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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

The Conclave on Kindle

If you followed last week's installments of the Conclave campaign and want the full novella, it's now available on Kindle. This brings the story to a conclusion, fixes some of the plot holes, fleshes out some scenes, and also includes background details of the narrator, Surma. To quote from the blurb:
Creation is losing the flavour of things, becoming colourless and uniform under the skin of reality. This is why the old songs lose their melody, why the fisherman’s catch is mostly minnows, why the young cast their elders out into the cold, why the storms are violent and unseasonal, and dragons hide in distant clouds.

The world is an archipelago of a hundred islands, beyond whose furthest shores lies illimitable ocean. Magic is real, though rarely tamed, and the College of Wizards maintains a careful balance so that use of magic does not damage the fabric of reality.

But now a new force is at work, twisting and blurring the true names of things that are the root of all that exists. If it goes on unchecked, magic and wonder will drain away. Even life and death will cease to have meaning.

Seven of the greatest sorcerers of the age are invited by the Master Summoner of the College of Wizards to travel to the island of Dain at the archipelago’s heart. The Summoner’s hope is that this conclave, untainted by the politics and intrigues of the College and unrestrained by nature, will be able to hold back the force that is picking reality apart.

Yet to be effective in their fight, the conclave must first work the hardest spell of all -- trust.
If anyone who read the first seven installments on the blog feels like giving the book a review on Amazon -- well, consider yourself rich in undying gratitude! Surprisingly (but also quite pleasingly) some readers have praised it as homage to Ursula K Le Guin -- and as I still haven't read the Earthsea books that's surely a first. An anticipatory homage!

By one of those strokes of serendipity I discovered this week that the filmmaker Michael Powell wanted to make a movie of the Earthsea trilogy. It was designed as a project for his film school students and it was only five minutes long, but what a treasure that would be if it still exists anywhere. Powell incidentally was just as baffled as I am that the trilogy was published in the UK by Puffin (Penguin Books' children's imprint). That's the reason I didn't notice it back in my teens when I was devouring a lot of fantasy and SF. When Powell asked Le Guin why it went to Puffin and not Penguin's adult line, she said, 'Because Kaye Webb is a smart cookie.' I suspect it was because it was assumed back then that a fantasy novel written by a woman must be for ten year olds, so it's surprising that Le Guin thought it was a good decision. I guess it didn't hurt her in the long run.


  1. FWIW, I first read Wizard of Earthsea when I was 12 years old. It was and is a fine read for children while remaining enjoyable for an adult. Kaye Webb was, indeed, a smart cookie.

    1. Maybe she was. I've encountered enough British publishers at senior level to know that most of them have an extremely disdainful attitude to fantasy, but it does seem that Earthsea was always regarded as a children's book. It's curious, because The Hobbit and LotR were published in a way that both adults and children would get to see them. Anyway, it's ancient history now -- discussed here on Wiki:

  2. The best Earthsea novel in my opinion is Tehanu, the FOURTH novel in the series. (Not a trilogy, but a pentalogy!)
    Will read your full novella ;)

    1. I have a copy of Tehanu. Tim sort of warned me off it, saying he felt it spoiled the canon of the original trilogy -- but I loved Alan Garner's Boneland, which many felt did the same to the Weirdstone series. The only question is, do I need to have read the trilogy first, or can I jump straight into Tehanu?

  3. Hmm no I’d read them in order...