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Author Topic: PC186, Giant Episode: Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe  (Read 6861 times)
Talia
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« on: December 06, 2011, 10:45:39 AM »

PodCastle 186, Giant Episode: Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe

by Garth Nix.

Read by Paul Tevis.

Originally appeared in Fast Ships, Black Sails.

“Remind me why the pirates won’t sink us with cannon fire at long range,” said Sir Hereward as he lazed back against the bow of the skiff, his scarlet-sleeved arms trailing far enough over the side to get his twice folded-back cuffs and hands completely drenched, with occasional splashes going down his neck and back as well. He enjoyed the sensation, for the water in these eastern seas was warm, the swell gentle, and the boat was making a good four or five knots, reaching on a twelve knot breeze.
“For the first part, this skiff formerly belonged to Annim Tel, the pirate’s agent in Kerebad,” said Mister Fitz. Despite being only three feet six and a half inches tall and currently lacking even the extra height afforded by his favourite hat, the puppet was easily handling both tiller and main sheet of their small craft. “For the second part, we are both clad in red, the colour favoured by the pirates of this archipelagic trail, so they will account us as brethren until proven otherwise. For the third part, any decent perspective glass will bring close to their view the chest that lies lashed on the thwart there, and they will want to examine it, rather than blow it to smithereens.”
“Unless they’re drunk, which is highly probable,” said Hereward cheerfully.

Rated R for violence, sex.

Dave's Note: You can listen to Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz's previous adventue here: "Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go To War Again" (although it's not necessary to need to listen to one story to enjoy the other).

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2011, 10:09:40 AM by Talia » Logged
raetsel
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2011, 01:21:15 PM »

I am the King Under the Mountain and considered my swash well and truly buckled.

What a cracking tale. I loved this story. I'd not heard the previous story on Pod Castle so didn't know anything about Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz, but even the title had me licking my lips in anticipation. A real adventure story in a world richly craftly with clearly lots of back story that was yet worn lightly so as not overburden the listener.

Sir Hereward & Mr Fitz are in the great tradition of roguish heroes and even though their scheme meant the death for their cats' paws' I forgave them.

Great narration too. One small thing though, on the pronunciation of Sir Hereward I don't know if Garth Nix has specified it be pronounced like Heer-Ward but Hereward ( as in the English King Hereward the Wake) is usually pronounced like He-re-wud three distinct syllables . http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/dictionary/hereward-the-wake
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2011, 05:50:26 PM »

This series of stories is possibly my most favorite thing to come to Podcastle. I have already bought the ebook. I will listen to the episodes. I will see the movie. I will play the tie-in RPG. I will own the action figures, and the lunchbox, and the flamethrower. I will get Mr. Fitz tattooed on my ass.

In this series of stories, Nix has achieved the perfect balance between the adventures of this dynamic duo and the sadness that characterizes their eternal wandering. Oh, sure, Herewiss will buckle your swash, but the fact is that he's also a young man who has been cast out by his people for having the poor manners to be born male, who regularly risks his life to save people who will never appreciate him, and who can't seem to find a girlfriend he doesn't have to kill.

The relationship between Herewiss and his mentor and companion, Mr. Fitz, is likewise so wonderfully nuanced that I feel honored to experience it. I love how clear it is that Herewiss and Fitz are deeply fond of each other, but at the same time they are both more dedicated to their mission than they are to each other.

And Mr. Fitz... ah, Mr. Fitz. I love how alien his perspective is... and yet, not so alien as that. He loves his friend Herewiss, he loves the world he was made to defend, and despite that very human emotion... he's a freaking animate puppet!

Ah, these stories are wonderful. I want Herewiss to be my character so hard I can taste it. Please, please, please, create more.
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2011, 08:54:04 PM »

Holy Moley! Killer weir-Leopard priestesses, mage puppets, and Lovecraftian starfish. With pirates. I think this tops the last *two* "Pirates" movies.

I think I shall look into that e-book now....
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2011, 09:34:45 AM »

The story was fairly cool, although kind of involved for audio, where it's not easy to go back and "reread". Fitz was victim to a fair bit of infodumping. The giant starfish-carnivore was a creative touch. The thing with Fury's cabin-steward seemed a bit unnecessary, and in all I don't quite understand why she needed to be a cannibal, other than the "ew" factor.

One pronunciation note -- while Merriam-Webster does allow "FORE-castle" as a way to say forecastle, the general usage is "FOHK-sull". Took me out of the story a little bit until I got used to it.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2011, 09:43:09 AM »

The story was fairly cool, although kind of involved for audio, where it's not easy to go back and "reread". Fitz was victim to a fair bit of infodumping. The giant starfish-carnivore was a creative touch. The thing with Fury's cabin-steward seemed a bit unnecessary, and in all I don't quite understand why she needed to be a cannibal, other than the "ew" factor.

Because the world of Fitz and Herewiss is all about the weird-ass gods and sects that Nix can pull out of the evil pit in the back of his brain. You have a lot more sympathy for the mission the man and his puppet have dedicated themselves to once you understand why. In more general terms, I think it added a lot to one of the stories most important themes: "the world beyond this (relatively) short story is big and full of stuff, only some of which will get detailed here." Passing references to cannibal cults and leopard gods is important for establishing that kind of style, even if it doesn't necessarily drive the "A Plot." For my part, I (clearly) didn't find the cannibalism squicky. I also don't think the info-dumping was egregious, as it both drove the theme (see above re: the world is big) and explicated Mr. Fitz's character (he's kind of a pontificating know-it-all).
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2011, 01:59:53 PM »


Because the world of Fitz and Herewiss is all about the weird-ass gods and sects that Nix can pull out of the evil pit in the back of his brain. You have a lot more sympathy for the mission the man and his puppet have dedicated themselves to once you understand why. In more general terms, I think it added a lot to one of the stories most important themes: "the world beyond this (relatively) short story is big and full of stuff, only some of which will get detailed here." Passing references to cannibal cults and leopard gods is important for establishing that kind of style, even if it doesn't necessarily drive the "A Plot." For my part, I (clearly) didn't find the cannibalism squicky. I also don't think the info-dumping was egregious, as it both drove the theme (see above re: the world is big) and explicated Mr. Fitz's character (he's kind of a pontificating know-it-all).

OK I'll bite. What's with the Herewiss? Have I missed something from previous stories or do you have the world's most bizarre autocorrect software Wink
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2011, 02:07:57 PM »


Because the world of Fitz and Herewiss is all about the weird-ass gods and sects that Nix can pull out of the evil pit in the back of his brain. You have a lot more sympathy for the mission the man and his puppet have dedicated themselves to once you understand why. In more general terms, I think it added a lot to one of the stories most important themes: "the world beyond this (relatively) short story is big and full of stuff, only some of which will get detailed here." Passing references to cannibal cults and leopard gods is important for establishing that kind of style, even if it doesn't necessarily drive the "A Plot." For my part, I (clearly) didn't find the cannibalism squicky. I also don't think the info-dumping was egregious, as it both drove the theme (see above re: the world is big) and explicated Mr. Fitz's character (he's kind of a pontificating know-it-all).

OK I'll bite. What's with the Herewiss? Have I missed something from previous stories or do you have the world's most bizarre autocorrect software Wink

No - I just wasn't paying attention to my typing :-/.
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2011, 02:52:45 PM »

The story was fairly cool, although kind of involved for audio, where it's not easy to go back and "reread". Fitz was victim to a fair bit of infodumping. The giant starfish-carnivore was a creative touch. The thing with Fury's cabin-steward seemed a bit unnecessary, and in all I don't quite understand why she needed to be a cannibal, other than the "ew" factor.

Because the world of Fitz and Herewiss is all about the weird-ass gods and sects that Nix can pull out of the evil pit in the back of his brain. You have a lot more sympathy for the mission the man and his puppet have dedicated themselves to once you understand why. In more general terms, I think it added a lot to one of the stories most important themes: "the world beyond this (relatively) short story is big and full of stuff, only some of which will get detailed here." Passing references to cannibal cults and leopard gods is important for establishing that kind of style, even if it doesn't necessarily drive the "A Plot." For my part, I (clearly) didn't find the cannibalism squicky. I also don't think the info-dumping was egregious, as it both drove the theme (see above re: the world is big) and explicated Mr. Fitz's character (he's kind of a pontificating know-it-all).

I guess I get that. And in a longer story, you have the luxury to explain little tidbits of world.

The cannibalism didn't squick me out per se. I just didn't really see the point of it -- Fury wasn't any more scary because she eats people.
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Talia
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2011, 03:59:47 PM »

Fury wasn't any more scary because she eats people.

She was to me, personally.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2011, 04:19:40 PM »

Fury wasn't any more scary because she eats people.
She was to me, personally.

And she was definitely more scary to Hereward!


I loved this story! I haven't gotten to the first installment in the backlogs yet, but now I'm really looking forward to it! Many thanks to Dave for going the extra mile to get this story for us. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2011, 07:48:55 PM »

Digging this story.  Giant episodes are normally too much for me (limited listening window, and tend to loose track if I have to split a tale across multiple listening sessions), but this one grabbed me early and held on.  Loved the rich, fantastic setting.
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2011, 03:00:38 AM »


No - I just wasn't paying attention to my typing :-/.

Well that's remarkably consistent mis-typing  Smiley. I'm guessing you're one of those fancy touch-typists.
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2011, 09:13:41 AM »


No - I just wasn't paying attention to my typing :-/.

Well that's remarkably consistent mis-typing  Smiley. I'm guessing you're one of those fancy touch-typists.

It probably has something to do with the fact that Herewiss is the hero of a series by Diane Duane that I recently finished.
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2011, 09:55:08 AM »

Woohoo!  I love Hereward and Fitz.  I'm glad I knew their godlet-hunting background already before this story started, so that I could know that was their motive all along--it seems like in this one and the other one I've heard that the story keeps that unnecessarily hidden until later on.  I didn't really like the title, but other than those two minor quibbles, I really enjoyed it.  I think I can honestly say that I've never seen a story with giant carnivorous starfish gods.

I want a Mr. Fitz to bring home with me...  He'd be an awesome adventuring companion.
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2011, 09:20:28 PM »

I don't have anything of worth or note to include, just wanted to add my praise onto the pile.  Fitz & Hereward and Balfour & Meriweather are now tied for my favorite duos on podcastle, and maybe everywhere else too!  Can't get enough of 'em, and if I ever see Garth Nix I'm gonna give him a firm, appreciative handshake.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2011, 05:07:32 PM »

I loved this story. Everything about it was riveting. A great plot, great characters, great setting... I will probably get the ebook.

On a slightly less enthusiastic note, Fitz's and Hereward's reactions to the death of "hundreds of pirates" was bad. And I mean, there was no reaction. At all.
Oh sure, I appreciate the irony of villains and such helping them to achieve their goal and rid the world of a deadly otherworldly menace, but guys, come ON! Spare a few seconds and grieve for those who helped you accomplish your mission and saved your asses! Really! It would have been within character (IMO) for Hereward to be a little sad and wistful and for Fitz to be all business-like.
Also, the ending was a little bit too cheesey for me.
I'd rather supplant it with this:
Quote
Hereward looked about him at the mass carnage and winced a little. The death toll was surely much more than he had anticipated, and it didn't help to think that these were just pirates. After all, they'd saved their lives! And hundreds of dead people, regardless what they did in their lives, is a heavy burden on one's conscience.
Fitz looked up at Hereward and caught the man's heavy sigh. "Cheer up, at least they died doing a good deed."

Another thing that bothered me was the three-moon system.
I can get behind magical puppets, and even understand the cannibals, it's just what their society does, I shouldn't judge them.
But a three moon system? Come on!
I have nothing against having our planet with more (or less) than the usual number of moons, but you need to know how these things work. If you have three moons then you canNOT have predictable tides. It's impossible.
Today, the three body problem can only be solved only in approximation. That means that a system involving three bodies who influence each other gravitationally cannot be fully predicted. Under some assumptions some things can be ascertained, but not everything.
A four body problem (Earth and three moons) is (for all intents and purposes) impossible. There is no way that they should be able to predict the tides so precisely.
Furthermore, if these three moons were more or less the size of our current moon, then the whole Earth-moons system would be screwed up beyond belief. The center of gravity for that system would not be somewhere near the center of the Earth (like it is in reality) but might even be somewhere in mid-space. Which means that the Earth would orbit around that center of gravity, and probably make the surface uninhabitable due to too much fluctuations in the seasons.
AND, if that's not enough, the tidal forces involved would make for a much more volcanically active planet, which would make even the temperate zones (assuming they are habitable) uninhabitable.
And if the moons were significantly smaller, small enough to not have such adverse influences on the planet, then they wouldn't be so visible.

So, yeah.
Great story, not so good ending, and my science brain almost ruined it for me. I just chose to ignore the three moons and got on with the story.
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« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2011, 06:06:34 PM »

Oh, this story takes me back to another life time and another place...where I was but a roguish felinoid, rapier at my side.  Most would have thought of me as the sidekick to a moderately hansom human knight. Although I thought he was a little up tight sometimes.  But, that's alirght, I didn't tell him everything. Y'know, one of those sorts that what he doesn't know, usually doesn't hurt me.

For the days when we were embroiled in the midst of the great Dragon and Druid war, lasting for hundreds of years.  Not to mention the countless numbers of undead we had to battle...well, there were the ones we just ran from, but..you know how that is, so many folks have died, you can't fight them all.  The Night(s) of Bronze, when a great king of the past rose from his crypt with his Army of Bronze soldiers to retake a corrupted kingdom.

The High Priestess of the Dragons...and her dozen children.  They were quite a handful.  But, I have to admit, I think the difference between cats and dragons is really very small.  A number of them took to my skillset quite nicely.  Well, and my Knight companion inspired many of them as well....and, did I mention he married the oldest daughter?  Well, he did.  Of course that really left me with all the heavy lifting. Can't be sending a Knight home on his shield to the wife, she'd never have forgiven me.  Well, that or her mother wouldn't have been happy with me either.

So many adventures, so many years we spent, sometimes hybernating when we would be needed later.  Ah, and that one time, I used the really fancy, retracting armor to go break the soul crystal and free the High Priestess...well, that was actually pretty painful.  And I don't think the armor was quite the same afterwards.

But so many adventures, and that thorn in our side, Leo...ugh.  Well, he's a completely different story for another time.

Nontheless, this story harkens me back to days gone by like that, made my heart beat with excitement, my brain race, looking for the next twist and turn.  Ah...and the pirates.  Indeed, a fine tale.
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2011, 04:57:27 AM »


On a slightly less enthusiastic note, Fitz's and Hereward's reactions to the death of "hundreds of pirates" was bad. And I mean, there was no reaction. At all.
Oh sure, I appreciate the irony of villains and such helping them to achieve their goal and rid the world of a deadly otherworldly menace, but guys, come ON! Spare a few seconds and grieve for those who helped you accomplish your mission and saved your asses! Really!


I must admit this was the only thing that spoiled what would have been a perfect story. As I said above I forgave them this lapse just because they were great rogues. What was worst was the fact I think Fitz said the bubble would hold air for 12 people but just the two of them snuck off into it. They could have saved a few pirates.

Another thing that bothered me was the three-moon system.
I can get behind magical puppets, and even understand the cannibals, it's just what their society does, I shouldn't judge them.
But a three moon system? Come on!
I have nothing against having our planet with more (or less) than the usual number of moons, but you need to know how these things work. If you have three moons then you canNOT have predictable tides. It's impossible.

Great story, not so good ending, and my science brain almost ruined it for me. I just chose to ignore the three moons and got on with the story.

I hadn't really thought of this. Mind you I only picked up on two moons but I might have mis-heard, there was the blue moon and the "normal" moon but maybe I missed one. Good excuse to go back and re-listen or I can read it on the kindle version I just bought.

Even so with 3 moons as you say tide prediction would be difficult in our world but who knows what magic and what godlets might also have sway over them. Fitz does at one point say that the bore that comes up the gorge is probably augmented by magic.
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2011, 09:05:26 AM »

Another thing that bothered me was the three-moon system.
I can get behind magical puppets, and even understand the cannibals, it's just what their society does, I shouldn't judge them.
But a three moon system? Come on!
I have nothing against having our planet with more (or less) than the usual number of moons, but you need to know how these things work. If you have three moons then you canNOT have predictable tides. It's impossible.

Great story, not so good ending, and my science brain almost ruined it for me. I just chose to ignore the three moons and got on with the story.

I hadn't really thought of this. Mind you I only picked up on two moons but I might have mis-heard, there was the blue moon and the "normal" moon but maybe I missed one. Good excuse to go back and re-listen or I can read it on the kindle version I just bought.

Even so with 3 moons as you say tide prediction would be difficult in our world but who knows what magic and what godlets might also have sway over them. Fitz does at one point say that the bore that comes up the gorge is probably augmented by magic.
I too will have a re-listen, but I'm pretty sure that there were 3 moons.
The bore that comes up the gorge is augmented by magic, but magic or no, there still shouldn't be a reasonable way to predict when it will happen.
I can almost quite imagine there being oracles and such with godlike powers who can fortell tides, but that would require that every single seagoing vessel from the smallest fishing boat to huge cruisers have at least one. I'd expect the larger ships to have a few, for shifts and redundancies. This would severely hamper seagoing travel and trade, and would not give rise to such a rich seagoing culture that we glimpse here. Furthermore, we see no hint to such ship-godlets existing.
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