ideas to explore in the series is the titular concept of Blood Magic, and how that power and associated religion interact with the world, and the world with it. Cracks In the Ice dives deeply into that interplay, with is probably why I enjoy the episode as much as I do. Going through my pre-revision re-read, I simply thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It combines interesting world-building with strong character development, and advances the overall plot of the series while still being episodic. I would go so far as to claim it is one of the strongest episodes in season one.
From his seat in the rearranged great hall, Kiluron sat beside Doil and watched the performers, who had to be the least interesting performers Kiluron had ever witnessed. The customary furnishings of the great hall had all been cleared away, a raised platform had been erected, seating in a special, semicircular arrangement had been set forth, and odd panels and long bunches of thick, dark, heavy cloth had been hung erratically all through the chamber, all at the request of a woman who had so far spent the entirety of the performance standing with her back to her noble audience. At least the other performers were all facing the correct direction, more or less focused upon the woman who led them, but they had spent the whole time thus far sitting mostly still and make a dreadful din upon their instruments. Admittedly, the performance had only begun a few moments before, but so far Kiluron was not impressed.
As I think I said when this episode was first released, or at least when I did the review of season one, A Prime's Place doesn't entirely fit with the rest of Blood Magic. Despite that, it is one of my favorite episodes. It's short, it's a very tight viewpoint, its heavy on character and short on plot. I knew going into my revisions that I wanted to make minimal changes to it, and I retained that conviction throughout my re-read.
Granted that it is less "exciting" than some of the other episodes, and that it is arguably telling of a rather minor incident in the affairs of Merolate and even of the characters, I really like this episode because it seems to embody in many ways my goals for the Blood Magic series, and what are some of its strengths. The whole of episode five turns on the relationship between Kiluron and Doil, and the geopolitical implications of Blood Magic in Lufilna, which I think are arguably the two strongest pillars of the series (though you as readers are more than welcome to disagree, and I would be very interested to know what you consider the series' strengths and weaknesses).
Unlike episode four, which when I went to do revisions I liked almost nothing about, there were a lot of things that I liked about Far From Home as I did my customary re-read in preparation to do my revisions. I thought the original did a good job of capturing Kiluron's attitude, and the interactions with the foreign visitors was better than I expected to find it. I also liked the conflict I had set up, though I realized that I would need to build it out in a little more detail for the revisions, and that I needed to either change, or do without, the contrived fight scene with Vere. Maybe that's why I found it oddly difficult to work on the revisions for this episode.
This episode is nothing more nor less than what it seems: a stand-alone story about a "fallen star." While it allowed me the opportunity to explore the culture of the nomadic tribes in the "Unclaimed Territories," and flesh out some of their own perceptions of themselves, and their interactions with the "civilized" nations of Lufilna, it really wasn't supposed to have a lot of character development, nor huge impact on future episodes. All of which means that while the start was a little slow to write, it ended up going pretty quickly, and after the first two thousand words were written, I finished the rest of the episode in just a few days. Which is good, because I fully anticipate the next episode, In Contempt, being quite a challenge to write.
For once, I actually managed to write a true short story; this particular piece comes in under six thousand words (barely), unlike most of the Blood Magic "short" stories, which hover around ten thousand words. It was a quick write for me, and will probably be a quick read for you. There aren't even any section breaks, and all of the action takes place in a single day. It's very much a read in one sitting kind of piece.
Either I forgot, or I thoroughly repressed just how bad episode four was. At least, I hope it was one of those two, because I would hate to think that as either an author or a reader I ever looked at this episode and thought it was good. When I went to start revisions on this episode, I floundered around, looking for some way to start, because I thought that it was so bad that no amount of revision could help. I was very nearly tempted to throw out the entire original text and start over again, and the only thing that restrained me was that I'm still nominally calling these revisions, and have promised to be somewhat true to the original episodes. That meant, unfortunately, that I was stuck with the silly plot involving some thieves, some poison, and some gold.
I am very excited to present to you the first episode of a brand new season of Blood Magic, the short story series that I've been publishing for over a year now on IGC Publishing to minimal fanfare. If you're not already familiar with it, I encourage you to go over to the main Blood Magic page or any of my myriad posts on the subject to learn more. Better yet, I encourage you to start at the beginning, and read the first episode. We even have a newly revised edition here on the site, newly re-released for 2021.
I've determined to re-release The Grounds Warden in the new format. No longer do you have to go to the page, pay, and download the PDF. Instead, you can just click here, and you will be taken directly to the page with the whole story. So if you haven't read The Grounds Warden before, I encourage you to head over and give it a read. You can find a lot more details on it in some of my older posts. This is actually one of the first stories that I wrote on which I received more than just "that's nice" kind of feedback, and I was able to turn it into something that I think is quite interesting.