Category Archives: History

It Figures: Solemn Judgement

Because in the end, you need to show, not tell.

LoHI_JT_SoC_Cover_frontHere’s how I solve a dilemma. My new book coming out on a Miniature Monday? No problem– just take pix of the main character. So before I dive into the rabbit-hole of my nemesis-in-lead, let me just mention that today Judgement’s Tale Part Two, Strength of Conviction is now on sale at Amazon. And if you are trying to catch up on the series, I’m pleased to announce that Part One, Games of Chance is free until October 1st! I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity: the Judgement’s Tale saga is the true origin of adventure in the Lands of Hope, and most of the chronicled canon comes later in time than these days.


Solemn Judgement, the protagonist of Judgement’s Tale, comes to be known across the Created with Nokia RefocusLands of Hope as the Man in Grey. Orphaned by his father’s death in the moment of his arrival, Solemn tried to follow his sire’s teaching. He quickly became interested in the question of death and whether it is “the true end”, for obvious reasons.

But this is an issue that the Children of Hope have not been eager to explore in the centuries since their heroes left the Lands. Throughout Judgement’s Tale, Solemn pursues this and other mysteries, never taking the easy path and winning few friends. Though still a youth, he has already become hard within and without, seldom showing a sign of the terrible aloneness he suffers, evidently by his own choice, his refusal to compromise. Slowly, imperceptibly, the world of the Lands begins to turn on the decisions made by a grim and inflexible youth, universally thought to be much older, and far less good, than he truly is.


There simply had to be Solemn Judgement; I cannot explain his presence any more clearly than that. I saw him before I saw the Lands of Hope themselves- he was an image Created with Nokia Refocusstalking my brain, resolute to do what he thought was right and indifferent to how he was treated by others. That first year, when I saw only him without any context, I’ll be honest– he scared me. I thrilled to his competence and wide-ranging knowledge, but I thought– because I always saw him facing danger and speaking only to his foes– that he was a man devoid of mercy or humor. Created with Nokia Refocus

As my knowledge of the Lands grew, I realized that of course the kingdoms were filled with good folk, nobles and peasants, adventurers and homebodies who were dedicated to the same principles as Judgement– yet they almost universally rejected him, and it was hard for me not to see their decision as deliberate. Truth to tell I wasn’t sure they were making a mistake; Judgement was just as intimidating as admirable. The Man in Grey was an interloper, appearing in many different tales of Hope but never someone people wanted to follow. If I hadn’t finally seen how Cedrith Fellareon doggedly befriended him at the beginning, before his infamy, then Judgement’s Tale might never have been told.

This much meaning in a single figurine proved beyond the reach even of Ral Partha.Created with Nokia Refocus

But I did find a set of two figs that seemed to capture a little of what I had seen in him. The hat and cape are nearly right, the boots and belt. The foot figure has the row of buttons nearly correct (should be double breasted, not single). But the cape-closure is more accurate on the horse figure. And I believe the shirt on the mounted man, beneath his doublet, would be laced like that.

The plume, to my knowledge, is an affectation Solemn never succumbed to; nor do I think he ever stashed his quill up there, which would be impractical. The doublet, mismatched gauntlets and most importantly the cold-iron-banded quarterstaff are missing. The sword– in both figures– was a weapon Judgement specifically disavows, saying his father forbade it to him. And while he did care for horses briefly during his multiple apprenticeships in Conar, he never learned to ride. Still, I think the face is about right, clean-shaven and weathered and serious. He looks older than he is, at least during the time of Judgement’s Tale (in The Plane of Dreams, seven years have passed). But Solemn always LOOKS older than he is. When he landed in 1995 ADR, he was merely fifteen.

Created with Nokia Refocus

I follow developments in 3-D printing with interest, waiting on the day (should be a simple matter of software and intellectual property) that figurines can be purchased, reposed and equipped to suit, and then printed ready for painting (or hey, as long as I’m dreaming, how about already painted). Then, perhaps, we will see him more tangibly. Until that day, I must direct your attention to the tales, and I think I can say with some confidence that you will find your efforts there rewarded .


Created with Nokia RefocusI downloaded a new lens for this attempt, the Nokia Refocus- it specifically says you can get closer to the subject, and refocus after you snap, so I had high hopes. I trust you too will notice the results.

I was able to get MUCH closer without loss of focus. There are still resolution-type issues, but I think those have to do with the light and the quality of the surface. I precariously balanced a flashlight in one hand for some shots. That created splashy pools of light, which on “reflection” I thought were appropriate to the genre.  I used some overhead angles and tried a cloth floor as well as backdrop. I do think the craft of taking the photo has advanced a step here.Created with Nokia Refocus

You can even let a shot get fuzzy in places, like this one here; I think it still looks right. And the mounted fig especially is wonderful– elemental and simple but with great action and implied motion. I tackled this figure in the first half of my painting days– with what I learned later on I could have tried some shading on the face, and brought out more detail.

I’m still monkeying around with contrast, brightness and mid-tones  in the Picture Manager utility: the Auto-Fix feature always makes it worse, so a few minutes’ careful clicking up and down on the sliders was worth it.

Created with Nokia RefocusOn balance, I feel about this crop of photos the way I do about the story behind them. Perfect, no. And there’s more, much more to learn about this hero. But I think it’s quite good, and getting better all the time. I’ve known Solemn Judgement more than thirty years, and I finally feel I’m starting to understand him.

Your feedback is always welcome. Did I mention this story is on sale now? Get your copy of Strength of Conviction today- find out if Solemn Judgement looks like this in your mind. And be sure to scoop up Part One, Games of Chance free until October 1st!

Meet the Character Blog Hop (e)

Having been tapped by my illustrious, if almost painfully succinct colleague Kirsten, I am happy to participate in the Blog Hop du jour today. If you were checking in for another installment of It Figures, I’ll bring that back in next week (have to wait until it’s a Miniature Monday). Kirsten intimated that my post would likely run long, which naturally stirred up all the contrary spirit in me. So I guess you could say this post is about as short as I can make it… yeah, epic fantasy that’s my thing.

Here’s one of the heroes of the current tale, including a few details about him not currently in it.

Meet the Character: Treaman

What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or a historic person?
Treaman is one of the chief characters that figure into Judgement’s Tale. I’m sure he would insist he is completely real, but as a point of order he does not inhabit the Alleged Real World, no.

When and where is the story set?
At the time of the story (1995 ADR), Treaman’s party is moving about inside the Lands of HopePercentalion, a central kingdom in the northern Lands of Hope. The Age of Peace—also known as the Empty Years—is coming to an end, and the work of his band of adventurers is one reason why.

What should we know about him?
Treaman is a Woodsman, one of the established pursuits among the adventuring class. He was born and raised on the frontier of the far-north Novar colony, which is snowbound more than half the year, and learned much of his skill with outdoor survival there. One day when he was 18, Treaman decided he had suffered the cold long enough, and simply walked south (as no one was known to have done in recent years) all the way across the Snowdon Hills and into Shilar. That solo trip of more than a hundred leagues was a test of fire, only with ice in it. Just surviving proved his worth to himself, and Treaman began to hunger for greater challenges. In one of the smaller cities of Shilar he fell in with Bildon the Halfling Stealthic, and agreed to join with his adventuring party under Haltar Eltrinstar. {Like most common folk Treaman and Bildon have no surnames.}

What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
Treaman finds the burden of the party’s expectations agonizing. No one can safely navigate across the cursed land of the Percentalion anymore, and it’s only getting harder with time. In previous years, a skilled Woodsman was enough to make it, but Treaman can only see that the way is getting harder to find and he isn’t sensing the magic answer. Meanwhile the party waits on him, lost, and he feels terribly responsible.

sacred_space_1What is the personal goal of the character?
Treaman is willing to risk his life trying to guide the party, and taking whatever adventure comes with it, in order to get closer to the wonder of the Lands. Even here in the Percentalion he is struck with amazement at the wild terrain, its unpredictable weather, and its incredible monsters. He is beginning to sense that there is much here for someone who can truly feel at one with nature, and he seeks every opportunity to further that. Plus, the warmer weather is a bonus!

Is there a working title for this novel and where can we read more about it?
Treaman appears in the novels Judgement’s Tale and The Eye of Kog which are coming into publication right now.

When can we expect the book to be published?
Part One of Judgement’s Tale, entitled Games of Chance is on sale now at Amazon. Part Two, Strength of Conviction will be available at the end of September 2014. The rest of the saga unfolds every few months thereafter and you’ll read much more about Treaman’s character before it’s through.

As per the honored tradition it is now my job to nominate others to participate in the hop. I move that the two marvelous indies I’m reading now step forward. Matt Graybosch, please tell us more about someone from the Starbreaker series. And Jenni Wiltz, how about a peek at whatever character you’re working on for your WiP? Finally, you never know unless you try for a home run- how about Anne R. Allen, can I tempt you to tell us more about one of your characters? Rest assured readers, if you pick up any book by one of these three you will be in very good hands.