• Writers' Study (Belated) Christmas & New Year Reading List



    Writers' Study (Belated) Christmas & New Year Reading List
    by Caillagh de Bodemloze


    On the first day of Christmas, the Writers' Study gave to me...

    The sound of cheerful and enthusiastic singing echoes around the hall, as a bunch of over-excited and overfed Writers' Study imps pin notes to corkboards, write things on blackboards and whiteboards, and occasionally scribble on the walls or the floor. The Writers' Study Christmas Reading List has got entangled with the behind-the-scenes-work for the Writers' Study Yearly Awards, and things are becoming slightly confused.

    After some scuffling, one of the imps - still singing - breaks away from the crowd waving a piece of paper. He presents this triumphantly to Caillagh, who reads it out:

    "Since the Writers' Study Safari in August, the following people have won Writers' Study competitions...

    Justinian Australis, with The Last Pagan Emperor, and Roman Heritage, with Historia Rhomaike, were - unusually - joint winners of MAARC LXXI.
    and
    Welsh Dragon won MAARC LXXII with Toutatis Favours the Brave

    MCWC XVI was won by Basileos Leandros I, with Swords Made of Letters

    All four of these winners were featured in our August Safari, so a brief comment about each of them can be found there. They are all recommended if you're looking for something good to read, and are worthy winners.

    Tale of the Week, by its nature, has had rather more winners since our last report. They are...


    Congratulations to all our winners!"

    On the second day of Christmas... The music sounds again. This time, you're almost sure you can hear a rebellious fa la la la la mixed in with the words you're expecting...

    On a blackboard you had not previously noticed, you see a list of some of the AARs that have been updated since the start of December. At the top is written, in handwriting that looks distinctly over-excited, "Don't forget the video AARs!!!"

    Beneath that, you read:

    Shogun 2:
    The One Truth, a video AAR by The Wise Coffin, has characters voiced in their own languages (or modern equivalents); a very impressive achievement.

    Empire:
    superdave31 has provided us with not one, but several, Empire: Total War video AARs. It would be unfair to choose just one - so the link above is to the E:TW AAR forum, for readers to choose for themselves which one to watch first.

    On the third day of Christmas.... The imps are really getting into the swing of singing now. One of them is waving a quill pen as if it were a conductor's baton, and – just like any other amateur choir - everybody else is ignoring him...

    As usual, in the Medieval II section, we have more ongoing AARs than anywhere else. Those updated during December are listed on one of the walls, and include:

    Kingdom of Dale by Sonterp. This brief AAR contains within just one post a story of a tragic but noble death and of the revenge taken for that death.

    Reaper101's To Rule the Earth (We Already Rule the Waves) is told in the style we have come to expect - short pieces combining interesting historical and strategic information with engaging characters we want to read more about.

    DrAndrew's The English-Aragon Conflict also concerns the English. This time, as the title suggests, their main enemy is Aragon. This is DrAndrew's first AAR, but he has already developed a very lively style of dialogue and this AAR in general is well worth a read.

    On the fifth day of Christmas... It would seem the imps aren't all that keen on sticking to traditional counting methods. Several imps have produced Christmas crackers from somewhere, and are happily pulling them and giggling at the jokes, while others are stealing, and wearing, the paper hats from the crackers...

    Vanilla Venice Victor is the latest AAR by Alavaria. As we have come to expect, this contains humour, some interesting characters, and a very successful faction - in this case Venice, of course.

    Axis Sunsoar, meanwhile, has returned to the Writers' Study to begin La Fleur et L'épée. This beautifully-written AAR has an intriguing prologue featuring Charlemagne, the horn of Roland, and a mysterious figure... and then takes us to the reign of Philip I Capet (and his second wife).

    Tales After the Crusade by NorseThing is NorseThing's first AAR. It's written in the form of a collection of short stories. It begins with an energetic story of bandits, and is now part-way through an account of the Norman conquest of Italy.

    Sons of Alfonso by krazyfilmer123 is the story of the ruling house of Spain - the titular 'Sons of Alfonso' - and their attempt to conquer the world. It's full of excitement and action, with every chapter written in the first person (although not always by the same character).

    On the sixth day of Christmas, the... A few of the imps are still scurrying around, obviously trying to work, but most of them are now pulling crackers, or sitting perched on tables and singing, or playing games. Almost all are wearing paper hats, and the majority seem to be singing - although it seems clear that there are now at least three different songs being sung. As well as the occasional fa la la, you're sure you can also hear someone singing Glooooooooooooria...

    Maltacus deserves particular mention, and his name duly appears on its very own sheet of paper pinned to a corkboard. During December, he has provided us with updates to two different AARs using two different games: An Orc's Tale and The Misadventures of Diabolical Amazons. The first is the story of Malthur, an orc in Sauron's army, who is trying to work his way up through the ranks by both competence and deviousness. Interestingly, events are often seen from the point of view of a Gondorian who now forms part of Malthur's entourage. The second is the story of five Amazons hunting monsters in Diablo II, told with zest and humour.

    On the eighth day... Several new imps have arrived from somewhere, tugging Alwyn along behind them by his robe. Either they've been working on the Writers' Study Yearly Awards, or they've just decided that hearing the singing is compulsory for the WS Director...

    You catch sight of a blind that the imps have pulled down over a window and written on. It's hard to read, because the surface is uneven, but it seems to show details of some of the Creative Writing that has been updated since the beginning of December.

    The item at the top of the blind is
    Words of the Forgotten by Admiral Van Tromp. This story is set in the same universe as the Admiral's The Tale of the White Leopard, but 250 years earlier. An old exile wants to restore his reputation; a young writer is in disgrace. Will they be able to help each other?

    It's unusual in the Writers' Study for works to be co-written, but mad orc and NorseThing are collaborating on Blood and Diamonds. It is the story of William Trent, who left his comfortable but unfulfilling life in New York for a life of excitement and intrigue (and a fair amount of violence) in the Belgian Congo.

    Smith and Keeper, by Zeus Almighty, was inspired by Stephen King's Wizard and Glass. It follows Arden LePage, and some of his allies and enemies - and Lazarus, who might sometimes be both ally and enemy...

    On the ninth day of Christmas...
    On the tenth day of Christmas... You're sure you can hear the imps singing about both the ninth and tenth days of Christmas at the same time. None of the imps seem at all concerned by this confusion, but you can't help wondering what will happen at the end of the verse, when the imps singing about the ninth day will finish before the others...

    SoulGamesInc has once again provided us with an excursion to Westeros, in Game of Thrones: Truth and Glory. The story of House Rogare continues, packed with interesting characters and bursting with danger - all brought to life by SoulGamesInc's descriptions.

    Cat Tails is a new piece of Creative Writing by NorseThing. Original and entertaining, it tells the stories of adventures involving NorseThing himself and cats he has known.

    Titanium Core: Borderlands by HunterKYA needs no introduction, continuing, as it does, the story of Tyler Braedan and his crew. The most recent chapter finds Braedan and Alyssa investigating the aftermath of an explosion.

    On the eleventh day... Even the last few imps have stopped working now. They're gathered in groups, some singing, some playing games or laughing at jokes. There's even one group, over in a corner, unwrapping Christmas presents and delightedly holding up the contents so that everyone else can admire them. You can only hope they're opening the presents intended for them...

    Finally, your eye is caught by some scribbles someone has made on a tablecloth:

    Poems!
    Dream of Chaos by Salah ad Din Yusuf, Exile by mad orc, and Rita's Poem by Rita (but posted by basics) were all posted during December 2017.

    There are, of course, many fine pieces of writing in the Writers' Study that could not be included in this list for reasons of space. The staff and authors of the Writers' Study - and the imps - would like to encourage everyone to wander through the Writers' Study for themselves.

    On the twelfth... Glooooooooooooria... of... fa la la la la.... All the imps seem to be singing cheerfully - some with great gusto, heads thrown back; others more sedately, but still with enthusiasm. They are, of course, singing several different carols at once, but nobody seems to care. Somehow, Alwyn is beating time with his staff of office. All at once, a consensus seems to develop, and the music reaches a ringing finale, with all the imps singing together: Fa la la la la, la la la la! And Christmas in the Writers' Study is over (at last) for another year.
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Mhaedros's Avatar
      Mhaedros -
      These thematic pieces are really becoming my biannual highlights! I'll leave here with a smile, and a reading list longer than my arm.
    1. Caligula's Avatar
      Caligula -
      Lol nicely written
    1. Admiral Van Tromp's Avatar
      Admiral Van Tromp -
      This is great, like in August! +rep!
    1. mad orc's Avatar
      mad orc -
      Thanks so much .
    1. Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar
      Caillagh de Bodemloze -


      Thank you all; you're extremely generous.

      (Now I have to go and print the reading list out so that I can try to determine the maximum possible length of Mhaedros's arm... )
    1. atthias's Avatar
      atthias -
      thanks for making me laugh [and an extended reading list of course]
    1. Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar
      Caillagh de Bodemloze -
      You're welcome! Thank you for your kind words.