The Dûnhebaid Cycle
Playlist Navigation Bar
Rock and Hawk: 11. A Final Word from the Author
The primary goal of this story was to create a narrative space where it would not only be possible but also appropriate for a woman of Men and a (male) Dwarf to become friends. If one respects the cultural norms of canon--which closely follow those of the early medieval societies whose languages Tolkien studied--there would have been many obstacles to such a relationship. Due to the sexual division of labor, men and women lived significantly different lives: they spent most of their time in the company of their own gender, and since they did different kinds of work, their topics of conversation didn't overlap much, either. (What they did have in common were children and other kin, so that was shared ground.) Protecting one's women and their honor--bluntly, their capacity to produce more of your own kind--from alien and potentially hostile males was very important; Dwarves take this to an extreme, and that cannot but color the way they interact with women of whatever race. And then there are the very real racial differences between Dwarves and Men, based on the separate creation of Dwarves by Aulë.
Yes, it would have been simpler just to ignore all this, but my aim is Subcreation, not just "fantasy." Airplanes don't fly because we suspend the law of gravity; airplanes fly because we figure out ways to work around it, and much of the beauty of objects like airplanes come from shaping them so they work in accord with the laws of physics. I like having something to push against.
* † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † * † *
In the creation of this story, I have had the advantage of more than a decade's dedicated research into the Iron Age and Early Medieval British Isles. Much of the technology and many of the routine, prosaic activities in this story would have been intimately familiar to the ancestors of most of us only a few centuries back. Since I admire the elegant simplicity--and sustainability--of parts of it, I thought I would share it with you. It is a very different life from the one we lead today, strongly shaped by the weather, the turn of the seasons, and the rhythms of the creatures people depended on for food and labor.
For those of you with an interest in exploring the reality that underlies this fiction, I include a list of important sources I have used. Most of these, barring the dictionaries, were written for the general public. Dickson and Dickson (2000) and Edwards and Ralston (2003) have parts that are more specialized and technical in nature; if anyone would like references to something less challenging, please feel free to drop me a line!
Readers outside the United Kingdom (or even outside Scotland) might have problems finding some of these works, but I encourage people to take advantage of InterLibrary Loan (or your local equivalent). The Internet has made it easier for librarians to get books to the people who want to read them, and it's cheaper than buying them.
Baird, W. J.
1988 The Scenery of Scotland: The Structure Beneath. National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh.
1991 Highland Landforms. Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen.
1995 Healing Threads: Traditional Medicines of the Highlands and Islands. Polygon, Edinburgh.
Dickson, Camilla, and James Dickson
2000 Plants and People in Ancient Scotland. Tempus Publishing, Stroud, Gloustershire.
1994 Warriors and Guardians: Native Highland Trees. Argyll Publishing, Glendaruel, Argyll.
Hunting and game
1988 The Hound and the Hawk: The Art of Medieval Hunting. Phoenix Press, London.
Edwards, Kevin J., and Ian B. M. Ralston, eds.
2003 Scotland After the Ice Age: Environment, Archaeology and History, 8000 BC-AD 1000. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
1987 Kintyre Country Life. John Donald Publishers, Edinburgh.
1976 The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands. B. T. Batsford, London.
n.d. Sindarin: The Noble Tongue. Electronic document, http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/sindarin.htm, accessed August 2006.
1994 The Dictionary of Place Names in Scotland, New Edition. Eric Dobby Publishing, Orpington, Kent.
1979  A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language. Acair and Aberdeen University Press, Stornoway, Lewis.
Robinson, Mairi, ed.
1985 The Concise Scots Dictionary. Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen.
2001 Sindarin Dictionary. Hiswelókë special issue 1.
Playlist Navigation Bar