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Author Topic: PC092: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again  (Read 8962 times)
Heradel
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« on: February 23, 2010, 08:24:49 AM »

PodCastle 92: Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again

by Garth Nix.
Read by Paul Tevis.
Originally appeared in Jim Baen’s Universe.

“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!
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 08:37:41 AM by Heradel » Logged

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Scattercat
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2010, 09:05:27 PM »

Effing.  Awesome.
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« Reply #2 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.
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yicheng
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« Reply #3 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.
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danooli
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« Reply #4 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? 

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Yargling
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« Reply #5 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.
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Talia
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« Reply #6 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.
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« Reply #7 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?
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kibitzer
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2010, 05:27:55 PM »

By the way Listener, love the new avatar! I should make that my personal motto.
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #9 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.
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« Reply #10 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.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #11 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.
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« Reply #12 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.
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DKT
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« Reply #13 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 formCheesy

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

Pssstt. They weren't horses Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2010, 09:33:29 AM »

Pssstt. They weren't horses Smiley

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?
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DKT
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« Reply #15 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.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #16 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 formCheesy

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

Pssstt. They weren't horses Smiley

Thank you!
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« Reply #17 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.
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Poppydragon
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« Reply #18 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.
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« Reply #19 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?
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