The Settlers of Catan

June 21, 2013 - Comment

The year is 850. In the seas of northern Europe, the small coastal village of Elasund falls prey to marauding neighbors. Their food stores pillaged, women and children stolen, livestock destroyed, the villagers are left to barely survive the harsh winter — and contemplate a drastic solution to their recurring hardships: leaving the only village

The year is 850. In the seas of northern Europe, the small coastal village of Elasund falls prey to marauding neighbors. Their food stores pillaged, women and children stolen, livestock destroyed, the villagers are left to barely survive the harsh winter — and contemplate a drastic solution to their recurring hardships: leaving the only village they have ever known. Foster brothers Candamir and Osmund lead their people on an epic quest to a mythic island home, but without knowledge of exactly where the island is, they must trust the gods to deliver them safely. Lost at sea and set adrift, an extraordinarily violent storm washes them ashore the island famed in pagan lore: Catan. They quickly set about building a new society but old grudges, animosities, and social orders lead to fraternal strife. As the ideals of Candamir’s Christian slave spread throughout the village and conflict with pagan law, the two belief systems clash. When both Osmund and Candamir fall in love with Siglind, the mysterious queen of the Cold Islands, things come to a head.

Based on the wildly popular board game of the same name designed by Klaus Teuber, Rebecca Gable’s The Settlers of Catan is a must-read adventure rich in detail and rippling with intensity.Interview: Author Rebecca Gable & Settlers of Catan Creator Klaus Teuber

Klaus Teuber:
When we saw each other at the Frankfurt Book Fair recently, I recalled how we met there 10 years ago. Do you remember?

Rebecca Gable: Of course! You asked if I could imagine writing a novel based on your famous board game.

KT: I had read one of your books and was so excited about it, I wanted you to bring the story of the settlement of Catan to life. What was your first thought when I asked you?

RG: I thought, “This must be the most unusual and fascinating project ever proposed to me.” What gave you the idea for a novelization in the first place?

KT: In the game, seafarers land on Catan. They harvest, trade, build, and settle the island. But where did those seafarers come from? Who are they? Why did they undertake this dangerous journey? The game doesn’t answer any of those questions. I had some ideas but no story yet. Then you entered the picture.

RG: We met in Cologne to discuss some basic plot ideas, and it turned out we both had the word “Vikings” in our heads. What is so “Viking” about the game?

KT: Catan is set in the Early Middle Ages, and at that time the Vikings were the only seafaring people to venture into the open ocean, and therefore the only ones capable of reaching a fictitious island in the middle of the Atlantic. That was probably at the back of our minds.

How do you move from a draft outline like ours to developing your characters? Do you use people you know as models?

RG: Never. I’m fond of my friends and want to keep them, so I make sure the characters in my books don’t resemble them. Speaking of characters: If you had to choose, would you rather sit down in a beer garden with Candamir or Osmund?

KT: Well, I’d prefer a little flirt with Siglind. But if I may only choose one of the men, I’d like Candamir to explain to me how to build a nice wooden chest. I still need a Christmas present for my wife.

How did you come up with the idea to season the novel with Austin, a likeable character who so insistently (and unsuccessfully) tries to evangelize his master, Candamir?

RG: The game inspired the creation of Austin. You’ve got to be clever and sometimes mean to win at Settlers of Catan, but whenever I play, it strikes me that what you need most is the ability to cooperate and compromise. Austin stands for that ability, I think–though he can be clever and mean, too.

KT: In your telling of the legend of Catan, the god Odin falls in love with Tanuri, the king of the Albs’ daughter. Normally Odin can have any woman, but Tanuri makes a fool of him when he creates an idyllic island for her. Grief stricken, he moves the island to a place where nobody can find it. Of course, the island is Catan. Where did you get this wonderful idea? Did it come from an archetype in Norse mythology?

RG: It’s not based on any particular Norse saga, but I tried to capture the atmosphere and narrative patterns of the form. I also wanted to emphasize how very special Catan is–not just in the book, but for millions of fans all over the world who love the game. Catan is a mythical and wonderful place.



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Comments

Alan Holyoak says:

I thought it was just a gimmick, but this book really is quite good When I saw a book titled, “The Settlers of Catan” I thought to myself, all right, I’ll bite.This book is based very loosely on the best selling board game of the same name, . Just a little background, the board game “The Settlers of Catan” was released in 1995 and soon won the very prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) Award. The game soon spread in popularity until it has become one of the most popular board game names in the world, and IMO changed the way game-players around the world look at games. My family and I have been playing this game for over a decade.Anyway, back to the book…when I saw a book titled “The Settlers of Catan” my first reaction was, “Oh, Please! You can’t be serious!” I thought it was nothing more than some kind of gimmick to make a quick buck on a well-known brand name. But, as a long-time player of the game I thought it…

R. Kyle says:

All things being equal, I’d rather be playing the game My favorite part of the book was the excellent introduction by the game’s designer, Klaus Teuber, describing the process of creating a game. Being a fan of “Settlers of Catan,” his processes and thinking was fascinating to me.The book itself is a translation from the original German book by Rebecca Gable, a German mystery author, who wrote the book in 2003. I don’t know if anything’s been lost in translation or this type of fantasy may be more appealing to German audiences, but it wasn’t precisely my cup of tea. This is one of the rare times when I cannot finish a book. I honestly tried, but I couldn’t get past the first 150 pages. Given the amount of time it would take to wade through the remainder of the book, I’d rather just play the game instead.The story’s semi-resembling the Viking settling of Iceland in about 900. Readers are treated to a mix of Norse – Christian mythos as well as romance, violence, etc. The characters for me were lifeless, but the…

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