Escape Artists

PodCastle => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Heradel on February 23, 2010, 08:24:49 AM



Title: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Heradel on February 23, 2010, 08:24:49 AM
PodCastle 92: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
(http://podcastle.org/2010/02/23/podcastle-92-sir-hereward-and-mr-fitz-go-to-war-again/)
by Garth Nix (http://www.garthnix.com/).
Read by Paul Tevis (http://paultevis.com/).
Originally appeared in Jim Baen’s Universe (http://baens-universe.com/).

“Do you ever wonder about the nature of the world, Mister Fitz?” asked the foremost of the two riders, raising the three-barred visor of his helmet so that his words might more clearly cross the several feet of space that separated him from his companion, who rode not quite at his side.

“I take it much as it presents itself, for good or ill, Sir Hereward,” replied Mister Fitz. He had no need to raise a visor, for he wore a tall lacquered hat rather than a helmet. It had once been taller and had come to a peak, before encountering something sharp in the last battle but two the pair had found themselves engaged in. This did not particularly bother Mister Fitz, for he was not human. He was a wooden puppet given the semblance of life by an ancient sorcery. By dint of propinquity, over many centuries a considerable essence of humanity had been absorbed into his fine-grained body, but attention to his own appearance or indeed vanity of any sort was still not part of his persona.

Sir Hereward, for the other part, had a good measure of vanity and in fact the raising of the three-barred visor of his helmet almost certainly had more to do with an approaching apple seller of comely appearance than it did with a desire for clear communication to Mister Fitz.

The duo were riding south on a road that had once been paved and gloried in the name of the Southwest Toll Extension of the Lesser Trunk. But its heyday was long ago, the road being even older than Mister Fitz. Few paved stretches remained, but the tightly compacted understructure still provided a better surface than the rough soil of the fields to either side.

The political identification of these fallow pastures and the occasional once-coppiced wood they passed was not clear to either Sir Hereward or Mister Fitz, despite several attempts to ascertain said identification from the few travelers they had encountered since leaving the city of Rhool several days before. To all intents and purposes, the land appeared to be both uninhabited and untroubled by soldiery or tax collectors and was thus a void in the sociopolitical map that Hereward held uneasily, and Fitz exactly, in their respective heads.

Rated PG for wooden puppets with no desire to be human.

Ann Leckie month comes to a conclusion with this rousing tale. We hope you enjoyed her choices as much as we did. Thanks, Ann!


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Scattercat on February 23, 2010, 09:05:27 PM
Effing.  Awesome.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Listener on February 24, 2010, 11:00:41 AM
The story was very good. I like how the world was made deeper in layers -- first it's "these two guys are soldiers for hire" then it's "these two guys kill evil gods" then it's "this guy is the only son of witches and the puppet was actually a woman but isn't anymore". I liked its richness and depth, but I really think it could've been done well as a shorter story and the whole scene with the swordswoman could've been eliminated. I don't think we knew enough about Hereward to truly appreciate the way he behaved toward the woman.

The reading was very good as well, though was it just me or were there several words pronounced oddly? They kept taking me out of the story.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: yicheng on February 25, 2010, 05:49:41 PM
I started off liking this story, but in the end I found the plot had too many surprise twists for my taste.  They felt a bit heavy-handed, and had the feel of "What ho!  I am not left-handed either!".  One or two is fine, but it seems like "Oh BTW, my puppet-butler is actually a God-killer and can incinerate everyone in town!!" is a bit much.  The female love-interest had potential, but her being killed off was a bit depressing.  It seems like this could have worked as part of a much larger story, where the complicated and convoluted past could be revealed in a more plausible manner.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: danooli on February 28, 2010, 07:31:10 AM
i also thought this story was great and I also want to learn more about this world.  What other godlets are around that need Mr. Fitz to take care of them?  Will Sir Hereward ever get a chance to rest? 



Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Yargling on February 28, 2010, 09:11:29 AM
I found it alittle hard at the start to get into, but as the words washed over me and I got the world view in my head, it became a truly awesome story. Full marks - sad ending, but it was still awesome.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Talia on February 28, 2010, 10:07:42 AM
Ooh this also appeared in "years best fantasy and horror 2008", I KNEW I'd read it somewhere before.

Fun story though i also had trouble getting into it at first.I just think its the type of story you have to pay fairly close attention to to follow, at least at first. There's nothing wrong with that, it just lends itself poorly to the type of podcast listening I do - on my Ipod in the car, wandering around the store, etc.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: kibitzer on February 28, 2010, 05:27:06 PM
The reading was very good as well, though was it just me or were there several words pronounced oddly? They kept taking me out of the story.

Not just you. There were some odd pronunciations.

Man, that Nix guy can write. I don't think this was an innovative story in that many of the familiar fantasy elements are used. But that totally doesn't matter when a writer uses them to construct such a great story! The characters, the events, the action pieces -- they all seemed real, with people you relate with and care about.

A great ride and a fitting end to Anne Leckie month. She likes the longer stories, doesn't she?


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: kibitzer on February 28, 2010, 05:27:55 PM
By the way Listener, love the new avatar! I should make that my personal motto.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Heradel on February 28, 2010, 05:53:16 PM
The ending of this story really reminded me strongly of how The Doctor goes off after each rescue where someone dies, and how much he treasures the few times where nobody dies.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Listener on March 01, 2010, 09:30:34 AM
By the way Listener, love the new avatar! I should make that my personal motto.

Thanks. I like to change it up every once in a while.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: MacArthurBug on March 01, 2010, 01:51:12 PM
Good story. I think I would have liked it better on paper. There were parts the reading dragged. I have ADHD, when I'm reading I can totally suspend belief, but listening if my attention isn't held it wanders. I kept getting sidetracked. Which is kind of awful really because this story had a lot of interesting bits. I'm going to have to go find it in print form and give it another chance.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Unblinking on March 02, 2010, 09:25:51 AM
I mostly liked this one.  The fantastic elements were just really spectacular with the wooden puppet god-hunter, the needle magic, and all that.  If there are any sequels to this, I hope Podcastle gets rights to them sooner or later!

But, it was really, really long, with lots of distractions.  The duel was a big time sink that I could've done without.  And I really prefer to get deep into the protagonist's head, so it's a little disappointing when the end suddenly reveals reams of information that are obvious to him but hadn't been explained to me (about the pregnant puppet, the fact that he's a son of a witch, etc.).  But the originality of the ideas was enough to carry it through the parts that I didn't like as much.

The beginning could definitely use some work though, just a dull description of two guys riding horses.  I was just starting to groan, figuring I was in for a long haul on this one, until they mentioned that he was a wooden puppet.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: DKT on March 02, 2010, 11:39:06 AM
I'm going to have to go find it in print form and give it another chance.

How about text form (http://baens-universe.com/articles/Sir_Hereward_and_Mister_Fitz_Go_to_War_Again)?  :D

The beginning could definitely use some work though, just a dull description of two guys riding horses.

Pssstt. They weren't horses :)


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Unblinking on March 03, 2010, 09:33:29 AM
Pssstt. They weren't horses :)

Oh yeah.  I wish they'd made what they were a little clearer.  It mentioned the talons gripping the rocks and I did a double take and then it never mentioned them again (at least not that I noticed).  Did anybody else think they might be chocobos?


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: DKT on March 03, 2010, 11:52:45 AM
If you click on the link in one of the posts above with the story text, there's some artistic interpretations. I definitely got the feel they were reptillian. I think they had spiked ridges in their backs.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: MacArthurBug on March 03, 2010, 02:55:08 PM
I'm going to have to go find it in print form and give it another chance.

How about text form (http://baens-universe.com/articles/Sir_Hereward_and_Mister_Fitz_Go_to_War_Again)?  :D

The beginning could definitely use some work though, just a dull description of two guys riding horses.

Pssstt. They weren't horses :)

Thank you!


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Unblinking on March 04, 2010, 09:31:37 AM
If you click on the link in one of the posts above with the story text, there's some artistic interpretations. I definitely got the feel they were reptillian. I think they had spiked ridges in their backs.

Ah, thanks for pointing that out.  I listen to the stories in the car, so I didn't think to look at the original for illustrations.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Poppydragon on March 04, 2010, 05:00:42 PM
I would love more from this world, both before and after this particular point in time. PC appears to be trying to make it impossible to choose a best of 2010 story as this and the two preceding it have already gone into an immediate top five position, there's some standard being set.

I loved the aspect of storytelling within this, a seemingly traditional quest / cause story, but with a step sideways that makes it something really rather special.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: eytanz on March 06, 2010, 09:19:27 AM
I really liked this one. Rich world-building and three-dimensional characters drove a plot that was otherwise quite straightforward (go somewhere, find an enemy, beat him off-screen, with a tragic romance subplot). Very well written and (one or two stumbles aside) very well read.

But I have to say I was a bit put off by Dave's intro, that not only contained spoilers for this story (though admittedly not marked as such so they were easy to miss if you didn't realize they were such), but also an explicit spoiler to the twist of Infestation over on EP, which seems really unfortunate if someone hears this story first. Didn't affect my enjoyment of either, but why run the risk of doing that to a new listener?


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Ocicat on March 06, 2010, 08:11:11 PM
PC appears to be trying to make it impossible to choose a best of 2010 story as this and the two preceding it have already gone into an immediate top five position, there's some standard being set.

Someone seems to have enjoyed Ann Leckie month!  I quite did too...


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: DKT on March 07, 2010, 08:54:14 PM
But I have to say I was a bit put off by Dave's intro, that not only contained spoilers for this story (though admittedly not marked as such so they were easy to miss if you didn't realize they were such), but also an explicit spoiler to the twist of Infestation over on EP, which seems really unfortunate if someone hears this story first. Didn't affect my enjoyment of either, but why run the risk of doing that to a new listener?

I guess I figured since "Infestation" ran Halloween 2009, it was far enough in the podcasts' past that it was fair game.

The small spoilers for the others that ran during Ann Leckie month...well, I guess they are but I didn't see them as anything major (although, yeah, the Infestation spoiler was the big twist). But I'm sorry it took away from your enjoyment and will think twice about saying something similar next time.



Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Unblinking on March 08, 2010, 12:05:19 PM
The small spoilers for the others that ran during Ann Leckie month...well, I guess they are but I didn't see them as anything major (although, yeah, the Infestation spoiler was the big twist). But I'm sorry it took away from your enjoyment and will think twice about saying something similar next time.

I'm guessing the spoiler referred to was talking about the road trip with a god-hunting wooden puppet for this story.  The wooden puppet was revealed early on in the story but the god-hunting wasn't really explained until much later


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Gamercow on March 08, 2010, 12:08:11 PM
Wow, this may be my favorite PC episode yet.  Great world building, great lore and history, and great characters.  I just can't say enough about how much this story pulled me in from the beginning.  The little details that were mentioned but not dwelled upon, giving us glimpses into the rest of the world without hammering us over the head with it, the gradual reveals to Hereward and Fitz's past, so many interesting bits.  I think that Hereward and Mr. Fitz may be making a cameo appearance in my D&D campaign. 


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: DKT on March 08, 2010, 12:10:50 PM
The small spoilers for the others that ran during Ann Leckie month...well, I guess they are but I didn't see them as anything major (although, yeah, the Infestation spoiler was the big twist). But I'm sorry it took away from your enjoyment and will think twice about saying something similar next time.

I'm guessing the spoiler referred to was talking about the road trip with a god-hunting wooden puppet for this story.  The wooden puppet was revealed early on in the story but the god-hunting wasn't really explained until much later

Ah. I'd forgotten about that. Very true and thanks for mentioning it.

Again, apologies if that messed up the story for anyone, and I'll try not to mention anything too spoilery in future intros.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Unblinking on March 08, 2010, 12:15:43 PM
Ah. I'd forgotten about that. Very true and thanks for mentioning it.

Again, apologies if that messed up the story for anyone, and I'll try not to mention anything too spoilery in future intros.

It didn't bother me in this particular case.  When I heard the bit about the god-hunting puppet road trip, my first reaction was "What story is that?  And where can I read it?"  And the answers were apparently "This story." and "Now."  :)


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: mbrennan on March 23, 2010, 03:03:56 AM
Great worldbuilding in this one.  I think, though, that for me to love it, I would have needed it to be either shorter or longer.  I was disappointed that more wasn't done with the woman (whose name I can't recall), and that the stuff about the witches was dropped in so late, with so little exploration; a shorter version could have had a tighter focus, whereas a longer one could have delved into those things in greater detail.  When the god-killing plot showed up, it left me feeling like too much of what came before had been misleading, making me think this was going to be a story about Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz joining the mercenary forces and dealing with some plot along those lines.

Which is not the same thing as saying it was bad.  I enjoyed it quite a bit.  But it didn't punch as hard as it could have, under different circumstances.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: Paranatural on March 23, 2010, 08:31:24 AM
I really enjoyed this story. The plot itself was interesting, as were the characters. I find the idea of an boy sent out with no family except a wooden puppet to fulfill his mothers' duties rather interesting. Has he been cursed by the witches to never find peace and only discover strife, perhaps because of the strife he brought to their organization by being born? There were a few moments of exposition worked in there that I thought were rather awkward, like when Mr. Fitz started explaining why they had to kill the godlet (Anyone else wonder at the difference between a godlet and a God in this story?). Anyway, overall an excellent story and I hope to perhaps hear more of Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: tinroof on March 24, 2010, 12:03:09 PM
I know we already have a thread about how "feels like part of a larger narrative" shouldn't be a criticism, but I really think it was a major flaw in an otherwise very good story. It felt like it was written with the assumption that we already knew certain things about the setting and characters - the parts where Hereward explains he was raised by the witches, for instance, or why Mr. Fitz was able to pass through the barrier, seemed like they were supposed to be Dramatic Reveals™, but without any pre-existing background for them they just fell flat to me. Especially the latter - the fact that Mr. Fitz technically qualifies as a pregnant woman has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the story except as a convenient excuse for not putting in a barrier-breaking scene. In a larger narrative, there probably would have been hints at his nature, and the explanation would have been a very effective "aha!" moment, but as it was it seemed to come out of left field for very little reason.

The witch thing is similar. If we'd known about the history of the setting, and had heard references to the witches as evil, god-killers, etc., then the fact that Hereward was raised by them and that their purpose was good would have been a much more powerful moment. Again, without that background it comes off as somewhat forced exposition instead.

Again, I liked the story, and I think total immersion can be a very effective way to worldbuild if you do it right. But there's a difference between gradually revealing the world by example as you go along, and just pretending everyone already knows what you're talking about. They look the same, but the effect is very different.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: That Hirschman Guy on March 25, 2010, 09:09:47 PM
I enjoyed this quite a bit. Great voice characterization. An immersing world which I would love to revisit in subsequent stories, if there are any.


Title: Re: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again
Post by: justenjoying on January 15, 2012, 06:42:16 PM
I read the other podcastle Hereward and Mr. Fitz story before this one and i was excited by the other one and
thought this one was bland. While my boyfriend read them in release order and had the opposite reaction. The premise of the
characters are awsome enough to carry the whole story and even make it an enjoyable adventure, but once the novelty of the
world stiching needles wears off, it is exciting fluff much like a action movie. Not to say they arn't fun, just not much else.