Chapter 26: The (Mythical) Horns of History

on August 19, 2011 in Volume 2 Book 2: The Trouble With Twyla, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

My first class of the day was discussion-based. It had sounded interesting in the course catalogue: an interdisciplinary examination of how events recorded in history and lore had shaped the modern world.

It sounded like a cool idea, but in actual practice things had started off kind of… rough. The teachers from the two disciplines had wildly divergent points of views and nobody had really thought about how that would play out in a classroom setting. By the end of the first session, though, they’d seemed to have found a working dynamic and a measure of professional… if not actual… respect for each other’s fields.

I was glad, because this was the one class I’d taken purely for pleasure, as treat for myself. It wasn’t the only class I’d hoped to enjoy, but most of the classes I love are the ones that relate specifically to my major. History has never exactly been my passion, but it’s an interest… well, I suppose stories are my interest, and as classroom subjects went the stories hinted at through history lessons had frequently been more interesting to me than the ones assigned in high school lit classes.

Professor Aaron Hart, who represented the history department’s half of The Making of the World, was not someone I probably would have wanted to hang out with outside of class. He sponsored the school’s model warfare club. He had a tendency to be brusque in the way that sounded rude even when it wasn’t, and usually was.

He was a good teacher, though, and he had an interest in the sorts of vivid details and tangled backstories that get left out of the typical “On such and such a date, a law was passed and a war happened.” tellings of history.

Fenwick Hall, the lore professor of the class, was far more pleasant and personable, and I couldn’t stand him. He was condescending in the worst possible way, where the person doesn’t seem to have a clue that they’re condescending. Hart had made no attempt to hide his contempt for his colleague’s profession. Hall had made no sign that he was aware of his own equally obvious loathing.

You might have thought that if I was interested in history for the stories, I’d be all about having a loremaster giving input on everything, but Hall just seemed like a walking embodiment of every reason why the more disciplined approach of historians… once derided as overly scientific in its approach to measuring and verifying fact… had mostly supplanted the bardic traditions in the area of record keeping.

But I had to admit, his presence did add something to the class. Having someone to play off of meant that Professor Hart might end up going in directions he wouldn’t otherwise have thought to,

The topic for the day’s discussion was the Thyleans. I’d voted for it in the last class more on general principle than any particularly strong interest in the people or region. At least they had very little to do with dragons, outside of a few epics that ended with someone battling one to the glorious death.

The stereotypically fierce warriors of the north occupied a weird spot in the cultures that had grown up in their shadow. They were admired as well as feared for their legendary battle-prowess… being not just human but white meant that they for the majority factions of the two empires they made as good stock heroes as they did villains. Some of the oldest extant stories in any form of Pax were based on older Thylean accounts.

I had a feeling that Hart had something more recent in mind. Ostensibly, the overarching subject of the class was how past events shaped the modern world, after all… but there was enough time to fill and an informal enough structure to the class that things could go all over the place.

Fenwick and Hart were sitting on one side of a circle of chairs when I got to the classroom. They’d both given us permission to use their first names, partly in order to foster an informal and free-flowing discussion environment but mostly really because their last names were too similar. Having had Hart before, he was still Hart to me… but Professor Hall was definitely a Fenwick. It was the sort of name I might have made up for him if I didn’t know what he was called.

I took an open seat off to the side. I supposed their goal in joining the circle was to make things more comfortable for us, but to me it meant that I’d either be sitting hear them or in their line of sight. Maybe there would be days where neither of those things would feel like a big deal, but I hadn’t slept well and I didn’t want to be looking into people’s faces or hearing their disembodied voices off to my side.

“Ah, shall we begin?” Fenwick said to Hart a few minutes later, when all the chairs were filled.

“Looks like it’s that time,” Hart said. “Anybody mind if I just jump right in? Okay. Thyleans. They havedefinitely had a bigger impact on our modern world than a bunch of part-dragon mercenaries the other empire made use of way back when.”

“Don’t underestimate the ripple effect, dear Aaron,” Fenwick said.

“Don’t underestimate the danger of calling me ‘dear’,” Hart said.

“The fact that the old empire’s history with the Pelorian dragonbloods goes back so far means that it’s had a chance to influence everything that came after,” Fenwick said. “Whatever alterations the Thyleans wrought upon the landscape of the world, that landscape was itself created by Pelorians.”

“Well, maybe… okay, granted, but we talked about the Pelorians last time,” Hart said. “The deal was that it’s Thyleans today.”

“Naturally,” Fenwick said. “I didn’t even raise the subject of the Pelorians.”

“Okay, so,” Hart said. “The focus of this class is how historical events… well, historical events and stories that may have not been entirely fictional during historical ages… shaped the modern world. Now, one of the things that has been nearly a constant throughout history is borders. Not that any one set of boundaries has ever been a constant, but there have always been dividing lines… practical, political, geographical… between this place and that, these people and those people.

“Where we see history being made… where we see the shape of the world changing… is when someone or something ignores those boundaries and goes crashing right through them. Exploration. Invasion. Colonization. Trade. Or… as often happens… all of the above, in that order. We don’t think of the Thyleans as explorers or traders… we tend to think of them as invaders, the kind who swoop off with all the valuables and women and other livestock as quickly as they swoop in, not the sort of people who’d sail over the horizon to see what was there, much less decide to move in when they get there.”

“That’s a shame,” Fenwick said. “Exploration is as common a theme in the great Thylean sagas as fighting, if not more so… a good deal of the fights that were worth singing about came about because the hero ventured somewhere past the boundaries of the known world.”

“Right,” Hart said. “But see, when you make up a story about the guy who does that and you center it on fighting and slaying, people don’t think of him as an explorer, they think of him as an adventurer. When a boat full of warriors lands on a rock and kills the giant two-headed thing that lives there, then statistically probably any boatload of comparable warriors might have done the same if they’d landed there. But only one boat did. It’s getting there that’s a unique and impressive feat.

“In this day and age, the ability to make a craft made out of wood and take it out into the ocean and reach land alive is undervalued. We use magic to make boats and pilot them, and even the ocean part is optional. We remember the fighting because that’s still impressive, always impressive. We can’t imagine ourselves being cast out to sea in a boat, but we can imagine getting in a fight… having to protect what’s ours, or having the strength and ability to take what we want.”

It was weird to hear him say that and think about it. The fact was that I couldn’t really imagine myself fighting for something that way. It’s not that I was above a little fantasizing about might if not exactly making right, then at least making it easier to do right. I’d watch a show like Mecknights, or write fic inspired by it… that was all about fighting and fantastical weapons and blowing things up… there’s story, too, and characters, or else it wouldn’t be interesting, but the story is mostly about the the characters winning fights.

But even when I projected myself into the shoes of a character like that, it wasn’t me fighting. That’s not the fantasy. I’ve always been squeamish about violence, and then my half-demon heritage revealed itself and my grandmother instilled me the idea that I’m always one tiny hair’s width away from a violent rampage… and then on a few occasions I’ve come way too close to seeing what actually could happen if I lost control.

For me… and probably for most people… the warrior fantasy isn’t just having the ability to fight, in terms of technical prowess. It’s about having the moral ability, whether it’s because there’s some kind of absolute clarity about who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy or because it’s a “simpler time” or because you belong to an imagined or recalled society where fighting’s all about honor or glory or people just don’t care. The heroes of the sagas Fenwick talked about killed men for insulting them and killed the people or beings or whatever or whoever lived on the rocks they landed on, and those fights were treated with the same sort of raucous gravitas as the battles where the aged hero, now a lord or a king, fights to protect his people.

Maybe it could be said that while I wasn’t particularly interested in the Thyleans, I was still finding things about them interesting.

“Let’s bring this back around,” Hart said. “If I talk about the impact the Thyleans had on the modern world, one of the first things people… at least, people here… will think about is their exploration of the westering lands. But as remarkable a feat as that is, we treat it like it’s an exceptional one in all the wrong ways.”

“You’re the one who said that only one sailor could have landed on a given hypothetical rock,” Fenwick pointed out.

“I did,” Hart said. “And if we’re going to lionize one man’s deeds, let’s make it that. But there’s a culture that produced the man… yes, ‘culture’ is the word. A culture of people who wear furry skins and quaff mead and carve the prow of their boats into things, a culture of people who’ve been so stereotyped as fearsome and savage barbarians that we can’t draw or depict them without putting a pair of horns on a useless tin cap, like they’re someone’s idea of a devil.”

I was glad he’d prefaced that with “someone’s idea of”… the idea that “devils” had horns was just as much an unfounded stereotype as the idea that Thylean helmets had them. It wasn’t that Thyleans were given horned helmets by way of implied infernal association; it was that humans liked to put horns on things they thought of as bestial and scary.

For as curious as I’d been about Twyla the day before, I was fast becoming more than a little sick of horns and everything having to do with them.

“The point,” Hart continued, “is that a random hero of the northlands did not just decide to take a boat he’d otherwise use for regional coastal plundering and see what happened if he steered it in the other direction. During an age when the main activity of the old empire’s naval and merchant fleets was in sailing around their own little archipelago and shuttling back and forth to the mainland, the Thyleans were sailing past the Mother Isles, down the coast, into the Ardan… all over the place. We may never have a complete account of everywhere they visited, because they didn’t leave many records themselves, and because historians in the best Magisterian and Metropolitan scholastic traditions have done a fairly sh… poor job of interrogating the records kept by other peoples in a serious way. There are stories about white skinned human visitors before what we think of as ‘the age of empires’ all over the place, and while they’re probably not all about Thyleans, they’re probably not all… or even mostly… pure invention.”

“To be honest, Aaron,” Fenwick said, “when you suggested this topic the other day, I thought you had something a bit more… well, specific in mind.”

“Oh?” Hart said. “Well, history is about trend. As it happens, I do have pretty specific thoughts to share on the topic of Thyleans and how they’ve shaped our world, but this is a discussion class, not a lecture… so why don’t we open things up a bit?”

Author’s Note: Hey, folks… this was going to be the whole discussion in one chapter, but due to some bio-technical difficulties I’m cutting it off earlier than I would have, which means you can add questions/topics to the ones that were already brought up here. I’ve got something else cool (and long awaited) for you to read this weekend or Monday, too. I’ll be tagging this story later, I can’t really focus on the screen.

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71 Responses to “Chapter 26: The (Mythical) Horns of History”

  1. slaxor says:

    First (like it matters).

    I hadn’t thought about it before, but I’m really looking forward to hearing about about Thylean culture. I’m actually really curious about the Vikings now. What exactly made them explore so much?

    Current score: 1
    • Klaus says:

      Mostly exile, commerce and raids. Vikings are known to have raided and traded as far south as North Africa and (by river) as far east as just about the middle of modern day Russia. But the famous explorer Erik The Red and his sons only sailed from Scandinavia (specifically Norway, but I’m not sure) because of exile. They were the ones to resettle the Faroe Islands, discover Iceland, form a colony in Greenland, and discover Amerika. Although they called it Markland and Vinland (translating too Land of fields and Land of Wine). They did decide to create settlements there, but were soon driven off by indians. The Settlers of Greenland all perished to eskimo attacks and the onset of a miniature ice age, caused by a neap in solar activity.
      All of this is rather extensively covered in Danish school. I know that for a fact since I’m Half-Danish and Half-Faroese myself (don’t despair if you’ve never heard of the Faroe Islands. Most never do).
      Incidentically Romans have been known to hire single vikings as warriors amd bodyguards.

      Current score: 1
      • fka_luddite says:

        Varangian Guard

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      • Kevin Brown says:

        This is probably not the place to ask but why is the Old Norse and the Latin for Wine almost the exact same word when the two cultures had wine long before they ever met?

        Also I had some crazy lady shove a list of reasons why god hates the Faroe Islands down my throat long before I ever heard they existed. Incidentally they are a beautiful country full of wonderful people and I would love to go there, isn’t it amazing how religious bigots that are probably more likely to go to hell than any one person they claim is going there bring the world together.

        Current score: 2
        • VXC says:

          Probably because wine itself is even older than the norse and the greeks. Also: googlefu:

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          • Kevin Brown says:

            I actually knew that wine was older than both cultures. I deal with wine a lot at work (I cater weddings) and around a few of my family that run micro-breweries and wineries. I did not know that Latin and Norse had root languages in common though which is rather interesting.

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            • Fakir says:

              There are many words relating to agriculture that are simular in many differnt laungage groups and the now dominating teory about it is that the words came whit the knowlage of agriculture

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        • Miss Lynx says:

          why is the Old Norse and the Latin for Wine almost the exact same word when the two cultures had wine long before they ever met?

          They’re both Indo-European languages, which means they descend from a common ancestor. Even though they branched off fairly far from each other in most respects, there are still a few points of commonality. There are actually a fair number of words like that, where you can see similarity among various Indo-European languages even across different language families within that category.

          One of the best known examples is the word “mother”: Latin mater (and similar words in other Latin-derived languages: mère, madre, mãe, mamă, etc.); German mutter (and similarly in other Germanic languages: moeder, móðir, mor, etc.); Greek mitera, Irish máthair, Welsh mam, Russian мать, Czech matka, Lithuanian motina, Macedonian majka, Hindi मां (Māṁ), Gujarati માતા (Mātā), etc. There’s noticeable similarity across a wide variety of Indo-European language families there.

          With some other words, the similarity can be seen across some but not all families – for example, “light” is similar across Germanic and Romance (Latin-derived) languages, but not in Indian, Slavic or Celtic languages. So how much similarity has survived varies considerably for different words – in some cases, none at all – but it’s still not unusual to find traces of similarity.

          And I cannot believe I delved that deeply into language geekery before my second cup of tea. Clearly I need professional help of some sort. 🙂

          Current score: 0
  2. Havartna says:

    Nice start, and interesting thoughts about the westward explorations.

    I’ve always found it interesting that “Odin’s Day” became “Woden’s Day” and eventually “Wednesday” (not to mention “Thor’s Day) in our own language. I can’t help but wonder about parallels in the MUniverse. Maybe that sort of thing can be discussed.

    Current score: 0
    • Klaus says:

      in Danish Mandag=Monday is day of the moon
      Tirsdag=Tuesday is day of Tyr Aesir God of Orderly War
      Onsdag=Wednesday is day of Odin King of the Aesir Gods
      Torsdag=Thursday is day of Thor Aesir God of Disorderly War
      Fredag=Friday is day of Freja or Frej no one is really sure
      Freja is Vanir God of Love, Fertility plus female God of War
      Frej is Vanir God of Prosperity, a farmer God basically, not for merchants
      Lørdag=Saturday is Day of Loke, Half-Jotun Half-Aesir God of deception and lies
      Søndag=Sunday is day of (Duh!) the SUN
      The sun and the moon are son and daughter of Freja

      Current score: 1
      • Klaus says:

        Similarities btw probalby stem from the days of the Dane Law. a period of time where most of England was under Danish rule. pre 2nd Millienium timeframe tho.
        Looking at Danish and English a staggering amount of similarities are found.
        Rugby (the city after which the sport was named) is originally a Danish settlement. Direct translation becomes Ryetown
        English plural word for knife is virtually identical to Danish parallel.

        Current score: 0
      • Bolongo says:

        In Swedish the explanations are mainly the same, except…

        Fredag = could also be Frigg’s Day, but then noone is really sure whether Freja and Frigg were separate or just two names for the same goddess anyway.

        Lördag = Lögardagen, “Washing Day” or “Bathing Day”.

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    • Cernael says:

      I’m not entirely sure here, but I think at least Wednesday is derived from a Germanic rather than Norse source. Before Germany was christened, they had pretty much the same pantheon as the Norse, but somewhat different names. Odin was Wotan, for instance (and that’s why Wagner used that name in the Ring operas – iirc, Niebelungenlied, Das Rheingold, Die Valkyrie, and Götterdämmerung).
      It kinda makes sense, too, that the day names came into what would become English with the Saxon root (the Saxons were a Germanic tribe, after all), rather than with Viking plundering.

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      • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

        Really? The German word for “Wednesday” is “Mittwoch,” but the old Anglo-Saxon dialect, while Germanic, was certainly not modern German, so maybe there was an older name that more closely resembled Wednesday? I don’t know.

        Current score: 0
        • Burnsidhe says:

          Mittwoch (meaning Mid-week), probably came in when Christianity took hold and the Christian God displaced Odin. I’m not certain, though.

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      • fka_luddite says:

        “Saxon” has been used for several different people/cultures over the centuries. While the more recent usages have referred to Germanic peoples or regions, the oldest seems more likely to be Scandinavian (specifically a Danish tribe).

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      • Kevin Brown says:

        I read a lot on how the old religions influence the modern day but the oldest reference to Wotan I have ever found is from the 1940s when a certain Austrian-born German dictator was trying to use Norse mythology to inspire his followers into believing in some kind of blond haired blue eyed super-race. I don’t quite know what about the Wednesday for Wotan’s Day bugs me but I just had to throw that in there.

        Current score: 0
        • anna says:

          I’m late to the party here, but:

          Wotan, Wodan, Gotan, Oðinn, etc are all related names, tracing back to the (reconstructed) proto-germanic root name Wōdanaz (possibly Wōðanaz).

          In other words, all of these languages (German, the Scandinavian languages under discussion, English) are Germanic languages, all sharing a common root language (proto-germanic).

          Also, Kevin, ‘Wotan’ is the Old High German form of the name. I’m having trouble finding any actual archaelogical evidence right now, but if you just want to get a reference before the 20th century, it’s the form of the name Wagner used in Der Ring des Nibelungen. Source:

          Current score: 0
  3. Havartna says:

    Also, I’ve heard it said that “viking” is actually a noun, as in “to go viking.” If one went viking, he went on an expedition of exploration or piracy.

    I’ve also found two other words of Viking derivation interesting. “Scrailing” which means “outcast” or “outsider”, and “danageld” which literally means “Dane’s gold.” Danageld was tribute given to a group of Vikings so that they would not destroy the town/village/castle/whatever.

    Again, parallels in the MUniverse might make for interesting discussion.

    Current score: 1
    • Nomen Nescio says:

      it was, yes. the old norse did not think of themselves as “vikings”, generally — that was a job, not an ethnicity.

      as for why they went exploring, there were probably many reasons. trade would have been a big one. they’re not much remembered as traders, but there was quite a bit of it going on — peaceful trade doesn’t get remarked on in chronicles though. they had reason to; scandinavia was cold, poor farmland by continental standards even in those warmer days.

      and raiding wasn’t always for loot and/or extortion, either. gange-hrolf took over Normandy and kept it, to the point it was named “normandy” for the norsemen; and the Danes held half of England under the “danelaw” for i forget how many centuries.

      Current score: 0
      • jagroq says:

        I always figured the exploration was a natural part of the raiding culture.

        If you are in viking village at least part of your economy is based off what you can steal (and they were good at it so with all the extra resources they thrived and the population grew). More people means you need more resources which means more raiding. But that causes a problem. You raid village A often enough there is not enough left to take, so you go looking for village B. With the income from those two sources your population keeps grows so you need to find village C, etc. Before long you have people spending as much time looking for new places to raid (you know, exploring) as actually raiding.

        Current score: 0
        • Kim says:

          Actual Viking Methodology:
          1) Steal from first village
          2) Sell to Second Village
          3) sail back home with gold (which was easier to transport).

          Current score: 1
    • Kevin Brown says:

      Viking is treated as a noun today, and the phrase “to go viking” would be using it as a verb.

      Current score: 0
      • Havartna says:

        Duh… yeah… that’s what I meant 🙂 I thought “verb” but typed “noun”.

        Current score: 0
    • anna says:

      Oh, I can help here! I knew studying Old Norse would come in handy some day.

      The noun, víkingr, means ‘viking’, one who goes on vikings.

      The noun víking, on the other hand, means ‘a viking expedition’, as in, the thing that vikings do.

      Old Norse is a very inflectional language, so these words, although looking very similar, look a good bit different in different parts of speech. The accusative plural is easy to see: More than one viking expedition would be several víkingur, but more than one viking warrior would be a band of víkinga.

      Oh, and no, víking was not at any point a verb itself, but it was often part of the phrase ‘fara í víking’, i.e. ‘to go on a viking’.

      Current score: 0
  4. Burnsidhe says:

    “that they for the majority factions”

    Should be “that for the majority factions”

    I like her thoughts about fighting and the thought of wanting the moral reason to justify fighting.

    Current score: 0
  5. anon y mouse says:

    “they’d seemed to have found a working dynamic and a measure of professional… if not actual… respect for each other’s fields.” – at first, I thought it should be ‘professionalism’, but then I realized that the ellipses were a parenthetical (just thought I’d mention it for anyone else who had problems with it)

    “But I had to admit, his presence did add something to the class. Having someone to play off of meant that Professor Hart might end up going in directions he wouldn’t otherwise have thought to, ” – either there’s more to this sentence, or it needs a period instead of a comma

    “but to me it meant that I’d either be sitting hear them or in their line of sight.” – do you mean ‘near’ them, instead of ‘hear’?

    “Thyleans. They havedefinitely had a bigger impact on our modern world than a bunch of part-dragon mercenaries the other empire made use of way back when.” – needs a space between ‘have’ and ‘definitely’

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      Typo Report

      this was the one class I’d taken purely for pleasure, as treat for myself.

      Seems to need an “a” in front of “treat”.

      All other typos I noticed have already been reported.

      Current score: 0
  6. TJ says:

    I supposed their goal in joining the circle was to make things more comfortable for us, but to me it meant that I’d either be sitting *hear* them or in their line of sight.

    I think hear is supposed to be near

    Current score: 0
  7. TJ says:

    Okay. Thyleans. They havedefinitely had

    space between “have” & “definitely”

    Current score: 0
  8. Gregdov says:

    I am curious to learn more about Thylean culture; What was life like for Thylean women and children? Also how common were female Thylean adventurers? What modern day knowledge, magical or political finds its roots in Thylean Culture?

    Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      If they are anything like the Danes or Norse of our history then women were very much second class citizens, same as in the rest of the (european) world, but at the same time those feared warriors would not dare cross them on the subjects where they held authority.
      The man was boss, but if his wife wanted something he would probably agree that it had been his idea all along.
      The women were not trained in weaponry (though they would be able to defend themselves with improvised weapons during those long months when men were away trading and/or plundering) and certainly not raised in the extreme death before dishonour tradition as they young boys were, but they were every bit as fierce.
      It was not before the spread of christianity through cultures that women were expected to be subservient in every respect to every male, and that they lost all protection of their family after they were married. Communities were much smaller and women rarely moved so far away that they would not meet their father and brothers regularly, and in a culture where men were trained and expected to fight and to duel over the slightest perception of dishonour few men would even think to abuse their wife beyond what was socially acceptable ‘disciplining’ (and not even too much of that if he wanted a welcome house and edible food).
      Of course we are also talking about a religion where only men who died in battle were welcome to join the ranks of the defenders of the gods at the end time, and everybody else, which automatically included women, children and those too old or crippled to fight, was sided with the giants and other forces destined to destroy the gods. It kind of limits how much respect can be given.

      Then again, the Thyleans can be entirely different from the Danes and Norse, except in how they are stereotyped in the muniverse, so the above need not apply at all.

      Uhm… And maybe I should not have tried to answer your question but patiently waited for Ms Erin to do so … *blushes*

      Current score: 0
      • nemka says:

        Viking women weren’t exactly second class citizens. While there was a disparity in roles, it was largely attached to the fact that women as childbearers were naturally placed in society as childrearers. This gave them dominion over the household because that’s where the children were, and while not the ‘fighters’ or ‘rulers,’ they were accorded due respect as the foundation of villages and as women much fiercer than the Vikings found elsewhere.

        Current score: 0
      • Kim says:

        To use the rule of thumb on a Viking woman would be to die.
        Not all cultures are created equal…

        Current score: 0
      • Calia says:

        I’d just like to point out that we really don’t know as much about Viking/Norse culture as we like to think. Mythology and ballads =/= cultural fact.

        Recent studies of Norse graves shows that there were actually quite a few more female warriors than originally thought. Apparently archaeologists are sexist and automatically thought sword=male, so they didn’t bother to even look at the bone structure or other biological markers that showed the skeleton was indeed female.

        Current score: 0
      • anna says:

        Umm, this:

        “everybody else, which automatically included women, children and those too old or crippled to fight, was sided with the giants and other forces destined to destroy the gods.”

        is not true according to any reference I can find. The inhabitants of Hel are not implicitly allied with the giants – the Völuspá doesn’t say anything on the subject of the human inhabitants of Hel, although it does mention Baldr, so the implication is that they join Baldr in rebuilding the world after Ragnarök.

        The only references to Hel at Ragnarök in the Völuspá are the end of stanza 50 and 51 (translation mine, from

        “Naglfar is loosed.

        A long-ship fares from-the-east, the Múspell peoples
        come across the sea, and Loki steers;
        fiends fare amongst raveners all,
        Býleist’s brother is within the expedition.”

        The Múspelli are not human; they are jotnar from Múspelheimr. The reference to Baldr (who was in Hel with all the people who didn’t get to Valhalla or Sessrumnir or wherever) is in stanza 62:

        Unsown acreage shall grow,
        all evil shall become better, Baldr shall come;
        Höðr and Baldr shall dwell on Hroftr’s battle-sites,
        temple of the slain-gods.

        Current score: 0
  9. brandon says:

    It was menchioned in the last class that some of the lore can be authenticated by individuals who were alive during the time period are there any such examples for thr thylans

    Current score: 0
  10. Nyysjan says:

    Funny how my and Macks opinions about Hart and Hall are pretty much complete opposites.
    To me Hart comes up as arrogant and condescending and Fenwick comes of as someone willing to listen to other people, and i don’t see the loathing towards Hart from him.

    Current score: 0
    • Major says:

      I stand with the majority. Hart is not so much arrogant as exasperated. Fenwick interrupts, digs, scoffs and generally argues like a fugg-headed fanboy wrangling over some obscure point of science fiction trivia. He then glosses over his insults by the bullies’ trick of making the objection seem like a weakling’s unprovoked attack. “Can’t you take a joke?”

      I will agree that he has no conscious loathing for Hart: such fatuous egocentric contempt has no room for that much consideration of another.

      Current score: 0
      • Lunaroki says:

        Personally I’m inclined to agree with Mack’s point of view. Both are arrogant in their own way, they just express it in different ways. I personally couldn’t attest to which one is more arrogant but at least Hart is aware of his dislike of Hall on a level that causes him to express his awareness of his dislike. Hall seems so dismissive in his disregard of Hart and history as to seem almost oblivious to it.

        Current score: 0
    • nemka says:

      I think Hall is kind of an ass. Hart may be arrogant, but Mack’s freshman year proved reasonably well that he is an intelligent, perceptive person. If forced to endure constant apathy, stupidity, and entirely unjustified arrogance from college students all day (and anyone who doesn’t think these things are constantly present in a college class to at least some degree has never spent time as a college student) I would be arrogant and irritable too. Also, Hart is honest about it. Hall is just as disparaging, but then acts like he’s nothing but a cooperative, incredibly generous saint of knowledge.

      Current score: 0
  11. WorBlux says:

    “fairly sh… poor job of interrogating the records”

    I don’t know, that usage seems a bit off. Perhaps you meant integrating?

    Current score: 0
    • ayla says:

      Nope, it’s a fine usage. “Interrogate” is a common academic euphemism for “read/look at.” It tries to convey the idea that the scholar doing the interrogating has read the sources in detail, with specific questions in mind, and then thought really really hard about them.

      As a humanities grad student myself I get sick to death of these words. “Interrogate,” “examine,” “investigate,” “question”… you get the idea. Any word that makes us sound like we’re doing way more than just plain reading the stuff.

      Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      While “interrogating the records” is a phrase more often used by scholars and historians than by the common man, this is nevertheless the correct phrasing.

      Current score: 0
      • erianaiel says:

        Not to mention that in the Muniverse interrogating a source can be taken literally as well. A necromancer can re-animate somebody who was present so that scholars can interrogate him or her. There could be ghosts, immortal beings and probably a fair few of the lorebooks have developed (or were given) a limited degree of sentience so as to make the book do the looking for a subject for you.

        Current score: 0
  12. Alyxe Barron says:

    I love… “Don’t underestimate the danger of calling me ‘dear’,” Hart said.


    Current score: 1
  13. Iason says:

    The Thyleans must have left more behind than an image of looters and pillagers. Did some settle in the lands they encountered or maybe just stay long enough to leave a bit ot Thylean blood and culture to mix with the existing one?
    It would be interesting to see if customs and traditions, names or even social structures could be traced back to the Thyleans… and a good challenge for the dualweilding of lore and history.

    Current score: 0
  14. cnic says:

    One think to keep in mind is these are Thyleans not Vikings. What I mean is, this is AE’s fantasy barbarians that are absolutely influenced by the Vikings but don’t necessarily have to parallel them in every way. I mean heck giants, skinchangers, dwarves, and elves are real in this setting. That has a chance to alter things. Imagine if the Danes had an ice giant or two when invading England or helping the Welsh against their common enemies or if the Jutes in Kent were weilding dwarf forged weapons they got in trade for the treasure of some mock dragon they killed.

    Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      Well.. one book I read solved that particular problem by having the Welsh invent the Gallahad Mark IV warheads for their longbows … Pretty nasty stuff too with delayed action magical explosives…

      Or to paraphrase a character from a certain popular book series about a teenage wizard: Being able to use magic does not help you much if your enemy is a wizard too…

      Current score: 0
  15. OhPun says:

    I think the class should discuss what the title will be, this is a discussion class, not a lecture…

    Current score: 0
  16. BMeph says:

    Our Lovely Fenwick
    Should watch out not to be a
    ‘dear’ in the headlights

    Current score: 1
  17. Um the Muse says:

    Sorry if this a double post Something odd happened on my browser. Anyway, I would like to know what, if any, differences exist between Thylean magic and the modern Imperial practices. If these differences exist, have they been studied thoroughly? Would the study prove useful for a modern spell-slinger?

    Current score: 0
  18. p says:

    so how did they get along with elves? Were they bff’s or did they take one look at elf culture and just go

    Current score: 0
  19. Elisa says:

    I don’t have a question about Thyleans, but this brought up a question about MU in general that I hope the author could address:

    “being not just human but white meant that they for the majority factions of the two empires they made as good stock heroes as they did villains.”

    Generally when I think of ‘race’ in this story I don’t think of ethnicity of one race so much as I think of the different races – humans, elves, dwarves, etc. So a few questions about this.

    Is the equivalent of ‘Caucasian’ the dominant culture for humans in ToMU? Is there ‘racism’ based on ethnicity the way there is in the real world? How ingrained is it and how does it compare to ‘racism’ based on race (such as elf on dwarf racism).

    And what constitutes a ‘race’ anyway? Is a ‘race’ the equivalent of a species? Like, elves/dwarves/humans/gnomes are all vaguely humanoid…and can probably reproduce with each other…is there a distinction between “races” that can reproduce with each other and those that can’t?

    And for that matter are there even any who can’t or do all races have the same general mammalian reproductive systems and DNA? I know there was a girl awhile back who was reptilian, would she be able to reproduce with a human? And if not, would the ‘race’ distinction between a reptilian and a human be of a different type than between a human and an elf?

    Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      Humans, Dwarfs, Elfs and so on would be different species rather than different races. Loosely speaking a race is a subset of a species with a discernable set of properties that always come together and that breed true, even when mixed with other races.

      In our scientific biology it would be next to impossible for different species to produce viable offspring, though some related species on occasion manage (like the Mule or the Liger) but the result tends to be sterile.

      In fantasy settings though reproduction involves a magical component rather than being a purely biological proces, and magically blending two species is a long standing tradition (Science Fiction, especially the poorly written part of it, tends to gloss over the impossibility of mixing up not only different species but entirely different biologies).

      We have no idea if humans in the Muniverse even have DNA or that their genes are the result of the magical embodiment of humanity (the same way a knife has magical properties like ‘weapon’ and ‘sharp’).

      Current score: 0
      • Elisa says:

        That makes sense…about them being different species. And yeah, the biology thing is a bit strange XD

        Current score: 0
        • Brenda says:

          However, they seem to refer to those different species as “races”, don’t they? I started that as a statement then realized I’m not sure… I may be assuming, but that was my reaction, anyway.

          Current score: 0
  20. Raemon says:

    I can’t recall if you said explicitly you were going to do this, but I’ve noticed what I assume is a permanent shift in the writing style, to continuously include background information so that new readers can jump into any random story arc and have some idea what’s going on. (i.e. the first time we meet Hart and Hall, there’s a bit of exposition about who they are why Mack’s taking the class, and then there’s a similar exposition in this chapter)

    Assuming this is intentional… I understand the motive. I’m not sure whether it’s been effective at attracting new readers, but I feel it detracts from the story. I now typically gloss over the first few paragraphs of each chapter because they’re recap. Then I realize they included a few new bits of info and I’ve gotten lost without them, so I go back and read them, but every time I feel like I’m doing extra work for less payoff.

    When the “MU 2.0” first started I assumed this would eventually peter out as new readers had been gotten up to speed at the beginning of Year 2. I don’t know if there’s any middle ground possible, but I think it’s going a little overboard.

    Current score: 0
    • Elisa says:

      Yeah I agree. Every time they mention Callahan’s class it’s always a recap of…I don’t like this class…but Amaranth expects me to get an A…and I need it to keep my scholarship…blah blah blah. I was going to comment about it before actually, so yeah, +1 from me.

      Current score: 0
      • …that’s an ongoing subplot, not a recap.

        Current score: 0
        • Elisa says:

          No I know that it’s an ongoing subplot, I’m talking about the reiteration aspects.

          The subplot would be like: I took Callahan’s class pass/fail, so I had to take another which is worth a large percentage of my GPA, and Amaranth expects me to get an A in this one, so even though I don’t like this class I’m going to be putting effort into it.

          The reiteration is like: I took Callahan’s class pass/fail, so I’m taking another, because I took the one last year pass/fail, and I don’t like this class but Amaranth expects me to get an A, and it’s worth a large percentage of my GPA, but I still don’t like this class, although I need it because I took the last one pass/fail, so I’m going to be putting effort into it, because Amaranth wants me to get an A, and because it’s worth a large percentage of my GPA, but I still don’t like this class.

          At least that’s how it tends to read to me…you are right that sometimes when it’s been a few months or years since the last time whatever was mentioned I forget, but I’m used to reading long novels so I have no problem skipping back a bit to find what I need (super easy to do with hyperlinks!) but the constant recaps of what happened the previous time she took that class makes me feel like I’m watching prime time TV. Previously, on Tales of MU….

          It might be that this sort of format does work better with those recaps. But I agree with the poster who found it tedious, and I would have commented before on it but just never got around to it.

          Current score: 0
    • I didn’t do the time skip and the shift in writing style for new readers, mainly.

      After 500 chapters that cover such widely varying grounds, a lot of folks have told me that they don’t always remember who’s who and what’s what when someone shows up again without any explanation. So now the first time something shows up in a book, you get a little reminder.

      Maybe you in particular don’t need it. Maybe the frequency will seem less annoying or whatever as time goes by since most books in the second volume will be longer than the first one, or maybe I’ll get better at weaving things in seamlessly, or maybe you’ll just get used to it. In any event, I feel it would be a mistake for me to change anything based on feedback from what is literally the first time the problem has come up (i.e., the examples you can cite from the second book.)

      Anyway, I don’t want you to think I’m dismissing your concerns, but luckily I have a solution for what seems to be your biggest problem:

      Then I realize they included a few new bits of info and I’ve gotten lost without them, so I go back and read them, but every time I feel like I’m doing extra work for less payoff.

      Okay, here’s the solution: don’t do that anymore! Just read the story through and don’t make assumptions about what bits are and aren’t important or skippable.

      You’ll be doing the same amount of “work” you’ve always been doing, and chances are that sooner or later you will have your understanding enhanced by some bit that you’d forgotten but that seems superfluous to some other reader.

      Current score: 0
      • Miss Lynx says:

        As a longtime reader who does sometimes have trouble keeping all the details straight, I very much appreciate the reminders. Saves me a lot of thinking “Wait – what? When did that happen? Who is that person again?” and searching back through past chapters to refresh my memory.

        In particular, when a while back you started adding little notes to certain names or phrases that would provide background information if you moused over them, I think I bounced up and down in my chair and squeed like a little girl. 🙂 Although come to think of it I don’t think I’ve seen many of those lately.

        But I can also see how people with better memories than mine might find it distracting. Maybe fewer in-text reminders and more of the mouseover type would be a good way of balancing the needs of those who, like me, appreciate the reminders and those who don’t?

        Current score: 1
        • Raemon says:

          Highly supportive of this suggestion.

          Current score: 1
  21. Raemon says:

    That’s not a solution. It’s what I did the first few times since Book 2 started. It was annoying then. Skimming it once and then rereading is only slightly more annoying.

    If this isn’t for the benefit of new readers, I think you’re overdoing by a lot. You spend over a page of this chapter doing a blow by blow reminder of things that happened 10 chapters ago. That’s the sort of background people usually get at the beginning of second novels when the first one came out a year or two ago.

    In particular the descriptions of Hart and Hall – if we don’t remember who they are, or even if we’re new, we should be able to figure it out within a few lines of new dialog. Your exchanges between them are great, and practically every single sentence they speak to each other communicates the entire three paragraphs you spent at the beginning explaining their personalities.

    I think for a while you were making a habit of providing hyperlinks back to old, relevant chapters. That seems like a better way of recapping.

    I personally missed a lot of clues about Mack’s mother the first time through, and a year ago I remember feeling out of the loop when other commenters were discussing things in detail. I can’t remember if you provided the link yourself or if a commenter did. I reread stuff and said “oh, now I see all these clues and other stuff I missed.”

    I’d much rather be reminded to do that than have Mack spell out those clues in detail. I loved the recent chapter about “Lorellon Brand”. It didn’t provide any context. I was slightly lost during some of it. It didn’t remind us who these characters were (I think we last saw them approximately as recently as we last saw Hart and Hall). But every line in the chapter was snappy and interesting and a few months from now, if it were suddenly to become relevant, it’d be much more enjoyable to re-read than dry recaps would be to read a first time.

    Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      I interpreted part of that as Mack taking stock of what her class and professors are like, now that they’re past that first-day awkwardness. It’s still being established how the class is going to work.

      On the first day of class, we got Mack’s first impressions of the two professors. Now she’s had time to think about it and to clarify them.

      I don’t know if you’re in a minority or not (my guess is not) but just to put my two cents in, I’m still enjoying the story.

      Current score: 0
      • Raemon says:

        I can kinda see that (I know it ties in with Mack’s running commentary which is a main feature of the story), but I don’t really feel anything was clarified – Mack thinks pretty much the same thing she thought last time we met them.

        I’m still enjoying the story, I just think I could be enjoying it more. I get less excited when I see a new chapter, because rather than thinking “ooh boy, new stuff!” my first thought is “man, I’m gonna have to slog through a page of recap.” (I’m aware that the recap is mostly done at the beginning of new story arcs now, rather than each chapter, but the intermittent punishment is enough to keep my Pavlovian response primarily negative).

        Current score: 0
  22. Raemon says:

    Comment Replaced (replied to wrong section)

    Current score: 0
  23. pedestrian says:

    As an encyclopediast philosopher this is what I love about the entirety of Alexandra Erins daedalian masterpiece. That it attracts such a diverse audience with a spectrum of knowledge.

    Current score: 0
  24. Khazidhea says:

    “going in directions he wouldn’t otherwise have thought to,”
    Sentence ends with a comma.

    “but to me it meant that I’d either be sitting hear them or in their line of sight.”

    “Okay. Thyleans. They havedefinitely”
    Missing a space.

    “Well, history is about trend”
    If I’m not wrong, should be ‘trends’

    Current score: 0
  25. Dr. Tarr says:

    It sounded like a cool idea, but in actual practice things had started off kind of… rough.

    Shouldn’t there be a comma after “but in actual practice?”

    …because this was the one class I’d taken purely for pleasure, as treat for myself. It wasn’t the only class I’d hoped to enjoy
    Probably should be “as a treat for myself.”

    They havedefinitely had a bigger impact on our modern world…
    Should be have definitely.

    but the the story is mostly about the the characters winning fights.

    need to delete a “the”.

    “You might have thought that if I was interested in history for the stories, I’d be all about having a loremaster giving input on everything,”

    If “loremaster” is a title, then it should be capitalized as a proper noun. If it isn’t a title, then it needs to be two words, as you did it with lore professor in the preceding paragraph.

    Current score: 0