I’ve always been fascinated by embedded journalists. Chronicling a military campaign right in the middle of the action rather than second- or third-hand, at a safe remove. It’s hard to get more visceral than that—dust in the face, grit in the teeth, adrenaline thumping, shadows jumping, blood splattering immediacy, all while trying to just stay alive long enough to somehow give what happened some kind of coherency. Whether book or article, writing is often a solitary, quiet affair, but writing front and center on a military endeavor changes the whole ball game.
Being a self-professed geek (at least 12th level), I naturally take observations like this and start plugging them into a fantasy scenario. How would this play out with a quill and ink on a different world, and how could I complicate it to make such a chronicler’s life even more hellish than anything your modern embedded journalist might endure? I’m a cruel bastard like that.
Now, that phrase “embedded journalist” is a recent invention, but the notion isn’t—Jean de Joinville was a crusader groupie 700 years ago. And Glen Cook cooked up a ripping yarn about a chronicler in a mercenary company—you might have heard of it—so the idea isn’t unique to fantasy either. I had to figure out how to differentiate my take, so I resorted to that most ancient and venerable of writerly tactics, the “what if” game… Continue reading