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Bagoas and The General's Mistress

A reader says, "I loved the way you wrote Bagoas in Stealing Fire. Please tell me he's in The General's Mistress!"

Yes, Bagoas' new incarnation is in The General's Mistress, though Elza does not remember, and neither does she! (At least, neither remember consciously.) Elza's first inkling of that memory is early in the second book, The Emperor's Companion, in a dream.

It was a long way back to Paris. I slept with the letter beneath my pillow, of course, in every inn where I stayed.

I dreamed, and in my dream I stood in a garden, stark rectangular pool bordered by a weeping almond tree, walls about carved with ancient princes, and above the clear, azure sky of distant lands. I dreamed, and in my dream I sat beside a young man with long black hair, his green eyes reflecting the waters, the light dancing on his face, beautiful and serene.

"I come here," he said, "To remember."

"As do I," I said.

He reached out and stirred the water with one hand idly, long and graceful fingers, a beauty just past its prime. "I did not want to be in this story," he said. "I didn't. But fate left me no choice. And now for better or worse I must play the queen. It is not what I intended."

I bent my head, flashes of fire on the water, fire and the memory of fire. "Would you truly be free of this if you could?"

"Not now," he said, looking out over the pool, a breeze stirring his hair. "Not now. But when I was younger I only wanted heart's ease. Can you not understand that?"

"Of course I can, my friend," I said. "I have known a little of sorrow too."

"And once again you will choose your own way, master all or be mastered." He smiled, and I thought it was a fond smile, though his face was drawn and tired. "You act as though we can choose who we will be. I told you that before, if you remember."

"I do," I said, "And I believe it still. I am a Companion because I choose to be, not because destiny binds me. I choose out of love."

"As do I," he said. "Choose well."

I woke. It was dawn, and I slept in the loft room of an inn, Charles's shirt about me and the letter in my hand. And I knew what I would do.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 3rd, 2012 03:19 am (UTC)
Your Bagoas is so beautifully done. We get the way that he loved without choosing, loved almost despite his will, and now there's that strong ruefullness of the way things turned out, without ever quite giving in to bitterness or despair. He can't bring himself to regret loving Alexander, even after the end with all the pain it brought him.

I think in many ways Lydias in Stealing Fire was tremendously good for Bagoas, in that he was the first person Bagoas could freely chose to care about without any strings or hidden traps. This glimpse of their friendship after the end of Stealing Fire just reinforces that.
Sep. 3rd, 2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I don't think Bagoas does regret it, but at the same time he's never had a lot of choices in his life until now. As you say, there are no strings or hidden traps. And that's a gift that lets this friendship endure the long centuries. Of course Elza doesn't consciously recognize Bagoas when she meets her in The General's Mistress, or vice versa, but it's important enough that Bagoas does her a good turn unexpectedly, from someone who is not a close friend. And in the second book it's on the table -- will Elza risk her life for someone who in this life she's not close to on the strength of that long friendship?
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )