I don't remember if this is a short story or novel. It could be either, but I'm more inclined to think it's a short story. It's been over 20 years since I read it.

The story drew a clear distinction between things that were REAL and everything else. The word REAL was emphasied in some way. It was either all caps, or at least the first letter was always capitalize. Only a few things in the story were identified as being REAL: a stone forming the seat of the throne, her advisor's wooden staff, her father (a Basilisk), and (at the end of the story) a Dragon.

I'm trying to remember a quote from the story that her father used to describe her advisor. It was something along the lines of: "name is a adjective man, and cannot be trusted." The adjective might have been "true" or something along those lines. The idea was that the advisor was more inclined to do the right thing (according to his perspective) than he was to be loyal to her or any other individual.

Do anyone remember the story or the quote?

1 Answer 1


Daughter of Regals by Stephen Donaldson (1984), appearing in a short-story collection of the same name.

Magic is about the "Real", the Wood of the Ash, Wind, the Fire buried in the mountains of Nabal, or images of Real creatures: the Cockatrice, the Basilisk, the Gorgon, the Phoenix, the Wyvern, the Banshee.

Those that have magic inherit it from some Real creature, who normally appears human but can change into one of the Real creatures. Her advisor isn't Real, but has a Sceptre made from Wood.

The story is about a girl Chrysalis, who has reached the age when she must ascend to the "Seat" (into which had been set a piece of Stone, a "Real span of slate on which nothing that was not also Real could rest its weight") and demonstrate either that she is Real in order to take her place as ruler (she does not know whether she is or not, or what Real creature she would be if she was - she failed the test earlier when she tried before her 21st birthday).

The advisor is Mage Ryzel, her "teacher, guardian, and guide". The quote is from her father, who said (page 22):

He is the one true man in the Three Kingdoms. Never trust him.

  • Is this is correct, I can pull my copy of the book out of storage and find the quote for you.
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:02
  • That's the story I was thinking of. If it's not too much trouble, I would appreciate knowing the quote.
    – jimreed
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 12:29
  • 2
    @jimreed done :)
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 21:54
  • Thanks! I would give you another upvote if I could.
    – jimreed
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 12:17
  • There is a stray either in the long sentence.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 7:50

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