by Allan Batchelder
If you’ve ever experienced the dreaded party wipe in gaming
or in literature, you know how devastating, unfair, and unnecessary it all
seems. Yes, yes, and no. It is devastating, and
it is cruel. But it’s entirely necessary.
Many years ago, I was playing Diablo (One, as it turned out), when I heard
about trainers – software downloads that allowed a character infinite lives,
infinite money, etc. It sounded like a good idea at the time, so I quickly
attached the trainer to my game and…almost immediately lost interest. You see,
without the threat of death, the cost, and without the gradually doling-out of
increased wealth and equipment upgrades, the game – or the novel – is robbed of
its dramatic tension and suspense.
Okay, you say, sure. But a complete party wipe? A Red Wedding? Yes. It’s the
same concept on a larger scale. If such events don’t happen every so often, the
world in which they transpire won’t seem quite as deadly and, ironically, as
real. Because these things do happen in the R.W. Consider the French and
Russian royal families. Or the Alamo. Or the 54th Regiment at Ft. Wagner. Or
Custer’s Land Stand. Okay, in retrospect, that one was gratifying, but I’m
certain it wasn’t so gratifying to the relatives of those lost. And there
are smaller, more relatable tragedies – entire families lost in car crashes,
botched burglaries, etc. I don’t mean to suggest these events are remotely
entertaining; rather, I hold them up as things that do happen in life
and must happen in fantasy.
We’re a funny people, we readers and/or gamers. We’re willing to believe in
elves and aliens, but ask us to accept a world in which the “good guys” never
die? No. Effing. Way. And that’s because, on some level, we need it. We’ve all
lost loved ones; we all will. We know that life can bring boundless joy, but
also despair. Even in the midst of experiencing that boundless joy, some of us
are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.
And the ancients knew it, too. Look at Greek Tragedy. Or Elizabethan and
Jacobean. Oedipus and Hamlet have to die. Siegfried, too. And this
brings us what the Greeks called “Catharsis” – a purging of pent up emotions,
thought and proven to be healthy for the viewer. And again, it rings true.
Lincoln was assassinated. Gandhi and MLK, too. The hero dies. Of course, I’m
not advocating for this in the R.W. But I’m saying it happens. Too often.
Sometimes, though, it gives rise to another useful dramatic device: revenge.
While it’s not always socially acceptable, revenge is something most of us
crave at one time or another, but are not always able, for whatever reason, to
execute or obtain. So, it satisfies something rather dark within us, some sense
of schadenfreude, to see it carried out in fiction and in games. And perhaps it
prevents us from caving in to our baser impulses.
Now, sometimes, an author will bring the hero back, an event, of course, that
does not happen in real life. Heck, I’ve even been guilty of this device. But
it has to serve a purpose, to fit into the larger narrative. And there has to
be a cost. What will it be for Jon Snow? I can’t begin to guess, but I am
certain it will be both awful and profound.
Just as it should be.
Steel, Blood & Fire
Immortal Treachery Book 1
by Allan Batchelder
Genre: Dark Fantasy
His awestruck opponents call him The Reaper, an iron-willed man with no memory of his past, a ruthless champion who has risen to the level of death incarnate.
But The Reaper has collected a legion of enemies as he cut a bloody swath through the greatest of heroes and villains. And these dogs have finally had their day, exacting a revenge both cruel and creative.
Wandering lost, horribly disfigured and unable to fight, Vykers stumbles across the bones of a half-buried skeleton that can transform his ruined body in an inconceivable way. But first he must make a devil’s pact with…
A secretive, ghostly sorceress with ambitions of her own. If Vykers wants to wield a sword again, he must surrender to Arune that which he holds most dear. But can he trust this ethereal enchantress to hold up her end of their dangerous bargain?
Vykers has few good choices, and he must make them quickly, for an impossibly talented and savage wizard has arisen to threaten all of humanity…
THE END OF ALL THINGS
Once an autistic boy hardly able to speak, The End has evolved into a supernatural terror bent on extinguishing all life. A fearsome and unequaled tactician, The End is the only person who doesn’t fear “The Reaper.”
To have any hope of defeating this bloodthirsty mage, Vykers must gather the strangest, most dangerous cohort of killers ever assembled. Then he must seek out the only weapon that can defeat this terrible adversary…
THE EPIC BATTLE
Behold the greatest clash of men, monsters, and Fey that the kingdom has ever known. Vykers, at the head of his outnumbered contingent, launches a desperate attack against The End, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
But The End is a creature worthy of his name. He has forged a secret weapon, a wicked and terrible instrument that will break through Vykers’ defenses and exact a devastating toll.
Only one thing is certain, this extraordinary battle will end in a way that no one could have predicted!
As Flies to Wanton Boys
Immortal Treachery Book 2
Three years have passed since Tarmun Vykers’ victory over the mad sorcerer who called himself the End-of-All-Things. But they’ve been three long years, confined to a sick bed with a grievous wound that will not heal, cannot be healed by any means known to man. And then something unthinkable happens, and Vykers is summoned once again to save the kingdom.
This same mysterious event ensnares Long Pete and his companions, reuniting them for a mission whose consequences none can anticipate and not all will survive. Will Vykers master his wound, or will it finally end him? Can Long Pete serve both his Queen and his family? And what of the A’Shea, Aoife, who finds herself torn between her faith and her powerful attraction to the Reaper? In a world in which the gods play with the fates of men as mischievous boys torture insects, nothing but strife is certain.
Immortal Treachery Book 3
Betrayed by his closest friend, someone who has also stolen his most precious possession, Tarmun Vykers wants revenge.
Kittins wants revenge, too, against the all-powerful Queen, who’s been manipulating and dictating his every move for far too long, to devastating effect.
Long Pete wants revenge against the slavers who murdered his wife and even now hold his only child captive.
And many others too numerous to count want revenge as well, for slights both real and imagined.
One thing is certain: punishment is coming.
Follow the Reaper again, as he fights through the worst winter in ages to deal out revenge that leaves his victims corpse cold.
The Abject God
Immortal Treachery Book 4
Vykers once killed some of the Emperor’s soldiers; now, the Emperor has crossed the sea with all his legions to exact a revenge that will impact not only the Reaper, but Kittins, Spirk, Eoman, and even the Virgin Queen herself. Meanwhile, pieces to the puzzle of Vykers’ origins begin to fall into place, revealing people and purposes both unexpected and heretofore unimaginable. And then there is the long-suffering Long Pete, who must now contend with an utterly reshaped reality that threatens his very existence.
The End of All Things
Immortal Treachery Book 5
Tarmun Vykers, the Reaper, has battled his way across time and two continents, toppling kingdoms and empires alike and killing untold thousands in the process. And he has never really known why.
But he’s about to find out.
And with this new knowledge must come a reckoning—with the Queen, who has manipulated Vykers every step of the way, with the Emperor, who would take what is rightfully the Reaper’s, and even with the gods themselves.
It is time for the Reaper to do what he does best.
Allan is a professional actor, educator and former stand-up comedian. In addition to Steel, Blood & Fire, he's also written plays, screenplays, online articles, dialogue for computer games, greeting card sentiments and more. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a Master's in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University. He is a huge fan of Shakespeare, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Glen Cook, George R.R. Martin, Tad Williams, and R. Scott Bakker. Allan lives in Seattle with his wife and son, where he enjoys walks on the beach, reading in the garden and puttering around on his computer. Oh, and naps. He LOVES naps.Website * Facebook * FB Group * Twitter * Instagram
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