Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The State Banquet

"'Now it's time for the State banquet,' Kate said firmly."
-SM Stirling, The High King Of Montival (New york, 2011), Chapter Seventeen, p. 373.

When Kate says that on p. 373, we know that we will read the menu on p. 374 - but there is more to the story this time:

roast suckling pigs
glazed hams
barons of beef, buffalo or elk
platters of smoked sturgeon
potatoes whipped with cream, scallions and garlic
scalloped potatoes
potatoes au gratin
salads of greens, nuts and tomatoes
hot breads
a dozen more dishes -

- and there are assassins among the waiters. If Mathilda had not glimpsed a reflection in the silver on the table, then the good guys would have been dead. After a pitched battle in the State dining room, Rudi becomes tired of continual violence. In this kind of fiction, our heroes fight one enemy after another but think what that would be like in reality.

The theme song of a British children's television series included the line:

"Life and love and happiness are well worth fighting for..."

- an obvious rationalization: the series was all about fighting, not about life, love or happiness.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

That bit about the state banquet in Iowa reminded me of this line from Anderson's "Honorable Enemies," Where Aline Chang-Lei, one of Dominic Flandry's colleagues in the Intelligence Corps, told him at Betelgeuse: "An official function on Alfzar almost makes me long for a staid and stuffy one on Terra." Iow, Alfzarian banquets tended to be far more "raucous" than similar functions at the Imperial court. But this time, the banquet in Stirling's book was anything but staid and stuffy!

The problem with your final comments is that Rudi and his friends and enemies alike were not living in peaceful times. The Change brought in an age of chaos anarchy, when everything was in flux, for both good and ill. Human beings what they are, that inevitably means a lot of COMBAT as well.