One of the delights of the ebook age is how available books have now become. Once out of print works, like most of Appendix N and the magical school adventure The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, have flourished in this new mode of publishing. Written by L. Jagi Lamplighter, John C. Wright's wife, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin follows thirteen year old Rachel as she attends Roanoke Academy, learning magic in a setting described as "Fringe meets Narnia at Hogwarts."
I devoured all three of the young adult novels in one weekend, and was pleasantly surprised to find among the long list of references and cameos the family name of Moth. Fortunately, during Jagi's Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit, I was able to ask if the Moths of Rachel's world had any connection to the Moths of Gil's world. Jagi was gracious enough to reply, and included a snippet for the upcoming fourth Rachel Griffin novel, both of which I have copied below.
Yes. Yes there is.
The Moths are an inter-dimensional family and they exist in many backgrounds. They are the most far-ranging family in the universe. If you play the Roanoke roleplaying game, and you put your star in Family, you are, by definition, a Moth.
John made up the Moth family when he put his star in Family. The first Moth character was Dusty Moth, who will probably appear in the books somewhere. The second, also John's character, was Blackie Moth, whose real name is longer, as Gaius and co have just found out in this brief bit from Book Four:
“Though I guess you need a distinctive first name to go with Moth,” Gaius continued airily, “Isn’t absolutely everyone and his neighbor named Moth in the World of the Wise? Dean Moth. Nurse Moth. Your family. That singer, what’s his name, Marble Moth? That super-tall proctor with the cowboy hat at Roanoke, Coal Moth, and his younger siblings, also named after rocks, except for Ignatious—who was probably originally called Igneous.
“Then, there’s the girl who married the captain of the Flying Dutchman, Marigold Merryweather Moth. And the one we learned about in Math, Easterly Moth. And we covered so many Moths in True History that I couldn’t list ‘em if my life depended on it. I’d wager that over nineteen percent of the people we’ve studied in that class have been named Moth—most of them named after mist or sea foam or some other physical object. What’s it with all these Moths?”
“We’re the most far-flung family in the World of the Wise,” Blackie replied dryly.
“Weird that you are so common, yet I’d never even heard of the Moths before I came to school,” said Gaius.
“That’s because the Unwary branches of the family have other names,” replied Blackie, “like Smith, Wright, and Brown.”
“Wha-…you mean the Smiths are a branch of the Moths?”
“Yup,” replied Blackie.
Gaius turned to William, as if he thought the older boy would confirm that Blackie was pulling his leg, but William merely nodded.
“Is Sigfried Smith a Moth?” asked Gaius.
Rachel shook herself free of the shock of Blackie’s note and murmured, “I’m pretty sure Siggy made his name up.”***
So the Moths were created in the role-playing setting that became Rachel's Roanoke Academy and branched out into many universes beyond, including Gil's world.
Incidentally, Blackie Moth is not the only Blackie to appear in John C. Wright's fiction or gaming. Ximen "Blackie" Del Azarchel appears in Wright's Count to the Eschaton series, filling a similar character and role in it as Marc "Blackie" DuQuense does in E. E."Doc" Smith's Skylark space opera, right down to the prickly sense of honor, villainy, and the full black beard. This is just one example of the library of names and references shared by many of John C. Wright's works, some of which, including the Melusine and even Swans, we will find in Swan Knight's Son.