PC043: Sweet, Savage Sorcerer

By Esther Friesner.
Read by Rachel Swirsky.

Arrows whizzed past her as Narielle drummed slender heels into the heaving sides of her faithful unicorn, Thunderwind. Her bosom rose and fell in perfect cadence with the noble steed’s movements as the Black Tower of Burning Doom thrust its massive structure into view. Behind her, the sun was setting in a fiery ball, quenching its flames slowly, achingly, in the moist depths of the Lesser Sea of Northern Alraziah-le-Fethynauri’in-ebu-Korfiamminettash.

Bitterly, Narielle reflected that if her father’s men had not stopped to ask directions to the sea, they would never have been caught with their lances down by Lord Eyargh’s mercenaries.

Rated R. Contains sexual innuendos, and a word classified as swear.

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33 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    phignewton said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 10:27 am

    i have a feeling miss Swirsky was having fun with this one, it would be impossible to write [or listen to it] without getting the giggles….

  2. 2

    scatterbrain said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

    A whiny, pointless, mind-fart of a story; one big “meh” one from me.

  3. 3

    Katy said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

    I really hated this. It was so badly, so cheesily written, that I thought it had to be a pastiche, but I kept waiting for the ironic twist… and it never came. Cringingly self-aware, “post-modern ” and a commentary with no comment to make – nowhere near as clever as it thought itself.

  4. 4

    Rachel said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

    I generally try not to weigh in on subjects like this, but in this case — I feel it necessary to underscore that the piece is *definitely* a pastiche.

    Here’s what I said on the boards:

    Did you notice the scene where there just happens to be a mirror available for the heroine to gaze into and declare her beauty from?

    The whole piece, actually, is a send-up of really bad fantasy writing. If it were being written seriously, the mirror wouldn’t be noted as “conveniently hanging on the opposite wall”, which draws the reader’s attention to how stupid a device that is. It’d just be there.

    The whole piece is written like that, very carefully drawing the reader’s attention to all the stupid shit that happens in bad fantasy.

    Also, I call your attention to the fact that the territory is called “Alraziah-le-Fethynauri’in-ebu-Korfiamminettash” and that they live in the White Castle of the Golden Arches where they serve fried food.

  5. 5

    Dave said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

    Rachel’s explanation notwithstanding, I’m with Katy – I kept waiting for the camera to pull back and reveal that the story was being written by an elf who was failing out of his or her creative writing class in elf-school. Yes, it was clearly a pastiche, but it just wasn’t funny – it was an obvious remix of bad fantasy and bad (is that redundant?) romance novel writing. I desperately wanted this story to have something interesting to say, some fun twist beyond “hey, there’s a lot of bad writing, and when you do it intentionally, it’s worse!” — but it didn’t.

  6. 6

    Heather said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

    Well, I’m glad I stopped listening to the story to read the comments and find out what was happening here! I agree with Dave and Katy, and I was waiting for the “real story” to start. Perhaps it was funnier in print? I tried continuing to listen, but I’m grateful to know that it doesn’t get any better and I don’t need to torture my brain all the way to the finish. Rachel, it’s a compliment to your standards that this podcast sounds nothing like a PodCastle story. I’m looking forward to the next podcast!

  7. 7

    Richard said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 12:41 am

    I actually enjoyed this. It was a lot of fun to listen to, and you could tell our host was having a fun time reading it. The generous helpings of overblown innuendo actually made me chuckle out loud on the bus.

    In my opinion, occasional stories like this would be a welcome addition to podcastle. Looking forward to next week’s podcast!

  8. 8

    Zethys said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 10:05 am

    I tried. I really did. But after hearing “Alraziah-le-Fethynauri’in-ebu-Korfiamminettash,” all the bosom-bouncing in this world or any couldn’t make me continue listening.

  9. 9

    Ben said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

    Please no more elf stories. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and this story and last weeks’ were some of the only shows I could not finish listening to. If this is a big “told you so” to all the listeners, we get it. We submit.

  10. 10

    CaroCogitatus said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

    Rachel’s comments notwithstanding, I’m also with Katy. I kept waiting for the reveal of why we’re being subjected to such bad writing, but it turns out the bad writing was the end, not the means.

    Kudos to Rachel, though, for slogging through this one when she hates elves. It must have hurt her more than it did me.

    And am I the only one who thinks Rachel does her recording in a metal box just slightly larger than her head? I generally accept the tinny echoes as the price of hearing her fine intros, but it really grated on the story setting for me. Rachel, lose the box or maybe take it over to Escape Pod where it will fit in better, please.

  11. 11

    Dark Icon said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

    Having never actually read a romance novel, I couldn’t tell if this was a satire of one, or an honest attempt to transpose one into the realm of fantasy. Either way, it wasn’t for me.

  12. 12

    Gary H said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

    I couldn’t finish this one. First, the audio quality was bad, not as bad as the story about Hell a couple of weeks ago, but it still hurt my ears.

    As for the story, I got that it was supposed to be satire, or pastiche, but it still annoyed me. Podcastle can do much better.

  13. 13

    Ashlyn said,

    March 13, 2009 @ 1:48 am

    So bad it’s good was the intention, I suppose. From the first two lines, I was waiting for the twist that would turn this into a story worth listening to, and it never came! I’m afraid that even though it was intended as a hilarious mockery of all things bad fantasy, if this was the first PodCastle I had been exposed to, I would have immediately written off the whole thing.

    I think the story would be better on a second listen, as I could appreciate the ridiculousness without waiting for the punchline that never comes.

  14. 14

    Pitmonkey said,

    March 13, 2009 @ 10:04 am

    I think this story is getting a bad rap. Waiting for a punchline? The entire story is a punchline. Perhaps future works of satire should have a laugh track. Just a suggestion from a new guy around here.

  15. 15

    Wilson Fowlie said,

    March 13, 2009 @ 11:29 am

    I agree with PitMonkey and phignewton: I found it funny and actually laughed aloud in several places. Maybe I just haven’t read enough bad fantasy or fantasy satire for it not to be amusing.

    I don’t see eye to eye with those who thought it needed a ‘point’ or an overarching ‘punchline’. The story – deliberately bad and clichéd as it was – was simply a vehicle for a series of (purposefully) ridiculous scenes and descriptions, each a sufficient joke unto itself.

    I recommend listening to a couple of the monologues of a comedian named Kip Addotta, if you can find them: “Wet Dream” (which is *not* about what the title suggests) and “Life in the Slaw Lane”. They have a similar structure: a nominal story simply there to be the vehicle for the humour (the nature of which I will not spoil for you).

  16. 16

    VewDew said,

    March 14, 2009 @ 12:47 am

    I am sure this was probably a good story but I was unable to listen to it. I listen to all of the Escape Artists podcasts on my commute through my car stereo. The sound quality of this story was that of an extremely bad speaker phone. I listened to about 5 minutes before I realized I wasn’t going to grasp anything. I might try to listen to it again with ear buds on but I doubt I will have the time.

  17. 17

    Bingorage said,

    March 14, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

    At first, I couldn’t believe how awful the writing seemed to be, but by the time the princess was crushed against “his rising wizardhood”, I was laughing out loud and thoroughly enjoyed this cheezy little bodice-ripper.


  18. 18

    The Great Geek Manual » Geek Media Round-Up: March 16, 2009 said,

    March 16, 2009 @ 11:01 am

    […] Fiction: Listen to “Sweet, Savage Sorcerer” by Esther Friesner at […]

  19. 19

    Gia said,

    March 16, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

    This is like bad fan fiction. More than half of it was purple prose.
    It sort of reminded me of the derivative fantasy of Eragon mixed with the obsessive faux romance of Twilight.
    The narration only made it worse.

  20. 20

    noname said,

    March 16, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

    I want to defend this story because I thought it was a breath of fresh difference when comparied to other pod castle stories and I think thats what Rachel had in mind, I got the joke totally and was impressed by Rachels reading which was perfect for sending up the story even further making it a good parody on the whole high fantasy bad fantasy genre ..

    also it reminded me how my wife and I met =)

  21. 21

    Ogion The Silent said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 4:01 am

    I find it hard to believe that so many listeners failed to identify the humourous intent in this story – especially with Rachel hamming up the reading at every heaving breast and cerulean eye. Even the intro carefully signalled Esther Friesner as a well-known writer of humourous fantasy. Perhaps some people were so distracted by the persistent mispronunciation of her name as “Freisner” that they failed to spot the clue?

    As for the story – Well it had some good lines, but it was pretty heavy-handed and I’m still waiting for the punchline. And even funny stories should have a plot.

  22. 22

    Roguewest said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 9:58 am

    Great reading of a bad story with poor audio quality. It was obviously early on this was a farce, a caricature of some fantasy romance novel genre, but it was just bad for bad sake. I should have just stopped when I realized it. I would expect a twist or, a moral, some reason to sit through this trash. But the author gives us nothing. Just wasted our time with clichés strung together that went no where.

    The attempted change of pace was appreciated, but give us a little more warning when feeding us a snack with no nutritional value.

  23. 23

    Aaron said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

    I’m a bit torn on this. An intentionally cheesy, intentionally bad story is still cheesy and bad. Still, done intentionally, it can be funny, and I did get quite a few laughs out of this. On the downside, they are the same sort of laughs one gets from a Naked Gun or Airplane movie. You laugh, but you’re kind of ashamed that you did, because it’s Three Stooges crotch-kick type humor.

  24. 24

    Connor Moran said,

    March 19, 2009 @ 10:44 am

    I’ll give it this: the reference to “his wizard-hood” made me laugh a little.

  25. 25

    Mace said,

    March 20, 2009 @ 8:39 am

    Unlike Aaron, I’m not torn. An example of everything bad in a genre is, at the end of the day, still a bad story. I got the joke but at the cost of a good story that could have been read this week.

    An ironic twist at the end – or the middle – might have saved it from being not ‘just like’ bad fanfic – but is actually bad fanfic.

    Its not even Naked Gun humour because that’s over the top trying to play it straight. This was just … bad.

    More elves – fine – but fewer bodice rippers, please.

    Mace wanders off singing “A wizard’s staff has a knob on the end” in fine impersonation of Nanny Ogg.

  26. 26

    Jason K said,

    March 21, 2009 @ 1:59 am

    I don’t know if I was supposed to laugh or cringe throughout the story. I wanted it to be satire, but it seemed to take itself seriously throughout… kinda like a bad D&D fan fic, though eloquently written. De La Tierra showed us how elves and fae can be portrayed brilliantly, and I think this showed us how they can be very over-the-top cheesy.

    On a related note “his wizard-hood” made me giggle, and (until it was explained later) I was pretty sure that the wizard “burying the unicorn” was another euphemism.

  27. 27

    CP said,

    March 21, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

    The over the top reading style was fantastic. I’m glad I got the chance to listen to an audio version. I think if I’d read the story rather than had it read to me the line between satire and bad writing would have become blurred.

  28. 28

    Maz said,

    March 27, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

    Enough already! You have succesfully punished your silent but loyalbreaders in an attempt to spite your loud minority of soppy elf lovers.

    The story before this was intersting, but difficult t get in to. This story was just atrocious and failed as a pastiche.

  29. 29

    Blaine Boy said,

    April 3, 2009 @ 1:21 am

    It was the most horrible thing I have ever heard (and I know now that was the point). At first I thought, “Okay, I never want to hear anything like this ever again.” Then I got to the end and I realized that the reading and the writing was so overdone that it couldn’t be serious and I laughed my head off. Or maybe it was the Dark Lord Gasapoaiwevoiawnegfpoiuwego with his Horrid Sword of Eternal Darkness and Misery Ppqwoeiunaweoiunv. I can’t tell anymore.

    Only half sincerely this time, ( 😉 )
    The Blaine Boy

  30. 30

    Traxer said,

    April 17, 2009 @ 9:20 am

    I groaned so many time during the course of this story that I was required to enjoy it profusely.

  31. 31

    The Fix | From the Podosphere: March 2009 said,

    April 23, 2009 @ 11:23 am

    […] pastiche that demonstrates mastery of the genre—which is what Esther Friesner does with “Sweet Savage Sorcerer.” Our feisty elven heroine escapes imprisonment astride her trusty unicorn, to seek help from […]

  32. 32

    emmajeans said,

    April 27, 2009 @ 3:47 am

    I really didn’t like this story, and it has taken me a good 10 days to figure out why.

    I agree with the people who have already said that it was like (bad) fan-fiction; and like katy, I kept waiting for the *actual* story to start. Rachel was certainly hamming it up in the reading, but I took that to indicate that there was going to be some twist – maybe something feminist and arse-kicky – that would make it all worthwhile.

    But, alas, no. But this was not my biggest problem with the story.

    The problem was the less-than-consensual sex scene.


    It was with the lack of arse-kickery that occured after the rape scene; the lack of *any* narrative consequence after the rape scene. Except the two ending up together.

    That’s not cool. Nor is that funny. How is that funny?
    That deserves a warning on it’s own.

  33. 33

    Kate G. said,

    May 4, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

    I laughed!
    but could someone please explain the humor of Alraziah-le-Fethynauri’in-ebu-Korfiamminettash?

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