Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Update from Deb: Spinning Plates and Ruby Slippers

Photo of Deb Harkness' writing space (From her FB post)
Update from our Author today.  She talks about progress on the television series, The Serpent's Mirror, her health and her new place of peace of which she calls one of her "writing spaces" - Take a look:

From her Facebook Page:

Deborah Harkness
"The View from My Desk: Spinning Plates and Ruby Slippers

It's time for another update, readers. This time I'm at a temporary desk--a card table--by a window overlooking the water. It's one of my new writing places, and I estimate that by the time THE SERPENT'S MIRROR is finished I will have logged many hours sitting at this table or its permanent replacement (once I find it).

My semester finished in the last week of April, and since then life's felt a bit out of control. I'm sure that you know the feeling, that perpetual knot in your gut that never quite goes away, the to-do list that is grafted to your hand and just gets longer, the calendar that is so over-stuffed you can't imagine what you were thinking. [...]" 
Read the whole post ---> HERE.

Follow her on her Facebook page, but also know we'll keep an eye out just in case you miss it there.  Facebook has been picky about what they show people who don't normally comment on her entries.

Til next time!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

To Hamish - A Love Letter

By The Vampire Daemon

Pictured here is Chatelherault - Deb Harkness' inspiration for Hamish's hunting lodge
The title may be overly-dramatic, but for me, it's a truth.  I wanted to take the time out to toss some love over to Hamish Osborne.

There’s Matthew and Diana, and Gallowglass, and Philippe. Ysabeau, and Marcus, and Fernando, and Miriam, and Baldwin.  All great characters among a great cast of characters!  Who’s my favorite?  Hamish.  Ok, Hamish doesn’t get a whole lot of attention.  He’s a secondary character at best, but for me he simply saved this series.  I was on the verge of putting down A Discovery of Witches at the end of chapter 8.  A “Did Not Finish" (DNF) is very rare when I read supernatural/fantasy stories; I usually stick it out.  Luckily, I found the energy to give Chapter 9 a go!

In opening, we are introduced to Diana Bishop, who I didn’t relate to.  She found her studies, intellect and accomplishments so comforting.  And if I’m honest, at introduction, she came off as a major snooty crank.  I was never one to be fascinated with academia.  I see schooling as a means to an end.  For me, to enjoy learning something, I need to do away with theory and know that in the end, I will have the ability execute what I learn for actual results.  It’s a “Let’s learn how to do this so I can make things happen!” attitude.  I don’t enjoy learning something just to learn unless it’s a subject that really intrigues me.

For work I had to take a personality test - I am an ISTP personality type (you can figure out your own personality type on sites like this one—> TypeFinder Personality Test.  Be honest with your answers!).  The main characteristics of my personality type are the following: ISTPs are action-oriented people. They like to be up and about, doing things. They are not people to sit behind a desk all day and do long-range planning. Adaptable and spontaneous, they respond to what is immediately before them. They usually have strong technical skills and can be effective technical leaders. They focus on details and practical things. They have an excellent sense of expediency and grasp of the details which enables them to make quick, effective decisions. As much as I wasn’t fond of being put into a personality box, it clarified a lot for me and the people I work with.  With that aspect of my personality explained, in ADOW, the pondering, sitting around, discussion and the underlying tension in chapters 1-8 just bored me to tears!  Blasphemous, I am aware!  Also, Matthew did nothing for me.  I saw him as a guy who had too many credentials - his business card - was this supposed to impress me?  At this point, for me Matthew was an overly-educated, too rich, and full of himself vampire for his own good (call me Sarah), and even the supposedly fascinating aspect of him - the fact that he was a vampire - did nothing for this fantasy fiction fan. Later on, I realized I was being set up to open my mind and deal with these difficult personalities who I would eventually grow to adore and understand much more . . . all thanks to Hamish (I suppose we should give the author some credit here too ;-) ).

The brusque encounters between Matthew and Diana culminating in breakfast, then yoga and tea at the Woodstock gatehouse - YAWN!  It wasn’t until the agitated Matthew went up to Scotland and visited his wise friend Hamish Osborne that the story finally opened up to me.  Hamish cut through the bullsh*t with patience and aggressive truth.  I LOVED that about him.  He allowed me to see Matthew as more of a complex puzzle, with many layers and vulnerabilities.  Now we’re talking!

“There’s more to the game than protecting your queen,” Hamish said. ~ Ch 9, A Discovery of Witches
Hamish is the type of guy to hold up a mirror to you and tell you to look at it, deal with it, and embrace it, because that’s what you have to work with, so get to stepping!  I loved that he was unapologetic about his choice of house which Matthew poo-pooed.  He knows who he is, what he likes and is fine with it.  I like that he doesn’t judge Matthew for his past sins and helps him see himself for the man he is.  He helped him deal with his nature (not to fight his longing for Diana).  I love that Hamish is so intelligent, but it is not necessarily a defining characteristic of his nature.  I love that he is a natural leader.  Hamish has the answers and will not hesitate to tell you what you need to do.  Much like Baldwin - perhaps with a more subtle approach - Hamish comes in and cleans up major messes.

The fact that Chapter 9 was told from a fly-on-the-wall viewpoint also helped the story along.  In writer's terms this would be an “omniscient" point of view.  It reads as if it's written in the third person, but there is a difference.  The omniscient POV can allow the reader to mind-hop and see what’s really going on with all characters in the scene whereas in the third person POV you are mainly seeing it through the main character's eyes (as if it were written in the first person).  That’s what I needed to make this story flow.  Just to have a hint of what’s driving the characters.  Ironically, after Matthew goes back to Oxford, he does the same for me with Diana.  Peeling back the layers of her fear, her need for control, and her softer side.  And there it was.  I fell in love with the story.

With that I salute the often overlooked character called Hamish.  My favorite character in the series and a daemon of distinction.

"A Conversation with Hamish" by Armitage4Clairmont on YouTube

P.S.  Do you have a favorite character in the All Souls Trilogy you'd like to wax poetic about? Contact us! You can also post your thoughts on The All Souls Gathering!

Post by V. Grendell
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Weekly Geek! Benjamin's Early Days...

Let's talk about one of the most despicable characters in the AST universe. Benjamin. Nikki Ben.  Whatever you call him - he's not a nice guy.  What's somewhat mystifying is the urge to make excuses for Benjamin's actions, blaming the blood rage or the lack of guidance as a new vampire for his behavior.  But after taking a look at his early days, it's clear that his sociopathy predates his rebirth.

"Benjamin was one of the German crusaders who marched with Count Emicho's army toward the Holy Land. When they were beaten in Hungary, he joined up with my brother Godfrey's forces," Matthew began. "Benjamin's mother was the daughter of a prominent merchant in the Levant, and he had learned some Hebrew and even Arabic because of the family's business operations. He was a valuable ally—at first." BOL p.  93

The bits we get about Benjamin's background lend so much insight to his character. Benjamin found a "partner in crime" in Count Emicho,  a minor German noble.  Emicho gathered a large band of simple German pilgrims and then inflamed them with hatred of the Jews in their own communities - using the argument that before going to punish the Muslims in Jerusalem, it makes sense to punish the Jews, who were responsible for his actual death. Emicho's true motive seems to be greed, as he needed money to finance his army, and the Jewish communities were thought to be wealthy.   The German Crusade of 1096 was also known as the Rhineland Massacres and targeted Jews.
That Benjamin would join forces with a man like Emicho speaks volumes about his character as a human and none of it good. Greedy, opportunistic, cunning. The Rhineland Massacres clearly fed his sociopathic tendencies.
We also get hints about the activities and identities of some of the deClermont men.  Emicho's men were turned back at Hungary and the surviving crusaders, presumably including Benjamin, were absorbed into other Crusader armies including that of Godfrey of Bouillon.  Godfrey had two brothers accompanying him,  Baldwin of Boulogne, who later became the Count of Edessa, and  Eustace III.  (Interestingly, their father,  Eustace II appeared at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 as an ally of William the Conqueror, and is listed as a possible killer of Harold II; he is also believed to have given William his own horse after the duke's was killed under him by Gyrth, brother of Harold.
This passage , and the history connected to it, seems to support the following:

Godfrey's identities include Godfrey of Bouillon.

Baldwin was also Baldwin of Boulogne.

Hugh may have been Eustace III (especially since he went home rather than staying in Outremer)."Philippe should have left Matthew in Cordoba with Hugh and me, for Matthew was no help to him in Jerusalem or Acre or any of the other places his father sent  him." BOL p 124.

As for Philippe, this episode may shed some light on Rabbi Loew's comment:  “My father is known as Ariel among Rabbi Loew’s people,” Matthew explained. “The angel of wrath?” I frowned. That didn’t sound like the Philippe I knew. “The lord with dominion over the earth. Some call him the Lion of Jerusalem. Recently my people have had reason to be grateful to the Lion, though the Jews have not—and will never—forget his many past wrongs. But Ariel makes an effort to atone. And judgment belongs to God.” SON p. 493.

The past wrongs against the Jewish people that Philippe was responsible for may include the massacre of Jews during the Crusades - especially the First Crusade. the references to Philippe as the Lion of Jerusalem seem to arise from the Crusaders' success in taking Jerusalem in 1099.

Here are some links to get your daemon on!

Christian-Jewish Relations:The Crusades
Godfrey of Bouillon
Baldwin II of Edessa
Eustace III, Count of Boulogne

P.S. If you have something you'd like us to explore on Weekly Geek, contact us! You may find your curiosities addressed on one of our future geekly posts!  You can also post inquiries or thoughts on The All Souls Gathering!

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