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Author Topic: PC246: Where Virtue Lives  (Read 1967 times)
Ocicat
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« on: February 07, 2013, 03:39:21 AM »

PodCastle 246: Where Virtue Lives

by Saladin Ahmed

Read by Rajan Khanna

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the best ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat, was weary. Two and a half bars of thousand-sheet pastry sat on his plate, their honey and pistachio glazed layers glistening in the sunlight that streamed into Yehyeh’s teahouse. Adoulla let out a belch. Only two hours awake. Only partway through my pastry and cardamom tea, and already a panicked man stands chattering to me about a monster! God help me.

He brushed green and gold pastry bits from his fingers onto his spotless kaftan. Magically, the crumbs and honey-spots slid from his garment to the floor, leaving no stain. The kaftan was as white as the moon. Its folds seemed to go on forever, much like the man sitting before him.

“That hissing! I’m telling you, I didn’t mean to leave her. But by God, I was so scared!” Hafi, the younger cousin of Adoulla’s dear friend Yehyeh, had said “I’m telling you” twelve times already. Repetition helped folk talk away their fear, so Adoulla had let the man go on for a while. He had heard the story thrice now, listening for the inconsistencies fear introduces to memories– even honest men’s memories.

Adoulla knew some of what he faced. A water ghul had abducted Hafi’s wife, dragging her toward a red riverboat with eyes painted on its prow. Adoulla didn’t need to hear any more from Hafi. What he needed was more tea. But there was no time.


Rated PG.


Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
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danooli
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2013, 05:29:58 PM »

Having read and immensely enjoyed Throne Of The Crescent Moon, what a thrill it was to hear about how Raseed became apprenticed to Adoulla!  Fantastic. Knot-blowing is something I would love to learn...

I think I saw on twitter that the novel was published a year ago the day of the podcast release?  Was that on purpose?  If so, well played!  If not...spooky and cool.

Great story, great reading.
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DKT
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 06:54:02 PM »

I think I saw on twitter that the novel was published a year ago the day of the podcast release?  Was that on purpose?  If so, well played!  If not...spooky and cool.

Yeah, you're right - his novel did come out a year ago from the day we ran the story! I wish we could take credit for being that well planned out! It was just the coolest of coincidences, though, and I think it made all of us pretty happy Smiley
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2013, 09:42:19 AM »

This story was pretty good.  It had some good action, good characters, the slicing and dicing of ghouls.  It was pretty straightforward, enjoyable but not particularly memorable.  Maybe if I read the book and knew the characters better it would sing to me more.

(The Three Feats of Agani next week?  Awesome!)
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2013, 10:38:34 AM »

I enjoyed Throne of the Crescent Moon and I've enjoyed all of Saladin Ahmed's stories to some extent, including this one.

(Can you tell there's a "but" coming?)

But I did enjoy this a little less than his previous stories, if only because it seems to offer little new about these characters. In some ways, this story seems like a "proof of concept"--a small version for Ahmed to work out his idea of this fantasy world.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2013, 02:26:04 PM »

I've liked pretty much all of Saladin Ahmed's stories on Podcastle so far, and this was no different. The overall arc of the story was, admittedly, pretty well-worn - young naive enthusiastic kick-ass warrior meets crusty-but-wise mentor.  But it was the details and the characterization that made it, especially the pusillanimous nature of the villain.

This makes me look forward to reading Throne of the Crescent Moon all the more; my book club has selected it for a few months from now (partly at my urging).

(Dave, I'm guessing your "see you next year" was a slip?)
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Devoted135
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2013, 02:49:25 PM »

I loved this story, and it also reminded me to bump Throne of the Crescent Moon up a bit on my "to-read" list. I find that there's something unusually compelling about the Doctor. All the details (frex, his love for cardamom tea) work to create a character much more three-dimensional than your typical hero. And watching him and Raseed knock heads is oddly hilarious. Smiley
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2013, 04:05:28 PM »

Oh, man... I loved this one. Sword and sorcery, well-written non-European cultural themes, moral lessons, beautiful women, and horrible demons. It was totally freaking awesome. Well done!
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DKT
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2013, 04:12:59 PM »

I enjoyed Throne of the Crescent Moon and I've enjoyed all of Saladin Ahmed's stories to some extent, including this one.

(Can you tell there's a "but" coming?)

But I did enjoy this a little less than his previous stories, if only because it seems to offer little new about these characters. In some ways, this story seems like a "proof of concept"--a small version for Ahmed to work out his idea of this fantasy world.

I know this story was published a few years before his novel. I suspect Saladin used this story to work out whether or not a novel might work, and how it might look, but I'm not sure if that's the case or not.

(Dave, I'm guessing your "see you next year" was a slip?)

I GAVE IT AWAY!?!?!?!  Or, I was predicting book 2 was coming out next year?

Ha. No, that was a total goof on my part. Can't believe I missed it Smiley
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2013, 06:48:48 PM »

But I did enjoy this a little less than his previous stories, if only because it seems to offer little new about these characters. In some ways, this story seems like a "proof of concept"--a small version for Ahmed to work out his idea of this fantasy world.

I know this story was published a few years before his novel. I suspect Saladin used this story to work out whether or not a novel might work, and how it might look, but I'm not sure if that's the case or not.
And if this story gets a few more people buying Saladin's great book, it'll all be worth it.
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Listener
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2013, 08:03:46 AM »

I enjoyed the story, although it seemed to start out a bit slow. I liked the switching of the viewpoints in order to keep the POV tight and focused; a lot of writers in my crit group seem to have a distaste for third-person-limited POV, to their detriment. Also, any story with flatulence and eructation is automatically appealing to my inner 12-year-old (because, seriously, what 12-year-old boy didn't think both of those things were fabulously rich veins of humorous material?), so that's a plus.

As someone who's come into atheism in the past five years, I kind of wonder how an atheist would be treated in Ahmed's world -- a world where the power of God is clearly demonstrable by the magic that men like the Doctor do. (I mean, it COULD just be that they have Ahmedichlorians in their blood and putting a scaffolding of religion around it makes it more "palatable", similar to how Randall Garrett did in his Lord Darcy stories with Sean the sorcerer, but without reading more works set in this universe I can't know for certain what the magic system really is -- the power of God, or Ahmedichlorians.)

(I just like saying Ahmedichlorians. Because I like making up my own portmanteaus.)

Overall a good episode.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2013, 10:20:13 AM »

I liked the switching of the viewpoints in order to keep the POV tight and focused; a lot of writers in my crit group seem to have a distaste for third-person-limited POV, to their detriment.

I had trouble keeping track of whose POV it was from at  any given moment, which made some parts confusing.  "Wait, I thought the Doctor was the POV character?"
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J.T. Evans
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2013, 11:58:44 AM »

Best. Origin. Story. Ever.

I had a blast seeing how our two heroes met up and got somewhat acquainted with one another. It added so much flavor and detail to the backstory of both Adoulla and Raseed that I now want to go back and re-read Throne of the Crescent Moon with these new details in light.

I've read that some folks had issues with the POV switches. They didn't bother me for two reasons:

1) Rajan paused just long enough between each POV shift to let me know it was going to happen.

2) I believe (but am not 100% certain of this) that Saladin started each switch with the name of the person we were switching to. It seamlessly grounded me in which head I was in at each moment.

Well done by everyone involved!
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LaShawn
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2013, 11:57:58 AM »

I just started reading ToCM about two weeks ago! It's very nice in that it gives me a clear grounding of the characters and where they stand. I saw the hints of this short story in the book, so it's nice to get a better history of the two.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2013, 09:02:26 PM »

Its probably for the best that I heard this before reading the book, admittingly I hadn't even heard of the book before this so it wasnt hard. After this though I'm definetly looking foward to whenever I manage to to read more about these two!

As always cheers to Rajan Khanna for a thoroughly enjoyable reading.
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