The one where I talk about Saint Seiya, the problem with the Gold Saints and my own novel setting issue.

Whoah, that was a really looooong title.

*Warning: spoilers for a 30-year-old anime show… and my own novel.*

If you were a kid from Mexico in the early 90s’, odds are that you woke up early every Saturday to watch the legendary anime “Los Caballeros del Zodiaco”, the original name “Saint Seiya” (for the purists) and known in the US as “Knights of the Zodiac” after a bastardized adaptation. And odds are that if you are Mexican kid that grew up in the early 90s’, is that Saint Seiya is your favorite anime -or one of them-.

Me? I’m a fan, not a big fan as some of my close friends (one of them even has every single figure released since the heyday of the show), but I would lie if I say I’m not a fan. The concept is pretty simple (the video below gives a remastered, succinct explanation for the visually inclined): every 300 years, ancient gods return in the shape of avatars to take over the world, so Athena (yes, that one), reincarnates in a human body**, calls forth her Saints or Knights, who wearing special armors inspired by the 88 western constellations, will face these gods -Poseidon, Hades- to protect humanity. The Saints are divided into the humble Bronze, the flashy Silver, and the godlike 12 Gold Saints -that follow the Western Zodiac-. However, this time, something went wrong, Athena and a few of her ‘weaker’*** saints are in the run of the most powerful ones and have to face them in a grueling marathon to uncover the truth, the traitor and fix everything before Poseidon, Hades and their armies return.

The show has a favorite character for everyone, especially if your zodiac sign had a cool representative among the Golden Saints, the top of the cream of warriors in the show. Really 10 out of 12 signs had a great character representing it-unless you are a Cancer or a Pisces, then I’m sorry your respective saints suck big time-. My wife has Shaka, Virgo Saint, the closest man to God and basically a buddha* with the power to traverse every single hell and heaven from anywhere. And is more dangerous when he actually opens his eyes.

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Mine, is this man:

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Dokho, Saint of Libra, custodian of the 12 sacred weapons of Athena, watcher of the Rozan peaks where the specters of Hades are trapped, having lived for 243 years and trained an old incarnation of the Pegasus Saint and the current Dragon Saint, Shiryu (my other favorite character). Dokho, who is the Yoda of the show that -spoiler- when the time comes and things get dire near the end, returns through a special technique to his peak form, that looks like this:

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The shortest, hot-tempered, goofball Gold Saint ready to take names and kick ass. In this form he is… well, the Obi-Wan of the show, even to the other Gold Saints. And even if he looks like a hyperactive teenager (which he technically still is).

But I digress… the show is entertaining -if a bit repetitive as older anime usually is-. The music is superb (think a rock group playing with an orchestra waaay before Metallica did it). And you grow fond of the characters -unlike they are Pisces and Cancer, seriously, they need a better PR spokesperson-. And I really enjoy it, to the point that I’m addicted to the new mobile game. But there is an issue here… I get that Seiya, the Pegasus Saint and titular character, and friends are the main heroes. And the show is about their growth into heroes. But the thing that most of my friends and I agree is that as much as the show sells you the idea of the Gold Saints being these beastly, godlike beings capable of facing gods when they show up in the show… they barely actually show up.

Yeah, I have the same expression as you, Dohko.

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Don’t get me wrong, some of the battles between the 5 Bronze Saints -Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryu, Cygnus Hyoga, Andromeda Shun and Phoenix Ikki- and the Gold Saints are nail bitters, especially those between Ikki and Shaka, Hyoga and his master Aquarius Camus, Shiryu vs Cancer Deathmask**** and Capricorn Shura, and the last stand of Seiya against the evil side of Geminis Saga before Athena dies -look, it’s really complicated to explain-. But the rest are… a mixed bag. Aries Mu is an ally of the heroes. Taurus Aldebaran is convinced by the heroes that they are right, Dohko is busy being a Yoda, till Hades returns in Season 3. Scorpio Milo gives a good fight but he is a good guy and changes his mind and Pisces… he is so damn annoying and his fight with Shun really drags on. Aiolia Leo is being brainwashed by the main bad guy so he has to be freed from his control and Saggitarius Aiolos has been dead for 13 years. And when the Poseidon Chapter comes, nothing happens with them. The Hades chapter was meant to redeem them, but it only worked for Dohko and Kannon, the evil twin of Geminis Saga that now is the good twin -that family has ISSUES-. Then came Soul of Gold that tried to redeem them but the animation did them no favor at all. And Lost Canvas, which is not canon, did use well ALL the Gold Saints, but they were from a previous incarnation, taking place in 1743 and the only known character there is Dokho who is kinda a rookie then (this Obi-Wan in Episode I).

And here is the thing that bothers me: they are not that awe-inspiring when they appear, aside Saga whose power set is broken (which makes him a good villain).  I get that the animation techniques back then (the series started in the 80s’ even if it arrived at this side of the world in the 90s’) didn’t allow for much spectacle and thus the powers seem subsided, reduced. But when I was a kid I remember dreading the day the 5 Bros were about to face the Gold Saints because of the show’ propensity to sell you the idea that the later were nigh impossible to defeat. That their powers were earth-shattering -literally in the case of Capricorn-. But when the fights came about, they were not that different from the main 5. Which led to a sense of power escalation in later seasons -as many shonen***** anime do- that never allowed the Gold Saints to show their prowess against feared rivals like Poseidon’s Marines or Hades’ Specters. They were punked.

Which leaves me a sour taste in the mouth, because the Gold Saints should be downright terrifying. The kind of guys that inspire myths because what they can do is off the charts: create tears into the space-time continuum, freeze things to atomic level reaching absolute zero (the show plays fast and loose with physic laws), cut through the Earth itself, move at the speed of light, send your soul to the Underworld, crash a planet on your head… you get the idea.  They are the stuff of nightmares, even if they are, for most of the part, the good guys.

Rather, they are not so spectacular.

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Yes, it’s kinda sad, kinda amusing, Dohko.

This is a particular issue of concern for me while I work in the sequel of Tempest Blades. Fionn -and really, any of the Gifted- is known as a powerful warrior whose abilities are way beyond the ken of mortal men. But due to the peculiarities of the villain in the first book, he had to fight with a literal hand tied to his back. Same for Gaby and Alex. Now, for the sequel, they have free reign, more training, and more experience under their belts to show off all that they can do. However, I know the risk of power escalation, which can destroy the suspension of disbelief within the setting, making the Marty/Mary Sues, if I just give them more power. That’s a serious problem.

So that left me thinking…

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The solution is already set in the first book. In the POV of the only regular character of my cast: Harland. And others like him.

I don’t need to increase their powers. There is no need because they are already that powerful. What I need is to show how the powers they have, without the restrictions, posed by the plot of the first book, look to others from the outside. Namely, for Alex, manipulating energy might seem normal after 10 years. But for Harland, who is a regular human, it might be downright scary. And what about when Fionn truly let go. So far he has barely shown his full potential, for fear of collateral damage. But if the restriction is lifted… Gaby… well, you will see. That’s why in the new book I’m introducing a couple of characters that will give the perspective of how is like to watch a Gifted with a Tempest Blade in hand, going full out. Because while for my main cast, Harland aside, doing what they do is part of their daily lives, for the people watching from the sidelines, what they do, is the stuff of nightmares. Even if they are the good guys.

I just hope Athena can guide me to make it work.

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*Well, not basically a buddha, he is actually a reincarnation of Buddha.
**She is like the Christ-like figure of the story. Seriously, Saint Seiya is a hot podge of myths, religions and everything between, but seen through the greek mythology glasses and anime tropes.
***Weaker, sort to speak. While the 5 main characters: Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryu, Cygnus Hyoga, Andromeda Shun and Phoenix Ikki are Bronze Saints and thus the lower step of the stair, they -in very shonen fashion- grow to be more than a match for the Gold Saints and assorted deities.
****No, really, that’s his birth name. Kurumada has the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
*****Shonen is anime aimed for male audiences, think Dragon Ball.

My 2019 awards eligible stories

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Hello there, world. This is the first time I write one of these posts (as I have only been nominated once for an award and I wasn’t the one promoting it). But given that this was a seminal year for me as a writer, it was due time to create one. So here there are my award-eligible stories for 2019. Here are in order of length.

Novel

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518349ZKw8L“Tempest Blades: The Withered King.” Shadow Dragon Press. August 2019. Approx. 97,500 words.

Buy it from Amazon: https://mybook.to/TempestBladesWK
Buy it from Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2kDhBlA

Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction

What’s about? Fionn thought that his days as a warrior were over. Gaby & Alex never expected to become heroes. Now they must join forces to stop an ancient evil. In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible. Including second chances.

What others have said about it:

“An action-packed blend of magic and mayhem, sword and sorcery, science fiction and fantasy. The book is full of entertaining characters, has a sense of humor and adventure, and there’s a crackling video-game vibe added for good measure.” —Maria Haskins, author, and B&N Blogger

“A glorious sci-fi adventure for any reader of the fandom of the classic video game ‘Soul Blade'” —Booklist

“Like Final Fantasy meets Dungeons & Dragons! An action-packed sci-fantasy adventure that fans of the genre will love! Victoria delivers a lively story that feels like a video game, with plenty of heart and humor along the way. The characters are interesting, the action keeps you turning the pages, the concepts are fascinating! This is good stuff! The one-liners are killer, too!”Diane Morrison, Author of the “Wyrd West Chronicles” & Manager of the official SFWA YouTube channel

“It was a fun, fast book, full of action beats. It was also surprisingly introspective and deep. As entertaining as it was, this is ultimately a book about second chances. I found it highly enjoyable.”Jodie Crump. Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

“It’s a science fantasy epic that bursts with originality. It is new, it is fresh, and it makes the imagination soar. In short, this is not something you’ve read before.”Leo McBride at Altered Instinct

“There’s a some portals and a spaceship, a lizard pilot dude and a good deal of magick, a 133 yr old father-mentor guy and lottsa swords. A total mashup spanning the spacepunk, fantasy, scifi, and LitRPG genres, The Withered King looks to surprise you on every page…

…The Withered King is an impressive debut that any reader of speculative fiction should enjoy.”Paul at Paul’s Picks

Novelette

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Tales of Magic and Destiny cover“Asherah’s Pilgrimage.” in the anthology Tales of Magic & Destiny (Inklings Press). Edited by Leo McBride & Rob Edwards. July  2019. Approx. 9,100 words.

Buy it from Amazon: http://mybook.to/MagicDestiny

Genre(s): Fantasy

What’s about? A girl, the first with the gift of magic, has to step up and lead her people into a new world in finding a place to settle. But the perilous journey will mean for the freefolk to leave behind what remains of their old ways. And for Asherah to succeed, it will mean sacrificing everything she is and find her new place in the world.

What others have said about it:

“A story that has high-stakes and drama, personal courage and friendship, action and introspection, humour and pathos. For me, it captures the essence of what it is to be an individual overcoming their own limitations to achieve something that really matters.”  E.M. Swift-Hook at Working Title.

“…I loved the image of the freefolk and they seemed so intriguing and I loved the little glimpses of the world they left behind. I loved how the story grew to its close and I absolutely wasn’t ready for this one to end. The battle in the maze had some really great imagery. I haven’t read this one a second time yet (because I just read it this afternoon on my lunch break!) but I will definitely give it a second read.”Reviewer at Amazon.

Short Stories

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51yj0nKMCsL._SY346_“No-Sell.” in the anthology Gunsmoke and Dragonfire. Edited by Diane Morrison. March  2019. Approx. 4,800 words.

Buy it from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1999575717

Genre(s): Fantasy Western

What’s about? In a world where magic delayed the invention of firearms, an ex-spellslinger has taken up a career as a traveling sales being of a newfangled weapon called a “rifle”… and he has a few tricks under his coat.

What others have said about it:

“I also enjoyed No-Sell, from Ricardo Victoria, taking the theme and running with it, for in a Wild West world where magic is commonplace, what use is a gun? And what would the equivalent of a snake-oil salesman do with one if he had one?”Leo McBride at Altered Instinct.

““No-Sell” by Ricardo Victoria was a fun story that reminded me very much of Dragonheart, but in a Western setting and blending in a bit of Aztec mythology. I really enjoyed the slow reveal on this story and the twist at the end.”Geoff Habiger.

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41sHL1Kc1rL“Good Boys.” in the anthology Gods of Clay: A Sci Fi Roundtable Anthology. Edited by Eric Michael Craig & Ducky Smith. February 2019. Approx. 4,800 words.

Buy it from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Clay-Sci-Roundtable-Anthology/dp/1733728317/

Genre(s): Science Fiction

What’s about? In the distant future, uplifted dogs and octopuses sent a mission back to a legendary place, a ‘lost’ planet, to find about a strange signal sent by their long-gone creators. The secrets they find there, the ancient enemies they will encounter, will shake their beliefs and their future.

Trick or treat or my recommended list for Halloween movies

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It is no secret that Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations of the year. It has some mystical aura where you can mix the fun with the scary. And in this line of thought, I consider then one of the best ways to spend the day is with a movie marathon. Now, for me, not any movie makes it because let’s be frank, for the past decade most of the horror movies show gratuitous violence for the sake of it. Therefore I consider that a true Halloween movie must mix some elements of humor, suspense and horror or simply be a classic where a true horror is a tool used to narrate a good story. So no Saw, zombie fest (I hate zombie stories with passion, aside from the one mentioned here) nor gore classics in my list.

And to show my point, here is my list of recommendations for the day when the dead and the monsters walk the Earth in search of candies and horror. Bear in mind that most of these movies are meant to be seen in a family, so aside from one case, most are not as intense as ‘It’.

 

1. Ghostbusters:

 

A true classic in all sense. One of my favorite movies. When I was a kid this movie made me laugh in the same amounts that it scared me (especially the library scene). Now it might not be at all scary, but more than two decades after, it is still pulling its weight. If you haven’t seen it, stop wasting your time on the internet and do it. If you don’t like it, then you are a soulless creature and I would like you to introduce my friends Stantz, Spengler, and Venkman, they might want to have a few words with you. And avoid marshmallows, trust me. The bottom line, if you don’t like this movie you are either dead or soulless. In either case, I know who I’m gonna call to deal with you.

2. Fright Night

 

 

 

Seductive vampires? Check. ‘Intrepid’ (in the loosest definition of the word) hunters? Check. Scary story? Hell yeah. Unlike the current crop of vampires, the Fright Night really delivered the goods. A forgotten classic by now, it is still an enjoyable piece of horror film from the 80’s. The remake is not bad (thanks mostly to David Tennant who is always awesome), but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

3. Re-animator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I said no zombie films and this is considered a zombie film. However, it is one of those movies that have become really good on the basis of being soooo bad. Inspired by a short story from a true master of horror, H.P Lovecraft. Maybe what makes this movie a classic is not the story nor the (excessive gore), but the large, ham-fisted acting of Jeffrey Combs (better known as The Question from JLU). He eats the scenery like a zombie eats a brain. If I have to break one of my movie rules for Halloween, it has to be for this one.

4. Sleepy Hollow

Unlike many of my friends, I’m not a fan of Mr. Burton’s work in general (my opinion is quite similar to Kevin Smith’s in that regard). However, I recognize that this particular work, always including the master of the strange that is Johnny Depp captures to a ‘t’ the spirit of the legend of the Headless Horseman like no one else did since Disney filmed that short movie with the narration of Bing Crosby (which you need to see as well).

5. Gremlins

Granted, the second one is funnier, but honestly? It is also kinda lame. But man the first one was really scary and good for the time it was released. It was at what I consider the peak of Spielberg’s work and whether you laughed at the antics of the green menaces or you were downright scared of them, this movie is a great fit for Halloween. Ironically enough, it was released as a Christmas movie. Take that as you wish.

6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Vampires have been part of the Halloween mystique from ages and what better than watching a movie inspired by the novel that practically launched the bloodsuckers to the stardom. This movie is ripe with good actors (yes even Keanu) and for what I remember, follows the book pretty well. Highly recommended, if only because of Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the Count, sexy and scary at the same time. Or if you want to go for a more alternative route, watch The Shadow of the Vampire with Willem Defoe.

7. The Exorcist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C’mon, just the theme tune of this movie gives you the chills. The movie will leave you with nightmares. Just avoid the sequels and prequels. Nuff said.

9. Lost Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best vampire movies, a classic with a stellar cast and bonafide jump scares. It’s a bit dated -very 80s’ as my wife would say- but the main theme ‘Cry, Little Sister’ is haunting and its plot twist still holds after all these years. Plus it gives you good tips to fight vampires. In a way, this movie is to vampires what ‘Zombieland’ is to the walking dead.

10. Pet shop of horrors

 

 

 

 

For the anime fans, now, while most anime fans would tell you that Mermaid’s Scar is the quintessential anime horror by excellence (amidst a very decent record of horror animes, man the Japanese writers know how to do scary stuff), I would argue that Pet Shop of Horrors is a good alternative, especially if like Brent, you are more into Twilight Zone kind of stories. This is an anthology of four bizarre short stories, that will keep you glued to your seat while realizing that more often than not, humans are the true monsters.

11. Event Horizon

 

 

My favorite proper horror movie: Event Horizon. A movie which is the result of mixing the old haunted house trope (lightning storm included) with the ghost ship trope and a heavy dose of Lovecraft. Most people in geekdom consider this an unofficial prequel to Warhammer 40k (if you don’t know what’s that, let’s say that is the most grimdark tabletop wargame known to man and wickedly fun); I consider it a sci-fi version of At the Mountain of Madness, but with a bit more gore. Also a good horror movie for dates (trust my teenager self on this one). Sam Neill aces it on this film.

12. 30 Days of Night.

 

I can’t believe I almost forgot to put this one. maybe it was because when I went to see it I was with a friend in a cinema in the middle of nowhere, mist all over the place (like is typical of UK) and it was the midnight release, but this movie made for a tense return to home and me starting to plan how to deal with something like this. Everything in this movie is pitch perfect to scare you. These are not sexy vampires, these are predators and we are their food. Also the design of the monsters is disturbing to say the least. And the music, eerie as hell.

13. The Addams Family (1991).

 

 

 

 

 

In my 13th entry of the list (very ad hoc), here is the ‘family movie’. My wife and I recently watched the animated film and we enjoyed it a lot. It was charming and had a lot of heart. The kind of family movie that can be enjoyed in these days. But, the 1991 film is a way better fit for this time of the year. It has a stellar cast, it’s very spooky kooky and a lot of heart. Besides, it is an opportunity to see late thespian Raul Julia chewing the scenery like a vampire chews a victim’s neck

 

Well, this is my list. Obviously, with the current output of films, this reads more like a classic list than a modern one. I know there are other movies worth watching today like Ringu or The Grudge, but I think this list captures pretty well the spirit of Halloween (not of Samhain, that is different, but I will talk about that later).

Do you think a movie is missing? Want to talk about your personal list? Please go ahead and join the conversation in the comments below.

Enjoy and ‘trick or treat!!!’

A chronology of the Tempest Blades Universe

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*SPOILERS BELOW*

Every adventure, every setting needs a chronology, a history, an evolution of events that take the characters to the point the readers start getting acquainted with the world of the story they are reading. The passage of time gives more ‘realism’ to the world around the characters. Creating a timeline is also a useful tool for a writer to put in order their ideas.

Well, here is the timeline of the Tempest Blades Universe. Or at least an approximation. Now, this is a very spoilerific thing to read, but I’m NOT including the biggest spoilers.

Nomenclature:

BDoD = Before the Death of the Dragons

ADoD = After the Death of the Dragons

The Ages of the World

  • Time before time  No measurable time
    • Kaan’a creates the Universe from a sea of entropic chaos. The universe becomes viable for life
    • The Lords of the Pits blink into existence. They really hate that.
    • The Akeleth are born
    • The Tempest that separates the spiritual from the material realm is created.

 

  • The Lost Age From millions of years ago to 15,000 BDoD Note: Well, it is lost, so most of the information here is missing (for you, not for me). What did you expect? 
    • The Proto Tempest Blade, the Serpent’s Wisdom is created and granted to the Samoharo. It is made from the metallic core of their homeworld
    • The exodus of surviving Samoharo, Humans and Freefolk begin.

 

  • Dawn Age (15 to 10 thousand years ago) From 15,000 to 10,000 BDoD
    • The Arrival of the Three Species (human, freefolk, samoharo) to Theia
    • The First Demon arrives, piercing reality in a bid to destroy Theia and open a pathway to Last Heaven, that would undo reality
    • The Trickster Goddess enters the world. The World Scar is created. The Twins are born from the Goddess and create weapons for the mortals
    • The Awakening of the Founding Parents. The Samoharo Shaman, the Human Iskandar and the Freefolk Magi –Asherah- The rumored First Gen Gifted
    • The forging of Yaha, the actual First Tempest Blade, born from a human soul, a piece of the Life Tree and meteoric iron
    • The Battle of the Life Tree and the birth of the Iskandars as tribe
    • The Punishment of the Demon: Split into the Crawling Chaos and the Golden King
    • Black Fang the Montoc Dragon arrives at Theia to help the Freefolk
    • The Diaspora of the Species across Theia
    • Asherah’s Pilgrimage
    • The Titans –proto Gifted people- are created to lead and protect Humans
    • Faes –sentient Akeleth A.I. are freed around the world
    • Samoharos retreat into their own continent and destroy most of their fleet to keep it from being used for war. They keep their technology secret to hide the planet from enemies
    • The atmosphere of Theia develops a highly ionized layer that allows for planetary cloaking

 

  • The Titanic Age (from 10 thousand to 7 thousand years) From 10,000 to 3,000 BDoD
    • The Titans Rule the land
    • The Golden King corrupts the Titans through the Curse. They create their fiefdoms and subjugate humans and freefolk. Only the Samoharo oppose them
    • The Titans break the Long Moon in their quest to obtain the Life Tree and true immortality
    • The Titans destroy almost all of the Iskandars and really hurt the Samoharo that spent much of their power to stop them
    • The Guardian God enters the world. The Life Tree is taken out of regular space
    • The Trickster Goddess trains a Second Gen Gifted: The Storm God, a surviving Iskandar
    • The Storm God uses Yaha to hunt down and kill ALL Titans
    • The binding of the Titans powers to the gem cores
    • The Kingdoms from the Grasslands fall
    • The Dragons arrive in mass during the Rain of Fire to police Theia
    • The forging of the Lost Tempest Blade Agni’s Fury
    • The Samoharo detect strange signals in deep space. They rehabilitate a few surviving ships to keep guard around the planet and mine the asteroids in the rings around Theia

 

  • The Age of the Dragons and Demons (from 7 thousand to 3 thousand) From 7,000 to 3,000 BDoD
    • The Crawling Chaos corrupts a healing terraforming ritual.
    • The Gates to the Pits are open. Demons flood the world through the first recorded incursions
    • The Judge God enters the world. The Haunted Peaks are raised in the Grasslands, to seal the spirits of the escaped demons.
    • The Storm God creates the order of the Demon Hunters among the Kuni in the West and then disappears. It’s rumored that he ‘ascended’
    • The creation of Titanfighters in the East
    • The Silver Riders, an alliance of Demonhunters, Titanfigthers, Magi. Samoharo Bloodtrackers and Dragons, is born to fight the Demons
    • The Silver Horn is created to close the Gates. The Crawling Chaos is trapped in a mortal form known as the Dark Father, walks the world not knowing who it is and without most of his power.
    • The Prophecy of the Tovainar is written
    • The roaming beasts that infest the roads are born
    • The minor species –such as the Felp Orcs- are created.
    • The Forging of the Tempest Blade Tidal Icebreaker
    • Almost all dragons die eradicating the demons
    • The Silver Horn is lost after closing the last Gate

 

START OF THE MODERN CALENDAR

  • The Age of Strife (from 2 thousand to 1 thousand years ago) Year 1 ADoD
    • The Modern Calendar is created the day the second to last dragon dies. The whole world is in mourning. (1 ADoD)
    • Black Fang, the Last Dragon is transformed into a human by the Trickster Goddess to teach him humility and keep him safe at the same time
    • The Dark Father reclaims his memories but not his power, joins the Meteora people and creates their technology
    • The Freefolk are at the peak of power. Ravenstone is founded.
    • The creation of the Major Kindgoms of Ionis
    • The Rise of the Empire of Meteora in Auris
    • The Kuni and the Straits keep a constant struggle to keep the Empire away
    • The Burning of Carpadocci and the appearance of the first Tovainar
    • The Intercontinental War of Magic and Technology
    • The Summoning of the Bestial
    • The Destruction of the Empire
    • The Fall of the Freefolk Kingdom of Umo
    • The Burning of Magick to save the world. The ability to use magick is lost to all but a few Freefolk tribes, in diminished power.
    • Black Fang, the last Montoc Dragon returns to his draconic form in order to stop the Bestial from destroying the surviving Freefolk and dies killing the Bestial.
    • The Forging of Black Fang the Last known Tempest Blade
    • The Kuni create their own Empire
    • The Samoharo teach the people of the Straits guerrilla tactics to free themselves from the grip of the Remnants of the Meteora Empire.

 

  • The Calm Age of Exploration (from 1 thousand to 180 years ago) Year 1000 ADoD to 1820 ADoD
    • The Kuni Empire becomes a major power, Portis becomes a major city
    • The Culling: samoharo kill in secret anyone with power above a Demonhunter in order to avoid the resurgence of the Titans. They also gently sabotage any advanced technology to keep the signals from alerting the universe of their existence
    • Fragmented nations are created all over the world.
    • The Romances of Montsegur and the Starpendants shape the southern Ionis
    • Belger explores the world, founds the city of Belger’s Frost or Belfrost as is know today
    • Technology develops at a steady pace as a result of not having access to magick
    • Trade routes are established, exploration of the world becomes a job
    • Belger disappears after climbing one of the Haunted Peaks
    • The Bent Ear pirates fight against the theocracy ruling the Remnants of the Meteora Empire to return water to the Desert wastelands
    • Yokoyawa is born (1802 ADoD)
    • The Forging of the Unknown Tempest Blades Heartguard and Soulkeeper
    • Akeleth Ruins are found, their lost technology is started to be studied and incorporated into human technology)
    • The Onyx Orb is found. The creation of the Blood Horde and their ravaging of the Grasslands
    • Sid is born (1810 ADoD)

 

  • The Heroic Age (from 180 years ago to current time) Year 1820 ADoD to Present
    • The magick field regenerates. Powerful Magi are born
    • The Society of Wanderers is created
    • Fraog finds the Silver Horn and takes it to the Humbagoo Forest deep into the Mistlands to stop a reopening of the Gates.
    • Fraog meets Hikaru the Demonhunter
    • Fraog meets and marries the Freefolk Dawnstar, the last of the Wind Tribe
    • Fionn is born (1856 ADoD)
    • The Freefolk are chased away from their ancestral lands by the first wave of the Blood Horde. Fraog dies, Dawnstar settles her family in Skarabear with the help of Hikaru
    • Ywain is found as a baby, later to be adopted by CastleMartell. It’s later found that he is the First Gifted to exist in millennia. Samoharo wait and see instead of killing him
    • Hikaru trains Fionn and Izia. She disappears one day
    • The Blood Horde attacks Ionis. The Great War begins (1872 ADoD)
    • A scouting cell of the Blood Horde attacks Skarabear. Fionn reclaims Black Fang and kills every member of the Blood Horde
    • King CastleMartell of Emerald Island plans the counter-attack of the Blood Horde. The dreadnoughts start their construction
    • Fionn and Izia join CastleMartell army by killing a succubus. They are placed under Byron’s command
    • Byron is corrupted by the Golden King’s treasures, using his soul as an avatar
    • The Great War hits its apogee. The Twelve Swords are created. Joshua destroys the last weapon stored in Carpadocci
    • Fionn and Ywain destroy the Onyx Orb. Fionn becomes Gifted
    • Foundation of the Alliance (1879 ADoD)
    • Fionn marries Izia, travels the continent
    • Ywain finds Byron’s treachery, fights him and is presumed dead.
    • King CastleMartell falls ill, Byron is ready to take the throne
    • The Secret Rebellion begins. Byron kills most of the Twelve Swords, Izia sacrifices herself to save Fionn and separate Byron’s soul from his body.33 años
    • Fionn sleeps for a century (1889 ADoD)
    • The Foundation is created
    • Korbyworld is built in the Coyoli Archipelago. The Dark Father secretly returns (1955 ADoD)
    • Harland is born (1969 ADoD)
    • Gaby is born 1979 ADoD
    • Alex is born 1980 ADoD
    • Sam is born 1984 ADoD
    • Harland’s finds Fionn (1989 ADoD)
    • Fionn finds and adopts Sam after the death of her parents
    • Gaby becomes Gifted and escapes the Sisters of Mercy
    • The A.I Wanderer is developed by Issac, Alex’s friend
    • Alex becomes Gifted, first major demonic incursion takes place in ages (1995 ADoD)
    • Sid is banished, starts building the Figaro
    • The Withered King adventure takes place (2005 ADoD)
    • The Cursed Titans adventure takes place (2007 ADoD)
    • The World Tour adventure takes place. The New Twelve Swords are formed
    • Yes, this gap is left on purpose…
    • No, I won’t tell you what will happens here…

 

  • The Stellar Age (50 years from present time to the Future) (2050 ADoD)
    • The Fireraven is launched into space in the first mission to reclaim space from the species allied to the Lords of the Pits
    • The Fireraven witnesses the birth of the first dragon in millennia, from a Cosmic Egg
    • Colony Beta is established
    • Colony Beta is attacked while the FireRaven and most of the Allied Fleet was away. The Rebellion defeats the invasion
    • The arcanoarcheologist of Colony Beat find the Guardian Beast, a biocybernetic giant robot created by an extinct race to safe keep the planet where Colony Beta is in
    • Gloria bonds with the Guardian Beast. The Foundation creates a project to replicate it in order to provide the Three Species with a new defense system

 

What’s like to live with depression

Trigger warning: this entry discusses topics like depression and suicidal thoughts. Please refrain to read about it if you are triggered by them. Also, seek help. There is someone out there, a hotline, a support group, a therapist, a doctor, that can help you or at least offer you guidance to obtain it. You are not alone.

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Disclaimer: I’m only talking about my own personal experience. I don’t claim to talk in the name of every person that goes through depressive episodes because I’m not an expert -just a fellow sufferer- and the experiences are particular to each person.

I know this might be an odd time to talk about this, it’s not a mental health awareness month, and I should be celebrating the recent release of my book. Regarding the former, I believe that mental health is a topic that should be addressed at any moment, not just during a month or a week. Mental health problems don’t disappear for the rest of the year. As for the latter, well, the way I’m feeling right now is not allowing me to enjoy the moment as it should. Thus, this blog post is a way to get things out of my chest, in some sort of therapy. Which goes to one of the roots of why I write: writing for me is my therapy and the way I have to express what dwells inside my head in a healthier manner, compared to other means. There is another reason why I’m writing this, but I will address it at the end. For now, just talk about what’s like to live with depression.

I have suffered from recurrent bouts of depression plus anxiety since I reached teenagehood (maybe earlier). I have gone to therapy and taken meds as prescribed by doctors. Writing so far has been the most effective way I’ve found to deal with it in a healthy manner. And now I’m writing how I feel when I’m in one of my down periods.

Now, imagine that you have a roommate inside your head, a voice that persists and nags you all the time. Most of the time you ignore it, or if you are lucky, keep it quiet. But then one morning, the voice becomes louder. You feel low on energy, so getting up from the bed feels like a bigger chore than usual. You drag your feet to get on with your day. Then something happens -a disagreement, an argument, a misunderstanding, bad news at your job- that increases the volume of the voice. And then it goes downhill from there.

Every mistake is magnified, take out of proportion even when your rational mind tells you it can be fixed. The voice won’t let you listen to reason. Every triumph gets minimized. No matter what you achieved that day (or the day before), it pales in comparison with your mistakes. No matter how much others try to cheer you up, to point out the good over the bad, you still feel down. And then the others feel frustrated, get angry even, and tell you off. Not out of malice -not always anyways- but because they don’t understand. Because for them, all the issue is in your head and you need to get over it. Because they are not feeling what you are feeling, because they lack empathy for the situation. Because they can’t hear the voice.

You don’t say anything, try to keep it down, a smile perhaps, to take the attention away from you and your issues. Because in our current culture -an in Mexican culture the situation is even more toxic- you are taught that you have to bottle up, buckle up and move one. And for the most part, you learn to move on, despite how shitty you are feeling. If you are lucky, you learn to be resilient or have a support group, or your therapist is good. Maybe the meds worked or the techniques you use to ‘build a ladder’ to get you out of the hole work this time.

But none of them will work all the time.

Some days the voice wins the arguments inside your head, presenting you with the worst scenario or making you feel like those close to you would be happier if you weren’t around. You start feeling like a nuisance. Everything you do, say or chose is a mistake. Like your mere presence annoys or hurts others and if you try to reach out, you only make matters worse -the so-called hedgehog dilemma-. You overreact to everything, you might become aggressive or seek conflict to five minutes later regret what you did and feel even worse. If you retreat, you end alone -and accused by insensible people- that because you want to be alone, you will end alone. If you couple that with your anxiety, you start imagining that you will die alone. And then is when the nasty thoughts as I call them appear: you muse how it would be if you simply walked away from home, to disappear from the life of those you feel -or make you feel- that you are hurting. And you start making plans to make that happen. Or you start thinking about how it would be if you died. If someone will miss you, someone will remember you. If someone would care. And then is when you start musing on how you would do the deed. Because who would want a failure around them?

And all of that chat with the voice happens inside your head, while you put a brave face to the rest of the world. It doesn’t have to be a smiling face. Maybe your face reflects the sadness you feel inside. You excuse yourself saying that you have a cold or migraine. You start searching for an excuse to be left alone, maybe sleep. But your sleep won’t be a refuge because the voice is still inside. You go to sleep wishing you never wake up again so you don’t have to hear the voice or feel like you are a waste of space or screwing up things. And the voice never leaves. You know why?

The voice is your own.

And it seems as it has control over your perspective… all the time.

That’s how I feel when I’m undergoing a depression bout. So far I’ve been lucky to learn to keep myself in check and after a good scare, reach for help or seek things that can cheer me up. To write down my feelings and allow myself to let go. But every day is a struggle. Depression is not something that goes away with your good wishes. It is something that has to be dealt with. You need to remind yourself every second that you are stronger than you think and you can get through this. That’s why this panel resonated so much with me the first time I read it and made me cry.

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A few of the reviewers of my novel have pointed about Fionn’s feelings during the book, his depression, about how he feels like a failure. A writer writes about what they know, and I know how I feel like a failure every day. Maybe that’s why I push myself so hard, beyond what’s healthy for my body and mind. To stop feeling that way. Writing Fionn’s journey helped me to deal with a few issues that have made me feel like shit as an adult. However, it hasn’t been enough of late. This year, for multiple reasons I won’t bore you with, has been so tough and exhausting that I’ve been barely able to celebrate achieving the publication of my first novel.

So I’m gonna do what has worked for me so far to keep myself in check an avoid letting the voice win: go to therapy, reach out my support group and write. The sequel novel will be a more personal affair, as Alex -the character that’s more like the real me, annoying habits included- is a chronic depression sufferer, despite -or perhaps because of- of all the things he can do and has done. The first book gives hints of that. Now I will explore the issue in depth because basically, I will talking to myself about how I’ve been feeling all these years and about my unhealthy habits, about pushing myself into exhaustion and still feel like a failure. Don’t worry, the book won’t be a sad affair. I’m using the story to deal with my inner demons, not to make anyone feel sad or trigger someone -it won’t be 13 reasons why-. It will be still an adventure. Just one that will explore a personal topic because really, if I don’t do it, I feel like I’m gonna explode. So better to deal with it in a healthier way and if it helps someone else, cool.

No, I didn’t write this blogpost to call for sympathy or pity or plug my book. Rather I’m writing this to explain my rationale behind my writing, why it is taking me so long to get it done and why the next book will be more personal. Because it will be my therapy session. Hopefully, I will be able to pull it off. And hopefully, me talking about depression in a more open way helps to further the discussion, eliminate the stigma and show that everyone can suffer from it and it is not a sign of weakness. It is something very human, something that has to be talked about and more importantly, something for which people needs help and understanding, a lifelong condition that needs above all, better understanding.

You are not alone.

Today is the day.

So yeah, I published a book today.

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After 5 years of writing, editing, cursing, looking for a home for it (rejection included), more editing, working with the cover artist, a life goal is finally achieved and here. My first novel is out. I can say that I have achieved the 3 goals I set for myself before I reached 40 (it was originally before 35, but I guess I’m a late bloomer). Those goals were:

  1. Marrying the most beautiful girl in the world. Check
  2. Publish a Book. Check
  3. Get a Ph.D. while studying abroad. Check

Damn, I need new goals now.

Anyways, back to the book, it was getting good reviews so far, it has been called “imaginative”, “an epic that bursts with originality”, “highly enjoyable” & “an impressive debut” that “should appeal to readers looking for adventure and fun.”

For more detailed reviews, please visit the Goodreads page of the book. Hopefully, those will cross over to Amazon and help get sales. Because while I write for the love of the art, the extra money would be nice and it would give my publisher an incentive to publish the sequel I should be writing.

And this is the book blurb:

Fionn is the wielder of a legendary Tempest Blade, and he is blessed – or cursed – by the Gift. Though his days as a warrior are long over, his past leaves him full of guilt and regret. Life, however, has other plans for him, when he agrees to help a friend locate a missing person.

Gaby and Alex never expected to become heroes… until they met Fionn. As an ancient evil arises and consumes the land, Fionn must help them to master their own Gifts and Tempest Blades.

Together the three of them, and their friends, will chart a course aboard the flying ship Figaro to save the planet. Will Fionn’s past be an anchor, or will he overcome the one failure from his former life before time runs out?

In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible.

Including second chances. 

Anyways, I hope you like the idea enough to buy it, read it and hopefully review it. You can get in Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indigo.

I will go to celebrate later with y wife and friends if the exhaustion from my day job doesn’t take a toll first.

Everything I learned about storytelling I learned it from Final Fantasy VI

With the release of “Tempest Blades: The Withered King” closing in, I thought it was fair to talk about one of my biggest influences in terms of writing and storytelling: Final Fantasy VI.

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What? Were you expecting a book or a writer? Certainly, there is some of that. But I’m talking here about storytelling -and to a certain degree- concept development and cast management.

If you want to know why I consider Final Fantasy VI one of the best entry of the series, I remit you to this article at Kotaku. But for the purposes of this blog post, I will focus on how it influenced my writing and thus, influenced Tempest Blades.

I got to play the game, around 1996. A friend of a friend was selling his old SNES games and I wanted to buy Chrono Trigger, but my best friend got it first and I was left with FFVI and Secret of Mana. In hindsight, it all worked for the best as those two, along Turtles in Time remain my favorite videogames. And they were my first RPGs too. But I digress.  The first thing that struck me when I started playing was the music. FFVI has orchestra level music. The second thing that struck me was the detailed story -in an admittedly barebones worldbuilding-, but I will talk about that later. The third thing was the cast. The MASSIVE cast.

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I mean, the game has 14 characters, 12 main ones, and 2 optional. And every one of them, EVERYONE, has a character arc, backstory -as short as it might be- and a role to play in the story. You get to assemble the cast through beats of the story that feel like smaller episodes that build towards the overall plot. Innocuous comments at the start become a massive plot point, later on, e.g. The Figaro brothers story and relationship with certain coin, Relm’s relationship with dogs, Setzer and the flying ships, Shadow whole plot… Every character has aims, goals, dreams and a role to play. And while some might get more screen time than others, all feel like fully realized characters. Heck, each character has it’s own leifmotiv theme that works as a shorthand of what to expect from them.

When I was in the earlier stages of plotting Tempest Blades: The Withered King, I had a massive cast, which I had to rework in order to make the story work. Characters got merged with other, roles got reassigned, others were used in short stories and a couple had to be cut (but don’t worry, those two will be introduced in the sequel) and one was created exclusively for the version you will be reading in a few weeks. So with the remaining cast, I had to plot

Now the thing is, you can have a massive cast but if you are not careful, most of those characters will end being barely memorable at best, cardboard cutouts at worst. Their personal histories, interests, weaknesses, fears, goals, have to impact one way or another into the larger plot. It is said that every person is the hero of their own story. That’s true. Even if in this first novel Fionn’s story drives the overall plot, Gaby, Alex, Sam, and even Sid and Harland have desires, goals, skills to contribute with but more importantly, are the heroes of their own stories. That by being those heroes, the impact and contribution to the larger plot is palpable and thus, the readers come to know the characters and invest their emotions in them.

In summary, the lesson I learned from FFVI is that you need to ‘write’ the book several times in your head/notes from the perspective of each main character, as to see how their arc, personalities, and skills contribute to the plot like they are real people.

Diane Morrison, author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and one of the ARC reviewers of the novel, wrote this in her review at Goodreads:

Each of the characters is sympathetic, flawed and interesting, and each has their own character arc that is fun to follow. I don’t want to give you any spoilers (any more than I have) so I won’t get into the details. I will say that I came to care about the characters and their fates very much, and I was even a bit teary at the end.

I think I managed to achieve what I mentioned before. Phew.

Now, even if you have that solve, you need to find how to introduce the characters in a way that feels unobtrusive, but rather part of the plot and that contributes to the pacing. Introducing the characters in a forced manner will break the flow of the story. Because in real life, unless someone is setting you up to meet someone like in a date, you meet people in a seamless manner. FFVI, as I mentioned earlier, introduced its characters in ‘episodic’ manner. You start by playing with Terra, a mysterious girl, that soon finds herself into troubles. She is then aided by Locke, a treasure hunter that takes her to another character that can help her, King Edgar. And then, as you move forward you start meeting allies and enemies alike. You recruit Ceres after Locke has to run an undercover mission for vital data. You recruit Cyan and Gau after Sabin gets separated from the party and has to find a way back to the original crew. You are joined by Setzer after you trick him to lend you his airship because it is needed to reach a part of the map that’s way too far for the means of the characters. And so on.

Leo McBride at Altered Instinct, when he reviewed an advanced copy of my book, mentioned this:

Ricardo really handles the build-up of this team well – it reads like episodes of a series, each of which adds an extra layer to what has gone before. Before you know it, you have come to know a whole team of heroes, and care for each of them. Just in time for their world to start falling apart.

Another lesson learned and applied. By the time the big part of the plot hits your characters, they are already introduced and the reader is invested in their fate.

Now, at the start, I mentioned the storytelling in barebones worldbuilding. FFVI might be one of the best RPGs, but its worldbuilding is… simple. You have a few nations at conflict, a pretty basic legend about a magic war, and a rebellious group trying to topple an evil empire. Pretty basic, pretty common stuff in fantasy. Most of the first half of the game is about that. Then the evil guy wins, destroys the world and you need to find again all the cast to convince them not only to rebuild the world but the stop the madman transformed into a god, fulfilling the final parts of each character arc.

But even with that basic worldbuilding, the story is engaging because of the way the characters make it feel like a real place with small snippets in their comments. And the way the basic plot gets turned around into a new one with that middle game twist. You don’t need a complex plot with twists and turns to get your story done, nor a massive bible for every detail of the world. Those can grow with the story, as you find the need to solve plot points or hide Chekhov’s Gun. Every plot, as simple as it might be, can be useful if you create characters with arcs that strengthen it. Plot and characters need to play along, as that could help you to work your stories even if complexity is not your thing.

One needs to write and play to one’s strengths. FFVI is a fine example of it. I would like to think I learned that lesson.

A final note… pun not intended, is that the Final Fantasy games are known by their eclectic mix of magic and science. Mixing those things is easy. Doing it in a coherent way is tricky. Magic, even one with defined rules, will change how technology develops if it is relatively easy to use. Weapons, transport, communications, health care, and even fashion are influenced by the presence of magic and/or technology, or better known as Magitek.  The rule of thumb is that people develop magic and/or science to solve problems or achieve things that aren’t able to do by the means at hand. That why technology has evolved the way it has in the real world. Add magic to the mix and you can imagine how things change. I might write more in detail about that particular subject later on.

In short, these are some of the lessons I learned from one of my favorite games on my path to becoming a writer. Next time I will explain how Secret of Mana taught me how to create magical objects that feel part of the plot and not just MacGuffins.

A frequent comment I’ve received from people that have read the book is that it has a vibe similar to Final Fantasy. Well, now you know why. Because of one of its games, that served as my very personal Creative Writing class. So if you, like me, are a fan of Final Fantasy, my book is for you.

Remember that you can preorder it here: http://mybook.to/TempestBladesWK

Updates on life and my novel

I haven’t updated the blog in more than a month. As usual, life has been hectic. I got twice sick -once with a cold, another with a stomach flu-. I’m in the last stages of my research project at my day job -with very interesting results- and need to prepare a conference presentation about it.

And of course, I’ve been writing and promoting said writing. It takes time. In 2 days, a new Inklings anthology will be released: “Tales of Magic & Destiny“, with a story of mine that links with Tempest Blades.

And in a month and a half, “Tempest Blades: The Withered King” will be released into the wider world with the hope that people like it. So far, the book has gotten great advanced reviews. Some are already available at the Goodreads page for the book, another is in the Booklist website, and a couple are at the reviewers’ respective blogs, here at Altered Instinct and at Witty & Sarcastic Bookclub. There is hope for more reviews coming in the following days. And with luck, they will be good.

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking a  few lines from each review to use in these images (the Alex one still has room for more lines though):

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And working in the sequel of Tempest Blades. I already have the prologue and the epilogue done. I just need to write the middle part. Easy! *sarcasm*.

So yeah, it has been a couple of tiring but fruitful months. I just need a holiday break to take it all in.

My 25 favorite moments from Game of Thrones

*SPOILERS BEWARE*

I have made no secret that Game of Thrones is my all-time favorite tv show. I loved every second of the final season -despite a few flaws that could have been fixed by adding an episode or two-. I have plenty of ideas and theories about its finale. And plenty of opinions about its narrative influence. But while I put all of that in order inside my head, right now I want to talk about my favorite moments of the show. I was planning a Top Ten list, but as my wife -another big fan of the show- pointed out, ten is a limited number. So I will just list the moments as they come to mind, finishing with Number 1. This is a personal list, so it might not fit with yours (my wife and I disagree with some of them). And I’m talking about my favorite ones, not necessarily the most shocking, or story changing ones. And in a series as long as kick ass as this one, this list probably will be missing several. But hey, no list is perfect.

25. The Library. If you are a bookworm, like me, the sight of the Citadel’s library is a nerdgasm. And the gyroscope.

24.  The Loot Train Assault. The sheer scope of the scene, the destruction, the cinematograpgy. All to show us what a terryfing force has Dany at her command. And we finally see the Dothraki in full action.

23. Now we know what Pod did. Don’t say anything, just listen.

22. Bronn saves Jaime.

Let’s face it, Bronn is an asshole. A backstabbing asshole at that. One that finally got what he wanted even if he didn’t deserve it. But from time to time, he showed that he was actually a loyal friend, no money involved.

21. Dany to the rescue. The sacrifice that came from this scene was high, but you can’t deny that this scenen should be the prime example of what ‘Big Damn Heroes’ moment is. Also you can see exactly the moment Jon fell for her.

20. Arya vs. Termiwaif. This scene could give any of Jason Bourne’s sequences a run for its money. This is when Arya decides that enough is enough. It’s frenetic, messy and all what a good chase should be.

19. Clegane Bowl. The fight in the making since the first episode, beautifully framed against Drogon/Dany’s path of destruction. It shows the realm culmination of those that embark in a vengeance quest: mutually assured destruction. Farewell Sandor, you were a hero.

18. Arya: Iron Chef edition. Vengeance is a dish served cold. Or in this case, a pastry made of your enemy’s children. This signaled the ascendancy of the Starks to right the wrongs the rest of the realm committed against them. And Arya finally avenges her mother, brother, sister in law and unborn nephew.

17. Tywin doesn’t shit gold. My only complain, if any, of this scene, is that is not longer. Charles Dance and Peter Dinklage sharing scenes was always a delight. But this parting shot not only changed Westeros irremediably, but it was also a true duel between thespians.

16. Tywin sends to sleep the king without supper. Tywing was an awful father and an even worse human being. But you can’t deny that it takes a special kind of man to send a psychopathic child king to bed without supper and not only live to tell the tale, but continue scheming as if nothing had happened while dismantling his family with well-placed put-downs. If you need something to establish who Tywin is, this scene is a good option.

15. Jaime knights Brienne. If you didn’t cry with this scene, there is something wrong with you. It’s the culmination and just reward for the only character that truly embodies the ideals of chivalry. If someone deserves to be the first female Ser of Westeros is Brienne. She is basically Galahad.

14. The whole Castle Black fight. This scene gives a run for its money to the one-shot scene of the first ‘Avengers’. And the one that established Jon as a bona-fine one man army.

13. Jon stupidily charges into Battle. Yes, Jon is pretty stupid at times. But no one can deny that a) you would do the same stupid thing if your family had been in Rickon’s position and b) it is an awesome sight to behold. This man earned his bannermen’s loyalty by being ballsy.

12. Sansa feeds Ramsay to the hounds. I’m glad it was Sansa the one that did the deed. This was a declaration from her that she was done being the ‘little bird’ and is now the ‘Red Wolf’, and future Queen. And the North was better for that.

11. Arya executes Littlefinger. After subjecting the realm and the Starks to his chaotic designs and power plays, Baelish finally finds a rival he can’t beat through trickery or sweet words: the combined smarts, clairvoyance and cold blood of the Stark’s siblings.

10.  Jon beats the crap out of Ramsay. There is not much to say to this, except that it was cathartic. If any, Ramsay got off lightly. It released all the anger the Starks had bottled up after being mistreated and betrayal, in the strong fist of Jon Snow.

9. Dany’s final speech. Say what you want about the ultimate twist. But you can’t deny that from the moment she walked in -with Drogon’s wings at her back- to the moment she started to give his spine chilling speech in TWO different languages. Tyrion is often considered the best talker of the show. But I say that Dany is way better. She could command an army to the gates of Hell and make them win just by the strength of her oratory skills. If she was destined to be the final villain, she made a fine damn good villain.

8. Tyrion plays the Game. Tyrion has always been one of the cleverest men on the room -when he is not blinded by love- and proving that he is an apt player at the Game, right after arriving at King’s Landing, by tricking the Small Council is proof of that.

7. Tyrion calls out King’s Landing’s nobility bullshit. The trial was a sham, we all know. And to this day I don’t know who overplayed their hand, with calling Shae for testimony and pushing Tyrion to the edge, Tywin or Cersei. But Tyrion’s reply was cathartic and a proper exposition of why those nobles and courtiers sucked. How many of us wouldn’t wish to be able to tell off a lot of people?

6. Dracarys. This is the moment when Dany went, in the eyes of the audience and the whole Essos, from naive girl to astute conqueror, proving that if you want things done thoroughly, ask a woman to do it. It was also foreshadowing of what would come before, but at the time, as Tyrion recently put, felt good and we cheered on it because the victims were despicable people.

5. Cersei blows the Sept of Baelor. The whole sequence is a thing of beauty, narratively and cinematographically speaking. the score, as usual, sells it.  It’s visceral, well-planned revenge. The scene that put Cersei on the map as a big villain. But more important, like the one you should not trifle with if you don’t have a well-trained dragon on your side.

4. Jon kills a White Walker. My favorite fight of all the show. Jon proves that the seemingly unbeatable foe is actually beatable. The sheer rawness of the fight, the sound edit to put you in the shoes of a concussed Jon and the surprise of the clash makes it for me. It actually inspired a fight I wrote.

3. Jon is named ‘King in the North’. After so much struggle, the Starks are back at home (at least Jon & Sansa) and the North feel finally avenged and reunited. Won’t last, but seeing a bastard being raised as a king on his merits -even if Sansa actually did part of the job- while juxtaposing his true heritage is what fantasy is made of.

2. Arya kills the Night King. Unexpected twist aside, this scene had me the whole time standing, tense, almost bitting my nails. The build-up, accompanied by the score makes you stop breathing and the conclusion allows you to breathe again in relief. This scene not only injected me with adrenaline, but it also showed us that saving the world is a team effort.

 1. The final montage. This has always been a Stark show (pun intended), the rest were just there for the ride in a way. This is my favorite scene as it resonates on a personal level(I have an essay waiting to explain why). The score is beautiful and we say goodbye to the three Starks that changed the realm, hopefully for good. Jon in the True North with people that love him for who he is, Sansa leading an independent North,  and Arya exploring unknown seas. But while for us the story is finished, for them life continues and we can only speculate what will come next for them. My personal theory? Jon will become the new King-Beyond-the-Wall, establish an alliance with Winterfell (duh!) and live his days in search of  “some small measure of peace, that we all seek, and few of us ever find,” as narrated by Simon Graham in the Last Samurai.

Special mention: this scene, when Dany goes from hero to villain. You might not like how it happened, but you can’t deny Emilia Clarke’s powerful acting in these seconds. Without uttering a single word, just by facial expression in a scene without no one to react with and probably all CGI. Emilia says everything we need to know. The dragon has been awakened in full. And is a terrible sight to behold, especially from below. Emilia deserves an Emmy just for that.

So this is my list, but tell me, which ones are yours? Leave them in the comments.