In an earlier post, you mentioned bringing reality into a fantasy series where it didn’t belong could damage it. You also mentioned how an ending could make or break a story. I’m not trying to be too critical, but that kind of irked me as I finished reading Damnation. The way you chose to end it was really sad. I just was wondering if you could comment on that and how you justify that ending with everything else you said.
Honestly I’m not sure what you mean. From my perspective, I don’t view the ending as all that sad.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT AHEAD!! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DIVINITY AND DAMNATION AND PLAN TO, SKIP FOR NOW!!!
Let me preface this by saying that there is a difference between realism and believability.
Realism is real-world elements. They can be brought into a fantasy world appropriately, but often is shoe-horned in either at the last minute or at a time that just messes up the story. Then the writer deals with criticism by throwing his/her hands up and saying that this is how it works in the real world… despite nothing else in their story working that way.
Believability is something within a suspension of disbelief. Basically in a fantasy world, one might get the idea that such a thing would not exist. However those people haven’t done their homework. In Fantasy, the writer creates a world and as such, creates a set of rules for that world to live by. They set up a society, a nature, and a rule of law. Everything has to abide by that, even the supernatural.
Let’s take Star Wars for example. At the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader dies. Could he have survived and been brought back to fight with the Rebellion? I HIGHLY DOUBT IT!!!
Why? Let’s see… he murdered a ton of Jedi, including children, he assisted in turning an entire world to ash, he was responsible for several other confirmed deaths, including men and women under his command, he also assisted the Emperor in pretty much decimating the societies and climates of other worlds that we’d seen in the novels. This is a man whom, if he had survived, would have been brought up on war crimes the moment the New Republic had asserted itself. It likely would have been the first order of business for them. He’d have the families of all he killed crying out for justice, and other worlds reeling for vengeance.
A second reason that he couldn’t survive is because, despite Luke bringing him back to the good side, there are crimes that are irredeemable, even by Fantasy standards. Darth Vader’s death, and the life he wasted that he’d never be able to spend time with his children was his final penance for everything he did. It is likely why he was able to join Obi Wan and Yoda as he did.
Simply put, there is no way Vader was walking away from what he did. It literally couldn’t happen.
Now let’s take a look my characters, Xaphine and Piero. LAST CHANCE ON SPOILERS…
Keep in mind, my story had a much bigger hurdle to overcome. It took place in our history. I wrote it very carefully so that our history could proceed. I wanted someone to read the story and think ‘Wow… this could have actually happened and we just didn’t see it in our history books.’
As you can imagine, meshing actual history with a fantasy world wasn’t easy. The story takes place during the War of the League of Cognac, and ends during the final battle. Piero is a soldier for Florence… the war didn’t end well for them. Their army was completely decimated and the city was sacked. In the end, putting Piero in the thick of the fighting of the final battle pretty much spelled doom for him, but it was more than that. He died for a purpose… and I mean more than just the freedom of his country.
What did he die for? Well let’s take a look at Xaphine.
Before she was Xaphine Lorenzi, her name was Xaphan, a powerful tactician and general in God’s army. During Lucifer’s uprising, she turned on God, opting to lead her friend Lucifer’s forces into battle. She believed wholeheartedly in the cause he was fighting for; freeing angels from eternal servitude to a child race (humans). She fought the war for him to a stalemate, resulting in the numbers of angels being drastically reduced. Whole choirs were decimated and/or completely wiped out. After losing the war and being exiled, she helped Lucifer build the Kingdom of Hell out of Sheol went to work plotting a second invasion with their newfound powers. She help set plans in motion that caused most of the problems that take place in Divinity and Damnation.
So ask yourself, is she redeemable?
Honestly, yes… despite having a lot to answer for. One, she fought with honor, attempting to make sure that only the minimum Angelic blood was spilled. She made sure that non-combatants had a chance to get out of the way, and always fought honorably. Yes the war cost lives, but that is usually the case with war, and she believed that their cause was just. She stood by Lucifer for as long as he remained true to the cause. The moment he betrayed it and started vying for power, she turned on him.
So how do you redeem a traitor?
Well for someone who was guilty of so much, it wasn’t easy. First and foremost, I don’t actually redeem her in the book. Xaphine, attempting to save a human… a creature she at one time despised, nearly at the cost of her own life, prompted God to make her an offer;
“Live life as a human, prove that you can be good and just, avoid temptation, and an angelic role will be waiting for you upon your death. As will Piero.”
Piero’s death gave her something to fight for. 30-50 years alone, doing God’s work as a human female in the Middle Ages, was how she would earn her penance.
That is where I ended the story. Though I hinted at it, I didn’t actually give the reader a definitive answer. She may have redeemed herself or she may not have. That is for the reader to decide, and honestly, I don’t think that there is any other way I could have done it. For someone who had fallen so far, it would have taken a massive hurdle for them to redeem themselves. So I left it to the reader to see if the task I left for her was good enough.
That’s not realism, that’s keeping things within the suspension of disbelief while obeying the rules of the universe I created. I originally wrote it that Xaphine would be transformed into a human permanently and could only return to the Celestial World as a spirit upon her death, after living with Piero. I hated that ending.
In my second ending Piero dies, and Xaphine attempts to save him, but when she fails, he appears to her, removed the taint from her spirit and takes her back with him to Heaven. Not much better.
I honestly couldn’t see her just being let back in without her having to make some kind of reconciliation for her crimes. This was the best way of doing it as far as I was concerned.
Hope that makes sense and I really hope you enjoyed Damnation.
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
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Catch you on the flip side!