EBG, Chapter Four: Military technology corner

(This is only a segment of my Chapter Four essay, but I am still finishing that up, and I think it can stand alone.)

As, forced from wind-guns, lead itself can fly,
And pond’rous slugs cut swiftly thro’ the sky…
–Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, Book I

The more I learn about the technological world of the Shadows of the Apt books, the more I realise that its most important inventions are not imaginary, but real-world dead-ends and paths-not-taken. Totho’s ‘air battery’, introduced in this chapter, is no exception: compressed air, as a way of powering weapons, is (surprisingly to me) not at all anachronistic to the 17th century Eurasian world I see as the main historical inspiration of the series.

Continue reading

Advertisements

EBG, Chapter Three

Two warnings: 1. This post may contain spoilers. 2. This post may contain images of insects. Caveat lector!

Summary

The heart of culture, he told himself. The wonder of the civilised world. The democratic Assembly of Collegium. (40)

In this short chapter, Stenwold makes a further attempt to warn the Collegium Assembly of the Wasp threat to the Lowlands.

Continue reading

EBG, Chapter Two

Two warnings: 1. This post may contain spoilers. 2. This post may contain images of insects. Caveat lector!

Summary

Seventeen years? And what had Stenwold made of them, save to grow older and fatter, and to lose his hair? (21)

Chapter Two of Empire in Black and Gold is a bit of a bait and switch, taking a step back from the higher stakes of Chapter One. We rejoin an older Stenwold in Collegium, and meet a new cast of characters, students who are introduced to us via a series of duels he watches in the Prowess Forum. A big long essay this time, because I found the details we learn about Collegium society really meaty.

Continue reading

EBG, Chapter One

Preamble

Before getting started, a few words about my history with the series and the way these are going to work. I first read the series in a couple of years 2012 to 2014, including reading the last few books as soon as they came out, and haven’t reread them since. In this reread and analysis, I might read ahead a bit, but mainly I’m going to focus on the content of each chapter as I get to it. As such, whilst I might refer to events further ahead in the series, it does rather rely on me remembering them, so I suspect it will be at a minimum.

That said, I do not consider this a spoiler-free zone. Caveat lector.

I’m going to try to follow this basic structure, at least to begin with: a summary of the chapter, paying special attention to the introduction of new characters, kinden, places and polities; political analysis, which as I go along will hopefully, increasingly, tie the individual chapters into the larger politics of the series; and historical analysis, discussing parallels and references of various kinds, sometimes with a focus on specific topics (like education or food). A regular part of the historical analysis will be a military history corner, on which more below.

All of this is of course subject to change as I go along and continue to figure out what works. Suggestions on things I should talk about or adjustments in format are welcome!

Summary

‘You yourself have other means, Sten. You must go back to your college and your clever, machine-fingered people, and have them make ready. Of all of us, you were always the real hope of the future.’ (19)

The Shadows of the Apt series opens in media res, with a battle for the city of Myna, showing the threat of the expanding Wasp Empire. We meet Stenwold and a few other characters who aren’t locals, who make an escape by air as the city falls, with some of them dying on the way.

Continue reading