Daniel Black Open Thread

There seem to be a lot of people who still want to talk about what Daniel ought to be doing and what enchantments he should be working on, so I figured I’d give you a better place to do it that the comments of an unrelated post. I may even answer a few questions, as long as they don’t give away anything I have planned for future books.

Of course, the answer to most questions of the form ‘why hasn’t Daniel done X’ is ‘he hasn’t had time’. At the end of Extermination it’s only been about three months since he was summoned, and he’s been insanely busy for that entire time. So his enchantment work has focused almost entirely on things he could do quickly, without having to spend much time figuring things out.

The other point I want to mention, though, is that Daniel isn’t intended to be some perfectly hyper-competent superman. He’s just a guy who had enough brains, imagination and determination to get the job done, at least so far. But there were several places where I intentionally had him do things that turned out to be a mistake because it fit his attitude at the time, or because he had no way of knowing better. That’s going to continue to happen in the future, although he is learning.

My inspiration for Daniel actually comes from some of the more capable players I’ve met in tabletop RPG games over the years. You know that guy who can debate everything from Napoleonic military tactics to advanced space launch technologies? The one who keeps bypassing the GM’s carefully constructed plot complications by doing something clever but sensible instead of just charging after the obvious plot hooks? The one who always seems to be overpowered, because he reads all the rulebooks and carefully min-maxes his  characters? That’s Daniel.

The trouble is, it’s a lot easier to talk about things than to actually do them. Real life doesn’t come with a rulebook, and just because you watched a video about something once doesn’t mean you can do it. So even with the huge cheat of mana sorcery, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error in Daniel’s future.

He’s still frustrated that he can’t remember how a Geiger counter is supposed to work…

6,181 thoughts on “Daniel Black Open Thread

  1. The purpose of the gate house on Black Island

    Now that I think about it I am seeing a troubling issue. The gate house is located on the island. Infantry will need the pier to get into action, unless you want to retake the pier, which looks like an unlikely and foolish mission.

    The pier, however, is rigged to be blown up if an enemy takes it. And this cannot be delayed a lot, because you risk an enemy find and disabling the charges. So if you want to really bring troops into action during a siege, you need to hold the pier and its gate. In that case you surely would must your troops in that gate house or on the pier.

    So what does the gate house contain a mustering hall for? Just in case of future extension?
    And if you really want to go outside during a siege, should you not use skimmers, which can hover on water, hence you’d rather use the river gate?

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    1. Oliver, you seem to be thinking from the inside of the gate house, looking out.

      Try considering all the different groups of people in Kozalin who use the pier and gate house to visit Black Island.

      From common folk hoping to purchase food or medical care to important royals expecting to importune yet more of Daniel’s most precious resource — TIME — there are many different reasons for the continued existence of the pier and gate house in roughly the same proportions they have now.

      I do believe you are correct about the river gate. Daniel needs to reconstruct that edifice larger and more robustly. It totally makes more sense to send troops out on skimmers over the river, both in terms of giving them plenty of space in which to maneuver and in terms of maximizing potential for misdirection. Nobody can be certain exactly where those skimmers will ground and unload once they leave the island.

      Those opportunities will become even more important as Daniel develops more new skimmer designs with more armor and more heavy weapons.

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      1. “Try considering all the different groups of people in Kozalin who use the pier and gate house to visit Black Island.”

        As soon as news of the Lightbringers reaches Black Island, that practice will end.

        And I have no problem with the lighthouse as such. It just looks misdesigned to me.

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  2. Random thought. Odds are that when Daniel returns to the Keep, he will look somewhat different. New full-body armor, new weapons, likely retain the taller/more buff body, etc. It is likely that most people would not recognize him unless they see his face — or know him well.

    There is also a reasonable chance that tensions in the city have gotten bad when he returns and several people have theorized that Black Keep will be “under siege” by one of the military factions.

    So we have Daniel Black returning in such a way as he is not likely to be recognized — and a possible siege of his keep. I think it would be hilarious if he entered the city quietly to surprise his girls, noticed the siege and decided to get more information by being recruited as a mage for the force besieging his own keep.

    Obviously only a tactic that would make sense if the siege was more of a political effort than a serious effort to take the keep. But I could totally see him as quickly becoming the magical adviser of the noble leading the siege and maybe getting himself included in the next “parlay”.

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    1. It would surprise me. Consider that every noble now in the city has seen the mortars in action. If they hope to stand against them, they will need some kind of magical support: a faction of the Conclave, priests, Lightbringers, winter elves, dwarves (stop that stupid Mithril scheme) …
      Daniel cannot afford to be recognized by any member of any of these groups. And his style of magic remains the same.

      Now consider the military situation as presented to whoever commands on Black Islands

      1. Daniel has just invested considerable work into the Harbor District
      2. You now have an overseas enemy in form of the Lightbringers. You cannot let anybody else have the port
      3. Your most pontent weapon can be analyzed and blocked by earth mages
      4. Your most potent weapon cannot be used near your own people
      5 You are at a serious nummerical disadvantage
      6. Your enemy controls the food storage

      Consequences:

      A Time works for the enemy
      B Attrition works for the enemy
      C You are about to appear weak

      Whoever commands is not a Westerner raised in a tradition of avoiding open hostilities and being accountable to voters.

      It also not possible for Black Island to hold a defensive position around the Harbor District. They do not have the numbers. The number of soldiers is barely sufficient to guard the walls of Black Island. The loyalties of the Harbor Guard, if a priest tells them that they are guarding demons, is also questionable. The militia is barely trained. Using the mortars in support of troops on the internal wall is also impractical.

      I see three options, in order of decreasing attraction:

      I. Assassination of the leaders of the enemy faction
      II All out attack, seizing the granary, taking the grain and levelling the Military District with artillery
      III Fall back to Black Island and prepare to destroy the port

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      1. Several errors in this assessment, Oliver.

        1. Daniel has just invested considerable work into the Harbor District
        >> TRUE

        2. You now have an overseas enemy in form of the Lightbringers. You cannot let anybody else have the port
        >> Makes sense. You want to see and even control who goes on and off each and every ship. Of course, the Lightbringers might leave the ship miles away from port, and return to a ship the same way.

        3. Your most potent weapon can be analyzed and blocked by earth mages
        >> WRONG if you are describing Daniel’s mortars, which are in any case no longer his most potent weapons. His newest personal weapon is actually more dangerous than his mortars, although there are still advantages to gain from mass ranged mortar fire. Daniel will soon be creating a much larger version of the accelerator ring weapon he introduced in THRALL, or some equally exotic fortress weapon of enormous KABOOM based on what he learned in THRALL. Enemy mages will consistently analyze and TEMPORARILY block any of Daniel’s weapons, if he lets them have time to do so. His speed of innovation usually overcomes those blockages, since Daniel generally outperforms their efforts, especially in combat situations.

        4. Your most potent weapon cannot be used near your own people
        >> WRONG if you are describing Daniel’s mortars. He could create shells with sufficiently low “launch” power to drop them right up to the base of Black Island’s walls, while his soldiers fired on the enemy from enclosed positions on his walls. Plus, Daniel’s most recent weapons lend themselves well to direct fire installations or turrets which could sweep enemies off his walls and command the approaches to his walls. For that matter, installing several/many of his “old” quad autocannon mounts in antipersonnel configurations would greatly enhance his fortress defenses. Then there would be all the fortress defense lava sprayers and similar nastiness Daniel and Cerise OUGHT to have been deploying in their spare time for at least the last month since Daniel gave Cerise her amulet and then her direct connection to one or more of his power stones.

        5 You are at a serious numerical disadvantage
        >> TRUE. There is a significant lack of targets in the free fire zone after the first few seconds of action. GRIN

        6. Your enemy controls the food storage
        >> TOTALLY WRONG. At the beginning of THRALL it was made very clear that Black Island is now effectively independent of outside food supplies and produces enough surplus to accumulate stores as well as sell SMALL amounts of fresh food to the population of Kozalin. This balance of trade in food products will only increase in favor of Black Island as Daniel and Elin’s indoor farms are fully implemented, which HAD NOT YET HAPPENED at the beginning of THRALL.

        You could say that Kozalin’s military district controls the city’s grain supplies, and there might be some other dried foods like beans, peas, figs, dates, etc. Black Island’s first grain harvests are supposed to happen during THRALL or shortly into the next book.

        The only people directly under Daniel’s protection who are in danger of running out of food would be the Kozalin populations in the Docks and Trades quarters.

        We have not yet seen whether the author will have Daniel create more habitats AND indoor farms for them. There is some discussion in THRALL of additional fortified habitats, but Daniel had not built more than one or two before he was kidnapped by Odin and Thor.

        I don’t remember ANY discussion in EXTERMINATION or in THRALL about Daniel actually building more indoor farms for the population of Kozalin, maybe somewhere in the much-wrecked Docks quarter.

        Additional indoor farms, with NO dryad participation in the farming, are my own pet fascination, nothing more, at this point.

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      2. Two points I should have made clearer.

        1. Daniel is not present. It is unclear when he will be able to return. The commander of Black Island must make plans to use only existing equipment or stuff he is very sure can be made in time.

        2. All the points you made about using the mortars near the walls and about sufficient supplies from the farms are true, if and only if you are talking about Black Island itself. Defending, however, the walls between the Harbor District and the rest of Kozalin with the mortars wouldn’t work. You’d slaughter your own troops on the wall and destroy the walls.

        The same is true for feeding the Harbor District. Daniel could build indoor farms. You might discuss that. But Daniel is not in Kozalin. The rest of the coven cannot build them. Nor would that help for a few months at least. Unless you want to retreat to Black Island, you will need the grain in the granaries.

        That retreat, however, opens you up to an Egyptian ship landing a few thousand troops marching through a gate. Black Island is not in danger from the nobles alone. However, if Hel can pull off an invasion, so can Ra. And his mages are capable. I would not be my life on the mortars working. And that is the bet you would make.

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      3. Thanks for the clarification, Oliver.

        Okay, if some idiot in Kozalin attempts a surprise assault on the docks, with no warning visible or audible to Pelagia’s spies, Cerise’s spies or the various magics on and around Black Island’s fortress walls or Pelagia’s morning future scrying exercise…MAYBE they could take the structures Daniel built on the docks.

        I suppose it depends most on whether some traitor or moron inside the armored habitat opens a door at a critical moment.

        If the Kozalin forces stop right there, will Daniel’s people on Black Island counterattack? Probably not.

        Maybe the Kozalin noble will be sneaky, instead, and present documents “proving” ownership of some part of the docks, maybe even all of it? Maybe, whether it’s totally fake or not. Pelagia can spin that negotiation out forever, or until the next major attack on Kozalin, or until Daniel comes home.

        No matter how clever they think they are, the Kozalin noble and his allies will have alerted Black Island. What can the commander do?

        Daniel’s factory stones for building quad autocannon mounts will provide as much anti-personnel artillery as anyone could want. They will have more difficulty finding gunners to man the weapons, and places to put the weapons.

        Daniel’s factory stones for producing combat skimmers would provide plenty of mobile armored pillboxes. Those will be much easier to site, but again it will be difficult to find crew and gunners for very many of them.

        Daniel’s military small arms factory stones could run all day long until every person on the island who is able to carry a flamer, rifle or both could do so. It would take a few days to train them all how NOT to shoot their feet, their neighbor’s feet or set their homes on fire.

        I think you were closer to correct, originally, regarding Daniel’s mortars. If he is NOT present to change the launch energy, those shells will fly MUCH too high for the minimally trained crews to accurately aim anywhere near the fortified walls of Black Island.

        They’d be far too likely to drop shells on themselves or their fellow mortar teams.

        Gee, that means we might actually get to see what Daniel’s grenade factory produces.

        If I remember correctly, he created one of those.

        Then, of course, we’d have to see what sort of extra dark and creepy defenses Cerise can add to the island, with her amulet and connection to one or more of Daniel’s power stones. Elin might add some interesting ice and steam weapons. I suppose if things are really desperate or Bast is really pissed, Tina might dance up a sandstorm or something equally left field.

        It seems likely that recruiting for cat girl and Wolfen might expand, also, for whatever that is worth short term.

        Oliver, you make an excellent point regarding the possibility Ra and His Lightbringers might bring in an entire army through a gate in a grain ship. I’d rate that far more dangerous than anything Kozalin might attempt. It’s also far more likely to achieve tactical and even strategic surprise.

        Will the Conclave attempt to do anything that might even seem to threaten Black Island? I suppose that depends on how worried the Conclave leaders are about Daniel’s magical gear falling into any hands but theirs.

        I imagine Steelbinder or Ward will very cautiously send Tova to make “delicate” inquiries and offers of alliance.

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      4. Don’t forget about his experiments that he is doing with his new body. He shouldn’t have any problems with normal human soldiers from the nobility. A small unit of super soldiers can handle that with no real problems.

        We can take the harbor district! What is happening those men are worse than those giant freaks from Asgard? OOH FUC—!

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      5. I would argue the conflict differently. None of the powers in the city is interested in exterminating the Black Keep or the dock district. These powers want to control Black Keep and its secrets. There will not be some military conflict where soldiers hurl themselves at the walls while the defenders pour down lead and mortar shells in defense. Not going to happen.

        First lets set my assumptions
        1) Nobody is going to target Black Keep so long as they are worried about Daniel coming back. So no action to seize control until key individuals receive solid word that Daniel is dead and/or not coming back for decades. He has established a reputation as being very dangerous and that is respected.

        2) In Daniel’s absence, I am certain covert operations will happen to obtain Daniel’s secrets. Honestly the chance for success is a lot higher when he is gone. But such actions will be focused on obtaining information, not control.

        3) Any effort to seize control will be primarily political. And it will be “normal business”. When a lord is dead and has no heir, another lord takes over the territory. Taking Control means:
        a) convince the key members of Black Keep that their lord is dead
        b) convince the key members of Black keep that their best bet now is to ally with “me” — or take such key members out of the picture (capture most likely, find a pretext to send away is possible, assassination is possible)
        c) Accomplish a and b before your competitors — or do so in such a way as to discourage your competitors from challenging your assumption of control.

        What these assumptions tell me is that this conflict will be more on the order of a show of force. A military force will take control over the docks and invest the keep, but not engage in more than token hostilities against the keep itself. They want the leaders in the dock area to sign on to the new masters. They want the Keep leaders to sign on to the new masters. They will offer bribes, threats, and promises of position/power.

        Sure the keep could fight back. But they will not do so militarily beyond keeping these intruders out of the keep. Daniel has clearly established that he defends the whole city and already built a strong reputation in that area. And if the keep’s military aggressively defends the dock area, the best case is that a lot of the city’s defenders will die, making the city even more vulnerable than it already is. Daniel would not want that and his coven and key advisers know this.

        The only way this fight could get militarily dangerous for the keep is if the conclave decided to fully back the military in its attack on the keep. I just do not see them setting that president or accepting the potentially massive city damage such a conflict would trigger….. They live in this city after all and its situation is still perilous.

        Given how secretive wizards are, I suspect the Conclave (correctly) believes that the vast majority of Daniel’s magical secrets are kept within his mind alone. So simply taking the keep would reveal relatively few magical secrets without long study.

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      6. DSpring, I like your analysis of Black Island’s situation waiting for Daniel to return, especially the Conclave understanding “the vast majority of Daniel’s magical secrets are kept within his mind alone. So simply taking the keep would reveal relatively few magical secrets without long study.”

        However, Ward and Steelbinder have to at least suspect there might be more power blocks somewhere in Castle Black, and they probably also suspect those power blocks will be more powerful than the one Daniel traded to the Conclave. If there is any way they can acquire one or more of those blocks, they WANT them.

        Also, don’t forget the value of all those unattached dryads as potential familiars. Every Conclave wizard wants some of that, too.

        Then, there is Elin. Don’t assume the Conclave has forgotten about her. If Daniel is dead or gone, some idiot will propose that defending Kozalin against Elin is Conclave duty.

        Yes, it will be voted down, the FIRST time, but that’s one really dumb idea that won’t go away.

        Then, there’s the food. Somebody in the Conclave knows Black Island produces a small and growing food surplus.

        That can only inspire all sorts of desperate stupidity all over Kozalin during Daniel’s absence.

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      7. I asumme they will try all of that, if they aren’t already on it, but I though Cerise and Avilla were putting wards to avoid spys on the citadel, do you think does haven’t be put on already??? It would be interesting if someone realize a fraction of the extent of Daniel mana sorcery and realize how he could cook up a magical monster in his basement if he wanted. How does the citadel will deal with criminals in the future I wonder???

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      8. “I suppose it depends most on whether some traitor or moron inside the armored habitat opens a door at a critical moment.”

        No, I am sorry, but they could. The people in these buildings have minimal training. Under a smoke screen, at night, with magical battering rams not a problem. Even if they starve them out, it would work. How much food do they have inside those buildings? Ten days, maybe?
        Once they correctly conclude that Black Island cannot use its mortars against targets close to friendly forces or structures, a counter will be obvious.

        “I imagine Steelbinder or Ward will very cautiously send Tova to make “delicate” inquiries and offers of alliance.”

        Exactly. And they will figure that Black Island’s commander is much likelier to agree, if the docks are lost.

        “If the Kozalin forces stop right there, will Daniel’s people on Black Island counterattack? Probably not.”

        If they are willing to be seen as weaklings and traitors and are ready to lose all credibility and be seen as people you cannot trust or depend on, then they will make that choice.

        “Any effort to seize control will be primarily political. And it will be “normal business”. When a lord is dead and has no heir, another lord takes over the territory.”

        Exactly. And these attempts have to be nipped in the bud and ended right at the beginning. Decisively.
        Level his residence, kill most of his troops with artillery, impale him and his family.
        You would not be understood if you tried some policy of deescalation in the middle of Ragnarök after the Gjallarhorn has sounded. You would just seem weak and going through the motions. This calls for maximum violence right now.

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      9. Oliver, you are probably correct that a clever and capable noble could arrange a successful sneak attack on the few small fortified buildings Daniel had time to create on the docks.

        In fact, we should wonder if that is exactly why the author timed Daniel’s kidnapping the way he did. Dangle a tasty morsel in front of Kozalin’s most mentally challenged minority leadership and they will surely bite.

        A small strike group consisting of Cerise, some dryads and a troop of dark elves operating at night could probably take down any noble in Kozalin as you have described, for the reasons you mentioned.

        This has been foreshadowed in EXTERMINATION when Irithil told Daniel how Nethwillin preferred assassinating troublesome human leaders, rather than drugging them and their followers into uselessness.

        Would the chaos freeze at that point, or would it spiral out of control?

        The ensuing civil war would shatter Kozalin’s defenders, exposing the entire city to ungols, giants, undead and goblins, maybe even some surviving Andregi.

        Not an ideal solution, but Black Island’s defenders could certainly have it, if they want it.

        Of course, the facilities and personnel needed for trading grain with Egypt and Africa might not survive.

        Don’t expect a Varmland noble to anticipate that.

        Sefwin probably does, and sees an opportunity to shut down a possible Lightbringer attack vector.

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      10. “However, Ward and Steelbinder have to at least suspect there might be more power blocks somewhere in Castle Black, and they probably also suspect those power blocks will be more powerful than the one Daniel traded to the Conclave. If there is any way they can acquire one or more of those blocks, they WANT them.”

        I would agree with you that the conclave would attack the Keep in a heartbeat if they thought they could capture the secret of building power blocks, especially building them quickly. But an attack on Black Keep would not find out that secret — and they already have a power block to study. Simply getting more power blocks at the cost of antagonizing the people that might possibly be able to teach you how to make power blocks is a fools gamble. Especially when there are fairly good odds that any holders of that secret will come to the conclave itself for protection.

        “Also, don’t forget the value of all those unattached dryads as potential familiars. Every Conclave wizard wants some of that, too.”

        There are a lot of dryads in the world. And there a a lot of other creatures that can make valuable familiars. Alanna is special dryad of immense knowledge. Most dryads have a tiny fraction of her power and almost none of her knowledge.

        “Then, there is Elin. Don’t assume the Conclave has forgotten about her. If Daniel is dead or gone, some idiot will propose that defending Kozalin against Elin is Conclave duty.”

        Ok this comment confused me. To my understanding, Elin is an unwanted bastard of a fey noble and a noted healer. The healer ability is valued, but accessible today via her clinic. The Conclave also seemed (in book 2) to care very little about Elin, to the point that they pawned her off on the Adept and spent almost no resources to try and heal her. So why is getting a hold of Elin a priority now?

        “Then, there’s the food. Somebody in the Conclave knows Black Island produces a small and growing food surplus.”

        Of course they know. Daniel has been “selling” food in his market. It is not a secret. But the key statement is “small”. Daniel might be importing food (docks!) or growing food (reality), but either way his surplus might be enough to feed 1-2 thousand extra people in a city of several hundred thousand people. Certainly nothing to sneeze about, but it does not fundamentally change the food situation for the city either.

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      11. This part is exactly what I had in mind with my comment, DSpring.

        “Simply getting more power blocks at the cost of antagonizing the people that might possibly be able to teach you how to make power blocks is a fools gamble. Especially when there are fairly good odds that any holders of that secret will come to the conclave itself for protection.”

        If Daniel were suddenly not in the picture any longer, I’d expect the Conclave to do everything possible to ally themselves with Black Island, and they should find willing partners in the dryads and Nethwillin. EXTREMELY cautious, but willing.

        Both the power blocks and the dryads would have “special” value because continuing to preserve Kozalin with NO Daniel in the picture would require many more of those huge, nasty battlefield smashing attacks the wizards currently only have a few of charged and ready to use.

        Remember, the Conclave needs to configure some of their best big battle spells to be powered by Daniel’s amulets and power block instead of entire groups of wizards. Another power block or two, plus help from Nethwillin’s magic users, could make the Conclave MUCH more capable of destroying the next few army attacks on Kozalin.

        Don’t forget Daniel’s amulet factories. If I understand correctly, one is keyed to all the Nethwillin amulets. Another is keyed to all the coven amulets. The Conclave leadership probably suspects something like that exists and know it would be fantastically valuable to the sort of battle magic needed for defending Kozalin.

        Yes, “there are lots of dryads in the world” and they are NOT living in hugely empowered enclaves at Kozalin. Of course the Conclave wants the closest possible alliance with Daniel’s dryad friends if there is no more Daniel.

        Why would you be confused about Elin? If Daniel is out of the picture, Elin becomes the most powerful HEALER in Kozalin, maybe in all Varmland. Plus, everyone who knew her before Daniel helped her can easily see she now has more control of her magic, which makes her a more powerful healer AND a more powerful potential “ward” of the Conclave. Steelbinder is certainly pragmatic enough to see the value of attempting to rebuild previously burned bridges.

        Snicker. Regarding food, you answer your own question.

        “Daniel’s surplus might be enough to feed 1-2 thousand extra people in a city of several hundred thousand people. Certainly nothing to sneeze about, but it does not fundamentally change the food situation for the city either.”

        DSpring, would you agree that the Conclave probably numbers fewer than a thousand members?

        What do they care about the REST of Kozalin, so long as they arrange for a permanently secure food supply for themselves?

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      12. ” Exactly. And these attempts have to be nipped in the bud and ended right at the beginning. Decisively.
        Level his residence, kill most of his troops with artillery, impale him and his family.”

        This is an appropriate response for someone who attacks his family, kills his children or tries to assassinate Daniel while professing to be his friend. As a strategy to deal with political enemies, it is flat out wrong. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what political enemies are.

        Political enemies are allies and potential allies. They are “your” people. They are bound by rules and custom. They are not enemies that can only be satisfied by your death. They are kids pushing and shoving to get to the front of the lunch line. You can certainly deal with this by taking a chair and beating one of the kids to death. But you will not like the response of this massive overkill. All the other kids will now see you as a mad dog. They would avoid you (yea?) and certainly never help you unless you hold another chair over their head.

        A political threat needs to be neutralized quickly I agree. A fast and effective response is always a good thing to head off things before people commit too much.

        * A noble sends in his troops to knock some heads in the dock. You meet these troops with a nice escort of your own and explain that any head knockers must speak to their liege. Everybody is polite, but the foreign troops are escorted out.

        * A noble blocks your access to the public granaries, so you block his access to the food shipments coming in from abroad and you mobilize three other major nobles to join your protest — which they will as this threat can be used against them and they do not have control of the docks to counter-threat.

        * A noble announces that Daniel is dead and that his fief returns to the control of Duke whats-his-name. you dispute both the death of Daniel and the authority of the Duke to claim lands that the prince granted. Invoke the privileges of nobility and of the mage kind. They can announce mages have no right, but then the conclave has to back you up to defend their own rights.

        In any case, you stopped the threat, gained respect from your peers and can still work with all the political leaders of the city.

        However, if you “Level his residence, kill most of his troops with artillery, impale him and his family” based simply on a political power play, then you create a huge number of problems for yourself
        1) A powerful leader of the city and a significant portion of his troops are now dead. The city defenses are substantially weakened
        2) Some of his followers are now hidden among the refugees or in the service of other leaders You lack to the troops to dig them out and they will likely work against you to some extent
        3) the other leaders now see you as the enemy. They will work against you.
        4) you then level the next leaders residence….

        After a while, you have destroyed many of the key power centers of the city. Those that remain are broken to your will, but you lack the ability to properly pacify their forces. You own the city, but the city significantly damaged, uneasy under your rule and your troops can only move about safely in numbers. The next external attack on the city, your troops have to fight nearly on their own. What “loyal” troops you can call upon from your broken minions are unlikely to fight well or be very loyal.

        Congratulations – you have built a politically fragile dictatorship and/or future Syria. Maybe when Daniel comes back he can do enough good public works to turn things aground, but he starts with a big handicap.

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      13. “Certainly nothing to sneeze about, but it does not fundamentally change the food situation for the city either.”

        True, but the Conclave cares about feeding itself and its retainers.

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      14. “This is an appropriate response for someone who attacks his family, kills his children or tries to assassinate Daniel while professing to be his friend.”

        That is exactly what would happen to baby Bast.
        You should treat another wizard as friendly as possible. Daniel is neglecting the Conclave. And his scheme to ruin the dwarves is abominably stupid.

        But he and the nobles are mortal enemies. He is destroying their economic base. There will be no landed aristocracy in Varmland in the future. They will have to surrender or die.

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      15. Oliver, you would find that Steelbinder and Ward disagree with your characterization of Daniel “neglecting” the Conclave.

        Both of them are entirely capable of understanding how much Daniel has already given them, and how much more he is likely to give them when he can make time to do so.

        Both of them are entirely, INTIMATELY familiar with the endless interruptions of IMPORTANT WORK caused by Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok. No doubt both of them are resolved NEVER to visit Asgard’s Church in Kozalin again, unless it is to sift the smoking rubble for potential valuables…and they have apprentices for that sort of work.

        They might not be entirely satisfied with every deal they negotiated with Daniel, but they would acknowledge he has done far more for them than they have done for him, and that is likely to continue for quite some time.

        As for Daniel’s and Nethwillin’s scheme to ruin the dwarf-orks, the nasty little vermin asked for it, they deserve it and they will likely get it in spades. By your own logic regarding the hypothetical noble attacking Black Island, Daniel MUST do everything in his power, instantly if not sooner, to make absolutely certain EVERYONE knows you don’t EVER mess with Daniel or Daniel’s friends, Clan Nethwillin.

        The fact that Daniel and Nethwillin plan to keep their authorship of the vengeance secret at first is mere strategy. When the moment is right, they will make very clear who crushed the dwarf-orks, why the dwarf-orks were crushed and how the pitiful few survivors will be permitted to expiate their many sins.

        That might discourage a few emulators.

        Maybe….

        As for Varmland’s aristocracy, please remember that they would mostly have been LANDED aristocrats and Fimbulwinter destroyed them before they ever heard of Daniel.

        Yes, IF Daniel builds many more habitats similar to Castle Black, the aristocratic power base will probably not be invited to participate. Then again, it might. Don’t forget that Captain Rain is a petty noble. Daniel will have to hire more like Captain Rain if Daniel’s army is to grow into something actually useful. Then there is the leadership of the putative future habitats. Who will manage them? Who has the actual experience doing anything like managing them?

        Aristocrats.

        As DSpring points out, Varmland’s aristocracy is one of Daniel’s more frustrating and difficult resources, but a resource they are and he will need to learn how to manage them as best he can to render at least a few of them capable of being more useful than the resentful and rebellious remainder.

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      16. I think you underestimate humans and their instinct towards hierarchy. The refugees in Daniels refugee housing blocks will organize them selves within each block/habitat. The aristocracy is not needed for that nor is it really needed for managing them. They will come up with their own leaders get their leaders together and they’ll develop their own hierarchy eventually somebody will come forward that Daniel will be able to work with. Anytime you have two or more humans in one location you’re going to get somebody who winds up in charge and somebody else who is not. That’s just the way humans work.

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      17. DaShoota, you are certainly correct that any organization needed at the “village” level will draw upon survivors of previously existing community hierarchies like the people Daniel gathered in his journey to Lanrest and from there to Kozalin.

        What Tavrin does for Black Island is more than that, and we have not yet seen any sign of the rest of the organization he will need to create to get the job done properly.

        Skills like that are rare, and so is experience. Daniel will probably have to hire at least a few aristocrats he thinks he can trust enough to do what he believes he needs done.

        Then he will spend months or years discovering a lifetime’s understanding of what they really think about him and what he says he wants done.

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      18. “I think you underestimate humans and their instinct towards hierarchy. The refugees in Daniels refugee housing blocks will organize them selves within each block/habitat.”
        I think you are right on the money DaShoota, anytime you have two humans together you have ‘relationship’ and all the complications that brings to the situation. Whenever you have three or more you have politics and all the pitfalls and troubles that brings. Politics inevitably creates hierarchy (most commonly inequitable but functional). There will be ‘someone’ to deal with in each of the refugee habitats and even those who are still living in the rubble of the docks district.
        I’m sure Pelagia, Clan Nethwillin and Cerise/Wolfen spies will have fertile fields to get a handle on the human population of the docks and have them as a buffer to the Nobles and humans from other districts. it helps that they can offer them more than other nobles can. The shelters they already have, the potential for more, possible employment in the most secure successful stronghold in the world right now, Elin’s healing, food, gold! Daniel has already said he is willing to allow some inflation by paying more gold (for everything) so that merchants will be more likely to make the dangerous trip to sell food in Kozalin.

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      19. “He shouldn’t have any problems with normal human soldiers from the nobility. A small unit of super soldiers can handle that with no real problems.”

        Yes, in, say, a few weeks. It is in between now and then I would worry about. The absence and reported death of a leader is when a realm’s enemies get greedy.

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      20. Totally agree with this, Oliver, “The absence and reported death of a leader is when a realm’s enemies get greedy.”

        It will be fascinating to see what the author does with this opportunity.

        Either it will vanish in the first sentence of Book Five, or it will setup the action for part or all of that book, maybe the next two as well.

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      21. Don’t forget he may easily acquire that several weeks to make super soldiers. We need to remember that we are out side observers reading this story. The nobles in the book do not have our perspective they may not even know that he is gone much less where his extra food is coming from. The extra food is with the nobility will be concerning themselves with most right now. From their perspective in this situation at this time whoever controls the food controls all the power. They will make their decisions around that so they will start by trying to make deals with him to acquire his surplus all while believing that it is coming in to the harbor. It most likely will take months before the first nobles start realizing that his fortress is creating food. And before that actually happens they’ll spend that time wrestling with his spy network trying to figure out how he is shipping food in. They will be so fixated on that they won’t really think that it would be possible for him to grow food on the island. It will simply be a frustrated noble screaming at his people “he’s selling food, he’s bringing it in somehow I don’t want to hear your excuses find out how he’s sneaking it in I want it!

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      22. -“he’s selling food, he’s bringing it in somehow I don’t want to hear your excuses find out how he’s sneaking it in I want it!- Ah that Noble sounds like a certain asshole that though he could take Daniel girls when he wasn’t around, and didn’t end up so well for him. But jokes aside I like the way you put it DaShoota, now talking about the supersoldiers project, could this hole ‘Daniel .2’ project actually help him move forward his supersoldier program (not you blondie stay rigth there in Broklyn)? I mean he is learning how to remove humans limitations and not lose onself in it.

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      23. I think it could. Daniel has stated in several of the books that he has templates for super soldiers that came with his sorcery. He also said that he has not had time to experiment with them “now he does”. We also know that Daniel is a gamer and a sci-fi fan. I honestly cannot imagine him not acquiring several different types of super soldier templates with his flesh sorcery. He would at the very least get Warhammer 40K Space marine super soldier as well as Spartan 2 super soldier and possibly Captain America as well in templates. Probably hidden in there somewhere beside his elf transformation and his cat girl transformation.

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      24. Oh I really hope he goes that route, besides he doesn’t need to limit himself in staying all human, with the data of Dragon magic he has, and other magic creatures he could experiment with an body capable of containing some of those privilages, I know that would take a really long time, but with what he expierenced in Thrall he can created a lab for such a thing I believe.

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      25. He already has a laboratory set up for transformation experiments. He just hasn’t had as much time as he would like to do anything in depth with it yet.

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      26. Totally agree with you, DaShoota, about the nobles not understanding how Daniel is growing all that food.

        Some of them probably have orangeries, so they won’t be complete idiots about growing food indoors, but the scale of what Daniel does is beyond their imagination until they actually walk through it.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangery

        As for nobles knowing about Daniel’s kidnapping by Odin and Thor, however, don’t think for a second THAT news didn’t go around Kozalin like lightning.

        No TV, no radio, NO DAILY SOAP OPERA!!

        The people of Kozalin are starved for news and entertainment and the story of Odin and Thor kidnapping Daniel will leak faster than water through a sieve. Not to mention the spies some nobles and the Conclave have in the Church. Not to mention the relatives some nobles have in the Church.

        No, there’s no chance at all that story isn’t all over the city the day it happened.

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      27. “They might not be entirely satisfied with every deal they negotiated with Daniel, but they would acknowledge he has done far more for them than they have done for him, and that is likely to continue for quite some time.”

        Steelbinder and Ward are likely to recognise the socially challenged type.

        An efficient type would have played the factions. As soon as Daniel heared from the conflict in the Conclave, he should have given a dinner party with a few nymphs present, for example. And any politically astute wizard would have taken up the offer of the granddaughter for sale or Tova’s daughters.
        Not for the carnal benefits, but for the intelligence opportunities alone.

        Daniel has been neglecting the Conclave.

        “As for Daniel’s and Nethwillin’s scheme to ruin the dwarf-orks, the nasty little vermin asked for it, they deserve it and they will likely get it in spades. By your own logic regarding the hypothetical noble attacking Black Island, Daniel MUST do everything in his power, instantly if not sooner, to make absolutely certain EVERYONE knows you don’t EVER mess with Daniel or Daniel’s friends, Clan Nethwillin.”

        That is a viable proposal. Killing the dwarves is not so much of a problem. The dwarves even know how to work Mithril. After the initial loss they will benefit from more Mithril in the market.
        The problem is all those minor powers who are carrying their emergency funds with them in form of Mithril while on the run during Fimbulwinter. They will not forget who sabotaged their escape.

        “Who will manage them? Who has the actual experience doing anything like managing them?”

        Foreign mercenaries and maybe aristocrats. Possibly elves. Resurrected ancient warriors. Anybody but Varmlander aristocrats. A Roman zombie will adapt better to modern weapons anyway.

        “As DSpring points out, Varmland’s aristocracy is one of Daniel’s more frustrating and difficult resources, but a resource they are and he will need to learn how to manage them as best he can to render at least a few of them capable of being more useful than the resentful and rebellious remainder.”

        He could never fully trust them. He should remember the lesson of the Punic wars.

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      28. Well, there could be several good managers from Clan Nethwillin.

        For that matter, if Daniel is going to hire foreigners he might as well go for the best and hire Chinese.

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      29. Forget about other wars he only needs to remember the lessons of landrest. Which is a lesson I do not think he will soon forget pain is an excellent teacher after all. And there are few pains like being burned.

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      30. “The ensuing civil war would shatter Kozalin’s defenders, exposing the entire city to ungols, giants, undead and goblins, maybe even some surviving Andregi.”

        1. For Black Island a destroyed port is better than a port in enemy hands. And a destroyed Kozalin is better than a Kozalin united against Black Island

        2. The nobles are not stupid. They are desperate and want to keep their status. If they just wanted to live, they would have taken a ship south. If they deduce that they need a new power base, they are correct.

        3. ‘It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.’ – Niccolo Machiavelli

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      31. I suppose the Varmland aristocrats might actually believe somebody is going to break Fimbulwinter, melt the snow and give them back their utterly depopulated estates in spring.

        Somewhere in the next few months it may occur to them that is not going to happen.

        They they will know they are all ruined.

        Despair….

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      32. Ok Colin and Oliver – you guys are hard core about this stuff. Love It!

        Let’s Address Colin’s comments first
        “Remember, the Conclave needs to configure some of their best big battle spells to be powered by Daniel’s amulets and power block instead of entire groups of wizards. Another power block or two, plus help from Nethwillin’s magic users, could make the Conclave MUCH more capable of destroying the next few army attacks on Kozalin.”

        Daniel already gave them a bunch of amulets. And he was clearly willing to give them more. The Conclave was the group that was restricting the number of amulets to control their members.

        Also, there was a conversation in Book 3 on this. It is not enough to have power amulets. The rituals themselves must be redesigned to take full advantage of the power amulets. Without that redesign, power amulets can power accelerate how fast a ritual can be powered by some very significant percentage (not specified but thinking something like 2X or 5X) and obviously leave the participants in much better shape personal mana wise. But with a redesign, a ritual might take a few minutes as opposed to several weeks. Unfortunately, a redesign is a huge effort if you do not have mana sorcery to play with.

        I suspect their limitation is now the power block or the amulets, but the structure of their magic right now. Which means that the conclave has as many power amulets as they need right now. Of course, if the conclave dispute results in a faction that wants to distribute amulets more wildly, that will change. But that would mean a significant power shift in the conclave. Even then, I doubt they need anything more than a few dozen more power amulets to make them happy.

        “If Daniel were suddenly not in the picture any longer, I’d expect the Conclave to do everything possible to ally themselves with Black Island, and they should find willing partners in the dryads and Nethwillin. EXTREMELY cautious, but willing.”

        True – control of Black Keep would be great as there will be “some” secrets to be learned and his coven mates will be able to aid in recovery of those secrets when motivated to do so. But I also think the Conclave would be the one organization that would be the most cautious about assuming Daniel is out of the picture. They know very well how many tricks very powerful wizards can have. That assumes they even believe that Daniel is the true originator of his secrets as opposed to some flunky of the true wizard who prefers to keep his real identity a complete secret.

        “ Both the power blocks and the dryads would have “special” value because continuing to preserve Kozalin with NO Daniel in the picture would require many more of those huge, nasty battlefield smashing attacks the wizards currently only have a few of charged and ready to use.

        Don’t forget Daniel’s amulet factories. If I understand correctly, one is keyed to all the Nethwillin amulets. Another is keyed to all the coven amulets. The Conclave leadership probably suspects something like that exists and know it would be fantastically valuable to the sort of battle magic needed for defending Kozalin.

        Yes, “there are lots of dryads in the world” and they are NOT living in hugely empowered enclaves at Kozalin. Of course the Conclave wants the closest possible alliance with Daniel’s dryad friends if there is no more Daniel.”

        Not sure there is much understanding of Daniel has done for his dryads or how his magic works. Outcome yes – he has powerful nymphs and dryads working for him. He creates magic and magic items wicked fast. But his magic is so different conceptually from how the local wizards work that they will assume his methods are quite different — and leverage a lot extensive preparation. Although I agree that wizards would seek out some of the more powerful dryads and nymphs as “bargain” familiars if Daniel is gone.

        Although recognize that the Black Keep coven is quite confident that Daniel is alive. None of Daniel’s people will stray or seriously consider straying for quite some time. They have a goddess confirming Daniel is alive and well.

        “Why would you be confused about Elin? If Daniel is out of the picture, Elin becomes the most powerful HEALER in Kozalin, maybe in all Varmland. Plus, everyone who knew her before Daniel helped her can easily see she now has more control of her magic, which makes her a more powerful healer AND a more powerful potential “ward” of the Conclave. Steelbinder is certainly pragmatic enough to see the value of attempting to rebuild previously burned bridges.”

        Agree – I am just pointing out that almost all of this was true in book 2 and the conclave really did not value Elin. She is more powerful now, but fundamentally her healing ability is unchanged. The conclave does not need much in the way of healing and cares little about how many common soldiers are healed. If anything, her new power and confidence make her less attractive. A willing minion has been replaced by a confident (and not very happy with you) semi-ally. Daniel being gone will not change that.

        “Snicker. Regarding food, you answer your own question. DSpring, would you agree that the Conclave probably numbers fewer than a thousand members? What do they care about the REST of Kozalin, so long as they arrange for a permanently secure food supply for themselves?”

        The conclave cares because they cannot stand alone. They need the city for the same reason Daniel has needed the city (at least to this point). Numbers matter. If all they cared about was the conclave, the ships that deliver food to the city would be more than adequate. So they do not need Daniel’s food to survive in the near term – and Daniel’s food is not enough to change the mid-term survival picture.

        Now over to Oliver

        “You should treat another wizard as friendly as possible. Daniel is neglecting the Conclave. And his scheme to ruin the dwarves is abominably stupid. “

        Daniel has been good to the conclave and very good for their leadership. He has aided them multiple times without demanding anything from them of significance. He provides them fabulous gifts like power amulets. He respects their power and authority and has made noises on several occasions about joining up in the future.

        It is true he has not made friends with their leaders, although he has been friendly. He has not bothered to play politics. And his efforts have overshadowed the conclave in many respects. Because of this, I would not say he has close personal allies with conclave members. But no reasons for serious hostility beyond a bit of professional jealously.

        “But he and the nobles are mortal enemies. He is destroying their economic base. There will be no landed aristocracy in Varmland in the future. They will have to surrender or die.”

        I would argue that Daniel has not affected the economic base of the aristocracy at all. He has frightened them with his power and threatened their military preeminence by his weapons. If soldiers only need months to be trained, what value is there in a warrior aristocracy. But that concern is not going to become serous while Ragnarok threatens all.

        And the common soldiers seem to have a good view of Daniel. He is a soldier’s wizard in many respects.

        “For Black Island a destroyed port is better than a port in enemy hands. And a destroyed Kozalin is better than a Kozalin united against Black Island”

        I would say a destroyed port (physically) is not a big issue as Daniel can repair docks and warehouses in 1-2 days. However, it is Daniel’s turf. His status is based, in part, on his ability to defend his turf. So a destroyed port would be a black mark on his reputation.

        Enemy hands as in Gaia’s soldiers – absolutely agree. Enemy hands as in some political crap within Kozalin – na that is no big deal. So long as Daniel or his agents can force the occupying force to give it back that is. And Daniel can certainly do so. And no enemy can keep the dock for long without neutralizing the keep. Militarily and politically it dominates.

        “The nobles are not stupid. They are desperate and want to keep their status. If they just wanted to live, they would have taken a ship south. If they deduce that they need a new power base, they are correct.”

        Agree – but they do want to live. Realistically what do the nobles know. They know Daniel is a big powerful wizard. They know he can wield a lot of battle magic. They have been living with big powerful wizards for centuries. And some of the conclave members can wield a lot of battle magic. Very very few nobles would understand how Daniel’s magic fundamentally differs from that of the other wizards. And I doubt any of those would extrapolate the impact on society post Ragnarok. So long as warriors rather than wizards rule the city, they will be ok with the current arrangement.

        Of course, the current situation is breaking, so it is possible that someone other than a warrior will rule. But if Daniel takes over, I suspect he will work to put a warrior in nominal charge of the city.

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      33. Well I am just going to throw my opinion here because I see this is a hot topic. Lets not forguet there is a reason why Hecate send Daniel way all those refugee, she told him time and again that he could trust them and that they will be more helpfull that he believes. Well now that he is not around is time for them to prove it, they made loyal pacts with him to stand and defend the island, Pelagia is old and has enoug political expierence to hadle anything the nobles migth try to throw their way, Demetrios has enough Military expierence to resist any kind of military clash been mundane or magical, and The Nefthwin clan well those guys are ninja so I am sure they can do and prevent enough. So now they have to prove to him how truly usefull they are. I don’t doubt Kozelin groups will try to throw their way to use the Island but I sincerely doubt they will be able to put so mutch pressure on the citadel to make Daniel abscense so noticible, even when he is supposedly dead.

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      34. And won’t that make a fun leadership meeting when Daniel returns, all of them giving him their accounts of what happened when he was gone?

        I could easily imagine you are correct, Paps, that the coven, dryads, wolfen, Clan Nethwillin, Captain Rain’s soldiers and the militia will all be called upon to stand firm.

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      35. That it will, like Nthwill droping casually that some noble suddenly contracted quite the rare and exotci desease and only Black Island medic can heal him, what a shame if they are oppresed by his political rival, ir Pelagia comes with a list of disastified aprentices of the conclave that would sell their souls for a safe heaven.

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      36. “Daniel already gave them a bunch of amulets. And he was clearly willing to give them more. The Conclave was the group that was restricting the number of amulets to control their members.”

        True but relevant only while Daniel is considered alive and present

        “True – control of Black Keep would be great as there will be “some” secrets to be learned and his coven mates will be able to aid in recovery of those secrets when motivated to do so. But I also think the Conclave would be the one organization that would be the most cautious about assuming Daniel is out of the picture.”

        It doesn’t really matter all that much. They would offer an alliance anyway, as soon as Daniel cannot or does not act. Should he reappear they can at least claim that they helped his family. You cannot let such an opportunity pass and do nothing.

        “Not sure there is much understanding of Daniel has done for his dryads or how his magic works. Outcome yes – he has powerful nymphs and dryads working for him. He creates magic and magic items wicked fast.”

        One more thing to use. The Conclave would surely promise to protect the groves against slavers.

        “The conclave cares because they cannot stand alone.”

        Better than Daniel. And in any cases while they need Kozalin, they certainly don’t need all of it. And while they may need people, they do not need the people currently living there. They can repopulate if they really have to. And they would have years to do so, if it came to that.

        “It is true he has not made friends with their leaders, although he has been friendly. He has not bothered to play politics. And his efforts have overshadowed the conclave in many respects. Because of this, I would not say he has close personal allies with conclave members. But no reasons for serious hostility beyond a bit of professional jealously.”

        Yes, the Conclave would surely offer an alliance under generous conditions. Unless the Conclaves fractures it is the least likely enemy.

        “I would argue that Daniel has not affected the economic base of the aristocracy at all.”

        He is providing an alternative. It does not matter who destroyed their power base. Fimbulwinter has done so. But if all their people switch to Daniel or any other wizard their power base will still break.

        “But that concern is not going to become serous while Ragnarok threatens all.”

        They have troops to pay and feed. They must do something.

        “And the common soldiers seem to have a good view of Daniel. He is a soldier’s wizard in many respects.”

        Even worse. They cannot be sure of their own troops. Something must be done. Soon.

        “I would say a destroyed port (physically) is not a big issue as Daniel can repair docks and warehouses in 1-2 days. However, it is Daniel’s turf. His status is based, in part, on his ability to defend his turf. So a destroyed port would be a black mark on his reputation.”

        Yes. That is precisely why it must be defended, even if that means destroying another part of the city and slaughtering thousands of people. Even destroying it in battle is preferable to an enemy getting it.

        “And Daniel can certainly do so.”

        Daniel is not in Kozalin.

        “And no enemy can keep the dock for long without neutralizing the keep. Militarily and politically it dominates.”

        No. They do not have the manpower. They can certainly destroy the docks. Conquering them in an undestroyed state? No – that is not possible. And if the nobles are competent they know approximately how many soldiers Daniel has.

        “And I doubt any of those would extrapolate the impact on society post Ragnarok. So long as warriors rather than wizards rule the city, they will be ok with the current arrangement.”

        The common country knight probably not. Dukes and barons certainly will. Their peasants are mostly dead. Nobody will farm, should it even get warm enough, while the goblins, trolls and giants roam the land. Food stores will run out next year. If they are inactive, they will be doomed as rulers. They are not stupid.

        “Of course, the current situation is breaking, so it is possible that someone other than a warrior will rule. But if Daniel takes over, I suspect he will work to put a warrior in nominal charge of the city.”

        Key word: nominal
        And they know it.

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      37. “they made loyal pacts with him to stand and defend the island”

        They will do so. And that is exactly the problem. This may sound like a contradiction and in a sense it is. But that is because Daniel himself is contradictory.

        Abstractly speaking his interests and his preferences collide. Daniel wants to keep his island safe and he wants to avoid slaughtering his potential enemies and to actively protect innocent bystanders. He is perfectly ready to strike at attackers though.
        Among his people only Elin shares his attitude.

        He can get away with that because he has extraordinary resources. His deputies lack this capability. I suspect they don’t truly understand his motivations (except Elin) and they don’t share them. Their lives, their children depends on defending Black Island and they have sworn a magical oath to do so. (Well Pelagia was broader, but she still would need to understand Daniel’ s will and have the means to execute it)

        Would Cerise hesitate to order a preemptive bloodbath, if her advisors tell her that it is the best option? Highly unlikely. Would Avilla? Yes, she would hesitate, but she would ultimately order it. Can you imagine Tina if you suggest to her to pull troops off the walls to defend the Harbor District, after she has heared reports about the Lightbringers, if the mortars could open fire and simply burn and level the strongholds of their enemies? I can sort of. It involves hissing, spitting and furious cat sounds.

        All of his advisors understand the concept of saving face much better than the concept of a restrained response. They are not Westerners with memories of the Cold War. A dead enemy whose soul is banished is the best enemy. Exterminating your enemy is a real option.
        They already voiced their opinion about defending the civilians of Kozalin. They were different from Daniel’s. Even if they knew and understood his scruples, they would still have a clear duty: keep the island safe.
        They will do so. Not just by all means necessary, but by all means expedient. Daniel will not be sad or horrified about the state of the island or his family, but about what they have done to keep it safe and sound.

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      38. I see where you are coming from @Oliver and I would love to come and argue that they are way old and savy to understand the need for measure strickes and to think more long term. But I have to agree with you that they migth not have neither the patience or calm to deal with things that way, they have all been persecuted and attacked for a long time barely managuing proper comfort and protection for centuries, now that the island is proporcionating some of that, well they migth go feral in defending it. I doubt Daniel will fault them for it, the way he tends to react to confrontations shows that he has no problem with overkill.

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      39. Remember what Daniel told Cerise when he sent her out in Lanrest selling warmth cloaks and shopping for dietary supplements Avilla needs. He promised to back her no matter what she had to do to get herself and whoever was with her back to safety should anything stupid happen like stupid handsy guards, stupid witch-hunting priests, etc.

        Then he wiped out the Asgard Church in Lanrest, rescuing Cerise from stupid witch-hunting priests.

        He might be temporarily saddened by whatever the Black Island population does to survive his absence, but he probably won’t be surprised or annoyed.

        Okay, there will probably be SOME annoyance, but it will most likely be directed toward whichever idiot noble, royal or Asgard church witch hunter confronts Daniel over their late predecessors’ stupid suicidal attempts to mess with the people of Castle Black.

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      40. “I suppose the Varmland aristocrats might actually believe somebody is going to break Fimbulwinter, melt the snow and give them back their utterly depopulated estates in spring.”

        ‘Never assume your enemy is stupid.’
        Baron Stein of Lanrest wasn’t stupid. An asshole and wrong arguably, but not stupid.

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      41. Interesting that you use Baron Stein as an example of not stupid in this particular issue, Oliver.

        On the one hand, we know he deliberately lied to his knights about the possibility of Fimbulwinter being broken in a few weeks and life going back to normal.

        On the other hand, since he clearly knows that won’t happen, we have to expect at least some of his knights have figured it out and more will, soon enough.

        They are now all monster poop in Lanrest’s rubble, but the same story is playing out in Kozalin with one significant exception.

        Daniel has a way to grow all the food Kozalin needs. Even with NO dryad participation, Daniel’s mago-technology could enable Kozalin to become a food exporting power. Not big enough to rival Egypt or the rest of North Africa, but those places will have their own Fimbulwinter and Great Beast, Ancient Beast problems Real Soon Now.

        Only Daniel and his people on Black Island have any idea this is possible, although a few Conclave members might suspect. Everybody else in Kozalin just knows there is some sort of food supply in Castle Black, and there are wild rumors about magic gardens and magic orchards sprouting there in the middle of Fimbulwinter.

        If Daniel and Elin spend the time to build some of their indoor farms on the rubble of the Docks district, the secret will be out and every noble will realize immediately they MUST control this new food supply.

        However, the nobles have nothing to offer their feudal labor force. Once upon a time, they offered protection. It may have been the oldest “protection racket” in history, but they did also keep the drakes, goblins and trolls from eating all the farmers each year.

        That’s not possible anymore during Fimbulwinter. Even if the impossible happened, and every monster dropped dead at the same instant, all the snow melted off in spring, flooding didn’t destroy all the fields…most of the farmers are already monster poop.

        Virtually the entire population of Kozalin would have to immediately rush out to rescue the fields from runoff, clean up debris, plow fields probably without horses or oxen which were eaten the past winter, plant seeds and garden, garden, garden to grow anything edible while waiting for the first grain to ripen for harvest. The slightest weather, disease or critter issues will be catastrophic. Even worse would be locusts appearing before harvest.

        Prime opportunities for Gaia to assure that starvation completes what Her armies could not finish at Kozalin.

        Of course, protection is inherent to the sort of FORTIFIED habitats Daniel considers building in Kozalin. If he expands those to also be indoor farms? Not only will the meteoric iron reinforced, spell shielded WARM stone walls keep out most monsters, those defenses will keep out most nobles as well.

        Once upon a time, the nobles provided authority and validation of their feudal labor force’s rights to farm nobles’ lands. Of course, if Daniel builds “new land” and gives it to the feudal labor force, they become Daniel’s labor force, as Oliver and others have already pointed out.

        This will introduce all sorts of tension to the Daniel Black story…IF it happens.

        If Daniel does NOT build significant multiples of the amount of growing space he has on Black Island, there will be no issue except maybe for the Conclave.

        Black Island produces enough food to support its own people and a small but growing surplus for trade. That surplus will probably grow to the point it could also support the Conclave’s people, unless the Conclave population is rather more than a thousand.

        Black Island cannot feed Kozalin without vastly expanding the island and its farming population.

        The most practical way to feed Kozalin is for Daniel to build, probably in the Docks district, several indoor farms, each of which is double or triple the VOLUME of what he created on Black Island.

        The most SAFE way to feed Kozalin is for Daniel to vastly expand Black Island, his indoor farms and his farming population. For security reasons, Daniel would probably make this expansion separate from Castle Black AND separate from the dryad groves. Initially, the new indoor farms would operate with NO dryad participation, until Daniel and others are certain of the loyalty of the farmer populations.

        And either of those scenarios would create the confrontation with Varmland’s aristocracy that several of us have described.

        Like

      42. “From their perspective in this situation at this time whoever controls the food controls all the power.”

        Absolutely. And they will turn out to be correct in a few months.

        “It most likely will take months before the first nobles start realizing that his fortress is creating food.”

        I am afraid that is not so. He is selling fresh produce in the middle of winter.

        What do the nobles know:

        – Daniel went to the temple. (Dozens if not hundreds of people saw him)
        – He did not leave again
        – Something extraordinary had happened at the temple before (even priests drink beer after work. Likely the nobles know who was there)
        – the Gjallarhorn sounded
        – Black Island ramped up security. No member of the coven is coming out

        They may not know exactly what has happened, but they have a pretty good picture.

        Like

      43. No he is not selling fresh vegetables in winter. He is selling fresh vegetables two months into Ragnarok. During a time when the south is having bumper crops. They will see an airship coming and going they will think it can go at least 30 miles in an hour. From the perspective of the nobles they will look at that airship and they will probably think OK he’s going south for fresh food then he’s selling it. Or they will see elves with backpacks and think it’s coming in that way. There is any number of ways the fresh vegetables and fruit and whatever else he’s selling can be coming in they won’t know which one is the right one. But the one that will not occur to them is it’s being generated by the island itself. At least not at first it will take some time before the smartest among them figure it out. And even when they do they probably won’t share that information.

        Like

      44. “They may not know exactly what has happened, but they have a pretty good picture.”

        Oliver, there were priests and other functionaries of the Asgard Church who saw most of what took place until Odin and Thor perp-walked Daniel away to Asgard.

        Those priests and other functionaries will blab to relatives, to spymasters and to friends. All sorts of details, elaborations and outright fantasies about Daniel’s kidnapping will be all over Kozalin by twilight.

        Like

      45. “Which is a lesson I do not think he will soon forget pain is an excellent teacher after all.”

        One might think so, walking down into the catacombs and into a trap, however, suggests otherwise.

        “And there are few pains like being burned.”

        Daniel was already unconcious due to a slit throat and as he woke up the pain block was already running.

        Like

      46. “From the perspective of the nobles they will look at that airship and they will probably think OK he’s going south for fresh food then he’s selling it. Or they will see elves with backpacks and think it’s coming in that way.”

        Debatable. It is snowing in Sicily after all. It would be quite a waste going all the way to Africa for vegetables. Transporting grain or cheese or butter or meat would be more profitable. And they could track availabilty in Daniel’s shops and would come up with a schedule incompatible with Daniel selling the surplus of his personal shipments.
        They might assume that he is preserving all the other good stuff.

        Still that would require an unusual amount of perception. Unless one for the farmers claims that he harvested that stuff personally and it is really fresh. It could go either way.

        Like

      47. Since the farmers actually selling the surplus food from Daniel’s indoor farms are themselves aware of it being grown locally, there is a very good chance their customers will recognize familiar terms of speech in the bargaining sessions, like words that mean, “fresh as in just picked — see the moist soil on the roots?”

        It probably won’t be possible to hide the fact that Daniel’s farmers are growing lots of food by some unknown magic, on Black Island, inside all those lovely thick fortress walls.

        Any future expansion of the island that is followed by additional food beginning to appear in Daniel’s markets will be self-explanatory for all the nobles, royals and merchants in Kozalin.

        Like

    2. Interesting, that would be quite the way to assure Black Citadel victory, he can turn the battle around easely from inside. Now won’t he use Alanna link with her tree to make it back home??? Why go through the whole traveling around, no matter how busy the big players are at ragnarok Varmland is still a dangerous place and I don’t think Daniel would want to stay away from his coven to long.

      Like

      1. Or he would trigger it. Causing the war would be quite … self-defeating.
        I really cannot see how any faction without magical support would contemplate action against Black Island.

        Like

  3. Mind control & mind generation

    I was wondering about mind control. Daniel thought it did not exist. Does Asgard prove him wrong? I cannot help but understand it that way. If you copied it in small scale and filled it with one soul only, it looks very much like you can edit that soul, like it was done to the wives of the Einherjar going through the Door of Devotion.

    It may be impossible to do on a “running” mind, but a stored mind can be controlled. That however opens up another question. You can turn souls into mana. Can you do the reverse? Could Daniel make a soul or at least copy one?

    Like

    1. Oliver, I’m not sure if it’s actually possible for Odin or the creator of “soul soup” enchantments to “edit” an existing mind.

      What seems to be happening is the “soul soup” enchantment appears to select soul “ingredients” that conform to the desired final soul “output” which in many cases is a wife, girl friend or serving wench.

      Remember, Daniel discovered that all the wives and girl friends who “volunteered” for Valhalla were immediately dumped into the soup.

      When a particular soldier of Odin wants “his” wife or girl to attend him, “she” is made up from the “soup” but only those ingredients the soldier wants or remembers fondly are included.

      There does not seem to be any argument in the above to support “editing” an existing soul.

      They seem to be “crafted” instead.

      I’m curious about your argument that stored minds can be controlled.

      What example(s) do you see for that?

      Like

      1. “There does not seem to be any argument in the above to support “editing” an existing soul.

        They seem to be “crafted” instead.”

        If you put a soul into soup cauldron of its own and manipulate it, what is the difference between crafting and editing?

        Like

      2. Editing implies making small or large changes in something that is already defined and created.

        Crafting implies defining and creating something new, possibly in simulation of something old, but still new.

        Like

      3. If you see only the outcome, will you be able to tell the difference? If not, the distinction can be made, but it is kind of academic.

        Like

      4. Oliver, I agree that if someone only sees the outcome the question of craft or edit is academic, but the problem begins when we assume “editing” as I have defined it is possible.

        For one thing, that concept contradicts Daniel’s musings about creating any binding spell that requires “mind control” to function. He concluded mind control probably could not remain stable in the long term.

        Daniel made that observation toward the middle or end of FIMBULWINTER, so he may have learned enough since then to have conceived some way to make it happen anyhow. I don’t know where he would have discovered that much knowledge about mind and mind magic. It seems unlikely to have been in the Sunspire. Maybe Alanna provided that? With her dream magic, mind seems rather likely to be important.
        Maybe some of what Odin does makes Daniel believe mind control or soul editing is possible, without Daniel understanding how it is done?

        On the other hand, what I see in THRALL suggests to me that Odin’s spell soup enchantment does not edit complete souls. It yanks desired pieces of soul out of the soup bowl and pastes them together like a Frankenstein soul, and sticks the result into a body.

        Maybe the average Einheri does not recognize this for what it is, but if anybody did that to any of Daniel’s girls he would recognize the damage instantly and might well immediately commence deploying his most convenient megadeath magic.

        Like

    2. Oliver, your question about mind editing and mind control leads me to another.

      Suppose somebody wanted to ENTIRELY recover their wife or girl from Odin’s “soul soup”.

      If Daniel asked carefully, would it be possible for him with all his sorcery to recover every last bit of the wife or girl from the soup?

      If Daniel did that, would the result be the original wife or girl, since “every” part of her was recovered?

      I’m suspicious that irrevocable change happens in the soul TO soup and soul FROM soup processes, hence, the ORIGINAL wife or girl is lost forever.

      What comes back is an excellent clone, but still a clone.

      Like

      1. Come to think of it, if some parts of the original wife or girl are currently being used in several different serving wenches in several different locations on Valhalla, is it even possible to recover the entire wife or girl?

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      2. I don’t think it can be done, once they enter they are melded into the soup, unless someone has a really strong image of the original person even with the faults that they would push out if they could it will be really risky.

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    3. This is alluded to in a conversation about Oden providing Souls in the books. Daniel’s dryad states that Odin would not provide the energy necessary to generate Souls. This hints at it being possible.

      Like

  4. How Big a Threat are the Lightbringers?

    The Lightbringers are clearly a threat and one just introduced in Book 4, but I would argue that they are merely one of several very likely threats Daniel faces and not even in the top three.

    Daniel’s Serious Threats
    * Gaia wants to destroy Kozalin, which means the Black Keep will likely face the same danger. She has a score of demigods to enter the fray and Odin’s demigod defenders are occupied elsewhere and the city defenses are still shattered. And Gaia is not going to waste her troops on Asgard (although Asgard might take nearly all the Great Beasts she can easily direct)

    * Daniel crashed the gold market at the expense of the Dwarves. Those guys are powerful, magically adept and have a reputation for vengeance.

    * Great Beasts are in the world — and they are terrible and nigh unstoppable monsters. A lot of them have no interest in fighting in Asgard, but find humans tasty.

    * Odin will kill Daniel if he believes Daniel deliberately caused the Spire to explode.

    * Lightbringers – magical cult focused on hunting down and imprisoning atlantian mages

    * Conclave is both an ally and a potential enemy as they would like to get his secrets (and have secrets of their own)

    At the end of the day, the Lightbringers will be a small highly magical strike team. A very dangerous and deadly team, but still not more than a magical strike team. They are a potent threat, but all these other threats listed are just as likely to lead to Daniel’s death or the destruction of Daniel’s plans – if not more so.

    Keep in mind that the Lightbringers cannot have a large pool of agents. If all they sent to Asgard is a team of 3 people when it has probably been a century or more since the last confirmed sighting of an Atlantian tells me that they have to be a small organization. I doubt they have more than a score of agents trained to take down an Atlantian. AND they have already pissed off Odin — a lot. Further public operations in Aesir territory could cause a god war. Ra would NOT want that risk.

    Like

    1. Re: Gaia, the Dworks, and the Great Beasts: physical, macro-scale threats are no longer threats at all. Daniel’s new staff with it’s ring-accelerators can be scaled up and provide line-of-sight annihilation of anything out to the horizon. The Sons of Gaia? Clouds of vaporized blood. The Sons of Ivaldi? Likewise. The Great Beasts? Great Swiss Cheese.

      There are other means of attack that Daniel’s magical rail-guns won’t address, but armies and big monsters attacking by air, land, or sea are not an issue once he gets back.

      Subterranean attacks are something to worry about. Earthquakes. Plagues. Obscure magical curses. Politics. Yes. But not armies or giant monsters.

      Like

      1. Depends on the nature of the Great beast i suspect. Some might shrug off the plasma bolt or simply be immune to fire. Others might be very small or very fast or intangible or attack on some other basis like a plague beast.

        Gaia is a powerful goddess – her threats are not easily countered at all. I agree a brute force attack by a demigod or small army of trolls would be dealt with pretty easily – that has already happened. But it is clear that an old and powerful goddess is a order of magnitude different threat.

        Dwarves if they marched up as an army would not be much of a threat. They are probably the most easily addressed threat as Daniel’s strengths do well vis-a-vis their strengths. But they are magical crafters of legendary status. That implies they can bring some very powerful magic items into play.

        But your fundamental point is correct. Brute force physical attacks by grunt armies or a single big creature are not a serious threat to Daniel anymore.

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      2. “physical, macro-scale threats are no longer threats at all”

        – once Daniel returns

        – on Black Island (well, any fixed installation)
        If you fire these things from a mobile platform or on any ground that is not solid (sand, loose snow, dry soil), you will die from the recoil. Remember that it is anchored to your surroundings with force magic.

        – within a certain range
        This is a hypersonic projectile. It will not survive the friction of passage through the air indefinitely

        – unless the enemy develops a magic means of countering it
        An enemy could banish the projectile, or put an obstacle in its path. I wouldn’t want to fire one of those guns in a hailstorm for example

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      3. Oliver, the flying combat golem Daniel created in THRALL is a demonstration of him firing his new weapons while in midair. I think that trumps snow or loose sand. Clearly, Daniel has solved the recoil issue, or the author has ignored it.

        How is a stream of hyper-accelerated water molecules a projectile? I’d grant you there are still atmospheric friction issues, but they will probably be more complicated than a mere projectile.

        Since the weapon fires a stream of hyper-accelerated water molecules, banishing ALL of them would be a challenge. Some sort of continuous banishment spell is probably possible…expensive, but possible.

        I like that hailstorm defense. That could work well. Even a misty morning could quickly result in troops trying to advance through clouds of scorching hot steam heating up their armor and asphyxiating them at the same time.

        Daniel should combine his magic with Elin’s to deliberately create a super-heated steam defense layer for the approaches to Black Island.

        …AFTER he adds air conditioning to all his armored skimmers.

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      4. “Daniel has solved the recoil issue, or the author has ignored it.”

        Reread the battle in the Sunspire. Daniel’s slugthrower caused cracks in the structure of the Sunspire when fired at full power. The Sunstrike always operated over quite solid ground. And it is a metal golen (with a wooden part) that can take high g-forces and has a flight enchantment.

        Yes, Daniel found a counter for the recoil. But it is a partial solution, which will not work under all circumstances.

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    2. DSpring, as has already been pointed out, there is no reason Ra could not pull the same trick Hel did and send an army from Egypt to Kozalin through a portal in the hold of a grain ship.

      Egypt, with Ra in charge and no big competing Christian, Jewish or Muslim “pantheons” to oppose locally, might have had quite a large army for many, many generations. Might even be a fairly dangerous army, with ancient Egyptian magics supporting it. Might even be something of a veteran force, with lots of campaigning in Africa and the Levant. One of the world’s oldest consistently pursued international foreign policies is Egypt’s continuing interest in controlling the Palestine/Syria/Gaza/Sinai region, all the way back to the Battle of Kadesh.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kadesh

      Come to think of it, did Alexander manage to conquer Egypt in Midgard?

      I have no idea, but I suspect Mesopotamia might have been a rollover for him and India…India could have been a right nasty mess with its rather interesting pantheon(s).

      Like

      1. Egypt also has its own version of an afterlife. He could literally do what Hel did. Daniel vs. The Magic Mummies.

        Like

      2. Good point, Oliver.

        I wonder why I’ve never seen advertising for a movie of Zombies versus Mummies, or Skeletons versus Mummies?

        Seems like a natural. It’s probably happened somewhere and I just didn’t notice.

        Ra might even have a bigger army than Hel.

        Egypt was a population center long before Europe was.

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      3. Yes Daniel crashed the mithral/aluminum market – had a brain fart when I wrote gold market. (sigh!)

        Totally agree that RA is a powerful god and could destroy Black Keep if he choose to attack with all his forces. Not sure Egypt has some tradition of magical portals or big armies, but I am certain Ra has many options to destroy a mortal enemy.

        But there are real reasons none of this will happen
        1) Kosalin is in Odin’s territory. Odin will not tolerate such a massive intrusion. He CANNOT as the insult would be too great. A god war is very destructive and Odin’s pantheon covers a lot more territory than RA’s

        2) He is after a single Atlantian — he cares nothing for Black Keep itself.

        3) Way too easy for an Atlantian to die and reincarnate elsewhere in any type of major assault. Atlantians are very tricky and very hard to find.

        There are good reasons why the Lightbringers are a cult of bounty hunters (of souls) and not war leaders. The only way to deal with an Atlantian is to capture his soul. Everything else is a waste of time. If you allow him to reincarnate, then you lost. It might be centuries before you can find this Atlantian again.

        It is to RA’s advantage to NOT push Daniel to go back into hiding.

        Like

      4. Yes, DSpring, ancient Egypt was one of the first world “powers” with standing armies, logistics experience and centuries of pursuing consistent foreign policies in the Levant, up the Nile and in Libya.

        I have to agree, however, that we have only guesses what Egypt’s military looks like 2400 years after Alexander’s era and we have no idea whether they could have portals big enough to make their putative modern armies appear in Kozalin.

        We don’t actually know Odin’s territory is larger than Ra’s.

        We don’t know how much of Africa or the Middle East belongs to Ra.

        Totally agree it would seem to Ra and the Lightbringers a waste of time and resources killing Daniel instead of capturing him, unless they could be certain of trapping Daniel’s soul when they kill him.

        Tricky, that.

        Like

      5. “Totally agree it would seem to Ra and the Lightbringers a waste of time and resources killing Daniel instead of capturing him, unless they could be certain of trapping Daniel’s soul when they kill him.”

        Unless, of course, they think he is creating a fortress to breed new Atlanteans, or creating a gathering place for existing ones to recreate Atlantean magic or to break the power of the nightmares. Or forging an alliance with released or resurrected gods.

        Like

      6. That’s the ultimate question for Ra, isn’t it?

        “Unless, of course, they think he is creating a fortress to breed new Atlanteans, or creating a gathering place for existing ones to recreate Atlantean magic or to break the power of the nightmares. Or forging an alliance with released or resurrected gods.”

        How much does Ra know about what Daniel is doing inside Castle Black?

        How much can Ra learn about what Daniel is doing inside Castle Black?

        How quickly can Ra learn much about what Daniel is doing inside Castle Black?

        And then, of course, the biggie: What does Ra BELIEVE Daniel is doing inside Castle Black?

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      7. “And then, of course, the biggie: What does Ra BELIEVE Daniel is doing inside Castle Black?”

        It may no longer matter. Ra may actually know that the Sunspire had a selfdestruct feature. And even if Daniel is not himself an Atlantean, he may now know too much. Whether an Atlantean or somebody else breaks the power of the nightmares in final analysis does not matter.

        And Ra will hear about a pregnant catwoman blessing births with unprecedented power. It no longer matters what Ra believes. The question is now what he suspects.

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    3. “Daniel crashed the gold market at the expense of the Dwarves.”

      Daniel also crashed the Mithril market. That wiped out the emergency stash of an unknown number of other entities

      “Further public operations in Aesir territory could cause a god war. Ra would NOT want that risk.”

      As soon as his chief of spies reads the reports of a pregnant catwoman in the fortress of the Atlantean wizard whose death caused all the trouble with the Aesir I would find that point quite debatable. And if he makes public and proves that Odin had the Sunspire, he might not be alone in such an action.

      Like

    4. Daniel crashed the gold market at the expense of the Dwarves

      Daniel crashed the *Mithril* market. He explicitly worked to avoid inflating the value of gold away. See his discussing with Tavrin while talking about crashing the Mithril market as revenge against the Dwarves.

      Given the ubiquity and utility of Aluminum, crashing the Mithril market will be of long-term benefit to all sapient species, but the Sons of Ivaldi and the other dwarf clans are unlikely to care much about that:-P.

      Like

    5. Well the Ligthbringuers are not a big threat but a really important personal one, first they are highly adaptable, they can infiltrate and booby trap the island, not to mention that they are studying Daniel figthing style and resource, yes he can change the last but not so mutch the first. So I will say they are a good threat not the major of them all but a serious one, even worse given who is sponsoring them.

      Like

  5. The priests and the Gjallarhorn

    Asgard is calling in all reserves. What will it mean for the power structure of Varmland if all available priests go to the Golden Fields to join Asgard’s army?

    Like

    1. It won’t only be priests that go to join Odin’s army after that horn blows.

      There will be an initial flood of warriors, aristocrats, soldiers and even a few magi.

      I’m really curious to see the numbers remaining to defend Kozalin’s walls when Daniel finally returns.

      Like

  6. Oliver, I agree with you on this, “Steelbinder and Ward are likely to recognize the socially challenged type.”

    That probably happened the day they met Daniel, and he has done little to change their minds since.

    Even so, consider some of the flaming idiots they have to deal with at every Conclave “all hands on deck” meeting.

    Daniel is MUCH easier to cooperate with than THEY are, and he also makes it much more worthwhile to cooperate.

    Given the quality of magical mayhem he wields in defense of Kozalin and Black Island, and the SWEET magical tools he is willing to trade with them, the Conclave would be really sorry to lose Daniel and will certainly try to avoid losing his allies if there ever comes a time the evidence suggests he is dead.

    Cerise and Avilla are likely to be VERY nervous about any damn fool noble or royal deciding that since Daniel is gone, Black Island needs a new protector.

    The nobles of Kozalin and any royal who shows up will be VERY nervous about all the rumors surrounding Cerise and her battlefield behavior. They totally cannot be trusted in the same room with her, even if they are explicitly NOT of the Asgardian Church, which seems completely unlikely for any Varmland nobility.

    Avilla, of course, is almost equally at risk, for all the usual reasons…blond, buxom, beautiful, essence of Aphrodite, etc.

    Sigh…never ending source of contention. You know, THAT aspect of Avilla is awfully similar to Somebody else we know much better now from THRALL.

    Speaking of royals who might show up at Kozalin, don’t forget the King. If his capitol falls to Gaia’s and Loki’s armies, where do you suppose the King and what’s left of his family will show up, should he survive?

    Kozalin and it’s Conclave would look rather good at that point, and a King’s decision about who owns Black Island will pretty much trump every other opinion except those of the guys in the mortar pits.

    One hopes the King is smart enough to consult with the Conclave first.

    One hopes the King is experienced enough to proceed cautiously when so much magical KABOOM could so easily be pointed at him.

    On the other hand, it would be virtually certain the King is a hard as nails pragmatist who will do whatever he thinks necessary to secure what remains of his power and his realm.

    Daniel really should try to get back to Kozalin as soon as he possibly can.

    Like

    1. I really hope the King is that smart and prudent, but Prince Casper was introduced as a mutch competent leader that he turned out to be at Thrall, and I am afraid to consider how mutch of his bad or good habits are hinereted by him been raised by the King. So he going down to Kozeling will definetly be an interesting development, altough from what has been said it migth bot be posible, he has been bombarded pretty strongly in the city he is now and the only reason he would ever leave it would be if the city fell, that kind of defeat doesn’t do well for morality and even less for the loyalty of desperates nobles.

      Like

      1. This is Ragnarök. Smart and prudent is often equated with measured and cautious. That is false. In fact rubbish. Most people in Europe will die. In fact a majority, we can discuss how large it is somewhere else, is already dead. There is no such thing as a second chance.
        You will need to take risks and you will have to be ruthless.

        Looking for strategies like a measured response or a slow approach is just a, frankly, stupid continuation of habits appropriate to an orderly and more peaceful world. Kill or be killed. If you have to be an asshole using blackmail, use it. Well, I misspoke, even if it is just a clear advantage instead of a necessity, use it. Acknowledge your limits. The only thing that matters is survival and power.

        Genocide is not just an extreme option. It is the default. Deal with it.

        Like

      2. Agree slow and cautious is not a survival strategy. Decisive action is needed.

        That does not mean that going immediately to survival of the fittest is a great way to survive Ragnarok. Or at least it can only be a good strategy if your personal survival is your only objective. As soon as you wish to protect others (like your coven mates) or locations (like your keep), then the dynamics change.

        Like

  7. The author hasn’t said a peep about his Alice Long 2 book.

    Going by how Mr Brown works, guys I think it’s safe to say that the next Daniel Black book will be either 2021 or Dec 2020.
    I hope I’m still alive by 2021 because it sure ain’t coming out in 2019.

    Like

  8. More Thoughts On What Happens to Black Keep while Daniel is gone….

    Ok – Kozalin is a mess. Multiple factions jockeying for power. We talked about the possibility that one or more factions would believe Daniel is dead and try and take Black Keep and (to a very limited extent) what actions Daniel’s peeps would do to stop them.

    This thread is focused on the more likely scenario. What happens in this situation if they believe Daniel is just “away”. The situation in Kozalin is very unstable and Daniel represents one of the more powerful factions in the city. Daniel took some obvious steps to establish himself as a major player just before he left including:

    * Building fortified building in the docks
    * Organizing the whole dock region and appointing leaders
    * Paying officials, watch officers and other government workers (gold! and lots of it being spread around!)
    * Committing to defend the boats delivering grain
    * Establishing a granary in the Black Keep (and probably buying a lot of the grain the ships are bringing in)
    * Establishing a functioning marketplace in the dock area and making it tolerable for others

    The remaining (many) factions (3 Dukes, Multiple Conclave factions, Priests, Public Opinion among the established residents, Public Opinion among the refugees, and whoever is trying to militarize/manipulate the refugees to cause trouble) are going to want to deal with Daniel as a key leader. They may wish to cooperate, ally, oppose, leverage, dominate, kill, acclaim, or seek his protection/benefits of his magic. Many will not be certain how they want to deal with Daniel and will play it by ear based on the response they get to initial contacts. Some will want to be bribed. Some cajoled. Some can only be dealt with effectively via threats. Some will just want someone competent to help them with their problems.

    Then Daniel left. And is gone for weeks (months?) These leaders are not going to wait around in limbo. They are going to engage with the people Daniel left in charge when he left.

    His Peeps now have to deal with this mess. The peeps that will be the “face” to the other factions are pretty small in number – basically four: Defense Chief (Stayr), Diplomacy Chief (Nymph), Military leader and chief liaison with the city military (Human) and his Staff Chief (Dark Elf). Realistically Daniel’s coven members are the key decision makers, but none of them like that role or have much experience in that role. And none of these are going to want to be dealing with all these factions directly. But the various Chiefs will take their orders from the coven members.

    They also have to continue Daniel’s policies, recruit more soldiers, keep training soldiers/militia, keep Black Keep functioning and work as best as they can to defend the city at large.

    They do have tools to help them
    * Diplomacy chief (sorry – horrible at remembering names) is very experienced and can easily distract most people if she cannot deal with them in any other way.
    * Expeditionary military leader already has an established relationship with many military leaders and is obviously human and a member of the nobility
    * A lot of demand of Daniel’s goods – including the new ones of space heaters and warming spelled clothing. Demand they can easily meet while Daniel is gone. Ditto with the small volume of food he is selling in the market and the safety of his buildings.
    * Not clear if Daniel’s skimmer factory is functioning or not. if yes, then they have a number of armored skimmers to project military power – including maybe clearing out the route to the sea for fisher folk.
    * The dark elves are experienced in assassinating really troublesome people — or can bring in any manner of luxury goods if a bribe is the right approach
    * Daniel’s reputation as a kick ass war wizard and creator of magical toys — and defender of the city. A good reputation earns a lot of good will in public opinion — including among many of the lesser nobility that make up the lion share of military leaders. (there are a lot more lesser than greater nobility after all). May or may not help with faction leaders, but certainly mitigates any negative effects widespread jealousy or resentment might bring.

    Pressing problems that probably cannot wait for Daniel to return before some action is needed
    * Granaries are cutting back food to starvation levels for many refugees
    * Summer Fey may come calling and should not walk away without some diplomatic contact
    * Enemy monsters will start to attack the city through the broken walls – more hit and run attacks than conquest, but these add up
    * Undead are preying on refugees and will have to be addressed
    * Priests may mostly be gone to help Asgard. This is not certain as Asgard still needs to maintain their anchors.
    * Fuel for heating/cooking is getting scarce in the city. And cold kills faster than starvation.
    * Somebody is provoking the refugees to deliberately trigger riots/crises
    * Fishermen cannot get to the sea to fish
    * Conclave dispute may try and draw in Elin and/or some endorsement from Daniel
    * Some teething problems with the setup of the docks (organizational mostly)
    * Probably a lot of people will want to move to the dock areas as that area is starting to look like the best off in the city and Daniel has not set up some regime to block the movement of people.
    * Still bringing in more refugees via the Intrepid. Without the prince, who determines what happens to these people or do they just get thrown into the mix of of the trade area where nobody rules

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    1. DSpring, while I expect Tavrin would consult with Avilla and Cerise in some instances, especially where magic is a significant component, he is a lot more likely to work with Pelagia, Demetrios and Captain Rain to formulate a plan. They would then inform one or more of the coven members, mostly to keep them in the loop, but the plan would move to execution at whatever rate the four leaders believe is appropriate.

      Remember, Avilla basically walked away from the job Tavrin now holds so she can focus on her spell work, Cerise is busy with Hecate’s shrine and with Corinna’s dryads and her with own spell work. Elin would not be seen as a decision maker for the coven, although Pelagia would not hesitate to consult with her in cases of complex magics. Tina would be…Tina. Nobody will ask her opinion about an uprising on the docks.

      Which is not to say Tina will have nothing to say. For that matter, Bast might have something to say and Her advice could easily be rather…incisive.

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    2. Remember what happened to Cerise and Avilla in Lanrest when Baron Stein’s toady knights slit Daniel’s throat and burned his body? There won’t be any enthusiasm for exposing any coven member to any Kozalin nobles and especially not any Kozalin clergy. Pelagia will have the same problem, being equally allergic to Asgardians.

      Besides, no Kozalin aristocrat will deal with any woman who is not at least a royal princess or Faerie queen.

      Tavrin should fill that “face of Black Island” role quite well while Daniel is gone, and with a suitably scary reputation to back up anything he says in public or in negotiations. Think maybe that last occurred to Daniel when he considered a replacement for Avilla as seneschal?

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      1. He appointed a minister of diplomacy, who can easily turn up with her familiars and an escort of Dark Elves and human soldiers, all armed with magical weapons. Security unless they are meeting multiple wizards, is not much of an issue.

        And I suspect all interactions with the priests have ceased. Unless they are violent. Which opens up another point. The Door of Devotion is still operating. Will they let that go on? If not, how?

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      2. That raises an interesting question, Oliver.

        Is Daniel’s Minister of Diplomacy, Pelagia, indisputably Olympian?

        If we take Alanna’s description of her own origin, then I’d have to say no, Alanna served Olympians but she predates them and survives all but a few of them.

        (Hmm…were any Olympians stored in the Sunspire? A few Titans might be.)

        If we look at Pelagia’s origin, she seems to be of significantly more recent vintage than Alanna. Was she created for an Olympian, maybe even at the specific request of an Olympian?

        Just because most of her early life she served Olympians, does that make her Olympian?

        On the other hand, Olympian or not, is Pelagia explicitly an enemy of Asgard?

        Does the Church of Asgard BELIEVE Pelagia is an enemy?

        Clearly, Daniel thinks she can work around any such issues, and Pelagia must also or she would have said something, somewhere.

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    3. Steelbinder and Ward will also be much more inclined to deal with Tavrin than Cerise or Avilla if the Conclave needs anything from Black Island. Male dominance thing, but probably also cautiously avoiding any overt involvement in the Asgardian/Olympian issues they know haunt what Daniel is building on Black Island.

      That is not to suggest they won’t send Tova to speak directly with Elin if a particularly important medical need arises, or Cerise if it’s a question only one of Daniel’s “apprentices” could answer.

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      1. Debatable. Daniel has/had apprentices. The Conclave would be undermining their own rules if they tried sidelining them. Besides, who is easier to manipulate, a Dark Elf many centuries old or an impulsive girl of 20 years of age, be she a witch or not?

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      2. Yeah, I’ll bet the Conclave has all sorts of rules for apprentices, how adepts interact with their own apprentices and especially how adepts interact with other adepts’ apprentices.

        If there is much interaction at all between the Conclave and Black Island while Daniel is gone, I’d expect it to be specific and even contractual, most likely with Elin for healing services. There will probably be several different attempts to learn what the coven members and others know about Daniel’s status, and there might be a few deliberate attempts to purchase or trade for items Steelbinder and Ward believe only Daniel can make.

        How better to determine whether Daniel has shared his enchantment concepts with his apprentices and/or Nethwillin’s magic users, than to push for acquisitions he cannot have created himself because they know he’s not there?

        If the Conclave knows anything at all about Daniel’s power stone “factories” and mass production of magical items, it will not be much more than rumor. So, if the Conclave requests several more amulets connected to their power stone, how will they know the girls did nothing more than pushing a lever to create them?

        Come to think of it, how will those amulets be connected to the power stone in the Conclave’s tower? Do Ward and Steelbinder make the connections happen? It seems unlikely Daniel would enable that power stone with enchantment factory magic.

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      3. “If the Conclave knows anything at all about Daniel’s power stone “factories” and mass production of magical items, it will not be much more than rumor. So, if the Conclave requests several more amulets connected to their power stone, how will they know the girls did nothing more than pushing a lever to create them?”

        Yes. The number of guns, flamers and warmth cloaks Daniel is handing out or selling cheaply makes that obvious. I suppose as Daniel is offering a service to enchant existing cloaks the logical conclusion would be that he has an enchanting machine, not a factory stone, but it must be automatic.
        In fact, they have known since Daniel bombarded the Andregi with the new shells. The number was too large for anything else.

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    4. Bluntly, while Daniel is away, I’m with Oliver on Kozalin’s refugee situation as far as the Kozalin nobles are concerned. They made the problems. They cut back the refugee food rations. Let the Kozalin nobles deal with the consequences.

      That situation will drive more refugees to volunteer for service on Black Island, and might even make those volunteers a bit more willing to accept some of the…entities they will meet in or around Castle Black. Might even make a few of them willing to consider transformations into cat forms, wolfen, etc.

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    5. If the fae Summer Court comes calling, Pelagia and Elin will have their hands full in some ways.

      In other ways it will be PAYBACK to the max, with nymphs, dryads, naiads and Elin herself so much more empowered now. What does the Summer Court want so much it is forced to treat with…expatriates?

      So many fun possibilities there.

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    6. If enemy monsters are close enough to raid Kozalin at night through the breaks in the walls, are they also close enough to be raided by Wolfen, Svartalf and Dryads in “nautical twilight” ?

      Not suggesting Kozalin will ask for this, but the temptation is huge to hold some “live training exercises” since the enemy has volunteered to provide target practice dummies.

      It’s probably too soon to also be an opportunity for Captain Rain to test a few ideas about armored skimmer tactics. His troops are too green, and his military mago-technology too strange for most of them to be anything like competent at their new jobs.

      I suppose they might coordinate with the raider force to setup a nasty ambush, but even that would be pushing their luck. Probably best to train, train and train some more while everyone from Captain Rain down to his newest soldier figures out what the Hell the iron beasts Daniel gave them can do.

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      1. Captain Rain and Demetrios might have very different ideas from a 21st century western military about what are acceptable losses during training. Though they would likely start with patrolling the river route for ships and fishing men.

        They will also see this strategically. A small number of civillians vanishing just don’t matter and if that tends to happen more outside the areas Daniel’s militias are protecting, it will undermine Daniel’s foes. No action required or desirable.

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    7. Undead preying on refugees really seems like a job for Cerise, if she has time to pursue it. She’s got fresh air magic and minions who don’t need fresh air magic. Her shadow magic is ideal for underground combat and she has experience trekking through Kozalin’s catacombs.

      Plus, she’s a murder witch on a mission: recruit some murder witch souls.

      I hope the foreshadowing we’ve already seen in the previous books and in THRALL is intended to prepare us for some sort of adventure like this, even if it’s only Cerise giving Daniel a two sentence report and a huge grin.

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    8. Good point, DSpring. The Asgard priests cannot ALL go to join Odin’s army. Some of them have to stay behind to tend the flock at one of Odin’s bigger surviving anchor churches.

      Now that you mention it, I wonder how many Asgard churches remain relatively intact? Lanrest is gone, that’s for sure, and probably a lot more of them in walled towns about the same size — too small, too poorly defended and too far away from the Royal Army.

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    9. Fuel for heating/cooking is another Kozalin problem that Black Island should ignore, except to make sure Daniel’s magic heater factory and warmth enchantment factory are continuously producing revenue day and night.

      If there’s any place threatened by attack that Black Island has to pay close attention to defending, it’s wherever these two businesses operate. HUGE temptation there, just dangling in front of the shivering cold peoples’ noses.

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    10. Fishermen won’t need to go to sea to fish for a while. They will have more than enough to keep them busy harvesting the last of the freshwater fish in Kozalin harbor and the Elbe as all its fresh water freezes and salt water invades.

      The freshwater fish will be dying every day until they are all gone.

      Might as well net them and dry or cook them.

      Not sure where Varmland is in this process. There’s been mention of it, when Daniel discussed the harbor and river ice melting job with the Prince back in BLACK COVEN. A month later, how much of the river is frozen solid? Are the fresh fish moving downstream yet? I’d guess probably some are, but that’s just a guess.

      It seems too soon for Captain Rain to setup an armored skimmer patrol of the Elbe from Kozalin to North Sea.

      His equipment is too strange and his soldiers too green.

      They need more training, and more recruiting as well.

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      1. I wonder if Daniel has thought of setting up an aquaculture or rice paddies with fish and shellfish to get a bit more diversity in his food supply. His water fey and Elin should be able to help make that a very productive addition to Black Islands food supply.

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      2. I wish, Cam.

        I’d really like to see the author push Elin’s orca shape a little more. She and the naiads might be able to do all sorts of seafood harvesting just in Kozalin harbor but MUCH preferably out in the North Sea, far, far away from human sewage sludge in the Elbe.

        As for indoor rice paddies, indoor swampy wetlands and indoor pond/lake fisheries, watercress plantations, etc., I’d also like to see some of that happen, where it makes sense to do so.

        Too bad Daniel is unlikely to be aware of aquaculture. That would make a great central design concept for at least one of Daniel and Elin’s indoor growing spaces. They could create a much bigger wet environment the naiads would totally enjoy.

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      3. Too bad Daniel is unlikely to be aware of aquaculture

        I’d be very surprised if Daniel was unaware of the concept. He’s an SF geek and a gamer, and that community (this community:-) ) tends to be fairly well-read and have an eclectic database of factoids stored away. He probably doesn’t know any *specifics* of how to do it, but there have been plenty of SF books which featured aquaculture as part of the background that the concept will be familiar to him. I’ve read about it in both Jerry Pournelle’s _High Justice_ anthology and one of Poul Anderson’s Flandry novels. Just being aware of the phrase “fish farming” would be enough for Daniel to suggest that Elin and the Naiads work in that direction.

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      4. Totally agree Daniel would know enough about harvesting food from the ocean even if his only science fiction reading had been “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”.

        What I was thinking of, but failed to type the word, was “aquaponics”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics

        You can see how an arcology-sized system like this might be fantastic for the naiads and Elin.

        It could easily become something like a water play park for them, while also providing tons per year of seafood and shoreline food for Black Island and Kozalin.

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      5. Calories per working hour invested and how to get operating personel. Peasants are plentiful. Nobody in Varmland has ever run a fish farm.

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      6. Actually, somebody on Black Island HAS run a “fish farm” for several centuries at least — the naiads.

        Otherwise, they’d have starved long ago.

        I bet they are pretty efficient at it, too, and will be even more productive now that Elin and Daniel have empowered their habitat.

        Daniel and Elin could improve the naiad pond and stream system enormously in his new arcology expansion, created at the beginning of THRALL.

        That would probably even further enhance their relationships with the naiads, which brings us back to a subject I’ve kicked around before. Daniel really ought to try to contact Poseidon somehow, maybe through Hecate.

        Black Island’s strategic position would be vastly enhanced by an alliance with the divine ruler of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

        Okay, Poseidon probably only rules the Mediterranean — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poseidon

        Maybe Neptune gets the Atlantic — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neptune_(mythology)

        Oooh…SEA NYMPHS — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nereid

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      7. I though that Posedon, Zeus and all the big public named where dead already, I mean Hecate is big but she is more prone to deal with things in the shadows wich make her a perfect survivalist. It will be great if some of them are alive but I don’t see how.

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      8. In BLACK COVEN, Cerise belives Poseidon still rules the deep.

        “Mostly. Poseidon still rules the deep, but Hel and her brothers deposed Hades back before Loki was imprisoned.”

        We just don’t know WHICH “deep”…or what “deposed” means.

        I wonder if Hades is wandering somewhere dusty and ancient like Bast was, or maybe even in the flesh?

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      9. I see, well I have to admit I forgot that little bit of information, thanks for reminding me. Now if Hades isn’t lost in the dark as you said he migth be hidden somewhere ploting his revange against Hel, or maybe he got a back deal done with her without no one knowing and is hidden in his realm working on the low with her protection. Maybe he is using Loki revolt to grab more power in the cofusion.

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    11. Conclave disruption might drive Tova and other female magic users to flee to Black Island if it’s really bad.

      THAT could be NASTY, especially if Ward and/or Steelbinder are out of the picture.

      Or, what if Steelbinder survives an assassination attempt…just barely.

      He might need Elin’s healing to recover.

      Does she go to him or have him brought to her?

      If the situation is that bad, Cerise and Tavrin probably rule that Steelbinder must be brought to Elin.

      If the situation is that bad, STEELBINDER probably prefers to be brought to Elin.

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      1. Well Tavrin and Cerise priority is Elin safety and if Steelbinder can’t assure his own safety in the Citadel I doubt they will ris Elin, the only way in that scenario for her to go would be if she inssit on it and Steelbinder is that bad, but we know she doesn’t hold enoguh love for the Conclave to put herself at risk like that for any of them.

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      2. Why would conclave disruption drive the female mages to Black Island. Not clear why the disruption would impact the female adepts more seriously — and why they would consider Black Island a refuge?

        They have had barely any contact with Daniel. They know nothing about him.

        I get that a renegade faction of Conclave mages would likely seek out Daniel simply because he is powerful and independent mage that can shield them from Conclave reprisals – if he chooses. But Daniel is not here right now and I would be shocked if any of them believed that his minions would stand against the conclave on something the Conclave feels is important without Daniel’s explicit support. Especially as the conclave has a good relationship with Daniel. They would have no reason to expect a helpful reception.

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      3. DSpring, the answer to one of your questions is embedded in the body of one of your questions.

        The female wizards don’t know Daniel, why would they flee the Conclave’s tower and try to take refuge with Daniel?

        Actually, Tova has some reason to believe she know Daniel, or knows him enough to believe he might offer refuge, and if he did, the refuge would actually be worth something.

        However, the reason female wizards, especially younger female apprentice wizards, might believe Black Island is the best place for them to try to hide out from some idiotic, PATRIARCHAL, disruption of the Conclave is:

        1) Because Daniel is NOT on Black Island at the moment, and Cerise IS on Black Island.

        2) Remember the meeting(s) of female apprentice wizards Cerise attended in the Tower? It was just a reference, and may not have been more than one or two actual meetings. Nevertheless, it was an opportunity for Cerise and the Tower females to kaffeeklatch and exchange all sorts of personal information. They know enough about Cerise that they would at least try to talk with her if they suddenly had reason to believe they were no longer safe at the Conclave’s tower.

        3) There’s no secret about Avilla having been Castle Black’s castellan for several weeks. There’s some secret about Pelagia being Daniel’s new minister of Diplomacy, but most of the Tower’s female magic users will know because Tova knows and this seems like news she would share. There’s no secret Elin has her own clinic for healing on Black Island and no secret that Daniel or someone on Black Island performed a rather miraculous healing on her. Then there are the rumors about a catgirl. Plus, how can they resist dryads, nymphs, naiads, hamadryads and a naga?

        Consequently, in my opinion, there are several potentially valid reasons why young, female apprentice wizards of the Conclave might approach Cerise asking for refuge on Black Island.

        This twist only seems more likely if there is a reasonable expectation the fleeing wizardesses sneaked away undetected.

        Of course, the naive apprentice ALWAYS believes he or she successfully sneaked out on the old, powerful adept.

        Controversial mumbling aside, it’s rather obvious that disruption is not required in order to bring some of the younger Conclave magic users to Black Island eventually, even if it’s only to visit.

        Curiosity alone will guarantee that.

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      4. “However, the reason female wizards, especially younger female apprentice wizards, might believe Black Island is the best place for them to try to hide out from some idiotic, PATRIARCHAL, disruption of the Conclave”

        We have seen no evidence of some kind of gender fissure in the conclave or any other organization. So while I agree it is possible that such a fissure exists or is created by the disruption, there is no evidence in the books to indicate this outcome is likely. If anything, multiple points in the book suggest that such a fissure does not exist in society in general — at least based on conversations Daniel has had on the topic.

        I agree with you that “IF” there was such a gender conflict, that fleeing to Daniel “might” make sense. Then again, Daniel reputation among many is that of a man who enslaves dark witches, dryads, nymphs to his will. That reputation is incorrect, but how will these hypothetical conclave members know this. Only Tova has met Daniel — and that was one short conversation in an context where things should be kept cordial.

        We could just as easily argue that apprentices will flee to black keep because Daniel is not a master in the conclave and thus might welcome them — or conclave soldiers because Daniel seems to respect his soldiers more and gives his soldiers magical weapons while the conclave does not.

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      5. DSpring, I think you and I are reading different parts of the series more closely than others.

        I’m quite confident the entire series is FULL of subtle hints and overt situations of male dominant cultural suppression/oppression of same species females and that is especially true of several human groups as well as “other” groups.

        For an extreme example, surely you don’t argue that Odin’s detestable “soul soup” is anything less than complete suppression and oppression of females, even unto designing user-compliant female minds?

        Then we look at the overtly matriarchal culture Gaia seems to have encouraged among Her Andregi in Skogheim. Gender specific roles all over that place, with the female line dominant in planning and management while the males serve mostly as grunt labor, army, and local police, all with Gaia at the top of the political and cultural pyramid, female priestesses below Her, etc.

        Hmm…there are no explicitly female Frost Giants, Trolls, goblins, etc. What does that tell us about THEIR cultural values? Are trolls, goblins, Andregi and other Gaian cultures ALL matriarchal in some way?

        In contrast to these, there are the overt examples of egalitarian cultures like Clan Nethwillin, attested to by several of the excellent discussions between Daniel and Irithil, Tavrin, Sefwin, etc. Even they have some roles where genders dominate due to gender specific advantages, but those are clearly accepted within both sides of the culture, even humorously.

        Now, while I would agree that there are few overt suggestions of patriarchal divisions inside the Conclave, I see plenty of subtle hints. Remember that significant numbers of the Conclave membership are Asgardian Church supporters, eager to do battle with Loki’s army. Is there any doubt in your mind that the Asgardian Church is patriarchal?

        Then there is the top council of the Conclave–mostly grey beard male adepts and high adepts. In fact, do we have ANY evidence of ANY female HIGH adepts in the Conclave? Lack of evidence is NOT evidence of lack, but there sure seems to be a glass ceiling for female magic users in the Conclave Tower.

        Of course, in these trying times, we should expect all or most of the top Conclave senior members are men. Combat experience and battle wizardry are key to recognition and positions of ultimate responsibility in time of war. There will be very few female magic users able to play those cards, in Daniel Black’s Midgard, because that is how the author has portrayed the overall culture we have seen this far in. Were there any female HUMAN soldiers in Carl Steinberg’s Conclave combat unit? Have any of Steelbinder’s competent combat adepts-in-training been females?

        None. For me, that would obviously be another “subtle hint” of patriarchy in the Conclave. Of course, it’s also evidence of the author’s willingness to pragmatically recognize physical differences between the human genders.

        We have all had many opportunities to read fantasy stories containing big armies with many human male and female soldiers in them, with little or no recognition of the physical disadvantages of a female battle cleric garbed in full plate armor. Some authors handle that better than others.

        The Daniel Black series is not one of those series. I like the way the author shows us all sorts of viable gender roles in almost all the cultures we see, even where “viable” does not necessarily equate with “desirable”….

        As for the human aristocrats of Varmland, based on my assessments of Baron Stein and his nefarious knights as well as the Prince and his coterie of vassals…ALL ARE MALE. Again, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack, but there’s no reason the city engineers and architects of Kozalin would not have included at least a few token female aristocrats if women had ANY power in the Varmland aristocracy or maybe even the common culture.

        Hence, if there is disorder in the Conclave, and especially if that disorder is in any way a division along religious lines, it will be inherently patriarchal to the extent that Odin worshipers represent all or most of one of the factions.

        Which is EXTREMELY likely, yes?

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      6. I totally agree with you that there are clear gender demarcations, many of which you listed. I also agree that women are limited in their roles and power in Kozalin. A modern women, being dropped into that society, might have very good reasons to be very unhappy.

        I am just not seeing evidence that there is widespread resentment of that situation. There is no examples of any type of “female solidarity” in any political sense. I get you feel there “should” be that resentment, but the books have not shown any examples of this.

        However, there have been a number of conversations related to these topics where women have expressed opinions rather favorable to the current setup (men go into danger), or acceptance or a frank assessments of the benefits of using female beauty to secure shelter/security/affection. Even Tova was quite accepting using her own looks/skills in sex as well as the same for her daughters as leverage within the conclave. She was very matter-of-fact about it.

        Most societies that are fairly stable have wide spread acceptance of their social norms. Now the situation in Kozalin is not stable, but it has only been unstable for a few months. It normally takes years for societies to internalize major changes and then challenge old norms.

        Not commenting on what is good or bad, should or should not. Just saying that the books to date do not give any support to the conclave – or any other organization – fracturing on gender lines or for gender based reasons.

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      7. Seems like we agree on a lot of the gender roles discussion, descriptions, etc., in the Daniel Black series, DSpring.

        I’m not necessarily expecting any of the female characters in male dominated cultures to express resentment, or, for that matter, any males in female dominated cultures to resent their lot, either.

        “Phred, the Matriarch sent us to freeze our goblin giblets off in this damned Fimbulwinter because this is where the Goddess wants us to kill humans. Neither of them cares about your opinion!”

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      8. DSpring, the key issue in this gender roles discussion, as far as I can tell, is my assertion that there might be female adepts, wizards, apprentices and such at the Conclave who wind up on the LOSING side of an internal schism that prominently features Asgard Church supporting Conclave members on the WINNING side, or some other situation that would make life for women in the Tower quite miserable.

        In a situation like that, the females MIGHT seek refuge on Black Island because Daniel is publicly known to elevate females to prominent positions of responsibility — HIGHER, I might note than females in the Conclave. Daniel is also known by Conclave members like Tova to be hosting a significant nymph and dryad grove on Black Island.

        The females might also be encouraged to flee to Black Island if they have spent several hours on several different days in apprentices-only meetings in the Conclave’s Tower where Cerise was also present. We know there was at least one meeting like this, maybe more than one, in BLACK COVEN.

        “Anyway, we’re going to have to meet some more of the Conclave women to pick out another prospect. I got an invite from Mara to a get-together for apprentices tomorrow night, so I’ll let you know what I find. Tova’s girls are supposed to be there, and I hear they’re not the only hot young babes in the Citadel.”

        Looks like this apprentices meeting was mixed gender, or at least NOT specifically females only.

        Finally, it should be noted that if there is a significant realignment of authority inside the Conclave that is detrimental to female magic users, there is NO other place in or near Kozalin for them to flee EXCEPT Black Island.

        Really, this was just a tossed off comment among many others, but it sure generated a LOT of discussion in the forum.

        Made me think of all sorts of hints and dangling story strings the author might yank if he chooses to play with this idea. For example, just the presence of Black Island with its more relaxed lifestyle than is common all over Kozalin will be a thorn in the side of Varmland culture. Sure, many of the people Daniel and others recruit from the city are refugees, but some are probably citizens of Kozalin. How do their former bosses feel about suddenly needing to replace a valued employee (useful serf) with no warning and no idea where they went. Are they monster poop?

        What happens when the former boss realizes they escaped to Black Island?

        When do the claims of lost property, broken contracts and other charges begin arriving at Castle Black?

        And that’s nothing to what the Conclave’s demands for information about missing apprentices could be, especially if Steelbinder is no longer in command and even more especially if somebody like Tova makes the jump.

        Were you thinking Daniel’s life is not complicated enough already?

        Snicker…giggle….

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    12. The docks district does not look any better than the big armored shelter buildings Daniel setup for the Prince in BLACK COVEN, and there will be even less living space in the smaller fortified buildings Daniel created at the beginning of THRALL. He was kidnapped before he could do anything big.

      With all the rubble there, refugees won’t find much in the way of empty buildings to squat in. A few might have the resources and initiative to create shelter out of rubble. Daniel or Tavrin should hire them.

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      1. No, of course it looks better. It is closer to the ships that bring the food. And to the money that enables you to pay for the food they are bringing.

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      2. Okay, closer to the food ships and closer to the jobs that pay better gold are both good reasons to WANT to move to the Docks district, Oliver, but wants don’t translate well into actual living space.

        The Docks district is a rubble strewn battlefield with few surviving buildings from better days.

        Anybody moving there will have difficulty making a place to pitch a tent.

        On the other hand, rubble contains potential building materials for the determined and innovative/desperate. It will be interesting to see how the author handles that scenario.

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      3. It book 4 it was clear that the new buildings Daniel was building were only going to be roughly half full with current residents. More people moving in will happen. the question is whether a lot more people will WANT to move in than space/people want to move in. That can create a conflict.

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      4. DSpring, it was pretty clear that the people who would be moving into those buildings Daniel created in the docks district would be fishermen, dockworkers, the Harbor Watch and other locals.

        The size of the buildings also seemed to me smaller than what Daniel created elsewhere in the city during BLACK COVEN. I remember a discussion in THRALL about how much of a block to clean rubble off and use for one building, and it seemed small to me…hmm, maybe not, but the bigger problem will be outer walls that are fifteen feet thick. That’s going to steal a big chunk of living space. Daniel seems to be making up for that by making the fort six stories tall, but the first level has shops, which means more living space lost.

        Yeah, he’s calling it an office building and it has living space for a few hundred, not thousands.

        DSpring, when we multiply “a few hundred” by five or six of these small forts, the result is only a few thousand people. Odds are pretty good whatever crap places they were living before will be filled immediately by their neighbors who were living in even worse conditions.

        Daniel is only making space for a few hundred more people to squeeze into the Docks district. Maybe a thousand, probably not more than two thousand. That’s a drop in the bucket, but it does expand his recruiting pool.

        It’s tempting to see this as a move toward Daniel eventually building one or more big arcologies with indoor farms in the Docks district. That would make me happy and it would terrify Kozalin’s aristocrats.

        Hey! A two-fer!

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      5. The numbers of people that will fit into the rooms he builds will probably be multiplyed by 4 to 6. He is most likely thinking in terms of modern living space.

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      6. That certainly makes sense, DaShoota.

        I have no doubt there will be lots more people living in those buildings than Daniel originally estimates.

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      7. “Anybody moving there will have difficulty making a place to pitch a tent.”

        Kozalin is a major city. They are certainly able to build houses on their own. It will be difficult in the cold, but at least unskilled labor will be cheap. So if there are empty spaces and some people have money left, they can either book passages out of Varmland or rebuild.

        However, I am surprised when don’t see slave trade out of Kozalin. That must be happening.

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      8. I suppose it makes sense to expect a slave trade in nonhumans out of Kozalin. It could be

        However, why would slavers want anything to do with humans when everyone knows Gaia is killing them wherever She finds them?

        “For the money” only works if Gaia does not kill slavers along with human slaves.

        Other than that, handle the transactions quickly….

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    13. Do we actually know if INTREPID is done collecting all the far distant outpost populations of Clan Nethwillin?

      I’d expect a mission to Mongolia might require two weeks or more even if there are no surprises, and Irithil is likely to be EXTREMELY cautious after the dwarf-ork incident.

      Of course, Nethwillin IS the ninja dark elf clan.

      Sometimes maximum speed IS extremely cautious.

      Still, if there is the Mongolian outpost and a few smaller trading places, it could be that INTREPID is still busy bringing Clan Nethwillin to Black Island.

      It occurs to me, and probably will occur to Tavrin as well, that dark elves attempting to use Gaia’s “hidden paths” might find themselves in deep, deep doo-doo.

      INTREPID may well be the only means of transportation Tavrin considers safe enough to move children, and he will prefer to move others that way as well.

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      1. We do not. However, Daniel is gone and a rescue mission may be needed. The coven is not going to let the Intrepid go on a long distance mission until this is cleared up.

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      2. That’s an interesting idea. I imagine the coven members know it’s impossible for INTREPID to fly to Daniel’s rescue in Asgard, not that he needs this solution.

        However, the coven might reasonably expect him to maybe get in trouble on the way home AFTER escaping Asgard, and need extraction.

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      3. I’m not certain why the Intrepid would need to go all the way to Mongolia to rescue the Dark Elves there. They could follow their Hidden Ways to some location relatively close to Kozalin and then be ferried in from there. I suspect that Loki was blocking them from escaping their Scandinavian arcology when the giants attacked it, else they wouldn’t have needed Daniel’s support, so possibly something is actively preventing that escape route from Siberia too, but we have no canonical evidence to that effect.

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      4. Jabrwok, what was blocking Clan Nethwillin from escaping their Scandinavian outpost was the ice spirits, and the cold and then the frost giants.

        Mongolia certainly has the cold, which suggests there will probably be ice spirits.

        As you suggest, there’s no canonical evidence for frost giants and a more direct threat to the Scandinavian outpost.

        One suspects that lack of evidence implies lack of immediate threat, but then we have a few hints that INTREPID is sent out to commence recovering more of Clan Nethwillin, or will be, so that suggests Tavrin is worried about ice buildup if nothing else.

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      5. I thought we had the last shipments to pick up dark elves happen in book 3 – and it has been a number of days since then. Certainly if Daniel is gone for weeks, the Intrepid will be free to take up other tasks.

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      6. DSpring, central Asia is at least double or even triple the distance from Kozalin to northern Scandinavia.

        It seems to me every round trip from Black Island to central Asia and back would be about ten or fifteen days. If the Clan is not able to cram everything in for one trip, they will need twenty or thirty days to completely recover all their central Asia population and resources.

        Then we have to consider possible smaller trading posts, each of which can be emptied with a single visit by INTREPID…or resupplied, new staff rotated in and they can take up new tasks as befit their new position in Kozalin, Varmland and Midgard.

        The more I consider it, I’m not at all sure Tavrin will evacuate his smaller trading posts. They would have far too much value to Clan Nethwillin and to Daniel in the new situation. On the other hand, it could be quite useful to resupply them all from INTREPID, rotate in new and fully informed staff, seek out audiences with local contacts, etc.

        This could be even more important if, as seems likely, Clan Nethwillin has trading posts on every continent.

        However, there’s no reason to send INTREPID on those trading post missions right away. They could quickly deal with a few of the nearby European locations in much less than a week.

        I wonder what they do in Antarctica?

        I wonder who they do it with, in Antarctica?

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      7. “The more I consider it, I’m not at all sure Tavrin will evacuate his smaller trading posts. They would have far too much value to Clan Nethwillin and to Daniel in the new situation. On the other hand, it could be quite useful to resupply them all from INTREPID, rotate in new and fully informed staff, seek out audiences with local contacts, etc.”

        Where? Anything in locations turning uninhabitable due to the climate he is likely to evacuate.And given the most recent news he will evacuate everything in areas loyal to the Aesir and their allies and probably even everything in areas of pantheons having joined the Exterminatus.
        Then tehere will be areas and cities economically dependent on trade with regions that will not survive the Fimbulwinter. And some place will prefer truly unaligned elves.

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      8. That would all make sense, Oliver, but can you imagine Tavrin yanking the trading posts in Beijing or Hanoi or Mumbai or Alexandria-on-the-Nile? What if there is a trading post in Tenochtitlan or Timbuktu?

        I suspect there could be some very interesting Nethwillin trading posts that might prove to be quite important in future books.

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    14. “* Undead are preying on refugees and will have to be addressed”

      Well, no. It would be nice to know what they are doing with those abducted refugees. Intelligence is always necessary. But unless what they are doing turns out to be a threat, there is no need to act.

      “* Fuel for heating/cooking is getting scarce in the city. And cold kills faster than starvation.”

      Again, no. Daniel’s people are crossing the river for lumber. If they can do it, so can city people. It is dangerous to do so. But freezing to death will surely kill you. Those too poor or weak or fearful to gather wood themselves or buy it will freeze to death, but the rest won’t.
      And again Demetrios and Pelagia will figure that this only increases the attraction of the side that is making heating devices, as they told Daniel when Kozalin’s walls had been collapsed. No action needed or desirable.

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    15. “* Somebody is provoking the refugees to deliberately trigger riots/crises”

      Fundamentally the city is still starving. Without Daniel Black Island cannot solve that issue. Securing the maritime supply lines improves things, but possibly not fundamentally. The poor will not die quietly, no matter what you do. Agitators will only quicken the development. To put it bluntly, cannons and mortars are very good at dealing with crowds out in the open.

      Nor do you actually want to stop that. The agitators may very well be paid by the Conclave or a faction thereof, figuring that if this needs to be done, it better be done quickly and while we are united and Black Island’s artillery is available.
      Nor will you gain much by taking action. Starving masses and angry young men are an obvious source of political power. This will happen again, even if you eliminate the first bunch.

      Demetrios will familiarize the mortar crews with the idea of firing into the city and make sure they are reliable in terms of relatives. If that is necessary at all. The crews also know what will happen if the granaries run out.
      He really needs to make sure that nobody on a mortar crew has close family left outside.

      “* Probably a lot of people will want to move to the dock areas as that area is starting to look like the best off in the city and Daniel has not set up some regime to block the movement of people.”

      He does not need to. You can be certain that the people of the Harbor District respectively their leaders can and will organize that on their own.

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      1. You can ship a lot of food from Egypt area if they are truly having bumper crops as the ship captain stated. Sounds like that process is just getting set up. It is possible that significant volumes of food arrive — enough to make a real difference.

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      2. I think you are correct, DSpring, that more shipments of grain are likely to start moving from Africa toward Kozalin.

        That process will be accelerated if the ship masters have any way to immediatelycommunicate from Kozalin to their home ports and/or financial backers.

        I wonder if they can send messages via the same method Asgard’s priests use?

        Maybe the Conclave sells this service?

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      3. DSpring, while I agree with your observation about Egypt’s and Mauritania’s bumper crops, both places will also have seen snow by now if Sicily has. They must have court soothsayers who can inform them of Fimbulwinter’s…features. Somebody local is likely to try to secure and store a LOT of that surplus grain until they see what springtime in Egypt looks like a few months in the future.

        That’s going to reduce the available grain for shipment, just like the piracy, icebergs and other hazards.

        However, Egypt and North Africa are so rich in grain that even a small fraction of their surplus will probably be plenty to feed Kozalin until the Elbe estuary freezes well out into the North Sea.

        Daniel will probably only have to melt that once, as the salty North Sea waters will quickly invade all the way to Kozalin’s harbor, and salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh water.

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      4. They will return with a lot of gold and valuable cargo. Very soon you will have pirates. Countries with a navy will start to interdict shipping. If the Fimbulwinter goes on, there will be icebergs on the ocean. Ra will read reports about catwomen in Varmland. And so on.

        Every problem is solvable. But not quickly or easily.

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      5. Totally agree with you, Oliver, on the pirates and the various navies likely to behave like pirate fleets.

        I wonder if Daniel will let INTREPID go pirate hunting?

        That could be fun!

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      6. “I wonder if they can send messages via the same method Asgard’s priests use? ”

        You should also wonder whether angry letters from Odin aren’t faster. Do you really think Ra will kindly look on people who feed the anchors of a pantheon he may soon be at war with? And how much does Mauritania depend on Egypt? And while we are at it, how many pantheons have equivalents of the descendants of Jormungandr and have joined the Exterminatus and are getting letters from Ra? What about the pantheon of Mauretania itself? Exterminatus?

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      7. That nightmare scenario could all be true, Oliver. There are definitely other “Jormungandr” equivalents in other peoples’ legends. Look at Leviathan and it’s potential origins.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan

        It’s entirely possible there will soon be no trade, no shipping and no surviving humans anywhere in the world except Daniel’s tiny preserved population on Black Island.

        In that case, Nethwillin would certainly be wise to bring all its surviving clan members home to Black Island.

        UNTIL then, or Tavrin believes it is inevitable, there are all sorts of potential reasons to keep some of the most valuable Nethwillin trading posts open for business…and spying of course, which is, after all, part of their business.

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      8. Well, we know that Clan Nethwillin had some sort of fragile but occasionally functional long distance communications magic.

        It would obviously behoove OTHER trading concerns to develop similar capabilities, even if they are no more sophisticated than homing pigeons.

        Okay, flying Hors d’oeuvres, but it could be the best they have.

        Not every businessman is up to competing at the same level as ninja dark elf traders.

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      9. “DSpring, while I agree with your observation about Egypt’s and Mauritania’s bumper crops, both places will also have seen snow by now if Sicily has. ”

        An ice age does not mean that everything in the world is covered by ice. Historically when the world has had an ice age, North Africa has become lush and green. I suspect Egypt will just get more fertile and the deserts will bloom if the fimbulewinter continues.

        … At least until the great beasts come and destroy civilization.

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      10. DSpring, I totally agree with the “lush and green” aspect of your observation about ice ages.

        It’s the timing where we might disagree.

        Wet sand does not immediately become lush and green. It could easily be multiple human generations before a significant percentage of North Africa’s interior becomes verdant.

        The already farmed coasts of the continent will probably benefit, even expand relatively quickly as the ice age begins.

        However, the existing crops may or may not benefit from additional moisture.

        I suspect there will be rust, must and fungus in the cereal grains as farmers frantically experiment with everything from beans to rice. That will probably be resolved somewhat quickly, but it will still nail down some of the previous year’s “surplus” as farmers hedge their bets on new crops by saving more of their old crop harvests.

        Hmm…there will be economic consequences also. It’s one thing to buy seed grain in a grain producing region in a “bumper crop” year.

        It’s something entirely different to find and purchase rice starts, bean seeds and other new crop seeds in the new larger quantities necessitated by the new growing season conditions.

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    16. Well when Daniel left the city it was in a stalemate of all the factions, one can’t move against another without causing the others to attack, the bad thing is that there is no longuer any gloo to have them all working toguether instead of against each other and neither can survive on its own for long. So Daniel faction is an relatively unknown factor and posible the more risky. I don’t believe anyone would want to have an antagonistic relationship with him, but sadly they can’t afford him siding with another faction. By now the ones with the best relationship with him is the Conclave wich is at the same time divided. Man that city is a glorious mess. So if the conclave manages to unite itself or purge the undesirable then there is a high chance they will open diplomatic channels to the island if for no other reason that they are magic practicioner, and neither the nobles or the church will trully understand them that well. The other faction with good probability of entering a benefitial agreement with Daniel factions will be the Military (If they are independent) for the simple fact that they are the more well suited to defend the weak, something that migth string postively with the Citadel. I sincerely think that unless the nobles come beguing for him or at least shown more interest in protecting their vassals that themselves they will be completely out of grace with him. And the church migth as well ot even try, that considering that Cerise hasn’t already openly started a war with them.

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      1. How shall I put this? The expected default outcome for any faction in Kozalin is death. If you expect Kozalin to survive, based on current conditions without Daniel, you are a fool. There is no more point in cooperation unless you need some time to implement plans for survival.
        The only reason you would wish for continued cooperation is having no plan and a wish to continue living for as long as possible hoping for a miracle. If you have any chance on your own, you want everybody else (except allies) to stop eating rather sooner than later.

        Yes, I know that this sounds harsh, but it has to be said.

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      2. Oliver, I wonder if the author is literally taking the situation in Kozalin right up to the point you describe, and maybe even over the edge into cannibalism, so the city will be ready to accept Daniel’s solution on his return?

        That solution may look like a much larger version of Black Island, or something completely different.

        Of course, we have to remember this is Ragnarok and the awful example of Lanrest’s ultimate fate is definitely in play for Kozalin.

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      3. You need to get over those democratic impulses. What the city is ready to accept or not does not matter. The fate of Kozalin will be determined by those in power: Black Island, the Conclave, the Aesir and the nobles. Should he arrive, the king also.

        The only influence the people would have would be in a final revolt driven by hunger. If the Conclave, the Aesir or Daniel wanted to defeat such a revolt they certainly could and the nobles likely could as long as they have grain to feed the troups.

        An alliance of those powerful players ready to use force will make the city’s population obey. They may need to kill a few thousands, which may mean trouble in the future, but they would win for sure.

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      4. Actually, Oliver, I was thinking of theocratic principles, not democratic ones.

        You need to consider that Daniel and Black Island will be seen as an Olympian strong point, the first in many centuries.

        Yes, SOME in the Conclave can live with that. Fortunately, most of the worst cases who cannot live with that will soon be volunteering to join Odin’s army in Asgard.

        All of the other factions in Kozalin are varying flavors and intensities of Asgardian and are obliged to wage war on Olympians. Fortunately, Brand has not made his knowledge public, the Prince is dead and Daniel does try to keep his alignment secret…while parading nymphs, dryads and a murder witch around in his retinue.

        Daniel addresses this issue explicitly in the beginning of THRALL, when he’s planning to set up forts in the Docks district and all those other interactions with the people of Kozalin that you have pointed out must be terminated due to the Lightbringers threat while Daniel is away from Black Island.

        Preserving a population of Kozalini and refugees in the Docks district is one method Daniel says might give him a chance to acclimate some portion of the potential recruits to his ways of doing things, while giving his people opportunities to screen for spies, saboteurs and other hazards…or treasures.

        Ironically, Daniel will probably have better luck finding recruits he can accept from among the refugees. Villagers like he rescued on his way to Lanrest are much less likely to have grown up in the shadow of a big, active Asgard Church like all the native Kozalini.

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      5. Exactly, so he should go the final step and recruit foreigners. Or indeed venture to a slave market and buy an army.

        The threat is not just Lightbringer spies anymore. The Aesir will also want to get in agents. As will foreign gods. And Loki.. And the Winter Court. And othe Elven clans. And the dwarves.
        One nymph and a few Dark Elves without actual experience in counterintelligence against many agiencies with millenia of experience in infiltration? And your people have to get it right in every case, but all those enemies need to get only one or two assets past your screening.
        You set yourself up for losing.

        Besides consider the practicalities. How would you run a background check on a random refugee?

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      6. How would you run a background check on a random refugee?

        Tova is good with mind-magic. Possibly she could read the refugees minds, or set up a lie-detection enchantment. Avilla’s banes might accomplish something similar.

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      7. Actually, it is the residents of Black Island who have the advantage of millennia of espionage experience. Pelagia and Demetrios and Alanna bring that in spades, and so does the entire Clan Nethwillin supporting Sefwin and Tavrin.

        Not only will there be no background checks, there is no need for background checks.

        Avilla’s magic, Pelagia’s magic, Nethwillin’s magic and Daniel’s power supplies make Black Island more secure than any target the Lightbringers have seen since the fall of Atlantis.

        …oops.

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      8. And Tova would do this in her copious spare time and how many people can she check per day? 2 or 3? And this replaces trusting those people with trusting Tova and her capabilities. Against an enemy who can make souls to order.
        And maybe your banes are working is a truly reassuring statement.

        It is worse, you would also have to check them for being dangers other than traitors: implanted bombs, magical infections, …

        I would say the use of Kozalin as a recruiting pool has ended with Daniel’s abduction.

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      9. If Tova becomes a vassal of Daniel then she can swear a magically binding oath if needed. He can also only allow into the Keep those whose loyalty and/or trustworthiness have been proven. The Dockside is enough for everyone else.

        You’ll never find a perfect solution. I suppose Daniel could simply kill everyone in Kozalin and anyone who tried to approach, but that seems a bit counter-productive. He’d make even more enemies that way. He’s got three goddesses on his side, and I expect that they could provide some useful security advice were he to ask.

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      10. “I suppose Daniel could simply kill everyone in Kozalin”

        That would solve a lot of issues. In the medium run Daniel needs a city. Yet that does not mean that he needs the people currently populating the city. They have the annoying habit of praying to the wrong gods.
        The problem with recruiting from the most obvious pool is that it is the most obvious pool to your enemies, too. And, frankly, while it is endearing to which lengths Daniel goes to train people, it is also inefficient. Daniel has increased the agricultural capacity of Black Island. He also needs to reserve some capacity for the next bunches Hecate might send, so he cannot exhaust teh potential. He needs a few hundred to a few thousand people. Preferably seasoned troops among them.
        He has an airship that can go to other lands also threatened by Fimbulwinter. The Frankish lands are close. Russian soldiers are known to be in town. The easiest way to get soldiers would be to go buy them. His elves surely know their way to Kar Odush. (He could even pay in Mithril if that stuff were to keep its value)

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      11. Um…is Daniel also going to replace the population of Black Island?

        How well are all these foreigners going to integrate with the soldiers, smiths, farmers, Clan Nethwillin and the dryads? In small numbers, probably fairly well, as long as somebody is watching them closely and working at easing them in. In large numbers, probably not so well.

        I suppose we can hope language won’t be a barrier. Daniel has no magic to fix that, but maybe Clan Nethwillin does.

        Don’t get me wrong. Daniel needs to recruit some significant numbers from other populations around the world, especially if Fimbulwinter, Ragnarok, the ice age and thousands of years of endless war with Great Beasts or Ancient Beasts seems likely to actually wipe out most of humanity. Genetic diversity demands it. Cultural and intellectual preservation demand it.

        That, however, is probably at least a year away. There are more than enough reasons compelling Daniel to continue to defend and preserve Kozalin’s population, until it costs Black Island more than he is willing to spend.

        — Convenience. It costs him more time, more effort and more resources to recruit anywhere else.
        — Control. With his Docks District structures he can isolate and study potential recruits before committing to them.
        — Quality. In some cases, like the Conclave, the best potential recruits are already in Kozalin.
        — Buffering. So far, attacks are mostly focused against Kozalin, not Black Island. That ends when Kozalin dies.
        — Access. While Kozalin lasts, embassies remain from China, France, Faerie, etc.
        — Misdirection. Actions initiated from Black Island can be painted as coming from Kozalin.
        — Meat Shield. Kozalini catch spears that could just as well have been aimed at Black Islanders.

        That’s plenty for now.

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      12. If you can integrate multiple species, you can also integrate foreigners. Yes, it is a problem. However, Daniel has decided to form a diverse force. If you go that route, you will need to go it to the end. Daniel has translation magic. He just does not control it. Hecate knows how to do it.

        Convinience:

        No, not really. Only if he wants to do it himself. He shouldn’t. There are dwarves and elves in Midgard who will sell him a few companies of trained soldiers (Daniel can even buy damaged goods). Paying for them is not a problem if you can conjure Mithril.

        Control:

        Not at all. Pelagia and Demetrios are good, but they are not mainly intelligence officers with thousands of years of training. Black Island vs. Vali has a clear and predictable winner. The same goes for his equivalent working for Ra.

        Buffering:

        That would not help you if Kozalin falls to those attacks. Having a sacrifical target only is a viable strategy, if you actually can afford to sacrifice it. If not, it is a weakness.

        And the problem:

        – Buffet for Great Beasts

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      13. “and so does the entire Clan Nethwillin supporting Sefwin and Tavrin”

        Well, no. They breed their own retainers. They are good at running a spy agency. But probably not as good as the clans that get involved in human politics or are drug runners. Counterintelligence is not their thing.

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      14. “If Tova becomes a vassal of Daniel then she can swear a magically binding oath if needed.”

        Several issues:

        1. You can swear loyalty, but not capability
        2. Mara can break oaths
        3. The soul soup mechanism can edit your soul.

        You could include her in the coven. Realistically you would need to and it is a good idea anyway.
        But at the core you could never be sure she is always succesful. Cances are against it.

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      15. Not sure what you all are arguing. Certainly Daniel and team will make some real effort to vet people put into trusted positions, but realistically spies will slip through the process.

        I suspect anyone with access to Black keep gets some minimal vetting, anyone who gets a position of power or access close to the family gets more. But realistically there is little they can do to investigate candidates beyond asking them a few questions. Magical questioning might be possible, but would be resented. And magical questioning is not certain.

        Honestly the best defense Daniel has is the fact that being in his service is so attractive that few would put it at risk.

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      16. DSpring, there probably are a few more protections for the people living on Black Island, versus any spies who arrive.

        Avilla has begun adding loyalty, honesty and other similar “community friendly” magical components to the foods she cooks.

        Of course, she does not cook for everyone living on Black Island, but many of the most important ones do try to sample her luncheons whenever possible.

        You can bet if she decides it is necessary to treat everyone on Black Island to some additional loyalty, Avilla could bake a big batch of delectable cookies, candies and other irresistable goodies.

        Then there are the wards the whole coven keeps setting and maintaining around the whole island. Some of those may put a sort of general magical pressure on visitors and residents to stay loyal or to leave if they are not loyal.

        It’s not vetting, but it is a slowly increasing level of compulsion from the inside out — Avilla’s food — and the outside in — coven wards.

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      17. Thats rigth, heck Black island migth throw up a celebrating banket for Daniel returs, obviously they will be givin some food to the harbor distric as a good will gesture, she can put some loyalty spells in those foods on the banket and reach a good number of people there, its a good way to deal with posible traitors with out been balant at it.

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      18. Daniel does not consider himself at War with Asgard. Asgard does not consider itself at war with Daniel. Why do so many people want to create a war that does not currently exist.

        From the Asgard perspective, Daniel is some magical merc they strong armed into working for them. It is just biz — maybe mafia style – but still just biz. If Asgard declared war, Daniel would be dead and Black Keep leveled.

        From Daniel’s perspective, the Asgard are dangerous giants. He needs to be helpful enough that they leave him alone. He does not want them to see him as a threat or pull him into the war. He also sees himself as being strong armed to work for them and he does not like it.

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      19. Yes, that puts it rather succinctly, DSpring.

        On the other hand, it seems likely that Daniel considers himself hostile to the Lightbringers, and when they figure out he’s alive again/still they will consider themselves hostile to him.

        That has implications for the other “elephant” in the mix — Ra — who probably has some nasty strategic magic Himself, so Black Island is still under a cloud of potential divine retribution.

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      20. “Daniel does not consider himself at War with Asgard.”

        If he nukes people he is not at war with, I wonder what he will do if he is at war.

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    17. “They also have to continue Daniel’s policies, recruit more soldiers, keep training soldiers/militia, keep Black Keep functioning and work as best as they can to defend the city at large. ”

      Well, no.
      Some key factors have changed

      – espionage, abduction and assassination are a much bigger threat now
      – the Aesir have initiated hidden warfare
      – they must pretend Daniel is dead

      Daniel wants to be considered dead. Hence the coven, if it is possible that they have a soul link or their coven bond would tell them, must act as if they were convinced that Daniel is dead.

      Now, as far as the coven is supposed to know, the Aesir abducted Daniel and are responsible for his death.
      That means they took him for an unknown reason. Meaning that they may come for the rest of the coven next, either as second best replacement or because he died fighting them.

      That means that the temple is now an active enemy base and all priests are enemies.

      – The Temple Quarter must burn, the temple must be destroyed and all priests hunted down and killed
      – They cannot trust new recruits anymore. They must stop recruiting anonymous people from Kozalin and refugees already in Kozalin.
      – They cannot let outsiders enter Black Island anymore, at least not without permanent supervision
      – They must limit interaction between outsiders and their own people even outside Black Island
      – Readiness of the guard must be raised, hence less time for training outsiders

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      1. I bet there will be backers for each of those policies, Oliver, even for burning down the Asgard religious district.

        Others, like Captain Rain and Demetrios, will immediately point out that would put Black Island at war with Kozalin, a war both sides would lose and neither could win.

        Black Island needs to extract every possible useful human and other from the mess in Kozalin, and keep doing so as long as possible, because there may be few or no opportunities to recruit more humans from further away any time soon.

        Yes, this need is directly contrary to the absolutely true point Oliver makes about recruits being potential Lightbringer spies. Deal with it.

        Black Island must continue recruiting whenever valuable human and other resources become available.

        Come to think of it, Hecate might just appear to Cerise and offer an opportunity to recruit another band of dryads, or maybe a pod of ocean-going naiads. Those would probably be low risk. What if the opportunity is a band of Hestia’s human followers? That might seem higher risk, but if Hestia recommends them?

        Keeping Black Island sealed while Daniel is gone could prove difficult…or, the author might decide slamming the gates shut is the best policy.

        That seems like something we are likely to find out in Book Five.

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      2. “Others, like Captain Rain and Demetrios, will immediately point out that would put Black Island at war with Kozalin”

        OK, side A abducts the leader of side B and is contemplating taking his family hostage and torturing them before getting the leader officially killed. Side B secretly sets off the equivalent of a tactical nuke in the capitol of side A. How are they not at war?
        That question also applies to their allies. It is not as if Black Island could keep secret that the Aesir took Daniel. They can now appear as the weaklings who can be pushed over. Or they can strike back.

        There is a point where restraint to prevent collateral damage is just foolish. Daniel nukes Asgard, but you are supposed to not level the Temple Quarter? In fact, you let them eat, meaning that somebody else won’t starve to keep the appearance of peace?

        “a war both sides would lose and neither could win.”

        No, I am sorry, but such a war would have a clear winner. Now, you may worry that the Conclave would take their side.

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      3. Oliver, you really need to go back to the books, especially the beginning of THRALL, and review Daniel’s thoughts on surviving Ragnarok AND the following ice age.

        Daniel believes he needs Kozalin, or a significant fraction of Kozalin, to survive Ragnarok in order for humans to survive the following ice age as a species, AND for Black Island to survive the ice age long war against Great Beasts, Ancient Beasts and other monsters.

        For that matter, since Brand’s private conversation with Daniel in EXTERMINATION, there has been another fact on the table that plays neatly into this piece of reality. Brand believes Black Island needs something like a thousand MORE human women to survive, and at least several hundred more men, in order for enough of the human species to survive IN EUROPE to have even a chance of maintaining a population of faithful believers in the gods.

        This obviously applies to worshipers of Asgard in Brand’s mind.

        However, HECATE’S NEW PANTHEON NEEDS BELIEVERS ALSO!

        SHE can make do with a handful of murder witches, but Hestia, Bast and others NEED MORE WORSHIPERS.

        Clearly, if many of Kozalin’s surviving people continue to worship the wretched few surviving Asgardians, that means Daniel actually needs MORE humans, probably from elsewhere in the region, better yet from the former Olympian regions of Europe.

        This will be a complex issue. If Daniel succeeds in rescuing Idun and the rest of Her grove, will She also need more human worshipers? As Pelagia and Demetrios gain more power and Daniel himself rises to something like apotheosis, will they all need more human worshipers?

        Plus, where do you think the future mortar crews, future accelerator gun crews, future farmers, future maids, future gardeners, future soldiers, future armored skimmer crews and all the other future people of the Black Island community will come from? In order to grow the garrison and expeditionary force to useful numbers, the population of Black Island has to double and double again.

        BLACK ISLAND NEEDS MORE WOMBS!

        Yes, as Ragnarok winds down and the ice age settles in, Kozalin’s docks district may become useless as a port facility and dangerously exposed as a habitat. It won’t take Daniel more than a week to solve the exposure issue, but nothing he does can solve the “useless as a port facility” issue if it derives from humans everywhere else in the world becoming monster poop.

        Remember Daniel’s conversation with Hecate about the ice age. She was not fully convinced even China can defend itself against the catastrophes yet to happen, and She expects Egypt to go under sooner than that.

        Humans may not survive the ice age unless Daniel preserves rather MORE than a thousand women and at least a few thousand men. The gene pool alone won’t be enough unless he can rescue some more people from around the world, which INTREPID or a sister airship ought to make possible, but he cannot count on that. The Dark Portal might give him access to more and different humans, but he won’t use it. Maybe he will create his own atomic powered portal?

        Kozalin’s population is necessary to Black Island’s future, AND TO THE BLACK ISLAND PANTHEON’S FUTURE.

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      4. Hestia, Bast and others NEED MORE WORSHIPERS.

        Something to keep in mind: worshipers are anchors, but that only matters if a god *dies*. A god can get by just fine without any worshipers as long as he doesn’t get killed. Given sufficient other anchors (“family, worshipers, homeland, and implements” per Hecate in _Black Coven_).

        Worshipers are an insurance policy, but not *absolutely* necessary.

        Makes me wonder why gods aren’t constantly creating and hiding “implements” to act as emergency, back-up anchors. Though possibly they are and are also hunting for and destroying one another’s implements.

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      5. Jabrwok, it could be true that humans are only valuable to the gods as “anchors” and therefore large numbers of human followers are nothing more than a bigger insurance policy.

        However, it’s also true that Black Island already has a significant pantheon, containing Hecate, Hestia, Bast, maybe Prometheus, maybe Idun, maybe Aphrodite, maybe Daniel, Mara, Pelagia and Demetrios.

        Ook — don’t forget Lolth. That could be so amusing, if the author was really thinking along these lines.

        Now, keep in mind that some of the people Daniel brings to Black Island will still be devoted to Thor and Odin and other Aesir, maybe even a few Vanir, some few of whom might actually survive Ragnarok.

        Some of the Wolfen are considering Hecate, that might have already happened by the time Daniel returns home.

        Then there would be Clan Nethwillin, some of whom are now committed to Hecate. Do they have other, “dark elf” gods?

        Maybe some of them will choose Lolth?

        Snicker.

        That’s ten, going on twenty gods, AFTER Ragnarok is over. Dividing them evenly, and we know THAT’S not going to happen, that’s less than a hundred followers per god at Black Island’s current body count.

        Not much insurance there.

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      6. Not much insurance there.

        Sure, but my point was that the Gods of Black Island don’t *need* more worshipers so much as the will *want* more worshipers. Somewhat pedantic of me, but that’s just the kind of guy I am:-D.

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      7. I don’t think I’d go as far as the “p” word, yet, Jabrwok.

        Your observation definitely undermines at least part of my argument about Black Island needing more wombs.

        I still think Daniel needs a bigger population to recruit from if he’s going to have a bigger army, bigger logistics tail, bigger resource base, etc.

        However, I have to agree, gods don’t “need” more anchors…until that sexy new god/goddess tempts away somebody’s LAST human anchor.

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      8. But an ally who will object to you avenging your leader is useless. In fact you may lose those to whom you appear as spineless weaklings as allies.

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      9. Allies who know you won’t foolishly waste them uselessly starting and immediately losing a war with ODIN are the best kind of allies.

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      10. And one thing more. Black Island houses temples of Hecate, Hestia and soon Bast. That will be discovered and the temple will never accept it. There will be war. You can merely strike now when you have an advantage or when your hand is forced.

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      11. “And one thing more. Black Island houses temples of Hecate, Hestia and soon Bast. That will be discovered and the temple will never accept it. There will be war. You can merely strike now when you have an advantage or when your hand is forced.”

        Black Island houses shrines, not temples. There’s a huge difference. Shrines are small and hidden. Temples are generally large and very public.

        Black Island will have no “advantage” over the Asgard Church in Kozalin until AFTER there is no more Valhalla in Asgard and no more Odin or Thor to smite Daniel with lightning blasts from the sky.

        Nothing in Daniel’s defenses would survive more than a few of Odin’s or Thor’s lightning blasts. He is very clear on that when he sees it happen in EXTERMINATION.

        He really needs to keep the “war” with Asgard back burner and low temperature as long as possible, buying time enough for developing better personal and Black Island defenses.

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      12. Well, we have conflicting goals.

        1. Not provoke a wider war we are unlikely to win.
        2. Pursue a policy of armed neutrality to deter attacks.

        Unfortunately goal #2 has not been achieved. By Daniel’s stupidity to just go to the temple, but nevertheless, a successful attack happened. If you pursued goal #1 to its logical conclusion, you would surrender. So obviously you need to find a compromise and hope that there is one. From first principles we can deduce that the goals may become mutually exclusive.

        However, war is inevitable. Yes, now we have shrines on Black Island. That is not a stable state. All sides know that they will grow to full temples and they know that the other side knows. So once they are discovered, war becomes unavoidable.

        One thing more. An underreaction, besides undermining the value of armed neutrality, brings additional risks with it. You may make the Aesir wonder why you are underreacting. They may conclude that you knew Daniel was going to resurrect, or – much worse – he never died and fled. That would mean that he blew up the Sunspire intentionally and that is a conclusion Daniel can really not afford Odin to reach.

        There are alternatives. Cerise could capture a few priests, torture them for information and leave their mutilated corpses in front of the temple. And they will have to interdict any food from reaching the Temple Quarter. Still I think in the medium run letting the temple stand is more dangerous than levelling it. Kozalin is doomed anyway in the eyes of teh Aesir. That temple is written off and an angry reason is to be expected from Black Island. The flinching reaction at the more violent course comes from its deliberate, delayed nature. However the Aesir are millenia old.

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      13. Oliver, there are scenarios where a direct or even indirect attack on the Asgard Church would make perfect sense, shortly after Daniel disappears and the story of his kidnapping circulates around Kozalin.

        I’ve read some books like that, and what they mostly don’t have is family community building. If the hero does something ruthless and brutally pragmatic, there’s no mob of allied mothers and children to suffer the consequences.

        Usually it’s a group of hard-fighting soldiers/warriors and they are all on board with the ruthless, brutally pragmatic.

        In the Daniel Black series, Daniel is building a community of families from the beginning of the first book. To me, that means at least two things.

        1) As already mentioned, there are mothers and children on Black Island whom Daniel, Cerise, Tavrin and others will consider whenever hard decisions must be made. We’ve seen in THRALL that even Cerise is not nearly as coldly pragmatic in the faces of Kozalin’s starving kids as her comments at leadership meetings might suggest.

        2) Daniel’s character appears to begin the series as the sort who builds community and considers the fates of women and children when planning combat. He continues in that mode throughout the series, even starting his own family with Tina and his plans for coven marriages. If the reader wants a stone cold Hammer’s Slammers battle fest, the odds are that won’t ever appear…although I have fond hopes we will see some stone cold flying armed and armored remote piloted combat golems.

        That said, there’s also the fact that everyone who is anyone in Kozalin “knows” that Cerise and Avilla are not just Daniel’s apprentices, they are also his bound witches.

        If Daniel is dead or indisposed, what happens to the bindings on his witches? What do the locals do about the witches? The Lanrest scenario is STANDARD in Varmland for the situation where a presumed dead wizard’s property includes bound witches.

        “Burn them!” is the default, although other forms of execution seem popular in various places.

        Is “witch” synonymous with “Olympian” in the minds of the Asgardian Church?

        That would of course only make things worse, though I’m pretty sure there are witches in Asgardian realms, If I remember correctly, there are witches in Scandinavian folklore.

        Yes — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%B6lva

        We might not need to wait for Tavrin, Demetrios and Pelagia to conclude the Asgard Church needs a slap down.

        The Asgard Church might be insane enough to try to overtly arrest or covertly kidnap Cerise and Avilla.

        That probably did not actually happen during THRALL and neither did any attack on the Kozalin Asgard Church by Black Island forces. Hecate would have said something to Daniel. Alanna would have passed a message or two.

        We can probably assert that Black Island is intact at the end of THRALL and so is the Asgard Church in Kozalin.

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      14. “there are mothers and children on Black Island whom Daniel, Cerise, Tavrin and others will consider whenever hard decisions must be made. We’ve seen in THRALL that even Cerise is not nearly as coldly pragmatic in the faces of Kozalin’s starving kids”

        Which kids is this about? As much as some might dislike that, their interests conflict. Obviously for example if you care about the kids on Black Island you should not sell food; the reverse is also true.

        “If the hero does something ruthless and brutally pragmatic, there’s no mob of allied mothers and children to suffer the consequences.”

        Ruthless and brutally pragmatic are description of methods, not goals, nor beneficiaries. Again in the short run a passive strategy will obviously work best for everybody. However, in the long run, this is unlikely. Those who are seen as weak will not survive. But yes, the consequences of that bring a risk of escalation with it.
        However, that is not a question of not caring about the children on Black Island. It is merely a call to sacrifice the children in the Temple Quarter and maybe more for the sake of the children on Black Island.

        “What do the locals do about the witches?”

        At this point in time shut up or die. Seriously a faction willing to act on piety would always forge an alliance between Black Island and its rivals.

        ” the Asgard Church needs a slap down.
        The Asgard Church might be insane enough to try to overtly arrest or covertly kidnap Cerise and Avilla.”

        The Church of Asgard ceased to be an independent actor when Brand showed up. What do you think Odin will do to you if you kill or scare into a lock down his potential hostages? Short of a direct attack on the temple they will do nothing but report.
        The conflict is now between Black Island and the Aesir themselves.

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      15. Oliver, look at the discussion in THRALL where Cerise, Daniel, Lund and the ship master are considering what to do about the price of grain.

        Cerise pouted at me. “I guess I can see that. But there has to be something we can do.”

        And she was the one who’d wanted to let the city fend for itself.

        But then, I’d suspected she wouldn’t stick to that resolution if it was tested.

        Cerise liked to act tough, but she still had a conscience.

        The author might have been overcome with affection for this particular interaction between his characters.

        Or, the author might be communicating a more general philosophy to the readers.

        Maybe in Book Five we will learn more, especially if Daniel creates several indoor farms in the Docks District.

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      16. “Cerise liked to act tough, but she still had a conscience.

        The author might have been overcome with affection for this particular interaction between his characters.”

        ‘I would do anything to protect Avilla’

        Of course no member of the coven would enjoy or desire mass slaughter. The question is always to what extent they are ready to risk themselves in order to protect Kozalin. And I am afraid I have to repeat myself. There is Elin and Daniel on one side against Cerise, Avilla, Tina, all their advisors and the ir divine sponsors on the other side.

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      17. Bear in mind, Oliver, that Daniel was finally able to turn his back on the flaming catastrophe that was Lanrest, even contributing to the destruction himself. There is also mention of other villages the party must have visited between Lanrest and Kozalin, because Daniel left some of their “waste of my air” party members behind in those places…then left those places behind, also, to almost certain doom.

        Daniel’s first impulse is always to spend far too much of himself to save everybody he can. Cerise, Avilla and the advisers are training him to at least consider his Black Island responsibilities first, Hecate willing, and I suspect Elin will side with the rest of the coven in that. Tina will, of course, want everyone to get along whenever she can help that to happen, but she followed Daniel out of Lanrest and those unnamed villages and will probably do the same with most of the really hard decisions yet to happen in Kozalin.

        What could become interesting is when Bast recommends standing fast at some point nobody else is willing to hold.

        Daniel, and sometimes Elin, will probably continue to push themselves too hard to protect too much of Kozalin for too long, but there are probably also some very tough decisions coming that will force them both to back off.

        For example, Kozalin’s nobles will most likely do something stupid about “conserving” the food supply. They’d already begun that before Daniel was kidnapped. That’s only likely to get worse in his absence.

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  9. Gaia in light of the Atlantean War

    With a little background in history Gaia’s desire to wipe out humanity does not look totally crazy anymore. An overreaction maybe, but to a demonstrated threat. Still, the other gods won’t give up their anchor, will they? Gaia knows that. Hence she will not propose that the anchors be given up, but be replaced. She has been preparing a replacement: the Andregi – anchors v2.0
    She will offer them to the other gods.

    And that also explains why she sent out Andregi armies now, instead of conserving them against Asgard. Gaia is, as absurd as it may sound, not making war to win it. She is running promotional field tests.
    That also explains why she didn’t drown Kozalin in superior numbers. It would have been a propaganda loss.

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    1. Um…why would Ra trade in his Lightbringers for Andregi? Seems like a huge step backwards to me. I’d bet the same is true for other pantheons.

      Does Gaia know that? Does She even have the ability to understand that? I could see Her so totally wound up in Her own Great Plan that She does not even consider what those annoying younger gods think.

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      1. “Um…why would Ra trade in his Lightbringers for Andregi? Seems like a huge step backwards to me. I’d bet the same is true for other pantheons.”

        Peer pressure basically. I am not saying that her idea is good or viable. I am just saying that under these premises her behavior makes sense.

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      2. Ha!

        Good one, Oliver.

        Peer pressure, indeed.

        I could easily imagine Gaia divinely assuming Her Idea will instantly be accepted by other gods, She being First Peer among all the lesser peers, of course.

        Ra, on the other hand…that discussion will be amusing.

        Any god who has spent any significant number of centuries or millennia creating a personal army and population of faithful followers is not going to cheerfully trade them for Gaia’s jumped up Neanderthals just so She can enact some sort of vengeance on Odin and humans.

        Most of the gods are entirely capable of understanding that what Gaia gives, Gaia can take away.

        If all Their humans are gone and suddenly their new Andregi are removed, what anchors will They have left?

        It certainly won’t help when Gaia blandly informs them, yes, that is a WONDERFUL feature of Her Plan….

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      3. You say that now. Suppose you are after a world war in which you used and have used up your vaunted Lightbringers as special forces in the field. And consider how unfortunate it would be for a volcanic eruption to block the Nile for a few months and what devastation the dam finally bursting would cause.

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      4. Gaia MIGHT be able to mess with the headwaters of the Nile basin.

        Gaia is more than a Greek goddess. She may have been around BEFORE the Titans and therefore may have the power and precedence to temporarily overwhelm Egyptian or African pantheon “Earth Mother” goddesses.

        However, if humans of Midgard came from Africa as they did in OUR world, Gaia might not have any power to intervene in Africa at all.

        It could be there are MUCH older, primeval goddesses there that go back several MILLIONS of years in ancient Africa’s human birthplace regions.

        Hmm…I wonder if any of THOSE old gods were stuck in the Sunspire?

        Oliver, you need to start thinking in terms of populations as ANCHORS.

        What is more valuable to Ra, a few thousand Andregi of dubious loyalty and unknown reverence ability, or a few tens of millions of humans with four thousand years of proven loyalty and known reverence ability?

        That’s a no-brainer even for Ra.

        Ancient Egypt maintained a substantial standing army and could raise significant campaign armies when invading powerful neighbors like the Hittites.

        There’s no reason to believe “modern” Egypt could not bury all of Spain, France and Varmland with soldiers and trained levies, if there were a way to put them there. Then there’s the Egyptian army of undead.

        Huge hordes of mummies….

        Now, if Gaia manages to kill twenty or thirty million LIVING Egyptians, AND many times more UNDEAD Egyptians, THEN maybe Ra will consider switching from the shattered remnants of His human anchors to what Gaia offers instead.

        Frankly, I’d expect Ra’s Lightbringers AND the much more numerous professional standing army of Egypt to utterly destroy Gaia’s Andregi armies.

        …and for Gaia to achieve her goal of killing ALL humans, Egypt is just the BEGINNING. Varmland was a howling wasteland compared to Egypt. Mesopotamia, Levant and Persia are bigger and possibly stronger than Egypt, although probably more vulnerable to Fimbulwinter as they have more mountainous regions. Then there is India, MUCH bigger than Egypt and the Middle East together. Then there is China, MUCH bigger than India.

        Hmm…I wonder what the Indian and Chinese undead are like? Are there hundreds of MILLIONS of undead Indians, maybe a few BILLION undead Chinese?

        Gaia may not actually understand how big Her challenge really is.

        Numbers seem not to be Her strongest talent….

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      5. If there are Earth Goddesses who precede humanity then they’d be Great Beasts, so not sapient.

        Gaia is an explicitly European Earth Goddess. I suspect that each region of the planet has its own Earth God(ess). Hecate is European, as is Hel. Ra (and Bast, and Osiris, and Thoth, and Isis, etc) are specifically Egyptian (and possibly more of North Africa). Gods seem to be both conceptually and geographically limited, which makes sense given their origins as manifestations of human ideas made flesh.

        I’m unfamiliar with other Mother Goddess figures (Pele does spring to mind), but I’d be surprised if there weren’t analogues in other cultures. Gaia’s beef with humanity was, per the books, spurred by her resentment of Zeus’ favoritism *towards* humanity. But Zeus wasn’t an omnipotent god, and most of humanity didn’t fall under his sway. While I have no doubt that Gaia would like to see all of humanity exterminated, I suspect she’s primarily focused on European humanity. The Egyptians are largely outside her bailiwick, and might not really register with her. I doubt Zeus ever favored them particularly after all!

        So assuming that there are other Earth Gods and/or Goddesses, Gaia might well find herself facing off against them if they’re not particularly hostile to humanity. She might well be content (and would be well advised) to kill off European humanity and ignore the rest of the planet.

        Of course the results of the Fimbulwinter will probably mean that the other global pantheons will look askance of Loki and his allies, which could have…amusing…consequences.

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      6. Potnia, on Minoan Crete, would be another fringe European mother goddess.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potnia

        As for other Mother Goddesses before “humanity” being Great Beasts or Ancient Beasts, we have to answer three questions:

        1) Was “Lucy” human?

        2) Was “Lucy” sentient?

        3) Would “Lucy’s” Mother Goddess have been sentient?

        Since the Andregi seem related to Neanderthals, who may be ancestors of modern humans, we can say with some certainty that if Gaia is a figment of human imagination, her modern appearance is a recent adaptation.

        That would be especially true if Gaia Herself collected the various original dinosaurs now represented by all Her modern stegosaurus, triceratops and tyrannosaurus rex pet populations in Skogheim.

        That pet collection project would have happened long before any primates appeared even remotely human, so Gaia should not have appeared remotely human at that time.

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      7. If she originated on Midgard. Gaia may be or may have been a member of Alana’s third category: truly alien in the sense of originating on an alternate Earth where other primates gained sentience earlier.

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      8. Good point, Oliver.

        Gaia could be utterly alien.

        We really don’t know where any of the gods and spirits originated, except when They tell us, like Alanna did, and maybe not even then. Who would believe anything Loki tells us of his origins?

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  10. Why did the Runesage write in Latin?

    Now we speculated about him being a reincarnating Atlantean.
    I think we are equating stuff that does not belong together. Suppose you are an original Atlantean and escaped by using the reincarnation spell. What do you do with your lives? Surely you can go on a personal spree like the guy with the demon armies. Really constructive this is not.

    So suppose you are an Atlantean true to your values and loyal to your homeland but a realist. Let´s face the facts. Atlantis is dead and a few thousand, at best, wizards are not going to revive it. The Atlantean dream has been defeated. But has it been eradicated? With the restoration of the spark of Prometheus the answer to that has changed.

    What is the most productive thing you can do if you want to increase mankind’s power and make it independent of gods? You teach and apply the reincarnation spell to other wizards. Man’s magical knowledge is preserved and growing. And you deprive the various afterlives of capable wizards.

    So I would propose that the Runesage was a reincarnating wizard. But not an Atlantean. Going by the script he used and his name, he was Roman.

    Like

    1. Oliver, if the Runesage was Atlantean or just a modern wizard using Atlantean magic we really cannot trust that he’s using his original name.

      Plus, if he IS using his original name, think about the period of time when he seems to have been born — which we also cannot trust.

      If Benito’s “history” is what we look at, he may have been born since 1000 AD. That means he was certainly NOT any sort of “Roman” but rather a mongrel mix of late Roman, mid-Byzantine, early modern Greek, Burgundian, Hun, Alan, Vandal, Goth and who knows what else rampaged through ancient Italy, maybe even a tiny bit of Gallic, Gaul, Carthaginian and north African.

      On the other hand, since we cannot really trust the Bloody Archmage to give us his “real” birth name and for sure not his “real” original birth name, or his “real” history, Oliver could be totally correct about Bennie’s Roman “lifetime” and he was actually a true Atlantean spirit reborn into a citizen of the classical Roman Republic in 234 BC…except, of course, there’s no Christ to be Before.

      Hmm…we need some better standard way to denote years in Varmland and Midgard’s Europe. I wonder if magic users, especially wizards, would use Aristotle’s birth date or maybe some other important date in his life?

      As to why Benito and much more modern wizards still use Latin, I’d have to suggest that’s our best evidence that a Roman Republic and maybe a Roman Empire actually existed in Europe for a sufficiently significant period of time to thoroughly implant the Roman language in many subject territories. It’s also evidence that significant volumes of ancient magical spells and enchantments were written in Latin, possibly even translated into Latin from the original Greek or other original languages.

      Given what we know from OUR world, much of the Greek pantheon was adopted by the Romans, who also added some other religious bric-a-brac collected from various parts of their Empire.

      MAYBE, in Midgard, which had no Muslim empire and no Christian Roman emperors, the eastern and western halves of the pagan late Roman Empire staggered away from Hun, Vandal, Goth, Burgundian, German and other invasions into the later half of the first millennium just in time to be utterly squashed by a fresh, belligerent Viking horde sweeping south from Varmland?

      All that lovely, refined and Roman engineered magic created by the Greek philosopher-magi would have been wonderful treasure and loot for the victorious Vikings.

      Okay, all the lovely magic users and magic texts that survived rape, pillage, fire and ruin would have been treasure.

      Maybe…if the Viking who stole it also recognized it…or her great-great-grandson the skald did.

      I wonder if there are tomes of ancient Scandinavian magic written in runes and kept as treasured relics in the gory basements of Asgard churches?

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      1. Maybe…if the Viking who stole it also recognized it…or her great-great-grandson the skald did.

        “Her”? Despite the efforts of modern revisionists, there’s no actual evidence of female Vikings. The female, Nordic skeletons found with masculine grave goods are remarkably devoid of any of the physical trauma typically associated with hand-to-hand combat. Most likely they were just wives of high-status men.

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      2. In history it was common for wealthy men in pre Christian Northern European culture to be buried with their female slaves.

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      3. Fortunately, the author uses “wizardess” in relation to Tova, so we at least know what the author thinks is correct usage in his stories.

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      4. The author also uses warlock to refer to Daniel. He did this in the third book when Daniel went to retrieve the refugees from that town. The little Apprentice Hearth which refers to him as the Warlock of the coven.

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      5. When Brand arrives in Kozalin and goes to ask the Conclave for access to the Dark Portal, four adepts are standing beside top battle wizard, Steelbinder.

        “Three hard-faced men I vaguely remembered from the one council meeting I’d attended, and one woman I wasn’t likely to forget. Tova, the wizardess who had offered to sell me her daughters for the secret of my unlimited magical power supply.”

        Why do four battle wizards want Tova with them at a potentially sensitive meeting with an Asgardian demigod?

        If it all goes down the toilet, a few nasty demons might be nice to have in a hurry.

        I wonder just what Tova can pop the cap on at need, and how fast she can do it?

        Some magic systems allow for a trapped demon in a breakable crystal.

        That seems like something Tova might do.

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      6. “Why do four battle wizards want Tova with them at a potentially sensitive meeting with an Asgardian demigod?”

        Meeting a son of Vali I would want a defense against mental magic , just to make sure that I remain master of my own decisions.

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      7. Good point.

        Tova would be useful BEFORE everything hits the fan, as well as after.

        Of course, Brand does do his homework.

        Whatever anyone thinks she can do to influence events in Steelbinder’s favor, Brand probably came equipped with one or more counters.

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  11. Lots of discussion on the threads about various tactics Daniel and company can use. Lots of good ideas. I wanted to up-level things a bit for this thread with a simple question. What Outcome should Daniel shoot for?

    Possibilities
    1. Personal Survival – Daniel and that of his coven
    2. Black Keep survives Fimbulwinter along with most of the inhabitants
    3. Black Keep and a good portion of Kosalin survives Fimbulwinter
    4. Black Keep and a sufficiently large population of humans survives Fimbulwinter to repopulate things – including surviving the ravages of the Great Beasts as well as the winter
    5. End Fimbulwinter early
    6. End the Asir as a threat to Daniel’s interests
    7. End Loki as a threat to Daniel’s interests
    8. End Gaia as a threat to Daniel’s interests
    9. Create a big empire filled with highly advanced magic and great prosperity
    10. Save most of humanity alive at the end of book 4 from death in Fimbulwinter
    11. Magically evolve humanity to the next stage of power/Replace humanity with something better
    12. Become a powerful god – along with his coven mates
    13. Destroy/neutralize all the gods (except those that are allied to him)
    14. Destroy/neutralize all the hostile Great Beasts
    15. Help create a new pantheon of gods that better serve humanity

    My personal proposal is that goals 4-8 are collectively required as the minimum acceptable scenario. 5 is technically not required, but it is hard to see how 4 can happen without 5.

    By themselves 1-3 goals are unsustainable. Goals 9-15 are bonus goals which you may or may not want. But none of them are essential.

    Note I was very careful with phrasing. End a threat rather than kill the hostile gods. You can end a threat without killing the gods by, for example, making those gods your allies. Or imprisoning them? Or taking their power? Or distracting them for long enough that their power is eclipsed.

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    1. DSpring, I pretty much agree with your assessment of 4-8 being required and 9 through whatever being bonus.

      Several exceptions…ha! What would a question like this be without exceptions? BORING!

      4) Clever statement. I notice you don’t require that Kozalin supply a significant portion of the surviving humans. As Oliver consistently points out, Kozalin is not the only available supply of accessible humans at the end of THRALL. There are all sorts of viable reasons Daniel might choose to recruit surviving humans elsewhere. He might even lock the Kozalini out of Black Island. Certainly, the coven and Daniel’s designated castellan, minister of war and minister of diplomacy might lock down Black Island while Daniel is away dealing with the Sunspire and Odin.

      5) Ending Fimbulwinter early is probably not impossible but it might be so difficult as to seem indistinguishable from impossible. One has to suspect that Loki either cast some sort of spell that started Fimbulwinter and continues to power it, or there is some sort of sacrifice or mana expenditure feeding the spell and powering Fimbulwinter. If the latter is true, maybe there is some way to interfere with whatever might be feeding the spell? Of course, Loki is a god, so his own divine power might be powering Fimbulwinter, so maybe if Odin kills Loki that will end Fimbulwinter?

      Hecate seems a bit more hopeful about ending Fimbulwinter, but She seems to think it would require a new pantheon or equivalent of gods to make that happen.

      In any case, the ice age seems fated to continue because ocean currents and other climate “engines” have shifted into that mode. Hecate seemed rather gloomy on the subject.

      “Well, you are correct. Europe will be frozen for long ages even after this war is over. The monsters that survive it will finish off the so-called victors, and hunt humanity here to extinction. Then they will grow hungry, and seek prey further afield.”

      6, 7 & 8) The Aesir, Loki and Gaia seem to be pretty determined to end each other, though we have some reason to expect Daniel might involve himself in ending Gaia. I wonder how he’s going to deny her Skogheim as an anchor without also destroying the dinosaurs?

      16) My favorite additional goal: Build Alanna’s spaceship and fly her around the solar system. Maybe go a huge step further and build a starship, or attach a stardrive to Black Island and take the whole palace on a trip to Alpha Centauri.

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      1. ” 5) Ending Fimbulwinter early is probably not impossible but it might be so difficult as to seem indistinguishable from impossible. One has to suspect that Loki either cast some sort of spell that started Fimbulwinter and continues to power it, or there is some sort of sacrifice or mana expenditure feeding the spell and powering Fimbulwinter. If the latter is true, maybe there is some way to interfere with whatever might be feeding the spell? Of course, Loki is a god, so his own divine power might be powering Fimbulwinter, so maybe if Odin kills Loki that will end Fimbulwinter?” Well I like the way you put it Colin in fact you see way more options on doing this that I would ever do. Even so I think this one is way out of Daniel scope of influence.

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      2. “If the latter is true, maybe there is some way to interfere with whatever might be feeding the spell? Of course, Loki is a god, so his own divine power might be powering Fimbulwinter, so maybe if Odin kills Loki that will end Fimbulwinter?”

        That opens up the possibilty that the power source is popular belief in the prophecy. Congratulations for finding another reason for genocide.

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      3. ACK!

        Totally possible, Oliver, and if true, “popular belief” should also apply to other events, like possible effects associated with Haley’s Comet, which will of course be called Hagar’s Comet and many other names around the globe.

        Popular belief might even apply to opposite effects, like maybe a community has a long-standing belief its huge, equatorial river valley is some sort of Garden of Eden and will therefore remain immune to Fimbulwinter? Of course, that won’t stop the Great Beasts. It might even attract some.

        I like the concept, although the game designer/world background designer in me recoils from the classic “deus ex machina” possibilities.

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      4. Hmm…if popular belief is a power source for some forms of magic, the potential makes it obvious to many gods, okay, many numerate gods, that larger numbers of followers are actually good for something more than just anchors.

        In fact, Fimbulwinter may drive an entirely new future round of pantheon “unification and purification” of the sort Ra practices.

        Not necessarily a good thing for Daniel, but yet another incentive for him to provide Bast, Hecate and other friendly goddesses/gods with some powerful artifacts.

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      5. Fimbulwinter can be ended with sufficient application of power. Several obvious possibilities
        1) Sunspire version 2 could do it
        2) The Asgard civil war could end in a peace settlement and collectively the gods end Fimbulwinter
        3) The other Pantheons act to collectively end Fimbulwinter — or maybe just the Chinese.
        4) Gaia in a final act of destruction causes a lot of volcanoes to erupt which unintentionally causes global warming due to greenhouse gasses.
        5) Daniel uses power to paint all the ice black, thus absorbing more sunlight, melting and reversing the glacial processes.
        6) Create pocket world that just exists to radiate massive amounts of heat and then open permanent doorways from that place to many places in the north

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      6. Orbital mirrors or something like them would be my favorite solution, Jabrwok.

        That idea totally plays into Daniel’s magic factory mass production enchanted items and his promise to Alanna that he will begin exploring how to build a spaceship to take her touring the Solar System.

        Daniel would also need some sort of station-keeping system to manage the orbital maintenance he will likely try to power with force rockets.

        I wonder if there is any configuration of mirror that would need nothing more than to be put into a convenient orbit and left there with no orbital or directional maintenance?

        Maybe he could launch many tiny rockets into high Earth orbit, then each of them builds and expands a force bubble. Flash the inside of the bubble with vaporized aluminum a few times to create a nice and sturdy shiny aluminum mirror, then fill the inside of the bubble with foamed aluminum or some other tough structure to resist micro-meteor strikes.

        Hmm…Daniel would have to play with some interesting “light shade” arrays of bubble mirrors and other positioning schemes so they don’t block more sunlight from reaching the planet than they reflect onto the planet.

        He is highly unlikely to come up with the right combination of mirrors and orbits on the first attempt.

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      7. So in addition to just looking on as Daniel is developing climate weapons, they are also supposed to just let him build ICBMs? You may excuse a ittle scepticism.

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      8. Snicker. They won’t even know what an ICBM is, Oliver. Good point, though. What Daniel has to build if he tries to create an orbital “climate weapon” will obviously be some more of Adept Black’s dangerous projectile weapons. What’s he doing, shooting them into the sky? Is he threatening the Gods? Why don’t the projectiles fall back to the ground? Oh, no! He must have actually hit a God. Who’s missing? Is this Atlantean magic? Eek! What if he puts another of whatever blew up the SunSpire into one of his projectiles and shoots THAT into the sky? Will it be a new Sun? Will it kill a God? Why isn’t anybody doing something about this upstart wizard?

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      9. Well, they will know that if you shoot something high into the sky it may come down a long way away. That includes their territory.

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      10. True, Oliver, and regardless of the current state of divine understanding of ballistics, they are all going to learn about ICBMs if any of them is dumb enough to totally piss off Daniel.

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    2. Well took me a while but this is my opinion Dspring good options by the way gave me something to think about. 1 and 2 this two are the foremost on his list, heck 1 is the whole reason he is there after all. 3 and 4 this are overambitious not that can’t be done but will involve to mutch time and effort and we are not sure it is totally worth it, if the prospects for the others two looks good he can get ambitious and seriously aim for this. 5 I don’t think he can do that, that’s completely outside of his control (at the moment). 6 – 8 this three he better stay well clear from it, the factions depicted there are already aiming for it, him butting in won’t improve the situation anything in fact he might end up stressing to mutch resource and effort on it. 9 although a great idea, I don’t think he has the ‘space’ to think of it, it will be a more complex design not to mention to many things have to be worked hard and planned for this to be feasible it will be better to consider this mutch more later. 10 this lump it over with 3 and 4. 11 he is actually out of time to consider this not to mention that playing with such a things never has good results he might end up creating more enemies with it. 12 I don’t think such a thing interest him, he might have to consider it in the future but I don’t see Daniel giving up his humanity for the time being, maybe after living for a couple of centuries he will consider this option, if it is even possible at all. 13 and 14 not a chance to mutch hassle to mutch risk he will be creating powerful enemies where he doesn’t need it and turn allies away from him with it, not something sensible for him to do at least not now. 15 this is a given in fact he was already on it with Hecate and Allana at the end of Thrall outside of his immediate survival this is something else he can truly dive head first.

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    3. “10. Save most of humanity alive at the end of book 4 from death in Fimbulwinter”

      Not really Daniel’s job. Most gods have an incentive to do (in a lesser version) what Hecate did to create refuges. And Gaia cannot be the only one to have a bubble world and there are eight other worlds. And Gaia is unlikely to be the only deity to know a spell for suspended animation.

      Mankind will survive.

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      1. Perhaps mankind will survive. Certainly men existed when last the great beasts roamed the earth. But Hecate seemed to feel that the remaining gods would mostly be killed fighting the great beasts. Not 100% clear if mankind would survive round 2 with the great beasts — although i agree that the most likely outcome is just mankind returning to small tribal units that are too small to attract much attention from great beasts.

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      2. So, lots of small tribal units plus the by then huge Fortress Black that occupies all of the footprint of old Kozalin, straddles the perhaps frozen solid Elbe River and stretches all the way to the new Daniel-made harbor facilities on the North Sea coast…if there is still a reason to have ocean-going transport facilities.

        Hmm…the Elbe might not even exist as a river by then. It seems clear that aristocrats have no direct claims on Elbe river bottom, so Daniel might choose to do all Black Island’s future expansion there. If no royals ever arrive to contest that, eventually he can do as he pleases.

        Of course, by then, he might have no reason to care about the land rights of aristocrats, either.

        Then again, recognizing aristocratic land rights and giving them the armored and fortified arcologies to defend and use that land might be some of Daniel’s and Pelagia’s better negotiating leverage.

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      3. Snicker.

        Not only those bubble worlds will provide some flavor of refuge for humans, Oliver, but as you have pointed out, there are probably also slavers in all sorts of places around Fimbulwinter-battered Midgard making out like bandits during Ragnarok. The slavers who actually bother to learn something about Midgard’s legends might understand that their best opportunities happen during Fimbulwinter, because the coming ice age era of Great Beasts and Ancient Beasts will be almost as hard on slaving parties as it is on the potential slaves.

        There are probably previously existing and new human slave populations expanding on at least seven of the nine worlds, and probably other worlds, too. I say seven, because one of the eight is Earth itself, which probably supplies more slaves than it purchases, and the other is Midgard, which may still purchase a few slaves but is quickly becoming a supplier of slaves.

        Don’t forget “indentured servitude” as a potential alternative. Imagine entire villages voting to sell themselves to some wizard or noble on a different world for a period of labor, or an amount of labor.

        Okay, so that won’t always work out so well for the humans, either. It’s easy to imagine the contract holder screwing them over into the Nth generation of permanent “indentured” slavery, but at least they’d still be alive, and maybe even still human.

        What contacts with even more worlds are possible? I’m betting the possibilities add up to more than nine.

        “Hooomanz for SALE! Git your HOOOMANZ now at Uncle Al’s Gently Used Slaves, where the price is ALWAYS right!”

        Ooh!

        Imagine a whole village knowingly selling themselves to a demon, as the Ancient Beast is racing toward them, venom dripping from each of it’s thousands of razor-sharp teeth.

        So many, UGLY possibilities!

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    4. “5. End Fimbulwinter early”

      That also raises a question. Gods need anchors. Daniel has in door agriculture. Most gods presumably do not. Does Daniel want to end the Fimbulwinter and subsequent ice age at all?

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      1. Oliver, while Daniel does have indoor farming and many other humans don’t, the potential strategic advantages of allowing most of the rest of humanity to freeze in the dark before he launches any mirrors into orbit to end Fimbulwinter won’t concern him as much as more of those squishy ethical concerns I keep throwing up.

        Space mirrors will impact the entire Earth–excepting Black Island and its indoor farms. Screwed up space mirrors will screw up the entire Earth–excepting Black Island and its indoor farms.

        Breaking Fimbulwinter and even aborting the ice age with space mirrors is relatively small magic with really huge consequences. Control and data acquisition will be enormous, probably insurmountable challenges. Remember how Daniel asked Hecate about divine agreements prohibiting nuclear weapons? He will almost certainly consult first with Her about planetary engineering projects.

        Will She risk aggravating Coyote and all the Chinese pantheon members? How about all the Aztec, Incan and Punjab pantheon members? Daniel will probably describe at least one screw up scenario that would thoroughly cook equatorial regions, or thoroughly drown middle latitudes.

        If Daniel convinces himself he can proceed cautiously and slowly in tiny increments he might do virtually nothing for several years, then over-correct and screw up everything in six months more.

        At least he can quickly get rid of or add mirrors, not that this won’t drive everyone ELSE on Earth crazy, including the gods.

        I suspect Daniel’s biggest concern won’t be whether there’s an advantage to letting Fimbulwinter continue.

        He will be MUCH more concerned that his crude attempt to end Fimbulwinter might blow up so badly that every god and human on the planet will try to kill him before he drenches or bakes them.

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      2. Exactly. It also creates an enormous strategic weapon the other gods would have to tolerate. Quite a few of them may profit from ice age or see their competitors hurt much more. Doing nothing in that case is the much safer option.

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      3. Careful, Oliver — I suspect we are introducing a new razor’s edge for Daniel to dance on, and your most observation about other gods seeing the strategic advantage of “just a little more Fimbulwinter” is hideously dangerous for him.

        The concept of “just a little more Fimbulwinter” only works if somebody has a reliable “OFF” switch.

        Daniel has a crude, never attempted before, guess that he MIGHT be able to convert into workable mago-technology, with time, work, and lots of trial and error.

        “Step right up, boys, girls and divines. Get your ERROR right here! Who’s first?”

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      4. Daniel ending the Fimbulwinter and only the Fimbulwinter but not the beginning ice age, that is just not credible. Hence by proposing this form of climate magoengineering he automagically is threatening the gods whose lands will become lush and green in an ice age.

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      5. Ha!

        That’s right, Oliver.

        When all of North Africa becomes lush and green again, Ra stands to gain hugely if He can only survive the Fimbulwinter and defend enough of His followers from the Great Beasts/Ancient Beasts to populate all that newly productive land.

        Makes me wonder again what sort of two-faced games Ra might be playing with Loki and Odin.

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      6. The idea that one would need an Ice Age to make the deserts of North Africa bloom seems kind of silly given the powers of the gods. Just dig massive canals around whatever parts of Africa you want to see bloom and let the new regional climates caused by turning Africa into an archipelago do the work for you.

        Same with Asia. Chop it into lots of largish islands and you’ll end up with a much more temperate climate on all of them due to the moderating effect of the nearby ocean/canals.

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      7. Jabrwok, from what we’ve seen so far of the gods in the Daniel Black series, Fimbulwinter seems to be the maximum climate catastrophe They are willing to attempt or allow.

        Maybe They don’t have the energy for more?

        Maybe They have some sort of covert or overt agreement NOT to mess with the global climate to the extremes of geologically subdividing Africa or Asia?

        Maybe Loki’s Fimbulwinter gambit will change all that?

        Daniel seems likely to give it a try, and capable of making something work.

        That’s likely to prod a few touchy weather gods into some sort of response….

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  12. Focus has been on Daniel. But there are a lot of very skilled people associated with Daniel. What ideas/plans will they bring to the table to improve the overall situation.

    Coven Members
    • Cerise, including in her role as head of the Hecate priesthood
    • Avilla, including her role as a powerful priest of Hestia
    • Elin, including her role as a fey, shapeshifter, healer, water specialist, and highly knowledgeable wizard
    • Tina, including her role as a powerful priest of Bast

    Other Key Sources of Ideas
    • Bast is a goddess, but right now a child. That makes her a member of the household with a special viewpoint.
    • Pelagia, Demetrios and the rest of the community of nymphs, stayrs, dryads, niads and naga collectively will likely have something interesting to contribute idea wise, despite their inherent lack of innovative thinking
    • Tavrin and the remainder of clan Nethwillin are more centralized in organization, but have a lot of very skilled people.
    • Captain Rain and his other human retainers
    • Harbormaster Lund and his associated dock area leaders

    Just to give some ideas to start things off with some fairly obvious possibilities:
    • Cerise should be able to focus on spirits of Hecate and binding them into various animal bodies. That gives her a lot of spellpower – and ties in nicely with Daniel’s new abilities to build new human bodies. Hecate may help with this hunt.
    • Avilla is tough as her focus is entirely on the kitchen and she has not displayed any real desire to leave the keep. But I can see her working closely with the elite guard, using her household magic to identify intruders.
    • Elin is highly educated and closely associated with the sea. Her focus has been on healing in book 4, but I think she could easily craft spells to pull fish up the river and into the bay for easy harvesting. Doing that a few times would seriously endear her to the local community. Pull a giant serpent or two would showcase her as a war mage of note and add to Daniel’s credibility.
    • Tina is tough as well as she has not been presented as someone with significant skills. However, she is now the priestess of Bast and I can totally see her establishing a priesthood and training acolytes – and maybe an elite guard of cat-warrior-esses
    • Bast is a goddess, but in her first year of mortal life her abilities will likely be sharply limited. Her attributes are related to battle, childbirth, luck, cats, and probably a lot more. She is an old and mature goddess after all. One neat (and pretty low power) thing would be if she could collect intelligence through the eyes of all the cats in the city. That might be limited as I suspect people have been eating cats – but cats are so useful in fighting rats/mice that they would probably still be protected by most people.
    • Nature Spirits are really limited now as the cold and danger mostly restrict them to the keep as even unaccompanied warrior Dryads could only travel the city (or outside the city) at significant risk. However, I think the Stayrs or Niads have not had much play so far. I suspect the Stayrs have the same ability to augment animal life as the nymphs to augment plant life. I could totally see the keep creating entire floors focused on rabbits raised for food and fur. The Niads could do the same to create fish ponds as others have stated.
    • Nethwillin is fundamentally a clan of traders, yet we have not really seen them trading much. However, I can see them leveraging the market they are creating and their access to the Intrepid and other sources of items to dominate the mercantile traffic in Kozalin. That can give them control over a lot of the wealth of the city, even if that control is mostly invisible to the residents. Extend that network and it gives Daniel influence in most of the remaining communities in this area.
    • Human Retainers are generally neglected in the series as the page count is focused on the magically powerful non-humans. But Captain Rain has a lot of contacts with other cities. Those cities might be in a difficult situation now, but they are also likely to be eager to ally with a power that can help them. A nice route for Daniel to pick up territory outside of Kozalin.
    • Dock Leaders are really going to control most of the new food entering into the city. They are also the first line of gatekeepers on any group or party interested in moving into the docks. I think they can make deals for several thousand more people to move into the docks – and align themselves to Daniel. That extra food also becomes a powerful tool in Daniel’s toolbox to influence others – a point that Pelagia can mention frequently when dealing with the more mid-range leaders in the city. I suspect these mid-range leaders are the ones in the most difficult spot right now and they are likely most willing to align to Daniel in exchange for guarantees on access to that incoming food.

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    1. DSpring, Bast is a baby now, or a kitten, depending on her mood. However, she does not know Her divine self at this point. Checkout the discussion between Her and Daniel in BLACK COVEN. We’ve seen the author work around that while Tina was pregnant, but now Bast is out in the world on her own. Basically, we might not hear from “Bast” again for about a year, though Erika is likely to be a precocious kid/kitten and then a truly terrible Two for a few weeks and eventually a terrifying teen. It will be fun seeing Alanna’s opinions about all this.

      Cerise will not only have her duties and opportunities as Hecate’s High Priestess, don’t forget the work she and Daniel already did together to give her some of the benefits of his personal approach to spell crafting. We know she has finished and tested a few projects like the felwolf test probe — ouch — and was utterly bubbly about the results. With her wealth of arcane knowledge and her direct connection to Hecate for more, Cerise powered by Daniel’s matter to mana devices enabling her own spells and devices will probably rise to a level that confuses many into thinking she is actually Hecate or an avatar of Hecate. TOTALLY looking forward to seeing some of that in the next few books.

      Avilla will also have the opportunity to do FAR more than interact with Sefwin’s super security team. Remember the “gifts” Daniel gave her before he was kidnapped. She is now Wolfen Central. Not only will the new recruits be feasting at HER table, she and the more experienced Wolfen will be fine-tuning ALL of their transitions, coordinating with Cerise. If they are too pumped by Avilla’s feasts, Cerise will help them to sacrifice their excess to Hecate.

      HEY! I forgot about that. Hecate receives direct energy from Cerise via sacrifice whenever the naughty High Priestess dines too heavily on Undead Dragon and other battle snacks. Assuming the Wolfen start also sacrificing some of their more suspicious surplus traits in order to better manage their new bodies and powers, Hecate is about to start seeing a significant bump in Her divine energy budget. It won’t be much at first, but Avilla can, in theory, produce infinite numbers of new Wolfen with Daniel’s present.

      We also need to see Avilla sit down with Daniel like Cerise did and will continue to do, learning Daniel’s methods for spell crafting. Imagine the power level of gingerbread ninjas she ought to be able to create with Daniels methods and matter to mana power devices helping her. What other “homemaker” magic does Avilla know, or learn from Grannie’s grimoire? How much more potent will it be when empowered as she can now? Remember how seriously Elin treated the potential of Avilla’s food magic BEFORE they formed the coven? Imagine how much influence Avilla is subtly playing with by the end of THRALL and how much MORE she could do after learning and adapting some of Daniel’s methods.

      NOTE: Daniel must create those mana vision spectacles he thought of giving to Cerise. All the girls really, REALLY need them!

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    2. Great set of topics, DSpring — thanks for spending the time and thought to post them.

      Continuing with Avilla’s potential contributions. Yes, she is a golem. However, she expects to become something like a grownup fae brownie of prodigious potential. Now, she has already met Alanna and seems VERY comfortable interacting with the most ancient of dryads. Watch that relationship very closely. Alanna could teach Avilla SO much!

      Another opportunity for Avilla — don’t forget the OTHER presents Daniel gave to her. Sefwin will certainly borrow the breast design tools and hair color tools for her super security team. There is just way too much potential for disguise in those enchanted items. When Daniel returns, Sefwin will have a list of similar items she wants him to create for her teams, unless she and Nethwillin’s other magi create something like this themselves…or already have something. You never know with them.

      Meanwhile, Avilla will be refining and designing exotic “maids” of all sorts when she’s not busy brewing up more Wolfen. While the girls will initially have little or no fighting ability, Clan Nethwillin stands ready to provide the best training any of them can actually use for at least the next century. Those are going to become some of the most deadly mago-metahumans of Midgard. Probably not on the same level as Odin’s einherjar, but working on it, and much more adaptable, I suspect. Avilla and Nethwillin won’t have much patience for the combat-centric training program. These girls will be multiply capable.

      Oh, I almost forgot. We keep ignoring the fact that Avilla has magical minions as well as maid minions. There are supposed to be several apprentice hearth witches on Black Island. Remember the teen girl from that coastal village, the one rescued on INTREPID’s first mission? Cerise was on her like paint, but the conversation clearly indicates the girl is destined to follow Hestia and so will be Avilla’s responsibility.

      As emphasized in the books, Avilla is a very, very busy young lady.

      Elin has so many possible paths ahead of her, she will need a hundred thousand years of ice age to fully explore and develop herself. She has spent the most time intimately sharing and learning Daniel’s spell crafting methods but we have probably seen the least evidence of using them from her. Considering her fae and grendelkin heritage, she may have more difficulty innovating than the other girls. On the other hand, she seems likely to research, study and understand Daniel’s new enchantment tools better than anyone but Cerise.

      Like DSpring, I would like to see Elin explore her association with the ocean, especially through her orca form and the sorts of magic she will have to learn from her mother’s kin. If there is any way Elin can some day meet and study her Grendel kin, what sorts of crazy magic could she learn from them? I’m thinking some adventure of Elin’s may give us our first glimpse of hags in Midgard or somewhere a bit warmer.

      Remember Elin’s questioning Daniel about surgery for healing, and his many demonstrations of that concept on her own flesh. She has barely begun to explore, document and refine her understanding of that. Expect her to eventually write entire libraries about medical magic applications. Galan does not even compare to what Elin will eventually become in terms of a fount of medical and healing wisdom.

      Speaking of Elin’s fae kin, there really must be some sort of adventure for her with the faerie Summer Court, maybe even some sort of kidnapping or diplomatic mission involving the Winter Court. One or both of those might rearrange the strategic array of forces involved in Ragnarok and what comes after, hopefully in favor of Daniel and Black Island.

      Elin seems likely to develop slower than Cerise or Avilla, but her potential to bring together powerful alliances while creating an enormous heritage of incredibly valuable knowledge makes her a long-term candidate for much-loved and venerated goddess of scholarly healing arts.

      Tina, of course, is just the opposite. She’s had no opportunity to show us what more she has done with her dancing magic since helping create the coven. We know it’s not limited to dancing, of course, but given what we know of Tina she could have been dancing up a storm, literally. At least a tempest in a teapot.

      There’s no doubt her magical abilities have grown since then, but we have almost no idea what they are or will be. Given Bast’s ancient personal experience and Her expectations for the next few millennia, it just seems to me likely the blessing Tina received at Bast’s conception is continuing to endlessly convert that lovely stream of mana Daniel gave her into strength enhancements, mana well enhancements, mana channel enhancements and more and better other enhancements.

      All the coven members have their close associations with deities, but none of them are as close as Tina and Bast. Something really big for Tina ought to come of that in the distant future. It will be fascinating to see how the author deals with her, with both of them, in the next few books.

      Totally agree with you, DSpring, that it would be very cool if Erika (Bast) develops the ability to spy through cats’ eyes all over Kozalin. I bet there are other cat god and god cat abilities that would be all sorts of fun. If she is able to shapeshift into a cat, that opens up even more opportunities.

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    3. DSpring, I’ll add a few questions to yours about Clan Nethwillin.

      1) While the clan is probably able to travel using their distance eating magic, do they dare travel underground now that Gaia may associate dark elves with Her sleeping armies dropping dead and poisoning Her realm?

      2) How much of the underground ways are closed and how are they closed? We know the routes in and out of Skogheim are “closed” but that probably means the Andregi kill any non-Andregi they find on the paths they use. Physically closing Skogheim would keep Gaia from sending armies to aid Loki against Odin, or sending recently born armies to kill more humans, sneak attack Black Island, etc.

      Did Gaia block access to ALL of Her underground passages? That seems unlikely. Loki’s dwarf-orc allies would find that a real hardship. Gaia’s own allies probably also need access to the easy travel routes. Do the goblins live underground, especially now that Fimbulwinter makes the surface inhospitable to downright hostile?

      Did Gaia block access by humans, dark elves and others She believes are enemies? If she can, I’d expect she did that. Otherwise, I’d expect Her to create some random messy examples to express Her displeasure with recent events and scare people away from Her underground passages.

      A lot depends on how expert Gaia’s enchantments can be, and we can’t know that.

      Hence, I’d say Nethwillin will wisely avoid any further travel underground.

      Travel on the surface, no matter how quick, is too risky for regular, predictable trade. There are traditional enemies, Gaia’s army, slavers and other opportunists. That just seems like a bad situation for any trading teams.

      Hence, I’d argue Clan Nethwillin’s trading activities will be reduced to what they can perform using INTREPID and any future sister airships. This is not entirely a bad thing. Many of the clan’s previous human trading partners on Midgard are now monster poop. Many of the clan’s previous nonhuman trading partners are in deep hiding. Maybe some of them would pay or trade for evacuation to Black Island or elsewhere?

      That leaves cities and larger walled towns as the main locations INTREPID can visit for trade. Clan Nethwillin should be able to do a lot with that, especially if they can easily/safely reach some of the North African cities that still want to trade food for northern European goods and services.

      The clan probably mixes rescue missions with trading activity, so INTREPID is constantly busy and there will be pent up demand for another airship or two. You can bet Tavrin and Irithil are rotating new crews and officers through INTREPID to build up trained resources for fleet expansion, if they believe that’s a good plan for the clan’s future.

      I’d surely enjoy seeing that happen in future books.

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  13. I’m shocked that you guys still have new things to discuss everyday.

    My hype is gone. With how book 4 went, a lot of things I was expecting to happen is thrown right out the window. Logically they will never come to pass. The author seems like he is trying to finish Daniel Black as soon as possible. So the little workshop moments are done, and he has now transcended from mortal warrior, to spiritual (he can swap bodies right? That is spiritual). The next few books seem to be him attaining the Divine.

    I just check now and again to see if the author updated anything. My building/workshop enthusiasm is gone. I don’t even know if I will be alive to see the Next book, because it sure ain’t coming out in 2019.

    [b]Question[/b]. Do you honestly see (after reading book 4) Daniel spending time doing the little stuff? I mean the Conclave can’t even threaten him now, he can just body swap. And I’m sure he will start engraving/implanting the body swap runes into his skull of it self. So he doesn’t have to wear a crown again.

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    1. Author will likely do what he did in book 4 – spend 2-3 chapters talking about all the stuff happening in the background — and then move to something very Daniel and involving earth shaking events.

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    2. Kervyn, have you ever read the M.A.R. Barker “Tekumel” books?

      MAN OF GOLD, etc.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%A9kumel

      There was an entire role playing game derived from the background of those stories: EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE.

      I must go back and read those books. I have a few, but did not give them any attention for many years.

      I may look at some of the RPG and other gaming developments, also.

      The Daniel Black series seems to me ready for this sort of expansion. There are the bones of a fun, over powered magic system I’m sure many kids would enjoy. There is a well-constructed strategic scenario with many possible side stories, interactions, alliances, diplomatic missions, etc.

      We’ve already seen dungeon crawls, full scale field battles, city fights, and raids, with the promise of much more and much bigger in future books.

      This could literally become another never-ending creation that spawns myriad new enjoyments.

      …IF we create them.

      Daniel Black’s Midgard is a world I’d certainly enjoy visiting in a computer role playing game.

      Something like ARCANUM meets NEVERWINTER NIGHTS over the rotting bones of TWILIGHT 2000.

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    3. Well Kervyn we still see a lot of possibilities in this series, Daniel growing in strength is by far not the absolute right answer for his problems, he is by now still a lot weaker that the ‘real’ Gods and even those guys are scrambling to find a steady ground in this situation. Yes the author focused more in Daniel development in this last book that his community but it’s the lack of focus on it that gives us a lot more to expect from it, I mean there is a lot of issues he needed to solve to make Black Island a proper base for supporting this apocalyptic event and it isn’t eve self-sufficient yet. Not to mention there is his involvement on the creation of a new Pantheon of Gods and how mutch or little he will be contributing there, there is also the Great Beast and ‘Old Gods’ he released from the Sunphire and the deals he made with them, how can that help him in the future or come back to bite him in the ass. I will admit I expected for Daniel to deal with the wolfen problem in a more exotic fashion but it opened other possibilities that if well used can be directly related to Bast. But well just for curiosity what are those issues that you think where throw away on this last novel???

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      1. Paps. I think I’m just depressed because I feel I wouldn’t be around to enjoy book 5, or be in a position to read it.
        If the author is sending so long on his Little Girl Space Marine with huge weapons, I don’t see Daniel Black in 2019. That is depressing me as hell.
        I see so many other authors crank out book after book a year, and with the wait we had for book 4 I expected it to be at least 600 pages.

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      2. Kervyn, my understanding is that Brown isn’t a professional author, but rather has a day job. If that’s correct, then we can’t expect him to match the output of a Larry Correia (alas). Four years was a long wait, so hopefully that was just a fluke. I can certainly sympathize with the frustration of having to wait years on end for the next book.

        Fortunately I never got heavily invested in the War Against the Chtorr, or I’d have died of frustration!:-).

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      3. I guet what you mean with that frustation Kervyn, but look at it this way the author actually takes his time in writing his novel not to deliver rushed imcomplete work, good work takes time and even more if he is going to be investigating some obscure terms like old religions and Gods, or how radiation particles work, not to mention create and stablish situation for characters to bloom. If the wait is to mutch I can recomend you to read some of P.S Power works if you haven’t already (I doubt it) he has an extensive universe build for various series. I am optimist that maybe by the end of the year or beguinning of the next we migth guet something of Daniel and who knows maybe you can give the Alice Long a shot and be pleacently surprised I see it has great reviews.

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      4. @Paps. I read Alice Long. It was Okay, but I’m not a fan of Loli Space Marines with Guns. I might even give book 2 a try if I’m up to it and have nothing pressing to read(I will read it). I just want Daniel and magical Engineering. The Nanobot factory was cool, but didn’t scratch my magical itch.

        Also I think I have exhausted the Magical Engineering Section in goodreads(the books in English anyways). PS Power isn’t for me. From the blurb I don’t think we would work out. I posted a list for Colin a few months back to help him get through the waiting period. Right now I am trying a lot of self published comedic / satirical novels. I would Recommend Blue Mage raised by Dragons.

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      5. Kervyn, what did you think of “The Engineer Wizard” and the rest of “The Genie And The Wizard” series by Glenn Michaels?

        I have to agree with you, there is a definite scarcity of good stories that combine engineering and magic.

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      6. Wasn’t the last one of Royal Road??? Well I migth guet to that but I am now absorbed on The Young Ancient series by P.S Power thats why I recommended him. Well try to change your genre read for the time been migth help. Waht is your take about the golem Daniel created for Mara or that he finally circunvented the comunications problems he had for his fortress???

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      7. @ Colin.
        “Paul Armstead is your average American senior citizen and electrical engineer. He’s 61 years old, unremarkably unattractive, and a self-proclaimed science-fiction nut. He’s lived the American dream in drab, typical fashion without a single noteworthy event in his rather mundane life.

        So how does he end up fleeing from one end of the world to the other, dodging government dragnets, evil, nightmarish monsters known as the Oni, good wizards, bad wizards, beautiful women, spies, and wizardly spells?

        Well, it is entirely the genie’s fault…. “

        That sounds so bad… But I will give book one a try.

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      8. @ JabrWok “Kervyn, my understanding is that Brown isn’t a professional author, but rather has a day job. If that’s correct, then we can’t expect him to match the output of a Larry Correia (alas). Four years was a long wait, so hopefully that was just a fluke.”
        Well according to https://www.subscribestar.com/william-s-corner he is a full time author now, so my depression isn’t going anywhere. I’m not seeing Daniel Black 5 in 2019. Unless he is secretly writing it and will publish in December as a gift to fans.

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  14. Something I have thought about did Poseidon bribe Odin with the sunspire? Poseidon is one of the few Olympians still alive and Alanna said that he lied about it being destroyed. So one can think that he had some control over the sunspire, maybe he gave it to Odin so he could survive. Also without one of the stronger Olympians in most description of them it is not that strange that Olympus was defeated.

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    1. Pertm, while the possibility of a treacherous Olympian god is kind of like the sun rising in the east, I’m not sure it’s necessary.

      Poseidon is, presumably, strong in the ocean, or at least in the Mediterranean Sea.

      Odin is not especially strong in the ocean, from what little I have read.

      That would have been Loki, if I were to guess.

      There’s not much chance Odin or Loki would have been able to significantly reduce Poseidon’s anchors in the sea.

      On the other hand, Poseidon doesn’t have much reach beyond the shoreline, though he could probably scare up a tsunami or two if there is a worthwhile place to spend them.

      I wonder how well the Devourers in Italy tread water?

      Colin

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  15. Many have speculated that Daniel will (eventually) take control of Kosalin. Others have argued against this. This thread is focused on the first argument – specifically the how. What path might lead to that “take control of Kosalin” outcome.

    In my own mind, there are several possibilities, but they all fall within the below four general themes
    1) Daniel seizes control of the city based on his personal power and the power of Black Keep/allies.

    2) Daniel gradually gains control of the city as individual factions/regions pledge loyalty in exchange for protection/food/aid. This is basically how he gained control over the Dock. This possibility exists because there is no central leadership remaining in the city

    3) Daniel gains control over the city during a major crisis – power by acclimation and deeds (aka -save the city)

    4) Daniel is formally granted Overlordship of the city by the king, almost certainly to resolve the power vacuum before the city is ruined.

    #1 as many people have argued is quite feasible for Daniel. There are real obstacles (conclave, limited number of loyal troops), but Daniel can promise heated buildings and expanded food production to buy loyalty – and magical might to over-awe opposition. Downside is that while Daniel has the troops to capture the city, he does not have the troops to control the city or defend it properly against external threats – especially after destroying many of his internal enemy’s troops. So it would be a race between his various enemies mobilizing against him pitted against Daniel’s ability to gain popular support/expand his troops. However, the biggest argument against this tactic is Daniel’s obvious reluctance to go this route. He just does not want power over the city, nor does he feel he can hold it once he seizes it.

    #2 is a much more likely outcome given how fragmented and vulnerable the city is. In can be argued that this path has already started. The docks have firmly aligned with Daniel and is providing local troops. It think the Trade zone is not that far away from a similar commitment given they have been more or less abandoned by the other power centers of the city (dukes, conclave). Out of pity more than anything else, Daniel will move to help them and thus gain control. This would cement the first steps of Daniel’s control, basically by gaining the basic loyalty and service of all the population groups in the city that are not valued by the dukes or the conclave. In other words – most of the people in Kozalin. With that population as a base, Daniel becomes the go to problem solver in the city and it is not hard to see 1-2 of the dukes – the ones losing the competition and perhaps a faction of the Conclave – from joining Daniel’s side rather than kneel to their peers. The last bits (dukes, conclave) will accede to this control at this point because they power imbalance has become to evident, although with some guarantees of autonomy or bribes to justify their allegiance.

    While #1 and #2 really depend on Daniel’s efforts and timing, #3 is really a “rule by accident” outcome. Some major threat will doom the city and the current leaders will refuse to stand against it. Daniel alone stands against this threat and demands the obedience of the cities armies and adepts to help him. Not all of these armies/adepts help, but enough of them do so for Daniel to be successful. This disgraces the existing leaders who showed cowardice and abandoned their responsibilities. Those armies and adepts that helped Daniel have effectively refused their old leaders and accepted Daniel as the true leader of the city. And because Daniel saved the city, he proved that they were all right to do so. The old leaders are exiled, killed in the fighting or disgraced/forced to accept Daniel’s rule after the crisis is finished. In this scenario, the most likely crisis is the attack of some army combined with a Great Beast. An enemy army is needed as otherwise there is no need to demand the support of the old leaders and their troops. A Great Beast or similar threat is needed as it would likely throw the current leaders into despair/refusal before the fight has even begun. Although I am certain there are great beasts that destroy through “minions” or “lesser versions of themselves” like the Devourer and thus do not need an army to get this outcome.

    #4 is really the #2 or #3 route, but with the process being truncated and legitimized by the King. Realistically the King needs someone to rule Kozalin and defend that city. It is one of the two greatest cities in his realm and arguably the greatest at this point. It must be well led and well defended. Up to this point, the death of the prince has fractured the leadership and the King has lacked the practical power to enforce his leadership preference on the city. However, the King can legitimize the rule of whoever does have the power to rule the city. Honestly, this is the outcome that all the dukes competing against each other are hoping for. Each imagines themselves gaining sufficient power to be recognized as the ruler – and having the King legitimize that rule. The big advantage for #4 is that it really streamlines the consolidation aspect. Many who would oppose Daniel’s rule would instead support Daniel’s rule if Daniel ruled under the Aegis of the King. The Dukes would fall in line much faster and even the Conclave would accept the outcome with reasonable grace. The disadvantage of course is that Daniel would owe the King some measure of allegiance.

    Of course – there are also lots of paths that lead to the destruction of Kozalin or where Daniel never takes control over Kozalin. I do not pretend that the four options above are the only possibly outcomes for Kozalin. And all these paths are delayed to some extend by Daniel’s absence. #2 can progress to some extent without Daniel, but all four paths really require Daniel’s presence and active involvement/magic to proceed.

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    1. DSpring, I’d have to suggest one other option of the probably many, many other possibilities.

      5) Daniel, and the Conclave together are forced to release such devastating attacks against an equally destructive enemy army or Beast or combination of the two that Kozalin is basically reduced to a few strong points and a lot of rubble.

      If I remember correctly, the Conclave has a couple Earth elementals working on rebuilding Kozalin’s walls during some part of THRALL. Even if they succeed, it will not be enough. Kozalin needs much more than patched and rebuilt walls to turn back attackers more dangerous than the Andregi.

      Why would Gaia send anything less? The Andregi already failed. Frost giants failed before that. Gaia will need to up the ante again to stay in the game.

      The hedgehog of tough forts Daniel is planning for the docks district would be a good start, especially if somebody who knows something about overlapping fields of fire helps him to lay them out.

      However, even if Daniel builds forts big enough to house all the populations of the Docks and Trade districts, plus refugees from elsewhere in Kozalin, there are still several critical issues he will need to deal with.

      > Fill in the catacombs below Kozalin. They are a never ending incipient threat.
      > Put solid spell shields beneath the forts he builds. That may be part of the existing plan.
      > Put better offensive weapons on the forts. Probably quad autocannon and other direct fire weapons.
      > Seal off and self-contain the sewage systems of the forts. That may be part of the existing plan.
      > Seal off and self-contain the water supply systems of the forts. Probably part of existing plan.
      > Seal off and provide fresh air supply.

      Most important of all, Daniel needs to make ALL of Kozalin self-sufficient in food production. He cannot expect to be able to trade for grain in a year or two. The city’s current food supply will run out in less than a year. Some combination of seafood, fish farming, indoor farming and hunting must feed all the survivors, or they will not survive for long.

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      1. Totally agree that there is a lot Daniel can do to strengthen the defenses/survival odds of Kozalin. The real question is related to time. Given a solid month or work, pretty sure Daniel can upgrade Kozalin enough to survive the next year of Fimbulwinter and any reasonable attack short of a powerful God and/or Great Beast or massive army. Given more time, he could create a permanently sustainable city.

        Just not sure Daniel will have that type of time. Daniel is playing a larger game than the survival of Black Keep or Kozalin. Some of this is by choice, some of it by necessity. The larger game can save the lives of millions of people who live beyond Kozalin — and keep the powerful gods and great beasts from killing Daniel. So Daniel has to play the larger game which means his ability to upgrade the city is going to be limited.

        Some things are easy – deploying more rifles, AA guns, mortars, and armored skimmers. Included in this is heaters, warming cloaks, and the like. All of this has factories already in operation or nearly there. Amulets to augment troops are also near to completion. All the troops would need to be trained in these tools, but at least Daniel would not have to be the person to do this.

        Building farms, shelters — right now that takes a lot of Daniel’s time and he has not created factories to expedite this. That also assumes that the nature spirits can extend their accelerated growth powers to vastly larger farms. If it is only a question of mana, it is doable. But things are rarely that simple.

        Repairing or Upgrading the walls in any serious way would be totally time consuming as it is all work Daniel must do personally. Plus he would need to find a way to extend all his wards and protections to the wall – or perhaps incorporate the existing conclave protections. The conclave probably has enough prepared warding stones to deal with reasonable repairs, but I doubt they have so many that Daniel can totally rebuild/replace 25% of the wall, much less 100%. Either way, a lot of time. Time I doubt Daniel has.

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      2. I agree, DSpring, time is Daniel’s most precious resource.

        In addition to getting enough time to do all the things he needs to do, Daniel also has to decide what is best to do with the time he gets.

        If he spends too much time building up the defenses and food production, but fails to properly expand his offensive weapons, a Great Beast or Ancient Beast may break in and smash part or all of Kozalin.

        If he spends too much time building up both offense and defense, but fails to pursue a diplomatic opening with the Faerie Summer Court, what does he miss out on?

        Regarding the indoor farms, I don’t believe Daniel needs to try to extend the assistance of his dryad allies to every farm he and Elin create in the Docks district or Trade district…if they create any at all. Yes, the human farmers will have to work harder if there is no help from dryads. Yes, they will see fewer harvests each year.

        It still beats not having any fresh grown food at all.

        We have to remember, Varmland seems to have been a relatively rustic culture with maybe as many as ninety percent of the people working the land to feed themselves and produce enough surplus to feed the other ten percent. If that is approximately true for the rest of Midgard, there is a significant issue that will severely limit grain trading and shipping.

        No infrastructure will exist for frequent, multiple large scale grain shipments.

        From the farmer’s field to the granary to the port to the ship to the docks to the granary to the people, every step of the grain growing, moving, trading, shipping, storing and selling businesses will be scaled to handle SMALL AMOUNTS.

        If Kozalin is the ONLY surviving city of Varmland, there will probably be enough infrastructure to feed the place.

        If there are several surviving cities in Varmland, there MIGHT be enough infrastructure to feed them AND Kozalin.

        If there are other territories like Varmland in the Americas, Africa, Australia or Asia AND THEY PAY MORE FOR GRAIN, the people of Kozalin will probably starve.

        That seems like a strong reason to grow, gather or hunt a lot of their own food.

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      3. If Kozalin is the only surviving city in Varmland or even Northern Europe, it will become an extremely obvious target.

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      4. True, Oliver.

        However, given the progress of Gaia’s and Loki’s forces elsewhere, plus the continuing improvements in Black Island’s defenses, Kozalin will probably soon become one of the last strong places still standing in Europe.

        Not long after that, Kozalin might well become the last unbroken human stronghold in Europe, maybe even on all Midgard.

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  16. Some inconsistency in book 4. In chapter 1, we are told that Mara eliminated the restriction on Daniel desiring non-follower women. And in fact we saw Daniel attracted to Aphrodite and also to the vanir women. However, Daniel mentioned several times that his coven bond was preventing him from being attracted to the soup wenches.

    Possible explanations
    1) Daniel is in denial. He genuinely loves his ladies and felt no attraction to the soup wenches simply because of that fact.

    2) Author changed the plan a bit mid-write and thus is a bit inconsistent during the book

    3) Restriction that remains is limited to human women

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    1. I think Mara’s exception to the Coven Bond only applies to her. Daniel can be attracted, intellectually, to other women, but he won’t act on it. That’s my reading anyway.

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    2. DSpring, the way I read Mara’s bypassing the coven bond was it’s entirely selfish on her part, entirely subconscious on her part and entirely limited to her.

      Every other female NOT a member of the coven is still NOT attractive to Daniel.

      He will recognize and appreciate pretty women, but that’s all.

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    3. Well I though that either Mara only included herself in the woman that Daniel can feel atracted to and have sex, Elin and Cerise patched that breach or as you mentioned it is open now for any magical beign with a certain level of power. I don’t now it migth as well been a plot hole like you mentioned.

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      1. Regardless of how it happened, the modification to Daniel’s coven bond seems explicitly applied only to Mara.

        “But she basically just slipped in an exception that makes her fair game, without touching anything else.”

        There are at least two subtly different ways to look at what happened between Mara and Daniel in Gaia’s dungeon.

        1) Mara CONSCIOUSLY and DELIBERATELY used her attribute of “freedom” to selectively modify Daniel’s coven bond.

        2) Mara’s divine attribute of “freedom” UNCONSCIOUSLY and AUTOMATICALLY forced the selective modification of Daniel’s coven bond because Mara wanted that to happen.

        Option (2) seems less complicated in execution than option (1).

        Either is possible, of course, but option (2) seems more like Mara is portrayed and less vulnerable to errors of interpretation that might allow someone other than Mara to take advantage of it. We also have some reason to believe Daniel did not “see” Mara do any enchantment to make the exception happen.

        “…You say you didn’t even see her do it?”
        “I was a little distracted at the time. But no, I didn’t see a thing. With everything else that was going on I didn’t even think to wonder about it until we were halfway back to Kozalin.”

        Brown, E. William. Thrall (Daniel Black Book 4) . Kindle Edition.

        Of course, there’s no reason for us to believe Mara needs to express her attribute with words or gestures. We’ve seen her do both, smashing open the doors of the Asgard Church in Kozalin. However, it could be that simply thinking about what she wants could be enough for her attribute to activate.

        Now there seems to be nothing that would stop Mara from adding another exception to Daniel’s coven bond for yeti, another for Aphrodite, and so on, ad infinitum. No wonder Elin is ticked off.

        I’m assuming that Mara’s devious sister cannot use Mara’s divine attribute of “freedom” directly herself, although it would be interesting to consider what the two of them can accomplish cooperatively.

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  17. Gaia is going to attack Daniel “soon”. I can guarantee it.

    Logic: Odin knows that Daniel did something to her army. Odin is also feeling the pressure of the assault on Asgard. Gaia is not the most stable of goddesses in any case. So after one of her sons die (remember – Brand/Odin did something to prevent their rebirth) and she is extra emotional/vengeful feeling, all Odin has to do is let her find out that Daniel killed all her armies and Gaia will go bat-shit-crazy.

    There are good odds that she will pull out of the assault on Asgard along with a number of Great Beasts and attack Kozalin to destroy Daniel specifically. Instant chaos in the ranks of team Loki, potentially giving Odin a big tactical victory when he needs it. Not a complete game changer, but still very useful for team Odin.

    From Odin’s perspective, he looses a city (Kozalin) and gains a significant battlefield victory on the fields of Asgard. It might even throw some kind of permanent schism between Loki and Gaia which would just be a bonus.

    From Daniel’s perspective, it means a fight for survival against overwhelming odds as he battles both enraged goddess, maybe a few demigod sons and a number of great beasts. I hope he has been building up his “A” Game.

    I personally feel that Hecate “foresees” this to some extent, which is why she promised her aid when needed.

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    1. Short of a massive earthquake, I don’t think there’s much in Gaia’s arsenal that’s a serious threat to Black Island. Daniel’s new weapons, when mass-produced and equipped onto more skimmers, make him invulnerable to conventional forces. Even those sacrifice-powered shields can’t stand up to his mortars.

      Something clever, like plague-bearing vermin, would be nasty outside Black Island, but I suspect Avilla’s wards would keep out rats, mice, and insect-vectors.

      What do you think Gaia can effectively *do* to Daniel if she finds out that he fed Korak to Biter and wiped out her armies?

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      1. Well, Gaia could subscribe Daniel to “Devourer Of The Week Club” but he’d probably get pretty good at incinerating demons with that sort of continuing practice, which will only push Gaia to try something more…more.

        How about “Great Beast of the Week Club?” Leviathan this week, Cthulhu next week, etc.

        I wonder if there is some combination of magic, tentacles and raw power that might punch through all the spell shields Avilla and Cerise and Elin raised with Daniel’s matter to mana power supply backing them?

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      2. One thing to keep in mind – the god affinities are very powerful.

        Take one example. Mara’s twin sister as subterfuge — which prevented anyone in the conclave from recognizing her as a threat despite knowing a spy is in place and Mara sharing a great many obvious traits with Loki. This worked just fine on Daniel as well even though he knew Mara well (as seen in Asgard when he did not recognize her)

        Or Mara’s own affinity that wiped out part of the coven bond.

        My point is that gods play in a different league. They have powers that operate very differently than wizardry and they are not going to play to Daniel’s strengths – which is brute force physical power confrontations. And each god or goddess will bring completely different powers to the combat. So a strategy that works vs Gaia will not work vs Thor.

        Gaia herself can cause a volcano to explode under the city, open up tunnels under the city to invade, create massive disease plagues. She could fill Daniel with endless lust and render him helpless to oppose her. And this is with only the most basic understanding of her most well known affinities (earth, fertility).

        We have seen demons that can only be defeated by purification magic (plague demon), washed away (soot demon), by killing the source (devourer). Some attack by lust (incubus). Wizards have used disintegration magic, mind control, dimensional portals, soul taking, lighting, acid clouds, and summoning other critters. If demons and wizards can do this, you can bet that some gods can too.

        And that does not even tough the greater beasts. What if the city is attacked by some intangible eater of souls or some giant ooze critter immune to flame and physical blows. Daniel’s really big guns would be useless.

        Not saying Daniel does not have a chance given all his sorceries and otherworld knowledge. But just acknowledging that an assault by a major goddess and her allies would be very hard for Daniel to stop. The author keeps reiterating this for a reason. 🙂

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      3. Given all those hazards, DSpring, it’s a really good thing Daniel is not fighting them all alone, himself, yes?

        Avilla’s spell shields are the heritage of Circe. That’s who wrote some of what’s in her grimoire.

        Cerise’s spell shields are straight from Hecate, Herself.

        It will be fascinating to see how Elin’s spell shields work out.

        And all of them are powered by Daniel’s almost divine matter to mana energy sources.

        Plural.

        I wonder what Alanna will add to the mix, and we have not seen Tina/Bast add something from ancient Egypt…yet.

        Then there are the otherworldly magical defenses of Clan Nethwillin, also now powered by matter to mana.

        Too bad Daniel won’t have time to integrate all this in his own mind and enhance it.

        Or, spend the hours he should, reading everything available in the Conclave’s library, and integrating that.

        Should be fun to see what he does do, when Gaia attacks.

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      4. Dspring if I didn’t know better I would think you are rooting against Dainel with all those ideas HAHAHAH Nah jokes aside, Daniel would be well screwed if any of that came to play, the thing is that he was totally ignoring options like those before been kidnaped to Asgard and after expierencing that, well he now has a better idea that such a thing should be considered, not that he though of those specific scenarios but he said himself he was kind of understimating the scale of thing guetting comfortable with what he has come up.

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      5. Gaia herself can cause a volcano to explode under the city, open up tunnels under the city to invade, create massive disease plagues. She could fill Daniel with endless lust and render him helpless to oppose her. And this is with only the most basic understanding of her most well known affinities (earth, fertility).

        And yet she hasn’t done any of those things. One mile earthquake and lots of cannon fodder. Why? The gods are at war, and it’s a war to the knife, so why hold back at all?

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      6. Loki and Odin are fighting to the knife. The gods in general are not. It seems to me that the one key reason for the alliance between Loki and Gaia is Mara. Loki needed her for himself and Fenrir. Gaia needed the gates of Tartarus to be opened to release the Great Beasts.
        Everything else is an incidental benefit.

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      7. Don’t forget that the subtleties of the Gaia – Loki alliance produced Mara AND her internal twin sister.

        Subtleties like that just scream Promethean sneakiness, and Mara sure looks like a solution to His problem.

        Do Gaia and/or Loki see that?

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      8. Probably not Prometheus is still suspected of manipulating everything. He was the first God of wisdom after all. In Greek mythology he was the Titan of wise counsel. In the Daniel universe probably in ancient times all of the Gods would come to him for advice. “And then probably not follow all of it!”

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      9. Mara’s twin might allow for the release of Prometheus without anyone realizing it’s been done (at least not right away). Prometheus is probably carefully watched by *someone*. Any attempts to release him are likely to be opposed.

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    2. DSpring, don’t forget the ticking time bomb that is Mara PLUS Aphrodite riding into the sunset on Fenrir, heading back to Loki’s army camp to do what?

      Mara promised to liberate Aphrodite from Odin’s magic binding and Aphrodite promised to help Mara ascend.

      Was there ever a greater concentration of potential catastrophe on any of the Nine Worlds?

      Gaia may find Herself utterly distracted when Aphrodite helps Mara achieve divinity WITHOUT PERMISSION OR FURTHER MEDDLING FROM GAIA.

      There might not be time for Gaia to pull her armies and/or Great Beasts out of battle on Asgard.

      We might see an enormous divine three, four, five, maybe six-sided catfight between Mara, Aphrodite and Gaia, Loki and Gaia, Fenrir and anybody threatening Mara or Loki, Hel and “WTF are you IDIOTS doing?” or Jormungandr and “What did I DO?” etc.

      Sadly, that bit of Marx Brothers humor probably won’t happen, but it sure would be funny if it did.

      Like

      1. Colin don’t forguet to include Loki wife in that figth, and the giantess mother of his children there as well, lets make it an Battle Royal of Godly Catfigth!!!!!!!!! Heck that event migth even stop the war for a while just to expectate!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      2. “Gaia may find Herself utterly distracted when Aphrodite helps Mara achieve divinity WITHOUT PERMISSION OR FURTHER MEDDLING FROM GAIA.”

        Why? Gaia is already replacing Mara. And the long time plan is to use her up anyway. And she sent her on dangerous missions which could have killed her.

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      3. Oliver, Gaia will be annoyed, or more than annoyed, when Mara is totally free and Ascended.

        This will be especially true if the circumstances are such that Gaia thinks Mara won’t owe Her any debt for the ascension, and even more so when Mara leaves Gaia’s personal control to make a divine “life” of Her own. It’s the realization of this loss of control that will totally piss off Gaia, and even worse “insults” will arrive soon after that.

        Think beyond the moment and aftermath of Mara’s Ascension. Think about Gaia’s now dashed plans for Mara’s babies. The babies that Gaia will now have no control over at any stage of their conceptions, births and lives. Think about them not only NOT being part Andregi, but them being Daniel’s part human children. Think of them being implacably opposed to Gaia’s increasingly futile, failed attempts to murder all humans, everywhere.

        I’d also bet Mara will someday have children by someone other than Daniel.

        That’s FREEDOM, baby!

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    3. “Odin knows that Daniel did something to her army. Odin is also feeling the pressure of the assault on Asgard. Gaia is not the most stable of goddesses in any case. So after one of her sons die (remember – Brand/Odin did something to prevent their rebirth) and she is extra emotional/vengeful feeling, all Odin has to do is let her find out that Daniel killed all her armies and Gaia will go bat-shit-crazy.”

      Absolutely logical. But how? Why would she believe Odin rather than think that he is trying the rather obvious ploy of blaming the dead wizard?

      Like

      1. Odin just has to let her “find out” – there are loads of spies out there and I am sure Odin has turned some.

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    4. They weren’t fighting to the knife. By logic Gaia should have redirected the attack after the anchor was destroyed.

      I still think that her aim in using the Andregi is not the war against the Aesir.

      Like

      1. Oliver, if Gaia has aims beyond killing all the humans so that Loki can kill Odin, what could those goals be?

        Given the story by the end of EXTERMINATION, it seems that Gaia wants to kill ALL humans, not just the humans who support/anchor Odin. We know this because Hecate and Brand both describe some of the details of that Apocalyptic war, with Hecate in particular pointing out the probable dooms of Coyote in America and Ra in Egypt. She clearly suspects maybe even the gods of China will go down.

        What are Gaia’s plans for a Midgard that has no more humans on it? It seems to me she will cause some of Her Andregi to adapt both culturally and physically to take over the entire world after the Ice Age ends. She might even start the process by invading Midgard’s equatorial regions where Her dinosaurs, Andregi, goblins, trolls, hags and other faithful can survive without commanding fire.

        Hmm…do goblins use fire? Maybe they steal metal from humans and shape it into goblin weapons? Humans have plenty of metal tools and weapons that could easily be adapted for goblin use.

        Like

      2. Gaia seems a rather unreliable ally. It does not appear that she shares Loki’s goals in any significant way. However, she hates humanity and Loki is clearly using that hatred to direct her attacks at Odin’s anchors.

        To be fair, Gaia is using Loki as protective cover to allow her attacks against humanity to continue without being squashed by one of the three other pantheons. If Gaia started killing massive numbers of people in north america or china, she would probably be squashed.

        This makes for some interesting conflicts of interest. Loki generally wants a fairly short war. It helps with the fighting in asgard and keeps the most humans alive in the north — which are his future worshipers. Gaia wants a long war, primarily as she needs the Fimbulwinter to really get entrenched and to maximize the time (and destruction) all these great beasts will cause before the various pantheons will get organized to hunt the beasts down. I wonder if Gaia is deliberately dragging her feet on aiding the battle around Asgard.

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      3. Exactly. Killing all humans and helping Loki are distinct things.

        Those attacks on the cities are not really helping Loki all that much, if at all. Combat deaths go to Valhalla. The bulk of the killing is done by the Fimbulwinter, giants, felwolves and Great Beasts.

        Those andregi attacks actually look like tests. It is unclear of what. Getting her officer corps experience, demonstrate her capabilities, test out attack spells and dinosaur species under cold conditions …
        It is impossible to tell and the aims are not mutually exclusive.

        And if she actually turns loose Andregi and dinosaurs in the tropics, would ordinary humans win after a general collapse of civilization? They are designed so that coexistence is impossible. Some gods would never switch to Andregi worshippers, but she does not need all gods, just enough will do. She is aiming to trigger a world wide divine war, everybody against everybody.

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      4. There are good reasons for the attacks by Gaia’s forces to date
        * Loki had to get a the keys before he could attack Asgard. Otherwise the ward would prevent Loki’s armies from even reaching Asgard. (Done!)

        * Attacks and Fimbulwinter created a lot of chaos and severely weakened Odin’s mortal servants and allies. All these groups are pleading for assistance, which team Odin has some obligation to provide. And the attacks themselves create chaos that distracts or threatens Odin’s normal operations. (Done!)

        * Prevented Odin from marshaling his human armies and having them do something dangerous to Loki’s side, like reinforce Asgard or attack Gaia. (spoiling attacks really) (Done!)

        * Temples and priests are anchors for Odin’s pantheon Destroying as many Aisir temples and priests as possible makes it much harder for Odin’s side to bring back any of their slain gods, especially the demigods. (in Process!)

        * Prevents any of the pantheons from devoting significant resources to destroying the newly released great beasts. As the rampaging of these great beasts is contributing to all of the above, that is a good thing for team Loki (In Process!)

        And finally, the cost to Loki and his pantheon is basically nil. Gaia maybe looses a lot of troops, but honestly why should Loki care. Ending the war with crazy genocidal Gaia significantly weakened can only be a good outcome for Loki.

        Like

  18. I was putting some thought into Daniel’s power progression and realized there is a pattern.

    • Book X: Daniel first begins using a power and usage is pretty basic
    • Book X+1: Daniel refines his usage and becomes pretty effective
    • Book X+2: Daniel has mastered his usage, fully systematized it and fully leverages the power.

    Daniel has followed this progression pretty well.
    • Book 1 introduced mana generating amulets. Book 2 Daniel started building much better power stones, began using them extensively. Book 3 saw Daniel creating factory stones for power amulets and incorporate their power for the benefit of his peeps (imbue earth, fill air with mana, etc)
    • Daniel first looked at flight in book 2 with the airships, then book 3 with personal flight and by book 4 he is a total expert in flight and routinely uses very precise flying movement in combat.
    • Daniel created factory stones in book 2 and they were pretty fiddly. In book 3 he could use them in bulk pretty easily for relatively simple enchantments. By Book 4, his factories could make very complex enchantments without supervision.

    The obvious take away is that this progression will continue. My presumption is that some new power will be introduced in book 5 – what it will be is hard to guess as there are so many possibilities. I think it would be cool if Daniel started studying and understanding god aspects and how they work. But there are many many possibilities.

    However, there are powers already introduced (as X or X+1) that will likely be a focus of book 5. These include:
    • Shaping as a form of full body augmentation. Clearly introduced first in book 1, ignored in book 2 and 3, back in play in book 4 in a more enhanced form and should become a major foundation of his power in book 5 (X+2 Style). Amulets to augment his troops, his new uber enhanced body, buff for his ladies, etc.
    • Soul magic was just introduced in book 4, so I am expecting some further investigation/broader application in book 5 (X+1)
    • Daniel has had some exposure to transportation magic via the earth magic of the dark elves (book 3) and the teleportation portals of Asgard (book 4). This seems a ripe area for further (X+1 style) exploration
    • I would argue that Daniel’s earth magic has not progressed past stage X+1. At the end of the day, the sophistication Daniel has gained since book 2 has almost entirely been in the area of shaping earth more precisely, not in the broader or more complex uses of earth magic. Stage X+2 would involve new materials (super harderned stone, exotic metals), or more complex effects like continual earth effects or different types of earth based attacks.
    • Projected magic was something that Daniel first started using in Book 4. Obviously great potential for more sophisticated uses including many magical effects that cover a large area. Perhaps a quick/large scale ad-hoc modification of the defensive wards on his troops to counter a specific threat.
    • Essence magic was introduced in Book 1, ignored until Book 4 where he distilled the essence of Felwolf. The X+2 scenario could easily be Daniel finding a way to capture essence quickly – then distill it in an endlessly refilling bottle for Avilla.
    • Daniel learned a lot of spells related to capture or binding of targets from the sunspire capture rod. In the X+1 scenario, I can see Daniel starting to actively use these magics.
    • Daniel learned the Atlantian way of creating complex spells, as exemplified by his ability to factory stone magic in pieces (rings) that are cumulative in effect. I really consider this an X+1 extention of this already learned ability to do complex magic. An X+2 world would enable much more complex magical constructs.
    • Daniel learned water magic from Erin in book 2, but has only slightly leveraged it in Book 3 and 4. It is not a sorcery, and his expertise is clearly equivalent to an X scenario. But if he works with Erin, he can do very intersesting things. Water is fluid – can he incorporate that fluidity into his other magic? Totally unclear what falls under the domain of water, but in a world covered with ice and snow, there is a lot of water to play with.
    • Daniel learned how to leverage the familiar bond with Allanna in book 4 (X+1 scenario), using it to enhance his defenses/armor and as a control mechanism for the golem. The X scenario was really his pairing up with Alanna in book 3 battles.
    • Daniel is also interacting more with dryad and nymph magic – specifically teleporting between multiple bonded trees. That magic can have a lot more use cases beyond Alanna if the other nature spirits can do this as well – and carry others. This is more speculation, but I consider it an X Scenario in book 4.
    • Translation magic was something that Daniel spent a significant block of time exploring while he waited for nightfall in his “dark elf infiltration” plan. A lot of similarities with coding. I can totally see Daniel take this in extra directions in future books (X+1 and X+2) if he can figure out how to create new items quickly. Less because it is translation magic and more because it is a way of conveying complex knowledge.

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    1. Well I remembre that in Book 2 when he and Cerise were figthing the Undead Dragon he used mana directly on his body to boost his physical performance just that the strain was to mutch if it wasn’t for his healing he would have destroyed himself there, it would be nice to see him experimenting with that again, altough we know now by a fact that Daniel is not the type to go brawling around.

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    2. DSpring, how about one more level of consideration, comparing Daniel’s use of magic through the books?

      How many people he can effect directly and indirectly with his magic and his knowledge.

      It seems to me there has been a steady progression there.

      In FIMBULWINTER he could heal people he touched or create simple magical objects like warmth cloaks and give them to people. His magic shelters could house dozens or hundreds of people and did not have spells embedded in them. His magical transports can carry a few dozen people. He can temporarily enhance the melee weapons of a few friends each day. He can create mud pits for trolls to be trapped in and Grinder to directly chop them up or cook them at a short distance. His force attacks are kind of wimpy if his targets are at all tough or armored and he just does not have a long distance KABOOM. He can fight and beat groups of trolls and goblins, even kill a few ungols, but cannot drive off their army at Lanrest and is forced to flee when giants attack with a dragon.

      Clearly, Daniel’s reach is a few dozen to a few hundred people by the end of FIMBULWINTER.

      In BLACK COVEN, Daniel significantly expands the numbers of people he can effect with his magic. The matter to mana power blocks like he links to his coven mates empower his and their magic at a distance of miles from Castle Black. His structures are capable of sheltering thousands of people and have magic embedded in them to provide both heat and spell protection. His transports are enclosed, armored and heated, also equipped with light cannons. His soldiers are equipped with magical weapons that can each reach out and kill lightly protected enemies at a hundred yards or more. His light cannons have more range and better damage than that and his mortars can reach across a harbor to smash multiple ships or entire groups of enemy soldiers with a single shot.

      By the end of BLACK COVEN Daniel directly shelters several hundred people, provided shelter for many thousands of people and helped to defend the entire city of Kozalin by destroying many thousands of enemies.

      In EXTERMINATION, Daniel adds flight and airships, mass produced enchanted objects, autonomous remote radiation weapons, formally structured representative government, improved cannons, improved mortars and begins “trading” enchanted power blocks, amulets, etc. Actually, he’s buying loyalty and other considerations both internally on Black Island and externally with the Conclave.

      EXTERMINATION is all about leveraging even more devastation. Daniel is indirectly responsible for killing with his mortars more than a hundred thousand Andregi, with his radiation weapon more than five million Andregi and his empowerment gifts to the Red Conclave will continue to reap a bloody harvest of many thousands more of Kozalin’s enemies for years to come. By empowering Clan Nethwillin, Daniel also makes a big commitment on future devastation and his own soldiers become even more capable of spreading the pain.

      Ironically, THRALL does not have nearly the body count of EXTERMINATION, even with the near-nuclear detonation of the SunSpire. Note that there was no significant crater and Valhalla was damaged, not obliterated, so we have to estimate only a few kilotons of destruction. Almost everything Daniel learns is applied to his own or Mara’s personal goals, with some collateral damage.

      We find Daniel at the end of THRALL discussing tactics and strategy with Hecate and Alanna. What does that say about Daniel’s potential to impact lives at a distance from his own? Conceivably, all Midgard? He certainly impacted Asgard, though that was somewhat accidental.

      If he creates and gives to Hecate the most powerful matter to mana power supply he can imagine, maybe also a weapon or tool of similar importance, the next book ought to be quite interesting for Loki, Odin and others.

      Like

      1. Until they get desperate. What would happen if Ra and Odin cooperate and make a soul soup out of all of Ra’s captured wizards?

        Like

      2. Good one, Oliver. That’s an interesting resource. Presumably, Odin and Ra might then be able to craft some number of “ideal” wizards for Their purposes. Of course, neither god would trust the soul soup wizards, so a binding like Odin inflicted upon Aphrodite is probably going to be used to control each of them. That might also make their soul soup components recoverable when Daniel whacks them.

        Whack-A-Mole wizards, they keep coming back.

        Seems like a situation guaranteed to produce rather less than imaginative, pre-programmed magic users.

        Probably good for the magical equivalent of a dedicated denial of service attack against Daniel, but they won’t be able to react quickly or well to whatever counters he develops “on the fly”.

        On the other hand, that’s a lot of nuisance value to keep Daniel busy while the Lightbringers put together a much more sophisticated assault.

        Daniel needs a weapon that irretrievably destroys “soul soup” creatures.

        Sooner or later, he’s going to wind up creating his own version of Mjolnir, a god-killing weapon.

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      3. So, he builds a god killer. Then we have a putative Atlantean wizard who has been seen snooping around the Sunspire and is now wielding godkiller weapons. That is just not a viable strategy.

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  19. Let’s be honest with all the armed skimmers printed by his factor and the training his troops have done while Daniel’s be gone I doubt there’s a none magic force in all of varmland that could take black island. No the only real threat is the conclave and they are playing the long game not to mention the civil war they are in in there own organization when Daniel was taken. No I think attempts will be mad but nothing to worry about. My biggest worry his the lightbrings they are committed already but how much of a army will they send when they find out a atlantian has brought back and allied with an Egyptian god that has a grudge against Ra. That’s gonna blow up to full out war I think. But I dont think Daniel’s lack of forces are gonna be a problem since hes now seen the solution in Valhalla. He can just create machines to make an army of bodies and bring all his people back from the dead now.

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    1. And work with Avilla, Cerise and others to create armies of several different kinds of totally deadly golems, some of which might be infused with spirits of dead murder witches culled from the battle sites in and around Kozalin.

      Yes, Daniel now has many options to match against his many enemies.

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      1. My worst worry is that the Egyptian gods will all gang up on Daniel aswell plus we haven’t even began to talk about the fairy royal court Do the fairy’s have there own gods to if so hopefully that’s more for this new pantheon

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      2. He can also create new species. Species he can pull solders from. Think different versions of what he did to create wolfen. Foxken, Bearken, Nemean lionken, Dragonken at this point he can literally taylor make the next species to sout his needs. He doesn’t even need volunteers anymore he can grow them in tanks. Just apply death witches souls for instant assassination teems. Teems of custom made death witches and elves that are no longer afraid to go on suicide missions. Because they have a body waiting for them if they killed. A body they can perhaps ask to be customized. Maybe some of those elves would volunteer for a copy of their body with a little bit more in the underwear department snicker.

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      3. I like your ideas even more the custom made new soldiers he can come up with, he just needs to be carefull with how he guets that escense.

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      4. Yes, Daniel’s and Cerise’s ability to extract essences from different creatures, then have Daniel create a vial that produces unlimited quantities of the refined essence…that’s a serious game changer IF Black Island and Kozalin have time to take full advantage of the opportunity.

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      5. Yes, he just need to go hunting for those agical creatures and absorve what he needs, altough giving hiw mutch things have been sacrificed to Hecate by her acolytes well she migth provide with a lot of essence for their projects.

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      6. Yes, as you say, Paps, there’s a bit of a project for each of the potentially useful essences, and the more useful ones probably will require more time and risk to acquire.

        Hmm…essence of ungol might be interesting and close to hand.

        Incredibly risky to acquire, possibly even more risky to use….

        I’d have to think carefully whether there is enough value in new essences to make the time and risk worthwhile.

        Daniel has so many other, potentially more powerful options, like a really big, tough, well armed and armored flying golem with a very loyal, very capable spirit bound into it…or lots and lots of small, tough, nasty, armed and armored flying golems with remote control in many and bound spirits in some.

        Or a really powerful crewed skimmer battle tank.

        Or a matter to mana powered, force driven aerospace ship he could use to go collect some really nice resource rocks from the asteroid belt.

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      7. While I agree he can create new species, the proposal seems dubious.

        1) Daniel has issues recruiting wolfen. How will he recruit people for this far more serious transition

        2) Daniel has not demonstrated any ability to do a “reincarnate a dead soldier” thing. He can probably plant a death witch spirit into a body, but if that body dies, the spirit would be grabbed by Hel, not get automatically reused by Daniel. Daniel had to use a special device and it took time. He did not body switch when “killed”

        3) Once you get beyond basic abilities like strength, toughness, speed — it takes a fair bit of time to “learn” how to fly or use magical abilities. Look how much trouble Daniel had training people to fly his ships. And if all yo are doing is buffing physical abilities, then the change amulets Daniel was designing seem a smarter/faster outcome than body swapping.

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  20. Many people have given ideas how Daniel could successfully oppose a powerful god (Gaia, Odin, Loki, etc) or kill a great beast. However, the real problem is the pantheons of gods. Whether we are talking Asir, Gaia, Ra or Loki, we are speaking of powerful pantheons of a gods, allies, minions and enormous power. Any one could crush Daniel in less than an hour if they choose to focus their power on that purpose. As of the end of book 4, it would not even be hard despite the power boost/allies Daniel and Hecate have received so far.

    Daniel (and Hecate) already has his go to strategy in this place. Let Gaia/Loki/Odin pantheons fight each other on the fields of Asgard and leave him alone. Arguably he has (with the explosion of the Spire) attempted to pull Ra’s pantheon into the cage fight or at least heavily distract Ra’s attention.

    On a practical basis, distraction is good enough as it allows Daniel that most precious commodity of time. Time to build up his own strength. Time for Hecate to build an alliance/pantheon strong enough to stand against these enemies. Time for his enemies to kill each other.

    I doubt distraction will last long enough for Hecate/Daniel to get to their end state without open battle with at least one key members of at least one pantheon. Gaia or Ra pantheons are the mostly likely candidates for this type of open battle as neither pantheon is heavily invested in the Asgard fight.

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  21. I have been wondering about Mara does anyone other than Daniel know about Maras twin sister. It would be a bit strange if Gaia don’t know about her own daughter. I guess it is a bit more likely that Mara have told Loki about her.

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    1. Mara clearly treats the subject of her twin sister as very secret.

      Loki might have guessed there’s something going on there.

      It seems to me that Mara might believe Gaia does not know, but we have no idea whether Gaia actually knows or not.

      Then again, maybe nobody but Daniel and Mara know.

      Like

  22. I think I know how Daniel will be able to deliver on one of my favorite ideas – magic factories that can build buildings. Clearly in the series to date, building or upgrading buildings is by far the most time consuming activity for Daniel (except for new research). While not difficulty, it requires personal supervision. This limit is the #1 restriction on Daniel’s ability dramatically upgrade Kozalin or other communities.

    To make it work, you need to converge three different concepts.
    1) Your basic magic factor to conjure metal, stone, water, and all the associated enchantments (warming, anti-rust, etc).

    2) The self adjusting capability that Daniel developed to build the skimmers. This can allow the building factory to adjust to fit the available space, automatically adjust to connect to sewer lines, and otherwise adapt to local conditions.

    The above two can be used today to create a building that is a single unified artifact. But Daniel avoided this outcome because an artifact, once damaged, has all sorts of issues. It is only stable when whole. But if you add one more element, you can create the building in the exact same way that Daniel would do it himself.

    3) The magical technique that was used in the translation ring. This is basically a way of doing magical programming — or macros for those who like excel. Daniel builds this technique for a type of building by having the magic “copy” his methods, choices, decisions. He then adds the adaptive layer (#2 above) and then throws it all into a factory (#1 above). He then has a device that builds buildings – a building seed if you like. He can create dozens of factory seeds with a factory and then starting planting buildings – or gatehouses – or walls – or farm complex for minimal personal time cost. The buildings are going to be very similar, but not identical. But once perfected, the time cost for Daniel to build a hundred buildings of a type is almost the same as it would take to build just one building.

    I could easily see this type of magic to be used to build a brand new/much tougher wall around the city including gates, guard towers, and all sorts of magical enhancements. Easily see this building a hundred heated buildings, And many have demanded massive numbers of indoor farms.

    Like

    1. DSpring, you’re close, but Daniel needs at least one more breakthrough, or maybe it’s just a tweak.

      Look at the beginning of THRALL where Daniel is building a factory to create skimmers.

      “A bigger challenge was the fact that the factory had to have an open space in the middle big enough to hold the vehicle it was making, and it was hard to get enchantment spells to work over any significant distance. That was one reason that I’d come up with a new, more compact  skimmer design instead of just copying the ones I’d made by hand.”

      Brown, E. William. Thrall (Daniel Black Book 4) . Kindle Edition.

      Daniel needs to figure out how to build a factory that can create objects OUTSIDE the factory block….

      Now, this looks like a dead end or another huge, time-sucking research project.

      I’m going to suggest what might be a quicker, easier alternative.

      Instead of creating a factory that creates buildings, how about creating a factory that creates copies of the staff Daniel used when he EXPANDED Black Island? If he does that, maybe even adds structural meteoric iron framing to the enchantment, the result would be a staff any of Nethwillin’s magic users could pick up and create their own Castle Black. Red Conclave adepts could do the same.

      The staff will need to be linked to one of Daniel’s matter to mana power blocks with a very hefty feed, but that seems easy enough for him to do.

      Notice, however, the usefulness does not stop with creating copies of Castle Black.

      Daniel could give the Red Conclave one or more staves like this, with attached power blocks, and they could rebuild the defenses of Kozalin in a few days or weeks. That neatly takes a big job off Daniel’s task list AND puts the political implications squarely on Kozalin’s own wizard council, exactly where it should be.

      Then there are all the other construction products Daniel could create. How about a factory that creates objects that create fresh water, fresh air, fresh soil, etc. How about a factory that creates objects that banish a chunk of whatever drops into them? And a factory that creates magic toilets, magic garbage disposals, etc. How about a factory that creates enchanted refrigerators?

      I bet he could create about ten different factories whose various functions could be combined to create defensive walls, warm barracks, sewer systems, indoor farms, kitchens and all sorts of other devices.

      Most of these factory stones, Daniel could knock off in a few afternoons, give them to Tavrin to manage, and move on to other projects.

      Tavrin would then market these tools and products to make Nethwillin the richest, most powerful clan in Swartalf history. He could hardly do anything else, they are so valuable to Black Island, Kozalin, Varmland and Midgard.

      Instantly, the Chinese, Persian and other human embassies in Kozalin would buy, buy, buy…..

      Like

      1. I think you misunderstood my original suggestion. We are actually much more aligned than you thought. I think we have almost the same idea in fact. 🙂

        The building seed would be exactly what you describe – something comparable to the rod Daniel used to create Black Keep. I am suggesting through that the “programmed building seed” does not have to that big. In fact, it can be quite small. The factory is not making the building, it is making the building seed. In fact, for this to work, this MUST be the case. If the entire building must fit in the factory, then you are building an artifact.

        I believe the original staff would be useless to others. It simply created stone and metal – but the shape and structure was based on Daniel’s sorcery provided guidance. That is why Daniel’s involvement was essential – he had to tell the rod what to do and keep altering the instruction as necessary to build the keep. I suspect Intent controls or any of the other standard control mechanisms cannot deal with the complexity of a building. They could do a crude wall, but not a building.

        If you agree with me about why Daniel had to be engaged, then the translation magical software approach shows its value. It can substitute for Daniel’s sorcery, within obvious limits. I suspect the buildings would have to pretty standardized, but the magical software can provide that detailed guidance that I believe can only otherwise be provided by Daniel — or extremely complex and huge factory stones.

        If it works as i speculated, then anyone can “guide” the creation of a building, provided they have enough mana to interact with the rod and the translation inspired magical software. Of course, this only works if Daniel can figure out how to automatically generate the magical software, probably by learning from his actions. If Daniel has to spend weeks “coding” the software personally, it is a waste of time.

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      2. DSpring, you are correct, we do seem to be much closer to agreement than I originally thought.

        However, I suspect a magic user who was given an iron-reinforced enchanted stone “building seed” that is itself linked to the power output of the factory stone that created it WILL be capable of directing the size and shape of a building SHELL created from the seed.

        Then the magic user would need to add all the trivial bits, like the refrigerator, the kitchen stove, the hotplates, the toilets, water fountains, etc.

        Hence my suggested set of factories.

        Remember, Daniel has actually already started this process. There’s a LEGO brick factory for building internal walls.

        Now, are you thinking all those extra “trivial bits” should be part of the enchantment on the single building seed?

        If so, I think that enchantment becomes too complex. It would drive Daniel nuts.

        Much better to break down the job into separate functional objects like a factory to create toilets and a factory to create refrigerators that can be placed wherever the magic user-builder wants them.

        That takes all the decision-making out of Daniel’s hands and allows any Red Conclave wizard to build a magic castle every bit as useful as Castle Black and its indoor farms. They just won’t have dryad groves to help make the indoor growing areas extra productive. There will need to be more farmers doing more farm work.

        Of course, then there will have to be another factory stone, one that creates the matter to mana power blocks a magic user builder would need to power all the goodies in his/her new Wizard Tower.

        Like

      3. If the translation “software” solution works, then all the elements (pipes, water, heating, doors) could be included. If not, then you are right that multiple rods would be needed if anyone can use the rod or it becomes impractical if sorcery is required.

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      4. Definitely NOT impractical to sell/trade/etc. the output from multiple factories that create enchanted toilets, enchanted kitchen stoves, camping hotplates and such.

        It’s just different.

        Frankly, I’d say no amount of “enchantment coding” will ever make it practical to include enchanted toilets in the construction of an enchantment “seed” that grows into a totally complete fully furnished Wizard Tower.

        Your example of the language translation ring is actually quite appropriate as a point of comparison. If I remember THAT discussion correctly, it took the mage DECADES to create the thing.

        “Someone had spent decades crafting this thing, and it showed.”

        Brown, E. William. Extermination (Daniel Black Book 3) . Unknown. Kindle Edition.

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      5. As the sort of quick, half-measure that gets multiple jobs done “good enough” a “magic seed” that is limited to producing only the shell of a building with several floors inside, complete with warmth spells, warding spells, structural reinforcement spells and such included, seems practical to me–IF it can be done at all.

        If that means the “seed” needs a decently capable wizard or adept to guide its growth into a full Wizard Tower, I don’t see any problem with that. As long as it does not suck up any more of Daniel’s time than is required to create the factory that produces and powers the seeds, that’s a win for Daniel and for the Red Conclave as well.

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  23. Odin implied that a goddess can grant sorcery to a mage – in fact he clearly implied that that is how Hecate paid for his protection of the dark witch.

    So why does Hecate not provide sorcery to Cerise? I would assume that gods do not normally do this as it is not in their interest to empower mortals too much, but Hecate was rather desperate goddess for many decades (if not centuries) and augmenting her very few followers seems a no brainer despite this concern. So why would she not do this?

    I can only speculate that it is costly to the god or goddess to empower someone in this way. Something more than “I am tired for a few hours as my mana reserves recover. “

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    1. DSpring, if we are correct and the way a god “gifts” a sorcerer or sorceress with magic is to troll them through the Void for a while, it’s not just the divine fatigue that keeps Hecate from doing this for Cerise.

      First and foremost, the experience might just kill Hecate’s last murder witch and priestess. We don’t really know how it impacts a witch with fully organized powers to suddenly be forced to add sorcery to herself.

      Second, and almost as dangerous, the act itself might be like floating a blimp over the Superbowl with a great big “HERE I AM, COME AND GET ME” flashing lights advertisement plastered all over it. That does not seem to have been the case for Daniel, so I’m guessing Hecate might get away with it for Cerise, but Hecate Herself has commented on how She must be careful not to spend too much time dabbling in The Void and Other Worlds, or it will draw attention She does not want.

      Thirdly, what leads you to think Hecate is NOT giving magic to Cerise? The girl took down an incubus at what, thirteen? Where did she get that?

      We have not really been granted much insight into Cerise’s early years and especially not her early training. It might not be too far off to suggest we know far more about Avilla’s training and sources of inspiration.

      After all, the author does make very sure we know about Granny’s “cookbook” since early in FIMBULWINTER.

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      1. I am sure Hecate gives powers to her priestesses. But sorcery is something different and in the long run very powerful. Your theories on why Hecate does not do this might be right, but Odin traveled through the chaos when transporting Daniel to Asgard. And Aphrodite was quite easy about taking Mara into the Chaos to go full immortal. I cannot image going to Chaos is that dangerous to a god.

        Then again, Odin did mention that without his protection, it would be bad for Daniel. But that just means it requires a god or goddess to get sorcery, but says nothing of what it costs the god or goddess to do so.

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      2. True, Odin did take Daniel to Asgard through the Void via the Rainbow Bridge. Of course, we don’t know what function the Rainbow Bridge provides. Is it just a breadcrumb guide trail or does if offer some sort of protection to the less than divine, maybe even to the divine, also?

        I would not expect Mara and Aphrodite to show any concern about Aphrodite trolling Mara through the Void. Aphrodite is a goddess with significant experience, especially given some of Her conversations with Alanna, so I would not expect the Void to be much of a concern for Aphrodite.

        As for Mara, she is a demigod and she wants her divinity more than enough to ignore any potential for harm to her from the Void.

        As for Hecate giving powers to her priestesses, are you remembering something from other authors’ stories, or maybe from scientific study of mythology? I could easily believe it happens. I just don’t remember seeing mention of it in the Daniel Black series.

        What I imagine happens in Cerise’s youth is Hecate provides the girl with knowledge of spells and disciplines for self-development. Hence, she is giving Cerise opportunity and challenge to exercise and expand her own magic abilities, but not directly giving her power.

        I’m thinking Hecate has to be cautious about “helping” Cerise. If the girl does not learn how to develop her own powers she will always be dependent on the goddess.

        That’s a recipe for catastrophe in a High Priestess.

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  24. So one bit of synergy that I think Daniel hasn’t been using yet is Clan Nethwillin’s Bags of Holding. Daniel has stated before that one of his limitations is the size of equipment he can carry with him. Shouldn’t it be easy to place several full sized power stones in one of these and connect them to his equipment? Imagine if his personal shield and healing amulet were both powered by power stones weighing a ton each. He would still be limited by the thickness of his armor, and his ability to channel so much power. But for passive effects this should have a massive boost to his power. I doubt the Clan would deny him access to one, and given his penchant for learning new magics he could probably create his own bags given time.

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    1. It could be interesting creating the path for guiding power out of the bag of holding into Daniel’s enchanted weapons and armor. Is the bag a closed pocket dimension until it is opened? Is it possible to partially open it?

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  25. Try to consider all the different groups of Kozhil who use the Ghat and the Gate House to go to Black Island.

    As soon as news of Lightbringer reaches Black Island, the practice will end.

    And I have no problem with the Lighthouse. It just seems wrong to me.

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  26. Just a thought

    1) Daniel left the Field of the Sleepers highly radioactive. The radiation will likely linger in anyone who moves into the area — and move out carried in irradiated equipment, dust, etc.

    2) Brand did something with that device that makes it harder for Gaia to recovery any of her demigod children if they are slain.

    3) Odin was not bothered by the radiation around the Spire (at a distance), implying that his divine nature shields him from that damage – at least to some extent. Aphrodite apparently wanted the protection that Daniel provided, so it is not clear if she was immune and just wanted to be close — or whether even full gods suffered to some extent from radiation. But I think we can assume that powerful gods and goddesses are not seriously impaired by radiation. They are creatures of energy after all.

    Question – What is the impact of the above on Gaia’s sons? It is likely that some of them will spend significant time in the halls of the sleepers trying to figure out what is going on.

    Best Case for Gaia: really no big deal
    1) Radiation does not linger in the bodies of demigods or any possessions they keep close
    2) Radiation damage heals naturally in the bodies of demigods with only minor or insignificant mana cost

    Worst Case for Gaia: BAD
    a) Radiation does linger in the bodies of the demigods and their possessions
    b) Radiation damage is difficult to heal via the natural healing of the demigods or via Gaia’s magic. I doubt Gaia has a healing sorcery.
    c) Whatever Brand did makes thing worse and prevents Gaia herself from healing the radiation damage for her sons

    No idea whether the Best or Worst case is accurate or if there is some true state in the middle. But if we assume the bad case is accurate, it opens the possibility that one or more of her demigod sons may die a lingering, horrible death from radiation sickness and not be able to be restored by Gaia. That will likely make her insane with rage and grief as Gaia is clearly fond of her “boys” — along with a healthy dose of fear as Gaia will NOT understand what is going on. And these deaths are likely concentrated in the smartest of her sons – as they are likely going to be the ones that are sent to investigate.

    Of course, because of her healing “v-ring”, Mara will not suffer any bad effects. That would also drive Gaia nuts.

    This also opens up a possibility. Gaia might seek out the help of this Atlantian wizard (aka – Daniel) to heal her sons. After all, Odin hired him, why not Gaia. Daniel is known as an exceptional healer and easily is in the top 2-3 wizard healers in the world. Only a god with a healing aspect might do better. But given gods of healing probably do exist, I see the possibility that Gaia seeks out Daniel as low, even if her sons are dying. (because he is mortal and human — both serious negatives).

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    1. First, I thought it was hinted that Brand’s implant was somehow related to his escape plan.

      That might not have been all it could do, but where is there any hint of it messing up Gaia’s ability to heal her sons?

      Yes, there is some suggestion by Daniel in THRALL that Brand must have had some clever plan of His own to mess with Gaia’s armies, even though that seems directly contrary to Brand’s previously blase attitude toward Kozalin’s future.

      Brand’s doing a good job keeping everyone guessing about his motivations and intentions.

      As for radiation and Gaia’s sons, dinosaurs, trees, Andregi, bats, pterosaurs, etc., I assume they are tracking radioactive dirt all over Skogheim until Gaia eventually loses her temper and banishes enormous chunks of irradiated land, nearby poisoned land and anybody or anything that seems poisoned.

      Think extreme quarantine, and, yes, She probably can figure out that much on Her own. She will perhaps think it is some sort of fiendishly clever biological attack, until Her usual methods for healing that consistently fail. Not only is She going to be pissed that She cannot figure out what is happening, She will also be totally pissed at all the pissy little clean-up jobs She has to do, over and over and over and over….ARRGGGGHHH!!!

      Remember that Daniel’s mortar attack caught and thoroughly messed up one of Her sons, which She had to help reconstitute AND he is still recovering.

      That suggests to me that Gaia and Her sons have healing powers, but significantly less capable healing powers than Daniel’s.

      This makes Mara vulnerable to all sorts of suspicion if she heals too quickly and too well where Gaia or one of the smarter “boys” can easily see.

      As for Odin and Aphrodite and the SunSpire radiation, it seems likely both of them can heal themselves, but again, maybe not as well as Daniel does.

      That’s much more of a guess, since both of these gods are sneaky, devious and entirely capable of faking just about anything to keep Daniel guessing about the true extent of Their abilities.

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      1. Book 3 told us that Daniel killed one of the Gaia’s demigod sons. Gaia had to help them come back, which explains (i guess) the convalescence.

        Book 4 had a scene where Brand told Daniel that his mission was successful and that success should mean that Gaia will have a very tough time helping any of her sons come back if they die going forward.

        I am guessing that few larger creatures walk through the halls of the sleepers as the book 3 was very clear that the region was very dangerous (magically). Small critters yes, but I doubt they travel far. The radiation will spread primarily through Gaia’s peeps who move in and out of the region regularly.

        Given it will be pretty public that the sleepers are all dying — and given it is likely that any radiation deaths will be highly concentrated among the priesthood and most loyal worshipers of Gaia (who enter and leave the sleeper area and/or point on investigation). This is bound to create some serious doubts among Gaia’s worshipers, perhaps even social unrest. When you have worked for a thousand years toward a goddess given goal and that goddess clearly f—s it up and also that the goddesses most loyal are dying horrible deaths — that is going to create some doubts. Maybe enough doubts to threaten some of Gaia’s anchors.

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      2. This is bound to create some serious doubts among Gaia’s worshipers

        Doubt it. Religions thrive on tribulation, and Gaia has entirely plausible scapegoats to point towards. Consider the history of apocalyptic cults whose doomsday predictions fail: the true believers just excuse it and keep right on believing. The Andregi have been *bred* to worship Gaia. They’re not likely to have a crisis of faith.

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      3. DSpring, I’m expecting that anybody who walks into and out of the irradiated area will be at least slightly irradiated themselves, maybe heavily so.

        The slobs or dying slobs will then scatter irradiated dirt, tools, their own bodies and other junk where dinosaurs will step on it, pterosaurs will eat it, bugs and grubs will invade it, etc.

        Bats will pick up irratiated fleas and dirt from the area then drop dead someplace where small dinosaurs will eat them, drop dead later and something will eat them, drop dead later and something will eat them, etc.

        Yeah, the concentrated “fallout” will tend to stay localized to the irradiated area, but hot spots will pop up all over the place and drive Gaia crazy cleaning them up.

        I wonder if any of her “boys” have the kind of natural Earth magic that even allows them to banish what they guess is toxic dirt?

        It might be Gaia only who can actually do any effective cleanup, and She’s going to be guessing about how much to banish.

        Which will just make Her day…week…month…year….

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  27. Top 5 Personal Predictions for the next book

    Take these with a grain of salt as my ability to predict where this series is going has been poor.

    * The prince is going to be sent back to run Kozalin by Brand
    * Elin and Daniel will travel to the Summer Court — and leave with some type of useful agreement between Hecate/Daniel and a key member of that court
    * Daniel will have “some” adventure as a female Vanir – even if only a brief adventure
    * Someone from the Coyote or Chinese pantheon region will be introduced – demigod, priest, wizard or magical creature. May not be significant player, but an introduction. But enough to get some details on one of those groups
    * Daniel will begin deploying widespread body augmentations for his peeps

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    1. Addendum – I do not believe the Lightbringers will be major element of the next book. I do not believe they will stake out the Black Keep or otherwise make some immediate effort to find Daniel.

      Justification: They have enough spies to validate that Odin believes Daniel died in the explosion. So they will believe that Daniel died.

      Which means Daniel has resurrected. Which means he is a newborn infant and will recover his memories at the age of 18. They will not even consider the possibility that Daniel will resurrect as an adult.

      At some point they will become aware of their mistake and actively hunt Daniel down, but I think Daniel has a few weeks breather before that happens (beginning when he returns)

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      1. DSpring, what leads you to think the Lightbringers won’t believe Daniel might be able to cheat death/Hel?

        Some powerful wizards have “arrangements” with other-worldly powers, including demons and maybe gods.

        Daniel is certainly a powerful wizard and the Lightbringers have cause to believe that.

        Why would they assume he is resurrected when other options are possible?

        They have dealt with many Atlanteans and other magical beings and seem to have a policy of imprisoning them.

        Is that maybe because some of the sneaky, slippery, soul-sucking monsters survived what seemed like certain death?

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      2. ‘DSpring, what leads you to think the Lightbringers won’t believe Daniel might be able to cheat death/Hel?’ Well I think that asumption parts from the fact that Daniel is counting on Asgard Gods to believe as such, to guet free of detonating an nuclear plant on their soil. I mean he is counting with the Gods to believe that he is not crazy enough to detonate himself just to escape them, that even if he can somehow overcome death it will bring enough discomfort to him not to make it feasible. So if the Gods can buy that lie why won’t the Ligthbringers as well??? Even if they are doubtfull a couple of months away from the keep will help sell the lie rigth?? If he is alive why isn’t he relaxing at home haveing orgys with all his women??

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      3. Paps, don’t forget what happened to Gaia’s son, the general who was splattered in his camp outside Kozalin when Daniel smashed it with mortar explosions.

        Gaia did not “resurrect” him. She’s helping him to reconstitute his adult self.

        If the gods are “normally” reconstituting themselves after being blown to shards, how can they NOT believe the same MIGHT happen with powerful human wizards?

        If the gods are aware of all that, are the Lightbringers?

        I’m just suggesting there MIGHT be two options here.

        You make a really strong case for resurrection by birth, and if the Lightbringers believe that, they will expect Daniel to return one or more generations in the future.

        This would leave them totally unprepared for Daniel to reappear in a few weeks.

        HOWEVER, we have already discussed several reasons why Daniel MUST make his return VERY PUBLIC in Kozalin. He will be TRYING to convince the Prince’s eventual replacement that he’s “much better now” because that contract for the “land” under Castle Black depends on him NOT DYING AT ALL.

        He will be TRYING to convince the Asgard Church that his control over his two “witch” apprentices NEVER WAVERED.

        And, of course, he will be TRYING to convince all the nitwit nobles and witless wizard wannabe of Kozalin that his deadly defenses of Black Island CONTINUE to be DOOM for anyone stupid enough to challenge him on his own turf, FOR his own turf.

        Hence, the Lightbringers will soon be FORCED to consider how Daniel managed to NOT be blown to shreds in the SunSpire’s explosion.

        Let’s just say the author has created a fun and fascinating challenge for himself to resolve in Book Five.

        I’m voting for: Daniel considered the duke’s question for a moment, shrugged and replied, “Magic. Next question?”

        Of course, Ward and Steelbinder will need to hear something a little more substantial.

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      4. Of course Daniel is counting of such a things, besides it wasn’t like he was planning of going to his keep and stay hidden for years, but he can’t obviously shown that he wouldn’t care been in the blast zone of the sunsphire explosion because he already had an out, he need to make it look like surviving that explosion was in itself a gamble, cause as mutch as he need to be carefull of the ligthbringuer he needs to keep some godly interference away from him till he has enough lavarage to make it going for him too costly to any deity. We know that as soon as the church in Kozelin (if cerise hasn’t already burned it to the ground) knows of Daniel survival or return news will hit Asgard, and major suspicious of Godly proportions will fall on him, the only thing buying him time will be Loki rampage in Ragnarok.

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      5. Colin – it is really just due to the reincarnate model that Atlantians are known to use. The events at the Spire are so dramatic/overwhelming that few would assume Daniel faked his death. So if you are confident he died there, then you have 18 years.

        Of course there are other options, but I just count on them not seriously considering these options. I doubt these tricks to survive death are cheap or painless. Why use if you already have a solution, reincarnation. Atlantian mages have nothing but time.

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      6. Yeah, we just have to keep remembering that’s the Lightbringers’ point of view…probably.

        They seem to have incomplete information about Daniel, so they really don’t understand how much power he’s playing with any day at any given moment. They really don’t have any idea how many powerful toys he has already created, or how quickly he can create more and better toys.

        It’s going to be fun seeing in Book Five, I hope, the rug pulled out from under all their assumptions.

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      7. 18? Most older cultures meaning 100 years ago and back for every culture believed that the majority for an adult would be 15 to 16 years. But that’s just nitpicking on my part. And some cultures believed the majority was much younger. There are indications that the culture Daniel has found himself in believes majority is 14 years. It was hinted at in the first book.

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      8. Yeah, and “age of majority” gets further complicated by economic status and aristocracy and other factors.

        For example, “age of majority” for lower class and middle class in the Germanies in the 1500s and 1600s could be 25 to 35 years old because young men had to establish themselves on a farm or in a trade before they were allowed to marry, and their prospective brides worked in “service” jobs as maids, cooks, nannies and such, or maybe all of the above, while slowly adding textile goods and other hand made products to their dowries/hope chests.

        At the same time, “age of majority” for upper class and royalty could be MUCH younger, because their parents were all about securing important alliances, sources of income, etc. Practically any kid who survived the first few years of childhood might be promised in marriage, and they could be quite young still when the promise was converted into reality.

        If you want to read some fun descriptions of this, dig into the 100 or more books of Erik Flint’s “163X” series, the “Ring of Fire” anthologies and the “Grantville Gazette” with all their wonderful bibliographies and “state of the art” articles.

        Don’t assume the information is too “modern” for the Daniel Black series. We haven’t yet seen a lot of description about the artisans, merchants and similar classes in Kozalin. There are some interesting hints from the events in all four books, especially THRALL and the fishermen’s organizations. I suspect the author visualizes these folks’ behavior and culture as similar to what we might expect to find in 1400 AD Hamburg, not 800 AD Oslo.

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      9. Yeah, there are lots of fact and 163X transposed fact articles in the Grantville Gazette, some of which have fun ideas that could be interesting in Daniel Black’s world.

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      10. Nobility can be defined any way a society wants to define it. To point to historical England or France and declare that this must be the rule is a weak argument. This world is obviously quite different, even if some nations are similar (England, France, etc). The norse certainly defined nobility differently and this region has a very strong norse influence.

        That said, the book has made it clear that the nobility do NOT consider wizards to be peers. The conclave does not consider nobility to be peers to wizards either.

        It is certainly possible that wizards can be considered rough equals of nobles (socially, politically, raw power wise) or even superior to specific nobles. but that is not the same thing as saying wizards are automatically nobles. The book makes it absolutely clear that the nobles would not accept Daniel as the leader of the city because he is a wizard.

        I would also like to specifically counter the argument that land = nobility. It is not an unreasonable argument, but it makes no sense in the context of the book. If land ownership = nobility, then the prince would not have so casually given the land to Daniel. You do not make a noble without ceremony, oaths, or similar elaborate process — not in a land where nobility means something.

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      11. There are plenty of arguments to be made for and against Daniels being made a nobleman. But I would argue that they are ultimately all moot. The only real argument that may matter in the long run is who is left in the country in a few more months. In that scenario the only people that will be left will be the ones calling Daniel Lord or perhaps king.

        Through most of the books it’s fairly easy to see a line being drawn through Daniels interactions with the nobility and royalty. This line seems to be saying most of them are worthless arrogant a-holes. There also seems to be another line being drawn to other individuals within the society that Daniel find useful they could be used to help keep a civilization going. Ultimately it’s the latter group whose opinion truly matter and they are the ones calling him lord wizard. This could morph later to be “your majesty”. After all who gives a flying F about the opinions of a bunch of unneeded nobility when they could simply be exterminated. I am starting to think that that’s actually the direction the books are going in regards to the nobility. They’ve already started hoarding food in order to starve out their rivals. They will inevitably take a few more actions that will put them on Daniel’s bad side. After Daniel gets back and finds out what they have been up to he might give them reason to begin calling him Daniel the bloody black.

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      12. Now THAT makes total sense.

        Of course, the whole nobility schtick becomes even more moot when most of the aristocracy is monster poop and Daniel’s entire coven has ascended to divine status.

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    2. Another Addendum – We left book 4 with Daniel and Hecate and Alanna beginning to discuss who among those calling on Hecate for aid they should help. We also left with Daniel concerned about going home too soon.

      This leads me to believe that Daniel will stop briefly (and secretly) at the keep to drop off the apple dryads and then book 5 will mostly reflect stories of Daniel “on the road” operating publicly as Hecate’s champion, although with his personal identity hidden in some way. Now that Ragnarok has started, it is now safe to operate more publicly, provided he does not trigger Lightbringer assaults.

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      1. But Daniel main attraction is the gigantic fortress respectively to ability to build it and the alliances he brings? I can see him being on the road, but alone?

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      2. “But Daniel main attraction is the gigantic fortress respectively to ability to build it and the alliances he brings? I can see him being on the road, but alone?”

        Since the events in THRALL, we can see that Daniel and Alanna, together, are quite powerful. Maybe not quite as powerful as the resources of and at Castle Black, but still rather significant.

        We also need to remember that in the first few chapters of THRALL Daniel busied himself providing all sorts of tools and power supplies to his coven and allies. That might well have been the author preparing Daniel and Castle Black for a significant period of separation, possibly more than what we saw between the covers of THRALL.

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      3. Reasonable point, but I would argue that the keep is in no serious danger today (without Daniel) and also that Daniel is Hecate’s Champion – and probably her most powerful ally as well. Given Hecate is working hard (based on the exhaustion and injuries she is always described as having when she appears to Daniel), Hecate really needs the help.

        Daniel cannot invite his known allies along if he is trying to hide his identity – which he planned on doing for the next month or so. It is also not wise to publicly advertise his allegiance to Hecate if he can avoid it. This does not mean that he cannot be introduce to new allies (or potential coven mates) and he will have Alanna in any case.

        However, once that period of hiding is over, I expect his coven mates to accompany him again on his trips, although hiding his allegiance to Hecate is still a priority as long as that can be sustained. At some point though, everything will become known and Hecate/Daniel will throw down the Gauntlet and dare the other powers to mess with them. That point is not now.

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      4. What DSpring said, plus, Cerise, Avilla and Elin need to spend some serious study and practice time and effort bringing their magical threat level up to something approaching Daniel’s.

        Notice I didn’t mention Tina. Combat seems to be sort of unlikely for her, unless some idiot pushes her into a corner or threatens Baby Bast somehow…yeah, difficult to imagine that, but She is supposed to have something like a few months of vulnerability.

        It does seems likely to me that the author will eventually entertain us with a scene where Teen Bast or even Tina herself explodes into 4×4 Tiger Goddess Super Shredder mode and paints the walls worse than Cerise ever did.

        How else are we going to have the role reversal scene afterward, where Cerise leads a very messy Tina off to the showers, scolding her for splashing blood and gore all over Avilla’s clean and tidy dining room floor?

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  28. To the Patreon Users. Does it look like we will get a book 5 in 2019?
    From the few times the author answered questions in these threads, it looks like he already has a lot of material for book 5 down. So is it possible for us to get a December 2019 release of Daniel Black? Or is it going to be a December 2019 release for Space Marine Princess?

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  29. I haven’t read this thread in months, but I got something that I can’t recall being discussed when I regularly read every comment.

    Daniel Black is nobility. He has a coat of arms, he has loyal fighting men in service to him, he was given land directly from the crown in exchange for help to defend the crown / crown’s citizens, people call him lord, and he charges taxes. If that isn’t nobility, I don’t know what is.

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    1. Kervyn, I don’t remember anybody in the stories having granted Daniel any noble rank.

      Have you ever heard or read about “quarterings” of nobility?

      https://wikivisually.com/wiki/Quartering_(heraldry)

      Aristocracy in Varmland is about as ancient as in “our” Europe so the noble families have recognized ranks, acknowledged awards and other trinkets just like “Order of the Garter” and such. That’s probably what defines the nobles of Varmland, although success in battle might also and Daniel certainly has that.

      However, “Lord Wizard Daniel Black” could have as much as one “quartering” of nobility, in a land with more than a thousand years of many families with many quarterings. He might even have only zero “quarterings” if heraldry starts counting quarters at none.

      He has no past.

      His “nobility” is nothing more than he can seize — of course, that’s pretty much how all “noble” families begin.

      On the other hand, imagine what the quartering for his kids might be.

      When Bast chooses to present Herself as Erika in full heraldry She could have one half of Daniel’s lightning bolt and one half female lion rampant crowned in glory divine.

      Daniel’s and Cerise’s kids could be one half lightning bolt on black and one half sickle moon on black, crossed athames below and Hecate’s High Priestess circlet above.

      Daniel’s and Mara’s kids could be one half lighting bolt on black and one half divine fire with bar sinister for a recognized bastard.

      Daniel’s and Elin’s kids could be one half lightning bolt on black and one half blue undine rampant on green waves.

      Daniel’s and Avilla’s kids could be one half lightning bolt on black and one half gingerbread ninja golem on gold.

      All sorts of fun possibilities!

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      1. Well @Colin aren’t we jumping the gun here asuming that he and Mara will be having kids?? I mean I like the firey redhead as anyone else, but so far their alliagnces don’t make that posible unless is a kind of political union, or in case Loki side lose and she guets captured, he can ask for her as his reward from previous works done in favor of the Highfather.

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      2. Um…Paps? Think about that “his reward” part and her divine attribute of “freedom”.

        Whatever happens between Mara and Daniel will be a consequence of her decisions, not anybody else.

        With Aphrodite and Mara clearly heading off on Fenrir to commit all sorts of divine magical mayhem we can probably expect Loki and Odin both to soon be sporting that infamous “deer in the headlights” facial expression any time now.

        “She did WHAT?”

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      3. HAHAHAHA, I don’t know Gods and mortal child bearing tends to come with a lot of extra drama, and Doom. And in fact Daniel has what 2 really willing wifes practically dictating they have children on their own really soon, I don’t think Cerise and Avilla will be happy to know that an upstar came and stole that seed from under their nose you know what I mean???

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    2. Well I don’t know mutch about the issue but what Daniel has at best can be considered an Knighthood and not even that because he hasn’t been otorged any tittle, not has he swore fielity to any kingdomg, king, land or as such. If he could explain his origins to have a nobility source he migth guet away with it but so far I don’t think we can consider him a Noble yet, unless someone gives the tittle to him.

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      1. There is also the need for a tittle as well, the tittle will set your level in noble society, if owning something made you a noble by default then any succesfull merchant would think himself a noble.

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      2. Depending on the country or continent many merchants did consider themselves lords. That’s where the whole concept of a merchant Lord comes from.

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      3. I see, I dodn’t know enough about the subject to fully understand that, but a Merchant Lord could consider himself a noble with connection to Royalty or hineret a tittle??? In the same subject then can we actually consider Daniel a noble now??? It is indeed an interesting question that Kevyn arised.

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      4. The thing about calling Daniel a noble is that we have to call him a noble in the context of the society of the world and continent in which he is a part of. The already established nobility of that world and its European continent will say no. The royalty however has already said yes so two has the populace who are calling him lord wizard. The real question now is does he have enough military backing to call himself a Lord and tell everyone else to kiss his Ass.

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      5. Well the only thing his army is lacking rigth now is number, cause they migth be the best outfitted force in the land so far. If only he could boost their mumbers safetly for it. I am telling you he should go around town hunting all those street cats without an owner and experiment on them making them magical in some way, to use as troops or acaloytes for Bast.

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      6. DaShoota, why do you believe the royalty have declared Daniel noble?

        I don’t remember seeing that anywhere.

        On the other hand, there are all sorts of hints that Daniel can quickly earn the equivalent of high rank by making nice with the Red Conclave where he has been promised, by Ward if I remember correctly, that at the rate Daniel’s magical abilities are progressing he will soon be a High Adept.

        We need to consider carefully whether Daniel needs or even wants to be considered “noble”.

        Yes, in FIMBULWINTER and BLACK COVEN there were good and sufficient reasons for him and Avilla and Cerise to “create” the “Lord Wizard Daniel Black” but notice they are all magic users, in a world where magic is real and there are royally recognized organizations of magic users.

        How do we know if there is system of wizardly ranks parallel to the aristocratic ranks? It sure seems like there are ranks inside the Red Conclave.

        Maybe that royal land grant that allows Black Island somehow recognizes and parses Daniel’s magical rank?

        It would be smart for the royals to do so, given some wizards’ proclivity for significantly outliving mere mortal royalty.

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      7. I never said that the Royals declared him nobility I said they granted him land. Depending on the type of feudal society the author used as a base for the nation Daniel is in that can substitute for royalty declaring someone nobility. Also under the same circumstances royalty is not required for someone to be declared nobility. A feudal lord can gain title through force of arms and land in societies older than the Victorian age or the Elizabethan. Whether or not he is nobility or whether or not he even requires royalty to declare him so depends on the society in which he is currently living. He can gain nobility or even royalty by having those he rules over simply call him that kind of like everyone is calling him lord wizard now. Most of the people on this post seem to be stuck with the notion that royalty declaring somebody nobility or a grand Sarah Moni is required for somebody to become nobility that’s actually only a very recent phenomenon. Through most of feudal history it was not required. Through most of the futile. The most of that was required was having somebody’s name placed on a deed of land that gave them authority over other people vassals service etc. he’ll win the US was founded which was in 1776 that the declaration of independence was declared Sarah Moni and royal declaration was not required to become nobility. All that was required was your name on a title of land with service and vassals that you ruled over. Most royalty did not bother to look around for the many hundreds of different lesser nobles living in their country to even familiarize themselves with them.

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      8. Sorry, DaShoota, we’re just not going to agree about that.

        Ceremonies of knighthood are quite old, going back before 1100 AD.

        Grants of land, villages and such could be included with a knighthood, or not. There were reasons for both situations, quite like Prince Caspar’s supposed reasons for granting Daniel a chunk of river bottom.

        The sort of aristocracy described in Varmland, Kozalin and environs seems to me to be somewhere between 1100 AD and maybe 1400 AD in terms of sophistication and ceremony, maybe older, but definitely more advanced than the ancient era when a strong right arm and a few dozen bully boys were enough to carve out a holding.

        It’s also quite likely that we are raising a silly fuss about nothing.

        Daniel is a magic user, and a powerful one at that.

        There is a totally separate set of ranks and organization associated with magic users in Varmland. It’s mentioned over and over again in regards to members of the Conclave and other magic users.

        Not only does Daniel NOT qualify for the landed aristocracy, he clearly DOES belong in the magic users’ hierarchy.

        The general term “Lord Wizard” is very likely NOT the same as “Lord” in terms of aristocracy, but IS worth respect from SMART aristocrats capable of understanding the value of a one man siege train.

        That would be something like one in a thousand nobles, eh?

        On a good day.

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      9. I would actually agree with you except for one major point in Daniel’s case. There are many titles used for the wizards throughout the books. But as I read it I don’t see any other wizard referred to as lord wizard. If you do and I simply missed it please point it out to me.

        On a side note you should check to see how many nobility and noble families just spontaneously came into existence between 1600 and 1720 in Europe. Most in countries where the royalty did not keep track of them or in countries that did not have a set royal family such as the Germany’s. Most of the nobles in that area or those countries could technically consider themselves separate countries.

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      10. DaShoota, I’d also point to another “track” for “joining” the nobility from something like the 1300s forward, probably earlier, also.

        Have you ever heard of somebody purchasing a “patent of nobility”? Of course, “purchase” had all sorts of interpretations. Some families, especially in more recent times, simply paid a huge chunk of money to be made peers. Others would have been much more in the vein of military service.

        Here’s one example, the old Spanish “hidalgo”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidalgo_(nobility)

        Notice that for some of them, their rights of nobility were a consequence of military service, and they did not have land rights at all. Others had land in the New World, by right of conquest.

        I could easily imagine lots of both happening in Varmland.

        Notice also the tenuous links back to the Visigoth Kingdom of Toledo, another aspect we could imagine fitting Varmland, though the ancestor kingdoms would have been Viking and Norman.

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      11. Whether Daniel is “considered” a noble is up to the author.

        Can we agree that there does not seem to be any place in the stories where Daniel is explicitly granted nobility?

        I don’t remember any such moment.

        Varmland seems to have a peerage somewhat like continental Europe’s from about the 1200s, despite having experienced the same approximate number of years of history as we have since the end of “their” Roman Era. Maybe the centuries of war between Asgardians and Olympians stunted cultural growth and elaborations?

        They might still be in the “rough” heraldic practices of late Vikings or Normans when winning arms of nobility could be done with a strong sword arm and a good head for local politics. In that case, Daniel does seem to qualify, so long as being a wizard does not route him into some totally separate rank system for magic users–which we have seen strong hints of.

        We don’t really know that Varmland social mores require a ceremony of knighthood.

        We do know that Daniel’s own people consider him powerful enough to address as “Lord” or “Lord Wizard” and that seems like another strong hint.

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      12. “I thought owning land given by the crown makes one a default noble.”

        Probably not, although we cannot be certain what happens in Varmland.

        There’s a reason for the word “ennobled” in English — https://www.thefreedictionary.com/ennobled

        You’ve seen the word “knighted” used in all sorts of books, probably some games, also.

        There’s a special ceremony of knighthood, the “accolade”, which we have not yet seen in the Daniel Black series.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accolade

        Plus, we don’t actually know Daniel “owns” any land.

        It could be the Prince only gave Daniel the USE of the land, with a contract that does not include Daniel’s heirs.

        Remember the “cheap trick” the Prince pulled on Daniel? Giving him “land” under a really big river?

        The possible flip side of that “cheap trick” is the Prince expects his royal family will receive that land back, with all Daniel’s “improvements” when Daniel dies, whether in combat or old age.

        Now, the Prince may guess Daniel will live a very long time, like some powerful wizards have done. Given how well Daniel has already defended Kozalin, that’s a win for the royal family.

        Then again, it is Ragnarok, so Daniel and the Prince and Kozalin could all be dust next week Tuesday. C’est la guerre.

        Little does he know that Daniel plans not to die for a very long time.

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      13. In the last 500 years to modern times no big fancy saerimonie and some form of historical record is required. 5 to 6 centuries before that yes receiving land from royalty would work. A few centuries before that just showing up in an area calling yourself a Lord with enough physical force and military might to back it up would’ve been enough. No technically a Lord does not have to swear filthy to a king. There is what’s called a free holding Lord who swear filthy to no one but them selves.

        Dark age, middle-age, medieval age, renaissance, Victorian age they all had differing opinions and concepts on what is required for someone to be a Lord.

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      14. swear filthy to a king

        Swearing filthy to a king is likely to get one thrown in a dungeon, or even beheaded. I’d think swearing fealty would be safer:-).

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  30. What is the story with Brand. Re-reading the book, I am beginning to think that Brand is playing his own game. Perhaps even a game where he works with several sides in this conflict.

    First, what we know
    • His father is the Aesir god of assassins
    • He is several hundred years old
    • He has been trained as a general for most of that time

    What we do not know
    • His affinities

    Behavior that is questionable
    1) Brand talked up Daniel to Odin, thereby getting Daniel assigned to the Spire.
    2) Brand did NOT mention to Odin Daniel creation and use of mortars. This is despite the fact that they are an ideal weapon against Hel’s undead and the fact that Brand must know that Daniel can create these tools quickly.
    3) Brand spoke to Daniel, encouraging him to make his keep a refuge for humans and encouraged him to have more women there to improve the odds of humanity surviving
    4) Brand argued against the plan to secure Daniel’s coven mates to guarantee Daniel’s loyalty. Maybe this was sincere or maybe he was trying to keep Odin from getting to much control over Daniel.
    5) Brand knew of the events with the dwarves/rescue of the dark elves. Most likely that comes from Odin’s intelligence operation, but what if that knowledge came from some other source.

    Possible paranoid theories
    • Brand is setting contingencies in case the war goes badly. He is making sure there is a refuge for humans in the north and that he is on good terms with Daniel. It gives him an option to survive if the war is lost.
    • Brand is trying to get the powerful gods of his pantheon (both Loki’s side and Odin’s side) to kill each other off. After all, that is what the prophecies of Ragnarok say – all the big bad gods will die. If true, then you can easily make an argument that Brand deliberately/subtly encouraged Odin to recruit Daniel to fix the Spire, specifically so that Brand could get Daniel into the city with only modest oversight. It is pretty obvious that Mara (the unraveller) will have to be in Asgard to free Fenris. Daniel is a known ally of Mara and one who is quite a powerful wizard with no love for Odin. This could be Brand’s way to make it more likely that Mara succeeds – and thus Ragnarok reaches its final conclusion. This also explains why he did not share the info about the mortars. Mortars could tip the odds too much in Odin’s favor and Brand (in this paranoid scenario) needs to sides to be as equal as possible.
    • Brand’s mother could easily be an Olympian and imbued him (as a child) with “less than perfect” loyalty to Odin. A lot of Olympian demigods were taken as concubines and I could easily see them being used to breed new demigods, especially if having demigod children imposes a significant cost on the god mother (as book 4 states is true)
    • Brand could be a supporter of Loki. I cannot rule it out. Brand has to be competent to maintain his status (and thus value as a spy), so hard to rule him out as a spy. The only thing Brand did that really hurt team Loki is his mission against Gaia – and arguably it is in Loki’s interest for Gaia to be badly weakened in this conflict – if not killed. It does not feel right, but it is possible.

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    1. DSpring, I like and agree with the “contingency” argument as you present it for Brand.

      That actually puts a different twist on the discussion about Brand describing to Daniel in THRALL what will happen to Avilla, Tina and Cerise if Daniel does not produce SunSpire results faster.

      Maybe Brand is not just a stone cold monster. Maybe he is deliberately putting Daniel into the fire, to better prepare him for creating and defending the refuge Brand hopes might happen at Castle Black.

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    2. Dspring I like how paranoid your theory can be but I am just going to be Devil advocate with the one refering to Mara, altough if you are rigth and Brand is playing for the other team that measure would be desperate enough and well outside of common thinking to work as an great secret tactic. But it could be just as well that Brand was using Daniel as bait to capture Mara, remember that not manny are aware of Mara sister mutch less her divinity, so that migth have been a misscalculation on his plan to capture her. Rigth now Mara has shown to be Loki joker card in this war, the great unexpected resource causing more problems and setbacks to enemys that anyone though she was worth, it would be understandable if One eyed or Brand plan on guetting read of such an unexpected asset.

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  31. OH SHIT!
    High Adept Ward (that is the old guy right?) is an Atlantean. Remember when Daniel offered him to carry back the clock a few decades? He said he already got measures in place to deal with that?

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    1. I was always partial to having Ward be the Runesage and Steelbinder be the Atlantean. It explains why Steelbinder goes to such extent to hide the flavor of his magic. I pictured the two as old allies.

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      1. I’m still partial to the idea there is a secret stash of Atlantean artifacts somewhere in the Conclave’s tower.

        Maybe there are also some research documents on Atlantean magic and a general familiarity with the “flavor” of Atlantean magic among experienced, high level wizards of Midgard.

        It would be cool if Ward or Steelbinder or both were eventually revealed as resurrected Atlanteans.

        I’d be just as happy if they were well-educated contemporary human wizards.

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      2. If I were Daniel and I found out one of them was an Atlantean I would keep them at an arms length and be very cautious around them. After all from what he’s been able to ascertain about Atlantean’s they were mostly assholes.

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      3. One just doesn’t want to mees with the guys that created a prison/torture devices for Godly beigns, heck they even slaved their powers away from them, no wonder all those Gods got toguether to linch them.

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      4. Paps, don’t forget that some of the “gods” whose spirits were locked in the Sun Spire were monsters from before the age of conscious thought.

        I could make an argument the Atlanteans’ seeming harshness was a consequence of the catastrophic consequences of failing to deal with the random devastation of monsters with godly powers, as well as the more deliberate destruction from gods with monstrous powers.

        Plus, we have to remember that the spirit traps in the Sun Spire are necessary because in ancient times there was no effective way to utterly, permanently destroy a god or great beast. If the ancient Atlanteans could have permanently got rid of a particularly obnoxious god, they might well have rather done that, instead of accepting the permanent hazard of all their prison inmates eventually escaping to raise havoc again.

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      5. Yes some of those Gods where the concept though of a beast or animal, but Daniel himself mentioned that they didn’t need to put torture mechanics in there, they could have as well put them to sleep or at least in a pleacent dream state. Instead they choose to have them trapped in their own personal hells, for what ever reason that was. I am not saying some of the guys they put there didn’t deserved it, but really a lot of those Gods became even worse given the conditions they where trapped in.

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      6. Ooh–good point DaShoota, and perhaps equally interesting, what if there were a few Atlanteans locked up in those spirit traps inside the Sun Spire?

        Of course, they might all be crazy more than ten thousand years since their incarceration began….

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      7. Yeah, I could easily see Daniel treating suspected Atlanteans as if they might carry a pocket full of unexploded ordnance wherever they go.

        On the other hand, he seems to have established a sort of mutually respectful relationship with both Ward and Steelbinder, sort of “good cop, bad cop” in a Hogwarts for seriously, deadly real sense.

        You can sort of see hints of Ward posing as the approachable, friendly mentor, while Steelbinder is ever so cautiously putting himself in the position of teacher/master magic user.

        It’s been heavily hinted at that Daniel could easily rise to full adept very quickly, and High Adept soon after that.

        What has not yet been clarified, but you can almost see it coming, is that there will be training, study and tests.

        Lots of tests….

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      8. Of course there will be tests. There are always test. Test that give the tester the most amounts of information about the one being tested. And how the one does what it is they’re being tested to do.

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      9. “I could make an argument the Atlanteans’ seeming harshness was a consequence of the catastrophic consequences of failing to deal with the random devastation of monsters with godly powers, as well as the more deliberate destruction from gods with monstrous powers.

        Plus, we have to remember that the spirit traps in the Sun Spire are necessary because in ancient times there was no effective way to utterly, permanently destroy a god or great beast. If the ancient Atlanteans could have permanently got rid of a particularly obnoxious god, they might well have rather done that, instead of accepting the permanent hazard of all their prison inmates eventually escaping to raise havoc again.”

        Have to disagree with the above. I just do not see the Atlantean’s actions as anything but cruel. You can argue that some of those imprisoned were horrible monsters or evil gods, but the book makes clear that many of them were not. The prisoner Daniel questioned was a riddle spinner who sounded fairly benign. The descriptions of the Great Beasts was clear that many were just godlike animals, dangerous to approach perhaps, but not evil.

        In any case, the real cruelty was not in the imprisonment, but in how they choose to imprison their victims. They deliberately set up the process to torture the prisoners – cause them pain, emotionally traumatize them and leave them stuck in completely isolation while doing so.

        I doubt the Atlanteans were all horrible people, but they were very ambitious people whose power clearly led to some really bad behavior.

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    2. Umm…Kervyn, why would High Adept Ward’s “arrangement” have to be Atlantean?

      Sure, it COULD be. Maybe even should be, given the circumstances.

      However, High Adept Ward might have a deal with a god, or a demon.

      Hecate probably isn’t the only deity in dire straits on Midgard.

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      1. Granny (book 1) stole the bodies of young women (soul transfer). Atlanteans reincarnated. Ghosts can be put in soul empty bodies (or animals). Gods and demons can make deals. That is just the obvious stuff that is mentioned in the book.

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      2. DSpring, thanks for the reminder about Granny and her body stealing…habit.

        That shoots a few holes in the idea Daniel MUST resurrect as a baby.

        Of course, we then must wonder whether Atlanteans were capable of the body stealing transition.

        I bet Alanna could tell us that, if the opportunity arises.

        Plus, of course, there’s the complication that Daniel WANTS all sorts of gods and people to think he is dead…except the ones he wants NOT to think he is dead.

        Or soon will want to NOT think he was dead.

        Yes, the author seems to have painted quite the logic pretzel at the end of THRALL.

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      3. The author is a bit inconsistent. In book 1, granny stole bodies (soul swapping), but when Daniel proposed this in book 4, Alanna and Aphrodite were both shocked with this idea.

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      4. Well, we have to believe Granny was being REALLY SNEAKY about her soul-swapping and body-stealing.

        That’s why I’m not necessarily convinced the Atlanteans can do this.

        It might be Granny’s own invention.

        On the other hand, Daniel seems to be leveraging his exposure to Atlantean soul traps for the inspiration for his Hail Mary escape plan.

        Maybe Alanna knows about Atlantean soul-swapping and body-stealing, but considers it really advanced magic?

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      5. I don’t remember Alanna or Aphrodite being shocked at the idea of body-swapping, but my memory is often weird. Assuming they were, maybe it wasn’t the idea itself, but rather that they thought it was too evil a notion to contemplate? Though given the general moral tenor of the societies described, that doesn’t seem too likely.

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    3. If he were a normal Atlantean, why couldn’t he get younger? That sounds very much like a deal with an external provider, who put in a clause against delays on making good on the deal.

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      1. Kervyn, you have a good question. If Ward is an Atlantean, there’s no reason for him to avoid Daniel’s healing magic. Ward should be able to resurrect just as efficiently if he ages naturally for another ten years, or more slowly for another eighty years.

        Now, he MIGHT be just as happy to resurrect like an Atlantean if he anticipates earning a fresh, young and healthy body instead of continuing significantly longer with his cranky old carcass.

        Daniel has not really made it clear that healing magic would get rid of almost all the decrepitude of old age, along with extending Ward’s life.

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      2. Probably because the author has not yet decided what to do with this snippet of mystery, and wants to leave as much room as possible for fun opportunities.

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      3. Other than terning into a semi Devine being? I don’t think anyone in that world ever solved aging. After all in one of the books the fairy stated that most wizards do succumb to aging.

        That might have been another reason that the Gods attacked the Atlanteans. Because they had started research on immortality with all of their captured subjects as guinea pigs.

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  32. One of the contradictions in the series is that Daniel absolutely considered himself a defender of humanity, but humans themselves are nothing more that people to protect and/or political annoyances and/or less dangerous minions of other powers. All of Daniel’s most valuable allies are non-humans. All his key leaders are non-humans with the exception of the one person who is his expeditionary military leader (aka – one of the most junior of the current leaders). His most valuable troops are non-humans. Even the one human member of his coven is now a mixed cat-human hybrid. The relationship of humans to Daniel is starting to look a lot like the relationship of a powerful noble to his peasants. If not for the endless resources Daniel commands, the relationships could easily descend to Noble to Serf. After all, with endless resources, there is little cost to Daniel to be gracious.

    Not that Daniel has done a lot to strengthen his humans with better weapons, easier wolfen conversions, to his recent research in magical augmentation amulets. But it does not change the fundamental trajectory that humans get less and less important to Daniel’s plans with each book while magical non-human races become his go-to for any problem.

    The only thing I can thing of that might change this trajectory is if Daniel can magically augment humans to become “wizards”. Ie – if essence can create wolfen and amulets can make stronger humans and apples can make demigods, can Daniel create an amulet to that creates a powerful magical talent in a human that currently lacks that talent? And can other magic accelerate training for that person so they can be a fairly skilled wizardly adept in months rather than decades? If the answer to both is yes, then I can see Daniel remaking humanity into a powerful magical race.

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    1. Hmm…I know that you are hinting at something interesting there, but I lack the words to convey. Well since we are in a magical land it would lose all purpose to the adventure if Daniel story focused on the most mundane aspects of it, I mean the humans, we can even debate if even Wizards or any magic wielding individual can actually been considered human and not a offspring of human mutation that allows them to actually interact with mana, but obviously thats not the case. Besides, If I have it rigth, the group with more numbers under Daniel is still the humans, yes the Wolfen, Dark Elves, Satyr, and all the plant ladys that migrated to the island make an interesting set of powers but they are only few, Daniel real power comes from the number of humans armed with magical weapons that bring hell to the monsters that asault his island. My point is that, even though the story focus heavely in his magical and no human interactions, Daniel base of power so far is still been the large number of humans under his command compared with the other races. In fact it seems that as a group under him Humans will always be the bigguer one.

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      1. Paps, we might find that Daniel’s dark elf allies undergo a sudden population expansion, both in terms of new babies and new immigrants, after Daniel powers up their Black Island Svartalf habitat for them with a matter to mana stone or two and also provides the necessary flesh sorcery to enable a higher birth rate.

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      2. We should also not forget the possibilities inherent in his transhuman research. He is already manufacturing for himself a super human transhuman magical body. For small groups of humans under his command the benefits of that research cannot be overestimated.

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      3. Yes Dark Elves are about to have a baby booming with Daniel help but given how long they live and the time they take to reach fully maturity, humanity migth be expanding 4 or 3 times more than them.

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      4. Good point, Paps. Even with population expansion, Nethwillin won’t grow in numbers anywhere near as quickly as Daniel’s human followers will in the same period of time, UNLESS, more Dark Elves migrate to Black Island and are allowed to join Clan Nethwillin, maybe even add another allied clan or two besides Nethwillin.

        Remember, it’s relatively quick and easy for Daniel to take a few days and create an entire new habitat already configured for a couple hundred more Dark Elves.

        It will take longer…MUCH longer to complete the negotiations.

        “Grumble, whine, frustrating, nitpicking paranoid elves!”

        Betcha Daniel fobs THAT job off on Sefwin’s dad!

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      5. You know I actually never considered that option, you are rigth that migth boost their numbers but will increase a whole new debacle in Daniel walls, I mean they already framed on clan on Gaia eyes, so they migth not want to go near those guys, besides by how mutch clan Nethwillin faught in the negotiations, the other clans will be doing the same or even figth harder, I am pretty sure they will want to stablish some sort of ranking between Dark Elves Clans. Either way it would be interesting to see how tha could play a role in the story.

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      6. Yeah, and we also have to remember that some other Dark Elf clan may be involved in slave trading.

        Definitely not a way to ingratiate themselves with Daniel, probably not with Clan Nethwillin, either.

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      7. That depends on whether or not Daniels fairies can figure out a way for him to accelerate time inside the elves habitat.

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      8. Well if they manage that, there will be a real need to learn how to cope withg those time dilation I mean is great to use it as the chamber in Dragon Ball, but what happens when one time perception changed so mutch in there that one acts either to slow or detached for contemporany time flow???

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      9. I don’t see how that would be possible? After all it’s not affecting the speed of the person. Or time perceptions of the person. It’s actually affecting time itself.

        When they go in and time is speeding up their speed shouldn’t be affected. It will instead affect all time in the habitats. I didn’t make the connection to DB but that is a good analogy.

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      10. Well let me see if I can explain this coherently. There is a Japanese folklore about a fisherman that guets invited to the dragon city by a turtle (?) And he guets to chill there for a while but given the time difference going there and outside is quite big so while he only spended like a couples of weeks in the city, 500 years went off outside. If Daniel creates those habitats with time dilation in the keep then they will need to be aware of such a danger. Even if it works in inverse. Those times dilation will be dangerous to have in such a closed environment.

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