Judging a Man by His Library

Warnings/notes: Vlad, Morrolan, near-drabble, ooc.

Disclaimer: The wondrous world of Dragaera was created by Steven Brust. This ficlet is specifically based on a pair of lines in Phoenix, to the effect that Morrolan orders his library by the House of the author, and that his library consists of several rooms.

written at 26th march 2006, by Misura

You want to know what kind of person Morrolan e'Drien, Lord of Castle Black, wielder of Blackwand and Court Wizard is? All right, then I'll tell you.

As most people know, Morrolan has got quite the impressive collection of books. At one time, we may assume he had them all stored in one big room - yes, the word for that room would be 'library', thank you very much for nothing. In time though, Morrolan's collection started to contain more books than could be contained in one single room, no matter how big it was.

Instead of doing the sensible thing and chucking out some volumes he didn't read very often any way, or the slightly less sensible thing and breaking down a few walls to expand the room, Morrolan decided to simply spread his collection over several rooms.

And I'm saying 'several', but in actuality, the exact number of rooms is quite well-known and obvious, once you start to think about it, or, like me, know what kind of person Morrolan is. I'll give you a hint: it's a very important number to Dragaerans. Getting an idea yet?


Morrolan's library consists of seventeen rooms, one for each House. Impolite persons have suggested that he's done this in a cheap imitation of the Imperial Palace, in which each House has its own wing. They usually don't do this in Castle Black, and they tend not to do it more than once or twice, depending on how soon Morrolan hears about it.

There are books about every subject you can think of in that library, provided you can find them. Morrolan's always happy to let people borrow his books, but unless he likes you, he'll leave it up to you to find the title you asked him for, after telling you with a wide smile what he did to the last person who put back a book on the wrong shelf.

For some perverse reason, every book I've ever wanted to borrow from him could be found in the Jhereg-room, which is fairly small, and still looks fairly empty. Contrary to what you may be thinking, the books in question weren't about assassinating people. I already know how to do that, and besides, I don't believe killing people is something you can learn by reading a book.

All books I've ever borrowed from Morrolan were about witchcraft, and written by Easterners. I honestly don't know why Morrolan keeps them in the Jhereg-room, unless he's just trying to make it easy for me to find them. Which doesn't seem likely.

The Dragon-room is the largest one, even if you'd think that most Dragons would be too busy fighting and finding things that offend their honor to write books. Athyra, Phoenix and Lyorn are next, all three rooms spacious enough to host a modest party in and having a conversation at one side of the room without someone on the other side being able to hear every word.

Iorich and Hawk have recently been swapped, after some incident that Morrolan was very vague, and Aliera very amused about when I asked them. Neither of them wanted to discuss it, though Aliera dropped the name 'Paarfi', which I recognized as the author of the Histories, and, as I later found out, the pseudonym of a friend of Daymar's.

One room of all the seventeen is completely empty. By which I mean that there are bookshelves and some tables and chairs, but no books at all. It's a small room, in which you might be able to have a meeting with, say, two dozens of people, provided you trusted all of them not to want to try and slip a dagger between someone else's ribs, because if they'd time it right, you wouldn't even be able to catch them at it. It's cleaned and dusted once a week, but, really, nobody ever comes there.

When Aliera gives one of Morrolan's guests an extended tour of Castle Black, she'll open the door to allow the visitor a look inside and inform him that this is the room where he can find all the books written by Teckla that Morrolan considers worth reading. It usually gets a chuckle at the very least, either because Dragaerans think this kind of jokes is actually funny, or because most people Aliera plays tourguide for hope that the tour will end at her private quarters.

You wanted to know what kind of person Morrolan e'Drien, Lord of Castle Black, wielder of Blackwand and Court Wizard is? All right, then I'll tell you.

He's the kind of person whose library consists of seventeen rooms, one of which doesn't have any books in it. That's the kind of person Morrolan is.