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Krigslive XIV – Giving Danish LARP a Shot

Krigslive Sollands Sidste

What’s this? Krigslive? You mean a LARP write-up that isn’t about Witcher School?

Strange days, indeed!

Krigslive is a Danish LARP set in the Warhammer universe with focus on military life and huge battles. This year, the setting revolved around a religious conflict between the armies of the North – the followers of Ulric – and the South – worshippers of Sigmar.

My regiment was Solland’s Last, and we fought for the South. The regiment’s backstory revolved around most of us being descendents of the inhabitants of Solland, which was destroyed around 800 years ago. Our ultimate goal was to reclaim Solland as an independent territory. This was made rather interesting, since Solland is occupied by Nuln, and Nuln had a whopping three regiments fighting for the South.

This will come into play later.

This being the first Krigslive, not only for me, but for Solland’s Last as a regiment, there were a lot of growing pains in the beginning. I will skip over all the parts where we were tired, frustrated and outright growling at each other, because I don’t want to distract from all the fun we had in-between. Solland’s Last is filled with great people, and I hope they know I believe that, even though I ended up heading out on my own a lot of the time.

And even though I handed in my resignation on that last day…

But more on that later!

Krigslive Sollands Sidste

 

Setting Up Camp and Getting Kidnapped by Boozy Monks

We all arrived on Tuesday – the day before the game started – to set up camp. I think my fellow soldiers realized how absolutely incompetent I am at putting up tents, so I was quickly sent out on a scouting mission to locate water stations and bathroom facilities.

Turns out, I’m not any good at that, either.

We did eventually get everything set up, and in the evening we settled down around a fire.

And this is when things got weird for me.

You know when a monk – robe, shaved scalp, the whole nine yards – hands you a bottle of homebrewed beer, extends his hand and says “Let’s go on a raid”…?

Don’t take his hand. Be smarter than me.

During this Krigslive, I often had times where I wondered how the hell I had gotten myself into whatever situation I found myself in. The first time was when I was waltzing around the Nuln camp with a strange monk – neither of us actually knowing how to waltz – bottle of beer still clutched in one hand.

I wasn’t even drunk. Yet.

This was until my new monk friend decided we needed to go on a mission to locate cups for beer pong. And, obviously, the only place to acquire cups for beer pong was all the way over in the North camp.

Why did I agree to come along…?

Well, it was damn good beer, for one thing.

So, me and the monk ended up with our arms around each other, walking through the dark fields towards the North camp. We picked up another straggler along the way, and the monk started telling us a story about some guy who got attacked by a werewolf while out for a piss.

Eventually we got to the North camp, and since we weren’t officially in-game yet, I was introduced to half of the people there, only a couple of whom threatened to shoot me. I also met Frieda the Flexible.

Frieda was a ballista with a built-in compartment for beer. I was immediately in love.

After taste-testing whatever dubious alcoholic concoctions the men of the North offered me – and reminding the monk to get the cups we were actually there for – a few more drunkards joined our little entourage and followed us back to the North camp, where it turns out that everyone had long ago abandoned the idea of beer pong. A couple of Solland’s Last members managed to wrestle me away from the monk (who hadn’t let go of me for more than a couple of minutes at a time all night) and get me back to our camp where I was promptly asked to go to bed, since I was clearly not as sober as I had been the last time they saw me.

The Game Begins

I was feeling alright when I woke the next morning. I never get hungover, but my body usually punishes me harshly for not sleeping and eating enough on previous nights.

Turns out, my body was just waiting until after I ate breakfast to make its point.

The rest of the morning was a shitshow, basically. Not literally, luckily (those toilets were nasty enough as it was), but the stress of getting everything ready for the game to start is pretty hard to handle when you almost keel over every time you try to do something more strenuous than moving a cup.

Add to that the fact that my armor had been misplaced and no one could find it, and that I didn’t have the info I needed to make my character work in relation to the rest of company, and it’s safe to say that I was not feeling particularly ready by the time we were supposed to go in-game.

I was supposed to play the drill sergeant in charge of the recruits (though I eventually decided that this was not going to work out and demoted myself to Private), but at that point I just felt a desperate need to get away from the camp. I also felt a need for food, and I had heard rumors about people selling sausages during my scouting mission the day before, so I set out towards the in-game trading post placed between the North and the South camp.

This was the decision that would end up defining the rest of Krigslive for me.

At the trading post, I met the merchants, Alex and Owen. I’m going to blame everything that happened to me for the rest of the game on them, and there’s nothing they can do to stop me.

I ordered a sausage, only to discover that I was supposed to pay with in-game currency, not the actual money I had on me. Since I hadn’t been paid in-game yet, I made a deal with merchant Alex to spread the word about the trading post’s services and getting them some firewood, since they were running low.

I got my sausage, and – feeling a lot better already – I went back to my camp to find the rest of my company getting ready to head out for the first battle. Since I still didn’t have any armor, there wasn’t much else for me to do than to sit this one out, so I helped getting everyone else strapped into their armor, then waited for them to leave…

…so I could make one of the recruits left behind help me steal firewood for the merchants.

The Descent into Iniquity

Firewood theft aside, I would probably have been alright if that was where it had ended. I might still have been simply “Private Adler” by the time this LARP came to a close, but Alex just had to go and pay me extra for the firewood so that I had money on my hands at the very moment Owen put up the board with the Blood Bowl bracket.

I had decided to play a responsible character this time around, I swear. I was going to be a good little soldier who took her job seriously, and not the same kind of chaotic misfit I tend to play.

I hadn’t even thought of reading up on Ranald when I was trying to get into the Warhammer lore.

But alas, even the best-laid plans are doomed to fail.

This is an overly dramatic way of saying that I bet all the money I just earned on a deadly sports tournament.

My bets were as follow:

  • 20 marks on Owen’s Eagles
  • 30 marks on Middenland’s Killer Whales

Stay tuned for the following day’s results.

 

Invading the North Camp with Song

Having missed out on the first battle, I volunteered when the South camp’s Quartermaster asked for people for a reconnaissance mission. We were simply going to check on the various holy altars placed around the area.

Simple, right?

Well, it started out simple. There were a few skirmishes with patrols from the North camp, but all in all it was rather quiet.

Until the Quartermaster decided on going to the North camp.

He told us that the Northlingers had three relics in their camp, and that we should try to steal them. Obviously we couldn’t just walk in there in our Solland uniforms and take off with their artifacts, so we hatched a plan. It was the most stupid, foolish, suicidal plan we could have come up with.

It really shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.

We stripped three of our soldiers of the recognizable parts of their uniforms and sent them off by themselves. Then the rest of us took up position in view of the North camp.

And then we started singing.

We couldn’t have been more obvious if we tried. But as one of my comrades would later describe it: “Nothing to see here. Just me and fifteen of my heavily armed friends out for a stroll.”

We were marching so slowly that we barely lifted our feet, and singing so very loudly, that no one could have doubted we were trying to attract attention.

And we did.

At first, the North camp soldiers merely looked at us as if we were idiots, so we started singing even louder. The enemy soldiers were now approaching us slowly, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Behind them, completely unnoticed, our three incognito agents entered their camp, and we raised our voices once again. Luckily, Solland’s Last has marching songs with plenty of verse.

 

Hvis Sigmar gav os et tegn, var det ik’ så skidt endda
Hvis Sigmar gav os et tegn, var det ik’ så skidt endda
Hvis Sigmar gav os et tegn, var det ik’ så skidt endda
Åh, Sigmar, frels os nu

Bare Solland ville rejse sig igen
Bare Solland ville rejse sig igen
Bare Solland ville rejse sig igen
Åh, Sigmar, frels os nu

 

And that was about the time the North brought out their rifle regiment.

I firmly believe that you have not lived life to its fullest until you have been chased by half an army while still singing at the top of your lungs to drown out all the yelling and the rifle fire.

 

The Victory of Sigmar’s Sirens

I’m a little fussy on the details of our escape, but somehow we ended up at the road leading towards the tavern. We had a lieutenant with a bullet in her leg and absolutely no idea what had happened to the people we sent into the enemy camp, but as stopped by the side of the road, desperately trying to catch our breath, we saw a running figure in the distance.

It was one of our operatives, and she had succeeded.

Our victory cry as she dramatically fell to her knees with the relic raised in her hands could have been heard all the way back in the North camp.

We went back to report our success and hand over the relic to our general, the Arch Lecturer.

Then we went to the tavern.

The tavern at Krigslive was a neutral space, so soldiers of both camps were drinking together as we arrived. Some of us settled down by the fire with some guys we didn’t recognize, and it was only some time later one of them went:

“Wait… Were you the ones singing?”

“Yeah, that’s us. Were you the guys chasing us?”

“Nah, we were behind the rifle guys.”

This was when the North guys dubbed our party “Sigmar’s Sirens” and made us do an encore by the fire. Since most of us were so tired we couldn’t remember which verse came first, we just started making up lyrics, but nobody complained.

I ended up sitting with some lieutenant with a great hat. It soon became my hat, and I was informed that I was now Lieutenant of the 19th Hockland regiment of the North, because obviously the rank goes with the hat. I handed over my own beret and informed him that he was now Private Adler of Solland’s Last.

I’m not exactly sure who talked us out of just returning to the other’s camps and claiming our new roles in each other’s regiments, but it’s probably just as well.

 

Joining Together Against a Common Enemy

Another day dawned, and since I still didn’t know where my armor was, I decided that I wanted to take a break and relax a bit during the first battle of the day.

Clearly, the weather gods had other plans.

While the properly armored soldiers were out hitting each other in the head, those of us left in the South camp got to do some inter-regiment bonding when a storm hit and we had to spend the entire time running around saving everyone’s tents before they took off. I believe one guy taking a nap in his tent got a nasty surprise, but his company must have managed to fish him out.

We had just about managed to secure everything against the wind by the time the fighters got back.

That’s when the sky opened up.

Since we had had enough people left behind in the camp to secure things during the battle, we were also able to withstand the heavy downpour that followed in the next hours, but we soon heard that the North camp hadn’t been as lucky. Not only had they left almost no people behind, they were also located at the bottom of a hill and their soldiers had a longer walk back after the battle, so the rain had already started by the time they got to their camp.

A few of Solland’s Last suggested ceasing hostilities for now and went around recruiting people for a humanitarian mission. I stayed behind to make sure our camp was secure, but I hear that the South delegation was welcomed with open arms when they went to the North camp with coffee, hot chocolate, and some helping hands.

Did Someone Say Gambling?

The downpours kept coming with impressive regularity for most of the day, but I eventually managed to get to the trading post to check on the Blood Bowl results.

Neither my Eagles nor my Killer Whales let me down, and I won 160 marks.

Well, I had to keep going, right?

My new bets were:

  • 40 marks on Owen’s Eagles
  • 40 marks on Middenland’s Killer Whales
  • 20 marks on Nuln’s Cannons (in the Biggest Loser bracket)

By this time, the merchants had already dubbed Private Adler as their “first, best and worst customer” and this was a title that would stick for the entirety of the game.

They were also running low on firewood again, so I took the chance to earn some more money. And by “earning” I mean “discreetly trying to haul a wagon of stolen firewood out of the camp under the noses of the officers”.

The agreed price for the firewood had been 100 marks, but obviously Merchant Al tried to haggle. We settled on the original price, and me putting 20 of it on Reikland’s Reavers. The Reavers were fighting the Eagles (who I already had money on), but the Eagles’ sudden popularity had made their odds go up vastly since I placed my bets, so I thought I might as well cover all my bases.

Obviously, this meant I had to put 20 on Hockland’s Harpies in the Biggest Loser bracket as well, since it was the only fight I didn’t have a stake in yet.

This was when Alex handed me a strange, black coin and gave me an invitation to an “event” the following night.

Ranald coin Krigslive

I wonder what kind of event this little kitty could possibly grant access to…?

On an unrelated note, I spent the next four hours playing dice with the merchants and an assortment of soldiers from both North and South. At one point, we were playing with a captain and his sergeant from one of the Nuln regiments. The captain casually grabbed the sergeant’s pistol and informed us that he would have to shoot us if he lost.

Looking back, I really wish I had remembered this man’s face, because I might have made better decisions the following night if I had…

Fortunately, no one ended up getting shot. I did, however, both win a lot of money and lose it all again. I also learned that smutty artwork was valid currency when making bets, a fact that everyone except me seemed to know. I then said the words I would come to swallow within a few hours:

“We don’t have any smut in Solland’s Last’s camp. It’s all very boring.”

Croquis Sessions and a Wedding

It had somehow slipped my mind that the captain of Solland’s Last was getting married to the captain of another South regiment, Sortensol, and that my hours long absence might be noted if I was late for the honor guard, so in the end I made my way back to the camp.

Weirdly enough, I couldn’t find any of my fellow Sollanders, so I ducked my head into the main tent.

I’m not sure what I had expected, but I feel I can confidently say that it wasn’t a half-naked Nuln soldier posing for an art class against the tent pole.

Since there were no words that seemed suitable, I just sat down on the nearest bed, where Solland’s Last’s herbalist proudly showed me her artwork of the North army’s general. For the sake of keeping this blog post somewhat family friendly, I will say that at least he was still wearing his fur cloak…

The rest of my company were drawing the Nuln soldier (who I’m still not sure wasn’t being held against his will) while he posed in various ways. At one point, an NPC stuck her head into the tent, looking for someone, and I jokingly told her she could come in if she stuck some money in the model’s pants.

She tucked 30 marks in there and made herself comfortable.

Her partner poked his head in looking for her at one point, then quickly backed out again. He was still waiting outside awkwardly about thirty minutes later.

Also, I have photographic evidence of this entire thing, but out of respect for the poor man’s dignity – and the desire to hang on to blackmail material – I have only posted it in Solland’s Last’s private Facebook group…

We eventually had to wrap up this bachelorette party – then there’s that much smut, it’s still a bachelorette party, even if the bride didn’t have time to attend – and get ready to escort our captain to her wedding.

Krigslive Bryllup

We walked in formation to the altar of Sigmar and took up position with the soldiers of Sortensol to create an arch with our weapons. Our captain went to the altar to await her blushing groom, warhammer and shield by her side. Sortensol’s captain was escorted, modestly wearing a veil, so the bride would not see his moustache until they were officially wed. As is only proper.

The Arch Lecturer performed the ceremony, and it was a very beautiful occassion.

Any choking sounds heard can be attributed to this, and had absolutely nothing to do with the members of the honor guards trying not to burst out laughing whenever they made eye contact with each other.

We then marched the happy couple to the tavern for the wedding feast, which I soon had to leave to go chase zombies in the dark.

You know how it is.

Some More of Me Doing Basically Nothing

I think I might have gone into a coma that night, because I woke up to discover that part of the tent had collapsed on top of my face at some point. I got up, got dressed, ate some breakfast and fixed the tent, just in time to head inside to wait out another bout of heavy rain. I decided I was just going to lay back and rest until the weather cleared…

I woke three hours later. Apparently one of the others had been going in and out of the tent a dozen times, and accidentally knocking stuff over, but I had been dead to the world.

Suffice to say, I had skipped out on that morning’s battle as well.

With my Post-Larp shutdown out of the way several days early, I set off toward the trading post. Owen saw me coming from far off, spread his arms, and yelled, “Ah, Adler! My favorite customer!” I mimicked the gesture and yelled back, “I’m here to take your money!”

As you can see, we had a beautiful friendship going on.

And I put my money were my mouth was. Or, rather, his money. Looking at the Blood Bowl bracket, I concluded that I had won as many bets as I possibly could have. The only reason I had lost on anything at all was because I had bet on both teams in one of the matches. I won 310 marks in all, and – since this post is basically just a glorified gambling ledger – here’s the winning teams:

Main tournament – Semi finals:

  • Reikland’s Reavers
  • Middenland’s Killer Whales

Biggest Loser – Semi finals:

  • Nuln’s Cannons
  • Hockland’s Harpies

It was almost nostalgic placing my last Blood Bowl bets of this Krigslive, but the next two matches were the finals. I put 100 marks on the Killer Whales, since they had yet to let me down, and 50 marks on Nuln’s Cannons.

Then I sat down next to Alex and didn’t leave for the next four hours. One of the North guys I had gambled with the day before came by and asked if I just lived there now, and the general consensus seemed to be that, yes, I was now a semi-permanent feature of the trading post.

The rest of the afternoon passed quite peacefully, apart from Alex yelling at a plane flying low over the field.

“Get off my fucking lawn! Fucking dragons…”

Krigslive Merchant Al

I have no other photos that fits in this part, so here’s a picture of Alex after he nicked the hat and cloak of the North’s Inspector. 

Running Out of Luck

I did eventually head back to the Solland’s Last camp. But that was mostly because I had finished up eating the merchants’ food and drinking their beer, and now figured I would go and eat the camp food I had actually paid for. Besides, I needed to get ready for the event. At this time, I knew that at least one other member from Solland’s Last had received a coin and an invitation (in-game name of Katrine) and I wanted to pick her up so we could go together.

Just in case it was all a trap and we’d be getting ambushed, you know.

Oh, and I also wanted to get my pay for all that soldiering that I most definitely didn’t do. I needed all the money I could get my hands on. I might not have known much about what was going down that night, but I was pretty certain it would involve coin changing hands.

Repeatedly.

The next few hours went by with Katrine pestering every officer she could find about when we would be getting paid, and me casually asking people if they wanted to bet money on whether or not my luck would last. Fiona, our herbalist, handed over 20 marks, and Lau – another Private – carved me a small wooden die as a lucky totem.

The rest of Solland’s Last just pointedly pretended not to hear me making obvious plans to indulge in activities outlawed by our lieutenant.

The very second said lieutenant handed over the day’s pay, Katrine and I shot off to go check the Blood Bowl results before we had to go to the meeting spot for the event.

But we were both out of luck there. Me, because I had lost on the Blood Bowl for the first time despite my frequent previous bets – and I lost on both matches! – and Katrine because she had asked Owen to put her money on whatever I – who, at that point, had a reputation for winning everything – had bet on.

This didn’t bode super well.

Alex must have thought the same thing, because he sidled up next to us and asked us how much money we had brought for tonight. We told him.

Honestly, if this had been real life, we would basically have served ourselves up for a mugging by going to this thing.

Not quite confident in our chances with our current finances, Alex offered to sponsor both of us, in exchange for half of our potential winnings. As I had a total of 370 marks, and Katrine had 120, he said he would cover the difference that would bring us both to 500 marks.

I pulled Katrine aside, asked her if she wanted to sponsor me with her 120 marks and then accept Alex’s deal for 380, so that we could both play, but only give the merchant a stake in one of our victories.

As I told Alex later that evening, it wasn’t cheating. Just good ol’ trickery. Ranald would approve.

Luckily, Katrine was up for being my partner-in-not-quite-crime. She handed over her money, went back to accept Alex’s deal, and off we went to the meeting place.

Quite Possibly the Weirdest Night of My LARP Life

We approached the meeting place and quickly spotted a shady looking individual, who waved us on after we presented our black coins to him. We walked up to the secluded spot by the woods – a marvelous place for an ambush. Just saying – where several of our buddies from Sortensol were already gathered. Including their captain, who looked rather sheepish as we were joined by a third member from Solland’s Last, and said, “You didn’t bring my wife, did you…?”

Well, guys, this is when things get properly weird.

Once everyone had arrived, we were herded a bit further into the forest. There, we were all asked to put on blindfolds.

You know the night won’t end well when this is how it starts.

Now all blindfolded, we were made to hold on to a long rope and follow. The next 15 minutes were us being led around blindly in circles, constantly stepping on each other’s feet and – though I can only speak for myself here – wondering if we were going to get murdered. These fears weren’t completely laid to rest once we arrived at our destination and removed the blindfolds to find ourselves in a dark room, dimly lit by red light.

We were asked to sit down at the tables placed around the room and we awkwardly did so. I ended up separated from my fellow Sollanders, but beers had been placed in front of us, so I figured I would be alright.

I’m not sure why, but I feel convinced that you serve wine at ritual mass murders.

A man in shabby robes, who I vaguely recalled to be the keeper of the tavern – and, if I hadn’t been gambling elsewhere, would have known to be a priest of Ranald even before that evening – called for us to be quiet and started speaking. In case we had held any doubt about who the patron god of the event was, the priest called attention to the altar of Ranald placed at the far end of the room, and told us about how the Givers of Coin (and that’s when I noticed Alex and Owen lurking in the shadows) were working towards creating a church for Ranald and his followers. He gestured Alex forward and the merchant began telling us why we were there.

We were going to have a dice tournament. It was going to be an all-or-nothing game, though we could bow out at any time if we wished. If we chose to leave while we still had money, we could chose to donate whatever we had left at the altar of Ranald. Otherwise, in Alex’s words:

“If you leave here with coin, we’ll allow you… but we can’t guarantee your safety.”

Do I need to tell you that every single person made sure to donate their remaining money before leaving the game that night…?

To the future winner, Alex told them that they could choose to donate all their winnings to help build the church of Ranald, but unlike the others, their safety would be guaranteed if they decided to leave with the money.

Time to begin the game.

Alex was the dealer for my table, but the familiar face didn’t bring me much luck. I lost round after round, rolling the crappiest numbers I ever have outside of healing critical fights in Dungeons & Dragons. I was convinced I was going to be one of the first to leave.

Oh, and when you left the game, you had to leave the room. A couple of guards very helpfully ‘escorted’ you out the door…

I was almost out of coin when my luck finally turned. And when I finally won a round, Alex started the next one by saying,

“Solland’s Last goes first.”

That might just have to become my new catchphrase, because once he had said this five rounds in a row, these words now just made everyone else at the table groan. And unbelieveably, I was still going by the time the other tables had emptied and the last-standing players came to join us for the final part of the game.

Believe it or not, but despite every single one of my roleplaying characters having gambling problems, I don’t really gamble in real life. Had it been real money on the line, I wouldn’t have been able to handle how utterly intense this game got. We were 6 or 7 players left – a majority of them from Nuln regiments – and the game constantly changed in a new person’s favor.

I think we were 4 players left when the final round came, but honestly, I can’t be sure. A mixture of disbelief at still being there, the pressure of the game, and those very strong, sweet-tasting cocktails they had started serving us instead of beer, makes the entire thing a little bit hazy.

But I do remember a few crucial details:

The buy-in for the final round was 3200 marks.

I only had 620 left.

The Ranald priest lurking behind me said that the church would sponsor those of us left who couldn’t afford the buy-in, so we all remained at the table. I was the second to roll.

And I rolled great. Something between a cheer and a groan came from the rest of the players, but I was still convinced that my luck couldn’t last. However, the Nuln soldier next to me made an awful roll. In the end, there was only one guy left who needed to make his roll. I was vaguely aware that I had seen him before, but I didn’t manage to place him until around 5 am when I was lying in my tent, trying to go to sleep.

To give you guys some insight I really would have liked at this point, I’ll refer you back to the earlier part of this post about the Nuln captain who threatened to shoot me.

Moving on…

This guy picked up the dice, held them in his hand, looked me intently in the eye across the candle-lit table, and told me that if he lost this roll, he would be okay with losing to me. Then he said this,

“If I do lose this roll… Will you take my hand in marriage?”

I wish someone had been taking photos in there, because I’m kind of curious to see the look on my face at that moment. It took me a moment to find the words to reply,

“I’m sorry, what? You’re saying I should marry you if I win everything?”

Gotta respect a man who looks you straight in the eye at a time like that and just goes, “Yes.”

I think my brain gave up on me at this point, because I don’t really remember what he said next, just that he kept going on and on, until I eventually shouted, “Okay yes, I’ll marry you. Just hurry up and lose already!”

He rolled, and the rest of the table started cheering when they saw how bad the numbers were. I just leaned back in my chair, and I think there might have been a slight bit of hysteria in my voice. “Wait, does that mean I’m getting married?”

I can’t even tell you how much money was in the final pool. The stack of notes was so huge that no one really wanted to count it all. However, half of it belonged to the church, as they had sponsored me. I had also vowed that half my future winnings for the rest of my life would be donated to Ranald, and at that moment I decided to also give half of my half of the evening’s winnings to fund the building of the church. I think it might have been because my overheating brain couldn’t quite figure out how I would fit all that money in my belt bag, anyway…

But it didn’t end there. At this point, the rest of the players had left the room, except for my new fiance, who was hovering by my shoulder like some captain-sized fly. The Ranald priest looked at me and asked me if I wanted the church I was helping to found to be an open church, as opposed to be secrecy of the traditional cult of Ranald. My to-be husband kept talking in my ear, telling me that I absolutely should not agree to create an open church.

I looked at him.

Then I looked at the guards by the door and said,

“Is he still supposed to be in here?”

I think it was this moment, as my future husband was physically thrown out of the room after a few words from me, that I realized this night might not have been so bad after all.

The priest watched dispassionately as the guards returned, then casually said that if I wanted to get rid of him – meaning my fiance – it could be arranged.

This was probably why I accepted when he offered me the chance to be in charge of the new church as its High Priestess. After all, every little girl dreams of growing up to have henchmen who will assassinate the guy she agrees to marry on a whim.

I also said that I wanted to create an open church of Ranald. Admittedly, at this time it was mostly out of spite, but after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that I could make it work. Because I never said everything had to be out in the open, right? As I would later try to explain to my husband – who was way too drunk to listen to a word I said – Ranald is also the god of con artists, and every good con artist knows the value of misdirection. Make sure people see what you want them to see, and you can keep doing all kinds of things unnoticed in the shadows.

But, yeah… Mostly it was out of spite.

Another Wedding (Because I was Too Slow in Accepting an Assassination Offer)

Once again, most of what follows is kind of a blur. I’m not sure what was in those drinks they gave us at the high-roller table, but they hit like a sack of bricks.

Or maybe it was just the hysteria. Who’s to say?

But I do know that my new fiance was let back in the room after the priest and I finished the details of our agreement. Since I was actually supposed to keep a fourth of my winnings, but nobody wanted to count out how much this would be, the priest just handed me the 700 marks he happened to have on him, which was fine with me, since I just needed to pay my ‘other’ sponsors. Now, I finally got the chance to ask my husband-to-be his name and found out I was marrying Captain Wilhelm Kessler of the 8th Nuln regiment*1.

I also found out that it was happening now.

I had barely stashed away my stack of money before the priest made an announcement and told everyone to prepare for the wedding.

It’s safe to say that I was not prepared.

But no one cared what I thought. Suddenly I was sat down by the altar of Ranald, my index finger wrapped around that of Captain Kessler, while the priest performed the ceremony. I’m not even sure when he arrived, but suddenly my husband dragged me forward and offered our joined hands to the Arch Lecturer – to the general for the entire South army – who kissed them and gave us his blessing.

If I hadn’t already lost the last of my sanity, I just gave up and allowed it to flee for safety at that point.

I was now married and stood around blankly accepting congratulations from various people. I was rescued briefly by Katrine who had reappeared at some point and was now trying not to break down laughing. Apparently she had been waiting outside with one of the Nuln soldiers that had been playing at my table, who kept talking about how he was “in love with my dagger-shooting eyes” and she found it absolutely hilarious that I married his captain in the short time between he was thrown out of the room till they were allowed in again.

I never did find out which Nuln soldier she was talking about, but dagger-shooting eyes is the kind of compliment I appreciate. So thank you.

I also found out that my new husband was rich. Apparently I had married some nobleman’s son and he was absolutely thrilled with how pissed-off his father was going to be that he had married some peasant (who was now also the High Priestess of a god his son should probably not be affiliated with).

Later that night, I did wonder out loud to Katrine who of us would get the other assassinated first. Either way, our marriage seemed to have an expiration date.

For the rest of the night, I just went along with the whole thing. My husband led me by the hand around the tavern (did I mention that the super-secret event location turned out to be in the tavern?) and made everybody kiss my hand as he introduced me as Frau Kessler, and then, the new High Priestess of Ranald. I would have preferred it the other way around, but I was still too shell-shocked to offer much protest. My husband – it feels bizarre every time I write that word – also demanded nearly everyone we encountered give me a wedding present. Trying to live up to my new position, I made all who tried to give me money donate it at the altar of Ranald instead, but I did end up having to accept various other items. A surprising number of people gave me smut as a wedding present, but I also ended up with a wooden die and a box of “bad schnapps” – courtesy of the Ranald priest – which I made one of my husband’s subordinates carry back to the camp and never saw again.

I was also introduced to another guy from the Nuln regiment – I think he might have been a corporal – whom my husband told me would do anything I told him to. He told me to make him do something, and I just looked at the man and told him to give me his hat. He obediently handed it to me.

I think one of the last things that happened before Katrine helped me convince some of the Nuln soldiers to take their captain back to their camp – so I could flee from the man who hadn’t let go of my hand for more than 30 seconds at a time – was that the Quartermaster and the Tactician of the South army asked to talk to me and my husband. The Tactician gracefully congratulated us on our marriage, but also expressed a desire to hold a ceremony where we would be ordained under the “right” god – meaning Sigmar – the following day. My dear husband was already beginning to sprout more half-drunk demands, so I told him to shut up, then kindly informed the Tactician that we had already been married under the god of whose church I had now been appointed High Priestess of.

I do hope I managed to use my ‘dagger-shooting’ eyes here, even as I smiled.

It was really mostly for show. As a follower of Ranald, I felt it was my duty to make this high-ranking posh boy sweat a bit, but as I wanted a public church of Ranald, getting the general to bless its High Priestess in front of the entire South army would help to cement my position.

Plus, it would be hilarious.

After getting corrected about four times, the Tactician finally surrendered and changed his wording from right god to Sigmar, and ensured me they wanted to work together with my new church. So I agreed to be married (again) by a Sigmar priest, and my husband offered up my hand for the Tactician to kiss, which he did gracefully. Then Captain Kessler turned and offered up my hand to the Quartermaster, who just looked at us with a stony face. After about a minute of this stand-off, my husband literally shoved my hand in the Quartermaster’s face, so he didn’t so much kiss my hand as my hand kissed him.

Good thing Kindra Adler doesn’t get easily embarrassed, because Michelle Louring is still slightly mortified when she thinks back on this scene.

But as I mentioned, after this, Katrine was able to rescue me and bring me back to our camp. I don’t think we had been out of earshot of other players for more than a few seconds before we both went off-game and broke down laughing. It didn’t help when I realized I was still wearing the Nuln corporal’s hat and that I had no idea where my own had disappeared off to.

We were still way too giddy from the bizarreness of the evening by the time we got back to the camp to go to sleep, and we could hear people still up and about in the Freiburg camp next to ours, so we decided to join them for a bit. Lo and behold, who would we find there but my dear husband, sitting together with Alex the Merchant and a few other people?

My husband grabbed my hand as soon as he saw me and pointed to the guy sitting next to him, telling me he was awfully grabby and asking me to make him stop. I put a kind arm around my husband’s shoulders and told him that he was a grown, independant man and that he could handle this himself. Captain Kessler turned to the grabby guy, and said flatly,

“The wife says no.”

Eventually, Katrine and I dragged him off – after he had decided to pay off Alex (who was not happy after learning about the little sponsor arrangement between me and Katrine) so that he would stop threatening me with retribution – and made him go to bed, before turning in ourselves.

It was about 4.30 am by that time, and both me and Katrine’s off-game counterpart would start randomly giggling uncontrollably with regular intervals for a long time after we had both gone to bed.

 

The Morning After (or, ‘What the Hell Happened Last Night?’)

I don’t really drink that much, and when I do, I have a hard time getting truly drunk, so my real life hasn’t offered many mornings where I have woken up and wondered what exactly I had gotten into the night before.

You get so many new experiences with LARP!

I remember making eye-contact with Katrine, who asked me – quite gleefully – if I was ready to tell the captain, and I just let oout a pitiful groan.

I did mention that gambling is outlawed and that Solland’s Last hates Nuln passionately, right?

I stumbled out of bed, got dressed, and then put on the hat I stole (does it count as ‘stealing’ when I was just grossly abusing my new position…?) the night before, then exited the tent with a grinning Katrine behind me. Solland’s Last’s lieutenant looked me up and down as I was eating my breakfast. She asked me where my beret was, and I truthfully told her that I had absolutely no idea.

I believe Katrine was still trying not to burst out laughing.

As I sat there, trying to figure out how the hell I was going to break the news to my company, one of my fellow soldiers set me up more perfectly than if we had planned it. She sheepishly called for the regiment’s attention, then hung her head in shame and addressed our captain.

“Captain, I have an admission. I, I put 10 marks on the snail race last night.”

Her display of utter contrition, and the captain’s reluctant forgiveness of her transgression was all the cue I needed to stand up and clear my throat.

“Well, while we’re at it, I also have an admission. Or two. Possibly three.”

I then turned to the captain.

“Captain, I regret to inform you of this, but I will have to hand in my resignation.”

Captain Aria Fux of Solland’s Last raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Yesterday, I was offered a new position and I decided to accept it.”

“What kind of position?”

Once again, I could see Katrine grinning in the background as I answered.

“I have been charged with leading the new church of Ranald as its High Priestess.”

At this, the captain blinked a few times to compose herself. “You have what?”

I bowed my head, grimacing slightly.

“It gets worse. I have also married Captain Kessler of 8th Nuln.”

The captain just shook her head, clearly not prepared to deal with this madness first thing in the morning.

“We’ll talk about this later.”

And so ends the story of Private Adler. There was still the last battle between the armies before the game was officially over, but not much more interesting happened roleplay-wise. But I did run into my “husband” by the restroom a little later, getting a chance for a brief off-game chat, that mostly boiled down to him telling me, “Bloody hell, you’re mean. But it’s awesome!”

And as we all know, that’s my aim in life.

Fast forward to that evening at the afterparty, where I spent most of my time glaring at young people and wondering how much alcohol was needed to enjoy techno music, until eventually Owen the Merchant (or his off-game counterpart, that is) made it his mission to make me stop acting like a grumpy old man. I don’t know that he had much success, but I appreciate the distraction.

And it was almost worth suffering through the terrible, for a lack of better word, music*2, just because I kept running into people that would bow as they greeted me, because they had been around when I was made High Priestess. I definitely need to stop playing characters of low standing, because I could get used to this.

I also ended up talking to my monk friend from the first night. I don’t think he was any more sober than he was back then, so our conversation went something like this:

“Oh, I got married.”

“To whom?”

“Captain Kessler of Nuln.”

“I’m sorry, but I might have to kill him.”

It’s truly heartwarming how many people are offering to kill my Krigslive husband.


And that’s it, really. I honestly hadn’t expected to get enough roleplaying experiences for a write-up post from this, because Krigslive is mostly seen as being about, and I quote, “Getting drunk and hitting people with foam sticks”, so I’m pleasantly surprised at how much roleplaying I got to do at a LARP where the roleplay aspect is such a minor part of the game. Of course, I got to roleplay this much because I barely got to do any fighting, but in the end, I’m pretty sure I had more fun like this.

Maybe I will give soldier life another try sometime, but for now I’m content with being the Queen of Gambling.

If you’re new to the blog and enjoyed this rambling mess of a LARP write-up, be sure to check out my other geeky posts. We got more LARP, a bit of Dungeons & Dragons, and some video gaming. I probably have some ramblings about swords as well.

 

Footnotes:

*1 It could be 13th Nuln. Hell, it might even be 32nd. I was both so intoxicated and sleep-deprived that it’s a wonder I can even remember the name of the guy I married!

*2 I’m the oldest 28 year old you will ever encounter at a party. 

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My Year in Books (and Owls) 2020

Burrowing Owl Books

Burrowing Owl Books

Now that we have settled into 2021, I’m going to be looking back at the books – all 63 of them – I read in 2020.

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a crappy year, with more and more crap shoved down on top of it nearly every week. But if you’re reading this, you survived it – or you’re spending your afterlife in a very dull way – so you can give it the finger and hope 2021 will be better. That’s what I’m doing.

But you know what was good about the past year?

Lots of time for reading! You gotta look on the bright side of being stuck at home for months on end with only a tiny, grumpy owl for company. So here you have Artemis the Owl presenting each book, with my brief thoughts on each of them.

If you just want a gallery of Bookish Owl photos, scroll straight ahead to the bottom of the post!

Books 2020


Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising
by Leigh Bardugo

This was the last book in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, and I thought it was a great way to end the story. Though there was plenty of excitement all the way through, the author still managed to wrap everything up nicely and I was left with a great respect for even minor characters. I’m glad the trilogy is part of the larger Grishaverse, because I’m definitely up for more stories in this world.


The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

The Shepherd’s Crown
by Terry Pratchett

This was the last book in the Discworld series, and neither this post nor last year’s make any attempt at hiding my love for this series, so I read this with a certain sense of melancholy. Most of the book’s plot even felt like a goodbye, with the death of Granny Weatherwax being a central point.
The Shepherd’s Crown wasn’t particular good by the (admittedly sky-high) standard of Discworld books, but it felt like a suitable end to the series.


The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

The Lost Plot
by Genevieve Cogman

Gangsters and dragons. What’s not to like?


The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic
by Terry Pratchett

I needed something light after a rough start to the year, so I went with a re-reread of the first book in the Discworld series. It has absolutely no plot, but lots of insanity and humor, so it’s my go-to book when I need a break from books that are either too gloomy or that force me to actually think.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone OwlHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
by J. K. Rowling

It’s been years since I last reread the Harry Potter books, and let’s be honest: it’s a little ridiculous that I have had my owl pose next to books for more than a year without doing Harry Potter. Talk about missed opportunities, huh?

 


The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchet

The Light Fantastic
by Terry Pratchett

The continuation of The Colour of Magic. Still has nearly no plot, but it has Cohen the Barbarian – the eighty-seven year old barbarian hero with arthritis – and that’s worth any number of rereads.


Baking Bad by Kim M. WattBaking Bad
by Kim M. Watt

This was delightfully weird. It read like an episode of Midsomer Murders, but suddenly people are talking about dragons like it’s completely normal.
Oh, and all the talk of scones made me awfully hungry…


Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

Sourcery
by Terry Pratchett

The Discworld + All out wizard war. Throw in the Luggage exterminating every unfortunate lifeform it comes across because it’s pissed, and you got all the weirdness you could possibly ask for.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J. K. Rowling

I had forgotten quite how awful Gilderoy Lockhart is… And honestly, it was a relief when Colin Creevey got Petrified. I know I should have saved my wrath for Umbridge in book five, but I kept thinking that if I had the power to magically curse someone and a kid kept following me around and taking pictures of me without my permission, I would have ended up in jail very quickly.


Eric by Terry Pratchett

Eric
by Terry Pratchett

This book was another reread in my hunt for mindless stupidity to entertain myself. Discworld books about the wizard Rincewind are always good for some of that. In this one he accidentally gets summoned by a kid who thinks he (Rincewind) is a demon.
That’s it. That’s basically the whole plot.


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson

Not sure what I think about this book. I read it because I absolutely loved the Netflix horror show loosely based on it, and while I liked the book well enough it suffers from the same problem as many other old classics (this one is more than 60 years old) – namely that most of the story seems to be told between the lines. You know, the kind of story you had to analyze in high school for hours to figure out what it’s actually saying?
I liked how the book was about Eleanor losing her grip on reality in Hill House, but I just wished there had been a bit more focus on the horror part, that is, the things that drove her insane.


Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites
by Terry Pratchett

Yet another Discworld reread (we don’t have that many more to go, I promise). This one is about witches, wizards, gender roles, and of course, horrible monsters from another dimension.
It also has Granny Weatherwax, who, in the eyes of the wizards of Unseen University, might very well be both a witch and a horrible monster from another dimension…


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban owl

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J. K. Rowling

I think I might be getting too old for these books. My thought processes are beginning to sound like Mrs Weasley. These kids are totally irresponsible, but even worse: what kind of headmaster urges thirteen year old kids to go back in time, dodge a rabid werewolf, steal a hippogrif out from under the noses of law enforcement, just so they can fly around to save a convicted murderer from soul-eating monsters?
Why don’t you do it yourself, you crazy old bat?!


Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies
by Terry Pratchett

I know, I know, another Discworld book, but this one has Granny Weatherwax and Archchancellor Ridcully reminiscing about their past romance (I ship those two so hard), Nanny Ogg being Nanny Ogg, and Magrat suddenly becoming super badass and killing elves left and right, and scaring the shit out of poor Shawn.


Alanna by Tamora Pierce

Alanna
by Tamora Pierce

A friend recommended this to me, since she thought I might enjoy a book about a girl who dresses up as a boy to become a knight.
I did.
It’s a short and entertaining read with likable characters and a simple story, and that’s something I think the high fantasy genre needs a bit more of. It doesn’t all have to be huge sagas with enough storylines to make your head spin (though I do like those as well).


Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Maskerade
by Terry Pratchett

I reread this because I adore Agnes/Perdita, and of course, Granny Weatherwax bossing everybody around.
It also makes me realize that I should really read/watch The Phantom of the Opera sometime…


In the Hands of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

In the Hand of the Goddess
by Tamora Pierce

The second book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, the sequel to Alanna, and just as enjoyable.
It’s so nice to read a book about a teenage girl falling in love and then not letting it rule her life decisions. The reason I avoided YA books with female leads for years was because I was getting fed up with the protagonists falling in love with some boy and then suddenly the whole book was about how they couldn’t live without them and nothing else in life mattered.
There’s only so much of that I can take.


Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music
by Terry Pratchett

This isn’t my favorite Discworld book, since I consider the rock music plotline a bit lame, but it was worth the reread because of the scenes with Susan and Ridcully.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J. K. Rowling

Someone needs to slap Ron in this book, but otherwise it’s great. Well… except from the fact that Cedric, the Hufflepuffest Hufflepuff there ever was, didn’t deserve being cannon fodder.
I finished this with the knowledge that I was now getting to the point in the series where every book would leave me depressed and teary-eyed…


Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

Interesting Times
by Terry Pratchett

I reread this Discworld book for Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde. There’s just something about a group of old men wreaking havoc and creating terror wherever they go that gives me hope for my retirement.


The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss

I really enjoyed this. It’s an entertaining book that pays tribute to all the classics I used to read as a child – Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula…
Yes, I might have been an odd child.
The writing style was a little weird, but once you get used to the ‘author’ and characters injecting comments every once in a while, it works just fine.


The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
by Tamora Pierce

I did not like this one as much as the first two books in the series, but it was still a good read. Jonathan is being a right asshole in this one, so I’m glad Alanna dumped his ass and got on with her life (for now). The book could have used a bit more plot, but it was entertaining nonetheless.


The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The Mortal Word
by Genevieve Cogman

I was getting a little tired of this series by the time I reached this book, but it turned out to be fairly good. It’s possible it’s because the overall plot was similar to the book I myself was writing at the time, and I very much like kicking back with a book and calling it research, but no matter what, I enjoyed it. We got an insidious plot in the middle of a peace treaty negotiation between dragons and Fae, multiple suspects, and everyone having their own agenda.
Always nice with a healthy dose of secrets and drama.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J. K. Rowling

I had forgotten just how utterly creepy the scenes in the Department of Mysteries were. Water tanks with floating brains and Death Eaters with baby heads… Funny to think that this started out as a series of children’s books, considering I’m this creeped out reading this book as an adult.

I was, however, much better prepared for Umbridge. I remember how completely awful I found her as a kid, but rereading the book now, she’s honestly just a more extreme version of the various bosses and politicians you’re faced with as an adult. It’s hard to be amazed by how far the Ministry of Magic is willing to go once you have dealt with today’s political scene for a few years.

On a less gloomy note: Professor McGonagall was this book’s total MVP and I loved every single scene with her.


King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars
by Leigh Bardugo

Part of the Grishaverse where I loved the original trilogy. This one followed some of the supporting characters and it was really interesting to get inside their heads. I especially loved Zoya, a character way too complex to understand from the outside. She’s still a total bitch when you get inside her head, but it starts to make sense why she is that way and you also see the side of her that fights so very hard to protect her country and the people under her command.

I was a bit miffed to discover it was a duology and that I had to wait for the next book…


Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Lioness Rampant
by Tamora Pierce

This book, the last in the Lioness Quartet, had a lot of potential, but I felt like all of it fell flat. In my opinion, there should have been a LOT more focus on Roger and his schemes, but all the important parts felt very rushed.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Owl

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J. K. Rowling

After more than a decade of obsessing over this series, I could appreciate this book much more when rereading it. There’s so many great little details that you won’t notice before you have read the last book.
However, I still hadn’t completely learned my lesson: During the scene with Dumbledore’s funeral I had to repeat “He’s an asshole, he’s an asshole, he’s an asshole” in my head to keep from getting all sad and teary-eyed…


Nation by Terry Pratchett

Nation
by Terry Pratchett

I turned to a Terry Pratchett book because I needed to laugh, but instead I got a book that started out with the main character going around and burying everyone he knew after a natural disaster.
Don’t get me wrong, Nation is a very deep and enjoyable book. It just wasn’t what I expected!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J. K. Rowling

We all know this book is fairly depressing, right?
Right.
So I’m just going to focus on how great the Battle of Hogwarts is if you don’t take all the deaths into account.
The real badasses just don’t get enough credit. Neville literally went from an utterly useless and clumsy boy to the leader of an all-out rebellion against the Death Eaters. Elderly, stern Professor McGonagall enchanted a whole army of desks and led them into war while yelling “Charge!” (and I so need fanart of that…). Professor Sprout didn’t hesitate for a second when told she would need to fight, just rushing off to get every dangerous plant she could think of. Even Trelawney went berserker and cracked heads open by throwing crystal balls at them.
Screw Harry, Ron and Hermione. They wouldn’t have lasted a second against the pissed-off elderly women of Hogwarts.


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir

This was a new author to me and I enjoyed the book. The romantic relationships between the characters seemed a bit juvenile when compared to the dark themes of the story and the situation the characters found themselves in, but not so much that I felt it distracted from the rest of the book.


Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

Pyramids
by Terry Pratchett

This was another reread and not one of my favorites, but I was running out of books at this point and I decided to go for a full set of Discworld book photos.
It does have its bright spots, though – Teppic getting ready for his Assassin exam and then promptly falling over from the weight of all his hidden weapons is hilarious. Also his prophetic dreams: “There was seven fat cows and seven thin cows. One of them was playing the trombone.”


Arthas by Christie Golden

Arthas
by Christie Golden

This was a novel tie-in to Warcraft 3/World of Warcraft, telling the story about how Arthas Menethil, Prince of Lordaeron, ended up becoming the Lich King, leader of an undead army trying to wipe out all life on Azeroth.
I have read it before, many, many years ago, but it was a nice revisit to one of the central stories from a game franchise I have played since I was 10 years old.


City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass
by S. A. Chakraborty

This book had great characters and a fascinating world with a rich history, but for some reason it took me 300 pages to really get into it. However, once I hit that mark, it suddenly got insanely exciting and the cliffhanger at the end meant I had to go out and buy the next book.


Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Moving Pictures
by Terry Pratchett

This has always been my least favorite Discworld book, but I did like it slightly better upon rereading it. However, it would have been improved greatly by more wizard scenes.
The mental image of most of Unseen University’s faculty clinging to Windle Poon’s racing wheelchair while screaming their heads off is just great.


Dragon Age The Stolen Throne

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne
by David Gaider

This was a novel prequel to one of my all-time favorite games, Dragon Age: Origins. And it follows Prince Maric, the father of my all-time favorite character, Alistair, during his rebellion against the Orlesian usurper of the Fereldan throne. You also see a lot of Loghain, who is much less of a jackass here than he is in the game… but still a jackass.
It’s a good and well-written book, but I had hoped for a bit more of the charm you get from the characters in the games. I liked the characters in the book, but I didn’t fall in love with them.
Still worth the read, though!


The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns
by Leigh Bardugo

This was a collection of fairy tales set in the Grishaverse, but you don’t need to have read any of the other books to enjoy them. The stories are wonderfully dark and the book is beautifully illustrated. I especially love how, initially, you think that each page of a story has the same illustration, but then you realize that each page the drawings change subtly in a way that hints about what is to come in the story.


Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save Mankind
by Terry Pratchett

This one might not have aged as well as Pratchett’s other books, but the overall message about how we’re numb to the horrors of war fits as well today as it must have done in the 90s. In the book it’s the Gulf War they’re referring to, but it might as well have been any of the wars over the last thirty years.

But despite the timeless morale, I think kids today would have a really hard time relating to this book, considering they have never known a time where space invader games were ‘cutting edge’…


War of the Spark: Ravnica by Greg Weisman

War of the Spark: Ravnica
by Greg Weisman

I have never played Magic: The Gathering, but when I was invited to a Dungeon & Dragons campaign set in the world of Ravnica, I felt I needed to read up on some of the lore, just so I would have an idea of who all those people trying to kill us were.

Turns out, MTG lore is actually really interesting!

And this tie-in novel was quite good. It was a little difficult to keep up with the large cast of characters at first, but the story was written in a way that made it easy to follow even for Magic noobs like myself.

And now I know more of the lore than several of my friends who actually play the game.


The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

I first read this one many years ago, and while I liked it well enough, the whole thing with the costumes and the interviews ruined it a bit for me, because I felt it was too far-fetched.
Upon rereading it this year, I didn’t feel the same way. Somehow, after America got a reality star who have dick competitions with dictators as President, I can TOTALLY imagine a government turning kids into celebrities before throwing them into an arena to kill each other.
Anyway… What I think I’m trying to say is that I loved this book far more the second time around and I should not analyze the reasons why that is so, because it turns out they’re slightly disturbing.


Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett

Johnny and the Dead
by Terry Pratchett

This was the second book in the Johnny Maxwell series and I liked it more than Only You Can Save Mankind, though I could not tell you what the morale of it is. I feel like there is a morale to the story, but it just soared over my head somehow.
But hey, it’s Pratchett and it’s funny!


Hard in Hightown Varric Tethras

Hard in Hightown
by Varris Tethras (aka Mary Kirby)

If you’re not familiar with Dragon Age: Varris Tethras is a character in the games who writes books when he’s not getting involved in whatever disaster or revolution the player character drags him into. One of his books is a noir detective story called High in Hardtown, which you can find and read chapters from in the third game.
Since I’m a total geek, I just got the physical, illustrated version.

I do think they could have made the story a little longer when they made it into an actual book, but I still enjoyed it, even though it’s short and rather predictable.


Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is a great follow-up to The Hunger Games. It’s fast-paced and filled with conspiracies, and I enjoyed it immensely.


Johnny and the Bomb Terry Pratchett

Johnny and the Bomb
by Terry Pratchett

This is the last book in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, and it was the very first Pratchett book I ever read, way back in middle school. It’s also by far the best book in the trilogy.
I adore crazy Mrs. Tachyon and her time-traveling shopping trolley, not to mention her insane cat Guilty.


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows is a great Fantasy heist story set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and I absolutely loved it. Great plot, great characters, great world, and so many twists and turns that I could barely keep up. You follow a bunch of criminals, yet you still end up rooting for them and their insane mission.


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins

I don’t know whether this ending was a brilliant commentary on the nature of tyrannical regimes and revolutions, or simply the most pointless ending to a trilogy ever.

Either way, I cried.
A lot.


Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Dodger
by Terry Pratchett

This book follows a small-time criminal who makes a living from finding treasures in the sewers. Yet this smelly lad is a surprisingly charming protagonist, because he’s compassionate and oddly innocent in some ways, while being rather clever in others. There’s just something about Dodger that makes you fall in love with him, even as he’s punching people and stealing the silverware.


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom
by Leigh Bardugo

The second book in the Six of Crows Duology, and an amazing conclusion to the story. This one might just have even more devious plots and unexpected twists compared to Six of Crows, and that’s saying something. And at this time, you’re incredibly invested in the characters, so the book takes you to the edge of your seat while you wait to see what end is in store for them.


Dragon Age Tevinter Nights

Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights
by multiple authors

This was an antrology with short stories from the Dragon Age universe. Most of the stories were much darker than I anticipated, but that’s a good thing! It’s clear to see that these stories are foreshadowing the events in the upcoming Dragon Age 4 game, and I’m all there for it, even though the story The Horror of Hormak gave me nightmares…
However, though I like the dark parts of Tevinter Nights, my favorite character had to be Lessef, the tiny old lady who just so happens to be a deadly Crow assassin. Her last line of the story is “Onward, to cookies!” and I love it.


Truckers by Terry Pratchett

Truckers
by Terry Pratchett

Garden gnomes from space trying to hijack a lorry. No, really. That’s what the book’s about.


The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

The Kingdom of Copper
by S. A. Chakraborty

The sequel to The City of Brass has it all:
Politics, plotting, ancient djinn soldiers, scary-as-hell water demons, and a batshit healer or two.
What more could you want?


Girls of Paper and Fire Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire
by Natasha Ngan

While the themes this book deals with – sexual assault being the main one – are horrible, the author still manages to create a rather heartwarming story focused on girls in a terrible situation finding strength in each other.
And if you ignore the small epilogue, the ending is immensely satisfying.


Diggers by Terry Pratchett

Diggers
by Terry Pratchett

This was the follow-up to Truckers, and the second book in the Bromeliad Trilogy. This one is about the alien garden gnomes – the Nomes – stealing an excavator to scare the shit out of the humans.


War of the Spark Forsaken Greg Weisman

War of the Spark: Forsaken
by Greg Weisman

As the title suggest, this was the sequel to War of the Spark: Ravnica, which I read as part of my mission to learn more about the world of Magic: The Gathering. This book mainly focuses on the necromancer Liliana Vess, and since I’m fond of both bitchy women and necromancers, this was right up my alley.


The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

The Court of Miracles
by Kester Grant

This story is a reimagining of Lés Miserables, which I have never read nor seen any of the adaptions of it. And maybe that’s why I enjoyed The Court of Miracles so much.
Or, maybe, it was because it’s a story about a criminal underworld and I love any book that has assassins in it…


Wings by Terry Pratchett

Wings
by Terry Pratchett

This was the last book in the Bromeliad Trilogy. The alien garden gnomes go to Florida to find their spaceship, and learn how to fly geese.
That’s really all I have to say about it.


This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

This Savage Song
by V. E. Schwab

I really liked the concept of a world where committing violent crimes creates actual monsters. The main characters weren’t that memorable, but they were fairly relateable, and the ending was suitably bittersweet.


The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty

The Empire of Gold
by S. A. Chakraborty

The Empire of Gold was an amazing conclusion to the Daevabad Trilogy. Manizheh was crazy, Dara was a loyal idiot, Jamshid was the most precious thing ever, but the Favorite Character Award goes to:
Mishmish, the apricot-loving shedu.


Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Small Gods
by Terry Pratchett

As always, this Discworld book is good for a lot of laughs, but it’s also a great commentary on the nature of organized religion.
But most of all, Vorbis is a great villain…
…who gets killed by getting hit in the head by a tortoise.


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden

A beautiful story that reads like a Russian fairytale. It’s the perfect book for dark winter evenings when the snow is falling outside.


The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
by Natasha Pulley

Despite the amount of Discworld I read, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street takes the prize for weirdest book I read all year. It’s a good weird, mind you, but… weird.
The beginning is a little rough to get through, since the main character is initially very boring and leads a very boring life, but that changes radically before long. And I can say I honestly didn’t see the ending coming.


The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

The Last Continent
by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett, Discworld and a ton of Australian jokes.
Add in a bunch of wizards that never listen to logic and ignore warning signs on pure principle, and you got yourself a tale that makes absolutely no sense.
And somehow, it works.


House of Salt and Sorrow

House of Salt and Sorrow
by Erin A. Craig

This book is an amazing mix of fantasy and horror, with several fairytale elements thrown into the story. It’s creepy and engaging, and at some point, downright horrifying.
I loved it.


Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden

Lord of the Clans
by Christie Golden

Another World of Warcraft tie-in that follows Thrall, the orc slave who ended up being the Warchief of the Horde.
Thrall was never one of my favorite characters, but Golden manages to make his backstory quite engaging even to someone who considers the main character rather boring.


 

 

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The Bookish Owl – Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden

Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden

Given the amount of World of Warcraft I’ve been playing over the past couple of months, I think it’s fitting that the last Bookish Owl post of the year will be Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden.

I’m not even joking. All this social distancing has resulted in me developing a WoW addiction more severe than back in 2008, where I simply hated people.

However, the tie-in novels are quite good. And despite Lord of the Clans being one of the first Warcraft novels ever to be released, this was my first time reading it. It’s possible I delayed because it’s about Thrall, who was never one of my favorite characters. But that doesn’t mean his backstory doesn’t make for a good book.

But it was Thrall’s mother, Draka, who stole my heart when her husband, Durotan, ‘forbade’ her from following him on a dangerous trip… causing her to scratch up his face and then spit in it.

Draka is my kind of gal. I’m glad she gets the recognition she deserves in the latest World of Warcraft expansion.

Oh, and Blackmoore is the biggest arse on Azeroth.


Lord of the Clans
by Christie Golden

Slave. Gladiator. Shaman. Warchief. The enigmatic Orc known as Thrall has been all of these. Raised from infancy by cruel human masters who sought to mold him into their perfect pawn, Thrall was driven by both the savagery in his heart and the cunning of his upbringing to pursue a destiny he was only beginning to understand — to break his bondage and rediscover the ancient traditions of his people. Now the tumultuous tale of his life’s journey — a saga of honor, hatred, and hope — can at last be told….


Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden

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The Bookish Owl – House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and Sorrow

Tonight we’re going with a horror fairy tale: House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig.

This book was a great mix of fantasy and horror, and that’s a genre we need more of!

(That’s a barely disguised request for fantasy horror suggestions in the comments. Just in case you missed it.)

It reads like a dark fairy tale, which I think is my new favorite kind of story.

I would suggest reading this while it’s stormy outside and you’re all alone in the house. That’s the kind of atmosphere this book needs.


House of Salt and Sorrow
by Erin A. Craig

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.


House of Salt and Sorrow

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The Bookish Owl – The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

We’re going Down Under – to Foureks, obviously – in The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett.

No worries.

Any Discworld novel featuring Rincewind and the wizards of Unseen University is bound to be weird. Throw in time travel and a couple of kangaroos, and it gets even weirder. Which is why I can’t tell you what this book is actually about. Of course, a book about these wizards doesn’t actually need a plot – they’re entertaining enough all by themselves – but it does make it a little difficult to write a post about it.

Though the Discworld obviously doesn’t have an Australia, this book contains so many Australian-related jokes and references that it makes you want to kick a kangaroo. We also get to see the Luggage in drag – it’s never explained where they found hundreds of high-heels – and the Librarian as a beach chair.

No, it doesn’t make any more sense in context.


The Last Continent
by Terry Pratchett

‘Anything you do in the past changes the future. The tiniest little actions have huge consequences. You might tread on an ant now and it might entirely prevent someone from being born in the future.’

The Discworld‘s most inept wizard has found himself on the Discworld’s last continent, a completely separate creation.
It’s hot. It’s dry . . . very dry. There was this thing once called The Wet, which no one believes in. Practically everything that’s not poisonous is venomous. But it’s the best bloody place in the world, all right?

And in a few days, it will be except . . . Who is this hero striding across the red desert? Champion sheep shearer, horse rider, road warrior, beer drinker, bush ranger, and someone who’ll even eat a Meat Pie Floater when he’s sober? A man in a hat whose luggage follows him on little legs, who’s about to change history by preventing a swagman stealing a jumbuck by a billabong?

Yes . . . all this place has between itself and wind-blown doom is Rincewind, the inept wizard who can’t even spell wizard. Still . . . no worries, eh?


The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett