Thursday, January 19, 2017

Liavek: praise and where to buy


City of Luck on the Cat River. Cosmopolitan hub of subtle intrigue and wild fortune. Capital of art and adventure, caravans and culture, espionage and enchantment!

Come to Liavek. Its stories have been told by some of fantasy's finest writers—Jane Yolen, Gene Wolfe, Robin Hobb, Alan Moore, Steven Brust, Emma Bull, Patricia C. Wrede, Pamela Dean, John M. Ford, Charles de Lint, Walter Jon Williams, Bradley Denton, Nancy Kress, and more. Now they are available again for new readers and old.

For more, see A Liavek publication FAQ.

Praise for Liavek

"Fresh and compelling tales." —Science Fiction Review

" entertainment as well as an exercise in shared-world fiction." —Fantasy Review

"A colorful, likable setting: a crowded port city so well-drawn that readers soon feel they could walk through it..." —Publisher's Weekly

"Beautifully written, with detailed characterizations, the short stories are amazingly well integrated...a collection of quality fiction." —Voya

"For a world conceived in the 1980s, Liavek was notably forward-looking... As a counter to the default whiteness of fantasy at the time, Liavekans are dark-skinned, as are the indigenous S'Rian people on whose older town the city was built. A same-sex relationship is central to some of Dean's stories, and the city has multiple religions, but also atheists — no easy feat when the various gods regularly take an interest in human affairs." —Elizabeth Graham, NPR

Where to buy Liavek

Barnes & Noble: Liavek

Smashwords: Liavek

The Liavek Independent Creator's License

1. The background

This license lets creative people use the world of Liavek, its magical system, and the shared characters designated in Section 7 at no cost in creative work that earns less than $3000 US, and describes the conditions for work that earns more than $3000 US.

Liavek is the intellectual property of Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, who share that ownership through contracts with the writers in the Liavek anthologies originally published by Ace Books. Collectively, those writers are the Liavek Co-op, which consists of Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Gene Wolfe, Patricia C. Wrede, Nancy Kress, Steven Brust, Jane Yolen, Kara Dalkey, Pamela Dean, Megan Lindholm, Barry B. Longyear, Charles de Lint, Nathan A. Bucklin, Gregory Frost, John M. Ford, Charles R. Saunders, Bradley Denton, Alan Moore, Caroline Stevermer, Lee Barwood, and Walter Jon Williams.

Stories and characters created by writers in the Liavek Co-op belong to their writers and therefore may not be used under the terms of this license. This license only allows for the use of Liavek’s world, magical system, and the shared characters designated in Section 7.

2. Creators of prose, poetry, or music

a. Creators of prose, poetry, or music may use Liavek’s setting, magic system, and designated shared characters free of charge for short stories, novels, poems, and songs that earn less than $3000 US, whether from self-publishing or through a contract with another individual or company.

b. Prose, poetry, or music creators who make $3000 US or more must send 10% of the total amount earned within 10 days of receiving it to Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, who will distribute that money among the members of the Liavek Co-op.

c. Prose, poetry, and music creators who create work under this license that attracts commercial interest from entertainment producers (such as but not limited to comic book companies, TV and movie studios, recording artists and companies, and game companies) must contact Will Shetterly and Emma Bull to negotiate a contract that benefits those creators and the Liavek Co-op. (See 4.d)

3. Creators of comics, videos, or games

a. Creators of comics, videos, or games may use Liavek’s setting, magic system, and designated shared characters free of charge for self-produced comics, videos, movies, and games that earn less than $3000 US.

b. Comics, video, or game creators who make $3000 US or more from self-produced Liavek work must send 10% of the total amount earned within 10 days of receiving it to Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, who will distribute that money among the members of the Liavek Co-op.

c. Comics, video, or game creators who create work under this license that attracts commercial interest from entertainment producers (such as but not limited to comic book companies, TV and movie studios, and game companies) must contact Will Shetterly and Emma Bull to negotiate a contract that benefits those creators and the Liavek Co-op. (See 4.d)

4. The conditions of this license

a. Independent Creators who use this license may not contact any member of the Liavek Co-op to ask about using or approving anything that is not explicitly granted in this license. If an entertainment company wants to use a specific writer’s characters or stories, that company should contact Will Shetterly and Emma Bull.

This license is meant to let new creators use Liavek without placing demands on members of the Liavek Co-op. Artistically, Independent Creators should use Liavek with the same considerations they would bring to public domain material or fan fiction: the point is not to write an “accurate” version of Liavek but to create their own work set in the world of Liavek.

b. Work produced under this license should include this notice at the beginning or end of the work or on the copyright page: “This work was made under the terms of the Liavek Independent Creator’s License.”

c. Independent Creators may use a conventional copyright notice or a Creative Commons notice of their choice to cover their own work. This includes putting their work in the public domain, so long as the notice in 5.b (below) is included.

d. This license lets Independent Creators produce their own work set in Liavek, but it only lets them sell work using Liavek to publishers of prose, poetry, or music. It expressly does not give Independent Creators the right to sell Liavek work to producers of movies, television, comic books, games, or any other form of commercial entertainment besides prose, poetry, or music.

If an entertainment producer wants to use an Independent Creator’s Liavek work, that creator must have the producer contact Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, who will strive to ensure the project succeeds under a contract that rewards the Independent Creator and the members of the Liavek Co-op.

5. Creative protection for Independent Creators

a. Stories and characters created by Independent Creators belong to their creators and may not be used by anyone else without their creator’s permission.

However, minor details that an Independent Creator invents, such as but not limited to the names of streets or businesses, will become part of Liavek’s world and may be freely used by other Independent Creators under the terms of this license.

b. Independent Creators who want to let others use original elements in their work should include this notice at the beginning or end of the work or on the copyright page: “This work was made under the terms of the Liavek Independent Creator’s License. The characters and story elements may be used by other creators who use the Liavek Independent Creator’s License.”

6. Limitations on Advertising and Promotion for work created under this license

Any advertising or promotion for a Liavek work created under this license must include this notice: “This work was made under the terms of the Liavek Independent Creator’s License.”

Advertising or promotion for work created under this license may mention Liavek or the City of Luck. For example, an Independent Creator’s novel may be advertised or promoted with a phrase like but not limited to “a new novel about Liavek, the City of Luck!” or “a new story inspired by the Liavek books!”

Independent Creators may not use promotional quotes or reviews about the original Liavek anthologies to advertise or promote their own work. Use of the Liavek Independent Creator’s License does not imply that an Independent Creator’s work is similar to the work of the members of the Liavek Co-op.

7. What may and may not be used under this license

a. Shared characters that may be used


Rikiki, the blue chipmunk

Tazli, the Levar of Liavek

The Levar’s Regent, His Scarlet Eminence

The Magician



the cats of 17 Wizards Row

Captain Bastian of the City Guard

Lt. Lian Jassil, aka Rusty

Sessi Jassil, Rusty’s adopted sister

Tel Jassil, Rusty’s father

Chay Garis, Rusty’s mother

Stone, Rusty’s comrade in the Guard


King Thelm

Prince Jeng

Advisor L’Vos

Ambassador Rangzha Fon


Bejing Ki, Old Teacher of the Guild of Power

Chiba, her apprentice

Danhiz ola Vikili

Chiano Mefini

Independent Creators are encouraged to create their own characters for their work. Liavek is a large city. It has more agents of His Scarlet Eminence than those Steven Brust wrote about, more traders and nobles than Emma Bull wrote about, more priests and theaters than Pamela Dean wrote about, more ships than Gene Wolfe and Walter Jon Williams wrote about, more S’Rian magicians than Patricia C. Wrede wrote about, more inhabitants of Wizards Row than Will Shetterly wrote about, etc.

b. Locations that may be used

Any location in the original Liavek stories may be mentioned in a story under this license, but only the characters explicitly permitted in Section 7.a may be used.

This means Independent Creators may mention any any location in the narrative or dialogue—for example, a character may walk past The Tiger’s Eye or say something like “I tried to sell this at The Tiger’s Eye, but the clerk said it’s fake”—but this license does not give Independent Creators permission to use any of the characters who are associated with The Tiger’s Eye.

c. Time periods that may be used

Work may be set before, during, or after the time covered in the original anthologies.

8. Questions and contact information

Feel free to ask general questions in the comments below.

For contract or payment information, write Will Shetterly and Emma Bull. Our email: shetterly at

Monday, January 9, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Tourist's Guide to Liavek in the Year 3317

1. Liavek

Liavek, a trading city of perhaps 300,000 people, is located on the Sea of Luck. An excellent harbor occurring near the mouth of the Cat River encouraged the Liavekans to develop a fleet of merchant ships, and then a fleet of warships to protect their trade routes.

The city is composed of thousands of different quarters, each with its own style. The more notable neighborhoods include the Canal District, a very old but newly fashionable area for successful merchants and artists; the Levar's Park, a large public park with fine restaurants and strolling entertainers; the Merchant's Quarter, location of the city's largest market, called simply the Market; the Fountain of the Three Temples, once known as the Fountain of the Five Temples; and the docks, primarily warehouses and shipping offices of gaily painted wood that bustle with Liavek's trade during the day.

Liavek's Old Town is almost a city to itself—a city of rogues, artists, the very poor, the eccentric wealthy. Here are the Two-Copper Bazaar, a small market that does not close for nights or holidays, and Rat's Alley, famous for its disreputable entertainment. The more daring of the wealthy will spend an evening at Cheeky's, known for good dancers, bad wine, and exorbitant bills. The very daring visit the Big Tree, a sailors' tavern where theft can be less subtle than at Cheeky's. Not far from Rat's Alley is the Street of Trees, an ancient avenue that dates from S'Rian times. Wizard's Row, when it can be found, is on the edge of Old Town, between Bregas Street and the Street of Scales, terminating at Cheap Street and Healer's Street, and intersected by One-Hand Lane.

In the hills beyond Liavek's walls are farms, plantations, and the second homes of the very wealthy. Both tropical forest and swamps lie to the southwest. To the northeast are the foothills of the Silverspine Mountains. All these fall under Liavek's law. Traveling overland to the north takes one through farmland and savanna until reaching the Great Waste. At Waste's Edge is a village known as Trader's Town, the beginning of the most common route across the desert to the rich, distant city of TICHEN.

2. Citizens

Liavekans are a dark-skinned people of medium height who tend to have brown or black hair, though auburn and sand-colored hair is not uncommon. Liavek, being a cosmopolitan city, is inhabited by many peoples. All inhabitants over the age of fourteen are considered citizens, excepting bond servants, who acquire citizenship when their bond ends.

Men and women are equals at all levels of Liavekan society. This may be due to the Tichenese discovery some eight hundred years ago that the dried leaves of the plant now called Worrynot, when chewed every forty-eight hours, are an effective and inexpensive contraceptive for both men and women. Visitors to Liavek are often amused that Houses of Pleasure are easily identified by windowboxes filled with beautiful blooms, and among them are the unassuming pale blue flowers of Worrynot.

3. History

Dated from the legendary founding of TICHEN, Liavek was settled in 2619 by nomadic tribes who had lived among the Tichenese for several generations, until they were driven from Tichen. The town of S'Rian existed on the hills overlooking Liavek's harbor, but its inhabitants, a slightly smaller, slightly darker people than the present Liavekans, were conquered and much of S'Rian was destroyed.

The next several hundred years were ones of slow growth and many minor wars with the nearest coastal city, Saltigos. The Liavekan colony of Hrothvek was founded, and Liavek began its expansion across the Cat River into New Town. The last Saltigan war ended in 2948. Saltigos has since been, in name, an independent city-state, though its Chancellor has always been a relative or a nominee of the Levar. In the absence of a direct heir, the Chancellor of Saltigos generally succeeds to the Levar's throne. Hrothvek is also, in name, an independent ally of Liavek, though its ruler is a Chancellor of Liavek.

Following the acquisition of Saltigos, Liavek entered into a long period of competition with KA ZHIR, the major trade city across the Sea of Luck. This eventually led to war, which ended in 3298 with Liavek the stronger.

4. Social structure and government

Liavek's hereditary ruler is the Levar, a title that translates to "the luck of the people" in Old Liavekan. The present Levar is Tazli Ifino iv Larwin, who will come of age in 3320. Her present Regent is His Scarlet Eminence, Resh, the First Priest of the FAITH OF THE TWIN FORCES.

Liavek's nobility are composed of chancellors, margraves, counts and countesses, and vavasors. Much of the governing is done by a group of eleven nobles and eleven merchants known as the Levar's Council, whose decisions require the Levar's sanction. The noble members are chosen by Liavek's chancellors, who may sit on the Council or appoint a representative. Merchant members of the Council are elected every five years by the members of the Merchant's Society.

Nobles are all those who are acknowledged offspring of a noble parent or who are adopted by nobility, though titles and lands usually go to a single heir. Merchants are all those who pay the annual dues of fifty levars to the Merchant's Society.

Beneath the merchants are the independent traders, who pay ten levars yearly to the Merchant's Society, followed by skilled craftspeople, unskilled workers, and indentured servants. Though Liavek once permitted slavery and made much profit from trading in slaves, slavery has been banned for over sixty years.

5. Law and law enforcement

In Liavek, laws almost solely concern property. Penalties are harsh, beginning with flogging or a day of public confinement tied to a post in Fool's Square, and progressing through branding, death, and mutilation. Imprisonment is thought unusually cruel, fit only for kidnappers, rapists, and counterfeiters of Liavekan currency. Such people are exiled to Crab Isle.

Duels are illegal, but are generally ignored by the law. Traditionally, duels must be agreed to by both parties in the presence of four disinterested witnesses, two chosen by each participant, and a healer must attend the duel.

The Levar's Guard is also the City Guard. Guards are well paid, and therefore less susceptible to bribery than comparable forces in other cities. Guards are known by their grey vests and pants. Badges of rank are sewn onto the left shoulder, and higher officers are identified by a blue sash or cape.

All citizens have the right of trial within twenty-four hours of accusation. Three judges are chosen from older citizens who have been recognized by the Society of Judges. One is chosen by the accuser, one by the defendant, and one by the Society of Judges. If these three cannot come to an agreement, the accused is freed. Retrial is permitted once if new evidence is found.

6. Language and greeting customs

Liavek's heritage is most evident in its language. Properly a Tichenese dialect, Liavekan is so thickly accented with the sounds of southern languages such as Old Saltigan, Zhir, and S'Rian, and so richly spiced with words for things that are unique to the south and the sea, that it is unintelligible to the modem Tichenese.

The forms of greeting in Liavek are an unamalgamated mixture of several traditions. The Tichenese bow with their arms at their sides; the depth of the bow and how long it is held indicate the degree of respect. The Zhir (and, long ago, the S'Rians and the Saltigans) place both hands to their foreheads.

In Liavek, the bow is used mostly by those whose ancestors were the conquering Liavekans and is therefore appropriate in Court. The hand gesture is favored by those descended from S'Rian or emigrated from the south, and is more often used casually. However, the Liavekan gesture is done with a single hand, and certain subtleties have crept in. The number of fingers touched to the forehead and the length of time they're held there indicate the degree of respect or formality intended. Uncommon usage has extra impact: a friend might thank you by pressing both palms to his forehead; an enemy might insult you by touching one finger to his forehead and grinning while holding it there.

7. Clothing

As the climate is warm, clothing tends to be loose or lightweight. Modesty is not a dictum of the society, but the sun demands certain precautions be made by the fair-skinned. Sandals are the usual footwear, though light shoes and short boots are sometimes worn. As the nights can be cool, jackets, capes, and other forms of outerwear are common, though these are usually of linen. cotton, silk. or lightweight wool to protect the wearer from the daytime sun as well as the cool night.

8. Weaponry

Single shot muskets and pistols sometimes supplement the wealthy soldier's equipment. These are generally matchlocks or wheellocks, for flintlocks are rare. The harbor, ships, and city walls are guarded with cannon, catapults, and arbalests. Officers and the wealthy frequently carry pistols, though swords are considered more appropriate for dueling and are generally more dependable. Swords tend to be sabers or rapiers, though short swords are favored by sailors.

9. Transportation and communications

Horses belong to the wealthy, donkeys or camels to the middle classes. Oxen and water buffalo are common draft animals. Taxis tend to be human-drawn two-wheeled carts called footcabs, and polemen serve the canal district.

A postal system is evolving within Liavek and other cities, and post horses are stationed along the Levar's Highway for royal use. There is also a thriving "scandal sheet" or "half-copper rag" business that provides news, gossip, lies, fiction, reviews, and essays to any who care to buy from street hawkers. These are usually four or eight page newspapers, sometimes illustrated with woodblock prints.

10. Money

The basic monetary unit is the levar, a small round gold coin. The five-levar gold coin is larger and five-sided. The ten-levar piece is thicker than the five, and ten-sided. Silver pieces are half-levars, quarter-levars, and tenth-levars. Copper coins are, prosaically, two-coppers, one-coppers, and half-coppers. One hundred coppers equals a levar. Five levars will feed and house a family of four to six people living moderately for a month; a half-copper will buy a mug of ale or a couple of apples.

11. Food and drink

The plains to the west produce a seemingly endless supply of grain, beef, pork, mutton, and domestic fowl. Due to the distances involved, vast underground granaries have been built along the Farmer's Highway so livestock will not lose too much weight on the trek to Liavek. These granaries are of immense strategic and economic importance.

A variety of game birds are caught in the salt marsh to the south, as well as exotic seafood, particularly crustaceans ranging from tiny marsh crabs no larger than a thumbnail to something resembling a giant sea-going cockroach that weighs as much as forty pounds. The mountains of the Silverspine provide their share of produce. In the foothills are ancient vineyards, higher are olive groves and, still higher, is the domain of crag sheep, prized for the difficulty of their hunting as much as for their meat.

The sea provides Liavek with its people's favorite food. Fresh raw shellfish in the spring, dried salt fish for long journeys, healthful sea grasses to flavor soups and stews, and the meats of uncountable sea dwellers all form the heart of Liavek's cuisine. Perhaps the only staple of Liavekan dining that cannot be found near Liavek is kaf, the strong, hot drink brewed from beans imported by the Zhir or the traders of GOLD HARBOR.

Perhaps the most distinctive Liavekan dish is the pot-boil. At its lowliest, a pot-boil is a long-simmered soup of fish or meat or fowl, but in Liavek, it has become an art. More than one establishment has had pots in continuous operation for over four hundred years. High on the craggy face of Snowhome is a monastery rumored to have tended a pot-boil for two thousand years.

Alcoholic beverages range from the wheat beer of the western plains to the red wines from Saltigos and the foothills of the Silverspine. Several tiny mountain villages distill Dragonsmoke from barley that is malted and cooked slowly over peat fires. Less skilled distillers, in an effort to duplicate this, produce a cheap, potent liquor often called Dragonpiss.

12. The calendar and holidays

The Liavekan calendar was taken from TICHEN. with twelve months of thirty days (Snow, Rain, Wind, Buds, Flowers, Meadows, Reaping, Heat, Fruit, Wine, Fog, and Frost) and five days of Festival, which begins the year on the winter solstice. Every four years is the Grand Festival, which has six days.

The week of five days consists of Sunday, Moonday, Windday, Rainday, and Luckday. For some workers, the week is divided into four days of work and one of freedom, though others work eight days and take two days off. Tenth Day is an unofficial holiday for almost everyone.

During major holidays, such as the Levar's birthday (which is always celebrated on the summer solstice), almost all work ceases, except in such establishments as those in the Levar's Park, the better restaurants in the Canal District, and all other businesses that ordinarily operate twenty-four hours a day. At such times, Wizard's Row can never be found.

13. Gods

There are uncountable beings who are either gods or demons or neither, depending on one's faith. Many of these beings favor a particular people or locale. Some will come when summoned, some will not. It may be that some are created by their summoner in the act of summoning.

Rikiki is a small blue chipmunk who will sometimes grant tiny favors in ways one least expects, in return for nuts and much patient explanation. Though not presently worshiped by any organized group, Rikiki may have been a god of S'Rian. Many Liavekans leave bowls of nuts "for Rikiki," particularly on holidays.

14. Religion

Perhaps the largest, and certainly the most conspicuous, religion is the Faith of the Twin Forces, or the Red Faith. The Red priests believe that fate is decided by weighing the many tiny choices one makes in one's life. Their leader is His Scarlet Eminence, Resh, the First Priest.

While "good" is to be preferred when following the Red faith, the worst mistake that Red adherents can make is to divide their actions between extremes of good and evil. The Reds believe that in the afterlife one is treated according to one's behavior in the world. For example, those who alternated between torturing small children and saving the lives of wounded animals will be torn apart throughout eternity by the two conflicting forces of the universe. The way to avoid this is to center one's acts around a standard. A common center for such activity is self-survival, since survival is usually thought morally neutral. Good deeds are sought since they ensure a certain degree of better treatment in the afterlife, but after an unusual good deed (such as saving a child), one should perform other deeds of intermediate goodness (such as giving food to a beggar) before continuing life as usual.

The Red priests function largely as counselors: "What shall I do, 0 scarlet one, so that the conflict between the person I am and the deed I must do (have done) will not destroy me?" An effective priest knows exactly how "good" or "evil" a person is, and knows how to counsel that person in behaving consistently with his or her present self, with a secondary goal of weaning that person to a path of "good." A professional thief who finds a lost child will not get the same advice as a doctor.

The Book of the Twin Forces is the most commonly known collection of the writings of the Red Faith.

The Scarlet Guard is a mercenary force almost as large as the Levar's Guard. The duty of the Scarlet Guard is almost exclusively to protect the wealthy temples and monasteries of the Red priesthood, though they have come to supplement the Levar's Guard in the palace since His Scarlet Eminence became Regent.

The Black Faith, or the Kin of One Path, believe in an Absolute Goodness, and that only by always choosing honesty can one achieve a heaven that is kept for those who are truly good. They also believe that contact with evil or with compromise will corrupt, so their order is primarily a monastic one. Their temples are open one day a week for instructing any who come seeking truth. They are led by a council of five elders.

The White Faith, or the Church of Truth, sees the universe and all promises of heaven as cruel lies, and seeks to accept or escape an endless cycle of rebirth. These "anti-Illusionists" believe the only choice worth considering is that of self-interest. They do not hire guards, for all White priests are magicians. Most White priests carry a device of string and wood called a Sharibi puzzle attached to their belts. The Book of Oblivion is the most ancient collection of writings of the Church of Truth.

The Pardoners, a sect of mendicant priests who will intercede with any god on anyone's behalf, have a modest hostel in Liavek. Most people like them but consider them a little crazy; few actively disapprove of them. They are the jacks-of-all-trades of the priesthoods, and often come from those who left or were cast out of other faiths.

The Way of Herself is more a path to enlightenment than a belief in a deity. "Herself" refers to the teacher-saint who founded the religion. Practitioners of the Way kill only out of need. Food is considered good reason, but gluttony, especially overindulgence in meat, is contrary to the Way. Self-defense is also considered good reason.

Whenever practitioners draw or are offered water, they pour a libation onto the soil to symbolize the principle that anything given to the earth returns multiplied. Other humans also rate good treatment according to the Way. It encourages sensitivity, patience, and kindness toward believers and nonbelievers.

The Green priests, or The House of Responsible Life, are an order of suicides, and an offshoot of an older and more sinister church that concerned itself largely with death. The original Green priests had preferred to kill others; the first members of the new order applied the old order's collection of exquisite, exotic, or painful methods to themselves.

The Green Order has a formidable bureaucracy to delay, give advice to, or screen out altogether those candidates who hope to escape their legitimate responsibilities, or who have otherwise unworthy motives for suicide, or whose families are likely to raise a fuss. The order thus finds itself being the only organized body in Liavek that attempts to prevent suicide.

15. Tichen

The Tichenese Empire has reached its greatest geographic expansion, extending to mountains in the west, the Great Waste in the south, the ocean in the east, and the ice lands in the north. Tichen is famed for its schools, which are governed by centuries of tradition, and its crafts. It is the largest city in the known world. Though Tichen has been conquered several times in its distant past, its conquerors have always been absorbed into Tichen's culture.

Tichenese are, for the most part, a very dark people with wiry hair and broad noses. Their navy is not very good, but their army is immense, so none of the southern cities openly play pirate with Tichenese vessels.

16. Ka Zhir

The city of Ka Zhir, located across the Sea of Luck, is Liavek's primary trade rival. The Zhir are related to the S'Rians, and so are slightly smaller and slightly darker than most Liavekans. Their speech is more guttural. Ka Zhir controls much of the kaf, sugar, copper, and woodworking trade from the lands around it, which are noted for jungles and volcanoes. Slavery is permitted in Ka Zhir. The ruler of Ka Zhir is King Thelm; his heir is his eldest son, Prince Jeng.

17. Gold Harbor

Gold Harbor is a trading town near the mouth of the Sea of Luck. There is almost no such thing as a typical resident of Gold Harbor; though the town is smaller than Liavek, it's even more racially and culturally mixed. It occupies an important strategic position, since it is halfway between KA ZHIR and Liavek-controlled Saltigos, and its neutrality is a pivotal point in the uneasy peace between the two nations. Gold Harbor is governed by a Mayor who is elected by Gold Harbor's wealthier merchants.

18. Ombaya

The little inland nation of Ombaya is located to the southwest of Liavek. Its people are as dark as the Tichenese, but very tall and slender. Ombaya is governed by a benevolent matriarchy, and the dominant religion is the Way of Herself. The tenets of the Way are demonstrated to good effect on the farms of Ombaya, which produce huge yields of vegetables, fruits, and grains—and the poultry is almost beyond belief.

Ombaya also follows the Way in its defense posture. It is a peaceful, neutral nation, but if threatened, it destroys its enemy in the most merciful fashion possible.

19. The Farlands

"Farlands" is the Liavekan name for the continent across the ocean where paler folk live. One of its more important countries is Acrivain, and there are a few Acrivannish exiles in Liavek, generally called Farlanders or, even less politely though perhaps not maliciously, "ghosts" by the Liavekans.

20. Other sapient beings

The Kil, or the sea folk, are mammals, not amphibians. The Kil are tall, and most of their skin is covered with a reddish brown pelt. Their hands and feet are webbed, and their faces are very broad, with deepset eyes and wide, almost flat, noses. Mating between human and Kil results in a sterile child. The Kil pity these halfbreeds, who have less skill in the water than sea folk do.

The Kil, when trading with humans, use their race and their sex as a last name. A male Kil is a'Kil, a female, i'Kil. Though the Kil have warred with humans, they have never warred with Liavek. Kil Island is forever theirs by treaty, and they seem to accept the encroachment of humanity along Kil Coast.

The mountain folk live high in the Silverspine. They have a name for themselves, but it is so long and so hard to pronounce that no human has yet successfully memorized it. Their hands and feet are very strong, with long, clawed digits. They are almost unstoppable climbers, and a membrane stretching from arm to torso on both sides enables them to leap and glide downward for short distances. They are astonishingly ugly by human standards, wrinkled, leathery, hairless, and grayish. They are mammals. Their language is rich and subtle, and their highest art is storytelling. The mountain people are shy and fierce, and humanity has only begun to learn about them. It may be possible for a human/mountain folk interbreeding to produce offspring, but that may never be tested, given how unsavory each race finds the other.

Trolls are possibly mythical beings that choose an unwilling companion to torment, generally until the victim's death. It is said that only the victim can see and hear the troll, though some say it can make itself visible to whomever it chooses. Many people in Liavek do not believe in trolls, though "May you be ridden by a troll" is a common curse. It is rumored that cats and a few other animals might be able to see trolls, who may therefore avoid people who have such pets.

The Bhandafs are a fierce and independent people who may or may not be human. Their eyes are inhumanly catlike. Whether this is the result of genetics or magic remains to be learned.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Magicians Primer

Everyone born in the world has an attribute commonly called one's "luck," one's "magic," or, in Tichenese fashion, one's "power." This magic manifests itself on birthdays, and then only for so long as one's mother was in labor. During this birthday luck period, one's fortune will be unusual, either good or bad in tiny, quirky, often unnoticeable ways. It is customary for people who are content with their lives to stay indoors during their birthdays in hope of avoiding situations where a freak of chance may intervene in their fate. Except for birthdays, this luck period is a minor matter for the average person. For anyone who wishes to be a magician, it is crucial.

During the birthday luck period, it is possible to perform magic. It is not, however, easy. The study of magic requires years of practice, which cannot be achieved to any significant degree during the few hours each year of an individual's birthday luck. The solution is to transfer the essence of one's magic (one's "luck") from one's physical self into another thing or being. Then, so long as one is within three paces of the vessel containing one's luck, one can practice magic throughout the year. This transference, called investiture, can only be done during the birthday luck period.

Investiture is extremely difficult for novices. If a would-be wizard can't invest birth magic into a vessel before the birthday luck period ends, the luck is freed and the person sickens, and within a few days, dies. Therefore, magicians study the theory of investiture for years and practice tiny magics during their birthday luck periods until they are ready to attempt investiture. If the transference is successful, the serious practical study and eventual mastery of magic may begin.

A consequence of investiture is that a magician's luck is more predictable than that of other people, being slightly benevolent during the magician's natal anniversary and slightly malevolent for an equal period six months later on the midyear day. Every birthday, the magician's magic leaves the vessel in which it has been placed and returns to the magician's body for renewal. The magician must then reinvest it before the period of birthday magic ends. If this is not done, the magician will be without magic for the next year.

If the vessel of a magician's luck is lost or stolen, it may be destroyed by the magician's enemies during the ill luck hours of the magician's midyear day, thus destroying the magician's luck forever. The magician whose luck has been destroyed invariably sickens, but having already been weaned from luck, will usually recover, no longer subject to the yearly whims of fate—and no longer able to practice magic. If the vessel of luck is destroyed at any time other than the midyear period, the luck will merely be freed from its vessel to return to the magician's body at the magician's next birthday.

Master magicians who lose the vessel of their magic or who choose to spend a year without investing their power have one advantage over their nonmagical fellows. Being familiar with the use of magic, they can still use magic in very tiny ways during the five or ten minutes each day that correspond to the moment of their birth. But the magicians whose luck was destroyed during their ill luck hours and the magicians who chose to bind their magic (see below) cannot draw on this "birth moment" magic.

There are many schools of magic, each holding that it is best for learning the nature and use of magic. Though the schools vary in many ways, the following facts remain true:

1. It takes years to master magic, even after successful investiture of luck.

2. No magician can use magic if the vessel of magic is not within three paces, excepting master magicians, who can do very tiny magics without their luck nearby during the five to ten minutes of each day that correspond to their birth.

3. Magic must be invested outside of the magician's body. If the vessel of magic enters the magician's body (if an invested ring is swallowed or an invested sword pierces its owner), the luck is freed.

4. Magic can only be invested in a unified thing. If that thing is significantly altered, the magic is freed. If this happens during the magician's midyear hours, the luck is destroyed.

5. Magic can be invested in a living thing, but at great risk. Death of a living vessel invariably frees the magician's luck.

6. No magician can do magic directly on his or her vessel of luck, as it is the magician's source of magic—or perhaps it is the magician's link to the source of magic; opinions vary.

7. Only acts of an immediate nature can be done directly with words or gestures by a master magician. These include such things as levitation, mind reading, fortune-telling, conjuring fire, creating simple illusions, etc.

8. Major spells must be done through ritual. The key to ritual magic would seem to be the creation of an appropriate mood, and faith in the act being undertaken. Many magicians create their own rituals, which often involve the use of arts such as painting, doll making, and storytelling to aid in defining the desired result.

9. As magicians cannot create something from nothing, and as no magician's spell can last longer than a year (when luck returns to the magician's body), magical artifacts are rare. Only a major magician can create one, during the time of that magician's birthday luck, by permanently investing an object with magic, leaving the magician forever magicless. This process is called binding, to distinguish it from the temporary investiture. A magical artifact is almost impossible to destroy, and its destruction means the physical dissolution of its creator. However, the creator's death will not affect the artifact's existence.

Magical artifacts may be used by anyone who knows their secret, but they never have more than one magical function, for the process of binding demands intense focus of will.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Handbook for the Apprentice Magician

1. Tricks of investiture 

Living things can be invested with birth luck (though this is always to be considered rash) and, in very rare cases, pieces that form a greater whole can be invested with birth luck (though this is always to be considered mad). The folly of investing luck in a living thing should be obvious: The person or pet might flee, or somehow reveal that it is a magician's invested object, or die. 

The danger of investing in a divided whole, such as a wooden puzzle or a deck of cards, is compounded by its difficulty, for the process is far more complex than that of common investiture. It requires meticulous preparation of the thing that is to be invested (for example, a deck of cards must be cut from a single sheet and be prepared during an elaborate ritual as a preliminary to the act of investiture). Even if the ritual of investiture is successful. the invested object may only be used when the magician and all of the pieces of the object are within the customary three paces of each other. If one of the pieces is missing, the luck cannot be used, and if one of the pieces is destroyed, the luck will be freed. 

Since such investitures are done, and done successfully, investiture may be no more than a test of the magician's ability to perceive and sustain belief in a "unity." This theory is supported by the latest Liavekan understanding of physics, which suggests that all objects are constantly changing on the molecular level. And yet, though many magicians accept this theory, not one has been able to invest luck in a poem, a theorem, a god, or a joke. The student magician is advised to invest luck in simple, durable. physical items. 

2. A magician's birthday 

Since Liavek's solar year is 365¼ days long, the actual hours of one's birth period will occur at different times each year with respect to the calendar. A magician is always aware of the discrepancy between the calendar year and the solar year. That discrepancy is reconciled only by the extra calendar day given every four years during the Grand Festival. 

Since all Liavekans publicly celebrate their birthdays during Festival Week (excepting, of course, the Levar, whose birthday is at midyear). many young magicians are fooled into thinking that their own birthdays are secret. So long as one has family, friends, or neighbors, this is not so. Someone almost always remembers the time of year that a magician's mother secluded herself for a few days or weeks or months, and from the tiniest clues, a rival can deduce a magician's birth hours. A rash magician might try to eliminate family, friends, and neighbors in the hope of being safe from enemies—a course that is likely to create more enemies. The wise magician will always behave an ethical manner, from a sense of self-preservation if not morality. 

3. A brief history of magic 

In primitive times, inhabitants of the world lived in awe and fear of the effects of birth luck. The practices of early magicians may never be known, but it is certain their skill was less than that of the youngest student of magic today, for until the secret of investiture was learned, magicians only had power during the hours of their births. The name of the magician who discovered that luck can be invested in a vessel and used throughout the year is not remembered, though the oldest college of magic was established in Tichen in 2533, and Tichenese records show the principles of investiture were the first things taught to the would-be magician. It is possible that investiture was known several centuries before that time and kept as a secret handed from magician to apprentice. 

4. Of magic and medicine 

The student magician is strongly advised to avoid the practice of medicine without completing an extensive course of study in medicine. The casting of a simple spell of healing can be easy; its consequences can be deadly. 

(a) If the spell deals only with effects and not with causes, a patient may walk about in apparently perfect health for days or weeks, and then collapse without warning. 

(b) Since an ignorant magician's spell is dependent purely on magic, it will fail on the magician's birthday, when all the magician's spells fail. Should the magician's luck be freed or destroyed by an enemy or an accident, or should the magician die, the spell will fail. When this happens, if the original illness or impairment is not the sort cured by the passage of time, it will return, at least as strongly as it was at the time of the spell or, in the case of a degenerative ailment, more strongly. 

The magician who knows nothing of medicine is advised to send ailing clients to a doctor of medicine or to an unlettered healer of good repute, regardless of whether that doctor or healer is a magician. 

Any student magician will do well to consider acquiring a degree in medicine. Doctor-magicians are rare and very well paid. However, those magicians who wish to keep their birthdays secret should consider other occupations. A doctor who is a magician is honor-bound to reveal when reinvestiture draws near so patients who are dependent on magical treatment may seek another doctor. Some doctor-magicians will form joint practices so they may offer overlapping treatment to each other's patients.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Liavek: A Creation Myth

Know, my Excellencies, that there is a world beyond ours where magic is not bound to the laws of luck, where magic may not exist at all, and if it does, that world's inhabitants know little of it. In this world, seven writers gathered together, and these are their names: Steven Brust, Nathan Bucklin, Emma Bull, Kara Dalkey, Pamela Dean, Will Shetterly, and Patricia Wrede. They lived in a city named Minneapolis, and when they first gathered, their names were not known as those of writers, for none of their work had ever been published.

Because their world seemed deficient in magic, several of these writers created other worlds, and they would invite friends together on a weekend evening to have adventures in these imaginary worlds. The friends would take the parts of individuals in the world. The creator would direct their adventures and act the part of any additional characters that might be necessary for the entertainment, which was akin to a game and to an improvised play. The name of Patricia Wrede's world was Lyra, and Kara Dalkey's was Vesta, and Steven Brust's was Dragaera, but those realms take no part in my story (though in other tales, they are mighty lands, indeed). What is important is that they existed, and provoked Will Shetterly to create a world named Liavek.

Ah, you listen more closely! But this is not what you expect, for that Liavek was the faintest shadow of ours. Two adventures were enacted there. Will Shetterly was The Magician, Rikiki, the Levar, Rusty, and Stone. Emma Bull was Snake. Steven Brust, Patricia Wrede, and Kara Dalkey were adventurers who have not been seen since those games. Pamela Dean was audience, prompter of ideas, and baker of cookies. Still, this is a thread, it is not the tale. For the second adventure in that dim Liavek was the last, and Liavek was all but forgotten.

Now, to return to the first thread: Patricia Wrede sold her first novel, Shadow Magic, soon after these writers gathered together, and then Daughter of Witches, The Seven Towers, Talking to Dragons, and The Harp of Imach Thyssel. Steven Brust sold his first, Jhereg, and then Yendi and To Reign in Hell. Will Shetterly sold Cats Have No Lord, and Emma Bull sold "Rending Dark" to Sword and Sorceress. When Terri Windling, the editor who had bought all of their novels so far, received Pamela Dean's The Secret Country, and Kara Dalkey's The Curse of Sagamore, she decided to set these writers to a task. She asked them to create an anthology in which all the stories occurred in the same place and time. But they were too few to fill such an anthology, so she bade them invite writers whose work they knew and respected to complete the volume.

The first part of the task was to build a world in which many writers might play, and so the two threads of this tale finally intertwine. The writers had all created literary worlds of their own for the sake of their fiction. Confronted with the task of creating yet another world, they remembered Liavek, and that it had hardly been used, and so it was adopted for their purpose.

They knew they were too few to make a world, so other writers were invited to the first Liavek anthology. Gene Wolfe, Nancy Kress, Megan Lindholm, Barry B. Longyear, and Jane Yolen answer the call.

And, as these eleven writers labored together, what began as a stage setting became a world.

Now you think you know the end of this story? These eleven are the great gods of Liavek—and that is the point of my tale? It is not so, 0 most excellent listeners. For they were not the only writers invited to explore Liavek. In later volumes, Charles de Lint, Charles Saunders, Gregory Frost, John M. Ford, Caroline Stevermer, Bradley Denton, and Alan Moore enlarged on what the first eleven began.

Ah, you are amused that Liavek outgrew the confines of a single book? Listen more closely, Supremacies.

The writers who have told their tales are not Liavek's gods, nor are those who may write future stories the gods of the City of Luck. Our gods are those who read what these writers wrote, for if they are pleased, Liavek will never fall, no matter what Tichen or Ka Zhir may plot.

Excellencies, thank you for graciously indulging a longwinded teller of tales. As it was written by Jane Yolen:
May the luck of birth follow you,
not like a hound on a trail,
but like a shadow on a sunny day.

A Liavek FAQ

How was Liavek created?

See Liavek: A Creation Myth.

Where can I learn more about the original five paperbacks?

See Liavek at Wikipedia.

Why did you divide the five paperbacks into eight ebooks?

Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean had collected their stories in Points of Departure: Liavek Stories. We didn't want the ebook anthologies to compete with it. Also, the first two paperbacks were longer than the last three. With those considerations, releasing the stories in eight shorter ebooks felt right.

For more, see About Liavek Stories by Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean

Will there be new Liavek stories someday?

We hope so.

What's the official Liavek position on fan fiction?

It's the ultimate form of flattery.

Can I write and sell my own Liavek story?

See The Liavek Independent Creator's License.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

About Liavek Stories by Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean

The Liavek stories of Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean are collected in Points of Departure: Liavek Stories by Diversion Books. We highly recommend buying it. While reading their stories in their original context is not necessary, here’s a guide for those who wish to:

From Liavek

“Ancient Curses” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “The Green Rabbit from S’Rian”.

“The Green Cat” by Pamela Dean followed “The Hands of the Artist”.

From Liavek: The Players of Luck

“Two Houses in Saltigos” by Pamela Dean followed “The Rat’s Alley Shuffle”.

“Rikiki and the Wizard” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “Two Houses in Saltigos”.

From Liavek: Wizards Row

“Paint the Meadows with Delight” by Pamela Dean followed “Green is the Color”.

From Liavek: Spells of Binding

“The Last Part of the Tragical History of Acrilat” by Pamela Dean followed “Strings Attached”.

“Mad God” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “The Last Part of the Tragical History of Acrilat”.

From Liavek: Festival Week

“A Necessary End” by Pamela Dean followed “Proecession Day/Remembrance Night: Processional/Recessional”

“The Levar’s Night Out” by Patricia C. Wrede followed “Six Days Outside the Year.”