October 14, 2015

Hari Ragat Inspiration: Battle of Bubat


The Perang Bubat, or the Battle/Massacre at Bubat Square in Trowulan, Sumatra is a tragic tale of honor against ruthless ambition that I want to share as reference for making Hari Ragat campaigns.

This historical event happened in the 14th century, during the height of power of the Madjapahit Empire under the king Hayam Wuruk and his wily prime minister Gajah Mada. Here’s what happened in brief:

Under Gajah Mada, who had sworn an oath never to eat spiced food again until he had conquered all Nusantara (the Indonesian archipelago), the armies of Madjapahit had subdued all nearby kingdoms save Sunda Galuh. This was not because Sunda Galuh was that powerful or hard to reach – in fact it was very close – but because the Sunda Galuh royal family was closely related to the Madjapahit king. Gajah Mada simply would never get permission to campaign against Sunda Galuh as Hayam Wuruk would never commission war against these relations as his ancestor Raden Wijaya was a grandson of a Sundanese king.

But Aragorn-like, Hayam Wuruk was said to have fallen in love with the princess Dyah Pita Loka Citraresmi, daughter of Lingga Buana the current king of Sunda. A marriage was arranged, and Rajah Lingga duly arrived in Trowulan, the Madjapahit capital, with his daughter and an honor guard. They encamped at Bubat Square while awaiting the wedding ceremony.

But Gajah Mada had devised a plan to start war with Sunda Galuh by using Lingga Buan’s own sense of honor against him. Without Hayam Wuruk’s knowledge, Gajah Mada received the Sundanese and demanded that Lingga Buana make submission to Hayam Wuruk as a vassal, and hand over his daughter not as a wife, but as a hostage-concubine for the royal harem.

Of course this could not be borne. Lingga Buana refused, Gajah Mada insisted, and weapons were drawn. The Madjapahit army was thrown against the small Sundanese honor guard, who died to a man with their king. As the battle raged, Princess Pita Loka and her ladies in waiting all stabbed themselves dead. There were no survivors in the Sundanese party.

In the aftermath, Sundanese relations with Madjapahit turned icy despite Hayam Wuruk sending an embassy to apologize. Gajah Mada was discredited, and soon after was forced by the king to retire. The disgrace shook the fragile web of relationships that held this sea empire together, and thereafter Madjapahit would begin to decline. 

October 13, 2015

Recovered and Restored!


Hallelujah! After nearly two whole months of being sick, I’ve finally shaken off that blasted bug with the medicine that seems to work best for me – the sea.

Wifey and I have just returned from scouting out the beach city of Mati in Davao Oriental for our tour business, and yes, looks like there’s definitely potential there. That is, if sun, white sand, blue waters and wildlife are your thing.

Sunrise at Dahican Beach, Mati

Dahican Beach, Mati on a calm day. The waves here reach Hawaii-like strength and height later in the year. 

A dugong, spotted just 20 meters offshore. Sorry for the picture quality, the water was rather turbid at the time

The corals of Pujada Bay, Mati

The corals of Pujada Bay, Mati

I’m restored now, so back to writing …

October 11, 2015

Review: Terminal World


I was browsing through the neighborhood second-hand bookstore when this paperback all but called my name. I’d never read Alastair Reynolds before but airships on the cover will always intrigue me, and on cracking open the first page, the first several paragraphs had me hooked.

Terminal World is a most interesting blend of genres and tropes, with a quirky multi-zoned world of varying tech levels and unstable reality reminiscent of Jack Chalker’s Well World, a Damnation Alley/Mad Max-ish odyssey through a post-apocalyptic wilderness complete with drug-crazed marauders, a steampunk-ish rogue fleet of airships, all tied together with the breathless pace and mazy twists of a hardboiled spy thriller. One cute touch for a medieval geek like me is Reynold’s method of naming his characters for this one – most of them are named for swords, parts of swords, or armor. There’s Quillon (handguard), Tulwar, Curtana, Ricasso, Spatha … names that just roll off the tongue for this virtual sword collector.

The book follows the journey of Quillon, a post-human involved in world takeover conspiracy that he has turned against, as he escapes the weird city of Spearpoint with the original conspirators’ agents at his heels. Driving this conspiracy, and in fact the great concern of the world in general, is the increasingly unstable condition of reality. There is something in Spearpoint that is causing the ‘zones’ to shift, and not only does this play hob with technology, it also affects life directly to the point that drugs must be taken to survive zonal transitions.

Though his cover in Spearpoint is as a forensic pathologist, Quillon’s true expertise is treating this zonal transition syndrome. It’s a viewpoint that gives him a unique perspective and motivation for the story. It’s what drives Quillon to be the vector for addressing the world’s Big Issue, and yes, it ends with a real bang.

I did not put down Terminal World from the moment I bought it to the time I finished it a couple of days later save for meals, sleep, and a couple of shoots.

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