The First Day of Winter

Has been absolutely gorgeous. Overnight frost followed by a beautiful, sunny, windless day. Long may it continue.

We gardened, which mostly involves hacking back the burgeoning scrub and trying to keep the lawn under control. I hope one day to start actually planting and tending garden beds. But no one’s done anything in the way of landscaping at our place ever I don’t think, so at the moment there’s nothing to tend. We’re chopping down the scruffy bushes that mark the section’s boundaries, removing concrete flower beds and borders (who pours concrete all around their yard, who?!), and uprooting the agapanthas that have spread everywhere. Agapanthas are the cockroaches of the plant world – they survive most anything you can do to them and come back stronger. They’re terrible things. But we’re getting rid of them slowly and making our yard look much bigger in the process.

I also found time to read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I didn’t start it with high expectations – complex political manoeuvrings at an Elven court didn’t really sound like my thing and I’d only picked it up because it had received some stellar reviews. But I enjoyed it very much. I stayed up until 1am last night reading and reading, and finished it off this afternoon. The main character, thrust unexpectedly onto the throne and dreadfully lonely and uncertain, is enormously appealing. There’s enough plot and there’s political plotting, but the focus is on Maia’s responses to his situation and the people around him, and on his efforts to build personal relationships. It’s beautifully written and skillfully told. I find myself hoping for a sequel so I can be in Maia’s company again. But the book is complete in itself and doesn’t need a sequel. It’s that rare thing, a concise, controlled epic fantasy.

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