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  • Valerie Kaplan

    Typo on “sergeant”.

    • Isn’t that one of those leftenant/lieutenant things?

      • Nah, it’s wrong. Will change it.

        • MGreen

          Unfortunately, you corrected it the wrong way! (If at all.) “Sergeant” is correct.

      • Valerie Kaplan

        Plus, so far as I know, it’s always spelled “lieutenant”. “Leftenant” is just a pronunciation.

  • Sarah

    “Why should I have to try harder than you?” There is all kinds of wrong with that question.

    • GristleMcNerd

      Yes, but who doesn’t know the feeling when someone effortlessly excels at something you struggle with? I’m really identifying with the guy here.
      …of course there’s also the fact that we share the same first name and he looks kinda sorta like me. That’s just weird.

      • Weird Oregonian

        Be like an crazy American. Sue for the right to your face and name. Even though you don’t know this author, have never met her, and she never even has heard of you, she clearly, somehow, has based the character off you.

        • GristleMcNerd

          Yeah, thing is, I’m not American, so I’d actually be honored to have a character based on me – even if he is (I am?) kind of a jerk :P

        • BeepBeepMeepMeep

          As an American, I have NO idea why people do that. It’s pretty silly to me that they even would for something similar to this.

      • KaReN

        Per Heinrich, joining the military is a family tradition. I would think with that expectations, he would be trained as a child to be an upstanding military person. Who knows, throughout his childhood years, he was expected to rise in the ranks.

    • dbell5

      … and all kinds of “Just like Millennial kids!”, as well!

    • Sanjay Merchant

      If Wolfe weren’t so unfailingly nice, he might retort: “Well, why should I have to work at sucking just to make you feel better?” :-P

    • billydaking

      Yep. Time to go read Harrison Bergeron again…

    • Z

      I don’t know. I can relate to it a great deal. In the seventh grade, when I was spending nine hours a night on my homework and still barely making Cs while my brother glided effortlessly through his high school calculus, I had very similar questions about my life. I’ve got some learning disabilities, which make school very, very hard. My brother is gifted, which makes school very, very easy. It always felt inherently unfair.

      I have way more of an issue with the fact that he appears to be taking it out on someone who is genuinely trying to help him. I think the anger behind the question is more of an issue than the question itself, really.

      • Weird Oregonian

        You are amazing for that, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen with problems learning stuff who simply give up when they see others breeze through math and other subjects. What makes people impressive scholars are the people like you and those who struggle. Geniuses are impressive but all too often people forget about those people who have to study for hours and then do so. So many graduation speakers gush over the straight A students but forget those with the Cs.

        I had a lesser case of math envy with my brothers; I wasn’t bad at it, they just never had to study to pick it up. I did get higher grades then em because I actually did the homework.

        • That attitude would go far in Japan… but the reality of the situation is that results matter a lot more than how they are gained. And more often than not, those who both have natural aptitude AND the ability to put their all into it tend to come out higher than those who only have one or other.

    • TachyonCode

      And even more wrong with the ideology that led to it.

    • Not really wrong. The question is just pointless.

      Some people can breeze through some things. Some people can breeze through everything. And oddly enough, being able to just breeze through the very concept of hard work is another thing.

      I suppose I should consider myself lucky that there are some things I can just breeze through effortlessly (generally logic / science type things)… because if I ever have to work hard at something, I’m utterly terrible at it. The moment I have to switch off autopilot for anything is generally the moment everything grinds to a halt. I work harder at finding ways to avoid work than I do at work itself.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    aah, Envy, Jealousy.

    Only landed on me now, but since Wolfe’s family has a tradition like that, and seeing how well educated he seems to be (along with probably several years of violin lessons), I would gather his family is pretty well off.
    Yet he travels the roads with O’Malley…I wonder why. Maybe something in this flashback chapter made it so he was never able to get back to his family.

    Also, he keep attracting “jerks with an attitude problem“, it seems :D

  • David Argall

    Wolfe had better not take the claim of becoming an officer very seriously. Ignoring our knowledge of his future, German, Prussian in particular, military was very hereditary and if you were not a “Von” one of the Vons was likely to blackball you. Of course, Wolfe may have some officer ancestors, but if he does not, he is unlikely to become an officer, and even more unlikely to advance.

    • Pirate_Prince_Navarion

      Or this could be a fantasy world where things are a little bit different instead of an accurate historical representation. Just saying.

      • David Argall

        A friend of the family who was in construction saw The Towering Inferno, or some such skyscraper fire movie, and was enjoying it until a scene showed one of the heroes cutting some 2″ conduit pipe with hand cutters. Anybody who has even seen the stuff knows you need a hacksaw, both hands, and a good deal of sweat to cut it. But the movie made it look easy. [They likely had good movie reasons. 10 minutes cutting a pipe does not sound like compelling drama. But…] It just destroyed his ability to enjoy the movie because it made him realize it was not at all realistic, or even “realistic”.
        The same applies to our historical fiction, or “historical” fantasy. Anything that jars, that forces us to ask “is this real?” causes problems. Sometimes we want those problems. The plot can turn on them. But they are still problems and the story needs to avoid them as much as possible.
        Here, we are mostly quibbling. We already know Wolfe is not going to become a general, and likely not an officer at all, and we know that comments like our text can happen in a wide variety of cases where neither party deems them realistic.

        It easily translates to “you will do well”. And those who know much about 1800s German military officer promotion policy is a pretty small group anyway. But we still want a world we can believe in, which means the story needs justification for the stuff that jars. Making something just a little different is often more of a problem than making it very different. A dragon can be easier to “believe” than a black Confederate officer. [Actually I believe there were a few of these.]

        • billydaking

          That’s an incredibly faulty argument….The Towering Inferno is supposed to take place in our reality. Widdershins does not; it exists in an alternate reality fundamentally changed by the presence of magic.

          Nitpicking a fantastical story’s reality in relation to everyday history is a fool’s errand. A world in which any person may possess what is natural power beyond that of social status or that of the gun is not going to follow the same exact rules or specific events as real history. See: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Or Gunnerkrigg Court, for that matter.

          What is important, especially for a story based on fantasy, is story logic. Not every science fiction story is going to be absolutely accurate to its science, and not every horror movie is going to be faithful to the fables and legends they are based on; that’s where creativity and imagination come in. What matters is if the logic and the reality in which the story exists in is believable enough that it won’t trip up your suspension of disbelief. Your trouble appears to be in actually suspending it to begin with, despite reading a story that fully allows you to do so.

          That’s the problem with nickpicking; it really doesn’t consider the story at hand and how the world in which that story exists could be affected. Instead, you’ve pulled in facts unrelated to the story to support your perceptions, even when those “facts” aren’t as absolute as you believe. (The Prussian officers corps was opened up to the middle
          class in 1809, and even though reforms stagnated by the 1830s, advancement from within the ranks was still possible if rare.)

          An established alternate, fantastical reality in which the Prussian military would promote enlisted men to lower level officers based on their ability and achievement enough to *cause an off-hand encouraging comment by another officer* is believable and logical. That’s what makes it *alternate*.

          It is also what makes it “fiction”. By your logic,Hitoshi Inagaki’s Samurai trilogy should have been a failure, because it showed its hero rising from being a peasant to one of the greatest samurai who ever lived, despite the fact that the Japanese caste system would have prevented that. And the historical “accuracy” of Shakespeare’s historical plays makes Braveheart look like a documentary.

          What makes writers do well is their talent in telling a story. Not whether they made sure every historical T was crossed and scientific i was dotted….especially when it doesn’t need to be.

          (And there were black Confederate soldiers at the end of the Civil War. But no commissioned officers on either side.)

          • I wish I could upvote this more than once

          • Duppy

            ^ Everything billydaking just said.

            This story might not have been written (many great stories would not be written) if an author decided “I’m going to get every detail exactly
            historically correct before I share anything!” Turning an author into a perfectionist is the quickest way to kill their productivity. Not to mention make them miserable. So.

            Like okapi, I also love the history lessons. This readership seems unusually learned, with a lot of interesting facts to share. That’s awesome!

            I love the trivia and don’t want to discourage it. Just– not as criticism.

            Because of the AU thing, yes, but even if this were a non-fantastic historical fiction, I’d hesitate to risk the story by accidentally encouraging the author to be a miserable perfectionist.

          • In general, I agree with your argument that minor historical details are besides the point in a story like this.

            However, I would like to quibble with one detail of your argument:
            “Hitoshi Inagaki’s Samurai trilogy should have been a failure, because it
            showed its hero rising from being a peasant to one of the greatest
            samurai who ever lived, despite the fact that the Japanese caste system
            would have prevented that.”

            This is totally inaccurate, as the Japanese social structure was pretty fluid before the mid-Tokugawa era. I’m not familiar with the Samurai trilogy, but it seems to be based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s “Musashi,” which I have read and which is loosely based on the life of Miyamoto Musashi, who was a real person and did indeed rise from being a peasant to being a samurai (his being an expert swordsman and strategist doesn’t have much to do with class).

            In any case, Japan did not have a “caste system” (which implies an unchangable, pseudo-religious class structure) for most of its history, as evidenced by the man who completed Nobunaga’s unification of the country, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who rose from being a completely unknown peasant child to being the man who ran the country for a good few years.

            Do you see this? This is me missing the forest for the trees. :D

            • billydaking

              Yeah, 20 days later, but I don’t really follow things all that much.

              Tree: At the time Miyamoto Musashi lived (the beginning of the Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to the mid-1800s), Japan had a strictly enforced four-tier caste system imposed by the Shogunate, which controlled the emperor, the daimyo, and religious orders. Under the shogunate’s rule, a four-caste system was imposed under the kuge: samurai, peasants, craftsmen, and merchants–and movement between the classes was not allowed, and they were not even allowed to live in the same quarters of cities. Outside of those four classes were burakumin, who were in taboo professions (entertainers, prostitutes, butchers, undertakers) and their social status was even more restricted. Musashi began his duels at the very beginning of the Edo period (his first was apparently in 1604), so the caste system obviously was not widely or effectively enforced at that point

              Forest: My point was the reality of history isn’t always absolute. And that’s where fiction writers live.

            • Sapphire altera

              Thank you! I was hoping someone would bring up Hideyoshi! :D

              (From billydaking’s later comment, it seems that this isn’t actually relevant to the specific book mentioned? Idk, haven’t read it, but still, it’s worth talking about Hideyoshi because he’s AWESOME :D)

        • Pirate_Prince_Navarion

          There’s a tiny difference. A disaster movie is usually supposed to be set in our world and follow its rules. This is a fantasy story about a world that had actual magic for god knows how long. Think of the ramifications. Religions would have been different, witch hunts would have been either real or non.existent etc. It’s not strange if it deviates from our world, it’s strange if it doesn’t. It’s a miracle there is a recognizable Prussia at all. But that’s pretty common for parallel universes. Still, it’s pretty easy to imagine that in a world with actual wizards non-gifted people think that competence is more important than nobility.

          The test Wolfe and Voss took in the previous comic was labeled “officer’s exam”, it would seem a bit redundant to make people take a test for a position you want to keep them out of.

          • Sapphire altera

            It could be a sham test to keep other people happy, a la “voter literacy tests” in some U.S. states during the Jim Crow era. But that’s more trees :P

    • okapi

      not that i don’t appreciate the history lesson, because i totally learned something! so thank you! but also what pirate_prince_navarion said :P

  • Marvelous TK

    My prediction of Best Friendship Forevers continues to prove accurate. Eternal besties yay!

  • Oh, this is going to go so well.

  • I can totally see where THIS story arc is going. But I’m not going to embarrass myself by making any predictions this time.

  • You do realise of course that that type of bunk bed is entirely wrong for the Prussian Army in the early 19th century. ;-)

    • *quietly implodes*

      • My African Fables book just went right to the back of the queue didn’t it?

    • davidbreslin101

      The joys of Alternative History: “Of course, that’s due to the Prussian Army reforms of 1805, which were a thing in this continuity thank you very much.”

  • JediaKyrol

    reverse peer pressure? “My friend is better than me! I have to do what he does!”

  • Obligatory Song Quip

    Anything you can do,
    I can do better.
    I can do anything
    Better than you.

    No, you can’t.
    Yes, I can. No, you can’t.
    Yes, I can. No, you can’t.
    Yes, I can,
    Yes, I can!

    Anything you can be
    I can be greater.
    Sooner or later,
    I’m greater than you.

    No, you’re not. Yes, I am.
    No, you’re not. Yes, I am.
    No, you’re NOT!. Yes, I am.
    Yes, I am!

    I can shoot a partridge
    With a single cartridge.
    I can get a sparrow
    With a bow and arrow.
    I can live on bread and cheese.
    And only on that?
    So can a rat!
    Any note you can reach
    I can go higher.
    I can sing anything
    Higher than you.
    No, you can’t. (High)
    Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can’t. (Higher)
    Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can’t. (Higher)
    Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can’t. (Higher)
    Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can’t. (Higher)
    Yes, I CAN! (Highest)

    Anything you can buy
    I can buy cheaper.
    I can buy anything
    Cheaper than you.

    Fifty cents?
    Forty cents! Thirty cents?
    Twenty cents! No, you can’t!
    Yes, I can,
    Yes, I can!
    Anything you can say
    I can say softer.
    I can say anything
    Softer than you.
    No, you can’t. (Softly)
    Yes, I can. (Softer) No, you can’t. (Softer)
    Yes, I can. (Softer) No, you can’t. (Softer)
    Yes, I can. (Softer)
    YES, I CAN! (Full volume)
    I can drink my liquor
    Faster than a flicker.
    I can drink it quicker
    And get even sicker!
    I can open any safe.
    Without bein’ caught?
    That’s what I thought–
    you crook!
    Any note you can hold
    I can hold longer.
    I can hold any note
    Longer than you.

    No, you can’t.
    Yes, I can No, you can’t.
    Yes, I can No, you can’t.
    Yes, I can
    Yes, I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I No, you C-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-N’T–
    CA-A-A-A-N! (Cough, cough!)
    Yes, you ca-a-a-an!

    Anything you can wear
    I can wear better.
    In what you wear
    I’d look better than you.
    In my coat?
    In your vest! In my shoes?
    In your hat! No, you can’t!
    Yes, I can
    Yes, I CAN!
    Anything you say
    I can say faster.
    I can say anything
    Faster than you.
    No, you can’t. (Fast)
    Yes, I can. (Faster) No, you can’t. (Faster)
    Yes, I can. (Faster) Noyoucan’t. (Faster)
    YesIcan! (Fastest)
    I can jump a hurdle.
    I can wear a girdle.
    I can knit a sweater.
    I can fill it better!
    I can do most anything!
    Can you bake a pie? No.
    Neither can I.
    Anything you can sing
    I can sing sweeter.
    I can sing anything
    Sweeter than you.
    No, you can’t. (Sweetly)
    Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can’t. (Sweeter)
    Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can’t. (Sweeter)
    Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can’t, can’t, can’t (sweeter)
    Yes, I can, can, can (Sugary)

    Yes, I can! No, you can’t!

    • lara

      You know, there’s a version of this song from Fullmetal Alchemist, in YouTube, in wich you can get two Sins singing… if you have seen the anime, it kind of makes sence? :P

  • Del

    Four pages of Army camp, and not a single cigarette.

    Somebody had better start smoking, or I swear there’s going to be a reckoning.

  • awhorl

    It doesn’t help that Wolfe is so handsome and sings really well at the rathskeller.

  • Andrew-with-an-S

    Five bucks on Envy.

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