Your treat and my trick is this spooky gif for All Hallow’s Eve. Apply to your time zone as applicable.
Thank you to everybody who provided feedback. Lots of useful stuff and some great websites and resources in the comments. I’m going to post some of the links further down.
I’ve tweaked the numbers in various directions. One issue is that modern figures are often for races and endurance events, which helps with the extreme values but is not so handy for the left hand side of the table. I also want to keep figures relatively conservative and imagine some degree of having to carry some provisions and face some obstacles without quantifying that. ‘Day’ shouldn’t be taken literally – it’s not 24 hours and will match the nature of the travel. A tough pace will need longer rest and recovery
As people point out, fitness and travel conditions make a big difference. However, I’m after a sense of scale as well as suggesting ranges. I also want the figures towards the left to be sustainable, i.e. you could keep this up for a Lord of the Rings scale quest.
Here’s a revised set of figures. I’ve added a ‘heroic’ level for where a supremely fit person pushes themselves to an extreme for a one off feat (or if it is a ship etc. perfect conditions and special circumstances). I also add a fantasy deer mount and an elephant.
Changes and comments still welcome but be mindful of the parameters. After rules of thumb, e.g. if you can easily do better than 40 km in a day walking then you are closer to the ‘Marching’ value but the 40 km figure is still probably right for a sustainable figure.
||Saunter with breaks and distractions||Non-distracted but not gruelling||Marching/swift||Extreme||Heroic-Epic|
|Walking||10 km/6 miles||40 km/25 miles||60 km/37 miles||100 km/62 miles||200 km/124 miles|
|Walking at altitude in mountains||5 km/3 miles||10 km/6 miles||20 km/12 miles||40 km/25 miles||80 km/50 miles|
|Bicycle (good roads)||60 km/37 miles||100 km/62 miles||180 km/112 miles||350 km/218 miles||800 km/497 miles|
|Bicycle (rougher roads)||15 km/9 miles||30 km/19 miles||50 km/31 miles||150 km/93 miles||400 km/249 miles|
|Horse – single||30 km/19 miles||60 km/37 miles||100 km/62 miles||120 km/75 miles||300 km/186 miles|
|Small company on horses||20 km/12 miles||50 km/31 miles||70 km/44 miles||100 km/62 miles||30 km/19 miles|
|Large group with horses and wagons||10 km/6 miles||30 km/19 miles||40 km/25 miles||50 km/31 miles||60 km/37 miles|
|Large sailing ship||100 km/62 miles||250 km/155 miles||370 km/230 miles||500 km/311 miles||700 km/435 miles|
|Ox cart||5 km/3 miles||10 km/6 miles||12 km/7 miles||15 km/9 miles||16 km/10 miles|
|Coach (with regular horse changes)||40 km/25 miles||60 km/37 miles||80 km/50 miles||100 km/62 miles||150 km/93 miles|
|Train (Victorian – variable time spent on train)||200 km/124 miles||600 km/373 miles||1,000 km/622 miles||1,500 km/932 miles||2,000 km/1,243 miles|
|Imaginary deer||10 km/6 miles||30 km/19 miles||50 km/31 miles||80 km/50 miles||100 km/62 miles|
|Elephant||10 km/6 miles||25 km/16 miles||70 km/44 miles||125 km/78 miles||150 km/93 miles|
Some links and resources from the comments of the first post.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loaded_march Military training with full packs
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naismith%27s_rule Naismith’s rule for estimating travel times over hills and mountains.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Karnazes Some extreme running
- https://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=19730 A forum thread from 2006 discussing a similar question. Includes discussion of terrain.
- https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/6411/possible-distance-travelled-by-horse-over-6-weeks Another forum thread on the topic.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horses_in_the_Middle_Ages Horses in the Middle Ages answers a lot of questions about norms of horse travel.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_military_tactics_and_organization Some info on how far the Mongol mounted armies could travel.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pony_Express The Pony Express. Horse travel times get much better if there is a system for changing horses. Riding the same horse reduces the time considerably.
- http://railroads.unl.edu/documents/view_document.php?id=rail.str.0241 Some US rates of travel pre- and post railways
- https://imgur.com/lBHNtcj An ‘isochronic’ map of far you could travel from London in 19th century
- https://www.sfwa.org/2019/08/military-logistics-for-fantasy-writers/ General advice on planning a fictional campaign
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_to_the_North Steam train records
- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10084883-writing-horses A book full of advice about writing horses.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-distance_cycling People with bikes, lots of dedication and too much time on their hands.
- https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/reindeer Reindeer travel long distances. You can’t ride one in real life but that’s a different issue.
- http://orbis.stanford.edu/ This site is amazing. It calculates travel times using different forms of transport between towns in the Roman Empire at it’s height. Will adjust for the seasons and will give you costs!
[Spoilers for Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders appear]
In 2012 Ada Palmer wrote a series of essays on her blog on Niccolo Machiavelli. In the second of them she laid out her thesis that Machiavelli establish the third major model of ethics in Western philosophy. To summarise the usual account of ethics divides into three branches:
- Deontology: being good is about following the rules and about knowing the rules. The rules could be from God or society or to flip it round could be expressed as rights. The key question is what are the rules?
- Virtue ethics: being good is about being a good person as personal quality. Your motives and intent matter. The key question is whether you can become a good person if you aren’t already. Jesus, Buddha and Aristotle all say ‘yes’.
- Consequentialism: being good is about the consequences of your actions rather than the rules or your intent. The key questions are how do we judge those consequences and over what timescale/distance should we judge the consequences?
The first two have deep roots in Christian theology and in classical theology. The third feels a lot more modern and really becomes codified in the 19th century with thinkers like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mills and Utilitarianism.
For Machiavelli (according to Palmer) the central question was how to help Florence, with all its beauty and learning, survive in troubled times. Italy was a chaotic mess of powerful city states, notoriously corrupt Popes, and prone to invasion by foriegn powers. Yet also the centre of the European Renaissance and rich with new art and literature and music and thinking. How to keep this alive in a world of bandits and tyrants?
The shift of understanding for Machiavelli was to see that the models of ethics of classical and Christian thought were about the individual. For a Prince or a state the question shifts. Being a good person as an individual is not the same as being a good ruler. If you are a Prince and your people are starving or beset by bandits, what good does it do them that you strictly follow the 10 commandments or are humble and pious? A good prince is one whose state and people prosper and hence…well, that means they’ve got a moral obligation to do what needs to be done and that might mean all sorts of things.
What is right, what is good? What is it to be a good person and can a bad person become a good person? What is to be a good STATE or a good company or a good organisation? What is to be a good society or a good culture? What is to be a good god? These questions pervade The Will to Battle.
The story picks up in the aftermath of the events in the previous two-part novel. The world has discovered that the quasi-state known as the Humanist Hive has been operating a secret assassination program whose purpose has been to ensure the survival of the hive and political stability. Worse, leaders of some of the other hives have known about this and had done secret deals with the assassination program.
The ensuing scandal and coming trial have ignited hidden tensions within this future society and old fracture lines have re-appeared. Added to this the very public assassination of JEDD Mason and his apparent resurrection have created a dilemma for a society were religion is regard as a stricly personal and private matter and where public discussion is taboo. Finally, the vexed question of using advanced psychological techniques to determine and fix a child’s (or change an adult’s) personality has been re-opened with those for and against the practice regarding themselves as having a moral high ground.
The consensus is unravelling and the world is heading to war. Reformed mass murderer and confidant to the rich and powerful, Mycroft Canner follows the events in the company with the mysterious Achilles. Ostensibly the re-born hero of Greek epic poetry, Achilles is either a larger version of a child’s toy soldier or the reshaped form of that same child: the apparently magical Bridger who died (or was transformed) at the end of book 2. Together they seek to help the world prepare for war, so that the war can be short and decisive and that civilisation can survive.
Joining Achilles and Mycroft is the imagined and disembodied voice of Thomas Hobbes. Where Palmer’s earlier books orbited the French enlightenment figure of Voltaire, The Will to Battle adopts the pessimism of Hobbes whose book Leviathan, argued for a strong monarchical state during the chaos of the English Civil War.
There are no simple conclusions to the questions raised. Should states act only in their interests? Is the murder of innocents by the state GOOD if the murder brings peace? Can a person change who they are? Can you become good just by doing good things, even if your initial motives are insincere? More disturbingly, can your personality be altered? If so, are you the same person? If a guilty person is changed are they still guilty?
These questions about the individual and the state are not the only deep questions of ethics. Amongst them is the more abstruse question of whether god/God/gods can be good and what it means for a god to be a good? Is God good? Does good proceed from God (i.e. good is good because god will it to be) or is God intrinsically good (i.e. goodness is external quality of god). Mirroring these questions of good are the questions of evil and whether it is a thing in itself or simply the absence of good.
Mycroft sits at the centre of this, a figure that combines both Voltaire’s Candide as a kind of innocent abroad, with the Norse Loki as a master of deception, Machiavelli as both the historical character and as the notorious manipulative villain, along with the ultimate social bogeyman of the mass murderer. That Mycroft is increasingly unstable is hardly a surprise but he remains a wry and yet distorting viewpoint of events.
Where The Will to Battle is less successful is in the surrounding characters. Where the first two volumes provided us a close set of people surrounding Mycroft (in particular Sniper, Thisbe and Bridger), the nature of book 3’s plot is more concerned with the more powerful figures fighting over policy and events. JEDD Mason, while intriguing as a person is not a character you can engage with given his apparent nature. However, it is necessarily more concerned with events than the previous book and following the choices of the powerful as they increasingly lose control.
Rich and meticulous, Palmer delves into the roots of Western thought in a way that is stylistically quite different from but which closely mirrors Jo Walton’s works. Necessarily, a major flaw in a book series set on a world stage is that events are interpreted deeply eurocentrically. It is an issue tacitly acknowledged by the partisan and unreliable perspective of Mycroft Canner. While I’d love to read a parallel version of the same world shaking events from a narrator with a quite different background (e.g. a perspective informed by the contrasting strands of Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist thinking), Palmer is exploring the ideas that she knows in great depth. The future world she had created is not neccesarily limited in view but rather the very specific (and intentionally erratic) window she has given us is.
In a similar manner we also really only see this future world as it pertains to the very powerful or to the servants of the very powerful. This also reflects Mycroft’s skewed perspectives on the nature of history and also his tendency to mythologise. Throughout all three books Homer’s Iliad has loomed large and is Mycroft’s pre-eminent approach to history: documenting the kings and heroes as they stuggle and the actions of the gods around them.
As yet unanswered, the role of gods, magic and miracles in this ostensibly science fiction setting is unclear. Mycroft’s central unreliability is not a willingness to lie so much as his own weak grasp on reality. I remain unclear as to why so many people accept JEDD’s claims to divinity or whether this is largely Mycroft projecting his own faith onto JEDD. A similar question exists around Bridger’s miracles, the nature of Achilles and I’m not sure if Saladin is entirely real.
Epic and tragic, The Will to Battle maintains the strengths of the first two books. With the fourth (and I assume final) volume to arrive next year, I look forward to seeing how these events play out.
I was thinking about fantasy maps and how far people can travel. I’m guessing there’s probably excellent charts on this in some game source books but I couldn’t find a handy chart online so I made some guesses.
Feedback and correction would be welcome as these aren’t great guesses. I tried to split it into four levels of travel:
- Saunter with breaks and distractions: the travellers are stopping off for various distractions, fights, visits to gift shops.
- Non-distracted but not gruelling: the travellers are actively trying to get from A to B but at a reasonable pace for people who don’t want to arrive exhausted.
- Marching/swift: The travellers are pushing themselves or on a fast service.
- Extreme: Desperately fast or pushing the limits
|Travel in a day ||Saunter with breaks and distractions||Non-distracted but not gruelling||Marching/swift||Extreme|
|Walking||10 km||20 km||30 km||40 km|
|Bicycle (good roads)||30 km||60 km||100 km||
|Bicycle (rougher roads)||15 km||30 km||
|Horse – single||30 km||60 km||100 km||
|Small company on horses||
||50 km||70 km||100 km|
|Large group with horses and wagons||
|Large sailing ship||
||220 km||450 km||660 km|
|Coach (with regular horse changes)||
|Train (Victorian – variable time spent on train)||200 km||600 km||1000 km||
OK, so kilometres are annoying but I like them. Here’s the numbers above converted into miles. Looking at the miles I think I’ve been underestimating.
||Saunter with breaks and distractions||Non-distracted but not gruelling||Marching/swift||Extreme|
|Walking||6 miles||12 miles||19 miles||25 miles|
|Bicycle (good roads)||19 miles||37 miles||62 miles||
|Bicycle (rougher roads)||9 miles||19 miles||
|Horse – single||19 miles||37 miles||62 miles||
|Small company on horses||
||31 miles||44 miles||62 miles|
|Large group with horses and wagons||
|Large sailing ship||
||137 miles||280 miles||410 miles|
|Coach (with regular horse changes)||
|Train (Victorian – variable time spent on train)||124 miles||373 miles||622 miles||932 miles|
Notas Tertius Part 6: Being even further unauthorised notes, musings and rabbit hole explorations on the Terra Ignota series. Covering the matter of The Will to Battle: Terra Ignota Book III by Ada Palmer
Page numbers are from Tor Hardback edition 2017. All notes and speculation are those of myself. Notes are written progressively and in some cases questions raised are answered later in the text. Allusions made by characters are speculative and might not reflect the intent of the author.
A final and shorter set of notes as the world of the Hives spirals to civil war.Continue reading “Notas Tertius: Part 6 & final, Chapters 19 to 21”
Well this is very odd. Infamous nationalist Vox Day has a new post [http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/10/mailvox-spotting-quality.html ] dedicated to little old me but oddly it is about this post from two years ago: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/spotting-fakery/
“One of the more inept File 770ers – which is saying something – is Camestros Fappletron. His Gamma backside is still burning from the spanking he received here in 2016 after he tried to pose as a Master of Rhetoric and only succeeded in demonstrating that he simply did not understand Aristotle’s distinction between rhetoric and dialectic.
So, it’s more than a little amusing to note that he’s been trying to retroactively rectify the situation for years, as Samuel Collingwood Smith noted.
Earlier today, a leftist left a negative comment on a review I did in 2016 of Vox Day’s “A Throne of Bones”. They ended by linking to a hatepost claiming the positive Amazon reviews were deceptive based on an analysis by a site called Fakepost.com from 2017. Because, of course, the accuracy of a self-appointed analysis site using an unpublished algorithm is beyond question..
I had no idea what he was talking about, because of course I pay absolutely no attention to Camestros or his incessant anklebiting. But apparently, back in 2017, File 770’s Master of Rhetoric decided to prove that many of the 332 reviews of A Throne of Bones, which average 4.5 stars, are fake.”
Sadly Vox’s reading comprehension is still less than stellar or maybe his grasp of logic — oh what the heck, probably both. Vox’s tome was what I was using to examine at Fakespot not vice-versa. My conclusion wasn’t that his reviews were fake but that Fakespot would struggle to spot the difference between fake and sycophantic. Here’s me:
Ouch…but to some extent, we already know that the comment section of Vox’s blog is full of willing volunteers ready to do sycophanting stuff and/or trolling/griefing at Vox’s request. Arguably those are genuine reviews, just that they are hard to distinguish between click-farm fakery. Think of it as a kind of Turing Test, which his right-wing minions repeatedly fail by acting like…well, minions.
Meanwhile back to Vox. He also complains that:
“Sadly for the ever-inept Fappletron, he didn’t bother checking Fakepost to confirm that its initial analysis still held true, as Mr. Smith informs us.”
I’m not sure what he means here. Does he think I should be regularly updating that post from 2017 with the current fake-ness rating of his reviews? That would be just weird. As for checking AT THE TIME whether the ratings changed? Yup, did that and made a point of it:
[A note of caution: the site doesn’t re-analyse automatically so the analysis you get may be out of date. The initial ratings for those two books were different but changed when I clicked the option to re-analyse]
So returning to the point. Don’t know about whoever left a comment on a blog I hadn’t heard of but no, I was not saying Vox Day’s review comments were fake just that at the time Fakespot would have a hard time spotting the difference between his minions’ reviews and fake ones.
Anyway, the good news for any regular at File 770, as I am officially now one of the most inept that makes most of your LESS inept according to Vox and you may style yourselves accordingly.
Meanwhile, the Earth keeps spinning…