Tag Archives: #Apprenticeship

Wilson, Catherine M.: A Hero’s Tale (When Women Were Warriors) (2008)

when women were warriors iii
Cover photo by Donna Trifilo

What Catherine M. Wilson describes in When Women Were Warriors is a society that may or may not have existed. A matriarchal society is a society where women rule and inheritance goes through women. A Hero’s Tale is supposed to be set in Great Britain ca. 1000 BCE (late Bronze Age). In fact a bronze knife holds a pivotal role in A Hero’s Tale.

For the average person (as we see with the forest people) tools and weapons would have been largely made of stone/flint (such as arrow heads and spear heads). Warriors would have invested in bronze swords and bronze arrow/spear heads although most would probably not have been as fancy as this sword. More nerdy stuff below.

Ms. Wilson keeps on stringing words together in a manner that creates music in my head.

I have had three teachers in my life that have taught in the manner Maara seems to teach Tamras. Two were in school and one has been in my personal life. The relationship of teacher/student – master/apprentice is a tricky one. An apprentice wants to become as proficient as the master and excellent masters want their students to learn as much as it is possible for the masters to teach. Maara has an ability to impart her knowledge without holding anything back yet pacing her delivery to fit Tamras learning speed. I guess you could say Tamras is the ideal student. She wants to understand and acquire whatever skills Maara sees fit to share. To do that Tamras needs to learn to think for herself. Perhaps that is the most important lesson Maara shares with Tamras.

Tamras’ ability to see past the surface of people and things is not a talent she got from Maara, rather it was one Maara helped Tamras unfold. Seeing beneath the surface of herself was more difficult and at one point in A Hero’s Tale Tamras’ lost herself to appearances. Losing ourselves to the Abyss is a point a great many of us end up at one or more times in our lives. Finding our way out can seem beyond our abilities. Tamras did not even know if she wanted to find her way out. Some people end up letting the Abyss take them. Tamras did not. Her coming back was a choice that was aided by others. Many times in our lives that is the way it is for us. We need others to guide us back from the edge or the canyon and on to safe ground again.

Tamras learns a great deal about Virtel and her past and this opens up for an understanding of Virtel’s actions. The baggage we bring with us from our childhood is incredibly difficult to set down and rearrange. At least it has been for me. All through my life I have had to take that backpack off my back and rearrange its contents to make it more comfortable. I keep on adding to it and removing contents. Virtel has not yet reached that point in her life. Perhaps the meeting between her and Tamras at the pass will turn out to be one of Virtel’s learning moments. I hope so.

Elen’s canyon kingdom reminded me of some of Norway’s inaccessible places. This setting has to be somewhere in Scotland. Not knowing the British Isles all that well, I do not know where you would find such a difficult to access valley. With only a thin footpath from the hills into the valley and a dangerous water-way out it would seem to be a defensible place. If only it had been wide enough to have farms to keep the community alive during a siege things might have turned out differently for Tamras and Maara.

Elen is an interesting character. She seems to be stunningly beautiful. Enough so that men and women are distracted from their own goals. In addition, Elen seems to have some kind of ability to hypnotize or influence people’s thoughts so that her goals become theirs. A trance-like state seems to be what all who oppose her end up in. I imagine that would be a handy tool.

As with Elen’s ability other paranormal/supernatural abilities in people are present in When Women Were Warriors. These talents are for the most part just an increase in various talents that people generally have. Tamras’ ability to understand others seems to be one such boosted talent. She has always had it. During the story Tamras seems to become more aware of having it, but it does not seem as if the talent is anything she has much control over. I cannot tell if Elen’s ability is something Elen controls or if it is just a talent that she uses because it happens to be part of her.

Tamras manner of dealing with Elen is interesting. Alas, I cannot share it here. But it is fascinating to watch all the same.

Ms. Wilson brought her characters and areas alive for me. I do not see strings of words in pictures in my head but as sound. Why that is, I do not know nor do I care. But I care very much about having experienced the music of When Women Were WarriorsThe Warrior’s Path is on permanent free offer.


Reviews:


  • File Size: 622 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0981563635
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Shield Maiden Press (October 1, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

My review of:

  1. The Warrior’s Path
  2. A Journey of the Heart

Societies around 1000 BCE with matriarchal elements:

Warfare around 1000 BCE:

Ruling queens in ancient Britain:

Wilson, Catherine M.: The Warrior’s Path (When Women Were Warriors) (2008)

Cover designed by Catherine M. Wilson

When I talk about authors who write musically, Catherine M. Wilson is one of those authors. After reading her The Warrior’s Path right after reading the Frey Saga I found myself understanding a profound musical difference between authors. The Warrior’s Path is written in a minor key (or moll in Norwegian) while the Frey Saga is written in a major key (dur in Norwegian). How cool is that??

Our hero, Tamras, learns a great deal about herself, her prejudices and her talents during The Warrior’s Path. Some of these talents point to a mystical ability that may or may not become more apparent as the trilogy advances. One of her most important lessons is taught by her Warrior, Maara. Maara teaches her that Tamras is not her emotions but that she has the ability to decide how to use them. Tamras learns to deal with disappointment, anger, jealousy and fear.

I often think that we are what we choose. Just think of the many times you might have thought “if only”. Many of my choices have been less than ideal. But choosing to read The Warrior’s Path is a choice that has given me new insight and great pleasure. To think that this is Catherine M. Wilson’s first novel says quite a bit about her talent for the craft and her ability to develop it. I know she doubts she will write any more novels after spending ten years on her trilogy. That would be a pity.

After researching a bit more about the novel on the net I realized it falls within the lesbian/gay category as well as any other. Never entered my mind while reading it. To me it was just fantasy – really good fantasy – with a semi-lesbian twist. Didn’t seem all that important to me. But it is on the must read list of several lesbian/gay sites out there, soooo?


2010 EPIC ebook award in the Mainstream category

Pratchett, Terry: Death

Death as illustrated by Paul Kidby

The Grim Reaper in the form of a skeletal body in a black robe, with a scythe and speaking in CAPITAL LETTERS appears for the first time in The Colour of Magic. His job is to collect human souls. Death is the servant of Azrael, the “Death of Universes”. Opposing him are the Auditors, who want nothing more than the end of all life (it’s soooo messy).

At home Death has a servant, Albert and a daughter, Ysabelle. Kittens and swans are his favorite animals and his horse Binky is with him on each collection.

Because of his fascination with humans, Death sometimes leaves his post to seek understanding. This tends to cause problems because humans don’t like to see what they do not understand and the universe likes the souls of dead people collected. The only ones who can see Death for who he is are witches, wizards, cats and children.

In The Art of Discworld Terry tells us that he has received a number of letters from terminally ill fans in which they hope that Death will resemble the Discworld incarnation (he also says that those particular letters usually cause him to spend some time staring at the wall).

Mort (1987)

“Mort” by Amianna

While Death appears in the previous books, Mort is the first book in which he becomes a main character.

Mort’s family specialized in distilling wine from reannual grapes. (“Reannual are plants that grow backwards in time. You sow the seed this year and they grow last year.”) These growers tended to be big, serious men, much given to introspection and close examination of the calendar. Mort (the youngest son) on the other hand, was tall, red-haired and freckled, with the sort of body that seems to be only marginally under its owner’s control; apparently built out of knees.

Hopeless as he is, Mort’s father decides to take his son to the hiring fair at Sheepridge. At this hiring fair men looking for work would stand in ragged lines in the centre of the square waiting for a tradesman to hire them as apprentices. Noone seems to want Mort, but just before the clock has struck its final strike at midnight, a prospective tradesman enters the square. It is Death and Mort can see him as he really looks. Mort is hired as an apprentice and Death and Mort ride off on Binky.

And so, Mort is off on the adventure of his life learning all sorts of useful things – like how many shades of black there are and how to walk through walls. Obviously death is a theme of all of the books in the Death series. Terry treats this subject with warmth and a light heart. Death comes to us all, after all. Poor old Death is going through a mid-life crisis, and Pratchett’s gentle mocking of the phenomenon is heartwarming.


Adaptions

  • 1994: The graphic novel, Mort: The Big Comic is illustrated by Graham Higgins.
  • 2004: BBC4 broadcast Mort in 4 parts. Adapted for radio by Robin Brooks. It is re-sent regularly.
  • 2007: German musical adaptation of Mort.
  • 2008: English musical adaptation of Mort by Jenifer Toksvig.
  • 2011: English stage adapation of Mort by Stephen Briggs

Reaper Man (1991)

“Death of Rats” by Alex Thomas

The terrible Auditors of Reality have been at it again. To them the fact that Death seems to be developing a personality is the sin beyond sins. So, they decide to retire Death and Death is resigned to that decision. What happens when there is no longer a collector of spirits?

Back at the Unseen University Windle Poons – the oldest wizard – is waiting for his collection by Death. He knows to the minute when this is supposed to happen. But does it? Windle Poons certainly dies, but no one shows up for his spirit, so he decides to go back into his body. This tendency seems to be spreading to other people.

Bill Door’s harvesting machine

Now that Death has his own hourglass with sand running down, he has decided to make the most of the life left to him. High up in the Ramtops a figure on a horseback turns up. He knocks at the door of Miss Flitworth asking for help. The stranger goes by name Bill Door. The main qualification needed is the ability to use a scythe, and one might say that Bill is excellent at the job.

Back at Ankh-Morpork Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler has discovered something that he thinks will make his fortune (again). This time he has found some strange globes. When they are shaken a cloud of little white snowflakes swirl up in the liquid inside and settle on a tiny model of a famous Ankh-Morpork landmark.

And finally, magic is behaving strangely at the UU. It seems all of the Life drifting accross the Discworld is acting like water building up behind a dam when the sluice gates are shut. Needing a place to go, it manifests itself in all sorts of phenomena. The wizards decide they have to meddle with all of the strangeness.

Terry addresses fate, life, death, consumerism and relationships in Reaper Man. I’ve seen reviews that praise Reaper Man to the sky and others that despair of Pratchett’s writing this books. For my own part, I rather liked the book. It juggles the serious and the silly quite well in the jump between Flitworth and the wizards.


Adaptations

  • 1996: 8-minute animated television adaptation produced by Cosgrove Hall Animation Studios of Reaper Man.
  • 2012: Australian stage adaptation of Reaper Man by Pamela Munt

Soul Music (1994)

Soul Music moments by Justyna

Mort and Ysabell married and had a baby – a little girl they named Sarah. At age six, Sarah, makes her teachers at Quirm College for Young Ladies extremely nervous. Strangeness tends to happen around the girl and she says the most bizarre things. But Susan didn’t really worry about what other people thought about her. And that continues through the years at school.

Sometimes the gods listen to the words people say. Imp Y Celyn (Buddy) said to his dad: “You don’t know anything! You’re just a stupid old man. But I’m giving my life to music! One day soon everyone will say I was the greatest musician in the world.” In retrospect, perhaps not the wisest words, but they do make for a good story. When he chances upon a pawn shop guitar and becomes possessed by it, rock and roll enters the Discworld. This means some serious hip-rolling and swooning fans. Imp’s band “Music With Rocks In” acquires a manager in Cut-Me-Own-Throat-Dibbler. He tries to do what any good manager would, cash in on the band while keeping them in the dark.

Death has decided to go on another of his walkabouts. Unfortunately, for Susan Sto Helit (Death’s granddaughter) that means leaving boarding school to carry on the family business. Having Death for a grandfather does not make for an easy life and Susan struggles to stay on top of the job. Chaos and mayhem ensue.

Part of the theme of this book is music groups and their managers in all their glory. The generation gap is also something that is experienced at the Unseen University. Ridicully’s thoughts on the younger wizards’ fascination with the new fad is typical. Idealism vs. rationality is a struggle Susan has to face. To let or not to let people die.


Adaptation

1996: An animated mini-series adaptation of Soul Music was produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Channel 4.

Hogfather (1996)

  • 1997: British Fantasy Award nominee
  • 2007: Winner of BAFTA TV Award for Best Visual Effects and Interactivity
  • 2007: Nominated for BAFTA Tv Award for Best Photography & Lighting
  • 2007: Winner of BPG Multichannel Award
  • 2007: Nominated for RTS Award for Best Drama Serial
  • 2007: Nominated for VES Award

The bad guys by Stato Bizley

“”Something” began when the Guild of Assassins enrolled Mister Teatime, who saw things differently from other people, and one of the ways that he saw things differently from other people was in seeing other people as things (later, Lord Downey of the Guild said, “We took pity on him because he’d lost both parents at an early age. I think that, on reflection, we should have wondered a bit more about that”).”

At the Unseen University the wizards are standing before a nailed shut door, wondering if they should open it – despite the sign that read “Do not, under any circumstances, open this door”. But curiosity is one of the prevailing “talents” of wizards. Ridicully is one of the more curious ones. The door is opened, and what do they find? Bloody Stupid Johnson has been at it again. A wise person would have closed the door again at this moment, but alas. There are not many wise wizards in Ankh-Morpork.

Susan Sto-Helit is enjoying a quit evening at the home she is governessing at. As usual she has put the fear of something into her employer while the children adore her. All of a sudden images formed in her mind. “A red ball … The sharp smell of snow … And then they were gone, and instead there were …

“Teeth?” said Susan, aloud. “Teeth,” again”?”

“Susan and the … Hogfather?” by Rebecca M.

She knows right then that trouble is afoot, and its name is most likely DEATH. As you can see from the picture, DEATH does make a lovely Hogfather – travelling to all the children calling HO, HO, HO in his own unique style.

Absurdity, chaos and laughter are only some words to describe Hogfather. When the assassin Teatime is sent to kill the Hogfather, you just know you have to buckle up for a crazy ride. Christmas and all of its stranger sides (consumerism and altruism) are all examined. This is the ultimate Christmas story, one that might make you want to believe in Santa Claus again.


Adaptation:

2006: Hogfather adapted by Vadim Jean as a two part TV-serial for SKY

French cover by Marc Simonetti

Thief of Time (2001)

Nanny Ogg is called to a birthing – a very unusual one. Some years later Jeremy Clockson was enjoying dismantling and putting a clock back together again. He’d grown up as a child-prodigy at the Guild of Clockmakers since he was a few days old. Then Lady Myria LeJean with her two troll body-guards steps into his shop. Something about her bothers Jeremy. She wants him to build the most accurate clock in the world.

Miss Susan is a very strict and popular teacher with her pupils. Her main concern is to get her pupils to see things for what they are. But her popularity stems mainly for the class-trips she takes her students on – quite unusual ones that should not be possible. Her view on parents was that there ought to be an exam before they were allowed children. When the Death of Rats comes by to tell her that Death needs her help dealing with the Auditors, she sets off to do her duty.

The Order of Wen or the History Monks have a duty to see that tomorrow happens. One of the novices, Ludd, is causing problems. As a baby, he’d been raised by the Guild of Thieves. Then the monk Soto had stumbled upon Ludd and send him to the temple. There all sorts of unusual things happened our young Ludd. To solve the Master of Novices’ problems, Ludd is placed with another troublemaker – the sweeper Lu Tze. Both Ludd and Lu Tze are surprised by the other.

Going along for a ride with Pratchett is bound to be an insane experience and Thief of Time is no exception to the rule. His way of dealing with events of the day – and usually themes that are relevant no matter when or where one lives (like education, family, duty, propaganda, differences and prejudice) is admirable. It’s the warmth in his work that makes Pratchett so worthwhile to me.

For this blog, I’ve used Wikipedia, L-Space, and the above books as my sources.

Nexø, Martin Andersen: Pelle, the Conqueror (1906-10)

“Pelle, the Conqueror” begins on the first of May 1877. Lasse Karlsson from Tommelia in Sweden arrives with his son Pelle at Bornholm in Denmark. They are fleeing poverty and starvation and try to find a decent living. Instead they are treated as indentured servants. As Pelle learns Danish, life becomes easier, but he and his father continue to be treated as outsiders. They refuse to give up their dream of a better life in Denmark.

In one sense you could call “Pelle” auto-biographical. Nexø (1869-1954) knew poverty from the inside. When he was 8, his family moved to Bornholm in hopes of having a safer life. Through this inside experience we get to follow Pelle and his father and friends through tragedy, comedy and success. There is an optimism inherent in these four books (mine is an omnibus) that has us identifying with Pelle’s fight to conquer his life.

Nexø writes beautifully. He brings the reader into the text and gives of himself to us. The journey through Pelle’s life is an amazing journey from a life of terrible circumstances into a life of possibilities. With warmth and generosity my heart was warmed by the excellence of Nexø’s text.


Barnes & Nobles seems to have the best price on this omnibus, consisting of 4 books: Boyhood; Apprenticeship; The Great Struggle; Daybreak.

Project Gutenburg offers Pelle the Conqueror.
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Pelle Erobreren is a Danish/Swedish movie from 1987 based on the book
1988:
  • Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film
  • Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film