The Goodly Prospect

...As when a scout,
Through dark and desert ways with peril gone
All night; at last by break of cheerful dawn
Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,
Which to his eye discovers unaware
The goodly prospect of some foreign land.

Is Gingerune set in Plenilune or does it have its own world?  (Or is it Roman? it feels Roman.)

Anne-girl's parenthetical question, while incorrect, is not far off the mark, and it warms my heart to know what little I have managed to show you in the way of snippets has given you the correct "feel" of a general time period of antiquity or archaism.  Running the risk of getting too technical, antiquity is what most of our history curricula cover (most of us start with Alexander the Great and then magically leap to the destruction of the Roman Republic), but Gingerune takes you back over a thousand years before the beginning of classicism, which is what we typically think of when we think of Ancient Greece.  These be strange waters now.

...a ring of fire
was whirling with such speed that it surpassed
the motion which most swiftly girds the world.
Dante, Paradiso

So the answer is no, Gingerune is not set in Plenilune's world - well, it is not set in Plenilune's world in the medieval sense of worlds and spheres, which sense was borne out of the classical authors...  Nor is Gingerune Roman.  At best you could describe it as chiefly Minoan with heavy deposits of Mycenaean influence (due to Thera's importance as a trade-stop in the Cyclades). Landscapes are alternately rich in pastureland and wind-blasted, scorched white under an unforgiving sun, full of valleys and sudden mountains and man-made terraces full of vineyards.  The people you find there are like most people you would find anywhere, I expect: reluctant at their business, busy at other people's, doing this and that thing which seems to them vitally important but which in light of what all moves and lives in the universe is often inconsequential.  There you find the rich and the poor, living in limestone and gypsum, and wattle-and-daub.  But I'll get back to them in a minute, and there remains the allusion to more than mere terrestrial rock as the backdrop of Gingerune: "I have already hinted that the intelligible universe reverses it all; there the Earth is the rim, the outside edge where being fades away on the border of nonentity." (Lewis, The Discarded Image)

What styles of clothing do the men and women wear?
elizabeth rose

As if I were responsible for it myself, I have the honour of informing you that the clothing of Gingerune has the distinction of being the first fitted clothing in history, and after the destruction of the Minoan civilization the like of such clothing was not seen again for over a millennium.  The bodies which wore these garments were typically on the light side, smallish and wiry, though on Thera one has the intermarrying of many branches of peoples from the Greek world and sizes can vary imaginatively in Gingerune.

Clothing for men often consists of little more than a tunic with length varying from the ankle to the middle of the thigh (not on the same tunic, of course - that would be nauseatingly distracting).  In inclement weather cloaks and over-tunics of skins can be added to this.  Shoes can range from sandals which are hardly more than a slab of thick leather and a strap or two, to heavy, hobnailed things for hard work and mucky weather. Hair, which is usually black or dark brown and often very curly, is often worn long and braided, but it is acceptable to keep it cut short; beards are fashionable and usually expected, but not required. 

Women's clothing takes longer to describe.  The skirts are bell-shaped and pleated, sometimes consisting of three or more layers.  Half-length sleeves are fashionable.  Most gowns come equipped with a thick metal wire sewn into the interior of the fabric which descends from one shoulder, curves under the breasts, and returns up the other shoulder to provide support; the elite of high society wear the gown open-chested, but most gowns come with a pleated panel across the chest.  Under the gown is worn a corset, much like you might expect to find in Victorian times.  Sandals are usually light affairs (though Ginger goes barefoot so they aren't even an issue).  Hair can be worn down, braided, or elaborately piled on the head (like men's hair, women's hair tends to be dark and curly). 

Colours are vibrant.  Ochres (reds, oranges, yellows), blues, blacks, even greens and (if you're lucky) sometimes even purple (though it should be remembered that their "purple" is a lot like red) can be seen crowded into ensembles all over the street.  Minoan patterning tends to be much more fluid than Mycenaean; geometric and organic imagery used to border outfits have more give in their kinks and are more sinuous in line than those of their neighbouring civilization.  Make-up might be considered post-Biba by today's standards: eyes are rimmed with the equivalent of the famous Egyptian kohl and lips are stained dark red, producing a bold, luscious effect.  (Brown eyes are dominant, but if you happened to have blue eyes, you are a lucky duck.)

Tall was that lady and slender, and beauty dwelt in her as the sunshine dwells in the red floor and gray-green trunks of a beech wood in early spring.
The Worm Ouroboros

Now you have a brief picture of the kind of bezel in which I have placed the diamonds-in-the-rough of Gingerune.  And I prefer to leave it brief for fear that, like the ancients crowding the universe with sense and order, I leave you feeling cramped with colours and claustrophobic.  More acquainted with the romantics, I think you and I prefer the open genius of dusky uncertainty and the room for the imagination which undiscovered frontiers will always leave for the human mind.

5 ripostes:

  1. "Clothing for men often consists of little more than a tunic with length varying from the ankle to the middle of the thigh (not on the same tunic, of course - that would be nauseatingly distracting)."

    I just choked on my water. The mental image being borderline hilarious. I'm glad my feeling was near the mark, there was a surt of shimmering warmth about the snippets that seemed to suggest open marketplaces, olives, and flowing draped garments. And of course a babble of voices.

  2. Borderline hilarious. Ah ha. Ah ha.

  3. I'm greatly enjoying these question and answer sessions, as they're confirming in bits and pieces the suspicions I had about Gingerune. (Following you on Pinterest does not count as cheating.) This book shines in contrast when paired with Plenilune; the latter is much more dusky, like the shimmering hues in a glass of bordeaux wine, while the former makes me think of the salt from the sea's spray, loose Grecian garments, feta and olives, and the sun burning perpetually down on dusty streets. Both are unique, and both are so you. The richness only Jenny can bring to a story threads through both, binding them together. I am still curious how one shall involve itself with the other, but I suppose that shall have to wait until the books are published for all to read.

  4. That explains why so many of your Gingerune pins have been so appropriate for my own novel (historical Roman period), The Crown of Life! Ooo, Jenny, I am getting really excited about your new novel, and the 'ancient-ness' about it is all the more intriguing :D. Thank you for sharing all these beautiful tid-bits of information - it is wetting our appetite severely, till we are quite unable to contain ourselves.

  5. Elizabeth Rose - I'm so glad you're enjoying this, and emotionally involved, after a fashion, though I've barely showed you anything. I hope to do a snippets post in a few thousand words. You have the colours and the feelings of Plenilune and Gingerune right. And everyone wants to know how this book is related to the first two - I don't recall if anyone directly asked that question, but I know everyone is dying to know and, perforce, a little confused by the contrast (if intrigued - you appear to be intrigued, playing undue faith in my talents). I'm not sure if I should explain the relationship between my three novels or not. What links two does not link the third, and what links all three does not bear divulging for fear of spoiling things. Remember, they are companions, not a series. That's the best I can do for now.

    Joy - Agh, all my borrowed learning strains against the relationship between my time period and Rome! Of course the ancient Mediterranean world bears strong resemblances to itself throughout its enormous span of years, regardless of invaders, shifts in power, and massive overhauls in architecture and art. The world is the same. The sea, the white-hot sun, and sun-burnt dusty landscape - these do not chance, or not much, anyway. But power and customs and languages change, and the only thing really similar between Minoan Thera and Rome is central piping and the sewers. :P