Jim Webster Has TWO New Books! #BookTour

Hello all!

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I am delighted to (re)introduce, my dear blog and fellow writer pal, Jim Webster, with news of not one, but two new books! And he has been kind enough to share a short story too!

Those of you who are familiar with Jim and his Talli Steelyard series, will be thrilled, and if you haven’t got in to them yet, well, now is a perfect time!

Without further ado, let me get Jim on the line, with a short story titled Remarkably Sharp. This is the picture that inspired it.

Remarkably Sharp
One or two of my patrons are ladies who are quite handy with a cutting
remark. Perhaps I should rephrase this. I suppose most of my patrons are
adept in this field, but some have, through long practice, mastered the art.
But every so often one comes across somebody who can be cutting and witty.
Although she is not a ‘professional wit’ (by which I mean one who is invited
to events purely because those inviting her hope she will deliver some
devastating put-down to a victim included in the guest list purely for the
purpose) Andei Addlespur was cutting in more ways than one. She was not
merely taught fencing, she was a master swordsman.
Let us deal with the ‘master swordsman’ first. There are few, of any gender,
who are recognised in Port Naain as having achieved this level of
excellence. Examination is entirely practical, you are expected to fight for
your ‘crown’. All bouts are against known experts and all are to first
blood, fought without armour. Injuries are neither unknown nor unexpected.
For the final bout the prospective master is matched against an Urlan,
trained from birth to be a soldier and a warrior. The candidate is not
expected to defeat the Urlan, (although some do) but must impress them with their skill.
As you can imagine, new masters are not created every decade, never mind
every year, and Andei was, for many years, the youngest. Indeed at the time, it was her youth, not her gender, which was held to be remarkable.
There were some who were prepared to quibble about the wording of the
designation. When she was awarded the title it was registered with the
Council of Sinecurists. A clerk wrote back, querying whether a lady could be ‘master’ and swords’man’ and was there was another equivalent title.
Old Toldan, the oldest of the surviving Masters, and hence in some ways
their spokesman was not impressed. I was fortunate enough to be asked to pen the letter he sent, (he wanted it written in a better hand than he could
manage) and the words I can remember still. “I care not whether our new
Master stands or sits when they visit the jakes. We have assessed their
skill with the sword and they have reached a standard where, frankly, they
can call themselves whatever they damned well like. There are probably not six people in the city with the ability to query their decision. But if you
are not happy with the situation, take up your blade and have it out with
her in person.”
Personally I felt rather sorry for the clerk who was probably just checking
that the terminology was right, lest they inadvertently offend.
Still, like the other masters, she tended to support herself through
teaching, and whilst Andei would consider anybody as a pupil, she did tend
to teach women. This led her into many complicated situations. There are any number of reasons why a lady might learn to fence, and take lessons.
The first is a genuine love of the art, allied to a desire to be able to
both defend herself, and to maintain a level of fitness. These ladies tend
to gravitate to Andei because she is a good teacher, and has a reputation
for being gentle with beginners. This latter quality is unusual, many
masters are brusque with beginners, feeling that they are casting their
treasure before the dogs. Most masters prefer to take competent pupils who
have reached a good standard but who can then be stretched and pushed until they’ve achieved the best they can.
The second reason why a lady may wish to learn to fence is that she has
conceived a desire for the fencing master rather than the art. There are any
number of ‘fencing teachers’ who have stepped forward to gratify this group.
The problem with these ‘fencing teachers’ is that they don’t have to be very
good, as their pupils are never going to aspire to achieve mastery, they
merely have to be better than the average Port Naain husband. To be honest
this doesn’t set a very high bar.
This then set a pretty problem for the husband of such a lady. What to do?
He was almost certainly unable to match his wife’s paramour blade to blade.
Indeed to do so would be to acknowledge that the fellow was actually his
wife’s paramour. Most would prefer to avoid forcing an open breach, in the
expectation that their wife might get over what was, hopefully, a short
lived infatuation.
The arrival of Andei upon the scene suddenly gave these gentlemen a way
through their dilemma. They would hire her to teach their wife, ensuring
that she arrived when the ‘fencing teacher’ was present. The husband would introduce Andei into the situation, explaining that he was so impressed with his wife’s devotion to her new interest that he decided to hire for her the very best.
This forced the lady’s own fencing teacher into a difficult position. One
particularly foolish and over-confident individual dismissed her with vulgar abuse. Andei merely stood with her hand on the hilt of her blade and
commented, “One day you may achieve the level of sophistication set by this
table, it at least has a certain polish.”
When he drew his sword and attacked her she casually disarmed him and drove him from the house, thrashing his buttocks with the flat of her blade.
Another of these gentlemen saw her as she walked along Ropewalk and decided to take advantage of the busyness of the street to insult her. He told her, at length, what he thought of her. She glanced at him briefly and replied, “I don’t care what you think about me, I don’t think about you at all.”
It has to be said that Andei was never vindictive about it. If the fencing
teacher went, Andei just left it at that. On occasion she would come across
the same individual, but in a different household. In these occasions it was
often enough for her to just stare at him for him to make his excuses and
leave.
Still, there are always those who seem too stupid to learn their lesson.
Flatan Artwight was one of these. After being ejected from one house, he
decided to get his own back by starting a whispering campaign. This alleged
that Andei won her coveted status not by her ability with the blade but by
engaging in unusual erotic practices with various unnamed (but obviously
powerful) people.
One evening I was helping Madam Kalinsa plan an entertainment she was
holding the following week. I did notice she keep looking at the clock, but
wasn’t entirely sure why. Then a maid arrived and announced, “It is time for your fencing lesson, Master Flatan Artwight has arrived.” I thought this a little strange, as it was late in the evening and I knew that Madam’s
husband was in Prae Ducis on business. Still I made my excuses and left,
passing Flatan in the hallway as I did so. I was walking down the drive
towards the road and met Andei Addlespur walking towards the house. I bowed slightly.
“Good evening Andei, I confess I am surprised to see you here.”
She gave one of those quick smiles which displays teeth rather than humour.
“Master Kalinsa asked me to keep an eye on things and drop in if necessary.”
She paused as if pondering the situation. “Would you be so kind as to
announce me please? And when you do, stress I am entering the house behind you.”
Nothing loath I turned round, walked back into the house and was met in the passage by a bemused maid. “I have a message for your mistress, and could you greet Andei Addlespur at the door and show her in please.”
With that I knocked on the salon door and after allowing a short period to
elapse I entered the room. Madam was seated on the settle and Flatan was
apparently engaged in getting a speck of dust out of her eye. Without
ceremony I announced, “Andei Addlespur has arrived, your maid is at this very moment showing her in.” 
Flatan cursed, opened the window and climbed out. Intrigued I made my way to the window. As Flatan prepared to tiptoe into the shadows and make his way through the garden to the road, Andei appeared in front of him with her sword drawn. The light from the window glinted on the blade. She said nothing, merely watching him, her sword half raised. Finally Flatan’s nerve obviously broke because he drew his sword and charged towards her. She deflected his blow with her blade, guiding it to her left. Then she half stepped sideways to avoid his attempt to body slam her and trust with her sword. Flatan fell dead.
She looked down at the body, sighed and wiped her blade on his shirt. Then
she turned to me as I stood at the open window. “Tallis, I think I’d better
spend a while in Partann. I am not sure if the authorities are going to
smile upon this particular incident.
I could see that. “Well you have rather burned your bridges. They could
claim it was murder, even with me as a witness to state he attacked you.”
I got a genuine smile for that. She sheathed her sword. “Always remember,
Tallis. If you’re being pursued by idiots, burning your bridges sometimes
seems an entirely sensible thing to do.”

And now a brief note from Jim Webster.

It’s really just to inform you that
I’ve just published two more collections of stories.

Jim Webster, 2020

The first, available on Kindle, is ‘Tallis Steelyard, Preparing The Ground,
and other stories.’
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0872GGLF9

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Meet a
vengeful Lady Bountiful, an artist who smokes only the finest hallucinogenic
lichens, and wonder at the audacity of the rogue who attempts to drown a
poet! Indeed after reading this book you may never look at young boys and
their dogs, onions, lumberjacks or usurers in quite the same way again.
A book that plumbs the depths of degradation, from murder to folk dancing,
from the theft of pastry cooks to the playing of a bladder pipe in public.

The second, available on Kindle or as a paperback, is ‘Maljie. Just one
thing after another.’
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maljie-Just-thing-after-another/dp/B0875JSJVM/

Once more Tallis Steelyard chronicles the life of Maljie, a lady of his
acquaintance. Discover the wonders of the Hermeneutic Catherine Wheel,
marvel at the use of eye-watering quantities of hot spices. We have bell
ringers, pop-up book shops, exploding sedan chairs, jobbing builders,
literary criticism, horse theft and a revolutionary mob. We also discover
what happens when a maiden, riding a white palfrey led by a dwarf, appears
on the scene.

Be sure to go and check them out!

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Three sisters ~ Tallis Steelyard Guest Post | rivrvlogr
  2. OIKOS™-Publishing
    May 11, 2020 @ 19:48:18

    Thank you, Sis! Jim’s characters are fabulous, his worldbuilding too. There is so much fun in stories at first i thought they would be pure history. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  3. patriciaruthsusan
    May 11, 2020 @ 11:46:50

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:

    This is the 11th day of Jim Webster’s latest blog tour. Today he’s the guest of Ritu Bhathal on her blog butismileanyway.com. First is the story of the master swordsman (who was a woman), Andei Addlespur, and some of her adventures. Second, there are two humorous and entertaining Kindle ebooks on offer by Jim Webster with various stories about the characters of Port Naain. Reviews of both books are included.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Remarkably sharp – Tallis Steelyard
  5. jwebster2
    May 11, 2020 @ 10:47:35

    is powerhouse a nice way of saying ‘he won’t shut up’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. Jaye Marie
    May 11, 2020 @ 09:16:56

    Not sure where Jim finds the time, but so glad he does!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

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