The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy

So the plan today was to fly out to Dublin, around about 3.15 this afternoon for Worldcon – a plan that has been scuppered by illness, rendering me duvet-bound within the cosy confines of my home, gazing at the grey drizzly skies outside.

Worldcon-Dublin-2019On the one hand, I’m gutted to be missing out on what may turn out to be, for me, a once in a lifetime opportunity. The event is held annually, yes, but the elusiveness of opportunities to attend is clued by its name – Worldcon. Not only is it one of the largest genre conventions of its kind, it’s also a fiercely international one; meaning the venue switches from year to year, and isn’t always within easy travelling distance (next year’s event will be held in New Zealand).

Not only that, I was scheduled to be on several panels I was very excited about being involved in: tomorrow – moderating a discussion on the rise of African Fantasy as a subgenre, featuring academic, Nick Wood, along with writer and academic, Geoff Ryman of the African Speculative Fiction Society. Tonight – Unpacking the challenges and merits of Writing Outside of Western Expectations with Regina Kanyu Wang, Beth Meachem, Joey Yu and Georgina Kamsika. Tomorrow night: the prevalence of feudalism in fantasy and How Not to Make Feudal Mistakes, with writer and historian, Kari Sperring, and authors Dr Anna Smith Spark and Jeanine Tullos Hennig.

In other words, along with the general fun of the event, and the opportunity to meet and catch up with friends, it was shaping up to be exactly my kind of weekend. But, alas, that dreaded and often inconvenient fiend, illness.

But, be that as it may the day has not been an altogether wasted one. Sitting here at home has allowed me the chance, for the first time in quite a while, to pause, reflect, and read; which resulted in me stumbling across this wonderful analysis of John Keat’s famous ballad, “La Belle Dame sans Merci” – The beautiful lady without mercy – one of the young poet’s most compelling and vital works; and, a work that partially inspired the title for my latest novel, Pale Kings, which just released earlier this week – see the pivotal stanza in the poem’s third act…

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci
Thee hath in thrall!”

Anyway, it really is a wonderful breakdown by journalist and former lecturer, Martin Earl. Well worth checking out – so, if you’d like to take a look at the poem, along with Earl’s thoroughly cogent and insightful analysis, you can do so by clicking right… here.


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