Friday, November 4, 2011

MC in unexpected places

We'll take it wherever we can find it, right? And I found a very nice tidbit of MC in Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies. Most of you are probably familiar with the Discworld series already, so I won't bother describing it except to note that the books are mostly humorous but have serious undertones.

Lords and Ladies is one of the more serious books in the series; and the scenes I'm about to quote are pretty chilling, I think, despite a touch of jokiness. You don't need to know much of the plot before you dig in, just this: The bad guys in the book are Elves, Diamanda was shot by one of them and is now in their power, she's upstairs in a castle with a captive Elf in the dungeons, Shawn is a castle guard trying to learn martial arts from a bogus book, and Elves are allergic to iron. Now here we go, combining the best bits of two scenes into one:
In the darkness of her sickroom Diamanda opened her eyes, if they were her eyes. There was a pearly sheen to them.

The song was as yet only on the threshold of hearing.

And the world was different. A small part of her mind was still Diamanda, and looked out through the mists of enchantment. The world was a pattern of fine silver lines, constantly moving, as though everything was coated with filigree. Except where there was iron. There the lines were crushed and tight and bent. There, the whole world was invisible. Iron distorted the world. Keep away from iron.

She slipped out of bed, using the edge of her blanket to grasp the door handle, and opened the door.


Shawn peered around the corner. There were the steps, there was the open doorway to the dungeons.

"Stop!" shouted Shawn, just in case.

The sound echoed off the stones.

"Stop! Or...or...or...Stop!"

He eased his way down the steps and looked through the archway.

"I warn you! I'm learning the Path of the Happy Jade Lotus!"

There was the door to the cell, standing ajar. And a white-clad figure next to it.

Shawn blinked.

"Aren't you Miss Tockley?"

She smiled at him. Her eyes glowed in the dim light.

"You're wearing chain mail, Shawn," she said.

"What, miss?" He glanced at the open door again.

"That's terrible. You must take it off, Shawn. How can you hear with all that stuff around your ears?"

Shawn was aware of the empty space behind him. But he daren't look around.

"I can hear fine, miss," he said, trying to ease himself around so that his back was against a wall.

"But you can't hear truly," said Diamanda, drifting forward. "The iron makes you deaf."

Shawn was not used to thinly clad young women approaching him with a dreamy look on their faces. He fervently wished he could take the Path of the Retreating Back.

He glanced sideways. There was a tall skinny shape outlined in the open cell doorway. It was standing very carefully, as if it wanted to keep as far away from its surroundings as possible.

Diamanda was smiling at him in a funny way.

He ran.

*The picture at the top of this post is a cover design for Lords and Ladies, minus the lettering. The artist is Josh Kirby.

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