thinking of human midgets employed as servants or jesters. However, the whole line may well be a reference to Tolkien.

Other fiction:

In The Hobbit, Bilbo's house has Victorian clutter like clocks and umbrellas -- in addition, of course, to dwarves -- even though most of Middle-Earth has an early-medieval level of technology.

(The spelling "dwarves" argues for this reference. Tolkien introduced it, explicitly as a term for the little people of his fantasy world. "Dwarfs" was the correct plural otherwise, and continued to be, until genre fantasy began outselling dictionaries.)

He thought about the dissemblers he had come to know lately: von Bayern hiding his disease, Peredur hiding his eye and his magic; even Doctor Ricci had the talent. While Dimitrios Ducas, when all the power of Byzantium might have borne down on him, had just gone soldiering and been unseen. Suddenly he felt rather secure.

Disguises, as part of the theme of spies.

See also: p297 (breach of oath)

Georges des Martz was an Alsatian mercenary Dimi had worked with some five years ago. Now he was wearing a steel-mesh vest over leather, a woolen cloak, a gold thunderbolt on a chain around his neck. Georges had always been one for death gods, Dimi recalled, though a good fellow in a fight; he would have taken well to Odin.

Although Odin is the chief god of the Norse pantheon, he is not a paternal figure; he is associated with war and death. His spear is the lightning bolt (thus the symbol worn by Georges).

Note that Georges swears "in death's name" and "Seigneur le Mort" ("Lord Death").

"War with England. It's what I came here for... but of course you'd know that, you heard enough of my papa's old grudge with Hawkwood. Stupid, yes, but family tradition. [...]"

John Hawkwood was an English mercenary of the previous century; see p62. Hawkwood died in 1394 AD, over eighty years previously, so the grudge probably goes back farther than Georges' father.

I do not find a des Martz associated with Hawkwood in our history.

Dimi stared at the tower for whole minutes, ignoring Colin's impatience. Suddenly there was a bit of brick-red light on the stones, as the clouds moved up from the western horizon. And in the light, there was a flash like crimson lightning up the tower.

The cable of a lightning rod; see p219.

"I don't know what's inside other men's heads. I'm a spy, not a wizard. And spies know that anything in a man's head can be gotten out."

Which will not bode well for Georges des Martz, later.

See also: p226 (French friend)

Dimitrios packed von Bayern's equipment into a rucksack, putting it far away from the fireplace.

Because some of the "equipment" is full of explosives (see p222).

"I thought... I might avoid speaking English to him, until we're well away. So if we don't get that far, he can suppose I was from... well, you know. Would he know Greek?"

"Alexander's not the learned brother. Sorry. Not a bad idea, though, Captain."

So that Albany would suppose Dimi was from... where? Louis, possibly, or Byzantium. Dimi is reaching for ways to keep Richard's name out of the mission, since Richard said (p212) that he did not want to start a war over it.

In fact, Dimi will keep his idea in mind. See p224.

It was a metal Thor's hammer almost as high as a man, of iron covered with silver, mounted there to draw lightning according to a physickal theory. A braid of copper wires led from the silver hammer down the wall, held every few feet by an iron spike driven into the masonry; the cable was anchored in the earth just at Dimi's feet.

The cable that Dimi spotted earlier (p217).

This should indeed be a satisfactory lightning rod.

He thought about water barrels on roofs and unsecured exits for fire, and determined that, in the unlikely event he ever built a house, he would not let a natural philosopher within sight of the plans.

The water barrels were mentioned as an experiment in Alesia (p28). Those are not likely to work; but lightning rods and fire exits are mandatory safety features in our world. Dimi's outlook reflects the relative frequency of sieges to natural disasters in his world...

...Or at least in Dimi's life. It's quite possible that the safety measures are worthwhile, and that Dimi just sees too many wars to judge the odds.

Then he saw the brand on Albany's forehead, and in an instant he knew. Taking a deep breath, he said in good classical Latin, "A fiery chariot shall bear you to Olympus, tossing in a whirlwind; you shall be free." And he showed the brand on his wrist.

Dimi is quoting the Invocation of Julian, from the Mithraic funeral ceremony (p50). Albany also wears the mark of an initiate of Mithras. (A lion, it will turn out -- see p224.)

All sides of the box were drilled with holes. On one side was a small brass mechanism, with a mainspring and a friction wheel: a gunlock, without a trigger but with a length of thin cord attached.

"Machina infernalis," he said flatly.

Latin: "infernal device" (in the sense of an inferno). An incendiary.

Albany looked around at the stables, the horses calm in their stalls, the lad unconscious on the straw-littered floor; he looked deadly grim, and he nodded.

The implication is that Dimi has knocked the boy out because of his infernal device, and Albany now understands this. However, the logic is not entirely clear. Possibly they feel that the boy, though loyal to Albany and willing to let them escape, would balk at allowing a stable full of innocent horses to burn.

See also: p362 (box)

Then Dimitrios saw the blood on Colin's cuff.

Colin glanced at himself. "It's the other fellow's; he won't be following," he said casually.

Colin implies that he killed a guard, or someone who would otherwise prevent their escape. This will turn out to be a lie; see p226.

Gregory had spoken of Greek fire compounds when he made the device, but Tertullian had never shown Dimi anything so potent and compact.

Dimi would have been educated in Byzantine military equipment when he was a boy; Tertullian, as his father's military engineer, would have been the tutor.

See also: p45

"Now, Your Grace," Colin was saying, "for Berwick, as if Hel rode after us, for assuredly he does."

Hel is actually a female figure in Norse mythology; this appears to be a typo.

"As Inver Drum may be a laird, though he owns damn few sheep, so Mister Blair may be a Maccabee."

Yet another alias for Colin. The farmer is a Christian, and "Blair" is one too, which is why the farmer is willing to put them up without questions.

"This, brother leo, is the miles Dimitrios, a man of my house. If he would not speak, then duty kept him silent. [...]"

This gives us Albany's rank in the Mysteries.

Looking back, we find that Dimi has spoken only a few words to Albany, and those in Latin (p220, p222). He has therefore held to his idea of avoiding English (p218).

Indeed, Dimi has been more strict than was really necessary. Quite possibly he took Richard's offhand compliment ("Not a bad idea") as an order. Or, more likely, as an opportunity to demonstrate his devotion to duty... demonstrate it not to Richard, but to himself.

"Men who make and unmake kings see all armies in the same color." [...] Colin bowed and departed.

Richard said to Dimitrios "He got that line from my father-in-law. Just as I got Colin. The man's been a spy his whole life, I gather."

Richard's father-in-law is Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.

We are immediately reminded of Reynard, the spy whom Lorenzo got from Louis. Which is a troubling allusion; Reynard wound up back at Louis's side (p158), after Florence collapsed, and then betrayed Louis as well (p166).

Colin, or Inver Drum, or Blair, or whoever, was seated almost exactly as the Duke had been, and for a moment Dimi thought he had guessed wrongly, that an unknown murderer was still loose in the house -- but then the spy turned his head and looked bleakly at Dimitrios, and turned the bloody knife over in his hands.

"Why?" Dimi said. "Why now?"

"Because now we're in England," Colin said. "The Scots will think their brave bloody Albany escaped to you, only t'be murdered in search of Jamie's favor. You may still get your war wi' Scotland, an' maybe not, but alliance you'll hae none. Och, it feels good t'tell absolute truth, just once."

Colin has just stabbed Albany. He explains why... almost certainly truthfully.

In our history, Albany escaped to France in 1479 (which is consistent with the chronology I have given). He then spent the next few years attacking James with Richard -- the alliance that Colin has now prevented.

He looked at the knife again. "Too bad your French friend wouldn'a told the truth about you." He picked at his cuff. "He'd'a lived."

The friend was Georges des Martz. Colin's cuff was stained when he met with Dimi and Albany (p222; it probably is still stained, since they've been traveling quickly and Colin never changed clothes). Therefore, Georges is the man who Colin had just killed at that time.

There is no reason to think that Georges was "following," as Colin said at the time. Colin now implies that he was interrogating Georges about Dimi's past. Colin was nervous about him earlier (p217), and may have wanted reassurance that there was no deeper plot between Georges and Dimi.

"Who did you do it for?" he shouted.

The spy smiled, in absolute triumph. "That you'll ne'er know, will you?" He moved his fingers, a stroke and a crossing stroke: the Jeshite sign.

Colin crosses himself, and this is unlikely to be a deception; he knows he is about to die. But it is unlikely to be an answer to Dimi's question, either. The Christians in Scotland were described as outlaws (p207), who would not care about the details of the Scottish succession.

The obvious assumption, given the overall storyline, is that the orders came from Constantinople. The Byzantines are trying to weaken Edward and England; destroying his alliances would aid that.

Dimi thought that there was one more spirit of his memory that had not appeared, but he could not speak the thought even to be rid of it.

Then, again, Richard did it for him. "The Doctor von Bayern. If we could bring him here, would he... give of himself?"

The spirit is of Dimi's father, when his mother was demanding that a vampire be brought to save his life (p48).

"...would the brother lion want the gift?"

Richard seemed to flinch, as if it were a factor he had not even considered. "Of course you're right. What would we be saving him for? The wildest of the lairds wouldn't see him king in such a state. No. Let the serpent go hungry."

Richard refers to vampirism as "Ahriman's serpent," as Dimi does. However, here he appears to consider the problem in purely political terms. He does not seem to think of vampirism as an inherently immoral means of avoiding death, as Dimi did when his father was ill (p48) -- and apparently still does, despite knowing Gregory. Richard also ignores Dimi's actual question: what would Albany want?

This is the first moment in which the portrayal of Richard is not wholly sympathetic. (Or possibly the second, if you count torturing the poacher on p201; but that was apparently warranted by law and custom.)

He had seen his duty; he had found himself; and then, more swiftly than any man ever had, he had failed the one and lost the other.

The duty he failed was of course bringing Albany out of Scotland alive. The self that he found was duty, in general; the weaknesses of his past that he thought he had purged in Richard's service (p224). And now, with the ghosts back, he feels he has lost that.

The themes of this chapter are duty, service, and vows, from Gawaine (p202) to Richard's Annie to Dimi's attempts to define himself. It might be better to say that duty has failed Dimi, not the other way around. In the previous chapter, Cecily spoke of quests (p192); that appears to be the better framework.

See also: p369 (strayed Ducas)