Length of the Interregnum (Was Re: Spoilers- PotD and Issola)

charles_sumner at harvard.edu charles_sumner at harvard.edu
Mon May 12 09:30:44 PDT 2003

How long did the interregnum last?  Well, an interregnum is defined as:

1) The interval of time between the end of a sovereign's reign and the 
accession of a successor.
2) A period of temporary suspension of the usual functions of government or 
3) A gap in continuity.
(From: American Heritage Dictionary - http://www.yourdictionary.com/)

So it could be viewed as lasting until Zerika is formally acknowledged as 
Empress (definition 1), until she managed to get the empire back in working 
order (definition 2 - with no currently known clearly defined date), or 
until she returned with the Orb (definition 3).

However, even if you consider the interregnum to end the moment Zerika 
emerged with the Orb, that would make it only about 240 years before the 
Jhereg books begin (and even less if you go by definition 1 or 2).  This 
would be roughly the equivalent of 35-40 years in the human frame of reference.

Based on that, I think that the confusion in the books over the length of 
the Interregnum is perfectly reasonable considering how recent those events 
would be to the currently living Dragaerans and that what "the Interregnum" 
means is probably changes depending on who is asked.

To put this question in perspective, we should think about our own point of 
view about events that happened in the 1960s to 1970s.  A good example 
would be the Vietnam war.  This is recent history that covers a major world 
event so people should be on the same page about it's length, but in 
actuality are far from it.  Depending on your point of view, you could say 
that the war began in 1963 when the US began sending troops over in 
earnest, or in 1960 when the National Liberation Front was founded, or in 
1954 when the demarcation zone was established, or in 1950 when Truman sent 
military advisors over to aid the French in maintaining colonial power, or 
maybe it's just a continuation of the First Indochina War that began in 
1946 when the Vietnamese began fighting against the French.

The end of the Vietnam war is also tricky and depends on your point of 
view.  Peace talks began as early as 1968 but the fighting continued well 
into the 70s.  It could be the war ended in 1973 when Nixon withdrew the US 
troops and peace agreements were reached, although the cease-fire 
agreements between the North and South Vietnamese were regularly 
ignored.  A friend of mine I've been chatting with about this says she felt 
that the war ended in 1974 when Nixon resigned, ignoring the fact that 
Saigon didn't surrender until 1975 and that full-scale conflicts between 
the North and South continued.  Or maybe it's 1976 when Vietnam officially 
became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. For that matter what about the 
MIAs who were found well into the 1980s and it wasn't until 1995 that the 
US formally restored diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

Similarly, is the war in Iraq really a separate conflict that should be 
viewed on its own, or is it just a continuation of the events that began 
when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990?  And is it over now or not?

When viewed through this lens, the differing descriptions of the length of 
the Interregnum that appear in different books makes a lot of sense as 
different characters would have different opinions about it and it's 
something that's recent enough that the weight of history has yet to pin 
down official dates for.

[And now I have to say... Whew, that was a heck of a long first post to the 
mailing list from someone who's been lurking for a while.]


Charley Sumner               charles_sumner at harvard.edu

"Let's not jump to any conclusions."
"I didn't jump. I took a tiny step, and there conclusions were."
      Buffy the Vampire Slayer - "Phases"