"...wonderful, a marvelous story, marvelously told."
-- Edward Plunkett, writer
"RASHINGOR was just what I needed! Lovely, riveting, magic."
-- Susan Stern, director, Barbie Nation
"Rodriguez offers us a mature vision, an heroic quest which is at once sophisticated and innocent, baroque and stark."
-- Barry Rose-Fruchter, professor
In the early 1970's, during the turmoil of the feminist revolution, C.A. Rodriguez set out to write a gently parodic fairy tale about three sheltered sisters going out to encounter the world of men. But when Rodriguez decided to alter the paradigm and make the ill-favored eldest sister, Grundahunch, govern the perspective, everything changed. RASHINGOR became a deeply haunting roman, part prose, part heroic verse, luminous and visionary, unlike anything that had been seen before. Nobody knew what to do with it. The publishers of niche fantasy knew it wasn't what their readers were used to; they wanted "straight fantasy." The publishers of literary fiction were just plain stumped. It's "vigorous and original," they conceded, "well done and admirable," "charming and special," "intriguing," and "a tour de force of its kind" (whatever "its kind" was). They praised the "impressive...assurance and ease of its tone," and some just said simply "I love it!" But in the end, they just couldn't take the chance. It's an extraordinary book, but it's - odd. Grundle and her sisters were ready to take on the world, but the world wasn't ready for them. Now, after all these years, there still isn't anything like it. But after decades in obscurity, C.A. Rodriguez's miraculous RASHINGOR has finally been made available to the public.
RASHINGOR is the first novel of The Illusian Sequence [ih-LOOSE-ee-un]
The Illusian Sequence is a work consisting of four novels--RASHINGOR, ST. PETER'S WOOD, THE STREET OF SECRETS, and THE RETURN OF RAMON, looked upon like movements of a single piece of music.
"Forgive me, dearest daughters," it read, "for I love you more tenderly than you can know. You must not think I love you any less because I do this. Even now, when the feelings rush up, I find it impossible to commit them to words. There is so much children cannot understand. Ever since she died I have been tormented. I have questions only she can answer. For your part, my dears, do not allow yourselves to be worried too much by this.
"Grundle, you were always the responsible one. I know you will take care of your sisters as you always have. My gentle Flotsie, do not be distressed. Your home is still here, and the quiet rhythm of your days shall not be much disturbed when you no longer have to bring my tray down to the laboratory or concern yourself about my health. And my dear Cammie, my pretty one, sunshine of the house, you are almost a woman now, and your sisters will have their hands full with you. You are a lady's daughter; remember that. Even if your father be only a poor dreamer. Were your father the king himself you could not be more loved.
"God bide with you my dears. I go a journey none has gone before, save Orpheus, Aeneas, and Odysseus. In such heroes' footsteps trembles my old foot. I go to speak with our beloved dead, your mother, to see what no one who is living presently has seen, to know the unknowable - I, the humblest of men. But if my formulations should fall short and I cannot return - well then, only think I go ahead to join your mother and to wait for you.
"Ever with my fondest love remaining
"Inscribed this 16th day of March in my laboratory under Raxeult Cottage in the High Forest March."
Grundahunch had read it aloud by the fire when they first found it. She read it only once aloud, and then she put it back on the laboratory table between the cooled beakers. That was in the early spring. It was winter now.
Grundahunch sat by the fire at the wheel, spinning. Nearby, her youngest sister Cammere embroidered linen. They could hear Flotselda's noises in the dairy, and in a moment Flotsie herself came in with her candle, which she set on the mantelpiece above the embroidering. She sat down and took a comb from her pocket and began to unbind Cammie's hair.
"Did you wash the cheese, Flotsie?"
"I think the big ones are ready, Grundle. I washed the four on top."
Flotselda combed out her sister's fire-bright hair, smiling and holding it up to watch the flames through it sometimes, or spreading it on her knee. "Are you humming?" she asked.
"It must be the wheel," said Grundahunch. "Sometimes it sounds like people singing." "I just thought I heard a voice under it. Someone humming."
Grundahunch stopped the wheel and took off the finished skein. She rubbed her eyes briefly with the tips of her fingers and thought she saw the whitish image of a monkey's skull on the inside of her left lid. The thought flit through her mind that she had never seen a monkey.
Cammere pierced the linen with her needle and left it there a moment. She always stopped working when she spoke (Flotsie was plaiting her hair with smooth, deft strokes - right over middle, left over middle). "When I was small, falling asleep, I always used to imagine that the sound of the wheel was the noise of a city. And that all the catacombs downstairs were busy streets and I was wandering in my shift looking at all the shops and the people."
Grundahunch stood up. She was a tall, broad-shouldered, ill-favored woman, and people were seldom inclined to touch her. She gathered all the skeins up in her arms and took them to the wall to hang them on a rack.
Flotselda took a bit of blue floss and bound up Cammie's braid.
There was a pounding on the door.
When their mother - who knew something of herbs and healing - had been alive, people often came at odd hours of the day and night and knocked at the door, but only Grundahunch remembered this period clearly. She had gone with her mother to hold the lamp, and had caught the smallpox.
They all looked up, startled. The pounding came again immediately. It was distinctly knocking. There was no wind that night.
"Who is it?" asked Flotselda, rising. She cast a wondering look over her shoulder at her sisters as she went towards the door.
"Wait!" commanded Grundahunch.
Flotselda stopped, but Cammie went to the window to peer through.
"Look at the snow!"
It had been falling softly all evening, and now it was very deep. Cammie could scarcely see more than that through the thick, imperfect glass. She rubbed some frost off with her sleeve and thought she could make out weltering footsteps leading towards their door.
"Oh Grundle," reproved Flotselda. "What a night for anyone to be without shelter!" Grundahunch had the poker in her hand as she approached the door. The pounding came again, more imperiously than before. She indicated with the poker the place on the door where the blows seemed to be applied. It was very low.
"A child?" whispered Flotselda.
"Or a dwarf."
"A man on his knees in the snow," suggested Cammie, joining them.
"What shall we do?"
"Who is it?" commanded Grundahunch.
A muffled voice seeped through the door: "A traveler. In God's name let me in! I perish with the cold!"
But Grundahunch looked out through a transparent image in her mind as through a colored pane, a vision of the door in flames. And the blood ached in her arms. Your thoughts are too random, Grundahunch, she told herself. The poker was very hard against her palm.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Grundle, open the door, and find out who's there."
"There are three of us, Grundle, and it's bitter cold out in the snow."
So they opened the door.