|Start of Reign|
|End of Reign|
|Spymistress of the Copper Isles|
|Free Servant (462 HE)/ Slave (461 HE)|
|Reigning Monarch||Queen Dovasary|
|Years of Service||463 HE - 466 HE|
|Maiden Name||Alianne of Pirate's Swoop|
|Nickname|| Aly |
|Magic||The Sight (powerful)|
|Other|| Broken nose|
|Noble House||Pirate's Swoop family|
|Ancestors|| Lionel of Trebond|
Ilony Cooper †
|Grandparents|| Alan of Trebond †|
Marinie of Trebond †
Myles of Olau
|Parents|| George Cooper|
Alanna the Lioness
|Siblings|| Thom of Pirate's Swoop|
Alan of Pirate's Swoop
|Children|| Ochobai Crow|
|Godsparents|| King Jonathan IV|
Gary of Naxen
Cythera of Naxen
|Other Family|| Thom of Trebond † (uncle)|
Rispah of Trebond
(first cousin, once removed)
|Residence|| Grey Palace (current)|
Pirate's Swoop (former)
|Affiliation|| Copper Isles Spies|
Shadow Service (Nurseling)
|Tortallan Universe character|
|First Appeared||Wild Magic (unnamed)|
|Latest Appearance||Nawat (story)|
|Last Mentioned||Tortall: A Spy's Guide|
Alianne Crow (pronounced ah-lee-AHN), born Alianne of Pirate's Swoop and nicknamed Aly (AH-lee), was the only daughter of Alanna the Lioness and George Cooper, the Baron of Pirate's Swoop and the unofficial spymaster of Tortall. As such, Aly was born a Tortallan noblewoman to a very powerful family with very powerful connections, with King Jonathan IV and Queen Thayet as a few of her godsparents. She was kidnapped when she was sixteen and taken as a slave to the Copper Isles, where she became entrenched in the raka conspiracy, a group dedicated to the removal of luarin oppressors. She went by the alias Aly Homewood, so as not to tie her origins back to some of the most important nobility of Tortall. Aly is descended from House Trebond, a family that is listed in the Book of Gold—which means it goes back more than four hundred years. Because one of Prince Baird's daughters married Lionel of Trebond, a presumed ancestor of Aly, she is also related at least distantly to the Conté family, the ruling House of Tortall.
Aly was born in 445 HE as the twin sister of Alan and younger sister of Thom of Pirate's Swoop. Her parents are Alanna of Pirate's Swoop and Olau, the famed King's Champion of Tortall, and George of Pirate's Swoop, the assistant spymaster. Her godsparents are King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Sir Gareth, and Lady Cythera of Naxen. Because Alanna was often called away to fight for the Crown, Aly and her brothers didn't see that much of her. Instead they developed a close relationship to their nurse, Maude Tanner. Aly, in particular, had an aptitude for her father's work and he taught her all he knew. When she was younger, he made it a game and he even gave her a book titled A Workbook for a Young Spy, which he wrote himself, for her sixth birthday. Aly was also quite good at learning foreign languages and George sometimes even took her with him when he went to meet his contacts.
However, this changed when Aly was about twelve years old. She had accompanied her father to meet with a spy when they were attacked. Although Aly "handled herself very well, [...] all [George] could think of was that he had put her in harm's way." After that George started to keep Aly in the background, although Aly herself wasn't happy with this.
Slave and servant with the Balitangs
Kidnapped by raiders
When Aly returned from a month-long visit with Corus relatives to her father in spring of 462 HE, she tried to convince him to make her a spy, but was denied—she had already attempted to convince him to let her work as a spy several times before—because it would be too dangerous, and neither of her parents were willing to risk her life in that manner. Aly passed time by helping George with paperwork until he was called away. Aly's mother returned soon after for a break from the Scanran War and decided to make Aly her new "project". She claimed that since her daughter was sixteen, she should know what she wanted to do with her life. Aly said that her occupation was to have fun, as she said someone needed to do it. This did not help with her mother. When Aly broached the subject of espionage, Alanna said no, saying that it was dangerous and not suitable work for a noble girl.
Aly decided to set sail, to "give her parents some alone time" but in reality, did not want to be bothered by her mother. This plan was foiled when she was captured by pirates, however, and made a slave. Aly made herself appear undesirable, notably by breaking her nose in a scuffle for food with fellow slaves, so as not to be sold to somebody who would only want her to warm his bed. As such, nobody purchased her, and in an attempt to get rid of her, the slave seller gave her as a gift to the Balitangs in the city of Rajmuat.
Slave in Rajmuat
Aly began as a door maid, and plotted her escape, using materials she had gathered to create lock picks. Her plan changed after a visit late at night by Prince Bronau Jimajen, who informed her masters, Duke Mequen and Duchess Winnamine, that they had fallen out of favor with King Oron. They had to give him a large gift of gold and escape in exile to Lombyn Island, where they owned Tanair Castle. They informed their slaves and servants that they would not be able to take all of them, and the ones they didn't take would be sent to good homes. When Aly was being looked at by a magical examiner, the god Kyprioth took over his body to speak with Aly. He made a wager with her: keep the children of the Balitang family alive through the end of the summer, and she would be sent home. He also agreed to talk to Aly's father about her becoming a field agent. If Aly lost, then she would have to serve him for an entire year. Kyprioth (the notorious raka trickster god) had stolen his brother's appearance and told Mequen and Winnamine that he had chosen Aly as his messenger, and that they would come to no harm if they listened to her advice. As the duke and duchess now believed Aly to be Mithros's emissary, they listened to all she had to say, and took her to Tanair Castle with them.
Tanair Castle on Lombyn
Aly spent the summer getting to know the family, especially the two oldest girls, Sarai and Dove. She also learned the ground around Tanair and got to know the members of the raka conspiracy in the Balitang household. Aly soon became part of the conspiracy, giving advice to them and getting help from them in return. Thus she was provided with better weapons and Junai Dodeka was appointed her bodyguard. Aly also tried to get a mage for Tanair, because the only mage there was the healer Rihani. However, this proved to be difficult because the mage of Pohon, an all-raka village, disliked any luarin. This mage was Ochobu Dodeka, Ulasim's mother. With the help of Kyprioth, Aly eventually succeeded in convincing Ochobu to come to the castle and help in the plot to bring Sarai to the throne.
Kyprioth brought Aly on a number of dream travels. He brought her to witness the deaths of King Oron and later King Hazarin. She was alerted to Prince Bronau's treacherous plot when she saw him attempt to kidnap the young King Dunevon, an attempt which was unsuccessful. During one of these dream travels, Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess were alerted to Kyprioth's actions. They were angry and questioned him. Aly stood up for him to the great gods and just told them an aspect of the truth, as gods can see lies. The Great Mother, knowing who Aly was, pointed out that Lady Alanna was a devout worshiper of the Great Mother. Other dream visits were more to satisfy Aly's nostalgia. Kyprioth brought her to see her mother on the Scanran warfront during the Scanran War. Later, Kyprioth brought her to see the naming ceremony of Sarralyn Salmalín, among other dream visits.
Towards the end of the summer, Bronau arrived in order to try to force Sarai's hand in marriage. By this time, the Balitangs were aware of the enormous debt that Bronau was in, and also that Bronau had attempted to kidnap the young king, Dunevon Rittevon, in order to gain more power to the throne. Prince Bronau killed Mequen Balitang in a fight to try to force Sarai to agree to a betrothal. Sarai herself killed Bronau by using the fencing lessons that she had taken earlier. Later, Prince Rubinyan, Bronau's brother, who was also regent to the present king, arrived to let the Balitangs know they were pardoned and were able to return to Rajmuat. Winnamine requested they were allowed to stay through the winter, and it was agreed that they would return in the spring.
By now, George had found Aly and wanted to take her home. She stayed with the family, however, since she had gotten attached to them. George made sure to help Aly in her endeavor, and sent the conspiracy a very large monetary gift. It worried the conspirators, as they thought that if Tortall knew about the rebellion, then the Rittevons would as well. Aly assured them that this was not the case.
Return to the capital
In the winter, Aly helped train the raka in spy work. When they sailed to Rajmuat in the spring, they noticed that it was far more somber and than two luarin nobles had been executed. Aly met Nuritin Balitang, the girls' great-aunt, and thought she was impressive.
Upon their return to Rajmuat, she and her fellow conspirators worked hard to put a half-raka queen on the throne of the Isles. For this she infiltrated Topabaw's network of spies and finally even managed to get him killed by the regents. After Sarai eloped with Zaimid Hetnim, Aly convinced Kyprioth and her fellow conspirators that Dove would be just as good—even better—as their queen as Sarai.
The conspiracy eventually managed to overthrow the luarin regents and put Dove on the throne. Afterwards Dove made Aly her spymistress. Aly and Nawat eventually married and had triplets: Ochobai, Junim and Ulasu Crow, all three named after after the deceased members of the Dodeka family, who had died during the final attack on the Grey Palace. However, because it brought bad luck according to Copper Isle custom to name a child after a dead person, the names were slightly changed. Aly didn't know what to expect and was even terrified that she might produce eggs. Thus she demanded that Nawat was there when her time came, to "have an expert on hand". The midwife Mistress Penolong helped her to give birth.
- "As the ship Gwenna glided through the entrance of Rajmuat harbor, a young woman of seventeen years leaned against the bow rail, taking in her surroundings through green-hazel eyes. Despite her white skin, she was dressed like a native raka in sarong, sash, and wrapped jacket. The sarong displayed her neat, if thin, figure—one with curves that drew male eyes. The calf-length garment also showed muscled legs and trim ankles protected by leather slippers. Her jacket, worn against the chill of spring air, covered her muscular upper arms, while the loose areas of her clothes hid an assortment of flat knives designed for her needs. She had a small, delicate nose, inherited from her mother, just as her eyes were her father's. The wide mouth, its lower lip fuller than the upper, was all hers, with smiles tucked into the corners. Her reddish gold hair was cut just below her earlobes to fit her like a helmet."
- —Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Trickster's Queen
Personality and traits
Aly took after her father in his trickster-like ways. She was very clever and enjoyed using her mind. George said in spring of 462 HE that Aly "...had an aptitude for codes and translations since she was small, regarding them as games she wanted to win." Aly's father taught her codes, lockpicking, investigating, pickpocketing, lip reading, tracking, and wielding a knife among other skills necessary for a spy.
Although she understood that she needed to be detached in order to see her mission through—as it was the kind that would take a lot of deaths from either side—Aly was also very compassionate and empathetic, even when she didn't want to be. She would see this as a mistake as it was happening, as spies cannot afford to like the people they work with and especially not potential threats and enemies, but was unable to end that part of her humanity.
She also had a very wry, sarcastic wit that she used often and was very theatrical.
Skills and abilities
Aly is one of the few people in the Eastern Lands with the Sight, a type of magic that can sense lies, and can even further the normal sight of the user. It is stronger than her father, George's Sight, as it was enhanced by her mother's very strong Gift. With it, she can see sickness, godhood and divinity, pregnancy, lies, and more. She can also see close and exacting details from very far away.
Because her grandfather and father are Tortall's spymasters, Aly has learned how to code and decode documents, the political situations and many different countries, and the learning of many languages, including Kyprish. She also knows how to pick locks and use daggers, as well as the ability to make it look like a place she searched earlier is untouched. She can also fight unarmed, but prefers the use of daggers, just like her father. She is also an exceptional liar, and understands that the best lies are those that are made up of mostly the truth and have severe omissions.
She is incredibly smart and underhanded, and understands plenty of things going on around her. She is very knowledgeable politically.
Alianne has relatively few blood relations, those being her mother, Alanna, her father, George, her brothers, Thom of Pirate's Swoop and Alan, and her grandmother, Eleni Cooper; though some may count Halef Seif as one too, because he performed the blood-sharing ritual with Alanna. Her cousin Rispah Cooper has several children that are also blood relations, who are the new Trebond family. However, her parents' many friends are as close as family.
Aly's father is the common-born Baron George Cooper, Tortall's spymaster. Because her mother was not much around in her childhood Aly was closer to her father, learning the work of a spy from him. They were also close in character, because both enjoyed playing games and tricks of the mind. Though he enjoys teaching her, he refuses to give her fieldwork because of the danger.
Her mother is Alanna the Lioness. As King's Champion and the first female knight in centuries, she is famous throughout the Eastern and Southern Lands. She was often too busy to spend much time at home with her children, and though the two love each other, their personalities clash. Aly never wanted to become a knight, instead feeling called to follow in her father's footsteps as a spy. Alanna refused to allow Aly to become a spy, hinting that she didn't consider it a respectable job for a noblewoman. It was this argument (and the prospect of her mother making her into a "project") that prompted Aly to travel alone to get away – at which point Kyprioth arranged for her to be kindapped.
When Aly was stuck in Tanair, Kyprioth repeatedly sent her dreams showing her the situation at home. From these dreams Aly learnt that her mother was really worried for her when she disappeared and was even angry with George, with whom she had never quarreled before as far as Aly knew, because he had kept that information from her. Their relationship improved slightly after they met again in the isles, where Alanna was part of the Tortallan delegation to honor the new Queen of the Copper Isles, Dove.
Nawat was a crow who had turned himself into a man to get to know Aly better. At first he was only curious and helped Aly in his task to look after the Balitangs, teaching her along with the other crows their language, keeping lookout for her and communicating with the other crows for Aly. Aly got him the post of a fletcher while at Tanair and Nawat made her some special arrows with the feathers of immortals, both stormwings and griffins. The stormwing-fletched arrows would go through any magical barrier and kill mages, while the griffin-fledged arrows wouldn't miss a target.
The former crow soon began to show his affection for Aly. At the beginning his attempts to woo her were clumsy as he only knew of the mating behavior of crows, who, amongst others, fed their mates bugs. However, he eventually succeeded in getting Aly's attention. After Dove became Queen of the Copper Isles they married and had triplets.
Mequen and Winnamine
Aly was at first a slave to the Balitang family, but then proved her worth multiple times. She earned the respect of Mequen and Winnamine when it came to espionage, and proved her worth multiple times to them both. Mequen was a kind man, and was not likely to take his anger out on his slaves. Winnamine shared the same regard for people as her husband. At Mequen's death, even Aly was sad, as were plenty of Mequen's servants and slaves because they all liked the Duke. Winnamine and Aly became close, then, because Winna recognized the sacrifices that Aly made for their family. She was freed from slavery, and given the coveted position as lady's maid to Sarai and Dove.
Winna trusted Aly immensely, as she believed Aly to be Mithros's chosen. After Elsren's death, this trust was put on edge for a bit, but soon Winna came around.
When Aly first was acquired by the family, she was made the nurse of Petranne and Elsren. They didn't like her at first, and only warmed to her when Aly started telling them stories and legends of Tortall, namely of Aly's own mother, the Lioness.
Her friendship with the elder Balitang children was a lot more complex, and was different for both Sarai and Dove. She recognized Dove as a fellow intellectual; Dove was not impulsive and loved learning about the people whom she encountered. Sarai was the opposite, and Aly found herself getting annoyed or worried around Sarai, as she feared the girl would let something slip to get the Balitangs in even more hot water. When Sarai eloped with Zaimid Hetnim, Aly truly believed that Dove could take her elder sister's place as queen candidate. She convinced Kyprioth and the other conspirators of this, but Dove had already done some convincing of her own, having installed herself in the conspiracy while Kyprioth held Aly's mind prisoner in the Divine Realms. Although the Balitangs knew she was a top tier spy, they did not know her most grave deception: that she was the granddaughter of the Tortallan spymaster, and the daughter of his second in command, as well as the godsdaughter of both the King and Queen of Tortall. For that, she was sure that the Balitangs would have her killed. Instead, they just brushed it off, as they knew that there was more to the girl all along, and also that she had already proved herself to them, many times. Aly then accepted the offer of a spymaster position under Queen Dovasary.
Lionel of Trebond │ ? │ Marinie of Tasride ┬ Alan of Trebond │ Eleni Cooper ┌—————————————————┴————————————————┐ │ │ │ George Cooper ┬ Alanna of Trebond Thom of Trebond │ ┌———————————————————┴——————————┬—————————————————————————————————————————┬————————————————————┐ │ │ │ │ Thom of Pirate's Swoop Alianne of Pirate's Swoop ┬ Nawat Crow Alan of Pirate's Swoop unnamed daughter │ ┌———————————————————┴┬———————————————————————┐ │ │ │ Ochobai Crow Ulasu Crow Junim Crow
- The Immortals Quartet
- Wild Magic (minor appearance)
- Trickster Series
- Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales
Notes and references
- ↑ Tortallan timeline
- ↑ Tortall: A Spy's Guide
- ↑ Discrepancy: Prince Baird is mentioned to have a daughter who is married to Sir Lionel in Bloodhound, but is mentioned to be childless in Mastiff.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Tortall: A Spy's Guide
- ↑ Readergirlz; "December: In the shadow of fame"; December 5, 2009
- ↑ Random Buzz; "Yuki and 'labor and delivery' in Tortall."; April 20, 2009
- ↑ Nawat (story)