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Old February 5th, 2013, 11:21 AM   #11

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You make some good points. In the case of Sansom it was religion(amongst other things) that bothered me. The hero Shardlake has a far too an atheist leaning view for my comfort. This was 1530's England. While no doubt atheists existed it seemed incongruous for the period. Plus, any religious fanatics were pretty much automatically portrayed as bad or corrupt. Shardlake's knowledge of psychology also seemed far in advance of his time. I suppose im just after a main character who is limited intellectually by the period in question. As I said, too often these characters appear to be modern man transported back.
You could be right - like I say, I haven't read anything by him. There are plenty of medieval murder mystery series out there though - have you tried any others that may not have such a modern character? I'm not big on medieval mysteries myself, tend to go more for Victorian mysteries. I know, it's so cliche.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 01:18 PM   #12

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It really annoys me when the day-to-day details don't ring true - for me Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth is a prime example of this. I read it a few years back now (can't off the top of my head think of specific examples) and the interaction between the different classes of characters was unlike any other piece of historical fiction I'd read from the medieval period and completely ruined the book for me.

Edit - if I remember rightly, the characters were very modernised too.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 01:35 PM   #13
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Problems I have...

1. No research before hand.
2. Modern Day sensabities in a ancient period.
3. For the want of a nail.... this is a master cluster...
4. it usual thing of Hero meets history maker and finds him incompetent, hero does all the real history making, history maker takes the credit.

why not have a different thing of - hero meets history maker and is swept into the chaos..
5. marriage between classes following the Cinderella model
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Old August 15th, 2015, 02:19 PM   #14

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I haven't read a whole lot of historical fiction, so I haven't really read enough to have major complaints. My experiences with historical fiction so far is limited to Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield and The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. I thought both were great books overall. I also read one book about Spanish Conquistadors fighting the Aztecs and another set in Late Republican Rome as a high school student (both books were in the school library) that I liked at the time, but I can't recall now the name of either. Also back then I was probably less likely to find faults with historical errors than I am now.

I have much more exposure to period films and TV series. With those I'd have to say my biggest pet peeve is characters having a mindset that seems much more at home in the 20th and 21st Century than whatever era it is being portrayed on screen. Perhaps the worst example of this is the awful Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot. The lead character is a wealthy planter in 18th Century South Carolina that not only doesn't own any slaves, but also hires black freedmen that he treats with dignity and respect as fellow human beings. The lead character was completely ridiculous and a walking anachronism. It was also a bizarre writing choice, because if they didn't want the main character to be a racist slave owner, they could have had him come from a more modest background or from another region of the country where slavery wasn't so common.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 07:33 PM   #15
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History Chick page 1 post 6:

the very modern AND grammatically incorrect phrase "I could care less"
__________________________________________________ __________

I'm not sure I'd hold the "modernity" against the author/book. The phrase probably has no actuality in late 15th/early16th Spain and Low Countries, but probably did have a counterpart. Sarcasm is universal.

I wouldn't agree that it is grammatically incorrect. It's a way of saying that the speaker doesn't care, that if it were possible to care less than that, the speaker would.

I'm generally down on modern speech in historical novels when the speech encompasses something that simply couldn't have been in the time written about. For example, if a knight is ordered to "jet over to the king" or someone is told to "chill out", that's very annoying. "Jet", prior to the 20th century , was a color (black) or, a bit close to the 20th century, a blast of air. "Chilling" was nonexistent except in winter.
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Old October 30th, 2015, 03:46 AM   #16
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My main bugbear would be that too much historical fiction makes the setting almost more important than characterization. By this I mean that while say, Imperial Rome is done in breath-taking detail the characters are often cardboard cut outs with either entirely modern sensibilities , or blandly unemotional vehicles that tag along Forrest Gump style to all the major occurances
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Old October 30th, 2015, 07:06 AM   #17

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History Chick page 1 post 6:

the very modern AND grammatically incorrect phrase "I could care less"
__________________________________________________ __________

I'm not sure I'd hold the "modernity" against the author/book. The phrase probably has no actuality in late 15th/early16th Spain and Low Countries, but probably did have a counterpart. Sarcasm is universal.
Yes, but the use of the modern version of it jolts me out of the story. If it has a historical counterpart that would be at least somewhat understood by modern readers, use it! Don't use a modern phrase that has only been around since the 1960s - because if you accept a 20th century American phrase in 15th/16th century Spain, where do you draw the line? Your narrative/dialogue might as well just be riddled with modern phrases.

Quote:
I wouldn't agree that it is grammatically incorrect. It's a way of saying that the speaker doesn't care, that if it were possible to care less than that, the speaker would.
If you take the sarcastic approach, perhaps. But it's my belief that most people who use the term don't understand that and are just using it incorrectly. From a logical point of view, if you could care less then it is possible to care less than you do, meaning that you do actually care some amount.

Regardless, the book in question had other major flaws.
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Old October 30th, 2015, 07:08 AM   #18

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Originally Posted by The Mad Mummer View Post
My main bugbear would be that too much historical fiction makes the setting almost more important than characterization. By this I mean that while say, Imperial Rome is done in breath-taking detail the characters are often cardboard cut outs with either entirely modern sensibilities , or blandly unemotional vehicles that tag along Forrest Gump style to all the major occurances
Yes, I think too-much historical detail and too many info dumps can bog down the story and not leave enough room for character development - there needs to be a good balance of both.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 03:55 AM   #19
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WW2 fiction, Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L Beach. It's so well written one would almost mistake it for a war diary.
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Old November 1st, 2015, 04:52 AM   #20
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I read, and enjoy, the Shardlake novels. His portrayal of England at that time seems believable, but characters not so much. I agree that Shardlake's manners appear contrary to the times, mostly to make him appear nicer. For example whilst all the other males are enjoying watching bear-baiting, it offends his sensibilities. However, in many ways he is seen as a pariah in his words deeds, thoughts and even his bodyform.

But the excellent storylines and descriptiveness makes up for any shortcomings.
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