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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Warning: spoilers ahead

Since there has been so much discussion of reviewing A THRONE OF BONES of late, I've decided that enough time has passed to permit a Q&A about the book with those who have read it.  If you have not yet read the novel, but intend to do so, I strongly recommend that you not read the comments.  And if you have, this is your place to ask me questions concerning the events and characters of the existing book and the novellas, NOT the one that I am currently writing.

On a related note, A Wardog's Coin won't be out until next month because I have been occupied with working on Book Two as well as a Selenoth-related social game that is going to be a fantasy epic in its own right.

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93 Comments:

Anonymous daddynichol January 24, 2013 6:08 AM  

Still reading, but the coming home of Corvus touching especially his moments with Marsra. Gotta have a good dog in there somewhere. Reminded me of my last few minutes with my old dog, Maggie.

Thus far, the book has moved along smoothly with clear, vivid descriptions of battles and the interplay of the various characters.

Anonymous daddynichol January 24, 2013 6:10 AM  

Drat. Can't edit the above. Should read, "Corvus was touching..."

Anonymous Krul January 24, 2013 6:40 AM  

I'm a little confused on the nature of magic in Selenoth.

Is all magic in Selenoth demonic in origin? I understand that the diabolism presented in AMB is, but the Christian elf's research at the beginning of AMB sounded more like some type of advanced science than magic. Then there's the human battlemages, whose power doesn't seem to be especially demonic in nature. There's also the Eagle taming spell, which Clericus utilizes without a qualm, although that may just be a response to desperate circumstances.

I'm thinking that all magic is demonic in nature since the Michaelines' power works on both the elf and the battlemage in the incident at the ambassador's mansion, but I'm just not sure because sorcerers in Selenoth seem to be able to use their powers for good. So I'm also wondering if maybe the Michaelines are -unbeknownst to themselves and the Church- actually magicians and the Selenoth Church's ban on all magic is actually Churchianity-style hypocritical prudishness based in ignorance.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 6:44 AM  

Is all magic in Selenoth demonic in origin?

No, I actually have a moderately detailed system worked out for my attempt to convert ASL into a board game. I have some 25 pages of rules written out, including the various sorts of magic which include diablerie, which is definitely demonic. If you read Master of Cats and Birth of an Order, both contained in SE, this may provide you with more insight.

Since ATOB was mostly set in Amorr, there was naturally little discussion of the subject.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 6:45 AM  

Correction: to covert ASL into a fantasy wargame. It is already a board game....

Anonymous Krul January 24, 2013 6:46 AM  

Errata: "AMB" should be "A Master of Cats". That's the story with the magic that sounded like advanced science, and the diabolism.

Anonymous Krul January 24, 2013 6:56 AM  

Is all magic in Selenoth demonic in origin?

No


Cool. I'll enjoy reading more about this in future novels, as it raises a few questions that you probably can't answer right now without spoiling future books.

Mainly, why does the church ban all magic? Why are the Michaelines effective against all magic? And why did the Christian elf feel the need to give up all magic? I look forward to finding out the answers to these questions in future books.

Anonymous Rantor January 24, 2013 7:18 AM  

I came across this description of an object that Bane saw,

"I gazed into the living room window, that blazing afternoon, I damn well knew a ziggurat when I saw one. Well, that was my first impression, anyway. It wasn’t tiered at all, in fact, it was a perfect cube, as near as I could tell, made of stone. Or ivory. Or bone. Or pressed wood. Or…

The bas relief carvings on it moved, there under the afternoon sun, ever so slightly, and told stories, and danced, and wove spells, and worked magics, and I heard singing, great choirs, as if coming from different parts of the compass, and blending…"

I immediately thought of the Throne of Bones and was wondering whether Bane's object may have inspired your description of the Throne.

It also made me think about whether the Throne may ultimately prove to be a BAD thing.

Anonymous Faust January 24, 2013 7:18 AM  

Something I had trouble understanding from the Summa Elvetica:

In the response to objection 2:

Likeness of creatures to God is not affirmed on account of agreement in form according to the formality of the same genus or species, but solely according to analogy, inasmuch as God is essential being, whereas other things are beings by participation. Therefore the elves have souls which are naturally united to them.

^- What does it mean to be a "being by participation"?

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 7:25 AM  

I immediately thought of the Throne of Bones and was wondering whether Bane's object may have inspired your description of the Throne.

No, not at all. It was inspired by my grandfather's chair, in which I am now sitting as I type this.

What does it mean to be a "being by participation"?

A created being. The participation refers to participation in Creation.

Anonymous Peter Garstig January 24, 2013 8:19 AM  

I'm wondering about a lot. But the first thing that came to mind: when the Michaelines defeat Silvertree's spell, do they gather their magic from the Watcher or from the Immaculate? It's not obvious from the scene, but could have major implications.

And while I'm at it: where did you get your inspiration for the character hopping during the last battle? Or did you came up with this on your own?

Blogger Joshua_D January 24, 2013 8:58 AM  

Do you plan to explain further the "magic" or power of Michalines? Especially the glowing double cross.

Anonymous MendoScot January 24, 2013 8:59 AM  

Why do the elf-maidens lose their magic with their virginity?

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 9:07 AM  

But the first thing that came to mind: when the Michaelines defeat Silvertree's spell, do they gather their magic from the Watcher or from the Immaculate? It's not obvious from the scene, but could have major implications.

The Immaculate. It's not magic per se, but rather a magic-dampening power similar to exorcism.

And while I'm at it: where did you get your inspiration for the character hopping during the last battle?

Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes. That's why I say that if I am ripping off anyone, it is Abercrombie.


Do you plan to explain further the "magic" or power of Michalines?

Not anytime soon.


Why do the elf-maidens lose their magic with their virginity?

Their magic is intimately tied to a specific aspect of the Goddess.

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 9:08 AM  

Are the house legions more or less permanent institutions?

Does each house martial have a formal relationship with their allied province, or is it just, "we have a bunch of estates here"?

Anonymous VryeDenker January 24, 2013 9:26 AM  

I assumed the Michaelines' "power" was nothing more than simply acting in the name of the Immaculate. At least, that's what I got from the duel between the Priest and the Elven sorceror in Summa Elvetica.

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 9:35 AM  

Also, what made you decide to go with three consuls?

Anonymous Raggededge January 24, 2013 10:05 AM  

George RR Martin has been notoriously blood thirsty in his novels. As a reader you had better not get too attached to a character because odds are, he's a goner sooner or later. Obviously, killing off characters is sometimes necessary to further the plot. However, when writing epic novels and series like this, do you sometimes wonder if you didn't make a horrible mistake and killing off character so and so actually deprived you of plot options that would have allowed you to write a better book?

It seems to me in Martin's case that the characters that remain are not nearly as interesting as the ones he has killed off.

Anonymous Peter Garstig January 24, 2013 10:05 AM  

Why did you decide to go with Goblins instead of Rabbits?

Anonymous Boron January 24, 2013 10:25 AM  

Very enjoyable book.

Why did you decide to allow fascitors to bear the axe within the City? (For other readers: this is something that lictors were not supposed to do.)

Blogger jamsco January 24, 2013 10:26 AM  

Can we see a picture of the throne/chair? Do you often write in that chair?

At one point in the story, a letter is dated 'in the 416th Year of Our Immaculate Lord'. Would it be correct to assume that the setting of this book is similar to that of the Roman Empire around 416 AD? Would it be correct that the conventional (i.e. non-magical) warfare is similar to our world's warfare at that time?

How does our world's historical Christianity compare with the religion of your book. Is their 'Immaculate' pretty much the same as our Jesus? Is their scripture the same as ours?

What size is Selenoth (the geographical setting of TOB)? Is it comparable to Australia, North America, Europe or Asia?

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 10:32 AM  

Are the house legions more or less permanent institutions?

Yes, although they require Senate approval for their formation and can be retired at will by the controlling House.

Does each house martial have a formal relationship with their allied province, or is it just, "we have a bunch of estates here"

They don't all; most of them have some sort of formal ruling relationship to it which varies from House to House. In Vallyria, for example, the senior Valerian is the Dux Vallyria, or Duke of Vallyria. Each House has different rules and traditions concerning the distribution of titles, but the one thing they have in common is a preference for a Head or other senior title holder to be a senator.

Also, what made you decide to go with three consuls?

First, to remind the reader that it is Rome-like, not Rome proper. Amor, for those who do not know, is supposedly the secret name of Rome, it's not some lame attempt to thinly disguise anything. Also, the nature of the Empire indicted it. One to rule the City, one to rule the Provinces, and one to lead the legions.

do you sometimes wonder if you didn't make a horrible mistake and killing off character so and so actually deprived you of plot options that would have allowed you to write a better book?

No. Virtually no one is safe in my books either, but I am confident that the new characters being introduced will be as compelling as those they replace. Also, given the broader scope of my series, I need a mechanism to avoid having 25 different perspective characters. In Book Two, the focus is going to shift somewhat away from Amorr, so obviously I needed to create room for some non-Amorran perspective characters.

Why did you decide to go with Goblins instead of Rabbits?

They're less annoying.

Anonymous Gwenllian January 24, 2013 10:32 AM  

At the end of Lodi's first chapter, it seemed like his companion was carried off by the dragon. But the next time we see them there is no mention of that at all. Did I miss something?

Anonymous Malcolm January 24, 2013 10:33 AM  

Enjoyed the book very much. It was a real page-turner, with completely unexpected twists, in a fascinating world. I read SE and AMB first, and I think that enhanced my enjoyment. Although it did not meet your goals, I would hardly regard SE as a failure. It was a great introduction to Clericus.

Two questions about the book:

1) In Kindle Location 1149, it appears as if Thorald is carried off by the dragon. But later on, Thorald remains Lodi's companion in spying on the Orcs and the battle of the bridge. If Thorald was carried off by the dragon, how was he rescued; and if Thorald wasn't carried off, who was the screaming dwarven figure in the dragon's claws? What did I miss here?

2) To escape the Castra, a tunnel two stadia long is dug in a few days or less. Two stadia is about 1000-1200 ft. Assuming 36 hours to dig the tunnel, and allowing that only 2 or 3 men could dig at the face which was 4 men wide (need pick swing room), the work would have to progress at around 30 ft/hour, with bracing work to support the dirt. The question is, did I misunderstand the timing, or was illegal magic used to accomplish this feat? Or perhaps Roman stadia are much shorter than Amorran?



P.S. I got the book on Kindle within about the last month, I believe after the team OCD corrections were made. However, I did notice that "despite" was incorrectly spelled "dispite" at Kindle location 11162

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 10:40 AM  

Why did you decide to allow fascitors to bear the axe within the City? (For other readers: this is something that lictors were not supposed to do.)

I wanted them to be viewed as dangerous. A modern reader isn't going to have the same respect for authority that a Roman would have. But he can understand respect for an axe in the hand of a man who doesn't hesitate to use it.

Can we see a picture of the throne/chair? Do you often write in that chair?

Don't have one. Always.

At one point in the story, a letter is dated 'in the 416th Year of Our Immaculate Lord'. Would it be correct to assume that the setting of this book is similar to that of the Roman Empire around 416 AD? Would it be correct that the conventional (i.e. non-magical) warfare is similar to our world's warfare at that time?

It's a mix. Savondir is more like the 13th century; you'll note that Amorrans have stirrups, but haven't developed heavy cavalry. Needless to say, I'm setting up to answer a question that military historians have long debated.

How does our world's historical Christianity compare with the religion of your book. Is their 'Immaculate' pretty much the same as our Jesus? Is their scripture the same as ours?

It's similar. More or less. Think of it like the relationship between Rome and Amorr.

What size is Selenoth (the geographical setting of TOB)? Is it comparable to Australia, North America, Europe or Asia?

There is a 200-mile measure on the map. It's more akin to Europe.

Anonymous Daniel January 24, 2013 10:43 AM  

How does the earlier clarification of ensoulment in the SE encyclical impact the cultural view of the arena?

Blogger jamsco January 24, 2013 10:49 AM  

"At the end of Lodi's first chapter, it seemed like his companion was carried off by the dragon. But the next time we see them there is no mention of that at all. Did I miss something?"

I just went back and looked. I agree with Gwenllian. There isn't much explanation.

Maybe you could have a flashback in Book 2 to explain it.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 10:54 AM  

At the end of Lodi's first chapter, it seemed like his companion was carried off by the dragon. But the next time we see them there is no mention of that at all. Did I miss something?

Yes. Read it more closely. Thorald was not carried off. The drake was bringing back "a dwarf-sized figure", an orc it had caught when it went out hunting earlier, though Lodi couldn't have known that from his vantage point. It's just a mild cliff-hanger which foreshadows their coming encounter with the gathering orc tribes.

1) In Kindle Location 1149, it appears as if Thorald is carried off by the dragon. But later on, Thorald remains Lodi's companion in spying on the Orcs and the battle of the bridge. If Thorald was carried off by the dragon, how was he rescued; and if Thorald wasn't carried off, who was the screaming dwarven figure in the dragon's claws? What did I miss here?

It was hunting orcs.

To escape the Castra, a tunnel two stadia long is dug in a few days or less. Two stadia is about 1000-1200 ft. Assuming 36 hours to dig the tunnel, and allowing that only 2 or 3 men could dig at the face which was 4 men wide (need pick swing room), the work would have to progress at around 30 ft/hour, with bracing work to support the dirt. The question is, did I misunderstand the timing, or was illegal magic used to accomplish this feat? Or perhaps Roman stadia are much shorter than Amorran?

I think you're underestimating how fast they could dig. Remember, these legionaries dug a deep perimeter trench around their 14-hectare camp every single day. But it probably would have been more realistic to make it a single stadia.

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 10:54 AM  

One to rule the City, one to rule the Provinces, and one to lead the legions.

Does the consul provinciae have greater oversight over the various proconsuls or propraetors that serve as governors, or are they given pretty much free reign to loot their provinces?

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 10:55 AM  

How does the earlier clarification of ensoulment in the SE encyclical impact the cultural view of the arena?

It doesn't. Neither the patricians nor the plebians pay much attention to whatever theological nonsense the Church scholars are contemplating.

Anonymous Rev Righteous January 24, 2013 10:56 AM  

I assume the Watchers were inspired by the "Book of Enoch?"

Also, in chapter seven, where Lodi and Thorald are raiding the dragon's lair, at the end of the chapter it appears to describe the dragon carrying Thorald off. We don't pick back up with them until chapter thirty or so and then both dwarves are alive and traveling together. Did I miss something in the text, or was the explanation of Thorald's survival simply not given?

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 10:57 AM  

Does the consul provinciae have greater oversight over the various proconsuls or propraetors that serve as governors, or are they given pretty much free reign to loot their provinces?

In theory, but in reality he uses it to enrich himself via provincial appointments. A strong consul provincae will negotiate deals for himself and obtain a cut of the action for a specified period of time. If you get appointed by a Falconian consul provincae, you're going to pay. By some member of a minor house, a nice thank-you gift will do.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 11:01 AM  

I assume the Watchers were inspired by the "Book of Enoch?"

To some extent. Also by a Roger Zelazny novel. More the Zelazny, in fact, the Enochian elements were mostly color added after the fact.

Did I miss something in the text, or was the explanation of Thorald's survival simply not given?

Not so much missed something as made an assumption not warranted by the text. See above.

I just went back and looked. I agree with Gwenllian. There isn't much explanation.

No, there isn't any. I'm not big on explaining the logically obvious. (1) "A dwarf-sized figure" != a dwarf. (2) Thorald is not missing, ergo the figure was likely not him. (3) Orcs and dwarves are similarly sized. (4) There are a massive quantity of orcs nearby, therefore the figure was likely an orc. My editor and I disagreed on this one; obviously a number of readers would likely side with him.

Anonymous Rev Righteous January 24, 2013 11:03 AM  

Yeah, I just saw two people beat me to the punch and got that question in before me; thanks for the answers!

Anonymous Daniel January 24, 2013 11:05 AM  

Okay, now you brought it up, and I'm going to have to word a question based on ATOB, not about what you are going to address in Smash of Rings ;).

Since the cavalry had both stirrups and discipline (although, clearly not as much as an Amorran leader would hope for) why no heavy armor? Did the saddles not have cantles? Even a small unit of heavy would plow through the mobbish light cavalry of their enemies.

Anonymous Daniel January 24, 2013 11:11 AM  

It doesn't. Neither the patricians nor the plebians pay much attention to whatever theological nonsense the Church scholars are contemplating.

That was my distinct impression, so well done. Do you see the gulf between high church and low (and non-church) folk as being wholly unrelated to one another on social and public responses to the Immaculate, then?

Blogger jamsco January 24, 2013 11:12 AM  

" (1) "A dwarf-sized figure" != a dwarf. (2) Thorald is not missing, ergo the figure was likely not him. (3) Orcs and dwarves are similarly sized. (4) There are a massive quantity of orcs nearby, therefore the figure was likely an orc. "

And (5) Dwarves don't scream, right?

Yes, I think I'd agree with the editor. My guess is many people will think this was an unintentional authorial error.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 11:24 AM  

Since the cavalry had both stirrups and discipline (although, clearly not as much as an Amorran leader would hope for) why no heavy armor?

Their whole tactical mindset is infantry-based. They only have 200 horse per every 6000 legionaries. It's a foreign concept to them and they don't need it. As a general rule, militaries don't change what is working.

Do you see the gulf between high church and low (and non-church) folk as being wholly unrelated to one another on social and public responses to the Immaculate, then?

Not wholly unrelated. The entire city was on edge without a Sanctiff, after all. But theology is not for the common people. In SE, all the patrician class really cared about was whether they had a reason to fight the elves or not. The common people's only thought would have been if they might get to see an elf in the arena after the war.

And (5) Dwarves don't scream, right?

Exactly! How could anyone have missed that?

My guess is many people will think this was an unintentional authorial error.

(shrugs) Not my concern. There are other authors who will hold the reader's hand and walk him through everything. I am not one such author.

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 11:25 AM  

If you get appointed by a Falconian consul provincae, you're going to pay.

Can you give us a rough ranking of the houses martial by power, wealth, or prestige?

Blogger Giraffe January 24, 2013 11:36 AM  

Yes, I think I'd agree with the editor. My guess is many people will think this was an unintentional authorial error.

I did. By the time Lodi appeared again, I had forgotton the name of his companion. I wondered what happened. But I didn't go back and look, I wanted to keep going with the story.

Lodi didn't really have much to do with the story. He's like a Danerys side story. At least he enters the story before we slog through three progressively worse books.

Anonymous Daniel January 24, 2013 11:40 AM  

Their whole tactical mindset is infantry-based. They only have 200 horse per every 6000 legionaries.

Now irritated with myself for asking. The entire tactical discussion before the very first battle makes this quite clear. Risking another redundancy, I'll go ahead and ask while you are answering: does the stirrup, in fact, enable feudalism?

Blogger Nate January 24, 2013 11:44 AM  

"Needless to say, I'm setting up to answer a question that military historians have long debated."

if the question is..."Could a roman legion withstand a full charge of heavy calvary charge?" well... I can't speak for Amor... but Rome? No.

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 11:47 AM  

I don't see how a legion would, given their lack of thrusting spears.

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 11:49 AM  

I'll go ahead and ask while you are answering: does the stirrup, in fact, enable feudalism?

I don't think so, because you had militaries with stirrups that were not feudal societies.

Blogger Nate January 24, 2013 11:50 AM  

"I don't see how a legion would, given their lack of thrusting spears."

I am dubious of any unit standing up to a heavy cav charge.... unless of course there happens to have The Devil's Paintbrush laying around...

Anonymous John January 24, 2013 12:10 PM  

What inspired Magnus' rebellion? He seemed to be losing his mind towards the end.

Also, Corvus had a line in which he compared strategy and tactics as being imagination and focus based, respectively. Could you expand on this in a later post?

Anonymous T14 January 24, 2013 12:12 PM  

- The execution of Fortex seemed like it must have been based on something historical. What?

- While not all magic is demonic in nature, is all orc/goblin/alvarg magic/shamanism?

- I assume the...I forget the name of it... the chick religion with virgin mother and crone...I assume that is demonic?

- Orcs are the size of dwarves? For whatever reason I had the impression they were bigger than humans here.

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 12:12 PM  

I am dubious of any unit standing up to a heavy cav charge.... unless of course there happens to have The Devil's Paintbrush laying around...

Pikes.

Also longbows, depending on the terrain and weather.

Blogger Nate January 24, 2013 12:18 PM  

"Pikes.

Also longbows, depending on the terrain and weather."

Longbows are an indirect fire weapon. Cav is simply to fast for the archers to properly adjust their aim.

Crossbows at short range... but you'd have to have balls of steel to stand there and face that charge. its just not realistic.

Blogger Giraffe January 24, 2013 12:27 PM  

Pardon my ignorance, but does the horse have armor? Seems to me that the horse is the weak link. Stick an arrow in the horse's ribs and now the soldier is on the ground with everyone else.

Anonymous John January 24, 2013 12:33 PM  

"Longbows are an indirect fire weapon. Cav is simply to fast for the archers to properly adjust their aim."

I'd cite Agincourt, but it well may have been the unsuitable terrain that allowed the longbowmen to destroy the initial calvary charge.

Anonymous David January 24, 2013 12:40 PM  

I will sheepishly admit that I inferred Lodi was somehow bad-ass enough to rescue his partner from the dragon and escape. In my defense, this is the guy who pulled off Mission Impossible against the XXXXX-King.

Blogger Joshua_D January 24, 2013 12:41 PM  

In A Magic Broken, I got the impression that the Red Prince was more malevolent and bent on starting a war, but in ATOB, the Red Princes comes across as very honorable and benevolent, and not much is said about the motive of trying to tame the dragons (if I remember correctly). Did you change direction on the nature of the King and Princes Savodir in ATOB?

Also, is the Church and Amorr against magic, or just Amorr?

Blogger Joshua_D January 24, 2013 12:43 PM  

And, why is Theuderic such a girl when it comes to riding a giant hawk? ;)

Anonymous Daniel January 24, 2013 12:44 PM  

Josh
I don't think so, because you had militaries with stirrups that were not feudal societies.

Yes, but could you have had feudal society without the stirrup?

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 1:02 PM  

I'd cite Agincourt, but it well may have been the unsuitable terrain that allowed the longbowmen to destroy the initial calvary charge.

Hence my initial comment regarding terrain and weather.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 24, 2013 1:09 PM  

After Corvus has his meeting with the Watcher in the temple and everything goes up in flames, a later chapter mentions he hasn't been seen since then. Should I assume that means no body was found?

Also, going back to the story of the Divided Man, he pleaded with his visitors to finish destroying him so he could regenerate, but wouldn't his magical powers have allowed him to force someone to do that?

Temporal question - Fjotra meets the new Red Prince at his castle after the old Red Prince was killed by the shapeshifter, but then later when Fjotra travels to the capital and meets up with her brother again, it sounds like he's been paling around with the new Prince somewhere else. The guy the non-battlemage mage brought her too after rescuing her from the dock thugs was the new Heir to the throne wasn't he?

Regarding the dwarf-sized figure and the dragon, and "(shrugs) Not my concern<". Certainly, it's your book, but in a book the size of ATOB (and triply so if you have a trilogy of 'em), the natural assumption is the author screwed up and forgot to go back and edit something after deciding to change a plot line.

Anonymous MendoScot January 24, 2013 1:19 PM  

And (5) Dwarves don't scream, right?

Exactly! How could anyone have missed that?

I thought we were for having some more dwarfess action. Just goes to show that you can't always predict what people will read into ambiguity.

Blogger Foster January 24, 2013 1:31 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Stilicho January 24, 2013 1:45 PM  

Yes, but could you have had feudal society without the stirrup?

Japan.

As for the long bow and weather, Agincourt was wet and muddy , slowing the French knights and their Genoese crossbowmen let their bowstrings get wet, so...

Disciplined pikemen could withstand heavy cavalry. They did not make heavy cavalry obsolete, they merely evened the playing field a bit.

Anonymous Daniel January 24, 2013 2:27 PM  

Yes, but could you have had feudal society without the stirrup?

Japan.

Correct me if I'm wrong- military knowledge is not my strength by any means-but didn't the abumi predate the Shogun period? I always thought so and have seen a very vivid (and possibly anachronistic, I don't know) painting of a mounted samurai, feet firmly in black ornate toe stirrups.

Anonymous Daniel January 24, 2013 2:31 PM  

It wasn't this painting, but of a similar style. Is the samurai stirrup an anachronism?

Sorry, I'm off in the weeds here, but now it is driving me nuts.

Anonymous Stilicho January 24, 2013 2:36 PM  

Daniel, my understanding is that Japan was a feudal society even before the shoguns. Additionally, the horse just wasn't that important in Japan, so the stirrup was unlikely to be a significant causal factor in the development of feudalism.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 3:30 PM  

What inspired Magnus' rebellion? He seemed to be losing his mind towards the end.

He doesn't care anymore. The shameful nature of his son's death and his rage have unbalanced him. He simply can't stop to think.

The execution of Fortex seemed like it must have been based on something historical. What?

Look up Titus Manlius Torquatus. I actually had to dial back the emotional impact to make it credible; he actually executed his own son.

While not all magic is demonic in nature, is all orc/goblin/alvarg magic/shamanism?

Not precisely.

I assume the...I forget the name of it... the chick religion with virgin mother and crone...I assume that is demonic?

Won't say.

Orcs are the size of dwarves? For whatever reason I had the impression they were bigger than humans here.

They can be. How big is a human? Remember there were several hundred thousand from which to choose.

Did you change direction on the nature of the King and Princes Savodir in ATOB?

No. The Red Prince is still a man of action, ambition, and war.

Also, is the Church and Amorr against magic, or just Amorr?

Church and Amorr, but the Savondese Church accommodates it due to royal pressure.

Should I assume that means no body was found?

No. And remember that I'm not GRR Martin.

Also, going back to the story of the Divided Man, he pleaded with his visitors to finish destroying him so he could regenerate, but wouldn't his magical powers have allowed him to force someone to do that?

No, they're all different.

Fjotra meets the new Red Prince at his castle after the old Red Prince was killed by the shapeshifter, but then later when Fjotra travels to the capital and meets up with her brother again, it sounds like he's been paling around with the new Prince somewhere else. The guy the non-battlemage mage brought her too after rescuing her from the dock thugs was the new Heir to the throne wasn't he?

Not at his castle. Just a home appropriated for the purpose in Portblanc. He'd ridden up from his estates in the south, where he'd been with Brynjolf. And yes, Etienne-Henri, Duc de Chenevin, is now heir to the throne.


Anonymous Aeoli Pera January 24, 2013 3:38 PM  

Selenoth-related social game

Is this a joke or a real thing?

Blogger Joshua_D January 24, 2013 3:48 PM  

Thanks for taking and answering questions.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 24, 2013 4:15 PM  

Should I assume that means no body was found?

No. And remember that I'm not GRR Martin.


That was my assumption, but the wording left me wondering - it sounded like the people of Amorr didn't know what had become of Corvus, something along the lines of "the Consul hadn't been seen since the fire", when I was expecting more like "the sanctiff and consuls' charred bodies were found inside the throne room." I mean, we've already established you'll leave us with a cliffhanger thinking a dwarf was eaten by a dragon when he wasn't...

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2013 4:20 PM  

Is this a joke or a real thing?

It's like Farmville, but with legions and orcs.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera January 24, 2013 4:37 PM  

Oh, good. All of my favorite things in a tidy bundle.

Anonymous JartStar January 24, 2013 5:00 PM  

Could a legion withstand a heavy cavalry charge? Depends on the era of the Western cavalry, in the early Middle Ages the mail was lighter and the horses didn’t have much protection so maybe, but they’d have to dramatically outnumber the knights, have seen a heavy cavalry charge before, and still have some pilum to help dismount them as their short swords would have been woefully ineffective. The legion’s greatest asset would be their discipline.

By the high Middle Ages, which 13th century France would certainly qualify for, the knights were so well trained, armored, and effective that the legion would take massive casualties and have their line broken. France arguably had the best knights, so they’d be facing the cream of the crop. Historically, in the real world medieval people had better nutrition and were much bigger than a Roman legionnaire giving a considerable size advantage besides the genetic size of the Gaul. If a knight was dismounted and not immediately killed their superior steel plate armor would be very effective against a gladius—to the point of neutralizing it completely.

But what knights charge first before the battle is joined as they are shock troops? The legion would have faced withering crossbow and longbow fire with possible skirmishers on their flanks. I don’t care how much they “turtled” either, an arbalest would go right through their shields and into their arms at least. They would have already been fighting and the knights would be fresh.

By the high Middle Ages Western Europe knew Roman military history and didn’t seek to emulate it on purpose. The slow moving heavy infantry was too vulnerable to cavalry, unless they had spears or pikes, and even then cavalry still ruled the battlefield until gunpowder.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2013 5:10 PM  

Is this a joke or a real thing?

A real thing. And nothing like Farmville. Think sands, bloody sands....

Anonymous Unending Improvement January 24, 2013 5:51 PM  

"A real thing. And nothing like Farmville. Think sands, bloody sands...."

Something like the Spartacus Social Game?

Anonymous Raggededge January 24, 2013 10:04 PM  

One more, is there a pronunciation guide for all of the names?

Anonymous Boron January 25, 2013 1:58 AM  

Thanks very much for answering my question, Vox. Your answer makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous Peter Garstig January 25, 2013 4:01 AM  

I think you're underestimating how fast they could dig. Remember, these legionaries dug a deep perimeter trench around their 14-hectare camp every single day.

Having worked in underground construction for over a decade, I also found this scene very unrealistic. A dig is different from a tunnel. It's more a problem of logistics than numbers/effort. Realistically, they would have

When Silvertree called Lady Shadowsong to rescue Theuderic, I understood it took a days for here to arrive. Later in the book it's described that the Lady Shadowsong has flown her hawk for weeks without breaks prior to that. What was she doing?

Why wasn't Clericus murdered right in front of the Legion before he took over?

Do you have a rough outline of the story before you write (like where every character is going, when to introduce certain things, major conflicts, how it's going to end) or do you pretty much come up with that on the go. If yes, is this in your brain only or are there artifacts you rely on?

Anonymous Peter Garstig January 25, 2013 4:02 AM  

To finish the unfinished: Realistically, they would have died by the dozens had they tried to do this in 24 hours.

Anonymous VD January 25, 2013 5:49 AM  

Realistically, they would have died by the dozens had they tried to do this in 24 hours.

Yeah, I suppose I should fix that. Make it about a stadia and give them more time to dig it. I think there is room for that.

When Silvertree called Lady Shadowsong to rescue Theuderic, I understood it took a days for here to arrive. Later in the book it's described that the Lady Shadowsong has flown her hawk for weeks without breaks prior to that. What was she doing?

She is a messenger for the High King. If I recall correctly, she'd been looking for Marcus after not getting any letters from him.

Why wasn't Clericus murdered right in front of the Legion before he took over?

Because he was surrounded by loyal decurions and the primus pilus didn't dare to try it right in front of everyone. The conspiracy was a fairly small one, just the senior centurion and a few of the men in his century.

Do you have a rough outline of the story before you write (like where every character is going, when to introduce certain things, major conflicts, how it's going to end) or do you pretty much come up with that on the go.

It's all on the go, although I have a general idea of where I want things to end up. When I start writing, I usually know A and Z, and that's about it.

Anonymous VD January 25, 2013 5:49 AM  

One more, is there a pronunciation guide for all of the names?

No, but I can work on posting one here.

Blogger Joshua_D January 25, 2013 8:59 AM  

VD January 25, 2013 5:49 AM
One more, is there a pronunciation guide for all of the names?

No, but I can work on posting one here.


That would be great.

Blogger Foster January 25, 2013 9:26 AM  

"It's all on the go, although I have a general idea of where I want things to end up. When I start writing, I usually know A and Z, and that's about it."

A and Z of the novel or of the series of novels?

Blogger jamsco January 25, 2013 1:56 PM  

Interviewer: At the end of book four Frodo has been captured by orcs and is being brought into the tower, but you begin book six with Frodo and Sam five miles away from the tower, making their way to Mount Doom, apparently unscathed. Did I miss something?

Tolkeeen: Yes. Read it more closely. The orcs were obviously at odds with each other and it was clear that it was going to come to a head, although Sam couldn't have know that from his vantage point. It's just a mild cliff-hanger which foreshadows their coming encounter with marching orcs. You made an assumption not warranted by the text.

Interviewer: But there isn't much explanation of this.

Tolkeeen: No, there isn't any. I'm not big on explaining the logically obvious. (1) Orcs are combative creature and there are two tribes here, (2) The orcs were heard disagreeing about next steps, (3) Sam and Frodo are not skilled fighters(3) Sam and Frodo are seen walking away from the tower, therefore the orcs must have killed themselves.

Interviewer: My guess is many people will think this was an unintentional authorial error.

Tolkeeen: (shrugs) Not my concern. There are other authors who will hold the reader's hand and walk him through everything. I am not one such author.

Interviewer: I see. Well, let's move on. Next subject: Okay, so the entire Rohirrim escapes the Uruk Hai at Helm's Deep by digging a fifteen mile tunnel underneath them?

Anonymous T14 January 25, 2013 3:38 PM  

Here is a question open to all - I just got "A Magic Broken" on my kindle and as I'm flipping through...it appears identical to "A Throne of Bones." Is that right? was it a kindle store screw-up?

Anonymous VD January 25, 2013 4:39 PM  

It's a Kindle screwup. Hinterlands is on it. Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous VD January 25, 2013 4:41 PM  

A and Z of the novel or of the series of novels?

Both. I already know how the series will end. A dwarf, sitting on a mountainside, holding the bloody carcass of a rabbit in his hand as he watches the sunset. And a single tear rolls down his bearded cheek.

Anonymous Josh January 25, 2013 4:53 PM  

Dwarves cry?

Blogger jamsco January 25, 2013 5:13 PM  

"Why, why, oh Why did you make me kill you?"

Anonymous Azimus January 25, 2013 6:16 PM  

JartStar January 24, 2013 5:00 PM Could a legion withstand a heavy cavalry charge? Depends on the era of the Western cavalry, in the early Middle Ages the mail was lighter and the horses didn’t have much protection so maybe, but they’d have to dramatically outnumber the knights, have seen a heavy cavalry charge before, and still have some pilum to help dismount them as their short swords would have been woefully ineffective. The legion’s greatest asset would be their discipline.

Scipio Africanus stopped charging elephants charging. That should have some ability to help us wade through the hypothetical.

Either way though, horse or elephant, the first rank is pretty much doomed.

Anonymous Unending Improvement January 25, 2013 8:26 PM  

Was the disappearance and reappearance of Clericus's Legion meant to resemble the disappearance of the IX Legion?

Anonymous T14 January 26, 2013 8:53 AM  

The Red Prince is an ever so slightly more sober Robert Baratheon?

Blogger Tom January 29, 2013 8:49 AM  

The chapters with Corvus's and the Red Prince's deaths were both very well done. I was impressed with the roller coaster rides that ended in such strong emotional places.

A couple of questions if you're still checking this thread.

Is the God of Amorr the creator god of the whole universe of the setting? Is he a jealous god like the real God? Are there other beings that the creator god of that universe considers acceptable to worship apart from himself?

Which, along with a part of the Watcher's speech in the Elven scroll raises another question. I know that you're a non-trinitarian like Sir Isaac Newton (though not afraid of girls like he was), but who/what do you believe Jesus Christ is? Is he a created being? Was there a time or point in existence before Jesus Christ was created? If Christ is separate from God the Father, do you consider yourself a polytheist?

I'm also curious about your opinion on the Bible. Do you think that it is completely, partially, or not divinely inspired? Do you think there are mistakes in it? If so, how do you figure out which parts are mistakes?

I apologize if you've answered these questions elsewhere, I haven't read everything you've ever written, though I did read those angel books. I actually really liked them overall.

Anonymous Anonymous February 05, 2013 12:20 PM  

I have finished reading TOB now. It was an excellent read and I look forward to the next installment. A few quick hit questions for you, Vox…

Any chance there will ever be an audio version?

Can we get a more detailed map in the future?

Would you ever allow the book(s) to be made into a movie? Even by Peter Jackson? I suspect your answer might be along the lines of "take the money and run."

I had some other questions and they have already been answered above. Thank you for posting this thread, it's not often you get to directly ask an author about his work I appreciate your effort, both here and on the book itself. Well done!

-- Wadly

Anonymous Anonymous February 05, 2013 7:55 PM  

I have finished reading TOB. It was an excellent read and I look forward to the next installment. A few quick hit questions for you, Vox…

Any chance there will ever be an audio version?

Can we get a more detailed map in the future?

Hypothetical question: Would you ever allow the book(s) to be made into a movie? Even by Peter Jackson? I suspect your answer might be along the lines of "take the money and run."


I had some other questions and they have already been answered above. Thank you for posting this thread, it's not often you get to directly ask an author about his work I appreciate your effort, both here and on the book itself. Well done!

Anonymous Anonymous February 05, 2013 7:58 PM  

Sorry, forgot to sign the previous post.

-- Wadly

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