A Visitor's Guide to Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott
Rotherweird with its surrounding valley is a secretive self-governing English market town granted independence by Elizabeth I on the sole condition that nobody can study her history and no local can study any history before 1800. The reason for this uncharacteristic act of political charity is lost to time.
At the outset of the Rotherweird trilogy, Jonah Oblong, a hapless young teacher and an outsider, is appointed as the sole 'modern historian' by Rotherweird School.
As the second novel in the trilogy, Wyntertide takes readers deeper into Rotherweird's tangled mystery, Waterstones asked to see the general travel guide provided for visitors in order to protect the hapless innocent and unwary. Here it is, readers you have been warned:
Visitor’s Guide to Rotherweird
As edited by the Town Hall in the interests of municipal good health
Understand that outsiders (the School's single modern historian excepted) are not welcome. If you must come, leave the valley by 4.30 p.m. or be thrown out, with your possessions forfeit under the Curfew Regulations.
Absences to endure and rules to follow:
• You cannot goggle at screens, large or small. There are no internet connections, no televisions and no cinemas. There are also no telephones. Here – horror of horrors – we communicate face to face. News is for the Town Crier.
• Rotherweird has no cars. She has bicycle rickshaws and a charabanc for the exclusive use of the Polk Land & Water Travel Company. The propelling technology is proprietary and secret.
• The teaching or sharing of Rotherweird’s history is forbidden (see the History Regulations) here as in wider England. It is a condition of our treasured independence. Don’t jeopardise it.
• You will find no paintings or photographs from any previous generation: they are identified and destroyed by the Scrutineer on death under the Inheritance Regulations.
• Do not talk to countrysiders. They inhabit the valley, but are of inferior stock. We should not be judged by them.
• Rotherweird is a town of oak: balustrades and balconies, walkways and aerial bridges. No smoking indoors.
Places of note:
o The Golden Mean runs north to south between two gatehouses. Leave it and you may never emerge, such are Rotherweird’s alleys, switchbacks and dead ends.
o Rotherweird is (justly) famous for her scientists. The North Tower provides ‘useful’ technology to the wider world. The South Tower exports entertaining technologies from indoor fireworks to multi-dimensional games.
o The Town Hall is home to the town’s illustrious Mayor, Sidney Snorkel. The Snorkel Foundation has contributed much to Rotherweird’s fabric and culture. In recognition of the Mayor’s integrity, the Foundation has been relieved of any obligation to file accounts.
o Escutcheon Place is the sole repository of Rotherweird’s historical records and the residence of the Herald: entry is prohibited to all but him.
o On the aerial walkway known as Aether’s Way and on the Golden Mean you may purchase unique fashions, mechanicals and patisserie. Rotherweird currency only (guineas, florins, pennies and farthings).
o Market Square holds the Parliament Chamber, the Town Hall and the bell tower (Doom’s Tocsin) and the countrysiders’ mobile stalls (permitted entry 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.).
Some events of note:
The Great Equinox Race: the annual Coracle Race when the River Rother is transformed by the Rotherweird bore (not the Town Clerk) on the Spring equinox.
Lazarus Night: your Hallowe’en, but better.
Vulcan’s Dance: your Fireworks Day, but better.