This week begins Part III of Martha’s Children, entitled “Sorcerers.” The ghostly sorceress Ivy McIlwraith has prided herself on being one of the most knowledgeable sorcerers in the world. But in chapter 24, Ivy finds the root of her problems is a creature that’s not in any of her books, indeed a creature that shouldn’t even exist!
With the sorcerers of Martha’s Children taking center stage, a few words of explanation are in order. These are not the magicians of The Dragon Lady of Stockbridge; don’t assume that what applied to those magicians applies to these sorcerers and sorceresses. Sherlock Kammen set out the basic principles for sorcerers back in chapter 15.
The social and political organization of sorcerers is more complicated than that of vampires. Sorcerers are governed by the Conventions, first promulgated by the European Council in 1749 and since revised or adapted by all other councils. The councils serve as the main ruling bodies over the sorcerers. They are comprised of the most powerful sorcerers in a given area, which in 1969 is usually of continental scale. For example, there are councils for North America and Latin America in the New World. The tribunals are responsible for administering justice, and are organized on the same geographic basis as the councils. No one is allowed to have both a council and tribunal seat. Finally, there are the bearers of the rulers of justice, single sorcerers whose function is to serve as moral gadflies to the councils and tribunals.
In practice, all of these mechanisms have begun to break down in North America. The council has not met as an organized body since 1954. Although killing a council member is a capital crime under the Conventions, in practice sorcerers who successfully assassinate council members and take their place have their crimes overlooked. The tribunal has become subservient to the council, and ignores the bearers of the rulers of justice on any petition touching on the council’s members and their behavior. They are not yet lawless, the sorcerers of North America. But the more powerful among them do as they please.