First off, I want to say that I absolutely LOVE all of your work, Mr. Batson. I have yet to read the Dark Sea Annals, but they are to be added to my collection as soon as I have the funds. I have had an awful time trying to decide if I like The Berinfell Prophecies or The Door Within trilogy better. I still can't come to a conclusion, but I tend lean a little more towards Berinfell.
I got the first book from our library and read through it quickly, then ordered the second from Amazon. I read through it in a few days, and was in agony waiting for the third book to come.
Several months ago I read them aloud to my two younger sisters, aged 11 and 8. They also loved the books, and we tend to get on the that-would-make-the-most-awesome-movie-ever rant from time to time.
However, reading over these books again raised a few questions, mostly about the workings of Elven surnames. I wrote a paper on my theories for our homeschool, and the following is copied from that.
"First of all, I was wondering how exactly Elven surnames are passed down the family line. At the Lording ceremony in Venom and Song the Lords are called forward in this manner: Lord Felheart of the tribe Silvertree; Lord Miarra of the tribe Swiftstorm; etc. Also, as the Lords are presented their medallions they are given the medallion of their tribe. Alwynn as he gives Lord Felheart (Tommy) his medallion: “I give you the medallion of the tribe Silvertree.”
So, it seems that the surname of an individual could be synonymous with his tribe; surnames are simply tribe names and equal.
But as soon as we take a look at the full names of several other individuals a serious problem with this theory arises. If this theory is true, then there must be an infinite number of different tribes, as we never in any of the books come across more than one character with the same surname. Surely if the surname is the name of the tribe and not merely the family there would be at least several individuals with the same surname.
And there’s an even bigger problem: when Grimwarden introduces Ethon Beleron he says “Ethon Beleron of the tribe Nightwing”. Beleron is the surname, Nightwing is the tribe (it is later added that he is a distant cousin of Lord Hamandar a.k.a. Jett).
So now I came to understand that there is no way that surnames and tribes are synonymous in every case.
This is seen also in the Sentinel “Mr. Charlie” who’s Elven name is Merrick Evershield. He is the younger brother of the deceased Lord Vex Nightwing, Jett’s father, making him Jett’s uncle. The Lordship came to Jett through his father, who had the surname Nightwing. His younger brother (Merrick/Charlie) has the surname Evershield.
Also, when Taeva is being “Lorded”, Goldarrow asks her what her mother’s (Elven) surname was and Taeva’s answer was Ravenpath. A new tribe is created from this name, and Taeva is made the Lord of this new tribe.
All this information has led me to present this theory on how the surnames of the Elves should work. In the case of the Lords, the tribe name is taken as the surname, since they are the Lord of that particular tribe. In any other case the surname is simply the family name and has nothing to do with the tribe.
I must point out one detail that further complicates the deciphering of the different Elven families, especially those of Lords. I suppose that in most cases the surname is passed down the family from the father, and that a female Elf takes the surname of her husband upon marriage. If this rule is consistent it causes a problem to the Line of Lords. There are both male and female Lords. Apparently, when a Lord marries their spouse does not also receive the title of Lord because of the marriage. This is understood in the “History of Berinfell” in the picture of the Lords sitting on their thrones with their infant children. The book distinctly says that each of the seven Lords sat on a throne; behind each female Lord stood a male Elf, and behind each male Lord stood a female Elf. Also, when the previous Seven are spoken of it is in this manner: “Elroth and Lord Tisa Ashheart”. In this case the Lord was female and she is the only one with the title of Lord. Since she was the Lord of the tribe Ashheart and her son, Albriand Ashheart, is also a Lord and with the same surname as corresponding with their tribe, it could be assumed that in the case of the Lords the surname is passed through whoever is the Lord, whether it be the mother or the father, in the case of the firstborn. This would explain how Lord Vex Nightwing and his younger brother Merrick Evershield have different surnames: there mother was a Lord and Vex, being the firstborn and inheriting the Lordship was given the surname Nightwing, the name of the tribe, and the younger son Merrick (as well as any other possible children) received their father’s surname. Also, if we go by this assumption about the passing of surname, a female Lord would not take the surname of her non-Lord husband after marriage, since being a Lord she would keep the name of the tribe she ruled. If two Lords were to marry, we could also assume that, once again, the wife would not change her name, and any children would be given both names. We must keep in mind that we are basing the assumptions that the wife receives the husband’s surname off Earth cultures and traditions. Allyran (or Elvish) cultures and traditions may not the work the same.
For matters of simplicity, I propose that any marriages that take place should result in a hyphenated double surname. This would help to keep things from getting extremely confusing in the case of individuals that are predominately referred to by their surname."
This is the best theory I have come up with for how all this should work. Thinking about this topic, as well as my perpetual wonderings about Taeva and Navira led to my discovering of a conundrum that I have yet to solve, and the real question of this post.
When Navira reveals who she is in Venom and Song she says she was born Hiddenblade. I understood this as meaning that her maiden name was Hiddenblade. However, later in the third book The Tide of Unmaking when Goldarrow asks Taeva what her mother's maiden surname was she says "Ravenpath". My original assumption about this was that she didn't actually give Goldarrow her mother's maiden name, but her married name, which would be the same as her father's surname. This was a pretty good theory, until I stumbled across the passage in Venom and Song where the Lords are discussing the book of lost history that was found by Tommy and Kat. As those two recount what they read about the start of the war, they say that the Gwar who led all the others to Vesper Crag and later against the Elves was named Palor Irethrall. They confirmed that Gwar was in fact the Spider King.
So Navira's maiden name should have been Hiddenblade, and her married name Irethrall.
I tried to fix this issue by saying that a conniving Navira had simply made up everything about being Hiddenblade to win the sympathy of the Lords. But I was faced with the issue of her telepathic powers being attributed to her Lordly blood. And this itself is a problem, as it is understood that only the firstborn of the Lordly line received gifts when Goldarrow tells Tommy that Mr. Charlie's strength is nothing compared to a Lord's, and he later reveals that he is of the Lordly line.
The only way to explain this is to say that Navira was herself a Lord. But if this is true, then how did the Lordship continue to be passed down the line to Kat since Navira married the Spider King and her only known heir is Taeva?
I may have missed something in my exploration of these topics, and that may be why I have run into all these appearent isues.
I would love it if I could get some answers to my questions!
As far as passing surnames go, I agree with you ... the surnames would probably be passed from the lord's side, and perhaps the children were all given different surnames (e.g. Merrick Evershield and Vex Nightwing). Its the only logical explanation ... not that I'm good at deciphering names, lineages, and elven mysteries ;)
Concerning Narvira, well ... I plan to answer that in my book :) I will tell you though, the surname of 'Hiddenblade' may be false ...
Good job on all the research you've done!
-Lady Eclipse / Karis Nightengale