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…

5,864 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. 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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      26. “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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      27. 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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      28. 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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      29. “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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      30. 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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      31. 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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      32. 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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      33. 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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      34. 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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      35. “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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      36. “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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      37. 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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      38. 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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      39. “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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      40. 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

      41. “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.

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      42. 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

      43. “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

      44. “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

      45. “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

      46. 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.

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      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.

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      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.

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    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.

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  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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    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. 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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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

      Like

      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.

        Like

      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.

        Like

      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. 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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      8. 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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      9. 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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      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.”

        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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  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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  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?

      Like

      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.

        Like

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