Deadly Destinations is going to the Kingdom of Alba! This kingdom is showcased in the Noctis Magicae series by Sylvia Izzo Hunter. The second novel in this fantasy series, Lady of Magick, was released on September 1, 2015 from Ace/Penguin!
**Enter for your chance to win a copy of Lady of Magick at the end of this post! This contest is for US addresses only.**
Advice for British travellers to the Kingdom of Alba
compiled by Einion Powell, Mag.B. (Oxon.)
Private secretary to His Majesty’s ambassador to Alba
Being words of wisdom & warning on diverse matters, for the British subject intending to visit the Kingdom of Alba.
The noble and ancient Kingdom of Alba encompasses the territory north of the Roman Wall, as well as myriad islands large and small, to the north and east thereof. To the west is Eire, close kin to Alba in language, history and custom, and perpetual rival in politics and war.
On language & other forms of communication.
As the well-informed traveller will be aware, the chief language of Alba is Gaelic, and it will ease the way significantly to make some study of this language beforehand, or to engage some person capable of communicating in both Latin and Gaelic. Though in Alba, as in our own Kingdom, Latin is widely spoken among educated persons, it is rare outside those regions immediately abutting the Wall — where except in times of outright warfare, some degree of trade and communication has generally occurred — to find a speaker of English, Français, or any other vernacular of Britain. Several elementary grammars and phrasebooks exist, but none published within the past half-century.
On names & greetings.
Among Albans of every class, the customary greeting, upon being introduced, is a clasping of the right hands. A man need have no reluctance in clasping hands with a lady, nor the reverse. The double handclasp however, is reserved for friends and close acquaintance.
Similarly, Albans of every class, and women and men alike, are customarily addressed not by any title or honorific, but by their full name. Particularly baffling to the British visitor to Alba is the custom whereby the married woman continues to be known by her maiden name, thus sharing a name with her father and brothers rather than with her husband. It is common also to hear persons addressed by surnoms of all kinds: the geographical (distinguishing geographically disparate branches of the same clan or family), the personal (identifying a man by the colour of his hair, for example), and the familial (for instance, to distinguish two cousins both named for their grandfather). While the reader may be tempted to conclude that Albans accord less importance than ourselves to their own and others’ position in society, in fact Alban names convey complex family and clan relationships, and thus, to the knowledgeable, are as revealing of status and position as any British title. Should the reader find himself addressed in the Alban fashion, therefore — as is more than likely — this should not be interpreted as implying any disparagement, or any loss of status. Indeed, the imposition of a surnom is often (though not always) a sign of favour and of especial hospitality.
On dining & the customs of welcome.
For the most part, the British visitor ought to find nothing discomfiting in the hospitality practised by his Alban hosts. One need hardly mention that the polite guest, whether visiting at home or abroad, will refrain from commenting upon the choice of deities invoked by his hosts in extending their welcome, nor offer any insult to his hosts’ gods. The British traveller, however, must be advised that Albans, who take especial pride in their long history of successful resistance to Roman rule, may be apt also to take particular offence at the invocation of any Roman deity, whether in ritual fashion or in ordinary conversation, in their own homes. Of course visitors are not expected to call upon gods who are not their own; when in doubt, however, the considerate guest will — as is not unheard-of in the less urbane corners of our own Kingdom — call upon Roman gods in the privacy of his own heart, so as to be certain of giving no offence.
A further caution: it is not the custom in Alba, as in Britain, for ladies to withdraw from the dinner-table in advance of the men. In other respects, however, our two kingdoms have many customs in common, in respect of both the welcoming of guests and their care and feeding. The precise words of the ritual of welcome will vary to some degree, both from our own custom and from clan to Alban clan; but the visitor may feel perfectly assured in making the customary reply And may the gods smile upon your house and all who dwell in it.
On precedence & etiquette.
Though popularly called a kingdom, Alba is ruled not by a king as such, but by the man or woman who sits the Chieftain’s Seat in Din Edin. Each is chosen by the previous ruler, and generally from among his own family; but that choice must be confirmed by the chieftains of all the major clans in council, and such confirmation is by no means pro forma. Indeed, disagreements as to the most suitable heir have been at the root of many, perhaps most, of Alba’s past internal conflicts. To the Alban mind, however, our belief that the throne passes from father to son by the will of Britain’s gods represents an equally baffling curiosity.
The clans of Alba govern themselves and their territories with both more and less autonomy than the British peer: more, in that clan chieftains enjoy considerable freedom to make and enforce the law within their clan-lands; and less, in that certain laws — most notably those respecting provision for the hungry in times of famine, and of the poor at all times — are firmly enforced upon all, and the clan which fails to uphold these duties faces the harshest of penalties, which are considered to proceed not from the throne, but from the kingdom’s patron deities.
As in Britain the earliest creations take precedence, in Alba the longest-standing clans are also the most powerful, with certain exceptions resulting from ill fortune of various kinds.
On travel & transport.
Though lurid tales of Alban banditry have long circulated south of the Wall, travelling in Alba is in fact no more or less hasardous than travelling within our own Kingdom, apart from the difficulty of making oneself understood in some regions less accustomed to foreign travellers (see above). One significant point which should be mentioned, however, is that Alban ladies of rank, unlike their sisters in most parts of Britain, think nothing of undertaking even long journeys without male escort. The visitor is cautioned against drawing any conclusion from the presence of such unescorted ladies as may be met with upon the road, or whilst stopping at an inn or wayhouse.
Sylvia Izzo Hunter was born in Calgary, Alberta, back in the days before Star Wars, and started making up stories at approximately the time she learned to talk. A couple of decades ago she moved to Toronto, Ontario, where she now lives with her husband and daughter and their slightly out-of-control collections of books, comics, and DVDs. She studied English and French literature (with a particular focus on medieval and Renaissance poetry and drama) at York University; she has since discovered that her mom was right: in order to be a functioning grown-up, you really do need to know how to do math.
Over the course of her working life Sylvia has been a slinger of tacos, a filer of patient charts and answerer of phones, a freelance looker-up of unconsidered trifles, an Orff-singing stage monk, and an exam tutor, but has mostly worked in not-for-profit scholarly publishing, where she started out making lots of photocopies and now gets to make XML and EPUB files (which is more fun). She also sings in two choirs (including the Orpheus Choir of Toronto), reads as much as possible, knits (mostly hats), and engages in experimental baking.
Sylvia’s favourite Doctor is Tom Baker, her favourite pasta shape is rotini, and her favourite Beethoven symphony is the Seventh.
Want to read more from Sylvia Izzo Hunter?
Available September 1, 2015 from Ace/Penguin
About this Book:
Sylvia Izzo Hunter brought “both rural Brittany and an alternative Regency England to vivid life”* in The Midnight Queen, her debut novel of history, magic, and myth. Now, in her new Noctis Magicae novel, Sophie and Gray Marshall are ensnared in an arcane plot that threatens to undo them both.
In her second year of studies at Merlin College, Oxford, Sophie Marshall is feeling alienated among fellow students who fail to welcome a woman to their ranks. So when her husband, Gray, is invited north as a visiting lecturer at the University in Din Edin, they leap at the chance. There, Sophie’s hunger for magical knowledge can finally be nourished. But soon, Sophie must put her newly learned skills to the test.
Sophie returns home one day to find a note from Gray—he’s been summoned urgently to London. But when he doesn’t return, and none of her spells can find a trace of him, she realizes something sinister has befallen him. With the help of her sister, Joanna, she delves into Gray’s disappearance, and soon finds herself in a web of magick and intrigue that threatens not just Gray, but the entire kingdom.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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