Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lords of the Sky by Angus Wells

I read a few of Angus Wells books when I was a younger man going to Demon Dogs before it closed. There was a nearby library that I would snag books from and head off into the train station. Not too long ago at Half Priced books, I spied Lords of the Sky by Angus Wells and well, it was in my favorite spot, the dollar spinner rack.

I finished it today. It's a massive tome, some odd six hundred pages plus long. It took me a few days to read in between work, painting, and the other dreaded real life concerns going on. It was a nice, one shot book told well. It does some good world building and showcases some interesting moral questions I've often seen hit on in of all things, super hero comics with the old great power and great responsibility bits.

When I look at Amazon, and see that it's $11.99 for the Kindle edition, I shake my head.  Sure, there's no mass market paperback, and the regular trade is like almost thirty dollars before the Amazon sale price, but man, I think that the author is losing a lot of potential sales by his company keeping the price so high up there. And it's not just this book. Most of the ones written by Angus hit this price point. Oh well. It's not like there aren't plenty of others books out there on sale.

I'll be discussing some very specific spoilers below so if you'd know no more of the book, read no further.

One of the things I enjoyed about the book, is the motivation of the main character, Daviot who is always questioning things. Always asking the why not of things. Almost always seeking to do good for those about him. Notice I say almost always because there is a blind spot in his character and that is his love for his lady mage, Rwan . For her, he would sacrifice his duty, leave his country, and be hers alone. This motivation is powerful in him. His appreciation for his friends is also strong. It makes him a little more than just 'the hero'.

She on the other hand, is always about duty. But to her, it's not just duty to her cause, not just duty to her people, but duty to the greater future of the world. Her strength in this conviction leads her to move past his loyalty to family, kin, and country and battle all comers in an effort to bring about a new era of peace. She powerful and strong is her faith in this belief, she is able to convince others of the necessity of it through any means necessary.

The other players are friends of Daviot, and while I do not want to 'lessen' then status, it's of that friendship that I'd make mention. Too often the character motivations are of material possessions or of status. Rare, save for in perhaps the Lord of the Rings, are characters friends. Are characters entities that would sacrifice for one another.

I'm not talking about in game play. Foolish is the PC who would let another one die because he's annoyed at the other character. Such methods lead to retribution, anger, and well, a crappy game in some instances. I remember one game where two players kept making their characters specifically to kill the other one and since the GM enjoyed it, it continued well beyond the "that was funny phase."

But in having players have some loyalty to one another, that in their own personal life that they might suffer, the GM can create an interesting weave of possibilities. I understand that it may be too much to assume that another player should be reduced in role like that, but don't hesitate to use NPCs to fill those roles. Frodo and Samwise both have their part to play in the shaping of Middle Earth and one could not have performed to the point they did without the other.

Solid friendships need good foundations and the GM should strive to put forth those opportunities for the players to engage them.

Lords of the Sky provides an entertaining read while providing some thoughts about the nature of friendship, sacrifice, and motivation.