Nemonymous (nemonymous) wrote,

'Odalisque' by PF Jeffery (DFL's comments on Chapter 35)


Chapter 35 – Advances



Talk of blood-lines and the body as a form of ‘currency’. Also weapon-training with Bob Bosset (who with Fluff) becomes an even more interesting character. All seems to fit together if obliquely. 

I also compare ‘imagination’ (mentioned specifically in this chapter) with the idea of the morning-star as a figurative ‘double-edged sword’. 

One wonders if ‘Royalty’ is born or made. This novel mixes the two possibilities, I feel. ‘Slaves’ and ‘Persons’ are of both similar and mixed origin, too. Perhaps the novel’s head-lease author would like to keep all these mixtures ‘separate’. Meanwhile, any narrative conflict is exemplified by the various overt and imputed (real or fictional?) narrators of the story, i.e. representing, for me, forms of authorial ‘separation’ that then tend to blend beyond the control of the head-lease author...? 

I don’t want to give the wrong impression here. The thoughts above are probably restricted to me only. This novel’s story flows simply and excitingly, but it has these complexities if one wishes to look for them.  

The story also has emotional/sexual proclivities that may or may not affect any particular reader with potential attraction or deterrence. Never an easy task – identifying one’s audience. Perhaps, this novel will create a new audience that never existed before? 

Target Dummies and Suitors, too... 

Pleasing passages from this chapter that also exemplify (or not) some of the thoughts above:


To judge from the manuscripts preserved in the University of Pain archives, Miss Miles didn’t make much progress with Tuerqui’s handwriting.


Out in the derelict garden, the rain flowed down our waterproofs in miniature streams – larger and muddier rivulets coursed about our feet. Heavy drops rattled loudly on what remained of the gazebo roof. It was the sort of evening for which they make houses and fires.


“Now you’re talking. That’s a coin I could maybe use. I love Fluff, but some dirty doings with a bit of extra… shall we say imagination… would come not amiss.”


The morning star flail was a heavy spiked metal ball, attached to a handle by a length of chain. As much a dangerous weapon for an unskilled user as for an opponent.


Such solace as Our Lady of the Lamp grants to whores buoyed me. The goddess eased my ache, left matters tolerable.


...this reflection made me think about Tuerquelle and Lady Isobel. It was well to bear them in mind – rejoining them was my aim in training with arms.


Bob Bosset took us through the correct way to handle a dagger, my main difficulty with which was an urge to grip too tightly. He also demonstrated killing techniques on a dummy, the target points gruesomely marked with red paint. The next step was to practice on less lifelike dummies formed of sacking stuffed with straw. The coarse fabric showed clear signs of repeated stabbing and clumsy repairs.


At the end of lessons, without prompting, I apologised for the disobedience for which I’d been punished. A little to my surprise, I found myself genuinely contrite.


“Could be, probably some kind of quotation, anyway. But the point is, she’s talking about teaching the use of arms with choreographed dance steps. They weren’t having that in Tuerqui’s daddy’s army – said they were there to fight, not join a nancy boys’ chorus line. It might help you girls, though.”


“You know, if Tuerqui has unwanted suitors, we could always use them for weapons practice. You’re not ready for that yet, but when you start to become proficient…”


Our voices echoed oddly, didn’t quite sound human, in the subterranean shooting range. The air felt slightly damp, the place pervaded by an earthy smell. Several torches flickered slightly as an intermittent chill draught caught them – suggesting connections with other tunnels. Stroking the stock of the crossbow, my fingers slipped easily along the polished wood grain.


Perhaps, there should be something stronger than a comma after ‘shoulder’:

He selected a slim volume and handed it to us – peering over Lisa-Louise’s shoulder, I read the title as Some Infantry Training Techniques by Corporal General Alice Arrowshaft.


Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.

The links to all Chapter comments by me are HERE

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