Author Topic: Some plot elements just bug me....  (Read 2753 times)

Offline skybluemonk

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2016, 08:52:15 PM »
pulley top or the ramp attach rope to the wagon to pull run through the pulley attach to a rig containing lift crystal. Crystal down  pulls wagon up ramp. Crystal up  releases wagon to drop down ramp by gravity. By way of course would be a train.

An external windlass going up and down would be on a pull system so one crystal could manage to cargos. Going up allows another barge to slowly descend and going down pulls its twin barge up. Given cost of crystals the obvious solution just a question of what weight a crystal can lift ie size number of bargest.

Offline dspringer1

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2016, 07:07:18 PM »
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As for defense. The spirearch makes clear he cannot trust the Guard till the traitor are flushed. Also they are police he gives the numbers and points out they are stretched thin over 236 habitted habbles. He has to let things play out without any obvious response from himself other than the sending of a small secret force.


There are always spies and traitors in any large force.   The spirach was worried that if his agents worked closely with the local guard forces, that traitor would be warned off and his investigators would find nothing.  That is the risk he was avoiding.   To argue that the spirach is helpless to respond to information lest “a spy find out” is taking that argument to an extreme that does not make sense.   

It is entirely reasonable to suppose that the spirach might….
•   Once evidence is gained that Landing is where the enemy marines are based, he can concentrate more forces in/around that region and make sure they can respond quickly to fresh news
•   Once evidence (or reasonable suspicion exists) that the enemy might escape through a ship docked in Landing, then it is simplicity to cut off that retreat route by simply stationing a small warship in the mists nearby or making sure the landing defense installations stay on alert






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The Fleets defensive strategy I've explained is down to Wilson. As to his genius Bayard and Grimm may have been ironic! There are clearly lots of problems within the fleet. If Jim is modelling the British Admiralty over its history then there's internal battles over Aristocratic Command structures mostly by baffoons buying their positions versus professional seaman earning command [Rook]. In any event he Wilson was thinking invasion not guerrilla warfare.
500  highly trained Marines vs 96 Grimms Crew [minus casualties as the book progresses]. Plus the Silkweavers [1000?] Grimm is outnumbered and has to be reactive following the marines  not taking them on one on one. He is ordered to protect Ferus group that's important  he cant defend the landing and do that with the resources he has. He also has no idea what the marines will do next.

I certainly agree that Grim could not protect the landing directly with his forces.  I certainly agree that the fleet admiral could have been operating as an idiot.  But even given all that, the defenses around landing were nonexistent even though it is a very critical and vulnerable port.   The fixed defenses alone should have been enough to easily deal with an armed merchant no matter the surprise gained.   

This is not a world which has been at peace for centuries.  Warfare is fairly common.  Spire Albion has been expecting war with Spire Aurora for years.   There are only THREE ports, and landing is clearly the most economically important.   In any war, Landing WOULD Be attacked.   To suggest that a single merchant ship could attack and destroy the port so easily and get away so cleanly is simply not plausible.   

Butcher could easily have resolved this problem with some minor changes in the text.   The Marines could have specifically targeted the shore defense batteries and took them out before the mistshark starting firing.   It could have been stated somewhere that this whole mission was a high risk gamble.    No doubt there are other ways to achieve the same outcome.   These elements are not a barrier to the story.  But the fact that Butcher did not spend the extra sentence or two explaining the above is a FLAW in the story.   Logical flaws always make it harder to “live the story” and thus make the book less “good”   



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Also haven't specifically timed everything but main events in whole book is over a couple of days i"d say. There's no time to particularly put the Spire on a war footing never mind that for his own reasons the Spirearch has kept the information suppressed. So who knew ... a handful of people in the spire and the fleet outside it.

I imagine everybody in the Spire knew they were going to be/at war.  An attack on the fleet base would have been very public, very quickly. 






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There's obviously infrastructure in place for such things, but when you've always done everything a certain way, and your society is based on that assumption, there's not going to be much innovation. And if the Spire wanted to divert the power that's already in use, how are they going to rewire the whole Spire (see earlier point about spirestone being less than easily manipulated)?

My question was not WHY not add electricity now.  My question was WHY did the builders not add electrical outlets when the Spire was built when doing so would have been easy.   



As for Iron rot... love it It applies to both sides seriously handicaps armed warfare sets limits makes for interesting world building. I suggest Jim has thought through the implications and is having fun with the problem he has set himself.

My point is that iron rot is too much of a handicap.  It happens too fast and copper plating is too uncertain/limited a defense.  Iron tools/weapons/armor would have very short lifespans in actual combat and thus become astronomically expensive as you must keep replacing your tools/armor.   

Offline knnn

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2016, 08:05:49 PM »
A number of points:

1) We know that there are scores of openings in the Spire to let in air/moisture to every Habble.  These openings are the ones that the Auroran Marines used to invade the Spire (then they used the side corridors to reach Landing).  Since these openings/corridors are enough to allow an invasion to get through, I think it's fair to assume they could similarly be used for trade.  You might need to bribe/deal with the local cats to keep the passages clear, but this is certainly a viable alternative to shipping (small) goods up and down hundreds of feet.

2) We know that Spire Albion has bronze (I believe the doors to the Library are stated to be made from Bronze).  Sure, bronze is inferior to iron in terms of weight/strength, but you'd completely eliminate the problem/worry of iron rot.  As such, I am surprised you don't see more bronze usage.  At the very least, the pistol that Grimm contemplates using would be a lot safer if it was made of bronze.  Note that also that the conductivity of all this copper-clad iron makes everything very vulnerable to electric attacks.  The lower conductivity of bronze would help here as well.

3) Minor technical issue, but how do you even "clad" the iron in the first place?  For example, in order to make a sword that won't break when it hits something you need to forge it and then cool it off quickly, usually by quenching it in water (for strength).  Pull it out of the water to start adding copper and it will immediately start rotting.  How do you manage to get the copper on before rot commences?

4) Personally, I figured that the port at Habble Landing had a fixed shroud and guns to protect it.  That way, if someone tried to assault it from the outside, it would be hard to get through.  The Auroran marines pulled a coop by assaulting from an unexpected direction.  They managed to kill the guards and neutralize the guns before they could be manned.  That's why the Mistshark was able to take out the landing without opposition.

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Offline wildone654

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2016, 04:23:05 AM »
I have some theories to address some of this.  I do not believe the spires were built for comfortable living, but more as stationaryassive shelters to ride out some sort of calamity.  Perhaps whatever it is that killed off the builders (if they weren't human) or kicked off the dark age that had them lose most of their knoldge and technology.

As to how they can know how to make power crystals but not things like stainless steel, I think mostly that knoldge was lost and the knoldge of how to make and use the crystals hasn't so much been retained as it has been relearned/figured out.  I bet these crystals are capable of doing much more than how they are being employed presently. 

They don't have stainless steel and nickle alloys yet because despite having energy weapons and energy shields they are at a 15th or 16th century technology level.  Maybe not even that high, because we don't know how dependent on pre made builder facilities their industrial base is.  For all we know they can only even make iron weapons because they have builder made kilns some where in the spire that are set up for smelting casting and forging metals.  Maybe they even have facilities capable of more complicated materials processing that they dont even jnderstand, or that they simple don't have the raw materials to feed.  One of the habbles could have a filiment winder for pumping out high strength synthetic fibers thats being used as a cotton gin for all we know.


Offline Cozarkian

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2016, 04:50:25 AM »
I am a big Butcher fan and enjoyed the book in general, but frankly there were several events in the book that simply did not make a lot of sense to me.

1) The book made a big deal in the beginning to explain why the naval warships could not really damage the naval port in their surprise attack because it would take too much time and the naval defensive batteries would blow them apart.  However, later in the book a single armed merchantman totally destroyed the Landing port both quickly and easily.   Presumably this port also had defenses given its obviously vital importance?   Presumably the merchants weapons were not more powerful than that of the full warships that attacked the naval port?     

2)  The whole naval fleet is concentrated in a defensive formation around the Spire.   So how did an attack on Landing happen without any of these naval vessels noticing and intercepting the merchant ship.    The whole point of such a formation would be to protect the Spire and keep the fleet concentrated to respond to any attack on the Spire.  Landing was one of the most important hubbles in the Spire and one of the most exposed to attack.  The Spirach made precautions against an attack on Landing, but no naval precautions were made?  At least some ships should have been nearby and in a position to intercept the merchant ship/transport, especially as there was no Aurora attack in place to distract them.    And if all these ships would be completely unable to see what was happening when on full alert/at war/defensive focused formation/not distracted, then that is an argument that the spire is effectively unable to spot an attack/effectively defend itself.   Yes I know the merchant ship is fast, but it takes time to pick up speed and the naval ships would already be in motion/nearby.     

3) Grim identified the merchant ship as most likely the escape ship for the invading marines.  So why did he not take any action to prevent the enemy marines from making their escape?  More guards on the landing?   Some naval vessels on guard?   A few crewman on a weapon and ready to fire.   Grim did not even send a warning to the landing when he knew the enemy marines were starting their major attack.   

4) There was also this big discussion on the ship about electricity and why the Spire did not make such available to its people.  The counter-argument was that power crystals are in short supply.   But presumably a very huge power source is already in place to keep afloat the Spires themselves.   Multiple comments about etheric flow of energy passing through the conduits designed by the builders.  Why not use that energy to power electric devices.  I doubt all the people the spire can use enough energy to make up more than a tiny fraction of what is required to hold all that massive stone complex in the air.   And given the series implies the builders were space explorers (from earth), they would naturally be inclined toward a technological society anyway.  So why no power outlets?   Lighting and cooking fuel would be far more expensive/disruptive to bring from the surface than to tap in the core power for some electric lights and stoves. 

5) Why not stainless steel?   This one is a minor objection as presumably there is something about this planet that really rips into iron and maybe stainless steel is no solution.  So why not molded plastic or some alloy.   Presumably the builders would have the expertise to design a process that can do that.   If they left behind the knowledge to make power crystals, they could leave behind the knowledge to make special alloys or ceramics or plastics or crystals that can serve the same role as iron.     Of course, the back story may explain this.   There might be some very good reason why technology was extremely limited except for those elements essential for survival.   Power crystals are needed to leave the spire (a necessity as they are not a closed system), but plastic is not.   Copper clad weapons are particularly problematic as copper is a soft metal.  A single parry of another sword might break the copper clad coating and expose the iron to the air – a very bad thing.   

6) Why did nobody give a status update to the Spirarc on what they found?   they could easily have sent a messenger to let him know the target was almost certainly the landing and that the Marines were located nearby.   They would have needed to get his help to coordinate the guard forces to attack the marines, once they found them.   Again no communication at all. 


Not meaning to throw stones at a good story, but the above items cause me a mental itch that detracts from my enjoyment of the story.   It feels like the author really did not think things through and/or chose to ignore these concerns.  A few words or a small paragraph could have alleviated any one of the above "plot problems" without changing anything meaningful in the story at all.   

Anybody got some good theories as to why the above are not a real problem.

1) Any defenses of the Landing port were taken out by the legion of Auroran marines on their way to escape.  The merchant weapons didn't need to be powerful because it was shooting out unarmored targets without active shrouds.

2) The Fleet was off flying in a defensive position to make sure it didn't get ambushed in port. As stated in the book, the Admiral was a great tactician but a terrible defensive strategist. They were in a position to defend the spire by watching for incoming ships, not for attacks from those already within the spire.

3) He had a suspicion but wasn't certain, he was understaffed and under-crewed, focused on repairs, had to react to urgent events as they unfolded and thought he was going to be catching the Aurorans and delaying them until help arrived, in which case they wouldn't be making it back to the shipyards to escape.

4) The Spires do not float. There is a whole guild dedicated to killing surface creatures that enter the ventilation tunnels. The surface creatures are able to do so because the spires touch the ground. Power crystals take a very long time to create. Maybe in the long-term they will add electricity to the spires, but right now, the ships are too important for trade with other spires.

5) I think the etheric energy is the likely cause of the rapid iron-wrought and would affect any alloys equally. I think Copper is used because it can conduct the etheric energy away. Copper may be soft, but copper against copper isn't going to instantly destroy the cladding. Also, they do have to check their swords frequently.

Offline nedserD C B yrraH

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2016, 01:14:26 AM »
pulley top or the ramp attach rope to the wagon to pull run through the pulley attach to a rig containing lift crystal. Crystal down  pulls wagon up ramp. Crystal up  releases wagon to drop down ramp by gravity. By way of course would be a train.

An external windlass going up and down would be on a pull system so one crystal could manage to cargos. Going up allows another barge to slowly descend and going down pulls its twin barge up. Given cost of crystals the obvious solution just a question of what weight a crystal can lift ie size number of bargest.

There are 4 transport spirals that connect every Habble.  These are probably powered but slow and in constant demand. Habble Landings financial success is due to creating the only alternative for internal trade. They are clearly marked on the maps of the Habbles in the books and are referenced in the fire evacuation scene.
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Offline Doc_H68w

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2016, 12:43:11 PM »
I want to weigh in on the use of copper
1) Copper is a relatively easy metal to work with and has a melting point approx. 1000 degrees LESS than that of iron (iron has to go through a smelting process to make steel)
2) One possible way they "clad" weapons and armor in copper is through electroplating which is a thin enough layer that it doesn't compromise the strength of the steel it coats.
3) Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin which was used the world over for generations, strong but simple.

Offline nedserD C B yrraH

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Re: Some plot elements just bug me....
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2016, 03:41:43 PM »
I love the idea of electroplating the steel.  ;D
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