Broken Branch: Introduction

There are many accounts of the life of Thereus Vineapora, some of them truer than others. The best are Garweal’s The Downfall of the Crafters and my father’s The Last Deluge, but “all texts have a lacuna,” and even the most diligent student of Garweal and my father will be deficient in his understanding of what Thereus did in old ice-covered Nemhir and in our new home of Avazin. To amend this fault, I have collected some additional accounts of Thereus from those who knew him best.

Karidha’s tale has circulated for some centuries: there are those who doubt its authenticity, but I am persuaded that it is what it claims to be. Thereus made no comment on it during his sojourn here, but scattered remarks he made agree with Karidha’s account. I have translated it into Esu with the help of my mother, who was born in Nemhir. The other accounts here my father or I obtained ourselves.

I doubt there is much need for an introduction to Thereus’s life. Many of us knew the man face to face, and all of us know his legend. But the man was close-mouthed in his later years and the legend has grown in the centuries, “a giant from a shadow.” So I present these accounts in the hope that they will go some way towards clarifying who this man was who did so much for the islands in the east, our home of old.


I’m coming to regard Broken Branch in its current form as a failure.  It was meant to be in part a reworking and improvement of earlier stories (incorporating segments of Midnight Torches and The Last Deluge), but in writing it I’ve succumbed to laziness, doing little more than recasting the third person narrative in first person, with an occasional added comment.  Better, I think, to leave those earlier stories as they are, despite their flaws, and concentrate on something new.

Broken Branch will start again in the near future, telling a new story about Thereus, though I may take the opportunity to cast the ending of Midnight Torches in a new light.  I’m also continuing work on All the World Afire, a much longer story which won’t be ready for some time yet.