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It symbolises a small space in which one jots down quick, extemporary notes. In his column, Eco either scrutinised current events or used them as starting points for digression, humorous anecdote, and wordplay. The last book not read, on the intuition that has crossed our minds on the highway while braking in order to not end up in the back of a truck, on being and nothingness, on the famous steps of Fred Astaire. Internationally, Eco is known for his fiction, and especially the blockbuster crime novel Il nome della rosa , translated into English by William Weaver in as The Name of the Rose , and made into a film by Jean-Jacques Annaud in , featuring Sean Connery in the leading role of Brother William of Baskerville.

Worldwide intellectuals and academics also recognise him as an eminent scholar, particularly in the fields of medieval aesthetics, literary theory, and semiotics. But the way he zoomed into and commented on Italian culture meant that Eco was a key figure well beyond literature and philosophy. He was the first academic to give custom clearance to mass and popular culture, both with his studies and by contributing consciously to its production.

Already in the s, for example, while studying medieval aesthetics, he worked at the state broadcaster, RAI , as one of the young intellectuals appointed to modernise TV and radio programmes. He mixed highbrow and popular culture without any sense of guilt, much to the chagrin of his academic peers. His omnivorous curiosity is particularly evident in his short pieces for the press, marked by a unique penchant for paradox and irony: here, Eco the philosopher, the public intellectual, and the storyteller converge.


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Since social commentaries and irony are based on topicality, in order to enjoy them fully one needs to have some knowledge of Italian internal affairs. He comments on the role of internet in the evolution of mass media and communication, on racism and integralisms, religion and philosophy.

Right up to his final days, Eco never renounced the intellectual role of attempting to understand the changing social and cultural phenomena, guided by human curiosity and rationality, and always tempered with a good sense of humour. A contemporary Robinsonade — York, York. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. All Alerans of sufficient talent and strength in fury-crafting to be named to the Citizenry are obligated by law to marry someone with similar strength, in the interest of producing children with strong fury-crafting ability.

During "Princeps' Fury", a fully intelligent Fury is introduced as the secret behind much of the First Lord's continent-spanning furycrafting.

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Named Alera, this fury came to be accidentally, when the First Lord Gaius Primus gathered pieces of stone from across Alera into a moasic map of the land. This allowed Primus to gather information by seeing through the furies of very disparate locations, and effect changes from a great range, but this unique construct allowed these furies to coalesce and form an awareness unlike any before it, a fury that represents the continent itself.

This fury can appear as of a women made of metal and precious stones, clothed in mist. Alera aids House Gaius, usually by observing distant events through the local furies that make her up, and can effect enormous changes in the continents climate by guiding the First Lords power to be applied in the correct spots, allowing a First Lord to do things such as break up hurricane systems and push cold climates into otherwise temperate locations. Alera has a very distant and detached personality, the vastness of her awareness causing her to lack particular care for personal attachments; she finds the beings that inhabit Alera to be interesting, but transitory, having existed for millions of years before any civilization upon her.

Due to this, Alera will not or cannot directly assault an enemy of the First Lord, and therefore all changes she helps create will effect all peoples equally and without prejudice. Alera nevertheless represents an enormous power in the hands of the House of Gaius due to her information gathering abilities and immense control over the conditions of the continent. Her existence is therefore known only to the First Lords, as any awareness of her abilities could motivate others to construct similar Furies and allow for mass destruction.

The greater risk, however, is Alera's implication that any other such Fury would be born completely insane. Whether that is due to Alera's existence interfering, or the process to create them being difficult and Primus therefore very lucky the first time is unknown. Watercrafters are not conventionally used in the front lines of battle.

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In the series, Tavi himself also uses them almost strictly as medical staff that actively tend to the injured. Given the number of casualties during battles, any and all Watercraft specialists are assigned to that position. Outside of healing, strong water crafters are used as spies and assassins.

A group of raw recruits, or "fish," who acquitted themselves remarkably well under Tavi's command, were given the nickname "Knights Pisces". This group was an aerial unit of Knights Aeries.

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Alerans are humans, taking their name from the country they inhabit. They are the most developed civilization on Carna, and they exert their influence over all other sentient races through their use of furies. Their far-flung empire spans most of an entire continent, but they are pressed on all sides by hostile enemies. Their government is a feudal monarchy with institutions derived from the Roman Empire. The government is headed by a single patriarchal monarch, the First Lord, who controls the high lords and their territories. The Senate is the political body for the empire, establishing laws and government appropriations.

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All of the high lords and senators are part of an aristocracy called Citizens, as are lesser lords and nobles. To become a Citizen, an Aleran must either win a duel with a Citizen called the juris macto or be appointed by the First Lord. Citizens are similar in status to Roman Patricians. Aleran culture is male dominated and allows for people to be bought and sold as slaves. Women's rights are lacking in many respects but a highly influential Dianic League is winning support for more rights.


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The country is organized into city-states, with each of the major cities ruled by a high lord. The outlying areas of the cities are inhabited by farms, called Steadholts. Each Steadholt is led by a steadholder who rules that area of Alera, under the authority of the local High Lord.

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The Aleran military is organized into legions similar to those used by the Romans. Each High Lord is allowed and responsible for maintaining three full legions containing Knights and foot soldiers called legionnaires and a contingent of bodyguards singulares. Each legion has sworn loyalties to their High Lord, which causes issues when conflict arises between the First Lord and a High Lord.

The Canim are large, anthropomorphic wolf -like creatures and fierce warriors.

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They are long-lived, with a society organized in a caste -like social hierarchy which is susceptible to political in-fighting. Canim speak a growling barking language more suitable to their muzzles than the mangled Aleran that they attempt. Most Aleran contact with the Canim is through Canim raids along the west coast of Alera. They are capable of sorcery, as revealed in Academ's Fury when the Canim use their influence over the elements to batter the coast of Alera with violent storms and in Cursor's Fury when they shot bolts of concentrated red lightning to hit the officers of the First Aleran legion.

The blood of living or formerly living intelligent beings is necessary in the use of Canim sorcery, in contrast to the fury-based magic of the Alerans. Their current ambassador to Alera is Varg, who was imprisoned after the events of Academ's Fury.

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In Cursor's Fury , a large contingent of Canim invade Alera with the intent of creating a permanent colony on the continent. In Captain's Fury , it is revealed that the Canim are invading Alera with such massive forces because their homeland has been invaded by the Vord. In Princep's Fury it is revealed that Canea used to consist of several countries, or ranges as the Canim term them, each of them as big as or bigger than Alera itself. Yet by the time the Canim invasion force returns home only one range, Shuar, remains. Shuar is described as a cold, northern, range with tundra and hardy people.

The Shuarans are known for their golden fur and their monumental defense engineering. They had turned the plateau that defined their range into a monstrous fortress, which is the reason they have survived against the vord longer than the others. The Narashans are Canim with mainly black fur and are called the "tree people" by other Canim, suggesting that they once lived in forests.

Their range was south of Shuar. Ambassador Varg is a war-leader of Narash. Most Canim view Alerans as unnatural demons and call them as such. Historically, only the Canim of Narash viewed the Alerans as anything more than vermin to be eventually exterminated. Very little is known about the Icemen except that they are a savage enemy of Alera, held at bay along the northern fringes of the empire by the Shieldwall.