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SERIES—List & Discussions > Wars of Light & Shadow--Ships of Merior, Ch VII, VIII, IX - SPOILERS!

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message 1: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments This is the section where stuff starts to to blow up! So if you have not read this section, avoid it, or be spoiled.

Which, in fact, posed some intricate research questions. I will go into what it took to compose the armory scene in Alestron - one of two scenes in The Ships of Merior that required piles of books to complete.

And if you enjoy the s'Brydion brothers, get ready, you have not seen the last of their rambunctious belligerence.


message 2: by Charles (new)

Charles (charliewhip) | 141 comments The s'Brydions are among my favorite Paravians. Great comic relief, there.


message 3: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments The armory scene was funny but my heart was in my throat the whole time!

The scene with faery-toes is also over the top funny but I also was fearful for both Dakars and the horse's safety.


message 4: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 487 comments I'm struggling at the moment and not getting any reading done. But I really want to as I'm loving the book. I'll try to catch up as soon as I can.


message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Hope you feel better soon, Kerry.


message 6: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "Hope you feel better soon, Kerry."

Best wishes that you do get better, Kerry!


message 7: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Key research question: how MUCH primitive black powder would it take to create the scene in Alestron's armory...I had to tackle this one bassackwards, definitely, as I saw the whole scene play without a CLUE to knowing the physical properties of what we so loosely term 'black powder' - described as a proportional mix of sulfur, saltpeter, and soda ash.

Turns out 'loose' (vs 'corned' which is a process that sorta sticks the powder together and makes the mix even, not prone to settling, and more potent) black powder is considered a 'weak' explosive.

It worked to hurl projectiles (balls, either canon or pistol) because the reaction was cased in confinement.

Well, I did have an enclosed stone keep with a long tunnel and one other exit topside (above a stairwell)...so in effect, the armory WAS confined, and the percussive force WOULD naturally shoot outward through those apertures - magnified. Enough to cause a percussive wave fit to knock a person down, deafen, but not kill - and except for flying splinters as projectiles, likely make for survivors....the problem of flying projectiles was solved by simply putting a crook in the tunnel - that would make the projectiles caught up in the Big Bang to strike the wall - with the escapees knocked flat and basically bruised but unharmed.

There would be a messy fire, of course. Since drum keeps have beamed floors, that would naturally damage a lot of internal structure - therefore the armory itself would be close to a total loss, and there would be some loss of life. (Soldiers trapped in the mess).

Those 'logistical' questions answered - how MUCH black powder - plagued daylights out of me as I piled into the books.

Black powder for guns and cannon is measured in 'grains' and, at least for the big guns, sewn into canvas 'loads' that were conveniently rammed into the gun; or in the case of pistols, poured into a 'powder measure' into the gun barrel, and 'rammed down' and held into position with a 'wad' - this might be leather or paper or a bit of rag. Modernday re-enactors (for cannon) often use paper towels.


Back then, loose powder was stored in wooden casks. Or kegs. Good enough then, they'd be vulnerable to fire, which would then ignite the contents nicely.

But the rub came: to do an explosion on a large scale, in a fairly open space - ?

Reenactors don't blow things up like this....
The records for guns and cannon are EASY to find.

I began to pour through book after book after book on actual use in historical settings. Magazines blew up - on ships and in armories - but nowhere, anywhere, did I find a reference to HOW MUCH black powder resulted in how much damage. Book after book.

All about grades and quality of powder, how it was prepared, mixed, stored...

Until - one reference to a bridge blown up in France - an open air detonation - bingo! The listing included how many kegs were required - some two dozen.

I figured the armory explosion (contained) would require about half that...so far, nobody's raised a whimper (and yes, experts on that stuff read books all the time, and they Always see mistakes).

So figure the s'Brydion stored something on the order of 12 - 15 casks. A decent sized stack - they were enthusiastically prone to excess anyway - and the 'crude' culverin described WAS what the first cannons looked like - bits strapped together with metal bands, and loaded with round shot, before the art of gun founding was refined.


message 8: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments One further note on the 'crook' in the corridor - this would actually be a benefit, since a straight line corridor would benefit a ram, and make the keep's underground access more vulnerable.

The crook would prevent a large (say log) from being taken down there, and it would effectively foil the 'throw' to make said 'ram' strike the armored door.

So the bend in the shaft made perfect sense, to make the armory's door more difficult to bash down.


message 9: by Amelia (last edited Sep 10, 2010 12:04PM) (new)

Amelia (narknon) My Dad has a couple of black powder guns. One is a rifle and the other a pistol. I personally have never used them, but I do know that they are very different from our modern day weapons and take a lot longer to load than normal bullets. Plus they aren't nearly as effective.


message 10: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Amelia wrote: "My Dad has a couple of black powder guns. One is a rifle and the other a pistol. I personally have never used them, but I do know that they are very different from our modern day weapons and take..."

Since writing that scene in the armory, I've been around many many reenactors who handle black powder - everything from pistols, to blunderbusses, to rifles, to cannon. Up close and personal, I've loaded and fired them, too. Hands on research is the best of the best - there is always a living expert on most any subject.

The nicest bit - when the hands on research comes later on, and (phew!) one finds one did one's homework thoroughly enough that the book printed ten years prior is fully there, and not an embarrassment.

Handling the primitive form of any technology truly adds to the wonder of mankind's achievements. And hopefully rounds out the experience, when translated into a work of fantasy. It's always been important to me to create the FEELING of being there - whether it's the deck of a working sailing vessel, or the firing of a bow - the edge of authenticity provides an unmistakable stamp that gives the story a solid foundation.


message 11: by Amelia (new)

Amelia (narknon) For me, at least, your books have a very authentic feel. I appreciate and enjoy that. All of you research into the small details really pays off.


message 12: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Just dropping in quickly to mention that these chapters contained a moment where my mind was utterly blown away: the scene where Asandir (?) explains to the s'Brydions how the Fellowship came to Athera. I have a weak spot for fantasy series with an SF twist, and this one was completely unexpected for me.


message 13: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments I know. I love it.


message 14: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 487 comments I've just finished and it's time I went to bed. But I just wanted to say that Janny, I love that your raise questions, then don't wait TOO long to answer them, instead of giving us new ones built on those answers. Books where a mystery is set up early and then we have to wait and wait and wait and wait and wait for an answer drive me nuts.

Earlier in these chapters (or maybe the one before when the whole black powder thing began coming up) I found myself wondering why a civilization that had survived so long hadn't had an industrial revolution. Partly, I knew that would ruin the beautiful feel of the world created, but I was sure you would have a reason, as you wouldn't leave big issues like that hanging.

I did wonder if something had happened to deliberately prevent such a thing and all this interest in the development of the black powder made me more suspicious that that was indeed true. Well, now I know. And as I said, thank you for answering that query of mine and leaving me with lots more to think about.

What brilliant, brilliant backstory. (I now have a post-it note on the first page of the "Truth" subchapter to remind me this is a place to go back to if I need to check on some Atheran history.) I just love it. I agree with Stefan - I too have a weak spot for a fantasy series with an SF twist.

So if it's not inapproprite to tell me, does this history, added to the hint dropped in Curse that Asandir's original name comes from English, mean that Athera is another planet in our universe in our future? That's how I'm reading this, but I could be jumping to incorrect conclusions.

Right, I really am going to bed now.


message 15: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Kerry wrote: "I've just finished and it's time I went to bed. But I just wanted to say that Janny, I love that your raise questions, then don't wait TOO long to answer them, instead of giving us new ones built o..."

Hi, Kerry. Your post it note is a great idea! I'm going to immediately do that.

Actually, it was Sethvir who was called by an English name by Asandir. I kept thinking it was Asandir, too, until I read Curse the second time.


message 16: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Stefan and Kerry - I don't like fantasies that 'compartmentalize' the universe - preferring instead that such a world would be present in a format that also included all Possibilities. Science and magic need NOT be opposed - there are frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum too high and too low for our instrumentation (or senses) to measure.

Since Athera's 'magic' is based on physics and the electromagnetic spectrum, and also the quantum - it therefore COULD not be separate from a universe that also contains 'earth' as we know it.

I am pleased this broad view is a happy point for you. I feel it adds to the credibility, not detracts.

For more info on the early origins of some of the stuff on Athera - read The Sundering Star short story.

The fact that technology fits together differently on Athera - there will Always be a reason; and Always be a reason for anything that is present in the stories. This is not an earth-based 'mideval' society as will become glaringly apparent as the stories progress.

For Kerry too - I hate books that hinge all of the suspense on one or two points - much preferring ones that denoue stuff in sequence, and raise deeper issues all along the way. My preference - this makes for a more satisfying read, and eliminates the tendency to "rush" just to get to the ending for the sake of that one hanging bit.

It also makes for much more unpredictability - as the reader NEVER knows when a bit of the puzzle might be solved...(yes, you who are up to Stormed Fortress, I did hear that shout over Set V).

I've always tended to push the envelope, in that way - that the problem presented early on may NOT be the denouement at the end of a book.


message 17: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments One of the reasons I love the magic in this series is that it's so plausible -- for the most part, that is. And it's revealed organically, over the course of the series. Hints of other worlds are there all along -- Karadmon's search among the galaxies for the mistwraith origins, the crystals of the Koriani that are not from Athera.

I'm not sure about the dragons and the Paravians being plausible, but hey. Any alien race is at least possible, is it not?


message 18: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments That is a good question to discuss: are the Paravians plausible?


message 19: by Kerry (last edited Sep 15, 2010 12:42AM) (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 487 comments Have we had any section from Arithon's POV to this point? My gut feeling is that we haven't, but I certainly couldn't swear to that.

We've had Lysaer's because there was one just recently and I was looking out for it by then.

But Arithon always seems to be seen through someone else's eyes, particularly Dakar's, which I don't consider to be very clear-seeing where Arithon is concerned. So our perceptions of him and his actions - and especially his motivations - are being filtered through significant bias.

Is this important and/or significant?


message 20: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Kerry wrote: "Have we had any section from Arithon's POV to this point? My gut feeling is that we haven't, but I certainly couldn't swear to that.

We've had Lysaer's because there was one just recently and I ..."


Definitely, yes, Kerry, the fact Arithon's actions are seen from another viewpoint/supposition of another character is of great significance.

The only Arithon POV scenes you've had so far occurred in Mistwraith - one very early view after he was taken captive and coming to, drugged and confused, and the other the augury scene before the debacle at Tal Quorin.

WHEN the tables turn (and they will) and that inside view point is disclosed - that will unveil some significant things, past question.


message 21: by Shel, Moderator (new)

Shel (shel99) | 2139 comments Mod
Finished this triad last night. Loved, loved, loved the armory scene, and very interesting to hear about all of your research, Janny!

I also was blown away by that hint of the Fellowship's true origins; count me as another who loves that kind of twist. And also found it fascinating to learn more about the history of Athera - I think I need to go read that scene again to make sure I've got it firmly put away in my brain for understanding the rest of the series as it progresses!

It hadn't registered with me that we haven't seen Arithon's POV yet in this book, so thanks for pointing it out, Kerry!

So many mysteries... I love it :)


message 22: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Shel wrote: "Finished this triad last night. Loved, loved, loved the armory scene, and very interesting to hear about all of your research, Janny!

I also was blown away by that hint of the Fellowship's true o..."


Hi Shel, delightful to see you've worked the book into your tear of a schedule!


message 23: by Shel, Moderator (new)

Shel (shel99) | 2139 comments Mod
Yeah, I'm finally settled into my school year routine after the whirlwind of houseguests and Jewish holidays.

I hate it when I don't have time to read! :)


message 24: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3103 comments Mod
The armoury scene was indeed fabulous and I really could see it unfolding in my mind. The background info here on your research, Janny, really adds to my enjoyment.

I think I will have to read more about the backstory of Athera in the short story Janny mentioned.

So far I have liked the Fellowship but I am growing more suspicious of them and their ultimate motives. Well, suspicious is too strong a word, but certainly curious. They say they want to return the Paravians to Athera, but why? Is it because they have an important role in maintaining the Major Balance?

I was traveling and got to read about 300 pages in airports and planes. Now I'm home with a "to do" list a mile long, so who knows when I'll get back to this....


message 25: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 1003 comments Kathi wrote: "The armoury scene was indeed fabulous and I really could see it unfolding in my mind. The background info here on your research, Janny, really adds to my enjoyment.

I think I will have to read mo..."


Ah, well - grin - the older readers will be biting their tongues, and for me, it's an authorial duct tape moment. When you get back to this - the answers (coming) will lift this discussion into a new arena.

Thanks for the mention on the research adding to your enjoyment - it's an arena to often neglected - there are aspects of fantasy that are not a bit about making it up.


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