I is for Ixsaa

The Old Bull, Inkberrow

I find it strange that I have more for I than I did for H … although really, I just have two things (a place and a person–well, a bird) whose names start with the letter I. The bird is Ishaa, the phoenix. In my story universe there is only one at a time, and Ishaa is the name of the current one. There are all sorts of mystical and magical properties to the phoenix, some drawn from actual mythology and some the logical extensions of the various magic systems in my universe.

Ixsaa is a city. I named the phoenix and the city fairly independently, in the sense that originally they belonged to two completely separate story sequences. It was only when I had some cross-over between the two story lines, in Till Human Voices Wake Us, that I realized how close together the names were. Isn’t it funny how you can totally not notice something like that? I mean, they share four out of five letters, including a double aa, which is hardly a common phoneme* in English. Yet I didn’t notice for years that they were so similar, until I had a character talking about both in the same conversation.

And then I had to decide whether to change one or the other of them. In the end I decided not to, because they won’t come together very often–possibly not at all except in the one story–and because I decided a bit of retroactive language-inventing was in order–although it then ended up as being mostly a coincidence in the two languages involved, Calandran and Tanteyr. I now think “Ixsaa” is a Calandran corruption of an old Tanteyr word meaning “white,” connected to the river Whitefeather on which it is built. “Ishaa” comes from the same root, meaning “white fire,” as she is a white phoenix. (Raphael, who named her, wasn’t the most inventive at names as a boy.)

Ixsaa is an important city on the world of Daun, a big trade city like ancient Tyre (complete with dye-producing molluscs!). It is most important as being the home of Damian Raskae, the place where he meets Fitzroy Angursell and Jullanar of the Sea (who will be tomorrow’s topic), and the location of The Rose and Phoenix Inn, for which this blog is named. It is called the Painted City, because its main trade items are pigments and dyes (and also salt). It’s located near the mouth of the river Whitefeather, which is Amazonian in proportion; it’s the river Damian is rowing across in the passage I gave you in the blog post on Fitzroy.

I could write about inns as well, of which I have a fair few–what can I say? I’m of strong English descent both for my family and my literary influences, and I love the idea of the British pub–especially the country or village varieties–and stayed at a fair few inns in my walk across England. Either C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton–or possibly both–write about how the basic purpose of government is, or ought to be, to see that as many people as possible are able to walk down to their local pub of an evening and talk about whatever they want.

Encapsulated in this is, I think, all that we do want: good food and good drink (and all the agricultural and cultural work that goes into those, including trade); safety to walk the streets or roads of your community in daytime or night; ability to get together in peace and comfort; money and time to spend on luxuries; a strong and thriving community; freedom to speak, to discuss, to argue; and a culture of courtesy and neighbourliness.

Yeah, I have a lot of inns in my stories. Not all of them are of that sort–sometimes you need the low dives or the disappointing venues or the bandit hangouts–but a goodly number are.


* That might not be the right word. I’m reasonably good with languages and grammar but I haven’t done much in the way of pure linguistics. Correct me if you’d like in the comments. 🙂


2 thoughts on “I is for Ixsaa

  1. Hello, I’m stopping in from A to Z and thanks for your continued participation!

    Stephen Tremp
    an A-Z Cohost
    @StephenTremp on Twitter


  2. Pingback: J is for Jullanar of the Sea | The Rose and Phoenix Inn

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