Had to go to the dentist (again).* My face was numb for hours. Smiling at people during hellhounds’ afternoon hurtle I was wondering what kind of awful grimace I was actually producing.** For variety however we were attacked by a pair of on lead dogs. So charming. Beagles, and the woman holding them . . . couldn’t. They dragged her across the pavement, barking and snarling . . . and hellhounds and I were out in the middle of the busy main road before I had time to come up with a better plan . . . there was no better plan: trotting along on short lead (short lead, right? Because we don’t want to bother anyone who might be sharing pedestrian space with us?) which is to say with me slowing us down, we didn’t have time to turn and run.***
And then there was Old Eden’s monthly practise tonight. All bell ringing practises are a crap shoot because you never know who’s going to show up, but Old Eden’s monthly is a bigger, sillier crap shoot than most because there’s no local band, so it’s whatever haphazard hodgepodge Vicky and I have managed to scrape together. I’m the one who does the phoning round the Sunday afternoon before; Vicky attacks people in the street . . . well maybe not exactly attacks. But she’s the one knows every ringer in a hundred mile radius and what they’re doing on a given night. We get some quite ridiculous excuses for not coming. Mandy, one of Colin’s regulars†, with whom I rang the wedding at Gallowglass last Saturday week, and who promised to come to Old Eden tonight, phoned with some absurd story about having to look after her six-year-old grandson because his mum’s in hospital having another one. Feeble. Very feeble.
There were finally only seven of us, and only four of those method ringers, so it ended up being a Bash the Beginners night—although in effect this means Bash the Back Up as well, because while the beginners mostly get to swap off, so you’ve got only one rogue bell at a time to worry about, us ballast ringers have to stand to our ropes and keep going course after course. There are various ways of preventing yourself from going mad with boredom.†† Mine tonight was to ring the five. I’ve told you about Old Eden’s bells: they are possessed by demons. Five of the six of them are only possessed by one or two demons each. The number-five bell is possessed by at least a dozen.††† But this is another of those how to be a useful ringer things: a useful ringer can ring what she rings from any position‡ and on any bell, however many demons are involved. So I clung grimly to the five, and yanked it down toward the front and shoved it up to the back again while it yelled and squirmed and tried to bite my hands and fall crash at my feet and generally failed to cooperate, and . . .
. . . I’m very tired. The frelling anaesthesia has something to do with it.‡‡ At least wrestling with the five made my blood circulate fast enough that it finally wore off.‡‡‡ And the fluey thing, which was this morning resentfully slinking away has come skulking back again like a burglar, testing to see if the anaesthesia left any doors open. I might try doing that weird thing again—what’s it called?—going to bed early.§
* * *
* Yes, he’s sending all seven^ of his children to uni on my teeth.
^ Well, he has four. That’s enough college fees to lay up for to explain his prices.+
+ Because ordinary dentists scream and fall back when they see my teeth. I have to go to a staggeringly overpriced specialist. Don’t talk to me about NHS dentists. They’re a myth, like blue roses~ and fountains of youth~~ and cat-proof gardens.~~~
~ And a rose with a delphinium gene in it to make it blue will not be a rose.
~~ The illustration for this in my mind’s eye is by Edward Gorey.
~~~ I put a note through Phineas’ door this afternoon. It said: Hope all’s well. Hope you had a good weekend. Hope you go away again soon.
Dentist from R’yleh has cats. As well as the dogs, the horses and the (rescued battery)= chickens. He has lots and lots of outgoings to pay.
= I like the idea that someone who tortures people for a living rescues battery chickens in his spare time. Although I think the chickens are his wife’s idea.
** Smiling? What am I smiling for? I’m a hellgoddess! People ought to cringe when I grimace at them!
*** I then came home to this, tweeted by EMoon: For all dog owners: Dorrana Durgin’s comments on loose dogs…get a clue and use that leash. http://tinyurl.com/2vhmx42 I retweeted so fast I may have melted a few keyboard keys.
† Although she also runs her own tower. . . . She is, in fact, ringing master in the town where dentist from R’yleh lives. The world is not just small, it’s too small.
†† I don’t begrudge the time spent ringing endless plain courses of whatever for beginners to bounce off of: bell ringing is an incredibly labour-intensive sport/art/science, and you need an entire band to drag one learner on. I still need entire bands to drag me on even though I’m learning Grandsire Triples inside rather than treble to plain hunt.^ Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that ringing plain courses of whatever over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER again is any less boring. You’re just bored while exuding a faint holy glow.
^ Which is the next step after call changes. You all remember what call changes are, right?
††† While you’re waiting to pull off you can hear them gibbering.
‡ One of those really excellent moments in your progress as a ringer is the first time someone asks you if they can have the bell you were about to ring for the method just called, because it’s the bell they’re most comfortable on . . . and you say sure, because you can ring that method from any bell.
‡‡ I wonder how much my post-dentist exhaustion is the anaesthesia and how much is sheer terror . . . but not enough to volunteer for an experiment in which I get a faceful of anaesthesia and then measure how crummy I feel after it wears off.
‡‡‡ And—within limits—yes, I would rather have a face going bang bang bang. At least I know where it is this way. Painkillers are excellent but they are also an out-of-body experience. Generally speaking I’d rather be in my body.
§ I could read a book. I finished one last night. It’s by an author I like enormously . . . and it wasn’t very good. If it wasn’t by someone I like I wouldn’t have bothered finishing it. This is so depressing. I may need to do something drastic to restore my faith in literature, like reread something by Peter Dickinson.
I am suffering post-dental-anaesthesia brain failure*, compounded with No Sleep to Speak of generalised constitutional dysfunction plus malevolinternetitis in one of its infinite (and infinitely malevolent) manifestations, so if I suddenly stop making any kind of fringrabbleponk zurlich arumblux naffare sense, that’ll probably be dinzle dwab duggee dorg why. Also it’s raining. Hard.** And my jaw hurts. And Finale, software music programme from Abaddon, isn’t working. I think, in this case, however, it’s the laptop—still more joy. Raphael, Computer Man A, was already booked for tomorrow—the laptop has been whining and hiccupping and falling over a lot lately, and today Peter’s computer decided to get in on the act: computer performance art. Not recommended. So Gabriel, Computer Man B, is going to come along tomorrow and tilt at demons too.*** Maybe we have gremlins, the kind with zapper fingers and UDP-slot eyes and way too many brain pixels. Or maybe a new hellmouth has opened under New Arcadia.
I favour the hellmouth explanation. Or Borgmouth anyway. Which would also explain this area’s reputation as the Bermuda Triangle of Hampshire†, which worries me, as I have previously expressed on these virtual pages. That’s not just rain thumping down out there, it’s grey goo, which, as we know, is neither grey nor gooey.†† Other indications that the world as we know it is coming to an end include that we were chased by a cat this afternoon: Honeybun, listen to me. You’re a fine specimen and all but we still outweigh you by about ten to one and these guys run faster than you do. Trust me on this. —Possibly it didn’t like the weather either. Chaos was dancing up and down at the end of his lead saying pleeeeease, he wants to play, I can tell he wants to play†††—and making, as I think about it, rather cat-like noises. The answer was still no. I am no fun at all. Especially when there seems to me blood in prospect.
It’s illegal to go to bed before midnight, isn’t it? It’s been so long since I tried. . . . ‡
* * *
* Highlighted, accentuated and fulsomely embellished by anticipatory dread. I’m booked in for my first implant in a fortnight. You’re so much better now, said dentist from R’lyeh brightly, I don’t think we even need to sedate you!
Thanks, I said, digging the fingernails of the hand I fell down and broke the last time they sedated me into my palm.
** Grumbling noises from dog bed. We wanted a hurtle this afternoon, not a swim! We don’t like swimming! —At least I have the consolation of not watering the garden. Pity I can only hang hellhound harness over the Aga rail, however, and not the hellhounds themselves. They tend to crush themselves up against the bottom of it in a very inefficient manner: you want air circulation for your best drying.
*** And Colin’s away, so I didn’t even get to ring bells tonight. Although in these particular circumstances this is probably just as well. Aside from the fact that if I managed to hit myself in the face with a bell rope tonight—a not unheard of event—I would probably burst into tears.
† Why is it that Pooka’s server, to whom I pay vast quantities of money every month^ to keep her in electrons, always seems to manage to get their messages through^^, even when nobody else can?
^ Why does this already seem to have been going on for a very long time? It can’t have been going on very long, I’m only barely into level two of Angry Birds.+ Granted I am as talent-free about Angry Birds as I am about so much of our modern world, but clueless obstinacy will drag you along here as it does in, say, bell ringing. Gods. As talent-free as I am about our modern and our traditional worlds. A hellgoddess could get depressed.
+ Most evenings I’m more into roaring and mindless city-stomping than I am in the carefully calculated exploding of green pigs. But the birds and I had a rather long truculent hiatus while the archons kept failing me even though I’d wiped out their dranglefabbing pigs. But Raphael did his flaming PCMCIA~ trick and the pigs grinned one last time and began behaving themselves. And I’ve started signing my emails to Raphael ‘Angry Bird’. Ha ha ha ha ha.
~ Even archangels have to move with the times
^^ ‘Hi! Can we interest you in another incredibly shiny service package full of acronyms you don’t recognise but we can assure you are very very cool and really it doesn’t matter if you never understand how to use them, it’s enough that they are cool and that you pay us for them?’
†† http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_goo But isn’t it interesting that the book that first coined ‘grey goo’ is roughly contemporaneous with our first discovery of the Borg, thinly disguised as it was as fiction in ST:TNG. I mean, did you ever really believe [deleted by Pollyanna^]? But the Borg were clearly real.
^ Hey! I thought it was only books!
††† Like you could tell that border collie in Old Eden and that cocker spaniel in Ditherington wanted to play till I started keeping you cranked in at heel when we went past because I got tired of watching you get your nose bitten.^
^ And this week’s Idiot Dog Owner Story is: we were gambolling across the fireworks field+ when a Shadow That Shouldn’t Be There caught my peripheral vision, and I saw a gigantic black Labrador standing at attention, head and tail up, staring at us. The fireworks field is below the cricket field and there’s a bank and a few bits of shrubbery where things like owners may be concealed. I had just seen what was clearly a large yellow Labrador and what might possibly have been an accompanying human when the Black Rocket launched itself toward us, its ruff standing out like a lion’s. *&^%$£”!!!!! —CALL YOUR DOG! I yelled. I could see the whites of its eyes and the foam on its lips when . . . it suddenly dropped its head, ears and tail, shrank to about two thirds of its previous size and started making little whimpering noises. GAAAAH. Okay, not complaining, we’re all still alive. And at this point, the two-legged moron on the other side of the field shouts in this nasty, condescending and yet aggressive way, Is there a problem?
YES THERE’S A PROBLEM. I WANT TO KILL YOU.
+ Where Guy Fawkes is burnt in effigy again every year
‡ And the moral to this story is, don’t take nights off. Because it’ll be the next night you really need to take off.
Yet another. Other people have lots of Those Days too, right? It’s not just me?*
So, for those of you too sensible to waste your time reading other people’s maniacal screams on Twitter, yesterday . . . I ordered my iPhone 4. And no, Orange never did email me to say they were in stock. I’d been thinking I ought to go check their site again, in case they were being ungleblargers, which they were, and then I got an email from Computer Men wanting to come argue with the Nightmare That Is My Email yet again, plus little things I would like them to address like that the sound on the mews laptop is dying, which is very inconvenient when you need to listen to Dido’s Lament 463 times on YouTube. ** So we arranged that they’ll come on Tuesday . . . and my thoughts turned to my future iPhone.*** Because I will probably need help cracking the iPhone code†. So, you know, if I had my iPhone by next Tuesday, then I could gloat exceedingly over both Computer Men who only have 3s, no, no, no, I would be very grateful for their assistance.††
So there the iPhone 4s were on the Orange site and I ordered one.†††
And then I begged and whined and wheedled poor Peter into agreeing to cottage-sit today, because they will only deliver your glittering platinum gewgaw to the street address attached to the credit card you paid for it with, which delivery may happen any time between 8 am and 6 pm. I love delivery services so much it makes my teeth ache.‡ But I had to hurtle hellhounds and then I had to go to the dentist.‡‡
Meanwhile . . . Bronwen had decided she was driving down from Orkney‡‡‡ again and could she come handbelling tonight? Of course she could come handbelling. And then Colin phoned at about 11 o’clock this morning, as I was attaching leads to eight furry leaping legs and a lot of noise, to say that he wasn’t going to be able to make it till 6, 5 being our usual handbell foregathering time, and 5 being the time I had confirmed with Bronwen. Bronwen is by now on the road, of course, and her phone is turned off. I then email Niall at work, saying, can he meet Bronwen and me at 5 anyway, since I can’t get hold of Bronwen to tell her not till 6. Now I can’t get hold of Niall.
So I add my howls to the general din, and three of us scamper outdoors, leaving Peter quivering on the sofa with his hands over his ears. We have a very nice hurtle§ and come back to the cottage to an iPhone and a beaming Peter, who therefore gets to go home. We all troop down to the mews, including the iPhone, with which I begin the approach-and-placation process while Peter addresses the preparation of lunch.
Peter is successful with lunch. I am not successful with the iPhone, which at present is a sleek gleaming paperweight, and whose directions, such as they are, are possessed by demons. Well of course. It’s not like I was expecting to figure it out.§§
And while I was questioning the parentage of the writers of iPhone quick-start instructions, I had an email from Bronwen saying that her car had broken down and she was not coming handbelling.
Whereupon I emailed Niall again, saying, never mind about 5 o’clock.
At this point, having managed approximately three mouthfuls of lettuce and olives§§§, I had to rocket off to the dentist. GAAAAH. So I got there with two minutes to spare . . .
. . . and discovered that they thought my appointment was at 3:45, not 2:30. GAAAAH. We will never know if this is my atrocious handwriting, a gremlin deep in their computer viscera, or a secretary with a mumble. But the end result was that I was adrift on the streets of Mauncester when I could have been at home eating lunch.
I went to Marks & Spencer and bought underwear. This is what Englishwomen under stress do. I have irrevocably gone native.
As dental affrays go, this was on the mild-skirmish end of the scale. I rang Peter to explain why I wasn’t back yet, and when I rang off I stood there staring at the soon-to-be-supplanted RaspBerry, thinking, I’ve finally learnt to do this.# Siiiiigh.
I got home at 4:59 to a phone message from Niall saying, happy to be there at 5 to ring with you and Bronwen. AAAAAAUGH. Frantically rang him. If I were going to be there at 5, I’d’ve left by now, he said. I only just got back from the dentist, I said. Good thing we’re not meeting till 6 then, he said.
So I staggered out with happy, frolicsome hellhounds, had three more mouthfuls of salad and olives, and addressed myself to handbells. And triumphantly rang the 3-4, which in the first place I haven’t done in months, and in the second place the middle pair are the most ratbaggy. So the combined agonies and exasperations of insubordinate iPhones and Cthuhlian dentistry have not yet destroyed me. This is good. I also have a novel to finish.
* * *
* Please lie if necessary.
** And I’ve just bought an iPhone. I am not buying a new laptop.
*** And my future Fingerzilla. Of course.
† I am not cracking anything else, you understand, which is why I already have a hard case on order.^
^ Pink. You had to ask? It’s not, I admit, a very thrilling pink, but I was compromised by what there was, what I could afford+, and the absolute need for a case that will survive both hellhounds and barbed wire. I fancy it will save my life some day, like Wendy and the acorn.
+ Try to imagine how much I don’t want Hello Kitty or a Coke bottle in Swarovski crystals. http://www.dsstyles.com/en/iphone-4-cases/swarovski.html
†† I will be very grateful. I will also gloat.
††† Not without some difficulty. As soon as I said I wanted the 32 GB instead of the mere 16, the person on the other end of the phone gasped and passed me on to someone else. This happened twice more. The woman who finally grudgingly sold me one said that everyone was buying 16s. Uh. As I have been saying since to everyone, didn’t we go through this with computers years ago? You always want more memory? You get as much memory as you can and then you stick extra memory cards in all the little slots? I’m not going to stop with Fingerzilla, you know.^
^ And the freller had better load multi-CD operas. The Walkperson totally sucks dead bears in storage and data retrieval. Totally. Sucks dead bears. It alphabetizes using ‘A’ and ‘The’. It alphabetises by performers’ first names. Not to mention the little matter of refusing pointblank to load multi-CD operas.
‡ Which possibly explains a lot.
‡‡ It is so unfair when you have to go to the dentist on a day when Your Life-Changing Technology is due to be delivered. You want to be at home ironing the floor and detoxing the wiring when it arrives.
‡‡‡ Or maybe Skye
§ To Sweeney Todd. Most of life’s frustrations are better for Sweeney Todd.
§§ Besides, I might give Computer Men heart attacks.
§§§ But the hellhounds ate their lunch!! It wasn’t really a bad day. The hellhounds ate lunch. And dinner.
# I even figured out texts. I found Merrilee’s from June. Um. I still don’t know how to send them, but I know where to find them. On the RaspBerry, that is.
Tuesday was not a great day in my life: I had to go to the dentist rather than have my voice lesson. How gross is that? And I’m fretting about Peter, and it’s HOT, and it won’t frelling rain:* and my favourite English tree is the beech, and they have shallow roots.**
So I got back to the cottage from the dentist with my head beginning to go bang bang bang bang*** and . . . there was a rosebush sitting on my front stair.† Yes, it’s true, I have several rosebushes out front in various unsuitable planters††, but I don’t usually have a great magnificent pink thing in full flower sitting in the space I need to stand on to get my front door open. I approached it cautiously. Dental anaesthesia has not yet made me hallucinate large pink rosebushes††† but there’s always a first time.
There was a card.‡ It was from Southdowner and B_Twin. I looked at the card. I looked at the rosebush. I looked at the card again. I looked at the rosebush again.‡‡ They can’t have brought her here. Southdowner was supposed to be taking B_Twin to the airport on Tuesday. Heathrow is well over an hour from here and Southdowner lives in the midlands. They must have had her delivered . . . even if it does look like some ordinary person or persons just heaved her up the stair and plonked her on my porch.
Atlas was at the cottage on Tuesday so I went round to the garden‡‡‡ to ask him. Two women in a white van, he said without missing a beat.
I’m really quite alarmed at this manifestation of rampant derangement among my mods but . . . I’m a realist.§ It’s fine. I got a rosebush out of it. A rosebush, furthermore, with hot pink flowers the size of grapefruit.
And what’s more I’ve already planted her. I know you don’t believe me. But it’s true.
What happened is that I’ve had a big empty planter in the hellhounds’ courtyard for . . . uh . . . quite a while. I was using it (oh the shame) as the legs of a seedling tray and when I finally got everything on the tray PLANTED like . . . three days ago . . . I figured I’d better fill it up and put something in it fast before it becomes a seedling tray next year too.§§ So I tipped all my remaining compost into it§§§ and promised poor Summer Song, who was an impulse buy months ago, and was still sitting in her plastic David Austin pot#, that she could go in it, as soon as I bought more compost. But rosebushes have minds of their own, and she’s been trying to turn into a climber while she waited for permanent accommodation, and the Pink Grapefruit Rose is already a nice low sprawly shrub. So I put Pink Grapefruit into the ex-seedling-tray-table, and freed another planter that has been the top storey of my greenhouse table, filled it up with my brand-new compost## and put Summer Song in it and to one side of the courtyard###, where a frame for her to climb up won’t block my view of Mme Isaac Periere.
And, wherever WordPress decides to put her, here is Pink Grapefruit, aka Lady of Megginch: http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/showrose.asp?showr=4794 ~
I am, of course, totally predictable, and I don’t suppose Southdowner and B_Twin, having decided on their errand of insanity, had a lot of trouble saying: that one. She’s pink. But Lady of Megginch was on my short list last autumn and I only barely didn’t quite buy her . . . not only is she piiiiiink, I love the name. It sounds vaguely Cthulhuian.
* * *
* And I’m Forgetting Everything I Ever Knew About Bell Ringing. See last Friday: went wrong in Grandsire Doubles, which is a bit like Zara Phillips forgetting how to sit the trot.^ And I was so shattered Monday night I did not go ringing at Colin’s tower although I’d planned to.
[BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH FRELLING WORDPRESS BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH GET DOWN THERE WITH YOUR FOOTNOTE YOU ^ BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH FRELL FRELL FRELL ETC]
** I haven’t quite tucked a hose among the roots of the copper beech that hangs over Third House’s garden from the churchyard, but I’m thinking about it.
*** I may have stopped at the local farmers’ warehouse store on the way home to buy more large heavy bags of compost. Well, I needed them.
† Little did I know how much more compost I needed.
†† I kind of specialise in unsuitable planters. I’ve just been tweeting that FOR PITY’S SAKE THE AUTUMN PLANT CATALOGUES ARE STREAMING IN . . . I am so not in the mood to be thinking about next spring’s tulips.^ Not least because I . . . er . . . have perhaps not quite got all this summer’s plants, you know, planted.^^ But (as I also tweeted) it’s surprising how well most things will do in too-small pots if you manage to keep ’em well fed. I haven’t got ROOM to put everything that ought to be in REALLY BIG pots. Roses, for example.
^ Which, furthermore, I will get planted in . . . February. Maybe March.
^^ At least I’m consistent. Consistency+ is not only the hobgoblin of little minds, it’s the last resort of the hopelessly disorganised.
+ Foolishness optional.
††† I might hate it less if it did. I totally grant that being poisoned by forty-six gallons of anaesthesia is to be preferred to the alternative. I’d’ve died young if I’d been born before anaesthesia was invented. But I still feel like I’ve been poisoned for days afterward. They keep threatening to sedate me again and I keep saying, the last time you sedated me, speaking of toxic hangovers, I fell down and broke my hand the next day. No.
‡ Something rude about dogs, which I will not quote because this is an all-ages blog. Mostly.
‡‡ I wondered if I needed a stepladder to get to my front door. After the large bags of compost I wasn’t sure I was up to carrying the rosebush anywhere.
‡‡‡ Where he was putting another gate into the hellhounds’ picket fence. My feet get larger and trailing-er and catch-between-the-pickets-ier every time I step over it. Especially when I’m carrying, oh, say a large heavy rosebush.
§ HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
§§ We will not discuss whether or not it may have been a seedling tray last year.
§§§ See? I did need more compost.
# But I’ve been feeding her and she’s been doing . . . surprisingly well. As above. ^
^ Yes, it occurred to me that she might have been turning into a climber as a result of being in a majorly too-small pot. But in fact when I tipped her out she hadn’t filled up the pot she was in. She just Wants to Be a Climber.
## I now need even more compost. But I’m not planning on waiting till I have to go to the dentist again to get it.
###FRANTIC RESHUFFLING OF THE TOO MANY POTS AND PLANTERS ALREADY OCCUPYING THAT SPACE.
~ If anyone is paying attention, you will notice that both of them are described as arriving at ‘4 x 3′’. Yes. And Fantin Latour is supposed to stop at 6 x 5′. And Souvenir de la Malmaison is supposed to stop at 12′. In pots I have some hope of persuasion. . . .
I went to the dentist again today. This was the tactical meeting. I didn’t have to sit in the Official Chair of Torture.** He has other, subtler methods of rendering a vict—client into a small pile of bone chips and burnt hair. Wide screen photos of my teeth, for example. AAAAAAAUGH. Enough to scare anybody into self immolation.
Okay, here’s the deal: over the next two years, I’m going to be spending approximately the entry level salary of an editorial assistant in New York City solely on my teeth.
And that’s only for the immediate problems. I have to hope that the rest of them will refrain from exploding, vaporizing, or falling out till we get this first lot stapled in.*** And can turn our attention to the next lot. . . . Because there will be a next lot. My teeth are the dental version of the South Sea Bubble.†
So this afternoon, after they ejected me onto the street again, we are talking industrial strength cheering up needed.††
So I came home and reread the following, which had arrived in my inbox this morning.†††
I emailed your publisher to request an ARC and (truthfully) described myself as a fan since 1979‡. Imagine how thrilled I was to find a copy of Pegasus on my doorstep a few days ago! Below is the review I posted to the YALSA Book Discussions list serve. [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Eight hundred years ago, humans came to this land and allied themselves with the pegasi to defeat the monstrous creatures that preyed upon both species. In the intervening centuries, the Alliance between the pegasi and the humans became a defining characteristic of both races. And although they have created a structured and mutually beneficial relationship, their inability to speak each other’s language without the aid of magician translators has kept the two races in many ways unknown to each other.
As the fourth child of the current human king, Sylvi is bonded on her twelfth birthday to Ebon, the fourth child of the pegasus king. The identity of her bond-mate was a well-kept secret, but Sylvi stuns the audience at the ceremony when she calls Ebon by name—a name she learns when he silently (and snarkily) introduces himself to her during the ceremony. That Ebon and Sylvi can understand each other perfectly through thought-speech is unheard of in the known history of human/pegasus relations.
Over the next four years, Sylvi and Ebon become closer to each other than they are to anyone else. Their unusual bond affects not just themselves, however: it will have major consequences for both of their countries.
One of my students last term, while booktalking The Outlaws of Sherwood, said that McKinley’s books are for people who like good stories…and words. McKinley’s words are here in full force, creating a story that seems to be unfolding at a leisurely pace but is, in fact, steadily building to a cliffhanging ending that won’t be resolved until the sequel (still being written) is released.
Sylvi’s coming of age story is intertwined with politics, history, power, magic, families, art, war, and above all, love. The love between Sylvi and her rational, compassionate father is a highlight of the book, as is the portrayal of Sylvi’s soldier mother. But it is in the creation of the pegasi, and Ebon in particular, that McKinley works her best magic. The pegasi are beings who are shaped somewhat like a horse, with the hollow bones of a bird, the wings of an archangel, and a civilization as advanced as that of the humans. The love story between Sylvi and Ebon is the core of this book, and it is a testament to McKinley’s gifts that although the humans in Sylvi’s world think her relationship with Ebon is unusual (and possibly dangerous), the reader enthusiastically embraces it and will have difficulty waiting for more.
Teen and Children’s Librarian
Stanislaus County Library
Modesto Junior College
And yes. I feel better. ‡‡
Meanwhile, speaking of the McKinley oeuvre, there’s a SUNSHINE giveaway happening here: http://calico-reaction.livejournal.com/163766.html which includes as one of the options the shiny brand-new gold-cover edition. Which I am still waiting for even ONE copy of.
And anyone who doesn’t automatically hang on every daily entry here‡‡‡ you might want to check back on Saturday. Because there might be a PEGASUS ARC giveaway. There might. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha. So reread the review and think about it.
* * *
* Aside from paying off Third House.
** I’ve told you he has a video screen on the ceiling over the C of T, haven’t I? It usually shows fish. He’s got an entire library of piscine adventures and I’m beginning to feel rather Pavlovian about it all. I’m afraid the next time I meet a real aquarium—in a restaurant, for example, or someone’s sitting room—I’ll burst into helpless tears and run away.
*** Do you know that implants are made out of titanium? I love it. Well, I sort of love it. What am I going to be able to do with the Fifty Million Dollar Teeth, aside from grinding them^ over the smoking hole in the ground that used to be my bank balance? Bite aggressive off lead dogs? Okay, that might be worth it.
^ Gently. Not to damage the merchandise.
† Insert modern financial scandal of choice here.
†† I’D RATHER BE GARDENING. I am drowning in little green things. Colin was going to be late for handbells today and I was in the greenhouse stuffing marigold seedlings in a bigger tray when I heard Niall being assaulted by hellhounds in the kitchen.^ I had come back from the dentist to a more than knee-high assemblage of cardboard plant-nursery boxes on the front step bursting with little green things saying, yo, get me out of here, I’m talking to you, and that means now. My newly arrived rooted dahlia cuttings have been liberally sprinkled with slugbait^^ still in their plastic shipping tray.
^ Arooooou! Get ’im! —Silly man. I’d left the top of the front door open, and he’d tried to come in.
^^ Thank the gods for organic slugbait. It’s probably not as ‘organic’ as all that, but this is a straw I am willing to clutch. I do use a lot of copper rings, but copper rings are expensive.
††† Yes. I asked if I could post it here. She said yes.
‡ Note that BEAUTY, my first book, only came out in 1978.
‡‡ Also Peter made mayonnaise^ and opened a bottle of champagne.
^ It does not get better than Peter’s mayonnaise. And the first English asparagus of the season.