Prince Jehal Interviews Queen Zafir (20/4/2010)

STOP (word)PRESS: Gollancz Signing Event: Forbidden Planet London, May 13th. John Meaney, Sarah Pinsborough, MD Lachlan, Stephen Deas, possibly others.

Despite the volcanic ash-cloud, the regular author of this site, in a transparent sulk / attempt to avoid any bad reviews has gone off for a few weeks, apparently to write some inconsequential story that has nothing to do with me at all. During this time, therefore, I, Prince Jehal, having found a taste for interviews, will be questioning a few of the other regular characters from The Adamantine Palace and King of the Crags. This week I thought I’d start with someone easy in more ways than one: My dear friend Queen Zafir. But before we start, a word to our dear friends in Sci Fi Now. Now my absent author is perfectly happy with your Must Read Now four star review, but let me offer you a deal of my own. You get the title of the book right and I’ll share my deepest darkest secrets. Deal? Good. Now, on. Zafir.

Jehal: So, lover, what’s it like sleeping your way to the top?

Zafir (languidly): You’re the last person who should need that explained.

Jehal: Well I do try my best, but I suspect, if push came to thrust and grunt came to groan, I might find myself conceding that, in this one thing, I am in the presence of a greater master. Or mistress.

Zafir (with a shrug): We all have our advantages, do we not? I’m no expert with poisons, for example, so I make do with what I have.

Jehal: Anyway. I was going to talk about cover art, but since neither of us got to be on the cover to The Adamantine Palace for any edition (Hey! Poles! Hello! Does it have to be a dragon all the time? How about the people who ride them for a change?), I thought we’d talk about something else. Since you’re here, let’s talk about women in fantasy. Some people seem to view you as a thoroughly two-dimensional cardboard cut-out. My shag-puppet, basically. Discuss.

Zafir: You mean because you get more page-time than me, I have to be your shag-puppet rather than you being mine? Typical. Yes, let’s all just jump to that conclusion. You do remember how The Adamantine Palace ends right? (shaking her head). What do you think?

Jehal: Well…

Zafir: Consider your answer carefully, my sweet. We have two more books to go yet. I would hate for us to have a falling out.

Jehal: Of course. A partnership of equals. Do women have to work harder than men, do you think, to get anywhere in our world? It seems you have many natural disadvantages.

Zafir: Pardon?

Jehal: Well no offence, but on the whole we’re stronger and faster. And then there’s the whole matter of babies. It’s pretty inconvenient, don’t you think, to be basically laid out for nine months unable to do anything, and then after that there’s the whole looking after the brats after they’ve been born. I mean come on, that alone pretty much rules women out of doing anything all that significant doesn’t it?

Zafir (icily): If we lived in some barbarous world where strength of arm was all that mattered then perhaps. But we do not. I am a dragon-queen, Jehal. I will carry a sword and use it if I have to, but let me ask, how exactly have you charted your rise to power? Do we see a trail of your enemies slaughtered in single combat? No, we don’t. I dare say that neither you nor I would care to take on the Night Watchmen in single combat, and yet here we are, a prince and a queen, chasing our ambitions with words and strategies. I see no reason why I should consider myself at any disadvantage in such matters at all. Indeed, I consider that I have one considerable advantage, as men, even you my sweet, are so easily manipulated. In war we ride on the backs of dragons, and where will a strong arm help you there? An old man too weak to walk or Vishmir himself, it makes no difference who you are on the back of one of our monsters. I’ve heard it said that women bond better with the beasts, and I will say that that, too, is false. Dragons simply do not care. So where, Jehal, is your advantage? The only distinction between us is that men are somewhat more prone to forget to think with their heads and use an entirely different organ, and even in that they are not unique. Jehal, let me put a question to you instead: do you consider yourself somehow superior for being a man?

Jehal: Well I ah… I suppose I could have a thousand sons if I wanted. I don’t know how many children you think you could bear, but not quite so many, I suspect.

Zafir (archly): At least I would be sure they were mine. But of course, that’s why you try to have us locked away where no one else can get to us. While you’re all out sowing your seed on a whim, eh? The more this conversation goes on, the more I understand why that niggling thorn Jaslyn is the way she is. Perhaps I should make her my friend, if it’s not too late for that.

Jehal: Er… have I touched a nerve?

Zafir: You put us into gilded cages wherever you can. Your own queen, Jehal, we both know exactly what you wanted from her before you ever even met her. To sit in some pretty little tower making heirs. Perhaps you chose well and she’ll oblige you. Try that with me and I’ll cut your throat while you sleep. Or take you to war so you can see just why our differences come to nothing on the back of a dragon. Yes, perhaps there is no place for women in the Adamantine Guard. Yes, perhaps that is a place for men. After all, the guard serve. (With a smile) why, I might even think you’re afraid of us. Is that why you can’t keep your clothes on? Does it threaten you when someone says no?

Jehal (waggling his tongue): It makes me think I’m losing my touch.

Zafir (dismissive): A talented tongue is a very pleasant thing to have around, but it doesn’t make you god, Jehal. You’ll have to do better than that. Of course, if you were a woman, and I were a man, then that tongue of yours would more than likely be enough…

Jehal: Fascinating, fascinating theory you have there and you know, however bizarre, I’d love to discuss it more…

Zafir: You can be a right dick sometimes.

Jehal (rising): You destroy me, my love, you truly do…

Zafir (under her breath): Yes, well I’ve read book two and you haven’t…

Jehal: …but I do believe I sense a plot thickening somewhere nearby and if I don’t stir it swiftly, I fear it may go all lumpy. Care to join me?

Zafir (also rising): Don’t think this is over, my sweet.

4 Responses to “Prince Jehal Interviews Queen Zafir (20/4/2010)”

  1. Stephen Deas says:

    Comment is a TEST comment, following my recent server crash. Had this comment been a REAL comment, it would have said something witty and insightful.

  2. SciFiNow says:

    Deal. Apologies for the error.

  3. Joe Crenshaw says:

    Now I am on book three and I am 1/3 of the way through the work. I wonder if Jehal feels the story has focused too much on Snow and Kemir so far and not on him and his, “antics?”

    Also, what on earth do you look like? I am not asking for GRRM/JRRT detail here but at least a hair color and ethnicity?

  4. Stephen says:

    A bit like Walt from Breaking Bad only taller and younger.

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