Bian’s Tale – Revenge – second part

Here is the fourteenth episode of Bian’s Tale; the second part of Section 6 – ‘Revenge’.

Not really a cliffhanger this time. Medium length. It’s taken me all week to write these two chapters and I’m still not very happy with them.

If you’re just arriving here, and haven’t read from the start of this serial, here’s a link to the beginning:

As before… You may have already seen the changes to the feeds in Facebook. If you enjoy my posts, please LIKE the Bite Back page and/or FOLLOW or FRIEND me on my personal page.

I will be starting a Group, but I need some time to think about it.

Feedback always valued, folks. 🙂

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This episode from Bian’s Tale 1 – The Harvest of Lies has been removed.
The book will be available shortly on Amazon.


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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

10 responses to “Bian’s Tale – Revenge – second part”

  1. Nigel Phillips says :

    Hi, Some big overview feedback rather than specifics. Cliff hangers – not import to me. Better lots of knowledge gaps and subtext to feed my imagination durring the week. I think this is hard to do well with first narrative, or at any rate easier in third person. I very much enjoy your bite back series and am enjoying Bian’ s Tale but I think you might might struggle to gain new readers this way. The gap until the monsters appear is very long, and then quite sudden. You have perhaps done too good a job of capturing an authentic Sai Gon of the 19th Century. Something that I think could help is to start chapters with two or three short excerpt, quotions etc. newspaper articles, academic book on local folklore, saying of Master Song. That would enable the reader to believe they know more than Bian. Another might be to think about who Bian is narrating to an when, so that she can make occasional reflective comments on her nativity etc.

    Hope this is helpful.


    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Nigel. Yup, takes too long for the monsters to arrive. I guess I got caught with that first section, where Bian is 9 years old, and, as you say, fitting the narrative into the restraints of 19th Century Saigon in the 2-5th sections.

      I do have a reflective chapter, way back in the first section, where an adult Bian interrupts the 9 year old’s story with missing information. I’ve had a look where I might do that in other sections, but nothing has ‘felt’ right. Maybe I should look again.

    • Michael Orton says :

      Of course this isn’t my story, but I like that suggestion.

      Of course it may be that our author’s version of history is at significant variance with our own history books, but if so then such headlines could be used to highlight the bits which are the same and which are different.

      • Mark Henwick says :

        A surprising amount of this background is history, just bent a little. The French did combine the colony of Cochinchina with the protectorates of Laos and Cambodia into Indochina at about this date. They did demote the Governor in Saigon to Lieutenant Governor. They did disband the mandarinate in Hue. They did manufacture opium in Saigon, and the economy of Cochinchina was based on rice and opium. The Opium Regie existed. The streets and hotels and statues I mention in Saigon were real, as were Khanh Hoi and Cholon and the Arroyo Chinois. The tram to Cholon existed. The market existed. The racetrack existed and became official at around this time.The docks existed and were split between naval and commercial (but weren’t called that). The colonial marines existed and were barracked in Saigon. The convent existed. The ‘black women’ who loaded and unloaded coal, basket by basket, on the docks were real. The Corsicans did comprise a significant & powerful part of Saigon’s French society and were always a little apart from them. The Deuxieme Bureau existed. The Khmer towns dotted down the Mekong and hidden in the jungle at this date existed. Dragon dances, kris knives, Bugis traders, demimondaine, Chinese societies, tongs, triads, all there.

        There was never, to my knowledge, a wall within a temple compound in Cholon where people posted messages, alas. My daughter was heartbroken to discover I’d invented that.

        The bits that need to emerge earlier are the paranormal threats, I think. I tried a couple of half-chapters with Bian reminiscing about how much was going on and how much her younger self couldn’t see what was really going on. I may try them again. I don’t want to give away the twist of House Song.

        Sayings of Master Song might be an amusing way to open a couple of chapters, as would local fokelore (again, not entirely invented, but bent a little).

        • Mark Henwick says :

          I intend publishing a map which will be a real 1890s map of Saigon, just slightly amended. I would *love* illustrations as well, but I don’t want to turn this into a comic! 🙂

          This conversation incidentally, has been very useful in stirring up the creative juices. Thank you.

  2. Justin Savely says :

    Interesting concept of assimilating the Yin/Yang ideology into Athanate society and mindset. Bian is going start earning her reputation soon.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      I wanted a whole Zen sermon, but couldn’t quite tie it all up. Spent the week going around in circles!

      • Mark Henwick says :

        I felt there was something very poetic about the contrast of ‘suchness’ in Zen, being bound in the moment, the transitory nature of the human condition etc etc … and the *long* perspective of the Athanate. I may yet add some bits of this in (see posts above about the sayings of Master Song).

  3. Michael Orton says :

    Now this tale is getting far more interesting.

    Surely there is a typo: “The humans of House Song provided for my needs” rather than “me needs”

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Indeed, thanks for spotting the typo.

      Yes, Bian now has the beginnings of the skills and capabilities that make such a platform for her personality in Bite Back. It’s frustrating to know on the one hand that these should appear earlier in the book, and on the other, that to do so would make the book jump forward.

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