Thursday, July 6, 2006

Historical Fiction????

A couple of days ago, I picked up a book by an author I've enjoyed in the past. At least, I enjoyed her first book; I thought the second was a little far-fetched. Still, historical fiction is my favourite type of reading, and novels set in the thirteenth century aren't that common, so I was willing to overlook book number two. Things started out well enough in the new one, but my enthusiasm continued to fall — until I finally abandoned it, just as I reached the climax. At least I think was the climax — when archbishop Stephen Langton summoned the wife of a fair-to-middlin’ baron to act as his scribe and translator during the negotiation of Magna Carta — because he didn’t have a clerk who could write in Latin.


I should probably backtrack here and explain that while I love medieval history, I’m *not* that picky about so-called accuracy in historical fiction — to me, fiction, by definition, is a story; it’s made-up. I have no interest in poring over novels, to see if I can spot the recipe or the tool that was used too early. I can overlook events that are time-shifted to fit a plot. I can even overlook mistakes in the names of historical figures, although I’m a bit disturbed when the names can be easily found in a basic textbook.

This novel, however, is so far beyond the plausible that it is absurd. The pity is that the author is a decent writer and this could have been a good book, if not an excellent one. Instead, she wrote a book that gradually descended into ludicrous drivel.

I’ve omitted the names of the book and the author here because I don’t like to trash things hastily. It’s too easy to be spiteful about books one doesn’t care for, possibly hurting the author’s feelings and the sales of the book. I do, however, intend to post a review on Amazon — not a positive one, but not a hostile one either. Later, after I’ve gotten over being completely annoyed.

More on historical fiction soon...

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