|434: The Last Year of the Third Era
Author: The Blackjack PM
A tale of a thief's betrayal, a captain's duty, a merchant's love, and a general's ambition, all set to the backdrop of the chaotic final year of the Third Era. Currently being revised.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 44 - Words: 230,428 - Reviews: 93 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 02-14-10 - Published: 01-08-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3332559
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I actually began writing 434 because of a dare. I had been out for the evening with a couple of friends of mine, and the three of us had become rather drunk. As our conversation grew louder and more animated by the glass, our discussion turned to an area that had never been strange to me: history and specifically my grandfather's place in it.
It is not easy being the grandson of Carlovac Townway. 2920: The Last Year of the First Era had been called by many critics the pinnacle of fusion between methodical, serious history and approachable, readable fiction. From as early on as I could remember, people had asked me if I was to follow in my grandfather's footsteps and become a great historian in my own right. If they assumed so, they must be extremely disappointed. I have never claimed that my writings were neither brilliant nor inspired: I write cheap fiction for common access. Compared to my grandfather's extraordinary rigorous research, I've been a literary nothing.
Back to the story, having drank one glass too many, a friend of mine brought up my grandfather and asked me when I would lend my own pen to increasing the luminosity of the Townway canon (perhaps, in his drunkenness, less elegantly than that). I had heard such requests my entire life, and so decided to do a new response. I declared loudly and before every patron of the tavern that I was to write my own history, this one of the Third Era, which would be every bit as respected as my grandfather's masterwork. I was flustered, inebriated, and overzealous. I had no idea where this boast would lead me.
After this event, when I was rational and sober, this thought still wouldn't leave my head. The events of the year 434 have been recorded, analyzed, and written in dozens upon dozens of volumes, but not one attempted the broad, definitive picture that my grandfather had created for the year 2920. Perhaps, I thought, someone should write such a tale. Perhaps I was the one to do it.
Soon into my writing process, I realized that I was essentially the antithesis of my grandfather when it came to writing. He was always a historian first and an author second. He spent far more time compiling facts and cross-referencing events than embarking on literary flights of fancy, as was his calling. I, however, found it difficult to wade in a sea of history, especially given the obtuse and often contradictory accounts of the year's actions. I soon realized that 434 would not be 2920: the later was history disguised as literature, while mine would, at best, be literature disguised as history.
That is not to say that I threw the historical account out the window. On the contrary, I did do a hefty amount of research into the Imperial Candidacy. In fact, one of the most difficult parts of writing 434 was not what to include, but what to leave out. Some stories, say the Dark Brotherhood's attempt on Hieronymus I's life, are so engrained into the cultural landscape that they had to be included, even if they are, in my opinion, ahistorical.
This led to me having to make a hard choice, and one my grandfather likely would've disowned me for. I have presented history in the way I think it ought to have happened. I cannot make promises on the veracity of my account, and will admit it occasionally veers into the realm of speculation. I hope to have constructed a portrait not only of Hieronymus I (who has had myriad varying depictions over the years), but also of the great and not so great figures around him, all of who had their own influence of the year. In this endeavor, I have attempted to make a tale that is as speculative and uncertain of the future as the people of the era were in the year 434. Perhaps some readers will dislike my often familiar and not always glowing portrayal of Hieronymus I; however, I wrote my piece according to my own views, not the Empire's.
Publisher's Note: The author was not mistaken to be worried about the public's reception of his tale. Between the original publication of 434, which was heavily censored by Lexian authorities to portray their dynastic founder as a perfect mythical hero, to the most recognized third edition, which expunged over forty percent of the novel in search of "separating the history from the fable", there has never been a definite volume that reflected the author's true vision. New Camlorn Publishing is pleased to present the original, unedited manuscript of 434: The Last Year of the Third Era, so that the reader, and not the editor, can determine what is or is not of value.
I do not know how the events of the year 434 actually played out. However, from all my research, including modern histories, interviews with descendants of those who appear in the story, and what primary documents that I could obtain, this is as close as I believe that I could strive to come. Perhaps I have succeeded in creating a passable novel. Or, more likely, this story is on the par of my other works, destined for a cheap, disposable diversion from the ennui of everyday life. That is not for me to say.
However history may judge me, this was still a long effort that I could not have accomplished without the aid and assistance of many parties who are far too numerous to thanks in a single paragraph. Still, I must point out three specific cases in particular, without which this story would not have been possible. First, to the caretakers of the Imperial Library, who kindly allowed me access to their archives at nearly every stage in my writing process. Second, to Mr. LeStrange, whose encouragement was a great motivator for me at the onset of this project. Finally, and foremost, I must thank the great Argonian scholar Decius Frecentis, whose insight, support, and criticism made 434 the work it was.
And for what is next? Many records exist for the hectic months and years which ushered in the Forth Era. However, perhaps I could attempt to, once again, create an overall picture of the events that took place. There are other stories I wish to tell as well, of course: as a writer, my mind always churns with new ideas. Wherever my writing takes me, I still offer my thanks to you, gentle reader. Thank you for your attention and care in reading this little story of mine. For now, I lay down my pen.
I remain your humble scribe,
Gérard Townway, 4e 71