Jun 14

Finished _Black Bottle_ last night

3 comments

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Anthony---

 

I finished _Black Bottle_ last night and had a few Qs I thought you might consider answering for me. I had hoped to finish prior to NTX to ask in person, but didn't pick the book back up again until after the show (I had paused at the chase after Sandren for a few months, and picked up _Lord of Light_ during that time).

 

I was pleasantly surprised at the ending, and thought that you did a great job of setting htat up through Caliph's increasingly negative views of Sena as he bought more and more into others' perceptions of her and her machinations.

 

So, onto the Qs:

 

1. Sena, Caliph, and their daughter, and Nathaniel and Taelin/Arrian all survived the end/recreation of Adummim, right?:

 

- Sena is immortal, divine, and Eternal like the Yillo'tharnah, and can be discovered and brought back/summoned/reincorporated by Caliph (or others) summoning/recreating her via the Cisrym Ta?

- Caliph and daughter are immortal and divine but not Eternal (since they didn't make Sena's pact)?

- Nathaniel is immortal still but not divine, but he's scattered to the four winds/across the multiverse, and will take strange aeons to pull himself back together again; but he probably will, eventually.

- I'm not sure about Taelin and Arrian, who are immortal but not divine and scattered too, right? My sense is that Taelin takes Arrian's place---that was Sena's revenge against Nathaniel, beyond having Caph kill him, so Nathaniel no longer has a #2 to come with him into a future. So Arrian may have been immortal but she might be truly dead and gone, or perhaps is immortal and scattered but can't come back together; and Taelin is like Nathaniel now---immortal but scattered?

 

2. I thought that giving Nathaniel a phylactery was a nice touch, and that itself evoked the demi-lich as well. What was he, in your mind?

 

3. Where did Nathaniel screw up?---if he foresaw Sena's machinations, baby as #2, and planned for the shawt tinctures and annotations in the Cisrym Ta, what happened that he blew it in the end (beyond his phylactery being destroyed)?

 

I probably have some additional Qs but those will suffice for now. Thanks for writing the books, they were highly evocative!

 

Allan.

Jun 16

Hey, Allan,

 

Congrats on finishing the novel. If I were to elevator-pitch the end of the book to someone, I'd just tell them that everyone dies. Caliph and his daughter are translated into a new existence, but everyone else essentially winds up dead. While it's pretty clear Sena could come back at some point beyond the limits of mortal time, she too therefore, is about as dead as dreaming Cthulhu.

 

I admit that I don't generally have answers for most questions re. the books b/c I prefer to let the words alone deliver whatever impression you're left with. Good or bad. One of my favorite reviews of all time is this one here. Tl;dr: "This is a completely depressing book with no redeeming virtues." It's just so wonderful how people see things differently, isn't it?

 

Years ago, when my first fans and haters were forming lines, I realized how consumerism has driven blockbuster products ever more toward the number one, eternally best-selling flavor in the world: vanilla.

 

When your project costs $300 million usd to make, you have to make vanilla to earn it back and be profitable. But when you are cottage, and you are doing a thing for yourself first, you can do whatever you want, please only yourself, and give critics the finger.

 

The novels are certainly abstruse in many areas. And for better or worse, it's intentional. While I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my early years playing D&D inspired many aspects of the novels, they truly are their own thing, a proper departure from all things RPG. Therefore, I don't know what Nathaniel would be in gaming terms. Clearly a demi-god, not wholly omniscient, and also clearly not able to beat Sena out. Is he undead? Perhaps. Again, I've never put any kind of game stats to characters in the novels.

 

In my campaign, the places are a big deal, occasional historical references, Gringlings as a race, the chemiostatic sword as an item (see COBA), etc. But I haven't attempted to turn Nathaniel Howl into an NPC for example.

 

My premise from the beginning, was to write the story of a character that everyone believes knows nothing of love, but who at the end shows that is not true. I think most people who read the book are dissatisfied with Caliph, because they think the story is about him. But the novels are not his story. They are Sena's; Caliph is just a big part of her evolution.

 

With Black Bottle in particular, it was important to me that whom the reader believes is crazy, is actually sane; and whom the reader believes is sane, is actually crazy. Furthermore, I wanted those fighting for the world's salvation to be classifiable as "evil" in any serious discussion of the topic; and those trying to destroy the world (Sena) to have some defensible position as "good".

 

I've been rewarded splendidly, with an apropos polarity of reader opinions, which I think is so fitting for this book (both of them smashed together). I feel bad that it didn't make Tor a ton of money, because they took a chance on it. They might have known because of the representative adherents and detractors inside Tor, back when they were squabbling over whether to buy and publish it! In the end, the wonderful thing about Tom D. is that he's not about making sure every publication is best-selling vanilla. I met him at the Tor party at World Fantasy Con in Columbus 2010 where he told me, "You write a hell of a book."

 

When Tom Doherty tells you that to your face. I mean. That's it. You don't need to get rich, or have a million fans. And if anything, even if you don't amass a huge audience, it gives you the courage to keep doing what you're doing, following your muse.

 

My muse led me away from novels and back to games.

 

Cheers and happy Father's Day.

Hi again Anthony---

 

In my campaign, the places are a big deal, occasional historical references, Gringlings as a race, the chemiostatic sword as an item (see COBA), etc. But I haven't attempted to turn Nathaniel Howl into an NPC for example.

 

That makes sense, both from your earlier comments and those here. Do you leverage the languages from the novels in your games too?

 

My premise from the beginning, was to write the story of a character that everyone believes knows nothing of love, but who at the end shows that is not true. I think most people who read the book are dissatisfied with Caliph, because they think the story is about him. But the novels are not his story. They are Sena's; Caliph is just a big part of her evolution.

 

Yes, that became clear to me in Black Bottle, although I imagine that it started somewhere in The Last Page, too (I read them almost back-to-back, so I don't really differentiate the two).

 

With Black Bottle in particular, it was important to me that whom the reader believes is crazy, is actually sane; and whom the reader believes is sane, is actually crazy. Furthermore, I wanted those fighting for the world's salvation to be classifiable as "evil" in any serious discussion of the topic; and those trying to destroy the world (Sena) to have some defensible position as "good".

 

That dynamic definitely came through as the acceleration into the finale for the novels built!

My muse led me away from novels and back to games.

 

I've enjoyed both, and am very glad that you've found your way back to AD&D!

 

Allan.

 

PS - I hope you and your family had a fine Father's Day too!---on Saturday, the boys and I spent the afternoon at The Arcade filled with Missile Command, Robotron, Joust, Qix, Tempest, Galaxian, Ms. PacMan, Cenitpede, Frogger, and more, along with some pinball too---The Machine/Bride of Pinbot, Addam's Family, Star Trek the Next Generation :)

Jun 17

Yeah, this https://www.dropbox.com/s/k7khyddh9h55eze/language%20tree.BMP?dl=0 should take you to my languages for the Atlath.

 

Characters in my game often interface w/ Old Speech, Ilek, Naneman etc.

 

Father's day suuuuuuuuhked for me so hard. My daughter Ella just left the Wed before to live w/ grandma for benign reasons (proximity to boy friend among them). Anyway, I'm happy to be back to work today and not thinking about it.

 

Enjoy the chart!

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