I like titling things. I recently gave Erica a title for an upcoming short story compilation (if she decided to use that one >_>), and I have an ever-growing list of titles to someday be used for books, short stories, or just chapters in my series.
I’ve previously discussed the titles found in book 1 and book 2, so it’s time to discuss Book 3. As always, they’re a mix of references, song lyrics and stray thoughts, some of which are relevant to the actual text and some of which just influenced it through mood.
Surprisingly (to me), The Living Throne is the only title Book 3 has ever had. While 1 and 2 each went through several title-changes, I never felt the need to reconsider this choice — especially once I expanded upon the ideas behind the Throne and the Palace and began directing the artwork for the cover. The technical name of the card on the cover is The King of Swords, or The Empty Throne, but the character currently sitting there is like a cat: he’ll plant himself wherever he’s least wanted and then refuse to budge.
This being the third book in the series, I shouldn’t talk too much about what the title actually means (beyond the visible aspect in the card, what with all those tendrils coming up off the throne and everything). Suffice to say that this is not a normal Empire with a normal Emperor and palace and seat of authority, but most of the characters are only just now figuring this out.
Like the previous books, though, Book 3 is also split into parts. Since it’s all one large work, the first one here is Part 5: Anamnesis, a Greek word which basically means loss of forgetfulness. In a broader philosophical context, it is the idea that people retain knowledge of their previous incarnations in their current life, but have to go through a process of rediscovering it before they can use it.
This is a very important theme for several of the characters — the main protagonist Cob most of all, but also for Captain Sarovy and for context on Archmagus Enkhaelen’s behavior. While it threads through the entire series, I decided that this Part should actually hold the title because it contains several chapters where it happens on-screen and life-changingly.
For Part 6: Aletheia, we have another Greek word (I’m a quarter Greek, okay?) that literally means ‘the state of not being hidden’. Philosophically, it’s sort of defined as an emergence into or toward truth. I named this Part as such because this is the point where most of the characters drop their pretenses, let out their secrets, and move forward into the climactic action.
Of course, this isn’t the final part of the series. There are three more books ahead. But as a whole, the Parts define the path of the action. In the first book, we started from zero (Anacrusis, a note or notes that precede the first bar of a composition), then had Part 1: Abnegation or self-denial, and Part 2: Thelema which means purpose or path — Cob finding out that despite his own desire to just disappear, he nevertheless has a job to do. Book 2 had Part 3: Concordia or harmony, then Part 4: Mnema or tomb, sepulchral monument — gathering the companions and investigating the horrors and haunts of the past, trying to understand each other and the world. Now we have 5 and 6 with our sequence of revelations — both remembering the truth and being shown it, for the first time, without prevarication.
Part 7, which I’m currently working on, is called Interregnum. Not as high-flown as those other concepts, but an appropriate stamp for the first half of Book 4.
Anyway, descending from philosophical concepts to darkwave music, the chapter titles follow.
1: The Hospitality of Wolves — A fairly direct reference to what’s going on in the text, but the title itself was somewhat inspired by The Company of Wolves.
2: The Plan, 3: Blaze and Shadow, 4: Conversion, 5: Tectonic Lever, 6: Balance of Power, 7: A Conspiracy of One, 8: Blaze and Flame — All direct references to items, groups or actions at work.
9: Borderline — Though not directly related to the events of this chapter, the song here is Pride and Fall – Border, which is pretty relevant to all the clashes going on in the north.
10: Salted Earth, 11: Division, 12: Future and Past, 13: Hlacaasteia — More direct references.
14: Black Water — Poor Cob has a problem. The problem is basically this brief song: ThouShaltNot – Blackwater. I had this in my head any time I wrote any of these related scenes, both here and in book 2.
15: Lineages, 16: Burning Bridges, 17: Mettle, 18: Schism — More direct references.
19: Misericorde — This would have been just a direct reference, except that the chapter used to be titled Pins and Needles after a song by The Birthday Massacre, not so much because of the ‘story’ of the song but because of the refrain: It’s been so long, feels like pins and needles in my heart… This being a Sarovy/Linciard chapter, it’s relevant since they both have issues with their personal/professional histories, including things they don’t remember or just don’t want to. Misericorde, however, became a much better title for various reasons.
20: Revelation, 21: Snakes — Direct references.
22: The Sense of an Ending — This is not exactly a reference to the nonfiction book of the same name, since I haven’t read it. However, I’d always thought the title was very interesting, and having learned a bit about the book (after I decided to use this as a chapter title) made me happy with both that choice and my positioning of it within Book 3, since this is not at all the end.
23: War Mage, 24: Reactionaries, 25: Shaken — Direct references.
26: In Waves — Okay, so Cob has more than just one song’s amount of problems. This chapter got named after a Trivium song, because it fits well with Cob’s water theme and lyrically works with what’s going on in his idiot head during this chapter. I’d never actually seen the video before I hunted it down for this, but it works pretty well with Cob’s theme/story/life.
27: Dominion, 28: A Gathering — Direct references.
29: Games Over Cages — Not a song or any other kind of reference, just a phrase I tripped over that neatly encapsulates the life-philosophy of Archmagus Enkhaelen.
30: Sentimental Scars — From a song by Iris, relevant mostly to character emotions at the given moment.
31: Black Mirror, 32: Midwinter Rites, 33: Terminus — Direct references.
34: White Wall — This comes from one of those songs I only keep around because it gave me character/plot ideas: Lights of Euphoria – White Wall. But oh did it give me ideas. This song, plus the movie Krull, are the primary inspirations for the Palace looking the way it does; I had the white-on-white concept well before I figured out an in-world reason for the place to be that way. And the third verse, though quite minimal, inspired some of the visuals for both Cob’s and Enkhaelen’s situations. Where is the dark room, where is the white wall? / Where are the helping hands when you’re about to fall?
35: Gate of Fire — A reference to another one of Cob’s cards in the tarot reading circa book 1. That card, however, is not the one on the cover: the one Cob drew was the Nine of Swords, while the cover is the King of Swords — sometimes known as the Empty Throne. I decided, back when I was contemplating the B3 cover, to not go just with Cob’s cards, because even though you could consider him the main protagonist, this story isn’t just his. Everyone has an arc. Thus I opted to go for the card (and character) most relevant to the action of the book as a whole. That being said, this chapter still touches upon the theme of the card Cob drew for the Gate of Fire/Ambition: moral hesitation or a job left unfinished.
36: Severance — Direct reference.
I also have a Coda in this book, like I did in the previous. Because I think of this series as all one big huge book, there aren’t really epilogues (and I probably shouldn’t have called the start of Book 2 a prologue either). There are just pauses or shifts in the music.
Book 4 will be a whole new movement in the composition of Cob.
Great postt thank you