$ 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!