THE S&S PROJECT

OK, here you are, a shiny new thread. Go over to Closed Circle and download Gold In Arderin, a .pdf file. If you have any problem with .pdfs, let me know. Since prepping all those formats takes 4 hours, I opted to use just the one format on this one, which will see many (I hope) changes and revisions, and I don’t want to spend 4 brain-bending hours on each change. [Legal note, which is in case somebody ever wants to raise the issue: Obviously this is my story, and any ideas of yours that happen to pop up in here are donated to me free of charge, by virtue of your putting them here, so you acquire no claim on the story or any version of it ever to exist. And it is my copyrighted story, second point: my name is on it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll add some nice legal language, just to say the requisite legal words and make sure everybody who may ever arrive here understands the situation.]

Now. Have some fun. Read the story. So where do YOU think it’s going? Got an opinion?

35 Comments

  1. smartcat

    Just read it….mulling…like your characters………..three very distinct personalities with space for growth and change………need to read it again……the first time is for the story. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. CJ

    Figure how different it would be if it weren’t Casim’s viewpoint. If I had, say, Master’s. Or Das’. These are the kind of questions that make me crazy. Add a viewpoint? Or not? It’s the most radical change you can make—even above changing the gender of one of the characters.

  3. smartcat

    Might be interesting to tell the story from three different points of view. I’m thinking of Rashomon or The Alexandria Quartet. Of course that would probably mean embarking on another series?

  4. Hanneke

    Just read it the first time, like Smartcats first comment.

    I like having just Casim’s viewpoint, so Das’ and Master’s motivations aren’t clear.

    For now I feel both Das and especially the Master know too much about the back-story.

    Master is more ambiguous, he can still go in any direction, and giving his internal viewpoint might diminish the suspense.

    Why was Casim’s father so unlucky, or determined to do the opposite of whatever advice he was given? Can it have anything to do with having ‘handed his luck on’ to an earlier baby, that nobody knew about?

    Now he’s starting to do something with his potential, is he getting more visible to the bad priests?

  5. kiloecho

    Ok,ok. I just finished reading Gold in Ardarin, and I LOVED IT!
    It’s amazing how exciting the story was for being stuck in a basement room for a majority of the pages.
    The stage is set for some exciting action to come, but when you write more I think the pace demands the action leave the basement.

    Its clear that Casim is not only lucky, but has this magic potential as well. And I think a satisfying ending will come when Casim has mastered his luck, his magic and his warrior skills. But how he gets there could be a freakin’ trilogy of novels or more.

    I think its vital that we see Casim, probably under the watchful eye of Das, leave the basement, and into and out of various situations where his luck and other skills are put to the test. At some point this is going to involve Madam Sofi and the brothel. Perhaps a certain key man or the current duke himself has a weakness for the house of ill repute, and that man carries a valuable object or vital information for the uprising.

    This also demands an encounter between Casim and the snake-priests, but in a way that Master most likely will not be able to help him, at least not via direct intervention. I can naturally see this leading to the current duke coming to knowledge of him, which will change the entire tactic of the uprising. I’m afraid that bloodshed will be unavoidable.

    I can see Casim eventually becoming Duke, even falling in love and marrying some unexpectedly lucky girl. However, what happens to her is another matter. I feel strongly that to give a satisfying tale, Casim will have to explore the dark side of his magical powers, bending them to use for greed or lust for power or other evil. Perhaps he will lose his love to this or perhaps it will be losing her that drives him to revenge and other dark sides of the human mind, but over these too I would like to see him prevail.

    OH OH! Even better idea, he then gives up the dukedom as he is sickened by the corruption power can bring but in doing so finds happiness and contentment with himself living a nomadic life doing good for the poor and unfortunate.
    Then he is called and pleaded with to return, not to usurp King Osric but to save him and the entire kingdom from a terrible fate. A fate that will require every once of luck, magic and military prowess he can muster.

    I think it would be nice to peek in at the viewpoint of Das especially as they skulk about Ardarin or when the inevitable battle ensues, and perhaps at some other key times. However I must agree with Hanneke, we should not see things from Master’s POV. Too much revealed, too much suspense lost. How often did we follow Gandalf’s point of view? or Obi-wan’s?

    Hanneke’s thought of another child, a brother or sister of Casim could be REALLY intriguing. A fight for the duchy, however, I feel this fight will serve to educate Casim and sibiling about one another in a helpful way, when they must put aside their differences and fight a common enemy, playing to each others advantages. But again I see Casim giving up the title of Duke to his sibling and following a path as noted above.

    Wow, that fun just dreaming all that stuff up!

  6. kiloecho

    Oh right, I forgot to mention that once he saves the Osric and the kingdom, he will become King.

  7. CJ

    ๐Ÿ˜† The process of writing…ur seein’ it in action.
    Writing is not about planning everything.
    It’s about setting up a set of choices, not only for the guys in the story, but for you.
    And then you get to figure what is the productive direction to go.

    Sometimes I amuse myself by a tight restriction—having the story take place in a basement is one, as having Companions have only one-and-a-half characters for a whole novella.

    But you’re right: a temples, snakes, and virgins story is set up to have some action…and sources of it abound.

  8. reading-fox

    1)Can you nake the link to this more obvious? You’ve got a LOT of links on the blog, and it took some hunting to find this.

    2) donations: can you make these add to the shopping cart? that way you don’t get hit for two transaction charges, and I don’t have to go back and forth so much.

    3) copy edit- the Master’s name changes at one point.

    4) I really dislike stories where the viewpoint jumps around. SO if you are going to tell some of it from the Master’s POV keep it as a distinct part, or at worst chapters. das just seems a bit part, so I’d like the Master’s POV. But as above, needs to be handled carefully to preserve suspense – chapter heading paragraghs?

    5)plot! finally.
    I think becoming king is trite. That’s standard pigboy stuff. Even Duke is a reach. Maybe the sucessful coup, then Duke then dispossesed by the Priest comeback? The existing story could be most of a Prologue, and pick it up once he’s on the run with Master – Das has returned to Oric. That way we can also skip all the grasshopper training too – another overused plot device. The destiny from his Mother’s side could be to overthrow the snakes, which gives a general theme to the story.

    Are there non-humans in this world? It’s not SnS without Dragons! (I like dragons).

    I defiently feel that an urchin such as Casim is going to rebel a bit more though – and kiloecho’s darkside of magic definetly appeals. Casim’s got some other problems too: someone has to reach through to the tender side within him, and neither Das nor the Master can do so. He needs to have someone fall in love with him, that he can learn to recipricate. And he needs to learn the limits of all power. He’s not a Tristin! SO despite his wishes I don’t think both Daz and the Master can survive, one maybe, but not both. maybe the snakes overcome the Master, leaving Casim a reason to want to fufill his destiny.

    Just some thoughts of the top of my head.

    • CJ

      Interesting ideas. Do in Master and Das, eh?

  9. reading-fox

    Far too many fantasies manage not to kill off any of their characters, even when huge contortions are required to keep them alive. Major characters are even more sacrosanct. Of course some authors go too far the other way and keep killing off readers’ favourites. Somewhere inbetween is a good balance between belivability and annoyance.

    • CJ

      The only problem is that, since Gandalf, everybody expects a dead character to resurrect—

      Of course, I wrote for Thieves’ World, in which permanent death is a very difficult thing to achieve, a situation partially my fault. So who am I to talk?

  10. smartcat

    Suppose Master could not die and knows it? Wouldn’t it make him take huge risks? How would that affect the people around him if they knew/didn’t know this?

    • CJ

      Interesting thought. I’ve written an impervious character—Ischade in Thieves’ World; she’s under a curse, doomed to live, while all her lovers die. Her mindset is kind of odd, and she’s perverse—often does things contrary to her own best interest, because she’s in a bad mood, and lashes out at situations. Interesting to write, you may imagine. Not too cheerful a lady, but definitely productive of plot elements.

      • philospher77

        Apropos of nothing, really, I ran across a Viktor Frankl quote which seems to apply to a lot of your characters: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own wayโ€

        And Ischade was the first character of yours that I ever read, and the one who got me to read the rest of your books. A very interesting, moody lady.

  11. tyr

    It seems, and these ideas are not original with me, that you
    have a classic conflict setup.

    The usage of magic in the form you chose, is a distorter of
    basal realities wherein the mage chooses what his will desires.
    Just a selection from possibility in the multiverse.

    The “luck” is the same ability without conscious control.

    So Master is forced to struggle with the optimizing luck and
    hope that his choices are viable.

    The changing of the names is an external reflection of this
    unseen struggle and best of all is not explained.

    People do wonder sometimes if they have drifted across such
    a boundary in their own lives, but usually ascribe the experiences
    to the vagaries of memory and perceptions rather than a move
    to a slightly different physical reality.

    The third element of politics where an agent who represents
    a third power with its own unseen agenda makes quite a dilemma
    for the young lad.

    He can be active on his own behalf or passively enjoy being fed
    and clothed. Such attractions are more motivating before the
    memories of hunger and other scarcities fade.

    He is also at the age in which the mind of most begins to sort
    the world into a meaningful pattern (thinking) and has a most
    delightful puzzle to try and solve now.

    I happen to like MA Fosters Tiresio Rael, a creature who distorts
    probability by existing, so a conflict between two varieties has
    definite literary possibility.

    The political aspect is always, who is the big monkey and where
    does everybody else fit into the tribal grouping.

    To use Fritz analogy, you have the spiders lair with two spinners
    one planning to open things up, the other opening things for his
    personal advantage and the snakes whose vision is fixed on a linear
    path for a future. Now all you have to do is dangle a scantily clad
    girly with her own agenda in front of our aspiring new political
    star and his hormones will do the rest.

    and I haven’t even finished reading the whole thing…GRIN

  12. tyr

    OK finished it, seems the pace is pushing pretty hard.

    So how does the imperturbable Das feel about being trapped
    with two duelling wizards in a cellar, since one is obviously
    highly inexperienced?

    I can’t believe the job description prepared him for this.

    Is the Snake priest cult being controlled by women with an
    agenda ?

    How much revolution is in the air ?

    How close to the Terran Renaissance is this setting ??

  13. Wave Woman

    Hello – I just read this and was wondering what other direction it could go in, just for fun.

    I’m wondering if our hero, Casim (with his Oliver Twist beginning – I love Oliver Twist!), might be something more than the son of the Duke, just as Master (which ever way you wish to spell it, or that shift could be, as tyr indicates, a new reality each spelling??? The mind bends…), began to wonder at the end. If his mother was used, by whom? I’m sensing a deeper battle than that for a dukedom in a Hedgemony. Could Casim have been “made” by wizardry, and his mother and the Duke only tools for a desperate effort to put a wrinkle in the future that said wizard has forseen? Could Casim’s ability for Luck and to see the best path like it’s a golden light be reflective of the mission for which he has been created? Could the real issue be the “snake god,” which is perhaps an ancient evil resurfacing in this dukedom – the beginning of a reign of terror? Or at least something really bad for the wizard who has done the making! (Not to get too “Mordor”-ish…) I see Casim like he is made of wax and fire, with a single purpose for existing, one that his own human soul is wrapped around and entangled with to such a point that he is not sure he has a free will. Could he be meant as a sacrifice by his mysterious wizard (or sorceress) maker, to the larger battle against the dark? Can he find a point of real choice in all of this? The “battle” could then play on more than one level. The human battle of dukes and kings and powerful men, the battle of the “snake god” in the mix of human and wizard battles, and the wizardry that makes moves on a board that spans generations, with Casim being thrown into all the layers at once, the internal battle of Casim to claim his own will (at what cost?). I hate to use the standard “good against evil” – but the “snake god” seems to be a rather dark magic, indeed, blood magic and human sacrifice generally conjures up Big Evil. And against such a thing a simple weapon is thrown, perhaps generations ago, something hidden in the most innocent of persons….
    Okay – enough meanderings… ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. CJ

    Anybody ever read about the Soup Stone? A magical stone. You put it in the pot, and everybody puts in what they’ve got, and you boil it and it’s soup.

    Magic.

    You see how one idea begets another, and why it’s very little likely that any two writers will come up with exactly the same story, even given the same beginning.

    • paul

      Like “loaves and fishes”. That story never seemed miraculous to me, just good sociology.

  15. joekc6nlx

    Ah, Stone Soup, I remember Captain Kangaroo reading that story to us, or at least, having the graphics up while someone else read the story. Three soldiers who come to a small village and the people will not give them anything to eat. So they set up a pot of water in the middle of town, find a small stone and drop it into the pot. The curiosity of the villagers overcomes their fear and magically, ingredients begin to appear and the whole town is fed.

    Just a brief description of the story in case others aren’t familiar.

  16. Wave Woman

    And there are so many great ideas here! Spice and meat and all kinds of hearty goodness!
    I hope you, Master Chef, will serve it up someday in it’s savory completion.

    (Okay, please allow a moment of gushing and then I’ll be over it – I’m a huge fan!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read your stories – your books have “prime real estate” on my shelves and are often pulled for multiple readings. So thank you!!! I really appreciated the opportunity to read this ‘in the works’ story and to throw in a vegetable of my own to the stew.)

  17. Myrtle

    What a neat experience this is! Still need to read the file but it’s fun reading all of the responses and seeing the thinking/creation in action.

    I had a wonderful opportunity in High School to take a “mini-university” course for a week here on “Becoming a Storyteller”. Oral stories. The prof was a wonderful person who organized a group called “Stone Soup Stories”. ๐Ÿ™‚ We spent time learning about pacing and tone of voice, physical presentation and alot of time collaborating on original stories and presentations of stories already written. My partner and I presented a story I loved as a child “The Scent Gnome”.

    Met her again a few years later at a mixer when I was actually attending that U as a history major. Turns out her husband was a History prof and someone I admired. I was talking to him and asked if he knew her. “You mean my wife?” He turned and pulled on the sleeve of the woman next to him. She turned around, went “yes dear?” saw me and went, “Oh HELLO!!” Turns out, we were the only mini-u course she taught. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. ryanrick

    Silly me, I’m so used to looking down the sides, I never noticed the link for this was in the small print at the top.

    Anyway, I did read this initially for the story as smartcat said. But there was one major impression that set alarms off almost from the beginning. You’ve got Casim too old. His impressions and reactions are that of a child — and a street urchin at 15 would definitely not be a child — he would be considered an adult and likely would have been thieving at least for food. I can see shopkeepers letting an 7/8 year old fetch and transport messages and being concerned solely with food and shelter — but not a 15 year old. Also by that stage, he would be lot warier and would have had at least a dagger; I think Das would have had to do a lot more than simply chase him down. Wasn’t Shadowspawn just a bit older in Thieve’s World? And someone that old would not meekly stay in the basement; in fact most of what Casim does is way too meek and didn’t ring true.

    The one way I can see to deal with this, since 7 year olds are rather useless to a revolution, would be to flesh this out way more, with more of his struggles to learn and grasp the wizardly end as well as general education, and worming out some snippets to the backstory [again, I agree with a lot of the above that was Das and Master know should be kept quiet] and then jump into a point where he is 15 or even 17 [3+5+7] or 21 when he could be a factor in a revolution. Who said these things happen quickly? You’d be able to explore the snake cult and the players behind it a bit more and get the current duke to a delightfully deprived state [which would make the locals way happy to enter into a revolution]. One of my favorite movie quotes if Barry Fitzgerald in the Quiet Man, saying ‘I’m going down to the pub and talk sedition’.

    I rather like the idea that he may have been made with wizardry — maybe we have some vague prophecy lurking about. And the issues that Tyr pointed out are wonderful. Some feminine character is certainly called for to balance things, as several pointed out, he’s going to need some emotional development beyond book learning and swordplay — could be a young girl at the brothel that he’s known forever and would interact with — and she could easily grow into that insider informant when they are older. Golly, maybe a forgotten twin? Or would that potentially get too messy?

    Another thought I had involves how old is this place? Could this forgotten basement be just one of many — that there are old, old buried levels, cisterns, catacombs, waterways, etc., were folk could move annonymously if they were privy to this info, and learn all sorts of interesting things and gain access to all sorts of interesting places? Would work well if you want them do stay hidden. Although from a purely practical point, learning wizardry where others can’t see makes perfect sense.

    And, just how prevalent and welcome are wizards in this world? Is the snake cult out to remove them? Is part of the Master’s motivation, simply self-preservation?

  19. Wave Woman

    Oooooh – interesting ideas ryanrick! I agree with the age issue, now that you so brilliantly mention it! At fifteen, in a brothel, well… I’m thinking he would be WAY more worldly wise than he is, even if that brothel doesn’t typically use boys as prostitutes. Unless there were some magic protecting him from such things, something protecting his innocence in the world, I would agree that he is too old for the action. Perhaps he is really smart in some ways and socially underdeveloped? But I do think, even if HE were innocent, the world he lives in is not. Good call! I also like the catacombs idea – it speaks to the different layers that could be created within the story – metaphorically wonderful. The feminine connection could also come from many directions, the brothel, even the “enemy” snake cult could produce an interesting female character (an escaped “sacrifice” or is she a spy? If they use her for information, is she telling the truth? Could it be really fun and complicated with genuine feelings between them???) So much to consider…

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