Kaptein’s: “The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER” succeeds in super-ceding such classic works as: “An American Shogun in India” and “Yamada Monogatari: DEMON HUNTER”
“The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER” by Peter Kaptein is a Literary-Fantasy tour de force full of exotic Dutch people and locations!
I am looking forward to the two other parts of the Tapeworm Chronicles
As this is probably fantasy nonsense written by some American guy, playing the “Exotic card”, I decided to do the same. But better (tapeworms! Research! Dutch Exoticness!).
So I will re-mix this story-idea (from the blurbs) into: “The book of Koen Flipsen: DEMON HUNTER”.
Educated! Smart! Full of style! Well dressed! Artistic!
Read with me:
In an ancient
Japan NETHERLANDS where the incursions of gods, ghosts, and demons into the living world is an everyday event, an impoverished nobleman named Yamada no Goji KOEN FLIPSEN makes his living as a demon hunter for hire. With the occasional assistance of the reprobate [FUNNY SCOUNDREL SIDEKICK!] exorcist Kenji HANS, whatever the difficulty – ogres, demons, fox-spirits – for a price Yamada KOEN will do what needs to be done, even and especially if the solution to the problem isn’t as simple as the edge of a sword. Yet, no matter how many monsters he has to face, or how powerful and terrible they may be, the demons Yamada KOEN fears the most are his own!
From the reviews:
Yamada KOEN himself functions as the knowledgable agent during the readers’ exploration through Parks’s KAPTEIN’s recreation of Heian Japan Medieval NETHERLANDS (the period preceding the “Warring States” DURING THE 80 YEARS WAR WITH THE SPANISH and the rise of the Shogun SOMETHING King Willem Of Orange the First). Yamada FLIPSEN is both observant and thoughtful, bringing his surroundings to life for those familiar with and those alien to various aspects of Japanese DUTCH culture, history, and mythology present in the work. Yamada’s FLIPSEN’s quirky monk companion Kenji HANS provides a solid foil, and occasional kick in the rear [HA HA HA HUMOR!], to the dogged demon hunter himself. Parks KAPTEIN’s [bla bla bla something something: awesome writing]. The settings are diverse, bringing the reader into contact with large swaths of Japanese DUTCH culture both near to and far from the Imperial ROYAL court. The characters are, for the most part, well-developed with the dubious or mixed motivations that make for good storytelling. Importantly, the demons and ghosts Yamada FLIPSEN deals with are interesting and compelling.
There! I wrote my summary.
“An impoverished nobleman”
Nobles could be (and usually were) knights at some time. It was good to go out on your horse, fight some battles and (around 1200) earn your own piece of land with stinky poor peasants free to boot.
In the period this story plays, the Netherlands are a province of Spain. Willem of Orange, the city-holder of several provinces in Holland is revolting against the Spanish with the Spanish Inquisition as a main trigger and possible personal gain of power as an underlying motive (in the story).
But how can Koen Flipsen be a impoverised-nobleman? One that lost his wealth as we see above, has enough battle-experience not to be torn to shreds with his first encounter and to becomes a DEMON HUNTER!!??
Let’s review Dutch history as the peoples of the Internets see it.
The fall of the Dutch Nobles
On the slow decline of power of the Dutch nobles (Wikipedia):
Part of the shifting balance of power in the late Middle Ages meant that besides the local nobility, many of the Dutch administrators by now were not traditional aristocrats, but instead stemmed from non-noble families that had risen in status over the last centuries.
Under the governorship of Mary of Hungary (1531–1555), traditional power had for a large part been taken away both from the stadtholders of the provinces and from the high noblemen, who had been replaced by professional jurists in the Council of State.
What we see is a shift of power. Leading to a decrease of influence (and income) by the nobles.
More on Dutch nobility: where did they come from?
In the Early Middle Ages, there were, in each province, a number of feudal lords who often were just as powerful, and sometimes more so, than the rulers themselves. In the middle of the fourteenth century, quarrels between the feudal lords reduced many families and castles to ruins, contributing to the Dukes of Burgundy’s acquisition by conquest or inheritance of many of the provinces forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
On poverty / loss of money and “religious radicalism” by the lesser Nobles in the time of the Dutch insurrection, from this source:
the lesser nobles were embracing religious radicalism and becoming more extreme in their talk. These men had lost a lot of money as a result of price rises – money which they could not recover. William could not be seen to be openly supportive of men who were becoming radical and potentially de-stabilising. These men turned to Louis of Nassau – the brother of William of Orange. In 1565 they formed the Compromise. It had two main aims:
1) to end the power of the Inquisition in the Netherlands
2) to get Philip to withdraw his orders to enforce the findings of the Council of Trent.
These Nobles would later unite as “Geuzen” or “Beggars” (see below) and they slaughtered several Catholics in the war with the Spanish. I exclude that part for now, although it will be one of the crucial and life-turning events in the life of Koen Flipsen.
We now have a possible explenation WHY Koen Flipsen (van Bergen to Zantum) has become a disposessed Noble. To make the backstory fit more, Koen is probably a Calvinist.
His battle-experience can come from fighting with the Geuzen in the first rebellion led by Willem of Orange.
The 80 year war, Willem of Orange and the Geuzen
After his arrival in August 1567, Alba established the Council of Troubles (known to the people as the Council of Blood) to judge those involved in the rebellion and the iconoclasm. William was one of the 10,000 to be summoned before the Council, but he failed to appear. He was subsequently declared an outlaw, and his properties were confiscated. As one of the most prominent and popular politicians of the Netherlands, William of Orange emerged as the leader of an armed resistance. He financed the Watergeuzen, refugee Protestants who formed bands of corsairs and raided the coastal cities of the Netherlands (often killing Spanish and Dutch alike). He also raised an army, consisting mostly of German mercenaries to fight Alba on land. William allied with the French Huguenots, following the end of the second Religious War in France when they had troops to spare.
The motive for Willems revolt can be found here:
Later, in his Apology (1580), William stated that his resolve to oppose the King’s policies had originated in June 1559, when, during a hunting trip to the Bois de Vincennes together with the duke of Alva and King Henry II of France, […] the latter two had openly discussed a secret understanding between Philip and Henry which aimed at the extermination of the Protestants in both France and the Netherlands; William at that time had kept silent, but had decided for himself that he would not allow the slaughter of so many innocent subjects.
Slaughter! The murder of innocents. Freedom of religion!
A major cause of Dutch discontent was the heavy level of taxation the population was required to pay, while support and guidance from the government was hampered by the size of the empire.
Taxes! Nobles becoming poor!
Beside the hard-line Calvinists, that opposition consisted of the Dutch nobility, whose power had declined in favour of that of the despised merchant class that the regents represented, and the factions in the other provinces, such as Utrecht and Friesland, that heartily resented Holland’s supremacy.
The Dutch nobles joined forces after the failed attempt to come to a compromise related to the placards against heresy in the Netherlands.
That evening the petitioners held a banquet at which they toasted the king and themselves as “beggars.” Henceforth the Geuzen would be the name of their party.
More on the Geuzen.
Geuzen (French: Les Gueux, English: the Beggars) was a name assumed by the confederacy of Calvinist Dutch nobles and other malcontents, who from 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands. The most successful group of them operated at sea, and so were called Watergeuzen (French: Gueux de mer, English: Sea Beggars).
On Willem of Orange’s other possible motives (Wikipedia):
Although he never directly opposed the Spanish king, William soon became one of the most prominent members of the opposition in the Council of State, together with Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn and Lamoral, Count of Egmont. They were mainly seeking more political power for themselves against the de facto government of Count Berlaymont, Granvelle and Viglius of Aytta, but also for the Dutch nobility and, ostensibly, for the Estates, and complained that too many Spaniards were involved in governing the Netherlands. William was also dissatisfied with the increasing persecution of Protestants in the Netherlands. Brought up as a Lutheran and later a Catholic, William was very religious but was still a proponent of freedom of religion for all people.
Mine! More power! Restore the power of the Dutch nobility! Too many Spaniards!
We have war. We have motive for war. We have a King to Be (Willem of Orange) with shady motives. Murder and battlefields! We have the basis for a fruitful backdrop.
Ghosts and demons
From the blurb we have:
- Ogres — “large, hideous, humanoid monsters” according to WikiPedia. Check. Strong, big, feeding on human beings. Chck.
- Gods — Well, we have the Greek ones and Odin and Loki. I guess — as we follow the blurb — that they will be there. Maybe some followers. And an appearance or two.
- Ghosts — Poltergeists, the souls of the dead. Since it is war there are many dead people. And many ghosts.
- Demons — Let’s go Christian here. While most are technically spirits, we put them all on one heap: not of God and thuis evil. We have the Flemish Kludde, a mischievous spirit who can shape-shift and wants to ride your back. There are the Cambion who are half-demonic offspring of humans and Incubus/Succubus. We have imps, which are quite harmless. Belial/Baal. Nymphs who are spirits of nature and live everywhere. Witches who “slept with the devil/a demon”.
- Fox spirits — Which can be represented by a talking fox. In Dutch and French legends we have Reynaart the fox, an “anthropomorphic fox” who is considered a trickster. Why not make this a spirit. “Descendant of Reynart! What is it you wish!”
Nice to know:
- Malleus Maleficarum — The standard book published in 1486 on witches and witchcraft. A copy is in possession of Koen.
- Section 13 of Rituale Romanum — Exorcism
Koen Flipsen (van Bergen tot Zantum)
Koen can– and will have the background to become a fierce, haunted, dogged demon hunter.
Probably Koen does not like peasants, as they are unwashed and poor and he is from noble backgrounds. So his clients will be other Nobles. Who will probably loathe and fear him. But being noble also means he — according to Aristotle — has values and virtues and can be trusted.
As Aristotle was just as reliable and awesome as a source as Nietsche (crazy and fucked up) for your day to day advice and the Nobles were usually few, Koen probably is just another profiteer, robber, gambler, half-inbred liar in conflict with himself, his assumed virtues and his strong or loose bonds to the Church. (I decided he is a follower of Calvin.)
Probably Koen’s last name will include some places to indicate his former reign. “Koen Flipsen van Bergen tot Zantum”, where “Zantum” is a made-up name and “Flipsen” does not make any sense to begin with AS THIS IS FANTASY!!11!2!3!! and thus it is allowed.
For all discrepancies sake I will also use some reference to stuff that is not Dutch nor/or not part of that time. (And if I do it properly I will have some non-Dutch people praise the story for its “historical correctness” and “deep insight in Dutch culture”)
Old age, bad breath and tapeworms
Probably Koen is in his 40’s and with his own set of problems from being malnourished / having not really the best diet and from worms and other parasites living in his intestines due to bad hygiene and eating half-raw meat. (And I wonder how many Fantasy-novels deal with that problem: “When he stood he felt something still hanging down and as he pulled it, more slowly came out of his anus.” TAPEWORM! I do not remember Tolkien had any intestinal parasites in his world-building…) He will also — very likely — have bad breath, bad teeth and teeth missing, on top of raw scars and several broken bones set in a crappy way on the battle-field.
Dragon Ball Z
Like Goku, Koen will wear lead parts on his body to weight him down and force him to keep his body strong by normal daily use. In order to be able to defeat the demons.
Koen can not transform into something resembling a Super Sayan, however.
How did Koen become Demon Slayer?
Koen starts seeing ghosts after an almost deadly blow on the head by a war-hammer when he was 21. Since then he can see spirits and ghosts eveywhere (hello, cliche). He gets his name as Demon Slayer by murdering a possessed leader of a Spanish batillion. Leading to all kinds of strange happenings that day.
There! Nobody asked me to make it into a literary masterpiece. So: done.
The 80 years war
The 80 years war between the Dutch and the Spanish is a very rich backdrop for many reasons and I can take the rise of King Willem of Orange with it.
The exoticness of Dutch people is present in many ways by the way.
Blond hair (well… many of them, excluding Cornelius Tromp). Blue eyes. Fair skin. Crazy as fuck. Bravado. Style! The Germans and the Nordic people — including those wretched Vikings — might have touched some of it, but only the Dutch have and had it all.
The Dutch invented stuff, including a representation of the solar system and several uses of wind energy. We had boats and overseas trade. We kicked Great Britain’s butt several times, including blocking the Themes with a chain. We were the scorch of Spain by pirating their ships with gold and silver over and over and over again. We used guerrilla warfare. I might even use my own, unique and wonderfully correct historical research on the Dutch War Barrel Organs.
I am too busy now to work on this further. Three stories to finish. And other thingy things that are required when you are doing stuff and so.
So I will get back to this probably a month from now. (sad face).