Pile of Reading

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My tottering tower of leaning literature is once again growing out of control. In addition to published books I’m currently reading a couple of manuscripts. One is Aubrey Arthur and the End of Magic by Russ Anderson Jr and co-author Michael Fogg. I’ve been reading this one nightly with my 9 year old daughter, and just the opposite of being the end of all magic, the vivid prose captures magic in a way that puts JK Rowling to shame.

Also, I’ve got the sequel to Rob Mancebo’s five-star-rated Section Seven in the pile, and I’m working my way through an edit of Dogs and Sorcerers, which will be the third book in my Tales from the City of Bathos fantasy series.

Nailed Naked to a Board

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Some tribes, notably the Ekshant Tribe from which Lambrin was exiled, will administer punishment for violations of law by tying the criminal up to a board and whipping them. In some cases, where the sentence is death they will nail the criminal to the board.

This has given rise to the saying, “I’d rather be nailed naked to a board” when some task or event seems particularly odious.

 

Caladrex Steel

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Caladrex or Caladrexian steel was used to forge weapons of superior edge and durability by the blacksmiths of that ancient and now lost city. An entrance to that now buried city was discovered by Garvey Dire and Ntashia Dire through a cavern in the cliffside of the Rift, and there is another known entrance through the Valley of Diamonds.

This lost city beneath the Martian planetary crust was at the time partially controlled by a malicious computer entity known as Sved who could also appear in apparitional or semi-substantial form. Another portion of Caladrex is controlled by Thenylis, High Priestess of the Omnipotent Vackri, who rules over the remnants of the once great people.

Caladrex steel may or may not have been actual steel at all, but in reality an alloy unknown to exile, Galbran, or Muvari, and even to the mad wizard Sar Savaht.

 

This Week’s Reading

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Despite saying nothing about the three (or four) musketeers in the title, The Vicomte de Bragelonne is indeed a Musketeer book. However, it takes place some thirty years after the events of young D’artagnan riding into Paris with the aspiration of becoming a musketeer. In the process, if you recall, D’artagnan offended three men who were already musketeers (Porthos, Athos, and Aramis) and made appointments to meet all three of them at the end of a sword.

Despite this rocky start, they became best of friends. But thirty years later they have gone their separate ways. This book is quite lengthy and actually contains three separate story arcs, the third of which doesn’t satisfactorily resolved. It was written in serial format, appearing between 1847 and 1850–and this is really just the first 93 chapters of 263. Because this book is continued in  Louise de la Vallière, and The Man in the Iron Mask.

Anyhow, this book is loaded with clever repartee, court intrigue, and derring-do. It’s hard to top the literary virtuosity of Dumas.

This is a comprehensive study of the life of Jesus Christ, the most important historical and spiritual figure since the world was formed. The book was enlightening on several counts. It goes into the Jewish society and customs of the day and this sheds understanding on a number of things Christ said during his ministry.

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The Royal Occultist: The Charnel Hounds

This story takes place before St. Cyprian meets his apprentice Ebe Gallowglass and when St. Cyprian is the mere apprentice for the previous Royal Occultist Thomas Carnacki.  There’s a lot of awesomeness packed into a very short tale: The trenches of the Great War, flesh-eating human/simian mongrels, and a Lewis Gun.

The Charnel Hounds is available through Josh Reynolds Patreon site.

Spits Nor Tacks

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‘Spits nor tacks’ is a phrase derived from a Muvari game in which darts are thrown at increasingly small targets. When a player gets behind in points he can attempt to steal another player’s points by striking or ‘tacking’ the other player’s dart through the feathers. Sometimes players will lick or ‘spit’ on their fingers with the idea that perhaps this will improve their grip upon the dart and allow them to throw more accurately. Because this strategy of ‘tacking’ another player’s dart is extremely difficult, and a bit of saliva on the fingertips rarely helps the throw to succeed, the phrase “spits nor tacks” evolved to indicate a pointless or meaningless thing, gesture or action.

 

Martian Telepathy

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Martian telepathy is possible only between male and female. Even so, it is prevalent only among certain tribes–the Muvari being one of them. Garvey’s ability to communicate telepathically suggests a latent ability in some born of Earth.

Among the Muvari, telepathic communication is generally reserved for use between spouses, as it usually is activated only by touch with one’s partner. There are some notable exceptions to this though, as animal shamans are known to communicate and command their animals telepathically.

Lana Dire broke the intimacy taboos of the Muvari Tribe and used telepathy to communicate with Garvey, a man who, at the time, wasn’t lawfully her husband. When Garvey released her from the stasis loop in which the Warlord Shaxia had trapped her, she found that she and her savior spoke different languages and so touched him to bridge the communication gap. This enabled them to speak and flee the torrack eunuchs who were attempting to slay them.

Her second communication was inadvertent after Garvey Dire had been poisoned in his death duel with Bray Kraz. The communication, Lana knew, had been meant for her sister Ntashia, but she had picked up on it as well.

Since she was, by virtue of Clivok’s death, technically affianced to Garvey, pending the ceremony, this was no longer taboo. The first time she had communicated with Garvey she had touched him, but the second time she had merely been within close proximity.

During their marriage, this ability to communicate without touch increased, but never to the same extent as Garvey and Ntashia, who could pass thoughts at a much greater distance.

 

 

This Week’s Reading

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This is a monstrous (50+ hours of audio listening) and quite informative overview of the good and bad of the history of the United States. In reaching the end of the book, I was struck how George W Bush comes across as a much better president than I remember. It highlights his decisive leadership in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks that brought down the twin towers of New York and ends before his fiscally irresponsible 700 billion dollar bailouts of the banks.

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I’ve got a story (The Burial Mound) in this one that includes Native American gunfighter Lone Crow, the wild-haired and quick-tempered Six-Gun Susannah Johnson, and pistolero extraordinaire (how’s that for mixing languages?) Isidro Acevedo.

Of the other stories there was one that struck me as though it might feel right at home in the pages of Weird Tales (the old one). Killing of Black Bill by Joshua Gage is about jackalope fighting and has a suitably dark ending.

Chapter 5 of Dillon and the Prophecy of Fire by Derrick Ferguson:

This chapter includes a glass eye that serves as currency between our intrepid adventurer Dillon and a Cleaner who is disposing of numerous corpses for him. It also includes a mystical gemstone that possesses the beautiful Professor Ursula Van Houghton. Plenty of weirdness going on in this chapter.