Tuesday, 3 July 2012

From Maurai To Skyholm

If not for the early Author's Note mentioning the Maurai, the reader would not immediately know that Orion Shall Rise connects with that series. The 468 page text begins on page 1. The Maurai are first mentioned on page 7 and then only in a list of five or more other nations with which "the Domain" must deal. On page 13, we learn that, although our hero still uses a large, crude, vacuum tubed radio set powered by his castle's coal-fired generator, transistorised portable radios can be bought from the, obviously more advanced, Maurai Federation.

Thus, this novel is set in a later period when more nations have become prominent. Also, its narrative net has been cast more widely so that we initially view the Maurai from a foreign perspective.

The Domain, covering much of Europe, is controlled by aristocratic families, the Thirty Clans of the Aerogens, from a stratospheric aerostat called "Skyholm" or "Ileduciel." The Domain includes households like that of Mael the Red whose farm is worked by himself, his family, his tenants and their families. The account of how Mael's household receives an Aerogen visitor with a feast would fit into one of Anderson's historical novels.

The Aerogen and his host's daughter have a son who is brought up in Mael's household until his father takes him away to be his heir. Thus, Chapter One, starting on page 10 (so far we have read only a Prologue), begins with the son, Iern, now grown, taking his place in the world.

We realize both that the Domain is a powerful realm with which the Maurai will have to deal and that winds of change blow yet again. As Iern grew up, many centuries in our future but nevertheless surrounded by medieval city walls, Stone Age tombs, menhirs, cromlechs, dolmens and passage graves:

"...he got into him a sense of time as an endless storm-wind, on which men and nations and gods were blown like autumn leaves, forever." (1)

(1) Anderson, Poul, Orion Shall Rise, London, 1988, p. 8.

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