Jim Webster, a good friend of mine and correspondent on all matters Tallis Steelyard and Port Naain is visiting today with news of great importance.
And now a brief note from Jim Webster.
“It’s really just to inform you that
I’ve just published a full Tallis Steelyard novel. Yes the rumours are true.
Tallis Steelyard, the man who considered jotting down a couple of anecdotes
to be ridiculously hard work, and considered the novella form to be the very
pinnacle of literary labour, has been cozened into producing a novel.”
It is, ‘Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights.’
In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner,
we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the
Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm.
Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis
end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for
This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts,
Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced
food. On top of this we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a
theologically sanctioned beggar.
Available both for kindle and in Paperback.
The cat will play
There is a lot to be said for having a pet. If you are in the happy position
of being able to feed your family adequately then adding another mouth has
merit. I confess to being fond of dogs, but I know some find their
exuberance wearing. Others look to the cat for companionship. I know the
feral cats who stalk our wharf, warily avoiding unheeding heavy boots as
they hunt for their lunch. A disregarded fish head or a rat, responses
leaden through overeating, both make a good lunch for our stalking feline.
As I pass them I will give them the time of day and occasionally one of them
might even rub against my leg.
I have been told that pets take on the character of their owner, whilst
others say that owners are drawn to pets who share their natural
characteristics. I trust that the latter is untrue, otherwise I would be
forced to regard many of my cat owning patrons as somnolent potential
murderers, prevented only from rending and devouring their prey by a happy
lethargy. I personally subscribe to the theory that, in reality, the pet and
the owner retain their own characters. This I state very firmly before
mentioning that Maljie is the proud owner of a cat.
Some have claimed you can no more claim ownership of a cat that I can claim
possession of those felines prowling along Fellmonger’s Wharf. They hold
that you merely share a house with them. This may indeed be true, I am not
qualified to comment. But I would point out that Maljie’s cat will wander
into meetings, following an agenda entirely of its own. There it will survey
the company, assess their worth and then curl up and go to sleep.
Now have you noticed how you can infuriate some people purely by sitting
quietly and reading? Imagine the passion you can arouse them to by merely
sleeping. Personally I think the problem lies in the unbalanced nature of
those who feel that nothing is ever achieved without frantic and largely
unfocused activity. How many of these folk realise that some of the finest
poetry is produced behind closed eyes? I confess in these matters my
sympathies lie entirely with the cat. Yet busy people insist that the cat
must ‘do something.’ Yet these folk are the first to complain if the cat
deposits half a rat on their bed for them.
In the case of Maljie’s cat, Maljie and Margarita felt that their cat might
benefit from intellectual stimulation. So it would be provided with toys. At
the same time, Laxey discovered that there was a fashion for building
castles for cats. He pointed out that this gave the cat exercise as it
climbed through the castle before sprawling and sleeping at a higher level.
I confess that I couldn’t see why the cat would bother. After all it could
do that now. It merely had to climb the stairs and sprawl on one of them. It
had all the advantages of the castle plus the chance than it might witness
somebody tripping amusingly and plunging past it.
Now it might have remained as a discussion topic if I hadn’t mentioned the
concept of the cat castle to Lancet Foredecks who was quite taken with the
idea. To him it was an essay in performance art, rich in symbolism and
redolent with metaphor. Not only that but he might have a legitimate reason
to purchase some toy soldiers to go with it.
Lancet bearded Laxey and importuned him for funding. Laxey merely pointed to
a large tree that had been felled (and Maljie had requisitioned for
firewood). “That will keep her in firewood for a decade or more, so feel
free to take some of that.”
A lesser artist would have regarded this as a ‘brush off’ but not Lancet. It
was all part of the performance. That very evening a troupe of mimes cut the
fallen tree into lengths and stole away with it. Two days later, Mottam
Wheel, owner of one of the city’s largest wood yards, arrived at his yard to
discover his great saw was working. A beast of a thing, a spinning blade
taller than a man, was powered through complex gearing by a large wheel in
which people normally walked. As he watched, he realised the wheel was being
powered by capering demons and sylphs. Closer inspection indicated that they
might be people dressed in appropriate (or in the case of the sylphs,
inappropriate) costumes. Lancet himself, dressed as a demon prince was
planking the wood. Mottam, one of the most easy-going men I’ve ever met,
checked that Lancet was doing the job properly, then opened his gates and
charged folk admission to see the performance. Two hours later, Lancet and
his ensemble left with their planks and half the takings.
Now came the construction of the castle. Lancet spent a day just sketching.
He did some research, mainly looking at the illustrations in ‘Castles of the
Demon Realms,’ by Silvan Hart. This was initially sold as a guide book,
profusely illustrated. It was later denounced as a confidence trick, a
creation of the author’s imagination. Since then various mages have
commented that it seems to have been widely read in some demon realms and
has provided a template for demon lords considering refurbishment.
Eventually Lancet started work. Wisely he backed a dray into his workshop
and started creating the castle on the dray. A week later, learning that
Maljie and her sister Margarita would be out, he had the castle drawn round
to the house. Here he made his first unfortunate discovery, the damned thing
wouldn’t fit through the door. To be honest, given that it hung over both
sides of the dray I could have pointed this out as a potential problem at
Still he was not defeated. Learning from Laxey that the two ladies intended
to go on a short retreat at the Shrine of Aea the Blessed on the coast not
far from Candleman’s Cove. Lancet measured the doorway and worked out how to
cut up his castle so he could pass it through the doorway and reassemble it
in one piece once inside.
Maljie and her sister set off for their retreat, with Laxey tasked with
‘looking after the cat.’ Lancet and his artistic comrades arrived and
swiftly carried the castle inside and started to build it. They then came up
against another problem. The castle was too large to assemble in any one
room. Lesser minds would have given up at this point but not Lancet. Rather
than just knock a wall out so that the castle would fit, instead he
assembled the castle in three different rooms but put holes through the
walls so that the three sections still communicated. Admittedly this meant
that there had to be a considerable shifting and rearranging of furniture,
but they didn’t have to discard any. On the other hand, Maljie’s bedroom now
contained more armchairs that was perhaps considered normal. Laxey then
tentatively introduced the cat to his new home. Rather to everybody’s
surprise, he appeared to like it.
Unfortunately Lancet and I had to be in Avitas when Maljie returned to
discover what had been done so I’m not entirely sure how she took it.
Personally I am not sure I would employ Lancelot and his crew to build a ferret cage let alone a cat’s castle! What Maljie thought remains to be seen.
Where can we find Jim?
21 thoughts on “Jim Webster’s A Fear of Heights Blog Tour and A Cat Will Play.”
I’m sure Maljie loved it, but alas I wasn’t there to hear her happy shouts of glee 🙂
No of course not you and Tallis are wise men ! 💜
I love reading Maljie’s stories…
Oh! So do I 💜💜
She has led a life dedicated to producing as many stories as possible for you 🙂
What a star, so unselfish and dedicated 💜
She’s all heart 🙂
Indeed and flowers
For which I am truly grateful, Jim…
And the stories are slowly enticed out 🙂
From memory I think there are fourteen on this blog tour
Indeed and all exemplary!
If told by a poet like Tallis how could they be less than exemplary!
Yes indeed 💜
I still don’t know where you find the time, Jim!
I believe it’s Tallis not Jim 💜
Tallis lives a life of idleness and needs something to keep him occupied 🙂
Or at least so he tells me 😉