Well, I guess it was too good to last. For the first time in two weeks on last Saturday, Dec. 6, I received a copy of the Register. Too much of a good thing: didn’t get one Sunday and didn’t get one today. Also, found out a friend of my wife’s who lives just a couple of miles away hasn’t gotten a copy since October.
We arrived in Warroad, Minnesota late on a Friday afternoon and found the house in good order with the
exception of the water being turned off. I had thought that the water was on because the new garden was in and had been watered. My mistake. The gardener had put a pump in the golf course water hazard, with two long extension cords connected to our outside electrical outlets, and a long hose.
I made a phone call to the gentleman who owns the water system that brought him out to the house after 5 pm and made him late for a family dinner. With his aid and that of a neighbor my wife and I had running water and
did not have to spend the night in a motel.
I brought the outdoor furniture from the living room to the patio deck and we now had a little room to move in. I connected the various electrical appliances and lamps and fans as well as getting the wi-fi up and running. HUG, Inc. had put on new storm doors and a new kitchen before we got there and they looked good.
It took a couple of days to unpack the large containers of kitchen goods, foods, cleaners, tableware, etc. and get the upstairs livable. That and a trip to Doug’s Supermarket for milk and fresh food.
Smoke and Mist soon found they liked the house. Plenty of new nooks to explore, carpet on some of the floors and stairs to chase each other up and down.
Ahhh . . . summer vacation in a town with only two stoplights and non-California gas prices.
No golfing this summer but I drank coffee, ate breakfast, “worked” crossword and Sudoku puzzles, read books and watched the world go by on the golf course from our second story deck. Charlie read, played on her iPad, worked on lesson plans and spent a couple of hours in Seven Clans Casino most days. Pleasant and Relaxing.
We put in an air conditioner—yes, in the Summer it gets quite warm and muggy in northern Minnesota. G&B Carpet and Furniture put in new flooring in the kitchen and bathroom upstairs and in the office, laundry and entries downstairs. Charlie also bought a table and an electric recliner from G&B. (Next year we’ll get a new bed.)
Saint Peter’s is the Episcopal Church Charlie attends while in Warroad. The congregation is small so services are
held on Wednesday evenings with a traveling vicar who is in charge of several like parishes. The people are friendly and a potluck dinner is served after services every couple of weeks. There is a large stained glass window behind the altar that Charlie likes and had me take pictures of. (As the window is in the east it really needs a morning sun to be seen at its best—ah, well, maybe next year.)
I’ve found a number of small churches in northern Minnesota with character and plan on doing a photo-essay of them in the next year or two.
Ate dinner at the Lakeview Restaurant one night and had a delicious plate of walleye (Walleyed Pike). Lots of sandbags around and streets closed as the lake (Lake of the Woods) was at near record levels (or setting new records).
Doug’s Supermarket is undergoing renovations and what used to be their video section is now a Caribou Coffee shop. Charlie has become addicted to their scones that are much like those from Starbucks. So far as I know, it is the only location that has an actual caribou head mounted inside.
Drove to Grand Forks one day to do some shopping and that same detour was in effect from Donaldson west. So we went south intending to catch the I-29 later. The drive took us through Warren, Minnesota which has an operating drive-in theater; I didn’t have one of my “good” cameras with me that day so I took pictures a couple of weeks later on our way back to California.
During the last week of our stay, I took a drive by myself. (Charlie was enjoying the casino that afternoon.) I took some pictures of the
Several different Mediterranean eras are portrayed in the stories. In the East you have Mamluk Egypt with Saladin and Syria as separate powers. The Byzantine Empire still exists and there is danger from the peoples of the Eurasian steppes, Huns/Tatars/Mongols. In the West you have the Reconquista and the Great Schism of the Catholic Church. The Holy Roman Empire is attempting to dominate Italy and the Papacy. The Italian mercantile republics are trying to maintain their independence and influence and the Papacy is attempting to reunite the Church and stamp out heretics in France and, of course, destroy the Muslim powers and recover the Holy Land. This is all complicated by politics, family politics, dynastic politics and a coming ice age.
The Instrumentalities of the Night is, currently, a trilogy (The Tyranny of the Night, Lord of the Silent Kingdom and Surrender to the Will of the Night, and TBA Working the Gods’ Mischief) by Glen Cook. The story revolves around one Piper Hecht (Else Tage) in a pre-Renaissance Medieval Mediterranean world where God(s), devils and all other supernatural creatures exist, or can exist. And, as Piper has discovered, can be killed.
A major obstacle to understanding precisely what is happening is the lack of a defined geography. If one has a basic understanding of the medieval Mediterranean world, the major regions are fairly easy to pick out:
Eastern Empire/Rhun – Byzantine Empire
Andoray – Norway/Scandinavia
Grail Empire/New Brothen Empire – Holy Roman Empire/Germany
Santerin – England
Direcia – Spain
Platadura – Barcelona/Spain
Navaya – Northern Spain
Artecipia – Corsica/Sardinia (a single island, connected by an isthmus, because of lower sea levels)
Shippen – Sicily
Arnhand – France
Khaurene – France/Toulouse
Viscesment – France/Avignon
Firaldia – Italy
Brothe – Rome/Papal States
Sonsa – Genoa: “The west coast of Firaldia, approaching Sonsa from the south, was the most heavily settled rural land Else had ever seen.”
Aparion – Venice
Dateon – Pisa
While I might have some of these wrong, as I am now re-reading the series, I believe that it is, for the most part, correct. One must also realize that the Mother Sea (Mediterranean Sea) is land locked. The Escarp Gibr al-Tar cuts it off from Ocean (the Atlantic Ocean). The surface of the Mother Sea is several hundred feet below what we would expect. Because of this it is far less extensive than the Mediterranean Sea and the European, Asian and African coastlines extend quite a bit farther than we would otherwise expect. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cities with millions of people exist in areas our Mediterranean Sea would would cover in salt water.
If you lack a background on the Mediterranean world at this time, and would like some easily readable background, you might try Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization series. (Yes, I know there are a lot of books, I own a set, and it’s fifteen million pages long, but each volume has an index and the writing is for the layperson not a dedicated historian.) It will give you a background for all of the “history” in Instrumentalities. For the character and motivations of Sublime V and the other Patriarchs try Barbara Tuchman‘s The March of Folly (the chapter on the Renaissance popes).
And all of the various nationalities and sub-groups.
In terms of individuals there are dozens of characters with unusual names to learn. A half dozen storylines are active at any given moment and succeeding chapters interweave among them. None of the characters is perfect, including Brother Candle; each has his own virtues, faults and past. Their characters are reminiscent of those in the Black Company books. Moral ambiguity is everywhere; survive at all costs.
Piper Hecht/Else Tage – Protagonist – Praman captain/soldier (Sha-lug – Mamluk/Janissary)
Anna Mozilla – Piper’s lover/mistress
Pella, Vali and Lila – Piper’s “adopted” children
Muniero Delari – Piper’s grandfather/Eleventh Unknown/Sorcerer
Cloven Februaren – Muniero’s grandfather/Ninth Unknown/Sorcerer
Heris – Piper’s sister
Grade Drocker – Brotherhood of War/Piper’s father
Redfearn Bechter – Brotherhood of War/Piper’s aide
Pinkus Ghort – Mercenary/Commander of Brothen City Regiment
Titus Consent – Deve/Piper’s intelligence director
Johannes Blackboots Ege – Emperor
Lothar – Johannes’ son and heir
Katrin – Lothar’s half-sister/second in line
Helspeth – Lothar’s and Katrin’s half-sister/third in line
Ferris Renfrow – Imperial Intelligence
Algres Drear – Imperial commander and bodyguard
Gordimer the Lion – Sha-lug ruler of Dreanger/Egypt
Er Rashal (the Rascal) al-Dhulquarnen – Sorcerer
Osa Stile/Armand – Sha-lug/Spy
Al-Azer er-Selim – Sha-lug
Nassim Alizarin al-Jebal – the Mountain
There are literally scores of other major and minor characters in the story; as I get the time and inclination I’ll add to the above lists. I’ve just finished re-reading the three books and hope number four comes out before I have to re-read them again. If you find something wrong (please, page and quote for evidence) or would like to add to the above, let me know.
Oh, yeah. I enjoyed The Black Company and Darkwar books. I’m waiting for A Pitiless Rain and Port of Shadows. But, what I’d most like is a sequel to The Dragon Never Sleeps; hands down, this is my favorite Glen Cook book.