|Le Sentiment du Fer|
Le Sentiment du Fer
Cuervo Moera, could be misread as "Curve Death". That's a useful name when one belongs to the Guild of the Whisperers, that coordinates the assassins of Ciudalia, the rich city by the sea struggling to reaffirm its independence from the King.
His latest mission is not about taking a life, but about taking a book, "Sirventes of the Blue Forests" from the library of Senator Rapazzoni. It's a poetry book, a compilation of songs heard and exchanged between humans and the Elves of the Five Valley, as their embassies met for a diplomatic summit in the Blue Forests, many years ago.
The writer, the Count of Floriscans, was befriended by one of the Elves, who between songs and tunes, revealed fencing techniques he had learned from his lord, Caewlin de Suellindon. The codex thus also contains the twenty-two sheets of "Le Sentiment du Fer", the treatise on the art of the great elven knight.
Suellindon is known to Cuervo and all the kids in Ciudalia who dream of heroic feats as "Soledano". As Cuervo prepares his run, he finds himself asking, as the kid he was, "What would Soledano do?". He will need all the inspiration his childhood hero can offer and more. But there is no chivalry in his trade and none in his new task.
Ciudalia and its world have been imagined by Jean-Philippe Jaworski. No surprise, he is a game master and a game designer. But he is also a Professeur de Lettres and his display of mastery of the french language is intoxicating. The characters each have their own high tongue or vernacular, and I keep wondering how Jaworski, master at his table, wears their coats and their words.
Ciudalia is more italian than french (there were times the french court was more italian than french), it's Genova, Florence, Massilia, Venice in some of its adversaries. The city tries to re-emancipate out of a post-frankish empire. The Germanic is left to the dwarves and the Elves seem Welsh, and old, young, and sad.
(Wink at Fernand Braudel's Out of Italy)
The current ciudalian masterpiece of Jaworski is named "Gagner la Guerre" and its translation to English is in preparation under the title, To the Victors go the Spoils. Reading that book was dizzying, "Le Sentiment du Fer" is a five novella compilation, while "To the Victors go the Spoils" is a big novel, amply hammering its crescendo. The translator has quite a piece to chew. I am looking forward to discover again Ciudalia, in a beautiful instance of the English tongue this time.