Discussion in 'Original Fiction' started by DvorakQ, Apr 14, 2016.
Disguise aspect so powerful he can fake another Name
It's more that Tyrant just decided "fuck it, I'm going to fully embrace the role because what else do I have to do" than any sort of active gamesmanship.
Hot damn folks. Patreon goal had been hit, and now this story is on a new posting schedule.
Every Mondays + Wednesday.
Extra interlude early each month.
So I burned through this in 4 days or so and yeah, there is a lot to love about it.
Guess the initial similarities in its premise to Worm can't be denied, what with being a teenage girl who joins the villains in the hopes to do good and is pretty ruthless in order to reach her goal, while she befriends people on the side of the villains where some aren't that unreasonably while the people on the side of good aren't necessarily all nice or good either. Still, it does its own thing.
The concept with the Names is just fascinating and really, really cool. The way the rules of storytelling influence the world and characters and the different ways the various characters have found to interact with them is really creative and interesting.
I love the setting. It's a fantasy setting that I love, with the familiar faces that I want to see, like Roman legions, orcs, goblins, dwarves, gnomes and so on but also given a creative fresh spin that it doesn't feel like an unimaginative D&D or LotR rip-off. The fact that the dwarves and gnomes seem to be by all accounts the heavy hitters of the setting with whom no one dares to fuck with is a nice change, for example.
The geopolitical snippets that we see where the different nations, cultures and coalitions clash and unfold has been one of the stories bigger strengths. The racial and cultural clashes between characters hailing from different nations and social classes has also been explored in a rather good manner.
It also has a certain anime feel to it, in a good way, that just makes it even more enjoyable to be me.
I also love the fact that gender barely plays a role in this. Whatever role, job, class or function, in all facets in nearly all cultures, everything basically has a roughly equal split in terms of genders, with the goblins being the sole exception with their matriarchal society, which in turn was already alien enough, being goblins and all. No token girl or token boy characters in anything and no "you can't because you're a girl" story line either, it's rare to see it like that. Just enjoyment of the journey the character is on.
Same with sexuality, it doesn't matter to anyone in the setting which way you swing or if you swing at all, so various things can be explored without taking over the plot.
One of my favorite things have got to be the quotes at the beginning of the chapters. They can be hilarious and many of them have this distinct Magic the gathering flavor text feeling to them. I love them.
They generally crack me up and I am genuinely impressed that the author managed to come up with so many of them that are honestly lough out loud funny, well, at least to me.
The dialog and witty banter has been consistently funny and energetic. I have laughed countless times and a lot of the side characters are loveable because of it. The good lines are not reserved for the main character alone but virtually everyone gets at least a few, it's rather balanced on that account. And it never becomes muddled enough that it makes the characters indistinguishable from each other, even if they share the same type of dark humor. By seeing when and on whose accounts they make the jokes, their characters still shine through. The fight scenes are decent, and the quirks and strengths of the setting and the dialog allow them to punch outside their weight-class.
The meta aspects of the story itself are worked very well into the scenes and I believe that that is a very difficult thing to do. Here is a scene relatively early on:
A lesser author would have made me hate this but he pulled it off and made this fun.
The side cast is funny and interesting. The 15th legion has some fun characters who are likable and enjoyable throughout. When talking about the Calamities and some others, things become downright amazing. The way they are introduced and then explored in their interludes on how they've built their legends meshes wonderfully with the more intimate and casual moments they share with each other when they just bicker and enjoy their company.
I always hated the "if you lose you are dead to me" kinda villains and even though they are all very much villains, they also love and care for each other and generally having a personality allows for characters to have more depth, to have them care for more than just power. The Calamaties are larger than life, fun and epic.
Which kinda flows into one of the not so much strengths of the story. Heiress is, as far as villains go...not exactly top notch. It doesn't help that while I do believe that she is a serious threat and annoyance, and that her plans are appropriately “oh shit” level, I still can't respect her because in her core, she is the stupid kind of villain, the short sighted backstabber who, as a character archetype, just isn’t that interesting, at least to me.
The clash of ideologies that very much defined books 1 and 2 between the Lone Swordsman, the Heiress and the Squire suffered under the fact that both the Lone Swordsman and the Heiress upheld positions that, well, sucked. It wasn't a matter of who was right because it was abundantly clear who was and that's the main character.
The Lone Swordsman was a partly mindfucked/brainwashed zealot with few redeeming qualities and the Heiress just wants to be properly evil and hates all this efficiency, stability and success that the villain faction had for a while now.
What is there to ponder? I guess I would have preferred antagonists who also had good paths/plans rather than just being flat-out wrong/evil. Heiress especially, who at all times has been the bigger danger simply because she cares only about being evil in the right way and is unable to prioritize anything else. Still, she isn’t terrible, she has interesting/fun aspects, it is fun to hate her even if I roll my eyes a lot and her dynamic with her father is fun, even if only for the inevitable scene where Cat will do something horrible to him in order to punish the Heiress.
Catherine is a character who has some weaknesses but in general she is fun to follow, entertaining and someone who knows how to end a fight. She has good lines, one gets a good feel for her as the story goes along and it’s interesting if a bit frustrating when her own, culturally biased morals shine through. Like her inherent dislike and condemnation of human sacrifice despite the fact that she has about committed nearly every atrocity but since she is from Callow, that kinda thing is a no-no. It’s the arbitrary if not contradictory moral position of a true person.
I enjoy her journey and character and appreciate the way she deconstructs several conventions that are typical to the "want to save a society/nation/people" archetype.
The story contained several digs at other stories, like this quote when they learn that the Heiress set her slave soldiers free.
Which is basically the biggest "take that" I've seen in a while, directed at Dany's freeing of the Unsullied who in turn then moved by her actions chose to follow her nonetheless. And of course, Cat is absolutely correct. That one act of liberation probably didn't really mean that much to those who, in her words, had been indoctrinated from birth to obey and fight.
Later on, when the Lone Swordsman comes upon them, he is also aware of this dilemma. His solution was to not ask them to fight, to give them that freedom but that more than anything was what convinced them to fight for him anyway, and thus he unwillingly manipulated them into doing it anyway.
I really loved that touch, especially since it was a plot point that was well set up in advance, touched upon over several chapters and then had a rather satisfying resolution.
Or the general theme of the shonen protag/hero of the story taking umbrage with the lesser methods of his enemies and saying that's not the right way because it's wrong. It's a conversation that that crops up all the time, and that the hero will find a better way, only never saying what that better way is, mainly because he hasn't one until he pulls unlimited power out of his ass.
Cat isn't like that and hates people like that and this inherent struggle against story conventions, especially with regards to the Black Knight is fascinating to me. Having the Calamaties and the Empress scheme and work around these inherent story elements is just cool.
The romance in the story was rather lowkey which isn't bad per se,
but Killian didn't exactly leave a big impact so far but I'm hoping this will change with the recent developments. Either strike out with someone more interesting or have Killian become more interesting and defined. So far, it was pleasant and cute but not exactly much substance.
One more minor point of complaint would be the relatively steady amount of typos, missing words and the like, which happen about once or twice per chapter. Nothing tragic but definitely noticeable. Author also uses adverbs a bit too much, especially the "-ly" modifiers for the verbs instead of showing it through action and dialog how they feel but it works for the most part.
Think that’s about it. The writing is overall rather good and I enjoy the story format, what with the interludes and all. So yeah, really loving the story. Story got its hooks in me and I powered through and it was a blast from start to the latest available chapter. Supposed to be five books, and we're in the first third of the third one so, this story will be going on for a while and I'm looking forward to it.
I agree with everything you said pretty much, especially about the Calamities. Building villains that are effective but not because of plot armor or some dues ex is hard. They represent a well thought out approach to handling problems that others overlook because of their roles. Like the fight with the new band of heroes where they called in artillery. Why risk some stupid world plot device where the underdogs can come out on top, especially when you have artillery.
The newest chapters opening scene with the calamities shows it perfectly. Pirate Queen was ready for a big fight and lots of monologue and Ranger shoots her in the fucking knee. Then Black just lays down the law. No discussion or negotiations, just what Black says goes. Warlock and Rangers background banter and additions just make it all the better. And Black's ending line was gold. You know that was his back up plan and that he felt no threat from Pirate. Black would have certainly used her head as a prop to explain thing to the second, third, fourth, or whoever finally saw reason.
Cat had some good scenes in this chapter too. Crucifying the nobles was hardcore and everyone kneeling at the end cemented what she will have to do. My out there prediction is that she has to end up working with Procer at some point to fight the Empire. That would be a good book. I think Black will approve though, as long as she swears fealty to the Empire and they can make it look like an Empire plan all along.
A bit hard to do though, to team up with Procer against the Empire for the Empire as an Empire plan.
Honestly, not sure I see her fight against the Empire. That would her put on the side of good by proxy and the story is kinda about subverting and defying the common fantasy story tropes. In the same vain, I honestly have a hard time believing that the Black Knight will die, seeing that the death of the mentor figure is as much of a stable of fantasy stories as prophecies and magical swords are. Pretty early on in the story Cat chocked her dark doppelganger to death with her bare hands so I don't really think we'll get either being forced to kill him or him dying to some other villain/hero and she going on to avenge him.
I can see her clash with the Empress and maybe even with the Black Knight at some point and I guess it depends on how it is framed within the story but her outright having to fight the Empire in open battle with troops is not something that I see happening.
I mean, Squire has to go somewhere and since it is a transitional Name by nature, all it has to go are Black and White Knight and I honestly don't see Cat as either. Then again, it seems possible to switch to another name, seeing that Heiress was prepared, however reluctantly to switch to Squire. Maybe Cat takes another Name entirely or develops one on her own. Heck, might be a bit cheesy but something like Gray Knight could be a possibility. Not really a thing but somewhat fitting.
I agree though, chapter was good and there was much to like. In general, the story is rather good with cool moments, scenes and lines in general, whether it be funny, thoughtful or just badass.
My favorite of the current chapter got to be the end line though
Am curious to see where this all goes, conflict with the Empress seems almost inevitable and it's not like the rest of the nobility like her any better but at the same time, I could see the Empress, while annoyed with her, not really wanting to get rid one of the very few people who think the way she wants her subordinates to think.
Fun piece of speculation from @Jarik and me for later stuff:
With Diabolist being an enthusiastic summoner of demons and devils, her summoning Dread Empress Triumphant and her troops from hell is a real possibility. We know that after her death half of her legions followed her down there and was described as "the old girl conquered a lot more with a lot less" so it's certainly possible that she pulled a Black Mage and took over hell. Would be very fitting, actually, to have her the enemy in book 4 or 5, to have the most successful and dangerous old school villain fight the new types of villain the the current Empress and Black Knight (and Cat) represent. After the Tyrant and Procer are dealt with.
And the Undead King who is lowkey being bullied by Ranger has to do something as well at some point.
So yeah, loving this. Reading the God are Bastards now and not that convinced by it the way I was with this story but we'll see.
Iirc Warlord has been mentioned as a possible Squire path/open Name.
That was an orcs Name though, wasn't it? Can a non orc claim it?
Orcs are the ones calling her Warlord sooo.. probably? We've already seen you can force a Name.
I remember Errata shutting down the Warlord possibility in the comments at some point in Book 2. Shame, because that seemed like a good alternative.
I pokeriste there, I meant Black would approve of Cat taking Callow as long as it was still under Empire control and didn't fuck with their plans. If she signed on with Procer against Black I'd put money on Black ripping her heart out or something.
Two new interludes, this time on Apprentice and Hakram.
Cool and fun stuff, as always. A good reminder that our team of protags are still villains in their core and that there is a good reason why so many people are against them.
Seeing Apprentice and Archer bicker about how to most effectively get their job done whilst they very systematically went through minds as if they were worthless clocks was a great moment. Similarly, to see my man Hakram just waltz in alone into the thieves den and just do his thing was just great.
Yeah, good to see how it's not only Cat who is the reason why they are doing well overall but because the whole team is pulling their weight and bringing something to the table that she doesn't.
So yeah, nice updates. Nothing necessarily groundbreaking but yeah, good stuff.
Well, except what we see of the Diabolist, pursing more old time praesi villainy once again.
One important note in the two interludes: Apprentice apparently almost transitioned into a new Name just looking at Diabolist's working. Any guesses on that?
Also curious what Adjutant could turn into, because it seems like a pretty transition-y name. In the whole vein of the orcs being made something old yet new by the Legions, it could be something like Centurion or Praetor in the vein of legionnary style.
I think what Apprentice saw was the entity the Watch are apparently bound to, as it was mentioned in the first Diabolist interlude that she was using it to power her array. It's mentioned in the category of gods, but it's artificial? idk. Not sure how that turns into something that Apprentice would transition to, though.
Because of the Role behind Adjutant, I figure if it transitions then it'll be based on Cat's transition. May stay the same if she becomes the Black Knight. If she becomes something more "Ruling" based like Dread Empress or whatever, then he may transition to some Chancellor analogue. Maybe he becomes the next Captain, but he's more administrative than Sabah ever would be.
Also making the guess now that Ranker is secretly Named and that's why she's still alive.
Is there such a thing as secretly Named? Seems to me that one Named could tell pretty well whether someone else was named or not. Unless, I guess, it was the perk of someone's Name to not ping other Named but that seems unlikely for something like Ranker.
Could see something like the Sorcerer or the Researcher. Or the Wizard.
I remember back in Book 1 Black said that he suspected the goblins had Names. The idea was that if secrecy is such a big part of goblin culture, then it would make sense that their Names would be secretive and undetectable as well.
Pretty sure we have confirmed goblin Names from.. Robbers interlude? We see Martrons and then The Matron.
Gotta say, I'm looking forward to Catherine tearing Akua's dear old Papa in half. Pretty sure it's the only thing that will actually make her feel mortal, and by the end of this I think Catherine will be quite happy to do so.
Yeah, Cat doing something horrible to Akua's father is something that needs to happen, if only so that things get personal for Akua as well. Right now, it's interesting to see that her opinion on Cat has improved vastly over the course of the story, as Cat, in her own words, became more and more praesi. Probably not praesi enough but at this point she outright appreciates Cat and their rivalry, if only probably because it's somewhat traditional to have an archenemy.
And while she is as always a physical and strategic threat with good plans, her motivations are still shit so would like to see that kicked up a notch.
But yeah, solid chapter. Akua really gets a lot of mileage from her current Name.
Black thinks that they just dont have their Names leave goblin territory or interact with any nongoblins. But I would be surprised if there wasnt at least one goblin Named that is undetectable.
Funny thought, Assassin is a goblin and not even the other Calamities know.
Separate names with a comma.