Page 184: the famous opening lines of the poem Orithine's Complaint to a Sparrow.

Book of the Inmost Ward, popular title of Burris Collection MS 1208, sometimes called The Secret Queen. Supposedly a reproduction of the diary of courtier (not, as often suggested, a courtesan) Enin Tinacal, (?902-950), a minor figure of the First Godking Court. While its variegated content is principally concerned with love, sex, secret courtship and scandal, treatments of which comprise roughly half the text, it also deals with deology, literary criticism, mixed drinks and military theory, and includes seventy-four examples of Fog School poetry (for sixty of which it is the only source).

A wealth of textual analysis makes it near-certain the Book is a hoax, probably by at least three separate authors, none having had substantial contact with Tinacal - errors of geography make it probable that only Author 1 had access to even the Outer Ward. Since authorship at least partially overlapped Tinacal's lifetime, physical evidence of forgery has proven impossible, a shred of hope dear to historical fantasists and that variety of scholar that views history largely as source material for cosplay (see Hidden Daughter Theory).

Regardless of provenance, it represents a monumental literary achievement; and if an unreliable guide to the actual life of the Inmost Ward, it provides an unparalleled window into contemporary opinion thereof.

The widespread Uproot translation, written for smut-hungry private collectors, is dated, superficial and guesses where it cannot understand. The Zygote Press version is less textually shambolic but, ruled by its unshakeable faith in Tinacal as sole author and feminist saint, almost equally misleading. The best hope for an accessible translation is perhaps the work of Mishao (personal correspondence); while thus far only excerpts of Parts II and IV have appeared in the Grantchester Erotics Review, it is the only version to appreciate MS 1208's mastery of the sensual power of footnotes.


-- Tsawac Poitier