And, once again, I remind my good readers that I actually like going to Art Galleries…
“Ugh,” Kat groans. “I can’t believe this happened twice!”
“Oh, hush, Katherine,” Amara chides her friend, linking her arm in Kat’s. “One can never have too much art and culture.”
“But culture is dumb!” Kat protests.
Amara narrows her eyes at Kat. “Keep this up, and we’re going to the Opera tomorrow night,” she warns.
“Oh, splendid!” Tancred interjects. “They’re doing the Halsketten-Saga this month. I’ll go ahead and get the tickets, shall I?”
“W-what?” Kat stammers. “That wasn’t part of the deal!”
Amara gently pats Kat’s shoulders. “Well, one simply does not neglect the opportunity to attend the Halsketten-Saga, Katherine,” Amara notes.
“Especially not when Kreimhild von Schönersänger is singing Queen Gerda,” Tancred adds.
“Oh,” Amara agrees happily. “She was simply spellbinding in Le Bonhomme de Neige!”
Kat doesn’t understand any of those words.
As Amara and Tancred chat happily about famous opera singers, Kat takes the opportunity to try to sneak away, disentangling herself from Amara and getting ready to bolt. Unfortunately, she is promptly caught by the sleeve.
“And where do you think you’re going, Katherine?” she asks.
“Anywhere but here,” Kat mutters.
Amara smiles sweetly, doing nothing to stop Kat from wishing for the ground to open and swallow her up. Or for a sudden unfortunate tidal wave or tornado to save her by sweeping away the Art Galley and the Opera House.
“Do try to enjoy yourself, Katherine,” Amara says. “This is a rare opportunity. Sir Tancred’s family has loaned several family heirlooms to the art galley, and Sir Tancred has generously offered to be our guide through the exhibit.”
“Yes, well, I’ve learned a thing or two from Grandfather,” Tancred says.
Kat resigns herself to her fate.
Amara sighs. “After we’ve finished at the Art Gallery,” she offers, “I’ll treat you to lunch. I’ll buy you as many whole chickens as you like.
“Deal,” Kat says.
Amara sighs again. “Why must I always bribe you with food, Katherine? Goodness, it’s like trying to tame a lion,” she mutters.
A short while later, they find themselves in the Porthaven Civic Art Gallery.
“And this,” Tancred says, standing next to a particularly impressive suit of armour, “this is the very armour my ancestor Torquato Hauteburg wore during the Liberation of Folkvang. Which, if you’ve forgotten had been conquered by a rampaging horde of Hrimfaxi vikings, and if, of course, recorded in the chivalric epic of the very same name — though, of course, many of the details have been rather fudged for the sake of drama and poetic metre.”
Amara nods along eagerly, while Kat nearly nods off to sleep.
Tancred moves on, stopping beside an elaborate tapestry.
“And this tapestry commemorates the courtship of the beautiful foreign princess Tianshi by another ancestor of mine, the lowly Ralph of Hauteburgh,” he explains. “Now, the good Ralph was at the time, a lowly foot-soldier, who met the Princess Tianshi purely by chance as she was feeling several knights seeking to force her into marriage. Despite their vast differences in station, they quickly took to one another and eloped. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
He grins at Kat and Amara.
“And now, that history proceeds a little something like this—”
A cold dread suddenly as runs through Tancred as the realisation sets in.
Oh, Powers help me. I’m turning into Grandfather!
At the expense of ruining the jokes by explaining them, those references go a little something like this:
- The Halsketten-Saga is most immediately a reference to Wagner‘s Ring Cycle, but also it its mythological antecedents — adapted, incidentally by Tolkien into my favourite non-Middle-earth work of his . Halskette is German for “necklace”, so the whole jewelry angle is pretty clear.
- Le Bonhomme de Neige (FYI: it’s French for “snowman”) is kinda-sorta a reference to the opera La Bohème, largely due to the fact that whenever I see “bohème” my brain immediately goes to “bonhomme de neige” due to the resemblance between the two, and because, having taking French most of the way through school, “bonhomme de neige” is much more familiar to me than “bohème”…
- Torquato Hauteberg and the Liberation of Folkvang are references to La Gerusalemme liberata (variously translated as “Jerusalem Delivered” or “The Liberation of Jerusalem”, among others), an Italian chivalric epic by Torquato Tasso about the First Crusade. Also, it’s a reference to the fact that in one of my games of Crusader Kings, in-game conditions conspired to led to the First Crusade being called for Norway, of all places.
- Princess Tianshi is a pretty indirect reference to another chivalric epic, Orlando Furioso (which I’ve mentioned several times before). One of the major characters in said poem is Angelica, a princess said to be from Cathay (which historically means China, but seems supposed to mean India in the poem itself). Of course, “Angelica” isn’t exactly a Chinese name (incidentally, Angelica herself is invariably depicted as a pale, very European-looking blonde). So, basically, Tianshi (which is Chinese for “angel”) is supposed to be a more historically/geographically-accurate answer to Angelica. Also, Angelica does end up marrying a fairly random, inconsequential foot-solider rather than any of the knights in love with her.
And these are the kinds of things I think are funny or interesting…
A couple of reminders:
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Also, this week saw the conclusion of Forward, the Lyte Brigade:
Come back next week for a preview of the next Lyte Brigade story, and a special epilogue chapter the week after. After that, I’ll be posting, um, something I’m not entirely decided on…
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