Escape Artists
December 18, 2018, 06:41:12 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
Author Topic: PC122: Kingspeaker  (Read 11320 times)
Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2938


Part-Time Psychopomp.


« on: September 14, 2010, 07:14:16 AM »

PodCastle 122: Kingspeaker

by Marie Brennan

Read by Diane Severson

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (Text available here)

The king had come to Anahata.

I met him for the first time in the sacred garden of the Temple.  Passing through an archway of fire, I found myself on a path of flower petals, which bruised delicately beneath my bare feet.  Two attendants clothed me in a robe of more petals, fragile silk holding blossoms of the flowers for which the days are named.  Still barefoot, I proceeded, marking along the path the measured steps of my dance.

For that moment, they say, I was the Goddess Triumphant, but I felt no difference.  Only nervousness, that I might misstep in some way.

They had removed the wax at dawn, and even the tiny, faint sounds I had heard since then were a balm for my mind and soul.  Soon, I would hear more.  A new voice awaited me.

Rated PG: Contains a Kingly Voice.

This episode of PodCastle is proudly sponsored by M.K. Hobson’s debut novel The Native Star.

Read the Prologue and Chapter 1 online and listen to Chapter 2 now. Enjoy!
« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 12:34:28 PM by Heradel » Logged

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2010, 08:31:16 AM »

Ooh, first commenter, how often does that happen?

This one was okay.  I thought she had an interesting situation being the Kingspeaker, though the arrogance of the monarchy annoys me that this person is supposedly so higher above regular people that his voice can't be allowed to be heard--obviously that's not a flaw of this story since it's a reflection of a typical monarchy.

But I wish there had been some fantasy element.  Other than made up countries and the (I think) made up occupation of the protagonist.  I'm not saying that everything here has to have magic, but I'm just personally more likely to get into it if it has some kind of supernatural element.

And I couldn't help thinking about all the ways a less scrupulous kingspeaker could abuse her role.  Slip the king a little something to make him ill, speak for his request to be isolated in his bedroom only seeing his kingspeaker, and the king withers away while the kingspeaker makes all his decisions for him using his voice.  Not that that's a flaw in the story either, it's just that I doubt that every kingspeaker would be as responsible with her power as this one.  Some details reminded me of Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker, but not in any bad way.

So, all of my comments boil down to that I didn't find anything objectively bad about the story, it just wasn't suited to my tastes.
Logged
astyanax
Extern
*
Posts: 7


« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2010, 08:56:58 AM »

I agree. I liked the story but not overly so. It was a good concept but it just didn't grab me.
Logged
DKT
Friendly Neighborhood
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4980


PodCastle is my Co-Pilot


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2010, 05:18:32 PM »

Hey everyone - a note about the outro!

Since I recorded it, stuff has exploded with I <3 Escape Artists. We've got a bunch of different authors committed to it, so I created a special thread for it in the Administrivia section. If you've PM'd me already, you're cool - you don't need to comment over there, too (unless you really want to). I just point to it because I'll probably be updating stuff about the extra stories there, and it's an often overlooked area of our forum Smiley

Also - welcome to the new forumites! Do come on over and introduce yourself in this thread if you feel so inclined Smiley

That's all I got - Looking forward to reading what you all thought of this weeks story!
Logged

Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1038


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2010, 06:27:57 PM »

This was a nice story, but too predictable. I saw the ending coming from a mile away, and even some of the plot elements.

The whole "I have no voice, but I am the King's voice" is interesting, but it was played out a little too hard in my opinion. It ended up being "I have no mind, I am the King's mind".

On the other hand, from a literary point of view you could have a field day with this piece.
How often have we felt in a similar situation, where we are in control, but can't show it? Or the opposite, having to maintain the illusion of control, without actually having any?
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

kibitzer
Purveyor of Unsolicited Opinions
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2224


Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2010, 07:39:44 AM »

Well I enjoyed this one very much. The idea of a KingSpeaker was interesting and while the whole was fairly standard fantasy fare, I thought it was well done. A nicely drawn world for a short story.

For some reason, it reminded me of Pseudopod 150, Break the Vessel.

Discuss.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2010, 07:42:52 AM by kibitzer » Logged

ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2010, 08:32:30 AM »

I liked it in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and I liked it more here. I really enjoy the sense of the main character struggling with her own belief system and coming up with a way to survive. She isn't about to step outside of the customs that have defined her life, so she needs to find a way to... bend them a little. It's a very real struggle that people deal with in the real world, and I enjoy seeing it played out here.

I also always appreciated how the king doesn't have to be totally infantalized for the kingspeaker to find her power. He's a good man, just inexperienced, and she needs to take care of him for a minute, embodying his best qualities for him until he finds his courage. A lot of stories in this vein, I think, would be tempted to turn the king into a jerk or a wimp to make the kingspeaker look good, but Brennan knows she doesn't have to do that.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
danooli
Moderator
*****
Posts: 1517



WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2010, 08:49:14 AM »

I also always appreciated how the king doesn't have to be totally infantalized for the kingspeaker to find her power. He's a good man, just inexperienced, and she needs to take care of him for a minute, embodying his best qualities for him until he finds his courage. A lot of stories in this vein, I think, would be tempted to turn the king into a jerk or a wimp to make the kingspeaker look good, but Brennan knows she doesn't have to do that.

this is a great point.  and, i think that pinpoints why i really liked this story. 
Logged
Loz
Lochage
*****
Posts: 370


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2010, 01:25:13 PM »

I liked it but didn't love it. It only really took off for me at the end when it reaches the obvious climax of the Kingspeaker speaking for the King, but then it just rushes to the final full stop. I wanted more of the conflict between the tradition, the Kingspeaker exists only to speak the words of the monarch to other people, to this possibly dangerous new situation, is what the Kingspeaker does good or bad, good for bad reasons, bad for good, etc etc, can the King trust her, if he can't, what can he do when he presumably has no means to communicate with people but through her... The set-up was okay but I think the truly interesting ideas the story brought up weren't addressed.
Logged
Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2938


Part-Time Psychopomp.


« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2010, 10:32:39 PM »

I also always appreciated how the king doesn't have to be totally infantalized for the kingspeaker to find her power. He's a good man, just inexperienced, and she needs to take care of him for a minute, embodying his best qualities for him until he finds his courage. A lot of stories in this vein, I think, would be tempted to turn the king into a jerk or a wimp to make the kingspeaker look good, but Brennan knows she doesn't have to do that.

this is a great point.  and, i think that pinpoints why i really liked this story. 

Yeah, I also liked how the the two characters' relationship ended up looking more like a symbiosis than anything else. I'd agree with Unblinking that the magic and gods element is a bit light -- ok, yes, you have the horses and portents thing, but they're not quite fully on the fantastic side of the line. And there wasn't much in the Kingspeaker-making that you couldn't imagine the Greeks doing (I mean the setting was all very ornate and magical, but not clearly magic). That said, I certainly didn't miss the magic, and would honestly want to hear a bit of how the system came to be.
Logged

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.
alllie
Matross
****
Posts: 174



WWW
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2010, 05:59:04 AM »

It was a well written story. It was interesting. It held together. But I couldn't get over the fact that I hated the king. I hate all kings. I hate the idea of kings. I hate the idea that some inexperienced kid was given power just because he had half the DNA of the previous person who had power. Even the inexperienced girl given the role of Kingspeaker had more smarts than this unqualified kid. What this entire country needed was guillotines, not kings or kingspeakers. 
Logged
stePH
Actually has enough cowbell.
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3906


Cool story, bro!


WWW
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2010, 10:49:48 AM »

It was a well written story. It was interesting. It held together. But I couldn't get over the fact that I hated the king. I hate all kings. I hate the idea of kings. I hate the idea that some inexperienced kid was given power just because he had half the DNA of the previous person who had power. Even the inexperienced girl given the role of Kingspeaker had more smarts than this unqualified kid. What this entire country needed was guillotines, not kings or kingspeakers. 

[fb] Stephen Karnas likes this. [/fb]

 Grin
Logged

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2680


Muahahahaha


« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2010, 05:47:41 PM »

I ended up liking this more than I thought I would initially. The prose is of a style that tends to turn me off. But ultimately I found the protagonist intriguing. She was not a slave, she didn't even think of herself as imprisoned, or anything of the sort, she honestly felt she was playing an important role and was finding fulfillment in helping her King be the man she believed he was.  This wasn't a story about someone losing her identity because of the role she plays, but of someone in a way redefining their identity to fit their role in life.

It was a well written story. It was interesting. It held together. But I couldn't get over the fact that I hated the king. I hate all kings. I hate the idea of kings. I hate the idea that some inexperienced kid was given power just because he had half the DNA of the previous person who had power. Even the inexperienced girl given the role of Kingspeaker had more smarts than this unqualified kid. What this entire country needed was guillotines, not kings or kingspeakers. 

I would guess you're not going to pick up Brandon Sanderson's latest book, 'The Way of Kings,' then. :p Unless the said 'way' is 'fed through a woodchipper' :p

Do you hate royalty in fiction in general? what about real life royalty of the past? (Queen Elizabeth frowns on your shenanigans! :p).
Logged
alllie
Matross
****
Posts: 174



WWW
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2010, 06:57:54 PM »

It was a well written story. It was interesting. It held together. But I couldn't get over the fact that I hated the king. I hate all kings. I hate the idea of kings. I hate the idea that some inexperienced kid was given power just because he had half the DNA of the previous person who had power. Even the inexperienced girl given the role of Kingspeaker had more smarts than this unqualified kid. What this entire country needed was guillotines, not kings or kingspeakers. 

I would guess you're not going to pick up Brandon Sanderson's latest book, 'The Way of Kings,' then. :p Unless the said 'way' is 'fed through a woodchipper' :p

Do you hate royalty in fiction in general? what about real life royalty of the past? (Queen Elizabeth frowns on your shenanigans! :p).

I guess I don't understand the attraction some people have for these unelected tyrants. Even the best of them did not deserve their position and many of them caused great suffering and death through their wars and incompetence.

Still, I'm a big fan of Tanith Lee and she has occasionally written of rulers and Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series deals with royals, but Miles is such a great character that my democratic instincts were not offended.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2010, 07:00:31 PM by alllie » Logged
ioscode
Extern
*
Posts: 18



WWW
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2010, 11:56:55 AM »

I was also a little turned off by the style for the first part of the story.  Kind of an attempt at surreal extravagance that ended up a little to airy for my taste.

It definitely ended up interesting though.  I like the ambiguity about just how much the Kingspeaker is the kings voice.  Maybe she abused her power, or maybe there really is more of a supernatural mind meld kind of thing going on.  Maybe that was this Kingspeaker experiencing it for the first time.  Or maybe my imagination is running away with me...
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2010, 12:44:15 PM »

It was a well written story. It was interesting. It held together. But I couldn't get over the fact that I hated the king. I hate all kings. I hate the idea of kings. I hate the idea that some inexperienced kid was given power just because he had half the DNA of the previous person who had power. Even the inexperienced girl given the role of Kingspeaker had more smarts than this unqualified kid. What this entire country needed was guillotines, not kings or kingspeakers. 

I tried not to let that bug me too, but I"m totally with you there.  It bugged me that the commoners were considered too low to even hear his voice because, like you said, arbitrary bloodlines.  But, I figured, that's just a new facet to historical monarchies, so I can't really knock the author or the story for it.  I can knock humankind for coming up with such a concept.
Logged
stePH
Actually has enough cowbell.
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3906


Cool story, bro!


WWW
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2010, 11:38:54 PM »

It bugged me that the commoners were considered too low to even hear his voice because, like you said, arbitrary bloodlines.  But, I figured, that's just a new facet to historical monarchies, so I can't really knock the author or the story for it.  I can knock humankind for coming up with such a concept.

That actually put me in mind of Kevin Smith's film Dogma, in which the Archangel Metatron spoke to humans on God's behalf, because the unfiltered Voice of God would  annihilate humans ("we went through three Adams before we figured that one out.")
Logged

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising
Dairmid
Extern
*
Posts: 11


« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2010, 07:03:08 AM »

While fairly standard in some ways, I thought it had all of the elements of a great fable: the snake sending them in the 'wrong' but necessary direction, the inexplicable appearance of the two horse, the king coming into his own (albeit with some help); a defining moment in the history of this world. I also liked the conflicted heroine who, while having no voice, nonetheless found her voice speaking for the king, who became a true king through her bold choice. Thoroughly enjoyable all around.
Logged

To discover a new world, you must be willing to get lost. You have to risk sailing off the edge of the earth.
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2010, 08:44:42 AM »

That actually put me in mind of Kevin Smith's film Dogma, in which the Archangel Metatron spoke to humans on God's behalf, because the unfiltered Voice of God would  annihilate humans ("we went through three Adams before we figured that one out.")

Yup, that came to mind too.  In that case it was justifiable because God is God, not just a random human, and it's not just snobbery, your head will actually explode.  I'd rather not allow my head to explode, so I appreciate being given the opportunity to avoid this.

Another association:  Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson where the God King never speaks to the public.
Logged
momerath
Extern
*
Posts: 3


« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2010, 07:09:22 PM »

It bugged me that the commoners were considered too low to even hear his voice because, like you said, arbitrary bloodlines.  But, I figured, that's just a new facet to historical monarchies, so I can't really knock the author or the story for it.  I can knock humankind for coming up with such a concept.

That actually put me in mind of Kevin Smith's film Dogma, in which the Archangel Metatron spoke to humans on God's behalf, because the unfiltered Voice of God would  annihilate humans ("we went through three Adams before we figured that one out.")
I believe that has a basis in the Bible.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!