Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sympathy For The Witch-king.

I read Jacqueline Carey's duology The Sundering earlier this year and I've been working on a new army... the army of Darkhaven.  Carey's story consists of the books Banewreaker and Godslayer.  They make sense once you get into the story, but I admit the title Banewreaker does not immediately inspire confidence in the author nor her imagination.  In a nutshell, it is a highly condensed version of Tolkien's Ainulindale from The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings... but the villains are the protagonists.

In The Sundering, Satoris (Melkor) is commanded by Haomane (Manwe) to remove the gift of procreation from Men so that Elves will always rule Urulat (Middle-earth).  Satoris is most heartbroken because his sister Arahila (the creator of humans) goes along with Haomane's royal plan.  The other gods who created races (Neheris - Trolls, Yrinna - Dwarves, Oronin - Were) also go along with Haomane's decree.  When Satoris refuses, the other six gods wage war upon him. In abiding with Haomane's wishes, Arahila, Neheris, Yrinna, and Oronin basically abandon their created races.  The war is a stalemate with the six gods on the western continent (Aman) and Satoris on Urulat (Middle-earth).  But Satoris is gravely injured by a shard of the diving essence (Silima) wielded by Oronin.  Satoris retreated after seizing the shard, afterwards called Godslayer.

After many years, Haomane sends three divine beings disguised as humans (Istari) to lead an attack using three fragments (Silmarils) of the original god (Eru)... two are slain, but one, Malthus (Gandalf) survives.

Deprived of their god, beset by Elves and Men, the Trolls accept Satoris' offer of allegiance.  In the intervening thousands years or so, a general peace settles over Urulat.  I forget the name of the mightiest human realm, but it's basically Gondor.  Anyway, a thousand later, Blaise Caveros is the general of Gondor and best friend of King (something) Altorus.  Blaise campaigns for the king and comes home to find his wife has given birth to Altorus' son.  In a rage, Blaise murders both his wife and his king.  He flees heartsick into the wild.  In his grief and despair, he hears Satoris call to him... and he responds.  Satoris gives him a purpose... to lead the Trolls... to change them from a mob into a cohesive fighting force.  Satoris gives him a magic black sword... and Blaise Caveros basically becomes the Witch-king.

Satoris also forges an alliance with Staccia (Rohan) who has suffered at the hands of Gondor.  Their ruler, Vorax, becomes Satoris' primary ambassador and procurer of goods.  His appetites are legendary.

Satoris also takes in Ushahin (Sauron), the Dreamspinner.  Ushahin is the product of a Man raping an Elven princess.  He is shunned by both races and raised by the Were (mystical humanoid wolves).  He uses ravens and his own magics to see things far away.

Together, the Blacksword, Lord Vorax, and the Dreamspinner are called The Three (Nazgul).  They are the chiefest servants of Satoris and he's used Godslayer to give them immortality.

When Malthus (Gandalf) convinces Cerelinde (Arwen) to marry Aracus Altorus (Aragorn) and thus begin to fulfill the prophecy of Satoris' destruction, Satoris takes this as a declaration of war... and acts accordingly.  Of course, Elves and Men are stunned by Satoris' sneak attack and brand him a traitor and deceiver all over again.

I'm not going to tell you the whole story, but I need you to know that Satoris, the Dreamspinner, the Trolls, the Ravens, all of the outcasts who've joined Satoris, and Blaise Caveros the Blacksword are all painted in a positive light. The Blacksword is the main protagonist.  On the other hand, Malthus (Gandalf), Aracus (Aragorn), and Cerelinde (Arwen) are portrayed unflatteringly.  Dani (Frodo) is an ignorant yokel manipulated by Malthus.

The Sundering is part of the fad of debunking famous, but outmoded, literature. I am a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, GRRM's epic where the good guys are getting worse and the bad guys are getting better.  After sevnty years of Tolkien's style, contemporary writers are going a bit in the opposite direction.  The obvious difference is the realistic story telling versus mythology, but the real difference is the leaning towards the rejection of moral absolutes.  And that is dangerous... Nonetheless, The Sundering was an enjoyable read.

So..... I'm working on the Army of Darkhaven.  I'll post more pix... later.



No comments: