"Professor Klein... well, he's more of a mixed bag. His writing style is accessible to the layperson, but he accomplishes that by sensationalizing the subject matter to make it more interesting. He also tends to get too emotionally connected to historical people and subjects; he tends to take sides instead of remaining objective and trying to look at the whole picture. I'd read any of his work with caution and think twice before using him as a resource." Dr. Anna warned Leona to read Museria: The Kingdom Of Sand And Mystery with a critical eye instead of taking it at face value as a serious scholarly resource. Leona made a note of that and asked for the doctor's judgment on Sand-Splitter: Sword Of The King.
"What about Dr. Crouch?" Leona asked the woman. Dr. Anna frowned.
"I'll be frank, Leona. My personal experiences with the man may color my viewpoint, so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. You might want to take what I'm about to say with a shaker of salt." Dr. Anna warned the Wizard Saint that what she was about to say was not to be taken at face value.
"The man's hard to get along with because his people skills are lacking, to put it nicely. He's highly opinionated, he's got to always be right, and he doesn't mind insulting people if he thinks they're wrong. Most students dislike him and even some of his colleagues find him to be a chore to deal with for more than a few minutes at a time, which should tell you a lot about how poor his people skills are." Dr. Anna started telling Leona how she felt about Dr. Crouch.
"Another strike against Dr. Crouch is that he doesn't think much of females in academia. He's still sore about me finding the Lestrek temple in Forgotten Deserts and thinks I only accomplished it because I had the help of a Wizard Saint. That's technically true, but he can't take any pleasure in being right because the Wizard Saint who helped me was also female. I think that gets to him almost as much as me finding the temple." The female scholar continued her critique of the book's author.
"Why does Dr. Crouch dislike women so much?" Leona pointedly asked Dr. Anna. She had grown up in Desierto's patriarchal society, so she was no stranger to being treated as somewhat inferior to men. The standards were relaxed in Nebdoui because the high death rate and low population made holding extreme patriarchal attitudes impractical, but Nebdoui was no bastion of egalitarianism. She had gotten an unpleasant reminder of that on the night Joshua insisted that she was going to marry him whether she wanted to or not. Leona's mother was another reminder of the old ways; Sophia held firmly onto the belief that her daughter's greatest purpose in life was to return to Nebdoui, stay at home, and bear children to repopulate the village.
"Crouch is from one of the old families of Crocus Magicka University. His great-great-grandfather was a professor. So was great-grandfather, his grandfather, and his father. He's stuck in the past and in the old days women didn't have much place in the university other than as secretaries. I studied at Crocus Magicka University at a time when it was just becoming acceptable for women to aspire to be professionals in a field." Dr. Anna commented with a hint of sadness. Leona could see that the academic still had unpleasant memories of having to fight constantly to be taken seriously as first a student and now as an archaeologist. Dr. Anna set those feelings aside and spoke again.
"While it may sound like I'm doing nothing but bashing the man because he's got poor people skills and is stuck in the past, I'll be the first to say that Dr. Crouch has his good points. He's a devoted scholar who always does his research and never cuts corners. He's honest to a fault, so you don't have to worry about him stabbing you in the back because he'll tell you exactly how he feels. He's hard to get along with and even harder to get to know, but if he ever takes a liking to you you'll have a friend to the end." Dr. Anna praised Dr. Crouch after laying out his flaws for the Wizard Saint. That exposition told a lot about the man, but what about his book?
"What about Dr. Crouch's book?" Leona asked to get things back on track.
"Oh, right! Well... to be honest, I haven't read Sand-Splitter: Sword Of The King. But I've read other works from the man and Dr. Crouch researches everything down to the last detail. It's safe to use him as a resource." Dr. Anna gave her opinion not on Sand-Splitter: Sword Of The King, but on the man's work in general. Leona decided to take the good doctor's word on it and make Dr. Crouch's book a priority to read and not just because it discussed the myths surrounding a historical weapon that she might have actually laid her hands upon.
"Was there anything else you needed from me?" Dr. Anna asked the Wizard Saint while calmly sipping her cold coffee. Leona could not understand how someone could willingly drink cold coffee, but then again some people probably could not understand how someone like Leona got to lead a guild with an intellectual mission. Leona could fully understand where those people were coming from, but that was a subject for another day.
"I have a list of books that I wanted to purchase so that I could do research on Museria. I know that I should develop the ability to tell good sources from bad on my own, but since I'm starting out I wanted to get your opinion on what books were good resources and which ones are best left on the shelf." Leona stated to Dr. Anna, pulling off her backpack and fishing out the list, then handing it to the doctor. The academic sipped from her cup of cold coffee and browsed over the list, frowning as she did so. That did not inspire much confidence in Leona.
"I see that you've got a lot of old books listed here. That can be something of a problem because most of these titles are forty to fifty years old. You need some modern sources to balance things out so that you get the full picture." Dr. Anna factually stated before heading to her office with the list in hand. Once inside she opened a small desk drawer and pulled out a red ink pen, then began to cross out a few titles on the list while frowning each time she did so. Again that gesture did not inspire much confidence in Leona. After a few minutes spent double-checking the list and scribbling some notes off to the side Dr. Anna scribbled something on the bottom of it and returned with it, handing it back to Leona.
"I've crossed out the names of works you should leave on the shelf and gave reasons why you shouldn't bother with them. I've also listed a few bookstores that you should go to for some more modern books." Dr. Anna announced with a smile. Leona took a look at the edited list and saw that almost half of the remaining works had been crossed out. She saw the reasons for doing so written in small, neat letters beside each title that had been crossed out.
[Post Word Count: 1,262]
[Total Word Count: 2,318/2,500]