Proud To Be Dragon-Free
Welcome To My World
Introduction: The Cretid's Guide to Ideire
The Major Players
Women You Won't Meet Here
Chapter One of Taken Child
Chapter One of Better To Burn
Chapter One of Redemption
Order the Novels
Critical Praise for Women On Fire
Tribute To WOF's Readers
WOF Quizzes at Quizilla
Frequently Asked Questions
The Rules for Dubh Solus
Redemption, the fifth novel, is now available.
WOFlink Holiday Mixer Poll
Women On Fire Reading at Worldcon 2000
Hawking Women On Fire at Wiscon 24
Women On Fire Discussion List
Women On Fire Holiday Gift Catalogue
Viecter's Poetry Corner
WOF Partner Assessment Test
Who Am I?
What's A Plaid Adder?
What Else Have I Written?
Why Aren't These Books Published?
Ask and I answer.
What Ideire is depends on who you ask. Ask Ideirens, and they'll say, "Oh, you mean our country." That's if they don't just tell you to go back up north where you came from. See, ever since that unpleasantness up in the mountains during the War of Secession three hundred years ago, Ideire's borders have been sealed. Aside from doctors and the occasional diplomat, most Ideirens have never seen a Cretid. Oh, they know we're up here, but they're not happy about it.
You've probably heard all kinds of strange rumors about Ideirens; well, they're not strange enough. For instance, those stories about their priestesses being able to pull fire out of thin air and pick it up with their bare hands, they're true. At least Ideirens think they are. We're still trying to figure out how they do it. It can't be with technology, because they don't have any; Ideire remains firmly entrenched in the pre-industrial era. Electric power is unknown to them, and fossil fuel a foreign concept.
Of course, if you ask one of their priestesses--they call them shriias--she'll tell you how she does it. Their rules require them to tell the truth at all times and in all situations. Shriias consider lying worse than murder; they're allowed to kill in order to save life, but they're never allowed to lie. The catch is that they'll tell you the truth as they know it. Which means that if you ask a shriia about this 'fire', she'll give you a load of tarbhfnaa about how the world is made up of fire and if you work hard enough Idair gives you the ability to see the fire in things and this somehow leads to your being able one fine day to shoot it out of your hands at people. Which of course can't be true, but it's what they believe.
Who Idair is is a tough question; even the shriias don't seem to know. They believe that she made the world, and that about a thousand years ago she came to visit. Of course, the Ideirens were nice to her while the Cretids were total bastards, which is why she gave them the secret of doing magic while we've had to muddle along with machines. But they don't think of her as a goddess, at least not the way most pagans understand it; and they certainly don't seem to see her as anything like our own Lord or his Favorite Son. For instance, Idairism may be the only religion on the planet that doesn't have a working concept of the afterlife. Evidently, Idair didn't tell them what happens after they die, because she didn't know. The story about her visit and her battle with something called the Dark One is told in a set of scrolls called the Chronicles, which make fascinating reading as fantasy, whatever their shortcomings as religious texts.
How could a bunch of presumably intelligent people go on this way while the rest of the world is enjoying the computer age? Well, Ideirens honestly do believe that the world is riddled with spirits, and that the shriias protect people from them. The fact that these spirits don't seem to exist in our nation doesn't bother them. They think we don't see them because we don't believe in them. After all, when one of us comes upon a dismembered body lying in a deserted wood, we call the Enforcers and start the investigation. An Ideiren would just shrug and say, "Looks like the lurers got him."
About the telepathy--everyone's got an opinion. Personally, I think it's their excuse for being rude. Some Ideirens are more obnoxious about this than others, and will claim, while they're looking off into space and not listening to a word you say, that they're really talking to someone else. Others just needle you by answering questions before you ask them. Most experts agree that what they call "reading" is just a combination of empathy and common sense, and that aside from that little drug problem, Ideiren brains are more or less the same as ours.
That's another thing--don't ever offer an Ideiren a beer. Centuries of inbreeding have created a genetic weakness in their brains that makes the use of mind-altering substances fatal. And you really don't want to be tried for murder in Ideire. They exile their murderers instead of executing them; but our system is actually kinder, considering that their exiles are sent to that Godforsaken no-man's-land we call the Zone. Stories about toxic waste in the Zone vary depending on which newspaper you read, but even by the government's estimates it's not a healthy place.
Daunting, huh? Well, there are rewards to visiting Ideire: a rich, vibrant folk culture, more local color than you can shake a stick at, and the ongoing magic show they call shri. There's something quaint about their little cobbled villages, and the earnest simplicity of the shriias, whose dedication to relieving suffering and helping the poor is truly touching. And there's a lot of natural beauty that we don't have any more. So if you don't mind roughing it, it's a great place to spend a couple of weeks. But I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there.
Map of Ideire and the Cretid Nation
Ideiren time is calculated relative to the present moment. If you ask an Ideiren when something happened she'll tell you how long ago it was instead of giving you an absolute date. However, for those of us who aren't temporal relativists, here's a broad overview of Ideiren history up to the first page of Taken Child. NOTE: These dates do not match with the Cretid linear dates given in Another Country, because the Cretids don't start counting with Idair's appearance.
Lost in the Mists of Time-- the world is created.
0001--Idair is expelled from the Cretid Nation and returns to what is now Ideire.
0002--The Burning. Idair departs six months later.
0003--The practice of shri begins in Ideire.
0090--The Cretid Wars begin.
0100--After a decade of armed conflict, the Cretids are definitively pushed back behind the Amstian mountains after their defeat at the battle of Amranth.
0300--End of the First Kyelran. The mountain range at the northern borders of Amst and Dairc serves as a more or less stable border but is not an official partition. By now the practice of shri is organized through a loose confederation that will become the Order.
0400--Amst, Dairc, Jipran, Naucht and Kengda unite to form a democratic federation. The City is formally made the seat of government with the construction of the Pharc.
0500--The Cretid Encroachment begins.
0510--Cretid forces attack Daircri and massacre its citizens. They are pushed back behind the mountains and the Zone is established at the Conference of Mypril. At the request of the Seated Leaders, the Order seals Ideire inside a magic border.
0540--Cretid ships first reach Plenana. The age of imperial exploitation begins.
0600--End of the Second Kyelran. By now Ideiren society looks pretty much like it does in Theamh's time. The Cretid Empire now includes Plenana, Hendai and Dubhinis.
0800--Uprisings begin in Cretid colonies, eventually leading to the withdrawal of Cretid troops and Cretid administrators. However, trade between the Cretid Nation and the newly independent colonies continues.
0810--The Greater Plague of the Third Kyelran sweeps across Ideire. After trying unsuccessfully to contain it using shriic techniques, the Order negotiates with the Cretid medical establishment to bring doctors into Ideire to fight the disease. The Plague is stopped, but the medicals remain.
0821--Lythril enters the scoil.
0825--Lythril is expelled from the scoil for conduct unbecoming a scoilin.
0831--Theamh is born.
0833--Istria is born.
0840--The introduction of psychoactive drugs to Ideire sparks the Lesser Plague of the Third Kyelran. After its suppression the Seated Leaders pass the Medical Regulation Act.
0847--Theamh and Istria enter the scoil.
0852--Theamh and Istria are sent undercover to expose Lythril.
0853--Theamh and Istria get their orders.
0854--Istria leaves on a mission with the intention of capturing Lythril. She loses contact with the Council and is never heard from again.
0856--Lythril is apprehended. The trial of the century begins.
0857--Lythril is finally convicted and exiled.
0859--Theamh meets Mna and the twins.
All of these dates are approximated.
Q. How do you pronounce Theamh's name?
A. THAY-uv. Aine's name is AH-nyuh.
Q. Is Idair a goddess, or a human, or a Christ figure, or what?
A. All will be revealed in good time. But she definitely is not a Christ figure.
Q. Is Ideire supposed to be Ireland?
Q. Is the Cretid Nation supposed to be America?
A. Not literally. The Cretid Nation is a satire on everything that hones my rage and hatred about contemporary first-world capitalism. There are elements and incidents that obviously derive from American culture. But in terms of is the Cretid Nation supposed to be physically located on Earth in North America, no, it's not.
Q. What is the deal with the telepathy?
A. There are three basic kinds of unspoken communication that Ideirens use. There's linking, in which two people set up a permanent, private connection; sending, in which a person broadcasts thoughts which can be read by anyone in the immediate vicinity; and reading, which is more like empathy than telepathy (the reader picks up on the speaker's unstated emotions and motivations).
Linked conversations are denoted by <brackets>, and cannot be overheard by anyone but the two linked participants, unless one of their minds has been breached. Sent thoughts are readable by anyone in the area who has enough mindstrength to pick up on them, and are indicated by italics.
Most Ideirens learn basic mindstrength from their families or in fosterage, which means they can send and receive sent thoughts without too much trouble. Linking is more complicated, but often happens spontaneously between people who are close in other ways. Ideirens are also able to read emotions fairly accurately, but learn how to mask so that they can't be read.
Q. What is the hreapa for and how does it work?
1) It protects the wearer against her own fire. (Shriias' bodies are "immune" to shri fire, but ordinary clothing is not.)
2) It protects the wearer against dark users' fire.
3) It protects the wearer against weapons.
4) It protects the wearer against spirits, as long as it was put on properly at sunrise that morning. (This is the only function that is "disabled" if a shriia loses her fire; it is also disabled after the shriia undoes for the night.)
5) It also makes a damn good raincoat.
Hreapas have to be woven in one piece out of a continuous skein of wool spun from fleeces sheared off a specially raised lamb. They are traditionally white. The design is up to the individual shriia, as long as a) the cloth is never cut and b) the shoulders are left open (otherwise the fire wouldn't be able to escape when she revealed). The hreapa is folded around the body and pinned with seven star-shaped brooches; the idea is to cover as much of the body's surface as possible.
If a shriia loses her fire or turns, the hreapa remains fireproof, weaponproof, waterproof, etc., but no longer protects against spirits. When the shriia who made the hreapa dies, it loses its powers.
Q. Sometimes they make fire with their hands and sometimes it comes out of their shoulders. What's the difference?
Shriias can make fire in two ways: by pulling it out of the air or other kinds of matter, and by pulling it out of themselves. The first kind, "ordinary fire," is made with the hands, and will burn out eventually if not given fuel. Shri fire comes out of the shriia's body, and is further subdivided into regular fire, which they can pop in and out of their hands without too much trouble, and revelation fire. Revelation fire comes out of the shoulders, which are the focus points for the body; it's white, and it is usually only used in battle. Shri fire can only be put out when the shriia takes it back into her body.
Q. What are the loss violations?
A loss violation is something that causes a shriia to lose the ability to make fire. There are three categories:
Abuse of the Truth
Abuse of the Fire
Mindforcing (except with a dark user or a victim of possession), using fire in a gratuitously destructive way, accepting or demanding payment for shri, and otherwise using shri to do harm or for selfish ends
Abuse of the Body
Intentional killing of anything larger than an insect, except to prevent immediate loss of life; handling or using money; intentional infliction of physical harm except in self-defense or in defense of others; sex with another person.
Q. I have many other questions.
Ask and I answer.