Saturday, 14 April 2012

A - Z Challenge: N is for Necromancy and also for Novik, Naomi

is for 


        WHAT IS IT?

Thought that I would include this since I haven't done a magic posting since letting everyone know that A is for Aluromancy.

To put it briefly Necromancy is the art or practise of speaking with the dead and, this is the important bit, having the dead respond and give out knowledge of future events or clarifying something that happened in their past.

It is not the most pleasant of the magical arts  since it deals with the dead who can get a wee bit tetchy if you interrupt their eternal slumber just to ask where the money was buried.

This is difficult since you can't simply wander down to the local YMCA and sign up for courses. [1]  

You'll need to apprentice yourself to a wandering wizard first and, once you've gotten a handle of the basics [2]  it's time to fall in with a bad crowd and leave before your apprenticeship is finished.

This is an important step as it gives you someone to look down on when you are rich and powerful and he's still wandering about the place looking scruffy. [3]


I've been trying to come up with a use for Necromancy in real life but I'm not getting anything.  
Were we actually living in a reality where the dead can be summoned then I would be steering well clear of it and advise you to do the same.  The Karmic stain that it leaves behind would far outweigh any riches or mystical powers that you might gain.  

But for those of you disappointed that I have no use for it in real life I say Keep it in mind when you roll up a Dungeons and Dragons game.   We've come a long way since the days when the only character classes were Fighter, Rogue, Cleric and Magic User [4]

However now that we're using it in writing the possibilities are myriad.
Necromancers are generally baddies which means that its perfectly acceptable to have them raise up an army of zombies, vampires, mummies and other assorted creatures of the night and march upon the village of your hero [5]

Abduction of the family and the heroes one true love would help to get the plot moving as well.

On the flip side of the coin a good necromancer might exhaust themselves every night attempting to cure people in the city of the plague that had swept across the face of the world.  

It could be that an ancient necromancer holds the very object that the heros have been questing for.  All they want in return is one tiny inconsequential task done for them [6]

Perhaps a necromancer is stealing bodies for his work and, as per union regulations, he's got an Igor helping him.  Igors are always difficult to hide in a crowd and the hero might follow him back to the workshop or even shake him down for some plot advancing information.


        PART II


is also for


To continue on with the theme of dragons I present to you Naomi Novik and the Napoleonic Wars with accompanying dragons. [7] 

The gist of the books is simple.  The Napoleonic wars rage and in addition to the Navies fighting over the sea so to do the kings dragons fight to claim the sky.  

As might be expected The dragons and their handlers are generally looked down upon, figuratively speaking, because they are generally seen as a very rough crowd and not ones to fit into polite society.

The story begins with Captain Laurence taking a French ship in battle and discovering that it was transporting a dragon egg for Napoleon himself. [8] Naturally the egg hatches and Captain Laurence finds himself the surprised surrogate father of a newborn dragon whom he names Temeraire.

As might be expected this rubs all sorts of people up the wrong way and I don't want to say any more since it's just going to give the plot away.

There are nine books planned for the series and we're into the seventh one now.  They each do a good job of explaining the backstory without huge speeches but reading the other books would tell you exactly why a Chinese Celestial Dragon has allied herself with Napoleon [9].  

I would recommend these books for anyone who enjoys alternate histories with exciting battles.  There hasn't been much in the way of any real romantic storyline in the latter books but you need to make allowances for the fact that there's a war on.

Postscript: Peter Jackson has been in talks about making a movie from the books but the buzz from the bees is that he's waiting until the series ends first.

I hope with all my heart that he includes the death of Levitas scene from the first book since it is one of my favourite pieces of the entire series. [10]

  1. The YMRCIGBSA would be a better place to start looking anyway.
  2. Wandering Wizard lesson one: How to put on the Blades of Wonderland Official Wizard Hat.
  3. This will also set up a bit of a safety net for you since your former master and his new apprentice will attempt to intervene if he thinks that you are reaching too far into the magical unknown.  After you order your minions to deal with him you might like to consider the points that he made.  Or not
  4. Also, nobody ever introduced themselves as the first edition rules suggested "Hello I am Grey Swifthorse.  A first level thief"  mainly because the response was always "Hello.  I am Samuel Vimes, and you're nicked chummy"
  5. There's no reason for this except that the village is in the way and the necromancer doesn't even notice it.
  6. Note: there is never any such thing as an inconsequential task.  Anyone who tells you different is selling something.
  7. An intro like this needs a fanfare or at least a top hat and a three ring circus.
  8. He doesn't capture Napoleon of course.  That would make this series little more than a pamphlet.
  9. It's vengeance.  Temeraire and his captain were responsible for the death of Prince Yongxing who was her companion.  How does this come about?  Read the books and discover.
  10. Levitas is a dragon who is abused by his handler throughout the first book.  When Levitas takes mortal wounds in combat Laurence finds the other captain in the common room taking a glass of wine and sitting at cards.

    He drags the man to his feet and frogmarches him down to the culvert and presents him to the dying dragon before giving him the bums rush out of there.  I've compressed it a great deal but it's still a crowning moment of pure awesomeness for all involved.

The Nutritious Newt,
who purchased a Round Plum-pudding
for his grand-daughter.


  1. Hello, Gyran! Necromancy is freaky. I say let the dead rest in peace!

    Hope you're having a great weekend and happy A to Z!!

  2. Maybe someone needs to set up an answering service for the dead to use

    "Hello this is Elvis Presley. I am busy being dead and can not respond to your magical summonings. Please leave a message and I will get back to you"

  3. I love to read stories involving Necromancy, but yeah...if could do it, I wouldn't either. Sometimes the dead you recieve aren't the dead you have sought. Lot of evil demons out there in the Netherworld waiting for a chance to pop on in and say "howdy". Or, so they say.

    And thanks for the heads up on the author. Haven't read that one yet. XD

  4. I wonder if it occurs to the ranks of demons that we'd be more inclined to let them stay if they did all sound like John Wayne.

    Actually we probably wouldn't but it would add an air of theatricality to the exorcisms.