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Across the Burning Sands Discussion

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14 minutes ago, phillos said:

More than the other two books it feels like the Unicorn book works better if you read the short stories before it.  He explains what happened to Shono in the book, but it's better if you experienced it.  He kinda runs down Chagatai and his motivations, but again it's better if you see it directly from him and the Moto in that short story.   It feels like a very real extension of the stories that came before it rather than it's own story and that's sort of how I treated it.  As a much longer entry in the regular fictions.  The other two did feel more like complete stories.

I think this book did a good job of showing you what it's like to travel down the Sand Road, and what the outside perspective is of Rokugan.  Since that is a big part of the Unicorn identity then this was the most appropriate place to explore that.  Now when they talk about the Sand Road, Qamarist, the Caliphate, Djinn and/or Sorcery we have a much better idea of what that actually looks like in the setting.  I was certainly crying out for that.

I feel like the Phoenix book concentrated on characters more that setting, and that may be why I responded to it more.  The Scorpion and Unicorn both did heavy lifting in the setting and lore arenas and then chose to really only concentrate on a single lead.  I feel like Yojiro and Shono both get a good arc.  In the Phoenix book I feel like Spooky gave enough time to all three leads to give them an arc as well as flesh out some secondary characters.  Though at the same time I don't feel like that book did alot of setting and lore heavy lifting.  We are introduce to the Kaito, but that's shown through Kosori mostly and then the appendix stuff.  So it doesn't really take up too much away from the story and character work.

yeah, the Phoenix book felt like a story, I genuinely cared for the characters.  The two other books felt like what you would find in a section of the RPG book (lore, setting etc). And then, strangely, the "lore" part at the end of the unicorn book is the weakest of the 3 books by going way too wide and not explaining the crunch that actually matters enough (meishodo and what it really is, death priests, ujik-hai customs etc).

weiiiird.

Edited by Avatar111

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Was this the first time we saw the mention of how the marriage wording tripped up the Unicorn? (Customary being read differently between the two sides)

 

As for the novella as a whole, I think I enjoyed this one more than the Phoenix one. The fact that it felt more ties into the other fiction helped. My biggest complaint is that it was a novella. The story felt like it would have benefited from being told in a longer format; allowing more exploration of the characters.

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Agreed.  It could have been longer.  I appreciated that in the fiction the Ide feel real guilty about all the diplomatic breakdowns the Unicorn have found themselves in lately.  It maybe isn't their fault, but it is their responsibility and it's been a major part of the Unicorn's story in the new continuity.

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On 4/18/2019 at 11:35 AM, sndwurks said:

I am more curious how she is going to react to the Phoenix Clan and their screams of "HERESY!"

The image of Phoenixes as Sisters of Battle is quite amusing.

 

I have to raise an eyebrow at Shinjo's original mortal followers still being alive a century after they left the Empire when she divided her hordes.

But overall this was a very enjoyable book. Can't wait to see Shono get his crystal replacement eye.

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I realise that I'm a couple of months late, but we only just got this book over here.

There were a number of great quotable lines from the novella - "I take no responsibility for the Moto"; "She speaks not a word of Rokugani; how is it that she is better at giving you orders than I am?"

I'm also quite happy that it wasn't just Shono's cleverness that let him outwit the sorceress (she's a chimera, surely).  It was his innate valuing of the Unicorn's favoured tenet of bushido - Compassion.  The Ifrit helped him because he cared about the Ifrit, even when they first met.

It strikes me as ironic that Unicorn magic is seen as alien and wrong by the Rokugani and by the Qamarists.

There were a great many shout-outs to bits of the old Burning Sands lore, without using it directly.

Did anyone else spot the passing European, with his Renaissance-style clothes?  That puts an interesting spin on the Battle of White Stag.

As for the fluff at the back, I found it full of interesting hooks - I want to find out more about the Suhili and their ongoing battles against the monstrous minions of a destructive god.  They and the Crab could have a great time exchanging stories.

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16 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

I realise that I'm a couple of months late, but we only just got this book over here.

There were a number of great quotable lines from the novella - "I take no responsibility for the Moto"; "She speaks not a word of Rokugani; how is it that she is better at giving you orders than I am?"

I'm also quite happy that it wasn't just Shono's cleverness that let him outwit the sorceress (she's a chimera, surely).  It was his innate valuing of the Unicorn's favoured tenet of bushido - Compassion.  The Ifrit helped him because he cared about the Ifrit, even when they first met.

It strikes me as ironic that Unicorn magic is seen as alien and wrong by the Rokugani and by the Qamarists.

There were a great many shout-outs to bits of the old Burning Sands lore, without using it directly.

Did anyone else spot the passing European, with his Renaissance-style clothes?  That puts an interesting spin on the Battle of White Stag.

As for the fluff at the back, I found it full of interesting hooks - I want to find out more about the Suhili and their ongoing battles against the monstrous minions of a destructive god.  They and the Crab could have a great time exchanging stories.

Yeah I liked it too, mostly.  I didn’t like the overly simplistic ham-fisted Muslim/Christian stand-ins, I’d like the setting to remain as fantastical and unique as possible, but all in all I enjoyed it as my first taste of an L5R novella.

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Besides all the cultural stuff, I also really enjoyed Shono as a PoV...when he decided to do things, he DID them, and did them well. 

 

Also looking forward to whatever will be the continuation here.

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I finally was able to read it. So... quite a lot of information about this new version of the Burning Sands. Has someboy been able to put together a map, even a rudimentary one, of the world outside Rokugan and the travels of the Unicorn? I find interesting that the Iuchi Horde never returned. A plot hook for a later developement?

 

Edited by Mon no Oni

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51 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Just finished it, and really liked it.

Also slightly concerned about the description of the cliff-face-sized icon of the Empire of unspeakably evil sorcerors: a stylised sun with wings.

I can't help but think that sounds familiar.

Well we have already had hints that the Talisman of the Sun could be a very bad thing in other fictions.  I'm really looking forward to the "Djinn" story line actually having some more impact on the wider story rather then the single Unicorn/Phoenix story we've seen so far and the hints and implications that it may be linked to the elemental imbalance.

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Agreed. But outside the novella, I've not seen any indication that it's not just a random symbol but the emblem of the Renpet Empire, who were apparently the big bad that Shinjo fought. 

And the thing animating the 'undead assassins' seemed a lot scarier than the antaeus-esque djinn (who I loved as a character - "Well, she said 'guest' and I have to take her orders literally...those ropes look uncomfortable....")

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3 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Agreed. But outside the novella, I've not seen any indication that it's not just a random symbol but the emblem of the Renpet Empire, who were apparently the big bad that Shinjo fought. 

And the thing animating the 'undead assassins' seemed a lot scarier than the antaeus-esque djinn (who I loved as a character - "Well, she said 'guest' and I have to take her orders literally...those ropes look uncomfortable....")

Have you the book in hardcopy or electronic version?

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2 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Epub 

Okay, you won't have the lore section at the back then.

MANTICORES

Also known as sphinxes, manticores are terrible and powerful monsters who have been the bane of civilisations since time immemorial [I don't think they mean 6 July 1189].  Manticores are known to take human form when they desire, but their true forms resemble great hunting cats or birds of prey - or sometimes both together - with human faces.  They eat only human flesh and are said to take great delight in secrets, riddles and wordplay.  Their magic is as powerful as that of any human sorcerer, and some sorcerers seek them out to learn their mystic arts.

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On 4/13/2020 at 9:38 AM, Schmoozies said:

Well we have already had hints that the Talisman of the Sun could be a very bad thing in other fictions.  I'm really looking forward to the "Djinn" story line actually having some more impact on the wider story rather then the single Unicorn/Phoenix story we've seen so far and the hints and implications that it may be linked to the elemental imbalance.

I'm more inclined to see the elemental imbalance as the result of some spiritual failing of the Phoenix. Like they've become too arrogant or delved too deeply into Maho or the Nothing since their the only ones who seem to be having trouble with their magic. Unless the effect just hit their lands first before moving further south and west, but I don't see why a spiritual issue would be effected by geography. Plus it's taking its sweet time moving on since it's been going on at least as long as that tsunami they caused a few years ago trying to fix it.

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I still think the elemental imbalance is a confluence of different issues, which is why it's so difficult for the council to pin it down.  They keep trying to attribute it to one smoking gun (i.e. the unicorn).  Shadowlands incursions, maho use, declining virtues and/or foreign supernatural influence I think are all probably contributing to the spiritual decay of Rokugan.

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