Vodnik Chapter Commentaries: Chapter Three

It’s another Monday, and that means another chapter commentary for Vodnik. For those of you just joining us, this is the continuing saga of what changes went into the book during the drafting process. We’re up to chapter three. Exciting, isn’t it? šŸ™‚

The biggest change of this chapter was forcing Tomas to walk through the castle blindfolded until he got to the joust. In the original, Tomas sees the castle three times. First from the car the night he comes in. Second as he walks through it on his way to the joust. Third as Lubos takes him on the tour. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that three times weren’t as powerful as one single time would be.

The blindfold trick?

Maybe a bit cheap, but I couldn’t come up with a way to have it happen differently. Actually, if the book took place today, it would have been easier. The jousting troupe has moved locations. They do a lot of tours in France now (better money)–so they only do a few shows in Slovakia. When they do, the shows are often in the middle of the town. They bring in a ton of dirt, set up stadium seats. It’s a big affair, and it happens right by the plague pillar.

Can I just give a shout out to these guys, by the way? I saw them on my first trip to Trencin, and I haven’t missed a time yet. There are basically two groups. The first is Wagus. Warning–that page is all in Slovak. Check out the photos (the link’s name is Galeria). They do a lot of historical reenactments at the castle these days–evening performances are the ones I’ve been to lately, and they’re a ton of fun. They throw in a lot of humor and action. The only problem, of course, is that they’re all in Slovak. Even if you don’t speak the language, I think you’d enjoy seeing them in action. Nothing like some well choreographed live fight scenes. My brother in law actually posted some pictures of members of the group reading Vodnik at the castle a few weeks ago–I really enjoyed seeing them.

And then there’s the Normani. (Link is also in Slovak. There’s an English version, but that links to a lot of other Slovak pages, too.) They’re the main jousters, and the ones I saw when I first went to the castle. The performances usually run for a few weeks in the summer these days. And just like Tomas notes in the book, these reenactments are much different than the ones I’ve been to in the States. The groups really throw themselves into it. They obsess over small details and getting everything right. And they’re not burdened by some of the safety laws we have in America. (I remember the first time I was there, I was talking to some members of the group, and they were looking at pictures of American jousting groups–making fun of their dull swords and the big safety tips on them. I wonder if there’s ever a worldwide joust off? That would be awesome. The international jousting Olympics, where different groups come together and find out who’s the best. Slovakia would rule.)

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the ability to throw in a lot of reality into a fantasy. I’m sure I’ll talk about this in a later commentary, but so often you read a fantasy book, and it’s all fantasy. There’s no way you can go visit Hogwarts, for example. Not so with Vodnik. Many readers have said they really enjoyed seeing Trencin and finding out about Slovakia–and I love the fact that you could go visit today and see the places that are in the book, just like they’re described. No theme park needed!

Anyway–it was interesting to me to look back on the original version of this chapter and see how–with the exception of combining castle introduction scenes together–little had actually changed. Sometimes I actually get things right the first time. šŸ™‚

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