Oct Fantasy Thread - SPOILERS - Curse of the Mistwraith - Wurts Joining Us!
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Um, I can't help it. I keep seeing the sorcerer, Asandir as Christopher Lee.
I don't really have images of the two princes, although, because I had just watched The Avengers, I began seeing them as Thor and Loki. That is fading a bit now, as the story grows and the movie fades. Still Tom Hiddleston would be a good Master of Shadow.
Sorry, back to the story now!
I am 30% of the way into the book (per Kindle) and I find myself wondering time and again if we are actually in some sort of post-apocalyptic Britain? Just a wild thought of mine as I read. I love supposing along as I read a well-written tale. :)
*also, for the record, unless my spell-check has deserted me, I spelled post-apocalyptic correctly on the first try.*
>2 MrsLee: Arithon was pretty firmly fixed from the start for me as he was on the cover of Fugitive Prince with which I was introduced to the series.
My copy of Curse didn't feature characters and I didn't see the US cover with Lysaer until much later and somehow I figured him as taller and maybe less slight.
That doesn't particularly make sense in retrospect. They both work through moving individuals/groups/crowds rather than hacking at problems themselves if they can help it. Except maybe that it would have been more in line with the generally more... solid ? regal ? posture he seems to maintain.
Janny, 30% of the way through, and my poor, over-tired brain has a silly bone to pick with you. I really wish that Asandir and Arithon were not so similar sounding. I don't think this would have been a problem for me 5 years ago, but I'm having a heckuva time remembering which is who.
Granted, they are different, I see that, I just can't remember which name belongs to which character. Do you take that into consideration when writing, or do the characters demand their names and there is no arguing with them?
#2, 3 Mrs Lee -
You made an interesting point about Athera being postapocalyptic Britain - it isn't, but I thought this was a lovely take - in that, there are so many layers to this series, I wished to leave some sets of assumptions in place, so that too much was not introduced at once. The setting, the landscape, and the structure of its politics are made to seem very 'classic' fantasy on purpose.
When the third arc of the series takes the depth to world view, the veil will be shredded, and the reader who continues will encounter the world taken for granted as a very different place - even to its political structure.
I am copying in a link to the Interactive Map - this will take you to the 'directions' page (telling briefly how to use it) - important, if you want to avoid spoilers, they ARE marked, if you know what to look for. The link taking you TO the map itself is at the bottom of the directions page.
Many of the 'places' you are encountering are IN the map, as you scroll over it - the images come up and some historical notes. Decidedly Not Britain....
About your bone to pick - I certainly sympathize, in no way did I wish to create confusion, for anyone, and admittedly this is possibly the hardest part of writing a fantasy in another world - people have a hard time, often, with names and places.
I provided a glossary in the back of the book - in that glossary, you will encounter the base root meanings for all of the character names (where applicable) and a pronunciation guide/definitions. If you are on an e reader, you may not realize this tool is there - (you'd have had to page backwards to encounter it in the Table of Contents - where a print book, you'd have thumbed past that page to reach the start.
I'd hope that the glossary would help a reader along; and if not, that other clues may - Asandir SHOULD be referred as a Sorcerer, cap. S - if not, then there was an error in formatting (I had the hardest time with the British copyeditors, keeping the capitalization that is specific to this story correct) - and when they made the e books, they did not always USE the corrected copy. That's been my bone - not yours!
Hopefully the characters' descriptions will help you along as you go (Arithon, short, slight, dark haired, and just a bit defensively prickly) vs (Asandir - very tall, large boned, imposing, angular as a huge gray heron, and direct in delivery as a steel mallet.)
I did have a 'system' when I created the names - a system endemic to Athera's mythos - and it does go all the way back to the creation of the world. If readers are interested, I can go into that, a bit.
If none of this helps, or the characters don't differentiate as you progress - I'm right here, vent all you like! :)
#4 - Jarandel - you started with Fugitive Prince? And made it? Wow - I am impressed - the series is not intended to START there - it's the opening of the third Arc, which is the section that lifts the series to world view - not only is there a lot to swallow at once, there are certain angles handled by unreliable narrators - how long did it take you to figure out who to trust?
Thank you for your participation, here.
>7 JannyWurts: I don't really trust anyone. I like unreliable narrators and assume all to be so to some extent. Any normal human, and most decently rendered fictional ones will skew their narratives to their worldview even if unconsciously and with no specific purpose.
But as far as I remember, a certain someone (and by extension, possibly any allies & associates) landed hard in the deep end of unreliable with their behavior and decisions concerning their spouse (apologies for the vagueness, trying hard not to spoil as it concerns a later book). IIRC that was fairly early on.
As to why I started with a middle book, that was before online shopping was widespread, my access to untranslated English language sci-fi/fantasy was limited to a couple book-buying binges a year in stores that carried them. The genre fiction selection was rather potluck if one ignored classics and the best-sellers that were translated or would be fairly soon, and series usually weren't complete unless all the books had been (re)released fairly recently.
I never really minded. It just requires a bit of filling in the blanks from collected hints, or provisionally making up things until proven wrong (or right).
#6 - I'm a big fan of glossary and pronunciation guides. My husband and I have often discussed how to pronounce names of characters and places in books we've both read. To this day I still "correct" him on one from the Belgariad that we differ on :)
I'm a quarter of the way through so far. I like the brief synopses listed just before each chapter. It's like a preview for next weeks tv show. I try to end my nightly reading on one as a teaser for when I pick up the next day.
I am really enjoying the characters Asandir and Dakar. The princes are still growing on me. I have a feeling I will enjoy both of them more as their character arcs progress.
Janny, I love your description above of Asandir as "angular as a huge grey heron" - that's just how I've been imagining him!
I'm guessing that a "lane" is rather like a ley line? The enchantresses observe them, and the sorcerers can draw power from them, is that right? (I've probably grossly oversimplified here.)
I'm about halfway through the book, and so far I love the worldbuilding. I often get bored by long sections of travelling in fantasy novels, but I like that here they are used to explore the landscape and the different environments through which the characters pass. The ruins of past glorious civilizations contrast strikingly with the people in the present scratching out a living under the mist.
Another thing I like is that the sorcerers, while powerful, are still very vulnerable and far from omniscient. Neither the readers or the protagonists can relax in the comfort of knowing that Asandir will wave his wand and solve all the problems.
I especially like Maenelle (sp.?) and Elaira, and am looking forward to spending more time with them.
I'm two chapters in and my fears are laid to rest. I was afraid the writing would be too dense for me but it's just fine. I have a harder time reading Janny's posts than her books. Heh. ;)
Well I finished Goblet of Fire last night & decided to dive into Curse of the Mistwraith instead of the next HP book so that I can be part of this group read :) (breaking my usual rule of reading a series from start to finish before starting another)
Like Morphy I was a bit worried that the writing would be very dense (based on some of Janny's posts) & that I'd struggle to get drawn in - particularly after something that's as relatively easy to read as HP. But (also like Morphy) I'm 2 chapters in & had a lot of trouble not staying up too late last night so I could read further!
Looking forward to more reading & looking forward to this discussion too :)
Am I the only one to notice that eye color seems to have a subtle yet important place in the books? Both magic users I've encountered so far (Asandir and Elaira) have had their grey eyes mentioned while the princes have blue and green eyes that seem to be a part of their royal heritage. It's come up enough that I took note anyway.
I've noticed. Some of the sorcerers have brown or amber eyes I think. Or maybe it was clan members. My brain won't keep that sort of detail I'm afraid. I'm not sure whether it is anything beyond a simple way to describe differences of appearance, except for the princes, where it does tell they are of royal lineage. I know the jewels for the blue-eyed prince are blue, and the green-eyed prince gets emeralds, it might be a bit unsettling if this principle holds true for the young prince whose crown jewels are rubies!
What a delight, on a Monday morning!
#8 Jarandel - I am impressed, anyway, starting in midstream, as you did. Not every reader is so willing to give a book that much time or attentiveness. There are those, I also fear, who picked up the first book in the third arc and thought it was vol. I.
#9 Narilka - the unusual structure (the little one liners, and the 'Chapter Set' format) evolved to solve two things that have always bugged me about huge series. First, the inevitable need to move action forward with multiple character view points: you always get these 'scenes' to move the plot and they are just plain...Boring. Rather than bog the movement of the story, the little one line encapsulations neatly handle that needed detail, without adding massive page count/a scene in depth the reader may not care about.
The other reason was (has anyone yet noticed?) the action in this book is ALWAYS forward, or simultaneous, in the story time line. I HATE HATE HATE series that 'loop backwards' to pick up another characters' movements - sort of, OK, hold here (and usually its a cliffhanger) with Character A, now we jump back to look at what character B is doing - so the reader is constantly dragged back over the same time period, but elsewhere, to catch up. To keep the action all simultaneous, or forward - took a lot of work on my part, picking what to show, when. The altered chapter structure has helped a great deal.
#19 Sakerfalcon - there is actually a difference between a 'ley' and what I am calling a 'lane'. For the purpose of this series:
A ley would be a line that transmits energy through the earth - based in the earth, and conductive according to the properties of solid form.
A 'lane' is etheric - it would not be fixed on the earth, or solid form - think 'auric field' or electromagnetic in nature....so it is more ephemeral, and also (as you read deeper into the series and start to tap into the unveiling of the mysteries) the lane forces are a whole lot more volatile than a ley line.
The world of Athera has both. They will relate to each other somewhat, and are in other ways interactively linked. But the leys are fixed, and the 'flux' of the lanes is a lot more mobile and reactive.
#11 Morphidae and #12 Seanie - It's just lovely to hear you are having a smooth time with the style.
Based on the reading threads of the folks at Green Dragon, I would not expect people HERE to have any trouble at all - this is a VERY literate group!!!
But I have to honor those readers who report back to me (or review, sometimes with vehemence) that they feel the style is problematic to them. Everybody's tastes and experiences are different.
I grew up reading - all sorts of books and many of them! Classic fiction and popular works - I read the gamut, and in my formative years, STACKS of books a week. This gave me an incredible appreciation for the depth of expression that is available in the written word. Not every word is 'the same' - each has a subtle shade of meaning. In many ways I find it sad that news media chose to 'dumb down' their text to roughly 3rd grade reading level (yes, this happened, and by choice, the large press news magazines and papers discovered they sold more if they oversimplified). It has tended to rob some of the 'juice' from the language, and reduce, or eliminate, many words from everyday vocabulary. (read letters written by common soldiers in the Revolutionary war, or the Civil war - or whenever, 100 years ago - and you will discover they were very erudite, by today's standards)
Not every reader agrees - some prefer what they term 'lean' or 'modern' prose.
The language must suit the story, though, and I prefer, here, to use the word that fits the PRECISE shade of meaning, and those (for me) just happen naturally. Some are admittedly archaic - but in the case of nautical terms, or some other technical references appropriate to the technology of the times - a word may be 'rare' in today's usage. It isn't at all 'rare' if you sail or crew on a period vessel, or try out a period weapon, or even, drive a horse in harness. Those terms have a necessary, working usage.
While I don't blame readers who want to coast along (I do, too, sometimes, pick a fluff read when it suits my mood) - this book is not designed for that. Definitely I am not trying to 'warn anyone off' - I was wishing, rather, to let those who didn't warm to the style to feel that it was OK - this story, at this time, may not be right for them. It ISN'T a coming of age quest story for teens; in no way. While certain 'classic' elements may appear that way at first, that is not where this is going.
It is a total delight to discover you are having an enjoyable entry, straight away.
#13/14 I hadn't noticed. I'm pretty sure there are no red eyed princes though!
#10 - Elaria and Maenelle. One of the dleight sof the rest of the series is the character continuity across time. I didn't much appreciate the diversion to Elaria at the start but she does play quite a significant role in later books!
#8 I adore unreliable narrators. Or narrators that can't see everything or understand everything, anyway. After all, who in reality can know it all and we all make judgments based on limited knowledge, so it feels more real to me to know that there isn't some all-knowing critter looking down on it all.
I'm not very far in, about 50 pages, but like the style. I also like a complicated 'bad guy' and like not knowing who the bad guys always are, so am enjoying it very much so far.
Nice style of writing for it too, Janny. The world is confusing and different, but I don't have the sense you are making it so just to hide things, or throw red herrings around.
As the Mistwraith got more condensed during their battle it brought to mind the black mist from LOST. I wonder if the LOST creators read this book and it sparked an idea for them. That would be pretty cool :)
It's interesting to see what has happened to the perceptions of women characters over the last few decades. It used to be nobody commented. Now, the concept seems to be spotlighted, sometimes to the point of microscopic examination.
And the 'kick ass' female seems to be the thing - where she bears weapons and deals out death and sass as if she was a male, shoved into female form.
My preference has been to write women who ARE women - strong females that are mighty without muscle. While the focus at the start of the series is not putting the women at center stage, not yet - they will certainly claim central roles and play equal parts.
Given that perceptions in that arena are continuously shifting, these days, I am always fascinated to see how the work holds up over time.
#19 - Majkia - that is very cool you are noticing the world. There is a whole lot more to what you are seeing in Vol I than meets the eye. If you keep reading on the world's significance unveils in stages, and as you encounter the next layer of depth, you'd begin to perceived the different priorities in play - which may not be at all what you think, at this stage. If you are sensing that there is much more depth there, that is really perceptive on your part!
#20 - Narilka, I've no TV service here - might you (or somebody) clue me in, about LOST?
LOST was a tv series on ABC from 2004 - 2010. It was a scifi/drama about plane crash survivors on a mysterious tropical island. The first two seasons were, IMO, great and then the show went sideways. Anyway, the island had many strange things including polar bears, a buried hatch belonging to a group of disappeared scientists and a smoke monster among other things. It appeared on the screen as a billow of black smoke with shapes suggested within along with strange sounds and was quite malevolent, even killing people. According to the wiki it started off as a representation of the id but eventually was explained away as a security system for the island, which I thought was a shame. Here's a YouTube clip:
That is pretty much how I visualized the distilled version of Desh-Thiere in the battle at Ithamon.
Well, I'm finished. I have to say that I have very mixed feelings about this story. I think it perhaps was a very bad time for me to try to read a fantasy with this complex of a tale. My own life at the moment is fraught with anxiety over my dad in the hospital and many other things going on, so for my mind to be patient with a fantasy world where the characters did not behave in what I call a reasonable manner, was bad timing.
I love the world. I can see it in my mind so clearly. And the people of the world, each an individual (even though I had a difficult time with the name of the Master of Shadows and the Kingmaker Sorcerer ;), are vivid with their own personalities.
I could appreciate the struggle of Arithon with his choice of devoting himself to music or his people, people he didn't really know and most of whom didn't want him. He was clearly drawn and lovable. I'm for him.
Here's where I had a very difficult time. I really dislike how everyone depends on the "scrying" (sp?) or foresight, and how they go to great lengths to make things happen according to what they see. Janny, did you mean for me to dislike that? Is that the point, that if we have foreknowledge along with freewill our lives suddenly are not free? We will take actions we may not have taken and bring about the very things we are trying to avoid?
I also Hate, Hate, Hate that Lysaer (sp?) is controlled by this curse. I wanted him to be as strong as his brother. To fight against it, or at least to have some scruples of his own left. I have no care whatsoever for the townspeople. This is why I can't read the histories of what was done to the Native American population when the Europeans came and "conquered" the West. I cannot read of that depth of evil and find any escape or enjoyment, so it ruins the escape I otherwise may have found. This part made me very ill. I had to skim all the parts with Lysaer possessed by the Mistwraith because it sickens me. I didn't want to feel that way about him. Now I don't care if he is possessed, he has gone beyond my sympathy because there is no struggle in him against the possession. This is probably highhanded and judgmental of me, but I never claimed to be perfect.
OK, I've vented. I decided to be honest, rather than nice. I hope that is OK here. I know that at other times of my life I would have gobbled this up and wanted more, more, more, but I can't do it right now.
I do love your writing, Janny, and if you tell me there is hope for Lysaer to fight against this curse and be the man I want him to be, I might read more at another time. :)
I'm glad you posted that, MrsLee. I've felt that way before about various books, and I've often wished I could "unread" something so that I could come back to it at a different head-space, or a different time in my life to read it like a new experience and enjoy it better.
If it helps, I find that as my depression/anxiety/stressors act up, I have developed a very strong tendency towards re-reading old simple favorites, and choosing to save new reads or new authors for times when I'm in a more neutral or positive mindset.
I also have an extremely hard time with possession or mind-control scenes. I rationally understand that it isn't the character's fault what happens in those conditions, but it really really really bothers me to read it, and I DO emotionally blame the character (be stronger, don't get caught in the first place, fight harder) even if there's no support in the story-world for that possibility.
I think that has to do with my social anxiety and overdeveloped sense of empathy - I'm already primed to distrust and worry about people acting in ways that will hurt me, and I'm really easily drawn into the minds and characters of people that I'm reading about. That means I freak out at the thought of people acting horribly when it isn't even their fault, so they can't be properly "punished" for their behavior. It also means I can extremely clearly imagine being stuck inside my own head while my body or mind does awful things, and I'm not very happy with that side of things either.
This is a Did Not Finish for me. After a week of trying, I've only gotten through two-thirds of the book. I don't like any of the characters, I don't understand what is happening half of the time, especially when it comes to the magic system, and find I don't care. I tried to force myself to finish as I'm the "leader" of the group but just couldn't do it. Sorry. :(
RowanTribe - Very interesting insights there.
Morphy, I found I liked some of the characters too much. Too much to be able to handle what was happening to them.
I too, wasn't very clear about the magic system, or exactly what power the sorcerers had, although, towards the end, it seems that a "mage" trained person is able to put themselves in a state of extremely high-powered magnification/empathy and "see" what things are made of. To know their names and therefore to have power over them? Some of it seemed to also be from Native American beliefs, asking a deer to lay down its life to feed a person, that sort of thing.
Eeep - note to self, dont read spoiler threads til you finish the book Seanie!!!
I'm about two fifths of the way through (a few pages from the start of chapter 10) & I haven't gotten to Lysaer being posessed yet, interesting!
I'm still really liking the story, admittedly I do find some parts confusing but that's part of learning a new world for me, I just keep on reading & usually things 'click' for me later on - & if not, its a good excuse for a re-read if I've liked the book despite not understanding parts :) I'm liking the pace, it feels like a lot has happened already but it hasn't felt rushed at all. I'm finding the characters intriguing, even before I read in here that he's going to be possessed I can see how he could easily become unlikable just by his reactions when he first met the barbarians...
Looking forward to reading more & wishing I was reading quicker at the moment (or for more hours in the day!)...
Oh & just in case you don't already know Janny, I found a print error on page 235, its just a minor thing, there is just the word "to" at the start of a line then the rest of the sentence prints on the next line down, I'll take a pic & post it if you dont know what I mean & want to know...
I've finished this and enjoyed it a lot. Like Narilka, I really liked the one-sentence scenes in between each chapter, that was something I hadn't come across before and I thought it was a great way to keep those strands/characters in play even when they are not currently centre stage. I love the rich prose, which gave me the same feeling of slowly discovering a real world as I had when reading Fortress in the eye of time earlier this year. The downside to that was that I sometimes felt reluctant to pick up the book if I was in the mood for something light and fast to read (so I read a couple of contemporary YA novels at the same time!) But I never found the travel scenes to get boring, as they so often can, and I liked the encounters with the various peoples and societies that Arithon, Lysaer and their party had along the way. I've a feeling that there is a lot more to be revealed about the magic system in this world, as even after Janny's helpful clarification in post 16 it still seems complicated.
I also liked that nothing is "safe" - the sorcerers are far from being either omnipotent or omniscient, which has caused no end of problems already. They are very fallible. And I'm curious as to the role the Enchantresses will play in the long run; we see them meddling, but to what end and how will they affect events in the future?
The questions of free will and prophecy that MrsLee and others have raised are fascinating, and not often explored in this way in fantasy. Prophecies are a dime a dozen in fantasy books, but the characters and thus the reader seem to take them for granted; the sorts of issues we see in Curse of the mistwraith don't arise. They are uncomfortable and disturbing to think about, especially regarding Lysaer and what the curse has done to him.
I hadn't expected to find the battle scenes at the end to be so compelling and moving. I was actually dreading them, but the way they were handled, through a variety of characters' viewpoints, was really well done. And even though we had only met the clansmen quite recently in the book, I felt moved by what happened to them. Likewise, there were a couple of characters that I passionately wanted to see be torn limb from limb!
I had something else to say but I can't remember it now! I'll add another post if I remember.
# 23, Mrs Lee - always it is OK to say how you feel. The story was designed for intensity, so if you are stirred up, it worked.
You asked, is there hope for Lysaer? Absolutely! Fair warning: it's a big story.
#25 Morphy, thanks for giving it a go. I understand.
This is NOT the straightforward, simple story choice, given the body of work across my career, there are easier books. This one's definitely a plunge into the philosophical deep end.
#26- the magic has many layers and levels (as do the characters' motivations) and not everything is revealed all at once. Just as you don't know, at first, what the actual motivations are, both for the characters and the various factions, you will see only the surface effects/through the eyes of (usually) unreliable narrators.
The prologue gave warning to watch with discernment.
As the story will lets you inside and unveils the workings, deeper and deeper, each perception in turn WILL shift what you believed you knew, prior, about the characters, the magic, and the motivations. It's not a story that tips its hand, ahead of time, but plays close to the vest as experience deepens and changes angles of perception. So it is NOT a simple read, it doesn't coast along for the comfort ride.
It begs thought on the reader's part. But at heart it's not about the nastiness of human nature - not at all - hope and compassion and healing are core values.
Free will/permission/vs manipulative control is but the starting point, the dividing line for the magic extant on Athera. There are actually several approaches to magic in play as the series unfolds - but that differentiation puts them, effectively, into two camps.
More, the magic here is not 'designed' like a gaming system, but rests on the quantum and the effects of resonance...food for thought and discussion, if you enjoy physics.
I finished this today. Here's the review I posted.
The world of Athera is a land covered in mists. The sun has been banished by the malovent Mistwraith. Two half-brothers, divided by a blood feud, have been prophesied as the bane of the Mistwraith. Lysaer, a crown prince, is bearer of the gift of light while Arithon, raised by mages and son of a pirate, is Master of Shadows. The brothers must some how put enmity aside if they hope to succeed. Yet as the sorcerers of the Fellowship of Seven know well, there is more at stake than one battle with the Mistwraith: between them the half-brothers hold the balance of the world, its harmony and its future, in their hands.
Curse of the Mistwraith is volume one of the Wars of Light and Shadow. The world building is absolutely amazing. The descriptions of places and events add to the immersion factor of this book. When Arithon has his communion with the forest I found I could almost smell the earth and hear the bird song. The language used is not typical of modern writers and can take a little getting used to. The book has a slow build and there is depth that makes the reader think. Not everything gets explained immediately. Some things are left deliberately ambiguous and I believe will be addressed later in the series.
The structure of the book is unique. You have your main chapter which is broken down into sections. At the end of each there is a short summary of things that are going on elsewhere in the world as well as a set up to what is coming next. I quite liked this.
The only odd thing for me is I found I didn't end up liking either of the main characters. I can't say that happens often for me in a book. The side characters, especially the Fellowship Mages and the Deshan clansmen, were what made it for me.
This book is not for everyone. If you're looking for a light, quick read, this book is not for you. If you're looking for an immersive and different fantasy read, you should give it a try.
Edit: Expanding a bit since this is a spoiler forum.
The magic system didn't bother me. The Fellowship mages I took to be able to manipulate matter and harmonics. The brothers are elementalists. If Lysaer had training his power could probably be as deceptive as Arithon's and not just brute force, though his characters mind doesn't seem to work that way so it most likely wouldn't happen in that manner. I have no idea exactly where the Enchantress and her sect fit in but since they weren't much in the story i somewhat disregarded them.
In the beginning I was pretty ambivalent for both Arithon and Lysaer. It really irked me that Lysaer's first though after being thrown through a portal into the middle of a desert was to beat on Arithon. Then his attitude changed and I went back to ambivalent, a kind of wait and see. After the curse set in, he became deliberately unlikeable for me as a plot point. Arithon I gradually had pity for and compassion. I enjoyed reading his sections more but mostly for the other characters he was with. The very end with Arithon finally able to become a bard and ease his mind, I think I could come to like him better later on. I would love to spend an afternoon with the Fellowship mages. I found the two ghost mages intriguing and would like to find out more back history on them.
Narilka - It's funny how different characters affect readers. I felt immediate empathy for the two male leads, as I saw two boys who had always had their lives tweaked by those around them. Neither one had ever had a chance to simply find out who he was and what he believed/felt. Always there were expectations, if not of magic, then of nobility. It seems to me that both were raised by no loving being, only manipulated, and that seems to be going on and on. I wanted/want to smack the sorcerers and enchantresses and townspeople and even the clansmen. I especially do not see the sorcerers as necessarily "good," and that fact makes me doubt this "utopia" they are striving for of unicorns, elves and whatnot.
Anyway, I am a cynical and mistrusting soul. :)
Arithon being forced to take on a role he really doesn't want reminds me of Morgon in Riddle Master, who also wanted to put aside the burden of kingship and study music and magic. Arithon seems to have more reason for his reluctance though, as his role in Athera was thrust on him all unknowing whereas Morgon grew up knowing of his responsibilities.
I remembered what I wanted to say before! - that it was interesting to see how the curse twisted good values to bad. Both Arithon's compassion and Lysaer's justice seem to be forces for good, but the curse uses them to destroy and cause havoc for its own fulfillment.
Goodness, I'm impressed with the depth of the commentary here. I've been a mostly non participating member of this group for a while and am much more active on Goodreads, where most of the commentary is less insightful. As I said in the non-spoiler thread, I've read this book several times. Each time I read it, I get caught up in the story and find out something new. There's a satisfying depth and complexity to it.
As for the characters, I also like the unreliable narrator flavor of it. Both princes are sympathetic and maddening. I was not sure I could trust the sorcerers. Too much power almost always corrupts. Like Mrs.Lee, I was torn apart by what happens and ended up hating Lysaer and was saddened by it. Dakar certainly becomes his advocate, doesn't he? Arithon is very hard to like at times with his abrasiveness and his harsh tongue, and yet by the end when he smoothed out the bodies of the fallen and found out he could study under the Master Bard, I was certainly fascinated by him and very much wanted to find out more about what happens to him.
Athera is almost a character in and of herself, and as the story unfolds later in the series, is a place I become nostalgic for when I'm not reading the series.
I just finished it, and have just one thing to say: Janny, I had no idea you were George RR Martin's bastard stepchild. Sheesh. You treat your characters worse than he does!
More to follow once I've recovered.
Okay, some thoughts now that I've had overnight to consider them.
I adore Arithon and feel so badly for him. I totally get that feeling of having to give up what you love due to duty (Retired military here).
I confess to never having really liked Lysaer so not as upset as some that he is possessed, but I do hope he manages to get to a point where he recognizes his feelings are not his own and he is being manipulated. Arithon, I think, has it far worse as he KNOWS he is being manipulated and so far can't stop himself.
And I do hate it when anyone is manipulated, so that makes me all the more upset for the two main characters.
I never did trust those infernal sorcerers. They are far too sure of themselves and by attempting to force things to fit their preconceived notions made every damn thing worse. (Really? March into a town and just expect the populace, which they know to be creeps, to just bow and say 'ah, our rightful king'? Jerks!)
Firstly, stop assuming everything, you idiots! Like, is the Mistwraith really evil, in and of itself? Especially when we find out it encompasses some evil- seeming dudes. Perhaps it was protecting Athera and imprisoning those critters. But then, if I were locked in some sort of mist being, I'd be pretty pissed off too, so maybe the critters inside it aren't as bad as they seem.
The final battle scene was difficult to read, in that it was emotionally draining and horrible. But then war is horrible, and I wish more people would remember that when they sit around pushing for it.
The last part, where Arithon is freeing the dead is... amazing. Emotional, beautiful.
Here's my review if anyone wishes to read it. Not particularly terrific, and not nearly as emotional as this post!
I know it's the captivating intensity of Janny's writing - as mentioned above - whether in war or peace at times of emotional demand, - that brings me back to reading (and re-reading) her works.
I’m just over half way through now, still very much enjoying the story but one thing has been grating on me a bit – how is it possible for people to survive on a world that’s been covered in mist for 500years? Surely no sunlight means no plant foods & no plant foods would make it hard for food animals to survive? There’s no mention of people being sickly due to lack of sunlight & healthy food & no real explanation of just how they have managed to survive…
Its funny because I usually don’t pay too much attention to how a world is built & things that might not logically work, “suspending disbelief” is relatively easy for me, but this question has been running in the back of my head for a lot of the time I’ve been reading this story so I had to ask – is there some sort of explanation that I’ve missed?
>40 Seanie: Figured it's not total darkness (after all people seem to see just fine and aren't described bearing torches or other lightsources all the time even during the day), just constantly overcast so there's still technically enough sunlight for plants to grow even if less vigorously, and people not to develop whatever physiological disorders lack of sunshine may cause.
#37 majika - You know, I never really stopped to think if the Mistwraith was good or evil. I pretty much took it for granted that a creature that was slowly killing a world by obscuring the sun would be inherently evil. Or at least angry and taking it out on the world of the people it's mad at.
#40 Seanie - I took from some of the descriptions that the world was in a perpetual fog or mist. There were light periods but no direct sunlight and you never saw the sky at any time of day. I think filtered light would allow some plant growth, though severely stunted.
It also talked about black mold being prevalent and blighted plants. I have to say, that aspect bothered me as well, but I chalked it up to "fantasy" and forged on. ;)
As a sly side note: did anybody see the one sentence cameo pastiche I placed in the text, in tribute to Tolkien (it's very subtle)...?
I am really enjoying seeing your comments and insights. Some of you are very quick to see into certain scenes - the settling of the dead, and Arithon's experience with the trees - there is a facet of something more underlying the edgy bits - it's great that the perceptive readers here are spotting it at Vol I. And also - the insightful comments about not (yet) seeing the workings of the magic, or the underlying motivations. It is hard for an older reader to comment at all without spoiling.
On the mist's effects on Athera - this is superb, that you readers here are looking that deeply - much hangs on the detail that is shown, and the fact you are thinking counts a lot (if you continue). The observations are bang on right - the blighting caused by 500 years of this mist was handled with a deliberate light touch (so as not to overpower the story line, where what details are selectively shown DO come to matter, later; there is no window dressing).
In fact, I placed Five direct references to the mist's negative impact on the natural world (that I recall straight off the cuff) - they are set in between other things happening, as backdrop. The most telling, perhaps, involved magical curatives to offset such problems - if there are trivia buffs - you're invited to have some fun - name them all (or find five total, including any that I failed to recall off the cuff) and message me the list before the end of October - and I will post the first list in, and mail a laminated commemorative book mark and signed book plate. ;)
#38: Thanks MrsLee!
#40: yeah, very intense. And altho Arithon could get all too angsy, he hasn't and that's a major plus. When his is all regretful it isn't annoying and he then just sighs and gets on with what is happening.
#42 - My thoughts on the good/evil of the Mistwraith are really based on the whole, "Oh, we didn't really understand the Mistrwraith" the sorcerers finally admitted when things began to go wrong. What else don't they understand about it? Apparently, almost everything.
#44 Janny: Yes! I did see that Tolkein tribute and laughed. Good job! I love it when 'easter eggs' are hidden in books.
Also, I really didn't have much trouble with the negative effects of the mistwraith on the environment. They seemed to be to be within the realm of what I might expect. And, as Janny said, she does mention slime and mold and stuff, and the efforts it takes to combat that.
Funny the 'bits' you remember, those passages that stand out. As I was writing a story, a friend said to me, there's this passage I will never forget and it always reminds me of the story. For me it is when Arithon is imprisoned by Lysaer's father and he is withdrawing from the drugs. Unforgettable, and draws me back again and again. I think because it was a pure indication of 'who' Arithon was right from the start, and how can you not keep reading?
I have only just started a quick reread CotM, but I have read it that many times nothing would be a spoiler.
#2, Mrs Lee - It is strange but I also always thought of Asandir as looking and sounding like Christopher Lee.
# 6, Janny Wurts- I would love to hear all about the naming system endemic to Athera's mythos, might help me with the Paravian language clues I am trying to pick apart before you give us all the answers.
# 47 - aussie500 - that is an interesting question. I have answered it in discussion before by actually breaking down words to show how they work, but I hate to repeat that - instead I'll answer this from another angle. That way new readers will see past the surface layers (a bit) and the older readers will gain more food for thought.
The Paravian language has several forms: what is generally spoken and Actualized Paravian, empowered in ways that alters the nature of things.
I'd said earlier that the 'magic' in Athera is based in physics, the quantum, and resonance. Add consciousness to the mix - and what you get is a reality that is mutable by shifts in frequency and vibration.
The common spoken form of Paravian, then, DETAILS the translation of consciousness into form, so each word, in effect, underpins the evolution of what that speech COMES FROM and how it forms.
Actualized Paravian - shifts frequency and vibration - and either reinforces or neutralizes or SHIFTS what is spoken of.
There are places on the Paravia website that detail the language in more depth and break down the flow of energy through the words to show this 'theoretical' scenario in action.
Volume I in the series is VERY early for these sorts of concepts to emerge - but if you look for them, they will be there, under the 'pseudo historical' camouflage left in place at this stage. This is NOT medieval Europe....or an aristocracy based monarchy in Any form, or Earth, though you may not see the differences until later on...the concept behind the language may unveil just a little of the fun/challenge some presumptions but not cause a gaff of a spoiler.
The language I have looked into, in as much depth as I could, I am lousy at languages, physics and music, and could not get the answer without all the clues so gave up, it is Athera's mythos and legends that I would like to know more about, the hint you gave in that post about how you named some of your characters. Something a bit simpler I could relate to, and creation is what has my interest, so anything new about how Athera came to be would be interesting.
No harm in trying, and something to think about while waiting for the story to continue would be nice.
#49 aussie500 - I am laughing a bit, here - this is a discussion for VOL I and a lot of what you want to know will certainly show too much in advance.
To answer what I can reveal - a tidbit of a hint: there were two Eras that fore-ran the current one where the story is placed, and another I know of that takes place after this one.
Era of Creation
Era of Destruction
Era of Redemption - where this story takes place.
The one after - will likely become revealed at the story's finish (two more volumes from the ones available now; I am writing the second to last).
I was just hoping for a different angle to try and view the clues, your comment about being willing to discuss the 'system' you used when naming the characters caught my interest and looked like it might be something I had not seen. But I can wait, to try and work it out with the next book. Nice to know we might get a glimpse of the era after redemption, I was not sure you would.
I owe a bookmark: aussie500 nailed all the references to mist damage and a few my off the cuff recall likely missed. Here is the rundown, from the newest edition paperback:
Negative effects of the Mistwraith on the natural world.
Diseases caused by the mist pg 91
Animals not in prime health pg 212
Moulds, mildews and rot spoiling plants, fruit and seeds pg 62, pg 425
Early winter ruining fruit and killing off plants early. pg 92, pg 167
Trees being stunted and stressed. pg 132, pg 149, pg 307, pg 307
The Paravians left. pg 149, pg 342
She pushed impatiently at the half-made charm between her hands, this one a shepherd's ward to guard young stock from the lung-sickness that stunted newborn lambs. If sunshine was restored, the diseases she mixed talismans to prevent would be banished along with the fog that had fostered them. pg 91
More than once, the party started deer from the thickets. If the bucks were royally antlered, their incoming winter coats were flat and lacking gloss; even after summer's forage, the does were sadly thin. pg 212
These were not fluffy white with clean health, but musted with the mildews of sunless damp endlessly fostered. pg 62
‘First, they don’t have telir brandy in Etarra. Mention spirits distilled from fruits that the mist has turned sour for centuries...pg 425
Low walls that once bordered flowerbeds now leaned under hedges of burdock and a rank explosion of briars burned brown by early frost.The sunless fogs clipped short the seasons, to the waste of the earth’s rightful harvest. The hardened black stalks of spoiled berries rattled wizened fists in the wind. pg 92
‘Winter’s coming early,’ Felirin observed. ‘Seems to move in a little sooner every year.’ Unaware that such shifts in the seasons were the ongoing effects of Desh-thiere...pg 167
Unsettled by the taints of mould and damp-rotted bark and by the drip of moisture from leaves yellow-edged with ill-health, Lysaer slapped irritably as another mosquito sampled the nape of his neck. pg 132
Here the trees rose ancient with years, once majestic as patriarchs, but bearded and bent now under mantling snags of pallid moss. pg 149
a warped line revealed a sapling stunted by the unending mists of Desh-thiere. pg 307
Daylight was reduced to a thick, murky twilight alive with the whispered drip of water. Oppressed by a sense of decay on the land, and the unremitting grey of misty weather, no one inclined toward talk. pg 149
Desh-thiere’s fall became manifest as an explosion of new lines of power. Forests, fields and all of the natural landscape brightened to an ascendence of recovered vigour. pg 307
‘The last of the Ilitharis Paravians passed from the land when Desh-thiere swallowed sunlight. pg 149
'Here, in the past, the old races danced at the turn of each season to deflect the earth's forces into latitudinal channels to enrich the surrounding land. So were all of Athera's twelve lanes once interconnected in a lattice to nourish all life.
References are for the latest mass market paperback version, with the composite cover
Thanks Janny, can always use another bookmark, my WoLaS books just seem to eat them.
Collecting the list made me think about something I had not before. It seems over time Winter was getting earlier, was that just an overall effect of so much mist covering all of Athera, and warping natural weather patterns, or was the Mistwraith actually getting stronger over time?
"For the Mistwraith that afflicted Athera was but one splintered portion of a vaster whole; had Traithe not limited its access, Desh-thiere’s rank coils would have strangled more than sun, but choked off all life on the planet." (p. 232). Voyager. Kindle Edition/ROC USA mass market edition
Even though not all the Mistwraith made it through the gate, if over ages Winter came to dominate the seasons, it seems most life would have perished from starvation anyway, and eventually the Mistwraith would have still destroyed all life on the planet.
I've often wondered that, too aussie50, but having begun to read this again, the way the plants etc are described you can see what poor quality they are. And if I know Ms Wurts she did her reasearch. I know the poor plants in my house, the way they grow all spindly and weedy, but they still 'grow'. That is another reason why I like these novels so much, the fact that Janny does make me think about such things.
Even a healthy plant can die from frost damage, and the frosts killing the fruiting plants before they can set seed, can effect the next years growth. The plants and trees have survived 500 years of being stressed by lack of direct sunlight and attack by rot, mould and mildew but if winter kept increasing and killing the fruiting and frost tender plants off earlier, the lack of forage for the wild animals would eventually be felt further up the food chain, less prey, less predators. How long would the towns last with spoiled crops due to frost damage? They would have been losing some of the crops to the effects of the moulds and mildew, but frost is more damaging. The domesticated animals might be better sheltered from weather, but they still need food. A warping of the weather patterns by so much mist, might not have the ability to increase the cold weather enough to have such dire impact, but perhaps the Mistwraith could have continued to increase the length of Winter.
When the Fellowship cast strands and left the Mistraith free, Janny concentrated on the loss of the Paravians, all we found out was that the continued dominance of the Mistwraith promised changes in the natural order, none of them to the good. But Janny never went into specifics. But you have to wonder what the changes would have been. Perhaps the Mistwraith was planning to win by slowly freezing the life out of Athera.
I always imagined it in my head, as one does when one reads, that the mist wasn't that heavy. Otherwise, how the heck could anyone get about? Yes, you can get used to anything if it becomes familiar after a length of time, but I could never imagine it as all encompassing. Otherwise, yes, what you say would happen.
I imagine what you say in your second para *would* happen eventually. Definitely food for thought.
Well, I finally got a copy through the library (hurray for them), so I read this after everyone else finished.
I finished it this morning, and am not sure how I feel about it. I found this a slow read, as I sometimes had to go over paragraphs twice to be sure what was going on. The book started with a lot of action, then proceeded more slowly for me until close to the end. I liked the worldbuilding, and as someone else mentioned, the short sections beween chapters were a nice touch. There is great imagery and some very powerful scenes. I'm not sure about continuing on with the series, though. Since my library doesn't have the books, it means interlibrary loans, which means having to read the books when they come, not necessarily when I feel like it. And I read mostly for escapism, and really like a feeling of optimism, which I don't find here. I ended up feeling sad for most of the characters involved - not sure how many horrible things I want to know about happening to them in the future. All the predictions seem bad - does it get better?
#57 - "does it get better?"
All the main characters do get to experience moments of pure joy, yes. However the series isn't finished yet, so no-one (not even Janny?) knows whether or not anyone will ultimately have a happy ending.
I do find the series totally escapist - providing I've got some uninteruppted time, I just get lost in it completely until the real world eventually intrudes. It's the only books for which I've missed a bus stop because I was too engrossed in them!
I've just begun book 2. I'm a GRRM fan, so things going badly for good characters is nothing new to me. In fact, I find that refreshing.
Who wants to read a book where everything works out for the hero? Nothing left of tension then.
ETA: this is why I do not read Romance, and do not understand Romance readers. If you already know the ending (the Happily Ever After wrt Romance) why read the book?
>59 majkia:: I suppose some people enjoy the journey to get to the ending, as much as the ending itself. I'm usually with you in liking some uncertainty, but sometimes I do need to know in advance that things will end well. (I don't read Romance either though. Just not my thing.)
Janny has had this all planned out since before she had the first book published, which is how she was able to drop all the hints throughout the series. Especially the hints in the Paravian language since she knows how it all was created (literally) and how the series ends. She did a bit more than just world building. It will have an uplifting ending. Although I think it is more about the journey and how and why they changed along the way, than where they end up.
I have to say I thought it was a strange way to start a hero off. The way how Arithon behaved at the start, those poor sailors had most of my sympathy. With a tongue like that and his shadows, not to mention thinking he was some crazy sorcerer, I would have tossed him back into the sea and denied ever having seen him. Just a bit defensively prickly, would be an understatement, he was all cutting edges at the start. I thought a lot better of him later. And Janny's writing seemed slanted towards taking Arithon in a sympathetic light, even at the start she seemed to be playing with my emotions a bit.
But without the author's fiddling in the background as I was reading the story, on face value Arithon would have been fish food if I had been the one to pick him up. They were all so terrified, would have been no trouble to get everyone to agree to never having seen any enemy survivors. Would have been a very short story.
And thanks Janny for the bookmark, it arrived the other day. :)
Aussie, I agree. I was appalled in the beginning at Arithon's cruelty. I'm sure I would've been tempted to add to the fish diet as well.
reading_fox, I agree about the wealth of the journey.
Sakerfalcon - Janny is never one of those nihilistic 'everything is bad' cynical writers. I've read all her books now, and while never predictable, the heroes always end well, if not in a typical HEA fashion.
And the journey is so fascinating along the way... the transformation of Dakar ... the complexity of Lysaer ... the battle between the Koriathain and the F7 .... the story of the Seven in and of itself and the richness of character of the different sorcerers ... Arithon's journey ... so deucedly difficult and yet always surprising.
One thing I discovered this time through is the persistence of the geas attached to each line of kingship. I think I just jumped right over that all the other times I've read it; railing at Arithon's danged compassion; likewise at Lysaer's perversion of justice, etc.
Interesting. I've never felt Arithon was cruel. Maddening, confusing, tricksy. But never felt him cruel.
Perhaps not intentional cruelty, unhinged by grief he was trying I believe to get them to be so frightened or angry that they would kill him. A bit later when the Briane stopped at South Island Arithon tried the same with Lysaer and only got a smack in the head for his trouble. Even with Amroth's king, Arithon was trying to manipulate the king's emotions to gain a quicker death.
Well, I am glad to see so many felt the same way I did about so many aspects of this book. I don't even need to type them out, now. Sometimes it really does pay to wait until everyone else has had their say. :oD
I always thought it was a pity, just as Lysaer was getting over the hatred he had inherited, and starting to see things a bit clearer, he was ruined by that wraith. Unlike Arithon, Lysaer never had much if a chance to fight back against the curse.
Now I always thought the dark mysterious stranger who kept me guessing by doing the unexpected was more interesting than the golden Prince Charming even if he had not turned out to have feet of clay and with a bit of help was anything but true. But still the sensitive, insightful Prince we saw at the start, and caught glimpses of through the story seems doomed, how could he ever forgive himself for the horrific things he did while cursed?
#66 - Indeed! I haven't had a chance to start the second book but I am hoping someone will find a way to wipe Lysaer's memory and take him back to his previous world and to his fiancée, but after the prophesy is fulfilled.
Not telling, she mutters, as she continues to read Fugitive Prince .....
Its going to take a while for that Black Rose Prophecy to be fulfilled I think. But still there are some good times ahead, Ships of Merior is I think my favourite of the series. I liked them all but some certainly put you through the emotional ringer.
Totally agree with sleo!
The story can really verge on the grim, bleak and bloody, but it is always, if not outright, followed by transcendence and even the grittiest subjects, handled with the gloves off, get integrated with artistry and purpose. This goes for the bright and humorous facets as well. Wurts does not want to shock graphically, but she successfully evokes the reader's emotions to experience the story for himself, and the series draws off the full spectrum in human outlook, there is beauty and horror, grace and downfall - the full balance is present.
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