08/23/13

Episode 5 Released!

 

Yes, I know it was released last week, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to read the episode before posting here because, as any pirate will tell you, thar be spoilers here. If you haven’t read the episode, you may not want to keep reading. Ye been warned.

The Bures Dragon

The Bures dragon can still be seen on a hillside in the village.

So, Edward and Tristan fight a dragon in episode 5. It’s not a dragon to us, of course. But to a couple of 14th century knights (even knights who have been to France and Spain) a Nile crocodile can be nothing other than a dragon. As I mentioned in the historical notes, there have been at least two incidents of crocodiles roaming the English waterways. One of those occurred in the village of Bures, in Suffolk (Bure to Edward and Tristan). And, also as mentioned in the notes, the villagers of Bures have immortalized (sort of) their brush with the great wyrm (see image above).

We’ve all been a bit desensitized to crocodiles. Steve Erwin, The Croc Hunter (may he rest in peace) and Animal Planet have made them fairly common for those of us not in Africa. But in the 14th century, it was almost impossible to see one of these beautifully lethal creatures. Try to wipe away your knowledge of crocodiles and see them as Edward and Tristan might have. Something like this:

A dragon leaps from the water to devour its prey.

Or perhaps like this:

or this:

The eye of the dragon.

God forbid you should ever see one like this:

Edward and Tristan probably saw it like this though:

St. George slaying his dragon.

Crocodiles are one of the oldest creatures on the planet. It is said that they roamed the rivers of the world when dinosaurs walked the land. Why have they been here so long? Because they are perfect at what they do. Their eyes protrude from their heads so that they can slip toward prey almost completely underwater. And they can hurtle out of rivers at unfathomable speeds to attack their prey like this:

Okay, maybe not quite like that. I don’t know what this one is doing. It looks like my son when I jump out of the closet to scare him. Crocs jump out of the water more like this:

Which is how it would have gotten Tristan. Not a nice way to go. Just ask any wildebeest. In closing, I’d like to post a few more pictures of these magnificent dragons.

Crocs roll in the water to tear their prey into snack-size chunklets. Zebra bites, anyone?

I hope you enjoyed episode 5, the dragon slaying episode. Do you have any tidbits about crocs? Any first-person experience with them? Got thoughts, questions, ideas or critiques on the episode? Let me know! Your comments can affect the outcome of the book, so please don’t be shy!

See you soon!

08/1/13

Nostrum: Episode 4 Released

So, episode 4 was released on Tuesday and I’ve heard from a few readers that they have already finished it. I’m always impressed by how fast people read. I’m a slow reader. I think part of the reason for my slow pace is the fact that reading, while immensely pleasurable, always holds a little bit of work for me. I’m always looking to learn what a writer does to interest me and keep me reading on. The fact that I read in bed when I’m exhausted doesn’t help much, either.

I’m happy that some readers get through the episodes quickly, though. One of my greatest fears as a writer is that readers will be bored by what I write. And when it comes to serials, that fear is magnified a thousand times.

**Spoiler alert** Minor spoilers about episode 4 below this point.

Dancing with the Saints. Could country-western line dancing be a direct descendant of St. John’s Dance? Discuss.

But enough about me, eh? In this episode, Edward and Co. found out what those crazy dancing people were all about. I mentioned in the historical notes that this was a very real phenomena in the Middle Ages, and it was. ┬áSt. Johns dance, (sometimes called St. Vitus’s Dance after the patron saint of dancers (nice irony there)), is associated with the modern disorder, “Sydenham’s chorea,” a sickness where the afflicted person experiences uncontrolled movements and emotions. They are not the same thing, these two disorders, despite the similarities. The medieval version was completely different. It was an actual dance and the afflicted could be quite violent if interfered with. St. John’s Dance was also contagious, although apparently in a psychological way. The disorder has been called a mass psychogenic illness, which means, basically, that lots of people suffer the same delusions at the same time. This fits in quite well with the theme of the Scourge books. After all, isn’t zealotry just a form of mass psychogenic illness?

So, tell me what you think about Nostrum so far. Why do you think Hugh the Baptist didn’t bite Belisencia? What do you think about the relationship of Tristan and Belisencia? Do you think our heroes might actually be in purgatory? And what’s up with the ending of this episode? A dragon? Really? Is this writer on crack? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!