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…

8,219 thoughts on “Daniel Black Open Thread

  1. Again I am breaking threading for this because it is its own topic.

    Colin:

    “Maybe Daniel’s understanding of enchantments would have been forced to develop faster. He could have created a rod like the one he used to build the first instance of Black Island, but earlier, when he was adding the new wall around Lanrest.

    However, he could not KNOW that would be possible, when he was first considering what to choose as his first elemental sorcery.”

    OK, we are facing a chicken and egg problem. Hecate had used divination. We know he wasn’t the best candidate. He was the best she could reach in time. Presumably somebody from an even higher-tech world who had their equivalent of Wikipedia in his head would have been even better.
    But she was reasonably confident Daniel’s choices would work. The strategy of picking what comes natural is more reasonable than it seems at first glance. If you want something that works. The best solution is another question.

    Secondly the hidden assumption that Daniel’s solution of enchanted tools was the only one or best one is problematic.
    A master naturomancer might have summond a demon mole to construct a ditch to be flooded and then would have grown a coral reef in it to form a wall out of lime stone. And the towers would have been giant hollow trees powering fire magic by their own life force allowing them to thrive during winter.
    Or he creates demon termites which build the wall. Or …
    Daniel’s tools have the obvious flaw that they are stupid objects. Gaia’s approach overcomes that flaw and provides a way for the tools to make more tools. Elegant.

    Or you actually grow your tools (as opposed to breeding them) in Idun’s style.
    We have also seen that sometimes magical constructs can serve as structural components. Cerise’s shadows made out of shadow for example. Yet another possibility.

    It took Daniel months to make his first golem for example. Golems with force magic are another way to actually physically, magomanually if you will, build a wall. And so on. We are talking about what he would have done without Earth. Strictly speaking we would need to ask what he would have done with another combination.
    Obviously that is harder, as the combination needs to be specified.

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    1. Sorry:

      “Cerise’s shadows made out of shadow for example. Yet another possibility.”

      Should have been: Cerise’s whips and tentacles made out of shadow.

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  2. “Jabrwok, some authors work from exhaustive plotted notes. Others create wonderful scenes and stitch them together into a story. Still others commence developing a character by tossing him or her into the deep end of the pool and then make up their minds on piranha or crocodiles.”

    The best long series are ones where the author has at least sketched out the arc of the larger story and roughly identified how many books/what each book will involve. Detailed mapping is not required, but enough mapping is needed so that each story naturally flows from the last.

    You do not need this formal mapping on a short series as the author basically can hold this detail in their mind or you can make it work with unrelated spontaneous stories. But a long story needs elements necessary for book 7 to be introduced in book 4 so that it all feels natural when you get to book 7

    I have read a few long series where the author did not do this and you can tell. The author had to keep introducing jarring course changes or breaking continuity to make the next book in the series work. It is really hard to create a GOOD book when you are forced to do these disruptive things.

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    1. I have to agree with you on authors and long series, Dspring. However, I’ve read a few that went to ten or eleven volumes and that last two or three were sort of mailed in, as if the author was just adding a few thousand filler words between the anchor lines of a somewhat detailed plot.

      I’ll cheerfully accept some ragged restructuring if the characters and story remain fun and engaging.

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  3. “I’m thinking it’s not just that the Atlanteans are no longer a concern to the gods because the Spire is broken, the gods are also quite sure that introducing nightmares to human dreaming will end the threat of dream magic as well.”

    Agree

    “Daniel’s ability to quickly develop and create deadly enchanted items, especially when he does so in large numbers, will attract the gods’ attention when he builds enough of something that directly threatens Them”

    “The gods might believe Mara’s new toy, Sunstrike, is also actually her creation. If They knew Daniel designed and created it in something less than a single month, they would be rather less sanguine.”

    Good thing they are all distracted by Ragnarok. (smirk)

    “Given the speed with which he comes up with new things, ancient gods will think Daniel somehow escaped the nightmare curse. That will lead them to believe he is an Atlantean who escaped that curse by dying before it, then reincarnating after.”

    Humans are now capable of innovation and have been for centuries. The nightmare curse prevents the dreaming from recreating the sunspear or a whole host of Atlantean wizards out of thin air.

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    1. Dspring, consider one or more Atlantean wizards creating the entire Sun Spire overnight or maybe assembling it out of components over the period of a month or two, maybe even a year or two.

      How is that different from Daniel creating an army of armored flying combat golems in the period of a month or two?

      Yes, the Spire is much more dangerous to gods and humans, however, how deadly will Daniel’s NEXT magically mass-produced mago-tech device be?

      As you smirked, it sure is a good thing for Daniel that certain gods are otherwise distracted from looking more closely at him and his projects.

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      1. I think the only surviving Atlanteans left free have spent a very long time carefully preparing and hiding themselves. It is why I think Steelbinder is an Atlantean as his armor is very comprehensive, very complex and hides everything about him.

        I think the original sunspear was created by the dreaming, not the atlanteans. Some comments from Allanna point to this. Not clear if any one (or several) atlanteans have the complete skill set to recreate the sunspear. And it is clear that the sunspear by itself is insufficient to defeat all the pantheons – yet its creation would immediately freak all the pantheons out and start a war with every pantheon at once.

        You would need the sunspear, the connection to the sun would need to be established, a large number of divine beings captured to filter/manage the power. The Atlanteans had all that and still lost.

        Of course, Fimbulwinter could change this. If the Atlanteans are willing to have most of humanity exterminated just to kill off most of the gods in all the pantheons, that creates the possibility of recreating the Sunspear. The remaining gods might not be strong enough to defeat the sunspear at that point, or even notice until they are fully set up.

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      2. Hmm…I like your thoughts about the hidden Atlanteans, Dspring. Not sure if Steelbinder is powerful enough, but then, he would be careful NOT to seem so.

        Two thoughts came to me.

        1) What are the Atlanteans waiting for? I’m thinking Fimbulwinter fits the bill neatly. War between the gods, hopefully weeding out many of the demigods and weaker gods, wasting several armies and maybe taking a few senior gods down a peg or two.

        2) Why would the Atlanteans create another Sun Spire? The last one failed them, or they failed it, and now all the senior gods are rightly wary of it, while the young gods and demigods have been fed a few millennia of stories about it. “Fear? You young pups have no idea what fear is! Damn right we were afraid of those Atlantean wizards and their Sun Spire — they captured and imprisoned gods!”

        Yeah, yeah, Gramps…uphill both ways, in the snow, with drifts over your head at each end.

        I’m thinking any Atlantean hold-outs have come up with some entirely new god-killing or god-trapping implements.

        Their power supplies should be amazing.

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    2. “The gods might believe Mara’s new toy, Sunstrike, is also actually her creation. If They knew Daniel designed and created it in something less than a single month, they would be rather less sanguine.”

      “Good thing they are all distracted by Ragnarok. (smirk)”

      You mean so distracted from studying every new weapon and tactic used during Ragnarök? Oops.

      No, seriously, if Mara can make such a thing, she will be expected to make more of them. Not immediately and not in large numbers, but eventually some would be expected. If Loki’s forces do not deliver, somebody will question the origin of that weapon. The Aesir have an organisation dedicated to such things.
      And they would not search for the origin blindly. Aphrodite, who was under Daniel’s control, turning up in Loki’s camp is bad enough.

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      1. Urk.

        Yeah…as long as everybody believes Daniel is dead, Aphrodite showing up in Loki’s camp with Mara is kind of a no-brainer.

        Of course, when Daniel eventually is recognized and the realization he is NOT dead begins to circulate, Aphrodite’s choice of refuge becomes more of a risk to Daniel.

        Good point, Oliver. Somebody will have to ask about the ring and the gem that together impact Aphrodite’s future.

        Does this issue put a premium on Daniel staying undiscovered as a female elf for a longer period of time?

        On the other hand, so long as he can reasonably point out that Mara has obviously broken Aphrodite’s imprisonment as well as Fenrir’s, who can blame him for whatever the crazy goddess does?

        Okay, all the crazy gods and goddesses can obviously blame him.

        It’s not like any of their other vendettas had to make any sense to anybody.

        Probably best for him/her to lay low for a while longer.

        Colin

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      2. “You mean so distracted from studying every new weapon and tactic used during Ragnarök? Oops.”

        I mean distracted from studying every new weapon and tactic not used on the fields of Asgard. Outside of Asgard, they are just not going to pay attention very much until the fighting stops.

        “No, seriously, if Mara can make such a thing, she will be expected to make more of them. Not immediately and not in large numbers, but eventually some would be expected. ”

        I would disagree with this. She is fighting on the fields of Asgard — nobody would expect item creation to occur at this time and building a golem would take significant time (weeks probably) even for a goddess, much less a demigod. The fighting on Asgard is only expected to take a few weeks or maybe 1-2 months. There really is not time for extensive item creation unless you have Daniel’s techniques.

        “And they would not search for the origin blindly. Aphrodite, who was under Daniel’s control, turning up in Loki’s camp is bad enough.”

        Not sure why Aphrodite is a problem. Mara can easily claim she bargained with Aphrodite for her freedom and/or she stole/tricked the control amulet from Daniel. Daniel’s presence in the city, his winning Aphrodite for a week and the attack by the lightbringers would be well known to Loki’s spies. Certainly the story of the explosion would be told often when recounting how Fenrir escaped, so Daniel’s death fighting lightbringers would be well known.

        Not sure why Aphrodite’s situation changes if Daniel is still alive – can someone explain why this might be so?

        And Aphrodite has no incentive to explain things clearly and is a gifted liar when she chooses.

        Although to be honest, I am not sure who has the control amulet or the key to the locks (aka – can turn off or on Aphrodite’s power). It was never explicitly stated that Alanna gave either to Aphrodite or Mara.

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      3. “I mean distracted from studying every new weapon and tactic not used on the fields of Asgard. Outside of Asgard, they are just not going to pay attention very much until the fighting stops.”

        What we have seen points to the exact reverse. The Lightbringers got a team there within days.

        “I would disagree with this. She is fighting on the fields of Asgard”

        That is highly unlikely. You will not risk an asset like her in the field and she is not trained as an officer.
        The time factor exists, but timing in war is notoriously unpredictable.

        “Not sure why Aphrodite is a problem. Mara can easily claim she bargained with Aphrodite for her freedom and/or she stole/tricked the control amulet from Daniel.”

        When did she do that? Aphrodite was last seen in a controlled area. How well were they watched before that? Daniel was seen with a ‘hall wench’ oddly similar to Mara …

        “Daniel’s presence in the city, his winning Aphrodite for a week and the attack by the lightbringers would be well known to Loki’s spies. Certainly the story of the explosion would be told often when recounting how Fenrir escaped, so Daniel’s death fighting lightbringers would be well known.”

        And Mara happened to be ready to attack right when the explosion had happened? And Aphrodite knew where to got to. Suspicious.

        “Not sure why Aphrodite’s situation changes if Daniel is still alive – can someone explain why this might be so?”

        Daniel is unlikely to agree to a plan that includes his own death. That absolves him from blame. As long as he stays dead.

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      4. They are actually more likely to place the blame of planning such an attack on Aphrodite. A method by which she could steal away her freedom. She is a slave that sided with a demigoddess of Freedom after all. Also the lightbringer’s made contact with her she betrayed supposedly Daniel and then they would have noticed her leaving the area. If their souls survived and were not consumed by the great Beast Rah would be questioning them and those questions would include what happened to Aphrodite. And you only need one of their souls to survive to get the information that Daniel died with the tower and did not Escape as well as Aphrodite left after telling them where he was. After all Daniel was not her master so she holds no Allegiance or loyalty to him. And her green Mistress didn’t tell her not to have a casual conversation where a few secrets were drop with the lightbringer’s. The lightbringers if they have a method of communication could have sent the information back to Rah before even going into the tower. They would be the best of the best in their profession after all. And relaying such information would only be professional.

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      5. “I mean distracted from studying every new weapon and tactic not used on the fields of Asgard. Outside of Asgard, they are just not going to pay attention very much until the fighting stops.”

        “What we have seen points to the exact reverse. The Lightbringers got a team there within days.”

        Apples and oranges to my mind. The Aesir (Odin and Loki both) are very focused on the fighting outside Asgard, so they will probably not pay attention to much outside that venue unless very dramatic. The lightbringers are not involved in the fighting, so not distracted by the fighting. But I suspect they are pretty thin on the ground if they did not have someone placed near the Conclave. They basically found out only because Brand told tales on a very public forum. Certainly they will watch the conclave now, but they will also believe that Daniel’s death will take a while to recover from. So they will not be frantic to find him.

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        “That is highly unlikely. You will not risk an asset like her [Mara] in the field and she is not trained as an officer.”

        I totally agree they will not make her an officer as she lacks the training to do well at that task (probably). But gods and Demigods are the main battle tanks of this world. Unless they really need her specialized skills for something else that is pretty darn important, they are going to use her as a MBT. After all, she is a demigod – she comes back if killed (except for certain weapons).
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        “Not sure why Aphrodite is a problem. Mara can easily claim she bargained with Aphrodite for her freedom and/or she stole/tricked the control amulet from Daniel.”

        “When did she do that? Aphrodite was last seen in a controlled area. How well were they watched before that? Daniel was seen with a ‘hall wench’ oddly similar to Mara …”

        Everyone on both sides will know that Mara infiltrated Asgard and broke out with Aphrodite and Fenris. Everybody knows Aphrodite has no loyalty to Odin and wants her freedom. It seems an obvious tactic to me to recruit Aphrodite in some way. Now Aphrodite has some measure of her powers back and that might be a mystery, but a few people know Daniel was given Aphrodite to help him solve specific problems and that he was given the ability to free her powers. Nobody would be surprised that a mortal wizard was tricked by Aphrodite into giving her too much freedom, especially as Daniel had taken care to give the impression that he had exhausted himself having sex with her that first day he was given control over Aphrodite

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        “And Mara happened to be ready to attack right when the explosion had happened? And Aphrodite knew where to got to. Suspicious.”

        Mara infiltrated Asgard and broke out Fenris. That is a huge achievement that shows she has inherited all of her father’s tricky ways. If she could do that, then it is no small stretch to say she had some hand in the explosion or at least some advance warning that the lightbringers would attack Daniel there. Any suspicion that this is the case from team Loki or Odin would just add to her reputation. EVERYTHING that happened in Asgard helped team Loki. Even the Lightbringers have no complaint against Loki, although they might against Odin for harboring the broken sunspear.

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        “Daniel is unlikely to agree to a plan that includes his own death. That absolves him from blame. As long as he stays dead.”

        Anybody who thinks Daniel is an Atlantean would consider his death to only “probably” absolve him from blame. Atlanteans always come back after all. But given death is probably a major setback, few would suspect Daniel’s death was intentional.

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      6. Aphrodite was meant to be Daniels payment he never completed the project he never got paid she was never in his control. His house plant won her in a fight. Made a rather large display of doing so too. Her name and a bunch of other things were thrown out as well as her skills abilities and potential age. Maybe Daniel is the puppet? Maybe Daniel is not the missing Atlantean maybe the house plant is? These are some of the questions Odin and his followers will be asking. If Daniel is smart he’ll just send his a vegetative playmate out to do his running for him.

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      7. “Apples and oranges to my mind. The Aesir (Odin and Loki both) are very focused on the fighting outside Asgard, so they will probably not pay attention to much outside that venue unless very dramatic.”

        * The equivalent of a nuke going off in Asgard fits the description ‘dramatic’
        * Freeing Fenrir ad new weapons by the other side are extremely relevant to that fighting

        “The lightbringers are not involved in the fighting, so not distracted by the fighting. But I suspect they are pretty thin on the ground if they did not have someone placed near the Conclave.”

        * He may have been on a southbound ship, considering Kozalin doomed like the Aesir
        .
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        .”But gods and Demigods are the main battle tanks of this world. Unless they really need her specialized skills for something else that is pretty darn important, they are going to use her as a MBT. After all, she is a demigod – she comes back if killed (except for certain weapons).”

        Her skill set is pretty unique. Allies to be freed should be rather easy to find. And after this stunt, the Aesir will put a prize on her head.

        “Everyone on both sides will know that Mara infiltrated Asgard and broke out with Aphrodite and Fenris. Everybody knows Aphrodite has no loyalty to Odin and wants her freedom. It seems an obvious tactic to me to recruit Aphrodite in some way. Now Aphrodite has some measure of her powers back and that might be a mystery, but a few people know Daniel was given Aphrodite to help him solve specific problems and that he was given the ability to free her powers. Nobody would be surprised that a mortal wizard was tricked by Aphrodite into giving her too much freedom, especially as Daniel had taken care to give the impression that he had exhausted himself having sex with her that first day he was given control over Aphrodite”

        Daniel is just accumulating to many associations with calamities to remain unsuspected much longer. Each of the assumptions you are making is by itself the likeliest explanation. But they all need to come together.

        “Anybody who thinks Daniel is an Atlantean would consider his death to only “probably” absolve him from blame. Atlanteans always come back after all. But given death is probably a major setback, few would suspect Daniel’s death was intentional.”

        Right until he comes back soon. Daniel is known to be in a romantic relation with Mara. He is also known for a certain fondness for explosions. And again he turned up together with Mara leading up to a calamity in Skogheim.
        Even by general association he will become worth investigating to more and more gods.

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      8. * The equivalent of a nuke going off in Asgard fits the description ‘dramatic’
        * Freeing Fenrir ad new weapons by the other side are extremely relevant to that fighting

        Certainly those actions are significant. But so long as they do not believe Daniel was the cause of any of these events, then their dramatic impact actually shields Daniel from their focus as it points attention elsewhere.

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        .”But gods and Demigods are the main battle tanks of this world. Unless they really need her specialized skills for something else that is pretty darn important, they are going to use her as a MBT. After all, she is a demigod – she comes back if killed (except for certain weapons).”

        “Her skill set is pretty unique. Allies to be freed should be rather easy to find. And after this stunt, the Aesir will put a prize on her head.”

        It is unique, but it is specialized. How many more beings that are natural allies are out there in some prison? She is not the right fight for battle, but as a demigod she still makes a pretty good MBT even if other demigods make better ones. I suspect gratitude (or Gaia’s breeding plans) will encourage the main gods to keep her out of serious danger, but remember the gods need MBT and they do not have anywhere near as many as Odin does.
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        “Daniel is just accumulating to many associations with calamities to remain unsuspected much longer. Each of the assumptions you are making is by itself the likeliest explanation. But they all need to come together.”

        Oh totally agree. The clock is definitely ticking on Daniel being underestimated/ignored. Gaia’s now dead army made him visible. Atlantian status made him visible. Co-location with the events in Asgard are suspicious. One or two more big events and Daniel will be moved to the “time to die” category in the god’s to do list. Revealed as the instigator behind the Asgard explosion – same. Revealed as the permanent killer of Gaia’s son – same.

        My personal guess is to how things fall apart is that Odin reveals to Gaia Daniel’s role, she goes bezerk (as Odin intended) and drops everything to kill Daniel. That has to wait until Daniel returns, but it is still where my money resides.

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  4. A lose end.

    When Daniel secures the camp before the battle against the giant, he says he could ward the camp but it would suck due to wild animals producing false alarms. How would they produce them and whence comes this ability? Mana sorcery?

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    1. Oliver, I’m just guessing here, but imagine a weak Force spell cast around the entire camp that deliberately allows rabbits, owls, goblins and trolls to pass through it, but it sparks, dazzles or sputters each and every time at each and every location.

      That would drive the night watch crazy, but it might have given a few more seconds of warning when the giants and felwolves attacked.

      Think of something simple, noisy and weak that Daniel might easily have been able to power with his amulet or a nice big well attached directly to a spell he could set to expire after dawn or all the mana is used up.

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  5. A lose end #2

    When Daniel, Cerise & Avilla were being chased through the Mirkwood, Avilla and Cerise used “protective charms”. What are they? Wards against physical damage? Or is there actual magic that can affect aim or even probability in general?

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    1. Oliver, I remember something about curse spells that Cerise used from very early in the first book.

      Maybe something like that which distorts goblin vision, confuses the goblin brain or directly messes with goblin muscles and nerves?

      Maybe the girls charmed each other to seem distorted, dislocated or difficult to aim at?

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  6. The elemental planes, summoning and sorcery

    Another reread, more question. There is something odd. Places have resonances with fire or earth. That is where the sun of Skogheim comes from. It looks like this is the place you summon stuff from.
    That is a problem. There is one such place per element. Sorceries are supposed to be individual. That is a mismatch. The material the Conclave used for its building is as far as we can tell the same stuff Daniel is summoning as his standard metal.
    What determines which elemental plane a sorcery can tap? Worse it looks like a sorcery can do multiple banishments at least. Air can also banish weight. So it looks like the content of a sorcery cannot be totally explained by individual choice.

    Is that the reason Daniel cannot just summon a slab of beef or, for that matter, mana?
    Could it be that flesh is not what gives you a good conection to the place meat would come from? Is the need for anchors a more general thing than a property of gods? Does the plane of Earth exist because there is an Earth?

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    1. “There is one such place per element.Air can also banish weight.”

      I’m not sure any of this is true. The inhabitants of that world think of it as the elemental planes. That does not necessarily mean that they are correct. It might just be one elemental plane of some form of transdimensional quasi mass energy/matter. And where do you get air sorcery can banish weight? There is only two examples in the books so far about weight banishment. One is demonic in nature and the other is draconic in nature. Neither one of them are related to air. They’re a naturally occurring biological enchantment that Daniel discovered while studying Cerise. I reread it does not appear to be Elemental in nature.

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      1. “It might just be one elemental plane of some form of transdimensional quasi mass energy/matter.”

        Right, but there are definitely filters. Your sorcery or type of wizardy allows only limited access. But the filter is not individual. Daniel did not use the Rundesage’s spells to get his metal. He used the idea. And his first attempt failed. It looks like objectively some summons are harder than others. If that is so, what determines the objective criteria?

        “And where do you get air sorcery can banish weight?”

        Cerise can influence the movement of air over her wings and can sense air currents. It looks a lot like air sorcery. Yet, you are right, it need not be.
        However, may I point out Elin’s air freshening spell? I suppose she may have learned it in the library, not gotten it from her sorcery.

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      2. Oliver, I’m not sure Elin has any sorcery at all. As a fae (princess?) she has the native ability to do magic and due to her bookish nature she has read many books from the Conclave library, her own library and Daniel’s library.

        I think she’s a fae wizardess shapechanger, not a fae sorceress shapechanger.

        It would be interesting to see any suggestion that her Grendelkind nature grants her some sort of elemental sorcery, especially her shapechanging. That seems like it ought to be similar to Daniel’s elemental Flesh but with all the limitations/filters from Elin’s complex upbringing.

        Of course, her Grendelkind nature could also justify some affinity for elemental Water sorcery.

        Combine that with her specific fae nature, which seems to be related to fresh water or ocean fae, and she certainly could have elemental Water sorcery.

        Let me know if you can find a reference that specifically states that, please.

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      3. The are refreshing perhaps even summoning magic does not appear to be inherent to the water element. Instead it appears to be an evolutionary adaptation of the water fairies. It’s stated that they have the ability because they like keeping things in underwater caves including pretty men. It might be a method by which they reproduce as a species. We haven’t seen any male versions of them yet. We know that elves have male versions but nymphs, nyad’s, dryads? We know that she has uncle’s and that her mother who is a fairy has Brothers but we don’t really know what her uncle’s are what type of fairy they are. And it’s not really uncommon for mythology to have species of just one gender.

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      4. Sorry about that post Oliver I just got back from a party and I was wasted at the time. Had to go back and reread everything I had written. It reads like somebody took a bunch of words and letters and turn them into scrambled eggs “again I apologize”. Though some of it is still coherent and I think that it fits the point.

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      5. “It looks like objectively some summons are harder than others. If that is so, what determines the objective criteria?”

        I still lean towards some form of universal similarity. Based on the abundance of material within the universe synced up through the use and expenditure of energy through spooky action-at-a-distance. But that’s just my own Theory.

        As I recall the air movement enchantment and the airsense enchantment we’re both different enchantments from the weight banishment enchantment which were found to be inherent in Dragons. Maybe also inherent in demons though it doesn’t really say. But just because they were inherent in the same creature does not mean that they are both related to air. After all it’s a biological evolution that allows the creature to fly more efficiently. But that does not mean that it’s related to air after all it’s a weight banishment not a air banishment.

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      6. ” It reads like somebody took a bunch of words and letters and turn them into scrambled eggs”

        Refreshing words. Spontaneous thoughts are also good. Less mental inhibitions make unusual, better ideas.

        “Instead it appears to be an evolutionary adaptation of the water fairies. It’s stated that they have the ability because they like keeping things in underwater caves including pretty men. It might be a method by which they reproduce as a species.”

        That I think is a mix-up between naiads and undines. Elin is maternally an undine and she can conjure water and knows an air freshening spell and can bestow breathing under water. However they live in deep oceans and their species has (at least) two sexes, as Elin has a mother and uncles.

        Naiads have caves full of air, but they live in shallow bodies of fres, clean water.
        It looks to me that naiads are to lakes what nymphs are to land and dryads are to trees. They are created magically not by sexual reproduction. Whether they can reproduce by sex is unclear (in mythology they can). The result may just as well be human with magic powers.

        Does Elin have sorcery over water? She is able to instinctively use it in combat. She did so against the mercury golem and the sons of Ivaldi. She also played firefighter with her ability. Daniel remarked that her abilities mirror his abilities regarding earth with water.

        And we have:
        ‘She was trained in the basics of wizardy’ in respect to enchanting. – Basics, but she has full control over water
        ‘I didn’t have water sorcery’ – Daniel comparing himself to Elin

        I think we have to conclude that either Elin personally or all undines have water sorcery.

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      7. Oliver, I like your arguments in favor of Elin having actual elemental Water sorcery.

        She now has an amulet somewhat similar in power level to Daniel’s own.

        It should be interesting to see what enchantments she creates next, studying Daniel’s own methods as she does.

        She has had her “Lanrest” moment, getting caught off guard and partially prepared as Daniel was for his first big fight in a built-up area. Battered and wounded during the fight with the dwarf-orks, she heals herself and declares she is not interested in any more fighting, ever.

        Right.

        Next time a fight catches her by surprise, watch for a cool, efficient application of massive water sorcery overkill. She’s going to think about how she was frustrated and injured and will prepare several very nasty offensive spells, maybe an enchanted item or two, and herself. She’s going to be fast, next time. Fast and deadly.

        She really, really wants to avoid losing control and going all Grendelkin again. Her best and closest example of how to maintain at least a shred of control over a deteriorating situation is Daniel, until she sees Alanna in action.

        Both of them are going to show Elin that more violence, applied more precisely, provides more options for more control over her own situation. Alanna will be ideal in that demonstration.

        It’s worth pointing out Elin’s nature is Grendelkin and Undine and Orca. Of the three, only the Orca normally gives any evidence of any notable reluctance to shred human flesh, and we don’t know if even that is true in Midgard.

        There’s a very thin veneer of culture and civility over the three monsters at Elin’s core. She doesn’t have to become a monster to deal with monsters. She can pick and choose the most effective response from a varied resume.

        Like

    2. Oliver, I’d bet there’s at least some personalization in every individual’s CONCEPTION of their elemental sorceries.

      Remember, when Daniel conceived of elemental Flesh sorcery he was specifically thinking of healing himself, healing others, modifying himself and others and maybe a few other ideas, some of which might have been stuck in his head by Prometheus. None of that included food. In fact, Daniel seems to be rather non-domestic, sort of like a 1950s or earlier male head of household. Damn good thing for him and Cerise that Avilla is well on her way to being a demigoddess of domestic awesomeness.

      What would you bet Daniel’s limitations on elemental Earth, Force and Fire are also at least partly due to Daniel’s perceptions of those elements? There could also be in situ limitations due to the actual natures of those elements. Note that his elemental Mana sorcery is virtually deus ex machina, perhaps in part because it is so much in synch with his gaming habits and experience.

      As for how the Conclave managed to come up with the same nickel iron material Daniel did, or vice versa, that’s easy.

      The Runesage obviously used a true meteorite for the model of his conjuration. He had multiple enslaved wizards to draw upon for power, so he was able to summon enough to grow the tower and probably some of his other inventions as well, though probably at other times.

      Daniel conceived of his nickel iron as similar to or drawn from the planet’s core material. That just happens to be rather similar to meteoric iron, since it came from virtually the same origin.

      Plus, it’s worth noting that Daniel is consciously copying the Runesage’s results, so of course Daniel’s results would be similar.

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      1. “Oliver, I’d bet there’s at least some personalization in every individual’s CONCEPTION of their elemental sorceries.”

        The problem is the some. The extremes are simple. If sorceries are either externally defined or wholly dependent on imagination, all is well. But they are not. It is a mix. How does that work?

        “Remember, when Daniel conceived of elemental Flesh sorcery he was specifically thinking of healing himself, healing others, modifying himself and others and maybe a few other ideas, some of which might have been stuck in his head by Prometheus. None of that included food.”

        Yes. The intent of the sorcery explains what you can access at all. But not the ease of access within the available range.

        “Note that his elemental Mana sorcery is virtually deus ex machina, perhaps in part because it is so much in synch with his gaming habits and experience.”

        It isn’t. He can conjure stone, but not mana.

        “The Runesage obviously used a true meteorite for the model of his conjuration.”

        And he did this for which reason? Prestige? Who would be able to tell that he did not use normal iron?

        “He had multiple enslaved wizards to draw upon for power, so he was able to summon enough to grow the tower and probably some of his other inventions as well, though probably at other times.”

        Daniel alone could barely do any metal at all. At best the Runesage had a few hundred wizards. Why waste them on that if he could have used stone. at least for the lower part?

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      2. Oliver, the ancient Egyptians knew that meteors are from the sky realm, and there were many of them. For this reason, nickel iron “sky metal” weapons were prestige items. Remember King Tut’s dagger.

        By the time of the Runesage, meteorites would be associated with many individual finds on Midgard, as well as more than a few “rock storms” which happened in France and elsewhere during the Middle Ages. That would establish both the commonality of rocks in the sky realm AND, perhaps, the significance of nickel iron, which not only fell from the sky but survived that fiery process to reach the ground intact. The Archmage would only need to perform a few experiments, as Daniel did, in order to determine how easy it is to conjure RAW nickel iron, with all the impurities of the common material. This would relatively easy if the Runesage worked from a sample.

        There’s no need to suppose the Runesage might also discover that Midgard’s core is made of nickel iron. He might only know that the stuff is easy to summon. Of course, this is the Runesage. He may have determined what the source of nickel iron is, theorized its relationship to the formation of the planet, estimated the volume and therefore had a relatively certain understanding of the proportionate size of this resource.

        More to the point, he could easily determine that nickel iron is not only cheaper in mana to summon, it is extremely durable upon exposure to the elements, compared with pure iron. Remember, the Runesage could well have spent YEARS experimenting and determining all this. Who’s to say he did not raise a stone tower first, saw it wrecked in less than a decade and had to replace it with something stronger?

        “A few hundred wizards” trained and bound to spend a fraction of every day funneling SOME of their mana into some sort of artificial mana battery is an ENORMOUS resource. This is probably at least part of the power of the Runesage.

        Building the entire tower out of nickel iron is not a waste, it is a prestige statement, a durability statement, a structural robustness statement and a sensible expenditure of mana.

        Stone would not have lasted as long as the Runesage expected to live. We have only to look at the walls of Kozalin to see that.

        As for how sorceries are “defined” and used, I suspect you are confusing definition with application.

        Daniel and others have specific expectations of elemental sorceries for a variety of reasons, many of which are not rational or logical, they simply are. Those expectations LIMIT the users’ application of elemental sorceries until the users’ learn more about themselves and their affinities.

        The ease of access is clearly a function of mana management abilities of the individual sorcerer. Hence, ease of access increases with time and practice. It decreases with abuse and brain damage. Good thing Daniel can heal himself so well.

        As for Daniel’s mana elemental sorcery, he clearly focused on seeing, feeling and otherwise analyzing mana USE. Daniel is his own worst enemy most of the time. His attention to mana is almost entirely learning how it works and experimenting with how it might work.

        When he wanted to create a source of mana, what did he do? He kludged a means of converting natural energy into mana.

        One other reason Daniel has not tried to conjure mana using his elemental Mana sorcery — where would he put it?

        He’d have to come up with a spell or enchantment to “wire” it right into his spells and enchantments. At the beginning of his time in Varmland he did not understand that level of wizardry.

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      3. His not being able to summon Manna is not true. It’s simply a great big question. We don’t really have an answer for it because he’s never tried. He hasn’t had a need to try it and even if he did he probably wouldn’t even have thought of it since he has a power source that replaces that kind of thing.

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      4. “For this reason, nickel iron “sky metal” weapons were prestige items. Remember King Tut’s dagger.”

        It also happens to be the best material for the purpose. THey could have made platinum daggers. They did not.

        “The Archmage would only need to perform a few experiments, as Daniel did, in order to determine how easy it is to conjure RAW nickel iron, with all the impurities of the common material. This would relatively easy if the Runesage worked from a sample.”

        That is the point. Does this work without referencing the core of the Earth? I think we are not clear on this point.

        “More to the point, he could easily determine that nickel iron is not only cheaper in mana to summon, it is extremely durable upon exposure to the elements, compared with pure iron. Remember, the Runesage could well have spent YEARS experimenting and determining all this. Who’s to say he did not raise a stone tower first, saw it wrecked in less than a decade and had to replace it with something stronger?”

        Pure stone is very hard to beat in terms of durability in an area without earth quakes. A structure like that big spire is not built for conventional defense. It either has a magical reason or it is a prestige building.

        “Stone would not have lasted as long as the Runesage expected to live. We have only to look at the walls of Kozalin to see that.”

        Very debatable. Against metal corrosion spells will work. They’ll fail against stone.

        “The ease of access is clearly a function of mana management abilities of the individual sorcerer. Hence, ease of access increases with time and practice. It decreases with abuse and brain damage. Good thing Daniel can heal himself so well.”

        But it does so proportionally. Gold is always harder than copper harder than nickel/iron harder than sand.

        “One other reason Daniel has not tried to conjure mana using his elemental Mana sorcery — where would he put it?”

        Himself. His first task was to refill his personal well.

        DaShoota:
        “His not being able to summon Manna is not true. It’s simply a great big question. We don’t really have an answer for it because he’s never tried.”

        True. But a face palm would not do in that case. It would require a face smash into a table.

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      5. Interesting. Platinum was worked with powder metallurgy techniques by South American tribes long before I would have guessed the metal was in actual use.

        The point with nickel iron is partly what DaShoota has mentioned before, and partly that general discussion of how “summoning” materials works. When Daniel summons soil, we are all confident that comes from some sort of Earth analogue or Earth repository, in spite of the fact it is just as likely that soil could be identical to what one finds on a planet that orbits Betelgeuse.

        When Daniel summons nickel iron, HE is fully aware that the nickel iron in Earth’s core is approximately identical to the nickel iron of a meteorite because they BOTH come from the SAME source in the PHYSICAL universe — stars.

        Was the Runesage aware of this? Probably not, but we cannot be certain. Ironically, the archmage might have believed both came from some identical source in the MAGIC universe – the elemental plane(s). More to the point, he may have believed what he was SUMMONING came from the elemental plane, and that may have been correct as that sort of fits the “explanation” of elements Hecate gave Daniel before and during his trip through the Void.

        The point is not whether the Runesage believes he is summoning core material or meteoric nickel iron. The point is, the Conclave tower is evidence in itself that conjuring nickel iron in massive quantities at putatively low mana cost appears to be established as canon.

        Of course, that does assume the Runesage did not do something exceedingly wasteful that uselessly burned out numerous magic users in the effort. We cannot safely assume that, but we can choose to believe it.

        It is not correct to assert the tower is not defensive. It is certainly not entirely a prestige monument. Wizards built it to defend themselves and their property against local nobles, local wars and local authorities. Remember also that Saxon and French armies have invested Kozalin during previous centuries, and the castle is reputed to have survived dragon assault. The Conclave’s tower is built of nickel iron in part for prestige, in part for robust sturdy structure and in part because the cost to conjure it was not significantly different from the cost of conjuring stone.

        Corrosion spells do not universally fail against stone. SOME corrosion spells fail against SOME stone. OTHER corrosion spells succeed spectacularly against SOME stone. It’s on the siege wizard to pick the correct corrosion spell to target the defender’s stone walls. Thanks for that reminder, Oliver. I almost missed it.

        The proportionality of ease of conjuring brings us right back to our old question: is the proportion based on the planet’s elemental proportions or the elemental proportions of that magical universe. I’m inclined toward the universal proportions if only because I like the functional basis of elemental magic to be universal. Otherwise, when Daniel’s spaceship reaches the midway point between Earth and Mars, which planet’s proportionality will determine how difficult it is to conjure food, water, fuel, etc.?

        Inquiring minds want to know!

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      6. “That is the point. Does this work without referencing the core of the Earth? I think we are not clear on this point.”

        You are right we don’t know enough about summoning or the elemental plans. So we can’t at this point answer these questions.

        Need more information please.

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      7. “When Daniel summons soil, we are all confident that comes from some sort of Earth analogue or Earth repository, in spite of the fact it is just as likely that soil could be identical to what one finds on a planet that orbits Betelgeuse.”

        It is from the Earth. Or patterned after it, if we want to be pedantic

        * soil chemistry is ideal for Earth plants
        * the microorganisms match

        “The point is not whether the Runesage believes he is summoning core material or meteoric nickel iron. The point is, the Conclave tower is evidence in itself that conjuring nickel iron in massive quantities at putatively low mana cost appears to be established as canon.”

        Yes. But is it universally so or do you need to reference the Earth’s core in your spell?
        Would it still work on a stony asteroid?

        “It is not correct to assert the tower is not defensive. It is certainly not entirely a prestige monument. Wizards built it to defend themselves and their property against local nobles, local wars and local authorities.”

        A building of that height cannot have thick walls.

        “Remember also that Saxon and French armies have invested Kozalin during previous centuries, and the castle is reputed to have survived dragon assault. The Conclave’s tower is built of nickel iron in part for prestige, in part for robust sturdy structure and in part because the cost to conjure it was not significantly different from the cost of conjuring stone.”

        It is still the wrong shape.

        “The proportionality of ease of conjuring brings us right back to our old question: is the proportion based on the planet’s elemental proportions or the elemental proportions of that magical universe. I’m inclined toward the universal proportions if only because I like the functional basis of elemental magic to be universal. Otherwise, when Daniel’s spaceship reaches the midway point between Earth and Mars, which planet’s proportionality will determine how difficult it is to conjure food, water, fuel, etc.?”

        Neither, I suspect. Why have the gods never gone beyond Luna?

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      8. Oliver, are you suggesting that panspermia is impossible or merely very unlikely?

        I’m confident that when microorganisms are eventually found on Mars, they will have similar DNA to what is on Earth, possibly even identical in some cases.

        There’s too much evidence of transfers of materials from Mars to Earth, which is much more difficult than transfers from Earth to Mars.

        For that matter, most of the outer planets, their moons and other bodies, like Ceres, have probably been painted with debris from volcanic and super-volcanic explosions like Krakatoa, Toba and Yellowstone.

        Hence, the model for DNA to traverse a solar system will be established science a few decades from now.

        The leap from that to interstellar distances is not insurmountable.

        Soil from Betelgeuse will probably support vegetation from Earth and worms from Tau Ceti.

        Consider the basic ingredients of soil chemistry. Erosion of stone operates the same in similar environments, no matter if the stone is on Mars or some planet orbiting Cygnus. Grit is grit. Local variations in elemental proportions might result in some interesting soils and more interesting chemistry, but it’s all based on universal physical constants and averages. Granite will be quite common throughout the universe. Where there are granite mountains there will be erosion that produces soils similar to the soils of Montana and Oregon. As long as panspermia is demonstrated to work, microorganisms in those soils will be similar and/or identical as well.

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      9. I’m fairly confident that we will eventually find microorganisms on Mars. I’m not confident that we will find microorganisms on Mars that are related to Earth microorganisms. I think they will have a slightly different makeup. We have multiple examples of different epochs of life forms on Earth that never made it past the microorganism stage which still exists and can be examined. One of these micro-organism sections of Life which are in no way related to the current microorganisms and the base of living organisms on Earth. Actually possesses cyanide as one of its genetic makeups. Basically its CNA Health requires and possesses cyanide as part of its makeup. This is a microorganism that could have possibly ballooned into multi-celled life and expanded to cover the planet in a very diverse ecosystem. But it didn’t the microorganism containing DNA is the one that managed to achieve that goal and that’s what we are made out of. Basically the point is last time I checked there were four different types of Life on this planet which are completely not related to each other in any way shape or form. They actually came into existence from the very beginning point at different points in the planets timeline. They also possess biochemistry which in most cases are toxic to each other. This is well-known within the biological sciences Community but not well-known out of it.

        We actually have discovered alien life not related to our own life and it exists on this planet we didn’t have to go to another planet to find it. This makes me think that once we get to Mars the chances of us finding microorganisms there which are related to the microorganisms here will be extremely Slim. This is not to say that I do not think we will find microorganisms there I think we will I just think it will be a completely separate section of life.

        (To find out more about this research and be able to look up the papers and studies done on it yourself you need to look through the reports & studies on extremophiles.

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      10. Oliver, remember the reinforcing structural spells Daniel uses when he creates the walls of his most recent fortifications.

        With appropriate structural spells reinforcing it, the bloody archmage could have built a fifty floor tower made of cheese.

        Meteoric nickel iron is both implicitly stronger AND impinges upon the impressionable minds of local nobles, thieves and others who need reminding it is a Bad Idea to attack wizards on their home turf.

        The shape of the tower also reminds everyone that the wizards’ **** is bigger and better.

        Just in case anybody was wondering.

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      11. Oliver, you seem to be fixated on “Earth’s core” as the only acceptable term for natural nickel iron.

        I’m actually arguing that there is a totally different term of reference, and it is simply natural nickel iron.

        THEORETICALLY, my term would work on Earth, Luna, Psyche or Ceres, because the proportional ease of summoning is based on universal proportions.

        However, if “Earth element” is always defined LOCALLY, as in the planetary body the wizard is touching, Psyche would make it incredibly easy to summon nickel iron, and Ceres would do the same for water ice but be horrible for nickel iron.

        Now, if the Runesage created a spell that specifically summoned Earth Core Nickel Iron and he cast that spell when he was standing on Luna or Ceres that would probably be frustrating for him…especially if LOCAL proportions rule.

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      12. I’ve been wondering whether his summoning would be affected by the planet he was on myself. It’s something to think about. If it’s ever tested when he goes off-planet and explores the rest of the solar system. Then we would know whether or not it’s using some form of similarity the summon material based on the universe or the planet he’s on. We can also answer the question as to whether or not he has extra energy expenses for summoning material that is farther away if he has to summon specifically earth-based materials. I believe that might be the only events that would cause him to question the nature of his summoning capabilities. If we began some of meek earth-based material while standing on the moon and there were no extra cost to it. Then and only then would have probably come into his head that maybe I’m not summoning material from Earth but some form of standard birth material FaceTime with Universe thing so desserts. Or something along those lines.

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      13. “It is still the wrong shape.”

        They are wizards not architects. There Are wizards not engineers. Aside from that buildings we have in our society are the wrong shape and Architectural construction from many of their functions. This is a result of the brutalist style pioneered by social Marxist architects. A more efficient building and Architectural construction style would be the gothic architectural style and techniques. They possess Superior structural strength send today’s structures. Utilizing the same engineering technology would be possible to create far superior structures and buildings to fit the purposes for which they are intended then modern brutalist styles. Form does not always follow function Ireland Society proves this. And that Wizards Fortress and I have no doubt that that’s exactly what it is a fortress. Was not designed by Architects or engineers. It was designed by Wizards. There might be some esoteric vague reason for the use and manipulation of Energy’s inherent and its architectural style and structures that we are currently unaware of. Or it might have been constructed on the whims of the aesthetic eye of the ruin Sage.

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      14. “There’s too much evidence of transfers of materials from Mars to Earth, which is much more difficult than transfers from Earth to Mars.”

        The microrganisms in Earth soils are not merely single cell organisms. We find arthropods, tardigrades and nematodes. Add to that fungi outside the animals. These organisms arose first in the Cambrian. And they for sure will not survive vacuum. Whether life as such spread by panspermia does not matter. Genetics shows us that all animals arose from a common ancestor.

        “Oliver, remember the reinforcing structural spells Daniel uses when he creates the walls of his most recent fortifications.”

        He can use that on a sturdier structure in the first place. In theory he likely could have used air. But:

        1. The effects add up. So the better the building, the the better the result
        2. Using such a spell makes you vulnerable against dispells

        “The shape of the tower also reminds everyone that the wizards’ **** is bigger and better.”

        That is the likely ultimate reason.

        “Just in case anybody was wondering.”

        You forgot ‘harder’

        “Oliver, you seem to be fixated on “Earth’s core” as the only acceptable term for natural nickel iron.”

        Proximity is a clear factor. Daniel finds that packed earth is easier than stone. The layer of soil is ridiculously small compared to the whole thickness of the crust, let alone the mantle. And in the universe a lot of celestial bodies have rock. Soil will be limited to habitable planets with the right amount of water.
        Again completely disregarding that the vast majority of matter in the visible universe is hot stellar plasma and the visible matter is small minority of all matter.

        “However, if “Earth element” is always defined LOCALLY, as in the planetary body the wizard is touching, Psyche would make it incredibly easy to summon nickel iron, and Ceres would do the same for water ice but be horrible for nickel iron.”

        Yes. And in between, it may simply fail.

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      15. Oliver, I think you are on the right track with your observation on the proportional ease with which Daniel summons soil, compared to virtually all other materials.

        I wish he would try conjuring some large volumes of basalt for contrast. I’m thinking basalt is universal, but it seems to me you are still correct and Daniel would summon soil even easier than basalt.

        That’s a powerful argument for proximity, because I do believe there is a LOT more basalt in the universe than there is soil.

        Now, I could argue that soil is actually made of tiny bits of grit eroded from granite, basalt, etc. as well as the organic materials and organisms, and those eroded stone portions are proportionally common. The organic parts are, however, NOT so common, universally, even with very broad assumptions about panspermia. Minus those assumptions, organic materials and organisms are even LESS common. Soil OUGHT to be proportionally VERY uncommon and therefore more difficult to summon, if universal proportionality rules.

        Oh…don’t forget those tardigrades somebody deliberately sent to the moon recently. All sorts of scientists seem to have their panties twisted into knots over that imbroglio. Somebody seems to expect tardigrades will somehow infect the moon. If that is really possible, they are already there. Toba, Yellowstone and other super volcanoes would have launched some, long ago, and those won’t be the only sources.

        I don’t really expect mature, complete organisms to enable panspermia. That will fall to spores and precursor molecules that are embedded in fragments of rock that travel from one planet to another, or one star system to another.

        The universe is billions of years old and we know broken bits of rock can travel interstellar distances — https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/20/world/first-interstellar-object-solar-system/index.html

        Eventually, some of those bits of rock will prove to be remnants of petroleum deposits, or subducted chunks of ocean floor, or volcanically erupted fragments of rainforest, each carrying different communities of spores, bacteria, etc.

        Then, of course, there will be the rats, mold, slime and other crud attached to spaceships, some of which people have already launched. Did ALL the pieces of MIR reenter? Are there other poorly sanitized satellites in orbit today?

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      16. “tardigrades” are perfectly capable of surviving exposure to hard vacuum including the background radiation in space.

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    3. Ok my understanding is pretty superficial in this space. but here it is.

      I am perfectly comfortable having magic naturally fall into buckets like elements (fire, earth, etc), wards, etc.

      I am perfectly fine with sorcery being defined by the imagination of the person riding the winds of chaos.

      I see no reason for the two to naturally be aligned. If one person envisions earth as rocks, crystals, growing plants and healing, then that is what they get. The fact that this corresponds to 3+ magical buckets is irrelevant. And if your vision of earth did not include metals even though they are part of “earth element bucket”, then you do not get metals.

      I suspect if anyone is a trained wizard or other magic user who then gets a sorcery, human nature implies that their imagination would closely tie to the structures they are familiar with. So it might look identical. Daniel imagined based on his experience with multiple games/books with a deliberate focus on bundling useful features together. So there would be no reason for Daniel’s sorcery to align with anybody’s rules of magic.

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      1. That’s one of the things in the series. His understanding of Earth and elements in general don’t really mesh with midgard’s populations more mystical understanding of the elements. Daniel’s understanding meshes together physics, natural philosophy and Magic as he originally thought of it in games books stories his education Etc. However over time we’re seeing that change little bit by little bit as he learns more about native midgardians understanding of Magical elements. He is in a way expanding his own understanding growing his sorcery as time goes by.

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      2. …and after THRALL, it appears likely that Daniel will be adding to his magical repertoire an understanding of Atlantean sorcery, enchantment, etc.

        He might also try to disguise his new enchanted items so they don’t SEEM at all Atlantean, despite have elements of Atlantean sorcery woven into them.

        What should be really dicey is when he tries to bring something out of the dream space like an Atlantean wizard would. After everything he’s learned from Alanna, you know he must try.

        Then there are the weapons, armor and other magical he wants to craft while in hiding. We’ve already booted that question around once or twice.

        If he is inside Alanna’s tree when he creates the item, it is probably not dream magic.

        If he is in Alanna’s dream place when he creates the item, will he be able to take it back to Kozalin with him?

        If yes, is that Atlantean dream magic, or maybe Daniel’s or Alanna’s dream magic?

        If it is Alanna’s dream magic, maybe that would be heavily influenced by Atlantean dream magic, or maybe it would be entirely her own.

        Looking forward to seeing how the author does that, possibly in Book Five.

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      3. i have seen no examples of Daniel “growing” his sorcery. He might think of a new idea to test against his sorcery, but the sorcery understanding itself is not changing.

        However, he is growing because he is using his mana sorcery to learn new magic quickly. This is not expanding sorcery, but more learning wizardry just like everybody else learns wizardry – – just a hell of a lot faster, especially with anything super complicated.

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      4. Dspring, for “growth” in Daniel’s elemental Mana sorcery I’d be looking for him to seem quicker to understand more complex enchantments, spells, etc.

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      5. For an example of him growing his sorcery you have to look at the moment he looked at the sun tap inside the spire. He did not know at the time that he could use his fire sorcery to convert heat to energy. He took one look at it asked the question re-evaluated what he thought he could do and realized he could do that too. You could think of this as an example of him discovering a ability that he always had. It’s debatable whether or not this could be expanding his sorcery but it’s also a possibility that it could be.

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  7. Coven sizes

    Cerise said that they need they needed a warder and 4 elements for the higher rituals. The determining number is therefore the number of members minus 1.
    She mentioned 5, 7 and 13.
    Daniel later mentioned covens of 9 members.

    The latter number rules out that covens need a prime number of members. In fact subtracting one from Cerise’s number we end up with 4, 6 and 12. These numbers are special. They are the number of corners in the Platonic solids whose sides are triangles.
    9 minus 1 leads us to 8, which is the number of corners of a cube.

    Too much coincidence for my taste.

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  8. Additional sorceries

    OK, one last post for now about sorceries. Odin confirmed that swimming in the void makes sense a second time. So sorceries are additive. Hecate mentioned dealing with Daniel again after a year. Should he pick another swim?
    If so, what sorcery?

    I will give some suggestions and my reasons for making these selections. But what would you pick?
    Daniel knows wizardy. He can study and recreate magic that way. So I think he would pick something

    * that has no example he can study
    * profits from his modern knowledge
    * benefits him in situations speed is essential (combat – let’s be clear)
    * doesn’t trigger the revulsion Daniel has against things going in the direction of mind control

    So:

    1. Space Time – teleportation, space expansion, and the literal killer: gravity. That somebody who knows the concept of black holes should get control of gravity is actually scary
    2. Entropy – a very modern concept, many applications, inclusding isotope separation (mixture entropy). He can filter stuff, manipulate chemical reactions and so on
    3. Souls – the key to true immortality and possibly to making wizards (unless he recoils at the implications)
    4. Life – the counterpart of flesh for the rest of nature and mimicking enzymes
    5. Time – invaluable in combat
    6. Light – laser beams shooting out of his eyes (it is just too cool to not consider), cloaks of invisibility
    6. Illusions – valuable in combat and require a very complex user interface, hard to do with wizardy

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    1. Shapeshifting was already expressed by Daniel as a good add. I like your examples of time, space-time and thought your justification for illusions was well though out.

      Here is a thought though – can you get a sorcery in divine magic?

      Like

      1. That–THAT has to be it! Maybe not an elemental sorcery of divine magic, although that would be useful to Daniel’s future plans, but certainly an elemental sorcery of divine SPIRIT.

        Dryads and Naiads are minor spirits, Gods are major spirits, and Daniel really, really needs some knowledge and use of the spirit elemental sorceries.

        Like

      2. I think quantum mechanics. The fundamental underlying rules for dimensional reality in particle physics. I think this would be an excellent addition as an element which would cover many others including space-time. Though he might actually go insane attempting to mentally assimilated on an instinctive level. That could be one of the real dangers of acquiring a new sorcery. Picking something that would drive him insane to fully understand on an instinctive level.

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      3. “Shapeshifting was already expressed by Daniel as a good add.”

        The best answer to that came from Mara: Reckon? You have elves for that now.

        “Here is a thought though – can you get a sorcery in divine magic?”

        What would it do? Make gods?

        Like

      4. Oliver, the elemental sorcery of divine magic would allow Daniel to begin studying and using the spells/enchantments/whatever of divine beings. Remember, Alanna and the other denizens of the Groves are all lesser divine spirits, so Daniel could learn from them before attempting to study Mara or ask Hecate for training.

        Of course, all that assumes the magic of spirits is different from the magic of wizards, sorcerers, etc. Maybe we would finally discover whether prayers and faith drive the divine magic of spirits and gods?

        If, as we suspect from Daniel’s one experience briefly studying Hecate’s wounded arm, the Gods use mana driven magic that is simply far more powerful and complex than wizards, sorcerers, etc., but essentially the same, then Daniel should choose to learn more about elemental spirit sorcery, since that will enable him to study the core functionality of beings like Alanna, Gaia, Bast, Hecate, Odin, etc.

        Of course, then there is the elemental dream magic Daniel could also learn from Alanna. He might even be able to avoid being trolled through the Void for that, if Alanna can simply teach him.

        Learning dream magic probably requires MUCH more time than using dream magic. Daniel might have to delay that experience for a decade or two, until he has more leisure in which to study.

        I suspect Daniel will find that Hecate is reluctant to see him experience the Void again.
        1) It is a risky exercise that could leave him addled, brain dead or splattered across the horizon.
        2) It might attract the attention of The Others, thereby risking ALL that She has gained from Daniel Black.
        3) If successful, it might entice other desperate gods, like Odin and Loki, to emulate Her experiment.
        4) If wildly successful, it would certainly entice Odin and Loki and others to do the same.

        Hecate is VERY experienced at playing the Long Game. She may perceive that Her current advantage is good and the eventual return on Her investment in Daniel will be even better than Her current return.

        Why fix what is not broken?

        Colin

        Like

      5. I would argue that a sorcery on divine magic would not allow a person to mimic the powers of a god, but would allow them to understand how gods are created, their nature, inherent strengths, inherent weaknesses, how they grow in strength, how they weaken, anchors, etc. It would certainly make it a lot easier for Daniel to figure out how to become a powerful god, or to kill a god.

        It would probably extend to other immortal beings as well, although that would depend on the person imagining the sorcery.

        It might cover other attributes of godhood – such as their ability to channel a lot more mana, their immortality, their ability to generate a lot more mana, etc. Daniel does not necessarily need more mana, but he could certainly use the ability to channel more.

        Obviously the above is very specialized sorcery, but it is also a type of magic that mortals have almost no insight in. Rare knowledge is inherently more valuable.

        Like

      6. “Hecate is VERY experienced at playing the Long Game. She may perceive that Her current advantage is good and the eventual return on Her investment in Daniel will be even better than Her current return.

        Why fix what is not broken?”

        That is an argument for not putting Daniel into the Void. But why not send an ally?

        Like

      7. Hmm…why would Hecate NOT troll an ally through the Void to empower them, somewhat like Daniel?

        Good question, Oliver. I’m guessing the answer is something like our guess about Odin–Hecate is too busy with other plans. Of course, that kind of falls flat because we have the distinct impression Hecate might have spent less than ten minutes, total, finding and acquiring Daniel.

        Of course, Hecate has another reason. She does not want to attract more attention from the Others. If there were too many examples of Void surfers among Her allies, what she did to bring Daniel to Midgard might be revealed.

        Maybe there is another reason. The Void has developing spirits in it. Every visit to the Void is a risk. What does Hecate think of exposing Herself and her activities to other spirits? Will they ignore Her? Will they interrupt? Will they attack?

        How likely is any of that? Maybe it’s likely enough that grabbing Daniel without being intercepted has expended all the good luck She cares to spend? A splashy, extravagant fight out in the Void might attract exactly the kind of attention from the Others that Hecate wants to avoid.

        Like

      8. There’s also the possibility that it just might not work. We don’t know how often somebody getting dumped into the void just goes poof. Daniel could be a very rare exception picked out by her magic. His being able to survive that process with a large percentage of success might be part of the reason she chose him. We also need to remember that that environment is her natural environment. She actually came from there that’s where she was born. I don’t think being in that place would be much of a risk to her as long as she had anchors she could use to get out. But for everyone else it’s probably most likely an instant death sentence.

        Like

    2. I actually prefer number 1 as the option he should choose.

      SpaceTime actually in covers a great deal of space expansion manipulation warp drive capabilities teleportation Etc. But it also encompasses time manipulation accelerating time slowing down time traveling through time freezing time. And many other things that would be interesting additions to his abilities.

      Like

      1. Snicker.

        Playing with Space and Time elemental sorceries would have been fun if Daniel could have dabbled in them even briefly while being trolled through the Void. Since he did not, if he wants to play with Space and Time wizardry he will have to find and understand examples or instructions.

        Maybe that will eventually fall out of what he learned studying the Atlantean wizardry inside the Spire?

        Maybe Elin will casually drop the book/scroll/potsherd into his lap some day?

        Like

  9. Ok this is a minor side thought, but mentioning it anyway. There are a number of choices Daniel is making now that will begin to create problems for him “a considerable distance down the road”. He is establishing precedents and ways of doing things that are going to become “normal” pretty quick. Once established, they can be difficult to change without creating significant unhappiness among your peeps.

    And while Daniel himself is unlikely to have many issues, Daniel’s kids and grandkids will be a different story when they eventually inherited. A historical example was Henry the 8th who had so much personal prestige that he could afford concessions/gifts of privileges/property to get short term support or simply to make his peeps happier. Henry the 8th’s personal authority was so high that none of these concessions hurt him at all. But they made life a lot harder for his successors who lacked that reputation/authority/history.

    Only reason I am pointing this out is that with a little thought, Daniel can minimize many of these issues if he thinks of these concerns. (at very little if any cost to himself).
    .
    .

    1) Daniel is not taxing his people. Daniel is renting space in his markets. Daniel is requiring feudal service in exchange for this dock buildings. But he is not taxing trade in any way, nor is collecting any hearth, land or other tax.

    Now it is obvious that Daniel does not need the money. He is creating gold and silver faster than he can possibly spend it. But at some point Daniel’s own efforts will make gold and silver effectively worthless as a currency. At that point, Daniel will have a huge group of people working for him, lots of expenses and (because his technology has proliferated) he cannot just rake in easy money for building common magic items/conjuring materials. At that point his unwillingness to tax becomes a problem.
    .
    .

    2) Daniel is going down the route of feudal society with his dock workers. Again – an easy decision in the short term and feudalism is a good strategy in a war torn land, but feudalism historically was a real barrier to the free movement of people, economic development, and centralized political authority. It establishes an entrenched aristocracy that (over time and unless carefully manged) starts to have different priorities than their lord.
    .
    .
    3) Daniel’s power relationships are all personal. All the oaths from the dark elves and the nymphs are personal and probably all future groups – with Daniel alone. So when Daniel dies (or moves on to explore the galaxy and never return), what is the succession plan? Whatever empire Daniel forms is likely to quickly break up as many kids divide the spoils, many important alliances weaken/end and different strategic visions among Daniel’s followers sooner or later divide this happy group without Daniel to provide the centralizing vision. This is exactly what happened to Alexander the Great’s empire and the empire of many other rulers.
    .
    .
    4) Daniel relies heavily on good people rather than process or rules. He course corrects as necessary. This has not been a problem up to this point in part as Daniel’s group is still small, his leaders are personally selected and everybody is facing the pressure of Ragnarok to stay loyal/work together. However, once that pressure ends, there is going to be friction.

    * What if the humans start to resent how much authority (a lot!) is being given to non-humans. All the key minions except 1 are now non-human and the 1 is arguably demoted (military commander) or at least a non-human was appointed over him. Yet numbers wise Daniel’s org is overwhelming human and likely to grow more so.

    * The dark elves are merchants and very clan loyal. They are loyal to Daniel as well, but they can be loyal to Daniel and still make decisions that enrich their clans and themselves along the way. If some of Daniel’s followers get very very rich and others do not — that creates tension. Obviously other groups can do the same – it is not just dark elves who can bank cash, favors or information for their own benefit while still being totally loyal to Daniel.

    * Daniel’s advisers are going to disagree. Very easy to manage when the group is very small, but the group is not very small anymore and Daniel does not closely supervise. Does the military get that prime location for their gun range or does that location go for warehouses rented out to local merchants. Clearly trade offs are involved and the military commander might easily judge the outcome of those trade offs differently than the Castilian. Some of Daniel’s minions are going to be very good at managing that process, others will not.

    * Some minions will just not like (personally) other minions and personal dislike will create friction.

    * What if a major group decides to leave (which their oaths to Daniel permit) and takes a lot of very valuable information/tools/knowledge with them. Daniel will not care, but what if they leave after Daniel is gone. His successors might care a great deal. And even Daniel might care if they leave with some of his big secrets – although that is unlikely.
    .
    .
    5) Size creates its own problems. The larger Daniel’s organization gets, the less personal control Daniel can have over the operation and day to day decisions. And the larger the org, the more important some of those day to day decisions become. Many small companies fail when they grow beyond a few hundred people because the CEO cannot scale their management process.

    Like

    1. Dspring, it sure looks like the issues you point out are not only going to be problems for his grandkids, they will be problems for HIM since he won’t be dying anytime soon…or won’t stay dead, anyhow.

      However, for the immediate future of the Daniel Black series, which of these issues actually seems likely to cook off sooner rather than later?

      I bet you will be right about humans wanting more decision making power near the top of Daniel’s organization. That will probably be hidden for a while, since so many poor and lower middle class folk are gaining such fantastic lifestyle advances just by coming to Black Island.

      As for taxes, Daniel is really stuck. All the most valuable and important resources he develops are generated through applications of magic plus labor: food, shelter, fresh water, modern sewerage, medical care, security, etc. Since Black Island is self-sufficient in magic and most material resources, only the labor is in critical shortage and the solution to that is only a short walk distant. Since gold is almost valueless to Daniel, even if his people still assume it has real value, what can he “tax” except their labor, and how can he “tax” that except through feudal “dues” and don’ts.

      He does not have time to teach economics to several hundred, soon to be several thousand people.

      This might actually be one of his first big challenges.

      How will Daniel attract people to study all the science and other knowledge he wants to teach them?

      Assigning them to go to schools seems like assigning them to work in the fields or in the stores, but it isn’t.

      Giving them the fields and stores and helping them operate their businesses seems likely to work for a while, but then the storekeepers will need more magical tooling or more business processes and Daniel will find himself spread far too thin trying to help.

      Giving them the schools won’t work. They need too much time and effort from Daniel, probably Elin also. Clan Nethwillin can probably help Daniel and Elin teach the humans many useful skills, but the clan will want a fair exchange for that, and what they teach will be sinfully close to what their human servants learn as far as Daniel is concerned.

      Fun mess THAT will be!

      Like

      1. “However, for the immediate future of the Daniel Black series, which of these issues actually seems likely to cook off sooner rather than later?”

        (4) clearly. The man does not even have a designated deputy.

        “I bet you will be right about humans wanting more decision making power near the top of Daniel’s organization. That will probably be hidden for a while, since so many poor and lower middle class folk are gaining such fantastic lifestyle advances just by coming to Black Island.”

        Doubtful. Highly doubtful. Assume that you are Steelbinder or Tova. Whom do you have more in common with, Tavrin or an illiterate peasant? Case in point, whom or rarther what did Tova have children with?

        “How will Daniel attract people to study all the science and other knowledge he wants to teach them?”

        A demigod offering secrets of power is not going to have a shortage of disciples.

        “Giving them the schools won’t work. They need too much time and effort from Daniel, probably Elin also. Clan Nethwillin can probably help Daniel and Elin teach the humans many useful skills, but the clan will want a fair exchange for that,”

        They are getting more than a fair exchange already.

        “and what they teach will be sinfully close to what their human servants learn as far as Daniel is concerned.”

        And that is the big point and Daniel is wrong. Just wrong.

        He is heading for a collision with his new reality.

        If I may quote:
        ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, …’
        You see the issue?

        Daniel is not a fool, but neither is he deeply reflective. He is a practical man. But that will not postpone the issue forever. Daniel is headed for a clash between his convictions and reality.

        Like

      2. Sadly, Oliver, in his own experience, Daniel is the best of all possible examples that “all men are created equal.”

        Where did he start and where did he end up?

        Clearly, pluck any random human out of the fields of Varmland, train them and equip them appropriately, you will end up with something like an einherjar…about a hundred years after you really need them.

        All humans have value and Daniel sees that. He does not know how to help them all achieve enough value fast enough to be useful to him and he sees that, too. He insists on saving them until such time as he has time and ideas to make more of them more valuable faster.

        I still like the possibility Daniel might think of a way to create some sorcerers, probably using himself as a model.

        It’s going to be really interesting to see how the author deals with the conundrum of freedom versus dire need.

        My guess is it will be less than intellectually satisfying.

        Most fantasy stories utterly fail to balance these issues.

        Like

      3. “Daniel is headed for a clash between his convictions and reality.”

        Daniel will evaluate this for about 5 minutes and then choose reality. Like you said he has a practical man. And his followers will essentially make the choice for him he just won’t know it until it’s too late and he has to confront the reality of it.

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      4. “Sadly, Oliver, in his own experience, Daniel is the best of all possible examples that “all men are created equal.”

        Where did he start and where did he end up?

        Clearly, pluck any random human out of the fields of Varmland, train them and equip them appropriately, you will end up with something like an einherjar…about a hundred years after you really need them.”

        These statements are contradictory to me. Daniel was picked among billions, possibly trillions of choices. It demonstrates that you cannot predict who is exceptional with certainty. An argument against heritable aristocracy, but not against technocracy.

        “All humans have value and Daniel sees that. He does not know how to help them all achieve enough value fast enough to be useful to him and he sees that, too. He insists on saving them until such time as he has time and ideas to make more of them more valuable faster.”

        Now, value is an extremely loaded word. Utility would be more sensible. And they would have utility as anchors. Daniel will protect them and give them means to express themselves, as long as they pray to the right gods.
        His future won’t be dark. But it will be a bit like ‘Time Machine’ without the cannibalism.

        “I still like the possibility Daniel might think of a way to create some sorcerers, probably using himself as a model.”

        I need to point out that the exact method cannot be repeated readily and the lesser methods have strong drawbacks. They will always serve only minorities.
        And if he were to succeed, it would just show the sad truth: without sorceries you are usually useless.

        “It’s going to be really interesting to see how the author deals with the conundrum of freedom versus dire need.”

        I am afraid I have to disagree. Freedom in the sense of personal liberty is not the issue. Equality is the issue.

        Like

      5. The only thing humans are equal in is “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” nothing else. Everyone who reads the statement created by the USA founding fathers always forgets that part. The founding fathers knew that people were not created equal. It’s a biological impossibility. A person is not equal to them themself on different days they cannot possibly be equal to anyone else.

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      6. Education does not have to be Universal. That’s actually a modern concept that hasn’t held true through most of Humanity’s time. It’s only in the last hundred two hundred and twenty years that education has been mandatory. Before then it was a privilege not a right. It was also something that had to be paid for by the parents. Historically this is Will highlighted. It’s even highlighted in many older westerns where the town would have to get together and pay for a teacher to come in and teach the children. Every one of the parents were willing to send their children to the school to get an education would add to the payroll of the teacher. This was actually normal operation until about a hundred years ago. The teacher might take on a specially gifted child that they found who taught himself how to read many of the founding fathers of the USA fall into this category. Daniel probably be forced to follow a similar model. Not because he doesn’t want every child to be educated but simply because there’s not enough time not enough effort not enough money not enough of whatever is needed to do it.

        Like

    2. “Ok this is a minor side thought, but mentioning it anyway. There are a number of choices Daniel is making now that will begin to create problems for him “a considerable distance down the road”. He is establishing precedents and ways of doing things that are going to become “normal” pretty quick.”

      Somebody is thinking about the future of the Black Empire. Nice.

      “1) Daniel is not taxing his people. Daniel is renting space in his markets. Daniel is requiring feudal service in exchange for this dock buildings. But he is not taxing trade in any way, nor is collecting any hearth, land or other tax.”

      Daniel requires military service.

      “Now it is obvious that Daniel does not need the money. He is creating gold and silver faster than he can possibly spend it. But at some point Daniel’s own efforts will make gold and silver effectively worthless as a currency.”

      Right and that means that I can give only a nebulous answer to that.
      Somebody will have to issue a non-physical currency. Either Daniel finds a way to make an enchantment that cannot be forged (sympathetic magic?) or you will have to create online banking. By that time he will also control banking. Which means that he can create money and do such nice things like create money with a limited life time.

      “At that point, Daniel will have a huge group of people working for him, lots of expenses and (because his technology has proliferated) he cannot just rake in easy money for building common magic items/conjuring materials. At that point his unwillingness to tax becomes a problem.”

      If that technology spreads, what has intrinsic value? Mana, spells, information, slaves and land? A thing is worthless if it can be replicated at will. The plans that allow a factory gadget (I doubt he will continue with stone forever) to make an unlimited number of items, those are immensely valuable.
      Daniel controls four out of five. He will have a monopoly on mana, the universities he founds will be the world’s best, he bans the slave trade – yet military service is required – and he is the ruler, owning the land, all land for practical purposes.

      Government control of energy, health care, education, religion, banking, …
      Distinct classes of people based on inherited abilities …
      An emphasis on innovation, exploration and the military …
      An economy which naturally leads to only the very best manufacturer of an item surviving …

      Do you understand why I think that the choice of a black lightning bolt as Daniel’s symbol is an in-joke of the author?

      Like

    3. “2) Daniel is going down the route of feudal society with his dock workers. Again – an easy decision in the short term and feudalism is a good strategy in a war torn land, but feudalism historically was a real barrier to the free movement of people, economic development, and centralized political authority. It establishes an entrenched aristocracy that (over time and unless carefully manged) starts to have different priorities than their lord.”

      I am going to state it outright. Commoners/muggles won’t matter. There is too little meaningful contribution to the economy you can make to the community in an economy totally dependent on magic, if you cannot even see magic.

      Like

      1. Pick any one of those commoners/muggles and train them the same as a wizard, they will become a wizard.

        Now, a wizard with jewelry or blacksmithing or chicken breeding might be more useful than a wizard two decades down the road, so it makes sense to preserve plenty of humans.

        Hmm…I wonder if Daniel can imbue humans with sorcery?

        He was human himself before swimming through the Void.

        Like

      2. No, they will in general not become a wizard. It takes exceptional intellectual gifts to achieve that.

        Yes, you can draw them through the void. Yet even a man who should be uniquely suited to such an endeavour was credible when he refused it a second time. The process must be dangerous and/or traumatic.

        Like

    4. “3) Daniel’s power relationships are all personal. All the oaths from the dark elves and the nymphs are personal and probably all future groups – with Daniel alone. So when Daniel dies (or moves on to explore the galaxy and never return), what is the succession plan? Whatever empire Daniel forms is likely to quickly break up as many kids divide the spoils, many important alliances weaken/end and different strategic visions among Daniel’s followers sooner or later divide this happy group without Daniel to provide the centralizing vision. This is exactly what happened to Alexander the Great’s empire and the empire of many other rulers.”

      The Black Empire won’t survive his death.

      * nobody will inherit his combination of sorceries and godhood
      * nobody will have his first hand knowledge of a developed and industrialized economy
      * he will have lived for decades or even centuries
      * his death will take a gigantic feat of violence. The collateral damage alone will doom the Empte.

      There is no point in planning for succession. His planning would involve making sure that his descendants survive the collapse.

      Like

      1. Oliver, there’s at least a slim chance Daniel will assure his succession by storing a few backup copies of his spirit in very interesting places. Of course, that requires at least two additional feats of genius.

        1) Creating an actual copy of his spirit, contents included.

        2) Creating a transfer process or other magotech to make the contents accessible.

        Like

      2. Thus solving the issue by making sure it won’t arise. And that jumps too short. He would then better turn himself into a multiplicity. If his harem keeps growing at the current rate, other considerations will force taht anyway.

        Like

    5. I think there will come a point when Daniel prompted by his followers and perhaps his women. Will be forced to contemplate the possibilities of being a nation instead of just a Survivor with a group of followers. We’ve seen him do something similar already. He thinks he doesn’t really need to grow much more and yet he started growing again anyways and had to do organizational restructuring. I think this will happen again only this time his followers might actually do it underneath him maybe even while he’s gone right now there contemplating It And discussing it amongst themselves and coming to the realization that it’s something he wouldn’t want to do but since he’s not there they could do it for him. Daniel might literally come home to find himself the ruler of a Nation. It might even take him several days to realize that he’s the ruler of a Nation. I think that would be a good head against wall moment.

      Like

  10. Loose ends #3

    Who built the mercury golem Elin fought? If it had just been some random monster, it would be easy to explain. But it was a product of sophisticated wizardy or sorcery. Who is living in Tartarus and is so sophisticated that they can build such constructs?

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    1. Oliver, if there’s a nasty monster that might last ten thousand years in Tartarus, maybe that mercury golem would be it? Of course, that assumes it has some sort of mana accumulation system that is every bit as durable as the rest of its construction.

      What are the odds this monster was an Atlantean wizard’s construct that Zeus et al managed to trap in Tartarus?

      If not that, then yes, what or who created that monster and how did it arrive not just in Tartarus but right where it could do the most damage to the group of explorers Elin was with?

      I’d like to blame Loki, but if He can do this once, why is Asgard not yet drowning in mercury golems?

      Like

      1. “What are the odds this monster was an Atlantean wizard’s construct that Zeus et al managed to trap in Tartarus?”

        Why would such a construct start attacking random people? And why would they just happen to attract this golem? How tiny is Tartarus?

        “I’d like to blame Loki, but if He can do this once, why is Asgard not yet drowning in mercury golems?”

        Why would Loki go for all that trouble?

        Like

    2. Who built the mercury golem Elin fought?

      My guess is that the golem was a weapon from a prior GodWar. It attacked people because that’s what it was designed to do. Just a random encounter. Whether we’ll ever read anything more about it remains to be seen, but barring future canonical explanations, that’s what I’m going with.

      Like

      1. All we know is that the Portal was reactivated, not that the golem is responsible for that. Why it re-opened is certainly an interesting question, and one I’d like to see answered at some point.

        Like

      2. I’m more inclined to believe somebody opened the Dark Portal FOR the mercury golem.

        Of course, that begs the question, “Who or What can open the Dark Portal from the OTHER side?”

        I suppose one might argue that a mercury golem is an ideal point scout for magic using combat teams, but it seems like a lot to expect it to be able to rip open a chunk of space-time where a portal recently was, and step through that rent into to portal chamber.

        Maybe the mercury golem can follow a metaphysical spoor through space-time and teleport to attack its prey?

        Like

      3. “Who or What can open the Dark Portal from the OTHER side?”

        Mara’s good at opening things. Letting something unexpected in from Tartarus (she’d already broken the locks the Olympians put in place) to kill a bunch of wizards would’ve been well within her mission parameters. She may have set it up without considering (or caring) that Elin would be caught in it. We don’t know how well she knew Elin at that point.

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      4. “She may have set it up without considering (or caring) that Elin would be caught in it. We don’t know how well she knew Elin at that point.”

        How would the timing work? It looks impossible. Mara must have met her “brother” before he departed on a mission. Yet Elin’s injury must have happened between his departure and his return, or it would not have been a surprise to him.
        Hence Mara was in Kozalin when the golem or whoever sent it reactivated the Dark Portal. And she had absolutely no reason to reopen the Dark Portal from her side.

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      5. Fomenting chaos in the Red Conclave could’ve been the objective. She disrupted the weather working later. She desecrated all those graves so Hel would have something to work with when she invaded.

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      6. Battle of attrition might be another good argument for Mara to have opened the Dark Portal. She has helped deprive the Red Conclave at least two of their top battle wizards, plus a dozen or more other wizards, plus all the casualties of the battles in the Undead assaults. If she did the Dark Portal nastiness also, that would be several more wizards and probably some top quality guards as well.

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      7. “Fomenting chaos in the Red Conclave could’ve been the objective. She disrupted the weather working later”

        That takes us back to the other problem? Where did she get that golem from?

        Like

    3. A demon wizard would be the obvious choice. Not saying it is just saying it would be the most likely and obvious choice. Despite their appearances the demons in this series have proven themselves knowledgeable intelligent and capable of working Magic. There is no reason to assume that they would not be capable of constructing such a Golem.

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      1. “Despite their appearances the demons in this series have proven themselves knowledgeable intelligent and capable of working Magic. There is no reason to assume that they would not be capable of constructing such a Golem.”

        But what did they want? And why did they develop a counter to the Dark Portal? Running into guardian golems in Tartarus is easy to explain. But reopening the portal within minutes of its closure? How? And what was the purpose of developing that capability?

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      2. Oliver, I’d expect there are still LOTS of monsters in Tartarus, whether it’s a plane or a planet or a pocket universe.

        They want what every monster wants…busty babes in brass bras.

        Hence, they must find some way, ANY way to get to Midgard.

        That COULD explain why they revealed an ability to re-open the Dark Portal right after it closed. It might also explain why none of the wizards seem to have been eager to explore Tartarus again.

        Don’t go there–BAD things happen!

        That probably also means Mara would not have been the original culprit. If she was really into messing up the wizards she would have sneaked back to the Dark Portal and ripped an opening to Tartarus for all sorts of monsters to come to Midgard.

        Like

      3. “Reopening the portal within minutes of its closure? How? And what was the purpose of developing that capability?”

        “How” Intelligent Immortal magical creatures with thousands of years to game a system in order to attempt an escape. I can’t possibly count the number of ways they could conceive of to possibly do that. That is your how. Also remember it’s a prison they don’t want to be stuck there. The nature of the prison does not matter it’s a prison they want out. Also according to mythology the Gods use Tartarus as a Dumping Ground for the worst human Souls not just monsters that have ever existed. That would be another part of the how human souls to dump into the process.

        Like

  11. I always thought that nearly all of Daniel’s power growth is due to his mana sorcery. This got me thinking – what prospects does that leave for future growth

    Possibilities Include:

    * Ability to apply a lot more mana to a problem — for example by drawing simultaneously on multiple power stones or making a more powerful power stone.

    * Ability to personally use a lot more magic at one time. Right now there is a limit to how much mana Daniel can manipulate at any one time. He is basically doing all his high mana use cases via enchanted items. But personal mana (aka – casting spells directly) is much more flexible.

    * Magic items that can create/conjure magical objections that are too big to fit within a mana factory. For example, a magic item that can allow any magically talented individual to build a fortified building. That frees Daniel up to do a lot more things — and allows him to scale his construction by several orders of magnitude.

    * Speed: Multiple complains by Daniel in the books that he is not fast enough, or his golems are not fast enough, to compete with dangerous demons, Cerise or gods. Some of this is flesh magic to speed up Daniel’s body’s response time. But if he can enchant war machines that have lightning quick reflexes, that would really up his game. But this can equally represent a faster way for Daniel to cast spells that is more flexible than building a dedicated use magic item like his gun or enchanted staff from Thrall.

    There are also non-mana sorcery based (but assisted) options including:

    * New Magic types: Examples water conjuration, natural light spells, weight reduction magic, wards, or soul magic from prior books.

    * Highly sophisticated and complex applications of existing known magic. The most obvious example of this is Daniel’s flight magic.

    Like

    1. I’m liking all your suggestions, Dspring.

      I’m looking at speed and thinking, yeah, Daniel REALLY needs this, but it’s going to be limited by his own brain’s reaction time.

      How does Daniel make his brain work faster? He made his whole body work faster and had to repair it a LOT while he fought. Maybe Daniel needs a suit of armor that works like his golem in THRALL. Maybe Daniel needs to WEAR a golem like the one in THRALL.

      Maybe he figures out ways for his enchanted items to react instantly for him.

      That probably works okay for a shield, some of the time.

      Not so well for offensive weapons, most of the time.

      Beats being too slow all the time, though.

      Like

      1. “How does Daniel make his brain work faster? He made his whole body work faster and had to repair it a LOT while he fought.”

        Time magic. It is even better when not only his brain but his whole organism became faster. Ordinary people would age themselves too quickly, but that is not an issue to him.

        Like

      2. Hate to say it but he could use his flesh sorcery in conjunction with actual physical activity in Odin’s Realm to fix the problems. He uses his flesh sorcery to increase his speed. Odin’s realm when his body recovers it makes it so that it can achieve that Speed without being damaged. It’s all in the way it was stated when it was described to him by Alana. The Archers eyes get sharper and more keen. The warrior gets faster stronger and better reflexes. Every aspect of the warrior which would normally hit a plateau and not be able to go any farther has those limits removed and they continue to increase in ability. There’s no reason to assume that Daniel could not make use of this in conjunction with his flesh sorcery to accelerate it on himself.

        Like

    2. “* Ability to personally use a lot more magic at one time. Right now there is a limit to how much mana Daniel can manipulate at any one time. He is basically doing all his high mana use cases via enchanted items. But personal mana (aka – casting spells directly) is much more flexible.”

      Is it really that much more flexible? It ties the spell to his location, may require touching nasty stuff and demands his attention.
      He has the pattern buffer. How about he made a universal buffer that can also execute the spell? That is, put the spell into an object (a staff or wand are traditional) and merely observe the effect and modify the spell as needed?
      The only advantage Daniel has over an object is that his spells are interactive, But as long as the spell need not change, why bother himself? The disadvantage of an enchantment is that you need to prepare it in advance and then you are stuck with it. But spells are basically information and he is a programmer. No need to be also his own CPU.

      Like

      1. interesting idea – sort of a half enchanted spell. The spell is pre-selected, but the parameters are defined at the moment, with good options to tweak/customize on the fly.

        I do wonder if gods cast their magic faster than mortals — or is it just their divine attributes that cast faster

        Like

      2. Yes, a general purpose spell processor would be a great new tool for Daniel.

        Of course, it takes us back to that issue of how fast his brain can work, but maybe he can do some time warping to steal critical moments for hasty coding.

        On the other hand, one of the great opportunities in coding is the ability to adapt and re-use old code. Some way to record, edit and run code through his processor is probably required. If nothing else, Daniel will not only want that, his past experience will demand it.

        Like

      3. Just to be clear, Daniel already has a weak version of this. For example, his floating stone rod can move, expand, contract, form spikes and do other simple changes based on some kind of intent control (I presume). Some of his other weapons or devices have similar flexibility within a very defined scope.

        In Thrall, Daniel spoke of the rod of devouring as having a bunch of spells stored that can be quickly cast using the rod’s power source (or the sunspear) which gets a lot closer to what I think is meant by a “universal buffer”. It is not complete flexibility, but the spells are actually cast rather than triggered, so the caster has a lot more flexibility to change basic parameters.

        Perhaps the next step is not a universal pattern buffer, but a much more expanded spell library that can be quick-cast.

        Like

    3. I like all your suggestions but I think the better use of his mana sorcery would be the efficiency of the spells he either create or use, he can see the waste of mana in some spell or how the quantity affects the quality. If he properly focus on it, he might be able to do more with less.

      Like

      1. Paps, I bet Elin would agree with you about Daniel gaining from more efficiently crafting his spells.

        Daniel, however, will shrug, double his pull on his amulet, and blast his opponents with even more energy.

        Maybe he will look at the efficiency of that spell later, when he’s not busy creating his next new weapon enchantment.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are rigth @Colin rigth now he doesn’t have the ‘leisure’ to look for improved efficency, but I am sure he will look into it in the future, more specifically regarding his enchantments.

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      3. Paps, I’m really looking forward to Elin spending some quality time showing Daniel HER projects, just like Cerise already has. I bet Daniel will learn a LOT from that experience, and so will Elin.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They said she looks like a mutant Sasquatch in that form. Maybe Daniels flesh sorcery can repair some of whatever mutated damage genetic anomalies or whatever is wrong with it. Then she would be a large predatory Sasquatch.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Actually, we have not seen Elin’s grendelkin form since she and Daniel worked out the fix to her fae princess form, and of course her Orca form was clean. For all we know, her next opportunity to release The Beast will result in a relatively pure grendelkin…with all the interesting appetites and urges of her papa’s heritage.

        Am I remembering correctly? We only saw Elin take her grendelkin form once, when she chased off Mara?

        Like

      6. Yes we haven’t seen it since then, Ellis is to afraid of that part of herself to let it loose. ‘with all the interesting appetites and urges of her papa’s heritage’ since that is one of the major concerns Ellis have it would be nice to see them both studying it and trying for a solution.

        Like

      7. Or learn how to harness some of that amplifying strength or berserker rage to improve warrior capabilities, heck it might have some sort of healing factor that will be nice to study.

        Like

    4. Another possibility for mana sorcery major enhancement is a wider spectrum defense. Magic seems pretty specific. A barrier to block bullets will not block curses or enchanted blades. A barrier to block soul magic does not stop a lightning bolt. That makes sense when mana is limited as specificity probably reduces the mana cost. But Daniel’s challenge is less about mana and more his vulnerability to some new type of attack he never encountered before.

      Some type of defense that blocks nearly all types of magical attacks, including magical weapons, mage killers, curses, and a host of other attacks would be a great start. Magic has to have some common elements (aka – it is all magic) that he can build a defense to stop. And only mana sorcery could help him find those common elements.

      Right not the closest thing to a common magical effect is a dispel – but there are a lot of things it does not work against and it is not quick reacting enough to operate as a defense unless you create some dispel in depth effect — and then your magical attacks are blocked.

      Like

  12. Divine geopolitics and history

    Thrall had a single sentence used in the context of troop strengths, which gives us a lot of insight into geoplitics and history.

    ‘She gets practically everyone who dies in all of Europe, North Africa or the weatern part of Asia, Daniel.’

    We also know that Egypt is a going concern under its own gods up to the present day. There also was a Roman Empire. What does this tell us about North Africa?
    It looks like the Roman Empire still took most of North Africa. That leaves us two options. Either the Vandal states persisted and introduced the Aesir religion early on. Or the Byzantines retook it and and they later fell to the Aesir.

    But what about Asia? That leaves a question. What do they mean by Asia? In classical antiquity Asia refered only to what we today call Asia minor. Or did she mean the Middle East? Or what today is Russia? We know that there is a Russia. But what is their religion?

    Like

    1. We know that there is a China it’s mentioned multiple times. We also know that it is a very well-established world power in the way it was mentioned. Nothing yet has been said about India. India could be the western part of Asia that is mentioned. But we don’t know enough to confirm that. We do know that in our timeline and world European powers have made military Expeditions into India multiple times. Also Middle Eastern Powers have done the same. If Rome still conquered a great deal of North Africa and the Middle East in that world’s history then they could have expanded to conquer most of India. India could have been conquered by that world’s version of Alexander the Great and it would have been incorporated into a Hellenistic Dynasty before the Romans ever rose up. It’s interesting to think about the alternate history possibilities. So far India has not really been mentioned in any significant way. Their version of Alexander the Great may have succeeded and conquered India. Meaning it would not be a historical concern for the Romans except as potential Greek vessels.

      Like

      1. “We know that there is a China it’s mentioned multiple times. We also know that it is a very well-established world power in the way it was mentioned.”

        Absolutely.

        “Nothing yet has been said about India. India could be the western part of Asia that is mentioned.”

        That would mean that either Egypt is surrounded or the Middle East is also Aesir territory. Also Persia is mentioned.

        “But we don’t know enough to confirm that. We do know that in our timeline and world European powers have made military Expeditions into India multiple times. Also Middle Eastern Powers have done the same.”

        They also took Egypt. Yet the Egyptian gods still rule. It is possible that the emperors of India have Greek or Roman ancestors. Does it matter? Usually such conquerors assimilate quickly.

        “It’s interesting to think about the alternate history possibilities.”

        Yes. If Rome still rose, Alexander’s empire must still have fallen apart. Tht is easiest to see if he died young. I guess monotheism is a ridiculous ideology in Midgard. Hence the history of the late Roman Empire and the Arab expansion must be unrecognisable. I would speculate the the Middle East outside the Arabian peninsula is Hellenistic.

        Like

      2. He wouldn’t need to diy young for his empire to fall apart at his death. It would still happen. It would just take longer and have a much larger impact on world history. Also with him surviving India would be massively changed. It has long been speculated that the reason he died was because he was poisoned by 1 or perhaps multiple of the Indian death cults. If he survived he would have to halt his expansion and figure out a way of dealing with the Indian death cults. I think that maybe he would have eventually later in his life if he lived long enough given up on attempting to deal with and integrate into as well as integrate the Indian population in to his population and genocided the whole lot of them. This was a not uncommon and quite acceptable practice during those ages. Both the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Indians themselves were known for genociding an entire population and salting the Earth. So I think Alexander the Great would have eventually given up on India and wiped out everyone who opposed him there write down to every single man woman and child probably wind up killing most of their temples and major religions in the process.

        If he didn’t have any children or chose any airs his surviving generals at the end of his life may have competed to see who can wipe out the most of the native population of India. The winner gaining that part of the Empire.

        World history Even in our timeline is not a light and fluffy and wonderful and friendly thing. There’s no reason to believe that it would be in Daniel’s New World midgard either.

        Like

      3. I suppose the Middle East could just as easily have been Romano-Hellenistic for a while, like the early Byzantine Empire, or Palmyra.

        If so, it has mostly been conquered by the Aesir-loving nations or there would still be some of the more important Olympian gods and goddesses active, besides Hecate, Poseidon, Prometheus, etc.

        Of course, maybe the Persians took a big chunk of Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, etc. I wonder if Zoroaster happened?

        Oliver, what would you speculate is the pantheon of the Arabian peninsula? I don’t remember seeing any hints about that.

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      4. We have to remember that there are also some geological changes that are from midgard to Earth in our universe. This was pointed out in the third book of the series on the trip to go and retrieve the elves. So the Arabian Peninsula may not even exist on midgard. So far on the large-scale it seems like the same Europe, Africa, Asia, North America probably South America Etc. You get down smaller than that and you start seeing changes. This has already been pointed out in the series. Though other than a bunch of Gods and demigods beating on each other it hasn’t really been explained match.

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      5. Good point about the potential geological variations, DaShoota. Given what the Baltic lakes look like in Midgard, we must wonder if the Black Sea is connected to the Mediterranean yet. Maybe Africa’s Rift Valley has been MORE active in Midgard than our world, and East Africa is a separate major island?

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      6. The problem with such an approach in Midgard is that you would need to fight the gods whose anchors you are about to eliminate.

        That is a question we haven’t touched upon. How did world history develop so closely with the gods engaged in it? It is possible that the similarity is due to how the divination spells and the mechanics of transfer through the void work. But it still leaves the question of plausibility.
        I think the gods have a kind of neutrality pact. You let those stupid humans fight among themselves as long as they do not overdo it. But the population of a whole subcontinent?

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      7. Oliver, who’s to say it’s Midgard that developed a history similar to ours?

        Maybe our history developed similarly to Midgard’s, probably through some sort of divine influence or magic?

        Like

      8. “The problem with such an approach in Midgard is that you would need to fight the gods whose anchors you are about to eliminate.”

        Solutions to the problems of the Hindu Gods have already been hinted at. Most of those Gods would be considered Divine or great Beast. Others would have the form of some form of demon God. Over many Millennia they could have been hunted down and the remainders of them imprisoned in Tartarus. Before India would have even had to face Alexander the Great. They could have been placed into a state of extreme decline civilization wise. All due to external pressures by other Pantheon’s. Something similar could have taken place in Egypt though with its Chief God being fairly human-looking in appearance most of the time due to inherent shape-shifting their civilization could have withstood the changes. It would also explain one of the reasons that all of the older deities in the Egyptian Pantheon were targeted such as Bast.

        There is also the possibility that the Hindu gods could have already experienced their own Ragnarok. This would have left them in a weakened state where the Olympians could have come in and done to them what the Aesir later did to the Olympians.

        If I remember correctly there is some basis in mythology for the Hindu God’s fighting a huge apocalyptic war that they nearly exterminated themselves with. Though for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it?

        Like

      9. DaShoota, I suspect you are remembering the Bhagavad Gita.

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

        I’m not going to buy the Hindu gods being vacated by the Aesir. In fact, I’d put my own money on the Hindi pantheon over the Aesir. There are FAR more Hindi around to anchor the MANY gods in the Hindi pantheon(s).

        We don’t really need an Alexandrian Successor ruling some or all of India. The Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountains are more than sufficient to separate India from Eurasia, just like they have for the last several tens of millions of years.

        Like

      10. The gods do not care about whether you kill some anchors. They only care about the totality – aka you are not threatening the existence of their anchors. They may care otherwise because they are decent people (or other less nice reasons), but they are not going to interfere with fighting between countries out of a desire to protect anchors.

        Remember in the book France and Varmland had multiple wars with each other, but both are Odin worshipers.

        Like

      11. “This was pointed out in the third book of the series on the trip to go and retrieve the elves. So the Arabian Peninsula may not even exist on midgard. So far on the large-scale it seems like the same Europe, Africa, Asia, North America probably South America Etc. You get down smaller than that and you start seeing changes.”

        Not smaller. Younger. The Baltic has the distinction of being the Earth’s youngest ocean. About 7 000 years only.

        Hence its creation falls into the time of gods capable of speech and organized pantheons. If the Arab peninsula were not to exist, the Thetis would still be open and sailing to India would be incredibly easy. Also the Med would be much less salty and a bit higher in its sea level. And its currents would be extremely different. In short the history of classical antiquity would become implausible.

        Likewise if the Bosporus were still closed, the Persians would have just walked into Greece. And no easy shipping of grain from the Black Sea into the classical world. Major, major changes.

        Like

      12. Easier travel between the Hellenistic states and Persia could have prompted the Hellenistic states to unify far sooner. So instead of Persia marching into Greece the grecians could have been the dominant military force and marched into Persia. Just because something is made easier does not necessarily mean did the outcome wood I’ve changed in the favor of the aggressor in our timeline. The city states of Greece were incredibly warlike it was only the threat of Persia that United them. Later you had Alexander the Great go out and Conquer Persia. If the city-states were United earlier and instead of going out and conquering Persia Alexander the Great could have gone out and conquered India perhaps even made forays into China.

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      13. “Easier travel between the Hellenistic states and Persia could have prompted the Hellenistic states to unify far sooner.”

        Then Macedonia will never take over Greece and Alexander, should he still exist, remains a tribal leader wit too many aspirations.

        Like

      14. Or, instead of the strait, if there is a land bridge where Asia Minor meets Thrace, maybe Macedonia becomes a more powerful state because of slightly easier recruiting among Asian Greeks and more exposure to opportunities in Asia Minor.

        Of course, that’s a mixed bag and works both ways. Closer proximity and easier access to Asia Minor for Macedonia might also mean Cyrus or Darius decide to take down the annoying Macedonians before moving against Greece.

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      15. “Of course, that’s a mixed bag and works both ways. Closer proximity and easier access to Asia Minor for Macedonia might also mean Cyrus or Darius decide to take down the annoying Macedonians before moving against Greece.”

        The Persian wars were over 200 years before the rise of Macedonia. Had Persia taken Greece then, there would have been no Greek nation anymore for Macedonia to unite and use in warfare.

        In fact this will alter history radically much earlier. Without the Dardanelles, the strategic importance of the region goes way down. You have just eliminated the Trojan War. No Illiad. There would have been clashes between the Greeks and the Hittites.
        Further onwards, no Roman colonies in the Black Sea. The Roman Empire would be cut off from one of its major sources of grain. And so on.

        Like

      16. Um…no.

        Oliver, if there is no sea level passage of the Dardanelles that would make Troy or a city closer to the end of navigation Mediterranean even MORE important. It would have some sort of “sister city” on the most conveniently nearby Black Sea coast and the grain shipments would have a land portage from Black Sea to Mediterranean coast.

        That not only does not eliminate the Trojan War, it makes the war MORE likely, probably SEVERAL such wars.

        As for the states north of Greece, yes, there was a city state of Macedon that was dominated by Persia BEFORE the era of Philip’s and Alexander’s conquests.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonia_(ancient_kingdom)

        I see there was also a Thracian region the Persians would have to deal with, probably by conquest.

        Yes, the history would definitely have been different, but that’s no surprise. What would be more interesting is how different, or how similar?

        Not that we will ever get to see that…sigh.

        Hey — if you like VERY comprehensive alternate history stories, look up John Hardinge at AMAZON. His books read like expanded timelines, but I found his stories of Australasian, Hapsburg and Romanov alternates quite entertaining.

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  13. We left the Thrall with Daniel, Alanna and Hecate scheming on where they can make the most difference. Presumably this includes times where Daniel is still pretending to be dead and times where Daniel is fine with people knowing he is alive.

    It is very hard to predict what the next plot would be. We know little about the world
    * These encounters are almost certainly going to be in northern African, Europe or western Eurasia – as that is the domain of the Aesir.

    * We know the countries that exist include Varmland, France, England. We know the lands of Italy, Balkins, and Greece are held by humans, but not sure the name of the owning nation.

    * We know the gods of Poseidon is still out there and not allied with Hecate. We know Hestia is out there AND allied with Hecate. Hecate may have good reason to aid either.

    * We know Great Beasts are rampaging in northern Italy

    * We know Gaia sent three armies into France, presumably they are still there. Probably more armies are in other parts of the Aesir territory that did not have Daniel or the Conclave on hand for mass destruction.

    * We know (from book 1) that there are more wizard groups than just the Conclave — although the Conclave is the biggest and most powerful group of wizards by a long shot (at least by public reputation) in Europe. But that implies that there may be equally powerful groups in other parts of the Aesir lands (aka – not in Europe).

    Some Thoughts on Possibilities
    * Should Daniel recruit a lot more nymphs, dryads, niads and similar nature spirits. He has a great sales pitch to these groups now – and they are likely to be supportive of Olympian goals in any case

    * More dark elves might be nice, but some clear indications that dark elf clans are (a) not very nice in general and (b) have intense rivalries with each other. More likely to result in trouble than net aid, especially as Daniel allows people to leave his service at will. It would be extremely dangerous to recruit dark elves who are not genuinely loyal.

    * Daniel is unlikely to recruit new groups of humans to bring back to his keep. A few individuals yes, but not groups. It would be far easier to recruit from Kosalin. However, I can easily see (as can the Empire builders among us) that getting small to mid sized human nations to strongly ally with Daniel could be to Hecate’s advantage both as anchors and politically — nothing makes an alliance more attractive than seeing “others” obviously eager to join — and obviously strongly benefiting from joining. Daniel would be eager as well – in part as he likes to protect humans.

    * I think Daniel will fight his first great beast in the next book – a good test for his new toys.

    * The Summer Court has been mentioned too many times to not make an appearance soon.

    Like

    1. and one more I forgot. That Riven Covenant is heavily used by the Aesir. They likely had it around when they beat the Olympians and probably used it on a lot of the supernatural types that were Olympian. Destroying that Covenant would both weaken the Aesir a lot — and free up a lot of individuals who would like ally with Hecate out of some combination of gratitude and historical loyalty. It is unlikely they used it on any powerful gods, but a lot of 2nd and 3rd tier supernaturals could be freed.

      And Daniel still has that shard from the covenant stone. He can probably use the shard to track down the true location of the stones and blow them up. A good job to do while they think you are dead 🙂

      Just feels like something pretty high on the Hecate to-do list.

      Like

      1. Much of the Nextbook May revolve around that Riven Covenant. I think the next book will see him fighting a great Beast to but it would be as the final battle of the book. That tends to be the running theme of the series. Daniel will spend a great deal of his time in the books scheming to achieve something doing a lot of research invention and moving from one disaster to the next culminating towards the end of the book with a big boss fight. I would wager that the aesir have a great Beast guarding wherever that Riven Covenant actually is located.

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      2. You know what I think would be interesting. I think it would be interesting if Odin found some way of hiding the Riven Covenant where Prometheus happens to be chained. Maybe even carved the Riven Covenant into the Mountainside that he’s chained up on. That’s a location that Gods cannot get to only Mortals and demigods can get too. And that great beast in the form of that eagle is always guarding against them. It would be a case of using Zeus’s own machinations against him. Zeus creates a location to chain up an ancient Titan God. He makes that location so that no God can get to it at all. Odin finds out that Mortals and demigods can get to it. He gets one of the demigods under his employ to sneak in there and either create or leave the Riven Covenant where no one else can get to it. Prometheus might actually be staring at the Riven Covenant the whole time while everybody’s looking for it. That would be amusing.

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      3. Twisted and torturous, just like Zeus.

        Of course, Prometheus always looks a few chess moves beyond the twisted torture…and smiles.

        Sucks to be Zeus.

        Odin’s not doing so well right now, either….

        Colin

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      4. That would wind up being pretty funny. Zeus pulls a whole bunch of favors with a whole bunch of different pantheons and God’s to create a space that God’s and other Immortals cannot go. He imprisons Prometheus there. And every one of those other guys starts using that same place to hide their most valuable and most powerful and possibly most secret objects. Prometheus is looking around and everybody has taken all of their super weapons all of their Covenant Stones runestones everything else of supreme value that they want nothing to ever touch and it’s all around him. Prometheus is looking at all of this knowing that his machinations will get him free someday surrounded by the greatest treasures of all of the pantheons that Zeus made deals with. That would be incredibly funny and manipulative.

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    2. “* We know the countries that exist include Varmland, France, England. We know the lands of Italy, Balkins, and Greece are held by humans, but not sure the name of the owning nation.”

      1. The British Isles are ruled by fairies, though. In that sense, there is no England, not as a political power. Are they identical to the Sommer Court?

      2. I actually doubt France exists. Or Span for that matter in our sense.
      Kozalin geographically speaking is Hamburg or something very close to it. The fortifications of Kozalin were built against the Saxons. They are used in the present time against the Franks. That implies that the Franks took the Saxon lands. That is historically exactly what happened around 780. The Saxons were tribes in what is to us northern Germany and the Franks were teh Germanic tribe of the Franks under Charlemagne, not our French.
      This suggests that there is no unified Germany either, but some realms based on migration era tribes.

      Without Islam and Egypt being between the Arab peninsula and North Africa, there cannot have been an Arab conquest of Spain either. That means that the history of Iberia must be unrecognisable from around the year 700. The capital may still be Toledo and the king trace back his line to the Visigoths.

      3. We know that Russia exists, at least in a cultural sense. The second book mentioned Russian mercenaries. We do not know their religion.

      Like

      1. Oliver, I agree we don’t absolutely know the religion of Russia, or Russian mercenaries, HOWEVER, we do have reason to suspect two things:

        1) If they actually call themselves Rus they are descendants of Vikings.

        2) If they are descendants of Vikings and there has been NO Christian era on Midgard, Rus probably were and remain Aesir followers.

        Basically, they will be much the same as Varmlanders, but probably more rustic, pun intended.

        Now, if we want a stranger “Russian” pantheon, we should dig into whatever developed around Kiev with no Byzantine Christians but probably plenty of Goths, some Rus and who knows what leftovers from the Huns, Alans, etc.

        Incidentally, the modern Black Sea coastline is only about twelve or fourteen thousand years old, so while I totally agree with you about the Persians and other invaders of Greece, Thrace, etc., your observation about the age of the Baltic Sea might somehow apply to the Black Sea as well.

        Remember, at least one Persian invasion happened over a “bridge of ships” so it’s not like the Bosporus was much of an obstacle in our world, where there is no magic worth mentioning.

        I’m thinking Darius or Cyrus of Midgard could have managed his own bridge of ships, or maybe even a crew of Earth magi to raise a stone bridge.

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      2. There was a reference in the book to Varmland and France fighting wars in book 2- and another reference by Brand about the fighting in France. France as a nation absolutely exists.

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      3. Dspring, we can easily agree that France as a nation exists on Midgard, but WHO lives there?

        Did the Romans invade and take over from the Celts? Did the Franks invade and take over from the Romans? Did the Burgundians take a piece of the south? Did the Norse take Normandy and then England?

        What about England? Did the Celts ever establish a foothold there? Did they ally with the Summer Court? Did they and the Summer Court give Rome a good drubbing? Did the Romans with all their iron and engineering beat the Celts and drive the Fae into hiding? Did the Celts flee Roman conquest and hide in Brittany?

        Is France a pot-pourri population, or mostly Franks?

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    3. “* Should Daniel recruit a lot more nymphs, dryads, niads and similar nature spirits. He has a great sales pitch to these groups now – and they are likely to be supportive of Olympian goals in any case”

      A sales pitch he must not let reach Odin’s ears. His cover about needing a few weeks or months to come back from being dead is a lot less convincing if dryads who went missing a few hours after his death turn up on his island.

      Generally speaking, more nature spirits obviously does not hurt. But concentrating on it? That’s another question. Daniel needs magic soldiers now. Dryads and nymphs are not really that organized. I know, people will not like it, but in many aspects a clan of dwarves would be ideal.
      Failing that some mythological beings good at magic and war. Amazons, centaurs, a minor demigodess with a troop with Myrmidons …

      Like

      1. Ha!

        Amazons and centaurs would totally fit into what Daniel is building.

        I wonder how the Fimbulwinter is impacting Themiskyra? Is the original location in Asia Minor somehow threatened or completely exposed? Did the modern cartoon version of Themiskyra as a South American island happen and is it somehow threatened by climate change?

        Oliver, if the author cannot or will not bring dwarves in allied to Black Island, how about gnomes? Probably less warlike, but more magical and maybe even more magotechnic? Of course, they might be more likely to be loyal to Gaia….

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  14. Translation Question – How does the translation spell work with names.

    Specifically, there was a reference to Russian mercenaries. Russia is a specific term in our world that refers to a country names Russia. There is a history behind that name that is unlikely to have happened in the same way in this world.

    Is Daniel hearing the sounds — aka he is actually hearing sounds that correspond to “Russia”?

    Or is he hearing a name that his translation magic translates to “Russia”?

    If the spell is translating, then how is it making the connection? Would any large steppe nation in that general region get the name Russia. There are a lot of very familiar names (Russia, France, Balkans, Greece,England, etc) so either the history is very closely paralleled that of our world (unlikely but possible) or the translations spell is approximating things (more likely) or we are just way overthinking things with the names (probable) that the author is just using to provide some geographic association to us readers.

    Like

    1. It could be something completely different. After all the translation ring has entire languages in it. Using the ring is as if you just know the language. Something he said in the latest book makes me suspect that the language translation spell/magic works like that.

      “When describing his abilities to the moon ghost captain he mentioned AOE as a single word in the local language.”

      Like

      1. Right. But what does the translation spell do if it hits a concept it finds no direct equivalent?

        It does not just stop. We have at least two instances of that.

        1. Daniel using it to explain radiation weapons to Hecate.
        2. Daniel using “firepower” in conversation.

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      2. That is exactly what makes me think it’s not actually a translation spell/magic but instead a download interaction type deal. Like the ring works. It’s called a translation ring but it’s not actually translating anything. Wearing the ring is like having a new language just suddenly learned as if you are a native speaker. The ring knows the languages you are doing the interpretation.

        It’s the only thing I can think of that would give him the ability to instantly know the word for area of effect. Their language has a single word for it his language has almost a sentence or a letter based abbreviation. There is no English word for area of effect there is AOE but that’s it and that’s just an abbreviation not a word. And yet he suddenly knew the word in the local language for area of effect. I would have expected the people around him to look at him strangely and maybe a giggle or laugh on occasion because he looks like an old Kung Fu movie talking. However that does not seem to be taking place in the books. He speaks in entire sentence one word comes out. All that lip movement I’m pretty sure Cerise would have fallen out of her chair giggling and laughing watching him explain something that their language has a single word for. That scene is nowhere in the books.

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      3. I have to agree with you on that translation ring, DaShoota, and for that matter, whatever language enchantment Hecate gave Daniel before he arrived on Midgard.

        It really must be plugging in the entire language to his brain, then leaving his intelligence to apply the words and concepts.

        Otherwise, there are ridiculous levels of artificial intelligence translation power built into some of the conversations Daniel has with others.

        Then there is that whole set of conversations we hear only by reference, when Demetrios excavated modern military terminology and usage from Daniel’s memory.

        Those have to have been FULL of mumbled acronyms followed by sharp questions, followed by extensive descriptive answers.

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      4. Also in the last book I think we have an example of him summoning manna. Or something close enough to manna to be used in spells and enchantments namely essence. Remember he created that bottle which summons Essence refilling itself automatically for his Hearth witch.

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      5. “Like the ring works. It’s called a translation ring but it’s not actually translating anything.”

        I would agree if not for the scene when Daniel explains radiation weapons to Hecate. She is getting concepts when Daniel speaks. I am forced to conclude that the translation spell can do things to the mind of the listener.
        I am afarid the assumption that translation ring and translation spell work by the same mechanism, is wrong.

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      6. Oliver, any time Hecate is involved I assume She is cheating, under the same logic as, “If you’re not cheating you’re not trying.” We know Hecate is VERY trying, as well as trying very much, not to mention She TELLS us she cheated to recruit Daniel.

        We have reason to believe Hecate’s translation spell cast on Daniel MIGHT be different from the elven translation ring, but we don’t know for certain Hecate had nothing to do with the basic thaumaturgy at the roots of BOTH spells.

        She IS a goddess “of magic” after all.

        On the other hand, Her translation spell might be totally different in function than the ring.

        I have to say I don’t like the idea of a spell reaching out to the listener’s(s’) mind(s) and providing context sensitive explanation(s).

        That seems like a spell that needs a powerful Artificial Intelligence core, which is rather more than I want to see in Midgard’s magic.

        Colin

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      7. She may be a bad example to use. Remember she used her devonation spell to learn about Daniels world. She even knew about things happening in his world that he did not tell or explain to her. So she had to have had a spell look around absorb knowledge somehow and downloaded into her mind before or during her conversation with Daniel in his hospital bed.

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      8. DaShoota, check out Daniel’s early morning discussion with Hecate in the sled on the frozen river in BLACK COVEN.

        “Your translation spell gives you an explanation of ideas like that as soon as I mention them, right?”

        “A decent one, yes. Well, you are correct.”

        I’m not sure HOW Hecate is obtaining the explanation of ideas, but it seems explicitly clear WHEN that happens, right?

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      9. Exactly it’s her translation spell not his. He isn’t transmitting ideas into people that we can tell.

        I wonder if she linked her personal translation spell to the same type of divination spell she used to find him through the Multiverse. That should be possible for her and it would allow her to understand any language and any concept by effectively downloading the needed information directly into her. She could have used something similar to that to create his translation spell.

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      10. Actually we do know they are different. Daniel described the translation ring as someone building a series of translations between two specific languages — it is basically something like a internet translation software. What you say is translated into the other language based on the pre-defined rules. I suspect the ring would have issues with non-standard questions or idioms.

        Hecate translation gives concepts and idea — it is in many respects functions like a sorcery rather than translation. A language sorcery if you like.

        Daniel’s translation seems to be a third option. It has converted his language into the native language of Varmland and can apparently deal with even very tech earth terminology, although as the concepts do not travel the idioms still may not make much sense. The ring translation is clearly more primitive. My guess is that Hecate gave Daniel a one time “swap” of language utilizing her language sorcery. I wonder if Daniel can even speak English anymore. Every concept Daniel knows (language wise) was given a Varmland equivalent as best as the sorcery could.

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      11. If Hecate replaced Daniel’s knowledge of modern American English with a modern Varmland language, how would that impact his memories of books he read that would have been printed in English?

        I like the total replacement idea, but I suspect it would mess up his memory of printed words.

        Hmm…maybe THAT’s why he cannot remember how to create a Geiger counter?

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      12. Not true. When Daniel examines the ring he says that it has entire languages in it. He did not say anything about it actually making a link between languages and translating them. He called it a translation ring because everyone else was calling it a translation ring. But when he looked at it and examined it he said it had entire languages in it. It also gave him the idea to wonder whether or not he can create something like that that had skills encoded into it. This implies that whatever it is doing it is interacting with the user’s mind / brain. Otherwise it would not be capable of giving somebody skills. As he himself speculated about.

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      13. I am not sure it would mess up his memories. Hypothetically, he might have a memory of his mom calling him to dinner. The fact that dinner to him is now pronounced “Glob” does not change the fact that he remembers his mom calling him to dinner. To be honest, not sure Daniel can tell the difference – he seems to have transitioned language wise extremely seamlessly.

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      14. Yeah, that seamless language transition is probably the place to start, Dspring.

        We know Daniel did not speak whatever melange of Saxon/Dane/Gotlander is common in the Kozalin region before Hecate recruited him. She enchanted him to understand and speak whatever works best for Cerise. Lucky for Daniel that was not modern Greek!

        Then there’s the apparent fact that everybody else he meets in Kozalin seems to speak the same language. No foreign travelers in the streets chattering away that he does not understand at all. Maybe I missed that? Maybe it just didn’t rise to the level of the story….

        Of course, the dryads have a different language, as does Clan Nethwillin, but all of Daniel’s communications with them are just what we would expect — many dryads or elves and retainers speak what is gibberish to him, while a few speak the language he understands.

        Because of that, I don’t believe Daniel’s speech enchantment projects meanings into listeners’ minds at all. If it did, he’d be able to speak with anyone, no matter what language they knew.

        What does that leave us with?

        If Hecate enchanted Daniel with some sort of continuing spell that translates for him, why was it not a problem or at least noticed when the coven bond was created? Why was it not destroyed on one of the several occasions when all of his personal magic was dispelled?

        I suspect it cannot be an enchantment that continues as long as Daniel needs translations.

        I suspect what Hecate did was to enchant Daniel in a way that replaced all the words in his brain with words She knows. Same thing with grammar, punctuation, etc.

        That’s a one time use spell, after which Daniel would not be able to speak or understand modern English from our world.

        Alternatively, Hecate could have ADDED every word and grammar rule She knows to Daniel’s brain just like a learned second language. This seems less likely, as even a person who started learning as a very young child and speaks multiple languages as a native will be aware of using one or the other, maybe not all the time, but at least some of the time.

        Of course, Daniel still has ideas in his brain that can only exist in the language he spoke before coming to Midgard.

        When he slips up and uses those concepts, does he speak modern English? Does he actually say “radio” when he is thinking about radio?

        I suspect he actually does not. His brain is probably sticking together several words to make up a new one, like “wordsfarsender” just like happens sometimes in German.

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      15. If she replaced the language in his mind with whatever was spoken locally this would work extremely well with English which would have been his language. English is a composite language anyways composed of words that are in many ways descriptive sentences in Greek or Latin. Four examples Pangea. Pangea is a composite word pan meaning all Gea meaning land. Many words in the English language are like this. So replacing the English language in somebody’s mind would be a lot easier than replacing a lot of other languages. Provided you actually knew all of the root languages that English is derived from. This is something I do not think would have been a problem for Hecate. Since most of the English language is composed of Greek, Latin, Norse and Germanic words.

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      16. “That’s a one time use spell, after which Daniel would not be able to speak or understand modern English from our world.”

        But Daniel notices within seconds after materialization in Avilla’s basement that he is no longer speaking English. Not that he and Cerise magically are speaking the same language. No he is sure that his own language has changed.
        Furthermore Daniel can still read and write and he still recognises Latin letters. If we can assume that the Varmlanders use runes for ordinary writing, not just for enchantments.

        And there is the pesky fact that Hecate got concepts from mind while he was talking about radiation.
        Very hard to explain without an ongoing effect. And Avilla’s and Cerise’s witchcraft come from deities. They also survived the covenbond. As did the blessing on Tina. The spell does not force him to speak Varmlanderish, it enables him to do so. It is therefore not a binding, hence compatible with the formation of a coven bond.

        We also were directly told that the translation magic did something funny to “fallout”. But admittedly that does not tell us when that happened.

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      17. Oliver, I suspect your observations about Daniel’s first few minutes in Avilla’s cottage basement support my second option: maybe Hecate’s language spell ADDED a second lexicon to Daniel’s brain. I’m thinking I might like that better, actually. It does not require messing with the bulk of his memories and changing everything English to Varmlandische.

        Actually, we do not know for sure that Hecate pulled or received nuclear concepts from Daniel’s mind when he was describing radiation hazards to Her. Check out this line in BLACK COVEN:
        (Daniel) “Your translation spell gives you an explanation of ideas like that as soon as I mention them, right?”
        (Hecate) “A decent one, yes. Well, you are correct.
        Brown, E. William. Black Coven (Daniel Black Book 2)

        The phrase “Your translation spell gives you” has several possible meanings.
        1) Hecate is using some translation spell of Her own on Herself to understand Daniel. Is she pulling ideas from him or the multiverse?
        2) Daniel is referring to Hecate’s translation spell She cast on him when She recruited him, and it actually does broadcast translation concepts into the minds around him. I really don’t like that solution.

        Imagine how Steelbinder’s multiple layered spell defenses would react to that.

        Imagine how Brand would react to a spell from Hecate providing him translations from Daniel’s mind. Would Brand recognize the spell as Olympian, or specifically as Hecate’s? Ouch.

        Then imagine Odin’s reaction. Double ouch.

        Sadly, I’m beginning to wonder how any of this could possibly work without generating ridiculous consequences.

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      18. “Oliver, I suspect your observations about Daniel’s first few minutes in Avilla’s cottage basement support my second option: maybe Hecate’s language spell ADDED a second lexicon to Daniel’s brain.”

        They are consistent with it, but also would work equally well with a continously running translation spell.

        “The phrase “Your translation spell gives you” has several possible meanings.
        1) Hecate is using some translation spell of Her own on Herself to understand Daniel. Is she pulling ideas from him or the multiverse?
        2) Daniel is referring to Hecate’s translation spell She cast on him when She recruited him, and it actually does broadcast translation concepts into the minds around him. I really don’t like that solution.”

        Theoretically yes. But how would Daniel know that Hecate is running a translation spell on herself? And even if he knew, how would he know what it does? Everything points to solution (2)

        “Sadly, I’m beginning to wonder how any of this could possibly work without generating ridiculous consequences.”

        There is a universally agreed upon advanced translation spell and Hecate used it.

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    2. Dspring, you make a good point with your comments about Hecate’s translation enchantment that enables Daniel to understand Varmlanders.

      As for the interpretation of our language referents in Daniel’s head, you are probably correct that we are over-interpreting words.

      On the other hand, I’d be happy to interpret some geography. Somehow, I suspect that the same rivers and land forms which caused Goths and Vikings to follow the trade and invasion routes they did on Earth will generally be similar on Midgard.

      Hence, there will be some sort of Goth invasion of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia about 2,000 years back.

      Also, there will be some sort of Viking invasion of northern Eurasia, following the coastline and rivers, about 1,000 years back.

      The Vikings are assumed to be Aesir worshippers.

      The Goths and their descendants are something older, possibly somewhat similar to ancient India and Persia.

      Of course, magic and mayhem in Midgard will certainly result in many interesting variations from Earth history and pre-history.

      Colin

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  15. Should Daniel Recruit more mages? If yes, How?

    Advantages:
    * Mages can cast their own spells/rituals and make their own magical equipment — and thus do not require the degree of hand holding or equipping that other troops have.

    * Mages are far more flexible than other kinds of troops – even troops equipped with Daniel’s fun toys

    * Mages can get a huge power boost from even modest mana amulets – and mana amulets themselves will grant no insight into the generation of mana itself as they are just receivers from the actual mana generators. (Aka a safe buff to provide while maintaining Daniel’s secrets)

    * Mages can swear magical oaths that are binding (with some limits)

    Disadvantages
    * Mages are best positioned to learn Daniel’s secrets. This does not have to be malicious, but the more people that know these secrets, the less “secret” these ideas are. And if you give enough exposure to Daniel and his devices, the mages will start to learn some of his secrets.

    * Most mages already have bound by oaths or other loyalties. They are unlikely to swear to Daniel unless desperate. (aka – like the Dark Elves) or in exchange for magical secrets

    * The pool of highly trained mages is pretty small. Yes I am sure there are a bunch of “somewhat” trained mages out there and recruiting them would be helpful, but their skill and power (even boosted) is not likely to match that of a master mage. Daniel really needs master mages unless there is some real breakthrough in Daniel’s ability to create flexible magical tools for other mages.

    * There are a lot of supernatural beings out there that function (more or less) like mages, but their magic is more limited/focused and most have real issues learning something new.

    * “Willing” mages could easily be spies or assassins. In fact, arguably they would make the best spies or assassins in this world. The great non-mage assassins typically need powerful magical equipment to threaten Daniel, but that equipment itself becomes an identifier. So these individuals are not likely to pass muster as Daniel recruits. But mages have the perfect excuse to have loads of magical equipment plus their own spells are quite dangerous.

    Other Thoughts
    * Daniel’s mana amulets do provide a big power boost, but mana amulets combined with Daniel’s rapid enchanting techniques provides at least a 2X or 3X boost on top of the mana amulet by itself. But these secrets cannot be shared without actually teaching a bunch of mages how to do this themselves.

    * I am sure Hecate will want to recruit move supernatural races and groups – but I do not know enough about these groups to know where to begin. Daniel does not want demons, no other dark elf group is likely to be desperate enough to be trustworthy, nature spirits are a possibility, summer fey as well – but they would never be more than allies. I suppose some faction of Dwarves could be recruited if they were sufficiently desperate and politically separate from the Aesir loyal majority. But more likely any new supernatural groups would be just that – new.

    * I think it would be awesome if Daniel could recruit a Great Beast of his own. I am sure that out of any large group of intelligent Great Beasts, there is at least a few that are not very interested in exterminating people provided they are able to otherwise pursue their own interests. But this is still a very unlikely scenario.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Regarding mages @Dspring, I think that the safer but more time consuming option for Daniel would be taking disciples, I don’t know the customs in Varmlad but usually a Master-disciple relationship tends to be quite close and stronger that family ties, so maybe it could deal with the loyalty issue. Now recruiting other mages as you stated is a double edge sword because he will be inviting snakes into his home sort of speak, unless he can manage to magically bind them in an oath and even so that’s not totally sure because they may have means to break them. Is necessary but to risky, he would do better in focusing on recruiting more magical beings as retainers.

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      1. I am not sure i would say Mages are snakes. They are just strangers with their own loyalties and unlikely to start out strongly loyal to Daniel.

        Up to this point, Daniel has only worked with people who have good reasons to be loyal. Daniel either saved their lives, pays them very well, provides security in a very dangerous time or otherwise gave them good reasons to be personally loyal.

        Given there are a thousand some odd people working for Daniel, I am sure some of them are not that loyal. Not disloyal necessarily, but not super loyal either. It is a hard time and you find refuge where you can.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. HAHAHAHA you are right @Dspring Mages aren’t snakes it’s just that I lack a better wording to express my opinion. So far it has been shown that Mages tend to have their own agenda always in play. Not that the other groups don’t have one, but so far it seems obvious that they can work Daniel wishes and desires into their own without conflicting with him, I don’t know how many mages would be able to do that without reaching for more. They all want to survive but the groups so far are willing to serve Daniel in exchange of survival, the other mages I am not sure would be able to put up with it for long or at all. Maybe Daniel should wait till they are more desperate.

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    2. Dspring, it happens that Daniel has already recruited something like two hundred magi.

      Virtually all of Clan Nethwillin is trained and experienced with very sophisticated spells and enchantments, including tactical combat magic.

      If there is a large group that might be able to learn and adapt Daniel’s magical shortcuts, MAYBE a significant number of dark elves would be a good place to start, especially since Hecate has already thoroughly explained how loyal they will be.

      This really seems like the best group to spend the most time with first, for the best return — not that he will have much time to give them after giving Avilla, Cerise, Elin, Alanna and maybe Tina a bunch of quality time, after first giving himself some quality time to finish enhancing his body, transfer into it and then produce a new set of armor and weapons.

      Busy, busy Daniel, as always!

      Like

  16. What modern device should Daniel recreate in the magic world. We already have space heaters, lights, guns, tanks, radios, video cameras, hovercycles, blimps, mortars, machineguns, “thermal” clothing, indoor farming, elevators, lego walls,

    So what is next to be invented? To be clear, not looking for creative new magic as other threads covered that, but specifically modern devices that Daniel would really benefit from a magic equivalent that can be produced in volume (aka – not just for Daniel like his personal flight magic).

    My personal ideas
    * Trucks and Bulldozers/snowplows: Obviously something that could be a natural extension of the armored skimmer, but sufficiently different that it would take some real design work. Trucks are basic transport of heavy goods – always very useful in any community. Bulldozers/snowplows are excellent heavy machines for clearing roads and rubble – something Kozalin (and no doubt other cities) need a lot. Although in all honesty, heavy labor is one of the few good uses for refugees that are not military suitable, so this may not be the top priority in the short run.

    * Long Distance communication/teleconference: The snow conditions make long distance travel hard and dangerous, but there is still a need for key leaders to coordinate and share ideas. A good way to order more food to be shipped as well and set up trade deals. A long distance communication, especially something like “facetime” would be pretty useful even if the enemy could listen in. A secure version would be very useful indeed. (I see radios as short range and only oral and not secure).

    * Medical Bay: Ok this is really science fiction, but a bed that a person could lie on when injured that would significantly accelerate the natural healing rate would be great.

    * Antibiotics/Vaccinations: Some kind of magical preventative that can be mass produced and disseminated to prevent/minimize the worst disease outbreaks.

    * Automation: Specifically some magical way to better manage magical complexity when designing new rituals or complex spells. This would allow ordinary casters to easily modify their rituals to accommodate mana amulets as just one good example. Another might provide minor adept with two dozen good complex offensive and defensive spells “that they can cast” that they lack the skill to learn on their own. A third might be some magic that helps new adepts learn magic faster through better visualization – although this is a longer term solution.

    * GSM food: Alter the food Daniel is growing to provide a wider range of nutrients and potentially proteins. Hell you can add in cold resistance, better health and other little perks that hestia witches can add to their meals. create Kelp versions that can grow in the river and feed thousands more at minimal cost.

    * Mass Transit: One of the major transformations of the industrial age was mass transit (ships & trains primarily) as it allowed people to live farther than a mile or two from their place of employment. It also allowed goods and people to move around freely between communities and made mass manufacturing profitable as you could ship goods all round the world. The options for this are rather limited, but Daniel could easily expand his fleet of blimp-ships and create an equivalent fleet of magic powered ocean ships. That could enable a lot of food to be brought in, a lot of trade goods to be exported, allow local leaders to re-balance refugee populations, evacuate at risk settlements, alleviate material shortfalls to some extent and move troops around.

    * Weather Service: Anything that can tell Daniel what weather is likely in the larger region — and alert him when someone is playing games with the weather and where — would be helpful.

    * Radar, Sonar, Satellites and Drones: It is always a challenge to no of the movement of armies and get some intelligence on the movement of key individuals (always hard to track). This even more so in the magical world as key individuals are much more important and magical options of movement are much more varied in than in the modern world. But some kind of scrying magic that can automatically detect many of these details would still be of significant assistance. It would need to use many methods — including some unique to the modern world – to avoid being spoofed to easily.

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    1. I agree with everything I don’t mention.

      * Trucks and Bulldozers/snowplows

      What would they do what a force construct cannot do? I see no point in creating civillians vehicles, if a pure spell can also move stuff around

      * Medical Bay

      Any reason that would be better than an amulett?

      * Antibiotics/Vaccinations

      Any reason that would be better than an amulett?

      * Mass Transit:

      Would any vehicle beat magical gates or the distance warping magic Asgard is using?

      I would add:

      Cameras, microphones and recorders – ways to record messages and send recorded messages

      Homing missiles – just too useful in combat

      Mine fields – just too useful in combat

      telephones – communication over wire is inherently more secure

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      1. Responses

        What would they do what a force construct cannot do? I see no point in creating civillians vehicles, if a pure spell can also move stuff around

        *** Force constructs would need Daniel or at least some other mage to operate via intent controls. Trucks and plows can be run by anyone with 15 minutes of instruction, especially if you put a governor to keep speeds low.

        * Medical Bay

        Any reason that would be better than an amulett?

        ** no reason.

        * Antibiotics/Vaccinations

        Any reason that would be better than an amulett?

        *** this is primarily a preventive measure for me. Why force everybody to wear an amulet when you can do a one time thing. Plus I think other non-Daniel magics can probably do this better – perhaps with some assist from Daniel’s life sorcery. But fundamentally the goal is to mimic the outcome of the modern device, not the form factor.

        * Mass Transit:

        Would any vehicle beat magical gates or the distance warping magic Asgard is using?

        *** Those require life energy or something similar. Plus I suspect they are very complex bits of magic that require a lot of mana. The boats for mass transit would be fairly easy to make – and can be operated by normal people not mages (one of the big strengths of daniel’s magic). Now if Daniel figures out how to do this, then the answer might change. But there has to be a reason the conclaves portal is so unique and we cannot just assume that Daniel can bypass that reason.

        Your adds are all good except telephones. I am not sure wire based communication would be inherently more secure than any other method for transmission vs magical interception. Plus laying wire down between locations would be a huge hurdle unless your solution is limited to Kozalin.

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      2. Gates

        “Those require life energy or something similar.”
        “There has to be a reason the conclaves portal is so unique and we cannot just assume that Daniel can bypass that reason.”

        He already showed that he has the ability to bypass that. He just needs a small sample of human Essence / life force. With the creation of Aviles little Essence bottle he has proven that he can summon essence. This seems to be a part of his manna sorcery. Which also means that he should have the power to summon manna since Essence seems to be a type of manna. But the point of it is that he could create a fuel tank for the gate that keeps itself full without the need for sacrifice. He probably just hasn’t realized that he has the ability to summon the needed types of material since he finds the gate repellent in its very nature.

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      3. The Dark Portal runs on souls, but we’ve seen other teleporters that don’t appear to. There are the platforms in Valhalla that transport the warriors there to the Golden Fields, there’s the platform that Mara used in Skogheim to get to her mom’s castle, and the Dworks have their “earth gates”. It’s certainly *possible* that all of these run on souls, but only the Dark Portal has explicitly been described as “powered by necromancy”. And that runs on *human* souls only, which implies to me that the Runesage was just being particularly evil rather than that power source being necessary to un-tethered (send anywhere) teleportation.

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      4. “*** Force constructs would need Daniel or at least some other mage to operate via intent controls. Trucks and plows can be run by anyone with 15 minutes of instruction, especially if you put a governor to keep speeds low.”

        Why? Why can’t your control lever also be a force construct? They can react to external forces.
        Failing that, you can have a universal material control unit and have it generate the required force construct, just like force bayonetts work.

        Oh, and for his guns to have a material stock and grips is stupid. They should be force constructs activated by the safety switch.

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    2. I think that rigth now the best option would be * Long Distance communication/teleconference, communication, logistic and planning will become an really important issue now that Ragnarok is in full swing, not to mention how helpfull it will be on expansion projects.

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      1. I would agree, but only if linked to some significant improvement in transportation. Coordinating when you can only move a handful of people is still useful, but much less so.

        Arguably Brand had this capability, but Brand is fighting in Asgard right now so I wonder if the temples can still provide even this limited service to their worshipers without Asgard’s involvement

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      2. Of course “Dspring if he is able to increase his fleet of flying vehicles it would help him tremendously to expand his reign, not to mention that a couple more of floating bikes like the one he gave Cerise, would definetly help the Wolfen in their scouting missions around the keep and as guards to any skimmer in a long voyage. Giving it a better though, all those heavy machinery for construction are good, but unless he can guet himself a couple of iengeniers to guide the projects it will be a moot point in delegating.

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      3. I agree I think long-distance technologies will be his next big projects.

        I also think that if he is smart he will not limit himself to specific types of long-distance Technologies. Communications Technologies or travel Technologies. He could use gates to connect the various cities Within Varmland and ships of various types to travel Beyond. This would be an effective use of his abilities and Powers. It would also allow those around him to submit his own Empire with or without his notice. “I still think he might wake up one day and find out that his girls have presented him with a Varmland princess to marry.

        Avella would not mind so long as the princess knew who was boss. Cerise would be all for it. Tina would probably be delighted that her pride is growing . The only one that might have a problem with it would be Eland and I think her discomfort with such ideas will be decreasing by the week.

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      4. I am sure that as soon as he guets his eyes in some gates (the doesn’t use souls), he will crack the mechanism to guet his own, the only problem would be the cordinates and distance.

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    3. DSpring, it seems to me Daniel or others have already done several of the inventions you describe, however, I’m going to squeeze in a few of my own suggestions before addressing your list.

      1) Self-sufficient dome cities. Everything Daniel has built under the fortifications of Black Island could preserve endangered cultures anywhere on Midgard, or off it for that matter. As others have suggested, come up with a packet of several types of standard “seed” to create the dome, insert the farm buildings, equip the farms with light, water, etc. These domes should work perfectly fine on Luna, Mars, Ceres or Antarctica, even some mid-Pacific abyssal plain.

      2) True spacecraft. Daniel should be able to quickly build a small vessel that produces its own air and flies at something like one gravity of continuous acceleration. Midgard to Mars in something less than a week’s travel?

      Trucks have already been done, both as sleds and as skimmers. I like what Daniel has done with them, so far, though he does need to put more work into securing his vehicle power supplies. Bulldozers and snowplows are also done — remember Daniel’s wrecking ball? Just like he can change that over-sized watch fob into a spiky skull smasher, Daniel can also shape it into a plow or dozer/scraper blade.

      Of course, he has other options as well. Why scrape or bulldoze what he can simply banish? Oh, and the tool that banishes snow or landslide debris is equally capable of drilling a tunnel through a mountain.

      Long distance communications are something we have not yet seen, but we know the Aesir Church has a network that enabled word of Daniel to spread to Kozalin when he was at Lanrest during FIMBULWINTER. There is also a sort of virtual presence, probably by the King’s top wizard, happening at important meetings of the wizards’ council.

      As for “sick bay” care beds, Daniel’s ring of healing does the same job and is much easier to mass produce. Of course, it’s also easier to steal. I really want to see Daniel give several of these to Elin. Her clinic NEEDS them.

      Antibiotics and vaccinations are also replaced by Daniel’s ring of healing. He really has to build a factory that mass produces many remote powered instances of these.

      Automation is something Daniel will only be able to teach and learn. He needs to teach it to assistants and others who use his “factory” enchanted stones that create sub-assemblies, like for his latest multi-part armored fighting vehicles. Some of Nethwillin’s magic users ought to be able to combine those factory stones with some other enchanted tools to move parts around during final assembly.

      As for teaching his automation methods to spellcasters like Cerise, Daniel is already working on that. It will take time to bring Elin, Cerise and Avilla up to something approaching his level in their talents. Of course, we are also told as he does that he learns new things from them, like the way Cerise casts spells at a distance.

      Don’t burn Daniel’s time and attention with food and food enchantments. Avilla and Elin are perfectly capable of doing most of that, especially after some of the aforementioned sharing of spellcrafting ideas with Daniel.

      Mass transit and massive transportation area already solved, as you pointed out, both with airships and various skimmers or sleds. Skimmers are perfectly capable of operating above water or ice, and should be capable of dragging lots of cargo sleds behind tractor sleds. Think lots of short maglev trains scooting all over Europe once Daniel has time to create them. Airships, of course, will be Clan Nethwillin’s operation. Look for Daniel to teach the clan magic users how to create even better, updated versions of INTREPID.

      Weather service is probably going to require LOTS of relatively powerful and FREQUENT clairvoyance/prophecy spells. Not just because foretelling ought not to be cheap, but Loki and Gaea keep changing the weather at whim.

      Snicker. You want radar? Talk to Steelbinder. He knows about alpha or beta radiation and metal shielding and now he knows from Daniel that something nastier than alpha/beta is also out there. Plus, Steelbinder makes steel and iron his play toys. Betcha he could create a radar, with a few hints from Daniel.

      Colin

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  17. Every Daniel story involves some goals Daniel is trying to accomplish and some plot rocks thrown at Daniel by the author to make that goal harder to accomplish. Obviously in the next book, most of those rocks will be specifically related to the tasks that Hecate gives Daniel and/or other main plot lines. But there are plenty of additional rocks that the author can throw at Daniel whenever things get too easy.

    Just to state the obvious ones and a few silly ones as well
    • Lightbringers can show up to kill Daniel – or just show up and be someone Daniel has to work around.
    • Gaia can find out Daniel killed her son – or destroyed her Army of Sleepers
    • Great Beast wants to eat Daniel or someone (s) Daniel is protecting
    • Odin finds out (or strongly suspects) Daniel intentionally blew up the Sunspear and sends very bad people to kill him
    • The Prince is sent back to Kozalin to “take over” while Brand is focused on Ragnarock and causes problems for Daniel’s keep
    • Kid Bast gets into trouble – causes trouble – Terrible Twos anyone????
    • The Weaver god (ess) who escaped the sunspear finds Daniel and wants to hang out
    • Daniel in female body gets pregnant and Daniel wants to keep the baby (magically created artificial womb I presume..). Or at least actively courted before he can escape the female body….
    • Attack on Kozalin – undead from the crypts, mixed groups of raiders from outside, mayhem in the hood…
    • The starving peasants rise up in rebellion and nominate Daniel the black as their leader – without actually telling him they were going to do it first
    • Daniel gets a marriage proposal tied to some important alliance. Marriage is a traditional way to seal alliances after all. His coven mates might be a might bit ticked if somebody else gets married to Daniel first, especially if Daniel is not in a position to consult with them first.
    • Loki tries to recruit Daniel for his Army and is unwilling to accept a no answer
    • The conclave splits and one faction wishes to join Black Keep – which will piss off the other faction if Daniel accepts
    • Somebody finds out how to create a mana stone – and it is not a well kept secret
    • Hecate is captured and needs a rescue (or Hestia or other key god ally)

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    1. “• The conclave splits and one faction wishes to join Black Keep – which will piss off the other faction if Daniel accepts”

      That looks like the most inevitable option. Something is already going on inside the Conclave. The leadership seems to be aware of the need for caution and unity to survive. So this is unlikely to be a simple struggle for power. There are issues. So what could they be?

      * Should the Conclave take up arms and fight on the Golden Fields?
      * Sould it accept royal authority in the future?
      * What to do about the dukes vying for power?
      * What to do about the revolutionaries in Kozalin?
      * Should the Conclave as a whole flee?

      It looks to me as these issues are not independent. If you want to fight on the Golden Fields taking over Kozalin is a waste of time and ressources. So I guess there is a faction for

      A – wait and see – there always is
      B – go to Asgard and fight – that option is not unreasonable if you are a man. You can become a hero and one of the Einherjar
      C – declare neutrality – problematic, as you will take flak from both sides, but some will always want peace at all cost
      D – Flee south – there are always people who value caution above everything else
      E – level all or most of Kozalin and outwait Ragnarök – yes, I know. But logic dictates looking at that option. The Conclave needs food. They know what will happen in a few months, if things continue. There is no point in letting all that grain be eaten if you can seize it. And trade can certainly supply the Conclave and maybe the Port District. And it solves the problem of those damn nobles always wanting stuff and Gaia is unlikely to waste an army on a mostly depopulated city and you are a smaller bait for Great Beasts. It simply makes sense.
      F – fish for external support.

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      1. Oliver, I’d say there might be at least one more scenario for the Conclave to be arguing, besides “all of the above,” which we also have to believe is happening, given what we know about the Council’s general meetings.

        Pretty much all the senior wizards know or believe they can easily find some place via Portal where they can safely flee and get back to a “normal” existence. Yes, believing is not quite enough in their current situation, but experience might prop up their confidence in this escape.

        Of course, they might also be CERTAIN, as in, they have already made arrangements, secured property and shelter, moved critical stuff, stockpiled useful goods, etc.

        Maybe the decision has ALREADY been made and the Tower is locked up tight while everybody moves the most important and difficult stuff to their new hideout?

        How long can the Tower stand empty before somebody notices?

        Essentially, one way or another, ALL the Conclave members know they have the option to walk away from Kozalin AND THEIR INVESTMENTS there. Don’t forget, those investments probably include all of the Bloody Archmage’s biggest surviving enchanted devices — all those wonderful toys he built that none of them know how to operate, the Tower itself, probably also the Dark Portal, etc. They could certainly take most of the best portable goodies with them, given the right decision at the right time, but those super powerful toys, like the Giant and the Hammer will probably be lost to them, maybe forever, if they abandon the Tower.

        I bet there’s at least one screaming cat fight daily or at most weekly between those who want desperately to flee NOW versus those who strive mightily to crack the secrets of what THEY believe are the most deadly enchanted devices available to them.

        It all comes down to that well timed decision. Steelbinder is not keeping them all on Midgard with his steadfast persona or his witty arguments. There MUST be an element of GREED, and for magic users that means MAGIC, which almost has to mean the last artifacts of Benito Runesage or some immobile magical infrastructure like their own personal labs, projects, etc. Starting over is SO damned expensive!

        Furthermore, there must be some element of confidence, which means they probably have a source of food, possibly through the Portal, and they certainly believe they can escape through the Portal…IF they make the CORRECT decision WHEN to beat feet.

        That’s what I see, anyhow.

        It’s not so much a fight about WHAT to do as WHEN to do it.

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      2. “Starting over is SO damned expensive!”

        There’s also another reason to stay. Enchantment work for them is far more time intensive and difficult than it is for Daniel. They have to destroy meltdown recast and do everything all over again to make an alteration to an enchantment. They have to go through a period of months or years of work to completely redo an enchantment that Daniel can redo or alter on the fly in minutes. That’s just too much time and work in a laboratory to walk away from.

        For some of the mid-aged Wizards it could be the work of a decade or more coming down to only a few more months work to finish. Then suddenly just to protect themselves they have to undo everything and try to start over somewhere else. A lot of people men especially would not immediately stop and walk away from a lifetime of work that easily. That in most people’s opinion is something worth standing your ground and fighting for just because it might take too long to do it all over. After all most wizards do eventually die of old age.

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      3. * Should the Conclave take up arms and fight on the Golden Fields?
        * Sould it accept royal authority in the future?
        * What to do about the dukes vying for power?
        * What to do about the revolutionaries in Kozalin?
        * Should the Conclave as a whole flee?

        1. Some will want to others will not.
        2. Depends on who the Royal is.
        3. Kill Them All!
        If they are vying for power their ambition makes them not loyal to the crown or anything else. They are inherently untrustworthy.
        4. Give them the option and opportunity to leave. Conscription to become Sailors by force a process called being shanghaied should be viable. If not lock them out of the structures He is building for the civilian population and let them starve and freeze. Send them someplace where they will be useful to him over the Long Haul Egypt comes to mind. Rabble-rousers can always be used as a slow-acting weapon of political and social dissent that an enemy has to deal with.
        5. The conclave is embroiled in the center of a civil war of its own. It is no longer capable of making unilateral decisions and choices. So no!

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      4. Ok I have to admit that none of the options you present Oliver seem like realistic options to me — in the sense that they would create major controversy and potentially split the conclave.

        In the books, I have noticed no great desire to fight on the golden fields (and any that do wish to fight can just go…), nor did I see any desire to take over rule of the city – and clear expectations that to try would result in failure. They probably do want to have the leadership vacuum in the city resolved, but not sure how any plan to “deal with the dukes” can split the conclave. Revolutionaries are annoying, but no threat to the conclave. And the conclave has a lot of food stored – no matter what happens to the city, they will not starve for at least a year or two (aka – when Ragnarok is settled one way or another).

        And I have to agree with Colin that moving the conclave is a very unlikely scenario unless the city of Kozalin actually falls. The Conclave simply has too much invested (materially, reputation) in Kozalin to just leave without paying a massive cost.

        Do not get me wrong. Every problem you raised is a real problem. Just none of them are important enough to the conclave members as a whole that any or all of them can result in a split.

        I think it is far more likely that a split results from some kind of power grab within the conclave itself, probably by the faction that controls the mana amulets — or the one that wants to control the mana amulets. Who rules the conclave is absolutely of critical importance to every master mage. And each master mage has a pool of journeymen and apprentice mages that are aligned with that master.

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      5. “* Should the Conclave take up arms and fight on the Golden Fields?
        * Sould it accept royal authority in the future?
        * What to do about the dukes vying for power?
        * What to do about the revolutionaries in Kozalin?
        * Should the Conclave as a whole flee?

        1. Some will want to others will not.”

        People who want to join have a general tendency to tell everybody else to do their duty. Even if that is not the case the question who should have the Conclave’s magic weapons, golems and the power stone.

        “2. Depends on who the Royal is.”

        To an extent. With the peasants, feudalism also dies. Those wizards are no fools. They may figure that they can survive only as a trading city in the long run and ties to the king are bad for business.

        “3. Kill Them All!”

        Won’t work, at least not as an isolated measure. You’d leave the city without an effective defense. You’d either have to take it over or conclude that it is a stone you don’t want to carry while you need to swim. Then it is just monster bait and you need to destroy it.

        “In the books, I have noticed no great desire to fight on the golden fields ”

        They had wizards joining Brand on a suicide mission to Skogheim. And I have to ask, what is the alternative? Wait until you either run out of food, Gaia sends a bigger army or a Great Beast comes for lunch?

        “nor did I see any desire to take over rule of the city – and clear expectations that to try would result in failure. They probably do want to have the leadership vacuum in the city resolved, but not sure how any plan to “deal with the dukes” can split the conclave. Revolutionaries are annoying, but no threat to the conclave. And the conclave has a lot of food stored – no matter what happens to the city, they will not starve for at least a year or two (aka – when Ragnarok is settled one way or another).”

        I am afraid you are seeing this a bit from a modern perspective and from Black Island.

        Look at it from the perspective of a Conclave wizard. Everybody believes the city to fall. So will the Conclave in their majority. Doing nothing is not a terribly rational alternative.

        * the Aesir win. Then you are in trouble. They will make a least of reliable people. And you won’t be on it.
        * Loki and Gaia win. Bad. Gaia wants to exterminate mankind, at least in Europe.
        * Nobody wins. Eventually somebody moves in to take over the land. Or you rule yourself. Then passively waiting is unlikely to be the best option either.

        “There’s also another reason to stay. Enchantment work for them is far more time intensive and difficult than it is for Daniel. They have to destroy meltdown recast and do everything all over again to make an alteration to an enchantment. They have to go through a period of months or years of work to completely redo an enchantment that Daniel can redo or alter on the fly in minutes. That’s just too much time and work in a laboratory to walk away from.”

        Right. Then you need to do something. Pushing the date back by five years is not a solution.
        You either need to pick a side in the divine war or prepare to survive on your own in a frozen and depopulated Europe.

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      6. “Won’t work, at least not as an isolated measure. You’d leave the city without an effective defense. You’d either have to take it over or conclude that it is a stone you don’t want to carry while you need to swim. Then it is just monster bait and you need to destroy it.”

        That’s assuming the only nobility that are capable of military activity and leadership are high nobility such as Dukes. The truth is most of the lower nobility have the same skills and capacity as military leaders. They also have many of the same skills and abilities as civil administrators. In many cases they have Superior capabilities in this respect because they are the ones the Dukes relied on to actually do the jobs and get the jobs done. Killing off all of the Dukes and high nobility would not leave the city without a defense. If anything it would streamline quickly reorganize the city’s militias and militaries into something far more efficient. this being said it does not mean that all of the high nobility would need to be exterminated. Any of them intelligent enough to realize when facing against Daniel or the conclave that their Manpower could not overcome their enemies magic power and who made the decision to quickly switch sides would be worth keeping. Even if keeping mint at an arm’s length. Either case regardless of what action is taken there will be resentment that will grow into small clusters of abstinence resentment and resistance which will have to be dealt with among the nobility even those that switch sides. Just as what was proven in landrist some nobility simply cannot be trusted even when they smile and Shake Your Hand. But not all nobility are that backstabbing such as is proven on his first mission with his flying ship. The thing is whether it’s the conclave or Daniel they need to identify the untrustworthy nobility the nobility which are the greatest threat in the highest rank and exterminate them as quickly and efficiently as possible. The soldiery will follow whichever nobility are left or they will take up arms for Daniel or the conclave.

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      7. They had wizards joining Brand on a suicide mission to Skogheim. And I have to ask, what is the alternative? Wait until you either run out of food, Gaia sends a bigger army or a Great Beast comes for lunch?

        *** Agree – but that is much more focused on defending Kozalin (which the Conclave DOES care about). Even sending champions to defend other cities is the politically smart thing and avoids serious conflict with either the king or Brand. The cost is not that high as I doubt any mage signed up for a suicide mission.

        —————————

        “nor did I see any desire to take over rule of the city – and clear expectations that to try would result in failure. They probably do want to have the leadership vacuum in the city resolved, but not sure how any plan to “deal with the dukes” can split the conclave. Revolutionaries are annoying, but no threat to the conclave. And the conclave has a lot of food stored – no matter what happens to the city, they will not starve for at least a year or two (aka – when Ragnarok is settled one way or another).”

        I am afraid you are seeing this a bit from a modern perspective and from Black Island.

        Look at it from the perspective of a Conclave wizard. Everybody believes the city to fall. So will the Conclave in their majority. Doing nothing is not a terribly rational alternative.

        * the Aesir win. Then you are in trouble. They will make a least of reliable people. And you won’t be on it.
        * Loki and Gaia win. Bad. Gaia wants to exterminate mankind, at least in Europe.
        * Nobody wins. Eventually somebody moves in to take over the land. Or you rule yourself. Then passively waiting is unlikely to be the best option either.

        *** We are looking at this differently on several levels.
        1) The city may or may not fall – but it unlikely to fall soon in any case. The battle has shifted to the fields of Asgard and the mortal world has become a backwater in the conflict. The odds are that the conflict of the gods will be settled one way or another within a few months. Which pantheon wins will then spend some effort reversing the winter and helping the people survive. May not be ideal, but Kozalin likely will survive in some form and the Wizards are prepared enough that they will weather this time of troubles quite well.

        2) Whoever wins, the Conclave can make a deal. They can easily remind the Aesir of their strenuous efforts to defend the city and remind Loki’s people that they had to defend the city as they lived there. Loki is unlikely to hold a grudge – he is a god of magic after all. Destroying the city is a tactic that is only of value while the war is ongoing. Once Loki wins, then saving the people of Kozalin becomes his tactic as they are now HIS worshipers. And if nobody wins and the ice age does not end, they conclave almost certainly has a contingency plan to flee the area – but no reason to go there yet. They have plenty of time before this decision would have to be made.

        3) The mages do not want to run the city. Even in ordinary times, it is a huge distraction running the city and the Conclave already gets most of the benefits (wealth, power, respect) without that hassle of actually running things. And if the Conclave took over the city now, they would have to actually run things. Which means sharing their resources, their stockpiles of food, and having their adepts and mages take an active role in the city (aka – risk and time) if they are to get any support from others in the city. And without the support of the military, they lack the people to adequately defend the city even if arguably they have the power now that the gods’ focus has shifted to Asgard. Better an incompetent government than the burden of a conclave government — at least until some force actually threatens the city with destruction.

        ——————————————

        Right. Then you need to do something. Pushing the date back by five years is not a solution.
        You either need to pick a side in the divine war or prepare to survive on your own in a frozen and depopulated Europe.

        *** Not sure this is true. The gods are fighting each other – damage to humans or other mortals is just collateral damage. Let me give you an analogy. The gods are like two nobles fighting over who controls a barony. The conclave or mortals in general can be considered the peasants that live on the land. Whichever noble wins the war, it does not matter to the peasants unless they are specifically caught up in the fighting. No noble in his right mind will decide to kill off a bunch of his recently won peasants simply because in the past they were loyal to the other guy and maybe were involved in the militia that fought off some minor raiding party. The peasants are are (minor) part of the prize after all.

        Now if the Conclave had done something major (aka – like kill off all of Gaia’s sleeping warriors or explode the Sunspear in Asgard), then that is a different story. But it is hard to argue that the Conclave itself has doing anything even close to that dramatic.

        Hecate’s prediction of doom if the Fimbulwinter is not reversed is not a wildly held belief after all. It could very well be true as she is a smart goddess with millennia of experience, but most of the powers that be are clearly not operating as if they believe that scenario is likely. And even if true, that is a prediction that plays out over decades and centuries. The Conclave has time to see how events play out before they take rash action.

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      8. The Conclave probably always acts on at least two basic principles:

        1) Utter, complete destruction of your plans and property can happen at any time, instantaneously and with no warning. MAD = Magically Assured Destruction. “Planning” for that is impossible and a waste of effort, unless you have Atlantean rebirth options.

        2) Short of instant Armageddon, a smart, well-prepared wizard ALWAYS has time to come up with a better plan.

        Hence, there’s no reason, in their own minds, for the Conclave to do anything hasty, like flee from their Kozalin tower. Still, there’s good reason for them to carefully prepare some sort of escape plan, purchase off world property, stockpile resources, etc.

        How does that reflect on the current situation inside the Tower?

        I agree with whatever is happening behind closed doors being Daniel’s fault. The timing alone seems convincing — only days after he delivered amulets and linked power supply.

        Pay no attention to how firmly Steelbinder pushed for Daniel’s magotech power sources. It’s still Daniel’s fault. Without his presence and his invention, the Conclave would have carried on with their usual plan — cautiously scout the enemy while accumulating power in several mass effect combat enchantments, prepare the battle golems for action and step up the training of the most advanced groups of assistant adepts.

        That power source and amulets Daniel traded to the Conclave have utterly upset their “normal” balance of power. Some previously unknown faction has attacked and perhaps overcome the Steelbinder/Ward faction. Maybe they are still dealing with picking up the duties for maintaining spell shields, cracking secure spell containment, testing the Dark Portal and other important stuff? Or, maybe there is actual fighting still, somewhere in the Tower?

        Of course, there may have been no fight at all. I’m still sort of anticipating that somebody will eventually figure out the Tower is empty and the Conclave has fled to Tahiti…or Beta Centauri.

        Colin

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      9. First of all, this debate shows that the Conclave would not be united in their opinions.

        “The truth is most of the lower nobility have the same skills and capacity as military leaders. They also have many of the same skills and abilities as civil administrators.”

        Right, but they are no fools. They will not believe that all four dukes had an accident. They may also yield after that. But then and thereby the Conclave has taken over the city.

        “but that is much more focused on defending Kozalin (which the Conclave DOES care about). Even sending champions to defend other cities is the politically smart thing and avoids serious conflict with either the king or Brand. The cost is not that high as I doubt any mage signed up for a suicide mission. ”

        Very few returned from Skogheim. And, yes, playing along was a good idea, politically speaking. But there is nobody to play along with anymore. Brand is gone, possibly dead. The prince is dead. Daniel is not available. This is it. They have to decide by themselves.

        And there is a catch. The Conclave cares about Kozalin as a tertiary goal. Foremost the Conclave defends itself. Then it defends the Wizards’ Quarter and the Harbor District, then Kozalin. And least of all they would defend the refugees. The Conclave is located in Kozalin. That creates practical necessities, but it does not erase or reverse priorities.

        “1) The city may or may not fall – but it unlikely to fall soon in any case. The battle has shifted to the fields of Asgard and the mortal world has become a backwater in the conflict.”

        No, as the Fimbulwinter is persisting. It won’t fall to external enemies. It will fall to logistics and economics.

        “The odds are that the conflict of the gods will be settled one way or another within a few months. Which pantheon wins will then spend some effort reversing the winter and helping the people survive. May not be ideal, but Kozalin likely will survive in some form and the Wizards are prepared enough that they will weather this time of troubles quite well.”

        Not enough. You will miss the next growing season. Yes, Kozalin will survive. If you eliminate the useless eaters, soon.

        “They have plenty of time before this decision would have to be made.”

        No and that, I have to say, is not a matter of opinion. It is an anachronistic view of a modern world, which views everything as solvable if there is enough time. It isn’t. Not in a premodern world of limited ressources and limited transport capacities. The timer is in the granaries and the limiter is in the ships. They will have to use them to bring in some greeneries and the granaries will not supply the city for a year. If you wait until the granaries are empty, you are dead.

        “No noble in his right mind will decide to kill off a bunch of his recently won peasants simply because in the past they were loyal to the other guy and maybe were involved in the militia that fought off some minor raiding party. The peasants are are (minor) part of the prize after all.”

        Yes, but the inner circle’s heads will be on the chopping block. Hence there is a struggle.

        “I agree with whatever is happening behind closed doors being Daniel’s fault. The timing alone seems convincing — only days after he delivered amulets and linked power supply.”

        No, at least not in the basic facts. Brand and the prince have abandoned the city. Daniel has worsened the situation by giving them one power stone. Hence the need for collective action is much greater. For instance you cannot relocate unless you do it as a group, if you are unwilling to give up that power.

        “cautiously scout the enemy while accumulating power in several mass effect combat enchantments, prepare the battle golems for action and step up the training of the most advanced groups of assistant adepts.”

        That is thinking like a modern man of a developed country where starvation or freezing to death or being killed in a riot are things that are happening to other people seen only on TV.

        “Of course, there may have been no fight at all. I’m still sort of anticipating that somebody will eventually figure out the Tower is empty and the Conclave has fled to Tahiti…or Beta Centauri.”

        As you noted, fleeing is expensive. If they do it, they will build or hire ships to carry the stuff that won’t fit through the portal. Even fleeing would need some decisive and bold action. Steelbinder & Ward are not fools. They are cautious. But they do understand that caution and inaction are not synonymous.

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      10. Oliver, I see from your significant concern about Midgard transportation systems limitations that I failed to make myself clear regarding the Dark Portal and food.

        I don’t believe the Conclave absolutely depends on Midgard ships or crops for sustenance.

        Maybe, the Conclave trades for food through the Dark Portal.

        Alternatively, the Conclave might summon demons and trade for food with demons.

        Wow…THAT’s risky!

        Still, you see my point, yes?

        While the Conclave has made food purchases in Kozalin for generations, they are not dependent upon Kozalin’s agricultural hinterland, fisheries or port for sustenance.

        The wizards have otherworldly options.

        Come to think of it, the wizards don’t have to look off world for their food. They might be able to send a party down to the shoreline and cast an enchantment that drags a few tons of miscellaneous fish out of the harbor.

        “Gack! Eel AGAIN?”

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      11. “While the Conclave has made food purchases in Kozalin for generations, they are not dependent upon Kozalin’s agricultural hinterland, fisheries or port for sustenance.

        The wizards have otherworldly options.”

        Limited emergency options for themselves that are costly and/or dangerous to use. The Conclave won’t starve to death. That was never the point. The point is Kozalin and, to a lesser extent, Varmland. A city that cannot be fed is not an asset. It is a risk. Quoting Daniel: A few hundred people cannot exist forever in a frozen wasteland.
        The wizards of the Conclave are also aware of this issue. Hence they will act upon that sooner or later.

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      12. I have to agree with you, Oliver. The wizards may have their bellies full, though at some risk, they may have confidence of their own ability to escape whatever happens to Kozalin, but there’s no avoiding the reality that barring some miracle probably only Daniel can deliver, the city is doomed and it really is time to beat feet.

        Steelbinder and Ward each and together have the spine to stand and wait, preserving their options to the very last moment.

        Other wizards have no spine at all and wish they were already gone, may in fact have already fled, abandoning the Conclave and their investments there.

        THAT could be a big enough split to thoroughly embroil and distract the entire Conclave.

        We can hope the author will lift this curtain for us in the next book. I’d really like to read a little about the conflict inside Red Tower. If the wizards do flee Kozalin, I expect a truly massive explosion, maybe a spectacular meltdown or some other attempt to either destroy or hide the Bloody Archmage’s biggest toys, as well as the wizards’ own more immobile magical infrastructure.

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      13. We should remember fimbulwinter was going on before Daniel arrived in that world. My guess is most of the Wizards that we’re going to bug out already left before he ever came to the city. They’re just not relevant so no one’s talked about them or heard anything about them since they’re you know gone. They probably were among the first ones to get worried that the gods were at War and decided to leave. Probably right after the priest figured it out. After all in a world where the Gods are real it is only reasonable to spy on the temples.

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      14. That’s a good point, DaShoota. If I remember correctly, Avilla and Cerise mentioned the snow and therefore Fimbulwinter had arrived a few days or maybe a week before Cerise asked Hecate to recruit a hero.

        Then it took something like a month for them all to travel to Kozalin.

        Plenty of time for all sorts of people to leave the city, if they had the resources and opportunities.

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      15. The nobility as well as the Wizards would have been spying on the temples. I just can’t get past the point that if the Gods are real it would be logical to set up spies to find out what they’re doing. Probably within hours of the priest getting word that their Gods were at War both the nobility and the Wizards would have gotten the same word from their spies. Some of them might have had relatives that were lesser priests and got word that way. But as soon as the God’s went to war the priest would have been notified then the Wizards and nobility would have found out within hours. And I can almost guarantee within hours after that quite an Exodus would have happened. It probably would have lasted for several days. Then it would have reduced itself to a trickle for a couple of weeks. After that everybody would have stayed that was going to stick it out for the Long Haul. Or until they thought they couldn’t actually survive it any longer and then bailed ship. That’s the way disasters like that usually wind up working out.

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      16. Yes, DaShoota. That scenario seems just right. I’d add a few more tripwires.

        1) Some of the more exotic wizard/sorcerer types might have directly or indirectly sensed whatever divine or other enchantment Loki used to set off Fimbulwinter.

        2) Tova, with her connections in the Demonic dimensions/planes might have received advanced warning that Fimbulwinter would come, then a notification that it had come.

        3) The King of Varmland seems to have a court master wizard who “remotely” attends some Conclave meetings. That court master wizard certainly warned the King, probably warned the Conclave and the King probably warned a circle of trusted nobles.

        4) Was the Prince previously assigned to rule Kozalin? If not, was he sent to Kozalin as soon as Fimbulwinter started? Maybe even just before Fimbulwinter started?

        Bluntly, there are all sorts of ways many people might learn early that Fimbulwinter and therefore Ragnarok were incoming.

        Oh, and any warning at any castle probably filtered OUT of the castle almost immediately through the servant grapevine, so ALL of Kozalin could know what would happen within a week of the uppermost nobles knowing.

        Hmm…I wonder if Kozalin’s nobles are any better at controlling THEIR servants’ grapevine than the idiots at Lanrest?

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      17. “no avoiding the reality that barring some miracle probably only Daniel can deliver, the city is doomed and it really is time to beat feet”

        Well, no, I am afraid not. Steelbinder & Ward are reasonable, steady and intelligent people. However, they are not humanitarians or full of scruples.

        Now, a few hundred people cannot live in a frozen wasteland. A few thousand people with a working port, a working fishing fleet and magical goods to sell, that is another story. You have pointed out how much of a loss they would take in a strategic relocation. An uprising is coming. The predictable major goals of the starving masses will be the Red Fortress, Black Island, the granaries and the port and its store houses.
        Some of these structures will surely hold. Others will not. Crucially, among them the port. And that is a potential catastrophe. If tales of mobs burning ships in Kozalin’s port go around, even evacuating with your stuff will become hard.

        The Conclave owns remarkably controllable weapons of mass destruction, like the smoke cloud of death they used against the Andregi. Unleash your inner sociopath and tell me what you would do, if you led the Conclave. I know, quite suggestive.
        Bonus points if you can tell me how you get out of the mess with as good a reputation as possible and what you must do to demonstrate to reluctant members that essential infrastructure is threatened.

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      18. Sorry, Oliver. I failed to explain myself properly.

        When I say Daniel is probably the only hope for that scenario you painted, of a much reduced Kozalin under the effective control of the Conclave, what I mean is that his indoor agriculture will be critical to the LONG TERM survival of every community in the vicinity of Kozalin.

        Daniel is building a community that will survive Fimbulwinter AND a hundred thousand years of Ice Age.

        Nobody else is doing that.

        Maybe Steelbinder and Ward and their assistant adepts could build sufficient indoor agriculture of their own to crudely emulate what Daniel does on Black Island. I doubt they will achieve his productivity or his variety and almost certainly not his volume. Knowing that Daniel has already succeeded in producing a SURPLUS will drive somebody like Steelbinder to at least try to remain competitive.

        If nothing else, Steelbinder and Ward know their wizards/wizardesses. Both of them know the Conclave will naturally be attracted to Daniel and his success, eventually being absorbed into Black Island. Daniel simply outperforms in survival resources and sheer power issues.

        Maybe food and other imports through the Dark Portal and other opportunities will make up the difference between what the Conclave can do and what Daniel already does? Probably not, and it is so much more risky. Plus, Ward and Steelbinder know Daniel will only continue to improve Black Island solutions.

        Without the broad diversity and energy rich, healthy fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains Black Island produces, the Conclave will slowly be weakened by a lower energy, poorer diet over the next YEAR.

        Daniel has already prepared Black Island to significantly ENHANCE the community’s diet over the next MONTH, as the Groves, the farms and Clan Nethwillin continue to expand and take full advantage of new power taps Daniel gave them before he was kidnapped.

        This will drive Conclave wizards CRAZY as they see the continued INCREASES in variety and quantity of food stuff traded to Kozalini in Daniel’s new market, even while everyone knows Daniel has been kidnapped by Odin and Thor, so this wealth has to all be SURPLUS production there’s no need or space to store.

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      19. Depending on how long Daniel stays kidnapped when they know he has been kidnapped by Odin and Thor will determine how they view his magical Surplus. They already know that he has created an external magical power source. They do not know the full capabilities of that Power source yet. Even though they have one of their own they still have not truly unlocked its Mysteries and understand its full capabilities. They also have no inkling or comprehension of mass production of Enchanted devices. While such devices have been invented in the past they have never been utilized in a way that makes them anything but experiments of amusement. Finding out that Daniel could manufacture virtually unlimited numbers of relatively high quality enchanted devices was a major shock to the elves. An entire race of effective Sorcerers and Wizards. It would come as a near incomprehensible concept to the Wizards in the conclave. Even if some of those Wizards were actually atlanteans it’s something that would have been beyond their comprehension. They also because of their backgrounds may fail to see the utility of such capabilities. Specifically in arming normal Soldiers with Enchanted magical weapons to be mass-produced.

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      20. All of which is true, DaShoota, but I’m only talking about the Black Island food surplus, here.

        There should be NO food surplus, EVER during a siege, which is effectively what Kozalin faces now.

        Yet, Black Island’s market not only sells and trades food, it sells and trades MORE food today than it did yesterday, and that seems to be a continuous function through the whole time Daniel’s people have been marketing food.

        Nothing more loudly proclaims that Black Island contains a net positive food production facility.

        PLUS we know that the Groves have only BEGUN to expand their own fruit, nut and other harvests.

        PLUS we know that Daniel and Elin only brought a few farm levels online and are slowly starting more as methodology is developed and refined by the farmers and the dryads.

        PLUS we know that Clan Nethwillin only received its own custom configured living space shortly before Daniel was kidnapped. Dark elf food production has barely begun, and you KNOW they will also produce rare/exotic crops they believe they can sell for good money, as soon as that seems sensible. Fae wine, anybody?

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      21. All of the stuff about his food production is quite accurate. However you have to remember he is on an island Black Island. His facilities for trade goods are not necessarily the same as the city under siege. The city can be under siege and Daniel’s Black Island can still have open trade. He also has a clan of elves that specialize in trade. Elves that are now using airships to move about. These are things the nobility as well wizards in the conclave that are familiar with Administration will take into account. Their first assumption will not be what Brand’s first assumption was. That he is producing food on his Island. Their first assumption will be that he has found some way of trading for more food from distant lands at greater speed. This assumption could last years unless some of them actually take a tour of the island and see the food production in progress. Or find some way of connecting his dryads to the food production. For a Middle Ages or dark ages nobility or administrator that would not be the first assumption. They will tie in immediate and incredible increases in production with trade. Not with actual manufacture. Simply because the speed and rate of such manufacture is outside of their experience while trade is not.

        It’s a point of what you know to be possible overriding what the logic and evidence of the situation tells you is happening.

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      22. Um, no, DaShoota, Black Island is not any more or less free of the siege than the rest of Kozalin. The challenge for bringing food in, especially grain, is not how accessible the port facilities might be, or even how important Daniel’s flying ship may be. It’s FIMBULWINTER and RAGNAROK and there are several FEET of snow on the fields and there are monsters raiding EVERYWHERE in Europe.

        The local nobles might believe Daniel’s airship plus Clan Nethwillin equals advantageous trading OUTSIDE the worst impact of Fimbulwinter. However, even they are not so dumb as to believe Daniel’s market sells more fresh vegetables this week than it did last week and the INTREPID has not even returned from its most recent voyage.

        They know, or soon will know that Daniel is at minimum growing more vegetables than the entire population of Black Island can eat AND store. For sure the servants will understand, especially the ones who actually do the trading at Daniel’s market. They will recognize fresh soil on the roots of the vegetables.

        Then there’s that SQUAD of dryads that hunts Andregi with Daniel after the earthquake, and goes hunting undead with him under Kozalin during the Battles of the Bones.

        Pretty sure the wizards ALL know there’s at least one full Grove on Black Island, especially after Daniel flat out told Tova that Pelagia is there. Daniel might find the Groves’ production of fruits a surprise, but the Conclave won’t.

        Now, how fast does that information, PLUS suspicions of dryad grove food production, leak out of the Conclave and into the the nobles’ castles, via servant grapevine if nothing else?

        I’m not suggesting there will be a level of knowledge equal to Brand’s suspicions. I’m not suggesting the wizards or the nobles will figure out how Daniel is growing vegetables and grain with Grove assistance.

        Just saying there’s a generally accessible selection of tasty rumors about dryads, and Black Island is SELLING FOOD during a siege.

        Remember, no TV or broadcast radio or even newspapers.

        Entertainment is right over the backyard fence, gossip on the wind….

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      23. “The local nobles might believe Daniel’s airship plus Clan Nethwillin equals advantageous trading OUTSIDE the worst impact of Fimbulwinter.”

        That will be their first knee jerk reaction.

        “For sure the servants will understand, especially the ones who actually do the trading at Daniel’s market. They will recognize fresh soil on the roots of the vegetables.”

        No matter where the vegetables came from or how far they traveled they would have fresh soil on them. Most common people are not going to make the connection. The Wizards might figure it out but I’m not sure anybody else will for quite a while.

        The farmers reactions to the dryads leads me to believe you are wrong in the common people and the nobility’s understanding of the dryads true nature or capabilities. They probably either think of them as magical weapons, armor, slaves or predators that hunt and for some reason seduce and prey on humans. I don’t think they would make the connection of dryads to fertility. At least not until some wizard makes an offhand comment to an especially bright and intelligent Noble who is actually paying attention. Or some Noble just happens to be well-read and happens to have a book on dryads in his Library. A library which may or may not be in the city.

        Careful you do not underestimate human intellectual stubbornness. Far too often in our own history individuals and groups in positions of power and authority have gone into self-destructive denial of reality when faced with facts and events which contradict their beliefs. This does not necessarily mean that they all will view Daniel’s activities in the light of a merchant or noble with connections plying trade. But those who do not will start out as the minority. They will also not speak out on such assumptions until they have evidence. Even then said evidence might be thrown out because those who are superior to them in the group will simply say “no don’t believe it can’t be true”. “After all everybody knows that dryads are just Predators who seduced and Hunt humans.”

        The Wizards might take a considerable amount of time to come to the proper conclusion as well. This is due to the way they think of dryads. They think of them as mana batteries, pets and sometimes bed companions. Most of them probably don’t have a single clue as to what dryads are capable of in the realm of agriculture. This is because none of them bother to care enough to do the research into that specific field. Most of them would spend their time studying whatever magical aspect the dryad has in regards to supplying their power and abilities. I think the Wizards will come to the proper conclusion far faster than the nobility or even the common Folk. However I do not think it will be a very quick and immediate conclusion for even them. It will truly depend on which one of them is either curious enough to pick up a book on dryads in their library or has already spent some considerable time studying the subject out of a hobby. It might even be one of the younger apprentices whose master has told them specifically to study dryads as nothing more than an intellectual exercise as a apart of their education. I can actually see Steel Binder and Ward talking to each other in their Chambers as their apprentices stand to the side as these old men are trying to figure out where Daniel is getting all of his food when one of the apprentices pipes up from reading his book saying maybe he’s using the dryads to enhance growing of some type.

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      24. Well…that’s certainly an interesting way to look at the dryad situation.

        DaShoota, I’m pretty sure most of the women servants who shop at Daniel’s market are quite capable of determining when a vegetable in the hand was in the ground hours or even minutes before.

        It’s like breathing, something else they’ve done their entire lives; they’re just going to know. Just like they know dryads are nature spirits. It’s not something hidden. They’ve always known the stories. Some of them have probably seen minor spirits of the forest, garden or hearth.

        Yes, they also know that dryads are fearsome warriors. There’s no conflict in their minds over that. Dryads can be both nature spirits and warriors. Everybody knows every dryad has her tree.

        If there’s any confusion at all in anybody’s mind, it’s over the grain and vegetables. Fruits and nuts are just assumed to come from the dryads’ trees. How powerful must Daniel be to force dryads to use their magic on gardens and fields?

        Something else you should keep in mind. Daniel’s market sells food, during a siege, and does not ridiculously inflate the price to cover transportation costs.

        Remember the conversation between Daniel, Cerise and the merchant ship captain, regarding grain pricing?

        How could Daniel NOT do that?

        Only if he’s growing his own…LOTS of his own, right there on Black Island.

        Lastly, there are the common people actually doing the selling for Black Island at the market. They are NOT professional agents or actors. They are going to unconsciously drop all sorts of hints in normal conversation with the people purchasing the food.

        Personally, I’m convinced the secret won’t last a month.

        More and more people will hear rumors that the black wizard has enslaved dryads nurturing a miraculous magical garden that produces tons of food every day right there on Black Island.

        The hungrier they become, the more convinced the poor of Kozalin will be, that the rumors are true.

        It will be fascinating to see how the author handles this.

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      25. “I’m pretty sure most of the women servants who shop at Daniel’s market are quite capable of determining when a vegetable in the hand was in the ground hours or even minutes before.”

        So are you basing that determination on the amount of fresh soil on the vegetable? Then I would have to say you’re mistaken. The amount of soil on the vegetable would be determined by how well the vegetable was cleaned if it was cleaned it all. Whether or not the vegetables was dipped in water and its soil congealed and then hardened when it dried. No holding a vegetable in your hand as long as it’s not wilted will not really determine much of the time the vegetable has been out of the ground. Especially considering the vegetable could have been traveling in a dark enclosed space like the hold of a ship. They could probably determine its ripeness by holding it in their hand or even at a glance. That is a skill most Farmers develop rather quickly in childhood.

        If you’re using the size and quality as well as whether or not the vegetable has any wilting on it to determine whether or not the vegetable has been in the ground a long a period of time or a long period of time between the ground and the hand. Normally I would say that is a much better estimate of when a vegetable is in the ground. However Daniels Magic and the Groves magic makes that moot. Since the whole point is that they’re altering how quickly a vegetable grows and develops reaching ripeness.

        If you’re determining that based on the city under siege. Remember Daniels Fortress is not in the city it’s on the river. People having Market set up outside of the. I guess you would call it a peer, Causeway Maybe going to his Island. But his island is not in or even a part of the city. Also since the breaking of the apemen Army the city is no longer Under Siege by anything except the weather. Though I will admit that could change at any moment. “Personally I’m looking forward to a goblin army laying Siege.”

        I have to admit they may become suspicious with the fruit. However anybody who has any training in agriculture knows that fruit is picked green and ripens on transport to wherever it’s going to be sold. So 1 to 2 weeks would be most people’s estimation between the picking of the fruit and the time it’s in the market. Consequently 1 to 2 weeks maybe 2 and 1/2 Weeks or so we’ll get you pretty much anywhere in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe by sailing ship. That is actually one of the reasons so many myths and legends cross so many borders and abound within that part of the world. Most areas and places there are just too navigable by ship. It’s not like that in other places of the world whenever going by ship can be a lot more difficult.

        “Just like they know dryads are nature spirits. It’s not something hidden. They’ve always known the stories. Some of them have probably seen minor spirits of the forest, garden or hearth.”

        I find that rather suspect. They might have stories about dryads. However I think those stories would be embellished bent towards demonizing them and so forth. After all the dryads had been hunted for nearly a thousand years at that point. As for them encountering them in the forest and so forth? I think they probably would have turned around and run away. Or maybe gotten themselves eaten by the dryads. There seems to be a little bit of evidence pointing to dryads possibly eating humans. Particularly that statement when Daniel is in those underground catacombs where the dryads are complaining about no meat no blood no marrow. They’re peasants not Warriors Are Soldiers. They’re not adventurers and so far I haven’t seen hide nor hair of anything resembling an adventurer’s Guild. I could be mistaken on this and maybe somebody else could point out evidence of one existing in the books but I haven’t seen it. So my guess is most people would be avoiding these Supernatural magical creatures and things. Wizards might go hunting for them and knows the truth about them but most people will probably just think of them as some type of monster. One thing that leads me to believe this is when Daniel is bringing in new people into his Island. Avilla was actually telling them that they may not want their husband to go work in the Farms because he would be happy but wouldn’t see him very often. Notice she did not give any hints as to why he would be happy or why they would not see him very often. I think on the island itself it would be kind of an Open Secret in regards to the groves and their existence. Maybe a little more of a secret as to their actual activities.

        “Lastly, there are the common people actually doing the selling for Black Island at the market. They are NOT professional agents or actors. They are going to unconsciously drop all sorts of hints in normal conversation with the people purchasing the food.”

        I think you may be a little under estimating of the people doing the selling there. My hunch is that the clan of elves will get their own human retainers to do most of the selling from the island. Now there might still be some gossip going around. And it might spread rather quickly. But gossip usually takes longer to reach the people in charge then it does the people actually on the ground. So I’m still estimating several months maybe a year or more depending on how stubborn the people are in charge about their personal beliefs.

        “More and more people will hear rumors that the black wizard has enslaved dryads nurturing a miraculous magical garden that produces tons of food every day right there on Black Island.

        The hungrier they become, the more convinced the poor of Kozalin will be, that the rumors are true.”

        I agree that this will be the most likely outcome. I disagree with you on the timetable though. I also suspect that this will be one of the main reasons that the rabble-rousers will put together an ad hoc army to try and attack the island.

        “It will be fascinating to see how the author handles this.”

        Yes it will.

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      26. “the city is no longer Under Siege by anything except the weather”

        Nothing more is needed. Add a few roving bands of giants and packs of felwolves and travel in Varmland is effectively shut down.

        A diligent observer could watch the Intrepid and correlate the changes in the goods offered with her schedule. Wizards could also take a vegetable and use divinations to determine its origin. Finally the wizards have books written on dryads. They likely know. Anybody else is an open question.

        Yet why would anybody without magical weapons attack an island with titanic walls in a river reachable only by a causeway they saw being blown up? That is a course you would choose only if there is no alternative at all. No, if there is an uprising they will aim for the docks.
        And as far as the Conclave is concerned, it really does not matter what Daniel’s source of food actually is, as long as it works reliably.

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      27. Hmm…good points, Oliver, especially how much information the wizards can extract from the fruits, grains and other foods on sale at the Black Island market.

        It’s only to be expected that divination would find the fruit and nuts come from a source inside Castle Black.

        It’s almost certainly NOT expected that divination would find the GRAINS come from a source inside Castle Black.

        One would also need to wonder if there is any residual nature spirit magic in the fruits and grains?

        All of that will be cause for consideration, but NOT stunned amazement. Probably more of a face palm moment, especially for somebody like Ward.

        “Doh! Dryads! Of course!”

        Basically, as soon as any reasonably competent wizard spends any time and effort on the question, SOME Conclave wizards will know Daniel is using nature spirits to produce a food surplus on Black Island.

        That’s mostly going to enhance Daniel’s reputation as a wickedly sneaky smart sorcerer. Of course, it may also worry any wizard who considers the potential for Olympian pantheon entanglements.

        I wonder how obvious it is to the Conclave members that Daniel has “enslaved” witches for apprentices. It seems to me that is NOT common knowledge, but Tova, Steelbinder and Ward will have their suspicions.

        Add to those suspicions the obvious advantages to Daniel and Black Island of whatever bond he wields over nature spirits that once were thralls of Olympus…it’s enough to make Ward and Steelbinder curious what Daniel’s “deep” game might be, not that they weren’t already.

        Of course, “nature” spirits also might cause one to wonder about Gaia’s potential involvement.

        There’s plenty of murky mystery to keep Daniel’s secrets obfuscated for now, but information accumulates and the Conclave probably will be one place that happens. Of course, the Summer Court may also have begun to study Black Island. Some of the other embassies will do likewise. They are official spies, after all.

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      28. Ok you all took this much farther than I thought with some great deep dives into the mid to long term situation in Kozalin.

        My point though still applies. In the short term (next two months), there is no reason for the Conclave to take dramatic action and a lot of good reasons to not act.

        Their might be a peasant rebellion in the city – but I cannot imagine it would be directed at the conclave or seriously threaten the conclave even if it was.

        The city might starve, but they have enough food for a few more months and the conclave has enough for a year or more. And shipments of food are starting to arrive with regularity. LT survival of the city is a challenge that can wait.

        The city is reasonably safe from external military assault – or at least any such assault will spend its forces on somebody other than the conclave. And hard to argue that the conclave can do anything to improve things.

        The conclave taking serious action to fix things in Kozalin is likely to be more costly to the conclave than simply waiting a few months. And directly taking action to trim the city population as Oliver suggests would be a political poison pill for centuries. Of course, if the Conclave is agitating the peasants so that they rebel and thus get killed off, then the dukes would get the blame – not the Conclave. Which makes the Conclave my personal #1 theory on who is pushing a peasant revolt.

        Moving the conclave involves enormous risk and damage to reputation – they are simply not desperate enough yet to risk this.

        And most importantly, the political (aka divine) situation is extremely uncertain right now — but is likely to clarify in the next few months. Until that happens, any major action is simply too risky if the alternative is reasonably safe waiting.

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      29. Odin might be behind the peasant revolt. After all he needs soldiers. And everyone who dies in battle becomes his Soldier.

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      30. All of which arguments make some sense, Dspring, so what caused the doors of the Conclave to close?

        I’m thinking something in the power supply and amulets Daniel provided has lit the fuse(s) of pre-existing divisions.

        Alternatively, something about Daniel’s kidnapping has done it.

        Maybe there’s a faction determined to take Black Island, Castle Black and everything Daniel is trying to build?

        There might well be another faction equally determined to have nothing to do with that.

        Maybe even oppose that.

        I hope some of this is addressed in Book Five.

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      31. “My point though still applies. In the short term (next two months), there is no reason for the Conclave to take dramatic action and a lot of good reasons to not act.”

        I m afraid I have to disagree. Nothing dramatic will happen in the next few months. That is correct. But the next few months will lead to changes that will make some negative outcomes neigh inevitable, if no action is taken.
        Varmlanders are not modern Westerners, if I may repeat a point. The idea that everything can be fixed by external aid given enough time is literally foreign to them.

        “Their might be a peasant rebellion in the city – but I cannot imagine it would be directed at the conclave or seriously threaten the conclave even if it was.”

        It won’t threaten the Conclave. It will, however, threaten parts of the city the Conclave wants to preserve, primarily the port facilities.

        “The conclave taking serious action to fix things in Kozalin is likely to be more costly to the conclave than simply waiting a few months.”

        Waiting a few months for what? A miracle? The gods helping a city whose veil anchor is already destroyed?
        We are talking about people who discussed mass human sacrifice only a few weeks after the start of the crisis. And you do not live to be a wise old wizard by ignoring the long term consequences of your actions or inactions.

        “And directly taking action to trim the city population as Oliver suggests would be a political poison pill for centuries. Of course, if the Conclave is agitating the peasants so that they rebel and thus get killed off, then the dukes would get the blame – not the Conclave. Which makes the Conclave my personal #1 theory on who is pushing a peasant revolt.”

        Exactly. Hence they’d have a perfect pretense for a trim.

        “Moving the conclave involves enormous risk and damage to reputation – they are simply not desperate enough yet to risk this.”

        Correct. If you are talking about a majority. There will be a faction advocating this, but it will be small.

        “And most importantly, the political (aka divine) situation is extremely uncertain right now — but is likely to clarify in the next few months. Until that happens, any major action is simply too risky if the alternative is reasonably safe waiting.”

        Not really. You would have to get peasants, who are mostly dead, back to farms, which are mostly destroyed, in time for planting seeds, which have been mostly eaten, with animals, which are mostly dead, over roads, which would need to be cleared of roving bands of giants and goblins by soldiers who are mostly dead or needed elsewhere.
        Oh and there is a lot of snow on the ground. If there is a summer, which would be needed for agriculture, it will melt. Meaning that there will be a huge flood at the start of the next growing season.
        Even if you manage all that do you think there will be a sufficient surplus of food to feed the cities? And if there is, how would it get there?

        No, Varmland is finished and with it any hope of basing your future on it.

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      32. Oliver, I’m with you up to “Varmland is finished” but that statement requires a huge qualifying parameter.

        “Varmland AS VARMLAND is finished.” This I can agree with. There won’t be peasants in the fields growing stuff in whatever summer happens whenever Fimbulwinter ends for all the reasons stipulated and more.

        However, Varmland as Daniel is rebuilding it will be just fine, IF he actually gets a chance to work with Elin creating more new indoor farms, when he’s not killing off Ancient Beasts or killing Lightbringers or killing Gaia and Her demigod sons, etc.

        Folks might want to look at Walt Socha’s novels, “Conflict” and “Contact” for some fun alt history. Only a little magic of the shamanic sort for the setup, then all gritty swords, axes, bows, slings, atlatls and small unit actions.

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      33. “However, Varmland as Daniel is rebuilding it will be just fine, IF he actually gets a chance to work with Elin creating more new indoor farms, when he’s not killing off Ancient Beasts or killing Lightbringers or killing Gaia and Her demigod sons, etc.”

        If…
        I always wanted to give the laconic answer.

        Anyway, however the likelihood such an outcome be, it certainly cannot be predicted by anybody outside Black Island. Hence nobody will act on such a prediction. In fact they will act on the exactly opposite expectation.

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      34. Totally agree with that, Oliver. Nobody outside Black Island can act with any knowledge of Daniel’s intentions.

        Many of the people on Black Island and inside Castle Black don’t know Daniel’s intentions, either.

        For that matter, Daniel himself has surely learned new things in Asgard, and will learn new things from his conversation(s) with Hecate and his favorite wood spirit.

        Until Daniel returns and actually does something public, the people of Kozalin will have to act based on their own experiences and their own knowledge.

        …and who’s to say whatever Daniel does will give anyone any hope at all?

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      35. Speaking of “hope”, one possibility for helping the entire city would be for Daniel and the Conclave to collaborate on replicating the Weather Working that Mara sabotaged, but on a smaller scale. The original working apparently extended several miles beyond the city, and the implication was that it was supposed to extend further. With Daniel’s power sources, the Conclave (if it still has the necessary expertise) could probably create a smaller working that just extended out half a mile or so, and kept the city and the nearby river and farmlands warm.

        That would extend the perimeter that needed defending, but absent the constant snow and freezing temperatures, and given the presence of arable land, that would be doable.

        Probably won’t happen of course (and the gods might well object to even that much interference), but it’s a possibility that I haven’t seen discussed.

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      36. Jabrwok, while I agree with the technical possibility of Daniel working with the Conclave to roll back Fimbulwinter around Kozalin, I must ask why?

        We know Daniel has a MUCH better solution that uses LESS mana — creating clones of Castle Black’s indoor farms.

        Even with no dryads, there is no reason Daniel and Elin could not produce enough indoor farms to support the entire population of Kozalin in a style BETTER than they “enjoyed” pre-Fimbulwinter.

        The city would actually end up BETTER protected if Daniel placed the enormous structures with a care to making them tactically important defenses.

        Add some of the advanced magical devices of deadly destruction Daniel now knows how to make and Kozalin’s survival would be assured….

        …IF the idiot humans could only work together supporting him AND the enemy gave him time to work.

        Fat chance of THAT happening.

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      37. Daniel has built an arcology, and the closest approximations to those in our world have turned into Mouse Universe experiments in fairly short order. Too many people in too close proximity…even with Avilla’s wards, people will want elbow room. Maybe it won’t be an issue, but having more space is generally a good thing, and most people don’t like living in caves.

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      38. Jabrwok, with Daniel and Elin building the MULTIPLE arcologies, and Daniel’s access to effectively unlimited mana, there is simply no reason for the sort of crowding you mention in regard to Mouse Universe experiments.

        Of course, this discussion is ALL theoretical and problematic because Daniel will never be allowed the time to perform the enchantments to build the arcologies, PLUS the humans who would be living inside them are of course IDIOTS who will carve each other to bits fighting over insane privileges instead of cooperating to grow food and defend their indoor farm fortresses.

        Hence, it will be fascinating to see how the author resolves the Kozalin issue(s).

        Frankly, I expect it will be much more in the direction of Oliver’s arguments, in the spectrum of nice vs nasty outcomes.

        After all, we know how Lanrest fell, by a concatenation of moronic decisions by the very powerful individuals who should have been fighting hardest, together, to defend the place.

        There’s a reason AVERAGE human behavior is also known as MEAN.

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      39. “Until Daniel returns and actually does something public, the people of Kozalin will have to act based on their own experiences and their own knowledge.”

        Now you need to overcome your residual democratic and humanitarian impulses. Common people don’t matter when push comes to shove. Put on your Steelbinder hat and tell me what you will do.

        That raises a question, though. How good is the Conclave’s intelligence from Asgard? Do they have a representative in Egypt? Does Steelbinder know that the Lightbringers are after Daniel? Does he consider him dead?

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      40. Steelbinder is gathering information wherever and however he can, while also squeezing every resource available to him for assembling massive deadly enchantments. He probably has at least as many of those prepared as the spells we have already seen. Some of them would be strategic, so we would not necessarily have seen them even if they’ve been used since Daniel’s arrival.

        The Conclave almost certainly has an official information pipeline into and out of the Asgard Church. Remember, some of the Conclave wizards seem to be followers of the Aesir. Steelbinder or Ward should also have one or more very good spies or other secret sources to fact check the official pipeline. Does the Asgard Church communicate with the Golden City? If so, the Conclave MIGHT know something about happenings there. Will they know details about Daniel’s actions there? Probably not, although juicy gossip like Alanna’s fight to acquire Aphrodite might be passed along, maybe the mess which happened because of the Spire exploding, too.

        …without mentioning the Spire itself, of course.

        Tova probably works her demon connections to provide useful intelligence about the rest of Europe. How much do they know? How much do they share? How much is entertaining lies?

        The Conclave seems to communicate with the King’s court wizard and therefore receives some official information about the rest of Varmland that way, probably more, much less entertaining, fiction that make for interesting reading between the lies.

        The Conclave probably communicates with other wizard convocations around the world in much the same way Asgard Church officials communicate across Europe with each other. Scrying? Spirit projection? Who knows? Does this include communications with wizards in Egypt? Maybe? Do they mention anything interesting about the Lightbringers? Do the Lightbringers participate? Do they ask direct questions about Daniel? That last seems unlikely–they are probably MUCH too sneaky for that, UNTIL the Spire explodes. After that, the Lightbringers might OFFICIALLY put a price on Daniel’s head, and THAT would probably be directly communicated to the Conclave in Kozalin and many wizards elsewhere.

        Hmm…IF there is a Lightbringer bounty, THAT might convince Steelbinder that Daniel is not dead, or will not long remain dead.

        There might be some tenuous method of contacting the Summer Court, but that channel probably costs the Conclave more than they want to spend frequently, so it’s most likely used for more important things than data spelunking.

        Steelbinder probably worked really hard to become boss of the Kozalin Conclave, if for no other reason than he has minimal tolerance for idiots and no patience at all for idiots in charge of HIM. He and Ward will EXPECT that Daniel is dead or enslaved. What else could they expect when BOTH Thor AND Odin kidnapped Daniel and took him to Asgard?

        On the other hand, Ward knows and Steelbinder has personally experienced Daniel’s instinctive reaction to dangerous situations–MASSIVE expenditures of deadly energy. Neither Conclave wizard will OFFICIALLY admit it, but they will each privately harbor a tiny bit of suspicion that Odin might come to regret this kidnapping.

        Plus, of course, there’s whatever history is known about the Bloody Archmage’s durance vile in Asgard. Did Benito return to Kozalin AFTER building Odin’s soul soup enchantments and portals? That would at least establish it is POSSIBLE for a mortal wizard to visit Asgard, do work there and return to Midgard as a (much richer) mortal.

        Ward and Steelbinder will choose to cautiously “analyze their options” regarding Black Island and any other of Daniel’s legacy that SEEMS accessible to them. They will NOT encourage any Conclave attack on Black Island or allow any obviously Conclave resources like war golems to be used, HOWEVER, they might not actively discourage such an assault. After all, it’s more data that costs them little. Steelbinder would not hesitate so much as a second to hand over to Daniel any Conclave wizard stupid enough to hare off on his or her own to Black Island in some moronic attempt to match wits and power with Daniel’s coven, Daniel’s dryads, Pelagia, Demetrios, Clan Nethwillin and Captain Rain.

        …should any such moron survive the attempt, a highly unlikely event.

        Nobody even knows about Sefwin’s Secret Service, although Steelbinder MIGHT be aware of Daniel’s new household guards.

        Steelbinder MUST suspect, maybe even believe that Daniel has traded mana power sources to Clan Nethwillin. Whether Steelbinder chooses to share that suspicion with the rest of the Conclave is doubtful, however, he WILL understand the potential of MASSIVE mana resources combined with more than a HUNDRED dark elf adults, some of whom are CENTURIES old, most of whom are magic users with FAR more experience than ninety percent of the Conclave members.

        In fact, Steelbinder probably looks at Clan Nethwillin as MORE than a match for the entire Conclave and does NOT want to test that theory. Good thing, because Clan Nethwillin would WRECK the Conclave, win or lose.

        We MUST suspect that Tova has shared with Ward or Steelbinder selected parts of her conversations with Daniel in the Conclave library and elsewhere. Plus, there are the diplomatic and other information gathering activities Daniel gave to Pelagia. Ward and Steelbinder KNOW that Daniel has at least a full GROVE on Black Island. Tova surely suspects, and therefore Ward and Steelbinder probably suspect, that Daniel has empowered one or more ENTIRE GROVES with something like the mana power block secured inside the Conclave’s locked room.

        Somebody will have reported to Steelbinder’s/Ward’s intelligence network some of the antics Daniel and Alanna were up to the night they fought some of Gaia’s top wizard hunting teams and BEAT them. Alanna’s performance will not escape Steelbinder’s and Ward’s attention. They will suspect Daniel has bound a dryad familiar AND empowered her. They certainly would, if they had that opportunity.

        Again, THAT informs Steelbinder and Ward of another potential hazard to ANY dealings with Black Island.

        The Grove(s) might not be as big a threat to the Conclave as Clan Nethwillin. On the other hand, if sufficiently empowered, the Grove(s) might be as powerful as a minor pantheon.

        The Conclave is NOT prepared to attack ANY pantheon.

        Steelbinder and Ward would not be ashamed to say that. In fact, they might have been shouting it in Conclave council meetings where morons tried to whip up support for attacking Black Island. If the situation inside the Conclave went sour that fast after Daniel was kidnapped, there could be a HUGE, violent argument. Who knows which way it might have gone, or even if it is yet resolved?

        What will happen inside the Conclave the day EVERYONE realizes Daniel is back in Castle Black, and more powerful than ever?

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      41. If Daniel does return to Castle Black as a female elf, and that information leaks to the rest of Kozalin, but Daniel then appears as himself, most people will assume the rumor is a false story.

        Some, who might notice Daniel’s “improved” new physique, will probably conclude he must be a shapeshifter.

        Colin

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    2. “• The starving peasants rise up in rebellion and nominate Daniel the black as their leader – without actually telling him they were going to do it first”

      That one has two points.

      * they rise up
      * they pick Daniel

      The first one is neigh inevitable by now. Daniel will be gone for several weeks. Food production cannot be ramped up by so much that the city could be fed. They will not quietly starve.
      The second has already hapened. Daniel is now effectively the leader of the Harbor District. Food is coming in through the port. The people of the district will not be happy to let that food pass into other district. So I really doubt that they would pick him.

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      1. Whenever Daniel finally does return to the city. His first priority should be finding any Farmers that made it into his shelters. He needs to put these Farmers to work even if it is the slow process without the use of dryads. If he doesn’t get fresh vegetables and possible fruits for the people scurvy will become a real problem. People in modern ages do not think of what type of threat scurvy actually is. But for a medieval type of society like that scurvy is one of the major diseases which kills large swaths of the population. Anyone who focuses too much on grains and meats will wind up suffering from it. And what’s worse most people who do suffer from it won’t know the cause. Not only that since scurvy is the absence of something in the diet normal healing will have no effect on it. Daniel’s healing will be able to solve the problem but most other people such a Eland would have no clue how to fix it and their healing would not touch it. It’s already been shown that they’re healing cannot replace parts that are not there. Such as damaged lung tissue missing limbs organs. They’re healing accelerates natural healing it does not transform healing into regeneration the way Daniels does.

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      2. Never said the dock workers would rebel in support of Daniel. But there are a lot of poor people in the rest of the city. The military and temple district might be well controlled, but the Trade district is not.

        If there is a rebellion, it will come from the trade district. If this was a naturally occurring rebellion, then the most likely outcome would be the peasants would rebel “in the name of the king” against “his treacherous lords”. Peasants might be competent, but almost all peasant rebellions in history operate this way because peasants do not see themselves as lords (aka – leaders). They hate the local rulers as they have immediate impact, but try to show loyalty to distant more senior rulers.

        There is some chance that they might pick Daniel, but he is frankly too new to be the standard bearer no matter how great his reputation might be. And mages always have a mixed rep — he is Daniel the BLACK after all .

        But there have already been clues that the peasants are being radicalized by third parties. So any leader they proclaim is likely to be one set by these third parties. It will either be themselves (if they think the peasants can win), or more likely it will be someone they wish to discredit as they are confident the peasants will lose. Daniel is a good candidate to discredit, especially as he “disappeared under mysterious circumstances” and thus not here to clear up any confusion/defend himself.

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      3. “Whenever Daniel finally does return to the city. His first priority should be finding any Farmers that made it into his shelters.”

        There is a problem with that. It isn’t his first priority. His first priority will be internal security and defence. There is no choice about that. The Lightbringers at least will be back. Fighting an angry demigod is now a possibility he has to prepare for seriously.
        He now has a daughter whom no Egyptian must see, at almost any cost. Even Tina should not be seen, if it can be helped at all. That all means a policy of greater isolation from Kozalin and less ressources for it.

        “But for a medieval type of society like that scurvy is one of the major diseases which kills large swaths of the population.”

        Yes. To put it bluntly, Daniel’s abduction, subsequent absence and necessary priorities after his eventual, possibly delayed, return, have turned Kozalin into a lost cause. Better write it off and salvage the part you can.

        “If there is a rebellion, it will come from the trade district.”

        Right. And that is not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’

        “So any leader they proclaim is likely to be one set by these third parties.”

        Provided they care. Wich would imply that they think that Kozalin has a future. Why would they?

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      4. Why would anybody think Kozalin has a future?

        1) They don’t believe Fimbulwinter actually means SNOW FOR A DECADE or more. Their ears might hear it, but their brains still expect spring to happen like normal, a few months away, crops to be planted, weeded, watered, harvested, etc.

        2) Yes, I know, Gaia’s armies and raiders will destroy any chance of farming and eat the farmers, if there is a spring, which there won’t be. Again, the people of Kozalin hear that but they don’t believe it.

        3) Kozalin has a reputation for surviving sieges. Yes, this situation is FAR worse than anything in their history. Again, the people of Kozalin hear the words but don’t believe they won’t survive.

        4) Everybody who does not have food will point to the nobles, the Church, the trade ships, the soldiers, the wizards’ tower and to Castle Black. There’s food to be had, obviously, and just as obviously, sucking up to one or more of the above groups might be one way to get food. Mobbing them might be another.

        5) Very few people understand what an Ice Age is, and of those, very few understand there would have to be a very powerful miracle to stop it. If Daniel, Hecate and Brand are correct in their expectations, there will be a hundred thousand years of Ice Age. At the latitude of Kozalin, that might not mean a mile of ice piled up on top of them, but it also won’t mean a growing season long enough to produce wheat, or rye or barley.

        Again, very few people understand that.

        In short, there’s a whole lot of not understanding and not believing going on. Most of it won’t change until after the food runs out and the snow gets deeper month after month and the monsters keep raiding.

        When a significant fraction of Kozalini finally understand there really is no future for them, that’s when the situation explodes. Until then, there will be growing numbers of smaller explosions as smaller groups lose hope and turn to riot or other desperate means.

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      5. “So any leader they proclaim is likely to be one set by these third parties.”

        Provided they care. Wich would imply that they think that Kozalin has a future. Why would they?

        *** The peasants rebel because they are desperate — even if Kozalin might be doomed, they do not want to die right now. And there is no certainty it is doomed – the winter is a divine event, and the gods may change their mind. You have a degree of certainty that the city is doomed that I doubt 99.9% of the people in the city share.

        *** The individuals agitating the peasants certainly believe they have a future. The only reason to agitate the peasants is to improve that future state. It is possible they want to create an excuse to kill Peasants as they subscribe to the “we are all going to die unless we kill off the surplus population” ethos. More likely they are using the rebellion as a weapon to weaken their enemies.

        But it also leaves a fundamental question open. If that happened, wouldn’t Cerise swoop in and make sure he had an ‘accident’? I see neither a reason nor an inclination to leave him alive, or rather incorporated, in her. In fact, not doing that may lead the Aesir to wonder why and whether Daniel is really dead.

        *** Why on earth would Cerise do this? A – there is no certainty she would succeed. There are a lot of knights in the city and it is certain that a prince would be guarded by competent knights. B – Very unlikely that she could do so without being identified as the assassin and thus cause huge political problems for Daniel. And most importantly – C – Why the hell would she want to? The prince has never been more than an annoying political figure to Daniel and his coven. If he returns, he is again annoying, but unlikely to seriously threaten the citadel, coven or Daniel. And the prince back in the city would solve a lot of problems for the city – or at least make things a lot better.

        Oliver – you are easily one of the most insightful commentators on this site. But often times your comments imply that everyone involved is some kind of sociopath. Not evil – but totally focused on “winning the game” at all cost. By that I mean a approaching all issues “rationally assuming” nearly everybody is going to die and only the most ruthless have a chance at survival. Acting that way may insure Daniel’s survival (debatable), but assuming everybody acts that way is just plain wrong. People have relationships, values, loyalties, misconceptions, imperfect information, wishful thinking, occasional short term mentality, preferences, dreams, cultural context, and a natural desire to avoid death.

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      6. “Oliver – “you are easily one of the most insightful commentators on this site. But often times your comments imply that everyone involved is some kind of sociopath. Not evil – but totally focused on “winning the game” at all cost.”

        Sorry, I should have been clearer on this. Allow me to address this issue separately and foremost, because it is central to everything here. Mr. Brown could express this more eloquently. Comes with being an author I guess. In fact he did sort of partially. His oldest site has an assay on Malthus and mores. I will try to dig up a link.

        Anyway, I can try to be clear. Which in my case means blunt:
        Most Varmlanders and gods ARE sociopaths. At least by our standards, not by their own.
        We commonly understimate how much the definition of a socially well adapted individual is specific to a culture. It is likely that this must be so, as recognising this weakens one’s allegiance to the current rules potentially. Doubly so if one’s civilization happens to be the most powerful in the world at present.

        Now, this may sound extraordinary. So I think a lengthy explanations with a lot of examples is going to be needed. Throughout most of history people were acting quite differently from us today. Throughout most of recorded history slavery was absolutely normal. A Roman father could sell his own children legally. People thought hunting and executing witches was normal. Some places considered burning widows (at least among higher social classes) normal. We have numerous examples in archaeology of powerful people being buried with their slaves.
        In particular people yield to economic necessity. You can see that in Indian tribes of the Amazon. They all sent out their old men on a ‘last hunt’. from which they never returned. Crones were killed outright.

        “By that I mean a approaching all issues “rationally assuming” nearly everybody is going to die and only the most ruthless have a chance at survival.”

        I must point out that the main actors of that world are not even human. And they are more than ready to use genocide. Humans must adapt.

        “Acting that way may insure Daniel’s survival (debatable), but assuming everybody acts that way is just plain wrong. People have relationships, values, loyalties, misconceptions, imperfect information, wishful thinking, occasional short term mentality, preferences, dreams, cultural context,”

        Correct. And the Varmlandish cultural context contains human sacrifice and people dieing being worth 10 silver. They must have cultural quirks. But they won’t be ours. Assuming pure logic is the closest we can come. I am no Varmlander.

        “and a natural desire to avoid death.”

        Yes. And they will act accordingly.

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      7. Snicker…and Daniel is providing yet another path to survival which upsets all sorts of different peoples’ ethos.

        Keep it up, Oliver. We really do need to be reminded that Varmlanders don’t think like us.

        It’s not just Varmlanders, either.

        The Chinese will be utterly cold-blooded to any non-Chinese, and that will only be the tip of THAT iceberg.

        How about a more recent example from our own history?

        Cecil Rhodes — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Rhodes

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      8. “*** The individuals agitating the peasants certainly believe they have a future. The only reason to agitate the peasants is to improve that future state. ”

        Right. But that means that the perception about the leadership of the eventual uprising would need to matter. It actually may. But it does not matter who is going to end up actually leading the uprising. They are walking dead anyway.

        “When a significant fraction of Kozalini finally understand there really is no future for them, that’s when the situation explodes. Until then, there will be growing numbers of smaller explosions as smaller groups lose hope and turn to riot or other desperate means.”

        That is right. And it is not only right, but it is also obvious to the leadership of the Conclave and many, maybe most, of its members and to people in leadership positions in general. It was obvious to harbor master Lund, for example.
        So Steelbinder knows that he has a bomb with a lit fuse outside his fortress. Yes, he has thick walls defend by golems spewing fire and spells. His life is not in immediate danger. But his future well-being IS in danger. That final explosion of a riot will destroy a lot of the city. And I am pretty sure the Conclave wants a working port. Maritime transport is so convinient and cheap.

        “Ok I have to admit that none of the options you present Oliver seem like realistic options to me — in the sense that they would create major controversy and potentially split the conclave. ”

        Yes, they would. In fact they have. That is kind of the point. I am arguing that time is running out for a solution that the whole Conclave could unite behind. They are looking at a situation where waiting is becoming a bad to suicidal option but there is no obvious other option, yet there is a multitude of mutually exclusive options.
        The basic facts don’t change. People have to eat. The whole continent is short of food. From the perspective of the Conclave imports cannot feed the city. Shipping is limited and expensive and they have no idea that Daniel is conjuring gold.

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      9. Yet.

        The Conclave has no idea Daniel is conjuring gold…YET.

        Somebody will some day figure out that the autocannons on his skimmers and the pistol in his hand MUST be conjuring projectiles. There’s no other possible source for all those projectiles, especially for his pistol.

        There’s a relatively straight path from that realization to the reason Daniel arrived in Kozalin broke but soon began spending gold like he’d planted a whole money tree orchard.

        One of these days, Steelbinder or Ward or both will mention to Daniel that minting his own coinage is a capital offense and counterfeiting the King’s coins is also a capital offense.

        It usually is in medieval kingdoms.

        The king is really pissy about who gets to inflate HIS economy.

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      10. “One of these days, Steelbinder or Ward or both will mention to Daniel that minting his own coinage is a capital offense and counterfeiting the King’s coins is also a capital offense.”

        Not true. In medieval societies most major cities minted their own coinage. It was on the value of the metal content in the coins which actually made most of the value. To guarantee the coinage was of the same Nation they had to use a standard template. But in medieval civilizations most cities minted their own coinage. There is actually a rather Fair exchange rate the cities would have for coinage. They would evaluate the precious metal content of the coinage that was coming in and then use that metal melted down to print their own coinage using their Nations template. This actually continued up till about 200 years ago. Before then even in the US most banks in major cities printed their own currency.

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      11. As always, well reasoned Oliver

        Most Varmlanders and gods ARE sociopaths. At least by our standards, not by their own……Throughout most of history people were acting quite differently from us today. Throughout most of recorded history slavery was absolutely normal. A Roman father could sell his own children legally. People thought hunting and executing witches was normal. …..In particular people yield to economic necessity. You can see that in Indian tribes of the Amazon. They all sent out their old men on a ‘last hunt’. from which they never returned. Crones were killed outright. “By that I mean a approaching all issues “rationally assuming” nearly everybody is going to die and only the most ruthless have a chance at survival.”

        ***** Counter points – somewhat

        I agree that most individuals in a stressful survival situation like this are going to be selfish. They are going to focus on their personal survival and the survival of those that matter to them – family, followers, friends, etc. Their “tribe” if you like. If that means a lot of other people have to die to make sure your “tribe” survives, so be it. People will be ruthless and selfish as you say.

        People in these situations are also going to ensure the survival of their group, because survival in these situations is a group effort. Individual die – groups survive when things get really tough.

        People in these situations focus on the short term – because they have to. Survive this day, this week or this month. Very few will focus any attention on surviving next year as their attention is consumed by the need to survive this week/month. This is not because they are not aware of the LT risk. It is just the LT risk is not something that they can do much about.

        My point though is that this is a messy definition and society/mores/culture/morality puts limits on this. For example, even though food is an issue and likely to remain an issue, the people of Kozalin are not going to start eating their dead or even the enemy dead. That might happen if things get really bad, but they are not going there until that really bad situation actually happens. They are also not going to just kill their neighbors today so that the food lasts longer. The cold blooded calculation that would create those actions ARE the actions of a sociopath.

        But you will get actions like that Baron in book 1 – where leaders are perfectly content to sacrifice other groups to ensure their own group’s survival. And that will create “out” groups that lack a patron who can protect them and ensure they get enough food. Those out groups will fight to survive and the peasant rebellion is probably the first (and largest in overall numbers) of these out groups fighting for survival.

        You will get alliances between groups that may or may not last. You will get leaders who try and save the city and others that believe the city is doomed and try and just ensure their group’s survival when the city falls and other leaders who just want to flee. Most will rally around any leader that can reasonably promise that “your” group will survive if they follow “me”. That hope, even if a long shot, builds a lot of loyalty in very bad situations. Which is why the absence of a Prince or demigod is such a problem – that hope is gone so the various tribes are splintering into their components and focused on maximizing tribal survival – which is going to be very bad for the survival of the whole city.

        Daniel’s actions are different in part because Daniel is NOT in survival mode. Daniel is confident that he can easily survive Fimbulwinter and thus his actions in Kozalin do not make “rational” sense in a stark survival situation. Daniel’s concerns about survival are about gods and great beasts — and even there Daniel is confident that he has a good chance at survival. So he has no problem spending some resources on Kozalin or thinking long term or acting with charity. He IS the first world country in your analogy, at least with regards to Kozalin.

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      12. “My point though is that this is a messy definition and society/mores/culture/morality puts limits on this. For example, even though food is an issue and likely to remain an issue, the people of Kozalin are not going to start eating their dead or even the enemy dead. That might happen if things get really bad, but they are not going there until that really bad situation actually happens. They are also not going to just kill their neighbors today so that the food lasts longer. The cold blooded calculation that would create those actions ARE the actions of a sociopath.”

        Messi definitions? Restricted by Society. Yes! Eating their enemy and killing their neighbors? Maybe. You have to remember their enemies are primarily not human. They won’t see it as cannibalism to eat a Fel wolf or a goblin. Actions of a sociopath? No just the actions of somebody who is desperate. My guess is the orphans in the street would probably already be resorting to cannibalism. The people who are close to the edge of the city who have to go out looking for firewood would probably come across a dead Goblin or a Phil wolf and thank ya now I need a stew pot. A family a group of people that just came into the city after running out of supplies and their home Village killing their neighbor and taking their stuff? Yes that’s probably already happened multiple times. There’s nothing Psychopathic or sociopathic about it it’s just survival. It’s not even cold or calculating it’s reactionary. My family my children my clan their starving the people in that house over there have food reaction made that’s all it takes. There’s nothing calculating about it there’s nothing sociopathic about it there is I need this I want this it’s over there somebody else has it end decision tree.

        “But you will get actions like that Baron in book 1 – where leaders are perfectly content to sacrifice other groups to ensure their own group’s survival. And that will create “out” groups that lack a patron who can protect them and ensure they get enough food. Those out groups will fight to survive and the peasant rebellion is probably the first (and largest in overall numbers) of these out groups fighting for survival.”

        You will have Barons and Nobles act like that Barron in book one. He was not acting in the interest and survival his town he was acting in the interest in survival of himself. He was also seeking to take advantage of Daniel as much as I possibly could. And at any point he thought Daniel would be vulnerable he would seek to kill Daniel and take all of his stuff and women. That is not thinking of his community or his group. He is utilizing a group as a method for his own Survival nothing more. Yes you will have quite a few Nobles that will act and think like him. His group is nothing more than a set of buffer between his body and family and anyone attempting to do them harm. His group is a method to procure food and resources for himself and his family. This is the way many of the Nobles will be thinking and acting. It’s the way they were raised and trained to think people are cattle not fellow human beings. There will be the rare exceptions of nobles who act differently and actually take actions and plan for the survival of the group but not all not even most. If you’re looking for psychopaths within the population the first place you should be looking is amongst the nobility. Their environment inbreeding Fosters and favors Psychopaths. As far as the out-groups not having a patron they can turn to to help ensure their survival. You are wrong they will turn to Daniel the black his women his soldiers perhaps even his elves satyrs and dryads as well as his Pantheon. Whether any of them will choose to bring them any hope however is another matter altogether.

        “You will get alliances between groups that may or may not last. You will get leaders who try and save the city and others that believe the city is doomed and try and just ensure their group’s survival when the city falls and other leaders who just want to flee. Most will rally around any leader that can reasonably promise that “your” group will survive if they follow “me”. That hope, even if a long shot, builds a lot of loyalty in very bad situations.”

        Yes absolutely that is most likely.

        ” Which is why the absence of a Prince or demigod is such a problem – that hope is gone so the various tribes are splintering into their components and focused on maximizing tribal survival – which is going to be very bad for the survival of the whole city.”

        They still have hope. Daniel’s altruism and generosity will replace the Prince and the Demi Gods roll placing him in that position. Yes the factions in the city will fragment. Is this bad for the city not necessarily. The fragmented Clans and factions well rally around whatever groups of authority continue to exist. The out-groups will also do this. Some will seek to join the conclave “if they ever open their doors”. Some will seek to join the Nobles. And some will seek to join Daniels faction. Daniels affection because he is providing both warmth and food will probably grow the quickest. He may actually gain Supremacy in the city without even realizing it till it’s already happened. Yes many groups and peoples within the city will in a very short period of chaos be destroyed this is unavoidable. It’s also not necessarily A Bad Thing. In any and all societies and civilizations you have what can amount to a civilizational parasite class that arises in and around major cities. Modern politicians tend to Pander to these groups offering whatever it is they think these groups want in order to procure votes. There’s no reason to believe that a large percentage within the city at least it’s original percentage was not also some form of social Elite parasite class. What’s often referred to as the wine glass socialist. Who tends to live off of the inheritance of their forebears. These individuals are most likely to become the rabble-rousers in order to seek and accumulate personal power within whichever groups and factions they happen to find themselves after the chaos of this Divine War started. Which means they are probably a large percentage of the Rebel rousers some of the other rabble-rousers maybe either Odin or Loki’s faction. Odin because he wants fighting the more people who died fighting the more soldiers he gets. Loki because he wants to depopulate the worshippers which would be amongst the lowest classes of the population.

        “Daniel’s actions are different in part because Daniel is NOT in survival mode. Daniel is confident that he can easily survive Fimbulwinter and thus his actions in Kozalin do not make “rational” sense in a stark survival situation. Daniel’s concerns about survival are about gods and great beasts — and even there Daniel is confident that he has a good chance at survival. So he has no problem spending some resources on Kozalin or thinking long term or acting with charity. He IS the first world country in your analogy, at least with regards to Kozalin.”

        I agree in this assessment to absolutely.

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      13. “They still have hope. Daniel’s altruism and generosity will replace the Prince and the Demi Gods roll placing him in that position. Yes the factions in the city will fragment.”

        Well, no. I am sorry, but Daniel is not giving the whole city hope. He is giving the Harbor District hope. Daniel is also giving them a defensive parameter, an organized miitary force and income. They won’t let imported food just pass through their district.
        People do care about the short term only if forced to, but they also show hoaarding as the simplest precaution against future risks. If they do have surplus food, they will use it as leverage for forming alliances. Most likely against the refugees.

        Daniel has planted the seeds for a civil war there.

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      14. They won’t see it as cannibalism to eat a Fel wolf or a goblin. Actions of a sociopath? No just the actions of somebody who is desperate.

        **** We have seen no evidence of the varmlanders eating goblins, giants or any other foe. You may be right that they will eventually eat them and see eating goblins as less troublesome as eating humans. But the fact is that they would not consider eating goblins today. So social mores are for the most part holding.

        My guess is the orphans in the street would probably already be resorting to cannibalism.

        *** Probably not yet as the city has been feeding them. In book 4 they mentioned that the ration has just been cut to near starvation levels, so cannibalism is more something that might kick in at some future point.

        A family a group of people that just came into the city after running out of supplies and their home Village killing their neighbor and taking their stuff? Yes that’s probably already happened multiple times. There’s nothing Psychopathic or sociopathic about it it’s just survival.

        *** but our own history shows that many people in that situation would starve to death rather than resort to cannibalism. It is a strong social prohibition that almost always holds even when times are desperate.

        You will have Barons and Nobles act like that Barron in book one. He was not acting in the interest and survival his town he was acting in the interest in survival of himself.

        **** Not true. the Baron was focused on defending himself/keep first, then his townfolk. Peasant farmers were mostly worthless in his mind and he did not care about them. Read the book again – the baron clearly established different rules for different groups.

        He was also seeking to take advantage of Daniel as much as I possibly could.

        *** That is the Baron being a dick – because he had the power and believed Daniel could not gainsay him. Nothing to do with survival – other than the situation gave Daniel fewer options to escape.

        They still have hope. Daniel’s altruism and generosity will replace the Prince and the Demi Gods roll placing him in that position.

        I suspect many would see Daniel as a good patron, but Daniel is CLEARLY not today a replacement for the Prince. He cannot unify the various factions under his rule, so he cannot effectively rule. Daniel could replace all the existing factions, but that is a complete remake of the city power structure and a very different thing than Daniel assuming leadership of the city. It would be more of a conquest than taking the throne.

        Yes the factions in the city will fragment. Is this bad for the city not necessarily.

        *** Of course it is bad. Each faction has resources the other factions lack. Through cooperation, they can much more easily defend the city and rationally assign resources. (however you define rationally). Right now, everybody is starting to hoard resources, defend against each other and seek to undermine other leaders. A lot of wasted resources and a much weaker city.

        There’s no reason to believe that a large percentage within the city at least it’s original percentage was not also some form of social Elite parasite class.

        **** Ok somebody’s ideology crept into the discussion. 🙂

        Varmland is clearly a warrior aristocracy. So most of the nobility are highly trained fighters and the natural leaders of every faction. Why would this group go away? Ditto with the soldiers? Then you have the priesthoods and the mages — which bring powerful magic to the table. Why would they go away? The vast bulk of the people in the city are farmers, fisherman and craftsmen — which do not fit anyone’s definition of elite parasite class, although arguably those skills are much less valuable without farmland and limited opportunities for trade those skills are much less valuable. So your elite parasite class is now limited to a few merchants, a handful of nobility, a few disenfranchised luxury craftsmen. All of these have wealth and contacts. Why would they disappear in a situation where that wealthy gives them strong advantages. Even if they did disappear, it is such a tiny percentage of the city population and power structure that it would make no difference.

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      15. Dspring, there’s definitely evidence of “Varmlanders” eating their enemies’ flesh — Avilla cooked felwolf heart and flank meat to feed the refugees and soldiers on Daniel’s second day.

        Of course, Kozalin is a big city with thousands of people inside and that would require quite a few felwolves per day.

        Felwolves might become an endangered species on Midgard before Fimbulwinter ends.

        They won’t be the only enemy monsters to go extinct there.

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      16. I wasn’t really thinking in terms of ideology. I was thinking in terms of History. Much the same thing happened to the British Empire during World War II. One of Churchill’s statements that always rang with me when I read his history was when he said that. “The victories are hard. I’m winning good on all the other fronts but the victories the victories are hard they keep alluding me.” One of the major reasons victories eluded him so much is because of his officers. His officers had been raised in the Warrior traditions of the Empire. However they had started paying only lip service to those Traditions. They had become wineglass and armchair generals. And they were far too apt to surrender to the enemy rather than fight it out to the last. This was a major detriment for their colonies and holdings in Southeast Asia. When they face the Japanese the Japanese would not surrender to the British so the officers continuously ordered their men to surrender. That’s one of the major reasons in fact they were driven out of Southeast Asia. The fault did not lie with the common Soldier it lay with the officer Corps. Anytime you have a civilization which develops a warrior culture and develops highly Advanced social structures you have the same problem. This is common in any culture that has nobility. You will always get a certain percentage of them that will develop into wine glass and armchair generals. These are not going to be the country nights or the country nobility. I would wager that dick who ordered Daniel to burn alive would be a relatively decent military commander. However his counterpart who lives in the city “unless he is extremely gifted” I would wager would not be competent. You see this represented in the prince in Valhalla in book 4. If he had a rougher less cuddled up bringing in this Marshall tradition than he would be capable of adapting to the change he found himself in Far easier. Instead he wants everything his way and when it doesn’t go his way he throws a fit and tries to blame somebody else namely Daniel. These are the type of people that will lose their Holdings during this disaster within the city. They’ll be overrun by monsters apemen or something else and they’ll be rabble-rousers instead of accepting the blame for their own failings.

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      17. Yes, DaShoota, to the “Wine glass and armchair generals” you describe, and their evolution.

        Of course, in Kozalin, they would be ale tankard and bar stool generals….

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      18. True for the bar stools. I could be wrong but I seem to remember the country bumpkin Lord that tried to order Daniel to be burned alive was drinking wine. Not to mention the prince tended to offer him wine. So I’m sticking to the wine snobbery in the nobility.

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      19. “I was thinking in terms of History. Much the same thing happened to the British Empire during World War II. One of Churchill’s statements that always rang with me when I read his history was when he said that. “The victories are hard. I’m winning good on all the other fronts but the victories the victories are hard they keep alluding me.” One of the major reasons victories eluded him so much is because of his officers. His officers had been raised in the Warrior traditions of the Empire. However they had started paying only lip service to those Traditions.”

        Well, I am afraid I cannot let that stand. That was not degeneracy. It was sound strategy.
        And that now requires me to say something extremely outrageous. Winston Churchill destroyed the British Empire. Of course politically you may say that he sacrificed it for a worthy cause. I will not disagree with that. I am just going to say that from a strict view point of national interest, if I put my sociapath hat on, if you will, his strategy was wrong.

        If you own a quarter or more of a planetary surface and the best parts of it by and large, there will be no more territories to sensibly conquer. Your job, as a general officer, is not to win, but to not lose. Yes, this is not good for morale. But that does not change the national interest.
        What happens if you do not known when to stop and go for consolidation can in fact be seen in WW2 in Germany’s decision to invade the Soviet Union.

        Now for the Prince as a general, he is at a fundamental disadvantage. What could he do? Listen more to his officers for one thing. Fighting on equal terms he will lose. He does see that he needs unconventional tricks. He does seek them. And he does understand that he will have to act unconventionally and take risks.
        Daniel decides that he would solve the issue with overwhelming fire power. That is a good decision, if you have such fire power. Without it, there is no good option if you really need to win.

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      20. “Well, I am afraid I cannot let that stand. That was not degeneracy. It was sound strategy.
        And that now requires me to say something extremely outrageous. Winston Churchill destroyed the British Empire. Of course politically you may say that he sacrificed it for a worthy cause. I will not disagree with that. I am just going to say that from a strict view point of national interest, if I put my sociapath hat on, if you will, his strategy was wrong.”

        I’m going to have to disagree with you on that. The British Armed Forces surrendering to the Japanese during the beginning stages of World War II in the south Asia theater was not sound military strategy. And it was in fact degeneracy of the Marshall Valor of the officer Corps which were primarily descended from Nobles and knights still at that period. It was also a distinct lack of understanding and in some cases a refusal to understand the enemy. In many cases those officers even and talks and negotiations with their enemy we’re told exactly what would happen to them. They refused to accept and believe it because it conflicted with their understanding of what proper military decorum towards a surrendered enemy would be.

        As for Winston Churchill destroying the British Empire. Yes I agree absolutely. He is far more responsible for the destruction of the British Empire than most people actually realize. He actually helped set up the officer training programs and Soldier training programs which weakened the military. The programs he set up improved the health of the soldiers and guaranteed a maximum number of them would actually go through basic training to become soldiers. However it also decreased the aggressive quality of the soldiers by limiting the harshness of the training. There’s nothing wrong with the British soldier except that he was under equipped at this onset of the war and undertrained for the hardships he would have to face. And I’ve already discussed the problems of his officers that were commanding him. Many of these problems were actually instituted by Winston Churchill himself. This was all set in place before the war ever started. Between World War 1 and World War 2 when Winston Churchill entered his political career he set these things in motion and pushed for their placement. To make matters worse during World War II he became so obsessed with fighting the enemy to save France and make no mistake that was actually his real goal that he literally sold off large sections of the Empire and it’s most valuable resources to accomplish it.

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      21. As for the prince he put a lot of time effort and resources into blackmailing Daniel black for assistance. Only to stick his nose up in the air and ignore him pointedly when he finally got that assistance. As well as to try to blame him for his failure in not claiming a victory. “Fail miserably because of your own arrogance and ego then blame everyone else for it.”

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      22. Dspring, there’s definitely evidence of “Varmlanders” eating their enemies’ flesh — Avilla cooked felwolf heart and flank meat to feed the refugees and soldiers on Daniel’s second day.

        *** and we eat whale meat in parts of the world. But cannibalism concerns always related to humanoids – and realistically there are no significant numbers of fell wolves anywhere near Kozalin, but there might be the neanderthal guys or goblins or trolls.

        And for all this talk about the British Aristocracy in WW1 (interesting though it is), I am not sure how it is relevant. We have seen no sign that the aristocracy in Varmland is clueless or out of touch or lacking in warrior virtues. Certainly they do not understand the implications of Daniel’s magic. But then again NOBODY understands the impact of Daniel’s magic. It is completely new. They may be wrong, but useless parasites does not seem like a valid description.

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      23. Dspring, I suspect the discussion of British officers in WWI and WWII putatively being less than stellar commanders is somehow related to our perception of the “nobles” in Varmland, as seen through Daniel Black’s biased views.

        Daniel does have some reason to be disappointed. Baron Stein was particularly idiotic in Lanrest. Of course, when a clan of frost giants arrives at your castle, along with a dragon, ANY resistance is almost completely irrelevant.

        Running away as fast as possible under cover of weather and terrain seems like the best possible solution.

        It does not hurt that escape plan that many tasty human morsels were left behind to temporarily fix the attention of the invading monsters.

        The nobles of Kozalin, and their prince, seem not to have thrown away the city yet, so perhaps they are better than Stein. Of course, both Daniel and the Conclave are too powerful for an entitled smash and grab.

        Frankly, it’s the Conclave that seems to be living down to meet Daniel’s low expectations. How the author deals with that situation should be a fascinating portion of the next Daniel Black story.

        It’s also worth pointing out that Gaia and Loki are ultimately to blame, especially Gaia. Her hatred for humans is what drives the slaughter. Midgard’s human leadership failures barely rise or fall to the level of even slightly deflecting the doom vector.

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      24. “And for all this talk about the British Aristocracy in WW1 (interesting though it is), I am not sure how it is relevant. We have seen no sign that the aristocracy in Varmland is clueless or out of touch or lacking in warrior virtues. Certainly they do not understand the implications of Daniel’s magic. But then again NOBODY understands the impact of Daniel’s magic. It is completely new. They may be wrong, but useless parasites does not seem like a valid description.”

        It’s true that we cannot expect them to understand the implications of Daniels magic and weaponry. It appears as though the last war they fought was over a hundred years ago against the French. “Or what we would consider the French today.” However do not be mistaken we have seen very little out of the nobility in their Marshall Valor. With the exception of the lower nobility and the Knights. Most of what we’ve seen out of these people have been the common soldiers. Other than a few Country Bumpkin nights and noblemen fighting it out over who gets which parcel of land in the countryside I’m not exactly seeing anything useful out of the higher nobility yet. The common soldiery seems to be fit for service and has the right mindset for combat Duty. I’m not exactly seeing that out of most of the higher nobility though. I’m not really seeing much of anything out of the higher nobility yet. But a hundred years since the last war? I’m fairly certain the higher nobility at this point is only paying lip service. However I think the Church of Odin would have been whipping those lesser Nobles into a constant state of raids and small-unit military actions against each other and neighboring countries Shoreline settlements and anything else they can think of to get more Heroes into Valhalla. So I think we will see an interesting divide in future books between lesser nobility, upper nobility, Knights and common soldiers for their martial prowess. As well as their units, tactics and military capabilities.

        “Dspring, I suspect the discussion of British officers in WWI and WWII putatively being less than stellar commanders is somehow related to our perception of the “nobles” in Varmland, as seen through Daniel Black’s biased views.”

        That’s the perspective I’m trying to look at it through. However I’m trying to also understand what a church of Odin would have as an effect on the nation’s military and Marshall readiness. The more I think about it within increased period Of time between Wars. We should see a major divide between military Readiness and capability of upper nobility and lower nobility as well as the common soldiers and nights. After all religion usually effects the lower cast far more dramatically than the upper caste of any society or civilization. Despite the upper caste utilizing more of the paraphernalia and regalia of said religions. So I’m thinking the upper caste would be paying lip service and doing most of their military studies from an arm chair with 20/20 hindsight. While the Lesser nobility, Knights and common people would be whipped into a frenzy of continuous raids and small-scale battles against each other neighboring settlements and the shorelines of neighboring countries.

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      25. Daniel’s performance as a millitary commander and a fighter in Lanrest really wasn’t something to be proud of. The only man who had a realistic chance of doing something about the breach goes off and plays streetfighter in an unknown city. Oh well …
        As for Baron Stein, clearly he was an asshole. But what exactly did he do wrong? Not displaying unfounded optimism? Not clearly seeing what he had in his hands with Daniel? We’d blame a man for not recognizing something literally unprecenented outside his area of expertic.

        No, the real fools of that episode were Holger Drakebane and Avilla.

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      26. The real mistake he made was not waiting until the wall was done. And then evaluate whether or not he could get more work out of the Wizard before trying to stab him in the back.

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      27. Okay, I totally agree that Holger Drakebane was an idiot, or behaved like an idiot for stupid reasons bound up in his holy “duties” that he could not avoid because of a lifetime of preaching idiocy about witches, may the Norn piss in his Cheerios forever.

        How did Avilla play the fool, Oliver?

        Failing to take down Stein when she was alone with him and yet still pumped full of the mana Daniel gave her?

        I’d give you that.

        She is said, by Daniel, to have SOME ability to kill, maim or render unconscious, and Cerise admits that is true. Avilla can also control, although we don’t know what sort of protection against that Stein might have been wearing.

        Avilla is a weird character in most of the books. We barely begin to learn about her in FIMBULWINTER and Daniel decides that cleaver in her hand during the battle of Granny’s cottage means she is capable of killing.

        Did we then see her actually kill ANY goblin for that entire book? She DID dispell a dust demon during the big confrontation with Drakebane below his Church of Odin. Of course, she had the perfect spell for that, and was pumped up by Daniel to cast it.

        Softball….

        Avilla then proceeds to act like a sheltered, timid little girl for most of the books, except where kitchen work and household management is involved.

        By the time of the coven binding in BLACK COVEN we see a tiny bit of improvement in Avilla’s character, most of that in managing Daniel’s household. Then her patron goddess takes her to task for her timidity and tells her to shape up. Which she almost immediately backslides on during the first half of EXTERMINATION.

        Back and forth, Avilla constantly tests Daniel’s and OTHERS’ patience–remember Elin, in the beginning?

        I suspect the author is making a character development project out of Avilla.

        I really DO like the distinct difference between Cerise, Avilla, Elin, Tina and Alanna. Beri is obviously in training to become like Cerise, but maybe more cautious.

        Too often, characters in other books seem like clones of each other.

        The Daniel Black stories have a rich variety of heroes, villains, supporting characters and idiots.

        Gotta love the idiots.

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      28. I agree. I also have to say the idiots can make or break a story. It must be difficult for the author to keep all of his characters straight. Might be one of the reasons it takes him so long to come out with the Nextbook. Probably has an extensive library on the different characters personality traits.

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      29. Yeah, writing software like SCRIVENER has that sort of character database setup. Of course, the writer has to actually populate the data sets, then use the character data while writing, to get any benefit out of it all.

        Then there are those authors who just type and it all comes out wonderful.

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      30. “The real mistake he made was not waiting until the wall was done. And then evaluate whether or not he could get more work out of the Wizard before trying to stab him in the back.”

        So you assume that the Baron ordered Daniel to be assassinated. That looks rather unlikely to me. He could not have predicted that Daniel would be found in the middle of the city, severly wounded under a troll. He would expect Daniel where a Varmlander wizard would have been, either in his tower for simple personal safety or where he would make military sense, that is either in the breach or on the new wall, tossing fireballs and curses at the goblins trying to get into the town.
        Definitely not on a sentimental quest to organize self-defense for a few civilians.

        No, that was a result of personal hatred. If you are an aristocrat in a feudal system you have to live with some of your people getting a job for being a relative, not for brains and character. Sir Zenon Broz was one of them. He got a job of lesser importance. A top man would have been in the breach, not leading a troop of glorified street cleaners.

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      31. You do make a good point. And that would be along my line of thinking too if not for one small problem. The troops that moved in and stripped Daniels Tower of all his stuff and kidnapped his women moved in a little bit too quickly. This indicates that they were waiting to move in at a moment’s notice perhaps even while the town was Under Siege.

        I will also admit that those soldiers could have been under the command of the church instead of the Noble.

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      32. DaShoota, the troops who moved in and took Daniel’s Lanrest tower, kidnapping Avilla and Cerise, were acting on Drakebane’s orders. He was TOTALLY primed and ready to take out Cerise at any hint that Daniel was dead or down. He would even have convinced himself that Daniel would forgive him that move, because a witch was obviously too dangerous to allow any freedom at all.

        Like I said before, Drakebane was an idiot, and his religion compelled him to be an idiot about witches.

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      33. “How did Avilla play the fool, Oliver?

        Failing to take down Stein when she was alone with him and yet still pumped full of the mana Daniel gave her?”

        That would leave her in chains in the household of a noble whom she had struck down. Not a good idea.
        No, she ‘talked’ Cerise out of summoning a demon. That was foolish to an extreme degree. What was she hoping? That everything would right itself through a miracle? Daniel was missing in combat. Did she really think that they had a chance without demonic help against an enemy that struck down Daniel or that they could safe him from such an enemy if they located him and he was still alive?
        Or if he was grieveously wounded that they could carry him back with just the aid of a few badly armed and untrained farmers through a city in the middle of a war?

        No, she was a foolish girl who couldn’t tell the difference between being timid and being careful.

        “The troops that moved in and stripped Daniels Tower of all his stuff and kidnapped his women moved in a little bit too quickly.”

        The problem exists, but you cannot explain it away that way. The Baron could not have known the town would be attacked that evening and if he could he would have let them collapse his walls without him doing something about it.

        No, those were temple guards. Yes, that means Holger Drakebane kept a squad of magical fighters ready and didn’t even send them into combat when the walls were breached. He is an asshole and a traitor.

        As opposed to Baron Stein who was merely an asshole, but I m afraid to say it again, but he was basically right. That a pampered man from the First World who thinks civilliian casualties are a horrible depravity, always to be avoided, does not like that, is understandable.

        Frankly the only practical, level-headed protagonist who also isn’t a rapist arsehole was Cerise. Daniel was a string of bad decision after bad decision. He just could not adjust to being no longer American. He is now outnumbered, worse in mobility, without medevac or air cover and so on.

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      34. Of course, that horrible situation Daniel put himself into is BOTH an important part the author’s thoroughly deliberate and calculated deconstruction of Daniel’s modern American attitudes AND a subtle dig at real, modern situations Americans find themselves in around OUR world. It’s great fun seeing some of the predictable consequences of Daniel’s actions, and how he finally manages to extract a barely survivable defeat from the ashes of catastrophe.

        How the author continues to deal with Daniel’s struggle to conform to harsh realities in his new existence is one of the best parts of the series. Literally pounding Daniel into pudding and forcing him to spend many hours of precious time repairing himself before he can even consider developing new weapons or armor is exactly what SHOULD happen. Daniel has to be shown time and again how his modern world habits and attitudes utterly fail in his new situation. Of course, it’s also necessary to see how other parts of Daniel’s modern experience and knowledge provides critically enhanced opportunities for survival, both his own and his followers.

        It’s amusing when, as Daniel’s character comments to himself that Avilla and Cerise need “keepers,” we see the girls actually providing him with vital clues and demonstrations of survival behavior more appropriate then his to the new world where he finds himself. I’m re-reading FIMBULWINTER at the moment, and noticing again some of the several spots where Cerise prods Daniel with suggestions that he might be better served abandoning his Don Quixote efforts to save as many refugees as possible.

        The author does a really good job with moments like that and many others, helping the reader think about Daniel’s decisions, or lack thereof, and the sometimes calamitous results.

        I do wish more authors would take up the challenge of dragging a modern character into universes of fantasy and closely follow them as their failures and minimal successes land them in the bottoms of hideous latrines from which they must extract themselves and their followers. There are plenty of attempts out there, but it would be nice to find a few more done as well as the Daniel Black series.

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      35. “I do wish more authors would take up the challenge of dragging a modern character into universes of fantasy and closely follow them as their failures and minimal successes land them in the bottoms of hideous latrines from which they must extract themselves and their followers. There are plenty of attempts out there, but it would be nice to find a few more done as well as the Daniel Black series.”

        I would like to see that to. I would also like to see unique Twist on that theme. Such as a Fantasy character finding themselves in our world. Or a Fantasy character from a non human race being put into a position usually reserved for a human from our world. The closest thing I’ve found so far is (God of gnomes) wear a dark elf a (draw) is reincarnated as a God core. Something that is explained to him normally happens to humans from our world. So he plays it quiet and doesn’t let anyone know that he was a dark elf. It’s not written that good but it is an interesting take on the theme.

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      36. The situation in book 1 facing the Baron is very bad. The right answer as defined as “best chance for survival + best situation post conflict” varies depending on your assumptions.

        The Baron’s assumptions were
        1) The keep can hold out. The town might hold out.
        2) He is effectively under siege and that siege will last until Spring (aka – long, but survivable)
        3) He is the only decision maker
        4) Daniel is a useful wizard, but not so powerful that he can actually threaten the Baron’s control over the keep.

        Based on those assumptions, the Baron acted smart and he acted dumb.
        * Collecting all the peasants in the town was not smart just before a siege, but probably understandable as he did not really understand it was a siege until later.

        * Concentrating the food under this control and in the keep maximized his chance to survive the siege. This is pretty normal behavior under any siege.

        * His focus on eliminating the peasants is both stupid and smart and desperate at the same time.

        It is stupid as these people are his people and properly mobilizing them for defense would significantly improve his ability to defend his walls. With the right weapons, even untrained peasants could be quite useful on the walls. As we have seen – losses are high in Fimbulwinter. He needs bodies to defend the walls.

        It is smart as he does not have enough food – so he is eliminating the individual least useful to himself – in a way that is least likely to cause issues with the other townsfolk. (deniability)

        It is stupid as this behavior is not that subtle and really going to destroy the natural loyalty and morale of his soldiers and townsfolk — loyalty he will need to withstand a long siege.

        It is desperate because his wealth comes from farmers. If all his farmers die, he will be impoverished for a decade even if fimbulwinter ended tomorrow.

        * Choosing to not properly defend his town was stupid. He had every reason to believe that Daniel’s wall would be finished in a few days and that would make the town very a powerful strong point, certainly stronger than his keep walls. Yet he did not defend the town even against goblins — a fairly easy foe to defeat. Once he knew Daniel was dead, he might have been justified staying in the keep — but he made this decision before he knew Daniel’s fate.

        * Choosing to not consider retreating to a larger town is stupid, but given the weather and the goblins it would arguably have been suicidal to try. So maybe it was smart to trust in his walls.

        And in any case, with magic and the coming dragon, none of the Baron’s decisions — or Daniels – could save the town and the keep from destruction. It is not until Book 3 that Daniel had the personal strength to fight off dragons or noticeable numbers of giants. And the Baron never had sufficient strength to defeat either foe.

        With regards to the High Priest, I thought his actions were entirely reasonable given his starting assumptions. He was firm, but respectful in approaching Daniel to control his “death witch” and (based on his cultural context) had a good chance for being successful in this approach. Once he received news that Daniel was dead, he moved quickly to take control over the death witch before she could get away — or summon a demon. Death witches are the hated and feared enemies of the priests of Asgard after all – and killing or binding them is a very important priority for them.

        I personally thought he should have made more effort to recover the book before trying to bind Cerise with dead demons. It seemed a very wasteful approach given the town is under attack. Using those same demons to kill goblins would seem a better use of his resources.

        And once Daniel broke into the temple, it was probably too late to engage in any diplomatic solution. Daniel was clearly an enemy by this point in time.

        Like

      37. Huh.

        Dspring, I did not even think of your observation that Drakebane OUGHT to have used his bound demons to kill goblins, trolls, etc. You are correct that he should have done that instead of wasting them on Cerise. Then he could have recovered the copy of “In Tauro…” and bound Cerise, then used her against the invaders, also.

        So, not only does Drakebane’s religion blind him to the foolish waste of time and resources that is his assault on Daniel’s followers, he compounds the waste by burning one demon after another trying to overwhelm Cerise.

        I wonder if there is a reason he does not try to send his demons out hunting goblins and other prey?

        I bet he does not have enough control to keep the demons from attacking townsfolk.

        Maybe he does not even have enough control to keep his demons leashed?

        Perhaps all he can do is release them into contained situations, like the dungeon under the Odin Church.

        Interesting ideas. Thanks, Dspring.

        Oh–I finished reading SKYCLAD by Scott Browder. It’s fun, moves faster through more time than Daniel Black and addresses several interesting opportunities for magotech and other magic.

        Colin

        Like

      38. “It is desperate because his wealth comes from farmers. If all his farmers die, he will be impoverished for a decade even if fimbulwinter ended tomorrow.”

        Unless he had a way to attract New farmers to his area it would be a lot longer than 10 years. More like 25 or 30.

        Like

      39. * Collecting all the peasants in the town was not smart just before a siege, but probably understandable as he did not really understand it was a siege until later.

        Unlikely to be a matter of choice. It was fall. He needed to collect the harvest. Just confiscating all the food and expecting the peasants to do nothing wouldn’t have worked.

        * Concentrating the food under this control and in the keep maximized his chance to survive the siege. This is pretty normal behavior under any siege.

        Yes

        * His focus on eliminating the peasants is both stupid and smart and desperate at the same time.

        It is stupid as these people are his people and properly mobilizing them for defense would significantly improve his ability to defend his walls. With the right weapons, even untrained peasants could be quite useful on the walls. As we have seen – losses are high in Fimbulwinter. He needs bodies to defend the walls.

        Did he? He had a lot of soldiers? And training them would have been hard.

        It is stupid as this behavior is not that subtle and really going to destroy the natural loyalty and morale of his soldiers and townsfolk — loyalty he will need to withstand a long siege.

        Not really. What would they do? Surrender to a felwolf? If the town’s people realize that somebody needed to be eliminated, then rather it be somebody else.

        It is desperate because his wealth comes from farmers. If all his farmers die, he will be impoverished for a decade even if fimbulwinter ended tomorrow.

        If there will be a famine, you can just as well eliminate them before the siege fails due to them.
        (My inner sociopath is chuckling by the way)

        * Choosing to not properly defend his town was stupid. He had every reason to believe that Daniel’s wall would be finished in a few days and that would make the town very a powerful strong point, certainly stronger than his keep walls. Yet he did not defend the town even against goblins

        I doubt that this is actually true. Daniel may have assume that. He saw no soldiers rushing into the town to defend civilians. That would have been foolish and showed Daniel’s 21th century attitude. The soldiers the Baron had would go to the breach.

        * Choosing to not consider retreating to a larger town is stupid, but given the weather and the goblins it would arguably have been suicidal to try. So maybe it was smart to trust in his walls.

        They would not have let him in. He had no choice.

        With regards to the High Priest, I thought his actions were entirely reasonable given his starting assumptions. He was firm, but respectful in approaching Daniel to control his “death witch” and (based on his cultural context) had a good chance for being successful in this approach.

        Not really. If she sacrificed a few young men, so be it. That is not a reason to risk the whole town. Clever but ultimately inflexible und unsufficiently ready to grasp the basics.

        Once he received news that Daniel was dead, he moved quickly to take control over the death witch before she could get away — or summon a demon. Death witches are the hated and feared enemies of the priests of Asgard after all – and killing or binding them is a very important priority for them.

        No, definitely no. The timing is iffy in any case. That makes it outride impossible. Those troops went in as soon as Daniel was reported occupied in the town.

        I personally thought he should have made more effort to recover the book before trying to bind Cerise with dead demons. It seemed a very wasteful approach given the town is under attack. Using those same demons to kill goblins would seem a better use of his resources.

        Well, no. He should have done exactly nothing, maybe send his priests against the shamans. Those demons are the last reserve. You do not use that up unless it is vital.

        “So, not only does Drakebane’s religion blind him to the foolish waste of time and resources that is his assault on Daniel’s followers, he compounds the waste by burning one demon after another trying to overwhelm Cerise.”

        Indeed. A fanatic traitor.

        “I wonder if there is a reason he does not try to send his demons out hunting goblins and other prey?”

        Unnecessary and wasteful. They might get away.

        “I bet he does not have enough control to keep the demons from attacking townsfolk.”

        Always those democratic humanitarian leanings. (My inner sociopath is face-palming). If he uses the demons he loses at least the moment of surprise. More likely the demons themselves. To defend against an extended raid? Why? Those goblins will be fought off. If some civilians die, well, there is not enough food anyway. And if something really dangerous comes, you still can unleash your demons, who will be fresh and come as a surprise.

        “Unless he had a way to attract New farmers to his area it would be a lot longer than 10 years. More like 25 or 30.”

        Yes, but better that than dead. And there will be a famine anyway. That was clear by this point already.

        Like

      40. Oliver, it really seems like the author wants readers to SEE that Drakebane and Stein are totally out of their depth, without explicitly saying so.

        Fimbulwinter appears to have frozen their normal informer networks of spies and other reporters around town, who have either been eaten by monsters or are hiding to avoid being eaten. Both leaders should have learned more about the ungols much sooner, especially Drakebane, who ALSO ought to have recognized the threat and opportunities of yet another potential demon to bind and use.

        I suppose we’ll have to excuse their missing out entirely on the frost giant threat, but again, that is mostly due to Fimbulwinter locking down their usual sources. The frost giant scout in the breach was probably not seen by anybody other than Daniel and Avilla.

        Worse than blinding and overwhelming the two old leaders, it sure looks like Stein’s spine has jellied with age, while Drakebane’s fixation on hunting down witches has totally warped his brain. He totally wasted ridiculous amounts of priceless time, irreplaceable resources and mindshare.

        I agree with you that Drakebane and the soldiers under his command moved too quickly. Given all the other threats the priest missed noticing, it seems highly unlikely he waited until receiving word of Daniel’s “immolation by troll” before moving against Cerise in the tower.

        Hmm…unless that backstabbing knight went DIRECTLY to Drakebane and TOLD him Daniel was dead.

        THAT could fit the timing we see.

        We need to remember that far from seeing wizards as dangerous opponents in battle, most of Baron Stein’s knights probably share his disdain for the prissy charlatans.

        Colin

        Like

      41. Man this is the longest thread …. but a good thread

        It is stupid as these people are his people and properly mobilizing them for defense would significantly improve his ability to defend his walls. With the right weapons, even untrained peasants could be quite useful on the walls. As we have seen – losses are high in Fimbulwinter. He needs bodies to defend the walls.

        Did he? He had a lot of soldiers? And training them would have been hard.

        **** Skilled warriors – you are correct. It would take months or years depending on your definition of skilled. People with a spear to stab some creature trying to climb the walls – does not take much skill. Even if you were going to sacrifice them, you can do so smartly so that you get more benefit out of their sacrifice. Listening to the baron speak, he was just going to throw them away in the first battle for minimal combat benefit. If he had chosen to use them smartly (and a dragon was not coming…), he could have got some real battle benefit before 80% of them died. The last 20% could have been recruited as men-at-arms.

        Not really. What would they do? Surrender to a felwolf? If the town’s people realize that somebody needed to be eliminated, then rather it be somebody else.

        **** There is a big difference between reluctant support and true support. In this situation the Baron would need any edge he can get

        I doubt that this is actually true. Daniel may have assume that. He saw no soldiers rushing into the town to defend civilians. That would have been foolish and showed Daniel’s 21th century attitude. The soldiers the Baron had would go to the breach.

        **** Daniel did not see anybody trying to block the breach – or any sign that troops were seriously trying to clear the town. Even if they moved to seal the breach first, they would have had to move to clear out the goblins in the town. We saw that type of behavior all the time in books 2-4, but book 1 not so much.

        Not really. If she sacrificed a few young men, so be it. That is not a reason to risk the whole town. Clever but ultimately inflexible und unsufficiently ready to grasp the basics.

        **** Where are you getting this “risk the whole town” idea. From the perspective of the priest, Daniel was dead and the witch was an active threat. He moved to neutralize her before she could get away. Remember, he caught her trying to summon a demon – which would have been very bad for the town. Again – very logical action – none of which risked the town in any way, shape or form. As readers we knew that Daniel was not dead, but the priest would not know this — or really suspect this was even a possibility. Daniel’s ability to recover from injuries is possibly unique in this world.

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      42. **** Skilled warriors – you are correct. It would take months or years depending on your definition of skilled. People with a spear to stab some creature trying to climb the walls – does not take much skill.

        Is that a likely scenario, though? It would seem to me that he is essentially expecting a siege, not an assault he could stop, but only with difficulty. Goblins without mages won’t climb the walls in numbers that would mean that he needs numbers. Yet badly trained troops against giants or shamans looks unrealistic. But they need about as much supplies as good troops.

        **** There is a big difference between reluctant support and true support. In this situation the Baron would need any edge he can get

        Not at any price. He is into a long siege.

        **** Daniel did not see anybody trying to block the breach – or any sign that troops were seriously trying to clear the town. Even if they moved to seal the breach first, they would have had to move to clear out the goblins in the town. We saw that type of behavior all the time in books 2-4, but book 1 not so much.

        Why? What point is there in marching your troops through the narrow streets of the town after the walls have been breached? I would tell them to march around the city. Cutting the goblins off looks much more promising than to defeat them in detail.

        **** Where are you getting this “risk the whole town” idea.

        He kept his priests and his demons out of the battle. The only magic fighters the town had, while the goblin shamans were unopposed.

        **** From the perspective of the priest, Daniel was dead and the witch was an active threat. He moved to neutralize her before she could get away.

        But what for? What is the point of catching a witch during Ragnarök? She is human after all. Felwolves, goblins and giants won’t team up with her. And she is going to take some of them with her. He is doing his enemies work for them. He has not really thought through the consequences of Ragnarök.

        **** Remember, he caught her trying to summon a demon – which would have been very bad for the town.

        Well, so what? A demon which would at least fight against the trolls. And if he eats a few people, who cares? This is Ragnarök.

        Like

      43. I keep reminding myself that the defenders of Kozalin have used the Dark Portal MANY times since Daniel arrived.

        Why do I remind myself of this? Oliver’s continued observations about the pragmatic realities of the culture Daniel must learn to somehow accommodate. It is Ragnarok. Excrement is flying in the wind everywhere. Even BEFORE Ragnarok, before Fimbulwinter, wizards and nobles WASTED the lives of peasants and others. Stupidly, shamelessly, WASTED them, more than a few outright murdered. That’s above and beyond the normal circumstances like warfare, when soldiers’ lives were spent equally idiotically, or situations like taxation, which senselessly crushed and destroyed entire villages for no gain.

        In those circumstances, where Odin’s Church has ruled by terror and mysteries for something like a millennium, it is understandable why Holger Drakebane wastes so many valuable resources and so much priceless time hunting, capturing and trying to break Cerise the Witch Demon Eater.

        His brain is literally not capable of doing otherwise.

        Of course, WE know he’s an idiot.

        On the other hand, he would live a LOT longer in his world than we would.

        Like

      44. Why? What point is there in marching your troops through the narrow streets of the town after the walls have been breached? I would tell them to march around the city. Cutting the goblins off looks much more promising than to defeat them in detail.

        — I may have remembered this wrong, but I thought the gate was just broken rather than the walls collapsed. if you clear out the village, fairly easy to re-block a gate.

        —- But in any case, the baron did not send out any significant troops – so he never bothered to evaluate the situation. I suspect you are right that he just assumed the town was lost or at least unable to be held. Which is odd given Daniel was clearly building a massive fortified wall very quickly for the Baron.

        **** Where are you getting this “risk the whole town” idea.

        He kept his priests and his demons out of the battle. The only magic fighters the town had, while the goblin shamans were unopposed.

        —- Ok I have to agree with you here. The Priests should have played a more aggressive role in defending the town. But nobody other than Daniel seemed to make any real effort to defend the town. The discussion in the temple (before they killed the priests) seemed to imply that the priest had little idea of the true situation, but that seems unlikely.

        But what for? What is the point of catching a witch during Ragnarök? She is human after all. Felwolves, goblins and giants won’t team up with her. And she is going to take some of them with her. He is doing his enemies work for them. He has not really thought through the consequences of Ragnarök.

        — Witches are hard core enemies. Extremely dangerous and highly magical. Goblins have a reputation of being weak foes. Not an accurate judgement perhaps, but I would target an enemy spellcaster over killing a bunch of low capability grunts. then again, the priest approached the problem oddly. I personally expect that it was just author learning curve. The other was still figuring out mentally how this world works and thus people’s actions often seemed a bit off.

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      45. Holger Drakebane’s actions were NOT “odd” or “strange” for the the culture in which he lives.

        Aside from the explicit “enemy agent” nature of being a follower of the Olympian pantheon’s Hecate, Cerise is a demon summoning witch. That explicitly make her every bit the enemy of Odin’s Church that Gaia’s goblins are. Her tally of dead Varmland warriors might be less than that of the average troll, but she is believed to be every bit as deadly to Odin’s plans.

        What seems most odd to me in the whole “execute Cerise” script is how quickly Drakebane switched from tolerating Daniel’s control of the witch to hunting her down.

        I wish the author had given us just a little hint that the throat cutting knight had gone straight to Holger and TOLD him Daniel is dead. That would resolve most of the confusion in this series of events. All it would have needed is finding the throat cutting knight with Drakebane in the dungeon under Odin’s church.

        That might even explain how Drakebane so quickly came to join or borrow the +soldiers who carried Avilla off to Baron Stein’s castle instead of dragging her off to the dungeon along with Cerise. Those soldiers could have been the throat cutting knight’s own men.

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      46. Dspring, there was a LOT more damage to Lanrest’s walls than a broken gate.

        “I reached the parapet to find a pall of smoke hanging over the town. From my vantage point I could see a wide gap in the old town wall.” Brown, E. William. Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black Book 1)

        Daniel also considered the possibility his own newly conjured wall might be just as vulnerable to the Goblin shamans’ attack as Lanrest’s old wall.

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      47. Holger Drakebane was well adapted, but he was still a fool. He did not understand, or, likelier, never considered that Varmland after Ragnarök started is not the same as Varmland before Ragnarök.
        He was kind of like Daniel only the other way round.

        Baron Stein did he react straightforwardly to the changes.

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      48. Oliver, I’m not entirely certain Holger Drakebane did NOT consider what Varmland will look like AFTER Ragnarok.

        Yes, he is like Daniel in that, but not opposite, rather, symmetrical.

        Just like Daniel when negotiating with Hecate, Holger facing invasions of Lanrest thinks Ragnarok means EVERYTHING will be destroyed.

        UNLIKE Daniel, Holger has nobody to carefully explain to him that “everything” means HIS everything–Odin’s church, Asgard, the Golden City, Valhalla, Odin, Thor, Heimdal, Freya, Valkyries, etc.

        Holger may have no idea that Varmland WILL exist after Ragnarok.

        Certainly, he expects everything HE treasures about Varmland will be ruined by Ragnarok, if the monsters win.

        Besides, like every good priest of Odin, Holger believes he will die in righteous battle on Midgard and be taken to Asgard by Odin’s Valkyries, where he will then battle tirelessly to defend the Golden City and defeat Loki.

        Why would Holger CARE about Varmland after Ragnarok?

        Toss another witch onto the barbie and raise a tankard to Odin!

        Like

    3. “• Loki tries to recruit Daniel for his Army and is unwilling to accept a no answer”

      After the affair of the Sunspire I think we can rule that out. Loki is alreadty getting cool stuff from Daniel. Pushing Daniel into a corner looks like a very bad option. It was tried twice and ended badly.
      Besides, he was already ready to make a counter offer.
      I see no reason the situation has fundamentally changed for Loki. So I think he will make the offer anyway. The offer may include Mara. Which leads to another point. Did Loki impregnate Gaia again to lessen her resistance against giving away Mara?

      Like

    4. “• The Prince is sent back to Kozalin to “take over” while Brand is focused on Ragnarock and causes problems for Daniel’s keep”

      That may certainly happen. The question is why, as the veil anchor is gone. Maybe the Aesir want to secure and use the Dark Portal.
      But it also leaves a fundamental question open. If that happened, wouldn’t Cerise swoop in and make sure he had an ‘accident’? I see neither a reason nor an inclination to leave him alive, or rather incorporated, in her. In fact, not doing that may lead the Aesir to wonder why and whether Daniel is really dead.

      Like

    5. “• Lightbringers can show up to kill Daniel – or just show up and be someone Daniel has to work around.”

      That I consider certain. The question is just what Daniel will try to do about it. I see three basic options

      * isolation
      * find and kill them
      * diplomacy

      Furthermore, nobody but Daniel and, just maybe, Cerise has a chance against a Lightbringer team like the one Daniel fought, if they are caught outside Black Island. Any reasonable escort they could bring would be overwhelmed. Whether they can infiltrate the island if Sefvin gets a warning and is allowed to close the island to shoppers is another question. I would say, probably not.

      Finding and killing an enemy who has gates and transformations is unlikely to work. Not if Daniel wants to keep trading with Egypt or anybody else in North Africa.

      Diplomacy, well what would he say? In the medium term it may actually work, but before Ragnarök is over and Odin is history, demonstrating that he is not an Atlantean looks like a bad idea to me.

      Like

      1. Daniel has virtually nothing to offer and nothing to gain from diplomacy with Lightbringers.

        They know he has been inside the Spire and will eventually know he survived its destruction. Whether they believe he survived the actual detonation or failed to survive but resurrected himself or simply wasn’t there when the detonation happened is irrelevant. He was there at some point. He obviously learned something. Whatever he learned was probably Atlantean. Kill him.

        We know Daniel will step up his “A” game again in the next book, and that will place him at a threat level that might well be equal to anything any number of Lightbringers can dish out against HIM.

        If he has any time at all, he will do everything he can to elevate Cerise to a similar threat level.

        Sefwin will also scramble to ask Daniel’s help to push herself, her security team(s) and the ninja warrior members of Clan Nethwillin.

        Yes, the Lightbringers are incredibly sneaky, fast and old. That seems a lot like the description of Clan Nethwillin.

        Clan Nethwillin probably gets to benefit from Daniel’s new ideas and new toys.

        What new toys will the Lightbringers have? Maybe a demigod? Maybe an Ancient Beast?

        Hmm…speaking of ancient critters, by the time Daniel returns the dryads will have had more than a month to soak up MASSIVE amounts of mana from the improvements to their groves.

        Pelagia and others may not be quite as powerful as Alanna, but some of them will be pushing demigod status themselves.

        Like

      2. Diplomacy is an option for the Lightbringers, but it is unlikely to do anything other than delay things a big. The Lightbringer agency is probably fanatical and the god Ra is famously OCD on the topic. And RA would have to buy off of any diplomatic truce.

        Ra may wish for a delay or use diplomacy to avoid being forced into the Odin/Loki war. The former is unlikely as gods are arrogant in the extreme, but I suspect RA really does not want to be pulled into the war on either side. Wizards are annoying, but wars with other gods can leave you dead. Ra’s pantheon comes across as weak compared to Odins.

        And as Colin has stated, it is quite likely that conflict with Daniel will be very blood and expensive. At some point, the Lightbringers will have to cut their losses and put in place a temporary truce until they can rebuild their forces. Their entire model is based off careful accumulation of power over decades or centuries with brief intervals of intense combat when they find and Atlantean. I am sure the Senior team that attacked Daniel at the Sunspear was loaded down with expensive equipment. All of that equipment was lost along with the team. 2-3 more battles with Daniel and Senior teams and the Lightbringer equipment arsenal and bench of elite warriors are both going to look mighty skimpy.

        I cannot see the Lightbringers creating a lasting piece with Daniel. The whole reason that organization exists prohibits that outcome. So the Lightbringers must either be destroyed as an organization or destroy Daniel.

        Like

      3. It’s probably worth pointing out that the Lightbringers must be past the point where they care if Daniel is Atlantean or not. Even if he never used any of the Atlantean magic they know he saw in the Spire, they know he saw it.

        Plus, his own magic is so powerful, continues to develop so disruptively and so quickly and caused so much damage in Asgard that Daniel will be hunted down and exterminated simply for being Daniel.

        Like

      4. The reason that no matter what. The lightbringers will never leave him alone.

        “his own magic is so powerful, continues to develop so disruptively and so quickly and caused so much damage in Asgard that Daniel will be hunted down and exterminated simply for being Daniel.”

        Like

    6. “• Daniel gets a marriage proposal tied to some important alliance. Marriage is a traditional way to seal alliances after all. His coven mates might be a might bit ticked if somebody else gets married to Daniel first, especially if Daniel is not in a position to consult with them first.”

      That raises a point. Daniel is now widely considered an Atlantean. Doesn’t this make the main point of a dynastic marriage moot? In some sense Atlanteans cannot have children. They do not live in their original bodies. You are marrying off your daughter to get a grandchild on or close to the throne. An Atlantean, however, would be reborn somewhere else.

      And a second point. Do you really want to earn the close attention of the Lightbringers such an alliance would mean?

      Like

      1. Some people believe Daniel is an Atlantean. Generally those very knowledgeable about wizard history and also fairly knowledgeable about Daniel specifically. The vast majority of others, including many powerful (or magical) beings would not assume Daniel is an Atlantean.

        And the advantages of marriage exist in any case
        * Any children would inherit Daniel’s property – including the keep, minions and no doubt many magical secrets. As Daniel is unmarried, any bride would become first wife and thus have seniority. Atlanteans do not have the habit of trying to resume their old lives after all.

        * Alliance with Daniel can give many concrete advantages today that do not just disappear or get reversed when Daniel dies. Although I admit it emphasizes that you need to get the benefits up front.

        * Nothing we have heard about the lightbringers says that they would be bent on targeting any allies of an Atlantean. That could change once they “realize” Daniel can come back in weeks rather than decades, but that knowledge is unlikely to be wildly known even among the Wise.

        * For those of a less romantic bent, a recently widowed bride of Daniel keeps all of the above benefits and can marry again.

        * Alliance by marriage has many cultural (and perhaps magical) benefits that encourage its use even when not necessarily ideal.

        Like

      2. The Prince granted Daniel land, not nobility.

        Land grants are almost always limited to the life of the owner and frequently cannot be inherited.

        Of course, the Prince probably assumed Daniel would live the usual two score and whatever, or planned to make CERTAIN it was the normal two score….

        Communities can seek land grants of several lifetimes, usually about a century, then renegotiate.

        Hence, a marriage does NOT necessarily give the first wife benefits of inherited land.

        Also, the magical property of a powerful wizard usually goes to his powerful apprentices, journemen, etc.

        Hence, again, a marriage does NOT necessarily give the first wife benefits of inherited magical items.

        Now, I’d grant you that the first wife might inherit wealth from her late husband, IF she has the power to enforce the will.

        Oh, what’s that I hear.

        “What will?”

        Well, now, THAT’s going to put the cat among the canaries.

        Of course there’s always the marriage contract, which will be lengthy and complex.

        Again, good luck enforcing that.

        Like

      3. If the royal princess tries to gain an alliance by marriage with Daniel there will fascinating interactions with Daniel’s senior wife, Avilla. That’s already “cooked in the book” although, of course, the author will do whatever tortures and tests Daniel best.

        There’s certainly leeway for a royal marriage, since Daniel is not yet formally married to any of his ladies.

        Like

      4. That would be interesting. To find Daniel coming home one day to have Avilla whipping his wife screaming I’m the queen now hahaha. Daniel’s response ” I thought I fixed this!”

        Like

      5. In any situation that is chaotic as fimbulwinter, it is dubious to rely on social convention to enforce the rules. Ditto with the normal rules of inheritance. But Daniel is a major catch right now and they have magical contracts to enforce the terms of any agreement.

        Daniel’s heirs may or may not be able to inherit the keep by Varmlander law. All we can do is guess what the rules are. But Daniel’s keep will be a huge powerhouse or a smoking ruin when Daniel dies, so I doubt varmlander law will matter much in any case.

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      6. …of course, there’s also the possibility Daniel will not only out live the current royal house of Varmland, he may also outlive Varmland, which might make the royal writ granting him Black Island the most ancient surviving document in Europe a few millennia hence.

        Except for Elin’s personal library.

        Hey!

        Just a thought, but what do you suppose happened to the Library at Alexandria in Midgard?

        I’m guessing some or all of it might have survived the earthquake if magical defenses and preservation are involved.

        Like

  18. Oops.

    Maybe the Conclave is locked up for an even more simple reason.

    Odin and Thor just STOLE the Conclave’s newest, baddest Battle Mage, Daniel the Black.

    Maybe Ward and Steelbinder considered the implications of THAT and decided it’s time to get out of Kozalin before it happens to THEM.

    Like

    1. And Daniel is arguably a counterweight to the Conclave itself. He is not a member, no matter how friendly. And he is powerful. The conclave might not be too sad to see him “die in battle” so long as the city of Kozalin itself is not put into serious risk (aka – their own home is at risk).

      Like

      1. Totally agree, Dspring, that many in the Conclave might see Daniel as some sort of nuisance, even if only because they want his power, his new enchantment style, his dryads, his Dark Elves, etc.

        Of course, that could mean that the Conclave is now fighting about who gets to go strip all the goodies from Black Island.

        Problem with that is, he’s been gone several weeks. Why did they not already do it?

        If the Conclave is convinced Daniel’s witches, dryads, elves and fighters are too tough a nut for the wizards to crack, what does that tell us about the Conclave?

        Colin

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      2. “Problem with that is, he’s been gone several weeks. Why did they not already do it?”

        Because there is no need to hurl yourself at Europe’s strongest fortress if there is a good hope that diplomacy can work. If Daniel is dead, the rest of the coven will need allies. If Daniel comes back, well then there is a reasonable man you can talk to and no need to kill the goose that lays golden eggs.

        “If the Conclave is convinced Daniel’s witches, dryads, elves and fighters are too tough a nut for the wizards to crack, what does that tell us about the Conclave?”

        Realism. You would not just have to crack the nut, but crack it without destroying it. Especially as a siege would be futile. No, you would send spies.

        Like

  19. This is from Mr. Browns oldest blog. I do not wish to link to it, as he wanted it dead. But it is essential to understand Midgard:

    —————————————————————————–

    Fantasy and the Malthusian Trap
    We all know that most fantasy stories aren’t especially realistic. The real world is notably lacking in dragons, orcs, wizards and meddling gods, all of which are staples of the genre. Of course, those are all intentional bits of unrealism created to allow us to tell stories that couldn’t have happened in Earth’s real history. But there’s a more subtle sort of unrealism that pervades the field, invisibly undermining the verisimilitude of otherwise well-written stories and bleeding incoherence into their deeper themes.

    One common example of this is the issue of the Malthusian trap, or rather the fact that virtually all pre-industrial societies that practiced agriculture spent their entire history caught in it. This is something that experts have only really come to appreciate in the last few decades, and the implications don’t seem to have spread to the general public.

    Briefly, the ‘Malthusian trap’ is the fact that in pre-industrial societies population growth happens faster than any feasible increase in food production. It takes years to build irrigation systems or terrace hillsides, and generations to get illiterate peasants to adopt a new farming technology. But the gains from such changes are relatively modest, and a population of poor farmers will grow quite rapidly if they actually have enough to eat. So the result is that once a society discovers agriculture it quickly spreads until all the land in the region that can be farmed with its current technology is under cultivation, and then the population continues to grow until starvation becomes common enough to keep it in check.

    Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. We’re talking about civilizations where 95%+ of the population are illiterate farmers with no access to birth control. That’s a lot of starvation. By modern standards it’s an almost unimaginably brutal world. But this single realization explains countless examples of ancient behavior that would otherwise be inexplicable, while also closing off almost every way of improving the situation.

    Why was life so cheap? Because even in a normal year there are people starving to death in every village in the country. So if someone dies working in the mines or fighting enemies on the frontier, that just means there’s now enough food for someone who was going to starve to death to live.

    Why did legal codes make such free use of the death penalty? Because every criminal you kill is another honest citizen who gets to live. If you lock a criminal in prison and feed him you’re taking that food from the mouth of a needy peasant somewhere.

    Why was infanticide so common? Because peasants didn’t have birth control, and it was commonplace to find yourself with more children than food. Leaving an infant on some hillside wasn’t easy, but it was better than keeping the baby and killing one of your older kids instead.

    Why were sons more prized than daughters? Well, ok, there are several factors at work there. But a major one is the simple fact that the average woman eats 70-80% as much as a man but has barely half the upper body strength, and on a farm that modest loss of efficiency could often mean the difference between survival and starvation.

    Why didn’t benevolent rulers use their great wealth to help their people? Because it doesn’t work. Lowering taxes and helping the needy means fewer people will starve this year, but that just allows the population to grow. Keep it up for a few years and the population will expand until it overwhelms your resources, at which point the peasants will be back to living on the edge of starvation. At which point they’ll probably blame you for the change, and revolt.

    All of this is important for fantasy writers, because it implies that the happy bucolic prosperity you see in so many recent stories is simply impossible. If the peasants of Happyville have warm, comfortable houses and plenty of good food that means every family is going to have half a dozen kids. A generation later you’ll have a lot more people trying to live on the same land, and everyone will be too busy trying to squeeze a few extra cabbages out of marginal bits of land to build nice houses or other creature comforts.

    Having a few wizards wandering around doing small-scale magic on occasion doesn’t change this brutal math, and even the wisest of immortal rulers will find no policy they can enact to change things. A strong government can to some extent decide who lives and who dies, by collecting taxes (usually as food) and distributing it to favored groups. But the population is going to grow until something stops it.

    Now, there is one way to have a pre-industrial society where the commoners are prosperous, but it isn’t much of an improvement. If something kills off a decent fraction of the population every few years that might be enough to arrest population growth before you get to the stage of constant near-universal hunger. But keep in mind that you have to kill women and children too, not just the men. A society can have a third of the men die in some distant war every generation with no effect at all on population growth – what matters is how many of the women survive to have children.

    So how did we get out of this trap in the real world, if it’s such an iron law?

    That’s an interesting question, but historians and economists can’t quite agree on an answer. The first part is clear enough – industrialization kicked off an era in which food production, transportation and storage all improved much faster than was previously possible, and actually got ahead of population growth for several generations. But after that some combination of social factors caused people in developed nations to start having fewer and fewer children, making it progressively easier for food production to stay ahead of demand. At this point people in developed nations have so few children that populations are actually shrinking, although the availability of reliable birth control for the last 40-50 years may have something to do with that.

    What this all means for fantasy authors is that if you want to write realistic stories you only have a few choices. You can introduce industrial-scale magic that transforms society into something resembling modern-day Earth, but then you’ll end up with a story that looks more like SF than fantasy. You can impose some kind of universal birth control system far more effective than anything that has ever existed in the real world, but then the societal effects of that regime are inevitably going to dominate your story. Or you can pick a familiar medieval or ancient setting, and accept the fact that you’re writing about an incredibly brutal world where mass starvation is a daily fact of life.

    …or you can retreat into urban fantasy, and spend your time writing about some Strong Independent WomanTM and her struggle to decide which sexy half-human alpha male she’s going to date. But that’s not the kind of story I’m ever likely to ever write.

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    1. Wow.

      That is EXACTLY the sort of treasure I really enjoy finding in William’s Corner.

      Thanks for re-posting the Fantasy World Malthusian Trap discussion, Oliver.

      And, yes…it’s REALLY OBVIOUS what you’ve been trying to bluntly insert into our skulls, after reading this.

      I’m going to have to read it a few more times, then make a few comments.

      Colin

      Like

    2. Okay, some comments on the Malthusian Trap.

      This is a FUN topic, with lots of crunchy, chewy bits.

      1) Starvation was/is ONE control of population growth. Equally important is disease. The denser your population, the more disease and the more fatalities from disease. The more advanced your transportation, the more quickly disease spreads — did barbarians kill the Roman Empire, or was it the Roman roads network?

      The more roads you have and the farther they spread, the more opportunities to experience more and more different diseases. Influenza epidemics/pandemics seem to be phenomena of modern transportation like railroads, steamships and especially aircraft. Imagine what a portal network would do for spreading diseases quickly. Can your wizards’ council detect disease? Can they shut down the network to impose quarantine? Will everybody starve if the portal network is shut down?

      Conversely, denser populations can build institutions for the study of diseases, which can develop treatments and cures for diseases that can be manufactured in the industries supported by the dense populations. Roads and sea routes can provide vectors for diseases, but they can also provide distribution paths for cures and transport for food and materials to feed and enrich the dense population centers.

      Checks AND balances on population growth, constantly changing and interlinked.

      2) Farmers may or may not have access to birth control. “Just say no” just works, and works better, maybe, than a broken rubber. Another consideration for raw population growth among the 95% of “illiterate” peasants is safety in numbers. They might be somewhat illiterate, but they are NOT completely innumerate. Their old age is insured by the number of children who survive to maturity. More is better insurance.

      There are also other positive incentives for large families. A bigger family can work more land or work the same land more. This can result in more wealth IF more land is available or IF more work actually results in more productivity.

      3) Disconnected lives are cheap lives. The orphans of a man who died fighting a brush fire in his grain crop and a woman who died birthing his last child are truly doomed. If some member of their father’s or mother’s family can afford to take them in they are incredibly lucky. Otherwise, life sucks for them. They will learn begging and thieving and starving very quickly. Mines and slavery and prostitution will be the best their communities can do for them.

      4) Death penalty is such a bland term. Execution is cultural justice when crimes are vile, which is often. Slavery, mines and work gangs pay back the community for the cost of preserving a life not everyone is quite ready to discard, and punishment that anybody can see is important to reduce repeat offenses. Official, legal killing is the ultimate cure for recidivism.

      5) Don’t confuse infanticide with exposure — two very different concepts, except when they are not. True infanticide is more likely when famine is rampant, the war is REALLY ugly or there are cold, heartless strategies to absolutely protect inheritance. Exposure can be like the Spartans — EVERY male citizen MUST prove himself worthy of the costs to the community of raising him to THEIR standards. Alternatively, exposure could be like giving up a child for adoption by the mendicant monks or nuns. Huge variations in all of these!

      6) Sons are BOTH parents’ old age insurance plan in many, but not all, ancient cultures. The son(s) will inherit the family property from the parents, who then live out as best they can their last years, still on the family farm. Sometimes the daughter takes in her aged mother. In any case, several sons are more and better insurance than several daughters. Daughters might travel far away, or marry idiots. In many cultures, daughters have a dowry or other investment that goes with them to a new husband’s home or family, a value leaving the daughter’s family. Many daughters would be many dowries. Ouch!

      I’m not convinced by the upper body strength observation. Women make things. They make kids, they make food, they make clothes. They have always had value beyond simple upper body strength. In many cultures, especially fantasy cultures, women are the magic users, so the good ones make valued enchantments or potions and the bad ones make all sorts of trouble.

      7) Benevolent rulers who use their wealth or their magic to improve the lives of their subjects might also invest in magical temples of healing and magical clerical orders of agricultural monks. These rulers will eventually fail to answer ALL the Malthusian issues, and perhaps be torn down by starving mobs. Alternatively, they may create such a bucolic paradise that those damn steppe nomads charge down from the hills and plunder, pillage, rape, then burn the paradise to the ground.

      Always remember — plunder, pillage, rape, THEN burn!

      8) Happy, bucolic prosperity is NOT impossible! What is impossible is ENDLESS happy, bucolic prosperity. See steppe nomads, above. See: treacherous neighbor King Rupert the Ruthless. See: Justinian Plague.

      We citizens of the 21st Century escaped the Malthusian Trap in our “real” world because it is NOT an iron law. It’s more of a pewter law. It has dull, soft teeth that don’t really kill as many or damage as much as the convincing arguments suggest, most of the time.

      Toba had VERY sharp and sturdy fangs that probably wiped out nearly ALL human ancestors about 70K years ago.

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

      What did we do to reach the 21st Century in such fine shape? Well, really, what did our ancestors do? We have yet to demonstrate whether our generation fits Plan A or Plan Z. The smart or lucky people developed new ideas (Plan A) that expanded the opportunities for growth at roughly the right moments for advances to be shared broadly enough that many people survived long enough to remember essential techniques and knowledge when the unlucky or stupid periods (Plan Z) happened and half the population died.

      That’s progress in a nutshell. Enough good ideas are remembered by enough survivors to keep slowly but steadily advancing the culture…until that gamma burst from Delta Pavionis fries 90% of the planet.

      As for the poor, suffering fantasy author, I’d like to add another option — play with the Malthusian Trap at least a little to test ideas about what your world looks like behind the scenes, so the characters can express your intent better as needed.

      For example, in FIMBULWINTER there were several times when Cerise or Avilla or Tina or Beri had to educate Daniel about the brutal realities of life for village girls in Varmland and Midgard. The author handled it quickly and believably and while we still argue about how some of that should be interpreted there is much that simply makes sense, and therefore makes the whole story richer and more fun to read.

      Like

      1. “I’m not convinced by the upper body strength observation. Women make things. They make kids, they make food, they make clothes. They have always had value beyond simple upper body strength. In many cultures, especially fantasy cultures, women are the magic users, so the good ones make valued enchantments or potions and the bad ones make all sorts of trouble.”

        For what it is worth, anthropology often associates patrilineality with animal husbandry and the plough. The social worth of a group is likely determined by the factor that is scarcest in a community. If your agriculture needs a lot of tedious but not particular hard labour, like planting rice by hand, women may dominate. But if you are herders with animals that can be stolen and must be herded far away from any settlement and defended, you need sons.

        In Midgard you need to figure in the gods. Odin will not let you limit population growth by putting people into monasteries. He wants murder, rape and pillage

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      2. “In Midgard you need to figure in the gods. Odin will not let you limit population growth by putting people into monasteries. He wants murder, rape and pillage.”

        That’s a good point. Odin wants people who trained, study hard and learn to fight well and ultimately die in battle taking many of their enemies with them. That was one of the Hallmarks of Viking. The word Viking was not the name of a people but the name of an activity. To go Viking. It’s often seen as nothing more than a raiding activity Villages that were suffering from Harsh Times Did to supply themselves with food and other wealth and riches. But it had a religious aspect to it as well. My guess is Odin would not have any monasteries. He would have picked the best priest to stay at home and administer to the masses and the rest whipped the elderly and poor people into a frenzy to go off and die gloriously fighting against somebody. He probably really didn’t even care who so long as they died fighting. Also those that survived would return with whatever wealth and riches they could acquire. Probably had a lot of very young and aggressive nobility spring up that way.
        Priest giving hints to the royalty or Dukes to night or ennoble this young lad who came back after fighting especially hard and winning such glory and bringing a longship filled with treasures. That kind of sounds like something a priest would do if his God said “getter done”.

        Makes me wonder how some of these young Nobles will treat Daniel when they learn that he went to Asgard and then came back. Especially if he came back after performing some feet for Odin himself. After all they wouldn’t have the entire picture just rumors and speculation. Some of them might have watched Odin and Thor show up and take Daniel personally off to the golden realm by way of the Frost Bridge.

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    3. The reality of history is not so harsh as described above. When civilizations are mostly at peace, population grows significantly. When wars or plagues happen it drops. A good example is the Roman empire. During the good times the population could be 2X that of the same region when the bad times happen.

      Periodic famines are common as agriculture is subject to the weather, insects, and other environmental conditions. Some portion of the population survives on pretty minimal calorie counts in poor or even average years. But the larger society can be quite prosperous for decades or even centuries if major wars or plagues do not happen. Our own historical record shows this again and again.

      Our historical record also shows that significant overpopulation is rarely a problem outside of wars (aka – significant loss of farmland due to fighting). Population growth slows as food becomes less common – no doubt to malnutrition as anything else. Fertility really drops in that situation while individual susceptibility to disease significantly increases.

      On a separate note, I am sure that the impact of priests has significantly increased the food production per acre vis-a-vis historical medieval farmers. But that impact does not change the relationship to food and population like industrialization did for us. The key difference is that industrialization keeps changing the food production, increasing productivity and food production per acre every decade while divine magic’s impact has probably been pretty stable over the last thousand plus years.

      Like

      1. I’m not so sure I agree with you on many of those historical accounts. It has to do a lot with what they’re not saying in those historical accounts. Many historians look at the low population during times of famine plague or what have you as being due to low birth rates. It is not if anything it’s the exact opposite. Archaeologists have done research into the matter and have found that birth rates often explode during times of hardship. Also that most of those historical population explosions that the historians site were happening directly after the time of hardships. What kept the population Lowe was extreme mortality rate of children. Archaeologists studying famines during the Great Dust Bowl in the United States founded many families during that period produce 12 or more offspring only to have one survive. These were primarily not recorded in a lot of historical documents. But they are found in medical and picture records that the families themselves have passed down. Further research into famines plagues and hardships throughout the Middle East and Europe have found much the same outcome. It’s actually one of the symptoms that gave the boomer generation their name. They were the population produced by a population explosion directly after World War II. Also studies showed when these archaeologists looked into the storms of Mesopotamia Egypt and Rome digixstream Prosperity can have a detrimental effect on the population as well. Rome which dominated the region that world at the time experience this most dramatically. As Rome developed its own form of female empowerment the population dropped dramatically. It went so far that the Roman government started a bachelor tax. After that failed they tried shaming young men by forcing them to run around the city necked.

        As a Society, civilization and culture become more prosperous. They develop some form of gynocentrism. This causes the destruction of the normal gender dichotomy. This destroys the birth rates leaving them open to invasion and or settlement by other cultures, civilizations and societies.

        Before the Romans conquered the Greeks many of the Greek philosophers saw it coming. And they knew the reason for it. The Greeks had become gynocentric in their success. Many of their philosophers pointed this out including Aristotle. Who made the statement when you make a woman your equal you automatically make her your Superior. After that you had the true founding of the Romans which began as a no-go zone for migrants.

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      2. Woao, I didn’t know all that. Thanks for the lesson really, that type of info brings a lot of new concerns to the story. Is Daniel enough of a history buff to understand all that and plan ahead, or he will depend on the expertise of his long lived camarades to prevent him on dooming his progress???

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      3. I’m fairly sure that Hecate has an understanding of human evolutionary psychology and its relation to birth rates. She probably has a very good understanding that a population that is weakened by its own success becomes vulnerable to its enemies. After all she did make that statement regarding the Muslims conquering Daniel’s Nation in the future. On top of that Daniel has an example of evolutionary psychology at work in relation to birth rates in Asgard. I’m thinking the author might be clued in on evolutionary psychology and its relation to birth rates.

        I don’t know if he is familiar with the mouse Utopia experiment. But if he is I hope he knows that the experiment has been repeated in South America, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan. It’s been repeated multiple times with birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Mammals are the only type of creature that they found so far that seem to have a built-in population control mechanism that actively reacts to the stress of its environment.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hmm…now I am curious to see how this could play out, but not in the next book nor the other after this, not this is something gradual that needs to be introduced little by little without noticing, with the Gods influencing things as much as Daniels decisions.

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      5. I’m actually hoping it goes through a whole big long series like the spellmonger series. Culminating in Daniel and his coven achieving Godhood and realizing what the Gods have been doing to ensure his future. That would be an ending in keeping with most of the myths and legends revolving around Prometheus.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. That would be awsome, but some part of me actually wants Daniel to stay a Demi/god for a long time, I mean he is practically there already, but Godhood needs to be more difficult to achieve, it need a definte difference for it. Maybe when he has a bunch of descendant can they actually fully ascend.

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      7. I actually agree. I wonder if the author will go the D&D route to differentiate between Gods and Demigods. In most of those settings Demigods are immortals with great power. However they are still locked into a single physical presence and perspective. While the full Gods tend to be able to think multidimensionally, create multiple avatars and are not limited by a single person perspective. Hecate seems to be displaying these characteristics herself. While the demigods appear to be immortal and Incredibly powerful but other than that still human or whatever Baseline mortal species they start out as.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Definitely I hope so as well. From what we have been reading anyone that wants to ascend to Godhood would need to leave it mortal coil behind, which might mean some sort of death of the mortal plain, if an immortal is faced with such an option it might bail against it. That should be one of the challenges of it, like in those wuxia novels where they need to give up the mortal connections to evolve. Now I hope Daniel can make a connection with one of the great beast, like a no agression pact or something.

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  20. Now regarding emotions. Of course Varmlanders have emotions, which will influence or even determine their reactions and plans. But which emotions?

    Here we need to look at their experiences. And I am afraid we need to look at the experiences of the elites. Democratic instincts do not count. In Varmland poor common people are not asked, they are ordered.

    Imagine for the moment you are an adept of the Conclave:
    * You have been hearing only bad news most parts of the world
    * Rations are going down and prices are going up. Your stores, if you have them, are shrinking
    * You had hopes when a demigod came to defend you and yours, but now he is gone and he made an ominous talk that told you to sell your life dearly.
    * Your home town is gone
    * The plan to have the Gryphon Knights rescue people’s relatives have come to nothing. Your relatives likely have been EATEN.
    * You saw the convicts being herded to the portal chamber.
    * You have fought. Your life was on the line. And you have seen terrible things.

    Truly terrible things in fact. Let me extrapolate from things we know:
    Can you imagine walking in on a troop of Andregi raping to death a 13-year old girl in front of her gutted but still living parents? Things like that must have happened often.

    By looking at Daniel we are looking at the one in a billion (trillion if we count the many worlds Hecate scanned) exception. The rest of the world is living in a much darker place. How many of the Varmlanders are dead? 50%? 75%? It ceases to matter. We need to quote Stalin now. And you can imagine how they died. You can imagine the exact same things happening to your wife and children.
    How do you feel? How do you react? Many things are possible. But the same way a contemporary western person would react is the least likely possibility.

    The closest analogy I can come up with would be officers in a front line HQ in the winter 1917/18
    Some will want to leave. To just get away. It does not matter where to. Other will want to pretend nothing happened. Some will be full of rage. Perhaps secretly seeking suicide by combat. Others will just sit there and drink. Some will think that the Conclave no longer deserves to exist. Others will tell themselves that it must not matter. She was only a muggle …
    And some, likely a majority will say: not my wife, not my children, not I, no matter what needs to be done.

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    1. Yeah, or the Andregi would be dismembering that child alive and gnawing the still quivering flesh from her bones.

      Ugly does not even begin to describe what Steelbinder, Ward and others have seen, both after and BEFORE the snows of Fimbulwinter began to fall.

      Don’t forget that in the wizards’ entire lives there have been experiences, probably MANY experiences, where humans committed crimes just as bad as the worst the Andregi have done, crimes that weren’t even “crimes” because the criminals were “nobles” exercising their rights.

      This war the gods have dumped on humans has thus far been different from what humans commonly do to each other only in quantity of horrible violence, not quality.

      When the Ancient Beasts commence assaulting Kozalin, we’ll see a step up in livid horror.

      Cthulhu, on steroids and amphetamine….

      Like

  21. Should the author split the next story? Specifically, should we get in the next book a few chapters from the perspective of “one of the other coven members” while Daniel is off doing things in the rest of the world?

    Minus:
    * The series has been strictly first person to date. Writing a significant number of pages from the perspective of one or more of the ladies would be a significant change

    * Daniel’s perspective is very modern while his ladies are very Varmlander. It would be a real challenge to write both and have it feel like two cohesive parts of the same larger story.

    * Spoil the surprises that Daniel will find when he returns – which may or may not be significant.

    Plus
    * It would feed our desire for more news of Kozalin and what is happening while Daniel is gone.

    * It would provide a third person perspective on Daniel, always interesting

    * It would provide a lot more perspective on the key characters left in the Black Citadel. Seeing how everybody reacts when Daniel is not in the room and how they react with each other in that situation would flesh out a lot of characters in the story.

    Overall, I would find it interesting to see a split story IF AND ONLY IF the author does it really well. Otherwise i would prefer to see it continue 100% first person.

    Or alternatively, the author can create a companion short story that covers the same events in the main books but form the perspective a different character and provide most of the plus benefits.

    Like

    1. “Or alternatively, the author can create a companion short story that covers the same events in the main books but form the perspective a different character and provide most of the plus benefits.”

      I like that it sounds like a great idea. I would rather him come out every once in awhile with a stand-alone alternative perspective on the events going on in the main story. But I wouldn’t necessarily like it to be a short story. Maybe a stand-alone novel.

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  22. Looking for clues about Daniel’s primary language

    I think I found it. In THRALL Daniel is handing out devices marked with S, B and H for skin, breasts and hair. Now Danish is a language closely related to English and ironically skin is a loan word from Norse, but Danish uses “hud”, which is related to “hide”. I think we must conclude that Daniel’s mother tongue is still English.

    Also Daniel is still literate. That is not obvious. As far as I can tell the Varmlandish tongue is usually written in runes. That is deceptively easy to say. Runes went through three stages of development: Old Futhark, Younger Futhark and Medieval Runes. Only the later can accurately represent the full range of sounds found in a modern Scandinavian language. And people generally learn Old Futhark, so the chances Daniel knew them is tiny. We must conclude that the spell has also affected Daniel’s literacy.

    But I am still unsure whether it is still running or did a one time alteration. Any ideas on what to look for?

    Like

    1. Oliver, when attempting to establish Daniel’s literacy in Midgard, we need to look for TWO types of script.

      1) Instances where he reads or writes messages, and to whom. Remember, in FIMBULWINTER almost a week after his arrival in Midgard he has no obvious difficulty reading a handwritten “vernacular” copy of “In Tauro de Maleficis”. If the original was written in Latin as the title suggests, the vernacular would be Varmlander–some sort of evolved Danish, probably.

      2) Instances where there is mention of Daniel “reading” enchantments. This gets weirdly complicated. We know some spells are probably in Greek if they were created by Avilla or Cerise, maybe some of Elin’s, also, given her eclectic reading habit. We suspect the Dark Elf translation ring Daniel analyzed was created by a Clan Nethwillin mage crafting with an Elven script, but how do we know that is how Daniel “sees” an elven enchantment with his Mana sorcery when his is wearing the ring that presumably enables him to understand elven script and language?

      Talk about your circular logic!

      Then, of course, there are the Atlantean enchantments Daniel examines in THRALL. Is Alanna helping him to understand those? Is there any “script” at all in Atlantean “dream” sorcery?

      We can believe there is some sort of readable script to Conclave enchantments, otherwise, what value the Conclave library? Then there are the books of magic Daniel stole from Odin’s Church in Lanrest. He had no trouble reading the titles of those, and maybe scanning the contents.

      I’m sure Daniel is able to “read” enchantments throughout the stories. How he actually perceives the various enchantments on different devices I do not know for sure, but have definite suspicions about some.

      I’m sure Daniel is able to literally read a “vernacular” book in FIMBULWINTER, so he can certainly read Varmlandische.

      Come to think of it, keep an eye open also for map reading. Yes, its an image or graphic, but it also has words on it for towns, rivers, mountains, etc.

      Colin

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      1. “1) Instances where he reads or writes messages, and to whom. Remember, in FIMBULWINTER almost a week after his arrival in Midgard he has no obvious difficulty reading a handwritten “vernacular” copy of “In Tauro de Maleficis”. If the original was written in Latin as the title suggests,”

        Some sort of Italian made to look Latin. The title is not grammatical in Latin. I would read it as something like: in the bull of the evildoer

        “the vernacular would be Varmlander–some sort of evolved Danish, probably.”

        Yes. BUt which alphabet is it written in? As they never were taught to write by Christian monks, presumably some sort of runes still. But do we have confirmation?

        “2) Instances where there is mention of Daniel “reading” enchantments. This gets weirdly complicated. We know some spells are probably in Greek if they were created by Avilla or Cerise, maybe some of Elin’s, also, given her eclectic reading habit. We suspect the Dark Elf translation ring Daniel analyzed was created by a Clan Nethwillin mage crafting with an Elven script, but how do we know that is how Daniel “sees” an elven enchantment with his Mana sorcery when his is wearing the ring that presumably enables him to understand elven script and language?”

        You can look at magic made by instinctive sorcery and understand it. I would strongly reject the idea that magic spells are in a specific language. If something can look like a banishment we are talking about shapes or patterns. Maybe he sees something like a circuit diagramm, but not a literal transcription of a magical formula.

        “We can believe there is some sort of readable script to Conclave enchantments, otherwise, what value the Conclave library?”

        There is no reason you couldn’t have drawings in books together with written explanations.

        “I’m sure Daniel is able to literally read a “vernacular” book in FIMBULWINTER, so he can certainly read Varmlandische.”

        OK, but is that because Daniel can read Latin letters because he learned them in school and the language is written in Latin letters or did the translation spell teach him runes?

        Like

      2. Oliver, “runes” are explicitly mentioned for inscriptions inside the Odin Church of Lanrest at the end of FIMBULWINTER. Sadly, there’s no indication Daniel is READING them, just recognizing them.

        It occurs to me, given what you say about the title of that book being some variant of Italian, not Latin, the “vernacular” content might ALSO be some variant of Italian, not Varmlandische, Italian being a “vernacular” as far as LATIN writers are concerned.

        I’m really MUCH more inclined now to believe that book title is in Latin letters, and so is the content, the more I think about it, because LATIN would very likely still be the common language of scholars, wizards and other academics in Midgard’s “modern” Europe.

        Just one problem with that. I have a hard time imagining Hecate gave Daniel anything more than Varmlander language, and the Varmlander script. There has to be some limit on how much she gave him, and it seems best to assume that limit is ONE language with its ONE native script. As you have pointed out, we don’t really know that one “native” script is Runic.

        Maybe Odin’s armies adopted the Latin script for some reason, and only Odin’s Church continues to use runes?

        More data required.

        We are given reason to believe Daniel does NOT understand Greek, because Avilla speaks a spell at the end of FIMBULWINTER and the author goes to the trouble of using Greek characters.

        This discussion leads me to suspect the author prefers we NOT look “too closely” at some of the fine details of Daniel’s actions and abilities. What is the MOST LIKELY possible language Daniel can read that Drakebane would give to him? Varmlandische?

        We need to find some examples of runes used outside the context of church or graveyard.

        Hmm…in BLACK COVEN, the adept Leo has a sword “covered in dull purple runes.”

        Um. In EXTERMINATION it becomes obvious that “runes” is the author’s catch-all description of any magical inscription. Elves, human wizards and Gaia’s Andregi warriors are all associated in one way or another with “runes” they crafted. I’d give odds each of those looks significantly different from the others.

        In THRALL there’s a bar with a dwarf and kegs marked with runes behind it. Probably Asgard runes, but who knows whether the dwarf has his own runes? Then there are runes on the soul traps in the Spire, which Daniel reads, of course. Sigh. Atlantean runes?

        Obviously, “runes” can mean anything from script language symbols to magic spell symbols, regardless of the origin of the script.

        Ah. This might be the best we can find, Daniel’s comment about the Lightbringer trap he found in the Spire.

        “A completely different style of enchantment. An intricate mechanism made of gold hidden inside that crystalline shell, with each part covered in neat, orderly inscriptions. Not the Norse runes that so many wizards in Varmland favored for their enchantments, or the Latin that the Runesage had used. This writing was all pictograms. Egyptian pictograms.” Brown, E. William. Thrall (Daniel Black Book 4) . Kindle Edition.

        That seems rather comprehensive. For the moment, I propose that “In Tauro” was probably Varmlandische in Norse runes, though it MIGHT have been Latin words and script.

        For that matter, I’m going to push the quote from THRALL even further and suggest that the Kozalin Conclave’s library, plus many of the books Daniel and Elin have aquired through various means, are written in either Varmlander/Norse runes, Greek/Greek script or Latin/Latin script. Of course, there WILL be crazy variations, like any book from Britain or Ireland (Celt/Celtic script or Earse/Ogham script) and any Chinese, Fae or other foreign text.

        Remember, there was a time when “Latin” was every bit as “vernacular” as “Italian” is today.

        Now for the $64 question. What script does Daniel choose to use for HIS enchantments?

        I bet he uses modern English programming language, with all the appropriate math and other symbols.

        Won’t THAT just frost whoever tries to study his work?

        As you can tell from the way this message literally wanders through four books, I researched answers as I wrote, not before. Hence, by the end I might be arguing against what I argued for at the beginning.

        Enjoy!

        Oh–new book for everyone to consider.

        SKYCLAD, by Scott Browder.

        Fair warning, it’s that LitRPG stuff, but Earth Worldwalkers in a high fantasy, high magic, high magotech world.

        There’s some character sheet drivel, but it’s not completely annoying.

        Looks like it is the first of a new series.

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      3. The interesting thing is whether or not Daniel actually realizes he is reading a different language in most cases. When I read over many of those instances it doesn’t seem like he realizes that he is reading another language. It just seems to be natural to him. Almost as though that is the language he learned how to read as a child. Just like his English written language from his home world.

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      4. Yeah, I’m afraid the language skills displayed are rather more awesome than we have been given good reason to expect.

        There’s probably enough reason to believe some of it, like Hecate granting Daniel fluency in Varmlandische, but I suspect he ought to have recognized an issue when he first stacked up those books he “rescued” from Odin’s church in Lanrest. Surely, he does NOT read Latin at that point. Recognize words, yes. Read, no.

        “Damn. Latin. Of COURSE the technical thaumaturgy I want to read first is in Latin.” Sigh.

        Certainly, the challenge ought to have become even more obvious as soon as he opened a few of the books, scrolls, manuscripts, etc., in the Conclave library. I think the author missed an opportunity to cause Daniel even more time suck with this.

        Learning to read and probably write Latin will some day be useful to Daniel, but like all his other “some day” goals, TODAY he must prioritize.

        Also, since Elin collects books and devours them, I’m betting she reads and writes several languages, something Daniel, Cerise or Tina ought to have noticed. Daniel ought to have recognized that as an opportunity for him to learn Latin from her, and fob off all his Latin research projects on her until he has mastered enough of the language himself.

        Come to think of it, Cerise and Avilla probably speak, read and write both Greek and Varmlandische, plus there’s a decent chance Cerise has at least begun learning Latin, while Avilla can read some of the Mycaenean, Minoan and other ancient languages in Granny’s cookbook.

        Really, there were all sorts of opportunities for fun interactions between the girls and Daniel in this language stuff. It could have been another chance for them to show him they are much more than pretty faces, but could also have been like so many other finicky demands on his time.

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      5. It actually feels like the author is building up to something regarding Daniels linguistic capabilities both written and spoken. There’s just too many moments when he stops and drops little comments about how his translation magic is affecting speech. He immediately brushes at off and never thinks about it. However I think there will be a something at least there should be that has him dive in-depth into his language magic that was placed on him or used on him.

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      6. Of course, what really sucks, DaShoota, is now that Daniel has bonded with Alanna SHE can probably read almost anything he ever encounters on the printed page or inscribed object, so HE can also when she is there.

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      7. Oliver, just in case I was not clear elsewhere, I’m proposing Hecate gave Daniel Varmlandische as a language and she also gave him understanding of Norse runes as the written script, either separately or as part of the language.

        I’m also proposing Her gift was “burned in” and NOT a “continuing” spell. Hence Daniel now speaks like a native Varmlander and writes or reads like a Varmlander scribe. Remember when he mutters about “radio” and nobody understands him? Expect the Black Islanders to begin using American “loan” words from Daniel. In fact, we’ve already seen that. Demetrios “borrowed” all sorts of artillery use-words for the mortars and probably also the cannon.

        Some words probably won’t need to be “borrowed” as there are perfectly functional constructs available. “Flame-thrower” probably translates just fine into the two equivalent Varmlandische words for “flame” and “thrower.”

        Also, yes, I totally agree there will be all sorts of exquisitely beautiful or almost indecipherable drawings, sketches, diagrams, maps and other illustrations in the books Daniel, Cerise and Elin read in the Conclave library, the books Daniel and Elin purchase and the books Daniel stole from Odin’s Church in Lanrest.

        Avilla’s recipe book from Granny is of course a priceless relic that probably contains Greek text, Old Greek text, Minoan, Mycaenean, Linear A and Linear B but perhaps other ancient texts like Phoenician, Hyksos and Philistine. Some of it is spells, especially the most modern work.

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      8. I’m also proposing Her gift was “burned in” and NOT a “continuing” spell.

        That runs into a minor problem depending on how one interprets Ward’s reference to Daniel’s “odd turns of phrase”. Daniel had just said (from the reader’s perspective) the word “fallout”, and Ward mentioned it was an odd word. Daniel specifically mentioned that the “translation spell does strange things with idiomatic speech”.

        That could mean either an on-demand translator, or that he automatically constructed a Varmlandische version of “fallout” without thinking about it. My impression was that he actually said “fallout” and that the translation spell created a local equivalent term, but I could certainly be wrong about that.

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      9. Totally agree, Jabrwok. It’s difficult figuring out which is what, but I believe Daniel is BOTH forming concatenated words like “fall-out” or “flame-thrower” using common Varmlandische words AND giving people “loan” words from American like “radio” or “radiation”. We have only context and our best guess to decide when one or the other is happening.

        There’s no reason for the author to tell us what’s happening with momentary language issues, except when they become part of the story. At that point, I wish he’d give us a little more detail. Not much, just suggest occasionally when Daniel is creating a loan word, or when he is sticking together two Varmlandische common words to make a new construct.

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  23. When we left Ragnarok at the end of Thrall, the Asgardian civil war was in full swing. One one side Loki’s forces massed the zombie armies of Hel (billions), the elite undead of Hel (hundreds of millions), fire and ice giants (many hundred thousand entering the battle in blocks of 50K), winter fey, Fenris, Loki, and all the their kindred gods, and monsters attacking Asgard. In defense, Odin has a hundred million einherjar who get reborn every day and his own host of gods and demigods supported by a number of god-killer weapons. The battle over the fields of Asgard pit endless numbers + elite hitters + gods against a large host of regenerating elite soldiers + gods. If team Loki can kill the forces of Odin fast enough, they can break into Asgard, destroy the halls of the einherjar and win. If they cannot, they lose. This is the main front of the war and Mealstrom that sucks in 95+% of the forces of both sides.

    But what is that remaining 5% doing for each side? On Loki’s side, this is almost certainly made up of Gaia, her armies, some of the greater beasts and some intelligence/commando types directly controlled by Loki and Loki’s human priests and followers. It would also include any allies Loki has on the mortal world. On Odin’s side, you have humanity (which mostly supports Odin), their much more numerous priests, and Odin’s allies on the mortal world.

    In other words, lots of possibilities for proxy wars as each side in the civil war tries to use “minor” forces to trigger conflicts where the other side has to commit significant resources to save an ally – therefore weakening the main Asgard front.

    So what will these factions try to do
    * Gain control over mortal mages — perhaps this is behind the conflict in the conclave
    * Trigger wars that engulf the allies and supporters of the other side, ideally without involving significant resources from your own side. The dark elves mentioned many smaller factions barely surviving and calling for aid from their patrons (loki or odin). I suspect these groups will be badly treated in these proxy wars.
    * The dwarves and dark elves are slavers and no doubt going to do a lot of their own attacking to collect valuable slaves while these factions are badly weakened and with uncaring patrons. Neither dwarves nor dark elves are badly weakened by Fimbulwinter.
    * Triggering civil wars/unrest within established nations is likely a common Loki tactic – perhaps Loki is behind the unhappy peasants getting organized in Kozalin.
    * The monsters and dark gods released from the sunspear are going to have an impact as well.

    One thing to keep in mind with proxy wars is that history is filled with “proxy war” conflicts that ended up consuming vastly more resources than expected by both sides. And more than one strategy aimed and luring your foe into committing resources into a distraction has ended up becoming an absolute sinkhole for both sides. Given this is a Daniel novel, I suspect this type of unwanted escalation is a certainty 🙂

    Hard to talk specifics as the possibilities are endless, but the above is probably a good high level summary.

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    1. Loki’s side:

      – attack the rest of the temples with veil anchors
      – keep killing anchors (the fimbulwinter does most of that job)
      – forment revolution inside the organizations of mages or magical creatures that could aid the Aesir
      – try to frame Odin for working together with Atlanteans

      Frankly I doubt Loki is going to do much outsider the main theater for the simple reason that time is working rather against him than for him in Asgard

      Odin can do more:

      – recruit allies. Loki must have angered a lot of other gods. If he allies with the Winter Court, the Summer Court goes to Odin by default
      – naval warfare and striking the supply lines. Odin is fighting at home. He should use that.
      – attack the home bases of Loki’s allies

      The main problem I see here is that Odin really does not need to defend anything but Asgard. It would be nice but he can do without. Yet Loki has vulnerabilities. If he cannot ship supplies and reenforcements to Adgard, he his in trouble.

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      1. Agree with you except for the anchors. Those are irrelevant now that Loki has broken enough of them. Any remaining anchors provide no value to Odin.

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      2. They might hold value for both Loki and Odin. We know that the anchors are used as protection key for getting into Asgard. But we don’t know if that’s their only function. The name anchor over Bridge means that they may have another purpose. Asgard is a part of fairy that was taken over by Odin. Fairy began as a Dreamscape. If all of the anchors are cut loose Odin’s part of fairy might snap into the dream Realm. This would make Odin’s realm effectively unassailable and possibly make it impossible for him to get his troops out. So keeping some of the anchors “anchored” might actually be part of Loki’s plan.

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      3. Good point, Oliver. The concept of “anchoring” the rainbow bridge to Midgard also gives us something of a starting point to understand how it might be possible for Daniel to return to Black Island equipped with some of the devices he builds and tests in Alanna’s portion of the Dreamscape. We think we know the Atlanteans used to do that sort of thing, but it would be useful to have something like the Rainbow Bridge as a proof of concept that still exists, barely, in ‘modern’ Midgard.

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    2. Agreed with much of the summary, Dspring. Only a few nits to pick. The “dark elves” will have some difficulty traveling through Gaia’s hidden ways for a while. She will need to figure out some of the details of how Daniel did whatever he did before she knows WHICH dark elves are his allies. That probably means Clan Nethwillin has more freedom of movement than most other dark elves. Maybe some of them have access to portals, teleportation, etc?

      We know there’s a royal princess somewhere, and a younger royal prince as well. That princess is likely to be a real piece of work. So far, the author has not created any outright airheads. The princess will be clever, gorgeous, educated, trained, skilled and probably has…surprises. The prince could be anything from pure intellectual to sneaky little turd. The royals might not be done with Daniel. He might just look like their last best hope to pull something worth having out of the frozen pile of crap that is Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok. Nobles and royals have been oh so helpful/useful to Daniel so far. The next one is almost guaranteed to be amusing.

      Hecate’s petitioners have so far been quite useful to Daniel and Black Island. Her choices among the many have thus far increased in numbers, value and capabilities almost exponentially. I’m really looking forward to her NEXT selection.

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      1. “Agreed with much of the summary, Dspring. Only a few nits to pick. The “dark elves” will have some difficulty traveling through Gaia’s hidden ways for a while. She will need to figure out some of the details of how Daniel did whatever he did before she knows WHICH dark elves are his allies. That probably means Clan Nethwillin has more freedom of movement than most other dark elves. Maybe some of them have access to portals, teleportation, etc?”

        Only if she figures out Daniel was responsible. So far there is no indication that she blames anyone except Odin. If anything Odin seems to be basking in the glory of being seen as pulling off that feat. Which would be quite typical for a ruler of Gods.

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      2. Dspring, don’t forget that the only “aliens” other than “those idiots from Kozalin” that Gaia knows were present inside Skogheim just before the Halls of Slumber became the Halls of Death, were dark elves.

        She might not be certain that dark elves had something to do with Her little catastrophe, but She IS certain they COULD have.

        That will probably be enough until She learns more.

        Or until She learns Mara is free and seems to be involved with an upstart human wizard.

        Until that happy moment, imagine the Hidden Paths suddenly closing around a few dark elf slaver teams.

        SQUISH….

        Colin

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      3. We also have to consider that we know to little about Gaia to properly gauge her response to the attack, so far we don’t know if she has the insigth enough to lookk for the little clues, or even if she can put it all toguether.

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      4. Paps, we can probably expect Loki won’t ignore the loss of an entire army to some sneaky attack that might be magical or maybe divine.

        Of course, He’s busy attacking the Golden City, so some other investigator might miss what Loki might have found….

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Gaia does not control the hidden paths, although she is dangerous and has a lot of power over anything in the earth – including the paths.

        IF Gaia decides to focus her anger on the dark elves, then even she will have to tread with some care. Dark elves as a whole are a powerful block and most are not located on earth. Gaia is just one major goddess and she has to watch out for the Aesir and thus is limited in what she can do right now.

        IF Gaia makes the connection that Daniel is involved — a connection that somebody (cough – Odin) would have to lead her to, then she will focus on Daniel. But his dark elves can get by without the hidden paths – or if they travel such, can easily stay away from Gaia’s centers of power.

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      6. Agreed, Dspring. Dark elf slavers don’t need Gaia’s hidden paths to move their products. Portals and dimensional gates might be available to them, and overland travel won’t be impossible. The “products” might not survive that as well as the slavers do.

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      7. I suspect that Gaia cannot deny the dark elves access to the hidden paths even if she wanted to. She can make that travel very dangerous if it is anywhere close to her centers of power. But the hidden paths range far and wide and I doubt Gaia can seriously threaten travelers over most of its scope.

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      8. Yeah, Dspring, Gaia’s ability to threaten travelers probably comes down to how much She wants to threaten them and how much time She’s allowed to threaten them.

        Ragnarok seems likely to suck up a LOT of Her free time, though it sure didn’t look like that at the end of EXTERMINATION, did it?

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  24. How does shapeshifting work?

    Daniel tried to derive it from Flesh. And to a limited extent that works. Yet I am afraid this approach is unorthodox and inefficient. Why?

    * We see no association between healers and shapeshifters (Elin got healing from her mother and shapeshifting from her father)
    * We have seen almost instantaneous changes of mass by more than an order of magnitudey
    * You can think and do magic as a mouse. Such a small brain should not do the job

    It looks to me like shape shifting is done using some kind of alternate reality with a shared soul between varieties? What do you think?

    Like

    1. Oliver, one or two critical disagreements with your observations about shapeshifting in Midgard.

      – There is no KNOWN connection between healing and shapeshifting. So far, all known shapeshifters are also healers. OOPS, maybe not true. Mara is a shapeshifter, but does not appear to be a healer. That might be wrong. She must have healed herself somehow after many of the assaults by her darling brothers.

      – The changes of mass we have seen are NOT instantaneous. The author makes explicitly clear that shapeshifting happens in “real time” and takes at least multiple fractions of a second to perhaps multiple seconds. During Alanna’s fight in Asgard her transformations can actually be followed by the unaided human eye. Elin’s transformations are slower than that.

      – The size and nature of the brain into which transformation happens seem indeed to be limiting parameters. Elin is terrified of the nature and perhaps the physical limits of her grendelkin form’s brain. Both her orca form and her grendelkin form have difficulties vocalizing human speech, so it is difficult to determine how much or how high the thinking might be.

      On the other hand, Mara’s transform seems to be quite capable as a giant fox or as a tiny teacup fox during her fight with Daniel and Elin. I suppose there is room for some argument that when in her tiny fox form she was mostly concentrating on fleeing, so higher thinking may not have been required.

      I suspect we are seeing something like the space and time warping characteristics of pocket universes. Remember that essential brain functions may be quantum, therefore size in the macro sense is nearly irrelevant, especially when magic is also involved.

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      1. – There is no KNOWN connection between healing and shapeshifting. So far, all known shapeshifters are also healers. OOPS, maybe not true. Mara is a shapeshifter, but does not appear to be a healer. That might be wrong. She must have healed herself somehow after many of the assaults by her darling brothers.

        That would make all Grendelkin healers. That looks quite unlikely.

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      2. Actually, there’s nothing at all unlikely about some or even all grendelkin being healers.

        That’s a highly preferred SELF survival ability for individual grendelkin to be able to heal their own bodies.

        If her undine mother ALSO brought externally capable healing to the mix, Elin gains a powerful healing ability for herself and somewhat less for others, which is basically what we see in the story.

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      3. But why didn’t Mara shift or healed herself after Korak had wounded her? Why doesn’t Cerise have healing? Or why, for that matter didn’t Elin just shift after the Golem’s fragments were shot into her?

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      4. Oliver, how do we know Mara did NOT heal herself after Korak wounded her? She may just be SLOW at healing.

        We actually DO know that Cerise DOES heal herself, SLOWLY again. Remember when Daniel was healing Cerise after the fight in Granny’s cottage?

        “Interestingly I noted that there was already some sort of innate magic working to heal the girl’s wounds, or at least… hmmm… was it just making sure they wouldn’t scar? Interesting.” Brown, E. William. Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black Book 1)

        As for Elin shifting away from the fragments of mercury golem when she was first wounded,
        1) Elin was terrified of her grendelkin transformation.
        2) Elin seems not to have known she had an undine or an orca transformation.
        3) Elin had very little experience transforming, all of it BAD experience.
        4) Elin’s healing magic seems to have immediately triggered to fight the mercury injuries, and after that sucked up ALL her available mana, so there was nothing left for transforming?

        Now, I’d agree with you there was still the possibility she might instinctively transform out of a physically damaging situation. The author seems to have chosen not to try that…yet.

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      5. Mara is not a Healer. She just has OP natural healing ability. She stated quite clearly herself in book 3. ” I’ll heal I always do”

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      6. You can have a working mind without a body at all. Ghosts exist. We cannot conclude that a shapeshifter’s body must have a working brain. In fact Aphrodite turned into a wave of water. Either this is a power different from the one she used to turn into a swan, or it cannot be related to Flesh.

        In addition, hit by soulfire the damage persisted after changing forms. And Avilla found a way to let Cerise’s clothing shift with her body. Very hard to explain with Flesh.
        I am afraid I am still convinced shapeshifting is usually and better done with a distinct flavor of magic and for good reason.

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      7. Oliver, it seems to me all of what you say about shapeshifting in the Daniel Black stories is true, however, I cannot agree with your final conclusion. Nature, including natural magic, is too chaotic and random to confine in one aspect of shapeshifting. In order to be a believable NATURAL world, there must be disorder and multiple, even parallel methods.

        Now, if we wanted an orderly, single function-dependent world like many LitRPG novels, then, sure, go for an explicit Shapeshifting class or talent, separate from Healing.

        I suspect we would find THAT story a bit more bland than Daniel Black’s.

        Like

    2. Here’s another shot at shapeshifting and brain function, Oliver.

      If a mouse had opposeable thumbs and a brain with the complexity of a human brain, but the size of a mouse brain, would Mouse Civilization develop radio before or after humans?

      I’d argue before, due to the significantly shorter mouse lifetime, even if that mouse lifetime is extended, even doubled by generations of intelligent minds.

      Hmm…this may not be entirely non-germaine to Daniel Black.

      Your answer may impact the capabilities of tiny fae yet to be encountered in Britain with the Summer Court.

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      1. I would like to see fairies and Sprites living in hives. Differentiated in much the same way wasp and honey bees are differentiated. I think that would be interesting.

        Fairies being Maybe beneficial and perhaps even aided by farmers. While Sprites are avoided like a hornet nest would be avoided because they’re militaristic and violent.

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      2. DaShoota, I’d have to research it, but I vaguely remember you get your wish.

        Some tiny Fae do live in something like hives.

        Others are solitary.

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    3. Hmm…come to think of it, shapeshifting mice with magical healing might have potentially very long lifespans for the same reasons Daniel might.

      Okay, they get magical radios before the humans do.

      “All hail Micro-Mini-Me Odin, Scourge of The Forty Acre Forest!”

      “M-cubed” to His divine mouse buddies.

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      1. Pinky and the Brain in Midgard. The brain with an eye patch dressed like Odin pinky dressed like Loki.

        Pinky/Mouse Loki ” what are we going to do tonight”
        The Brain/Mouse Odin ” same thing we do every night try to take over Asgard!”

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    4. I tried to respond to this comment, but WordPress seems to have eaten it:-(. If the original comment shows up then feel free to ignore this one (which will also duplicate some of what Colin said).

      Undines are shapeshifters too, so Elin probably got her shapeshifting ability there as much as (or more than) from her father. Orca from mom, Grendlekin from dad. Her having three forms is apparently unusual. Pelagia said that most shapeshifters have only two forms, which would simplify the transformation substantially. No need for multiple different DNA patterns, or multiple transformations (arm to leg to wing to tentacle to…). The complexity of shapeshifting is a minor plot point in Jack Chalker’s _Four Lords of the Diamond_ books, and the complications he describes may well apply here. It’s been a while since I read those books though.

      Daniel wanted general shapeshifting, which would’ve required that his sorcery do a LOT of calculation to make sure he didn’t end up killing himself in some transitional form.

      I think your speculations regarding souls and extra-dimensional sources of mass (convergence with the Elemental Plane of Flesh maybe?) are spot on. Given the existence of immaterial souls in the Fimbulverse, it makes a certain degree of sense that a fully sapient brain isn’t necessary for cognition. That said, Elin’s Grendlekin form substantially impairs her cognitive abilities. We don’t know how much being a mouse affected her ability to think, only that it didn’t prevent her from getting back to her original form. That may have been an instinctive transformation on her part.

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      1. Jabrwok, it seems to me that Elin’s grendelkin form PHYSICALLY limits her ability to speak, just not as severely as her orca form does.

        Elin is also terrified of the NATURE of her grendelkin form’s mind. Unlike the assumed “clean” monoculture of an orca, the grendelkin are some sort of mongrel mix of monsters with an equally mongrel mix of monstrous manners.

        I’m not sure we can say much about the physical limitations of the grendelkin brain, especially since we know Elin was able to behave humanely for a brief moment while in her grendelkin form.

        However, as Oliver points out, we also know Elin was transformed into a mouse OR perhaps glamored to appear and think as a mouse. Boy, THAT’S got to fail in SO many ugly ways….

        I don’t really buy transformation being “instinctive” magic, even at the tiny size of a mouse.

        Remember our discussions about “channels” and mana.

        Transforming from a mouse into a human-sized person simply must require LOTS of mana. That implies need for STRONG mana channels and mana channeling ability.

        I’m thinking Elin as a mouse retained most or all the mental and magical capabilities of her larger forms. She might be PHYSICALLY limited by small muscles, tiny bones, poor vision, fantastic scenting/sense of smell, etc.

        This discussion will probably become important when we see what sort(s) of tiny fae folk cohabit Britain along with humans and the Fae Summer Court.

        For that matter, there might be tiny folk we have not yet met living in the Groves on Black Island.

        Like

      2. “Unlike the assumed “clean” monoculture of an orca, the grendelkin are some sort of mongrel mix of monsters with an equally mongrel mix of monstrous manners.”

        When Daniel described the Grendelkin he described them as a mutated or deformed Sasquatch type creature. Not an amalgam of different types of monsters.

        Like

      3. DaShoota, at the very least, Grendel is reputed to be a descendant of Cain.

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

        Yet, he also seems to be something of a cannibalistic carnivorous monster.

        I’m inclined to consider him and the grendelkin to be mongrel mixes of human and something else, with all sorts of question marks around the “else”.

        Like

      4. “For that matter, there might be tiny folk we have not yet met living in the Groves on Black Island.”

        More than likely. The negotiations took place with the leaders of the groves. They stated clearly that their groves consists of those that are there allies from many different species. Naga being one of the examples. They never stated what different species make up their Groves. Daniel was quite surprised to see a half Frozen Naga show up.

        Like

      5. “However, as Oliver points out, we also know Elin was transformed into a mouse OR perhaps glamored to appear and think as a mouse. Boy, THAT’S got to fail in SO many ugly ways….”

        She was definitely changed, as her uncles inhibited her glamour and she did not get out of that, but she did undo the change into a mouse.

        Like

      6. Yeah, that mouse transformation is downright scary.

        My imagination tells me there was a functionally near-human or near-undine brain inside that mouse skull, figuring out how to employ a mouse body with near-human or near-undine mana channels to cast the enchantment which transforms her back to human size.

        Pragmatically, it MUST be possible, because we know there are tiny spirits of different elements all over Midgard and they all have both magical and intellectual capabilities far greater than mice.

        We also suspect there might be tiny fae who are the size of big butterflies.

        That tends to mark out what I’m guessing the tiniest potential size of functional intellects might be.

        Like

  25. “Oliver, I’m not entirely certain Holger Drakebane did NOT consider what Varmland will look like AFTER Ragnarok.”

    Well, it looks like the Aesir have left standing orders for case Ragnarök. And those have a clear message. Nothing but Loki matters. It is not as he needed much original thought.

    “Certainly, he expects everything HE treasures about Varmland will be ruined by Ragnarok, if the monsters win.”

    Yes, but then he should fight the monsters, not hunt witches.

    “Besides, like every good priest of Odin, Holger believes he will die in righteous battle on Midgard and be taken to Asgard by Odin’s Valkyries, where he will then battle tirelessly to defend the Golden City and defeat Loki.”

    Then he should go fight, not hide in his temple. Besides he doubts Daniel when he claims that giants and ungols are attacking.

    “Why would Holger CARE about Varmland after Ragnarok?”

    He does not care about Ragnarök either.

    “Toss another witch onto the barbie and raise a tankard to Odin!”

    Nihilism in the face of contrary duty.

    Like

    1. Oliver, let me try this from a different angle.

      Holger Drakebane is BRED to hate witches and want them dead. It’s all he breathes and drinks, day and night, for his entire existence.

      He’s not significantly different from the even more corrupt witch hunters of Earth history, who we know from historical records behaved as badly or worse.

      This is not necessarily the fulminating fury of Hitler pounding the rostrum for a hundred thousand roaring SS troopers.

      It’s more like the banal, casual disposal of yesterday’s trash bin contents.

      The remarkable event was not him attacking Daniel’s tower to seize Cerise.

      It is far more surprising he allowed Daniel any freedom at all to continue using her without proving to Odin’s Church that she was bound to Odin’s specifications.

      That probably has something to do with Daniel’s demonstrated ability to raise immense walls quickly around Lanrest. Holger really wants to know where that power comes from and how he can get some for himself.

      …and for Odin, of course.

      Once Daniel was reported dead, capturing the witch and neutralizing her is required, just like dealing with any other vermin infestation.

      So, no, I don’t agree it’s nihilism.

      It’s a different culture’s values system.

      Ugly values, stupid values, self-destructive values, but their values.

      Colin

      Like

      1. Drakebane is entirely believable. He is still stupid.
        Like Daniel. His failures are believable and to be expected. They are still failures.

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      2. Totally agree with you, Oliver, that Holger Drakebane failed to serve Odin as well as he might have.

        Not sure Holger would see it that way.

        Daniel did, after all, provide Holger a warrior-priest’s death for the Valkyries to observe and laud.

        What’s maybe a little surprising is that Daniel did not meet Drakebane or Stein in Asgard.

        After all, he gave both of them entry qualifications to Valhalla, Drakebane probably more so than Stein.

        Like

      3. Oh…wait a minute.

        Drakebane is not in Valhalla to meet Daniel because Cerise sent the priest somewhere MUCH more entertaining.

        “Murdered by my hand, darkness claim your soul,” she crooned. Brown, E. William. Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black Book 1) .

        Gleeful happy dance!

        I love quick, simple and clear answers. Come to think of it, this obviates my previous comment on Holger. He failed Odin just like he failed himself. Not only did he get himself killed by Cerise, his soul will NOT go to Valhalla and fight the good fight against Loki’s legions.

        Plus, I have to agree with Oliver to this extent, Drakebane failed stupidly, and stupid really deserves a stupid reward.

        Colin

        Like

    2. People like him in every religion. They enter the priesthood because they want power that they would not have acquired otherwise because of their low station of birth. Catholic priests who are pedophiles. Imams who Advocate homosexuality with underage boys Etc etc etc. The town’s degeneracy and Corruption within the governmental system of the nobility probably started with him. In such close-knit medieval towns that usually would start with a crooked or corrupted priest. Who would start giving excuses and Leeway’s to whoever is in charge of the town or area for a bit of financial compensation.

      Like

      1. DaShoota, what part of the Lanrest garrison’s behavior was particularly corrupt?

        Yes, the Baron’s cousins were greedy, thieving, murdering, sleazy little cheese-puffs, so what else is new?

        That’s normal in Varmland during these MODERN times. Remember, they are not ONLY “medieval” in their culture. Daniel figured out he is just as many centuries away from Socrates as Cerise is. Add several centuries of “normal” SLOW Varmland cultural development to the MID-Medieval existence of 1350 Varmland.

        Yes, the Baron’s soldiers failed to defend the town of Lanrest when invaders broke in. Nothing new there, either. They don’t have the weapons, magic, daylight, numbers, training or the organization to fight a small horde of trolls, goblins, goblin elites, felwolves and shamans. That’s before they even realize they also face ungols, not to mention the frost giants and dragon preparing to assault the place at dawn. There’s nothing surprising about most of them staying in well-defended places and gathering all the forces together they can while waiting for the Baron’s orders, praying fervently for the goblins and trolls to leave. That would be normal behavior in a goblin invasion. What is NOT normal is the goblins failing to set the town on fire yet. I imagine the guards are pleased about that. Nothing like fighting roof fires in the middle of a blizzard to cap off a day of losing fight after fight to scruffy little monsters and scary BIG monsters.

        Okay, so the Baron seems to have aged into a jelly-spined whiner when the town needs something more, what’s new about that? I’d give you some evidence of corruption in that scenario, but it falls to Holger. He should have taken the measure of Baron Stein, declared him worthless in this crisis, and killed him or backed some capable aspirant in killing him.

        Why didn’t that happen? Was Holger too focused on the witch issue? Was the snow everywhere messing with his spy network? Maybe not. Maybe Baron Stein is actually the best available leader in Lanrest, according to Holger’s experience and knowledge?

        Shudder….

        Still, other than that, we cannot blame Holger Drakebane for being overwhelmed by threats he did not even know existed. In dealing with the witch, he held firm to Odin’s rules, but failed miserably in their execution. In dealing with Daniel, another miserable failure. Failure of imagination, failure to properly inform himself and failure to follow up on reports of frost giants moving toward the town, ungols near the town, etc.

        It’s all failure, not corruption.

        That’s what I’m bumbling around trying to point out, anyway.

        I think I’m mostly agreeing with Oliver in so far as observing that these medieval dolts are failing badly because they cannot see or refuse to see the opportunities and warnings Daniel waves in front of them from his first meetings with each of them.

        I see autocratic, ignorant, unquestioning, unimaginative, slow and incompetent leadership.

        Yeah, they are also corrupt, but no more so than is expected of them in their culture.

        Sucks to be them on the night their culture demonstrated its terminal functional inadequacy.

        Like

      2. I based the corruption of the nobility of Landrest and it’s priest on several factors. For one they are in a medieval Society Under Siege in a town. Two they are a priest of a warrior religion who states that you can really only get into heaven and become soldiers of God by dying in battle. I also compare them to the other town that Daniel came across later when he evacuated them using his airship. Any Noble in a society like that who is even slightly competent in a Siege situation will attempt to mobilize every man and woman in their town or Village. They will also attempt to centralized any food stores that are available. Landrest had citizens having to resort to fighting in the streets and creating barriers with whatever debris they could find. They should not have been in the streets to begin with. If nothing else the women and children should have been evacuated to the keep. The men should have been either moving food stores to the keep or stationed at the walls with whatever weapons were available up to and including shovels and pitchforks and axes. That the nobility who was ruling over Landrest did not do this hints at several possibilities. I will grant that the number one possibility is gross incompetence. However that’s not the only possibility. The speed at which the Noble in charge of Landrest moved to seize Avilla hinted at other possibilities and activities that could have been going on in that Village or town. Meaning that he was afraid to let the men of the village into his Fortress. Merely because some of them may have taken the opportunity to put a knife in his throat for past crimes against them. Nobility have been known to do this in the past and suffer that exact same outcome. It is actually one of the events that the English perpetrated against the Scots which caused the rise of William Wallace in the first place. The Nobles they put in charge of Scotland we’re doing said activities. Also any priest of Odin with two brain cells to rub together would have been screaming at the top of his lungs to get every man old enough to walk to pick up a sword or a shovel or pickaxe or a hammer. We didn’t see that in Landrest. We saw a priest with a Cadre of soldiers and minor Nobles under his command seeking some method of acquiring more personal power. And he was in communication with elements within the core Church of that religion. This hints at some form of underground activity between priest which are attempting to accumulate power on a personal level institutionalizing it amongst themselves and their immediate Cadre. When you compare these activities to what Daniel found in the other small village that he flew into to evacuate there is a very stark contrast. This contrast points to the first town he found was drowning in massive corruption both within its religious institution and its nobility. As well as screaming incompetence. I would wager that it was not one or the other but a combination of the two. I could be mistaken on this I’m just pointing out that the contrast is rather blatant. I can also point at the Noble in charge of the second village that Daniel evacuated with his Airship still had his prejudice against witches. However he did not let that blind him to doing what he needed to do for his people. Even if it had blinded him in doing what he needed to do for his people it did not seem as though he would have immediately taking the steps his religion and culture would have dictated if it meant his people would have suffered for it. He would have waited until a safer moment to try and push the issue. He had a level of tact.

        Like

      3. DaShoota, I like the comparison you make between Baron Stein and Sir Ottosen and fully agree that the knight certainly comes out looking much better than the baron.

        I suspect where we differ is in how much corruption to expect in the cultures of Varmland and Midgard.

        Sadly, I expect Baron Stein’s example is very common all over his world, especially at the level of responsibility where he governs. Big towns are full of opportunities for corruption, and the Baron seems to have foolishly seized more than his share in the current crisis. If the town had not been destroyed so quickly by monsters there would probably have been some sort of internal catastrophe as soon as the baron fell off the tightrope he was creating for himself.

        As for Sir Ottosen, he could be average for the smaller holding he manages, or he could be better than average.
        The village of Varo is MUCH smaller than Lanrest and simply does not provide as many or as rich opportunities for corruption.

        I’m not surprised to see him more cautious regarding Daniel and witches. Sir Ottosen has had to work much more closely with his villagers than Baron Stein did with his townsfolk. Sir Ottosen would have seen the benefits of healing, medicines and other witch magic. He might not have approved the source, but he seems not to have hunted down and killed them, either.

        Pragmatic, perhaps?

        I’ll have to think about your observations about Holger Drakebane, his communications with Odin’s Church and the implications for broad-based religious corruption. I’m sure there was some of that, but I’m also agreeing with you that there might well have been outright conspiracy to gather power and wealth — which is another form of power.

        In truth, “conspiring” to gather power and wealth is the actual purpose of many ancient religions. Maybe we need to remember that when looking at Odin’s Church? Considering their pantheon’s patriarch and His normal behavior, is it really corrupt for Drakebane to be exterminating witches? Poor timing and inept allocation of resources, surely, but probably normal for Odin’s Church.

        Makes you wonder what sort of idiocy might be happening in the back alleys of Kozalin, eh?

        Witchfinders and other zealots leading bands of holy guardsmen on hunts for the next human sacrifices to open the Dark Portal?

        Maybe some of those expeditions will find themselves lost in shadows…utterly lost.

        Like

      4. Agree, what the events in book 1 show (and reinforced in other books) is that Fimbulwinter is a completely different type of war than anyone (human at least) has faced in a thousand years or more. What the priests and knights and barons know is warfare that is primarily limited.
        * Weapons are bows, crossbows, lance, sword, axe and similar melee weapons
        * A high degree of skill is needed to be a successful warrior. Only men-at-arms and knights can really fight well. Knights have the best equipment (and magic) and thus rule the battlefield.
        * Mages are very powerful, but few in number and reluctant to take role in battle. Powerful prepared spells are few and very expensive to create. Battle magic is very dangerous, but quickly exhausts the mage. Even prepared magic items can fairly quickly get exhausted in prolonged battle. Priests are more useful and respectable, but also separate.
        * Fortifications are very effective, giving great advantage to the defense.

        As a result, knights are the premier arm of battle, mages useful, but limited and castles are places of security and peasants are trash. Many warriors are routinely contemptuous of mages, although respectful of priests.

        In Fimbulwinter, the reality is quite different
        * Powerful magic (mages, gods, monsters, shamans) is now quite common
        * Many monster types (fenris wolves, giants, trolls, and those minions of Gaia I can never remember how to spell — all are much more dangerous than men-at-arms and equal/superior to the knights.
        * Walls unsupported by powerful magic are really easy to break
        * Mages are throwing down massive magical spells – as are demigods. Battles are being decided by magic much more often (or at least obviously) than by swords.

        In Daniel, reality is even worse
        * New weapons can be used effectively in weeks – and are much more deadly than swords
        * Masses armies can be easily destroyed by magical weapons (mortars)
        * Magic evolves quickly
        * Mages (at least Daniel’s) can fight all day long without exhausting their magic

        I agree with others, a lot of the warriors simple cannot easily grasp how dramatically war has changed with Fimbulwinter. The fact that their prestige (and value) in warfare has declined sharply does not make this change easier to accept, nor does the fact that the groups rising sharply in value to replace you in power are the precise ones the warriors previously mocked as weak.

        And because they cannot grasp how dramatically war has changed, they make stupid decisions. And because the “new” model of war has little place for them, they are reluctant to recognize those changes and adapt quickly to the new normal.

        Like

      5. “The village of Varo is MUCH smaller than Lanrest and simply does not provide as many or as rich opportunities for corruption.”

        I am afraid I will have to be pragmatic and boring.

        1. Varo is much further west and south
        2. Varo is a fishing village
        3. Varo is an agricultural town
        4. Varo held no large number of refugees.

        In other words, Sir Ottensen got the harvest in and was fully provisioned. He also had a realistic path to get supplies in next summer. He has a harbor. He was under attack and faced defeat by attrition and assault. Baron Stein faced a classical siege. Lanrest would fall either to a full assault against which no defense was possible or to starvation caused by the Fimbulwinter.

        “Meaning that he was afraid to let the men of the village into his Fortress.”

        Definitely, but also expectedly. If you look at the layout of medieval residence towns, you will see that the prince’s keep was located at the rim, so that he could escape enraged citizens.

        “We saw a priest with a Cadre of soldiers and minor Nobles under his command seeking some method of acquiring more personal power. And he was in communication with elements within the core Church of that religion. This hints at some form of underground activity between priest which are attempting to accumulate power on a personal level institutionalizing it amongst themselves and their immediate Cadre.”

        Exactly. We have to face two basic truths.

        First, if you are a commoner and seek power, the priesthood is the only realistic option. Even in a free city, you will not rule unless you are rich.
        Second, the priests know more. They know what will happen once the Gjallarhorn has sounded. The magic goes away. And they also know that priests won’t be liked in Valhalla. Especially the newly arrived ones.

        “Sir Ottosen would have seen the benefits of healing, medicines and other witch magic. He might not have approved the source, but he seems not to have hunted down and killed them, either.”

        Baron Stein did not hunt witches either. That was Drakebane’s thing. And, frankly, what did you expect Baron Stein to do? Get into a public clash with the priesthood in a town under siege at the start of Ragnarök?
        Varo was smaller, hence no temple. That is the difference.

        Like

  26. Here is a question we have not specifically addressed, although we indirectly addressed. What are some real “Needs” that Daniel should address with his magic that he does not already have a solution.

    1) Powerful long range Monster killer weapon. Something with a range of a mile or two and ideally something very difficult to dodge. The image I have in my mind is a dragon approaches Kozalin, the giant rail gun fires and the dragon’s head explodes before it even knew it was being attacked. But this is just my visual, there are lots of ways to get this outcome. The plasma cannon is great, but I do not think it has the range and it is not ideal when targeting very fast/agile beings as shown in Thrall.

    2) Some rapid way to travel long distances. Daniel is almost there with his flight, but I am more looking at something like “from here to Rome in a few hours”. It is almost essential if Daniel is going to play on a much larger political stage.

    3) Some way of battling a god at close range — golem, power armor suit, godlike body, etc. Something that allows him to resist attacks, attack with enough speed to hit and enough force to hurt, etc.

    4) Long distance communication method. Daniel might be there with Alanna ‘s abilities, but not quite. If Daniel is going to start walking on a larger stage, he needs to be able to coordinate with allies. Rapid communication is hugely helpful. Although I suppose super fast travel can almost do the same job and might be more secure from interception/spying.

    5) Some method to manage more magic at one time. Right now Daniel’s limit is not his total Mana reserve/capacity, but the volume of mana he can control in one instance/spell/use case. Daniel is working to address this indirectly by creating more powerful magic items. These provide a lot more powerful for a narrow range of predefined capabilities. But a more general/flexible solution would be better.

    6) Daniel is already addressing the weakness of his own body vis-a-vis gods and similar creatures.

    7) Time – Daniel never had enough time to do the things he wants. This is a tough nut to crack, but the myths say time passed oddly in fey lands, so presumably it is possible for Daniel to find a “slow land” where days in location 1 consume only hours or minutes in the rest of the universe.

    8) Protection from Observation: Daniel needs to do all sorts of things without his enemies getting advance notice (or any notice). In the past he could rely upon some measure of anonymity and the wards on his keep. Allana added more with her arrival. But ideally Daniel needs to be effectively invisible to magical and godlike detection when he needs to be (travel, attacks, research, magical creation, diplomatic dealing), even if most times such beings can monitor him.

    9) Magical Knowledge: Daniel is at the point where new major magical advances requires some degree of inspiration — basically a new/challenging problem to solve or exposure to something new magic wise that inspires new ideas. Then Daniel can use his magic sorcery and his personal background/insight to develop something new and amazing. The library at the conclave might be that source of ideas as might his coven members, but Daniel may also be exposed to new magics when he travels in book 5 or perhaps that weaver goddess. Studying Dwarven en