Jonathan Strange was intent upon summoning the Raven King to assist in returning his wife to him. "Come, sir! There is very little sense in arguing about it. The first thing is to bring him here. How do we begin?"
Mr. Norrell sighed. "It is not like summoning any one else. There are difficulties peculiar to any magic involving John Uskglass."
"Such as?" asked Jonathan Strange.
"Well, for one thing, we do not know what to call him. Spells of summoning require the magician to be most particular about names. None of the names by which we call John Uskglass were really his own. He never allowed his True Name to be seen on his body by his enemies, and his friends remarked only that it was in a language they could not read. It is believed to be a language of John Uskglass's own devising, so that he could have his True Name be whatever he wished. Even then it was the custom in the North to call their first sons John until their True Name appeared, and onward as John -- or whatever variant they chose -- if their name was obscure, or if they wished to obscure it. As for all his titles -- the Raven King, the Black King, the King of the North -- these are what other people called him, not what he called himself. We must have a name to use when summoning him, you must understand that."
"Yes, yes!" declared Strange, impatiently. His own True Name was slightly obscured and had taken some effort to decipher to his own satisfaction; he had kept himself Jonathan out of habit, and only Arabella called him by Name, and only then in private, for by the time he had deciphered his name, he had known it to be magically dangerous. "I know all that! But surely John Uskglass was his True Name? He would not be the first to decide for himself what his obscured name meant, but it still becomes his Name!"
"Oh! By no means is it his True Name. Uskglass was the name of a young Norman aristocrat who died, I believe, in the summer of 1097. The King -- our John Uskglass -- claimed that man as his father, thus making himself John, son of Uskglass, in the longer form -- but many people have disputed whether they were really related at all. I do not suppose that this muddle of names and titles is accidental. The King knew that he would always draw the eyes of other magicians to him and so he protected himself from the nuisance of their magic by deliberately confusing their spells. If his Name is written in his own language, even more so, for he could change his True Name at his whim. Martin Pale wrote that the King's Name was written in the King's Letters, but he never saw the Letters nor the King, so he should not be trusted to be reliable on this matter."
"So what ought I to do?" Strange snapped his fingers. "Advise me!"
Mr. Norrell blinked his small eyes. He was unaccustomed to think so rapidly. His own Name had always been perfectly clear and he had cast off his childhood name accordingly to take it on himself. He had never had the least difficulty with it, or given more thought to it than had he to the childhood names of others. "If we use an ordinary English spell of summoning -- and I strongly advise that we do, as they cannot be bettered -- then we can make the elements of the spell do the work of identification for us. We will need an envoy, a path and a handsel. If we choose tools that already know the King, and know him well, then it will not matter that we cannot name him properly, they will find him, bring him and bind him, without our help! Do you see?"
In spite of all his terror, he was growing more animated at the prospect of magic -- new magic! -- to be performed with Mr. Strange.
"No," said Strange. "I do not see at all."
"This house is built upon the King's land, with stones from the King's abbey. A river runs by it -- not more than two hundred yards from this room; that river has often borne the King in his royal barge upon its waters. In my kitchen-garden are a pear-tree and an apple-tree -- the direct descendants of some pips spat out by the King when he sat one summer's evening in the Abbot's garden. Let the old abbey stones be our envoy; let the river be our path; let next year's apples and pears from those trees be our handsel. Then we may name him simply 'The King'. These stones, this river, those trees know none other!"