In my novel, A Mage of None Magic, there's a scene where the main character, Niel, receives a spellbook as a gift from another character, Arwin. The book once belonged to a dear friend of Arwin's and Niel is profoundly touched by the gesture.
In a few lines of dialogue that fell to the editor's axe, upon realizing the significance of the gift, Niel stands, folds his hands as he bows his head, and says:
"That which belonged to my predecessor I take as my own. I shall endeavor that it might do service to both our names."
In my story, that was the traditional oath when an apprentice magician accepted the property or status of his teacher, and it seemed to Niel the appropriate thing to say.
Last June, my friend, mentor, and fellow writer, Joel Rosenberg, unexpectedly died. Joel authored more than twenty books, and his work was the driving force behind my wanting to try my own hand at storytelling. In fact, Joel did me the honor of providing the cover quote for Mage.
A few days ago, I received a box in the mail from Joel's wife, Felicia. Inside were books from Joel's personal research library — obscure, musty, wonderful volumes on blacksmithing, military tactics, knighthood, fairy tales, and so forth. I couldn't help smiling as I thumbed through the treasure trove, fascinated to recognize the obvious sources for assorted key elements in some of Joel's stories — a peek behind the curtain, as it were. At the same time, my heart filled with heaviness, because there's little I wouldn't have given not to have had the opportunity to take that peek.
I cannot convey how honored I am to have been deemed worthy of such a bequest, nor the humility and inadequacy I feel to have received it. In many ways it's not unlike trying on your father's shoes and marveling at their impossible giganticness.
I can't even say for certain that the significance of the gift has really sunk in for me, perhaps as it might have been for Niel. But I can say for certain the sentiment is very much same:
That which belonged to my predecessor I take as my own. I shall endeavor that it might do service to both our names.