October 7, 2010: The Turtle Moves: Moves the Disk World.

It is time to visit Cormac’s Library. I do so love to read and have loved to do so since Mrs. Kokendorfer taught me how in the first grade. In the far to many years since, I’ve read voraciously, in all genres except romance. Just never got into romance much.

Roughly 15 years ago my friend Lee introduced me to the works of Terry Pratchett. I don’t think I’ve thanked him enough for that. In the years since I have read all of Sir Terry’s works many times, and each time I’ve gained something new fro the experience.

Pratchett writes, mostly , in the fantasy genre, and unlike most fantasy writers, he write truly funny, and thought provoking satire. It takes great skill as a writer to make someone not merely smile, but to laugh outloud, and Pratchett has that talent in spades.

Most of his work is set on the Disk World. This is a place where magic is real; you must accept that as a given. Unlike writers like say Robert Jordan, Pratchett doesn’t go to a lot of effort to explain the magic, it just is. Over the course of 38 novels, Terry has fully developed this world into a truly interesting and unique place.

The Disk is a flat world, not a sphere, It rides on the back of four giant elephants, who in turn stand on the back of the Great A’Tuin, the celestial space turtle, who swims through space toward some unknown point and unknown time. Can you see why magic has to exist on such a world?

There are four main sets of stories in Pratchett’s work: The Wizards of Unseen University, The City Watch of Ankh Morpork, the Witches of Lancre, and DEATH and other anthromorphications. In the last eight years he has also started another series of Ankh Morpork stories featuring a reformed con-man named Moist Von Lipwig, and a second set of witch novels based on Tiffany Aching. While each book can be read as a stand alone novel, if they are read in order the experience is much richer.

Over the next few weeks I’ll examine the individual books in the Disk World Cannon, starting with my personal favorite set of characters, the City Watch of Ankh Morpork. Next week we will take a look at “Guards Guards”.

Friday October 1, 2010: Thoughts on Coronation

My plan for this weekend was to attend Coronation. We all know how that plan worked out, but I did spend a lot of time today thinking about the event. Specifically, I was thinking about what makes Coronation such a pleasant event to attend. It is one of the kingdom level events, and that always draws a larger than normal turnout. This means, of course, that when you are at Coronation you get a chance to visit with, talk to, and generally hangout with a larger number of people than you would get to do at a local group event.
All events, once they actually start, follow a set pattern, or rhythm, and Kingdom Events are no different. Tonight people will be arriving on site until quite late, the last will probably come through troll sometime between 1:00 and 2:30 AM. Tomorrow will start with the kitchen crew making breakfast for the attendees, and at some point there will be, probably, a Royal Breakfast. The real activities will start some time around 10:00 with the first of the morning Courts.
Coronation is all about the old, or current, King and Queen stepping down, and the  Prince and Princess stepping up as King and Queen. The ending of  a reign is not a sad thing, but it is an ending. The current Royals will have a final chance to present awards, and quite a lot of those will be given to the royals entourage, or to people that have helped them significantly during their reign. Then, in Gleann Abhann anyway, the King “dies”. Sometimes the Queen as well. Sometimes from poison, sometimes fro foreign assassins, and in the case of Havord’s second or third reign, by members of their own entourage. It’s a great bit of schtick, but it does have a very real symbolic meaning. The Kingdom is without a king. The former Queen, leaves her crown on her throne, and departs along with her entourage, taking with them the former king’s body (usually). At this point the knights of the kingdom come forth to guard the thrones, and the crowns, until the new king is crowned. The knights are the guardians of the kingdom in the absence of a king. The first of the morning Courts is now over.
After a short break, usually just long enough for the Prince and Princess to get changed into their finery and assemble their entourage,  the second morning court will begin. The Prince will approach, occasionally being challenged to their right to the crown by members of the Peerages, or the Kingdom Seneschal.  After asserting his right to the crown, he will crown himself. Next his consort will approach, and she will be crowned as Queen, by the King. Next their entourage will approach, and take their places, and the real work of the second court will begin. That work can best be described as “oath taking”.
The Oath of Fealty is another very important and symbolic part of the SCA, and I’ll go into more detail about it in another post, For now it is enough to say that the oath will be repeated several times tomorrow morning. First the Peerages. Some Kings call each Order separately, some choose to call all three Orders at the same time. Next to take the oath will be the Kingdom Officers, followed by the Landed Barons. Finally, the rest of the people will come forth, take a knee, and take the Oath. Over the years I have taken the Oath of Fealty as a member of an entourage, as a kingdom officer, and as a member of the general population, and in the near future I’ll take it again. Each and every time the experience has been a moving one.
Once the Oath Taking is done, the court will proceed with a few awards, but not a lot of business. Most of the business of the new King and Queen will take place at the afternoon or evening Court.
Once the second Court has concluded, the rest of the day will be taken up with a couple of different tournaments; usually for to chose the King’s Champion, and Queen’s Champion. Of course there is often a number of meetings of various Orders, Peerage Circles, and other groups. But those will be the subject of a different post.