Return to White Hound fan-fiction
Disclaimer: this is a not-for-profit tribute to the work of the late Diana Wynne Jones
This page uses images which re-size to maintain a constant appearance across all browsers and resolutions. Please allow scripts or ActiveX controls to run if asked.
As I was packing my books in order to move house, in November 2015, I was reminded of my passion for Diana Wynne Jones's 1993 novel Hexwood. I looked it up and discovered that there were remarkably few Hexwood fanfics out there, so I decided to upload a set of four Hexwood filks which I wrote about twenty years ago, as well as other material.
For those of you who are reading this because you are following me as a writer, rather than because you are fen of Hexwood, if you haven't read it you really should even though it's so complicated that the first couple of readings will make you feel as if your eyeballs have been pulled out on stalks and then plaited. For those who just want to understand the filk without having read the book, I've included a summary of the background to the story, below. I don't want to describe the plot in too much detail because, you know, spoilers, and the story proceeds through a series of unexpected reverses. Even explaining the basic background, as I do below, is a bit of a spoiler, because you have to get three quarters of the way through the book to have even a rough idea of what's going on.
The gist of the background to Hexwood is that a network of inhabited worlds, including Earth, is ruled from a central Homeworld by a committee of five Reigners who are chosen every ten years by a self-aware super-computer called a Bannus, which tests candidates by putting them through Virtual Reality simulations. Some time in the Dark Ages (1,000 years ago on Homeworld, but must be at least 1,500 years by Earth time), a group of Reigners seized permanent power and a supply of a life-extending drug, banished the Bannus to Earth to be mothballed there, along with some of their political rivals, and became immortal dictators. Earth is a backwater culturally but also a vital resource, because flint from Earth is used in the manufacture of the portals which this society uses to jump from world to world.
Out of an ancient spite Reigner One, Orm Pender, amused himself by taking the descendents of his most hated predecessor, breeding them for physical and magical prowess and then breaking their minds in childhood through brainwashing and torture, turning them into slave-assassins; Reigners' Servants dressed in red who kill anyone who challenges the dictatorship. But the Bannus isn't as mothballed as they think and it spends its time plotting the Reigners' downfall, eventually drawing them, their latest tormented Servant and several other people from Homeworld into an elaborate trap. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Bannus the spirit of the Wild Wood of Britain has its own agenda and its own uses for the people drawn into the Bannus's net.
The main protagonists other than the Bannus are Mordion, the current Reigners' Servant, and a dark, fierce girl who befriends him. A situation is created in which it's initially unclear exactly who is whom, and which parts of the landscape are real and which are simulations generated by the Bannus and in which those different parts are marching along separate timelines out of sequence with each other, in the same way that the scenes which string together to make a film may have been shot out of chronological order relative to the real-time lives of the actors, and sometimes have to be shot several times to get it right. It is possible for a character to be living in a vast wood which seems to be somewhere around the 13thC, and then walk out of it to shop in a 20thC high street. Relationships are scrambled across both real and artificial time so that people are left thinking that their ancestor is their descendant and vice versa, and in at least one case, to believe that they are one of the other characters. And to cap it all several of the characters are in telepathic communion with each other but not necessarily all in the same time frame the communicators may be temporally displaced and be talking to each other centuries into each other's past or future.
Mordion is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters mainly because no amount of suffering or intensive conditioning has been able to prevent the casual, bouncy, flirtatious young jester he is at heart from bubbling up irrepressibly around the edges.