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The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1)
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2014 Book Club Discussions > February 2014: The Emperor's Blades - Author Q&A with Brian Staveley

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Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments Brian Staveley has very graciously agreed to come over and answer some questions for us. I'll be pointing him to this thread ASAP, so feel free to throw up any questions you have as you read - but spoiler tag appropriately!


message 2: by Brian (new)

Brian Staveley | 8 comments Hi, Folks,

Thanks for picking The Emperor's Blades for the bookgroup. Bring on the questions!


message 3: by Darrell (last edited Feb 02, 2014 10:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Darrell Grizzle (dzgrizzle) I was especially fascinated by the monks' religion of the Blank God, and how you took the concept of Emptiness found in Buddhism and took it to a whole new level. It seems like you created a whole new religion, much like Frank Herbert did with his Orange Catholic Church or Zensufis in the original Dune series. How much of your own religious or philosophic studies factor in to your creation of the Blank God religion?


message 4: by Brian (new)

Brian Staveley | 8 comments I taught world religion for a number of years, and that teaching experience was central to my conception of the Shin, as well as the other religious elements threaded through the book. The funny thing was, I knew nothing about Buddhism (or any other faith, really) before I started teaching that class. As a result, the invented religions in The Emperor's Blades were coeval with my understanding of the actual religions in our own world.

One thing I didn't want to do was just copy real-world religions and give them new names. The vaniate bears a resemblance to some conceptions of nirvana/nibbana, but the in-world history is very different, coming, as it does, from the Csestriim, humanesque creatures who exist constantly inside the vaniate. The Shin monks are actually striving for a spiritual state, in this case, that will strip them of the most crucial aspects of their humanity.

I could go on about the religious aspects of the book for ages! Let me know if there are more questions on this front...


Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments No, that's a fascinating look - if there is more to elaborate on the religion, please do!


Kyle (kyleomara) | 11 comments I'm not finished with the book yet, so I might run into an answer later (or already missed it for that matter), but I'd like some more descriptions of the kettral. I know you mention the seventy-foot wingspan, but I'm curious to it's other dimensions. That's just so much larger than anything we've had on our world, so it's hard to fully grasp their size, and I was curious to how you envisioned them.

You also say that the passengers are strapped to the talons. But are they on the actual talons, or on the leg?


message 7: by Brian (new)

Brian Staveley | 8 comments Thanks for the question -- I like thinking about the kettral.

Wild kettral fly, as do most birds, with their legs/talons tucked up under them to reduce drag. At the Eyrie, however, the kettral are trained to fly with their legs down, the way a bird looks when it's coming in for a landing. It's slower, obviously, but it gives the soldiers a place to ride and a good vantage from which to see the terrain below. While each Wing's flier perches in a sort of saddle atop the bird, the other four or five fighters are below. They stand on the actual talons, but there are a variety of straps partway up the bird's legs to which they clip harnesses, gear, etc. This allows a sniper like Annick to fly hands-free.

As for the size, a friend of mine out in Santa Cruz who does sand sculpture and drawing made this life-size version: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/01/empe...

It's not precisely what I imagine, but it gives a great sense of scale...


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