The Minstrels Song IV: Demon - The Magical Fantasy Continues

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One day these hand prints start showing up on the doorways to the portals. They were done by angels. We get to meet Akiva, Hazael and Liraz. Mostly Akiva and holy crap on a cracker! Akiva and Karou don't hit it off too well. They think the worst of each other and then. SNAP Such a little thing, and brittle, and the sound it made: a sharp, clean snap. Rushing, like wind through a door, and Karou was the door, and the wind was coming home, and she was also the wind.

She was all: wind and home and door. She rushed into herself and was filled. She let herself in and was full. She closed again. The wind settled. It was as simple as that. She was whole. You have no idea how this book turned so much more amazing and sad. I love it. Amaze Balls! And I would really like Akiva and Karou to be in love forever! I loved it so very much! View all 36 comments. Jun 19, Patrick rated it it was amazing. Just Wow.

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I got an ARC of this one about a month ago, and only just now got around to reading it. I really liked Laini's first Dreamdark book, so I was eager to try this one. It was great. Really great. Read it all in a day. View all 18 comments. It's been a while since I've started a new series and been this head over heels. Full review and gush to come on my channel!

Category: The Minstrel’s Song

View all 10 comments. Finally, after three weeks of the midterms from hell , I was finally able to re-read my favourite trilogy of all time! Boy, did I need a pick-me-up, after that! She ranks just under J. Rowling for me. You hear that? She comes in at number two for my favourite author of all time! And on some days, you might catch me putting her above JKR. She manages to transmit every taste, every smell, every touch, every sound, and every sight onto the page.

And not only that…when doing so, she uses such a vivid and lyrical writing style that it makes you believe that you are reading actual poetry, rather than simple prose. I honestly want to know how she does it. The world building is obviously amazing. Lewis, one of the most fundamental authors in the fantasy genre. Rather, Laini chose to use angels or seraphim from religious lore, but without the spirituality aspect, and demons or chimaera from mythological tales.

In , year-old me fell head-over-heels in love with Akiva, making him my first book boyfriend. Ok, fine… The story begins with an azure-haired and tattooed, year-old girl by the name of Karou. These two are best friend goals and one of the purest examples of female friendship in YA. To this day, I have still yet to come across a more iconic duo. She has to find a way to balance her two lives without arousing suspicion from her very human friend. On an errand, which brings her to Morocco, whilst fetching teeth from a graverobber and former doctor, Karou encounters Akiva.

When Karou and Akiva meet, they feel an uncontrollable pull towards one another, which neither of them can understand. Is it fate? Is it destiny? Or is it something else entirely? Thus, begins a romance for the ages. But this is not just some love story. It is also a story of war, prejudice, family, friendship, magic, wishes, monsters, angels, and most of all… hope.

Needless to say, I highly, highly recommend it. Some people have Harry Potter or the Mortal Instruments as their happy place. DOSAB is mine. This was also a semi-buddy read with my bestie, Laura! Sorry that it was a bit of a fail this time around. Hopefully, Days of Blood and Starlight will go better! The artwork above is credited to the amazing Lesya BlackBirdInk!

Oct 23, Haleema rated it it was amazing Shelves: great-writing , love , great-world-building , favorites , great-plot , brilliant-story-telling , heart-wrenching , predictable. This book did not piss me off! I forgot the entire story, though. So I may read it again because I want to finish the entire series. Oct 19, Steph Sinclair rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Everyone. Recommended to Steph by: Jillian -always aspiring-.

Shelves: action-packed , angels , i-didn-t-see-that-coming , awesome , beautiful-prose , i-need-it-like-a-fat-kid-needs-cake , all-time-favorites , i-really-enjoyed-it , left-me-in-a-sad-emotional-state , young-adult. You know that book you're reading right now? How about all those books on your "TBR" list?

So, I read it and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't blown away.

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However, I think it was a "It's not you, it's me" situation because anthologies and I don't really get along. I went into this book thinking it was just another PNR, Angel style. I couldn't have been more wrong. If Ro You know that book you're reading right now? Okay, that makes almost no sense. Here, let me simplify it for you: Laini Taylor Karou is just your ordinary year-old girl living as an art student in the beautiful city of Prague.

She has blue hair, collects languages as birthday gifts, and runs errands collecting teeth. Okay, so maybe she's not so "ordinary. After that moment, her life forever changes and she finds herself on the cusp of unraveling the secret behind her most burning question: "Who am I? That person's imagination was going into overdrive. While reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone I was mesmerized by Taylor's vivid descriptions and she easily fits in the above category as well.

As with the first time I read a Laini Taylor novel, I had to get adjusted to her unique writing style. Karou and the mystery surrounding her past are so interesting you just sucked into the story. I literally could not put the book down and it took over my life for a few days causing me to abandon a few of my responsibilities.

Internal dialog: "I'll just read one more page then I cook dinner. That just shows you how addictive this book was for me! And let's talk about the love interest, Akiva. Oh, ya! Hey Stephenie Meyer, this is how you write a tortured character. Akiva has a very real painful past that he carries with him. When he meets Karou is is drawn to her for some unknown reason and she to him. Wait, what's that you say? Isn't that insta-love? Laini Taylor is so above that.

Don't be fooled young padewon like I was. The first half of the book is so full of mystery it will have you begging for answers and Taylor does not disappoint. You've heard of that little rule "show, don't tell? She shows you everything and by the end you're like: and then: I can't say anything more about this book.

I refuse to spoil anything. Just go read it now! More reviews and more at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog. View all 38 comments. Jun 14, karen rated it really liked it Shelves: from-publisher-or-author , why-yes-i-ya. View all 51 comments. Shelves: writer-crush , writing-to-which-i-aspire , ultimate-favorites , best-characters , prose-envy , amazing-storytelling , forewent-sleep-to-read-it , stories-that-challenge-me , soared-above-and-beyond , wish-i-could-write-a-book-like-this. Note: Be warned that this is one of those reviews that in no way can do justice to the actual novel, but there's no harm in trying.

Regardless, I greatly urge anyone who has even the slightest interest in this book to procure a copy when it's released on September 27, The writing is fantastic, dang it. Now, I loved Laini Taylor's first young adult offering, Lips Touch: Three Times You've read it, haven' Note: Be warned that this is one of those reviews that in no way can do justice to the actual novel, but there's no harm in trying. I mean, it's difficult to find really beautiful writing — the kind that digs its way inside of you and then makes you ache as if it's stolen a bit of your heart — so when you come across such delectable writing you really want to savor it.

When I found out that Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a little over pages, I was ecstatic because a longer length meant more wonderful prose from Laini Taylor. And the writing does not disappoint. Whether Taylor is describing the various eccentricities of Prague one of the main settings in this novel , the pulse-pounding action of a human girl fighting an angel, or even just the emotions threading through the heroine, Karou, the prose simply blazes in a way that's beautiful, ethereal, and unforgettable. One of my favorite examples of Taylor's prose comes from this passage no spoilers : Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene.

She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and. Can't you just feel the longing as if it had been your own? Ever feel like you're reading the same old thing over and over again? Well, listen up: this book takes everything you think you know and spins all your assumptions on their heads. True love. Supernatural happenings. A heroine who is more than she believes herself to be.

Yawn, yawn, yawn, yawn. You think you know where all of this is going, don't you? Daughter of Smoke and Bone may have all those elements, but I bet you won't be able to guess how they all tie together. You may think it's a "girl meets boy"-type deal with love overshadowing everything, but the story is far more than that. Oh, twists and turns too. You think you know angels and demons? Think again. What if everything you had ever supposed about the divine realm was only a part of a greater truth? What if angels and demons warred for supremacy in a land all their own?

Are you intrigued? You should be because the mythology built in this story is one of the most thorough and imaginative I've ever seen in a young adult novel. I can only imagine what Laini Taylor has in store for the furthering and deepening of this fantastic world she has created. The very essence of the story thrives on all kinds of superstitions and beliefs, so of course it's going to appeal to anyone who has an appreciation for all those things that challenge human minds and logic. Karou is a kick-arse heroine. You know that feeling of never wanting a book to end? Well, expect to feel it here.

You will start to dread, dread, dread as you near the end of the book because you just know that you'll want the next book as soon as you finish. What can I say? It's the crux of the novel. View all 21 comments. Mar 25, Lia rated it it was ok Shelves: urban-fantasy. Even though a huge number of people I know seems to consider DoSaB the best thing since sliced bread, I couldn't have liked it less even it I tried. And, trust me, I tried. Halfway through it I realized this book just isn't for me. Instead of making me feel something, it just left me bored and annoyed, and eager to either get drunk on cough syrup or punch someone in the teeth.

I liked the premise and all the mystery surrounding the chimaeras and the teeth affair , but something spoiled it. I was a Even though a huge number of people I know seems to consider DoSaB the best thing since sliced bread, I couldn't have liked it less even it I tried. I was also pretty intrigued by Kaoru's life, before Mr Hotpants popped up, but my enthusiasm didn't last long. That scene where they fly in the sky in front of a whole crowd and they get away with saying it was just a theatrical trick, well View all 45 comments.

View all 16 comments. Jul 21, emi rated it really liked it Shelves: , fantasy , girls-kicking-ass , i-spent-my-money-on-this , reread , 4-stars , audiobooked , favorites. In case you didn't know: the greatest feeling in the world, as proven by actual scientists and not some year old girl laying braless in bed, is when you reread a book you loved the first time around and love it even more the second time. That sense of euphoria that will rush over you once you realize that your memory did not deceive you and everything you think you know might possibly not be wrong is cons 4.

That sense of euphoria that will rush over you once you realize that your memory did not deceive you and everything you think you know might possibly not be wrong is considered to be more addictive than drugs. Trust me, actual real scientists proved this. Look it up. I was actually really worried when I started this book again. The first time I read it was during a busy time in my life. What if I had been too busy to realize how awful of a book this was? And rereading will shred all those nice, positive memories I have of this book? But Laini Taylor came through at the end.

Why would I ever doubt her? She always comes through. Die my hair blue and move to Prague. I think one of the biggest faults about this book is that it is impossible to describe the plot without spoiling everything.

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Or, I try to describe it and it just sounds like one of those stories told by a three-year-old who is trying wayyy to hard to make you laugh. It doesn't even help any that this book is so strange. So this is what DOSAB is about, as told by me, in bullet points bc I tried 3 times to write a summary of it in paragraph form and I failed each time. This book is just that damn weird. That summary is so good. And not vague at all. I'm sorry if I accidentally spoiled you for the entire plot. Please forgive me. The one thing I feel obligated to warn you about, and the reason why I gave thsi 4 stars instead of 5, is the instalove.

There are times when the writing is so beautiful, you almost forget that it is happening, but it's there. And not only is it bad, but it's probably the worst case of instalove that I have ever read about. Karou and Love Interest, Akiva, are making out and gushing feelings of love within a few days of knowing each other.

And not only does instalove happen once, but it happens twice. I'm still annoyed by it. I'll forever be annoyed by it. Me, at the instalove: This book would have been perfect if there was a nice, slow burning romance. But enough of that already, this review is supposed to be about what I like about this book and I have gotten off topic. How about we discuss the characters in an attempt to get back on track, shall we? One day, when I have spawns kids of my own, I'm gonna brainwash encourage them to answer "Karou" when they are asked what they want to be when they grow up.

Because Karou is actual person goals. Example A: She is able to wish for any small thing she wants, but instead of wasting her wishes on intellegent things like money or knowledge, she wishes for things like blue hair and making her ex's balls itch in public. I strive for her pettiness. Example B: She is talented! She can draw!

Life goals tbh. Example C: She knows a whole bunch of different languages while I can barely remember how to type Example D: When things go to crap she takes matter into her own hands and does something about it. I can only wish tbh. Example E: She has the bestest best friend to ever best friend. If you can't tell, I love Karou. And you should too. Read this book if you haven't already. I didn't realize how much I find him just okay until I had to type something up about him. He's just so okay.

Especially for a fantasy-book love interest. I like him, but I'm also not trying to rip my heart from my chest and give it to him. Like I said earlier, she's the bestest best friend to ever best friend. There are people out there who have similar personalities as her and I wish I was that lucky. Also puppets. Not Kaz Brekker, by the way. He's not in this book.

But this Kaz: what a disgrace to such a beautiful name. The worst character in this entire book, but I might be a little bias as I'm incredibly bitter that Taylor would try to contaminate this name before it even had its chance to live. I hate him. I'm gonna just pretend he doesn't exist, okay? So this book is so great okay.

the minstrels song iv demon the magical fantasy continues Manual

I know it has its faults. But every book has its faults. But everything else is so great. It's a mystery and a fantasy and a romance and has great female friendship and blue hair and Prague monsters. I think that should sell you on this book if you haven't read it yet. And if you haven't read it yet? WTF it's been out for like 6 years what have you been doing? ANyways, this books is amazing and I love it. May 11, Catie rated it it was amazing Recommended to Catie by: Tatiana. Shelves: ya , favorite-books , for-review , audio , fantasy , series , read-in Not just five stars…one million stars, two sister moons, and two pairs of wings in flight.

I hope this is a huge hit, and all the kids read it. But unlike all the rest, this one is the real thing. Sort of like the tooth fairy. And after reading this book, the question really begs to be asked: what are you doing with all of those teeth, tooth fairy? The beginning of this book is almost lulling in its routine and normalcy. Karou is a young art student in Prague, attending classes, dealing with her obnoxious ex-boyfriend, and going out with her petite best friend Zuzana. Her popular journals contain vivid drawings of another world, populated by mythical creatures: part human, part animal, each with detailed traits and peculiarities.

Soon the curiosity and apprehension build to outright anxiety and you just have to know. I think that I felt every single thing that she feels through these pages. I felt immersed in Karou. And just like Karou, so many details and hints became devastatingly clear to me only after it was too late. The world that Laini Taylor creates is intricate, bright, original, and it will stretch your imagination. The love story is tragic and intense and takes advantage of perhaps the only justifiable excuse for instalove. And the writing! This woman can write. This book is all about love, peace, and the magic of hope.

I think that it will be difficult for even the most committed of cynics not to be affected by this book. It gives me a nice little feeling of symmetry. View all 32 comments. Shelves: first-in-a-series , book-list-for-bri , reads , awesome-kickass-heroines. A teeth-gathering blue-haired spunky young woman raised by a Wishmonger gets caught in the middle of the long war waged in the 'Elsewhere'. Pictographically: Was this book perfect? But I still loved it, even despite the annoying 'classic' YA tropes that it was NOT immune to: 1 insta-love actually, it happens twice , 2 the otherwordly, basically underpants-disintegrating beauty of the male love interest - who initially, of course, 3 tries to murder our heroine.

Still, Daughter o A teeth-gathering blue-haired spunky young woman raised by a Wishmonger gets caught in the middle of the long war waged in the 'Elsewhere'. Still, Daughter of Smoke and Bone managed to captivate me and convince me to forgive its flaws by making its kickass protagonist, Karou, the girl who I hope my future hypothetical daughter will hang out with.

I love that Daughter of Smoke and Bone avoided the easy and tempting pitfall of presenting the heroine as an ordinary unremarkable girl, a blank slate ready for readers' self-insertion, little else but a plot device to make the reader fulfill the desire of experiencing a relationship with an attractive mysterious male love interest. Some popular YA novels with female characters are really the odes to the male lead using the heroine as our eyes to stare at the hero.

The blue-haired ass-kicking raised-by-chimaera Karou is clearly not your regular high school girl "blessed" to become the object of attentions of a supernatural being. From the beginning, she is established as a remarkably talented, strong and independent young woman, who - shockingly for the YA novels about innocent high-schoolers - is even sexually experienced. She leads a double life, belonging both to the ordinary and the supernatural worlds. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.

And most importantly, unlike the innocent all-talk-no-action young women in many a YA book, Karou does not hesitate to stand up for herself. She does not need a protector and does not hide behind the strong shoulders of the male lead; as a matter of fact, she kicks his ass, almost literally. And even in the evil clutches of required YA insta-love she maintains her identity and independence, does not automatically center her life around her romantic interest, and retains the ability - like any young woman should - to call out her romantic interest on the consequences of his actions without blindly trusting and blindly forgiving.

But something unyielding in her shrank from the promise. She would choose her family. Anything else was unthinkable, though even now the idea of turning and leaving Akiva behind brought on physical pain. She is not afraid to assert her views and values and stick up for what she believes. She is not afraid to call Akiva out on his hate and, for the lack of a better word, racism.

Big Bridge. Vector - Magitek Research Facility. Dissidia Final Fantasy. Forgotten Capital - Forgotten City. Northern Crater - Planet's Core. Edge - Meteor Square. Midgar Outskirts Ver. Triple Triad - Game Board. Ultimecia Castle - Master Room. Prima Vista - Theatre Stage. Memoria - Crystal World. Luca - Blitzball Stadium.

Luca - Yuna's Concert. Elshimo Uplands - Cloister of Flames. Ruins of Alzadaal - Nyzul Isle. Abyssea - Empyreal Paradox. Ridorana Cataract - Colosseum. The Pharos at Ridorana - Third Ascent. Sky Fortress Bahamut - Cannon Superstructure. Orphan's Cradle - The Tesseracts. Valhalla - Crystal Shores.

Thanalan - The Bowl of Embers. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. But then why do good and evil fight? Evil fights good because it stands in rebellion against good. Good has its own purposes, and, because evil stands in the way, fights evil as an obstruction. It is not defined by this fight, and will not lose anything of itself when the last battle is over; in the New Jerusalem, we will see good in its truest and purest form. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, which is why every thought must be taken captive to the Lordship of Christ. The system must be built from the beginning, not on heresy, but on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Mathematical modeling. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, the grandfather of all role playing games, established a detailed mathematical model; the process of generating a character is set according to a system of rules, in a manner that can be accomplished by an algorithm; indeed, it has been accomplished in algorithms, and I have seen several computer programs capable of generating and describing everything but the personality.

Play follows in which players make choices according to an algorithmic set of rules, and dice rolls are used according to charts and rules to decide what happens of attempts to do this, that, and the other thing. Amber diceless role play made a big splash — by introducing an algorithmic set of rules which used player bids instead of dice to operate. Does it use a mathematical model? I would like to draw this mode of thought into the light for a minute. Yet they pale in comparison with true role play. The reason is that the heart of role play consists in what can not remotely be reduced to rules.

It has something to do with an imaginative world, characters who are realistic, and a plot. To technically administer rules is easy; to have good role play requires experience and calls for thought. If we look to Scripture, we see that there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one filthy sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous men who do not need to repent. We see that a day and a thousand years are the same in the sight of the Lord. We see that many wealthy men made ostentatious and showy gifts out of their excess, and a poor widow dropped two pennies, all that she had to live on, and surpassed them all.

I could go on for pages, but eloquence does not consist in a multitude of examples. One is required to conclude from these things that either God is an incompetent mathematician, or that the measure by which he sees the world is something greater than mathematics. Having stated what I believe is necessary, let me attempt to lay it out. It begins with prayer. This is not a question of a waste of power, or annoying God by interrupting him with something trivial. He wants to be involved with the most intimate details of our lives. If we, who are evil, know how to give good things to those whom we care about, how much more will God, who is good, know how to give good things to his own children, for whom he did not spare his only Son?

So let us begin by asking his blessing. Beyond actions, beyond time, beyond even attributes such as power and wisdom, HE IS. It is possible, especially in our culture, to be distracted of this, to let doing displace being and accident displace substance. The proper place of doing is to point to being, and of accident to point to substance. We are created in the image of God; that is, in the image of the Creator. Thence comes our imagination and our power to create.

And we hold the power to create in the image of his Creation. In the Creation, God filled his universe with infinite order and beauty and color. In That Hideous Strength, C. If there is light, then there will be red and yellow and magenta and silver and polka-dot green. The body of Christ lives and breathes, not as four thousand, nine hundred and twenty two left thumbnails, but as a unity of variety. If the world is to be ordered and beautiful to point to God, then color is not simply permissible but mandatory. Unless the characters are to be wayfarers, wandering over the face of the earth in which case there will be many places and cultures for the game master to exhibit , there should be a culture, a nation, a land set for the characters to live in.

What is the nature of the spiritual life there? Do the people live in community, loving each other? Do they spend time in silence, stillness, meditation, looking inside themselves? Do look — at souls, at birds, at shining stars — and both enjoy their beauty and stand in awe of the Creator whom they reflect? Do they worship in spirit and in truth? What points of sound doctrine do they emphasize? What virtues shine forth?

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How does the Spirit move among them? What is the culture like? What is their music? Is it solemn and stately, telling of the great and majestic King? Is it vivid and lively, telling of the Lord of the Dance? Is it soft and still, telling of the Eternal? What is the life of the mind like? Is the thought logical or symbolic? What of imagination? What emotions flow forth?

Do the people learn to be ancient, gentle, and wise, speaking the words of a sage? Do they learn to be like little children, dancing without end and staring in wonder of the beauty of Creation? What kind of art do they have? What senses do they focus on — sight, to see and behold; hearing, to listen to music, words, and silence, to hear birds chirping and the voice of a friend; smell, of flowers, food, and people; taste, to savor meat and bread and wine; touch, to feel water and stone and cloth and the soft warmth of human skin?

What is the land like? Is it lush forest, filled with warm rains? Is it arid desert? Is it cool and misty? Is it flat, or hilly, or mountainous? Are villages near or far apart? Is there a body of water nearby? What plants and animals are around? How much does the weather change? What special natural features are there? In thinking about questions such as these, and perhaps others which have not come to mind, it should be possible to get a beginning picture of what the world will be like.

Creation was not the only event; there was the Fall, and its twistedness. The very way in which man was created as the holy image of God is the very means used by evil as instruments of wickedness. Created with the power to love, we hate. Created with the need for worship, we whore after idols. Created as sexual creatures, we commit adultery. Created with a mind to know the truth, we embrace lies. Created with hands to build up, we kill. The characters, therefore, are fallen and will walk the dust of a fallen world. The next questions will give shape to that as well:.

What moral sins, vices, and heresies are there? Do they chase after money? Are they shallow? Are their friendships trivial? Do they throw the mind and scorn wisdom? Do they worship the mind as supreme above God, pursuing religion within a context of reason? Are they self-righteous prudes, tithing mint, dill, and cummin, and neglecting justice, mercy, and faith?

Do they pray for their neighbor one day in seven and prey upon him the other six? Are they proud, lecherous, manipulative, hateful, duplicitous? Do they cut others down with the tongue? Do they lie, cheat, steal? Do they dishonor their elders? Do they crush the weak? Do they commit adultery? Do they kill in their worship of power? What good things do they neglect? When man had turned away from God and forfeited everything, God paid for redemption at the price of his Son. The Word became flesh, and walked among us. Now, we know Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

Are the people willing to confess their sins — all of their sins — as sin, and repent of them, in order to receive forgiveness? Are they willing to open themselves to the motion of the Holy Spirit, and be filled with his mighty power? Do they take up daily the Cross, to come and die? Do they know his passion, his agony, his suffering? Have they given him everything? What color does the new light shine in them? What fruit and gifts?

How do they live in the freedom that Christ has given them? What is their history? Have the people been peaceful or violent? Have they changed or stayed the same? Have the changes been for better or for worse, or both? What are their traditions? What do they commemorate? What are their customs? Have they interacted with other nations abroad, or stayed within their own borders?

What other cultures have influenced them? What influences have they brought? Where does their language come from? After all has passed will come the final end: the Second Coming. The old order of things shall pass away. God himself will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more evil, no more crying, no more pain.

The saints will enter into joy and life eternal. This has not yet come to pass, but it still has a mark on the present. Do the believers carry with them a sense of timelessness? Do they witness to the world with what the world has never seen? Do they escape entrapment by material possessions, enjoying them but sharing generously?

Do they sow a spark of joy? Do they meditate on the blessed hope of the resurrection? If this is the light that they shine, with what color do they radiate? After the game world is designed, the players should spend a time — perhaps an hour or two — with the game master. In this time, the players will learn of the world, and the game master will help with any incomplete areas of character development. This should not become a haggling over power. In a game which revolves around power and struggles for it, it is important that there be a balance of power.

Here, that should not necessarily be the case. In A Wrinkle in Time, of many characters — a boy genius with second sight, scientists of worldwide renown, mighty and majestic angels — it is a stubborn and impatient ten year old girl who rescues Charles from the power of IT; the weak and foolish chosen to do what the strong and wise could not. The game should not be about power, and if either game master or player focuses on it, something is wrong. What vices does he still hold on to? What sins does he struggle with? After the world is created and the characters are established — not as isolated islands, but in relation to their culture and each other Brother and sister?

Friends from childhood? Father and son? Mentor and student? Reconciled enemies? The game master holds the most power and has the final say; he is therefore the most bound to humility and service. The play itself should consist of that which is wholesome: the playing out of personas, the exploration of a world, the spiritual warfare against the invisible forces of darkness, the participation in the great dance.

The game master can do special things — shape the plot, send dreams and visions, people and events — but the world is created not only by the game master but also by the players, by the richness of their dialogue and the miniature world they create among themselves. In this manner good books may be taken as a model, and, after all things, prayer.

This, I believe, will make it work. Want the source? Catch the Furball. Janra Ball: The Headache. They love to run across the snowy plains and up to the peaks, to feel the crispness of the air, and to drink the cold and crystalline waters of the flowing streams.

There are not very many of them; they live nomadic lives, spread out across the snowy North, carrying with them only their clothing, their hunting weapons a large bow and quiver of arrows, an axe, and a knife , a canteen, and a handful of tools and other miscellanea. Theirs is a culture of oral tradition and folklore, filled with a richness of symbolic thought.

Their thought is expressed by storytelling. Some tell of people and actions full of goodness, love, and wisdom; some are allegories packed with symbolic detail; some are both. The evenings — from the meal onward — are times when the clans gather together, and the oldest member tells tales until long into the night, when the fire has died down to embers and the icy mountain peaks glisten in crystalline blue starlight. The language is one which revolves around the oral tradition; its grammar is fairly simple, sufficient for basic expression, but there is an extensive vocabulary fitted to epic poems, great tales, and the transmission of a symbol-filled body of lore.

Their experience of sense is primarily aural, centering around the communication and preservation of their tradition. The other senses all play a part in their knowing about the world around them and its enjoyment, of course, but the ears dominate. It is the same for male and female, big and small. There are as many quests as there are questions.

Some are easy, some are hard; some are simple, some are complex. Whatever the quest be — be it finding an amethyst in the caves, climbing an immense mountain, answering a riddle, memorizing a book — he leaves the blacksmith shop and does not return until the quest is completed.

A child leaves the immediate presence of his family, but remains in their prayers; they have great faith, and it is in this faith that they tread securely into the unknown. What is your family? Who are you? What is your story? This cross is at once a cross as any other, and a unique reflection of the person who wears it; no two are alike. The emotional side of their culture is not as intense or spectacular as many others, but is present and offers an important reflection of what they value. The mountains, the trees, and the streams all bear a magnificence which they appreciate.

They are traditional liturgical services, where the place of the homily is taken by long tales and stories, conducted by the eldest members of the clan. Many wayfarers go south, early in life, to buy equipment; they need only wait, and a blacksmith will forge a pair of iron boots which will last for life. The people are dark and strong; their eyes shine with power and lightning. The average Tuz male is short, stout, very broad-shouldered, and built like a brick wall; a thick, straight, jet black moustache and a thick, curly beard push out of leathery skin.

Women are equally short and stout, but do not have such broad shoulders, being relatively more plump and less muscled, and do not have the moustache and beard usually. Their buildings are hewn of solid granite, with iron doors. The villages are small and scattered, joined by worn paths passing through the rich, deep green of the forest. It is this forest, fertile and full of beasts, from which the heart of their meal comes. They are more than fond of spicy meat stews and bear jerky.

Their beer is dark, thick, and strong, and every house has at least a little bit of khoor, a spiced rum which is occasionally used by the other peoples as a pepper sauce. The Tuz work hard and play hard. They are often hired for heavy work in the construction of Urvanovestilli palaces, and their work rarely receives complaint. After work is over, they tend towards wrestling and general rowdiness; if they are present, Janra children and occasionally adults are tossed about.

For all of their rowdiness, the Tuz do possess a great deal of restraint; even after a couple of beers, they seldom give each other injuries beyond occasional bruises and abrasions, and Janra children do not receive even a scratch. Most of them rather enjoy being tossed about. The Tuz also build obstacle courses of stone and iron and rope, which the Janra have no end of finding new and inventive ways to use; a slack rope which Tuz climb along the underside of will be walked — or occasionally run — atop by the Janra; jumping shortcuts, backwards or inverted travel, and acrobatic ways of avoiding raw strength moves are common.

Tuz, by contrast, have very slow and methodical paths. They are, indeed, probably the most constant and unchanging of peoples; the process of maturing is a process of becoming more who they are. Their sense of order is also great; they value greatly the gift of being well ruled. A child, at the age of ten, is presented to the village elders and the various guildmasters. They spend a day talking with the child and his parents, in order to determine his talents, interests, and personality; then they spend another day talking and discussing amongst themselves; then, on the third day, his profession is announced, along with the master to whom he will be apprenticed.

The results are sometimes surprising, but always embody a great deal of wisdom, and the selection of a vocation is a gift for which the child is grateful. Children learn a way of life filled with discipline, tradition, and respect for elders. It is quite simple, not at all ornate when compared to some other philosophies, but it has a power, a solidity to it, and love, faith, honor, friendship, and hospitality are things that they truly live by.

Their families and communities are very close, and their friendships are loyal until death. They do not pay as much emphasis on verbal articulation of teaching as a way of life. There is thought, but in its expression, words take a second place to actions. That a life of faith involves discipline is declared very loudly by Tuz hands. The are very aware of the value of solitude and prayer; it is a common practice to simply leave, taking nothing save clothing and a hunting knife or axe, and go up into the mountains for a few days of solitude, allowing time to pray and to be refocused.

The speech is terse and concrete. Their experience of sense is also very concrete, centered somewhere between visual and aural. Sight tells what is around and where, and what is happening and where. Hearing tells what is happening, and where, and what is being said. The emotional side of their culture knows such things as accomplishment, tradition, exertion, and discipline. There is an emotion that comes from a job well done and a challenge mastered; they value it. To have a heritage and respect elders as well as enjoy children brings a feeling of right order. To wrestle around, run, or laugh heartily has a pleasure.

To control oneself has a joy. Things such as these are what they feel. The first thing to strike a visitor is the devices. In every house and many shops there is a tinkering room; a large workbench is covered with every imaginable sort of gear, spring, hinge, lever, chain, and shaft; the clock is only the beginning of clockwork. Two nearby cabinets — one filled with tools, one filled with parts and working materials — stand neatly closed; at the touch of a button, a drawer springs out, and shelves slowly slide up. The craftsmanship of clockwork devices is, along with the study of diverse subjects — theology and philosophy, history and literature, science and mathematics — a hobby that symbolizes the culture.

Each piece is created not only for utility, but also for artistic effect. Cuckoo clocks and spring loaded umbrellas, Swiss Army Knives and mechanical pencils, player pianos and collapsible telescopes: mechanical objects such as these fill the land. The ornate complexity of the devices reflects the ornate complexity of thought.

The language, quite possibly the most difficult to learn, allows a speaker to express detailed and nuanced thought in exacting specificity. There are twenty four verb tenses, so that there is for example a different past tense for a brief, well demarcated action, and one which occurred over a period of time; there are twenty four other verb forms, which are like verb tenses as to conjugation and construction, but express the verb in an atemporal manner.

Their language has much room built in for conjunction and logical connectives, nesting and predicates, as well as subtlety, implication, and allusion. They have a complex and formal system of etiquette, although it must be said to their credit that they take no offense at a wayfarer who is warm and friendly but does not know their rules; they understand how simple the heart of politeness is.

Their speech is clever and witty, and they are fond of abstract strategy games. They enjoy ornate and complex polyphony, and will spend hours exploring theology and philosophy two disciplines which they have the wisdom not to separate. Urvanovestilli culture places a very heavy emphasis on a facet of virtue which they call contrainte.

Contrainte is a kind of inner constraint, where order is approached by adjusting conditions inside before conditions outside, and not letting oneself be wrongly controlled by external circumstance. Contrainte enables a man to be free and use that freedom responsibly; it enables a man to have access to drink without getting drunk; it enables him to think constantly without becoming rationalistic. The Urvanovestilli homeland has the richest natural resources in the world, and with centuries of first rate craftsmanship and efficient work they are by a wide margin the richest nation in the world.

Despite this, they keep a very cautious eye on wealth, so as not to be enslaved by it. Theirs is not a culture of consumption; though some of their interests — art, sculpture, board oriented strategy games, tinkering — generally are pursued in a manner that involves wealth, the bulk — discussions, prayer, dance, imagination, thought — do not.

Consumption as a status symbol and waste are both seen as vulgar. In contrainte is also balance and complement. There is time in solitude and time in community, freedom and responsibility, private and public property, work and rest. It is in contrainte that an ornate system of etiquette does not obscure love, and elaborate ceremonies do not obscure worship. Just as they do not have their sights set on wealth — they do not look to it for happiness, security, and other things that it can not provide — and are therefore able to enjoy it among other and greater blessings without being harmed, so also they set their sights on love and worship, and therefore do not permit rules of etiquette or liturgical forms to make themselves the focus and cause hearts to become cold and dusty.

Contrainte likewise allows them to act efficiently without becoming efficient. Off of work, life takes a calm and leisurely pace; nobody fidgets. It allows them to be very judicious in their use of money, and at the same time very generous; their hospitality is lavish, and it is unheard of for anyone — friend or stranger, native or foreigner — to go hungry in their land. The single greatest mark of contrainte lies in that, with all of their achievements, they remain open to the gifts of God. Contrainte itself — though they work very hard to cultivate it — is not something that they try to achieve on their own power, but ask for in prayer, expecting to receive as a gift from God.

Nor is it set up as the supreme context, the Supra-God to which God must bow down; they know nothing of religion within the bounds of contrainte. It is like being reasonable enough not to be rationalistic. On the surface, the Urvanovestilli culture appears to be the antithesis of that of the Shal. One is complex, and the other simple; one is rich, and the other poor; in one, people sit and talk for hours; in the other, people sit in silence for hours. At the very heard, though, they are very much the same; Urvanovestilli, when traveling and visiting the Shal, feel that they are at home; the Shal find the Urvanovestilli to be brothers.

The Urvanovestilli are quiet, patient, temperate, and refined. They are classically educated and cultured; their country is a federation of republics, each one ruled by a senate in a tradition that has remained unchanged for centuries.

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Tradition is strong, and families remain together; come evening, three or four, sometimes even five generations sit down at one table, eating and drinking, talking and listening, long into the night. There is a great respect for age, but a respect that in no way despises youth; the oldest spend a great deal of time caring for the youngest. Indeed, one of the first sights to greet a visitor who steps inside an Urvanovestilli mansion is often a grandfather or great-grandfather, with a long, flowing white beard, sitting with a child on his knee.

Urvanovestilli names are long and ornate. The full name is rarely spoken outside of formal ceremonies; even Urvanovestilli do not often pronounce thirty syllables to refer to one entity; all the same, each one is considered important. The names are:. Family name: This is the first and foremost of names, and the most cherished; it is the most commonly used.

Birth name: This is the name given at birth, and is often used within families and when there are several people of the same family present. Reserve name: This is a very intimate name, which is not always known outside of family and close friends; it is spoken with a great deal of affection and familiarity. Baptismal name: This name is chosen at baptism by people who know the person well, and given a great deal of prayer; it is used especially in religious contexts.

Regional name: This tells of the city or village a person comes from, carrying with it connotations of regional flavor and culture. It is used primarily in reference to travelers or occasionally people far away. Friend names: These names some do not have any; a few have ten or eleven; the average is two or three come according to friends; a friend can bestow a name, and it becomes thereafter formally a part of an Urvanovestilli full name.

When such a name is bestowed, it will become the name used primarily by the person who chose it. Blessing is something which they value; they often speak of good things — friends, virtue, art and music, food and drink — as so many blessings from the heart of the Father. The traditional greeting is a hand raised, open save that the ring finger bends down to meet the thumb, or when greeting a child placed atop the head; the gesture is a symbol of benediction.

It is followed by three kisses on alternate cheeks. In youth, Urvanovestilli are filled with a wanderlust. The wayfaring is never really complete, though, until it becomes the voyage home: the Time sometimes comes after two years of travel and sometimes after ten, but the Spirit always makes it clear. When that Time comes, each Urvanovestilli spends a little longer — perhaps a month — with the people he is visiting, and then leaves, with a very passionate and tearful goodbye.

The Villains

It is Time to return home, to put down roots, to deepen, to mature; Time to wholly enter into the homeland. From this point on, the Urvanovestilli is no longer a wayfarer. The memories of his travels are cherished and very dear, a set of riches that he will always carry with him, and he will still send blessings, gifts, letters, and occasionally visits to friends in far away lands, but it is no longer time to go here and there; it is Time to grow into family, friends, and city. Urvanovestilli writings and teaching, the means by which theology and philosophy are transmitted, take many forms — poems, riddles, parables and allegories, personal conversations, to name a few — but the predominant form is a systematic and structured logical argument: point one, point two, point three, subpoint three b, conclusion one… The structure carries allusion, nuance, and beauty; it leaves room for the speaker to make a very beautiful craft of words.

They enjoy being absorbed in thought; it is how they spend a good time of each day. They do not look down on sensation — indeed, they have a great appreciation for what is a very highly developed art, music, and cuisine — but it does not fill their world as it does that of many others. Abstraction and complexities of thought are fundamental to their experience of the world: sensation leads into perception, perception leads into concrete thought, and concrete thought leads into abstract thought. Moments of immersion in the senses are rare, Sensation, being the outermost layer, is governed and enjoyed from within.

Its form is generally of aural and visual character; the aural side is shaped by words, and then accommodates the other plethora of sounds, and the visual side is shaped by the forms, the spaces, and the interactions of their devices, and sees something of springs and gears in the world around. Their faces appear at first glance to be almost expressionless — a faint hint of a smile, perhaps — until you look at their eyes, the first window to the fire and intensity within.

Urvanovestilli eyes — whether brown, amber, hazel, grey, or blue — bear an intense, probing gaze; in Urvanovestilli culture, eye contact is almost continual, and reflects a fire, an intensity, a passion, that fills their way of life. It does not take long to be reminded that eye contact is a form of touch; their eyes seem to be looking into your spirit. The gaze, in its intensity, is never cold and calculating, never the chilling, devouring stare of a steel face beyond which lies a heart of ice; at its most intense and most probing, it is the most filled with love, and most easily shows the intense fire within.

They can rest — and they know calm and tranquility — but there is a great energy within, an energy that shows itself in their artwork and writings. Those who read their theologians certainly do not fail to notice the depths of wisdom and insight, but what is most striking is their love for God.

The passion — of their love for God, for spouse, for family, for their neighbor; of desire to grow in virtue and knowledge, for their work — burns, and their experience of emotion — of discovery, of awe, of appreciation of beauty — is long and intense, complex and multifaceted. This emotion is the other side of contrainte; it is the same virtue that enables them to enjoy wine in temperance, and to be moved to tears by music and theater. Just as they find abstinence from drink to be too easy, a way of dodging the lesson of moderation, stifling emotion and crushing it would be, to them, a way of dodging the lesson of passions rightly oriented in accordance with holiness and love — not to mention an unconscionable destruction of an integral facet of being human.

Those Urvanovestilli who are the most virtuous, the most filled with contrainte, are nearly always the most passionate. Urvanovestilli are usually short, but look like very tall in miniature, with clear white skin and jet black hair. The men have a thin and wiry frame, with sharp and angular features. They have flaring eyebrows coming out of a prominent brow, a thin, hooked nose, and tufts of fine hair flaring away from their ears. Skin holds tightly to bones, muscles, and veins, and arms end in long, thin hands with nimble fingers.

Their voices are a very soft, almost silent tenor. The women are somewhat slender, but a slenderness which is graceful and rounded. Their features, as well as their build, bear this slender, graceful, rounded character, and their movements are light and flowing. If the men know more of passion, the women know more of calm.

Their voices are high and clear, with a sound that is like silver, like cold and crystalline water, like clear, light, dry Alsace blanc. Urvanovestilli worship services are long and complex, with ornate liturgy and ritual. The language is florid and ornate like that of the liturgy stemming from St. John Chrysostom and every sentence of the liturgy would embody theological truth.

The homilies although not the only part of the service which varies much of the liturgy itself changing according to a traditional pattern dictated by a complex algorithm from week to week are themselves not that long. They are of moderate length, and differ from the liturgy — which presented different doctrines sentence by sentence — in being a full and well-developed presentation of one single idea, expressed in unequaled detail and eloquence. At the very heart lies a cruciform cathedral.

It is an immense domed building, the outside in white marble, covered with statues and spires. Inside, all is dark — or so it seems to a person who first steps in. Someone who steps in first stands in place, seeing nothing really, perhaps a few points of light in the darkness… and then, very slowly, begins to adjust.

It is cool inside, and very still. The silence is a silence that can be heard, a very real and present stillness. As he begins to step into the coolness and the silence, he begins to see light — light that had gone unnoticed at first, but as he steps into it, becomes more and more visible. The light is shining through a thousand candles, each one bringing a little bit of light, a little bit of warmth, to what is around it. Then, after the candles become visible, it is seen what they illuminate — mosaics, worked with colored dyes and gold leaf… and faces.

Outside of the cathedral lies an open garden with fountains and statues. Around the garden lies a circle of seven great halls. In clockwise order, beginning south of the cathedral, they are:. Library: This collection, the largest in the world, has at least one copy of all known writings, and a scriptorium in which they are copied and transmitted.

Device museum: This is a clockwork building filled with exemplary devices and copies in various states of disassembly. Senate: This building is decorated with arts and crafts from the cities throughout the land; it is a place where senators two from each city and one from each village meet to govern the nation. Mayorship: This is the local senate, the seat from which public affairs are run; the majority of political power is on a local level the senate being the head of a confederation , vested in the town elders.

Forum: This is an immense amphitheater which hosts a variety of speakers, panels, and open talks. Lecture is the predominant medium and presentation, but poetry and storytelling occur not infrequently. The forum, along with the evening worship services in the cathedral, walking in the garden, attending a concert, or looking through the art museum, is appreciated as an enjoyable way to spend a night out.

Art museum: Half of the space is devoted to permanent exhibits, and half to temporary displays. Most of the finest artwork ever produced by Urvanovestilli, and a good deal of the finest artwork from other cultures, may be seen here. It is where a great deal of life and culture transpires; in the little nooks and crannies, inside the parlors of the houses, a lot transpires.

The Urvanovestilli enjoy going out, but the enjoyment does not come from despising being at home. The artwork and jewelry are crafted from seashells and other treasures from the sea — coral and pearls — and the public squares are filled with fountains and pools, where colorful fish swim about. Throughout the city are spread a handful of entrances to a vast underground labyrinth, of which the better part is known; there are all manner of doors and puzzles inside.

They are polished and ornately carved, well suited for transport and trade as well as a work of art. The crews hired tend to be heavily Tuz — strong and sturdy workers who have no problem tying a rope as thick as a wrist in waves and storm — and set sail to other Urvanovestilli ports and ports around the world, transporting voyagers and cargo to destinations near and far.

The Yedidia culture is a culture of vibrant life. They live in buildings woven out of living trees and plants; the doorways are filled by hanging curtains of leafy vines which softly part as a person passes through. The Yedidia are very sensitive to the rest of Creation; they speak in a melodic, lilting tongue of the purest song, but even that language is not the one that is closest to them. The first language of every child is that of rocks and trees and skies and seas. They know how tot call birds out of the forest to fly into their hands; they know how to make plants flourish.

They have ears to hear the crystalline song by which the Heavens declare the glory of their Maker. They appreciate the beauty of the created order as it tells of the Uncreate with a power that can not fully be translated into words — and they use the language of Creation to speak of the mysteries of the Creator, whose fingerprints are everywhere in nature.