Discussion in 'Original Fiction' started by DvorakQ, Apr 14, 2016.
I hate that I laughed there.
Haaaa. And so the horseshit continues; the stuff with Judgment was as stupid, baseless, unsupported, and silly as anyone who's actually been reading this story expected; the Hierarch really was just the little villain that could. That's still dumb, of course, and will always be dumb, but more to the point, it's a waste of all the build up that went into this. In book 3 we had this background plot, set up to be the important thing going on while everyone else was just hurting themselves. In book 4, it was repeatedly built up, established, framed as something huge to come. In book 5, Kairos spent basically all his time getting here. And...
And the ending shits the bed. The pay off was lackluster and nonsensical, while the engine of that payoff was basically absent and, despite being technically around for three books, not built up sufficiently at all for this. It feels like the end point was decided but Errata had no idea how to get there, and in the end just decided to make it happen. So we get unjustifiably confident heroes walking into an obvious trap, a council that's moronic for humoring Kairos, and a conclusion that just happens.
I'm honestly expecting the Bard plotline to be stupid at this point, too, because she's being constantly set up as behind everything and setting up every wrong despite it not making sense from where we can see her*, and I just don't think the story can adequately explain her in a way that makes anything make sense anymore. With every new revelation about stuff she was supposedly behind, my expectations of a satisfying answer about what she's up to decrease. At this point, the only one that would make sense is that she's just a fuck up, because, I mean, how else do you make sense of her actions and characterization?
*And literally every plan she attempts on screen falling apart but the story constantly telling us how dangerous she is.
I'm honestly hoping that we get a reveal that the bard is 100% competent while sober. She's just been on a nonstop bender for the last century. All those moments of her plans working because she understands "stories" better is where she's hungover but in between drinks. All the plans that crash and burn are when she's falling off the horse drunk.
Tell me having the ancient entity pulling all the strings revealed to just be erratas version of Barney Gumble wouldn't be hilarious.
Also, come to think of it, what was Kairos' plan? He's managed to give the image of a brilliant mastermind or at least of a guy who knows what he's doing, but looking back now that we see what it was all leading up to, it just looks like he got lucky a whole bunch? Like, the assumption was sort of that he did everything he did in Book 3 to make a Hierarch to do...something, but now we know for sure that:
He just ran into Anaxares at the end of Book, while already planning to kill the ambassadors and start a war, presumably to still make a Hierarch.
Anaxares turns out to be exactly what he needs for his plan, I guess? Except his plan, it turns out, is to use the Hierarch against the Choir of Judgment and--
He doesn't meet Hanno until Delos?
I suppose we have to assume everything prior to this point was him winging it? Or some other plan that he abandoned when he saw a chance with this one?
His plan was then to make Anaxares Hierarch? Was it just the only Name he could force on him? Did he need to make Bellerophon betray itself to get him in the mindset he needed? Note, Anaxares did nothing as Hierarch.
So he convinces everyone in the Free Cities to wage war on Procer, I guess because the Crusade will be in there and thus Hanno?
Cross his fingers and hope that Hanno doesn't die in the war, fighting Black, chasing Black, fighting the Dead King, etc.
Hope he can force Procer to let him put Hanno on trial? Which, fair to assume at first, but went a bit awry, and the eventual reason they did it was fucking stupid.
Mix in a bit here to assume Hierarch has magic trial powers? I guess?
Have the trial? Have it work despite being stupid?
Have one guy counter the entire Choir of Judgment? Somehow?
Presumably get the Grey Pilgrim specifically to curse him so he can distract the Choir of Mercy, and have it work, for reasons?
Cross your fingers and hope that the League doesn't break apart before this happens, despite his best efforts to mock, insult, and humiliate all its members at every opportunity.
Have the Hierarch face the Choir of Judgment with a Name he does nothing to support or earn and again hope that the League doesn't fall apart.
Hope something neat happens, because Kairos specifically doesn't know what to expect.
Just saying, Kairos has been one of my favorite characters for a while, but when you look back, he seems to have succeeded primarily because he's a villain and thus the story is obligated to suck his dick, because having seen his end game, it's primarily composed of unpredictable miracles happening.
Kairos doesn't have a plan. They lampshade this early on with the fact that he does the first step of a million plans in sequence because the first step always works. He's just being villainous for the sake of it. He's simply consistently winging it because his character is a troll. Otherwise I'm in general agreement
In much the same way that Akua played the 'First step of my plan' card on Step 478 of her plan*, the explanation for Kairos survival was that he always had a first step going, which isn't actually true at all from what we see, since he spent all his time in Book 3 going after cities one by one, spending weeks at a time on specific plans, all building up to successfully conquering the Free Cities, and was almost literally never on the actual first step of literally any plan we saw.
*When she was first attacked by the Fae, years after beginning her actual plan, with the removal of her soul, a year after taking command of Liesse, several months after building her giant superweapon and poisoning the city with zombie juice, and after capturing the soul gestalt, among other things.
To take this one step meta and damn with faint praise, it's the first aggressive action against the hero that matters, not background stuff. Non named characters just don't matter in Guide.
This is never stated or implied, to my knowledge, particularly in regards to Kairos, who's first steps (which were called out as such) were specifically mostly against mortals--invading Delos, for example, taking over Helike, etc.--and Akua had already fought multiple Named by the time her 'first step' came around besides.
I thought the whole "first steps" thing was explicitly against White Knight when he kept doing a different plot to attack the city?
Regardless, it's not like consistency is a thing in the writing here. Up until the recent hubub I thought they'd slowly been phasing Aspects out (which would be a good thing) but now they're back
Putting aside my continued bafflement regarding Cat's confidence towards the war with the Dead King* and my potential amusement if it turns out that the theory behind all the dumb Callowan bullshit potentially being Malicia manipulating Juniper using Rule**, I mostly just have to stop and stare at this line:
...Uh, Cat? About that.
Which, like, yes, yes they have, but you're one of the handful of people who knows full well that this is a state of affairs that only exists because he wants it to. In practice, meanwhile, there's half a million undead in the North with more waiting in the wings, they've seized all but a handful of strongholds in the North and control the coastlines, they roam the land and sea freely, they have more mages than anyone on the continent and dozens of Named, and they're basically the only group on Calernia that has a meaningful air force. All of which is particularly interesting, because all of that manages to be a side-note to the fact that they're lead by the Dead King.
Your mindset should not be 'Meh, we can take him!', even if that may well be how the story plays out when the time comes. I just feel it worth mentioning that they're acting pretty arrogantly for a group that has to push the Dead King's forces, which are tireless and outnumber their own and are now deeply entrenched, back something like a hundred fucking miles, so they can get to the coast that leads to the deadly lake that leads to the poisoned land that leads to the outermost layer of the Dead King's actual defenses. You've got a ways to go yet, guys.
**The theory is based on the fact that we've had what amounts to five different occasions where the army of Callow is devastated seemingly beyond repair, only for Juniper to go 'We have reserves,' even after we're told that if any more reserves are taken, the country will collapse. If all her bizarre decisions turn out to actually be that she's been a meat puppet this whole time, it'd actually be a pretty decent twist.
Girls, I appreciate the attempt, but we're past this--hosts have been worthless for several books now, unless the hosts members are godlike.
Somewhat less snarkily, I do appreciate any explanation for why X character can't just annihilate Y army, particularly because those explanations have a tendency of being in short supply. Having actual circumstances and situations relevant to the event is also pretty nice. The issue is that the story dips once more into narrative elements to justify why things work this time/don't work on these other guys/whatever, and...well, it goes like this:
The issue is, of course, that the narrative is a steaming pile of horseshit in this story and always has been, so statements like this tend to have an air of 'Oh, is that how this works today?' Part of that is just because seemingly everything we hear about the narrative is undermined by other events*, but the even bigger issue is in how pretty much every times the Story is used in this way, Guide only mentions how such a narrative works or what's behind it within the very chapter it either does or doesn't work, if not flat-out after the fact.
Like, the Dread Emperor being on steroids when some Starscream decides to take a swing at her is fine, if that's how they're supposed to work and if that's built up, but instead, literally part of the founding story of Praes and the center of it's culture is someone overthrowing the Empress--and, what's more, no one ever bothers to mention that they should be worried about this. Every Highlord and their mother, Akua's whole family, Akua independent of her family for emphasis, and recently Black have been firmly on the 'lol, the Empress sucks; I'm gonna overthrow her and then I'll be the new Tyrant!' without ever going 'By the way, the moment we officially declare rebellion, she's going take us all right up the ass, and Dread Emperors only fuck hard.'
So this being a plot element is just...a thing. That's the way this works today? Sure. But it's just like when Hanno formally challenged Black to a dual before the Heavens, in a previously unmentioned but supposedly major story element that no one could escape from, and it was mentioned for the literal first time ever within the same chapter it was then escaped from casually, via narrative dickery and body doubles, and then the story wants to look me in the eye and say 'Creation likes clarity' like Creation doesn't have a conceptual case of the runs where stories are concerned.
And so seeing Cat suddenly on the edge is neat, but having the cause be the fact that it's Malicia's turn at the Choose Your Own Adventure game kind of weakens it for me.
*In this particular case, the Dread Emperor putting down a rebellion is apparently enough to super-turbo charge her power to control people across the continent, which kind of makes you wonder about all those rebellions that keep happening in Praes.
I agree. I wouldn't dare question the Hierarch.
This was one of those weird chapters that is and isn't hard to talk about. It's easy to talk about, in the sense that there's a lot to say--yeah, the League's actions here are bafflingly moronic and confusing in a bunch of different ways. It's a fucking Russian Doll of stupid, really, with the outermost layer being the obvious 'Yo, WTF is this plan? Convince someone enormously superior to you to play along with a trial, whether or not you honestly believe you could even convince anyone she was guilty, independent of then also making literally anyone care that the Hierarch and Tyrant are gone even if she was? After this recent trial shitfest? With no backing? In fucking Procer?' wherein the actions of literally everyone involved are mindboggling. And then you think about it and realize the presence of literally anyone here is baffling, too, because yeah, the moment that the Hierarch and Tyrant were gone, so was literally any reason for literally anyone to give a fuck about these guys, much less spare them. Like, I know Procer's a pack of useless nobodies unless they're to the North, but like, are they really planning to just...let all of these guys walk? After being invaded? Yeah, Black is getting off scotfree for everything, because of course he is, but he has Cat's hypocritical, sanctimonious, but enormously powerful backing--sure. Why are these guys being allowed to leave with anything less that severe sanctions and payouts?
And then you really start to think about it and you go--wait, what the fuck, how does this even happen? Like, a big chunk of this chapter is Leo...being stupid, but remaining in proximity to Penthes? Why? Like, a word from literally anyone who knows, which is everyone but him at this point, and he breaks with Malicia's nobodies immediately--why has nobody just, like, mentioned that? Why didn't Cat mention that? The only reason I can think of is that he's so utterly unimportant at this point that there's no reason to bother, which...yeah, he is.
Which is why this chapter is hard to talk about, because why the fuck are we here? With the Tyrant dead, no one gives a damn about any of these guys anymore, in or out of story, because the Free Cities have been 'The Tyrant and some other guys' for three books now. I'd say this story was a waste of time at pretty much any point, but we just got off of Malicia army-jacking almost literally all of Black supporters and Cat having the despairing thought of having to tell him about what happened, and then instead of that happening, I guess we're doing this, because this is what we wanted to see.
This is one of those recurring issues with Guide that you notice after awhile, where something huge happens, something promising amazing, interesting developments, and then the story steadfastly avoids dealing with any of those things until you simmer down and stop being excited for it. There's a word for that, as it happens, and it's 'anticlimactic.'
That was a fairly useless pair of chapters. I guess Akua being revealed is something of consequence, but that could happen anywhere else so I don't think it counts.
Not even addressing the underlying plot, this should have been an Akua interlude of her grasping the plot and subtly guiding Cat. That's her role, she's supposedly to get the intrigue. Instead she's what, a foreshadowing reminder?
Also, though the story periodically refuses to acknowledge it, we're far past the point of regular soldiers mattering, and, in point of fact, it's refusal to acknowledge it in this case is especially laughable, because these are the same soldiers that Cat and her dark elf super soldiers rendered completely irrelevant awhile ago.
The story keeps trying to go off on tangents for recruitment drives and alliances between mundane powers like it still matters in this story, particularly against the Dead King and his armies of a million undead, when it doesn't even matter logically. Oh, two thousand more horsemen to fight this undead legion in mountainous terrain in an area characterized by narrow passes against fortified areas seized by the dead and backed by Named and wizards?
Well, just for the sake of argument, the Guide's confrontation mechanics are not so much about traditional warfare resources as are about narrative power. 2K random horsemen may be teh sux, but 2K former enemies becoming inspired by the warlord who humilliated them, to the point they split their nation's power in times of struggle with their direct neighbors and join her cause... That's a Story, these guys might well kick some serious zombie ass when they are on this high of narrative steroids.
The problem with these mechanics is that they can become a cheap cop out, if regularly abused. And serials like this, which grow popular enough to become cash cows... well, the temptation to stretch the milking to its last drop must be irresistible.
Incidentally, Hakram should gain a Cushion aspect, so he can make a pillow appear in front of Cat so everyone can kneel comfortably before her.
The two chapters we got today were league's better than the last two, and aside from my usual overarching complaints, I really like both of them--well, aside from the heroes still being way, way better in side stuff than they ever are near Cat and the Choir bullshit, but whatever, this was good. Where was that shit last week Hanno? This training montage sounds dope as fuck.
Cat finally talks to Black in the main story and we see him honestly facing defeat which is actually refreshing and not even in a 'Hah! Take that!' way. He's been beaten, lost all his friends, and is having to face things from a position of utter weakness, yet is determined to do so, despite the losses and betrayals and worse.
I'm honestly more interested in Black's story than I've been in anything to do with Cat since the drow arc. Amazing what an actual sense of personal stakes can do, because I never thought I'd say that.
Book 6 came out today and it looks like the start of the war against the dead king is finally happening.
Still curious as to what Black is going to do, his storyline remains the most interesting
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