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The Legate's Daughter, by Wallace Breem

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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Sun January 5th, 2014, 10:03 am

I finally got around to reading this. It impressed in many ways, but fell short in many others.

What's not to like then? Well, in a phrase, it was the lack of editing. Page after page of dialogue is wrecked by word repetition (two cases of 'endless' in the same paragraph is one instance) and the extreme overuse of adverbs. I'm no stranger to these words as an author, but when characters are, for example, saying 'lightly' and then within a sentence or two, saying 'bluntly', it all becomes too much. There was even one instance of a man inclining his head 'silently'. As my editor once asked me, how else does someone incline their head? The editor's pen appears to have passed far too lightly over this novel.

As other reviewers have commented, there's a lot to commend in the book - I particularly liked the street scenes, Curtius Rufus' tendency to self-destruction and the uncertainty of the ending. To me, however, it feels like a draft of a novel that needed several more sweeps and rewrites before being ready to publish. It's a shame.
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

annis
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Post by annis » Sun January 5th, 2014, 5:15 pm

Just curious about the anti-adverb movement. Is cutting adverbs to the bone a new thing? I don't recall it being an issue in the past, and as a reader it's not something that's ever bothered me particularly. Perhaps, like "show, don't tell", it's another case where yesterday's writing styles have become today's literary crimes? At what point does adverb become adverbiage? JK Rowling, for example, is adverbially inclined, and I don't think it detracts from her storytelling (though later HPs were bloated and could have done with more rigorous editing in general)

Too many adjectives, now, that's a whole other thing and one I have to watch out for myself when writing. I guess adding too much in general is always an temptation - loved this quote from one of Kerry Greenwood's novels, "Jim certainly had a fascinating tale to tell, but his prose was over-elaborate and in need of a good cup of senna tea and a lie-down." :)
Last edited by annis on Sun January 5th, 2014, 6:16 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Mon January 6th, 2014, 3:16 pm

Cutting adverbs isn't a new thing, Annis - I use them lots, as you know. It's when they're used in excess that it grates, and in this book, Breem went overboard with them, when they weren't necessary. EITS doesn't suffer from it, nor do other books that were written then. This is just a single example of a book with too many adverbs!

Re JK Rowling's books being bloated - I can tell you that they weren't edited! Her editor would have just smiled and said how wonderful they were. That's what happens when you're as successful as Rowling. Colleen McCollough's Rome novels weren't edited AT ALL - I know, because my first editor was her editor. McCollough wouldn't let anyone edit them - after The Thornbirds, she reckoned she didn't need to be. Go figure. As a result, they're unreadable - at least that's what the people who don't think they're masterpieces believe. I fall into the former camp. :D

(When my first editor told me how McCollough had refused to allow her books to be edited, I told her that she could shoot me if I ever said something like that. I stand by that statement.)
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

annis
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Post by annis » Mon January 6th, 2014, 5:42 pm

Certainly with you on McCcullough's Masters of Rome series, Ben. Although it some circles it's considered heresy to say so, I've always thought that the lack of editing makes them pretty much unreadable for all but the converted.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon January 6th, 2014, 9:53 pm

[quote=""annis""]Certainly with you on McCcullough's Masters of Rome series, Ben. Although it some circles it's considered heresy to say so, I've always thought that the lack of editing makes them pretty much unreadable for all but the converted.[/quote]
I liked the Thorn Birds, and a few others of hers. I could not get into her Rome books. After a couple of tries, I just gave 'em away.

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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Tue January 7th, 2014, 11:25 am

[quote=""MLE""]I I could not get into her Rome books. After a couple of tries, I just gave 'em away.[/quote]

I rest my case. ;)
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

annis
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Post by annis » Wed January 8th, 2014, 3:12 am

I read your writing tips a while ago, Ben, and noticed you were quite tough on using words ending in -ly - that's why I wondered about the adverb thing.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Wed January 8th, 2014, 5:05 pm

Does anyone else hear that old Schoolhouse Rock song, Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here? Whenever I come across the adverb criticism I always think of it.

LOL! I couldn't resist. :D

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Post by annis » Thu January 9th, 2014, 2:54 am

Love it, Ludmilla - haven't come across that one before :)

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