Monday, 28 March 2011

Boardwalk Empire ; Ideas

I had an idea last night. I was watching Boardwalk Empire, don't know if any of you have seen it. The scene when the doctor is writing a report about the gangster and the gangster gets violent. I thought of a criminal organisation where the doctor is in charge but he operates the strings behind the scenes a bit like Ne Win in Burmese politics after he stepped down. The doctor gets to see how they truly behave, promotes the right people and leaves those ones with bad tempers behind. This could result in a gangster getting left behind so causing an internal gangster civil war or the doctor culling those members he thinks are loose cannons. As he is a doctor he can do it without getting caught too. 

It has a potential for a story, I'm sure something else will pop into my head about it soon. 

Saturday, 19 March 2011

High Five

This is a personal message to thank my five followers, one more follower and I won’t be able to count you all on one hand (see scientific diagram below). 

So Tommy Sullivan, Eva Bird, A Paladin In Citadel, Ivy at The Happy Whisk and Tim at Gothridge Manor Thank you. Thanks to Ivy and Eva for commenting on my blog. : )

If anyone has suggestions for it to help me improve my blog please let me know.

All the best 


A Diary Entry: Mission four after my graduation from the academy

We left the city in haste after I quickly assembled the forces that were assigned to me. It was a two week march from our fair city to the town that had been overrun by savages, we had two weeks worth of food and the men were issued with standard recruit equipment.

As we made our way from the city the main roads were well kept and the first few days were uneventful. The discipline of the men was lacking, most of them were conscripts forced into service. We marched during the cold days and warm meals were all had to look forward to. On the fourth day the road became a path and was riddled with large puddles and small bogs from the rain of the past weeks. We changed our schedule and marched early in the mornings when the top of the mud was frozen, this helped the men but it still hindered the supply wagons which were regularly overcome with mud and became stuck. We all had to pull them free, slipping in the mud which by now had seeped through to our very souls. It was painfully hard work and resulted in a few injuries.

It was cold when we slept and no matter how hard we tried to keep dry everything was wet. After a few more days the fires no longer seemed to warm us, the cold mud sapped our energy and morale was lower by the day. We all slept in our cold and muddy clothes, pulling our cloaks tightly around us shivering until sleep took us, only to wake a few hours later colder than before.

We woke and marched, we became more and more tired. Eventually scuffles and fights between the recruits became a daily occurrence. The supply wagons kept our pace slow we started to lag behind schedule.

Two days before our predicted arrival things changed, a cobbled road appeared it was in good condition we finally managed to clean the mud off of ourselves. The fires brought back their heat, morale lifted and uniforms began to look cleaner. The fires once again warmed us and we slept better than we had in at least a week. We were closer to our destination and morale was on the up. But there was an underlying current the men weren’t happy with what they had been sent to do, the prospect of attacking a defended town and overthrowing the new order installed by these savages would fill any man with terror.

It was our final days march and we were due to attack the town that very evening. I spoke to the men and encouraged them. Yes, we were outnumbered and yes, we were attacking an easily defendable area, but it was my job to keep them together. If one man deserted so would others. We had no siege engines, no healers and no magic-users they had all been sent to the Border Wars under the Kings orders. The men didn’t seem happy that they had to go on this mission, it was a suicide mission. That afternoon talks of deserting were slowly making their way around the camp.

The sun was waning we were marching down the road trees casting a long shadow when we saw a man sat at the side of the road he was sat all alone. I was guiding the horse at the time she had one of the injured men riding atop her. She slowed and eventually stopped, snorted and tapped the ground with her hoof, she wouldn’t go any closer. It was as if she was afraid of the man. We couldn’t get the horses past the man they seemed fearful of him and on edge. I tried to walk past him while tugging the reins. As we drew nearer to him I noticed that there were animals near him. This was odd because the horse seemed afraid of him.

I looked closer and could see five small birds were flying around his head. It looked like he had a halo. The road was surrounded by woods. Trees hung over and I initially thought that it was a trick of the light. The man wore torn, brown, threadbare woodsman’s clothes. He was doing something with his hands too. At first I thought he was casting a spell but as I looked closer I saw that he was juggling with five stones. He was juggling slowly, very slowly and the stones were moving even slower. The horse snorted again the man looked surprised clicked his fingers and in an instant the birds disappeared, the stones fell and he started to rise.

We all felt strangely at ease with this stranger. Normally if something like that had happened we would have all been worried and we would have drawn our swords and shouted a warning at him. We needed information so I approached him. I was hoping he was one of the town’s escaped residents he would have information for us. He told me he had information for us, but that he was more of an observer than a resident.

He detailed the layout of the town and the problems we would face. He told us about the guards, the shifts they worked, where they were housed, where the prisoners were kept, and the food stores. He told us everything we needed to know. We thanked him and offered him some gold as a reward, he refused our money but asked for honey, milk and bread. I sent a man to get what he had asked for I hoped that we had it in the food stores, we spared him some bread and gave him a triple ration of honey. The man asked us to wait while he ate, reluctantly we did. I did not want to have to camp for a night before our attack. There would be deserters, fights and anarchy at the camp.

When he finished his food he jumped to his feet and said he could help us in the assault on the town. We had no spare armor and there were few spare swords, the battle as we expected was going to be a slaughter he would be killed instantly only having his skin and a sword. He asked to speak to the commander I told him I was the commander, he then asked if I would go alone into the woods with him. As I have said I felt at ease with him as if in a dream so I ordered the men to wait, with careful instructions to my sergeant about anyone attempting to desert.

We walked at a brisk pace into the woods they were dark and I couldn’t see very far in front of me because of the trees and the fading light. After a few minutes a bear and a panther leapt out in front of us. I was suddenly overwrought with fear I went for my sword and fumbled it. The man caught hold of my hand and waved the animals away. They both lowered their heads as if they were upset that they had done a bad service against him, I guessed that he was their master.

We walked a small distance ahead and there were another three people kneeling around a map deep in discussion their packs were to one side and a small fire was glowing. When they heard us approach they looked up nodded and then continued their conversation. At no time at all did I think this was a trap, the man just set me completely at ease. The other three were talking about things I had no comprehension of X this and Y that. I sat down around their small fire and the man explained that he along with his allies had been sent to destroy this evil group of savages and to free the town. There was a magic-user, an archer, the man I was with, and a thief by the looks of him. I thought it was a joke to start with four people to free the town.

“Now you are here we can all do it together.” The magician said.
I nodded in agreement, a magic-user would surely help the morale of the recruits I was leading. He then drew up a magical image of the town and surrounding area inside the fire. At first I was stunned that he had drawn a map of the town in the fire but I remember the spell from when it was done during academy training. Together we planned the attack, they would provide a distraction while we got into position. The magician would break the main entrance down, we would enter the town to fight, the assassin was going to kill the leader of the savages, and the archer was to kill those manning the mechanical defenses. I wondered what the messenger would do? As if reading my mind he told me he was a shapeshifter he and some other animals would aid our attack.

I went back and told our forces what would happen, I don’t know if they believed me, but it did seem they believed in the shapeshifter they had all seen earlier. We moved into position and heard noises from the other side of the walls, the savages were screaming, we heard an attack horn blast to our right and a small bird flew down and landed next to me as promised. This was our signal to take cover. We all took cover and waited for the main gate to explode, it never did. The magician had decided to explode the wall to the right hand side of the gate. I figured it would be much easier for him to explode the gate but he had other plans. We ran in and started the melee, swinging our swords with abandon, there had been no time to train these recruits before we left the city. There were odd things happening to the enemy, bugs were blinding them, bears, panther’s, tigers, sprites, nymphs and spiders were everywhere battling these savages. The enemy had no chance they couldn’t co-ordinate themselves. It was all over before it had started, taken by surprise being mauled by animals, bitten and blinded by bugs and then attacked by us it was not long before the retreat was called.

Another horn sounded and the savages retreated into the main castle. It was too late for them we were going to have our victory, we gave chase. When we finally reached the throne room their “king” as promised had already been dealt with, a large garrote across his throat, his elite guards were lying dead on the ground arrows sticking out of their backs.

The way we felt about this battle things couldn’t have gone better. The men were demotivated, tired, fed up, and above all else I think they were afraid of our enemies. But there were no desertions and only a few injuries. These people were a god send. A thief, a magician, an archer and a shapeshifter. Truly AMAZING I tell you!

Maybe they were gods themselves. But to this day we will never know. I honestly don’t think we would have won without them.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Book Review: The Black Magician Triology By Trudi Canavan

Spoiler Warning: Don’t read this if you intend to read Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy any time soon.

I have finished reading The High Lord by Trudi Canavan and therefore the entire trilogy. 

The books are set in the city of Imardin in a country with a King as head of state who is served by a mageocracy.

The plot of the first book is based on a slum dweller joining the magicians as a novice. The second is her trails in the guild with other novices and teachers, the final one is when she is expelled for learning black magic with the High Lord (who is expelled too) only for the two of them to return and then save the day. 

The story line is well laced from the beginning. The way that the murders occur early on (late first book early second book) and Sonea (the main character) spots the High Lord practicing black magic. The only problem with the story line is that none of the characters realise the High Lord might not be the black magician committing the murders and there might be an imposter in the city. The final realisation appears to be a bit late for such articulate characters. I am aware they are under the impression that there are no non-guild magicians, however Lord Rothen is an intelligent individual he should have seen it earlier.

I am always struck by the way that the author kills off both the High Lord Akkarin and Administrator Lorlen as well as Sonea’s warrior skills teacher Lord Yikmo. The relationship that Sonea builds with the Administrator, the High Lord and her old tutor Lord Rothen as well as his son Dorrien are genuine relationships of depths, you can imagine how she treats each one differently in the books. 

The reader feels genuinely sorry when Lorlen dies, hope and excitement are mixed with disbelief when Lorlen makes an appearance after his death but it just turns out to be an illusion created by the High Lord in battle.

This book is also one of my favourites as the main character is a woman, something which doesn’t happen often with fantasy. Some might argue that Eddings’ Polgara the sorceress is another but she will always live in the shadow of Belgarath the sorcerer as far as I am concerned.   

All in all a great read and one of my favourite books.

The end of books are all the same you feel happy that you have finished the book and have the conclusion. But on the other hand the characters are removed from you.

The trilogy is finished and I probably won’t be reading fantasy for a while. Exams finish early June so then something else will be picked up. Until then I have light reading from easy books. The Travels of Marco Polo will be read as will The Travels of Ibn Battuta.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Gothridge Manor mentioned spiders the other day. Although I never found shroud and settled with cocoon it did get me thinking about spiders. Here is my next piece on spiderfolk.


Re-born as outcasts the spiderfolk live as loners, or if they are lucky in small settlements in the woods. Trapped between their human ancestors and the spiders who changed them the spiderfolk are torn with emotion about their new form.

Created by a spider capturing a human poisoning them leading to severe paralysis and wrapping them in a spidersilk cocoon (shroud if you are Greg Christopher or Gothridge Manor) as food for later. The victim falls to sleep in a paralyzed slumber. However, they awaken sooner than the spider had intended. Trapped inside the cocoon the victim struggles and eventually escapes.

The lucky ones escape the spiders lair and manage to make it to the woods they were previously in before capture, most return to humanity with a harrowing story to tell. Others wait in the cocoon until the spider comes for its meal, while happily unwrapping its meal there is a surprise in store, the victim is still alive. A fight ensues between the two normally ending in the death of the human (humanoid) After their escape they feel the effect of the poison wearing away but something is different.

Slowly they realize that something is different. In some cases the skin hardens and becomes more spider like, some find they can climb just like spiders. Others grow many thick hairs on their arms and legs and their feet change into spider feet. Certain unfortunate ones cannot hide the change, mandibles appear on their face leading to instant ostracizing from the local community they were originally members of, others gain the ability to spin web.

As is the nature of humans (humanoids) some choose to embrace this change, they see its advantages and although they are outcasts can find employment as trap makers, cat burglars, bounty hunters and the like.

For those who don't embrace it and despise this new form a difficult path lies ahead. The individual hates the spider like thing they have become, they have been tainted by spiders and their kind. They hate their impure body and quickly begin research in how to undo this terrible accident, which has turned them into such a monstrosity, they will stop at nothing to undo this condition. At the centre of their hate filled motivation to remove this so called curse. These spiderfolk most of all hate those who did it to them. They hate spiders with such a passion that some forget the reason of their research and become bent on destroying all spiders.

Because of their condition spiderfolk are reclusive and secretive they don't parade in public and never become poets or storytellers. Spiderfolk are focused specialists in whatever they choose. They like to get their work done and return to their homes away from prying eyes. If others enter their domain then they will be followed at a distance. Depending upon their actions depends entirely upon what kind of contact they receive. Spiderfolk have memories of their lives as humans (humanoids) they can remember basic emotion, when they see their own race, they are torn by a sense of longing to be in a group again and hatred of rejection which they received.

Because of these emotions visitors to their domain are treated depending on their behavior. If the individual or group move quietly through its territory and leave quietly then there will be no problem. If they make loud noises, start large fires and cause destruction in the woods then the spiderfolk will poison them by biting if it’s an individual or with blow darts and deception if it’s a group. While the noisy adventurers are unconscious they are moves far away from the domain they have trespassed in, when they awaken they often find themselves hanging from a web in a tree. This is not the only reaction spiderfolk have. In some cases if an adventurer(or group thereof) are nearly killed and are dying on the floor of the woods. The Spiderfolk are normally filled with compassion and will assist them keeping them alive if possible and helping them recover, this has won them allies in the past.

It takes a long time for the spiderfolk to trust a non-spiderfolk. Many choose to tell their family that they are working away from home or get a divorce if they are married. Some return home to be welcomed, their families are happy that they survived, others return home to be rejected forcing them to the woods. Some choose never to return home out of shame. A few have been welcomed by their families but hounded by other villagers forcing the entire family to leave their own town and find a place where they will be accepted.

If a spiderfolk looks hard enough he will find a village in the woods ninety percent of the residents are spiderfolk with only a few other family members living with them. This town is built to those who have an affinity to spiders many walkways are simply two pieces of web one for the hands and one for the feet. Many restaurants have odd foods for those whose tastes has been changed by the spiders. Many places have odd looking roads or buildings. Stairs are no longer needed nor are many other things therefore odd architecture is a common occurrence. Although the place is a town it is not wasteful and with regards to mother nature is closer to an elven community or a druid encampment than a human town. This town is top secret to all except the occasional adventurer and no one is brought here accidentally.