The True State of Affairs

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Mon Mar 25 11:28:48 EST 2002

> So I was reading _Minor Arcana_ last night, for the
> first time in some years, and while I was reading 'The
> True State of Affairs' I found myself thinking: 'Gosh,
> this sounds remarkably like Dalemark, but it can't be,
> becasue Emily comes from England and talks about movie
> stars, &c, whereas Mark, Hathriver, the Lowlands and
> the North seem to be just at the beginning of
> industrialisation...'
> But - at one point, when Emily is discussing the
> political arrangement of the marks, she refers to them
> as 'Dalemark'; and she also mentions steam organs at
> Hathriver, which makes it sounds like an analogue of
> Hannart. I wonder, therefore, whether you people think
> that the Dalemark in 'The True State of Affairs' is in
> a related world, rather than the Dalemark we see in
> the Quartet? It just doesn't fit, even with the
> Dalemark in _Crown_...

Well, it fits - sort of.









The name of the country is stated to be Dalemark.  Somewhere.  I didn't spot it
the first time I read the story.

What I did spot is that the poem Asgrim sends Emily appears, somewhat edited, in
a book of the Adon's poetry behind which Navis hides from Hildy in "Ammet" - we
are given one line there, and the whole first verse somewhere in "Cart and
Cwidder".  There are significant changes between what he sent Emily and what
appears in C&C, though.  Great poem, though.

If I was Osfameron, I'd set it to music (I still might, but it won't be as good
as if Osfameron had done it :-) ).

I think that it is the world on which DWJ based the Dalemark books, but it is
not the world that eventually appears in them.  It is set during the Adon's
Wars, about 200 years before the restoration (i.e. the period of Ammet, C&C and
most of Crown).

But things are not as we expect.  There is no Osfameron, and Emily, who I was
hoping would take the place of Manaliabrid (*), doesn't.  The cult of the
Undying (which was IMHO probably invented while DWJ was working on Ammet, and
put later into Spellcoats) is absent, replaced by the cult of the Aesir (is that
the right name?  Mr Wedding and friends, anyway).  And the placenames - Holland
for Holand, Hathriver for Hannart.

I also think that they are further along the road to industrialisation in TTSOA
than the later books would imply for the same period.  Emily asks about electric
lighting, and is told that machines for lighting do exist (gas lamps?).

I also think that 200 years between the first steam engines (Thomas Newcomen in
our world, Hannart steam organ in theirs) and the beginning of major advances in
steam (James Watt / Alk) is too long.  Watt was only about 70 years younger than
Newcomen.  (I looked it up.  73 years younger.)  But this is perpetuated in the
Guide to Dalemark at the end of Crown.

> [BTW - what a horrid ending! I was most annoyed]

So was I.  I was convinced that Manaliabrid - who returned "to her own country"
with her offspring - was going to turn out to have been Emily returning to our
world.  But then Crown hadn't been published, so I couldn't have known about
Mitt's descent...

Presumably Kjarten is the Kastri of legend from whom the modern Earls of Hannart
are supposed to descend.


PS I think there exists a book, published ? Mid 19th cent., which attempted to
strip the Norman French out of our language and produce a modern English based
on Anglo Saxon.  I wonder if DWJ had access to this when writing TTSOA?  It's
just the sort of thing I would expect someone in Prof. Burrow's line of work to

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