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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guildpact - Chapter 13

It's monologue time from the evil villain. Heroes, put on your listening caps.

Guildpact - Chapter 13

Mizzium is an impossible metal, yet there it sits: impervious to the very agents that forged it. Or is it? I put to you that the dragon's metal is not immune to the extremes of temperature that are within our abilities to create.
-Magelord Mindosz the Heretic,
immolated by the Firemind on 8 Xivaskir 3203 Z.C.

3 CIZARM 10012 Z.C.

We open the chapter with Kos thinking about how it's only in stories where the mad scientist doesn't kill the hero right away, and instead ties him up and rants about his master plan. Has him monologuing. Yet Zomaj Hauc is doing it before his very eyes.

(More on this later.)

The four of them were tied up on some high platform by their feet, and Hauc finally has an audience to listen to him.

The mana compression bomb was a three stage bomb. Stage one killed all life in the area, stage two was the collecting of more spirit energy in the form of the Schism. Stage three will be the release of that energy into the dragons eggs. The spirits of the lowlie many will be used to to create the spirits of three great dragons.

Dragons, it turns out, that are not Niv-Mizzet's offspring. They are in fact contemporaries of his from before the Guildpact, that remain unhatched.

That's fine by Kos. The dragons of the past are only known for destruction and were one of the major reasons the Guildpact came to be. The world needed to unite against them or die in flames.

(Finally we get something about how dangerous dragons are. Something about why these three are so feared. More on this later.)

Of course it isn't that simple. The procedure will also place the dragons under Hauc's complete control. He says that Niv-Mizzet no longer has any interest in his own Guild and that it was time for another dragon to rule. A dragon controlled by himself.

(What part of this plan is the deal that Niv-Mizzet made with the Obzedat?)

When Crix voices her disbelief that he would turn against their Parun, Hauc quickly interrupts her before she can fully say his name. It will draw his attention.

Naturally, neither Crix nor her other three strung up companions yell out "Niv-Mizzet, Niv-Mizzet, NIV-MIZZET!" after acquiring this new information, to warn the dragon and have him deal with his insane magewright because... because... it would only make sense?

(Wait, that's not right.)

The message in the tattoo on Crix's arm is the last piece of the puzzle. Information that Hauc had removed from his head so the full nature of his plans couldn't accidentally be discovered. Soon enough the message will have to be officially deliverd.

While this whole thing is going on, all of them interrupt at various points, and they all receive various degrees of punishment, including fire beams from the magelord's eyes heating up their silver shackles and small slivers of heated metal cleanly puncturing their bodies all the way through.

Pivlic makes an act of the whole ordeal. Imp require much more heat than he is dishing out for it to do any harm. All Hauc is doing is weakening the structural integrity of his shackles, and an opportune moment Pivlic frees himself.

...Right after...

Pivlic immediately works towards freeing the others, but he only succeeds in freeing Crix. They dodge a few of his eye blasts, but they can't dodge forever, and one solid hit and Pivlic looses his grip and drops the Goblin to the platform below. Kos yells at him to just get away and warn everyone about the dragons.

* * *

Hanging a Lantern

Sure a mad scientist revealing his plan is a bit cliche, but did Herndon really have to announce it straight out? Sometimes there's no way out of doing something like this in your story, and having one of your characters point out how ridiculous it is is really the only way to handle it. As a literary term it's called hanging a lantern on something. But Herndon didn't have to do that in this case.

In this world, it was already perfectly set up that Izzet magewrights often have a compulsion to brag as a part of their personality. There's Herndon's out right there. Just reinforce his need to talk to someone about his grand accomplishments and his grand vision and it would have worked just find without the story about how only villains in stories ever do something like this.

Deadly Dragons

We got something. Finally. Whereas Herndon gave us too much when it came to zombies, he didn't give us enough when it came to dragons. But dragons are common fantasy creatures just like zombies are. Why am I being a hypocrite and applying different rules to the same situation you ask. I'll tell you.

So far we have seen next to nothing special about the taj, except for that I suppose they're animated by ghosts. They still follow all the same behaviors of classic zombies, and the person asking about them should have known better.

When it comes to dragons, well... we have an example already, in the form of Niv-Mizzet who breaks many of the streotypes. He's a powerful telepath, the smartest creature on the plane, is fully capable of making deals, and actually is an integrated part of society in the form of one the Guildmasters! From everything we know, you shouldn't cross him, but he's still pretty civilized.

With such a departure from the classic streotypes as an example of the what was believed to be the only dragon left, why would Herndon then present us three dragon eggs and then expect us to treat them as unstoppable forces of nature that will just indiscriminately slaughter every living being on the plane?

There isn't just one type of dragon used across all of Fantasy, so the reader has to look to examples to set the rules of the novel. And from Niv-Mizzet's example, the fear they're expressing just doesn't sync up.


We've had some excellent dialogue throughout this book, and I've been happy to highlight portions of it. We've also had some mediocre dialogue that I could have done without that I didn't bother to talk about. Now here is some dialogue that is pretty bad.

In this first scene, Kos is thinking that Golozar is the one that actually gets Hauc talking the most, and it impresses him enough that if Golozar had shown that level of thinking back at the academy, he might have graduated into a full wojek. Nice set up. Then we're presented with this:

"Give it up, goblin," Golozar growled. "So you're uncomfortable. Everyone I ever cared about is probably dead. We've all got problems. Take Hauc here. He can't possibly channel enough power into those eggs, and even if he does there's no way an idiot like him is going to manage to control three dragons."

I have several issues with that paragraph there:
  1. Golozar's pain doesn't sound sincere in the slightest. Preceeding this paragraph, Crix is expressing confusion as to why they're tied up when she's had such an ordeal. He should let her complete her courier mission and deliver the message to her. Golozar is equating the death of his tribe to Crixes inability to deliver a message.
  2. It's a very awkward way to pretend you sympathize with your enemy. The transition was way too rough. Imagine someone saying, "You brutally murdered my parents who had nothing to do with this... so I can imagine what it was like growing up as an orphan in a rough neighborhood." It just doesn't feel right.
  3. It's such a grade school version of reverse psychology. It could possibly work with someone who's insane, but that doesn't explain why Kos is impressed with his technique. 
  4. Hauc already wants to tell them everything. All they have to do is ask, and that's exactly what they end up doing!

The paragraph doesn't really work on its own, and it seems like it was only included as a way to get to the paragraph immediately following it:

"My discomfort is not-" the goblin began, then said, "Your whole tribe? Even that centaur?"

Huh? Since when does Crix care so much about Trijiro that she stops mid-sentence like that? Crix only saw him once, and she was merely curious about him and not thinking something like:

"Wow, what a magnificent and utterly unique representative of the species and member of the fascinating Utvar Gruul. It needs to be studied and his uniqueness must be recorded and cataloged for all time so everyone will know how honored they should be because he ever existed at all."

No, it was nothing like that. Crix has been curious about everything, including Trijiro, but she never showed him any special interest. He was just something to think about while she was tied up. That line is pretty awkward, following an already awkward paragraph, and together they really don't seem to have much of a purpose at all in the book.

To keep things in perspective however, while this chapter has a series of issues with it, these are only a few paragraphs out of the whole book that I'm focusing on here. The majority of the book so far has come off as pretty enjoyable.

Five more chapters until the end.

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