books · features · shanti

The Bookish Planet: The Castle

it’s time for another installment of The Bookish Planet, the feature where we give a guided tour of settings seen in a lot of books. Today, the feature is The Castle. They are often found in Magical Forests, within fantasy kingdoms. The Castle is exciting, magnificent, sometimes crumbling, sometimes lavish. No matter which castle you end up in, something exciting will be going on.

bookish planet

Featured in: The Montmaray Journals, Snow Like Ashes, Song of the Lioness, Protector of the Small, Rose Daughter, Graceling, Throne of Glass, Shadow and Bone, Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Winner’s Kiss, The Queen of the Tearling, A Wicked Thing, The Orphan Queen, The Lost Crown, The Reluctant Heiress, The Crown’s Game, The Goose Girl, The Wrath and the Dawn, The Star Touched Queen.

Description: Where the castle is, there will be the royalty also. And royalty (or other nobles) come with a lot of extras: servants, fancy dogs, horses, thrones, murder, banquets, elaborate dresses, small economies, more servants, tapestries, war, treasuries, betrayal, injustice, love…all of those fun things. These things produce DRAMA and PLOT which make it an excellent place. Never a dull moment! But that’s not really the case. Sitting through court is quite boring. So are banquets. And speeches. Luckily, as a visitor, you will be able to skip some of these events. Spend the extra time exploring. With any luck, you’ll find a secret tunnel, paintings of ancestors, or clandestine meeting.

People: The people of the castle are obviously the most interesting part: without them, you’d just be living in a lump of stone. Social hiearchies are strict. If you’re not familiar with the culture, then you need to pay lots of attention to figure out the relaitonships. If you’re a diplomat or a visiting royal, you can probably go all over the palace. If you’re the cousin of Asma the cook’s assitant, keep your expectations low. Castles are physical manifestations of of inequality, so don’t expect any kind of fairness in how you’re treated, okay? But the people should be interesting. Look at how the servants kinteract with the nobles, and how they gossip about each other. It’s a fascinating study in primitive society obscured by the trappings of wealth.


History: Where the royals are, there will be unecessary bloodshed, long term trauma, and possibly emotional abuse. They’re all variation on a theme because that is what violence is, and history repeats. But this is a secret, okay? Let the rich people bother about that, okay, and then through them repeating the mistakes of thier ancestors and their ancestors, you can learn Deep and Important things about the cyclical nature of violence and get on with your ordinary life. (Unless you’re a noble, in which case, enjoy being responsible for other peoples deaths without being involved, and no there aren’t counselling services for you or anyone else, this is a war, but at least you have these diamonds, aren’t they nice). And also learn the personal histories and rivalries and so on, they’ll be useful later.

Hazards: Servants know most things, so stay on their good side. Any sort of gossip could ruin you forever. If you hang around too much, you might accidentally run into a plot and never be able to read (this is true for all locations feature on The Bookish Planet, but this one especially). There are often swords and suits of armour hanging around. Stay away from them. They may be cursed, or at the very least will probably be very sharp. Stay away from the dungeons, and, in general, try not to learn information you shouldn’t, because it increases your risk of becoming entangled with plot.

Where to Stay: Look, you’re in a castle. You’ll be staying in the castle. Maybe it’ll be a good place to stay. If you’re a higher class visitor, there’ll be servants to deal with all the stuff like chamberpots and candlesticks because modern plumbing and electricity is dumb (also you’re probaby in a medival fantasy land so it would be anachronistic), if not, you’ll have to share a stinky latrine with an unknowable number of other people. You might have to share a bed as well. Manage your accomadation expectations in accordance with your level of wealth relative to the owners of the castle.

have you ever visited a real castle? and what’s your favourite fictional one? let me know in the comments!

books · features · lists · shanti

#SettinginStone tbr

It’s a new year which means a lot of people are posting tbr’s. I was reading blog posts this morning and was thinking oh yeah, reading challenges, they’re not my thing….and then I remembered that I’m actually hosting the chillest, coolest reading challenge for the first two months of the year, aka Setting in Stone, and if you participate, I would be delighted (and surprised but I’m trying not to betray my low expectations). Anyway, I thought I’d share some books that I want to read for this challenge–and if you add recommendations in the comments, I’ll add them to the post!

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books · lists · shanti · Shar

2017 round-up with Shanti and Shar

Hi Virtually Readers! It’s the end of another year–a somewhat tiring and also exciting year–where, among other things, we read a lot of books. This year, our reading tastes evolved a little–we read a lot more adult books and non-fiction (this growing up thing, it’s terrifying). Anyway, we’re linking up with The Perpetual Page Turners end of year survey to tell you about it. Shanti is italics, Shar is normal, questions are in bold. Let’s go! Continue reading “2017 round-up with Shanti and Shar”

books · discussions · features · shanti

Setting in Stone: Settings vs. Character

Hi Virtually Readers! It’s almost Christmas oh my goodness! I am in New Zealand now which is bizarre but I’m dealing with it. However, I do have a lot of things going on in my life, so I’m not sure how active I’m going to be blogwise for January–but I’m still trying to make Setting in Stone happen. And I would be delighted (not to mention surprised) if you, yes you, joined in. In my last post I mentioned that I was going to write a post about diversity of seting vs. diversity of character. I have not planned this at all but here we go.

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books · shanti · tags

Childhood Book Tag!

The very lovely Elizabeth@Musings From Neville’s Navel tagged me for The Childhood Book Tag, which is about books from your childhood. I just want to say that Elizabeth is the main person who tags me for things and I only do the tags every once in a while but THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAGGING ME ELIZABETH! I actually hate tagging people and have decided that I stress less when I don’t tag people…so let’s see if I’m in the mood when I get to the end of this post haha. But I like being tagged. I am a woman of contradictions. Let’s get to it!

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books · shanti

Setting in Stone: The big announcement

Hi Virtually Readers! Do you remember Setting in Stone, the feature I’ve been doing for the last few months about the role that settings play in stories? (you better, because I love that feature). Anyway, I started this because I felt like setting representation is more important to me than character representation (which there will be a post about next time it’s my blogging week, don’t you worry 😉 ). I often feel stuck in a rut with settings: so many of the books I read are set in the UK or the US or another place that feels  very distant to me. Continue reading “Setting in Stone: The big announcement”

books · shanti · tags

ABBA Book Tag, round two

More than two years ago, I invented a tag. It was the ABBA book tag, because ABBA is cool, ironically and also actually, and because I wanted to invent a tag. It didn’t spread very far, which is fine. But several people I don’t know did it, and I count it a success. I am now two years older than I was then. I still like ABBA; in fact, I watched Mamma Mia! again last month and had so many thoughts about feminism in the movie that I took notes at midnight about it. (That’s the kind of person I am, in case you were wondering. and, just btw, because some people seemed to be confused: the way that the categories correspond to lyrics is not the exact meaning of the lyrics. I understand the lyrics, okay. I took them slightly out of context to make the categories. Here we go!

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books · features · shanti

‘Tis the Season of Rereading: Inheritance

In August 2016, I decided I wanted to reread this series and David Eddings Belgariad and write some kind of post/series on my blog about women is classic typical fantasy. I finished Brisingr. I finished Queen of Sorcery. I got to the prologue of Magicians Gambit. I got 100 pages into Inheritance. Then I stopped and the post didn’t get written, though I did have Thoughts. Now I want to do it again, but I’ve forgotten half the stuff. (though, shoutout, isn’t the summary at the start of each book THE BEST?) So. Maybe later. But I thought that the 32 hours of this audiobook with a 21 day library deadline would motivate me to finish and it did and I seriously enjoyed it.  Eragon is definitely ‘classic fantasy’ in the sense that it is a European-ish culture, mediveal, and based around battles. I don’t think I’ve read this since it first came out in 2011, and I noticed different things now, obviously. So for today’s episode of ‘Tis the Season of Rereading, our seasonal rereading feature, I”m talking about Inheritance.

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books · discussions · shanti

Stories I remember

Hi Virtually Readers! I read a lot of books. This year, I’ve read well over 200–that’s an average of more than four a week! (though very inconsistent–I didn’t read much while I had school, and I have read a LOT since then). However, some of these books I barely remember. Others I could talk your ear off about, even though I read them in February. What makes a book memorable?

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shanti · writing

Beautiful Books: Writing progress

Hi Virtually Readers! The end of November, and hence NaNoWriMo, is approaching. I have been writing…despite the fact that my laptop died and all I had to write on for three weeks was my phone or that laptop I borrowed at work. Yes, I have become the person who works on her novel instead of doing work, and I don’t feel at all guilty about it. Anyway, I FINALLY got a wireless keyboard, and then I arrived home and have a new laptop, and so I have definitely upped my productivity on my novel. I’m feeling…okay about it. So I’m linking up with Sky @ Further Up and Further In  and Cait @ Paper Fury for their Beautiful Books feature, where you talk about a novel you’re writing. You can see my post for last month here. Oh, and I thought of a title, or at least a working title: it’s called Skies Contained!
Continue reading “Beautiful Books: Writing progress”