Beneath Ceaseless Skies #83, December 1, 2011

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #83, December 1, 2011

“The Gardens of Landler Abbey” by Megan Arkenberg
“Princess Courage” by Nadia Bulkin

Reviewed by Bob Leishman

When peace is finally declared, after a war of any size, a society usually resumes whatever genteel manners it had before the conflict started.  “The Gardens of Landler Abbey” by Megan Arkenberg begins at an out of season dinner party where a Professor Grey is being feted by a group of aristocratic women.

Grey’s initial problem appears to be boring company.  This changes after the conversation turns to the nearby Landler Abbey –- an estate which once featured amazing gardens. Things have fallen into disrepair since the war and since the original family left, but it’s apparently occupied once more and the gardens have been restored.

The new mistress of Landler Abbey will issue an invitation to Grey.  He’s unaware that they have a shared past –- of sorts.

Normally this wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but I liked what she did with character development.

Nations must have heroes or leaders the way a stage needs actors. In “Princess Courage” Nadia Bulkin has given us a narrator who happens to be the King of a large empire.  Although intelligent and compassionate he nevertheless feels manipulated by the roles that he’s sometimes forced to play.

Early in his reign he makes some decisions which have consequences down the line, both for his people and for the natives of a newly settled territory.  He plays his role.  He does what must be done, but there is still room for personal expression.

Once started, this is a story that you just have to finish.