#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 31

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 31 | Book recommendations | Fans of your book might also enjoy…?

So the themes are quite broad so I’ll try to capture the kinds of properties that overlap with my book.

For those in it for the adventure …

Jen Williams’ The Copper Cat trilogy.

 

This trilogy follows a small band of mercenaries who come together to explore the depths of an ancient citadel and the treasures it keeps. Naturally, hijinks ensue. This series is so much fun. While it deals with serious topics it has a sense of whimsy and excitement to not weary you. The series has a very tabletop RPG feel with the various quests and adventures. It’s modern with classic flavourings, a perfect blend of styles. The worldbuilding is solid, but what you’re getting yourself in for is the cast, who are brilliant and play well off each other with lively dialogue. I will miss The Black Feather Three (and in my head that is an unofficial alternative title for the series) and I’ll raise my glass to. You want fun, look no further.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ll admit, I did not love the book. I found it to be laboured and meandering in places but it does have very captivating parts, such as about 80% of the Sam and Frodo arc. It can be quite touching as well. Be that as it may, my love for Middle-earth was sparked by the timeless adaptation by Peter Jackson. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of production, music, and actors. A heartwarming tale of friendship and personal strength, monsters and heroes. It’s one of the blueprints of all my work. If you didn’t read, maybe give it a watch.

For those who like great worldbuilding …

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

sandersonb-stormlightarchiveuk2018-1024x523

Sanderson has kind of gained a name in fantasy for his commitment to worldbuilding. Few go to the depths that he does (and do it well). He’s written many, many other books in the 13 years he’s been active but these stand out in pure imagination alone. I have a softer spot for his earlier Mistborn series but I like the world of The Stormlight Archive more.

So disclaimer: while I think you can jump in fresh, I would recommend getting a feel for his other work before you settle into this. Three of the projected ten have been released and they’re at least 1,000 pages each, they’re doorstoppers. Saying that though, I read Words of Radiance in three feverish weeks one summer, with many nights ending with the birds chirping and the sun cresting the horizon. These are epic and long and the series isn’t done yet lmao. But yeah, in terms of imagination, this is what I aspire to be like.

wheel-of-time-tv-series
Art by Michael Whelan

I’ll give a quick nod to The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, baby. I have issues in the storytelling style, pace, and characterisation in places, but man I can see how it captured people’s imagination. The worldbuilding is a consistent highlight when reading it. People like Brandon Sanderson especially owe Jordan a great debt. This could go in the adventure category but I think the world is more noteworthy in my opinion.

I’ve also been reading around Malazan by Steven Erikson for a bit and it seems to touch on the kinds of beats I want my future book to go on but I can’t attest to that with which I have not read. I have the first two books but I’m not ready to dive in just yet.

For those who are not shy about darkness …

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

king2bwho2bknealt_chase2bstone
Art by Chase Stone (found in World of Ice and Fire)

O-o-of course. Like many, Martin’s vision captured my imagination when the show aired back in 2011. While it’s quite complex, it does scratch the surface of the intricacies of the book. The first way through you will miss shit and only through re-reading or going through theory rabbit holes (spoilers all books/seasons). It is intricate stuff and I hope to make something as subtly intricate as this one day. If you like politics, magic, a bit of darkness and mystery, this is right up your street. Take your time.

The First Law trilogy [and extended works] by Joe Abercrombie

the_first_law_84

This is some of the grimmest grimdark that every grimdarked. I borrow from grimdark but I’m not always a fan. But Abercrombie has a deft imagination with brilliant black humour and characters with some involved worldbuilding as well. If you want a typical fantasy, move gently along. This is very much anti classic fantasy but it blends a lot of elements of classic tropes like the quest and warring nations to be recognisable. Subversion is key. Prepare to be depressed by the end of the brilliant trilogy, but that is true of all his books. I hope my book is similarly subversive if in not such a grand way—elements but not all are subversive in my book.

Honourable mentions are people like Robin Hobb. I recommend the Liveship Traders but many go for the Farseer trilogy. The reason that this isn’t a main category is that they’re quite dissimilar to what I ordinarily write. But I might be wrong.

Bonus round: video games. I’ve spoken before about being heavily influenced by video games and I think as much as any other property it is my biggest influence although television and books are growing for me as well. I think people might like my holy trinity of video games that I spoke about in my first post I spoke about games by Yasumi Matsuno have inspired my approach to tone and storytelling. Final Fantasy IX has been a huge influence on me and is the reason I write. If you want fun, adventure, a bunch of misfits,t it’s right up your alley, and a lot lighter than Matsuno’s work.

 

 

Advertisements

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 30

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 30 | Describe (or show) your book’s ideal cover

I’ve in general preferred more pattern-based images for fantasy covers that aren’t too complicated. I envisioned both books in the sequence, Umbra and Lux to follow this style, with black and white covers, respectively. There are two avenues that you could go down. I’m quite fond of The Bone Season covers:

bone-season-mime-order

I think they work because they’re nice to look at and give a good idea of motifs in the books. I suppose there is the lion and crown insignia of Onzaria, a principal region in the book.

1111608

Behind door number two is The Wheel of Time, baby! I’ve always loved these covers for the series. Similar situation as above with lion and crown.

7150ccnxpzl-_ac_sx430_

Door number three is similar to above. (From one of my all time favourite games.)

Cool ideas are Joe Abercrombie’s covers for the non-series books in his First Law world and the current reissues of Robin Hobb:

 

I think having the map on the cover is a cool idea. Cumbersome in the absence of a map in the book but very nice aesthetically. As for Hobb’s, again, the lion and crown insignia once again in those crests.

Okay, that’ll do for this.

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 29

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 29 | Guest post: Get a friend who is familiar with your novel to speak about it

So this week is a little scary and I give the reins to someone else. My good friend and fellow writer S.E. Berrow graciously agreed to do this for me. It’s very kind and this question is very embarrassing. I did the same for her historical fantasy book. If you want to get a feel for her stuff, head this way. Give her some love, she’s great.

Without further ado:


Oran and I have known each other a fair number of years now. We used to follow each another on Tumblr, way back when I was still at University and y’know, actually still had a Tumblr…

Eventually, Oran plucked up enough courage to share with me the first 50,000 words of Umbra, the first book in The War of the Twins duology. Even though it was still very much in the first draft stages — wordy, sprawling and sometimes not entirely clear — I found so much to love within its pages:

  • A vast array of engaging and memorable characters.
  • A morally-conflicted antagonist whom I absolutely LOVE.
  • Giant rideable battle-wolves with telepathic gems in their heads*.
  • A well-thought out, meticulous religious and social structure that quite frankly boggles my mind due to the sheer amount of effort that must have been involved in dreaming it up.
  • An endearing, subversively stereotypical hero with a decidedly non-stereotypical character arc.
  • Stellar world-building, quite unlike anything I’ve personally read in a high fantasy book before (Oran tells me he was heavily inspired by various anime and video games such as Final Fantasy, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll find lots to love here).
  • A colourful blend of swords, sorcery and savagery with a marked futuristic edge.

After providing Oran with some initial feedback on Umbra, he went away and apparently spent the next 4 years honing his craft… because holy hell, the completed draft of Umbra I read last year was not the same book! Gone were the clarity issues and muddy action scenes; here to stay were shocking revelations and plot twists galore. I’m sure Oran revelled in the stream of horrified reaction GIFs I sent him over the course of my reading, for not since George R. R. Martin have I been so equally delighted and appalled by authorial decisions. I think I badger him for LuxUmbra’s sequel — on an irritatingly regular basis. I know I’m not one to talk, but WRITE. FASTER. DAMMIT!

Respen ❤

Oran and I met for the first time “in real life” late last year, along with K.F. Goodacre, the author of this quiz**. It’s always so wonderful to discover you get along with someone in person just as much as you do online. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? I’m so happy to have met Oran and I can’t wait to see what he produces next.

As for the final draft of The War of the Twins… I am positively vibrating with anticipation.

*This is an idea that has since been scrapped for Draft reasons.
**Yes, that’s right, I am lucky to call such gifted writers my friends.


Maaaan. If only there was an easy way to convey these ideas to agents and publishers. Ah well, that’s something to think about when I have something ready to show them. For now I shall be writing the climax of Lux. Thank you very much Sally! Okay, the scary stuff is over. Catch you next time, people.

June Reviews

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb [3/5 stars]

12774733

This is my first foray into the world of Fitz and I was not disappointed. I read The Liveship Traders, both written and set after the events of the Farseer Trilogy first so I know what Hobb is about. Hobb’s writing has changed little in the years which is no criticism as she remains intimate and inviting: It’s kind of annoying how fully-formed her writing is (and yes I know she wrote books before this), the prose beautiful and unpretentious.

I know her to be unhurried in her approach so you can settle into the rounded characters and rich world of the Six Duchies without blinding excitement. That being said, mark my rating. I think this is an excellent introduction to the world but not so successful as a book. It strikes me as a very truncated affair, especially in the last 50 or so pages which unfold at such a whiplash-inducing speed. The seeds of it have been planted, true, but blossomed much too quickly.

Fitz is a great, and greatly flawed—believably flawed protagonist. I challenge any reader not to empathise with him. All the characters have such clear delineations and personalities it’s so frustrating how skilled Hobb is at this, because it appears easy, intuitive. But it’s to this book’s credit. I love the Wit. I love the world. I wanted more and pretty much dove headfirst into the next book.

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb [4/5 stars]

6437768

The size of the second book is clearly how Hobb would have liked the first book to be. She can take her time in exploring the world and characters which is usually fine. I was enjoying the routine of this book. I enjoyed the tense nature of it all, as Fitz’ desires and his responsibilities clash. The world is grounded and brutal. There are many characters to love in this: Lady Patience, Chade, etc. But by far my favourite is Nighteyes the wolf who remains in my top 2 or 3. Again, the book builds slowly with some flourishes of excitement. But the real show is in the last third which is so dizzying I nearly screamed. I was on a train to a friend’s party when I finished and I was a bit helpless as I pulled into the station. I wanted the next book immediately. Take a bow, for that was a great read.

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami [4/5 stars]

 

15840207

Few things hit harder than regret. All the things you could have said to someone, the lives you could have lived, are branching pathways that extend out into darkness behind you, forever untouched and unexplored. What could have happened, who you could have been, is in the past no matter how pivotal; as they say in this book several times, you can only go forward. Memories fade, people and places change and fade as well, but the way people make you feel, that stays with you. Long after you’ve met them, long after you might even be in contact with them. Those feelings remain untainted.

Those feelings can manifest into desire. Desire on its own is pure, but left unchecked in a hollow and meaningless existence, can lead you astray. The intensity of some desire is so irresistible that you can’t leave it alone. This is the life that Hajime lives and one he must break from if he is to stop hurting his loved ones. Instead of following his own pure selfishness, he must think about how he can help others but not just that, but want to.

There is a resonance to Murakami’s writing that can pass through no matter who’s translating him (if it’s Jay Rubin or the more prolific Philip Gabriel), something inexplicable that tugs hold of me. That is the power of Murakami in my life. I don’t even know if I can be truly objective in that regard in terms of style and technique but there it goes. Also, I have no idea if this is down to the translation, the Japanese language, or Murakmi himself, but there is a strange matter-of-fact nature to the prose that stands out. I suppose this reveals differences between English and Japanese but it both pulled me out of the story briefly but soon I was back along its contours, through its depths to the right sort of conclusion. I think I like the not knowing of an ending as I feel a strong desire to know things in my life. Sometimes, though it’s a comfort to be left buoyed, questioning but somewhat sated

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 28

Last question here; full list of questions here.

I realise it is not week 28 but I have a fair bit of catching up to do.

Week 28 | Tell us about… sports in your book

So in Onzaria, where a fair portion of the cast hail from, there exists a type of boar packhaizir/pachai’izir (basically means big fucking boar) that has become distorted by the mystical energy of the Mana and grown to megafauna size. Big curling tusks, thick bushy hair, and a tough, near-impenetrable hide. Their temper has grown more erratic to meet these changes so we have a pretty gnarly beast. They often kill without purpose and frequently, eat parts of their kill before moving on. Terrible things like that. This makes them prime targets for the Crown. It has become a sort sport to hunt down these fearsome beasts, especially for soldiers and potential soldiers. There are no ecological benefits of letting it be and despite the sport of hunting them down, their numbers persist. They don’t have many objections to wandering into people-settled villages and towns and sometimes the displaced Raiders incite their ire to steer attention away from their plunder. Varmeryus Attlewill, one of the heroes, meet his lover Roxanne Arleis through the hunting of these boar.

In Shizenhalla, southeast of the Three Kingdoms, the country is divided into two, west and eat. The west is quite rural and the main industry is farming with mining as a second. Around harvest time, they try to grow large produce. Winners receive a small grant, some seed, maybe extra land, and some government support. Because people generally have little, the winners usually distribute their large produce among their fellow townsmen and women.

In Hallius, central Three Kingdoms, also known as the City of Wind, people have been known to have many sports which involve racing. There is a sport called chariot racing that in the more modern age no longer involves chariots but motorcycles powered by manastones instead. This is a wind/hover stone.

In parts of the Anzori Empire they do bird dances where they get several birds to carve out shapes with chalk trailing from their wings and the like.

You get the gist, I’m sure.

Spinning Silver Review [3/5 stars]

38606192

Thank you to Tor for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Spinning Silver is an example of a missed opportunity. A loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, it offers great writing, themes, and motifs that are sadly brought down by a lack of focus. The book has six perspectives all in first-person. Sometimes, especially early on, it was difficult to distinguish which character we were following. This was especially bad when we have a perspective who is closely related to another’s, and other times perspective names are not even revealed until pages later. It left me a little unmoored. The amount of perspectives is somewhat unnecessary as well. There are events that happen to actual perspective characters but instead we get it from  a distant witness which was more than a little frustrating. Also, emotional reactions to big events are pushed aside in favour of these distant perspectives. The choice to view these events through these characters’ eyes is not clear to me and serves only to hamper the quality of the book because despite my griping there’s a lot to like.

I would say there are three main characters: Miryem, Irina, and Wanda. The flavour and trajectory of their stories are varied and enjoyable enough that I couldn’t pick my favourite of the three. I loved the commonality of women who took their lives into their own hands to try and forge something better for themselves. Wanda’s strikes me as one of the more affecting stories. If the book just focused on their perspectives we’d have a much stronger (and a bit leaner) book.

But the writing and the atmosphere were pitch-perfect. I felt I was there in the frigid Staryk winters, navigating the glass mountain, and escaping the snow drifts with my loved ones. The motif of cold silver throughout added to the tense atmosphere. The worldbuilding is interesting as well. Not just the magical elements, but the exploration of the Jewish perspective. As I understand it, the world overlaps real world elements like the aforementioned Jewish perspective along with the way we tell time (the months and days in this world are the same as ours) blended with the magical. It added to the fairytale aspects and gave it a grounding to it which is satisfying, though may confuse some early on. This isn’t a quibble but more of a wish: I wish we had a bit more insight into the Staryk world. I enjoyed those sections and could have done with more of who they are.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and atmospheric tale with some notable missteps.

Spinning Silver is out now. If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts, I’d love to chat with someone about it.

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 27

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 27 | Your favourite location in your novel

Right, so I have these Three Kingdoms. The middle one is called Alvefia with its capital city called Hallius.

Hallius is the largest and most popular city in the Three Kingdoms. A cosmopolitan hub of culture, art, and technological advancement, it sets itself apart from the rest of the cities. This cosmopolitan vibe is one that they espoused in the face of slavery: they were the first to abolish it before any of the other kingdoms. Like the British who discovered no actual law enshrined the institution, a union of artists, lawyers, and citizens created a movement that banished slavery from their kingdom. Hallius, the capital, was at the forefront of that. The size of it meant that slavers could hide in the nooks and crannies but so could escaped slaves from other lands. There was shelter here, sanctuary.

Asgard
Similar aesthetic to Asgard but less water; Hallius is landlocked and the nearest mountain would not be in sight like so. But the mix of city and nature … the *grandness* of it all.

Beyond sanctuary, it is also known as the City of Wind, not because I had Chicago in mind but because it is elevated from natural rock formations of the surrounding area. Rails run across and above the city, sending light goods and messages zipping across the city. The Mana crystallises into crystals filled with wind energy which the Helsi (the demonym of residents of Hallius) use to power their city and technology.

It also got its elevation because of what happened when the Kingdoms were split up with the Great Divide—a split of about a mile at its widest, which under Hallius it is. North and south are divided to the point where they seem to be different entities altogether. The south seeks independence from the north in the main story because they believe that the north, which seats the Crown care nothing for the south, which holds the military and a lot of the lower classes.

Hallius, even in early drafts, was a city I loved deeply. I feel in love with a place I’ll never go outside of the page. I’m still trying to build in the foods and culture of the place but it’s got a strong Grecian vibe with places like Spain and Italy also being huge influences of the presentation.

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 26

Week 26 | Your protagonist was born a different sex. Does your story change?

Eh, not really. My protagonist’s journey is supposed to have a parallel with the Goddess (Venus) and since Venus is a woman, that synchronicity is … useful if not essential. It’s more motif-based. As to how this hypothetical character, let’s call him Rix, would be treated … I don’t think anything fundamental would change but his dynamic with the other characters might differ. So he and Varim, for example, might have a closer a relationship. Varim would value Rix’s emotional understanding and might confide in him a bit more. There are certain things guys are more comfortable speaking to other guys about. Max I don’t think would change the dynamic.

Characters like Ayene might try to figure him out and consider him a romantic option, perhaps.

I think the biggest change might be the dynamic with Rix’s aunt, Lady Jane Syrill. Jane has a better kinship with Rixa because they share womanhood and while Jane would not be less loving towards Rix, there would be that difference, I think. Not huge, maybe not even essential, but different.

Okay, that’ll do.

 

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 25

List of questions here; last week’s question here.

Week 25 | Illustrations of three of your characters

So my good friend had an itch to scratch. He needed to illustrate this book. Before we get into the discussion of characters, I personally love his style. It’s unlike what I originally conceived in the best way: the characters have overlaps in the flavour of their personalities but the attire and general aesthetic is his own. I’m of the persuasion that the best adaptations borrow faithfully but are not overly bound by the source material: they use this new medium to do something different with the source material. I’m trying to push him into this philosophy as well: I want to see his interpretations. He’s doing well on accident!

Have a look at his process!

36063682_2016561191696976_5114852011363270656_n

On the left is Kellhein. Kellhein is one of my favoured characters who is perhaps most under-served by the text. He’s a mysterious figure, who we meet mid-way through the book. Rumour clings to him better than fact does: there are many tales of his various shapes, of being able to shift into a “six foot raven”*, that he was born from the sun, and that he is a dragon whisperer. Not much is known about his origins but his accent indicates that he comes from the land to the north, the barren continent of Volgoria, long since blighted by the Weeping God, a god of destruction. His name, translating to something in the ballpark of the “The heinous killer” indicates a rich history. His true name is unknown.

He hides this with perhaps too many layers of snark and teasing, making it difficult to take anything he says as sincere. That distance suits him just fine and his focus is on doing the right thing. For him, at least. He doesn’t prescribe to a strict code of right and wrong—at least not in relation to any nation. Rather, he stands apart, acting on his own instincts and experience. Perfunctory observation would put him as a youngish ex-general with a disgruntlement of his former sovereign.

NB: Kellhein chronologically featured in a separate story that if I were to put a time to it, is set prior to the events of Umbra. Depending on how I feel, I’ll revisit that story because I liked his dynamic with the protagonists.

(*I legit accidentally based him off of Raven: Kellhein has a Scottish accent and is mysterious and powerful just like he. Their temperament is different but stuff like being an actual raven was my subconscious feeding my creativity.)

On the right, we have Kaiyrah Halewood, who, at the beginning of the story is a newly knight warrior of her home country. Kai is a proud woman because of her incredible prowess: she doesn’t believe in harsh measures and has clear black-and-white decision trees. This can lead her astray as certain ambiguities frustrate her more than she lets on. (Her arc is defined by internal struggle, of duality, which is kind of a leitmotif of the entire series: the subtitle is The War of the Twins.) Still, she is an intensely steadfast and loyal companion to have and definitely the kind of solider you want to have in your ranks. While not the most outwardly emotional, she does have quite an intense and complex emotional landscape that she filters with what she can do for her loved ones. When she loves, she loves deeply (and the same can be said in the opposite case).

In terms of all round capability, few soldiers, even the elite, can boast the rounded nature of her skills. Her mentor, Lady Jane Syrill, spoke of her prowess and indicated that she was the quickest to learn, though confessed that she was a little disappointed that she had no particular specialities. Kai favours spears as her branch of the Army does, but she’s also proficient in bows, swords, and several types of gun. She is also an above average magus, with no special affinity for an element or magic type.

Kai’s design is an example of the artist creating freely. Again, I like the blues and the addition of the hat (which is an accidental bit of significance). I don’t usually map my characters to actors (so week 39’s gonna be fun) but I had a rare moment of clarity when I saw Thor: Ragnarok. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie  looked painfully close to at least the type of character Kai is visually.

She’s also one of the most consistent characters in terms of who they were when I conceived of them ten years ago (!!!) and who they are now. That suits the woman Kai just fine.

Where they’re both standing is a place called the Fortress at Iverfau, during the last third of the book.

And finally, one of my own sketches of my “protagonist“, Rixa:

Rixa
I think her expression is a paradigmatic Rixa expression: a little worried or nervous, but earnest.

Rixa I say is one of the characters I have the most kinship with. She’s much shyer than I am, probably a bit smarter too, but she has very good intentions and an unwavering will. Her shyness could make you miss the fire in her spirit but it exists and is her guiding force—her armour against a cruel world. Rixa’s parents left her up for adoption by her aunt, Lady Jane Syrill, for undisclosed reasons: her mother to the neighbouring country of Tymbroia which is feuding with her home country Onzaria more and more; her father went to the far northeastern reaches of Delaria to become a politician. Neither chose to write her or, if they did, the correspondences never made it to her. This is something that hurts her deeply but in a way that she rarely would admit to openly, not even to herself. Despite her hurt, Rixa remains a very authentic soul, who is very loving and supportive to who she is closest to. She has a natural curiosity for all things and particularly loves plants.

A shyer Rixa is a late-game addition; Rixa was a lot haughtier but also more gregarious in the original draft. Also, a fun bit of trivia: Rixa and Varim were to be a couple and an early version of Umbra tried to pay homage to that. The characters they became meant that this particular avenue didn’t make much sense so it’s something that got scrapped altogether. Still, the more you know.

Okay, that’ll do.

 

 

 

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 24

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 24 | A minor character is now your protagonist. How do they fare?

Depending on which minor character we’re talking about, we have a variety of outcomes that include tragic or brutal. Let’s have a look see. I’ll take it for granted that the War of the Twins—the Three Kingdoms versus their southern invaders the Anzori Empire—is an inevitability.

The nurse: This unnamed nurse appears but twice in a place called the Fortress at Iverfau. He’s a pretty unassuming dude so there’s potential for some interesting diplomacy. His experience in medicine offers him a unique perspective of conceiving both sides as people to be reasoned with, not mindless savages as either dogmatically espouse. There is potential that this dogma will get him captured or killed, for fear he is “weak” to deal in a bipartisan manner. But there is a possibility that he could be a diplomat to steer through an uneasy peace.

Lord Raymos Heidell: On a list of characters that are likely to get cut, Ray is a lord from Onzaria and brother to a great warrior, Lady Tanya Heidell. Ray is a bit more advanced in years now and what he lacks in battle-readiness, he makes up for as a tactician. He would try to make a hearty offensive against the Anzori through uniting some disparate houses of the Kingdoms. Ultimately, their might would prove too great and he would likely be killed.

Carlos and Corolla: Twins, aged 13. Smart kids but kids nonetheless. A war is no place for children. Tragedy.

Omreyn du Reic: Leader of the Wolves of Reic, a brutal order based around pack loyalty and non-negotiable ideology. His strength and conviction might be lauded to begin with but prove too much for some who do not enjoy his love of bloodshed. Potentially captured to deescalate situations or offered as a prisoner in exchange for a ceasefire.

Lord Ralph Syrill: His ambition and hubris would be his downfall as he misjudges his enemy because of his admittedly impressive progress technologically speaking.

 

We can go on but it’s not great. It’s great for the actual protag, but their mission is such that they are not enmeshed in battle, but away from it. I am operating that her quest does not exist at all in these counterfactual situations.