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Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn/The Heart of what was Lost/The Last King of Osten Ard

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On 4/30/2017 at 8:30 PM, Lord Patrek said:

 

But I'm now entering the third and final part of the book. Here's to hoping that Tad will soon shift into high gear. . .

I'm very glad you have re-started, Pat; it does shift into high gear, IMO.

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I was going to finish the book, no question. :)

But with less than a hundred pages to go, unless Tad hits it out of the park in a mindfuck of an ending, The Witchwood Crown will be Williams' Crossroads of Twilight. . . :(

 

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Keeping my fingers crossed that Tad Williams can cap this off with an exclamation point. This book has been the slog of all slogs thus far. . . :(

 

Edited by Lord Patrek

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1 hour ago, Lord Patrek said:

I was going to finish the book, no question. :)

But with less than a hundred pages to go, unless Tad hits it out of the park in a mindfuck of an ending, The Witchwood Crown will be Williams' Crossroads of Twilight. . . :(

 

I'm not a fan of any of Jordan's later WOT books, though I loved the first three, and I felt the series drifted into mind-numbing stupidity (like people losing an eye and then immediately going hunting...WTF?). I never felt COT was any better or any worse than the other later volumes.

 

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Edit: Had a similar problem.

The first paragraph refers to your first segment, about the slow start and hidden/unseen/unknown threats.

That could be a problem. I guy that Prester John failed to realize how bad an apple Elias would become, but Simon is not yet a senile High King and he should actually know what's going on his kingdoms.

He certainly could have trouble with his subjects and allies, etc., but the vibe I got in the first chapter that he and Miri don't even really know what's going on. That does not all that well reflect on their competence.

Quote

I'm not sure "magic mirror" witnesses are so common that Jiriki would have a replacement. Jiriki gave his mirror to Simon in DBC, and Simon and Miriamele broke it in TGAT to cut the binds that tied them, in the forest near Hasu Vale. The mirror witnesses were apparently dragon's scales, with Igjarjuk the white worm apparently being the last dragon in that part of the world, according to what Binabik(?) said.

I know that, but they still should have come up with something to stay better in touch. Keep in mind that the trilogy basically reminded everybody that those elves were still out there, and Simon especially would have had every reason - as well as the power - to have a permanent Sitha envoy at his court.

In fact, what I thought would be a given after the thing they all went through is that they would establish regular channels of communication to ensure that Ineluki-like misunderstandings or situations never happen again. Not to mention that everybody involved in the war would have learned that the Sithi weren't demons or evil people to be eradicated but actually people worthy of respect.

Vice versa, the Sithi also should have seen this Simon king chap as a way to establish much better relations with humanity in general.

I really thought this would be new modus operandi in the new trilogy.

Quote

I also didn't feel like the first couple of chapters were slow, though near the end the pace quickens anyway.

I like the Aedonite religion, as Medieval worlds feel weird without a vast religious hierarchy and accompanying bureaucracy. Like a Medieval world with no kings or queens, or no peasants.

A fictional religion is okay, but that one is basically just Christianity. Tad could have just as well used the names of real world saints, nobody would have noticed the difference. Even something based on Christianity - like George's Faith - can work reasonably fine if it takes a different spin. But I really don't see that there. But then, perhaps it changes somewhat in the new books.

But, hell, Usires Aedon effectively is Jesus. It is not a different interpretation, just a different name.

Edited by Lord Varys

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14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Edit: Had a similar problem.

I really thought this would be new modus operandi in the new trilogy.

A fictional religion is okay, but that one is basically just Christianity. Tad could have just as well used the names of real world saints, nobody would have noticed the difference. Even something based on Christianity - like George's Faith - can work reasonably fine if it takes a different spin. But I really don't see that there. But then, perhaps it changes somewhat in the new books.

But, hell, Usires Aedon effectively is Jesus. It is not a different interpretation, just a different name.

To be fair, Osten Ard is really just a Europe pastiche. Original world building wasn't really the charm of the first series. The alternative-historical approach came off pretty good in the late 80's, but a lot has changed since then.

Edited by kuenjato

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28 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

A fictional religion is okay, but that one is basically just Christianity. Tad could have just as well used the names of real world saints, nobody would have noticed the difference. Even something based on Christianity - like George's Faith - can work reasonably fine if it takes a different spin. But I really don't see that there. But then, perhaps it changes somewhat in the new books.

But, hell, Usires Aedon effectively is Jesus. It is not a different interpretation, just a different name.

Usires Aedon isn't Jesus, although he is an analogue. Sure, he dies, nailed to a tree, destined to die for the sins of Mankind. But...

From DBC: "When the priests of Yuvenis came to arrest Holy Usires, He went willingly, but when they purposed to take also his acolytes Sutrines and Granis, Usires Aedon would not have it, and slew the priests with a touch of His hand."

Hard to imagine Jesus doing the Touch of Death thing. IMO.

From SOF, pg 191, 2005 Trade paperback: "Ineluki has come back: that is something no one else has ever been doing, not even your Usires Aedon."

So Aedon apparently never was resurrected.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

He certainly could have trouble with his subjects and allies, etc., but the vibe I got in the first chapter that he and Miri don't even really know what's going on. That does not all that well reflect on their competence.

I have 60 pages to go. Don't really know what's going on, you say? Their level of incompetence is akin to that of the Trump administration. It's that bad. . . :(

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2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Guys, I don't think pat likes the book.

Really!?! What makes you say that!?! :P

No but seriously, I'm so fucking sad that this is such an underwhelming novel. This was supposed to be the BIG return to Osten Ard and my fantasy highlight of 2017. Instead, it's a work I can barely finish. . . :(

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2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Guys, I don't think pat likes the book.

He's only posted that 20 times. ;)

Still, it's good to get an honest opinion, even if I disagree with it.
 

Spoiler

 

When I first read TWC (in May 2015), I had such hopes and dreams for my beloved friends, Simon, Binabik, Miriamele, Sludig, Eolair, Isgrimnur, Qantaqa, Jiriki and Aditu. I had spent 20 years imagining what they would be doing in the future. Would Simon be a wise king? Would Miriamele grow into a decent person? Would they show more wisdom than their predecessors had? There were parts of TWC I almost recoiled from. I couldn't believe Tad would write some characters as he did. Wouldn't they instantly see the dangers? Weren't they supposed to be smarter than the previous generations? But it was a conscious decision on his part: the characters are focused on what has happened for the past 33 years: wars in the Thrithings, disputes with Perdruin, domestic squabbles, etc. They are certainly not focused on the old troubles in the north, despite the fact that they absolutely know it's a danger.

It took me a while to realize that this is actually exactly as it should be. Yes, in 1985, I was attacked by a vicious dog while I was walking my paper route. I still remember the dog, and the pain, and I still fear dogs like it, but I've got more pressing worries now: whether I'll have enough money to continue my studies; whether my truck is running okay, as I have no back-up transportation; whether my horrific new bosses will allow me some small shred of my dignity after working for the same institution for the past thirteen years. The fear of the dog isn't gone, but it's pushed to the background because I have much more pressing, urgent issues, and I haven't been threatened by a vicious dog in decades.

It is the same for Simon and Miriamele. I wanted them to be an amazing badass royal duo who would instantly spot trouble a mile off. But they are instead preoccupied by human conflict, and are also racked with years of grief and guilt, and are in some ways more like Ned and Cercei than I would ever want for my beloved friends. No! I hated that. I didn't want that for them! I wanted them to have witnesses to keep in contact with their good friends, the Sithi, who they would have joined forces with, in rooting out evil. But they have no witnesses, and the Sithi... well...

I believe Tad is brilliant, because in retrospect, he is exactly right. Damn him.

 

 

 

 

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Sigh. I was disappointed by "The Heart of What Was Lost", in great Part because it retconned the Norns into a failing ancient civilization from central casting (tm) and made them implausibly vulnerable. I mean, in the previous trilogy wasn't it mainly existential ennui of the Sithi that allowed the Rimmersmen of old to prevail? You'd think that the Norns, who have managed to survive in close neighbourhood for centuries would have protected their home better than that. Yes, even despite their over-Extension and resulting losses. Also, if their food sources were  as constrained as all that, how could they possibly afford to keep human slaves? 

And now, it seems that Williams did a soft reboot on Sithi-human relations like some SF Autors used to in the past, because they didn't really want their setting to change? So that any victories or new developments that led to an upbeat ending of one novel would be revealed as transient or failed in the next one, so that the Nest generation had to contend with the same issues and so on? Eh. I guess that I'll pass then. A pity, though not unexpected, alas. I didn't stick with TW's "ShadowX" series and actively disliked the First "Bobby Dollar" (WTF the pandering macho BS?), so this is the parting of the ways, I guess :(

Spoiler

 

 

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15 hours ago, kuenjato said:

To be fair, Osten Ard is really just a Europe pastiche. Original world building wasn't really the charm of the first series. The alternative-historical approach came off pretty good in the late 80's, but a lot has changed since then.

Oh, it is pretty different from Europe and more a genuine fantasy world in the peoples there are. There are similarities, of course, but not so much - at least for my taste - than with the religion.

13 hours ago, Jiriki said:

Usires Aedon isn't Jesus, although he is an analogue. Sure, he dies, nailed to a tree, destined to die for the sins of Mankind. But...

From DBC: "When the priests of Yuvenis came to arrest Holy Usires, He went willingly, but when they purposed to take also his acolytes Sutrines and Granis, Usires Aedon would not have it, and slew the priests with a touch of His hand."

Hard to imagine Jesus doing the Touch of Death thing. IMO.

He does that kind of thing in the infancy gospel of Thomas. 

Quote

From SOF, pg 191, 2005 Trade paperback: "Ineluki has come back: that is something no one else has ever been doing, not even your Usires Aedon."

So Aedon apparently never was resurrected.

Remind me, how did it then came that suddenly everybody turned Aedonite? Didn't some miracles happen after Usires' death.

Tad could really have tied up the Usires religion to Sithi/Norns and their magical abilities, etc. That would have been interesting and had made the religion part of the plot.

13 hours ago, Lord Patrek said:

I have 60 pages to go. Don't really know what's going on, you say? Their level of incompetence is akin to that of the Trump administration. It's that bad. . . :(

Well, I hope your view is somewhat influenced by your tastes (which it certainly is). But I remember that I didn't like the 'Pryrates is so evil yet nobody could stop him before he won Elias' trust' plot from the last series. I mean, Morgenes did know what kind of man he was. They hang out at the same court for months in TDC, and they never clashed, nor did Morgenes do anything at all to prevent this snake from dominating the politics of the kingdom.

If it turns out that Simon and Miri as ignorant about the developments in their kingdom (or as uncaring about problematic stuff they do know about) it will really reflect badly on them.

 

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To be fair though, Simon is consistently portrayed as a clueless numbskull in MST.  The idea that an uneducated, dumb, kitchen boy was going to make a good king was always dumb.

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21 hours ago, Jiriki said:

He's only posted that 20 times. ;)

Still, it's good to get an honest opinion, even if I disagree with it.
 

When I first read TWC (in May 2015), I had such hopes and dreams for my beloved friends, Simon, Binabik, Miriamele, Sludig, Eolair, Isgrimnur, Qantaqa, Jiriki and Aditu. I had spent 20 years imagining what they would be doing in the future. Would Simon be a wise king? Would Miriamele grow into a decent person? Would they show more wisdom than their predecessors had? There were parts of TWC I almost recoiled from. I couldn't believe Tad would write some characters as he did. Wouldn't they instantly see the dangers? Weren't they supposed to be smarter than the previous generations? But it was a conscious decision on his part: the characters are focused on what has happened for the past 33 years: wars in the Thrithings, disputes with Perdruin, domestic squabbles, etc. They are certainly not focused on the old troubles in the north, despite the fact that they absolutely know it's a danger.

I think we can buy the idea that the gang doesn't exactly think the Norns are coming back with a vengeance after they have driven them back into their mountain. Unless they get a lot of very clear evidence very early on that Utuk'ku is back and has a plan and the means to kill them all I won't blame them for that. 

However, the first two chapters already indicate something is amiss. If a new king let's you wait then you should think why that's the case, just as an assassination (attempt) on a Sitha is likely a huge deal which could point to a greater danger. Simon and Miri are living in that world, not me. They have fought the Storm King and the Norns, not me. And if I can connect the dots, so should they.

Now, I don't have any idea whether those events there are connected all that closely. If they aren't then they are excused, too. If they are, and they fail to see it despite the fact that they get a lot of (obvious) clues then they are stupid.

21 hours ago, Jiriki said:

It took me a while to realize that this is actually exactly as it should be. Yes, in 1985, I was attacked by a vicious dog while I was walking my paper route. I still remember the dog, and the pain, and I still fear dogs like it, but I've got more pressing worries now: whether I'll have enough money to continue my studies; whether my truck is running okay, as I have no back-up transportation; whether my horrific new bosses will allow me some small shred of my dignity after working for the same institution for the past thirteen years. The fear of the dog isn't gone, but it's pushed to the background because I have much more pressing, urgent issues, and I haven't been threatened by a vicious dog in decades.

That is a pretty good comparison but some dog is not in the same league as having an evil Galadriel threatening the very existence of your species (or at least your kingdom). Utuk'ku would be more in the league of you as a child encountering Pennywise. You would never be able to forget that or push that to the background (unless the plot of the novel demanded that you forget that stuff after you leave the town). And especially Simon actually was confronted both by Ineluki and Utuk'ku (and witnessed their tremendous) in his dreams.

21 hours ago, Jiriki said:

It is the same for Simon and Miriamele. I wanted them to be an amazing badass royal duo who would instantly spot trouble a mile off. But they are instead preoccupied by human conflict, and are also racked with years of grief and guilt, and are in some ways more like Ned and Cercei than I would ever want for my beloved friends. No! I hated that. I didn't want that for them! I wanted them to have witnesses to keep in contact with their good friends, the Sithi, who they would have joined forces with, in rooting out evil. But they have no witnesses, and the Sithi... well...

Well, describing them as real people is good. And if Tad had a lot of problematic stuff happen between the two books that would be fine, too. It just has to make sense. But there are things they should have kept an eye on. And both the Norns and the Sithi would have been at the top of that list.

14 hours ago, Maia said:

Sigh. I was disappointed by "The Heart of What Was Lost", in great Part because it retconned the Norns into a failing ancient civilization from central casting (tm) and made them implausibly vulnerable. I mean, in the previous trilogy wasn't it mainly existential ennui of the Sithi that allowed the Rimmersmen of old to prevail?

That, the iron, and Nisses' spells. But I agree that the heartland of the Norns being pretty much undefended is really somewhat strange. I understand that Ineluki's and Utuk'ku's defeat would have had a huge impact on the Norns but it is weird to depict it this way. Why didn't Tad play the 'when the Dark Lord goes into hiding/sleep the Orcs lose all their courage and determination' card? Not to mention their magical superiority.

14 hours ago, Maia said:

You'd think that the Norns, who have managed to survive in close neighbourhood for centuries would have protected their home better than that. Yes, even despite their over-Extension and resulting losses. Also, if their food sources were  as constrained as all that, how could they possibly afford to keep human slaves?

The entire absence of the Black Rimmersmen is also very confusing there. The impression I got was that it was a huge honor for Ingen Jegger to be presented to the queen and become her top hunter. One would thus assume that men working for the Norns would not exactly live and work in the mountain but in the lands outside of it. They seemed to be men who lived somewhere up in the North, close to the lands of the Norns, worshiping and working for them.

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3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

However, the first two chapters already indicate something is amiss. If a new king let's you wait then you should think why that's the case, just as an assassination (attempt) on a Sitha is likely a huge deal which could point to a greater danger. Simon and Miri are living in that world, not me. They have fought the Storm King and the Norns, not me. And if I can connect the dots, so should they.

Now, I don't have any idea whether those events there are connected all that closely. If they aren't then they are excused, too. If they are, and they fail to see it despite the fact that they get a lot of (obvious) clues then they are stupid.

How would S&M, traveling in Hernystir, know about an assassination of a Sitha in Erkynland?

 

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

[Jesus] does that kind of thing in the infancy gospel of Thomas. 

Yes, and in the Syriac Infancy Gospel, Baby Jesus' dirty diapers can be used to heal people. No joke. Baby Jesus' sweat can also be used to cure leprosy, and his vomit, I assume, can be used as a flotation device.

Regardless, a Jesus that kills people with a touch of his hand is not the Biblical Jesus.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Remind me, how did it then came that suddenly everybody turned Aedonite? Didn't some miracles happen after Usires' death.

Tad could really have tied up the Usires religion to Sithi/Norns and their magical abilities, etc. That would have been interesting and had made the religion part of the plot.

I assume many converted to Aedonism because of the tailed star which destroyed the pagan Temple of Yuvenis. Unlike Jesus, who died without a massive cataclysm, Usires apparently took a big chunk of the City of Nabban with him.

Regarding Usires and the Sithi and magic... have you read The Burning Man? That is directly addressed.

18 hours ago, Maia said:

You'd think that the Norns, who have managed to survive in close neighbourhood for centuries would have protected their home better than that. Yes, even despite their over-Extension and resulting losses. Also, if their food sources were  as constrained as all that, how could they possibly afford to keep human slaves? 

I think Utuk'ku longed for the destruction of the world, and wasn't worried so much about defenses.

I suppose they could cull the human slaves during bad years.

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3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The entire absence of the Black Rimmersmen is also very confusing there. The impression I got was that it was a huge honor for Ingen Jegger to be presented to the queen and become her top hunter. One would thus assume that men working for the Norns would not exactly live and work in the mountain but in the lands outside of it. They seemed to be men who lived somewhere up in the North, close to the lands of the Norns, worshiping and working for them.

Spoiler

There are BR both inside and outside Nakkiga, as you shall soon see. And we know they have settlements north of Tungoldyr but south of Nakkiga.

 

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6 hours ago, Jiriki said:

How would S&M, traveling in Hernystir, know about an assassination of a Sitha in Erkynland?

They wouldn't, to be sure, but we can assume that whoever discovers the corpse/body will send messengers to inform the king and queen of the development. I certainly don't fault them for stuff they don't know. And I also don't think they are depicted all that bad in the first chapter. Simon is still very occupied with his grief and Miri basically is done with the love and family thing. This kind of thing happens. They still like each other somewhat, it seems, and that's more than many people can say after thirty years of marriage.

6 hours ago, Jiriki said:

Yes, and in the Syriac Infancy Gospel, Baby Jesus' dirty diapers can be used to heal people. No joke. Baby Jesus' sweat can also be used to cure leprosy, and his vomit, I assume, can be used as a flotation device.

Regardless, a Jesus that kills people with a touch of his hand is not the Biblical Jesus.

I know, but I saw that as a variation of Peter's attack on the soldier. It isn't the same but pretty close.

6 hours ago, Jiriki said:

I assume many converted to Aedonism because of the tailed star which destroyed the pagan Temple of Yuvenis. Unlike Jesus, who died without a massive cataclysm, Usires apparently took a big chunk of the City of Nabban with him.

Okay, well, killing a man with a touch would also be nice feat. If the whole thing was true, that is.

6 hours ago, Jiriki said:

Regarding Usires and the Sithi and magic... have you read The Burning Man? That is directly addressed.

Yeah, I did, but it wasn't really answered. And it played no role in the overall series.

6 hours ago, Jiriki said:

I think Utuk'ku longed for the destruction of the world, and wasn't worried so much about defenses.

That could be the case. But if that's still her grand plan one is really going to wonder how the hell she didn't implement the plan she is going to enact in the new trilogy back last time. Was the Storm King plan easier to pull off? That one was pretty complicated and risky already. And we still have no idea what the point of it was. What did Ineluki try to accomplish? Take over Elias to be killed by the Rimmersmen of the past? Or did he think Elias' body would have enabled to complete the spell that was supposed to kill them all, changing the past in the process? We have no idea. The world certainly wouldn't have ended, though.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

They wouldn't, to be sure, but we can assume that whoever discovers the corpse/body will send messengers to inform the king and queen of the development. I certainly don't fault them for stuff they don't know. And I also don't think they are depicted all that bad in the first chapter. Simon is still very occupied with his grief and Miri basically is done with the love and family thing. This kind of thing happens. They still like each other somewhat, it seems, and that's more than many people can say after thirty years of marriage.

I think this is a fair assessment of the first chapter.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Yeah, I did, but it wasn't really answered.

Spoiler

Hakatri gives Sulis an answer:

"We Zida'ya know little of the doings of mortals, and there are some of our own blood who have fallen away from us, and whose works are hidden from us as well. I do not think your Usires Aedon was one of the Dawn Children, but more than that I cannot tell you, mortal man, nor could any of my folk."

It's not the answer Sulis wanted, but Hakatri gave him an answer: I don't think so.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

That could be the case. But if that's still her grand plan one is really going to wonder how the hell she didn't implement the plan she is going to enact in the new trilogy back last time. Was the Storm King plan easier to pull off? That one was pretty complicated and risky already. And we still have no idea what the point of it was. What did Ineluki try to accomplish? Take over Elias to be killed by the Rimmersmen of the past? Or did he think Elias' body would have enabled to complete the spell that was supposed to kill them all, changing the past in the process? We have no idea. The world certainly wouldn't have ended, though.

The point of the spell was to wind back time to a period before Ineluki had been banished from Hayholt, before prayers and spells ("if there is a difference") had been said over each handspan of the castle, wrapping Asu'a in protections preventing Ineluki from returning "until Time itself ends, when it will not matter." (Aditu, TGAT)

The world of Osten Ard as we know it would certainly have ended.

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