When I first bought this book, the first thing my husband and son said to me was “Why are you buying such a big book?” LOL…
Well, to answer the question, I was captured by the description on the inside front cover page which reads, “A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.”. Then it goes on to describe in three short paragraphs three strong female characters, each with their own goals/agendas and troubles. Plus there were mentions of dragons and a hidden society of mages; all of which I think can make a good fantasy story.
And I was right!
I LOVE this book! On the front cover, there is a quote which says, “Deserves to be as big as Game of Thrones – Laure Eve”. I could not agree more.
A multi-layered story told from multiple points of view and across several kingdoms could have left a reader lost BUT Shannon does such a great job that not only was I never lost but I remembered details from where I left off. It is quite amazing as I took a long while to read the whole book because it was such a big book (more than 800 pages) I only read it at home and didn’t take it with me everywhere. (Well, I did bring it with me when we quarantined during our recent trip to Singapore.) This is all down to the strong characters, intriguing storylines that Shannon has created and her wonderful writing style.
I love how the dialogue is slightly reflective of old royal courts. The words Shannon has selected to use in her descriptions of places and clothing etc have certainly enriched my own vocabulary. I enjoyed learning about things such as partlet and palanquin.
I also enjoyed how Shannon was able to weave the individual stories of the three main characters and the histories of their various countries together to form a cohesive narrative. The exploration of how myths and legends form and how over centuries the truth of these can be distorted to serve whoever is in power is so interesting. She also shows brilliantly how people hold so tightly onto their beliefs and how secrets are created to keep those beliefs, even at the expense of many lives.
I have not outline any of the storyline or even named any of the characters because I really don’t want to give anything away. I do hope what I have written has sparked in you a curiosity to want to read this fabulous book.
That’s right, the Son and I spent 10 days in the same room; not leaving it for any reason except for our final Exit Swab Test on Day 10. Upon receiving our negative Covid PCR test results, we finally left our serviced apartment room on Day 11.
In my last post, I wrote about all the preparation we had to do in order to fly to Singapore to visit my parents and help with some medical paperwork etc. The flight from Zurich to Singapore was actually very enjoyable despite the need to wear a mask the whole time (except for mealtimes). The fact that the entire plane only had 28 passengers helped. It meant we could occupy entire rows by ourselves and could stretch out to sleep. Also, because it’s an off-peak flight, we could afford to fly Singapore Airlines and we conclude, yet again, that SQ is indeed the best in the air. The crew, who are usually attentive anyways, was even more attentive and asked several times if we wanted to move from our seats at the rear of the plane. Of course, they were unaware that we had actually chosen to sit at the back of the plane because we like those seats. Why? That’s for another post at another time. The crew had time to stop and chat a while which made it feel like we were already in Singapore even before we landed. My compliments to the SQ crew.
In this post, I would like to share what it was like to inhabit a space of 37 meters square, shared by 2 persons, for the entire duration of 10 whole days.
The day we landed in Singapore, the first message to appear on my phone once it was out of airplane mode was from a Singaporean friend in Basel; she sent an infographic which showed that travellers from Switzerland need only serve a 10-day quarantine (or Stay-Home-Notice a.k.a SHN as it is known in Singapore) instead of the 14 days as previously required. However, we thought this did not apply to us because one of the clauses stated that this new requirement only commenced from 7 Oct. We landed 4 days too early. But the FB-Moving to Singapore group was buzzing with news that this new requirement might be applied to recently arrived travellers. And to our joy and delight, on our second day, we received SMSs that stated our quarantine would be reduced from 14 days to 10 days. Praise the Lord!
So here’s a little summary of how we spent our 10 days, confined to 1 room:
First of all, we had to tag ourselves with a tracking bracelet and plug in a proximity sensor. This assures the Singapore government that we are indeed still in the room and have not gone gallivanting all over the island. As I understand it, these devices are only given to people who have chosen to serve their SHN at an accommodation of their choice. My husband, who arrived a week later, served his SHN at a Dedicated Facility (SDF) which was a hotel with entire floors allocated to SHN guests; they have cameras and security personnel so there was no need for these devices. But they did have to do the quick antigen test twice during their quarantine, while we did not have to.
We settled ourselves in for our 10 days in the serviced apartment which offered us 2 beds, a 2-person dining table, a sofa and coffee table, a small kitchenette (basics such as plates, bowls, utensils, one pot, one frying pan, rice cooker, microwave, fridge and a single electric stove were provided) and a washing machine. There was air-conditioning and we could open the windows, which is an important thing as you really don’t want to spend 10 days in a room where you could not open the windows and had to be cooking in that room. Besides, fresh air is good for health.
We are grateful to good friends who sent us our first night’s groceries. Delivery of our online order was going to take at least 24 hours. Other loving friends also sent us cooked food delivery on our third night. For the rest of the time, we became well acquainted with ordering via apps and online; it was a combination of food deliveries and making simple meals from the groceries we ordered. The serviced apartment reception staff was great about bringing our orders up to us, knocking and then walking away.
It was important to build a routine so that you have structure during the day and will not find it too boring or start to feel lost. Ours was a simple one; wake up, have some breakfast, watch some TV or just relaxing. After which, the Son will play his online games and I would either sweep or wipe the floors or do some writing or other work on the computer such as planning Sunday School lesson or designing a program leaflet for an upcoming charity concert. The next task of the day was to make lunch and we would watch a couple of episodes of a TV series we brought with us. Then it was more online games or do the washing till it was time to either order dinner or make dinner. We would eat and then watch a movie before more online games and computer work. In between, we would fit in exercise, chatting with friends and reading. We were given fresh towels every few days and just had to put the dirty ones into the bag and leave it outside our door for collection on days indicated. Same with the trash, which could be left in the corridor for collection every day.
My thanks goes to the Oxley Thanksgiving Serviced Apartments staff for making our stay a pleasant one. And while their rooms are well equipped and clean, service good, I would still advise others who are going to do their SHN at serviced apartments to bring a pair of scissors (not provided, we used the kitchen knives provided, which was sufficient for us), a small dustpan and brush as well as wet wipes to clean the floors (I brought my own because I checked and was told these were not provided), and your own small jar of oil and other basic condiments and chopsticks, along with some snacks, food and breakfast items for that first evening and morning. Another tip would be to bring a couple of room sprays to refresh the room, especially after cooking as you might only have one window or no possibility to open your windows.
All in all, it was not as terrible an experience as I was prepared for it to be. Maybe that in itself made it an ok experience. Would I want to go through SHN again? Not if I had a choice but if there was no choice, I now know it is not going to be such an awful thing.
I won’t be posting about the rest of our trip because this trip’s primary aim was to help my parents with the paperwork needed to sort out some medical stuff and grants. So that’s what we did. Besides, while we were there for a week and a half (outside of SHN), the 2-person rule was in effect, so we could not do much outside the home, and we only saw a handful of friends who either came to the house (in pairs or singlely) or we had business to conduct with them at their offices.
While this trip has costed us a lot extra, in terms of the SHN costs and food orders which we would usually not do, and it limited our available time outside of SHN, it was worth the trip because we got to spend time with family and a few close friends, all of whom we had not seen in person for more than 2 years, we ate some of the food we missed and most importantly, much needed paperwork got done. Thank God for providing for us for this trip; everything from pre-departure stuff to the shortening of SHN and helpful people in dealing with paperwork.
Did you have to serve SHN? How was your experience?