Author Topic: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1  (Read 5200 times)

Chaos

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December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« on: December 01, 2008, 03:39:05 AM »
I'm extremely frustrated that I did not have enough time to revise the second half of this chapter--cursed college assignments! I worry that it does not work well on its own. Tell me what you think there.

Thank you for reading :D Rip it to shreds, guys.
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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2008, 06:50:57 AM »
Page 3:  Word use: Life for Live

Page 8:  The prisoner and MC character seem inconsistent/mixing.  Words or thoughts I would attribute to one seem to be used by the other.

 i.e.—very extensively.

When MC says His Religion should make sense, I keep thinking “But it doesn’t make sense to me!”

I like the world building so far.  Seems to be a very in-depth Religious Crisis going on with a hint of a magic/clerical magic system.
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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2008, 08:04:20 AM »
I was a bit surprised when the priest pulled out a pocket watch towards the end, as for some reason I was under the impression that the time setting was earlier.

Also, the priest said a lot of stuff that people wouldn't normally voice out loud. For example, when he was talking about the wire they had used to cut the prisoner's body, people would normally picture it all in their head instead of describing it to the person who experienced it.

And the two religions haven't  separated themselves in my mind yet. When they were both named in one sentence I couldn't tell/remember which was which.

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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2008, 10:53:48 PM »
Looks to be a very interesting world here. I agree though, give each of the two religions something that makes them stand out. Perhaps an article of clothing, or a figure of speech.

This sentence seemed incomplete though, on page 4:
Quote
You know what to me, demon.

Also the whole heated theological discussion got a bit dry for me, towards the end. Maybe add in something to change the pace a bit? Have Gaius be wiping blood off the walls, or doing something else while still talking?

And yes the pocket watch seemed a bit out of place. Maybe add some other signs of modern/ish technology somewhere in there?

Other than that it's looking great. What you've got there really sucks the reader into the world. I want to read the next chapter!
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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2008, 12:45:13 AM »
The discussion did get a little heavy to me. Syntax got a bit confusing at times as well. Minor inconsistencies in descriptions throughout.

You're describing the viewpoint character rather objectively. I want to know what he thinks of himself, and get clues as to his true nature by his actions. Telling the reader that he was going to try kindness makes him seem insincere. Generally, show me that the guy is kind if he really is. If he isn't nice, then you've done that part perfectly already.

I felt that there was too much world building going on for me to care what was happening in the chamber. The references to historical events are a nice touch, but I would like to have less info said. Instead of telling me details right away, have the characters make references that the reader won't understand and have the characters muse over the details that made those comments interesting in moments with less going on. Set stuff up way in advance and pay it off later.

Show me that the Legate needs to convert the priest. Show, show, show! :)
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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2008, 05:25:31 AM »
I think whether you believe in a religion or not, it is probably the single most powerful topic because you rarely have two people who completely agree with one another. I think that any fantasy fiction novel that takes place in an alternate reality is poorly thought out if it doesn’t have some kind of religion. (Begin humming) My novel I’m having work shopped, PHYLES, itself doesn’t have a religion because I wanted to put within the story conflicting religious symbolism that is relevant to true religions, and actual beliefs. I thought that putting a fictional, or even a real, religion in it would be too suppressive to readers, and left it absent. Within the first page of Scepter of Infinity, you let me know that you have a religion that I would suppose is well thought out, and ties into the story and world. I like that because it makes the story feel more three dimensional—in much the same way that giving a character confliction personality traits makes them feel more real.

I love the compassionate torturer, very Joe Abercrombie (The First Law trilogy’s character Glokta), I still like it. As I said before, giving characters conflicting personality traits—Legate Gaius, religious man, torturer, and a tendency towards compassion—makes them feel real because we as human beings are walking contradictions.

I have only a couple of problems. First, the prisoner seems to have a lot of energy despite the injuries. To the point a question if he is able to continue the argument past a certain point without growing tired. The second thing is Gaius says that the gods of the prisoner have been dead for twenty-five million years. What that tells me is that either his religion is faking its deep roots in history, or it is the longest running religion possible. If the latter is the case, then I have a hard time believing it. Case and point, look at Christianity/Judaism, Judaism started out just like any other religion (I apologies to anyone I may offend before hand), with ritual sacrifices and the worship of more than one god—there is evidence that ancient Judaism worshiped a female god who scholars believe to have been seen as God’s wife at the time--and all in a handful of thousands of years Judaism has sprung the three greatest montheistic religions on the planet. No doubt, they have changed dramatically since early Judaism. I don't know what the longest running religion is, I would guess the Greek pantheon would be concidered the oldest "running", but still I doubt that any religion would last twenty-five million years without being altered beyond recognition or just dying out.
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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2008, 06:14:54 AM »
Okay, can't wait for more! Get to work!!

However...

Old dude is awful chatty for being nearly a corpse. Perhaps some further development of his being 'Bound' that would include lucidity despite enormous pain.

When you start with a very Roman character name, use Roman terminology and imply a very Empiric world, you must expect your readers to have a preconceived notion of what you are aiming at. Throwing in an anachronism like a pocket watch throws the reader out of the notion. So either give additional clues (mention waistcoats or blunderbusses) as to the relative tech level of the world or remove the obvious Roman flavor.

I don't know if you intended this, but I like the fact that the prisoner has the upper hand in the argument with Gaius. However, if Gaius is supposed to be the MC, he sure seems pretty wishy-washy. His arguments aren't all that convincing. He seems to be pleading with the prisoner more than interrogating.

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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2008, 11:48:52 AM »
Your viewpoint character seems like he's trying for a very Hrathen/Inquisitor feel, but his whimsical nature keeps bucking me out of that feel. Like everyone else has mentioned, you give it a roman feel, but pull out the pocketwatch, which ruins the immersion - consider showing more of the other tech from the world. Things like razor-wire, axes, spears, etc. could all be from just about any tech era, so they don't add to the issue too much.

Personally, as I read past the first page or two, it got rather boring and I had to fight the compulsion to put it down. It was dry, and didn't reveal a whole heck of a lot, certainly not enough to keep my interest beyond the second or third vague mention of a religious controversy.

We get a glimpse of what could be the main conflict, but I'm still not sure what level it's at. Are we supposed to invest ourselves in the Legate's personal conflict with the methods of his fellows? Are we supposed to sympathize with the newer religion seeking to take the the world?
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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2008, 09:23:54 PM »
Pocket watch? Yeah, that threw me off, too.

Anyhow, I like the world-building. The religions and their history is interesting, and seem very well thought out.

However, I think too much was dished out at once. I think it would be much better to reveal more about the religions over time. However, I understand that the scene did revolve around their theological discussion, so that could be tricky. All in all, though, the dialogue wasn't very believable. From what I knew about the characters, I wasn't convinced that they would actually say some of the things that they did.
I agree that the dialogue got a little dry, too. Involve some sort of action with the dialogue, even if just a little.

Still, I liked it, and the setting. I think it just needs some polishing.

Oh, and the trembling was a good visual.

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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2008, 10:39:52 AM »
In response: the two religions do seem a little bit the same. Of course, that could very well be the point.

I didn’t think the pocket watch seemed all that out of place. Those things existed in medieval kinds of settings, though usually, they’re for the very rich. Or at least the rich.

The way Gaius seemed to need to read everything out loud did get a little strange. I didn’t have a problem so much when he did it with the wire, but then it happened again when he reasoned out that the other man was a priest. You might even be able to solve this problem just by internalizing some of that dialogue, and having Gaius only speak the conclusions out loud. (You could also probably chop some of it altogether.)

Internalizing some of that dialogue might also give us some more of Gaius’s thoughts, which I agree we aren’t getting. You don’t have to spell it all out for us, necessarily, just allow yourself to be slightly less objective than Gaius would be speaking that all out loud to the prisoner. Careful diction could probably do you a world of good there.  And I think this would really help along the problem some people had with finding the dialogue dry.  As could having them, particularly Gaius, do something else while they're talking.

I agree that you the worldbuilding is really strong. I also agree that you could do it with a lighter hand. As Sortitus mentioned, you can pick and choose your details – what to leave in, what to leave out. Readers like to wonder a little bit. I think leaving some of that out would help spice up the discussion between the two a bit, as well, because some of the historical stuff was starting to feel just a liiiittle bit like an infodump to me.

Also, and this has nothing to do with anything, but Maxonennis – besides the fact that they’re both POV characters, set up as sympathetic, and torturers, I so far do not think Gaius is ANYTHING like Abercrombie’s Glokta. Uh, so there?

I have to agree with the other comments as well, that the prisoner is awfully alive for being, uhh, nearly dead. I can tell you had fun writing all his sarcastic quips and stuff, but it was getting to be a bit much. Defiance can be a much quieter thing, too, and if you want him defiant that’s probably more realistic for a guy that must be physically exhausted and probably physically and mentally traumatized by the torture.

I concur with Karl about the prisoner having the upper hand in his argument with Gaius being a strong point. I assumed that, and Gaius’s … well, so far it seems to be blind faith (I wouldn’t call him wishy washy, he seems fairly determined so far) were setup for a conflict later on.

My own comments:

Of the prisoner, you write, “his clothing was so torn it was a miracle it stayed on his body”. Just a thought, but you could do away with the clothing entirely. It would at once get rid of the fantasy cliché that “barely enough clothing remains to preserve decency” and it would make the prisoner that much more helpless. Being naked is a very vulnerable thing.

I kind of wonder why your torturer gagged at seeing bone. It seems strange that he would balk at that, since I assume that he’s caused worse himself. Doesn’t mean he has to enjoy it but having such a base reaction to it seems a bit inconsistent.

As I read I’m starting to get the ipression that Gaius is separate, or considers himself separate, from the other torturers. Which might make his above question make sense. But that makes me wonder how he’s lasted so long.

All we’ve really seen so far of these two is “defiant prisoner” and “religious zealot”. I don’t feel they’re cardboard cutouts yet, but it would be nice to see a bit more of them fairly soon.

Aannd... that's about it. Interested to see more. Nice work.

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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2008, 03:53:41 PM »
I was a bit surprised when the priest pulled out a pocket watch towards the end, as for some reason I was under the impression that the time setting was earlier.

Also, the priest said a lot of stuff that people wouldn't normally voice out loud. For example, when he was talking about the wire they had used to cut the prisoner's body, people would normally picture it all in their head instead of describing it to the person who experienced it.

And the two religions haven't  separated themselves in my mind yet. When they were both named in one sentence I couldn't tell/remember which was which.
What he said, especially the bit about the religions. I wouldn't have minded that had things got clearer later on, but I assume that's all in the second part of the chapter.^^
Especially towards the end there were lots of terms that weren't exactly clear to me, but those didn't keep me from reading on. You managed to make the world interesting even though I had the impression that most of the time I had no idea what the two people were really talking about, and I can't wait to read the huge battle scene that all of this simply must lead to sooner or later.

Chaos

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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2008, 02:45:40 AM »
Okay, I finally get the opportunity to reply here. College has been quite hectic, but it has slowly been winding down in its own special way (in other words, I finished many things, but there are still many more tasks to do). You know it's hectic when I don't have enough time to reply to my own thread... And soon, my own reviews shall trickle in. Give it a week :P

First of all, let me put out some advice to new writers: never write on planes with only five hours of sleep. You will think the stuff you are writing is great, but it's substantially less great on inspection of others. That was why the dialogue got out of hand... virtually all of that stuff after page three is new, and that stuff was written in the course of a single day. Not a terribly good idea.

Thank you for your comments, everyone. I really shouldn't have hit the religions so hard in this. They are a vital part in the story, so I need to reference them on some level here, but just not as hard.

I should have done it more like my mentions of the Chaosbound and the Luna. I'm intrigued to know if you found either of them (actually, Luna are a type of Chaosbound, but still) interesting, or if that stuff was just confusing. I don't know if I gave enough information about them for you to be perplexed yet, but still, I want to know what you think of that. You'll see them a lot more, so it's absolutely critical that I handle them correctly. If that falls flat, I fear the whole novel will fall flat.

And now for some comments:

Page 8:  The prisoner and MC character seem inconsistent/mixing.  Words or thoughts I would attribute to one seem to be used by the other.

 i.e.—very extensively.

When MC says His Religion should make sense, I keep thinking “But it doesn’t make sense to me!”

Could you, by chance, give me some specific examples? At least, of the words/thoughts being used by the wrong person, because that means I'm screwing up the character development. I want to know WHY I'm screwing it up :P

Especially if it doesn't make sense to you. Point out the exact places where it isn't working, because it's a little vague to fix a problem that I don't know where it started.

I was a bit surprised when the priest pulled out a pocket watch towards the end, as for some reason I was under the impression that the time setting was earlier.

Also, the priest said a lot of stuff that people wouldn't normally voice out loud. For example, when he was talking about the wire they had used to cut the prisoner's body, people would normally picture it all in their head instead of describing it to the person who experienced it.

And the two religions haven't  separated themselves in my mind yet. When they were both named in one sentence I couldn't tell/remember which was which.

The pocketwatch appears to be a major problem point. I didn't intend this. In fact, there's a lot higher technology level here than you see right now. I agree to everyone's thoughts that some hints about the technology level are essential to establish the tone correctly. Any ideas how I could do this in the strict confines of an interrogation scene?

There was just one other clue that I put in, which was when Gaius was trying to think of what caused the wound. There was a quick mention of a bayonet, which in my mind implied the bayonets attached to guns. But that happened in a quick list, so it wasn't very effective. Subtlety is difficult to get down correctly, let me tell you...

As for the voicing that description of how the wound happened out loud, I am not quite sure why I decided to put in dialogue. In the earlier version, it was in description. I'm blaming this purely on the sleep deprivation.

Hmmm, so the religions haven't separated for you. That makes sense, actually. They are deeply, deeply entwined. The Asaeri religion, the one which Gaius follows, just recently evolved from the older, and more traditional Dejaran faith. This is why their theologies can mix so easily, because the Asaeri and the Dejarans have the same theologies overall.

Looks to be a very interesting world here. I agree though, give each of the two religions something that makes them stand out. Perhaps an article of clothing, or a figure of speech.

This sentence seemed incomplete though, on page 4:
Quote
You know what to me, demon.

Also the whole heated theological discussion got a bit dry for me, towards the end. Maybe add in something to change the pace a bit? Have Gaius be wiping blood off the walls, or doing something else while still talking?

And yes the pocket watch seemed a bit out of place. Maybe add some other signs of modern/ish technology somewhere in there?

Other than that it's looking great. What you've got there really sucks the reader into the world. I want to read the next chapter!

For that sentence, I think I just forgot a crucial word. I have that annoying habit sometimes to forget key words in sentences when I get writing. Sorry about that. It's not the first time I've done it during writing, and it certainly won't be the last. But unfortunately, as I look at that sentence again, I can't for the life of me figure out what I was actually trying to convey there. Sleep Deprivation: 2, Chaos: 0.


The discussion did get a little heavy to me. Syntax got a bit confusing at times as well. Minor inconsistencies in descriptions throughout.

You're describing the viewpoint character rather objectively. I want to know what he thinks of himself, and get clues as to his true nature by his actions. Telling the reader that he was going to try kindness makes him seem insincere. Generally, show me that the guy is kind if he really is. If he isn't nice, then you've done that part perfectly already.

I felt that there was too much world building going on for me to care what was happening in the chamber. The references to historical events are a nice touch, but I would like to have less info said. Instead of telling me details right away, have the characters make references that the reader won't understand and have the characters muse over the details that made those comments interesting in moments with less going on. Set stuff up way in advance and pay it off later.

Show me that the Legate needs to convert the priest. Show, show, show! :)
And stay in the moment as much as is humanly possible.

Do you think you could point me to the precise points where the syntax was confusing, and where there are minor inconsistencies?

I see what you are saying there. I did hit it too hard here, though some of it is necessary set up for the conflict in the second half. Hopefully that should make it feel more cohesive, since the two halves are supposed to be together.

I love the compassionate torturer, very Joe Abercrombie (The First Law trilogy’s character Glokta), I still like it. As I said before, giving characters conflicting personality traits—Legate Gaius, religious man, torturer, and a tendency towards compassion—makes them feel real because we as human beings are walking contradictions.

I have only a couple of problems. First, the prisoner seems to have a lot of energy despite the injuries. To the point a question if he is able to continue the argument past a certain point without growing tired. The second thing is Gaius says that the gods of the prisoner have been dead for twenty-five million years. What that tells me is that either his religion is faking its deep roots in history, or it is the longest running religion possible. If the latter is the case, then I have a hard time believing it. Case and point, look at Christianity/Judaism, Judaism started out just like any other religion (I apologies to anyone I may offend before hand), with ritual sacrifices and the worship of more than one god—there is evidence that ancient Judaism worshiped a female god who scholars believe to have been seen as God’s wife at the time--and all in a handful of thousands of years Judaism has sprung the three greatest montheistic religions on the planet. No doubt, they have changed dramatically since early Judaism. I don't know what the longest running religion is, I would guess the Greek pantheon would be concidered the oldest "running", but still I doubt that any religion would last twenty-five million years without being altered beyond recognition or just dying out.

I'm glad you liked Gaius. He is an incredibly difficult character for me to express correctly, because I want him to be conflicted. Conflicted characters are invariably difficult.

In the original draft of this exact scene, the entire dialogue here was truncated. In my sleep deprivation, I came up with a few lines for him to say, then it just snowballed into this. He definitely doesn't seem as tired as the first paragraph indicates. My fault entirely on that one. I think I reasoned here that "Oh, it's religious fervor and hatred that's motivating him," which was supposed to tip off Gaius that the guy is a priest. I need to workshop this dialogue extensively the next time I have a chance to revise (hopefully, a long time away when I have the whole thing completed).

Million? Oh, crap. Well, I'm looking at that reference, and Gaius says millennia, not million. It was supposed to convey "thousand", and I must have chosen the word "millennia" because it sounded more in line with the culture. Clarity, obviously, beats something like that. I'll switch the word for "thousand" to avoid confusion.

Also, you aren't getting the full picture with that. The religion hasn't been around for 25,000 years in the current form its in. The 25,000 years thing is just something that theologians postulate with the archaeological record. The actual Dejaran religion is about 1200 years old.

I definitely didn't mean million, though. That would just be silly. Sorry about that mix up.

Okay, can't wait for more! Get to work!!

However...

Old dude is awful chatty for being nearly a corpse. Perhaps some further development of his being 'Bound' that would include lucidity despite enormous pain.

When you start with a very Roman character name, use Roman terminology and imply a very Empiric world, you must expect your readers to have a preconceived notion of what you are aiming at. Throwing in an anachronism like a pocket watch throws the reader out of the notion. So either give additional clues (mention waistcoats or blunderbusses) as to the relative tech level of the world or remove the obvious Roman flavor.

I don't know if you intended this, but I like the fact that the prisoner has the upper hand in the argument with Gaius. However, if Gaius is supposed to be the MC, he sure seems pretty wishy-washy. His arguments aren't all that convincing. He seems to be pleading with the prisoner more than interrogating.

Glad you liked it. That makes me happy :D

Okay, so both Sleep Deprivation and I get points. I get a point for actually displaying that the prisoner is older, which was one of those retroactive descriptions I added in later. I'm glad that worked.

Sleep deprivation, obviously, gets a point for making the dude way too chatty. I will work on that.

I shall also work on the technology thing in greater detail. I'm trying for some Napoleonic/Roman hybrid. Really, the Roman naming conventions were born out of convenience, because it gave me a culture to build off of.

Could you be more specific on how Gaius's arguments seem wishy-washy?


All right, I think that's enough replies for now. I'll get to Dangerbutton's, Avalon's, and Raethe's next time. Though, this one just made me smile:

I was a bit surprised when the priest pulled out a pocket watch towards the end, as for some reason I was under the impression that the time setting was earlier.

Also, the priest said a lot of stuff that people wouldn't normally voice out loud. For example, when he was talking about the wire they had used to cut the prisoner's body, people would normally picture it all in their head instead of describing it to the person who experienced it.

And the two religions haven't  separated themselves in my mind yet. When they were both named in one sentence I couldn't tell/remember which was which.
What he said, especially the bit about the religions. I wouldn't have minded that had things got clearer later on, but I assume that's all in the second part of the chapter.^^
Especially towards the end there were lots of terms that weren't exactly clear to me, but those didn't keep me from reading on. You managed to make the world interesting even though I had the impression that most of the time I had no idea what the two people were really talking about, and I can't wait to read the huge battle scene that all of this simply must lead to sooner or later.

Interest, yay. That's good :D There's plenty more further on in the story. I just hope it didn't get too confusing for everyone.

"I can't wait to read the huge battle scene that all of this simply must lead to sooner or later."

Oh man, I think you will like this novel a lot. Not to sound arrogant, or anything, but seriously. You'll see :P
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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2008, 04:23:51 AM »
I didn't have a problem with mentions of the Luna and the Chaosbound. I just figured they would come up again later. As long as they do, you're fine.

Sorry if I mentioned this before, but I'm also fine with Gaius being a bit wishy-washy about his arguments. I kind of thought that was part of the point; all faith, no logic.

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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2008, 03:38:05 PM »
Well this is an easy crit to do. I agree with almost all of the above :p

In order to 'foreshadow' the pocket watch, you could have some gunfire in the background. A last pocket of resistance, an execution or just someone shooting in the air to celebrate the arrival of Asaerith.

Although your dialogue can do with some tightening, I didn't feel the theological debate turned stale. The fact that two warring priests meet has enough intrinsic tension to carry the scene.

25k is still too old for a religion. It makes the world seem static. 1200 sounds about right, if needs be have one correct the other. The fact that both religions are basically the same makes it more believable to me. In real life people will laugh at you if you tell them of a new god, yet those same people will happily go to war to defend their interpretation of just about any detail of their own religion.

I enjoyed reading it, looking forward to part two.

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Re: December '08 - The Scepter of Infinity - Ch. 1, Part 1
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2008, 05:45:35 PM »
25k is still too old for a religion. It makes the world seem static. 1200 sounds about right, if needs be have one correct the other.

Ooh, I do like that idea. Because really, the 1200 years is the more useful interpretation for all practical purposes (and should be in the readers head more). The 25,000 years is just the rough estimate of when the Gods died, that's all.
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Oh SNAP, I'm an Allomancer.