one pen, one book #2
It is a sunny day, where the breeze gives you goosebumps as it cools your skin. Perhaps a jacket would’ve been nice. But then you wouldn’t have felt the blades of grass under your back, your arms, your back. The dew makes your shirt stick to your back. Your eyes are closed, the bright light painting shapes behind your eyelids. The air smells almost like summer, however the flowers aren’t blooming yet. This is just one warm, pleasant day in early spring, not a whole season.
Okay, okay. It's not one book and one pen today. It's three books and three pens. Buckle up folks, we're diving deep into young adult fantasy.
It all began in a cozy little bookstore, a rainy day, and a book on sale. It was a beautiful rainy day, where rain is light and you can walk without getting soaking wet. My favourite bookstore is only a train ride away, so I hopped on and decided to take a little trip. It’s a short walk from the train station to the bookstore. With the drizzling rain it was a good walk, and even better because it ended in books. Anyway, I went in and looked around for a bit. In the end I decided to go to the sale section, it’s a place where they put books that have some type of defect. Mostly these defects are roughly cut pages or an accidental dog ear that happened during transit. There was a book called “Queen of Nothing”. Strong name, isn’t it? After a quick research in Goodreads, I decided to buy this pretty little book (its defect was in fact rough cut pages), and then promptly forgot to buy the first book of the series. Over the next month, I completely forgot about “Queen of Nothing” and read other books.
When I went to my bookshelf to pick the series up, I realised I have two copies of the first book. You thought I didn’t have the first book? Well, neither did I. I must have forgotten that I bought the first and then got another one. Well, that’s a good indication that I really want to read this book if there ever was one. I returned one of the books on Friday, and started reading the series that night. Then I had one of the best weekends of my life, reading three books in two days, cooking and eating and drinking. I joked about having the best revel of my life with a book in my hand, a never emptying wine glass and freshly baked bread.
The name of the first book is “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black. It is one of the most YA books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read many. I pretty much predicted what would happen, but enjoyed it nevertheless. It’s a fun, angsty book, full of comebacks and faeries. It kept my mind away from reality quite well, and I finished it quickly. My favourite part was the atmosphere created in the book, the sickly sweet of it all, like apricots you forget on a windowsill in summer and then bite into the overripe flesh. And the undercurrent of fear that follows you around as you hesitate to bite into the next fruit.
While I was reading this book, faeries and their inability to lie sparked an interesting discussion over an afternoon coffee. Lying is such a human thing that their inability to lie is a defining characteristic of the fae. They can deceive and trick all the same, but they cannot outright lie. But then also how we portray immortals, aliens, other beings. We always frame them in a human way. So human that they squabble over petty things and deceive, struggle over money and power just as we do. They are earthly in our imagination, because how can they not be? We cannot even imagine how it would be not to be human. How can we, when the only existence we ever had was human? We, ourselves, are earthly, bound by all the carnal delights that power, money and lies bring. It’s a delicious irony.
My pen and ink choice for this book was a Pilot Kakuno and KWZ Monarch. My little Kakuno is special, I swapped the fine cursive italic nib of a Pilot Plumix into the pen because I find the body of the Plumix uncomfortable. I prefer the sharpness of the cursive italics to rounded edges of the stubs. Though I also miss the little smiley nib of the Kakuno. My favourite thing about this combination is the ink and the little shading it shows off in this nib. I know its name comes from the butterfly, but it reminded me the overripe apricot in the simile I made above. The colour is not a vivid, bright orange, but a colour that reminds me of uncomfortably hot and humid summer days, where everything is seen through a haze. The whole world becomes a mirage, and the only thing you can do is to clutch the apricot you’re holding as the sticky juice of it drips down your palm, to your wrist, and finally to the asphalt where it makes a sizzling noise.
The second book in the series was called “The Wicked King” by Holly Black. This one crushed the first book. I did not see this coming. I enjoyed it a lot more than the first book, although I didn’t think the king was wicked enough to give the book its name. The wicked person was someone else. The scheming and planning and spying in this book was much more intense. I thought the main character would actually break at one point, lose it all. She didn’t. She reminds my of the type of cunning person I wanted to be when I was a kid, reading all those epic fantasy novels with spies, assassins and courtly schemes.
My pen and ink for this book was Faber Castell Ambition OpArt Sky Blue with a medium nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo (Moonlight). The barrel of the Ambition is not my favourite, but it is also not uncomfortable for me. The guilloche pattern on it is etched into a bright sky blue, and filled in with bright orange. It reminds me of spring, the clear blue sky and streaks of sunrise. When you unscrew the barrel from the tiny section, the barrel is the same bright orange inside as well. This is attention to detail that I admire. The nib itself is outstanding, I think it is the best steel nib I will ever write with.
I had a bit of a rocky relationship with this ink. It seemed like a regular, all around good blue that I have a lot of. Then I used it. Used it a bit more. Used it a lot. I realised that this seems like any other blue at first, but it is a very good blue. The colour balance between blue and grey is perfect, the subtle shading is impeccable. That’s the magic of Iroshizuku inks I suppose. They are not very adventurous, but they are extremely well done. I didn’t know the name meant “moonlight” when I started using it, but I find it rather fitting now. It reminds me of a certain shade of the sea under moonlight. Once, we had been swimming in the sea under a full moon. When you dived under the water, turned and looked back at the moon through the distortion of the sea, the light of the moon shatters with every wave. Reflect off every drop of water. Now imagine the whole sea, a sea of refracting, bending, breaking moonlight. This is the colour of it. Alas, I cannot tell you why I chose this ink as not to spoil the book.
The last book is called “Queen of Nothing”. I did not expect how this book started, but I did expect a happy ending. I liked the second book much more, but this brought the series to a satisfying end. This one has the best name though. My pen and ink for this book was Kaweco Sport Classic in Burgundy and Noodler’s Heart of Darkness. A pen the colour of wine, and a black dark as night, so you cannot see the scheming spies inside it.
Perhaps reading is a little too dangerous for me, I seem to completely lose myself in it. I finished the last book in a morning, a single sitting. Well, I guess some habits die hard, especially when you don’t want to get rid of them.
I don't have many posts, and I'm already breaking the rules. Thank you for reading, and have a great day!