l o Mud Nicky Edwards (The
Women’s Press. £3.95) Herselfan ex-Greenham Commoner. Nicky Edwards explores the emotive subject of peace camps and the validity of total non-violence as a stand against masculine aggression. Revealing the ‘tough and raucous and rude and separatist' face of women protesting against war. a face ‘prettied tip for popular consumption’. shc points to the futility ofwomen. who claim to be non-violent. getting into violent confrontations with men.
Jo. the central figure (herself undisguised)is conveniently surrounded by an articulate medley; including Ada, a staunch feminist in
I her 80s. whose husband died in the
trenches; her consort Bert who survived them and wishes he hadn’t: to Beryl with whom she enjoys a briefliason. but who thinks peace camps divert energy from more important women‘s concerns. Creating an unusual comparison between ordinary soldier and modern protester. Ms Edwards suggests that there is a place for
violence as an answer to man‘s
war-mongering madness. Her convictions. however. despite their integration into a comedy of bizarre relationships. make heavy reading. as they unfold intense. jargon-riddled dialogues; and when the ironic humour wears thin. her
' anti-establishment cynicism begins
to overpower the significance of what she is saying. Yet Mud is certainly challenging. as was no doubt its aim. and Ms Edwards is to be congratulated on achieving this in such a forceful. if irritating. fashion. (Rosemary (ioring)
o The Anvil oi Ice Michael Scott Rohan (Macdonald £9.95) This is the first volume of The Winter ofthe World. a sword and sorcery epic in
the grand [.ord oft/re Rings
tradition. However. Alv. the spurned cowherd rescued from his ruined village by an unscrupulous Mastersmith who recognises the power within the boy and turns it to
' his own evil purposes. reminds me more of. dare I say it. Luke
Skywalker than Bilbo Baggins.
1 There is great power within him
. already. and when he is schooled in
the art of mystically imbuing the metal he works with virtues. he finds himselfplaying a vital role in the battle between two forces: the Lords ofthe Ice. who despise life and advance glaciers to annihilate it. and their opponents. like the mysterious Raven. who manipulates the smith in
42 The List 16— 29 May
a last effort to halt the Ice and its
Throw in two concurrent quests. sea battles. an advanced race of subterranean dwellers and even
dragons - used sparingly — and you
have all the ingredients for a stormer
I ofa ripping yarn. Which it is. but in
addition to this. Alv’s journey can be plotted on a helpful map on the inside cover. and an appendix gives background on the history. religion and peoples ofthe time. Clearly Rohan (born in Edinburgh 35 years ago) has not stinted in his efforts to
l create a solid detailed foundation to build a saga on. It helps that he‘s a natural story-teller. There‘s an archaic feel to the prose. but that‘s a hallmark ofthis genre and. to his
i I enjoyed the book and found it hard
' to put down. but be warned. As this has been planned as the first book in a series. as much is left hanging as has been resolved. (Mab)
O The Jewel Maker'l‘om Gallacher (£9.95 Hamish Hamilton) Five expansive short stories narrated by
Howard Murray. a tetchy. inquisitive playwright and aspiring short story writer (just to confuse you completely). set variously in Scotland — sunny Pitlochry. London. Dublin. Copenhagen and New York. All require a suspension of disbelief. most hinge on coincidence or an improbable. mystical happening. though at the heart of
o Wemyss Ware: a decorative Scottish Pottery (Scottish Academic Press £45)
Presented by Victoria de His: and
David Macmillan. Written by Peter Davis and Robert Rankine.
Interest in Scottish pottery has increased enormously in the last dozen or so years, yet there is still little published material torthe enthusiast to consult. It's a pleasure, then, to
‘ welcome a new book on the subject,
even it it does only examine one type oi ware produced by one pottery. But there couldn't have been a better choice than Wemyss Ware, produced by the File Pottery at Robert Heron and Son in Klrkcaldy, undoubtedly the most tamous product at the Scottish potteries, no less renowned tor its dazzling artistry than tor its astronomical prices in the salerooms. In its Victorian heyday, sales oi Wemyss Ware stood at around
Davis and Robert Rankine have listed pieces thematically so that birds and beasts do not stray among the flowers, plants and truits. Hundreds oi examples ot Wemyss Ware are reproduced —lrom miniature chamber-pots (tor reps’ not midgets’ convenience), loving cups, ash trays, dog bowls— inscribed encouragingly ‘Every dog has his day’ —to rose-patterned bulldogs, honey pots and pigs measly with shamrocks. DTT pottery, to be sure, best displayed in abundance, well out at the reach at children.
By 1930 the cumulative ettect oi the First World War, the General Strike (beiore the introduction oi the 48-hour week in the early1920s, potters
' working a 60-hour, six day week
ROD—£1000 per month with most of the L
products priced in shillings rather than pounds. It was always a precarious business but once Robert Heron had cleared inherited debts (ironically with a legacy) in 1885, be, together with a
‘ skilled Czech decorator, Karel Hekola
' was able to develop the tamiliar, highly distinctive style which covered
i Victorian sideboards in a riot oi colour.
Collectors tend to concentrate on
particular types oi decoration and Peter ;
earned 1/-), the Depression and a change in aesthetic taste — not to mention the introduction of electricity which kiboshed sales at wash sets and candlesticks— led to the demise oi the File Pottery in 1930. It will be no
comlort to hard-up collectors to know that unsold Wemyss littered the works
until the remaining stock was disposed
Getting hold at a piece won't be made any easier by the publication at this protusely-illustrated book. Drool over
: it until you have enough pennies in the
piggy iorthe real thing. (Alan Taylor)
credit. it falls short of the overblown.
their matter is an investigation ofthe intrinsic nature ofart. the way in which writers manipulate reality. Always compelling. occasionally verbose. superbly stage-managed, well worth a perusal.
0 Niccolo Rising Dorothy Dunnett (Michael Joseph £10.95) For a week, no cooking. no washing-up. Or conversation. Just total immersion in volume one of Dorothy Dunnett's new historical sequence The House
ofNiccolr‘). Even afterthe s spectacular ‘Lymond‘ novels Niccolo
Rising is no disappointment: as
' always with Mrs Dunnett's historical
writing I‘m stimulated by the huge diversity of characters (who else could bring together Syrus de Astariis. mercenary leader; Cosimo de Giovanni de‘ Medici. head ofthe Medici bank; and John Bonkle. illegitimate son of Edward Bonkle of Edinburgh?) and the kaleidoscope ofgeographical. political. social and economic factors that bear on their lives. The focus is on Bruges in 1459.
1 Scotland is under James 11. England, Henry VI — a hundred-odd years 1 earlier than the ‘Lymond’ series. Mrs
Dunnett has picked another unhackneyed setting oftime. place and people. her strength lying as much in scrupulous research as in vigorous invention. Who‘d have
3 believed I‘d become so avidly ’ interested in Renaissance dyeing— or banking? Not to mention the
definitely different hero who. . . but let Mrs Dunnett tell it her own
; unskippable way.
o A Piece of Mind J. California Cooper (The Women‘s Press Ltd £3.95) The black woman in America's rural south is oppressed, scorned, beaten and rather miraculously able to recreate her story with humour and credulity— ‘I shouldn’t be tellin’ this secret. but
E you can just call me Ms. Can‘thelpit
This is]. California Cooper‘s first
; collection ofshort stories. an
ensemble of monologues wherein women tell the stories ofother women. Cooper‘s skill as an awardwinning playwright is manifested in the true to life expression and wit of her narrators, who immediately establish an intimate rapport with the reader. These stories tell of love, sorrow and vengeance. through characters who are warm, abused and crafty. The common theme is struggle, ofwhich we are presented with two sorts, that
; ofwomen and that ofblacks. We find
women as painstaking providers, lovers and punching bags to ‘their’ men. Blacks both men and women, battle an unaccepting white dominating society. While it is easy to label such stories as ‘feminist’ or ‘anti-racist‘. their fresh vivacious manner steers us away from that temptation. (Paula Trimarco)
0 Sexual Desire Roger Scruton
(Weidenfield and Nicolson £8.95) A