Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Exegesis of a Stormwing" - Tortall Fanfic Review

Following reviews of three epically-long Pokemon fanfics is a review of a short story set in the Tortallan universe of books by Tamora Pierce, set sometime after the The Immortals quartet. "Exegesis of a Stormwing" by Harkly, posted on March 5th, 2001, is a short story consisting of dialog spoken by a Stormwing to a human boy, with the human's responses not shown. I used to be utterly obsessed with the Stormwings, being both scary villains and honorable allies when they need to be, and it's no surprise to see a fanfic like this one in my favorites list.

The characters are pretty simplistic, but that's all they need to be. The Stormwing is simply there to deliever a message of what he is and what he represents. The human boy is a typical nobleman, representing Tortall and the other peoples of the pseudo-European region. The two of them create a symbolic conflict about the inevitability of war.

In rehashing what Rikash Moonsword tells Daine in The Realms of the Gods, the unnamed Stormwing of "Exegesis" describes the purpose of the Stormwings as to mess with the glorification of war by desecrating the bodies of fallen soldiers. He asserts to being morally neutral, supporting the human view of the correct treatment of fallen soldiers, but not evil because Stormwings are just doing as Stormwings are supposed to do, similar to the attitude expressed toward the deadlier carnivores in Jurassic Park. The human is treated as like a sounding board for the Stormwing to hear himself talk and is not given the ability to engage.

War is treated as something that is driven by the glorification of dead soldiers. The Stormwing thinks that Stormwings are needed to end war by ending this glorification, and that humans only war in absence of Stormwings to make the idea of dying on the field of battle seem not so pretty. This is in line with ideas expressed by Tamora Pierce, and I disagree with both of them.

The field of battle will always be horrific, and soldiers will charge into that whether they expect to be torn apart by arrows, bullets, or Stormwings. It's not like the natural decomposition and treatment from local wildlife is significantly different from the fantastic Stormwing treatment. Do people really expect to look good as a slain corpse? I think the motivation has more to do about protecting one's people or the honor of such. Most war is waged by the people in charge who don't fight on the front lines. What would they care about Stormwings? No, the best way to stop war is to encourage cooperation and trade, so that everyone can learn to respect each other as fellow human beings. Only that will make people reluctant to spill blood.

Anyway, the fanfic accomplishes its job of coming across as dark and disturbing while still having an intriguing message. While I may not agree with the message, it is still represented well. The Stormwing's haunting parting words create a warning against war because a creature like this longs for it in a horrible way. The fact that you can't blame him for wanting it--because, after all, the gods designed him to scare people away from war like that--makes the idea of his inevitable descent upon the dying soldiers of a battlefield that much more unnerving.

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