Mar 02


Always known as Mistress Pintuck, this gnome seamstress is a cousin of one of the gnomes at the Clever Man's Works. She and her workers own the business, having taken it over after Gnome Day. Her shop is in the old town in Illene.

Makes a ruby-red Victory suit for Hope at Merrybourne for her presentation to the airhorse investors. Hope subsequently wears this suit on other formal occasions.

Also equips Rosie Printer with more flattering clothes. Later provides Bucket with a "gnome suit".

She is middle-aged and plump, has a no-nonsense manner and a thick gnomish accent. Widely respected in the gnome community and beyond.

Mar 02

Marsh Whitegrove

Musician, sometime lover of Briar Heathlake. He and his brother Reed Whitegrove play the style of music known as Heart and Bird.

Marsh plays the ninestring and the harp, Reed a variety of sizes of flute. They both play a small drum.

The two men have slightly different styles of improvisation. Reed’s is wider-ranging, while Marsh concentrates on ornamental flourishes.

Jan 09

Hope at Merrybourne

Energy mage. Pretty, with large doe-like eyes and a rich mezzo voice, she grew up on the island known as the Western Bird, caught between a mother who resented her and verbally punished her for doing anything to stand out, and an ambitious father who always wanted to show off her achievements. This is because her conception was a result of her father's rape of her mother. They were forced to oathbind by their families, whereupon her mother broke her father's spirit. He managed to get their daughter named Hope because to him she represented the hope of good coming out of bad, but her mother saw her as a reminder of his crime.

Related Characters

  • Dignified Printer: boss, technically
  • Briar Heathlake: closest friend, sometime flatmate in Flat 3 of a 4-flat house
  • Patient Carver: eventual oathmate
  • Faithful Victualler: first lover
  • Verity at Merrybourne: mother
  • Vigorous at Merrybourne: father
  • Countygold of the Western Isles
  • Sincerity Roper: mage, mentor
  • Reliance: Asterist scholar, taught her mathematics and music
  • Honey Taverner: gave her a job singing in her tavern (and later washing mugs also) in order to help with university expenses
  • Mistress Courage: landlord
  • Leaf: downstairs neighbour (sister of the male musician) in Flat 1
  • Charity and Cloud: downstairs neighbours (artists; she paints, he sculpts) in Flat 2. Their art is simple, "like something the Realmgold would like," according to Briar. Cloud wears the chinbeard of a Silver Earthist.
  • Lily: mindmage who helps her and Patient

Hope won a full scholarship to the University of Illene by discovering Elvish spells written in ultraviolet ink in an old book from Empire times. This discovery formed the foundation of the library which was later incorporated into the Research Institute. She lost the scholarship when she cursed Faithful to impotence after catching him cheating on her with Briar (the women were previously unacquainted, and formed a friendship initially based on their shared resentment of Faithful).

Graduate of the University of Illene, holds the rank of mage-minor in mindmagic and lifemagic and full mage in energy magic. Despite losing academic standing as part of her punishment, she managed to graduate second in her class, gaining High Distinction. This is represented by a diamond on her silver mage-bracelet, which also holds a garnet representing her specialisation in energy magic.

Her first job after university was at the Clever Man's Works. Developer with Dignified of the farviewers and farspeakers and first user of the airhorse.

Recipient of the Realmgold's Civilian Honour, Gold, with Moon for her work on the communications technology.

As at the end of Hope and the Patient Man, working for the Research Institute, and working on a book that she hopes will qualify her as a Senior Mage.

Jan 08

Dignified Printer

The Realmgold Victory's "clever man". Mother died when he was young, he was apprenticed to his father (a printer) and maternal uncle (an inkmaker). Because of his improvements to their printing machinery and processes, the Realmgold Glorious's agents determined that they were the source of seditious material, and raided them, arresting Dignified (then aged 15) and his father. His uncle, out of the house at the time working on bombs, attempted to free his brother-in-law by explosive means, killing himself, Dignified's father and several others in the process. Dignified then spent a number of years in prison, until freed by Victory's amnesty on the 81st day of her reign.

While in prison he learned mathematics from an Asterist scholar, magic theory from a mage-minor, and mechanical engineering and the Dwarvish Language from Gizmo, all fellow prisoners.

After his release he became the centre of the Clever Man's Works.

Responsible along with Hope at Merrybourne for creation of the farviewers and farspeakers.

Thin, with no social skills to speak of, but an outstandingly brilliant inventor and theorist.

Oathmate: Rosie Printer.

Jan 08

Clever Man’s Works

The lab and manufactory associated with Dignified Printer, the Realmgold's clever man. Staffed mainly by gnomes, including Gizmo, Wheel and Bucket.

Originally under the supervision of a dwarf named Leverage of Finestone and Gulfport, universally despised by the gnomes and, as it turns out, an industrial spy for the dwarves.

The maintenance foreman is Grease, and the production foreman is Lathe until he resigns when Wheel is promoted to manage it.

Other gnomes working there are named Straightedge (one of the planners, Wheel's successor as senior planner), Linkage (one of Lathe's department, slow on the uptake), Gear, Mill (oathbound, with a new baby at the time of Hope and Briar's housewarming), Chisel (does custom sculpting), Tally (cousin of Mistress Pintuck), Grease (maintenance foreman, plump and placid).

The Works moves across the river to a new building opposite the Research Institute at the time of Mister Bucket for Assembly. This is known as the New Works.

Jan 08


Gnome, assistant to Dignified Printer. Speaks good Pektal with a heavy gnomish accent.

He is instrumental in Gnome Day, presenting his people's plight to Realmgold Victory. This gives him status among the gnomes, despite his humble origins from a family of cleaners owned by the whole dwarfhold.

He subsequently courts Wheel's sister Braise, and is elected to the Assembly.

Jan 08

Briar Heathlake

Best friend and, for a while, flatmate of Hope at Merrybourne. They met when Hope's lover Faithful Victualler betrayed her with Briar. As soon as they became aware of each other's existence, they combined against Faithful and became good friends.

She looks enough like Hope to be mistaken for her sister, but is a little lighter. They take the same shoe size, fortunately for Hope, since Briar has a large collection of shoes for her to borrow. Also fond of wine, sometimes to excess. Keeps her room in a very messy state, sleeps with the light on.

As a betweener, had an affair with her teacher, and feels guilty that this probably influenced him to put her up for the scholarship that got her to university.

From a Copper background in Gulfshore Province. Her parents are goatherds, though relatively prosperous ones, and the money Briar has sent back home has enabled them to buy the cheese factory they were supplying.

Occupation: Lawyer. Ambition to be a magistrate. Originally employed at the firm of Forthright & Adamant, working for Mister Forthright, one of the senior partners (a thin-lipped, dry-mannered man who eventually sacked her over rumours about her relationship with Bucket). Her rival there was Pleasantness Milliner, a badly misnamed woman jealous of Briar's success.
Boyfriends: Marsh Whitegrove, and later Active Hedger.
Mother: Leaf
Father: Vale
Grandmother (mother's mother) lives with them.
Brothers (ages at the time of Hope Persists, when she is 25): Thorn (23), oathmate Cloud, one newborn son, mother-in-law Feather; Bark (21); Twig (20); Grass (16); Dell (13); Moss (10).