Happy New Year!


May 2006 bring us peace and happiness to all of you, your beloved ones, and the rest of Humanity and Life on Earth...

As for writing, I'm on it again (back to Sparta, where I left it before moving to part II) and have self-gifted some books on Sumer and Mesopotamy, and a new translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, hehe... ;-)

Best wishes to all!



Kambuyiyâ and plotbunny

Ah, the joys of reading!

After Nano, I've taken some time to rest and read literature, which I wasn't really able to do while writing, as most of my reading time is my writing time as well.

Thus, I'll re-take my writing soon, but in the meantime I've enjoyed a couple of novels, one a very funny parody of Harry Potter, the other a cool HF book by a German author I didn't know.

The book is Tamburas, the Greek (original title unknown, don't you hate when publishers don't do their homework on the ISBN page? A quick INet search threw the original title Tamburas), by Karlheinz Grosser. Originally published by Heinemann in 1967, I have a spanish translation of Belaqva of 2002.

I got it at a discount price (EUR4.95, really cheap!), it's 447 pages (I'm on page 427) and it's been a pleasing and interesting reading. Tamburas is a bastard son of Pisistratos, tirant of Athens (ca. 530), who must leave his town and face the unknown when assaulted by pirates and forced to serve Polikrates, tirant of Samos, and then to serve Great King Kambuyiyâ (Cambises).

The book is written in 1st person POV, well constructed, and pleaseantly flowing. The author did his homework, and despite some things I have frowned at, it's very well researched and it shows. It was a bit weird reading the battle of Pelusion from the POV of the Persians, when I have read it less than two months ago (you can check the archives) from the POV of the Egyptians in Scott Oden's Men of Bronze. The battles are very different, but that's understandable. However, where Scott stopped, Karlheinz went on.

Now, the second part:

I have a strong, I'd even say a stronger, plotbunny biting my shiny... um...

OK, I want to finish this novel (The Libyan), then finish Damned Linneage, my 2004 NaNovel. But (and it's a big 'but', hence the bold face) this plotbunny bit me last year as well, and it's demanding attention.

More and more attention.

Will I say it? I will, I feel generous... ;-)

It's a HF novel telling, as historical fact--at least inasmuch I am able to--, the Epic of Gilgamesh.

I have read it several times, and loved it all of them. Bronze Age culture is fascinating, and it's a chance to explore strange, new worlds. I am very tempted to go for it.

So, warning, don't feel weird if in some months you see a new work-in-progress bar on the blog...

Take care and Merry Full Moon!




$ cat Inaros_advancing_20051130.txt | perl ../wc.pl
W: 91025 (MP: 364.1, PP: 182.05), %: 75.8541666666667

And from NaNoWriMo:

NaNoWriMo 2005 Winner

Excalibor's Novel: The Libyan
Word Count So Far Winner!
50077 / 50000 words

Yeah, it was hard, but I've made it, and added a big punch (of crappy, shhh) to the novel in the process!

Thanks to all my supporters and sufferers, it's been great, now I'm back to reading, and planning (that battle at Memphis ain't gonna be easy!)




$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051129.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 85124 (MP: 340.496, PP: 170.248), %: 70.9366666666667

Validated Nano-counter: 44,416 words

I should be able to do it, I mean, I've got some 36 hours, and just over 6,500 words to go, the problem is finding time to do it... Fortunately, I skipped ahead for a part of the story considerable more dynamic than "Mission: Sparta", and the rythm will start raising to the next grand check point, the battle of Memphis, which is closer and closer... *grin*

I expect to get into the flow and do a good run for the battle, but, you know, plans are what you'd like to do and finally don't, so I'll be expectant...

Good luck to all the Nanoers who are close to the deadline mark! We can do it, gang! Those who are far behind their word counts, you can make a final push, and, nevertheless, you've been doing something unique, don't you dare to feel you have failed, just getting yourself into this makes you all winners, anyway...

Finally, my cheers and best regards to HF writer Scott Oden, who's pushing his Memnon's deadline with us, you can do it as well, Scott!



The power of what?

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051128.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 82227 (MP: 328.908, PP: 164.454), %: 68.5225

According to the on-line, official validator, I'm 41,525 words into the Nano... This throws a grand totale of 8,475 words left. Will I get there? I'm pushing for it! We'll see, anyway...

As for the story, after a really nice Gymnopaideia ceremony, and a meeting with one of the Ephoros of Sparta, I fell exhausted, and decided to skip the rest of the story for the time being... A big jump ahead, two years, and we are back in Sidunnu (Sidon), where preparations for the final assault are being conducted.

I currently have the army leaving southwards. Artabazos has contributed with 10,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 1,000 engineers, while Megabyzos has put into the field some 6,000 cavalry and 16,000-18,000 infantry, plus another division (1,000) of engineers, food, and so on... The fleet has settled in 30 trirremes and 50 pentekonterae, because a bigger one to fight the yaunâ (Greek) fleet would be too much a nurden in terms of training and food (specially). My calculations are, anyway conservative. Total numbers, thus, run about this:

* 28,000 infantry
* 8,000 cavalry
* 8,500 sailors

Far from the half million assembled at Memphis, I know, but those numbers are simply impossible, and I won't pay more attention to them. I will join the Eastern army, sited in the East river bank fortress and Heliopolis with this army, I may try to get some more troops off Pelusion once is re-taken, though I'm not sure about it, and I may manage, probably, to get the Memphis army out for the final battle as well, but I'm not sure about it... No way near 300,000-500,000, but a pretty big army anyway, and I pre-visualize a huge battle, jay! :-)

Original numbers I attempted were closer to the 44,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, but moving that huge army through the desert down the Way of Horus is unthinkable, even if the whole of the fleet is devouted to carrying the food, which it is anyway.

Army size in ancient armies was not limited by the amount of men or food you could gather, but by the amount of food available in the places your army moved and were deployed. Not having any ways of refrigerating food, or maintaining fresh water, licquours and other spirits would have been mixed with the water to avoid corruption, and food should be mostly dried fruits, hard bread and fish, but a good part of the Way of Osiris runs away from the sea, I need the army to move and not die, therefore I must make it smaller... Even then, reducing the slaves to the minimum, the final size of the army with those numbers given above raises over 40,000 people, plus well over 10,000 animals, which is an unthinkable amount of daily water. I shudder only thinking about it.

Anyway, we'll start sweetly, warming up the less experimented troops by pacifying Syria and Judea (at this moment in the novel, I have most of what's south Dor in rebellion, or taken over by the Greeks, which means Dor, Samaria, Gaza, Jerusalem, and most of the important sites north the Sinai. If my calculations are OK, I'll have to pay a visit to byblical administrator Ezra, in order to put things into perspective, (hehe) before moving down to the full desert, and finally Pelusion.

The more I think about the size and complexity of all the operations I'm writing about, the more I get astonished by what was performed by our distant ancestors... Just incredible.

Well, back to work, still lots to write and think as well... Sparta will wait until Nano-pressure is a bit off and I can set my mind into political games mode...

Power to the Nanoers!



Almost there, but not quite yet (grrr)

$ cat Inaros_advancing_20051127_utf8.txt | perl wcutf8.pl
W: 79732 (MP: 318.928, PP: 159.464), %: 66.4433333333333

Nano-counter: 38,606 words

Sigh, yesterday was not a bad day, but it could be better... Today's a huge last opportunity for brilliant performance, but it has started badly (headache), let's try a boost... 3 days, 11,400 words, it's hard but not impossible...

Cheer me up (please)! :-)




$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051125.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 74415 (MP: 297.66, PP: 148.83), %: 62.0125

It's Summer (maybe even the Summer Solstice) and the Spartans have wild party, with nude, young warriors dancing arround the agorê (yeah, wild party!)... I have several classical authors talking about this festivity to Apollo, but I haven't managed to know if it was in the Solstice, and at night or when...

Ah, the fun of research, indeed...

Well, I'm heavily behind my Nano-counter, let's see if I can manage to give it a jump this afternoon (I love Fridays, don't you?)

Laters and cheers for the Nanoers, we are getting closer to the end!



... go and tell the Lakedaemonians that we died as their laws commanded.

OK, after a hard trip from Sardes, in Phrigia (Asia Minor), to Epidaurus, in the Argolid, our Megabazos and his "band of merry fellows" (ahem) are finally in the Peloponnese, and ready to make their headway to their final destination, Sparta, in Lakonia.

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051123.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 71454 (MP: 285.816, PP: 142.908), %: 59.545

The title of this post is a free paraphrasis of the monument to Leonidas, in Thermopilae, where the Spartans and a big bunch of allies met the army of Xerxes I in 480BCE in a delay move to give time to the rest of the Greeks to prepare for the Persians. It didn't work, the Lakedaemonians insisted in defending the Corinth Ithsmus, while the Attikans preferred to set a defense near Eleusis (understandably). It didn't work, and the naval battle sought by the Athenians to defeat the Persian naby at Artemisium cape, at the same time, didn't work as well. However a huge storm sunk a good deal of ships in the Persian fleet, composed by Egyptian, Chipriote, Ionian, and Phoenician navies.

With sound victories in land and sea, Xerxes entered in Attika and the Athenians were forced to surrender their city, which was plundered, and make a escape to the nearby island of Salamis, in front of Piraeus. The battle of Salamis by a combined fleet of Athenian and Corinthian triereis against a weakened Persian fleet (later, still in 480BCE) was the first and definitive victory over the Persian army of Xerxes's. Not a huge victory, but enough to delay his plans to proceed to the Peloponnese, then he must leave to suffocate a rebellion in Babylon, while leaving a seriously under-armed general Mardonius to winter in Thessaly. The year after (479BCE) Mardonius met a huge combined Greek army at Plataea, and after a very confussing set of changing battle fronts, was forced to retreat with heavy losses.

But this is "old history" for my novel... I have finally located some "reliable" maps of the time, know the kings and important names (or at least some of them) in Sparta, and will head into the heart of this first half of Part II later today.

This part has been somewhat hard to write, as I am familiarizing myself with the characters, places and so that I hadn't visited for quite some time... That accounts for the poor wordcount, I'm afraid... I'll have to push it harder to meet with NaNoWriMo's deadline and limits. I'm determined to win this year, ¡by Athena!

More later, probably tomorrow, same blog-time, same blog-channel! (hehe, the TV series of 'Batman' in the 60's rocks... ;-)




More words, Nano-frenzy, whooo!

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051121.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 66287 (MP: 265.148, PP: 132.574), %: 55.2391666666667

Bagâbigna a.k.a. Megabazos is in Sardes, capital of the satrapy of Frigia, with his team of gay fellows (in the old, original sense of the word, maybe I should use merry, as in Robin Hood's stories), from there they will move North, to the Pontos Euxine (a.k.a. Black Sea) --or maybe to some place in the Ionian coast, going up all the way to get back by sea is a bit too costly to create a good cover--, and from there to the Peloponnese, heading to Sparta.

It will be fun, indeed... :-)

OTOH, Megabazos is raising as a very interesting character, and I'm starting to think I should switch the Persian POV from Megabyzos to him... Having such a central POV will make it harder to write, and it should be easier to show the genius of Megabyzos's from a third person's POV, not from his... Besides, I think I like this character, his devoted to his leaders and people, idealistic, great commander, probably a great strategist, definitely a good leader of men, from a very noble and righteous Persian family...

Introduced a series of secondary characters to go with him in this part of the story --a Ionian Greek, a Canaanite (helmsman), and five soldiers disguised as sailors--, I'll let you know how it goes when I have them interacting, at this moment they are before Artabazos, satrap of Phrigia, with a message from Megabyzos, as the previous step to Sparta.

Cheer up every Nanoer!




I've done it.

(more or less)

1,957 more words to the novel, Nano counter goes up to: 19,841 words

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051118.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 60002 (MP: 240.008, PP: 120.004), %: 50.0016666666667

I've beaten all my records now: largest number of words and largest part of the plot on a single novel.


Besides, this part is proving chanllenging and fun to write, isn't this the best activity in the world?

Fortior honorque



$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051118b.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 61833 (MP: 247.332, PP: 123.666), %: 51.5275

Oh, yeah! :-)



Nano advance and visit to Sparta

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051117.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 58045 (MP: 232.18, PP: 116.09), %: 48.3708333333333

All right, 2,236 more words, which make a NaNo-total of 17,884; still well behind, but advancing at good pace...

I have found a "nice" twist to the "Spartan Operation":

I have introduced a young Persian soldier, called Bagâbigna. This is an actual Old Persian name, according to my sources, he was a Persian, father of Hydarnes (who was actually called Vindarna --this is actually a hard one to catch, from Persian to Greek), who was a Persian ally of Darius.

Thus, re-using to name for my own purposes, we have:

Bagabuxsha -> Megabyzos
Vindarna -> Hydarnes
Bagâbigna -> Megabazos (dubious, I'd bet for Megabizos, and the turn from iota to alpha is unexplained)

A way to get out of here is to explain this in the novel (I'd love to actually see the greek original, really!) is that Bagâbigna is trying to disguise himself from being too Persian, and therefore said his name wrong on purpose, and this was understood by the greeks as Megabazos... Weak, I know, but for the time being, my best bet... I'll have to revise this in the PHR anyway...

And now back to writing!



Nano quick update and Money!!

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051116.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 55809 (MP: 223.236, PP: 111.618), %: 46.5075

Thanks to flight companies, yesterday I had some unexpected 1+ hour waiting for a coleague on the airport, which I devoted to writing with a couple of coffees...

The main track of Part II is proving a bit changelling to write, as I won't have lots of action, I am forced to be more descriptive, and historical facts keep piling on the 'check-later' stack (which is about a parasang tall by the moment). Parasangs are easy, met them in Xenophon's Anabasis, but I cannot find out how much money a gold daric meant in those times, and I lost the web page with equivalences I found one year ago!

Thus, back to my trustworthy "vidience" (i.e. the visual equivalent of audience that you who reads me are): how much money would the King of Kings Artaxerxes I give to Megabazos to bribe the Spartans to attack Athens?

Personally, knowing that a temple in Judea cost (according to some Bible book which I don't recall at the moment --not that I would know, not even being Christian myself, but, hey!, a book is a book--) about 5,000 gold darics, I'd say not less than 100,000 gold darics.

That would mean, roughly, if 1 gold talent is 60 minae, and about 6000 drachmae, and one gold daric was about 2 drachmae, there was about 3,000 darics per talent (all in gold, ancient numismatic is really complex!), 5,000 darics would be, roughly, 1.66 talents of gold (about 2,500 Attic tretradrachmae). Considering a cow cost about 50 dracmae, I think to bribe Sparte one would need, at least several thousands of cow heads would be needed. Therefore, say 5,000 cows, times 25 gold darics = 125,000 gold darics, roughly 41.66 gold talents. Which it's not that much, considering Carthage must pay Rome after the First War the price of 3,200 gold talents in total over a period of 10 years (that's money!)

One million darics, however, do look too much, to carry around half a ton of gold wouldn't be healthy in a stealth, bribing operation... Carrying all this in silver would mean, at a 1/10 gold/silver ratio typical of the times, that about 1,881,702 silver darics, about 2 tons of silver... not an option, really... Therefore, it should be between 100,000 and 500,000 gold darics, roughly between 40 and 100 Kg of gold coins...

To give more perspective, the cost of a trirreme was roughly 6,000 drachmae, therefore 125,000 gold darics would produce about ten and a half trirremes. Would this be a lot or not? Contributions of 20 and 40 ships to the following battles against Athens were common, I'd say half or a quarter of your fleet is a good bribe! (Modern perspective: think of the trirreme as the nuclear powered submarine of nowadays, you'd be paying 10 subs!)

Sigh, the joy of historical research...



Ah, the delights of... well, all this

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051115.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 54439 (MP: 217.756, PP: 108.878), %: 45.3658333333333

That is, 1978 words more to the counter, Nano is now at 14278 words.

By the way, if you ever wonder what the heck is what I paste into this blog, I'll tell you it's the result of a small Perl program I wrote, which performs word counting (at 6 characters per word), and some statistics (manuscripted pages, at 250 words per page, published pages at 500 words per page, and the total percentage of estimated total word count for the draft, which started in 130,000 and has been revised down to 120,000... I will actually have to revise it again after Nano, although I don't expect great differences, but you never now...). More precisely it's the result of injecting the text of the novel so far into the standard input of my program, done in a GNU/Linux box.

Solved this (I thought you might be wondering, anyway), let's briefly go to the fun. In the secondary track, I have the rebels doing a lot of things in a year and a half: coronation of Inaros as king of Libya and King of the Two Lands is the most spectacular one. Of course, I haven't yet found any documents that state Artaxerxes had been crowned Pharaoh by the time of this story, and considering he had to fight for the Persian throne against friends and foes in the Far East ever since 556 BCE, I doubt he ever had the time to actually go to Egypt and get crowned... Kambyses, Darius and Xerxes did, though, and until proven wrong, I'm pushing for Inaros to fill in this power vacuum, where Artaxerxes is just supposed to be the Pharaoh just because he's the Great King, not because he had been crowned as such.

I'm also pushing for a risky hypothesis, and crowned him as Psammetichos IV. Psammetichos III was the last Pharaoh of the XXVI Dinasty, son of Pharaoh Ahmose, and after less than a year of reign, he lost the Kingdoms to Kambyses at the battle of Pelusion, in 525, and then was captured after a siege in Memphis. As Inaros's claims (done by classical authors) to be his son should be respected, it's only fitting that he tried to link himself with his father. I thought that Ahmose II would be even better, but 1) they didn't have marketing as developed as we have it nowadays, and 2) Pierre mentioned a Psammetichos IV otherwise unknown, and considering the XXVIII and following Dinasties are pretty well known (though, it seems, this certainty when dealing with Egypt is pretty risky, at the least). Anyway, it all sums up pretty nicely.

Once the draft is done, and I start the Profound Historical Revision, I may change this, as I will have to change a lot of things. But I have the feeling this will survive with dignity to the PHR.

Other happenings in this time period are, very briefly, the attempt to take the White Castle by assault, Bubastis, Tanis, Judea, Memphis, the ingenious way I have found a sieged town with access to the river can spoil the efforts of making an assault ramp, or the real price of wood in Egypt. All this and more, for about 18 months of intermath.

Now it's time to re-take Megabyzos and the main track of this part, and set sails to sunny Hellas and the harsh coast of South Peloponnese, to meet, after some miles land inside (yes, gentle reader, Troy was wrong, while I won't discuss the likeliness of Sparta having a harbor of their own in Mykeanean times, Sparta is not a coastal town and never was. 'Harbor of Sparta' can be misleading, but I bet you thought Sparta was in the coast herself, uh? Now that we are talking about that most unfortunate film, please note, gentle reader, that when poor, betrayed Menelaos arrived in Mykenas to see his brother, a harbour is also seen from the hill castle: Mykenas was also land inside. They had a whole harbor town of their own, Tyrins, but the town (cidatel) itself was firmly inland). But I digress. We will walk inland and meet the powerful Spartans, complicate the political situation in Hellas a little bit, force the start of the first real civil war among the Greeks, often termed as the "first Peloponnesian war", then sit back and watch the events at Halieis, Cecryphalea, Tanagra, Oenophyta and the rest develop before our eyes, while the Persians start to prepare to re-take Egypt and all the lost territories and towns in the Mediterranean. Much will have to told in this track, and about two thirds of it will be telling all of these events. The last part of Part II will get all our points of view together for the first time, and Greeks, Egyptians and Persians will finally meet at Memphis for the Great Battle.

Enough said.


Lastly, I'll send my regards to the thousands (estimated about 60,000!) of fellow Nanowriters out there... To them and us all: Success!



More advancing...

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051114.txt | perl wc.pl
W: 52461 (MP: 209.844, PP: 104.922), %: 43.7175

Yes, I've gone over 50Kwords (Yeah!!!) I'm starting to see the light to beating my other personal record (that of plot told, which was about 49% in Damned Linneage, my Nano 2004 novel)... At this rythm, I'll beat it within the week (cross fingers!).

And for the Nano counter, I'm in 12,300 words... Still well behind the counter, but better than before, therefore no whinning (yet)...

On Friday I wrote a good deal of words waiting for my fencing session (yes, after years of inactivity, and 51Kg less of weight, I'm back with the epée!), and today as well, (ironic mode on) thanks to the commuting train, which took almost two full hours in doing what's usually some 45 minutes (they've been misbehaving for more than a week, it's starting to be more than just very annoying)... (ironic mode off).

I'm currently writing in two fronts, after finishing the draft for Part I (yeah! :-) which are, namely:

* Part II, main track, on my Palm, has started in Sidunnu (Sidon) in Siria, where Megabyzos is starting to organize the operations to recover Egypt. This will be the main track, and will tell the Persian preparations, visit to Sparta, reconquering of Phoenicia, and straight to the Battle of Memphis (the big one).

* Part II, secondary track, which I'm writing on my Psion Series 5, and that has started with Greek operations around Memphis, and will briefly describe the four years of siege, from the point of view of Greeks and Libyans/Egiptians in the rebel (now legit) side...

Writing in parallel will make it easier to avoid getting stuck, and when my Palm is low on batteries (it's old and it doesn't last for long) or I cannot write by hand or with the folding keyboard, I'll jump to the psion and the other thread... I'd move the story along both machines, but, unluckily, I haven't managed the Psion to be able to beam to the Palm (and back), and while the Palm has an SD card reader, the Psion uses a CF one... If I can find an SD-to-CF adapter, I may change this setup, but for the meantime, I can actually enjoy the separation better than just get fixated into one story... Parallel is the way to go, yeah... :-)

(besides, I reserve the right to change machines when I see convenient, and the Psion has the permanently attached superb keyboard, though not as good as the Palm's, but very convinient, and much longer battery life, which is a huge advantage)

Good luck to the Nanoers!


PS- updated to change some conceptual errors on my part... :-P


Advancing (slowly)

A quick update:

$ cat nano/Inaros_advancing_20051111.txt | perl wc.pl

W: 45964 (MP: 183.856, PP: 91.928), %: 38.3033333333333

Plus almost 1,000 more words I still have on the Palm. Much slower than I hoped, but ahead nevertheless...

I'll keep you updated... Good luck to the Nanoers!




OK, I have this situation, and I am seeking some technical advice:

I have a big army on the Western bank of the Nile river at Memphis. I have a big army inside Memphis, which will be eventually sieged, and which will resist the siege for several years, which include several Nile floodings, harvest, etc... I also have a huge attacking fleet of 200 Greek triereis, plus several native ships of different kinds. I may have, initially, a defending fleet, but it would be eventually destroyed or set to sleep, though all these years.

I need a way for the defenders to keep their control of the Nile, so they can get help and fresh water and food from their Eastern Delta and Upper Egypt allies. Assume the Western bank of the river is taken and the defenders are the only ones in there, everybody else is an attacking force.

I have guessed that the defenders had some support army on the Eastern bank which would be too big a hassle for the attackers to defeat, therefore the Eastern bank is the defenders'.

Now, the questions: which weapon or tactical, or strategical, movements could make the sieged, defenders' army, to keep the attackers away from their food and water supplies, for so many years?

I am guessing some sort of weapon like catapults or "ballistae" that could destroy any attacking fleet on the river before they could make their attack effective. However, my understanding is that most of the war machines that we know, all come from later times... From a National Geographic article: "The origins of the catapult are unknown. They appear in the historical record as early as a 9th-century B.C. relief from Nimrud in modern-day Iraq. Early Greek catapults were large bows that included winches able to draw the weapon for firing." Thus I guess it's safe to assume they, at least, had catapults to defend the harbors...

Please, share your hoplological knowledge, as I can obviously ignore the precise setup and simply say that they couldn't move the huge, all-powerful fleet inside the town because some sort of war machines in the town, but it's an uneasing feeling not being able to know more precisely...

I'd also love a plan map of Memhis, or that White Castle, to be able to understand how they could resist rams and other siege machines for that long. I mean, even Tyre fell! I'm afraid, however, that no such plan maps exist. But any help with descriptions (while I explore Herodotus, and other ancient sources) and reconstructions based on them will be really helpful.

Thanks a bunch!




Slowly, but ahead we go...

$ cat Inaros_advancing_20051106_utf8.txt | perl wc.pl

W: 44403 (MP: 177.612, PP: 88.806), %: 37.0025

4,242 words (which is, 42 hundreds and 42 units, i.e. the meaning of life, the Universe and Everything, twice as much :-)

I'm well behind the intended schedule, but it's a good pace considering the amount of work and off time I am having as of late, due to precarious health (flu vaccine), and other stuff...

By now, the poor Phoenicians and their Persian officers have been defeated by valient Samians... Things will be a bit slower now as the fleet arrives in Memphis and the final assault is prepared. Then, it will be time for a small trip over the Mediterranean, Syria, Asia Minor, and Hellas, in this order, as we follow the efforts of the Persian satraps to involucrate the Spartans into the fray and thus force the Delian League troops to return to the Hellas scenario, and let Egypt on its own.

It will be a fascinating trip!



Pre-NaNo (and II)

OK, final wordcount before NaNo. Local time, NaNo 2005 will start in Europe (CET) in, roughly, 17 minutes. For me, it's still 1 hour and 17 minutes ahead. Advantages (or not) of living in UTC. *grin*.

Thus, with my valient Samians just past the garrison in Kanopos, about to head against the Canaanites, it will be a really interesting starting point for the NaNo counter... :-)

Thus, for the record, final pre-NaNo wordcount: 40,161 words.

Good luck to everybody (Scott, finish that book! :-P ) and happy new pagan year!


Pre-NaNo (1)

$ cat Inaros_advancing_20051031a.txt | perl wc.pl

W: 39677 (MP: 158.708, PP: 79.354), %: 33.0641666666667

I mean, why should I do the Math when I can program the computer to do so for me? :-)

That means that I have 39,677 words, which corrrespond, roughly, to 33.1% of the planned 120Kw, and would be around 159 manuscripted pages, and about half the published pages (about 80 pages of printed pages in a typical A5 format, like a pocket book would be).

And this is almost the last actualization I will do before NaNoWriMo starts tonight.

I plan a further update which will reset my partial counter to 0 words, tonight. Then the goal of adding 50Kw in the following 30 days.

After I celebrate Samhain, that is.

In Wicca, the most blessed and sacred of the dates will start at the sunset(*), and marks the end of this year, the death of the God, the beginning of the Winter, and of the New Year. Time of cultivating the inner self, of instrospection of our darker corners, to explore the framework of the Chrone, when the Powers are closer to our physical world. It's the time to let the germen of new things to come to sleep and gain strength, to lie dormant in the darkness until the solstice will bring back the Light with the rebirth of the God. Samhain is the time of becoming one with the Lunar aspects of ourselves, and to explore the relationship between the sacred and the mundane in the Dark.

In Erisinism, it marks nothing in special, but nevertheless we are in the Aftermath, the last Season of the year, and the last Holiday will be Afflux, which falls in 50th Aftermath, or December 8th. Anyway, it's only fitting that, as Discordians, we celebrate the festivities we see fit, as per Divine inspiration, without any given rule if it fits the fnord of the cause...

Therefore, to all neo-pagans that celebrate Samhain (which, incidentally, is read as if written in English, "sawain", and it's the name of November in Irish Gaeilge), and to all the Christians that heredated it through St. Patrick (although they celebreate a different thing), Most Blessed Night of the Dead to you all!


* Note: tonight's Samhain if you live in the northern hemisphere of the planet, that is... If you live southernly, then it will be Bealtaine for you, which is the opposite and complimentary to Samhain... Celebrate with joy!


Nile, Nile, Nile... Courante tumultuesse!

(Paraphrasing the off-voice at the start of the film Astérix et Cléopatre)

Yep, added almost 4K words to the counter. Not all of them, my current batch is still on the Palm, as I prefer to have the context handy.

I had several (way too many!) problems depicting the arrival of the Delian League fleet to Kemet, remember? (search the archives for the exact posts). Well, I've solved several of them by a clever twist of the story and an intelligent handling of circumstances.

I cheated, OK.

After a chat with a local priest on a coastal little town, the Delian League has splitted in two, a head of 40 triereis (the two Samian squads) and the bulk of the fleet behind with the cargo ships. Our valiant Samians have strived and worked double time to reach the Canaanite fleet moving to attack the Rebellion by its rear. May the Force be with... Ops! Wrong track. [Changes track] Right. The Samians have finally arrived to Kanopos (Canopus), which gives ---at the time, we are travelling in a Time Warp, ok? Thus let's jump to the left, and then a step to the right... uh, well, OK---, it gives, I was saying, its name to that branch of the Hapi (Nile).

BTW, I learned that Nile comes through latin Nilus, greek Neilos, either from the semitic root nhr (*nah(a)r-, in arabic nahr) which means "river", or "current"; or from ancient babilonian nilum, flood. Both are possible, of course: nilum has no secrets, and nhr could be (personal, wild, just-for-fun, speculation from now on) *neheru in egyptian, which a greek would easily convert into *ne(h)eros. The pass from r to l is well documented in most languages, under certain circumstances; thus from *neheru <- *nehelos. Now, the "h" went probably mute, as greeks fancied rough spirit at the start of the word, but not in the middle, and this produced a natural lengthening of the second "e": (consider the hat, "^", as a macron) 'ê' -> 'i', which, on the other hand, is what's commonly happened to greek, from eta to "i".

Therefore, *neheru <- *ne(h)êlos <- *neilos.

Fun, isn't it? Yeah, well, I digress...

OK, the Samians will meet the Phoenicians first, and therefore ensue the presents Inaros gave Leocritos and Hegesagoras, which is archaeological evidence. Clever, uh? ;-)

Be well.




Not me -although I'm a bit too tired for my tastes- but Wilusa... Illion fell under the pawns of Agammemnon's.

Effectively, I have already finished Gisbert Haef's Troja. Again, he has managed to trap me, surprise me, astonish me... This trip back to the Bronze Era has been illuminating, indeed. At the risk or repeating myself, when I grow up as a writer, I want to be like him!

Now I'm back to The Libyan, and documenting myself on the Egyptians, thanks to an english translation of a Polish author titled The Twilight of Ancient Egypt. I Millenium BCE, by Karol Myśliwiec... It deals, among other times, with my period of Achaemenid Egypt... Got it at a great price (used, but in good condition) in Amazon Marketplace...




I have finally launched myself to read Gisbert Haef's Troja.

I was actually scared that after reading two other HF books on the Illiad, my last year Nano novel project (Damned Linneage, retelling the story of the family of OEdipos of Thebes as if it were historical fact, depicting as exact a Mykeanean culture as I may be able to), which was set some 100 years before the events of Troy, and the (entertaining but horrible) Brad Pitt's movie, I'd be too fed up with the subject and wouldn't enjoy the book. It's happened the same with Alexander the Great (thus I haven't yet read his books on him, though I will, later).

Anyway, I have enjoyed so much the novels I've read of Gisbert Haefs, and his way of writing, of dominating history, culture, warfare, characters, vocabulary, scene management, and basically every aspect of all his novels I've read so far (Hannibal, The First Death of Marcus Antonius and Hamilcar's Garden) that I was scared to spoil the joy because I was uninterested.

So, I've waited until the book called me. And it did. It's fantastic so far. He is certainly a master storyteller, one of the best I've met so far (okay, there are loads of fantastic writers all throughout History, don't push me to choose!).

Wilusa... The name given to Illion by the luvites, who were kin to the hittites, of indoeuropean origins... (see my note about it and Chariots of War in the PD of this entry).

Wilusa... It reminds me of times gone by, where men were so different to us and yet so similar... My greatest complaint of the recent Troy movie was that they changed a fantastic story for all times, to one mediocre only aplicable to the current, western civilization.

Like Gilgamesh (go and read it if you haven't yet!!!), the Illiad speaks of basic, pure, timeless human feelings, worries, the core of humanity... Now retold by Haefs, with a very different source and method, but, as far as I have read, the same background intention: to explore the foundations of humanity through its history and myths.

When I grow up (as a writer), I want to be like him... :-)

My novel has not progressed much, I'm pretty busy in RL and my writing time is so reduced I am intending to at least simply read a bit (and that's a victory)... Hopefully things will be better for next month, and for Nano. We'll see.

Ah, Wilusa...


Aside about Chariots of War: Apropos to Wilusa, and curiously, but probably not surprising at all, one of my favourite computer games is Chariots of War, published by Paradox/Slitherine (link here), (pretty nice guys in general).

It's a turn-based strategical game, with action 3D battles, based on the Eastern world, from Libya and Thrace to the west, to roughly Bactriana and Sogdiana in the East, based on Bronze age civilizations (Arzawas, Hittites, Luvites, Ugarites, etc... dozens of different tribes for all the (known) world, really fascinating) and its variety of units and necessities to play both short campaigns and the Grand Campaign (image), with all the world to conquer, is fascinating. I haven't even finished my only big scenario game ever (now for many, many hours), playing the Thraces, from the left upper corner... I'm currently the master of Greece, Asia Minor, most of Armenia, Assiria, Fenicia, Judea, and my (huge) army is pretty busy fighting riots all over my cities, fighting the (once powerful and almost winners, but currently very weak thanks to, mainly, yours faithfully) Hittites (whom I've pushed away from their origins), the Libyans and the Marhasians or Sakians, not sure right now...

One of the funniest moments of the game was when, emulating Alexander, I crossed the Dardanos and moved to conquer Troy... way cool! :-) The other cool moment was when I was about to lose all the cities in Asia, my poor armies crushed by enemy sparabara and cavalry, and I managed to create an army of heavy cavalry... Oh did I crushed them all under my heavy pawns!

Being such a great strategos myself (ahem!), my favorite combination of troops, given the limitations of the game, and when cities to provide troops are available, is an army of Massarti Spearmen, Sparabara Archers, and, either Pethalle Horse Archers or Qurbuti Cavalry, depending on the amount of sparabara I have, and the amount of spears I estimate the enemy will have... As for chariots, the one I like the most are Ne'arin Chariots (one driver, archer, which are light and maneuverable). For raw penetration power I prefer cavalry, bigger numbers and versatility, if you ask me... (be sure to check the unit list on their web site!).

BTW, I win nothing by telling you this, but I have had dozens of hours of pure fun and dispair playing this grand campaign... Next one will be starting as Persia (probably :-)


Not everything is writing

Effectively, while this silly cold (the third in a row, damned air conditioning!) has me basically recluded home, with headaches and sore coughing, I am enjoying, as circumstances allow, with a childhood animated cartoon.

The other day I bought, in a good deal, Ulysse 31, wonderful cartoon about Ulysses's Odiseia to return Earth and save his companions from a divine spell, in the 31st Century.

Truly wonderful... :-)

Of course, it's anachronistic, because neither the XXXI Century, nor the -XI Century are related to my novel, but oddly enough, the episode I am starting to see is Sphynx, which is a wonderful mix of Greek and Egyptian elements, like my novel will be when it's finished and polished... (ahem! :-)

As for reading, after finishing Scott's Men of Bronze (go and read it!), I am currently reading C. J. Kirwin's Finding the Persian Way. Cyrus the Great Travels in Ancient Persia. I thought it was a History manual, but it's actually a historical fiction novel about the great Persian king, when he was young. I am enjoying it a great deal, and, as always, HF is providing lots of information about the Persians, which is always useful. Besides, Kirwin has a direct, uncomplicated style I am getting used to (I am, as you may easily guess by reading this blog, a bit convoluted in my writing, and you should read me in Spanish!). I should try and learn from him, yessir...

As for documentation book, I bought three small hadbooks, about the Persians, the Phoenicians, and Egyptians. They will all be helpful for my book, even if the Persians book talk more about Alexander's Persians, and the Egyptians one stops right at the death of Psammeticus III. Grrr.

Well, extrapolation will have to do for these... As for the Phoenicians, they have a relatively preeminent role in this story, because Bagabuxsha (Megabyzos) was Syria's satrap, the ships where Phoenicians, and the Delian League will deal with them in Dor, and in Memphis. I'll have to eventually look for info about the Phrygians as well, but it will take time to get there, and I'll have to make a trip to Sparta and Athens first... (hehe :-)

Don't you love writing?

Shameless plug, you are warned: NaNoWriMo 2005 registrations are about to be opened (later today). The challenge: 50,000 words in the month of November.

See you there! ;-)



Small personal record

Yes, as you can see in my WIP counter, I have gone over 32,000 words (32 Kwords).

Why is this relevant? Well, it's a matter of records, and how you record different things.

My longest written work of fiction to the date, that I have recorded and can somewhat easily track, was my 2004 NaNoWriMo novel attempt, which is a "coherent" retelling of the leyend of OEdipus of Thebes, written as if they were historical facts, with as realistic as possible Mykeanean culture. Very interesting, and I almost got to the 50% of the story.

For novel-like-length stuff I've written, this is the fardest I have ever got in a plot, and it's still unbeated, with some 30,958 words. I'll probably re-take that story in the future, there's a lot of interesting stuff, dramatical pool and lots to learn for the modern, western Humans to learn from the Elders.

Thus, Damned Lineage is my longest fiction work in percentage of the story actually told.

Then was that long-tale-grown-into-short-novel what-if story about a possible past if Aléxandros Mégas (Alexander the Great) wouldn't have died at Babilon in 323BCE. Really fun to write, as it finally involved (good) Makedonian phalanxes and Roman (pre-Livy) legions. Not that Pyrrhus's phalanxes were not good, but Philippos's phalanxes were probably the best trained armies in the ancient world. It got up to 31,372 words when I stopped writing it (it was getting a bit boring, inventing history, but I may re-take it later, who knows?). Maximum number of words written.

Therefore, Aléxandros Megiston was my longest fiction work in number of words written (it's also the one with most battles in it, lots of cool battles, and a few preludes to what Pyrrhus and Hannibal did in the normal timeline).

That's why 32 Kwords was important. I have beaten myself. At 27% and 32,497 words, The Lybian has beaten one of my personal records. Now you can guess when I'll beat the other (around 60 Kwords, of course, which is the next goal).

As I plan to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo, with the goal of writing 50 Kwords more on the draft -- a bit cheating, but they will be 50 Kwords in 29 days nevertheless, Oct 31 night is Samhain (Irish, read as "Sawin"), which is the most important festivity in my religion, and the start of the New Year, I'll be too busy celebrating well into Nov 1st to actually write anything significant, -- I hope to add a bit chunk to the novel. If I start at 45 Kwords, I'll get around 90-100 Kwords by December. Not bad, but let's not sell the milk too fast... :-) (actually getting to 75 Kwords will be a feast for me, but let's aim for the stars, shall we?)

As for an update, I can tell you that after being at Dor, the Delian League fleet is arriving into Pelusium only to learn that the Phoenician fleet is on her way to Mareia and the rebelled towns in the West. Nice race against time, and a big, beautiful naval/fluvial battle, which I guess will take the next 5 or 6 Kwords of the draft.



Ages of Uncertainty

Or Uncertainty of Ages, depending on how you prefer to look at it.


* Darius I the Great was crowned at age 30 in the year 522 and died in 486. (36 years)
* Xerxes I reigned from 486 to 465. (21 years)
* Artaxerxes I reigned from 465 to 425. (40 years)

Let's tabulate this:

Darius : 522 - 486, 36 @ 30
Xerxes : 486 - 465, 21 @ ?
Achaemenes : 486 - 460/1, 26 @ ? (satrap)
Artaxerxes : 465 - 425, 40 @ ?

OK, let's start the Maths:

Darius was 30 when raised to King of Kings, and lived 36 years more => 66 years old. Xerxes and Achaemenes were both sons of Darius. Xerxes was the oldest son and had been designated heir as far as in 498, therefore we know that, at least, he lived 33 years, plus the age he had by then (he was prince-heir, ruler of Babylon as King's governor).

He must have been 16 years old, I'd say 18, but anyway, at least he lived 33+16=49 years.

Achaemenes was born before 486. Actually he was born before 495, because he was the stratégos commanding the fleet at Salamis in 480, and he must have been at least 15 years old, probably more. He was, at least, 15+30=45 years old when he died, probably at least 50 if we take he was about 20 at the Battle of Salamis (and Thermopilai! the year before the Battle of Plataea). Probably more, he may have been already born when Darius was made King, for all that we know.

Now Egypt.

When Ahmoseh/Amasis died in 526 he was pretty old, after ruling for a lot of years, since 570 (when he was already an adult). Around 65 years old, I'd say. His son, Psammetichus, ruled for a single year, killed by Kambyses in 525. He was young when he was crowned Pharaoh, and already had son(s) and wife(s). Lets put it about 25 years old (a pretty, round number).

Inaros was Psammeticus III's son. He died circa 454. Therefore, he was, at least 524-454=70 years old (in the event he was born after his father's death). Therefore he was, at least, 64 years old when he started the rebellion and, supposedly, killed Achaemenes.

He was pretty old for a rebel, don't you think? I mean, okay, not that a big deal. But a bit too old to lead an impetuous through the Delta of the Nile he does seem to me.

Now, before doing calculations, yesterday and today, I was toying with an Inaros of about 40-50 years old, in his prime. 60 is a bit past his prime, maybe he was forced to wait for the death of Darius to reach Mareia before daring to rebel against Achamenes.

Another possibility is that he was not Psammetichus's son, but simply claimed to be so, to give some credibility to his claims to the throne as king of the Lybians, and even Pharaoh (mentioned by scholars a Psammetichus IV, otherwise unknown; others equate him to Ramses XI. Considering the number of names Pharaohs had, it could very well be, I dunno).

This is pretty important, as my take on the character will have to be changed if I believe his claims as they were transmitted to us by Greek historians like Thukidides. We do know that the new satrap of Egypt gave important adminitration posts to both Inaros's and Amyrteus's sons. If this force me to change Amyrteus's age as well (and make him older than the 20-30's I'm guessing) I'll hang myself from the foremast by the thumbs for a while... :-P

Anyway, History is interesting, uh?

Oh, the book! I've updated my work in progress counter with almost 3,000 more words. However I'm writing slower now, because Men of Bronze is sucking my writing time on the train and cafés... OTOH, I'm having such a great time... :-)

I'll get the Greeks to Egypt in time to play their part, worry not ;-)



Men of Bronze

All right, it's already here.

Strangely enough, Caiman decided to send me the two books I ordered through the Amazon.fr Marketplace in different packages, instead of one. It would have been easier, methinks, and I'd have my book on Persian history and culture, instead of waiting who knows for how long... I hope it's not too much...

In the meantime, Men of Bronze is right on my hands (not when I'm actually typing, mind you :-)

It's heavy, though not as much as it might appear from it's thickness. The cover is gorgeous, even better than the available pictures of it. The Real Thing is way cool. Maps, chronology... Everything is carefully set, the typography of chapter titles, table of contents, headers, and lots of small details that help to get into the story... One things I found "interesting" is that paper sheets are cut unevenly wide, and somewhat irregularly... It gives a tactile feeling of old papyrus... If this is deliberate, add up one more point, Medallion! (if not and it's just a print error, take note, it's a cool effect).

As for the book itself, it looks very professionally edited, they may be "young" but look certainly professional (only caught a couple of irrelevant typos).

I'll start reading it tonight (I mean later tonight), though it's calling me, but there're things to be done for me before I get to the book (house chores, cleaning and general maintenance) bleh :-P

BTW... Memnon to be released in June 2006!? Now, I would be stressed... poor Scott... Way to go, Scott!

Now, back to research (I need to decide which route took the damned Delian fleet from Kypros to Egypt: direct line, 400+ kilometers through the spring Mediterranean; indirect line, down through Syria, Lebanon, Palestine (all of them hostile coasts!). Themerchant, support ships would have made that, specially with the Spring northly/northwesternly winds (easy average of 10 knots ~ 22 hours) but, could the triereis make the same trip unharmed?

I'd bet they could (and my scholars tell me they knew how to sail far from the coasts) but, after all, they were made of pinewood, and the Mediterranean can be tough... I'll keep researching, but I think my best bet will be to take the most direct route (which, after all, it's the most reasonable one if the weather was nice), and we'll keep on going from there... Round two (i.e. next draft revision will take care of these kind of details, anyway... :-)



More Inaros and Mail

I have added some more thousand words to the The Lybian draft. At the moment, the Delian League fleet is departing Cyprus towards Egypt. Very interesting part, from a character developing point of view, as well as from a hoplological one! Great fun I am having on my daily commuting train trips back and forth (basically about 90% of my writing time!), yeah!

Considering most of the rest of the book, the POV of the Egyptians and the Greeks will be closely related (Amyrtaeus and Argiros), I'll need to set up very clear and strong personalities from them all, so they interact well enough.

I'll have to do the same with the Persians and Megabyzos, the Persian main character. That'll be fun... :-P

And I'll take the chance to give a quick kick on the back to the Spanish National Mail Service, that yesterday gave me a boucher informing me that my Caiman Amerique (via Amazon.fr) postal packet has already arrived and that I could pass and retrieve from to-day and for the next forthnight.

What a surprise for me! Less than one week from Miami to Spain!

What dissilution when they told me that, somehow, the postman had failed to return the books to the postal office of my district.


So I'll have to return tomorrow... Grrr...

Why am I so disappointed?

Because I ordered a book about the Persians I am very willing to read (need lots of documentation!) and because I also ordered Scott Oden's Men of Bronze, which I've been recommended, I was willing to read, it will be very useful for The Lybian, and, well, I cyber-know the author, and he's always been helpful and overall very nive with me... He managed to finish the damn thing, and to publish it! I have to learn from him!

BTW, you can get to Scott's blogger following the links on the sidebar of this very same blog... :-P

OK, enough ranting, I feel better... :)

I'll take the chance to send my blessings to cyber-friends who are going through hard times... Hugs...




Historical Novels may be becoming fashion... Um, maybe it's time to finish something and send it to publishers!

I am talking about the HN collection the most important newspaper in Spain, El País (www.elpais.es), is releasing... Some books by Gisbert Haefs, Patrick O'Brian, Umberto Eco (damn, I already have them all), and many others... 46 books in total, released Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (1st one, Bear Cave Clan (guessed English title), by Jean M. Auel, was free with the Monday (to-day) newspaper, unknown price tag for the rest, I estimate around 4 euros)...

This adds up to the collections published by several History monthly magazines... If not fashion, in Spain, HN is trendy...



Troubled waters

If Simon & Garfunkel will allow me, of course...

I thought this was a good post title for my next blog entry, as I am writing the "acquisition" and arrival of the Greek navy fleet from Kypros to the Delta.

It's incredible how many things we give for granted that, when you actually start to write your ideas down on paper (electronic paper in my case) you are absolutely at a lost, risking, otherwise, being extremely anachronistic.

A an example: when your camp wakes up in the morning (probably by the kyprian cock), do they take their breakfast? Did greeks eat more than once a day, or just one? (dinner?). Sigh, another lookup of info on books and the Internet...

Another, more elaborated, example: the Delian League fleet (huge fleet, of 200 trierei/trirremes and some 150 merchant, support ships, not mentioned but likely, as the warships were not meant to carry lots of water or food aboard) arrives to Kypros. Big island, many beaches. I just grab one, and deply the jnavy for a good night's sleep. We know that the Hellenes would take their trierei out of the water whenever they could, because, not knowing how to "seal" the wood planks of their hulks, they tied to get them to dry or they would spoil themselves and sink.

Therefore, they start moving the trierei to the (big) beach. Some stay behind, to protect the whole operation, after all a trieres is not a simply boat, it's some 32 meters beam, and carries more than 200 men on board (most of them oarsmen). So you get the ship to the water line (careful, specially if there are some strong waves), minutiously measuring the water depth, and calculating where the tide is, to (gently) get the ship on the sand. Then move it up, to the dried part of the beach, put on the pillons to keep it upright, (while the psiloi, light infantry, and the epibatai, heavy infantry, about 15 in total, create a defensive perimeter around the ship, just in case). Nest start mounting tents, fires, and so on...

In the meantime, the next ship starts performing the same operation. And after it, the next one. It took some 5 hours for a Roman army of 4 legions to make their fortified castrum after a walk, and when the camping site had been secured, and the engineers had started to delimit the streets, where the walls will go, and so on, some 15 kilometers away the last legionnaire is closing their last castrum.

I can imagine the beaching of such a fleet to be of a similar magnitude. Calculate a very well trained crew, in ideal conditions, can beach their trieres in half an hour. This is really fast. And let's suppose that, for a long enough beach, we can have several trierei beaching at the same time, say 3 of them, and that beaching operations overlap some 15 minutes (i.e., mid-way of the previous one). Then we have, every 15 minutes, 3 ships beaching for some half an hour. 200/3 = 66 (roughtly), this is 66 waves of 3 trierei every 15 minutes...

Let's see:

Time in minutes after beginning of beaching operations, waves show number of ships beaching at the time.

T.... 1 2 3 4 ... 65 66
000 3 0 0 0 ... 00 00
015 3 3 0 0 ... 00 00
030 0 3 3 0 ... 00 00
045 0 0 3 3 ... 00 00
xxx 0 0 0 0 ... 03 00
yyy 0 0 0 0 ... 03 03
zzz 0 0 0 0 ... 00 03
TTT 0 0 0 0 ... 00 00

How much is time TTT? 990 minutes, which is, exactly, 16 hours and a half.

Whoah! Therefore, they must have been beaching at a much higher pace, or they wouldn't have time to row from place to place, nor to get the ships back to the water. And we know they did so. Therefore, we have to reduce such an operation to a shorter time.

How? Let's suppose that the navy organized itself, internally, in small squadrons of some 10 ships. Why 10? Well, Athens provided some 100 ships to the Egyptian Expedition, and there were 10 demei (tribes) n Athens, and they did manage their army by demos (at this time, 460BCE, the trierarchies had lost most of its power) and they did so for the phalanx in Marathon, each taxis was formed by a tribe. It's not clear how they did, and I'm still researching it, but, well, it looks reasonable.

If every squad would beach at, more or less, the same time, in a smaller area of the beach, to keep more or less, in a small cluster of fellow neighbourhs and slaves that knew ones anothers, we have only 20 beaching operations. Considering the complexer method, let's suppose they took the whole hour to beach the squad. This makes, if we still allow 3 beaching operations (each side of the beach, and center, and the next wave using the open spaces, according to the tide), then we have 20/3 < 7... Less than 7 hours. Better, but still insufficient.

Maybe they could do such beaching operations in bigger waves (4 or 5 places at the same time), who knows? a more normal sized navy of 90-100 trierei, would use some 3 hours in this way. A lot, but still maneageable. maybe the Kyprian (later Egyptian) Expedition was of such a scale that it wasn't meant to be beached, but after disembarking, the ships would stay at the sea, harassing the Kyprian harbors...

At this moment, I am skillfully ignoring these issues, but I am all too well aware of them, for the next revision of the draft. So many things to learn! On the other hand, these kind of things are important, because they may explain many things that are obscure in so many historical, military events. Hoplology and Sciences may help to disentangle many historical, dark sources, when put to a good use. This calls for a marriage (or, at least, a "getting along") between all Disciplines of Human Knowledge, all pushing in the same direction, with rythm.

Like the oarsmen of a trieres.

And speaking of troubled waters, the novel is sailing forward at a good pace (considering I'm mostly writing it while I commute from home to work and back on the train). Don't you love writing on the go?



Chapter Two

I have killed Haxâmanish.

Actually, I have written how Ienheru (Inaros) killed Haxâmanish (Achaemenes) and took over Papremis.

That closes IONs A, B, C and D, with about some 18,500 words of first draft, where I know there's a lot missing, and a whole lot that will be cut out...

It's been pretty interesting so far... Actually, it's been extremely interesting. I have learned loads of incredible stuff about people that have amazed me, and about those cultures that hosted them, the incredible Hellenic culture, through Athens and the League of Delos; the amazing Achaemenid Persian culture, and the hundreds of cultures that surrounded it---how much have I missed until now!---and the Egyptian culture, which, I must admit, I am still exploring... With so much Egyptian mystical thingies going around in the world, about the far Bronze Age dinasties, it's hard to find info about the Achaemenid Egypt, but I'll do my best to do a fair enough job for them---after all they are the stars of the book, sort of!---, if not in the first draft, in the next revisions.

What's coming now, you may be wondering? I'll tell you: more research, more thinking, and the arrival of the Delian League ships to Egypt from Cyprus, the fight up the Nile until Memphis, and the victory over the Persians in Memphis, except for the White Castle... That's, roughly, IONs E, F, G and H, and together with the ones already written, will be Part I.

Wordcount guessing update: 1/2 Part I ~ 18,500 => Part I ~ 37,000 words. If the nest two parts are like this one, that will make about 111,000 words. Add the words of the Prelude and the Conclusion, which are about 1/4 of a part (2 IONs) and we'll get around 120,000 words for the first, under-researched, under-developed draft...

Not bad... :-)

But we'll see along the path... In the meantime, I'm enjoying some sailing time around the coasts of sunny, lovely Cyprus. (I mean, that's what my Delian League characters are doing on the novel, I wish I could be sailing around Cyprus!!!)

sigh... :-)

En fin, in the meantime, I'd like to thank all of you (yes the 5 of you) that have been following this adventure, for your warmful company, and your unvaluable help... Thank you, really. Let's go on with this, shall we?



Papremis, take IIa

OK, I could have used the existing thread, but this way I generatw more blog entries :-)

The thing now is: how could an army able to resist a siege in Memphis against the lybian/egypt rebels and the Greek army/navy that went to assist them for about four years have lost the battle at Papremis against the rebls only?

Hoplologically speaking, there are certain possibilities, but all of them are a bit far-fetched, to say the least. First of all, I dunno how was Papremis at the time, so I'm making up most of this, also considering that the information of these events is basically close to nil. The setup is that Papremis has a fluvial, important harbor, not far from the town, which is located in "high" land, to avoid the annual flooding of the Nile. The conecction between harbor and town could be walled, but it's unlikely, as it would have served to channel the waters into the city in the annual floodings: not a brilliant idea, really... But if physical conditions about terrain are given, it could be possible.

In any way, and therefore, before the flood, the town is (must be) sieged by the rebels, who have (necessarily) taken control of the harbor as well, when the satrap's forces arrive. After some fluvial conflicts to try and re-take the harbor under loyal control, the scene is set-up for the ground battle.

The only know fact about this is that Achaemenes was killed or badly hurt by Inaros during that battle, and that the rebels won the upper hand, and managed to ask for Greek help to storm into Memphis.

Now, the fun begins: the satrap's army must have been good and strong, after all it was Lower Egypt's army, and it's remnants, without a power figure to back 'em up, managed to resist the combined force of Lybian rebels and Delian League army for four years, giving time to Artaxerxes I to send Megabyzos with a huge army (to be discussed sometime in the future) and re-take Memphis and siege the rebel and allied forces.

Therefore, it was not a tiny, bad, or poorly equiped army. It must have been abig, strong one, considering the Egyptians relationship to the Persians, and this being the second big time rebellion (the first one ca. 485 bloodily repressed) I wouldn't think Achaemenes would have taken it too lightly, but instead, in his place, I would have sent, if not most, at least a big and powerful army, to smash the rebellion, and as a showoff/display of strength and power to the populace, just in case anyone else thought they could rebel as well...

thus, we can agree in a powerful, loyal-side army, with Persian and Median forces displaced to Egypt, plus mercenaries, plus local conscripts, and a so-far successful rebel army, formed mainly by mercenaries Inaros's money could muster from the local garrisons, and cities in the western Delta (I have included greek Cyrenaic mercenaries, as they fall within this sphere of influence) and then by conscripted lybians and egyptians following their "rightful" pharaoh, plus anything Inaros could have had under his arm when living in Mareia, I've supposed so far a palace guard (he was of royal blood, after all... If Darius didn't kill him, why leave him completely unprotected?), and some secretly trained pluses... therefore, including all the recruiting he could have done after winning over Mareia, Naucratis and Sais, he couldn't have had such a big army to use at Papremis...

Therefore, how does a small army win a bigger, better prepared one?

Motivation is one way. Sound strategical and tactical work is another. Even pushing both into one, it was a tremendous feat... My take is that the mercenaries Inaros had, in my case the Cyrenian mercenaries, managed to take over a part of Achaemenes's army long enough to allow Inaros to fight him. Face to face combat may seem romantic, but it's feasible that both generals were up-front ahead of their armies and seeking each other; at least Persian kings were expected to lead their armies personally, despite the accounts we have by Greek historians, and Darius III's own behavior before Alexander II of Makedon... I can't see why Egyptian military traditions were to be different (Ramses II is always depicted at the Battle of Kadesh leading the army on his chariot...).

Once Inaros wounded/killed Achaemenes, morale on the persian side would have fallen very quickly, and the rest, as it is said, is History.

Another possibility is a massive (or at least big enough) betrayal of locally conscripted egyptians in the Persian, faced at the possibility of liberation from Persian rule... But that's not documented, and it would have weakened the Persian position for the battle of Memphis, which is unlikely, given the results...

Okay, the dilemma is served, what happened? I may start answering it later today, when I resume my writing, as I am writing exactly this part, but your thoughts and insights will be very welcome anyway...



Battle of Papremis, how?

Okay, things are like this:

Rebel lybian prince of saitian origins has managed to collect an army big enough to present battle to Lower Egypt Satrap Achemenes's army. The battle happened at Papremis ca. 461BCE, some 100 Km down the Nile from Memphis.

Inaros won, and killed Achemenes. The trick is: how?

I'm setting things up this way: Inaros's army is blocking Papremis harbor and sieging the city when the Egyptian-Persian army arrives. It seems logical that after negotiations are conducted (and failed) the Satrap must have tried to get Papremis harbor back into his control, because that way he could reinforce Papremis garrison (necessarily small) and take the rebels in a clamp movement.

Now, fluvial battles and night incursions to re-take the harbor must have failed, because we know they had a big, ground battle, where Inaros killed Achemenes (in personal combat? romantic but doubtful).

I have imagined Papremis with a walled town and walls that could even extend to the harbor, but this is not necessary for the story to work out well. Nevertheless it would have made sense, and my analysis comes from this suposition. Even if Papremis could be isolated from her harbor, taking control of it would cut the rebels' ability to receive support from other cities down the Nile, water, food, etc... what's bad for the enemy is good for you, uh?

So, does this make any sense?

And, better, any reliable (or demi-reliable) maps of Papremis I could work on? *grin*

And worry not, we'll be back to this discussion (and much better, even) when we talk about Memphis, and how a composite force of Egyptian rebels and Greek forces (200 triremes!) weren't able to take Memphis fort in 5 years! Sounds like fun? Sure it is! :-)

thanks, I'll eagerly wait for your suggestions



OK, I'm back, and back for good...

Since I returned I added several words to my wordcount, and ION#2 is about to fall into place... IONs #3 and #4 should be short, sweet, and right to the point, and it should close Chapter 1...

The novelty is that I wrote the new words on the Palm, by handwriting. Fun, though a bit slower... The thing is a mate of mine has told me he's giving me a folding keyboard for the PDA. Tomorow he should be bringing it in. If it works with my Palm model, it will be an additional boost in productivity.

Not that it is a better writing solution than my old AlphaSmart, Alfie is really fantastic, but I lack PCs with PS/2 ports, and the Mac solution is really uncomfortable. The Palm has, however, USB ports and, additionally, the PalmOS works like a charm with GNU/Linux, therefore I can use it more conveniently...

Alfie is great, but if this works, I will probably change my writing equipment... Writing on the go is the way to scratch more words to every train conmuting, subway trip and waiting times... Even coffee breaks! ;-)

I'll keep you updated... Cheers!



If you're wondering why I'm not blogging as of late, it's because I'm off for some holidays, and I was so excited about it that I forgot to tell you! :-)

Good things about the holidays: rest, a second hand, brand new Palm Tungsten T3, upgraded my laptop to GNU/Linux Ubuntu 5.04, friends, family, great weather, sea!

Bad things: cleaning, hard work, some family issues, and very light writing. I'll catch up with my wordcount when I'm back, but I've been, nevertheless, working on it, and I have some hundreds to add, anyway, so worry not :-)

I'll back the 16th, till then, I'll have scarce Inet access, so if I don't write, 'till then, and have a good time!


The Lybian

Okay, thanks a bunch to Scott Oden for his suggestions for a working title for project codename "Inaros". I'll stick with his suggestion of The Lybian, which I like a lot (sounds better in english than in spanish, though, El libio).

BTW, as promised, I started writing, and having trouble, but I'll manage, I guess. I hope.

On the analysis phase I identified 22 items of narration. Item of narration (I.O.N) is my coined-term for story events that must be narrated in a sequential way. They can roughly be equivalent to chapters, but they need not. Actually I am breaking them into scenes, parallel scenes, at that, in which I am introducing characters.

The "problem" is, I have identified 22!!! My current estimation, based upon what I've written so far, throws an average of 5,900-6,200 words per ION!!! This is, the novel draft can be estimated at somewhere between 129,800 and 136,400 words! At 250 words per manuscripted page (which is a fairly standard metric in the publishing world, apparently) this throws a grand totale of 512-546 manuscripted pages, with averages of 23.6-24.8 pages per ION.

"Traditionally" (which is, in my two previous novel adventures), IONs were much shorter. For example, in Damned Lineage, my NaNoWriMo 2004 novel (which got almost mid-way at 30,000+ words), IONs averaged some 12-14 manuscripted pages... What's going on with me? Am I getting much verboser? Is this story complexer than my Mykenaean recreation of the myths of OEdipus? Humphr... Also, it took me a real world month to write those... And about the same for my Alexander "what-if" story, which is some 32K-words... Therefore, it will take me some 5 months of real world time (with few books reading!) to just write the first draft of the story... grrr... I am supposed to start my Visigoths novel in November (that's just 3 months to write this sucker... Ops!). We'll see...

Well, I'll add a counter that I'll update from time to time so you can check how I'm doing... So far, I'm about 2170 words, including title, TOC, and other metainfo... Let's say I have some 2130 words into the story... 8 pages of manuscripted first draft. Not bad for basically one day of writing, uh?

Of course, lots of it will get gone on revision. But nevertheless... it will be big... I better try to make it good :-)

Thanks for your support and understanding for the next years of novelling, I will need help, and your patience... (forward-thinking I got, uh? ;-)

OK, rant finished. Kallisti!


Book tittle wanted

All right, I'm almost ready to start writing the 1st draft of my Greek/Persian/Egyptian novel, at last!

The project codename is Inaros, but as you may guess, it's a bad working tittle. Therefore I admit votes and suggestions for a working tittle.

This is the one paragraph synopsis:

Lower Egypt is in rebellion, and the greatest powers on the Eastern Mediterranean Sea are there to fight for it: the growing force of Athens and her Delian League, and the huge Achaemenid Persian Empire. Three civilizations clash at the God-river Nile, and the result will determine who will rule in the Mediterraean, and, eventually the fate of Western Civilization.

My thoughts on it (in no particular order):

1) The Egyptian Expedition
2) The Egyptian Disaster
3) Rebellion in Egypt
4) The Egyptian Vector
5) The Inaros's Rebellion
6) Inaros

Actually, those are all pretty lame tittles... But I cannot find a great one. Anyway, I will start to write pretty soon. You can help me now, or suffer a bad tittle for the following months... >:-)



When the Real Thing is not enough

When you are researching a topic for your novel, story, etc and Ctesias is your (almost) only source, you know you are in trouble.

He was famed as one of the greater liars of the Ancient Times. Lucian of Samosata, an author I have started to read recently, (and to love deeply, he was good!) clearly exposes (exposed?) so in many of his works. Ctesias was a liar.

When Thukidides barely mentions something in 3 paragraphs, and Diodorus in a couple more paragraphs, and Ctesias has a couple of pages, you are in deep trouble.

This is, more or less, the situation I find myself researching information about the so-called Inaros's Rebellion, ca. 465BCE, and the Athenian help forces sent to assist him against the new Great King of the Medes, Artaxerxes I. This is an old project of mine, Hellas in Egypt, with Persians and ships and basically every single hoplological situation one can dream of (phalanxes, skirmishers, naval battles, sieges, escapades, lots of exhausting work, and all kind of war niceties, at least there wasn't, at the time, the term "collateral effects": you raped, burned, chomped and basically did whatever, and it was okay, such is war. Nowadays we have a kind of sissy morals).

Thus the story, if well told, should be good. Indeed! The problem is, the Egyptians lost, the Greek lost and they won. Therefore, understandably, the Greek historians barely mention it, as a small episode in the grandeur of Perikles's powerful, and more powerful everyday, Athens.

If you can help, I'll be thankful. Anyway, I need to write this in order not to go crazy with the Visigoths. It will help me to slow down a bit, and I will be writing! :-)



STOP software patents!

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We are asking our representatives in the European Parliament to save Europe from software patents by following the Buzek-Rocard-Duff amendments.

The Software Patents Directive, as approved by the European Council of Ministers, would legalise US-style Software Patents in the European Union.

How you can help
If that happens, software developers will no longer own what they write and can be sued for selling or distributing their own software. This would not only endanger your job, but the entire European software sector.

On Wed the 6th of July, the European Parliament will have the last chance to prevent this. To do so, 367 of the 732 members must be present and vote for the right amendments.

Goths and History

Investigating for your novel is fun, but you cannot get lost on it, as we have just discussed, or you'll never write a single line of it.

On the other hand, you cannot just make up History and be proud of it, for it will be a lie: call it Fantasy and be proud of it! (remember Lucian of Samosata, which incidentally I'm currently reading, pretty interesting author, indeed!) But it's History and historical novel or fiction what we are dealing with in here, Fantasy has its place elsewhere.

I am investigating the Goths, specifically I'm concentrating on the Visigoths, a.k.a. Tervingi, Getae, Gutons, etc on the Sources.

Problem is, the Sources are not necessarily trustier than any other current author that could write the History of its People (or others). We are used to manipulation of truth, and how easy it is to set in stone that someone is, indeed, the Bad Guy (do you remember "terrorism" and its, say, "malleable" nature?). I mean, victors write History, and most sources on Goths were Roman or Greek (and then, most when it was a Roman province).

Tacitus, Cassiodorus, Jordanes, Orosius, &c . . . Sorting through their works is like moving in moody waters. If you add to the mix Ulfila's bible translation, the first and basically only "Germanic" text from the old times, things get really ugly. I put 'Germanic' between double quotations, because the Germanic origins of the Goths can be doubted. At least the origins as we thought they were. Some authors point to Alphonse X's and Jordanes's texts to show the Baltic origins of the Goths, others suggest they are from Jatt (Indo-Iranian) origins, although, apparently, that hypothesis is very discredited nowadaus, and others that they were Germanic, but not quite as we thought they were, with very different origins (and therefore, probably, societies and culture).

Which path to follow when writing them?

I'll let you know when I find out. In the meantime I'm watching the nicer and uglier faces of Science and Scientific Method. Which I do like. And not.


The hardships of documentation

Documenting yourself for a historical novel isn't easy. It takes some guts, lots of patience, and *organization*.

Guts, because you have to read lots and lots, about things you didn't know, or you thought you knew, but now are starting to realize you weren't even that close.

Patience because getting to the information isn't always easy. The further you go to the past, the hardest is getting reliable information. Any kind of useful information. Historical, archaeological, hoplological, cultural, linguistic, social . . . You name it, and I can show you what we don't know it's about 90% of what we think we could know about it, which will probably raise up to 99% once we dig a bit under the surface . . . Besides, once you have that information, you find that more is less, because your favourite historian of the time was, well, biased, and the next one gives completely different numbers, names, places or even events. What's right? What happened? Heh, that's where the fun really starts . . .

Organization because, well, you are dealing with zillions of facts, data, names, places, movements, situations, most of them unknown to you before the fact, and you must become *intimate* with them, or it won't work. *Organiçação* as the saying goes . . . *Get Things Done*? I wish I could . . . Anyway, complexity is my third agnomen (after Simius Excalibor, I am called Difficultas. OK, I am not, but you know how this works, right?), I'll manage . . . (I hope)

Lastly, it takes actually starting to write. Alaric? It will be in NaNoWriMo, next November. And I will finish it. I would like to. Not necessary (except for publication) but nice, nevertheless . . . It will be done, yeah.

*Bí go maith* (which is irish for "be good", now that's an official EU language, I can do a bit of a show of my habilities, ahem :-).


New blog? OK!

OK, I start a new blog, this one with a focused spirit in History and related to my Historical Novelling interests.

I will mostly write in English in this one, while Spanish will be the main language in my LiveJournal, but expect some posts in Spanish, Latin, or any other language from time to time. It comes with the Job Description, sorry :-)

Well, to give a focus to this blog, it will be about discussing History for my novels, and any related subject that can be born from those discussions. Wish me luck.