The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Eight is now online. I’m back from Chicago, and trying to catch up on tons of stuff, but since it was actually paid for by Saturday I gave this priority.

This is a relatively low-key chapter, but I hope you’ll be pleased to see a little more of these relatively minor characters. The remaining two chapters after this return to the main storyline.

Chapter Thirty-Nine is something like 20% paid for — I don’t have exact numbers yet.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

60 thoughts on “The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Thirty-Eight

  1. First comment!

    Hmmm. Seems like there won’t be much twists and turns left here with only two chapters. Left. But we will see.

  2. Great to see how characters are so different when they’re the main character, rather than just existing in the perception of another character. Very sharp writing. I like how this is not incompatible with previous Zallin stuff, just wildly different in perspective.

  3. And now we discover why Leth wasn’t scared out of her wits, like one might expect. Someone should point out to her that the prophecy would still be true if she were unconscious for a large number of years before passing away quietly in her sleep…

  4. That was a nice little interlude. Lawrence’s stories are always enjoyable. They’re so low key but things just keep progressing and often turn in unexpected ways. Vond’s death, the revealing of the Calling, and even Zallin’s story. And that’s just three examples…

  5. Without modern hospitals she wouldn’t be in any real danger of years of coma or unconciousness.

    Bedsores, dehydration, and starvation are REAL problems for long term comas. Pre-20th century I doubt anyone ever lasted more than a few weeks.

    Insanity, drooling idiocy, maiming, turned to stone and the statue irretrivably broken years later are all real dangers to her, but not simple unconciousness. And warlocks can’t petrify people.

  6. Also, it looks like prostitution is actually legal in Ethshar, rather than just being discreetly tolerated. Otherwise, she couldn’t have threatened to call the guards.

  7. I think this may be my favorite single chapter of the book so far. It does an amazingly good job of taking an unsympathetic ancillary character and making him more sympathetic without being heavy-handed about it. I think that might be one of the reasons Ethshar has been my favorite fantasy series for so long; LWE has a real genius for making characters sympathetic and compelling while keeping them believably human.

  8. Yes, prostitution is legal in Ethshar; why would you think otherwise? Historically, worldwide, it usually has been. The present-day U.S. is unusual.

    Sorry about the snagged comment, Ryan; it’s restored. I’m not sure exactly what got it blocked, but I’d guess it was the final word.

  9. Just to comment on what Doug was saying, medical care (for the rich or if you lived near a witch) is much better than ours. The World is place where baldness, blindness, disease even age is no longer a problem. Unlike science-based medicine, healing magic simply “makes it all better.” I mean certainly, pre-Industrial medical care was a nightmare but this is an alternate Universe.

  10. Wow, only two chapters left. Yeah, I’m not expecting any last minute “and then all the warlock magic came back” twists. Zallin feels very much to me like an example of former warlocks making their peace and moving on with life.

    It was nice to get a different view and a reminder that everyone is the protagonist of their own story.

  11. >The World is place where baldness, blindness, disease even age is no longer
    >a problem.

    But such care isn’t cheap, as is shown by Leth’s backstory.


  12. I found the implications of the Leth’s prophetic knowledge about herself fascinating. It begs the question (assuming that the wizard wasn’t a charlatan) of whether the spell predicted the future, or caused it.

    If someone, knowing the prophecy and wanting to test it, decided to run Leth through with a sword, what would happen? Would the magic intervene to prevent it?

    I wonder if her life is now tangled up in the spell the way Valder’s is with his sword.


  13. Nice to see Zallin is filled with something besides bile & envy. I didn’t like him there for quite a while. Now, perhaps he’ll make himself be remembered for something besides a genetic quirk.

  14. I too was glad for this chapter. Zallin seemed to be such a snot…now I kinda think he is alright! Even Leth, who is “just a prostitute” gained dimension, and I actually felt for her. Zallin and her would make for a great couple. Will we see the two them in any later novels?

    Also, saying that in two chapters, there wont be too many “Twists and Turns”, LWE needs about five words to create a “Twist” or a “Turn”…it is what makes him one of my favorite authors. In my minds eye, those last two chapters will be quite a ride!

  15. >Zallin and her would make for a great couple.

    It had occured to me that depending on what other questions her mother asked the wizard, Leth may already know this.


  16. In the Vondish Ambassador, we got to see how he used his chance to ask questions to the Goddess of Information quite well, also.

    Come on next chapter.

  17. I am guessing that like most things the donations tend to ebb and flow. Eventually, people’s impatience will wear thin and we will see another chapter. Right now, the weather’s nice and people are outside.

  18. It could be any number of reasons. You could drive yourself crazy thinking about them all. It will happen in its time.

  19. Okay,
    A few general Ethshar questions since we are having this lull (I hope you do not mind) been re-reading “Spriggan” and “Single Spell” a lot lately and had a few questions pertaining to the characters in that novel and some general Ethshar questions:
    1) I was comparing the scene(s) where Killisha is practicing Javan’s Restorative and the scene where Tobas first enchants the mirror and it prompted me to ask you generally speaking what’s Tobas’ talent level for wizardry? Granted he has access to a lot of resources, a lot time to pursue his craft but if we saw him 10-30 years from now will he have mastered most of the spells in Derithon’s book? I guess I am asking what his potential is, as a wizard.
    2) If a publisher asked you to produce another Tobas story what would it be about?
    3)What specifically is the Cult of Demerchan named after? A Diety? An assassin?
    4) Is Darrell Sweet still making covers? I still have some 1st Ed Ethshar novels and the covers are awesome looking, can we get him to make some more? I even bought two of the Eschbach books b/c of the artwork. He’s also done a ton of Jack L. Chalker stuff, too.
    5) Will Kelder of Shulara ever re-surface in a novel?
    6) How does the upper echelon of the Wizard’s guild recruit apprentices? In “Blood” of a Dragon, one of Dumery’s perspective masters clearly had a testing spell of some sort but are there others?
    7) You mentioned other empire builders in the Small Kingdoms besides Vond is this simply a function of there being so many that they were easily taken over? Is there some force at work, trying to unite several kingdoms?
    8) Is the Empire of Vond one of the largest of the small kingdoms? Or just a big kid in its own little area?
    9) Somewhere in this novel in Ithinia’s private thoughts there was a mention (via plagues) of the Guild, basically managing the World’s population. Is that something that the guild has done in the past?

    All right, enough for now. Thanks for all the wonderful tales.

  20. 1. He’s so-so. Not particularly talented, not particularly inept. If he had a real flair for it he probably wouldn’t have burned down Roggit’s house, but he’s been picking up Derithon’s spells without undue difficulty.

    2. I don’t know; I don’t have one plotted.

    3. That gets explained in Chapter Forty, so I won’t answer it here.

    4. I believe he’s retired. He started painting covers in the 1950s (mostly westerns back then), so he’s earned it.

    5. If I ever write Azraya of Ethshar, he will.

    6. There are several ways of evaluating potential apprentices. High-level wizards, though, if they take on apprentices at all, generally only take on the children of other wizards, or of powerful nobles, and even then they’re picky.

    7. People who come to power tend to be power-hungry, so naturally some of them try empire-building. Most don’t get very far. No, there is no force trying to unite several kingdoms through conquest, but there are various groups who think unifications are something to be encouraged. This is another topic that gets some attention in Chapter Forty.

    7a. The Empire of Vond is by far the largest of the Small Kingdoms, in both area and population.

    9. No, the Wizards’ Guild has never done anything to limit the World’s population; that’s just Ithinia being bloody-minded about future possibilities.

  21. Well setting Roggit’s shack on fire was just foolish. He seems to have learned from his various mistakes. A person can have a lot of talent and be a complete fool as far as other matters go. Like the crew at Xerox inventing the mouse and then giving it away but still, a good point.

    1) I also meant to ask you about Javan’s Restorative, specifically what won’t the spell fix and/or heal?

    2) When I asked the apprentice question I was mainly thinking of a scenario where a very very talented apprentice is languishing under the tutelage of a Roggit or an Anna of (I realize she has probably starved to death by now) Crookwall type of wizard if there’s ever been a situation where a talented apprentice has gotten a new master?
    3) In ‘Misencahnted’ you mentioned Juggernauts, I am guessing those are sorcerous creations?
    4) Several characters have talked about Sorcery being a lost art, is that a function the World’s nature changing after the Great War or b/c the War depleted the talent pool?
    5) Has anyone ever tried to depict a “portrait” with the Tapestry spell, as a oppossed to a “landscape” scene? And (I know that this is a hideously expensive and time consuming experiment-not to mention, risky) if they did what would the result be? ( I am guessing it would fail.)
    Thanks Again,

  22. 1. The explanation is too long for this comment.

    2. Nope — not unless the original master actually manages to die or otherwise be totally incapacitated before the apprenticeship is complete. (What constitutes “totally incapacitated”? Well, there is at least one case of a wizard being petrified, and his apprentice being handed over to a new master.) The talented apprentices of untalented masters just have more to do as journeymen.

    3. There’s more than one kind of juggernaut — there’s a wizard’s spell called Fendel’s Juggernaut, for example, as well as sorcerous and demonic ones.

    4. No, several characters have NOT talked about sorcery being a lost art. They’ve talked about it being greatly reduced, which is Not The Same Thing. This has nothing whatsoever to do with any changes in the World’s nature; it has to do with sorcery being out-competed by other schools of magic when it came to recruiting talent and earning enough money to fund research. (In Ethshar, never look for a mystical explanation when an economic one will serve.)

    5. A portrait tapestry would be totally useless. It could only function when its subject was in exactly the right place and pose — if then. No one’s ever been silly enough to try it, so far as I know.

  23. OK seems how you are in a good mood for questions Sir Watt-Evans, is it possible to create a tapestry world that is actually bigger than the Ethshar world? What I mean is, the habitable portion of Ethshar seems to be about a thousand miles across in a circle on a globe of a planet, everything outside the circle is in a cloud of poison mist.

    2} Is it possible that Hanner’s Refuge is actually a whole inhabitable globe?

    3} Or given that the sun never rises or sets the habitable zone of a tidally locked planet around a different star? If so it could conceivably be more arable land than the entirety of Ethshar before the Great War turned so much of it into desert!

    4} Are any of the Wizardly tapestry’s creating worlds where they are settling non wizards as colonists?

  24. Allen, Ethshar is not a globe. It’s got an edge, as Vond proved when he pulled the edge back in The Unwilling Warlord.

  25. RM: Certainly there’s an edge to the inhabitable area of the world, but beyond that is the unbreathable mists on all sides. Is this a situation where there’s a globe, most of which is uninhabitable, but with an area which is Ethshar on it? At least, that’s what I thought the question was.

  26. The creation story that Ithinia tells (in the Vondish Ambassador)–which may or may not be what she believes and may or may not be accurate–says (if I remember correctly) that the habitable World is a plateau raised up by the gods. The lowlands below are full of poisonous fumes. We don’t know how far they extend.


  27. 1. (Javan’s Restoration) is there another forum the explanation wouldn’t be to long for?

    3. (wizard’s spell called Fendel’s Juggernaut, for example, as well as sorcerous and demonic ones…) erm, what?

    4. (No, several characters have NOT talked about sorcery being a lost art.) High Sorcery is a lost art (“the ancient high sorcery that was long lost, not the feeble sort of thing modern sorcerers could do” chapter 10)… Sorcery is a diminished art, an art which has (apparently) lost something vital to it’s power.
    4a) If you’ll answer; whenabouts was High Sorcery lost to the world Before, During, or At the End Of the Great War?

  28. The last time I looked, DKS still makes Wheel of Time covers for Tor. (I wonder if he’s negotiated something other than a flat fee for those.)

  29. In reverse order:

    Okay, Darrell’s semi-retired.

    1. No, there isn’t.

    3. What, what? Be more specific. Provide examples. Show your work.

    4. “The ancient high sorcery” is not the same thing as sorcery. No, sorcery has not, not, not lost something vital to its power, people just no longer know how to do the big stuff. Sheesh. You people read the weirdest stuff into things. You also believe what characters who are known liars tell you. There has been no market for “the ancient high sorcery” for the past several centuries, so it’s been lost.

    2} I don’t think Hanner’s Refuge is a whole inhabitable globe, but it might be. (I tend to think it’s roughly a hundred and fifty miles across.)

    3} See above. That might well be possible, but it wasn’t what I had in mind.

    4} No. That’s certainly possible, but it hasn’t yet happened.

    It would be possible to make a tapestry that opened onto a world bigger than the World, yes. Hasn’t been done. Please remember that the wizards don’t know whether tapestries create worlds or open paths to pre-existing worlds, and that they have no control over details not shown in the tapestry; creating an opening into an unexplored world larger than your own is dangerous, as you don’t know who or what you’ll find there.

    And the World isn’t circular; it’s more or less elliptical.

  30. So Ethshar is not a globe (or geode as our planet is?) I always assumed that it was a globe with a plateau similar to Larry Niven’s world Plateau in Known Space.

    I have trouble imagining at flat world. It’s so unstable for various reasons. And if the aliens whose powers created the warlocks had spaceships, then how could the world not be a sphere?

    Or maybe I’m doing that reading into it thing.

  31. It is unclear if by World he meant the entire “planet” or just the world as the locals know it. What lies beyond the edge is presumably supposed to be a mystery :).

    However, the mist is described as going upwards relative to ground level. You see the mist in front (and above) you when you stand at the edge.

    It is not like the plateau lifts the World above the mist. However, it is probably easier for the towers to hold it back, since the world is elevated.

  32. Looking at various state data statistics Indiana is about 140 miles wide and the long border with Illinois is about 270 miles, so if the refuge is about 150 miles wide it would look like the area of the northern 2/3rds of Indiana. We know there are mountains somewhere behind the hill where the tapestry enters because Hanner was told of someone who was off exploring the mountains back that direction. It would be kind of neat if a chapbook about that explorer’s discoveries came out (hint hint).

    Geographically even that size is a pretty significant area, lots of hidden dangers might exist and the colonists could actually grow into a fairly large total population some time in the future. Now that Vond is dead those who wanted to live there in the first place are free to return to the Refuge. If or when Hanner gets back to Ethshar he will be able to limit who goes in, but for now anyone can go in who wants too. A simple dream spell contact or the spell of the spinning coin already in place for someone like Hanner who was after all important to the Guild will show that it is safe to move back. With Hanner inside who has legal control of the entrance, Zallin? Hanner’s descendants? We have not even met his children, everything since the Response went so fast it is easy to forget it has only been a sixnight or maybe two.

  33. So..Is thwe World inside a tapestry? It’s limited in size it seems, and is surrounded by the yellow mists. True, it larger then the new tapestry world….maybe it a diminishing reflection type thing….Maybe the Demerchan have a tapestry to an outter World larger than Ethshar?

  34. 3. (wizard’s spell called Fendel’s Juggernaut, for example, as well as sorcerous and demonic ones…) where to start?
    a) Fendel’s Juggernaut; is this the larger, more meaty cousin of Fendel’s Assassin?
    b) as the sorcery/high sorcery discussion shows, I don’t even know where to start asking questions with sorcery. I take it there are a different types of sorcerous juggernauts. Possibly even one, or a class, called a t’ank?
    c) I guess it should be unsurprising that there are big, thumpy demons. We’ve already heard of Degorran. Care to volunteer a name or two? Speaking of, is Degorran specifically aquatic or just unphased by the fact it was called up at sea?

    4. (“The ancient high sorcery” is not the same thing as sorcery…) as dense as this might sound; what’s the difference? Is it really as “simple” as the difference between building sailboats and sailing ships? Or is it more like the difference between a sailboat and a modern ship. You’ve said specifically that the Towers can’t be fixed or replaced anymore and it relates to the practice of high sorcery. Sometimes it sounds like the difference is just scale, scope, and the techniques necessary to get that scale/scope to work for a given type of talisman. That would suggest that if a sorcerers, or set of sorcerers, were given the task, and support, to build successively larger environmental barriers eventually they should be able to replace the towers. Other times it sounds like there’s a key *something* that’s been lost. Maybe it’s the reference to the entire class of “high sorcery” but sometimes it sounds like a sorcerous equivalent of the athame (access to some special talisman/material/energy source/set of calculations/whatever) is what’s been lost.

    (You also believe what characters who are known liars tell you.) Hey, in my defense I assume that known liars are telling the truth when they think unless the author suggests otherwise. Of course, they could be mistaken, and a guildmaster doesn’t necessarily know what an Initiate of the Inner Mysteries could pull off, especially since you’ve suggested that not only did sorcery come first but had its own ways of extending life… yeah, I’ve got nothing there.

  35. Ryan:
    3a. It’s an unrelated spell you haven’t seen before.
    3b. I don’t insert extraneous apostrophes.
    3c. Degorran is specifically aquatic; he wouldn’t do well on land.

    4. What’s the difference between the Golden Gate Bridge and laying a plank between two rocks? Jeez, why do you insist on over-complicating a very simple concept? “High sorcery” means “big, powerful sorcery no one remembers how to do any more.” That all it means; there’s no difference in kind. Yes, the difference is just scale and lost techniques. Where you got the notion it meant anything more I don’t quite grasp. There is no single key something that’s been lost, but there are a lot of small somethings that have been forgotten.

    People talking about “the ancient high sorcery” are no different from real-world people saying, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.”

    Here’s a key fact about Ethshar: None of the characters know the World’s true nature. They may think they do, but they’re wrong. Don’t believe anything they say or think about anything prior to the Great War.

    Well, except for the stuff in Chapter Forty, should it ever be posted.

    WTB: A tapestry creates an opening to a place. It does not create places if the place shown already exists. It isn’t clear to anyone whether there are places that don’t exist; it may be that tapestries are merely able to find places fitting the necessary specifications because all possible places already exist somewhere. There’s no “inside” or “outside” a tapestry.

    The World of Ethshar existed before there were any Transporting Tapestries of any kind, so no, it’s not something a tapestry created.

    Allen W., most of your questions are answered in Chapter Thirty-Nine and the Epilogue. $112 to go for Chapter Thirty-Nine.

    Gordon A, calling them aliens in spaceships may be an over-simplification.

    all: If I say “World” with a capital W, that means the habitable region that includes Ethshar, the Small Kingdoms, etc. That region is a flat ellipse surrounded by toxic yellow mist that may or may not be resting on something larger. I have not said much beyond that, and I don’t intend to.

  36. > …. except for the stuff in Chapter Forty, should it ever be posted.

    Well if that isn’t an incentive to donate, nothing is :).

  37. Okay, went back and reread Chapters 2 and 3. Maybe more like big alien magic creatures themselves. Except the bigger one said “We.”


  38. (Fendel’s Juggernaut) If I might rephrase my question; does the spell summon/conjure/create (whatever Fendel’s Assassin does to get the eponymous assassin from whatever etherealness it is derived) the juggernaut? Alternately, does it animate something preconstructed (like Ellran’s Immortal Animation, Familiar Animation, Galger’s Singing Spell, Homuncular Animation, Servile Animation, Spell of the Obedient Object)? Or, does it do something completely different?

  39. It does something completely different. You forced me to dig out the original description I wrote back around 1979, to make sure I was remembering it correctly, which I was.

    The spell takes about three hours to prepare, and when that’s done you have a snail shell with a bit of sandstone stuffed into it. The wizard then rolls the snail shell in the direction he wants it to go, and the shell starts picking up everything around it — loose rocks, paving stones, sticks, wagons, etc. — like a cartoon snowball, getting larger and larger and smashing everything in its path until such time as someone (it doesn’t need to be the wizard) applies the counter-charm. It moves at roughly walking speed, in a straight line, until it’s either stopped or falls off the edge of the World.

    Oh, it won’t pick up anything alive. It’ll squash living things just fine, but it won’t add them to the juggernaut. It maxes out at about 150 feet in diameter.

    It was very effective against the Northern Empire the first two or three times it was used, but then they learned the counter-charm.

  40. Yeah. Can’t remember the name, but there was a pretty popular video game awhile back where you rolled a ball around that kept picking up stuff (so it got bigger). The name was Japanese sounding.

    I never actually played it, but I’m pretty sure it was meant to be a non-violent, fun sort of game–so no squishing of people or crushing of fortress walls.


  41. Yup, it’s a game. Katamari Damacy if I remember right. It got great reviews when it came out, and a couple of sequels.

    In it, you control a rolling ball which absorbs anything smaller than itself that it rolls into. As it absorbs, it grows bigger, so you slowly increase in size until you can absorb entire planets.

  42. Well I guess this means we can’t get books over 38 chapters. Or we need like 25 more readers. I’ll do a repost on my twitter and see if that shakes anything.

  43. Give it time. Realms of Light sometimes took a couple of months per chapter before it died completely.

    $40 to go.

  44. And after all, Thirty-Nine is almost paid for now, and there is really only one more after that. I think a lot of the reluctance to contribute comes from one of the fairly climactic events (Vond’s Death) having happened already. the suspense is greatly diminished, if not already gone. It’s like people walking out of a hockey game with 2 minutes to go when the score is at 8 to 1. Little drama is likely to unfold, and other things (such as beating the mass exodus and traffic) take precedence.

  45. Maybe he should have posted

    36-38-39-40-37 🙂

    However, presumably 39 and 40 would have references to 37 :).

    Anyway, I did one more donation … only need 28 more people to donate $10 and its done.

    Hopefully, the next one will be posted tomarrow.

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