Finding Love is like finding your glasses.
By Isabel Tyldesley.
rlic bites me. Ibiteitback—
imb it. Ben Nevis vs Autumn King. Ga
le Dragon cries. Hercules smashed Olympus; I must cl
Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou eating me Romeo? The Purp
Do you know where to go if you want to buy the best fruits and baskets in the whole damn world? Why, you go to Ronaldo at Ronaldo’s Fruit and Basket Stall, of course!
Ronaldo thinks he has a knack for business. You see, people need to eat, and people need to eat healthily. What food’s healthy? Fruit. So, people wanna buy fruit – you’ve gotta eat your five-a-day. But what if there’s five people in your house? That’s twenty-five Fruits. Noone has twenty-five hands – not even Ronaldo. So, people need something to carry the fruit. People need a basket. People buy Ronaldo’s baskets. It’s business at its finest.
And that’s why Ronaldo named himself Ronaldo. Because he thinks he’s the best at what he does; like Ronaldo. Which is fair on Ronaldo, because all the people want Ronaldo’s fruit in their baskets.
“Ooh!” all the people say. “Where did you get that fine basket?”
“I got this cute basket from Ronaldo at Ronaldo’s Fruit and Baskets!” At least, that’s what Ronaldo imagines they say.
Ronaldo sells the best fruit because it isn’t bruised. When you don’t have a basket, he says, your fruit gets bruised. There’s nothing worse than buying a tomato, only for your tomato to be juice and skin on the floor, Ronaldo says.
The Other Fruit Stall Vendors disagree with Ronaldo. They think Ronaldo brings shame to the Fruit Stall Market Corner. Who would bring a basket to an avocado fight? Only Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has to go.
The Other Fruit Stall Vendors get to the Fruit Stall Market Corner at 4am – two hours prior to opening – to set-up their wares into a fruity rainbow the public can’t help but want to taste. Ronaldo won’t be there until 6am. His bananas need no prep.
It’s 4am, and The Other Fruit Stall Vendors have a plan.
The Other Fruit Stall Vendors sneak over to Ronaldo’s Fruit and Basket Stall. Knives at the ready. They give each other a knowing, lingering glance. And set to work, cut holes in the bottoms of all Ronaldo’s baskets. Now, when Ronaldo throws all his pears in one basket, they’ll fall through. They’ll bruise. Maybe even… smash.
It’s 6am and the Market is ripe. A lady purchases one of Ronaldo’s melons for a healthy snack. Ronaldo drops the melon into the ladies freshly-holed basket. The melon falls. The melon rolls. Ronaldo sprints. Ronaldo tackles the melon. Ronaldo volleys the melon towards the lady. Ronaldo scores – right into her hands.
Ronaldo 1 – 0 The Other Fruit Stall Vendors.
It’s always tricky to follow up on a beloved series, such as is The Faithful and the Fallen – but John Gwynne’s medieval-fantasy “truthfully” does a “courageous” job. The Faithful and the Fallen series is my favourite of all time; returning to the same world a little over a century later was uncanny. It was familiarly unfamiliar. To see how the world had geographically and socially evolved was charming.
A Time of Dread comes from four different perspectives – Bleda, Drem, Riv, and Sig – that swap chapter-to-chapter. Often with a format like this, you will fall upon a character’s narrative that you find dull, or annoying, or that you want to skip completely. The four perspectives in A Time of Dread, however, are all vastly different and thrilling to read.
Drem is no warrior; his struggles are different and typically internal. The frozen Desolation he resides in is a contrast to the other perspectives and makes me wonder how Britain collapses after 2cm of snow. Sig is a nicely added tribute to the original The Faithful and the Fallen series and allows the reader to reminisce through the eyes of Sig over old characters and battles. Moreover, she is a giant, which thus gives us more of a glimpse into that of the Giant lore and ways of life. Next is Bleda of the Sirak Horse clan, and ward in Drassil. Finally, Riv: a trainee hot-tempered, trainee White-Wing. What’s fun about Bleda and Riv’s narratives is how they entwine with one another, as both characters reside in Drassil, one as a warrior, one as a “hostage”. Thus, through these four points of view, we get to explore various areas of the Banished Lands, we get to partake different journeys – rather than it strictly being warrior training and travelling – and we get to see diverse relationships.
She is like the Sun when she is happy, like a furnace when she is angry. I have never known anyone so utterly opposite to my people.Bleda, Page 189.
I worried that I wouldn’t be able to fall as in love with Gwynne’s new characters as I did the old – and although noone could ever replace Corban, Camlin, Cywen, Storm and co. the characterisation in the Of Blood and Boneseries has improved. Which is impressive, seeing as it was outstanding to begin with.
The character’s in A Time of Dread are wholly three-dimensional, with Gwynne having adapted more humane characteristics. My personal favourite character, Drem, is compelled to check his pulse, to correct people, to know everything. It’s invigorating to read characters with struggles similar to us. A vast number of us will not have bee to war, or faced the extreme cold of Kergard, or been trained by the Ben-Elim, but we may know what it is to feel the compulsion to do things that we do not need to do, such as feeling our pulse. Thus, the character’s feel that little bit more real and relatable to us – and us readers love being able to imagine ourselves as character’s in a book and being able to connect ourselves to them.
Absently, he lifted two fingers to his throat, searching for his pulse.Drem, Pages 42-43.
A Time of Dread is a remarkable start to Gwynne’s latest series. Despite it being a follow-up series from The Faithful and the Fallen, it can be enjoyed without reading the latter – although it may help to read the original series in terms of lore. Of Blood and Bone comes with an extra added ounce of tension, a pinch of mystery, and a whole-fucking-lot of epicness.
A Time of Dread as available to purchase here.
By Isabel Tyldesley
Persepolis is the true story of Marjane Satrapi. This impassioned graphic novel, that was originally published in 2000 and later republished by VINTAGE in 2008, details what it was like – from Satrapi’s personal experience – to grow up during and after the Iraq-Iran war. We see Satrapi’s transformation from a child into a young woman. We see her move to Austria, where her parents sent her for her own protection. We see monstrosities that no child should have to see.
Art is obviously a fundamental feature in a graphic novel. The art style of Persepolis is simplistically monochrome. The majority of Satrapi’s graphic novel comes from the point of view of a child or teenager, as is reflected in her artwork; The visuals aren’t overly complicated – it’s believable a child could have drawn them. Yet, they are sophisticated, clever, and well-thought out. The writing and the art are symbiotic of one another, neither taking lead to dominate the other.
I don’t know about you, but I often get confused by who’s who – and this might be something you’re weary on when purchasing a graphic novel, especially one in black and white. Satrapi’s illustrations, however, are distinctive and individual. Each character stands out, making it easy to pick apart who is who. Not to mention, the characters feel real, because, of course, they are real, which arguably helped create strong characterisation and is a lesson any writer should take to heart. Even if you are not writing memoir, or something even slightly based upon a true story, a great way to create strong characters is to base them upon real people – whether they be people you know, historical figures, or anything in-between.
Satrapi, imaginably, aimed to educate people on the Iraq-Iran war; an aim which was achieved in a confidently engaging way. The majority of people blank out at reading blocks of analytical, detailed text – even those of us who are fascinated with learning about history. Persepolis, however, proves education does not have to be boring, but beautiful. Insightful. Heart-wrenching. Additionally, it being from the perspective of a child, makes it easily understandable and somewhat relatable. Even though we did not go through the same experiences, we all know what it is like to be an overwhelmed child, confused by your surroundings. Thus, even if you previously knew nothing about the Iran-Iraq war (like myself), Persepolis is easy to understand and is a great gateway into broadening your knowledge.
Satrapi’s work is enlightening. If you find yourself reading exclusively white, male authors, expand your horizon’s and give Satrapi’s Persepolis a read. Besides – Persepolis is banned in Satrapi’s homeland of Iran, which is even more reason to read it, if you ask me.
By Isabel Tyldesley