osprey_archer: (books)
I've just learned that Tamora Pierce is writing a Numair trilogy. I have... mixed to negative feelings about this.

Unlike the author of the article I never much liked Daine/Numair, so there's nothing for the new trilogy to spoil in that regard. (And I for one would be very interested to see more development of Varice Kingsford!)

But I did like Numair himself a lot, and as I feel that part of what makes him appealing as a character is his mysterious past, I do worry what ripping away all the mystery will do to my feelings about him. And the same with Emperor Mage, which is one of my favorite Tortall books: how is knowing the official version of Numair's past going to shift my understanding of that book?

I tend to read Ozorne's temper tantrum about Numair in Emperor Mage as the reaction of a spurned lover (or would-be lover whose love was unrequited; Numair's feelings about Ozorne never seem as strong as the other way around), and I don't think Pierce is going to go there.

On the other hand, I loooooooved the Carthaki university segments in Emperor Mage, and it looks like the whole first book of the trilogy is going to be devoted to laying that out in loving detail. So that will be great, or at least it could be great - Pierce is not always as good at executing her concepts as coming up with them - and really my biggest oncern about it is that the second and third books in the trilogy might have a hard time living up to it. Do we really need to read all about Numair's years as a street magician?

Also, it will delay the publication of Pierce's other planned magical university book: Tris's studies at Lightbridge. I was looking forward to that, too.
osprey_archer: (writing)
9 – Pairings – For each of the fandoms from day two, what are your three favorite pairings to write?

Oh dear. For most of these fandoms I’ve only written one or two pairings. I guess I’ll just list the favorites that I have for each fandom, and if that ends up being one or three or five, I guess we’ll just go with that.

The list, with occasional commentary )
osprey_archer: (writing)
[livejournal.com profile] fic_corner is open! [livejournal.com profile] fic_corner is open! And I have a story! A story about Lerant of Eldorne!!!

Title: Atonement
Author: [livejournal.com profile] fluffybun
Rating: G
Pairing: none (although I think Lerant has an itty bitty unrequited crush on Kel here)
Summary: Lerant, trying to find his way even though he bears the name of a disgraced House.

This fic shows a number of incidents where his aunt Delia's treason warped his life: the moment when he realized he would never be allowed to fulfill his dream of becoming a knight, his difficulty finding a place in the Tortallan military, and his evolving feelings when Kel becomes Lord Raoul's squire. She's taking his place! But she's so awesome! So awesome. It overcomes his bitterness and by the end he's striving to emulate her hard work and compassion.

In "Atonement" Lerant muses briefly that the only people who could understand his plight are the scions of Tirragen and Malven, which gave me an amusing - and by amusing I mean angsty - idea for a ficlet. Lerant meets one of said scions without knowing it, and they hit it off, only to fly in opposite directions as soon as they learn who the other is because what if the king learned of this meeting and thought they were conspiring?

Oh Jonathan. I suppose I can't really blame him for being paranoid, given that his cousin, his two girlfriends, and one his best friends betrayed him at his coronation. But man, it's gotta be hard on the objects of his distrust.

Amusingly, I also wrote a fic about Lerant...for the very same person who wrote me my fic about Lerant! Great minds think alike. But, proving the adage that no two authors will approach the same prompt the same way, the fic are quite different: [livejournal.com profile] fluffybun takes a more panoramic view, showing the way that his aunt's treason haunts his family, while I focused on one incident in Lerant's life.

Title: One of the King's Own
Author: [livejournal.com profile] osprey_archer
Rating: G
Pairing: none
Summary: Lerant's family history bars him from the Tortallan military - until Lord Raoul offers him a place.
osprey_archer: (writing)
Dear Scribbler:

Hello! Mere words cannot contain my excitement for this exchange. Fanfic about children’s books! If there were chocolate involved, it would contain all of my favorite things in the world.

So basically I am going to be pretty easy to please. I like most things: gen, het, femmeslash, slash, OT3s, ridiculous adventure. Deliciously bittersweet fic is delightful, and so are fluff and rainbows and fun. I don’t really want anything more explicit than PG-13, though, even if the characters are aged up.

Likes
- Characters who understand each other, even if they sometimes drive each other up the wall
- Loyalty, especially characters doing stupidly amazing things out of loyalty for each other
- Characters who are passionate about something (aside from just each other) – who love their work, their art, their stamp-collecting, anything
- Hurt/comfort fics
- Friendship
- Witty banter
- “Five things…” stories

Dislikes
- Character death

Specifics for the fandoms: The Montmaray Journals, Protector of the Small, Queen's Thief )
osprey_archer: (writing)
The time for trope_bingo is upon us! I am posting my card here, in order to beg for your aid and assistance in brainstorming story ideas!

The one square I am wedded to using is “character in distress,” because that is pretty much perfect for the fic about Lucrezia Borgia’s descent into the catacombs of Rome in order to save her brother Cesare, who is in the clutches of his vampire lover and needs a lot of saving. It will be glorious!

That leaves me with three possible lines to use:

curtainfic rites of passage / coming of age au: mundane soul bonding / soulmates in vino veritas / drunkfic
amnesia hurt / comfort transformations character in distress immortality / reincarnation
fuck or die holidayfic FREE

SPACE
deathfic bets / wagers
mind games presumed dead against all odds language and translation trust and vows
au: alternate gender norms time travel marriage metafiction au: crossover


I am kind of yearning toward the “language and translation” square, because I have a strange and terrible fascination for stories about characters who connect despite the unfortunate fact that they don’t speak the same language and can only communicate nonverbally - like Jamie and Aurelia in Love Actually, or that one couple in the first Call the Midwife episode. Those are the only examples I can think of now.

One would imagine Sutcliff would lend itself to this sort of thing, but actually I think her protags always speak the requisite languages or learn them really fast. (Although IIRC [livejournal.com profile] seascribe had a fun Eagle AU where Esca didn’t know Latin?) I think there’s a reason both the examples I listed come from visual media; this would be really hard to get across in writing, because this would be quite hard to write, I think.

In any case, I feel pretty burnt out on Eagle fic right now. Or, actually, this is not quite true: I have one Eot9 story left that I want to write, a Cottia story during her summer in Aquae Sulis while Marcus and Esca were haring around Caledonia. Cottia has been misbehaving, and Aunt Valaria decides she needs a firm lecturing about How the World Works:

Aunt Valaria: You are Iceni in a Roman world, a woman in a man’s world, and a child in an adult world. You must never tell people what you really want or how you really feel, because to do so is to give away your only weapons: secrecy and charm!
Cottia: I refuse, I refuse, I refuse to believe that this is true (I am secretly afraid it is true), I REFUSE.
Aunt Valaria: How did I fail you, how did I fail?

But I don’t think there’s a trope for that.

Anyway, this is all a moot point, because if I used that vertical line I would have to write metafiction, so probably I should toss it on that account. And possibly I should toss the diagonal too, because of the “au: alternate gender norms,” tag. I don’t know what I would write for that.

Plus, if I did the horizontal with “transformations” I could write the Black Swan story about Nina the wereswan! I don’t know what I would do for amnesia, but I already have a title idea: “Lest We Forget.” And you know titles are always the worst part! (Thoughts who I could give amnesia?)

And for immortality...maybe I could write something about Tortall’s gods? More Tortall fic is always good. And of course hurt/comfort would be perfect to Tortall fic too. Hurt/comfort is generally a perfect prompt for any fandom, but especially for fandoms where characters canonically spend a lot of time getting swords thrust at them.
osprey_archer: (writing)
Fic: A Loyal Man and True
Fandom: Tamora Pierce, Protector of the Small
Pairings: None
Rating: G
Disclaimer: So not mine. :(
Summary: “And in any case, it’s not treason to notice that your sovereign has faults,” Raoul said.

“It is when an Eldorne does it,” Lerant muttered.


***

I'm thinking from now on I might post my fics on AO3 and just post the link here, rather than post the full story both places. Does anyone object? I can keep posting both places if necessary.
osprey_archer: (cheers)
A few days ago, [livejournal.com profile] motetus linked to a month-long fic recommendation challenge, Rectober.

“PRETTY BANNER SHINY,” I said. “WANT.”

And so of course I had to do recs.



So here is my first rec!

Title:The Grim Gray Hills
Author: [livejournal.com profile] zodiacal_light
Fandom: Song of the Lioness - Tamora Pierce
Rating: R
Word Count: 2437
Warnings: It’s kind of harrowing.
Summary: All hillmen are traitors, and you always knew this.

Excerpt: This is what it means, to be a noble in the Hill Country: you are a traitor to your people.

Your father or your grandfather was some opportunistic turncoat, who flocked to the Old King's side when he rolled through the region and was hastily ennobled, charged with pacifying their fellow hillmen. Something about rewarding loyalty and local lords knowing their people. The first is a sick northern lie; the second is a tragedy.


Why I loved it: If you pick just one fic to read this month, it should be this one. It’s an exploration of Alex of Tirragen, one of the heroine’s many antagonists, most of whom never get very satisfactory motives in the original. This fic gives Alex motives (and with him, another antagonist, Delia), in a manner so satisfactory and so much deeper than the original as to be instant headcanon.

Alex and Delia come from a recently conquered region, and this fic explores the rage and pain and despair that they feel, and with it, of the imperialist themes in the Tortall books. These are so deeply embedded in the premise that until you start to look for them, you barely see them - but then they’re everywhere.
osprey_archer: (Default)
YOU GUYS, YOU GUYS, I wrote Tortall fic! I have only been in this fandom for...literally half my life. Finally writing fic for it gives me a deep satisfaction.

Fic: Unorthodox Liaisons
Fandom: Protector of the Small - Tamora Pierce
Pairing: Kel/Neal, Neal/Yuki, mentions of various others
Rating: PG
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] carmarthen
Disclaimer: still not mine
Prompt: trope_bingo, in vino veritas/drunkfic
Summary: Kel and Neal confess to Yuki about their drunken Midwinter kiss. But Yuki doesn't react as they expect.

A.k.a: polyamory fic!

Also at AO3: Unorthodox Liaisons

Unorthodox Liaisons )
osprey_archer: (Default)
Ever since I read The Grim Gray Hills, which I admire and envy, because I want to be able to harrow readers like this - it begins This is what it means, to be a noble in the Hill Country: you are a traitor to your people. - I’ve started twitching every time a Tortall book mentions the Hill Country. I am all “It is the hillfolk, the conquered and oppressed people of the great Tortallan Empire, even more despised than the Bazhir!”

Thanks, guys. This adds an extra layer of skeeviness to certain sections of these books. Like right here:

“A dry summer and a delay in the winter rains in the south bred problems. First the hill folk near Fief Shaila tried to rebel, laying siege to the local army fort. Third Company rode to free the garrison and hunt those responsible. No sooner had Raoul punished the worst troublemakers and gotten pledges of loyalty from the rest than word came from the village of Sweetspring...”

Did you catch that? The hillfolk, who are (we are told at other times) poorer than dirt, are rebelling against their Tortallan conquerors, who keep them that way. And the narrative is all, “Silly troublemakers! Why would they rise up against Tortall’s great empire?” and disposes of their silly rebellion in two sentences. Meanwhile the reader cries, Why were they rising? Was it a bad harvest? Was the local garrison behaving badly? Did they just feel the irrepressible urge for FREEDOM?

And how does Lerant react to this? Lerant is one of my favorite characters in Protector of the Small. I have many favorite PotS characters. Kel! Neal! Yuki! Owen! Wyldon! Um, maybe I should just not bother listing them and just admit that I love everyone in PotS and want all the fic about everyone ever.

But Lerant! Lerant is our go-to man for Hill Country angst. He is a scion of Fief Eldorne, which is in the Hill Country. (How much blood do the Hill nobles share with the Hillfolk generally? It wouldn’t surprise me at all if...Jasson, I believe it was, who conquered the Hill Country?...if Jasson had gotten rid of the old Hill nobles, or most of them, and installed loyal Tortallan knights in their stead.)

Do any of the prisoners accuse him of being a traitor to the Hillfolk? Seriously, Lerant is such a sad puppy. The Tortallans don’t trust him because his aunt Delia was in cahoots with Evil Roger the Evil Usurper (and is now perpetually confined in a tower in the capital, apparently? How’s that working out?), and the Hill Folk either think he’s a traitor to his Hill blood or simply a Tortallan interloper, and either way despise him.

Does Lerant feel a twinge of sympathy for his Hill compatriots, rebels though they are? Or is he so intent on assimilating that he just hates them, because this sort of thing makes it harder for all the good Hill Folk to show that they’re loyal Tortallans? OR BOTH? How many different kinds of cultural angsting can we cram into one fic?
osprey_archer: (books)
I reread Page over Christmas break, and then didn't post about it because things got busy, and also because it is my favorite book with my favorite Tamora Pierce heroine, so there's not much to write about it except SQUEE!

Hooray for Kel! And her epic hard work (she's always squeezing more time to practice into her ridiculously busy days), and her grim determination to overcome her fear of heights, and her delicious crush on Neal...

I am still sad that Kel and Neal never get together in the later books. The argument seems to be that it would send a bad message to have Kel get together with her first crush, because...presumably there's an epidemic of American schoolgirls who refuse to date anyone who wasn't their very first crush? "We can never be together! I gave my heart to Tony in the fifth grade!"

Yeah, that's not a thing. Marrying one's first crush/first love/high school sweetheart is very much not an ideal. One of the few things that Bella is absolutely right about in the Twilight books is that people are going to be just horrified if she marries her high school sweetheart just out of high school.

I had a friend who got married when she was, let's see, nineteen or twenty? And everyone, but everyone thought this was the worst thing ever. That sort of thing is considered lower-class and stupid and doomed to failure.

So no, the fact that this happens all the time in books is not a sign of a deep-seated American belief that everyone should marry young to their first love. Rather, it reflects the fact that it's narratively very unsatisfying to spend three hundred pages getting invested in a couple of crazy kids and their relationship, only to have the book end "And then they didn't get together! PSYCH! HA, they all married people who aren't even in the book!"

This reflects actual marriage patterns, but for goodness' sake, this is fiction. The mere fact that something is "realistic" doesn't mean that it's a satisfying plot for a novel.

Besides, if you want to write a book about how your first crush is not necessarily going to be your One True Love, probably the heroine's first crush should not be on someone as awesomely snarky as Neal. Couldn't Kel have gotten a hopeless crush on Cleon or Roald, and then grown out of it to realize that Neal was must better suited to her?

People tend to grow out of first crushes because their first crush is on someone unsuitable. If a first crush does happen to alight on someone who would be a good match, then it's silly to say "Well, you should get over it anyway, because after all you first started feeling this way when you were twelve, and obviously that means your feelings don't count. Because...because... twelve-year-olds don't have real feelings! And it's Bad to marry your first crush. Just on general principles!"

trope_bingo

Jan. 2nd, 2013 11:33 pm
osprey_archer: (writing)
I had so much fun with [livejournal.com profile] hc_bingo (and wrote so much fic) that I decided to sign up for trope_bingo, which is pretty much the same idea but with extra weirdness. Coffeeshop AUs! Steampunk AUs! Wingfic! Let's be honest, I am kind of sorry I didn't get a square for wingfic.

And by sorry, I mean that when I saw wingfic was on the list of possible prompts, I started writing a story in which Esca has wings. And Marcus is clipping them, because that is what Romans do with winged slaves. (Apparently feathers are like hair, in that they grow and can be clipped without pain.) Esca is so not happy about this.

But as [livejournal.com profile] sineala pointed out to me, I totally have a free space, which I can use for wingfic! It has therefore become my life goal to make a bingo using that free space.

mistletoe kiss accidental baby acquisition de-aged curtainfic celebratory kiss
truth or dare in vino veritas / drunkfic au: apocalypse poker/strip poker game night
kiss to save the day au: historical FREE

SPACE
animal transformation secret twin / doppelganger
fuck or die locked in au: magic soul bonding / soulmates amnesia
fake relationship sex pollen cross-dressing au: were / vamp / supernatural day at the beach


I am thinking about doing the diagonal starting with "mistletoe kiss" and ending with "day at the beach." I must contemplate whether I have any fandoms where anyone would go to a beach ever. It could involve MERMAIDS.

I already have ideas what to write for "in vino veritas," though. A Tortall fic: one midwinter, Kel & Neal get drunk and kiss and are instantaneously all "WHAT DID WE JUST DO?" and of course they are forced by their massive guilt and honorableness to tell Yuki, and...maybe an OT3 ensues? IDK, Pierce heroines often read very straight to me, although Kel less so than Alanna, who is probably like a Kinsey -2.

I also kind of want to inflict soulbond fic on someone like Jaye Tyler, who would be all "I have a soulmate ugh it's so sappy MAKE IT GO AWAY." But I would have to rewatch Wonderfalls, which I may not have time to do...

On the other hand! The horizontal line starting "kiss to save the day" also looks enticing. It has animal transformations, always my favorite! And historical AUs! Um, although that might require a contemporary fandom that I could transport the characters out of...
osprey_archer: (Default)
YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS my parents are bringing me the latest Obernewtyn book from New Zealand! (They're on sabbatical. They have the best sabbaticals when I'm not around. They went to France for a year once. This was before I was born.)

It's apparently not actually the last Obernewtyn book, because the series is NEVER GOING TO END OH MY GOD. But NONETHELESS. After all these years of waiting, I finally get the next installment! Maybe some things will actually wrap up. Maybe they'll find Matthew! Maybe Mirrim will reappear! Maybe Elspeth and Rushton will finally be together for more than three pages!

No, that's probably too much to hope for.

I will be seeing my parents on Saturday. I can probably hold off diving into the book long enough to say "Welcome home."

***

Finally: I've finished rereading! The Realms of the Gods! It only took me...a month and a half. *facepalm* I finally added it to my to-do list because clearly it wasn't happening any other way.

Most frustrating thing about this book: Daine and Numair realize their Epic Love for each other halfway through. Then they discuss reasons why their Epic Love might be troublesome. He is twice her age! And he is her teacher! Also, Daine just fell off a cliff and nearly got eaten by spidrens and maybe has a head wound, and therefore is in no shape to be starting a new relationship! Okay, they don't discuss that last one, but it's worth keeping in mind.

And then! And then! They drop the subject and NEVER DISCUSS IT AGAIN.

I am not sufficiently invested in Daine/Numair to want fic addressing this, but...I mean, if you're going to bring it up, you really ought to deal with it, right?

Most awesome thing about the book: darkings. They are shamelessly adorable. I should be irritated at being so manipulated, but I am way too busy going "ADORABLE INKBLOT CREATURES. Awwwwwwwwww."

First Test

Sep. 18th, 2012 11:17 pm
osprey_archer: (Default)
I've been rereading Protector of the Small, a.k.a. my very favorite Tortall series because Neal and Lerant (oh Lerant, my angst hedgehog!) and most of all, KEL.

Kel blew my tiny mind when I was first read the book. I was elevenish, and Kel embodied what was, for me, an appealingly foreign set of values: obedience, respect for elders (including Neal, as her sponsor), and - most appealing of all! - warrior stoicism. Kel has absolute control over which emotions she reveals, and I found that enthralling. I mean, really. Sign me up!

One thing that struck me on the way through is Jon's comment that some of the pages died the year before in the Immortals War. This is just a throwaway comment, not something the text engages with at all, but it suggests all kinds of stories. Who died? How do the older pages deal with their friends' untimely demise? Do they have a pact not to talk about it in front of the younger pages - some peculiar outgrowth of warrior stoicism?

Maybe this contributes to Joren and company's evil. Maybe they saw one of their buddies get eaten by a spidren, and being nasty is a way of dealing with their trauma.
osprey_archer: (tortall)
Reading Emperor Mage. I want to visit Lindhall Reed's laboratory SO BADLY. ALL THE LITTLE GLASS HABITATS. I WANT TO SEE THEM. Also Bonedancer.

Also I'd like to see the University library, but naturally Daine doesn't visit it; she's not a very bookish sort of person. (Most Pierce heroines aren't, it seems.) But maybe in the upcoming Numair book...

Is it ever explained why Ozorne pardoned Numair? Or why the Tortallans felt it necessary to test this pardon by taking Numair to Carthak to flaunt him under Ozorne's nose? ("Ha, ha, we have Numair and you don't!" Not a good way to start peace talks with a possessive and spiteful emperor, I would think.) He doesn't seem to be an important negotiator, and Daine doesn't need his help to heal Ozorne's birds, so what's he doing in Carthak?

***

On a completely irrelevant note: do you think the Bazhir and the Carthakis are related? Clearly it's not a close relationship - the Bazhir aren't recent Carthaki settlers - but perhaps they come from the same root stock long ago?

Admittedly my only evidence for this is that both Bazhiri and Carthaki women veil themselves, which probably tells us nothing except that Pierce finds veiling a convenient shorthand for "these people are totally backward." But it would add an interesting new dimension to Carthak's antipathy toward Tortall. Perhaps they don't like the way their Bazhiri cousins are treated.
osprey_archer: (tortall)
Bizarre Tortallan factoid of the day: all fiefs are limited to forty men-at-arms. No matter how lively the border on which they sit, not matter how raid-prone their Scanran neighbors are, no matter if their fief is five hundred miles square: forty men at arms. The fact that Dunlath has exceeded this number, and moreover set up heavy fortifications, is a clear sign that they're up to no good.

Um, I can come up with a good reason for Dunlath to be heavily fortified. It's right on the border with Scanra. And it's sitting on a motherlode of black opals, which the Scanrans would surely love to steal. I realize that the Contes don't want their nobles to have enough men at arms to rise up in rebellion, but surely border fiefs like Dunlath need to have enough troops so as not to get overrun whenever the Scanrans feel like a little recreational raiding!

They clearly can't rely on the King's Own or the Queen's Riders to do it for them. When Daine and Numair figure out that Yolane's plotting high treason, the closest armed forces are a few days' ride away: no help at all during a lightning raid. (Why doesn't Numair ask the neighboring fiefs to lend their men at arms till the Own arrives? Isn't this the kind of on-the-spot military presence the kind of thing that men-at-arms are for? And it would be a good way to ensure that they're not involved in Dunlath's treason - always a worry; treason spreads so.)

Also! Also! How big is Dunlath's massive and treasonous army of men at arms, shockingly larger than the forty allowed? Twice forty.

Yes. Yolane and Belden mean to conquer all of Tortall with a ravening horde of eighty men at arms. Who could be stopped by...summoning up the men-at-arms from the three closest fiefs...

And, okay, Yolane and Belden also hired some mercenaries, plus they've got five kickass mages who are going to kill off a significant proportion of the King's Own with magical bloodrain. But given the mages, why did Yolane bother hiring her treasonous but not actually useful extra forty men-at-arms? (Besides the fact that she's colossally stupid, as witness the fact that she thinks Ozorne will actually let her reign over anything.)

Why does Tortall bother having knights and soldiers with conventional arms, anyway? It seems like a tremendous waste of time and treasure to train soldiers - let alone pour years into training conventional knights! - if a well-trained battle mage can blow up whole groups of them like Tristan Staghorn does in Wolf Speaker. Wouldn't it be much better to spend all that cash on battle mages?

...I feel that there's a flaw in my logic somewhere in there - that there is a reason continue fielding vast armies - but I'm not sure what it is.

***

On the bright side, Maura of Dunlath is awesome and I will write about her at length later. There's going to be a book about her soon, isn't there?
osprey_archer: (Daine)
Here's a pattern that shows up time and again in the Tortall books. The heroine has a huge secret: Alanna's a girl, Daine ran wild with the wolves and forgot she was human, and Aly is the daughter of Tortall's spymaster. She's convinced that if her secret ever becomes known then her world will fall apart, and therefore keeps it clasped tight to her breast.

Then the big, bad, world-destroying secret is revealed, and…nothing happens.

In Wild Magic, this makes sense. Numair knows how to help Daine center herself so she never forgets she's human again: her big secret, awful as it is for her (her fellow villagers hunted her! Led by Hakkon Falconer who was almost her stepfather!), is something they can fix, so of course they don't freak out about it.

Alanna is a special case, because when the fact that she's female is revealed to the whole court, there are some repercussions. King Roald is evidently irritated enough that Alanna decides to go hang out with the Bazhir for a while.

But leaving was her decision. She's not ordered out of the court. Nor is she banished, or imprisoned, or otherwise punished for lying to everyone about her true identity for eight years; no one considers taking her shield away. It may not be possible to take someone's shield away, what with the Chamber of the Ordeal. Tortall's rulers may want to reconsider this policy. Not just Alanna, but also the base and treasonous Alex of Tirragen and Duke Roger made it through the Ordeal, so clearly the Chamber isn't infallible.

You could argue, I suppose, that Roger hadn't yet started down the road of high treason when he went through the Ordeal, but I think it's pretty clear that Alex had already been suborned to Roger's plans by the time he had his Ordeal. Shouldn't the Chamber have caught that? "Not trying to overthrow the crown" strike me as pretty high on the list of desiderata in new knights.

And Aly? At the end of Trickster's Queen there's this scene where Aly's all, "So guys, I'm the daughter of Tortall's spymaster. Thought you should know!" And in the book everyone's all "We couldn't have rebelled successfully without you, Aly! No harm, no foul!"

No! The revelation that their spymaster grew up in the thick of the Tortallan spy world - and, through Alanna, has such close ties to the Tortallan crown - ought to make the Copper Islanders reconsider her motivations for doing so. Possibly while they keep her locked up, so she can't spy on them anymore. There are a ton of reasons why Tortall might want the crown of the Copper Isles destabilized, and most of them aren't altruistic.

But it would be a total bummer if Dove reacted realistically to Aly’s revelation. Who wants to read two books about a rebellion, ending with the heroine being thrown in jail or shipped ignominiously home by the people she helped? Or about Alanna winning her shield, and promptly being stripped of it? (Exile, however, has real story possibilities. Alanna the Outlaw!)

This is the thing that makes Tortall so much fun to read, but so frustrating to analyze: they're chock full of fun things, secrets and duels and dinosaur battles. But if the logical consequences of keeping secrets or destroying palaces would bog down the story, those consequences just…don't occur. And it's hard to make sense of a world where cause and effect doesn't function.
osprey_archer: (kitty)
One of the things I find most off-putting when rereading Tortall is the way that the world warps itself to confirm the awesomeness of the main characters. Oftentimes secondary characters act as a sort of Greek chorus, laughing whenever the main character says something witty and admiring whenever she does something admirable. (It's not just the main characters who get this treatment; in the Alanna books, Jon is treated much the same.)

Take this scene from Wild Magic:

The glass-crowned one was finally the only monster alive. She hovered just out of Onua's range, one of the K'Mir's arrows lodged in her shoulder.

"Pink
pigs!" she snarled. "How dare you defy me, maggots! You filth!"

"Look who's talking," Daine shouted, sliding an arrow onto her string. She lowered her bow, wanting the creature to think she was done. "Your ma was a leech with bad teeth," she taunted. Onua laughed in spite of herself. "You da was a peahen. I know chickens with more brains than you!"

The queen screamed and dropped, claws extended. Daine brought the bow up, loosing as she reached the best point in her swing. Her arrow buried itself in the queen's eye as Onua cheered.


It's really an odd scene. Onua's standing there, bow trained on the Stormwing. But when the Stormwing dives into her range, she doesn't shoot, even though Daine isn't aiming at the Stormwing. She just stands back and cheers as Daine shoots. Did Daine's witticisms make Onua laugh so hard that she lowered her bow?

Onua's laughter is strange here, anyway. It's presented as if Daine's just so funny Onua can't help herself, but that doesn't make sense. Daine's mild witticisms might make Onua laugh after the battle, as a release of tension. But when Daine starts cracking wise they're staring down a murderous Stormwing, and Onua knows that her friend Numair may be lying dead in the bog somewhere close by.

And why doesn't the Stormwing finish her attack? Daine's shot isn't fatal, and the Stormwing has good reason to keep fighting: Daine and Onua have just killed all the Stormwing's comrades in arms. Why doesn't the Stormwing finish them both off in vengeance? Especially given that Onua's too busy cheering for Daine to shoot?

It's like the characters - including the bad guys! - are conspiring to make Daine look amazing. At eleven I bought it hook, line, and sinker, but reading it now, it just strikes me as poor writing. For goodness' sake, Daine talks to animals! She doesn't need any extra help to be awesome!
osprey_archer: (Default)
Oh, Daine. Daine, Daine, Daine. Daine was my favorite, favorite TP heroine back when I first read the Tortall books; I have LOTS OF FEELINGS about her and her world and will probably carpet you with posts.

What's awesome about Daine? EVERYTHING. She had a wonderful angsty past! Which included a period of living with the wolves! Because she could TALK TO ANIMALS! And not just talk to animals, but transform into them and heal them and resurrect dinosaur skeletons in order to go on a palace-destroying rampage!!! I reread the first three books in the series approximately a million times.

The fourth book in the quartet, however, I read only once. Daine and Numair's sudden romantic entanglement disturbed me. He was her teacher! And kind of a father figure! Maybe an older brother figure. And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, for no apparent reason they're making out on a ledge and pledging eternal devotion!

It's something of a let-down, thus, to realize that Daine/Numair was more than adequately foreshadowed in Wild Magic. Daine has a painfully obvious crush on Numair from the first. She blushes and won't look at him the first time they chat; she nearly starts crying when he leaves her and Onua at the palace.

(Numair, I feel constrained to add, doesn't appear to return her feelings at this point - after all, she's thirteen! - but that doesn't really matter; their eventual romance is adequately foreshadowed by Daine's feelings. Whoever heard of a YA book where the heroine doesn't get the guy, after all? Protector of the Small aside!)

This doesn't mean I've changed my opinions on Daine/Numair - I still find it massively displeasing - but at least it isn't completely random.
osprey_archer: (Default)
Alanna, knowing quite well that George collected the ears - and sometimes the rest - of those who disobeyed his orders, hid a grin behind her hand.

Ah, George Cooper. Everybody’s favorite King of the Rogue.

I like George. Everyone likes George. I think it’s impossible not to like George. He’s got lots of funny lines, and he’s so darn nice to Alanna, and he seems to understand her implicitly, which not many people do.

None of this is to say that George Cooper, and the worldbuilding surrounding the court of the Rogue, makes much sense. The quote at the start of this entry encapsulates the problem: here we have the nicest guy in the world...who mutilates his followers when they don’t do what he wants.

Which habit, going by Alanna’s reaction, is...apparently humorous? Oh, that King of the Rogue, he cuts people’s ears off. Isn’t he a card?

This reaction might make sense if Tortall were a more violent society, but it doesn’t really come across that way. The pages aren’t beaten, knight masters don’t beat their squires (THANK GOD. That would add a whole new level of ick to Alanna and Jon’s relationship), nobody gets branded or drawn and quartered or what have you in punishment, so it seems out of place for Alanna to find George’s method of punishment charmingly quirky rather than indicative of pathology.

I would find this less alarming, but Pierce mentions the whole “George cuts people’s ears off!” thing at least once a book, as if it’s an amusing hobby. IIRC in Trickster’s Choice we even learn that he has an ear collection.

Yes. Just like a serial killer on Criminal Minds, George Cooper, ex-King of the Rogue and Lord of Pirate’s Swoop, collects his victim’s body parts.

“He always seemed like such a nice fellow, lord provost, sir. Always helpin’ the young nobles get nice horses, he was, and such a good listenin’ ear, too! Can't hardly believe they found all those skeletons in the dungeon at Pirate's Swoop.”

But even more alarming, the rising ruling cohort of Tortall - Alanna, Crown Prince Jon, Raoul and Gary - not only don’t care what he does to his followers (who are, after all, criminals); they also don’t give a hoot that George and his thieves are preying on Jon’s law-abiding future subjects, either. This doesn’t bode particularly well for Jon’s reign, at least as far as the common folk are concerned.

(My favorite completely-unsupported-by-the-text theory is that George's main business is smuggling. Old King Jasson placed ruinous tariffs on certain absolutely necessary goods [it seems like the kind of thing he would do], King Roald can't be bothered to lift said tariffs, so the legal establishment turns a blind eye to George's activities because, hey, it's a stupid law he's breaking, and he's helping keep order to boot.

This explains why George has such an incredibly good spy network, which you wouldn't think he'd need as Lord of the Petty Thieves. A merchant, especially an illegal merchant, needs good information about the surrounding countries.)

So, yes. George Cooper: a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
osprey_archer: (kitty)
I'm going to get back to George and the Bazhir (and, now that I've finished Lioness Rampant, the Doi and the K'mir, and Pierce's treatment of tribal peoples in general). But for now, on the topic of Lioness Rampant: my kingdom for some motivations!

I mean, I can just about wrap my mind around Roger's motivations (thwarted ambition! Also, being dead makes you crazy), and Delia's (who thinks she's going to be Roger's queen), and Josiane's (thwarted love for Jonathan/being Jonathan's queen! Also, apparently being from the Copper Islands makes you crazy), and Ralon's (thwarted ambition again. Jon and company chased him out of page training, for what was - in Ralon's mind, at least - mere customary hazing of Alanna).

But Alex. Alex's motivation is that - he wants to prove he's a better swordsman than Alanna? I'm not at all clear that this is his motivation, but no better explanation is offered...except that even by the fairly low standards set by the other villains' motivations, this makes no sense.

Why does proving that he's a better swordsman than Alanna involve sitting back and letting Corus be destroyed? - and the text states explicitly that Alex knows Roger's true plans (is, in fact, the only one who does; Delia et al just think Roger means to be king), so it's not like he doesn't know what's going to happen. He can't just corner her during sword practice and badger her into a duel?

But most of all, WHAT IS DRIVING THOM? Yes, yes, he wanted to prove he was a great sorcerer by resurrecting a dead person, but Tortall is a large kingdom with lots and lots of dead people, most of whom are not traitors to the crown who were killed by his very own twin sister, any one of whom Thom could resurrect!

(Also, doesn't resurrecting a traitor to the crown seem awfully treasonous? Or is that just me?)

I've read that in the original, unpublished, adult book version of SotL, Thom and Roger were lovers (which is its own barrel of worms...) but that doesn't make any sense in SotL as published, because Thom hates and fears Roger even more than Alanna, so clearly is not so in love with him to bring him back from the dead against all reason.

I can only assume that the Sorcerer's Sleep Roger cast upon himself included a compulsion that forced Thom to raise him. It would have been nice to have that stated somewhere.

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