Dan Melson: December 2019 Archives

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This appears to be a fantasy embroidering and reimagining of the biblical story of Saul and David, or at least the first part of it. It is also of novella, not novel, length. It is the first of three.

There is some history behind the story, hit lightly with a bit of scripture-like writing. Evidently there is more that doesn't get mentioned, and we have to wait until it comes out. The main viewpoint character is a dragon shapeshifter, and his friend the adopted son of the high king is a half-angel. There was a conflict between their fathers, which resulted in the protagonist's family land being largely destroyed by the king and his other vassal kings.

There's not really a lot of action in this story, so if that's what you're looking for, this is not the story for you. There is a good bit of character interplay and we learn some back story, setting it up for the second installment.

The author leaves it up to reader interpretation as to whether or not there is a same sex relationship beginning. There is nothing explicit, only a couple of jokes that are likely intended tongue in cheek. To be honest, I believe the author intends to head into standard 'buddy story' territory from here, but I could be mistaken.

I had hoped for more to the story, but what there was was enjoyable enough. I'll give it a 7 out of 10 rating - by Amazon standards four stars.

"Greetings! I am Martinlo, and it is my duty to act as a greeter of the Forest kin. I do not believe we have met previously, but if you'll tell me what you're looking for, I'll direct you to someone who can provide. If you'll tell me what you have to trade, I'll likely know one of our people who's interested."

"Greetings Martinlo, I'm called Alexan and I'm Jarl of Ygg and King Edvard's Viceroy. I'm here on personal business investigating Ygg. Since it continues for some distance below ground, I'm wondering if you can direct me to any caves that might be deep enough to reach the buried portions?"

Martinlo's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What is your interest in such caverns? Our Mountain kin inhabit those caverns; they will not thank us for casual visitors upsetting their dwellings."

"I'm a wizard, Martinlo. I believe I have discovered evidence of a particular brand of divinity which inhabits Ygg. I have seen evidence of its presence higher up, but no trace of a dwelling. I've hypothesized that such a being would be most at home among the roots. I wish to test my theory."

To be honest, I had no intention of allowing a refusal to stop me, not least because of the likelihood the monad - if one existed - was using its power to bend the minds of those it lived among. I didn't need to read Martinlo's mind, all I had to do was use one of the most basic effects of auros, the 'I'm not important, I belong here, ignore me' and follow them around for a while. Within a very short time I'd figure out where I needed to go. Even if someone noticed me, I could use matris to effectively vanish, I could teleport, and in the worst case scenario, there wasn't much that could out-fight an ultsi in undertime even without active wizardry and I was an Eternal now, as well. I might be in danger from the monad, but not from the Forest or Mountain kin.
"Why should we or our Mountain kin allow you into our villages? We've had thieves enough to last us forever."

"How many thieves have offered to pay, in advance if necessary? Gold, silver, any metal or pure substance. Food if that's what you want. The skilled labor of an ultsi wizard who knows many things of wizardry that even Kiltig had no conception of, or knowledge that can teach things your people might want to know. I can teach any of you who might be talented things nobody else in Migurd might think are even possible. I may look a youth, but I am ten thousand years old, and I'm from a place where more wizards than you'll even believe learn more about wizardry every year, and I can teach more of them than any of you are likely to learn in your lifetimes."

"What could a human teach us that we wish to know?"

"Perhaps healing? You are old. Perhaps you have some years left in you, but most of your life is behind you and you know it. I could make you a young man again. You'd still age normally, but I could make you young again, with another full life ahead of you."

"That would cause both my wife and I much anguish. Thus far, you haven't actually offered anything we want."

"What do you want? Trees that grow straight? Food to make the whole forest grow? More land upon which the forest grows?"

"What we want is for humans to leave us alone."

"Are you speaking for yourself, or for all your kin? I may not have spoken with any, but I've noticed any number of your kin, conducting business about Treemount. The increased traffic on Ygg has benefitted your people as much as it has ours."

"We grow dependent upon trade. The young are less interested in the ways of their ancestors."

So it was personal. "Not all the gods in the Connected Realms together can erase what the moving hand of time has written, Martinlo, and I wouldn't do it if I could. Your children, like our own, see a way to make their lives better. And as for being dependent upon trade, that not only makes war less likely, it makes all better off."

"The forest is neglected and your people grow prosperous!"

"If anyone forced your people to make trades you regret, tell me now. As I told you, I'm Edvard's Viceroy and I have the power to punish criminals and order restitution. But if others of your kin have made trades you are not happy with, that is between you and them, and it seems likely they believe they're made better off by the trade. If they did not steal from you or your community, no crime has been committed and the only offense is in your mind."

When I was putting together the Rediscovery set, I gave some thought to slightly rewriting The Man From Empire, having had a few reviews where the reviewer indicated they misinterpreted what I was writing.

1) The Empire is significantly older than the return of civilization to Earth. It owes nothing - zilch - zip - nada - to anything we've done here on Earth. There are a very few conventions from the Empire that were either somehow perpetuated on Earth or reintroduced for their own reasons by the stons who found Earth sometime in our 1840s.

2) Osh Scimtar is about fifteen thousand Earth years old. He's a recognized expert in one field, and a polymath with demonstrated professional competence in several others. Grace is twenty-eight when we meet her, a re-entry college student who realizes all of the mistakes she's made earlier in her life. What do you think their respective argumentative weights would be? How effective would you expect her to be at resisting Osh in an argument? That she does resist and keep arguing on one point argues how strong her beliefs are on that issue.

As the writer, clear communication is my job. If I were writing it again, I'd be considerably more heavy handed on these points so they're not misinterpreted so easily as current political polemics. So I was tempted to make some revisions, but I overcame the temptation because it would be something akin to cheating. When Arthur C. Clarke was dissatisfied with Against The Fall of Night, he didn't revise it on the sly - he wrote an entirely new novel The City And The Stars. The Man From Empire was (like Clarke's earlier work) my first novel. I learned from it, and from the reviews, but I think you deserve to see it as it was originally written.

"May I help you?" The receptionist asked. I could tell she was about to tell me that these were the administrative offices and they didn't buy dogs at this location - her mind was all but shouting it. I don't know why - I was still in Imperial uniform today, and would be for two more days.

"Actually, I'm one of the investors, and I'm looking for my sister Dalia. She should be expecting me."

"And you are...?"

"Graciela Juarez." She was skeptical that I was who I said I was. I looked like I was thirty Imperial (21 Earth years), and she had to know my eldest sister was about one hundred thirty. But my perception could tell there was exactly one person in the office behind the closed door, and the mind felt like what I remembered of Dalia. Still, I decided to make one more try, "I was the original dog lady. I was also Earth's first Guardian - I'm older than I look. If you look at the photographs on the wall behind you, you'll see me in several, including with these two dogs." According to Earth's calendar, I was 108. By my own sense of duration experienced, I was fifty-three Earth years of age. Earth's years were longer than standard Imperial, but duration passed about four times more quickly here.

She gave me a look I recognized well - you've got to be kidding me. "But that was seventy years ago! And you don't look like family!"

I got it. This young woman was a great grand-niece or something. "Who's your mother? Mandy? Molly?"
I didn't get any further, "My grandmother's name is Mandy. The boss is my great-grandmother."

"I just visited your grandfather yesterday on Sharanna, but how is Mandy these days?" Divorces happen. People drift apart. Mandy felt she needed to get away from the family when she divorced Peter.

"She's well. She still breeds dogs, but she sells through Meneas." Mandy hadn't been one of the original workers, but she'd come to work for me part time when the Empire came to Earth.

"How is Meneas?" He was an old associate of mine. I brought him from the Empire to help me start the dog trade between the Empire and Earth. He now headed the family's main rival in the dog trade, but it was professional rivalry, nothing personal and no bad blood. At least none that I was aware of. There was plenty of Empire to sell dogs in. Last I knew, he was still the pilot for the commercial run between Earth and the Empire that the family also operated. He was operant, but not a fully trained Guardian. At least the last time I knew. "Is he still doing the charter runs back to the Empire?"

"He talks about quitting, but yes. I think if he quit, he'd have to ride along anyway to know how many dogs to ship where. Might as well get paid for the trip. Okay, you know enough to maybe be my great-grandaunt. I'm Therese, and ..."

"Marta is your mother. She was only two months old the last time I visited."

She was thinking, that's creepy, but to her credit, she didn't say it. I suppose she had a point from the point of view of most Earth people. It had only been about fifteen years from my point of view. But the universe doesn't care about feelings, only facts. Time in Earth's Instance moved about four times faster than in the Imperial Home Instance. I suppose I could have visited to stretch out the leave time I'd taken, but I hadn't.
She knocked on the door to the inner office. "Ma'am, your sister is here." So Dalia had the family used to the difference between work and home. Good.

The door flew open, and out came my sister Dalia. She looked every bit the successful Earth businesswoman I remembered, about my height, a little heavier in terms of appearance, but shockingly to me, she also looked like she was at least sixty. She still had that golf ball sized diamond I'd made her when I first returned to Earth. I'd made the diamond from a converter before I realized the price of diamonds at the time, before the Empire brought converters to Earth. She'd been the one to put it on a gold necklace. Everyone used to assume it was fake. Now they didn't care - converters were common, even on Earth. Anyone could have a diamond that size.

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The Man From Empire
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A Guardian From Earth
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Empire and Earth
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Working The Trenches
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Rediscovery 4 novel set
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Preparing The Ground
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Building the People
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Setting The Board

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The Invention of Motherhood
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The Price of Power
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The Fountains of Aescalon
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The Monad Trap
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The Gates To Faerie
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