Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'Odalisque' by PF Jeffery (DFL's Comments)

Chapter 45 – Rode

Well, if the reader had ‘cabin fever’ during the long stay in Lundin, now we’ve escaped into the countryside, as things become less theatrical and more cinematic:

The six of us rode in single file, our horses’ hooves spraying drops from the woodland brook. Shafts of afternoon sunlight slanted through gaps in the foliage. All about us, the forest was filled with the sound of birds – the harsh cry of a crow, the melody of a wood lark, a splash of wings from beyond a bend in the stream. The smell reached me before I saw the grey smudge of smoke drifting from our right.

Six then become ten in a pragmatic (that word again) move of alliance.

Then three new characters during the scenario wherein Dashing Daniel masquerades as Captain Grace - including a feisty young girl called Jane (not the earlier flautist). I’m sure we are to hear more about her

I liked these two passages:

“It must be good to have a home to go to. Perhaps we’ll find one. Just now, all we’re doing is heading west – going from instead of to. But maybe we can set ourselves up in business somewhere, settle down, have babies, you know…”

Looking in the direction of the camp fire, I saw a confusing mass of dancing shadows. My reaction was to grab my sword and crossbow, but not the cuirass, before investigating. Nearer the fire, the shadows resolved themselves into figures I could name. Joining my companions, my gaze fell on a fallen shape which, after a minute or two, I was able to identify as a nazeman, throat skewered by a quarrel.
“Just a stray nazeman,” said Lisa-Louise. “Attracted to our fire, I expect. Dashing Daniel shot it.”

Note the ‘it’ for nazeman!

A subtle reference to an Alfred Hitchcock film (?):

“They show scenes in the life of Alfred the hatch cook, a local demigod,” Barguin told me. “There was something about his slaying a psycho during a rain shower, but I forget the details.”

Something for Ligottians:

Barguin identified the next village as Doll’s Town. An old woman minded a roadside stall selling the dolls for which the place was presumably named. Their waxen features, expressive of suffering, made me shudder – the brow of the nastiest girt with a circlet of thorns. The idea of children playing with the grotesque objects proved a troubling notion.

There seems to be something wrong with the syntax below or, if there isn’t, it certainly brought me up short:
We were bothered by flies at which the horses swished their tails and we slapped – sometimes too late, I emerged with several bites.

Should this not be ‘reined’?
He reigned in his horse

Full stop to be inserted after ‘back’:
then doubled back You get the picture?”


Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.

The links to all Chapter comments by me are here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2008/06/odalisque.html


Anonymous said...

Thank you for that!

Both typos now corrected.

"Reigned" looks like a spelling mistake -- although I am fully aware of the difference between "reigned" and "reined", so I suppose it's a typo. My slight befuddlement, here, may have to do with power. To reign is to hold a position of power. To rein is to exert one's power over a horse.

After a little thought, I've made a small change to the punctuation and word order of the sentence you query. It now reads:

We were bothered by flies at which the horses swished their tails -- and we sometimes slapped too late, I emerged with several bites.

Do you think that addresses the difficulty?

Nemonymous said...

I'd add 'as' between 'and' and 'we'.

Anonymous said...

I've added the word "as" in line with your suggestion, and also inserted a comma. The sentence now reads:

We were bothered by flies at which the horses swished their tails -- and, as we sometimes slapped too late, I emerged with several bites.

How does that seem?

Nemonymous said...

Parfait! :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how it seems to the reader, but it wasn't until writing this part of the book that I realised how claustrophobic the Palace Victoria had become.


If the action passes from the theatrical to the cinematic, it is apt that there is a reference to Alfred Hitchcock. Lay Town Zone was, of course, Mr Hitchcock's birthplace. Lay Town Zone, in our time, harbours an unrequited pride in Alfred Hitchcock. He hated the place. It isn't entirely surprising that Lay Town Zone still recalls him (albeit dimly and inaccurately) in Tuerqui's time.


Should anyone wish to trace Tuerqui's route in a London A-Z, the most obvious route from Lay Town Zone to Hammer Town is via Grove Green Road. The route from Hammer Town to Doll's Town should be fairly obvious.

My notes for writing this section included a extensive list of the places through which Tuerqui's party passed (with distances and probable times). But the demands of both the narrative and the novel agreed in not continuing to specify the places beyond Doll's Town. The demands of the narrative because there is no reason why any of them would know the settlements and, therefore, Tuerqui would probably have been unaware of the place names. The demands of the novel because, whilst the sequence of three places (Lay Town Zone - Hammer Town - Doll's Town) reads well enough (I think), too much topographical detail would soon have become tedious. Beyond Doll's Town, the next settlement would probably be what we call Canonbury, although the name is likely to have become changed a little by Tuerqui's time.


It is clear that Tuerqui does not regard nazemen as human. Referring to a savage beast as "it" is not unusual.