By Hugh Bicheno
The lives and loves of the great condottieriFederigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, was the archetypal 'Renaissance man': a brilliant soldier, scholar and ally of the pope, he spent much of the vast wealth on commissioning artists to decorate the city.Sigismondo Malatesta, lord of the neighbouring city of Rimini, was also a brilliant soldier and generous patron of the arts. He and Federigo were locked in an epic feud which saw them fight as mercenaries for and against just about every Italian ruler of note, so long as the other was on the opposite side.Together they epitomised the spirit of the condottieri - the contract army leaders who drove the explosion of new political, commercial and artistic ideas that has since become known as the Renaissance.
By Ursula K. Le Guin
Memer is a child of rape; when the Alds took the beautiful city of Ansul, they descecrated or destroyed everything of beauty. The Waylord they imprisoned and tortured for years until finally he is freed to return to his home. Though crippled, he is not destroyed. His life still has purpose. Memer is the daughter of his House, the daughter of his heart.The Alds, a people who love war, cannot and will not read: they believe that in words lie demons that will destroy the world. All the city's libraries, the great treasure trove of knowledge of ages past, are burned, except for those few volumes secreted inthe Waylord's hidden room.But times are changing. Gry Barre of Roddmant and Orrec Caspro of Caspromant have arrived in the city. Orrec is a story-teller, the most famous of all: he has the gift of making. His wife Gry's gift is that of calling; she walks with a halflion who both frightens and fascinates the Alds.This is Memer's story, and Gry's and Orrec's, and it is the story of a conquered people craving freedom.