robinturner: First lesson: stick them with the pointy end (pointyend)
Our hero is back at the village and preparing for a mini-siege … Read more... )
robinturner: First lesson: stick them with the pointy end (pointyend)
I passed the spyglass to Branow. ``Seen anything like that before?'' I asked. He jerked his head up in an emphatic negative. I sighed. ``So we're faced with a Lanbou raiding party who kill sheep instead of running off with them, and a bunch of ghosts who seem to be giving them orders. Wonderful.''

``Ghosts?'' asked Istalei.
Read more... )

The next bit

Monday, October 6th, 2008 02:14 am
robinturner: First lesson: stick them with the pointy end (pointyend)
Here's the next page of the novel. Read more... )

Sod and Bugger

Saturday, September 27th, 2008 02:44 am
robinturner: First lesson: stick them with the pointy end (pointyend)
No, I'm not having a swearing fit; I'm thinking about how culture-specific many swear words are, and whether I was right to use the word "sod" in the novel. It's in tune with our narrator's character to say "sod" or "bugger", but "sod" comes from "Sodomite" and "bugger" from "Bogomil", and I'm not sure I want characters in this world to be dropping references to religious history. On the other hand, SF swear words tend to sound comic or strained, or at least not quite natural. There are some notable exceptions, such as Ursula LeGuin's wonderful "Meshe's tits!" but in that case, it's the tits that provide the profanity, not Meshe, so it doesn't count.

Page 2

Saturday, September 27th, 2008 12:28 am
robinturner: First lesson: stick them with the pointy end (pointyend)
By popular request by at least one person, here is the second page of the novel. Read more... )

The First Page

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 06:57 pm
robinturner: First lesson: stick them with the pointy end (pointyend)
I am taking [ profile] ozarque's advice and trying to write a page a day. I probably won't manage it, but it's a good target. So here is the first page. The frequent blanks are because I don't want to put in any names before I can at least sketch out a language for this world—the "Old Speech" I mentioned, which most people don't speak, but will be used for names of characters, creatures and places to avoid the kind of thing I was complaining about in my last post.


I have no experience with autobiography (in fact I only learnt the word recently) but then I suppose few people have when they write one, unless they lead lives so long and interesting as to need a second volume. I have only read a few of these tedious works, since books are hard to come by here, but I gather the way to do it is to start at the moment of one's birth (or even before, with an account of one's illustrious forebears) and write down everything in chronological order and minute detail. Maybe the boy who cleans my house and hangs on my words will one day write an official account of my life, complete with every colour I shat as a baby, but my main purpose is to recount certain events that I had a part in, and these did not take place until I was already forty years old, so I think it best, and kindest to the reader, to pass through the first half of my life as briefly as possible.

I was born in the summer of __________ in the village of ___________ in the province of __________, the child of ________ by her second husband. The birth of a neuter is usually cause for celebration, especially if there is already a wise daughter to inherit the land and strong sons to till it or, as in our case, to work down the mine. There was copper in the mountains, and so our village was wealthy; no young men had to leave to seek work elsewhere. With neuters, it was a different matter. If a village already had a chief and a doctor, there was not much else for us to do, but even a neuter who left was a source of pride, for they could spread the family's name and influence wherever they went. So it was that at the age of fourteen, I was apprenticed to a sorcerer in the town of ________. I spent two years learning to recite the Old Speech and to care for sorcerous devices, both skills that served me well later, but I had little talent for the former and less for the latter. I could use the devices well enough, especially the weapons, but the bond I had with them was erratic: I was as likely to harm a device as to heal it, and eventually, after I nearly burned down my master's house with a flame-wand, it decided that my affinity for destruction would be better put to use in the army.

Gaining a commission was easy, for neuters are much sought after as officer material. Men make good fighters, but they have a tendency toward anger and fear, those two enemies of a soldier, so it is better for them to be commanded by neuters. (Of course only a fool or a barbarian would squander women on military adventures.) I served in two campaigns with competence but no particular glory to my name. The first was one of the formal affairs with the _________ that used to spring up every ten years or so, usually on the pretext that we were persecuting their coreligionists here, even though we are a practical people who would think twice about persecution for profit, and not dream of persecuting people over a point of theology. The real reason is that once in a while their king or our triumvirate needed to impress their people and give the army something to do. As a result, few died in battle and fewer cities were conquered; by ancient custom, sorcerous weapons were limited to small arms that stunned or bewitched rather than laying waste. The second campaign was against the pirates of the ________ , whose raids had become too much for the triumvirate to tolerate. That was a nasty business: it was there that I got my scars and killed my first man. The boy listens to my stories of these wars open-mouthed; that is why I haven't told him that as well as the man I killed with my sword, I also torched a ship full of women and children. Here I should write that their dying screams still haunt my dreams, but they don't: it was an honest mistake, and besides, I couldn't hear their screams because the blast had deafened me.


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Robin Turner

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