20 August 2018

Committing book is getting to be a habit

Cover for Under One Banner, Commonweal #4
Egalitarian heroic fantasy.  Career options after your Talent-mediating brain tissue catches actual fire, what became of the Shot Shop, and certain events involving Scarlet Battery, Fifth Battalion (Artillery), First Brigade, Wapentake of the Creeks.

May contain feels.



Available on Google Play
Available via Draft2Digital  (this is a "universal link" and will show you everywhere it's available on Draft2Digital publication targets.  Amazon is not one of them.  Kobo, iTunes, and Scribd are.  It can take a couple weeks for a book to propagate on to the publication target.)

19 comments:

CB said...

Bought a copy yesterday.
I will read it soon.

Hopefully you will continue..
Bets Wishes,
Chris Bursey

T said...

Ok just finished the book, really enjoyed it. But it does leave me with a nagging question. With people like Blossom and Fire, what need does the Commenweal have for an army? Those two seem to be so far above anything else. Not to mention the rest of the kids and Halt.

Graydon said...

+T -- If you're dependent on sorcerers for defense, you don't get to avoid the rule of sorcerers; it will come in time. The Commonweal has only had Blossom for a few decades, and Fire's team for a few years; sorcerers who can serve in the Line -- remember, yes, Blossom is a major sorcerer, but they're formally and properly in the army! -- are a new thing and the society is catching up to the reality. (The eventual histories are going to assign a lot of importance to the Typical standard-captain who had such strong views on égalité and accepted Blossom's desire to enlist/make better artillery, and complain about their lack of correspondence.)

Plus, you've only got one, and the threat environment isn't so restricted. You need to be able to get something in front of all the threats you currently face, and you can raise a battalion any time. (well, population limits, economic consequences, etc., but the core question is "have we got people?" The question about the sorcerer is "how lucky were we?"; the Commonweal went half a millenium without Blossom.)

Charlie Stross said...

Yep, sorcerers aren't something you can model as an ISO9000 business process — either you've got 'em or you haven't.

(That's one of the core dilemmas in the Laundry Files, as well: the creaky, not-very-efficient magical espionage agency may not be as effective as a single super-powerful mage, but it's always available; unlike mages, a bureaucracy can't have a snit and refuse to get out of bed one morning.)

T said...

Thanks, that makes sense, Relatedly, how close to her limit was Blossom pushed in her big fight in the book? I remember her saying she had trouble but given the small sample size of things that give Blossom trouble its hard to judge.

Also I'm curious about the role that mundane troops have in non-Commonweal forces. They don't seem to last long. Do they have utility beyond distraction and sacrifice fodder? Or is it a case of it being economically cheap for a preeminent to just mind-slave whoever is about and give them pointy sticks?

Graydon said...

+T -- _"I guessed correctly twice," Blossom says. "That's in the Line report. People get to draw their own conclusions."_ is meant to indicate "somewhere past known limit"; Blossom's survival is a surprise to any conventional analysis.

Any sorcerer can only be in one place at one time, and metaphysical sensing with the Power is dangerous -- there's a circulation, and any external Power circulation can be used to attack you. So mundane troops are good for collecting taxes, doing the equivalent of mine-clearing -- if a platoon starts turning purple and making ghastly choking noises, they may not have found _the_ problem but they've found _a_ problem -- and they work fine for blocking the advance of the other sorcerer's mundane troops. Pretty much everybody outside the Commonweal is guessing when they make their metaphysical transition, doesn't do an especially good job, and is still quite susceptible to being knifed to death afterwards. You need to guard against that, and the folks with the clever toxins, and even the prospect of falling in a pit. Better to have some guards go first.

The group of sorcerers associated with Halt, who are such that knifing them is not going to work at all, are unusually powerful and dangerous. It makes various people in the Commonweal uneasy because the historical expectation is that if they keep cooperating they could conquer the whole world. Is Halt just waiting for the kids to grow up a bit?

Graydon said...

+CB more are planned! So it's quite likely there will be more, presuming I avoid being eaten by alligators.

Graydon said...

+Charlie Stross And also like the Laundry, sufficiently powerful sorcerers start having opaque and unknowable motivations. Politically, this is not a welcome thing.

T said...


Thanks for answering my confusions. This world has a way of getting into my head.

Any chance of a book set entirely outside the Commonweal? Give us a look at the inner lives of a preeminent and their minions?

On a more prosaic note, given how the Commonweal is structured is art entirely something that people do beside their other work, or is their enough surplus to support some specialists?

Graydon said...

+T Books 6 is from extra-Commonweal viewpoints. (They don't know that they're interacting with the Second Commonweal, but they are.) If I can stand to write it, you're likely to have a novel of the Bad Old Days.

"And the devil crept up behind him, and whispered, 'Is it art?'"

There are people in the Creeks who do sculptures in bronze; it's the same foundry doing architectural pieces (chimney caps, doors...) and bollards, but there are memorial sculptures of people in there, too, in specific styles an art historian could have arguments about. It's pretty similar with visual arts. (We do some kind of working drawings, but also produce these sketches and paintings; we're a records photographer but we do landscapes or movement-on-the-water photography for fun, etc.)

People print and circulate books we'd recognize as novels, and groups put on plays; neither of those is a full-time income, but can produce "come visit" outcomes.

There are full-time professional musicians and (more so) instrument makers.

Gareth Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gareth Jones said...

First time poster, but I just wanted to say:

a) Yay! Another Commonweal Book :)
b) I enjoyed 'Under One Banner' greatly
c) How much I have enjoyed all your books - I think I have re-read the first 3 Commonweal novels 6 or maybe 7 times so far.

Thank you very much for sharing such a fascinating world with us :D

Garth

Graydon said...

+Gareth Jones I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Even more glad you find the Commonweal books worth re-reading.

Greg Wheatley said...

I greatly enjoyed this, as I have all the Commonweal books.

I do have have a number of questions.

First, where the aides to Eugenia and the other Captain are talking near the end of the book, they get disturbed that Eugenia and the Captain might forget themselves so much as to use 'he' and 'she'.

Do these pronouns exist in the Commonweal's common language, or would they be using them as a result of both of them conversing in one of the variants of spider?

Second, are Eugenia and the Captain more disposed to ruthless judgements because they are used to speaking (and writing) in spider?

If so, is it possible that Halt (or the Empress) has shaped/compromised/attacked the Commonweal by way of language/thought?

Following on from which, is a sufficiently sneaky attack (by a Power user over thousands of years) even going to be recognised as such?

Finally, there's some discussion of the Spider Goddess having various aspects, which include Halt and the Empress, and Blossom says she's met the Empress. Are these aspects similar to Blossom assuming the guise of Captain Blossom, or something else?

Thanks!

Greg

Graydon said...

+Greg Wheatly Hi Greg -- May I suggest you ask to join the G+ discussion community for the Commowneal? https://plus.google.com/communities/109105753759894785674

Answering those questions here leaves them having answers out in what gets indexed for search, which I'd prefer to avoid.

Unknown said...

It is entirely plausible that the noise I made when I realised you had once more Committed Book was audible only to dogs.

You have once more done what you did in #2, which is turn my initial 'but I want to hear more about X character...' into 'I am now fully invested in this protagonist as well' within the space of a few chapters.

Might one enquire as to the etymology of 'tagmat'? Pretty much every other unfamiliar term I've thought to investigate has been traceable to a root that made sense, but I'm drawing a blank on that one...

Graydon said...

+Unknown I am fairly sure I made "tagmat" up.

I don't think it's a roman fleuve if the characters keep switching, but I'm trying to do something like that -- personal views of a span of (fictitious!) history.

JReynolds said...

I read an enjoyed Under One Banner.

I've been re-reading the books since. I notice that you've put the Chekhov's Gun of "What if the Commonweal runs into a hostile power capable of cooperating for the sake of divvying up loot and slaves" into book 3.

Graydon said...

+JReynolds that does seem like a possibility, doesn't it? :)