I’m reading The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney and while it’s not a terrible book, it’s pointing out how incredibly nit-picky I can be if something isn’t wowing me right off the bat.

It’s certainly not uninteresting — it’s basically a fantasy equivalent of Xenophon’s account of Cyrus’ war against his older brother — but if it had been blowing me away, this little things that are bothering me probably wouldn’t be.

For instance, Kearney goes through some great lengths to come up with some non-anachronistic terms. He uses pasangs instead of miles, for example. And at its face, this is a good idea — it’s reasonable to assume that a fictional world isn’t going to use the same system of weights and measures as we do. But at the same time, he has no problem having his characters speak words like “fuck” and “piss” — jarringly real-world terms. I’m not necessarily asking him to go the Battlestar Galactica route, but it seems that if one set of familiar terms wasn’t appropriate for his world, then all of them should be.

Also, there’s a point in the story where he mentions an army resting in the south-east region of a continent. Yet the place names he uses to describe the area are all firmly located in the south-west part of the map at the front of the book. Typo? Revision that caused a contradiction? Don’t know, but maybe it says something about my mania that the first thing I did was check the map to see where they were.

This almost sounds like I’m trying to talk myself into not finishing the book. Even if I’m not liking something, I feel compelled to finish, lest I miss something in the later chapters that snaps everything into focus and reverses my opinion. Okay, that’s too noble an explanation — I’m just a stubborn reader. I have no problem turning off a movie or TV show that’s not doing it for me — hi there Dollhouse! — but I’ll plod through a book like I’m on some kind of verbal death march. Nit-picking every step of the way.

Maybe I’m just getting ready to yell at kids on my lawn.


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