Gratitude and Progress

So far it’s been a wild week for writing. Six chapters in 6 days including one that freaked me out and made me go “Well, this ain’t for kids anymore.  Nope nope nope!”  Then it’s never been my intent to write YA fiction, but for you hardy, sturdy fangirls and boys of fantasy and good storytelling.  Huzzah!

I think as a “stay-cation” this has turned out far better than expected.  I have another week like this coming up, so I will be getting busy with outlining the final chapters.

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Being the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning here, soup bubbling away on the stove for my post holiday work week and stomach bracing for the onslaught tomorrow in carb laden goodness, (My pancreas curses me, but I think eventual forgiveness will come) I thought I’d bow to peer pressure and say thank you.  To all of you who have bought my book, lent your support and follow this blog, I am grateful.

This is I guess a contrast to the degree of ingratitude I see in the world and how it makes people terminally unhappy to the point in which they desire nothing more than sharing their misery.  I don’t want to be that guy.  I don’t always succeed, but generally no.  It is not my desire to be the monster I sometimes pretend to be in attempts of self depricating humor or currying compliments.  (yes, we guys and writers do it too from time to time.  Human weakness, sue me.)  But in an effort to start the ball rolling in your own reminiscence, here’s what I have to be thankful for.

I am grateful to my alpha readers who have been helping me in my writing, giving me honest critiques and picking me up when the bull throws me and dances on my head for a day or twenty

I am grateful for my job, despite all it’s myriad foibles that drive me crazy.  It keeps me focused and desiring to keep writing if not from a suffering point of view, but from a financial desire PoV.

I am grateful for my health as it is.  I know it is far better than what it could be if I had not started paying attention to it two years back, and although the improvement is slow, I am still glad for what I have.

I am grateful for my friends, the couple I have IRL and the dozens I have online and in my gaming guilds of the Seraphim and Angels of Eternal Destiny.  To that end, I am grateful to have known my buddy on the other side of the world in Guild Wars 2, Flowerypants who passed away this year.  He helped me to realize how fortunate I was for both my life as well as the chance to share deep things around my book in a way I will be forever remembering him.

I am thankful my sister and her family survived Hurricane Harvey and are on their way to full recovery.  Despite all the material loss they suffered (see almost everything) they were all safe, including their cats.  It has been such a warm feeling to see the outpouring of family and friends to pull together and help them in this terrible crisis too.  I mean just staggering.

I am grateful, most of all, for my salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ.  The gifts that he has given me from the night I chose to follow Him, back in 1997.  Well surprise surprise.  It’s been 20 years since I became born again!  I did not realize that till now.  Now that is an odyssey down memory lane.

There are so many more things for me to be thankful for in private, and I hope that most of all I keep remembering to be grateful for them throughout the year, and not just on one day, which when things are going sour is very hard, but the most important time to do it.

So that’s how I feel right now.

Thanks.

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Now, as for what’s been going on with the book.

Pages 339
Words 110739

I’m still suspecting that this book will end up over 150k words, 4-500 pages, and I may just have reached the end of my middle build, or will be in a chapter or two.  Not quite sure yet.  I thought I did, and felt I had a good denouement for what would have been Volume 5 of the series, but now, I am not so sure if I should finish this part of the adventure before considering it such.  Meh, we’ll see.

And the new chapters…

44. Among the Wolves

45. A Dangerous Trade

46. Twelve Fingers

47. Sacrifices

48. Reforging the Iron

49. Hope From Afar

I hope these tantalizing little tidbits are enjoyable for you.  I kinda like dropping the teasers and keeping you in the know as to what the progress looks like.  These have been incredibly intense chapters for me to write, and I’ve been waiting literally months to finally get to this point.  And now that I’m there, I’m taking the deep breath before the plunge, as it were.

Also, I’ve started working on a new map.  Much like what you can find in the first book, you will be able to track a goodly portion of the adventure’s trek through the wilds.  Partially because I think you will enjoy it, but also because I need it to keep my understanding in place to the directions and locations our heroes are visiting.

No teaser draft this time though.  I do that too much and it won’t be special anymore.  😉  You understand.  We’ll see what happens.

Till then, it’s back to the Ondeandkurvfjell for me.

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A Surprise Is In The Works

As a build up for book 2 as I push towards completion, I’m going to be announcing some changes and a nice little surprise in the next week or so.  So keep watching this space!

Also, thank you to those who have been leaving such wonderful reviews on Amazon.  These really help me, and pick up my spirits when I struggle.  Don’t forget the star rating or it will give me a “1” despite the comments.

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What Not To Expect

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I have hit my third big landmark as an author: The first bad review.

It was 2 stars and it left me wondering why?  Sure this is only the third review I got from someone who knew nothing about me beforehand and had no bias one way or another. So I wanted to understand what the person meant and I analyzed it and talked about it with a close friend and I got a better understanding of what I’ve done as a writer.  It wasn’t a bad review, but it wasn’t a good review and from it, I learned something about my readers and possibly what to expect in the future from my work of art.

One.

The criticism that it was unnecessarily wordy and complicated.  Definitely a taste criticism, and valid.  Some people love the complexity.  I’ve had one beta reader who wanted it even more ‘crunchy’.  It definitely goes to show this is not a book for a person who does not like complexity and deal with a new lexicon.  Totally understand that.  I wondered too if I was going overboard at times, and worked to find a balance where the language and names struck a good balance.

In fact, the whole reason created the glossary and didn’t dumb down the names to English surrogates was to follow a style idea I first experienced with Richard Adams and his classic book “Watership Down”.  Now, I’m not sure how complex that story really is to some readers, but I definitely thought it.  I could have done a footnote method, but it never felt good for the whole flow of the story.  Also, I have had a reviewer state that they preferred the complexity and worldbuilding I put into the Glossary into the text itself despite it slowing the pace of the story.  Again, it was a compromise that has had some who love it and others not so much.

Two.

The book was not whimsical or magical like Narnia, Middle Earth or Hogwarts.

Completely fair on many fronts as we all compare works against the best.  This is also an accurate assessment.  I never intended it to be like any of those books.  Narnia is an allegory which they never really delve into the miraculous magical things that happen. It is just accepted that Santa Claus can show up and that the magical beings that exist are generally happy fairy tale style creatures for the most part.  Sure, you get much scarier things in Middle Earth, and its a grittier setting, but that is offset by the Hobbits and Shire.  There is a certain level of whimsy to it, and because of those two series, I suspect people who see “Christian Fantasy” expect more the high fantasy, light-hearted adventure or fairy tale inspired adventures.

In response to this, I’d have to say I never tried to show my book as one of those outside of it being an adventure epic.  In fact, I go so far as to portray this series as low fantasy where it is based more on real world spiritual warfare/exorcism, medieval church politics, and what it means to be caught in a world where devils and angels actually manifest and go to war around you.  It is not meant to be whimsical for it was never written for children.  It was written, believe it or not for nerds and fantasy geeks who liked grittier fantasy novels, the same way some people love cyberpunk, and hard science fiction.  Although children as young as 11 and adults who are into fine literature have read this book and loved it, they were not the target audience but aspects of it spoke to them.  So yes, It is not a whimsical book, though it will have whimsical moments.  This is more Jack London’s “Sea Wolf” than the Don Bluth Studio’s version of “Balto”.

Three

This is the criticism that I think was the most revelatory, and I thank the reviewer for giving me the opportunity to address it.  The statement is made that he is a Christian that believes in spiritual things.  Good…  Seriously.  I am as well and this is a basis for part of why I even tried to write fantasy like this in the first place.  It is further said that this comes too close to the line.  Now I’m not sure what line this is, but if it is the line between reality and make-believe, then this is right on the nose.  It is supposed to mirror the Christian spiritual paradigm.

The magic and miraculous in Akiniwazi is based on the teachings of deliverance ministries, exorcism, eye witness accounts and scripture as best as I could.  The only thing I tried to do was crank the special effects to 11 to enter into the realm of the fantastic.  That means those who can do the miraculous are in direct contact with divine beings, be they Angels and the Holy Spirit or demonic forces.  There is no ‘neutral’ form of magic in the book.  If a ‘spell’ is cast, there is an angel or demon behind it in some form or another. It isn’t the individual’s personal will or power or gift.  Just like Samson’s strength, it came from God.  Just like the prophetic slave girl Paul drove the demons out of, that power came from satan.  Magic is not something that is dug out of the ground like coal, or manufactured like a microchip and is spiritually neutral.  This is a staple trope of fantasy, but one I chose to throw out at high velocity.

There are going to be many people, particularly Christians who will find this extremely uncomfortable because it will hit close to home.  The book will touch on how demons can infiltrate people’s minds, and the whole idea of legal spiritual rights.  It is intended to be conversation starters and fodder for people to question the spiritual war that I believe is going on around us right now.  Again, not something some Christians will agree with or enjoy but others will.

Anyway.  This is also not a book about having a strong or perfect faith.  In fact, most of the characters are strongly flawed failed people that do not have instagram perfect lives, and God still uses them.  It deals a lot with failing and picking yourself back up again.  How rejection by others does not equal rejection from God, and the difference between religion and faith is no respecter of person, privilege or group identification.  It’s you and God together in the end and how you walk with Him.

Now, hopefully I wrote the book well enough that if you’re not into that kind of stuff, you can just ignore all that as window dressing the same way people do with Narnia and it’s blatant Christian allegories, or say Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose” does not preach religion at his audience, but it is everywhere in the book.

As for the last point of being poorly executed… ::: shrug ::: not sure how to help there.  🙂 Matter of taste I guess and that’s fine.  I did the best I could, and learned a lot.  I still see stuff I wish I would have worded better, but it’s out there now because I’m not going to spend 4 years editing it.  I’d say give book 2 a try when it comes out.  I know, like most book series, only improve over time.

Thank you for reading the book and leaving a review.  It helped me consider my work better, and keep some thoughts in mind moving forward.

If anyone would like to discuss the book or anything about it, please, send me an email, or post a question/opinion here.  I’ll be glad to discuss my work, particularly if you are confused about anything.

 

Sampler Platter #4 “For the Greatest Good, They Leave Home”

Chapter 4 is now posted for your reading pleasure.  Please feel free to drop by and leave comments.

https://www.wattpad.com/361577151-a-dark-light-rises-in-a-dark-world-4-for-the

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Beta! Beta! Beta!

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You talkin ta me?

Ha ha… made you say “wut”?

I’m such a weirdo.

Okay, here’s the deal.  I am looking for Beta Readers.  I have a few confirmed, but I would like a small, comfortable herd of interested parties who would be willing to read and fill out a questionnaire (plus whatever other criticism they may have) on my latest edit of Reimarsoga.  Remember, this is going to be a critical read, not just a fun read.  (well okay, it will be fun if I have my druthers.)

Details! (I will provide final instructions in the email)

  1. Start Date: No later than Oct 27th, 2016.  (Date is currently pending the completion of latest edit, finalization of the map and questionnaire.  It may come early.)
  2. End Date:  No later than Nov. 21st, 2016.  (I need time to make changes before I send it to the editor for a January release).
  3. Provided Materials:
    – 1 Copy of “Reimarsoga: Subtitle Pending” in PDF (including map and glossary)
    – 1 Questionnaire with specific questions by chapter and as a whole.
  4. Bonus Treat:  Participants who complete the beta read will be eligible for a FREE COPY once the book is released currently planned for the 1st week of January!  (I know, right?)
  5. Space is limited, so please don’t be disappointed if you do not get in… Book 2 is right around the corner!

That’s it as I see it.  If you have experience with editing, I am very interested in your input.  Enthusiastic fans of Fantasy, Steampunk, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction are strongly encouraged to apply.

To take the plunge, please reply the Contact page (extra linkypoo) and send a request through the email you wish the files to be sent to.  If you do not receive a confirmation email, you have not been selected, or I did not get it.  If that’s the case, try again before Oct 27th… cause I gotta put a hard deadline somewhere… and we’ll get it cleared up.

Once November starts, I will be focusing on my next Akiniwazi novel…la?  I’m doing NaNoWriMo, so its goal is 50k words and the faster I finish that means bonus stuff for y’all.

Thank you all for your interest!

 

 

 

Writing Playlist

Yes.  I have a writing playlist that I use to put me in the mood.

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Many people listen to music while writing.  Others do not.  Some can even do it with the TV going and other distractions.

I like writing to music.  Tea at the ready in the wee hours of the morning.  I seem to not get really rolling till after 4am lately.  This I think has more to do with working nights, but I prefer to write when its dark out.  Just the way I am in my inconsistent manner.  So what do I listen to?  Here’s a list of songs and artists I have in my playlist.  I wish I could put up an actual playlist so you could all enjoy, but hopefully you then have enough information to look on your own if you are interested.

Okay, maybe some samples will show up if they are on youtube or something.

The “Official” Akiniwazi Playlist (exerpts)

Two Steps from Hell

  • Moving Mountains
  • Heaven Hell
  • Nero
  • Norwegian Pirate
  • Heart of Courage
  • Strength of 1000 Men
  • Breathe
  • Cry
  • El Dorado
  • Ocean Princess

Vangelis

  • Conquest of Paradise
  • Monastery of la Rabida
  • Light and Shadow
  • The Bounty

Mychael Danna:

  • Phoenix Anastasis
  • Nakawe
  • Visions of Bernadette

Loreena McKennitt:

  • Prologue
  • Marco Polo
  • Night Ride Across the Caucasus
  • Dante’s Prayer

James Horner:

  • Jack Dawson’s Luck
  • On Hallowed Ground
  • The Oglala Sioux
  • Proud Nation
  • Thunderheart

Dead Can Dance

  • The Host of Seraphim
  • Ascension
  • Circumradiant Dawn

 

Hans Zimmer:

  • Progeny
  • The Emperor Is Dead
  • Reunion

Other Cinematic music from:

  • The Civil War
  • The Fog
  • The Island
  • Schindler’s List
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Hannibal
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • The Professional
  • The Crow
  • Prince of Egypt

Various Medieval music, both classical, modal and re-envisioned:

  • Hildegard Von Bingen “Illumination”
  • The Empire Brass: “Passage”
  • Gregorian Chants from the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos
  • “Sing We at Pleasure”
  • Native American Flute by Coyote Oldman’s “Thunder Chord”
  • Nordic Roots Albums

Classical classics like:

  • Faure’s Requiem
  • Night on Bald Mountain
  • Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition”
  • Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” plus a re-envisioned version.
  • Hall of the Mountain King  (you just knew it was going to be in there, didn’t you?)

And several dozen from various artists I found for free on Soundcloud and other sources.  I shall leave you with a favorite of mine.  I use all three “versions” out there.  The full, acappella and instrumental:

 

The Strange Dichotomy I Stumbled Upon

Akiniwazi is a complex project.  It’s roots are based in some big philosophical questions:

  1. Can you make a Christian based “magic system”?
  2. What would the world look like if the Vikings discovered the New World
  3. What would a civilization look like if it discovered steam power but not gunpowder?

Number two and three have been possibly some of the most fun while number one has been the most trying.  When laying out the rules of the world in my mind, and on many scraps of paper (I tell you if this thing becomes a blockbuster, there are going to be so many scraps of real source material floating around for collectors after I die if I don’t burn them).  The biggest, even before I realized the alternative history aspects that are many of its roots is that this is based on the philosophy of what I call the “War Behind the Veil”.  The idea that there is a war between God and his rebellious creations following Lucifer and the effects it has on the physical world.

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Now, originally, this was to be a complete fantasy world with nothing in common to Earth and the world as we knew it.  But… I hit upon a huge problem:  How can you have Jesus and Christianity in truth, if you tamper with the the world and make it all fantasy.

I was stuck!

I realized you could not have that if there were any changes done to the “Old World” of Asia, Africa and Europe.  I had to leave them be, untouched and historically the same.  That single realization was a terror to overcome.  How could I have this setting I envisioned with the world being exactly as it was historically?  Then I stumbled upon it,

The New World can be totally different!

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The map was mutable.  I could make the new world and have it all the way I wanted, save for one last issue:  The Skaerslinger.

It is painfully obvious that I have taken heavily from Native American cultures.  The names of the lakes are taken from corrupted translations of Ojibwa words, for example.  But something I want totally divorced from this is to make the Skaerslinger anything like the actual indigenous people.  While the old world medieval Viking culture and related materials have to be at least honestly researched (maybe not perfect, but darn good enough to satisfy all but the biggest nerds/experts who will pick at this), I needed to abandon the same level of research and historical accuracy to the Skaerslinger.

I can’t do this, because I am not going to be accused of hate speech or racism (though some might try it anyway) because they want real world accuracy on their cultures in a fantasy novel.  So there is a big reason why I have thrown historical research for all New World cultures out the window and thrown in multiple influences into the mix from Celts, Cossack to Zulu to Aztec and Inca.  Plus many other ideas I have that make for a good ‘spice palette’ of the culture as it develops.

There are some very strong black and white lines because that is the nature of the novel, but I do not want to have anyone claim I’m saying “insert Native American culture is Satanic”.  I’m not, and will not.  But there is a reason for the structure, what I have to say and what is to come. It will be illustrated throughout the entire series.

So that’s the strange dichotomy.  All things in the old world and before the discovery of Akiniwazi are going to be considered as truthful and attempts will be made to make it accurate.  The New World, its people and geography and events there are a rapidly diverging splinter timeline and world from the base because it is fantasy and it MUST be.  This gives me freedom to create from raw cloth as well as just spice things up a bit from time to time, or even take interesting aspects from those cultures and use them as a template.

Many of these things will not really come about till book 3-4 I think, but you’ll see hints as we go.

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BTW, I am toying with releasing another sample chapter as it passes through the third or fourth edit.  Let me know below if you want to see another chapter out of the book!

 

 

Akiniwazi Notes: Keeping Time

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I have had trouble a long time with keeping time in my setting till I came up with a better, but more imprecise way of tracking it.  Throughout history, the church has been a primary keeper of time, so have ships for they needed it for navigation, setting of watches et all.  The problem is, clocks were expensive and generally not available.  Most people relied on sundials, hourglasses, water clocks, candle clocks and a variety of other time keeping elements.  This lead to a lot of imprecise understandings of time.  That needed to have some reflection in the setting.  So how to keep time in an organized manner and from a medieval mindset.  I settled on  the use of church Canonical Hours as a compromise.

 

Canonical Hours

This is how time is kept in Akiniwazi on land in three hour blocks. If time is specifically known, it will be referred to as either the 1st, 2nd or 3rd hour or minor of the period.

  • Nocturnes: Midnight-2am
  • Matins: 3am-5am
  • Primae: 6am-8am
  • Terce: 9am-11am
  • Sexte: Noon-2pm
  • Nonae: 3pm to 5pm
  • Vespers: 6pm-8pm
  • Compline: 9pm-11pm

Now time throughout the day is broken into eight three hour blocks which flows more with the rhythm of the setting.  So when you want to say what we recognize as 1200/12pm… aka noon, That is now First Sexte.  Dinner time?  First Vespers or Third Nonae if you meant 1700/5pm.  You see how it flows.  It works well when considering hourly progressions.

The finest reliable method of time keeping I have is by half and quarter hours.  Rarely will they have (or need) a piece of time keeping equipment with fine enough precision for single minutes or less.  Very few mechanical clocks exist in Akiniwazi, Most of the technology did not make the trip over.

Needless to say, it has not been without its own challenges, but it adds a nice flavor in the end.. in my opinion.  Then again, I’m the author, so I’m biased.

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The Editorial Two-Step

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Buster sez, “Ai r nawt teh happiez wif dis process.”

I think I finally burned down the impediments, and now can start the final battle.  Not only literarily… is that even a word?  As well as compositionally.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my two main characters I’ve driven to a “all is lost moment”, and I just have a little ‘grace note’ of a scene I need to do to drop out the bottom in my other main character so the two are both there.  As I think of it, that scene just grew too into something exciting before the big “Fire in the hole” moment for the battle.  I set my plotline and wove all the pieces together that were fighting me, and I took a few days to let my brain refill, and now… I just need to get real life out of the way so I can push forward.

So why the title?

To get all the weaving done, I was pulling my hair out.  I have in this part, a bit of story that could be off-putting for some of the audience.  I’m going to definately get another alpha reader opinion on it, but once again, one of my sounding board readers in this, Francois, came to the rescue and pointed out where I was overthinking it.  Something I really don’t want to do.  So I wrote, then threw out, wrote then threw out, wrote again… thought about it, forged forward, had another think and a talk, went back and rewrote, throwing a bunch out but not as much as I thought.

The editorial two step.

At work, after listening to the Presidential Debate… wow… just… trust me, my Facebook is a bit singed this morning, I listened to another Creative Penn Podcast and had a nice thought hit me.  I might not get this done before the one year anniversary of my major push starting, but I might be able to do a pre-order for the book and put the first book on sale right out of the gate with maybe some other promo things if it looks like it won’t make it for Christmas.  It’s a thought at least.

So, tonight, when off work, I’m going to hopefully kick off the battle and be one YUGE step forward to polishing this bad boy off… and get to beta readers sooner rather than later.  I was also encouraged by Ms. Penn discussing her need to abandon false deadlines too.  I sighed a large relief at that.  Then realized that she’s also cranking out far more words than I am, so I need to start getting my act together.  Inspiration, not competition… inspiration not competition.

;c)

 

Besides, she already won if it was.

Timeline of Akiniwazi: 1307-1310AD (39-42 Ad Segregationem)

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(Althing – Icelandic Parliament)  Government Thing Viking Law.  If it helps, pronounce it “Ting”.  But this is a real thing.

 

1307AD (39AS) Halmarpakt- Through the planning of his father, Halmar created the “Akiniwazi Union”, unifying all the Jarls and their Aettir into one cohesive government under him. There were now 13 “Royal” Aettir that united under the plan and became known as the Halmarpakt. Seven of them were given control of one of the lakes of the land while the remaining 5 were given major rivers as their lands while the Visekonge held the Kisiina Sea and the Athrflodjt as the personal lands of the Visekonge.

1310AD (42AS) – The Second Royal Census: In the wake of the Union of Akiniwazi’s creation and the naming of the 13 Royal Aettir, many old clans and families demanded some official recognition in compensation for agreeing to the new Halmarpakt. This prompted the order of the Second Royal Census. This was the first since the Isolation began. Many hoped it could help give closure to the era most Forsamling felt. Included in the census was the tracking of all the Aettir in Akiniwazi.

This, when complete, created the “Peerage of the Aettir”. Five distinct levels of peerage were created in the Halmarpakt.

Vapenaettir or “Crested Aettir” were those who had meritorious service to the Royal Aettir and land. They were given the privilege of a recognized coat of arms, motto, colors and family crest. Royal jewelers and metal smiths were directed to present graven copies of these to the heads of the family as templates for their family broaches and other jewelry.

Landetaettir or “Landed Aettir” were provided the privilege of recognized colors. They often were given much better titles and greater power as the Visekonge wished to rule in concert with the forming blocs of power.

Fargataettir or “Colored Aettir” were those who had provided meritorious service or were allied under one of the three Royal Aettir. They were given the distinction of a color, but took the crest of their patron Aettir.

Sivuaettir or “Paged Aettir” were those without land, industry or meritorious service, but could trace back their lineage to the old world and were still a cohesive family. These families were only listed in the Census Registry index. They had no official heraldry permitted. Their only honorific was the page and line number their family was listed on at the time of tabulation. Often Sivuaettir would have broaches and other decorations with the pair of numbers written on it. Although there was no officially recognized hierarchy, it created a social hierarchy and began to reshape society quickly as both new alliances were formed as the new Halmarpakt was accepted.

The result of the Census was grim. From a peak estimate of approximately 16 million people in the land, not including Thralls and Skaerslinger, only 5 million Forsamling survived the Fimbulvetr and the Aettirkriegen.