I. The Taltos Entry
I'm drawn back to the idea of a Taltos movie. Envisioning Bladerunner-like bits, for some odd reason... no, wait for it, downtrodden cyborgs; dark city, no open sky; Harrison Ford an assassin. I knew there was a reason. Not that I would cast Harrison as Vlad. *shudder*
My initial comparison was to Fight Club, though, in much more general terms--pieces out of order, fourth wall broken, extensive narration. That's the way the books are and that's how a film would have to be, although, as with Catch-22, the effect would have to be lessened, mostly for length.
One of the Verra-be-damned books would make a three hour film in its entirety, because of the yendi plots, never mind all 18 of them when they're done. (Maybe I should try a TV mini-series? Or just a regular length series?) I'd have to pick a portion of Vlad's life, tell the one story, and relegate entire novels of material to flashbacks with voiceovers.
I wonder what I'd pick? Just from looking at the author's site I can tell his faves and mine don't coincide. Not sure if this should be a factor or not.
Really what this situation leaves me with is characters. Which characters to I enjoy most and what qualities do I like in them and how do I bring those out, which story do I tell to show this?
Vlad--and, as an extension for most of these qualities, Loiosh--love the sarcasm, the cynicism, the moral ambiguity of how he lives his life. Was just watching The Score--Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton. Edward says that you're rooting for the characters, that everyone loves a good victimless crime and a badass they can enjoy. I only bring this up to highlight the contrast--Vlad's crimes are far from victimless, but his goals in the stories he chooses to relate are personal enough that we forgive him that and root for him anyway. Must remember that--Vlad's ultimate goal enough to forgive means, or at least allow means to be secretly thrilling rather than openly disgusting.
Morrolan--haughty, arrogant, honorable to a fault, impetuous, young, and, ultimately, misunderstood. Vlad relates a tale of Morrolan slaughtering a village of Easterners in the name of Verra, to get pre-empire sorcery, but we learn several books later that Morrolan's true motive was not nearly so callous and self-serving. The village had, what? Wiped out the village Morrolan was had been living in? Also an Eastern village. Morrolan's true motive was vengeance for loved ones lost, a much more passionate cause that a person could really sink her teeth into. (Ahem.) But Morrolan likes being talked about (that's why he does things like have the floating Castle Black--Howl's Moving Castle, anyone?) so he doesn't correct misperceptions that create whispers. Vain is the word I think I'm looking for. Perhaps also affectation. As he trusts Vlad, Vlad learns more about the true Morrolan. I think his part in the film should be Cold Hard Me--No, I'm Not. Complexity and compassion slowly revealed in the character. If this were fic, I'd make the final revelation "And I love you, Vlad" but I don't think I could get away with that in film.
Aliera--I really almost see her as one of the unfleshed characters, present for a skill, like Daymar for wizardry. Aliera's skill is making Vlad question his assumptions about The Way Things Work and Are People Really All That Different. The gods are mortal enough to mate with man and produce her; Dragaerans and Easterners are both human enough that she and Vlad are soul-kin. In most respects, she seems like Morrolan. I take their constant arguing as competition. I'm not sure what role I would give her. I kind of like Vlad less--Special. I mean, he was always Witch-Sorceror-Assassin, but he wasn't always Wielder of Godslayer, Creator of Chaos, Soul-Brother of Kieron the Conqueror. He doesn't have to be all that, to be Special, for me to like him. I guess that's why Taltos is my favorite book--it's the one in which he has the most personal limitations, and seems most like a real person because of it. (Jhereg runs a close second. He has these limitations in the flashbacks, at least.)
Sethra/Kiera (for the record, my firstborn daughter is going to be named Kiera)--I feel I have to question whether Brust always had her pegged as the same person, if only because Kiera shows up to drink with Vlad in Taltos when Sethra can't leave Dzur Mountain. Although it does fit that Sethra gave him god's blood for the very eventuality he used it for in that book, but tht makes her entire association with Vlad through the years too contrived, that she was building him for her use? To rescue Aliera and whatever else she needed him for? Kiera's too warm for that. I don't believe that was on her mind when she was kind to a small boy who'd just seen someone assassinated in his father's restaurant. Or else Sethra is a really good actress. Maybe both. Maybe Sethra was manipulating him, but felt affection for him even so. I'm really beginning to suspect her of a split personality deal, from the way she talked of keeping her selves separate, in Orca. I'd have the pair played by the same actress, and ne'er-the-twain-shall-meet, but I wonder if I should make the "fact" that Kiera IS Sethra known or even relevant in this film idea.
Kragar--proud man. Fell from grace. Simple. Love the story.
Cawti--I hate to make her a cardboard cutout suffragette, but I feel like she's only a softer Vlad before that (Vlad would never have a partner). One of the things I really regret is that her transition is never really shown because Vlad completely misses the boat. But then--why yes, their characters really ARE that similar, watch Vlad trying to catch up with her, follow her path. I really like his assassin days better. I understand that his constant moral conflict in those days, which I so enjoy, should lead to character growth, but I'd like to see the story left open; will he decide assassination's wrong and he's obliquely supporting the oppression of his people or will he stay in the biz? I wish Teckla was the last in the chronology, really, because Phoenix just makes the break far too concrete. He could never go back--the Jhereg are hunting him. I want the question to remain at the end; even if he makes a decision, I'd like it left so that if his convictions wavers he could still go the other way, fall back from grace, go chase after Cawti after all, whichever way he's changing.
Noish-pa--integral to the reformation of Vlad. he has this kind of "where did I go wrong" thing--he taught Vlad that stealing's wrong, but somehow forgot "don't kill people either." But if he said it, even this late in Vlad's life, Vlad would stop. Does he in Teckla? Or Phoenix? I forget. Maybe that's why he's dropped out of the narrative since. I miss him; another reason to cut at the "whither shall I go, straight and narrow or rich and murderous?"
I feel kind of bad that I've said of half the female characters "well they're really just like so-and-so." I'd love to get another perspective on that, have someone convince me of their intrinsic value.
Originally posted 1 Jan 2002