Aug. 4th, 2011

eunice: (yeah right)
There is nothing more disappointing than a normally good, well-known author turning out a boring tome that gets published because of their name. I'd read a couple of books by Lindsey Davis from her Falco series. They are very good, about a Roman detective working his way up from being a freedman to middle rank, and marrying a senator's daughter along the way. I love them, can't get enough of them. They are very well written and are completely absorbing. So, when I couldn't find anymore in my local branch of Waterstones, but found Lindsey Davis' civil war novel, "Rebels and Traitors", I thought it would be just as good. Right?

Wrong! She begins the novel well (which is thick enough to take two Falco adventures) with the main event, the execution of King Charles I. But then she spoils the whole thing by following it up with a huge info-dump. I really did not need to know the whys and wherefores of how the war began. If I really wanted to, I could read plenty of non-fiction books on the subject. Ms Davis started well, but then slowed the whole book to a snail's pace with far too much information. I get that she did a lot of research and read a lot of books about it. But we readers didn't need to be given the sum total of her background notes. I thought the point was to show the information in the action, not lecture the reader.

And then, oh dear, Ms Davis forgot the rule about cliches. As in, don't use them! They are not as frequent as some writers manage to strew around, but they were bad enough. The thing that really makes me angry is that if a first-time writer turned "Rebels and Traitors" in as their d├ębut effort, they would be laughed out of ever writing again. No publisher in their right mind would expect it to sell. Not at the size of it and the huge section after the first chapter that could easily be cut out without spoiling the story.

The problem is one I call the Stephen King effect. It happens when a writer gets too big for their proverbials. No one dares to edit them. How would they even consider removing one word of that precious, wonderful prose?! The result is a bloated, disappointment. I wish Ms Davis had just written another Falco book instead. Those she can do very well, without feeling the need to lecture the reader on every facet of the Emperor Vespasian's reign and character. The reader picks up a Falco book to, well, read about what kind of a mess Falco has managed to get himself into and how Helena Justinia will help him to get out of it again. If you're a Falco fan, avoid "Rebels and Traitors". I'll probably plough on with it for a while longer, but I doubt I'll make it to the end. I think that this is one book that I will happily donate to Oxfam.

Pryn da.

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