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I am looking for the name of a fantasy novel, the details of which I only faintly recall from reading a different worldbuilding exchange thread. I think that thread was something like "how a war could suddenly end as soon as it started?"

One answer referred to a particular war in A Song of Ice and Fire which was considered 'over' as soon as the leader of one side was killed. Then all the opposing troops retreated. Their war was a vendetta against a single man rather than against a nation.

(If anyone has details about the ASOIAF reference I can run a search for the original thread. . . . )

Another (or maybe the same) answer mentioned these giants. They have a natural hatred of war but when it cannot be avoided undergo some sort of bodily transformation that makes them better at fighting, and this shows how committed to it they are. I don't know if the transformation is reversible or how it would explain a war suddenly ending. Perhaps the transformation is ultimately fatal so all combatants die and this is what makes the war suddenly end?

Edit: To clarify I am looking for the name of the novel in question -- the one about the transforming giants. Has anyone heard of a novel like that?

  • So, just to be clear, the novel you're looking for is about giants that transform into a fighting form, which was mentioned in a WorldBuilding SE thread? – FuzzyBoots Oct 26 '17 at 15:10
  • I think you're better off asking about the A Song of Ice & Fire battle so you can find the original discussion yourself. (Though if you do, I wouldn't mind hearing about the other story.) – eshier Oct 26 '17 at 18:58
  • I don't think it ended the war immediately but in Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry, some pacifist giants, Paraiko, are forced to join the war on the "good" side. – mkennedy Oct 28 '17 at 17:02
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TL;DR: Arcana Unearthed/Arcana Evolved by Monte Cook (Evolved being an updated version of Unearthed). Though they are reference books for his Dungeons & Dragons setting rather than a novel. There were two short-story collections in the setting: Children of the Rune and The Dragons' Return.

From the Wikipedia:

...Chi-Julud, in which the wise giants temporarily lose their wisdom to become stronger and more warlike.


Looking at the question again, it occurred to me that this sounded like the Aiel War in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series rather than anything from A Song of Ice and Fire. So, I looked on Worldbuilding and the Aiel War only is discussed once in this answer.

Here is the TV Tropes quote the answer includes:

When King Laman of Cairhien cut down the Avendoraldera, the tree that the mysterious desertdwelling Aiel-people had given his people as an sign of friendship hundreds of year earlier in order to carve himself a throne, four of the twelve Aiel Clans crossed the Dragonwall and invaded the Westlands. For the Westlands It was the greatest war they had seen in centuries, uniting almost every country under one banner that was stil unable to stop the Aiel horde. To the Aiel it was simply the execution of the Oathbreaker King Laman, and once they succeded in that they turned around, returning to their desert without giving any of the lands they had conqured a second glance.

Jerenda goes on to describe Arcana Evolved and its giants (emphasis mine):

For an entirely different view, I am stealing madly from Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved. In his book, the giants treat war very seriously, to the point where they have a ritual that they undergo before they engage in warfare. This ritual literally changes their body, making them more ferocious and more likely to win.

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