The Final Calling/The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Thirty

Chapter Thirty is now online.

We’re paid through Chapter Thirty-Three, less than halfway to Chapter Thirty-Four.

Haven’t written much lately, what with the holidays — Chapter Thirty-Nine did get a little farther, but I haven’t gone back to fill in the two chapters I skipped.

I’d hoped to have the first draft finished by the end of the year; oh, well. Welcome to 2011!

55 thoughts on “The Final Calling/The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Thirty

  1. That last paragraph… oh, yes. Then again, at least she didn’t release a potentially world-destroying spell without a plan to stop it, so she’s still +1 on the big T.

  2. raphfrk; I hadn’t put that together talk about the law of unintended consequences. It’s funny how much time Hanner seems to spend cleaning up after rogue warlocks. I wonder what Ithinia will think when (if) the gargoyles tell her who’s responsible for organizing the evacuation.

  3. Yes, Ithinia definitely seems to have a bit more wisdom–if nothing else, she ACKNOWLEDGES how badly wizards can bungle things, and that she’s not exempt from the possibility.

    It’s interesting to know that she can do Varrin’s Greater Propulsion, and that the idea that flying castles are “lost magic” is a false one. It seems likely that a lot of “lost” magic isn’t lost at all–it’s just that the few wizards who know it aren’t flaunting it.

  4. It’s a little sad that flying castles and Tapestries and all the flashy high level magics aren’t used much anymore(at least that people can see). Is it possible the Guild learned the wrong lesson from the Great War? The Guild leadership has obviously retreated into their private worlds and estates and castles, and left the public to interact with the apprentices and journey-men.

    Are there any worlds where the Guild does high-level magic openly? Maybe private city-states in the clouds of some created world, with flying roadways and dragons and magic rings to keep everyone young? It just seems like the whole world is artificially depressed in development because the Guild’s first response is to stomp anything new flat. Is that why sorcery never recovered? One can imagine that any brilliant new demonologists or sorcerers finding a new paradigm to revitalize their magical tradition would die quiet deaths, or live on Guild prison worlds.

    As for Vond, he continues to impress. It’s clear that he thinks he’s being reasonable, and from a certain point of view, he kind of is. He’s gone from moving the Edge of the world and building palaces and empires to doing basically nothing. Just hitting the clubs and living it up at Warlock House. So you can see why he’s frustrated that the Guild won’t leave him alone, so he’s gone back to the old stuff.

    Ithinia is right, the key is playing him along, keeping him the only nuWarlock around. The moment he starts making more, it’s a crapshoot, depending on their personal mental stability, and Vond’s interest in keeping the peace.

    The final and possibly most critical question is, What about Sterren?

  5. I suspect Sterren may have (with or without a chat with the Guild) been training up his own warlockry to godlike levels. His power is pretty weak in Ethshar, but if he went back to Semma to visit his family he could try moving dice until he could use the power consistently. If he’s done this, then he could catch the falling palace, or even neutralize Vond (although the latter is more doubtful, as Sterren would need to use power more intensely than Vond did during his months of imperial rule to train so fast).

    It would be a bit of an anomaly for Sterren, who mainly wants to avoid trouble and protect himself and his loved ones and innocent bystanders. But the Calling is gone, which was a major reason for not training up his warlockry. Vond is now a threat to the world and to Sterren and his family. While he was with Vond, he feared attracting deadly attention as a potential rival, but now that’s not a constraint.

  6. I think the conclusion could be Hanner (presumably reluctantly) + Ithinia ultimately kill Vond to end warlockry once and for all.

    However, Sterren disagrees with the policy and creates new ones at least in secret at the start. Hanner’s first loyalty isn’t to the warlocks.

    That seemed to be how the Sterren/Hanner conversation went. Hanner was willing to do what was needed to meet his commitment to police warlockry, but Sterren wasn’t sure he wanted to see the disciple come to an end.

    On the development thing, you are probably right. You have people who are extremely powerful + hundreds of years old. They are not interested in anything that would destabilise the situation.

    However, I also think magic would suppress technological development. There is little need to develop the steam engine if you have magic that can do a better job. Ofc, that doesn’t stop people innovating with magic itself.

    I also think the master/apprentice thing can’t help. There is no policy of information sharing.

  7. Sterrin also has the ability (particularly with the help of a witch) of making new warlocks. That could be plot point later. Vond may be powerful, but 5 warlocks who had been called could beat the crap out of him and restore balance.

  8. CnC; Why would you think Sterren is training up to be a powerful warlock? He wasn’t powerful earlier in this book and becoming powerful seems to fly directly in the face of both his personality and demostrated ability. I also assume that he’s working under the (seemingly accurate) assumption that as long as he stays out of it the Guild will leave him in peace.

    raphfrk; I’m not sure how Hanner becomes involved in that decision unless he gets re-locked… at which point killing Vond isn’t the end of warlockry as I’m very sure Hanner will re-establish something like the original compromise with the Guild and start re-activating warlocks.

    Sterren is something of a wildcard at this point. I hope he shows up in the next few chapters.

  9. Ryan,

    I agree you’re probably right. If Sterren does play a role again, making more Lumeth warlocks seems a more likely move, and leaving him out entirely of the conflict resolution would work fine.

  10. Oh, I don’t think he’ll sit out the conflict resolution. However, his great strengths, much like Hanner’s, have nothing to do with magic. It’s not out of the question that he attunes anyone or otherwise uses his meger talents at warlockry; but something would have to push him to it. But it seems like the most likely ways that Sterren gets into the resolution have nothing to do with him actually using his own magic as anything but defense. Given the way Ethshar novels work it’s far more likely that he’ll be involved by bringing/inspiring part of the good idea that makes a workable compromise.

    (Still hoping that warlockry survives as a major school of magic.)

  11. Wiki questions;
    What order spell is Varrin’s Greater Propulsion?
    Is it Athamatic? (I just wanted the opportunity to try that pun.)
    Ithinia’s Distraction sounds like a 1st order spell with negligable if any components. Does it not have components or, like Thrindal’s Combustion, are they trivial and “at hand” for a proper wizard even at home? Related “so she drew a quick rune of warning and invoked a simple protective spell of her own invention” is that 2 spells (rune of warding + spell of her own invention) or is the rune of warding part of the Distraction?

  12. Yes, the distraction spell turned Hanner aside.

    Some of the big flashy magic is still in use in the Small Kingdoms; we just haven’t seen it.

    Varrin’s Greater Propulsion is eleventh order. Yes, it requires an athame.

    Ithinia’s Distraction might be second-order, and yes, the components (other than the athame) are trivial. Right now I’m not sure whether the rune is part of it or a separate spell — I’ll decide that in the second draft.

  13. I don’t know about big, but I had the impression that the only wizardry practiced in the small kingdoms was for show only. Nothing practical, just flashy.

  14. Depends what you consider practical. There are a couple of enchanted forests, for example, created with a spell called Fendel’s Forest Weave — and it just now occurs to me that working that spell in a city could be highly entertaining.

  15. That could be an interesting side plot in a novel such as At the Sign of the Crimson Wolf, and could be one of the reasons that the group of magicians arrives flustered/flummoxed at the Inn. (A side plot over and above or tangential to the original reason they were to have arrived there.)

  16. Fendel’s Forest Weave, Wow! Interesting how you’ve thought all this out and not used it in way too many years. I imagine that spell would look something like the forest elemental in Hell Boy if you cast it in a city.

    I don’t see Sterren using his magic for much of anything going forward. He might, but I agree that doesn’t seem to be his path. Though it does seem that the most likely way for Vond to stay alive is to activate more Lumeth Warlocks, which would cause the Guild to basically reinstate the former detente solution. And making one of the early “super warlocks” like Rudhira one would likely provide the surest counter to Vond. Solves both the guild and Vond problem at the same time.

    Back to the strength thing: he states that he could lift the entire city. Now that would be something like 3 orders of magintude more material than the castle itself.

  17. I think that there are some assumptions being made which are not necessarily going to turn out to be accurate. Several folks have been assuming that Called warlocks who were really powerful would immediately be as powerful as they were when they were Called. Bear in mind that Vond had been ACTIVELY using the Lumeth source in his rise to power. He was still using the Aldagmor source too, which eventually proved his downfall, but he had been actively using the Lumeth source.

    The way he felt after the buzzing stopped and the ease with which he used warlockry with Lumeth as the source may not equate exactly to powerful warlocks modified to use the Lumeth source equals powerful Lumeth warlocks immediately. There may well be a significant period of adjustment.

    Now, that may well be the way it ends up, but at present, I think that is a big assumption and may not be fact.

  18. It occurs to me that making a powdered version of Varrin’s Greater Propulsion and then leaving the jar where spriggans could find it might also be entertaining.

  19. RM,

    If we assume that being called at a given distance from Aldagmor is associated with a particular level of power X, then Vond reached the level of power attainable at Semma-distance from Aldagmor. Who’s to say that some of the other warlocks who fled to the Small Kingdoms didn’t do so incrementally, i.e. gradually increased their distance from Aldagmor to remain moderately powerful warlocks until they reached the end of the World? They would have reached Vond’s level of intrinsic attunement, but they wouldn’t have displayed World-wrecking power since they would have been using the Aldagmor source at great distance.

  20. I would assume that the most powerful warlocks were called on the night of madness. They might not have much experience or a trained temperment for use however.

  21. This whole discussion reminded me that 100 called Warlocks have been close to the towers and any or many of them might figure out how to tap it just as Vond did from personal experience. Just because we have not heard from them lately doesn’t mean they dropped off the face of Ethshar!

  22. Fendel’s Forest Weave? Say what now? Care to share any more on what you mean by “creates an enchanted forest”?
    I’m surprised to hear that there’s so much high level magic running around the small kingdoms because most of the stories have made a thing out of the fact that if you want real magic you go to one of the Ethshars and that only second-raters (and witches) really work in the Small Kingdoms.

    John E; Tracel’s Levitation, just as amusing, much easier spell, way less property damage

    RM; Once Vond tuned in to the Lumeth there was no period of adjustment, why would anyone else have one?

    Paul Fritsch; the most sensitive warlocks were called. Others have been born and become warlocks since and may be equally sensitive and practice sensitizes warlocks. I’d imagine there might be a couple spectacular powers in that first batch- people who were particularly sensitive that were Called immediately whereas others succumbed before they worked up to that level of sensitivity, but I can’t imagine there being that many.

    Allen; I’ve been wondering about them for a while. I don’t see warlockry dying just because there are too many ways among that many warlocks for a connection to some power source to re-emerge. I’d really like to see it (re-)established as a major school of magic.

  23. If you want to buy magic, yes, you go to Ethshar. If you want to find magicians who are wealthy and powerful enough that they’re no longer doing magic for hire, you look in the north and central Small Kingdoms. (The south is very poor in magic.)

  24. Ryan: I reread the section where Vond tuned into the buzzing. You’re right. It was more immediate than I remembered. I still wonder if that’s because he spent time adjusting himself before he took Sterren’s suggestion to try to draw power from it.

  25. You know, while a map would be lovely, I think I’d give a limb to get a peek at your background notes and source material–we keep getting all these tantalizing little glimpses hinting at how much there is that we haven’t seen yet. Is there any chance that you might publish that some day, the way David Eddings did for his Belgariad?

    The only way I can see Sterren building up his warlockry is out of a sense of personal responsibility. After all, he was the one who made Vond’s ascent possible. I have trouble imagining him creating more Lumeth warlocks for the same reason.

  26. Back on the subject of the story, I think (yeah, I think it is clear that I do not like her-she has always given me the impression of an administrator) Ithinia writing a spell is out of character. It’s a minor plot point but she does not strike me as someone who writes spells, perhaps someone who is an avid trader of spells, maybe the distraction spell is a spell that she traded for and chose not to share but in all of the Ethshar novels, this character has been a capable manager, and an administrator, clearly talented enough to be immortal but not someone who would write spells. Guildmaster Ithinia got to where she was by following rules and doing what she was told not, being an innovator. Again, this could be me, and it is a minor plot point but “Ithinia’s Distraction” could just as easily be “a nameless charm, she never bothered to share.”
    Have a Good Weekend

  27. When we first saw Ithinia, back in Night of Madness, she was griping about how her administrative duties didn’t leave her enough time to work magic, which was what she really wanted to do and why she became a wizard in the first place.

    She’s very much someone who would create her own spells when there isn’t a crisis interfering.

  28. But not someone who makes really high level spells as she is still not in the upper ranks. It would be interesting to see what kind of wizard is in the upper ranks if someone who can toss off an eleventh level spell is in the mid ranks.

  29. Well, that is why we, as readers, re-read stories. I stand corrected. It is unrealistic for me to expect to like every character in every story.

  30. I remember thinking a long time ago that there have to be some really powerful high level spells that take a very little time to cast as Ethshar beat the Northen Empire and they used sorcerers and Ethshar used wizards. Socrery takes almost no time to activate so for a wizard to win EVER he would have to be very quick (or very sneaky). Are there 12th order or higher attack spells that can be cast really quickly? Might misfire and kill the wizard if the wizard is not up to it, true… Could one of the thousand expect to confrfont Vond and live? Granted, the wizard might prefer to sit 1000 miles away and do all his magic remotely, but would he stand a chance in person?

  31. Hullvald: I don’t think we’ve actually seen *any* wizards in the Ethshar books who seem inclined to *want* to be the sort of administrator you’re talking about. Generally they seem pretty focused on their magic either because they enjoy it or they enjoy the benefits and leisure it brings. Even Telurinon, who was so full of himself and his power as a Guildmaster, was far more in love with his power as a wizard (which is how the seething death happened).

    Paul Fritsch; Actually, by definition I think short spells are low-level. “Order” in Ethshar refers to the complexity of a spell to complete, so something that takes a few moments can’t be high-order. The really devastating low-order spells probably have some pretty weird components, though you get low order spells with spectacular effects (Thrindle’s combustion ~> fireball, meanwhile look at the components for Haldane’s Iridescent Amusement).

  32. I think that it isn’t correct to say that sorcery requires no preparations.

    Assuming, the Northern Empire’s sorcerers were actually able to make them, then you have the manufacturing time that goes into each talisman and this matches the wizard’s casting times.

    If all of the talismans are from more ancient times, then they are limited by not wanting to waste them.

  33. Lawrence, are there any spells that have spells as their components? Such as a 12th+ order spell that is relatively quick to cast, but requires the results of something like four different 10th order spells as components? I think that could be an interesting storyline. A group of research wizards gets together and discovers new spells via concentration of spell results. Sort of a team effort.

  34. Sure there are; I’ve mentioned a couple, such as Tolnor’s Forging, and the very first spell we ever saw, the making of Wirikidor (which used Tolnor’s Forging, though I didn’t say so at the time) was made up of a slew of other spells.

  35. I guess I viewed Wirikidor more as an item upon which several compatible spells were cast, and less as a unique spell using other spells as components. I was more imagining something like a spell that used a flying carpet, a gargoyle, a scrying globe, etc. and when cast, the new spell did something totally unique AND unrelated to the component spells, such as bestowing a permanent at-will finger of flame, or transforming the person into a shape-shifter, or something else very powerful, but not an extension of the components.

  36. I appreciate hearing that about ‘Misenchanted.’ I always believed the the Spell of True Ownership and Ellran’s Immortal Animation were the spells the bound everything else together. I am guessing that Fendel had a way of casting Tolnor’s forging that did not take as long as if described in ‘Spriggan Mirror.’

  37. There really seem to be too many world-wrecker magical capabilities in Ethshar. There are less than 10 million people, but probably hundreds capable of killing everyone. We have Vond, the Seething Death, the Black Dagger spell, and on and on. There are probably over a thousand magicians capable of defeating armies with ease, and only three armies of 10,000 soldiers or more in the World. [On that front, what was going on with the use of troops at all during the Great War, given the vast superiority of magic?]

    Actually, here’s another ridiculous exploit. We saw in the Spriggan Mirror that wizardry can duplicate people, with magic intact (Karanissa and Esmera). Magic can also enslave people (Fendel’s Infatuous Love Spell). So the immortal superwizards could proliferate magically enslaved clone wizards to do their bidding.

  38. I suspect you’re underestimating how easy some of these things are. For example; the reproduction of fully functioning people wasn’t a spell- it was a particular set of circumstances surrounding an item that was misenchanted in a particular way which may or may not be reproducible. As for using one of the love spells, we’ve seen some of the nasty side effects that can result from that, even if they use Geases, which may be a better bet, but would still involve placing a magically skilled individual under compulsions that they might break or otherwise subvert to create problems.

    As for simply destroying the world; why would most people want to? The vast majority of people either keep their stuff there or have stuff they like getting from there; breaking the thing doesn’t really serve them. Similarly to killing everyone. All it takes is one, but that one has to have the sort of world-beating magic we’re talking about. While that sort of magic is available to large a relatively large percentage of the population it’s not available to anyone who wants it. It’s also probably more useful to think in terms of real-world states than real-world people at that level of power; a significant number of states have nuclear weapons- weapons that can certainly destroy cities and possibly make the Earth unlivable if used in sufficient quantities. However, these weapons are almost never used for precisely that reason; because those who have them know that other nations would retaliate with similar levels of force. Still, it only takes one which, I suppose, makes the amount of time wizards spend spying on one another and everyone else seem somewhat less paranoid.

    As for the use of troops during the Great War; I suspect (and this is entirely conjecture) that those battles probably looked much more like modern warfare than battles of the medieval era. You still need troops to claim and hold ground.

  39. Couple of things:

    The total population of the World is fifteen million and change; eight million is just the Hegemony.

    There are about 30,000 wizards in the World. At least 25,000 of them are more like pre-castle Tobas than like Ithinia — someone up there referred to Ithinia as mid-level, and she isn’t. There are about 1,000 Guildmasters, of whom maybe 250-300 belong to the Inner Circle, and exactly 100 of those belong to the Hundred. (Someone referred to it as the Thousand; that’s wrong.) That’s for the World, not just Ethshar. Ithinia is a high-ranking member of the Inner Circle, on the verge of admission to the Hundred should an opening arise. That’s not mid-level.

    Yes, there’s plenty of world-wrecking magic around, and the Wizards’ Guild was created specifically to suppress it. Normally, no one below the rank of Guildmaster would know how to work any seriously dangerous spells, and promoting someone to Guildmaster is sometimes done as much to co-opt and control them as for any other reason. Give someone a position in the existing power structure, with the possibility of further advancement, and they’re less likely to attack that structure. That’s the whole point of the “secret” hierarchy of the Guild, to make sure powerful wizards always have something to aspire to, and always know there’s someone more powerful keeping tabs on them.

    We see a lot of high-level magic in the stories because, well, they’re stories. They’re about unusual and important things, not the everyday.

    During the Great War the magicians on both sides balanced each other out to a large extent. Neither side wanted to use really destructive magic like the Seething Death because it would eventually harm them as much as the enemy — a little like poison gas in World War I, or (as Ryan says) nukes now. Ryan’s also right in suggesting that the Great War looked more like a modern war than like a medieval campaign — you’ll notice that nowhere in The Misenchanted Sword is there any mention of specific battles, or massed infantry actions, because those didn’t happen. Instead we see assassins, raids, and the like.

    All that said, I’m not going to maintain that Ethshar is an entirely reasonable creation; these are fantasy stories, after all.

  40. Ithinia is a high-ranking member of the Inner Circle, on the verge of admission to the Hundred should an opening arise.

    I would imagine that openings don’t arise in the Hundred that often…

  41. That was a big pile of interesting information…

    Ithinia is a high-ranking member of the Inner Circle, on the verge of admission to the Hundred should an opening arise.

    3 questions;
    1) How old is Ithinia?
    2) How does she compare to Iridith as a wizard?
    3) Is Iridith one of the Hundred? (yes, either of the other 2 questions might have already answered this)

  42. 1. I forget; at least two hundred.
    2. Different style, so it’s hard to say; Ithinia’s probably a little better at it.
    3. No. Inner Circle, yes; the Hundred, no.

  43. Are there any levels above the Hundred?

    Who sets policy for the Guild as a whole? The Hundred? The Inner Circle?

    How is it done? by vote? by consensus?

    What level is Fendel at?

    Are there any other administrative positions in the Guild other than being senior guildmaster in one of the three Ethshars?

  44. 1. You (meaning readers in general) don’t know.
    2. You don’t know.
    3. You don’t know.
    4. He’s definitely a member of the Hundred; beyond that, you don’t know.
    5. Yes.

  45. A (my questions)
    2) really? younger but better at it?

    B (follick’s questions)
    4. Well that’s an interesting confirmation.
    I actually assume he’s the head of the guild something like the Queen is the ruler of England, but that’s an entirely seperate conversation.

    5. Obviously there’s going to be at least one guildmaster in the northern lands and in the Small Kingdoms. Given the revelation about the distribution of high-powered wizards in the Small Kingdoms there are probably more than we might have expected. Actually, given that distribution and the fact that the Small Kingdoms have the longest history of organized wizardry I’d expect the Guild to be the most organized and hierarchical there, though that’s a huge guess.

  46. If you’ll compare warlock-related events in Ethshar of the Spices with dagger-related events in Ethshar of the Sands, you’ll see that in Ethshar of the Spices Ithinia is the undisputed big dog in the Guild, while things are more collegial in Ethshar of the Sands. This is because Ithinia’s really good at both the administrative stuff and the magic.

  47. I had wondered about that difference. Iridith never really figured into it because she’s based both outside the city and seems less interested in the babysitting “junior” wizards. She seems kinda like Fendel that way; a little more social though. I take it what you mean by “different” is that Ithinia is more politically minded then?

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