OF THE CITY OF THE SAVED...
SPECIAL BONUS EXTRA: HOUSE HALFLING
PLEASE NOTE: This page contains some major spoilers for Book Three of Of the City of the Saved....
HOUSE HALFLING IN OF THE CITY OF THE SAVED...
A number of readers of The Book of the War have read Doctor Who references into the entry concerning House Halfling, the political body within the City of the Saved that campaigns for the rights of collaterals. The House's founder, “Grandfather Halfling” – a human / Great House hybrid with a penchant for travelling on adventures outside the City – has been interpreted by many readers as none other than the Doctor, who since the 1996 TV movie has been famously half-human on his mother's side. Others have pointed out that the patient political diplomacy of House Halfling seems uncharacteristic of even a resurrected Doctor, and I for one regard the question as far from settled.
Nevertheless, House Halfling has been one of the central points of interest for Doctor Who fans reading The Book of the War, and there may have been some disappointment that the House receives only a couple of direct mentions in Of the City of the Saved.... For the record, these occur in “Footnote ” on p58, as a cause for which Allisheer St Marx ‘has shown support’, and on p204, where “Tiresias” reveals that Ignotus' collateral cook ‘has been spying for House Halfling for years’.
Given the revelations about St Marx's ancestry in Book Three, it is natural that she is drawn to House Halfling's political agenda, although it is perhaps surprising that she has allowed herself to be open about it. Certainly, if the Grandfather is the Doctor, he would not approve of the actions she takes to keep her secret. Very possibly “Mostyn” / Porsena is aware of her affiliation, as he thinks of her on p195 as ‘that halfling bitch’ (although he may be thinking merely of her parentage).
St Marx knows about “Tiresias” / Marrane (she discusses the hermaphrodite with Kyme Janute on p105), and Marrane, who is reporting to Janute, is aware of the Cook's allegiance to House Halfling. From this apparent pooling of intelligence, it is not too much of a stretch to realise that St Marx's ‘nebulously tolerantist coalition’ [p43], Janute's pro-reunification faction among the Manthing, and House Halfling all exist in a state of loose alliance together.
Which is where Melicia Clutterbuck comes in. Dr. Clutterbuck reports directly to Cllr. St Marx [pp77 and 142], she opposes Hent Gortine's ultra-secessionist faction within Manfold [p143] and her book The Human Species: A Spotter's Guide was published in Godsdice District [p27], the location of House Halfling's premises in The Book of the War. What's more, she has travelled extensively outside the City, ‘in the service of her academic sponsors and their researches’ [p76].
If Grandfather Halfling is the Doctor (and even if he is not – see, for instance, the Amanda Legend Lefcourt entry in The Book of the War), he has shown his fondness in the past for the company of academically-minded young women with altruistic aspirations. It seems likely that Clutterbuck may be such a one, and that she has accompanied the Grandfather himself, perhaps often, on his travels outside the City.
If Grandfather Halfling is the Doctor – and, as I say, I do regard the matter as unproven – then Dr. Clutterbuck may be not only a recent companion of his, but perhaps – who knows? – even his direct agent in the novel.
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