Saturday, 8 December 2012

Rogue Sword II

In the Prologue of Rogue Sword (New York, 1960), Cretan-born Lucas, aged fifteen, leaves Venice for Constantinople. In Chapter I, aged twenty nine, he is in Constantinople for the second time after fourteen years in Cathay. The date is April, 1306.

In Cathay, he had learned some meditation techniques or martial arts from a Ch'an Buddhist monk and in Constantinople has befriended a Christian military monk of the Knights of St John. Unfortunately, on page 36 (which is as far as I have reread) Lucas and the Knight have got into a sword fight with the wronged merchant from whom Lucas had escaped in Venice. It is to be hoped that the novel will soon move beyond action fiction and sword fights but I might find out tomorrow.

Fourteen years in Cathay occur off-stage between the Prologue and Chapter I. Lucas remembers:

"...graceful red roofs, willows and arched bridges above garden ponds, a philosopher who had been his friend and many gentle beauties who had been his in violet nights when the cherry trees bloomed, and a certain mountain seen through clouds, and temple bells that rang in his dreams just at sunrise...what had driven him back to the filthy West?" (p. 30)

- but he realizes that he had returned  because "...he could not change himself into an Oriental." (p. 30)

Later in the novel, we realize that his time in China had broadened his perspective.

On page 36, the sword fight is interrupted by the unwelcome approach of the Varangian Guard. I have only just googled and learned that, despite serving in Constantinople, the Varangians were what we call "Vikings." This connects with Anderson's The Last Viking Trilogy, Volumes I and II of which I will be able to reread after Rogue Sword.

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