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The Numinous Bits

A reader says, "My favorite thing in your books are 'the numinous bits' with Mik-el or Isis. I'm very curious how you do that in the 18th century. Or do you?"

Yes, there are "the numinous bits" in my books set in the Age of Revolution. Absolutely. I thought about posting a Mik-el bit for you from the first book, but all of his appearances are too spoilery! So this is from the second book, in which Elza learns a bit more about what form this is taking in her time! Lannes is Marshal Jean Lannes, who she does not know well at this point.




Lannes sat down on the edge of his desk, pushing the hair back from his eyes in a surprisingly boyish gesture. "I am stepping off a precipice to tell you this, Madame, and if you repeat it I will swear I never said it. There is more than one war, here in Boulogne. There is more than one storm front. There is the one you and I have already discussed, and there is the one that we see before us, the sea and the Channel and the British Navy waiting. And there is a third. We are at war, Madame, on more planes than one. They sent forth a sortie, and we push it back. We sally forth, and they push us back. Control of the Channel is about more than a few kilometers of water. It is about controlling the powers of sky and sea, and at the moment we cannot do that."

"You're joking." I slid down into a chair. Lannes was a rational man in a rational age, the Emperor's friend, a Marshal of France. "That is something out of a fairy tale."

"You are the Dove, and you do not yourself believe?" Noirtier asked.

"It cannot be. This is the age of enlightenment," I said.

Lannes shot him a quick look, as if to say, let me attend this. "Nevertheless, it is true. Should we dismiss forty centuries of humanity's accumulated knowledge, dismiss the experiences of thousands of men who have gone before us? That is much less rational. Our failure to understand something doesn't make it less real. Is it not far more rational to apply ourselves to understanding what we can?"

"I am not what he says," I said. "I am not."

His eyes met mine frankly. "Can you honestly tell me you are not an oracle?"

I looked away. Outside the sun was setting behind the towers of the fortress, golden in an azure sky. He is one too, some part of me whispered. He is like you. He has sworn the same oaths, in one Babylon or another. "No," I said. "No, I can't say that."

I'd love to hear what you guys think!

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
aishabintjamil
Oct. 8th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
The numinous bits are always with us - they're part of being human, and part of this world as well as the world of your stories. The degree to which it's safe to talk about them varies depending on time and culture, but that doesn't mean they stop being there. People are just more careful who they talk to about them, and how. And of course an oracle is going to be taken a lot more seriously in ancient Greece or Rome than in an era focused on finding a scientific explanation for everything.
jo_graham
Oct. 10th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC)
Oh yes! That's one of the big things about her in this incarnation. She thinks the things she knows are crazy. Women who have visions are nuts. But she still is an oracle, and an oracle is still needed.
linneasr
Oct. 30th, 2011 10:37 am (UTC)
Hm, this is interesting. So you are forcing Elza to accept Gull, although Charmian suppressed her (for the most part). Gull's mistress, however, was the Lady of Death, and I can't see Mary, the Mother of God, as an adequate substitute. Who will Elza's Guide be? Or, does it matter what face the Divinity wears?

jo_graham
Oct. 30th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, Elza has to accept Gull or else conclude that she's crazy. Those are really her options in 1805. She is what she is, and she can either say yes, she is, and decide what she wants to do with her abilities, or she can conclude that she's mad. But running into other people who accept and appreciate those abilities is a huge thing! It's a watershed moment, to be asked to use her abilities for her country because they are real and other people know that!

Elza's guide is the Archangel Michael, Mik-el from long ago. And of course he remembers everything, including a mercenary captain named Georg....
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )