Discussion in 'Original Fiction' started by DvorakQ, Apr 14, 2016.
I read the villages in the hell section as a reference to the legion Warlock abandoned there.
Fairly sure that's Triumphant right?
It's probably the Dead King. We've been told he farms humans to add to his army, and keeping them inside his hell is probably safer than in Creation.
Might not be safer, but necessary. Dude obliterated his kingdom when he made his Hellgate, it's probably impossible for any living thing not named Ranger to be there for too long. Also, just scanning through her bonus chapter, it says that the air in the Dead Kingdom became poisonous after the Seventh Crusade. So there's that.
Prologue for Book 4 is out, along with a bonus chapter continuing the White Knight's story.
A couple things I noticed, that some people brought up in the comments and thread:
Firstly, the White Knight and Catherine have some serious parallels and duality developing. Justifications only matter to the just vs. I do not judge. White vs. Black. Both of them seeing that the best path lies in the middle, with Hanno not seeking it because he thinks mortals can't handle it vs. Catherine trying for it.
Then there's the Aspects. Hanno has Recall, and all the memories of previous White Knights and White Knight-esque figures - maybe all Good heroes, even.
In this latest chapter, we have Catherine showing up in the void to snark-interrupt the Choir of Fortitude with several figures. One of them is obviously Akua in her cloak, which some people pointed out might be how she managed to actually breach the place (Diabolist's power being foreign entities). But there were also two other figures with 'burning eyes and unspeakable shapes', that were clearly defined as not being Catherine or Akua.
There's only two capital H Heroes that Catherine herself has directly killed, not counting the purported ones she mentions at the start of the new prologue - the Page (being a knightly/martial name assumedly had her own Choir she was chosen by, like the Swordsman, as that seems to be the theme) and the Lone Swordsman. And she uses an interesting word when she kills the Stalwart Paladin - 'claimed' fair and square.
We already know Catherine was on the edge of spooky ghost powers before the Black Queen title got thrown out. It might very well be that she's gathering Choir hero ghosts the same way that Hanno is.
Next, Catherine and the Choirs.
Catherine first defeats Contrition. Now Endurance/Fortitude. And with Hanno coming that is a third Choir she is going to face. Even if it isn't a proper Pattern of Three since it's mortal v. angel and not mortal v. mortal, we know that three is a dangerous number regardless. Twice she's denied a Choir on their own ground - denying Contrition she has anything to be contrite for then admonishing them for trying to cheat, killing a Fortitude hero straight on their own territory and enduring the entire weight of their wrath undaunted.
We still don't know Hanno's third aspect, which seems most likely to involve the coin-flip he tried with the Black Knight - something along the lines of Judge or something equally appropriate to a Judgement hero. And we know the Choir of Judgement is physically present when he uses it, because they hulk-smashed Black.
What happens when Judgement shows up and Catherine denies them, possibly even judges Judgement? It's not hard to imagine how that could be pivoted - if only immortals are fit to judge mortals, then the reverse is true, or that their own Judgement is flawed by their inability to relate, or judging mortals for mortality isn't Judgement but mere observation, or something equally apt.
Conversely, what if Judgement shows up and, unable to deny their own nature, is inable to call Catherine Evil or say that killing her is the most just move, and the coin lands peace-sign up? How does Hanno handle that?
Looking at Hanno, his second aspect is Ride, his third aspect is Recall, and given his backstory I don't think his first can really be Judge. The Wandering Bard called it a "Formulaic Aspect", and it goes as:
Which probably sums up as:
Aspects represent part of the story of the Named, and Judge is the antithesis of his story. I feel like him being the Sword/Blade/Axe of the Heavens or something works better.
There's something else to consider: Somewhere, Cat mentions that across the Tyrian Sea there's an empire (Yan Tei?) that is co-ruled by a Hero and a Villain. I think it's too much of a Chekhov's gun to mention something like that and never have it become plot relevant, so here goes: Arcadia is a reflection of Creation, and presumably when things pick up between Good and Evil, the Courts shifted from Spring/Autumn to Summer/Winter to reflect this. The union between Summer and Winter, however, makes this transition impossible: it's a union between Good and Evil, something that horrified the Summer Queen even as she said yes to the proposal.
Let's look at the story of this generation and the last: We have Ranger, who's (probably) a hero of some description, who worked as one of the Calamities, and those very same Calamities have been responsible for the most "Good-like" reforms of Evil on Calernia (as noted by the Bard). The response from Good has been the Augur and various failed attempts at shutting Praes down, so they've gone to targeting Callow instead (with the 10th Crusade). The current generation has seen a shift in tone from both sides, with the story of Callow being a Good kingdom, that follows the Good religion (the House of Light), but takes orders from an Evil Queen who doesn't really care about Good as long as the Kingdom is better for it. After all, Catherine tells the heroes that they can "wander the south, healing and rebuilding", or even "look at the fae marks, or even Liesse". The other big names from this generation are Anaraexes, who has decided to forswear the gods on both sides, and Hanno, who has cast away his right to judge to follow the Heavens' will.
I suspect what happens to Callow is that, in the end, Hanno fights Catherine, and when he flips the coin in response to her offering peace, it will be laurels up. He is horrified by the thought, but is forced to obey by the Heavens (mirroring the Summer Queen), which completes the story of Callow as a place where Evil and Good can coexist, which is the story the Calamities' generation started (By allowing the House of Light to remain), and the Woe's generation have upheld (Catherine was crowned by a Sister, has expressed several times that the Heroes are welcome if they come in peace, and has generally expressed disgust at how Evil often works.
New update out today Interlude: Stairway. Seems to be showing the antagonist of the next few chapters. I don't really expect him to last long though.
The Procerans army and heroes are going to get smacked hard. They're new to using scrying so they don't know it can be intercepted, along with the fact I bet Cornelia has let Catherine know where they're coming from. This along with the fact no one knows Catherine can use ways to maneuver armies around. And of course the ongoing assumption that her Name is the Black Queen.
You know, it occurs to me that Cat is now potentially completely broken, at least in terms of army-scale battles.
I mean, with her ability to open portals to Arcadia, she can theoretically completely cut off an armies ability to flank her (by opening a portal in their path), she can essentially give HER army an escape to pull off a fighting retreat through any time she wants.
And even if they try to follow her in, she could close the portal once half of the enemy army is inside, potentially even having forces there ready to flank the enemy army.
That's not even including scenarios where her army is engaged, and she opens a portal in the middle of the enemy army, behind the enemy army, etc, for reinforcement to pour out of.
She can basically snap her fingers and summon an army, anywhere she wants.
The two figures in the Prologue with burning eyes and unspeakable shapes are more likely the angels. While Cat's only killed the Page and Lone Swordsman on page, she mentions that this is the fifth band of Heroes that's attempted to kill her, so presumably she's got quite a few more stocked up than just those two. It's definitely vague, but given Cat's dialogue her standing between the Stalwart Paladin and the angels trying to claim him fits. Beyond that Cat racking up more and more enemies among the choirs is kinda funny and makes sense. Said all along that Hanno's Choir of Judgement and Cat's "justifications only matter to the just" are destined to collide in a battle of wills. And Cat's been having quite a bit of practice fending off the wills of angels, apparently.
And while yeah, Cat's portaling is pretty broken, so is the Augur. Plus I'm sure the battalion of Heroes Cordelia has running around can fuck with things somehow. White Knight has a few new additions it seems, and they're with Papenheim assaulting the Vales which means it's White vs Black Round 3, and I'm sure the Bard is involved. Seems like this Saint of Swords is getting hyped up to be Ranger-level good... meaning there's probably a decent chance she becomes Ranger-bait. And if Black dies in the Crusade, well Ranger's sure as hell gonna get involved, and woe be to the Procerans in her path.
The Named Count definitely looks lopsided. Empire has 8, plus the Empress and Scribe (although you can make an argument that Larat's got enough power to count), meanwhile Amadis has over a dozen just on his own. If Cat's truly got some Revenants locked up, she'll need them.
Other dangling threads:
-The Dead King Wakes
-Whatever Cat and Cordelia negotiated when Thief played envoy
-The Tyrant of Helike making his move
-Robber finally revealing his fucking Name
The Crusade is kicked off, and it looks like we're getting right down to it. Let's hope we don't have ten chapters of fucking around between the action this time.
One thing Cat might angle to do with is make a deal to kill all of Cordelia's major rivals (like Amadis) under the cover of this war, and after the biggest ones are out of the way, strike a ceasefire, maybe with the agreement that whoever restarts the war first (Principate or Empire) gets dogpiled by Callow + the non-aggressor.
I don't think the Elves are so much a dangling thread - my understanding was that they sensed Triumphant coming way, WAY in advance and fucked off out of reality.
Sure, the Named count is lopsided. But I've been noticing a lot - Villains and Heroes, for the most part, sort of have reverse power curves.
Heroes a lot of the time start off like superpowered mooks, dying a lot of the time due to overconfidence that justice will win the day/heroic sacrifices and such. It's when they get older and smarter after losing people that they get really dangerous. Case in point - most of the heroic bands we've seen in the story have either been massacred, decimated or otherwise, and whoever was left over was the one who got really, really dangerous. Lone Swordsman - started out getting almost gibbed by Catherine, ended up almost handing her, Akua and their entire army their ass with his Seraphim trick.
Meanwhile Villains start out extremely deadly and vicious- you don't really see new Villains get absolutely one-banged out the gate at all - and over time get more overconfident and perish. They are strongest when they first rise, which the Tyrant has been clearly abusing by functionally restarting his villain story by making new enemies over and over again - he's even pulling ones over on the Bard, which she clearly admitted. Black is arguably the exception that proves the rule, as a Villain that tried literally his entire career to avoid that same flaw and still got mollywhopped in the end.
Sure, the Principate have numbers. But most of those are new heroes. We see what they're worth from the way Catherine's been shredding the ones popping up in Callow - even if we assume all the ones before the prologue were singular heroes, not bands, that's still 7 whole Named that the Black Queen and her band have gibbed, over half of Amadis's whole coterie.
I'm thinking Prince Amadis and his 12 heroes roll into Callow and lose like, a third of their heroes, almost instantly. Half if they actually enter a fight with Catherine and her band outnumbering them. A Villain in her first showing of her new Name, surrounded by her dread lieutenants, against thrice her number? We already know what that's going to look like.
First chapter is out and it's mostly set up. The Observatory is fucking wicked though. I'm sure it does something else besides what was shown this chapter though. Whatever that is will probably be crazier and I can't wait.
I sort of agree with you Lamora. Names become more powerful as they age, I just see it as sort of diminishing returns depending on how you embrace the stories. The Lone Swordsman gained more powers as he survived and got more of the heavens attention. Giving him all of those neat tricks, but in the end that's all they are. It's the Heroic version of the flying castle. Winning is guaranteed, as long as the other side doesn't have a counter. It depends on how the story plays out combined with their actions that influences it. The Lone Swordsman may have been starting his super badass villain killer story, but Cat's resurrection and redemption story was stronger. Most villains just tend to go the opposite route. They make a giant floating castle or raise an army of demons, giving their opponent plenty of time to change the story to their advantage.
Black's whole advantage was that he planned in advance and didn't make those stupid all on the table gambles. That probably gave them an edge when they rose because everyone planned for their story differently. They expected hordes of monsters, ravaging Orcs and devils randomly appearing. Instead they get a well disciplined and equipped army. No mad raving or letting someone monologue their plots. Quick and brutal killings were their response, and it was effective. Now though? Everyone knows how the Calamities playbook goes. Instead of expecting the big flashy villains they prepared to outfox them. Bard is obviously a big help, but the change would happen regardless. Sure they planned for heroes to get better, but overconfidence still let the White Knight's band kill Sabah. Black got too complacent and it bit him.
As for Tyrant I think he's going for a blended approach, and coming off like a stage magician. He's got big and flashy plans to throw in your face, but they just hide his other plans. He's basically jumping around stories and since no one knows which one is his they can't counter him effectively.
This kinda rambles but TL;DR the more you embrace your story the stronger you become, but it also opens you up to it's weaknesses. To get around it you hide your true story, while bluffing your way through another.
The more we see of Akua, the more I like her and I am eager to see how her interference is going to all parties over, albeit in different ways. If she does stick to the rules and doesn't let anyone know she isn't Cat, doesn't kill too many and doesn't summon demons, well, curious as to how that will go.
Really surprised how much I find myself enjoying her antics at the moment, she's such a delight.
Been enjoying this book so far. I wish Kaleidoscope was three chapters long instead of five, but so be it. As far as bloat goes it’s still far better than the back half of Book 3.
Mixed feelings about the return of Akua. It was more or less inevitable that keeping her around was going to backfire, but I’m also just so done with her as a villain. If she fucks this up for Cat I’m going to be disappointed. I’m betting she’ll blow the Call flute early and unleash Cat’s band of vanquished heroes before Cat would’ve liked. And I wonder how leaning into winter would work for her. Could see her fucking that up too.
Also guaranteed the Saint and Pilgrim will figure it out, it nothing else.
I don't think Akua will fuck it up. I think she will genuinely do her best to fuck the Crusader's shit, maybe finding a loophole to kill a few extras along the way. I agree with Kaleidoscope being way too long though. Seeing the battle through everyone else's eye is nice, but only in limited doses. I did enjoy Juniper's plans though. The crusaders routinely get whipped because they underestimate everyone who isn't on the side of Good. Their battle plans also mostly amount to just throw numbers at them with overwhelming force. Which works against the type of peasant armies they are used to, but a professional army eats that shit for breakfast.
Props to Archer for lasting against the Saint as well. She's always one of my favorites in a scene because of her casual disregard for anything not sex or alcohol. Also makes sense that Saint doesn't use her aspects because of the toll on her body. Being a Hero doesn't grant the immortality and eternal youth that villainy does and she's probably been through more priestly and magical healing than most so her body is probably ready to throw in the towel or chill for her last few natural years. Or days depending on whether or not Akua manages to kill her. If anything though she'll send a killing shot that the Grey Pilgrim takes and that brakes the spell somehow and Cat comes back to an enraged Saint who only sees red.
Alright, I was wrong, that was fun. Akua teaching Cat how to master Winter's influence looks like the next power up, then.
I’m bummed that Kalidescope is ending, honestly. Different perspectives on the same fight are refreshing in contrast to Cat’s narration. Juniper, Akua, and all the crusaders interject something other than world-weariness. And you can’t tell me Akua’s method process wasn’t hilarious.
I knew Akua was gonna pull through. Her wrecking the Crusaders casually while trying to be Cat was hilarious. Definitely think she's going to try and get Cat to use Winter more and more. Somehow her plans will lead to her getting a new body, maybe as Fae nobility. She's trying to come back but I don't think it is to be Cat's enemy. Akua realizes that Cat is better at being Evil than her and wants to hitch a ride on the winning train.
Can't wait to see Cat and Archer lay a beat down on the heroes. That's gonna be a fun fight.
Getting a rotation of perspectives is refreshing, but I'm noticing a trend where it tends to bloat the hell out of the chapter count. Kaleidoscope taking six is an obvious example, but in Book 3 there's the four Liesse Chapters, and even the two "Skirmish" chapters that could've been folded into one. The Commanders Interlude in Book 3 was damn good, and I'm glad Errata's going back to that well, but it would've been a lot less compelling if it was dragged out over two or three chapters instead of one. Maybe it's just the author taking advantage of/dealing with the burden of the update schedule, but spending six chapters on this was hardly necessary.
This is serial fiction, and so pacing issues are hella magnified when I have to wait days for the next chapter rather than just flipping the page.
I liked the Kaleidoscope chapters though I felt it could've been compacted as well. As always, the Dread Emperor quotes are great. Mostly though, I'm just annoyed as hell that Akua's back. I mean she has some nice lines but it just feels like another circling of the Akua pattern. Cat's going to let her out again when she's weak and then the pattern of Cat regretting her mistakes is going to happen when Akua inevitably does some dumb shit.
I just want her gone the second she slips up again, I want Cat to order Masego to rip her out of the cloak, and her mind? and I want Thief to kill that baby soul with Akua's memories. Akua's just a grating character because she's always going to have her mind set on 'Unspeakably Evil' Mode, no matter how much you want to like her because of her clever scenes.
Separate names with a comma.