Untold History of the Gryphon Clerks

I've hinted at some of this before, but there's a substantial history to the world of the Gryphon Clerks novels which sets up some of the conflicts and opportunities that are explored in the series. I thought I'd post it as a summary here for fans to enjoy.

Many centuries ago, the elves kidnapped a group of humans from our world - somewhere in the Mediterranean region, and before people there were literate, so a very long time ago in our world's timeline. They made them slaves, in order to have someone to do the work that their own discontented lower classes didn't want to do. The elven society was structured into three classes - the ruling Golds; the administrative, mercantile and professional Silvers; and the working-class Coppers - and the elves used biological means to match their hair colour to their social class.

The elves had a society based on bioengineering, though their civilization had already declined from its technological (and ethical) peak by this period. They were able to do a certain amount of genetic engineering still, though, and practiced some of it on the kidnapped humans. An ancient manuscript, now destroyed by Human Purity thugs (as described in Realmgolds), hinted that they changed humans to be able to use magic. They also experimented with combining human and animal traits in "blends" like the beastheads, the centaurs (and camel-centaurs, who we haven't seen yet), and the werewolves and selkies - not shapeshifters, but people with dual natures and some physical characteristics of wolves or seals, as we see in Beastheads.

The elves had an imperial structure, which went through a series of declines, internal wars and political struggles. During one of these periods, the human slaves rose, with material help from the gnomes and dwarves, and overthrew their elven masters, who perforce joined a movement already in progress to return to the forests and adopt a simpler lifestyle. From an elven viewpoint, the Gryphon Clerks stories are post-apocalyptic.

The humans who worked in the cities and manor houses, in particular, had adopted some of the elves' culture, speaking Elvish and practicing the elven Asterist religion rather than the Earthist animism of the country dwellers. They tended to become the rulers of the new human-dominated realms that arose out of the fallen Empire, and, again in imitation of the elves, referred to themselves as Golds. Following elven practice, on the death or retirement of a Gold who held a demesne (a realm, province, county or local holding) their successor would be elected from the descendants of previous office-holders, though if the previous incumbent had designated an heir their wishes were normally observed.

Not far from the ancient elven capital on the Isle of Turfrae, now abandoned, two realms formed on either side of the Koslin River. Denning, the larger, lay to the west of the Sea of Turfrae, while Koskant lay to the south. In Koskant, the emergent Provincegolds decided to rotate the position of Realmgold by election (for life) from among themselves. Denning, meanwhile, had a hereditary Realmgold in a separate family which didn't hold a province, and this family gradually lost power until the post of Realmgold had less practical importance than the Provincegolds. The realm became decentralised and disunited, not helped by its difficult terrain. The Koskanders, by contrast, managed to keep their realm connected, united, and moving in roughly the same direction, despite the usual internal tensions found in any large group of people. The two realms early on negotiated a treaty, magically enforced, which prevented either party bearing arms across their Koslin River border.

The Isle of Turfrae was taken over, several centuries after the fall of the Empire, by a group of academics who founded a college among the imperial ruins. Over time, members of this college came up with the philosophy of Human Purity, which stated that humans were superior to non-humans and the natural rulers of the world. This philosophy found keen adherents in Denning, particularly since Denninger Golds tended to be sent to Turfrae for their education.

The main targets of their prejudice are the prosperous dwarves, technologists and traders living in holds which have "free city" status and can make their own laws; and the gnomes, who serve the dwarves as an underclass.

Humans have used the Dwarvish alphabet, numbers, coinage, and aspects of their timekeeping system for some years now, abandoning the harder-to-use Elvish systems with their imperial associations. Over recent years, humans and dwarves have interacted more and more, and the humans now have a greater grasp of technology and are beginning to create their own innovations, while the New Dwarves have absorbed some of the human antipathy towards slavery and are beginning to question the place of the gnomes in their society. The gnomes, exposed to the same ideas, are restive.

As the Gryphon Clerks series starts, Human Purity is on the rise, championed by an ambitious Countygold in Denning. Determined, the Realmgold of Denning, is a compromise candidate, elected by his cousins because none of them hate him much; he would rather be still studying history at Turfrae. Koskant's Realmgold is Victory, former Provincegold of Western. She's a relatively young woman whose strong reformist agenda is popular with the people, but anathema to the more traditional Golds and prominent Silvers, who flourished under her repressive predecessor Glorious.

Victory has opened trade negotiations with the beastheaded people who live on the shores of the Sea of Turfrae, and, aware of the looming Human Purity rebellion in Denning, is about to contact her counterpart there and propose a more active alliance.


News

BeastheadsIn case you missed it, Beastheads is now out. If you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can get it for free; otherwise, it's $2.99 like the rest of my books.

My short story collection, Good Neighbours and Other Stories, is on the way from HDWP Books. There have been some delays, because it's a small press and people have real lives and stuff happens in them. It's nearly ready, though, and I hope to announce publication soon.

I have five assorted non-Gryphon-Clerks short stories out on submission at the moment (to the Hear Me Roar anthology and the magazines Inscription, Stupefying Stories, Buzzy Mag and Analog), and another that I need to finish fixing up and send to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. I keep getting personalised "ooh, so close" responses, so I'm anticipating another sale sometime soon.

I have a new story in the Gryphon Clerks setting that I haven't sent out yet (I want to workshop it a bit first), and I'm most of the way through a Gryphon Clerks novelette that will become a membership perk for my mailing list. It's set a year after Realmgolds and Beastheads, is told in first person from Determined's viewpoint, and deals with a contest for the honour of being the Realmgolds' Guard. It needs an ending, and to go through a couple of rounds of editing, because I'm not just dashing it off and shoving it at you. I want it to be as enjoyable as possible.

I'm fortunate in that my wonderful editor, Kathleen Dale, has offered me the chance to put her on monthly retainer, so she's now going over my short pieces as well. She and my regular beta group go over all my stuff before I put it out, and it's much the better for it.

Finally, I've started on the next Gryphon Clerks novel, Mister Bucket for Assembly. We rejoin Bucket the gnome and Hope's friend Briar after the events of Hope and the Patient Man, as they get involved in the elections for the new Representative Assembly. I have plans for Hope and Patient, Mister Gizmo, Rosie and Dignified too, but I'm not sure how much of them will go in this book and how much in The Rediscovery of Hardlac, which I'll be writing in semi-parallel. I'll have to see how things unfold.

So, if you're not a member of my mailing list, but you are a Gryphon Clerks fan, sign up so you can pick up extra material, get discounts on a couple of my older books, and be notified when new books come out. I won't spam you.

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Mike Reeves-McMillan lives in Auckland, New Zealand, the setting of his Auckland Allies contemporary urban fantasy series; and also in his head, where the weather is more reliable, and there are a lot more wizards. He also writes the Gryphon Clerks series (steampunk/magepunk), the Hand of the Trickster series (sword-and-sorcery heist capers), and short stories which have appeared in venues such as Compelling Science Fiction and Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores.

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