Saturday 12 September 2015

In between


So what's been going on over here? Quite a lot, but sadly I have not touched a paintbrush in about a week. School has started in earnest again and the long and intensive workdays leave me without the energy to get at the workstation to paint.

That said, two weeks ago I have managed to finish a few single figure projects and I will try to photograph them and put them up here soon.

Yesterday the postman brought in a pair of nice books which I'd like to tell you about. The first is "Wargame scenarios; The Peninsular War 1808-1814" by Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell from Pen and Sword Publishing. This very nice book is actually meant to accompany the Grand Battery Napoleonic rules from Pen and Sword, but it is a very use-full  scenario guide for pretty much all rule-sets available. The book contains 20 scenarios, an overview of the conflict, orbats for each battle but also a general orbat for the armies combating over the Peninsula and an overview of said armies. Very nice book indeed.

The second, and to me more important addition to my bookshelves is "The Shepherd's Crown" by Sir Terry Pratchett. This is his last work which he luckily finished before passing on. I have mixed feelings about the last 10 Discworld books he wrote since they do not seem to have the depth his earlier works have. The many humorous layers of story-plots but also all the little sideplots dissecting human nature and our many faults, are sadly gone from the main narrative leaving just a pretty good read, yet not the brilliant work of the first 30 or so books he has written. Well at least that's how it is for me.

But this book is a bit different. People who would like to read it (by all means buy it, it's good) and don't won't a spoiler should stop reading here.

Pratchett has done what other great writers have done before him, but what we readers all dread greatly: he has killed one of his favourites. In this book Granny Weatherwax has met Death for her last journey at last. And while this was a bit predictable, Pratchett has managed to write a story that is not corny or overly sentimental but very sincere and touching. It shows that while the parting of our loved ones and the ones we look up to, is not only an ending it is also a new start. We all have to let go of our elders at one point, be it parents, grandparents or mentors, to go our own way and make the world a bit more our own. I see this at school daily, elder and more experienced co-workers have a profound and overbearing (not necessarily "negative" mind you) influence in work meetings where the policy of the school is decided. In the group of pupils I mentor which organise music and sketch shows, I see that younger kids are being held back in developing their acting and other theatrical skills by fear of displeasing the older ones. And when these older people go on pension or graduate, the Young Guard steps in and creates their own niche in the world. 

So in all I think this is a worthy farewell by the Grand Master to us his readers and while I really could not warm up to his Long Earth trilogy, written with mister Baxter, The Sheperd's Crown is a very welcome last complementation of my Pratchett collection.

Cheers Sander