Chapter Twenty-Six has been posted

Chapter Twenty-Six is up.

The current system is that the remaining two chapters will be posted as soon as they’re paid for, and the epilogue will be posted with Chapter Twenty-Eight.

I have $65.95 toward Chapter Twenty-Seven; another $184.05 will do it. $434.05 will finish the first draft.

However, even if I finish posting the whole thing tomorrow (which seems unlikely), I will continue taking donations and counting them as advance orders through March 31st. $25 will get you a copy of the finished book if you’re in the U.S., and $30 will cover it anywhere else, and all donors of any amount will have access to the two bonus maps.

In other news, I’ve talked to the publisher at Wildside Press, and we have a verbal deal for Wildside to publish The Vondish Ambassador. This won’t be final until there’s a signed contract, of course, but it’s a start. We’ve also agreed that rather than me doing a privately-printed first edition, Wildside will do a small first edition (maybe print-on-demand) as quickly as is practical, and then release their regular edition next year — they really don’t like the idea of a non-Wildside edition existing, but they need about a year of lead time for their regular one. This means a lot less hassle for me, and I hope will suit everyone.

Wildside should also be offering their e-book edition of The Spriggan Mirror fairly soon; they have the rights now.

Thanks to all of you for your support!

62 thoughts on “Chapter Twenty-Six has been posted

  1. So, how does the first edition work? Do you pay them for the advance copies you’ve already sold, albeit at some much-discounted price? Or do they send you the advance copies in lieu of an advance royalty payment against sales? I’m just curious how much of the money stays in your pocket in this process.

    (Oh, great chapter, by the way. I figured there would be a bit more meat to the Lumethan visit, though. It seemed a bit too commonplace for the Guild to be down there mouthing off at the rulers. I understand their fear/reverence for the Guild’s power, but they seemed a bit blase’ about the encounter. Maybe that’s backstory we just have to wait for The Final Calling to have explained.)

    Is there this much dickering when you do the mainstream books? Is it like that every time, or just when you switch publishers? I would think that writing the books is hard enough.

  2. The business arrangements are between me and Wildside. It’s not unusual, though, for authors to receive dozens of copies as part of their payment, in addition to the advance/royalties, and there’s pretty much always some provision for the author to buy copies at a discount of 40% or more.

    Lumeth has dealt with the Guild before, but I do expect to flesh that scene out some in later drafts.

    As for dickering, this is how agents earn a living, and why authors pay them. My arrangements with Wildside are non-standard, which further complicates matters, and in the interest of speed I’m directly handling some things that would ordinarily go through my agent.

  3. I didn’t mean to pry or offend. I certainly wasn’t expecting you to divulge hard numbers. I was just curious.

    Back to the chapter. Ithinia refers to Morkai by two different names, “Morkai of Lumeth” and “Morkai of Crooked Hill”. Is that intentional?

  4. I am already getting all the Korval e-book editions through ( ). Does anyone happen to know if Wildside will be using them for the _Spriggan Mirror_?

    By the way Lawrence, thank you for the link to _Fledgling_ a Korval experiment like _The Vonish Ambassador_.


    Note 1)
    Lawrence Says:
    Wildside should also be offering their e-book edition of The Spriggan Mirror fairly soon; they have the rights now.

  5. I hadn’t realized that an athame could be broken. That’s a big vulnerability for wizards. Did Morkai scream because he actually felt physical pain (as part of his soul was destroyed)? Or was it because he couldn’t do any wizardry ever again?

  6. I don’t believe Wildside uses Webscriptions at all, but I’m not 100% sure.

    And yes, athames can be broken, and the experience is excruciatingly painful.

  7. Would it be possible for Morkai to make himself another athame? Doubtless the guild would kill him if he even tried, but people can be very foolish.

  8. Does this mean Sterren has to leave the Empire? Is this something your waiting to divulge/the guild doesen’t know he’s a warlock due to his limited abilites/or he will get a special dispensation?

  9. Also does a wizard have any residual magical powers without a anthame? Is there a promxmity requirement to your anthame to use spells even if they don’t require a anthame in the actual casting?

  10. A couple of questions not directly related to the story:

    What is the population of Ethshar of the Spices? I seem to recall it coming up in a discussion someplace, but I’m not finding it.

    Might there ever be a compilation of Ethshar short stories? I’d like to read them, but I loath the idea of replacing my mmp editions.

  11. Some of this is answered in the next chapter, but:

    No, Morkai can’t make himself another athame; the necessary portion of his soul has been destroyed. He has no residual magic. Some spells can be cast by people who don’t have athames, so there’s no proximity requirement, but it’s unclear whether Morkai will be able to do that.

    Notice the phrasing — no warlocks can enter the Empire. The one who’s already there, Sterren, can stay.

    The population of Ethshar of the Spices is just over a million.

    I intend to do a collection of short Ethshar stories when there are enough of them to fill a book. So far, there aren’t.

    $399.05 still needed to finish the book.

  12. On the topic of witchcraft, why is a witches ability to move a object based on thier phyiscal strenghth? This was shown in the Spprigan Mirror and it never made any sense to me. One would assume that it would be based on a witch’s mental strenghth, will, expertise etc. It just seems weird that a witch that had been practicing for 30 years would be able to move less than a 20 year old weightlifter apprentice. Moreever does this carryover to other witch abilites? For example, there ability to detect lies. Once the skill was learned would the lenghth the witch could do this be based on pure phyical stamina? It just seems that a longer practicing witch would be able to more efficently harness there energy supply in order to compensate for a phical defiences. Similar to how a featherwieght pro boxer can throw a signifgantly harder shot than a heavyweight on his first day in the gym.

  13. Because witchcraft obeys the law of conservation of energy. The energy has to come from somewhere, and the witch’s own body is the only source.

    It’s not specifically arm strength that matters; the witch can get it from anywhere in her body, so in fact an experienced witch in good health probably can lift more than a more muscular but less practiced witch.

  14. ** NoM spoiler **

    If I remember correctly, the first time we had heard mention of athames being broken was in The Night of Madness when the Guild decreed that any wizards who had become warlocks were required to break theirs on pain of death so that there would be no wizard/warlocks

    ** NoM spoiler **

    So, I find it curious that the Guild has such a detailed history of the creation of the world. Were the Wizards entrusted with this knowledge by the gods or did they arive at it via their own devices?

  15. Was breaking the athame less painful for the warlock-wizards than it was here? Or did Ulpen scream and we just didn’t hear about it?

  16. “Gods and demons have no problem with sorcery. Neither gods nor demons draw on chaos in any way, shape, or form; only wizards use chaos.”

    Ah, so it isn’t a division of law and chaos with gods getting one and demons the other.

  17. Not yet. It will be eventually.

    Geoff, sorry I missed your question before. Yes, the same way warlockry interferes with wizardry in the first place, it blocks the pain of losing the athame.

  18. I am wondering now that you are near to the end of this project, what leasons have you learned? Was this easier or harder than a “regular” book. Having hundreds of bad editors leaning over your shoulders, feeling restricted in rewrites, having a completely arbitrary weekly deadline. On the plus side, not having to pitch a book idea past a bunch of business school suits, having a larger stake in the books profits (and absolute ownership), being able to throw all your editors comments in the virtual circular file. If you had the choice of only doing one type of publishing, would you consider the serial?

  19. If tVA sold as many copies as “Dragon Weather”, would that be true? Heck NO! You get the agent’s cut and most of the publisher’s cut as well. You margin for a large run on tVA would have to be impressive. Is it even remotely possible for WildSide to sell as many copies of a good book (tVA) as Tor can sell copies of a bad one (They sell Halo books, forcryinoutloud). No, not really.

  20. Actually, yes, Wildside can sell as many copies of a good book as Tor can sell of a bad book — don’t be fooled. Wildside’s got pretty darn good distribution, and Tor’s had a few disasters.

    But the question here is, can Wildside sell anywhere near as many of one of my books as Tor can?

    And the answer is, “No.”

  21. Evening. Couple of questions…

    1) We know that the gods made the known world out of bits and pieces. Could mankind extend the world?

    2) Have the parts of the northen empire (ie most of it) recovered at this point, enough for use? Or is half the world barren ash still?

    3) Would it be at all possible to purchase a complete set of ethshar books, all signed and all? Or is this crazy talk??

    4) How much left till the next chapter?!?

  22. 1) No, we don’t know that. We know the people of Ethshar believe that. Why do you people insist on believing what wizards tell you? Wizards are creatures of chaos, not to be trusted!

    2) It was the eastern lands that really got blasted, and they’re still uninhabitable desert — not ash, but empty lifeless sand. Parts of the Northern Empire are habitable (such as the Baronies of Sardiron) and parts aren’t.

    3) Not if you want them to match, but otherwise, yes. Wouldn’t be cheap, though.

    4) $99.05.

  23. 3) Lawrence, by the time I buy a complete set in the uk – which I think is impossible anyway, and paid the postage and packaging, I’d imagine the costs are about even.

    With the added bonus that they’d be signed by the author, and would still make you more money then normal royalties. Just looking at amazon, the first 6 books are all £12+. So thats £72, or about $120, after P+P, and doesn’t include the most recent three.

    I believe you said that you got a 40% discount on your own works? Throw in the fact books are cheaper in general in the US, and I fail to see a downside….might have to wait for a birthday though…

    1) We believe wizards….um…because we’re (usualy) presented with wizards as the good guys. Not to mention the alternatives pose more problems.

    If the towers (aka “the life support system”) was made by man, what did man breath before it was built?

    What happened to the huge society capable of producing an artifact of such power? If it wasn’t man, I can’t think of another race – beyond the gods/demons – who could have. Atleast, not that doesn’t breath air…

    And such a society would leave other artifacts and effects on the world.

    Although…if the towers are one souce of power for warlocks, and what fell in the night of madness was another…assuming both are related what does that leave us with…

    Silly question – what does keep the moon(s) moving?

    2) So there’s been no biological colonisation? Has the sand spread, like our deserts tend to?

  24. The 2nd source may not be the towers. I’ll have to check the book again, but I’m pretty sure in the Unwilling Warlord, Vond said it was near the towers, but not them. – Although It was a while ago I read the book, and could be completely wrong – 🙂 gives me a reason to re-read it again.

    So there may not be a relationship between sorcery and warlockry at all. If there is, it may be possible for warlocks to draw on any sorcerous device.

    And I agree, wizard’s lie. Don’t trust them!! – I think a lot of people are taking their creation story as true becuase its the first one you’ve told us, and we may not trust wizards, but we tend to trust you (its a slight crossover from belief in what the authour puts in the book, transfered to what the characters in the book says).

    As for who else could have made the world if not for the gods. How about this.

    “The world spun in the dark of night, it’s surface covered by an all encompasing mist. Within dwelled strange and powerful beings.

    A portal split the mist, as a man stepped through. He was Fendal, greatest of all known wizards. Beside him his wife, larnel. Within her hands a device blinked as the mist was pushed away from them, giving clean and pure air.

    The travelled a circle 5 miles wide around the portal, placing devices, pushing the mists, clearing a space over 20 miles across.

    Once completed, Fendal opened the portal wider, many more came through, workers to aid Larnel in her work.

    Five years later, they had constructed giant tower devices, to push the mists back far enough to create land for all the refugees that they knew were coming. 6 years after Fendal and Larnel first stood upon the new world, all was ready. Fendel opened the great portals across the lands, and the refugees poured into the world.

    Those that came before, those whom called the mists home. Saw this, and were divided. Some looked upon the newcomers, brushed their minds and saw their greatness. These choise to aid the newcomers, to help them in their hopes to survive in this new world.

    Others saw the hate, and destruction that this new race was capable of. They became afraid that they would turn the whole world to their desires, with no room for the mists that sustained them. So they vowed they would destroy this new race.

    When the mist dwellers showed themselves, man learned to call those that helped Gods, and those that hurt, Demons.

  25. I seem to recall that dragons are capable of speech and are not human. Nothing has been said at this point that leads me to believe that the poisonous mists are necessarily harmful to dragons, that dragons are totally incapable of magic (i.e. sorcery), or that dragons are not possibly involved in pre-human World history.

    Of course, nothing has been said that hints that dragons ARE involved, but there are still possibilities out there that I haven’t seen mentioned.

  26. Who thought, when dragons invented the first air freshener, that it would cause such a pest control problem? It just shows the importance of doing a proper Environmental Impact Study before implementing new technologies.

  27. 2) So there’s been no biological colonisation? Has the sand spread, like our deserts tend to?

    Also, was it sorta a desert before that ?

    It is unlikely that the weather patterns were changed that much by scorching the surface. Since it is far from the only water, it was probably dry anyway.

  28. All things being in balance, deserts on Earth don’t spread all that much since they are limited to a specific climate. Look at the Mojave in the SW United States; its been about the same size since it was first mapped in the 1800’s.

    The Sahara, on the other hand is spreading because of foor farming and over grazing in the land around it.

  29. Fendel’s not that old!

    The edge of the Great Eastern Desert has probably shifted some — gaining in places, losing in others. For a description of that desert, see Taking Flight — it’s not just that it’s dry, it’s that the war stripped away the soil, several meters deep, reducing everything to stone and sand. The edge isn’t an escarpment like that everywhere — it broke down and eroded away in the southern areas, so there’s no longer a sharp cut-off there.

    The region that’s now the western edge of the desert was fairly dry to begin with — prairie, rather than desert. What’s happening further east, where there was more water, who knows?

    Dragons are capable of speech, but I thought I said flat-out somewhere, probably in The Blood of A Dragon, that they were created by humans originally, which would mean they weren’t around in pre-human times.

    The moons are moons. They’re orbiting whatever the World is. Newton’s laws apply. (The third moon might’ve been something else, I suppose.)

    MJD, e-mail me if you’re serious about getting a complete signed set of Ethshar novels, and we can hash out the details.

  30. Considering what wizards are capable of, I wouldn’t rule out time travel, which would let Ethshar be created by a wizard, or maybe sorcerer, as yet unborn.

    Sorcery is older than wizardry so, assuming the wizards are correct about the source of sorcery, there’s been a change from order-based sorcery to chaos-based wizardry. Clearly exact short-term balance isn’t necessary, but this sounds like the kind of thing that has metaphysical consequences.

  31. “Fendel says he’s not that old, but who trusts wizards? ”

    I’m pretty sure that was the author of the series not one of his charecters saying Fendel isn’t that old.

  32. How do you know sorcery is older than wizardry?

    And yeah, it’s me saying that Fendel isn’t that old. He’s only about 1,100.

  33. And yeah, it’s me saying that Fendel isn’t that old. He’s only about 1,100.

    Now someone needs to check how old the Guild is 🙂 … was it in the 1000 year old range ?

    What we really need is a wiki so that all these factoids can be compiled.

    Hmm, with an age that old. I wonder if he was really in any danager if his “death” illusion had failed in TMS… or perhaps the spell gaurentees that those who see it belive it … unless someone sneezes or something.

  34. Don’t forget that Fendel was working on research when Valder met him. If he could have produced a lot of damage easily or quickly, I would bet he would have just killed off Valder’s pursuers. Also recall that Northern sorcery was not only more powerful but also more abundant, and shatra were also in play. I’d say they were in danger, even considering Fendel’s longevity.

  35. Why is it that Fendel is immortal, yet looks to be an old man as opposed to say Valder who regressed to the health of a young man when he became immortal. Maybe this was explained before and I have forgotten. Different spell?

  36. It’s never been explained.

    There are several different life-extension spells; Fendel used one that doesn’t include youth, where Valder and Karanissa got a youth spell. Fendel just doesn’t care what he looks like.

  37. Looks, shmooks. I’d be thinking about that little twinge in my back when I picked my spell.

  38. Imagine, Fendel begins his career, gets to about forty, and decides he doesn’t want to die.

    So he creates his first immortality spell, tests it…and has to wait a few years to find out it failed.

    Then he makes another…and another…till he finaly gets it right, and becomes immortal. On the down side, he’s aged 30 odd years in the mean time.

    So he starts on an eternal youth varient, perfects it on other people (he’s the great Fendel – who wouldn’t agree to being a test subject for eternal youth?) – and forgets, during the hundred years it takes, why being young is so much fun anyway…

  39. Or he’d have to break his current immortality spell, to enact one of eternal youth. alas as he’s over a thousand, this would kill him before the 2nd spell took effect.

    Maybe the varient he’s got on himself lets him alter his age within the whole spectrum of his lifeline. That’d be a great way to wander about without being recognised, as every wizard ‘knows’ Fendel looks like an old man, so the 23 year old cannot be him.

  40. I would think that testing a “new” eternal youth or even eternal life spell would be resisted by pretty much anyone not about to die of old age, regardless of the reputation of the wizard involved. Given that the spell casting itself might be hazardous to both the caster and recipient and might require a generally vigorous, healthy individual, even if done properly, I doubt many wizards are still futzing about trying to come up with new spells, and if they are, finding willing test subjects would be incredibly difficult.

    Remember, if you will, that the wizards studying Valder’s sword almost didn’t believe his story about meeting a wizard in the wilderness who was doing “research.” They pretty much all agreed that magical research was dangerous to the point of insanity.

    It does raise an interesting thought, however. Just as the very low order spell that makes wizardry stop working in a given area exists, I wonder if at some point, some wizard stumbled across an incredibly low order (an apprentice could easily perform) eternal youth spell but the Guild got wind of it and decided it was too unbalancing for the World for it to exist.

    That could be an interesting story or side plot to a book. Much of that ground was covered in The Spell of the Black Dagger, I guess. Accident leads to an unforeseen side effect, so the Guild has to get involved in order to deal with the repercussions.

    The difference here would be that a new, overly easy eternal youth spell (first order) could unveil greed/corruption/power cravings amongst the members of the guild and could potentially cause a schism. One faction might believe that, since such easy spells exist, all Wizards should gain access, making an apprenticeship to a Wizard essentially a guarantee of immortality. The other faction, obviously would see what a debacle that could become and staunchly tries to destroy all knowledge of the spell.

  41. Interesting speculations here… but I worry that it’s nearing the “story/plot idea” side. I don’t remember what LWE’s policy on this is, but I would hate to find out that he couldn’t do a story because he was worried about someone suing him for stealing his idea. (OK, this isn’t the movies, but see, e.g., Buchwald v Paramount if you think I am being *totally* paranoid.)

  42. I don’t have a stated policy, but my basic attitude is “ideas are cheap.” I have lots of ’em and don’t worry too much about using other people’s.

    That said, if you post an idea here, it might be a good idea to either say flat-out, “You’re free to use that,” or be aware that by mentioning it here without explicitly giving it to me, you’re ensuring I won’t use it.

    If anyone ever hits on something I was already planning to do, things could get awkward.

  43. Phil and Kaja Foglio of ( ) were in discussions to license Girl Genius to WhizKids. One of the things the Foglios did was create a Story Bible containing all their ideas to differentiate it from the ideas created by the staff of WhizKids.

    Even thought Disney and the RIAA have warped copyright, hopefully it will stop short of individual authors, like Lawrence, having to keep detailed notes with an attorney.


    Note 1)
    Lawrence Said
    If anyone ever hits on something I was already planning to do, things could get awkward.

  44. I had always assumed that the mists that Vond hit were localized, now I’m starting to wonder about how the ocean interacts with all of this. How small the ocean may actually be.

    This is interesting indeed.

  45. Lawrence, you and I have corresponded on this before via email, but for the record: Anything in the way of an idea I post on your forum/blog/websites, you are free to use. I wouldn’t post it otherwise; I’d send it in a private email.

    That said, I doubt if you were likely to use the idea I posted above, but if you find it interesting enough to use, I would appreciate being informed.

  46. Thanks.

    I would certainly try to acknowledge it, and let you know, but the truth is that years from now I might use it and not remember just where I got it, so I can’t promise.

    Right now, though, while it’s an interesting idea, I have no plans to use it.

  47. LWE said that:

    Then I state that any ideas for any plots that I mention here, you, Lawrence Watt-Evans is free
    to use anyway you find convenient. That applies to
    any ideas that I have already mentioned.
    I also would apologize for not making this anouncement before , if this failure to
    disclaim may have made LWE desist of using any
    promisising plot. Thanks for the attention.

  48. Last comment, I posted that LWE said
    ” be aware that by mentioning it here without explicitly giving it to me, you’re ensuring I won’t use it.”

    The way I marked the comment, however,
    kept it from being visible. Sorry. Last comment
    was an answer to the quoted message from LWE.

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