Check this out

As you all know, I loved Victoria Goddard’s The Hands of the Emperor. I didn’t really get into the stories from Antorin’s point of view. Turns out that las month, Goddard released a set of linked stories that splits the difference.

Petty Treasons by [Victoria Goddard]

This is from Antorin’s pov, but involves Cliopher’s early days with the Emperor.

Several points worth mentioning:

a) This is one of the few works in second person — sort of in second person — that works for me. This is an interesting choice, obviously, and a risky choice. Goddard is using this technique of nearly-second-person to show Antorin’s — Fitzroy’s — anyway, the pov character’s — alienation from the role of Emperor and god-on-earth and so on.

b) EVEN HERE, Goddard does not actually show us the joke that Cliopher traded back and forth with the emperor that was so important to that initial encounter. I think this is cheating! I’m really curious what that joke was! Surely it would be possible to call up a friend with a knack for one-liners and jokes and so on and toss ideas back and forth and come up with something good.

Oh, well, I guess we will never know. Regardless, it’s an enjoyable set of stories. I still would like a sequel from Cliopher’s pov, but this was a pleasure to read in the meantime.

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5 thoughts on “Check this out”

  1. Thanks for mentioning this, I hadn’t seen it yet.
    I bought and read it immediately.
    I liked it and felt it was closer to Hands of the Emperor in tone than her other short stories surrounding that, even though the voice was very different.

  2. I get the impression that, after that initial banter which made Cliopher look the Emperor in the eyes, the daily recurring point of human contact in their morning greetings, just the “good morning, Lord” while *seeing* him, and the acknowledgement from Fitzroy of that greeting, is the ongoing ‘joke’. It brings to mind that first scare, and the reprieve for both of them on that second morning (making it a good morning indeed for both of them), while in fact repeating, daily, that first fraught action that affirms the Emperor’s humanity instead of his godhood.

    I also get a fairly strong impression from this story that that return of his humanity, and with it the anchoring in the world that Cliopher sets him on the path to, are central to resolving the chaos in their worlds. Plus, Cliopher provides the necessary information to help him recognise where the turmoil in the world, the magic, and time interact and can be smoothed out by tackling it at both ends.

    Before the breaking, the priest-mages were making the orderly magic holding the worlds together ever stronger and squeezing the natural wild magics out more and more, but also anchoring all that orderly magic in the single figure of the Emperor, loading him up with more magic pressure than an ordinary human can bear, trying to turn him into a god (maybe not their intention, but headed that way anyway). Then the new Emperor Fitzroy who gets smothered under all that ordered magic (and doesn’t want it or the power) is in fact a natural wild mage, and as far as I can understand it the magical pressure came to a head and blew up through him, as a sort of pressure valve.
    He provided that valve because the wild magic was at the core of his being, and he did his best to keep that core alive, protected from but surrounded and pressured by the oppressive ritual structures that he resented.

    The wild magic blowing through the pressure valve at the heart of the orderly magic structures blew those structures to ribbons and bits. But as all the orderly magic holding the worlds together was anchored in him and flowed through him, those flows couldn’t recover until he did. For example, all the rituals with no view of the outside world keep him feeling unanchored in time (as he also was during his coma); that appears to be mirrorred in the uncertain and unequal time-flow in the outside world.
    Cliopher’s recognition of him as a human being starts to bring him back to himself, and back to the world outside the rigid rituals that characterise the orderly magic that separates him from his core. So then he can start connecting with the world again. When that builds up his inner strength, he can start rebuilding the tattered remains of the orderly magic to stabilise the world, but this time incorporating room for the wild magics instead of trying to squeeze them out completely.

    I think, if Cliopher hadn’t provided him with that anchor, he would likely have drifted lost through all the daily rituals while the worlds fell further and farther apart, without gaining the clarity needed to start rebuilding a better world.

  3. Hanneke, I didn’t frame it quite like that to myself, but I do think that it’s absolutely certain that the human connection with Cliopher restored Fitzroy/Antorin to himself as a person, anchored him in himself, and permitted him to recover. I definitely agree that without that connection, he would never have recovered and the world would have continued to fail.

  4. Like you, I didn’t much care for the emperor follow-on books to Hands of the Emperor, but I didn’t think this novella was even as good as those. The pov voice stuff was very distracting for me.

    It’s funny that the author’s best character, by a long mile, is a bureaucrat, and the god-king, lord magus, bard extraordinaire with his merry band of Sherwoodian rogues is not nearly as interesting…

  5. Oh, that’s too bad, Allan! I’m sorry you didn’t like the novella. The pov stuff was something I noticed, but I didn’t mind it.

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