First Impressions: Ivah … and Holla-Sayan

Ivah, you may know. She’s one of Attalissa’s enemies in Blackdog, and I’d always intended to write more about her. Ivah in Blackdog, even once she is into her twenties, is still a girl trying to be Good and meet her father’s expectations. Her world, her view of herself and her past, is completely turned upside down by the end. In the two parts of Marakand, we see Ivah struggling to change, to find her own definition of right action. A wizard, diviner, and Grasslander warrior, educated by her mother in the court traditions of Nabban and by her father in his own Grasslander wizardry and, through his example, how — or not — to rule, she enters The Leopard as a resident of the city of Marakand, where to be revealed as a wizard is to be condemned to death in the Lady’s deep well. She is trying to make a living as a scribe, doing piecework for magistrates’ clerks and writing letters for the illiterate, when an encounter with Ghu, pursued by street-guard as a Praitannec spy, disrupts her carefully constructed new life. A woman with the eyes of a hawk and a soul that sings of grass and sky and running horses . . . Ghu thinks in metaphor.

While in Marakand, Ivah has been quietly researching the inscription on the tomb of a vanished goddess, which is enough to get her condemned as an enemy of the Lady’s temple, but it’s her choice of company that brings her into open conflict with the Lady of Marakand as an ally and one of the greatest weapons the loyalists of the lost gods have against the rule of the temple.

Holla-Sayan: The shapeshifting hero of Blackdog shouldn’t need any introduction here.

Blackdog, cover by Raymond Swanland

Blackdog, cover by Raymond Swanland

This isn’t his story, but he nonetheless plays a crucial role in it, so just in case anyone was wondering, yes, the Blackdog has come to Marakand, and so have Moth and Mikki. The Leopard is not a sequel to Blackdog and reading one isn’t necessary to appreciating the other, but they are mutually enriching. Think of these as a cycle in the medieval sense, rather than a series.

The Blackdog was thwarted of his vengeance against Ivah for her treachery when Moth sent her away before the battle at Lissavakail. Now he finally finds her again. That’s a chapter I really enjoyed writing.

Are Moth and Mikki in the two books of Marakand as well? Of course they are. Moth is the thread that weaves all these stories together.

Moth, wandering wizard and warrior of the north, accused kinslayer, once the wife of Ivah’s father, immortal devil, storyteller, shapeshifter, carrying the sword of the Old Great Gods and charged with the execution of her fellow devils . . . Mikki, half-demon, bear by day and man by night, son of the guardian demon slain when Moth was freed from her grave . . . #SFWApro

About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, Gods of Nabban, and The Last Road epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at
This entry was posted in Blackdog, Dispatches from the desk, Marakand, Moth, The Lady, The Leopard and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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