By Brian W. Aldiss
Quite a few strange voices levels from Malaysia to Moscow and past in a suite of magical, otherworldly fiction from a preeminent, resourceful strength within the style.
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She wanted gaiety, extravagant parties, balls and masques at which she could appear in elaborate and sensational gowns. In this she was aided and urged to great extravagance by my father’s brother, Louis of Orléans, who was very handsome, dashing, witty, fascinating…and ambitious. He must have summed up the situation. My father wanted to be a good king, to follow his father’s methods…but alas, even more he wanted to please his wife. Knowing my father and mother, I could well imagine the scenes between them: how she cajoled him; how he tried to resist; how she, with Louis of Orléans at her elbow, laughed at the serious young king; how she tempted him and how he succumbed.
She was right. I did not see her for some time, but Odette, who came to see us frequently while our father was sleeping, told me that our sister Isabelle was now betrothed to her cousin, Charles of Orléans. “He is a gentle boy,” said Odette. “Quite a poet. ” I prayed too. So did Marie and Michelle; and we listened eagerly to the stories we heard of the fêtes and banquets which took place at Compiègne where Isabelle, in the company of our mother, joined up with the Duke of Orléans and his son.
There are times when I awake in the night and put out a hand to touch Owen. Then a terrible desolation sweeps over me. ” I cry. ” The peace of the Abbey is all around me, but there is no peace for me. I am envious of those black-clad figures who go hither and thither, their lives governed by the bells. It is the bells which tell me what they will be doing at various times of the day. Sometimes I hear their chanting voices. I see them working in the gardens. I envy them. I long for news. But there is none.
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