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?