24 May 2020

  • When I began this blog theme, back in mid-March, I may have made some sort of commitment to keeping the column a politics-free zone. I had, after all, spent much of my time from June 2016 to December 2019 blogging endlessly about Brexit and my part in its downfall. (See my Brexit blog theme, if you can bear to.)
  • So this week, I won’t be writing about:

    * No 10 (and the entire Cabinet) lying about Dominic Cummings breaking the pandemic regulations to dash 260 miles up the motorway, with his sick wife and small child, in order to access emergency babysitting from his elderly parents. As you do;

  • * Johnson forced to U-turn on effectively fining foreign health workers for having the temerity to come over here and save our lives;
  • * Why the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, representing our “politically-neutral” national broadcaster, sees fit to defend Cummings;
  • * The debacle over PPE, including the flight from Turkey that had to be sent back with unsuitable gowns;
  • * The U-turn on the coronavirus lockdown, many weeks too late;
  • * The highest Covid-19 death rate in Europe, second-highest in the world (and when your only competitors for this shameful state of affairs are a demented Trump, rapidly being caught up by a criminal Bolsanaro, you really are in trouble, Boris);
  • * And, best of all, ERG head and rabid rightwinger Steve Baker calling for Cummings’ head. ( I wonder why? – could it be he sees Cummings as his main political threat now Gollum is running the Tory party, when good ol’ Steve used to have that job under May?)
  • … er, where was I? Oh, yes, not making political comments.

    So this week, I thought I would instead offer you another book review, as many of you seem to like them. My chosen read today is the clever, amusing, quirky, escapist fantasy Rotherweird, by Andrew Caldecott.

    Just to whet your appetite, this entrancing book reads like a mashup of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, Dr Who, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books, all with just a touch of quantum mechanics thrown in for good measure. Oh, and a Tudor time-slip theme. Seldom in the field of literary history have so many genre boundaries been trounced so comprehensively, with such sly wit. And then there’s the cast of what feels like thousands, all with deliciously appropriate names like “Vixen Valourhand” and “Sir Veronal Slickstone”. By the time I got to a Roman-period character rejoicing in the wonderful moniker of “Ferox “, I was totally hooked.

    So I was all set this week to give you the full monty on this utterly captivating story, which I guarantee will take you a million miles away from Coronavirus and other nasty C-words, but …

    Then I noticed that since 2017, when I bought my copy of Rotherweird, the indefatigable Caldecott has somehow found the time to toss out a sequel, and then a finale, thereby forcing me to review a complete trilogy. And as I haven’t yet read Books 2 and 3, Wyntertide and Lost Acre, I shall draw breath here. And go away. And read them.

    It’s a tough job on a beautiful Bank Holiday weekend, but someone has to do it. Just hang on there, I’ll be back in a tick …

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