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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Exploring Character and Place in A Seared Sky #11


This is the 11th in a series of pieces on characters and places featured in Joinings: A Seared Sky. This background information, isn’t covered in the book, but should enhance the reading experience. For some of my people, there’ll be a character drawing, supplied by Alice Taylor, maybe a video interview, and accompanying script. I may do short pieces of fiction, deepening knowledge of certain minor characters as well.
For the places, I may use sections of the map, to indicate location, along with a description of the place, as I see it, and, where appropriate, links with characters. Perhaps I’ll indicate the way of life there with a short anecdote or story.
I won’t reveal any of the main story, either as already published or as written in the series, merely enhance readers’ enjoyment of the trilogy by providing more information. I hope this will give pleasure to those who’ve bought the book and, perhaps, persuade others to take that step.

Pronunciation hints:
Pampahn – pam-parn.
Muhnilahm – murn-ill-arm.
Aklon-Dji – ak-lon-djy (think of the Dj sound in the name of tennis player, Djokovic.
Phildrad – fill-drad.
Lasdilyss – lass-dill-iss.
Kaz-Ca-Porlesah – kazz-ka-por-laze-ar.
Names are pronounced phonetically. But this is my take on them; how I hear them in my head. You may pronounce them as you wish, of course; reading is, after all, active rather than passive.

Pampahn, a little isolated and a bit backward, is one of the Followers’ settlements on the island of Muhnilahm. It’s home to Phildrad, Lasdilyss and Kaz-Ca-Porlesah, amongst others in the trilogy. Lying toward the south of the island, it’s bordered by a shallow lake to the west, extensive marshland to the north and mountains to the south. Due east, some leagues distant, lies the Southern Ocean. The nearest settlement to the infamous Point, it’s home to a Village Priestess with a soft spot for the island’s most wanted criminal, the Renegade, Aklon-Dji. Kaz-Ca-Porlesah risks a great deal to befriend this handsome folk hero, but he’s even more at risk in this dangerous relationship.

Phildrad fishes from a coracle on the lake and has developed some pretty unusual recipes to make the food as tasty as he can. In fact, he has a reputation as something of a wonder as far as food preparation is concerned, though he is otherwise considered a rather dull chap. His wife, Lasdilyss, is a pretty woman who devotes far too much of her time to Phildrad’s ungrateful bedridden parents. She is also a sometime lover of Aklon-Dji and a member of his Few.

The houses, in common with most on the island, are built with wooden frames filled in with mud baked and hardened by the sun. They’re painted with oil-based pigments of various colours (mostly natural browns, ochres, and dull yellows), which help keep the rain off. Thatched with reed or with long leaves from the many trees, they generally consist of sleeping areas for the adult couple, separate quarters for any children, and a living area that serves as kitchen, dining and relaxing area. This is a tropical environment, so the windows are open but often shaded by woven blinds. Internal walls are made of woven pliant branches, so light and movement tends to seep through from one room to another. 
External doors tend to be made of rough wooden planks hinged and fastened with metal parts. Internal doors are wicker, like the internal walls. Floors are bare earth, trodden flat and hard by occupation.

Furniture is basic, wooden framed and undecorated in the main. Beds consist of fabric (usually linen) bags filled with down, dry moss, straw or any combination of these, often confined in a wooden frame on the floor. A blanket or covering is rarely actually needed but these are usually made from woven cotton of the spun yarn made from the fleece of a sheep-like wild goat that roams the island.

Household utensils include such items as canvas buckets, cups made from horn and earthenware crockery made by specialist potters. Eating implements are metal, again forged by specialist smiths. Tallow candles and vegetable oil lamps provide illumination after dark.
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