The Lich Gets a Few Tiny Updates

The Shortest Epilogue + Added Art

At the end of this second book, I squirreled in a little bit of Gwen’s perspective to tease for the third book. I thought it’d be a nice addition to add a couple pages of Janice’s POV at the end of Lich.

In the same vein, I had doodled art for the Orc book, and it seemed it would be appropriate to add some similar art to the inside cover of Lich.

(There’s also another reason it got some art, but that’s a surprise.)

The Smallest Change

The last and most important update is that I’ve changed exactly five words.

You know that thing where you never learn how to say a word correctly because you’ve only ever read it, never heard it said before? Or when you realize you don’t actually know what that word means, because you learned it when someone was using it outside its normal/most common meaning?

Phylactery is one of those words that is more than a little on the obscure side. If you haven’t been playing Dungeons and Dragons, you might not even know what a Lich is. Some people have remarked to me that in LLL it was the first time they read either word. 

The first time I had encountered the word phylactery was in Dragon Age Origins, and it was expanding upon the lore that DnD had connected to the word, yet disconnecting it from liches altogether. Video games often do this from one fantasy story to the next, from phoenix downs to orichalcum. 

Later on, I heard phylactery more in some Great Courses audiobooks, in reference to the practice of keeping saints’ bones in fancy boxes, objects people would travel and pay to be blessed or healed by.

I thought I knew what it was, so I never really stopped to look it up. I didn’t know there was any issue with the word until I was reading one of Shoshana Rain’s posts on antisemitism in fantasy.

DnD is the first known source to add phylacteries to the lich lore, first in a casual “well it’s just a type of container” way, and then in 3rd edition, rather explicitly committing to antisemitism by describing phylacteries exactly the way a Teffilin is. 

What’s a Teffilin? Well, Wikipedia says “a set of small black leather boxes with leather straps containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. Tefillin are worn by adult Jews during weekday morning prayers.”

I sat on this for a while, mulling it over. I thought about my original intentions using the word, how I had learned it, and reconciling these things with this new information. It was never my intention to use a word or a concept that was appropriative or antisemitic.

After a while, I came to the conclusion: it would be very little effort to go into my word file and update the novella. There’s only five instances of it in the story. Writing this update is actually taking more time than updating the file did. 

So all of this is just to say, I want to commit to harm-free books. My scope of experience is limited, so unfortunately sometimes I may write something harmful and not realize it. I hope people will always be able to give me a heads-up when I do, so I can do what I can to fix it.

However, rather than quietly change the book and pretend this misstep didn’t ever exist, I thought it was important to talk about the thought that went into both the creating and the changing. There will likely still be paper editions out there that have the old version, and unfortunately there’s nothing in my power I can do to fix that. All I can do is learn as things come up, and try to fix what I can for the future. 

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