The Final Calling: Progress Report Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Eight is now online.

Chapter Twenty-Nine is nowhere near paid for, so I don’t know when I’ll be posting it. Since no previous serial has run more than twenty-eight chapters, we’re getting into unknown territory here.

I’m writing Chapter Thirty-Five, which is running a little long now, but hey, it’s a climactic chapter. I’m figuring the finished novel will be either thirty-eight or forty chapters. Yes, that’s much longer than I’d expected, and I don’t know if my readers are that generous.

The publisher at Wildside thinks The Unwelcome Warlock is a fine title, so that’s probably what will go on the finished book.

Guess that’s about everything. Happy holidays to all!

30 thoughts on “The Final Calling: Progress Report Twenty-Eight

  1. A fine chapter! I was expecting Vond to behave that way, though I was not quite prepared for the precision with which Vond is using his powers. I always thought of the rise of Vond’s power in The Unwilling Warlord as sheer raw power escalation, not really the commensurate increases in awareness. I suppose I assumed that took more subtlety than Vond demonstrated before he was Called.

  2. Ah, force-escalation with a guy with an unknown level of power. Knew this was a bad idea from the beginning, but it’s completely predictable from the Guild, without a pre-emptive peacemaker like Hanner.

    Still impressed with Vond’s self-control, he’s just had frikkin soul-destroying nightmares that killed him once before(effectively) piped into his head, and he’s still restraining himself enough to think accurately and force info out of the hapless spy.

    Really looking forward to the conversation between him and Ithinia. Have wizards developed effective anti-Warlock shields yet?

  3. >>I always thought of the rise of Vond’s power in The Unwilling Warlord as sheer raw power escalation, not really the commensurate increases in awareness

    I thought it was made clear early on that raw power is actually a secondary effect of increased awareness; sensitization to the source allows more power to flow through the warlock rather than around them.

    >>Ah, force-escalation with a guy with an unknown level of power. Knew this was a bad idea from the beginning, but it’s completely predictable from the Guild, without a pre-emptive peacemaker like Hanner.
    +1. Seriously, Vond shows up and destroy’s Ithinia’s house all I can say is that she should have seen it coming.

    I suppose that’s one reason I want to see warlockry reassert itself; the Guild has spent too long as unquestioned master of all it surveys and has gotten arrogant. It needs another group that can and will present a serious challenge to take it down a few pegs.
    One of the Guild’s functions is to police wizards so they don’t get out of hand. The Black Dagger, issuing ultimatums to the Small Kingdoms, and now this all indicate something needs to happen to keep the Guild itself from getting out of hand.

  4. Very impressive, the question that popped into my head was, is Vond smart enough to go to the Overlord and make him aware of the brewing war between the Guild and Council (of one Warlock)?

  5. Wow, pretty severe consequences for trying to be a hero (and not making sure Vond was actually gone).

    I was actually thinking as I read it that she hadn’t waited long enough and then Vond reappeared. (the benefits of logical/self consistent fiction).

    I wonder if warlocks have enhanced hearing. They could likely sense air vibrations, but might not be able to convert them into sound.

  6. >>Wow, pretty severe consequences for trying to be a hero (and not making sure Vond was actually gone).

    Severe? Hero? Vond’s in a fight for his life and his power and she just tried to sucker-punch him not once but twice. Granted, the first failed try was what let him know that someone actually was coming for him, but the instant he found it was the Guildmaster and not someone minor…

  7. She was trying to be a hero. She could have just tried to escape after the main plan failed. However, she realised that that option could result in the entire city being destroyed.

    Given the magic available to her, the sucker punch route was the best option available.

  8. Btw, anyone else think that Leth might have been sent by the cult of Demerchan due to being calm?

    The fact that she was thinking about asking for money slightly goes against that, but she may have been trying to decide what was the best way to maintain her cover.

  9. Raphfrc : i agree.

    Spoiler Alert

    Can we redraft the heart? I thought it would have been cool to make her a warlock. That’s what I thought during the lead up. Not prepared for a death of a character that we got to spend so much time with. But I guess that keeps the next chapters turning. I think the book is waking up at this point.

  10. I hadn’t thought of Leth being connected with Demerchan; interesting notion!

    I’m not sure how much (if any) we’ll see of her later on, so… well, I shouldn’t give anything away, but mostly, she’s just tough.

  11. I was pretty sure before I started this chapter than Kirris was going to die. Guilty of trying to solve the problem while not being a protagonist.

    Then Lawrence gave me hope, at least until Vond showed back up.

    And yes, she was trying to be a hero, and the only reason she knew what the calling felt like was that she had tried in the past to help other people.

    I don’t think the wizard’s guild needs a counter-ballance. Ryan, would you think better of the guild if they HADN’T tried to stop Tabea or Vond? Or are you claiming they need a counterballance to stop them from viciously and maliciously trying to do the right thing?

  12. One small quibble. An earlier chapter mentioned that Ithinia had given Kirris some kind of protections. It’s perfectly reasonable that they would fail under direct assault from Vond (or that Kirris didn’t have time to use them), but we don’t see any mention of them in this chapter.

    As I said, a minor point.

    Bill

  13. Well, the discussion between Vond and Ithinia should be even more interesting. I like the straightforward nature of Vond even if he’s a bit lacking in compassion. At least it looked like he didn’t kill the other former Warlock.

    All in all, however, a nice run-up to a colorful confrontation.

    I read my son’s the ethshar novels because so many of them are youth literature. One or two, however, have pretty adult themes, and this one looks to be another.

  14. More and more of the dramatic tension seems to hinge on the question of whether Vond will follow through on his frequent threats/promises to make more Lumeth warlocks. I really thought he was going to do it for a moment there, right before he saw through Kirris’s disguise. I thought he was going to make someone into a Lumeth warlock on the spot to prove his promises were real.

    That’s the real Rubicon here. As long as Vond doesn’t do it, the Guild can hope to contain him and eventually will. If he makes ten former warlocks into Lumeth warlocks and they go out and make ten more, who make ten more…. That was the stick part of Hanner’s carrot-and-stick argument, back when the Council was originally formed. He warned the Guild that if it came to war, the warlocks could go out and randomly transform others into warlocks to bolster their numbers and stop from being exterminated.

    Next chapter promises to be pretty exciting. A real knock-down, drag-out fight between magicians is pretty rare in the Ethshar series. Wizardry usually needs a lot of prep time, but Ithinia is very powerful and experienced. Who knows what precast spells she has tucked away for a doomsday emergency?

  15. Another possibility is that she simple won’t be home. One of the “protections” could have been the spinning coin spell.

    Once it stopped she would have warning that something went badly wrong.

    A direct conflict with Vond would favour Vond. However, a drawn out conflict favours the Guild, since it gives them time to prepare their spells. They just have to find one that works.

    Also, it seems that the wizards like to cast the higher level spells. In the Spell of the Black Dagger, it seemed that the motivation of the wizard who cast the Seething Death spell was at least partially that he wanted to cast the spell. (though I may be reading to much into that 🙂 ).

    In any case, they could go just ramp up the spell power until eventually they break his defences, while they are safe in a pocket universe.

    They counter to that is, as you say, it would increase the risk that Vond will decide to just make lots of other warlocks.

  16. I realize that I have already said this, but I would like to see some Lumeth warlocks remain, maybe perhaps a limited number, like the Sith (a really bad example), where there are a literal handful (I am thinking 7 with an apprentice or two) so that the World is not endangered by their use of the Lumeth source. I realize that that’s probably not where the plot’s going to take us……

  17. I’m less concerned about “trying to take out Tabaea” than impulsively using the Seething Death to do it. Similarly, Vond has been declared a madman and danger to the world based on nothing more than the fact his power is related to the towers. I’m also less than impressed that, dispite their insistance that magicians stay out of politics and the fact they waited to see if the warlocks would honor their agreement to obey mortal authority before interviening, the wizards regularly meddle with governments. Including imposing their will on an entire swath of southern Small Kingdoms. Sure, greater good… But its still violating their own rules while expecting others to hold themselves to a higher standard. Finally, between the two sides, which has expressed more willingness to level entire buildings if necessarry?
    I’m not impressed with following whims or hypocracy when you have that sort of power. Yes, I think the Guild needs a check on its willingness to exert power.

    As for being a hero; she explicitly didn’t leave because she thought it’d be suspicious and open conflict between Vond and the Guild wasn’t gaurenteed until her sneek attack. Vond was being unruly, but not openly distructive. Not that the Guild cares about him being unruly. Her act wasn’t to stop the conflict, it was to keep weak the underdog she’d already acted against. Lets be clear, as powerful as Vond is, being one man he’s the underdog against the Guild. If he does make an open assault on Ithinia the guild will come and if he doesn’t make that assault do we have any reason to think Ithinia will stop?

    As a side note, Vond is probably the guild’s best potential source of information on the towers ever… And the Guild would rather be high handed and put him down like a rabid dog than so much as try to negotiate.

    Really random insomnia induced thought; I’m assuming it’s not intended, in fact it seems to simply be a natural outgrowth of versimilitude in motivation and action, but in some ways it’s like we’ve veered into a parable about preemptive action against emerging states with the potential for (but no real evidence of) supporting terrorism.

  18. Raphfrk: one thing does come to mind. If it does come down to a slug fest with the Wizards, one wonders if the Gods might step in. They helped create the towers to save/create the world. If Vond starts abusing that power for fill-in-the-blank, then they might take exception.

    Ryan: like that comparison about the theme. It does make the novel so current!

  19. Is your problem that you feel that she has chosen then wrong side?

    They have no idea what Vond is doing to the towers and they are clearly afraid of him. She might be wrong, but there is a big difference between waiting until she had a chance to quietly leave and openly trying to get all the warlocks to leave.

    She took on extra person risk for the benefit of the world (as she saw it). She didn’t have to do that.

    You do raise a good point about status quo bias. If the guild was a new organisation, they wouldn’t get away with much of what they are doing.

  20. Maybe the Guild might use a transformation spell on Vond.. they did that to a new rogue warlock and turned him into a rat if i recall. and then squashed him… or they can use the petrifaction (stone) spell like what was done to Lord Faran.

    Lots of ways to do it.. whether Vond can disrupt them.. is a different story.

  21. My issue has less to do with the side she chose than the fact they/she chose aggressive action without a real effort to really understand the situation or find a non-confrontational solution. Protagonist or antagonist, that’s pretty close to just being a villain.

    Sure she tried to convince potential Vond supporters to walk away… But I don’t see much nobility in magically subverting someone’s free will so they have less of a chance to regain the kind of personal power you are using to abrogate their choice.

    If we want to talk about dangerous magic; warlockry seems to be the only major magic that can’t directly impose the user’s will upon the mind of a subject.

  22. Seriously, it might have been more effective is she had elected herself as someone to simply talk to Vond about the concerns and goals of the guild.

    But then again, that wouldn’t make a very interesting story would it?

  23. Not to put a too fine a point on it but, I think LWE has tried to illustrate in my mind that transforming Vond would not work-he is different from an Aldagmor warlock. I could be wrong.

  24. I would love to see Fendel involved in a climax. Not directly, but just his relationship to the Guild and the rest of the thousand. A glimpse into the upper realms of the wizard world so to speak. A really powerful wizard shows up and says “meh”. When you think that the guildmasters are all pretty much scrubs, a heavy hitter who just is not frightened by Vond would be interesting. Deus ex magica as it were. I wouldn’t expect him do *DO* anything. Just weigh in letting Vond know he is still in the pony leagues.

  25. As for names, some leap to mind in a bizarre way:
    The Warlock Tower
    The Unbeheaded Warlock (OK, too obvious and deritive and the Clocks of Semmat is just strange)

    Alliteration is always good:
    The Wartorn Warlock
    The Wandering Warlocks (good band name at least)

    Niven already took The Magic Goes Away

    A less silly name that still seems derivitive:
    The Warlock Unbound

  26. Some ideas:

    The Warlocks Return (no apostrophe – not a typo)
    Warlock’s End
    A Warlock at War
    The End of the Calling
    The Madness Stops
    After the Answer

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