Category: TTWC1

Oct 09 2016

WIP Update – 08 Oct 16

I already made the announcement on Twitter, but I put the finishing touches on Akasame’s epilogue of TTWC3, completing the novel. Yay. Just for fun, let’s rank the 24 leads of the TTWC series based on the word count of their sections. The results may surprise you (and may not).

1. Daphne (TTWC1)              – 20092
2. Carpos (TTWC3)               – 14176
3. Xanthe (TTWC1)               – 12688
4. Ionathas (TTWC1)            – 12074
5. Simona (TTWC3)              – 11331
6. Akasame (TTWC3)            – 11094
7. Solon (TTWC1)                  – 10051
8. Cronos (TTWC1)               – 10513
9. Urgill (TTWC3)                  – 10121
10. Mab (TTWC3)                  – 9756
11. Corona (TTWC1)             – 9466
12. Rowland (TTWC3)           – 9291
13. Scipio (TTWC3)               – 8603
14. Garm (TTWC3)                – 8028
15. Caligo (TTWC2)               – 7656
16. Xenomachos (TTWC1)    – 6936
17. Medusa (TTWC2)            – 6770
18. Orguz (TTWC2)               – 6556
19. Xorgoth (TTWC2)           – 6024
20. Arachne (TTWC2)          – 5512
21. Python (TTWC2)             – 5492
22. Gamaliel (TTWC1)          – 5200
23. Monarch Lich (TTWC2)  – 4987
24. Dox (TTWC2)                  – 4002

Hmm. I think my Elf-bias is showing. Given that Daphne’s section has the most bearing on the Umbriel Cycle at large, it’s little surprise she has the largest share, but some of these surprise me at where they stand relative to the others. I’m sure I have a round of rewrites in my future, especially to expand on TTWC2, but this is what things look like now as of Version 3 of the story.

I didn’t do much writing on TBP other than a couple lines in Chapter 1. All I did for the most part is review the prologue and what I’d written thus far on Chapter 1. I intend to do a little more writing on it and then switch over to CeleKing1. Stay tuned.


Mar 01 2015

Character Spotlight: Corona

We wrap up our coverage of the lead characters of TTWC1 with a look back on Corona the White Dragon.

I like writing nonhuman characters because it affords me the opportunity to think outside the box. I don’t take it too far because there needs to be some measure of relatability for the audience. Corona is not so recent an addition as Xenomachos, but she wasn’t in the early drafts of the story either. I honestly think her relationship with Ionathas blossomed as I wrote her.

There is no small irony in playing with the knight and lady dynamic when the lady in question happens to also be a Dragon. Elves and Dragons both have quite a bit of aloofness to them as a general rule, but Dragons also carry a great power and menace even when they masquerade as humans. Part of developing Coronas character was taking this strong, intimidating presence and softening it. It’s not like she becomes jelly or anything, but there’s a nice juxtaposition of these moments of vulnerability that I really like.

If you thought that her pursuing her revenge on Xorgoth was a poor decision on her part, I think you’ll find her bleeding and alone in a cave agreeing with you. Unfortunately, she never really thought out her rebellion and paid for it. The White Dragons were too beaten down after centuries of subjugation and too few in number to make a difference even if she could rally the entire race to her cause. It would’ve been better for her if she stuck with Ionathas (better for Ionathas too), but it’s just one more thread in the grand tapestry of tragedy that is the Trident War.

Well, I guess that’ll do it for now. I may consider doing a few of these for significant members of the supporting cast or perhaps cover characters from previous works (though a few of them have future appearances, so I may refrain and I may simply opt to do multi-parters). I’d like to get back to doing weekly commentary posts, so I’ll weigh my options. Stay tuned.

Feb 25 2015

WIP Update – 24 Feb 15

I finished my read-through of TTWC1 and rounded out the appendices. When I do a read-through, I make a point to read aloud. While the written word isn’t always meant to be read aloud, I find that if you have difficulty saying it, it probably needs reworking. I like to think that this helps keep my prose flowing smoothly. Doing a read-through of an entire novel in two sittings is a little taxing on the throat, though. I’m lucky I didn’t lose my voice. I haven’t had to talk for my bread and butter in a while, so I’m a bit out of practice. Anyway, once the update is out the door, I can turn my attention to TTWC2 and make some progress there. Stay tuned.

Feb 24 2015

WIP Update – 23 Feb 15

The read-through of TTWC1 took up all the time that might otherwise be devoted to moving forward with my writing. There were a number of minor edits and a little more work on the appendices for whatever that’s worth. Ideally, I’ll have everything done and ready for the update by Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Feb 14 2015

WIP Update – 13 Feb 15

I mostly finished Medusa’s prologue and Chapter 1 in TTWC2 and also started in on the appendices of TTWC1 so they’ll be ready when the book wraps the week after next. It’d be nice if I could whip up something better than my MSPaint maps, but I’ve been promising better maps for my stories almost since the time I founded the site. Maybe I should just commission a cartographer and save myself the trouble. Who knows? Stay tuned.

Nov 22 2014

Character Spotlight: Lord Xenomachos

Lord Xenomachos stands out as one of the more recent additions to the story. He was invented solely for the purpose of balancing the chessboard with another rook, but I think I was able to do some interesting things with him.

Had Xenomachos simply been a loyal legate, he wouldn’t have been that much different from Lord Aristides and if his primary thing was his former exploits, he’d be much like Duke Cronos, minus the burden of contending with the Promethean Alliance. When I was thinking of his hook, I came up with a great idea to set him apart from the others. Because one of the primary conflicts within Zephyr was between Solon and the Church, why not have a character trapped in the middle? I didn’t want Xenomachos to be a calculating schemer like the Archbishop but rather a simple pious man who takes his devotion to God and King quite seriously. In fact, his simple steadfastness is the main reason the Archbishop couldn’t exploit him to the fullest.

I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. He’s not dumb by any means, just simple and rather innocent. He hasn’t got a head for intrigue at all. Such an earnest and forthright character is really appealing to me in a story filled with so much political machination.

I feel it’s a bit of a shame I could only devote a single chapter to his love of Queen Xanthe. When I was thinking about when Xanthe psychically shared her entire heart and soul with the whole of the Zephyrian forces, it didn’t take much of a leap to realize that if you opened yourself up so fully to a person as pure-hearted as Xenomachos, he couldn’t help but love you. This is an important step for his character because while he showed all due deference to her station as Queen, he held a rather strong prejudice against the Elves. This prejudice was, of course, common throughout Zephyr, encouraged by sources sacred and secular alike, but the fact remains that he was predisposed against her just for what she was and then transcended that. Now, I’m not naive enough to say that all prejudice can be overcome through mutual understanding (and, strictly speaking, not all prejudice is a bad thing, but that’s a long and convoluted discussion for another venue), but a lot of harmful and baseless prejudice has a hard time standing if both sides open up in good faith. Xenomachos is an example that shows that Solon’s dream wasn’t entirely a vain one, just outmaneuvered and outgunned.

It was a bit of a mercy on my part to give him a heroic last stand in the Darklands because it’d be far too cruel to put him in the middle of Gamaliel’s coup against Daphne. I believe he would’ve stood with Daphne, but the conflict within him would’ve destroyed him. I know I tend to give my characters rather miserable and tragic ends, but sometimes I show a little kindness.

Because it’ll be a while before Corona’s section ends, I may consider spotlighting a character outside TTWC1. Stay tuned.

Sep 29 2014

Character Spotlight: Ionathas of Maranthe

In one of my more standard quest-type stories, Ionathas would likely be the main character. Indeed, there are a lot of his exploits that don’t get chronicled in the story proper that would probably be part of the central plot otherwise. Whether the current setup is a good thing or not, I’ll leave that to the reader.

Besides being the typical hero, Ionathas is important as a representative of Notians sympathetic with the Zephyrians. It’d obviously be a different story if he wasn’t brought up from nothing by the Duke’s patronage, but it was important for him to have a foot in both worlds, as it were. He makes a good counterpoint to Prince Carpos, who betrayed Zephyr to join the Promethean Alliance for his own selfish ends. Also, making him a free knight gives him greater flexibility that a regular member of the legions would have, which is one of the keys to his success when he takes up the Duke’s mantle.

While Prince Carpos is more of an antitype, Sir Caligo is more of a direct analogue. They’re both lowborn men raised to prominence by their military exploits with an elite cadre of close followers who are ultimately betrayed by the very people they fought for. Too bad (or not) for Ionathas not getting the chance to turn into a vampire to exact his revenge. Honestly, I don’t think Ionathas would’ve done what Caligo did even given the opportunity. Therein lies the key difference between the two men. As wrathful as Ionathas was toward the Church for turning on the Crown, he didn’t surrender himself to that wrath, but as a result he was killed for it.

Regarding Ionathas’ relationship with Corona, I think I’ll save that discussion for Corona’s entry. And I believe that’ll do it for now. Ionathas is a fairly straightforward character, so there really aren’t many twists and turns to his characterization. Next up is Lord Xenomachos (once his section is complete). Stay tuned.

Sep 20 2014

Character Spotlight: Princess Daphne

In the earliest stage of conception of what would become The Trident Chronicles, I didn’t have much to Daphne’s character besides a princess who could communicate with angels and fairies. I believe it had some relation to the Princess character class in Ogre Battle (which at the time I hadn’t played but only read Nintendo Power articles about). She may have been called Daphne at that point. If so, that’s about the only aspect of her original character profile that survived.

When the story was revived in its current incarnation, Daphne began to take shape as we know her now, the sheltered Half Elf daughter of Solon and Xanthe thrust into the role of regent in her parents’ absence due to her brother’s treachery. Her character arc is all about going from the bird in the gilded cage to a proper leader of her people. I like to think that her development really comes through when you compare her encounter with Carpos in her prologue with the one in Chapter 3, then on to her negotiations with Rowland in Chapter 5.

Of course, we can’t talk about Daphne without bringing up Uriel. Pairing the princess and the rogue is a classic trope, but I think we all know that I’m not one to shy away from playing with well-worn tropes. I should probably have a spotlight for Uriel himself, but perhaps I should save that one for a later date. Anyway, focusing on the relationship with Uriel from Daphne’s perspective, there are a lot of elements at work. The element of gratitude for saving her life comes first, then there’s a bit of a girlish crush that forms that later blossoms into a deeper form of companionship. Part of it is to replace her brother and another part is romantic bond. (I’m going to note that Carpos’ incestuous ways are almost entirely one-sided, so there’s not really much cross-pollination going on here with Daphne.) Uriel’s presence goes a long way to building her into the stronger person she becomes, but it’s also no small part of what leads to her downfall. He becomes a blindspot for her. It’s not that she’s unaware of how his presence is compromising to her, but she doesn’t go far enough to keep her distance because she can’t. She needs him too much and it’s used as ammunition against her.

I like playing with the dilemma of balancing the desires of your heart with the duties of your station and I certainly wouldn’t mind exploring that more with Daphne. There may be a short or two in the future for it. Anyway, next up is Ionathas. Stay tuned.

Sep 01 2014

Character Spotlight: Queen Xanthe

Have I mentioned that I patterned the leads of The Trident War Chronicles after chess pieces? I only bring it up because it seems that, originally at least, the characterization of my “king” and “queen” characters were among the weakest. Just as I didn’t have much to work with in the case of Solon, so too was Xanthe a fairly shallow and incidental sort of character until the more recent version. However, because she had more to do anyway, I didn’t seem to have to work quite as hard to expand her role.

During production, I did some shuffling of the overall Tellus Arc timeline to make certain events fit in better with the overall chronology. In doing so, I made Xanthe a few hundred years younger than she once was. Being over 400 years old may sound like a lot, but for a Light Elf like Xanthe, that’s about the equivalent of being around 25. The fact that she became Queen of Goldleaf before she even turned 200 was quite unprecedented. Her relative youth made for a good combination with Solon’s idealism.

Just as Solon had to deal with significant opposition to his vision, so too did Xanthe and I play this up more with the Law-speaker Sidarazel emerging as her chief adversary. I don’t delve too deeply into Elven society, though, as a large part of Xanthe’s character is that she’s spent most of her time trying to integrate into human society, returning to El-Alar chiefly for important festivals and ceremonies and having little day-to-day involvement with her own domain. Even if Xanthe wasn’t a telepath of decent ability, she’d be all too aware of how she was regarded by the humans around her. Indeed, even the closest human to her besides Solon, Lord Aristides, serves her almost entirely out of his loyalty to her husband and doesn’t have any particularly warm sentiment for her. She loses touch with her identity as an Elf but can’t become human either. It’s a sad, lonely existence. Her one refuge was her children, but Carpos became distant in the years leading up to his betrayal, leaving Daphne alone as her only other support.

Xanthe at least has the strength to suffer for her part in making Solon’s dream a reality, even though she becomes more disillusioned as time goes on. Perhaps her being a touch more on the cynical side is how she developed the savvy to do pretty much whatever it took to give the Darklands campaign the fighting chance it needed. Using the illusionist Gulmengoel to impersonate Solon after his death was a new addition, as I realized there was no way they could just pretend to have him tucked away for two years. Underhanded, yes, but the venture would’ve broken apart otherwise.

It might’ve been interesting to see what would’ve happened if Xanthe survived the Darklands campaign. I don’t think she would’ve abdicated the throne as easily as Daphne, but she probably wouldn’t have been able to rally enough loyalty to put up much of a fight. Hard to say. Maybe there’s an If Arc story to be had.

Next up is Daphne. Stay tuned.

Aug 23 2014

Character Spotlight: King Solon VI

During last week’s retrospective on Archbishop Gamaliel, I said I would consider going back and giving the other leads of TTWC1 a second look. I’ve decided to make this a semi-regular feature, hence the new “Character Spotlight” title. We kick things off with the first lead of TTWC1, King Solon.

When I was designing the prototype for what would become The Trident Chronicles, I didn’t have much of an idea for the character beyond “wise old king”, hence his original name of Solomon. (I used to have impeccable subtlety, you see.) Honestly, he didn’t really have much development beyond that original concept until the current version of the story.

You may recall that in the previous version of the story, I didn’t give each lead an equal number of chapters. Their sections were as long as the stories I had to tell and Solon’s was one of the shortest because, frankly, there wasn’t much there and seeing as how he dies before the fleet even reaches Notos, he only served to kick off the plot. By forcing myself to give each of the leads equal screentime (at least in terms of the number of chapters), I had no choice but to shore up shallow characterization and so Solon developed into the person he is now.

When I thought of his inauspicious birth, I realized that isn’t something that you can just walk away from. (I realize that the details haven’t been revealed yet, but you already should know from Xanthe’s epilogue that Solon and the Monarch Lich are “twins” of a sort.) Solon grew up surrounded by whispers and rumors and was completely despised by his father. When the King remarried (to a woman just five years Solon’s senior) and had a second son, Solon ceded his birthright and entered into the seminary. There he studied with future Archbishop Ieremias (the “reformer” so despised by Gamaliel in his prologue). Solon would have entered the priesthood were it not for his brother Carpos’ untimely death. While it was possible for Solon’s nephew by his half-sister Antigone to claim the throne with his father acting as regent until he reached the age of majority, Solon instead chose to reclaim his birthright with the intention of reforming Zephyr (with Ieremias’ encouragement as the two idealists sought to work both inside and outside the Church to achieve change).

While there had been relatively few all-out wars between Zephyr and her non-human neighbors, there was certainly no love between them and the Church’s teachings about them certainly didn’t help matters any. Solon took a chance by extending an olive branch and at least in the Elves’ case, he was lucky to find a young (by Elven standards) queen just as idealistic as he was. In the Dwarves’ case, their natural suspicions of the humans erupted into the disastrous Nanoi Campaigns, which ultimately resulted in the forced removal from Zephyr of the surviving Dwarven community. This seems rather cruel in light of the picture I’ve been painting of Solon, but it was the lesser of two evils as prevailing opinion was that the Dwarves should have been exterminated completely.

I would say Solon’s greatest weakness was that he was so committed to his ideals and his principles that he was blind to the world around him. Not completely blind, mind you, but he never truly appreciated how great the opposition to his policies was, leaving a situation where no one but a cunning and brutal tyrant could have held on to the kingdom in his wake. Daphne grew into her role as a leader rather well, but she could never be ruthless enough to fight tooth and nail to hold on to the throne (but that’s a subject of a future entry).

In the end, I find him to be a rather tragic figure who dreamed a dream too big for his world to contain. To call him too good for this sinful earth would be an exaggeration, but his high-minded principles were a two-edged sword that I fear cut him more deeply.

Next time, we’ll take a look at Queen Xanthe. Stay tuned.