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THE SETTLERS OF CATAN
A DVA NC E R E A D E R’S C OP Y — U NC OR R E C T E D PRO OF
Text copyright © 2003 by Rebecca Gable
English translation copyright © 2011 by Amazon Content Services LLC
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, pho- tocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
The Settlers of Catan by Rebecca Gable was first published in 2003 by Bastei Lübbe in Köln, Germany, as Die Siedler von Catan: Nach Motiven des Spiels “Die Siedler von Catan” un.
Translated from the German by Lee Chadeayne.
First published in English in 2011 by AmazonCrossing.
Published by AmazonCrossing P.O. Box 400818 Las Vegas, NV 89140
ISBN-13: 9781611090819 ISBN-10: 1611090814
THE SETTLERS OF CATAN
A historical novel based on the board game The Settlers of Catan
Translated by Lee Chadeayne, translation revised by Ingrid G. Lansford
Sketches by Klaus Teuber
How do you invent games? This is probably the question a game designer is asked most frequently. For many people it seems to be a mystery how someone can succeed in creating a small world of its own, made of cardboard, wood, plastic, and a few rules. A game world to submerge into, get away from it all for a couple of hours and meet one’s fellow human beings in a refreshingly different way.
The motivation—and sometimes even the irresistible urge—to start developing a game always rests upon a story. The story must fascinate me and awaken in me the desire to be able to relive it time and again in a game situation.
The starting point for the game “The Settlers of Catan” was the history of discoveries. I was particularly taken with the Vikings, who—way ahead of their time—headed for Iceland, Greenland, and America in their dragon ships and permanently and successfully settled Iceland.
In the 9th century, Iceland was uninhabited except for a few Celtic monks; the island didn’t have to be conquered, but everything had to be created from scratch. Trees were felled in once densely wooded Iceland to build houses and ships. Roads were built, sheep multiplied in rich pastures, and before long, grain grew—although not abundantly—on the then much warmer island in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Pioneering days! Probably, the settlement of Iceland was successful only because people helped each other, peacefully traded with each other, and looked for new ways to build a better society. Around 920, the Vikings thus founded a people’s assembly—the althing. It
is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world and exists to this very day.
Well, Catan isn’t Icleand, although there are many similarities. Catan is also uninhabited in the beginning and is then developed during the game. Lumber is produced, grain is harvested, ore is mined, and clay is extracted and made into bricks. The resources are used to build settlements and roads; cities develop, and a busy trade between the players helps to overcome shortages. Even though there’s a winner at the end of the game, it is more about cooperation than about competition. Things are built rather than destroyed, because the Catanians are peace-loving people.
“The Settlers of Catan” was released in 1995. From day one, the game was very successful. Within three years of its release, over one million copies had sold. Since then, over 18 million copies of the Catan game series have been sold worldwide in over forty countries and thirty languages. Catan has been particularly successful in North America in recent years, especially in the United States. I am delighted by the noticeable enthusiasm of many English-speaking fans, who have expressed their fondness for the Catan games in a host of emails, social media postings, as well as at various conventions.
In 1998, for the first time I thought of how delightful it would be to experience the story of the settlement of Catan in a novel. It was a half-hearted thought, however, because I lacked the talent to write a good novel and didn’t know anyone I could ask either. I also had the feeling that the time wasn’t ripe yet for a novel.
Since I love to read good historical novels, it was inevitable that two years later I came across Rebecca Gable’s novel The Smile of Fortune. I was so carried away by this novel set in the Middle Ages that it took me only one weekend to devour the book. I felt very close to the characters Gable so masterfully brought to life—characters who weren’t only portrayed as good people but who also had their weak sides, which was essential to make them believable as human beings.
I was impressed by her suspenseful, authentic, and historically sub- stantiated narration of the era of the Hundred Years’ War in England. And then—I probably had read three quarters of the novel—I suddenly
The Settlers of Catan
knew it: Rebecca Gable would write the story of the settlement of Catan, or else the story would never be written.
For two years I hadn’t thought of a Catan novel, but now I was as if possessed by the desire to have Rebecca Gable as its author. Then, when I visited the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2000, I managed to meet the writer. I actually had little hope; after all, Gable was a bestselling author already back then and she certainly had no need to get on the bandwagon of my game’s success.
To my great delight, however, things turned out differently. Very soon, we were continuously exchanging e-mails, and finally,
in spring of 2001, we arranged a meeting in Cologne. Meanwhile, I had developed a rough draft of the novel’s plot as I envisioned it, and Rebecca Gable had also given some thought to it. When we started to tell each other our ideas for the novel, we were very surprised: they mostly coincided.
The die was cast; Rebecca Gable was willing to put the story of the settlement of Catan on paper. Months of harmonious and constructive collaboration followed. Although my only role was that of a critic—and I never found much to criticize—it was very exciting to experience and accompany the development of the novel “live,” so to speak.
The German edition of the novel was published in 2003, and thanks to its success, you now hold the English translation.
I would like to thank Ms. Gable from the bottom of my heart for this time and the wonderful novel you, dear reader, are holding in your hands now.
—Klaus Teuber, August 2011
“Ye Gods, that’s cold!” Candamir gasped, for the plunge into the pitch black water had taken his breath away. “Why didn’t we do this before the harvest? Only fools go swimming this late in the year.”
Osmund slowly moved his arms about to stay afloat. “Stop whining. The nine-armed kraken will hear you shouting and come after us.”
“Yes. Or the twelve-headed sea serpent. Boo!” They laughed. Even in their callow youth they had held their
swimming contests every harvest moon, and in those days the com- petition had been less about who would be first across the fjord than who could scare the other the more with their real or imaginary stories of sea monsters.
“Ready?” asked Osmund. His wet, blond hair shone like a will-o’-the-wisp on the dark water.
“Just waiting for you,” Candamir replied. “Then let’s go.” The small white crests sparkled in the moonlight as their arms
sliced through the waves. They moved fast and almost silently through the water, like two seals, neck and neck at first. A shimmering white cliff towered up on their right, jutting far out into the fjord and serv- ing as a breakwater for the harbor of Elasund beyond it. When they reached the outer point of the peninsula, they were already past the halfway point in their race.
Osmund could sense he had a slight lead, though he didn’t look to see. He was no longer sensitive to the ice-cold water around him— the water was his friend, making him fast and weightless. He took
deep, regular breaths and felt he could swim forever, not just across the fjord, but out to the distant island realms his people had founded.
Then he felt a tight grip on his arm. “Osmund!” He heard the horror in Candamir’s voice. Even the best swimmer
could cramp up in this icy water. But it didn’t seem like Candamir was in any danger of going
down. Perhaps it was the cold or the effect of the moonlight, but his friend’s face appeared ghostly pale as he stared toward the shore.
Osmund turned his head and looked in the same direction, to the end of the fjord where Elasund lay.
O, save us, Father of the Gods, he thought, full of dread. Not again … The village was on fire, and in the harbor were four ships that
didn’t belong there. “Let’s get to the boat!” he shouted, breathlessly. That afternoon, a slave had rowed a small boat to the narrow,
crescent-shaped beach on the far side of the fjord so that Osmund and Candamir could return home more easily after their daring competition. Water and sand flew as the two leapt to their feet and ran to the boat which had been carefully pulled up onto the beach