Part Five: Names, Languages, and Magic

Hello family, friends, and fans!

Odd sounding names and words of power are expected fantasy tropes as much as the ubiquitous black stallion and magical swords… oh wait. The creation of names and languages in A Promise of Iron was equal parts real-world inspiration and old-fashioned sounds-good-on-paper-ism. Faerin, Crylwin, Sunemere, and the like are mostly made up nonsense words (in case you didn’t realize). When I got stumped or wanted something to feel a little more authentic, I would borrow from our world. When I did, I would often use root words from Latin, Arabic, Irish, German depending on the culture I was crafting that word for. You won’t find any direct translations (I hope), but there are enough anagrams to point you in the direction.

For the most part, this story is told in Cyllian, as it represents the dominant culture and the native language spoken by the main characters. For obvious reasons, this is translated for your benefit into English and a somewhat modern version of it at that. There is some in-world complexity that will delve deeper into that fact but rest assured it was as much a tactical decision as it was the most obvious solution in writing something that was both authentic and relatable.

Names have significance in A Promise of Iron; they have power, more so than I got a chance to properly explore. Names lie at the heart of quin and weave, though not in a way that should feel terribly familiar. Without giving too much away, I can safely say that weave does not exist as a list of arbitrary words held in a mysterious book written in a dead language for our heroes to find; there are plenty of books for that already. In this world, the power is not in the knowing but in the naming of an object, a place, a person. You bestow it an identity. You grant it perspective. You speak it into existence. 

Assuming you have a dog, he goes by many names (canis, alkalb, madra, hund). Those are names given to it by someone else. He doesn’t respond to “dog”. He responds to a name, a name you have given him. When you named your dog, you created a word of power!

Don’t believe me? Does he come to you when you call that name? Through repetition and encouragement, he can be expected to know his name and come when called. He could also ignore you, go the opposite direction, or respond to another name entirely. The success of this depends on Ccruffy making a choice to obey your command. There are many factors that go into that choice and depend as much on Scruffy as they do on you.

It is not enough to name a name and assert your mastery. The named must first agree that you are their master. Obedience is earned.

Thanks for reading.

Salt and Ruin,


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