Books. The foundation of a guinea pig’s education. Every castle has a library. Well, it has to really. Who could have a stately mansion without a library? They tend to be the accumulation of wisdom for all the persons of the castle, but some are larger and more extensive than others. Buckmore’s is, of course, the most wide-ranging of all. Marsh’s is pretty limited and as soon as Fred and George discover the wider world they find how much they are missing. Modernisation of the library becomes one of Fred’s biggest achievements. This makes me wonder where all the books come from and who writes or wrote them. And what Fred and George do and don’t know about the world when they venture out into it.
They know about crosswords but they don’t know about newspapers or journals. They don’t know that other people work in the same lines of science and engineering as they do. They can read and write and do complicated studies. George has a good understanding of all sorts of engineering processes or else he just has the sort of brain that understands how things work. Fred has written some ‘Think Pieces’ on his blog that show an incomplete understanding of the solar system, but a good understanding of wind and tides.
In many ways, the books are an accumulation down the ages just as ours are. There aren’t so many people writing them though. Well, not as many as we have now, and that’s partly because it’s a less populated world. Personal ownership of a book is highly unusual. Most castles have a printing facility although more geared to newspapers than books. There are a couple of specialist book printers left, one in the Forest-White Horse area, and another in the north at Palatine. The Journals are associated with seats of learning and reflect their specialist areas although they also come from abroad, where book printing is also more common. Journals exist to describe and set out new areas of learning, for discussion and development in the field, and are generally circulated to other seats of learning and anyone who is interested. Conveniently there is one universal language, although some dialects and local languages occur. Marsh does not get Journals until Fred and George return with them, after which the educational facilities at Marsh start to grow, and all sorts of people start writing books on their particular subjects there. Some find that others have already written on their special theories and they need to catch up. Others find they are at the forefront of their field. Fred and George are both lucky in that.
Books cover just about every subject you can think of, but it’s not clear whether there is a big line in fiction or not. Story telling is still a tradition of word-of-mouth and narrators are held in high esteem. The big castles have a resident narrator but there are also itinerant ones, who travel from place to place, including castles where they are usually hosted by the narrator-in-residence. That usually gives rise to a narrathon, an event in which narrators, both professional and amateur, take to their fiddlesticks and narrate to their audience. Both new tales and old are welcomed. The fiddlesticks is a type of wooden-slatted bench that can be folded up and carried easily, or bent over the back like a shield or shell. It is the traditional platform for a narrator.
Some narrators also travel with a selection of books from castle to castle, exchanging them for ones the castle no longer wants, so that the wealth of books can be shared among all.
They don’t have ebooks in this world, but if you’d like to buy Princelings of the East for your eReader during the A to Z Challenge, there is a coupon code on the right side of the page. I hope you enjoy it (please leave a review if you feel you can!).