Official site for the high/dark fantasy books of authors Barb Hendee and J. C. Hendee, including the Noble Dead Saga (a.k.a. The Noble Dead series), the Mist-Torn Witches series, the Vampire Memories series, and TNDS: Tales from the world of the Noble Dead Saga.

Q&A: What’s in a Name? Everything! [Books/Series/Character/Language]

Now that the draft for S3B2: The Dog in the Dark is off to our editor, and the raffles have been finished off (for now), it’s time to get back to some Q&As.

Over the months since we moved our two web sites to the system ( became, became, a number of readers asked what happened to the “Glossary” from the old site. This usually came up in conjunction with “How do I pronounce such’n’such’s name?”

The old site had server-side ASP/database services; the new site at doesn’t have such. We’re investigating ways to emulate database operations through AJAX, JQuery, and XML data, but as yet we haven’t found a solution. We’re determined to succeed, so please be patient. As to pronunciation of names…

They don’t all follow the simplified, four-diacritical shared system we use for languages. You can still find the Pronunciation Guide at under “Books.” But perhaps we can help out a little with names, though it might not be as simple as you’d assume. We wonder (with a wink) how many of you are would-be “sages” who’ve caught little details along the way and actually pieced them together, because a few of those have to do with names…

First, however you pronounce character names is fine for reading — seriously. We even have our own slang pronunciations around the house that don’t match the standard in the books. Partly because we don’t actually speak those languages, as no fantasy writer really does, but it’s also because standards of pronunciation vary. Confused now?

Think about it. If you’re fortunate to have learned a second language, then is a name of standard spelling pronounced the same way in all lanugages? No, certainly not. Now add in cultural and dialectic variations even within one language. Well, it’s no different in the world of the Noble Dead saga.

From its very beginning in S1B2: Dhampir,  the saga was set in a world much larger than the Farlands. Yes, there were hints in there right from the start; a few were hidden in some of the names. Let’s start with one name you all know, even if you’ve read only a couple of the books. It’s not an obvious one, and to expand on this, we’ll link pronunciation to culture/language of origin for the particular pronunciation (rather than just the character).

Name Origin Sounds Like
Leesil Stravinan LEE-sill

What… Leesil is from Stravina? No, the pronunciation of his humanized name is influenced by that culture. Readers are certainly not going to catch this, as there’s very little Stravinan spoke in the book, though there are some place names. Without creating too many spoilers for new readers, think about where Leesil was born. (You can find that in almost any of the saga’s books.) Now what country is closest to that melting pot region of his youth? Take a look at a map of the Farlands in some of the early books.

Yes, “Leesil” is a human pronunciation of his Elvish (an’Cróan) name, given by his mother. But which humans is the real question. That re-pronunciation didn’t come from our world, not the writers or the readers. It came from within Leesil’s world! That’s the way Magiere learned to pronounce it as well. Speaking of Magiere…

Name Origin Sounds Like
Magiere Droevinkan / Numanese muh-GEAR

Okay, now we’ve got you going again. What in world is “Numanese” doing listed as a joint origin for Magiere’s name? The Numan Lands are half a world away from the Farlands. Time for you to be sages again and do some research. The answer is in the family remembrances of Welstiel Massing, which you can find a bit of in S1B2: Thief of Lives and more in S1B3: Sister of the Dead. See if you can put the pieces together.

We won’t go further than that, as again it might create spoilers for new readers. Yes, “Magiere” could be a derivation of her mother’s name, but if you look at the name “Magelia” and that of her aunt “Bieja,” then “Magiere” doesn’t fully fit the flavor of the few examples of Droevinkan in the early books.

So for the astute reader there were hints from the very beginning (aside from some foreign sages showing up) that this “saga” would range far and wide. Of course there is also one name that is a straight out nickname you all know.

Name Origin Sounds Like
Chap [none] {come on now!}

It was Barb’s call on this one, as everyone knows “dogs” can get some of the silliest but affectionate nicknames. His name bounces into all sorts of strange things in the languages of the region from which Leesil originates, and that just wasn’t going to work well for use in the books. Not to mention that majay-hì don’t have names… well, spoken ones, that is. But you knew that, right?

And now, a few name pronunciations many have asked about… and a few of them might surprise you. We didn’t have time to put in dictionary based phonetic spellings, but hopefully you’ll get something workable out of the following.


If you haven’t finished at least the first series, you might not want to read further. Some names and their origins might produce small spoilers.

This following list is mostly for names that appear in S3B1: Between Their Worlds, but many of these names have been seen many times in many of the earlier books. Hence the spoiler warning.

If we missed a name of importance, just drop us a note and we’ll try to get into another Q&A until the Glossary is back online.

[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)] Sounds like: AWN-muh-GLAYK.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)] Sounds like: Ow~i-SHEN-is—ah-HAIR-eh.
Bäalâle Seatt
[Dwarvish, Ancient]  Sounds like: BAW-uh-LAY-leh SEAT-T .
Brot’ân’duivé / Brot’an
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)] Sounds similar to: Braut-AIN-dwee-VEY / BRAUT-an or Broe-TAN.
Chane Andraso
[Stravinan, Old] Chane an-DRA-so.  Sounds like: Chain an-DRAW-zoe.
[Elvish, New (Lhoin’na)] CHUIL-ly~on.  Sounds similar to: CHEWL-lee~yawn.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)] Sounds like: COE-vair-LAY-suh.
Cuirin’nên’a / Nein'a
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)] Sounds similar to: Queer~in-NEEN-uh / NAIN-uh or NINE-uh.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)]  Sounds similar to: Dawn-VAIR-fizh.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)]  Sounds like: AIL-lay~awn.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)]  Sounds like: enn-NISH.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)]  Sounds like: AY-woo-dawn.
Fréthfâre; Fréth
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)]  Sounds like: Freyth-FAIR~reh /  FRETH.
Frideswida Hawes
[Numanese (Malourné)]  Sounds like: FRI~des~SWEY-duh Hauz.
Ghassan il'Sänke
[Sumanese (Modern, Western)] Sounds similar to: GAS-san il-SAWN-kay.
Gleannéohkân'thva / Gleann
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)]  Sounds like: Glay~AN-nay~oh-cain-th’vau / Glay-AN.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)] Grei-MASG-ah.  Sounds similar to: Greey-MASG-awe.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)]  Sounds similar to: Ley-ANN-ail~haim.
[Elvish, New (Lhoin’na)] LHO~IN~Na.  Sounds like: LOW~IN~nuh.
[Numanese, Old] Ma-lour-NE.  Sounds like: MAH-loor-NAY.
Reine Faunier-Âreskynna
[Numanese (Faunier / Malourné)]  Sounds like: RAIN-eh FAW~near—AY-res-KEEN-nuh.
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)] RHY-sis.  Sounds like: RHEE-sis.
[Sumanese, Ancient].  Sounds similar to: Saw-EEY-lack.
Sgäilsheilleache / Sgäile
[Elvish, Old (an’Cróan)].  Sounds like: SGAWL-shale-LEY-chey / SGAW-ley.
[Numanese, Old (Malourné)]  Sounds similar to: SHIELD-fall-chess.
Siweard Rodian
[Numanese (Malourné)]  Sounds like: SI-weird ROW-dee-an.  NOTE: the second syllable of the first name is between “weird” and “word”; “weard” is a very obscure alternate for “wyrd” meaning “innately fated.”
Taln Lúcan
[Numanese (Malourné)].  Sounds like: TALN LOO-can.
Tärtgyth Sykion
[Numanese (Faunier)]  Sounds like: TART-gith SEE-key~on.
Welstiel Massing
[Numanese]  Sounds like: WELL-steel MASS-ing.
Wynn Hygeorht
[Numanese, Old (Malourné)]  Sounds like: WIN HIH~gee~yort.

That's likely more than most people could memorize. Hopefully you found that one character name you were curious about and got a hint of how best to pronounce it. Maybe you even picked up other hints hidden in its origin that could spark a realization from the saga’s past books... or future ones.