Author Topic: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?  (Read 8691 times)

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Dr. F.

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2013, 08:26:53 PM »


One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives

OK, now I'm dying to know. Whiteout or PM me, please? I like those books (though haven't read them recently), and nothing's springing to mind.

KB

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2013, 09:09:58 PM »
One of my pet hates is when books are reissued and 'updated'. I am very fond of a set of books written by Monica Edwards and set on Romney Marsh in Sussex. They were written and set in the 1950s and 60's. There are some reprints which were published in the 1980s which I find really irritating as they have been 'updated' - so mentions of money have been changed from pre-decimal to decimal money (placing the action after 1971) but you still have horse-drawn milk-floats, references to the War, no television, penicillan as a virtually unknown wonder drug etc.

Yes, this is one of my pet peeves as well!

Slightly off-topic, but if you like Monica Edwards, have you discovered Girls Gone By Publishers? They publish her books and others using the original text, including the Romney Marsh series.

Apologies for thread-jacking!

Jocelyn

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2013, 09:54:32 PM »
I was reading a romance novel - I think it was a Nora Roberts one, set in Alaska.

They had the heroine up in a plane, looking at a herd of moose.  I howled.  Moose are very solitary creatures.  Calves stick with mom and twins might hang out together for a while their first year or two away from mom but otherwise, they are on their own.  I figured out that she meant caribou, which would herd and would be much more prevalent than moose in Alaska, if there are even moose in Alaska at all.
What, did Sarah Palin field-dress them all?  >:D

kareng57

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2013, 10:48:38 PM »
For historical fiction - I think sometimes people (I'm not referring to anyone in this thread) need to remember that it is exactly that - fiction.

The great Edna Ferber made reference to that in the preface to one of her books - I think it was Cimmaron.  She acknowledged that a couple of the dates she assigned to real events were in fact a year or two off - but she had to do it that way, in order to make the rest of the story fit.  She did have a rather creative term for nitpickers who would constantly let her know how "wrong" she was (I gather people did this by snail-mail in the 1920s and 30s) - unfortunately I lent out my copy so I don't recall exactly what it was.

Elfmama

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2013, 01:28:19 AM »
I was reading a romance novel - I think it was a Nora Roberts one, set in Alaska.

They had the heroine up in a plane, looking at a herd of moose.  I howled.  Moose are very solitary creatures.  Calves stick with mom and twins might hang out together for a while their first year or two away from mom but otherwise, they are on their own.  I figured out that she meant caribou, which would herd and would be much more prevalent than moose in Alaska, if there are even moose in Alaska at all.
Yes, there are lots of moose in Alaska. 

That reminds me of a series way back in the 70's, detailing (dear gods and little fishes, excruciatingly piddly little details to pad the books out!) the westward migration of the pioneers.  The mountain man guide tames a "prairie dog" for one of the young ladies on the train and says that he's tamed lots of them.  Trouble was, the author described this "prairie dog" as barking and frisking around and wagging its tail, exactly like a domestic dog.   This is a prairie dog:

It's a rodent, kind of like a largish gopher.  While it does make a noise vaguely reminiscent of barking, it most certainly does not frisk around humans and wag its tail.   

The only true canines resident on the prairie are coyotes and wolves.  Neither of them tame in just a few days, even as pups, and a young adult (as this "prairie dog" was) would not do so at all. 
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Elfmama

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2013, 02:35:21 AM »
For historical fiction - I think sometimes people (I'm not referring to anyone in this thread) need to remember that it is exactly that - fiction.

The great Edna Ferber made reference to that in the preface to one of her books - I think it was Cimmaron.  She acknowledged that a couple of the dates she assigned to real events were in fact a year or two off - but she had to do it that way, in order to make the rest of the story fit.  She did have a rather creative term for nitpickers who would constantly let her know how "wrong" she was (I gather people did this by snail-mail in the 1920s and 30s) - unfortunately I lent out my copy so I don't recall exactly what it was.
There's a difference between bending the facts a wee bit and not bothering to do your research at all.  A modern author cannot assume that if she can't find it in a 2-minute search of Wikipedia, the answer isn't there at all, so she can make up whatever nonsense she likes.  You can also get nailed by those things that "everybody knows"; let's take on two of the most common:  1) Medieval swords weighed about 20-25 pounds, and 2) armor was so heavy that knights had to be winched onto their horses.

Typical swords (of which there are a surprising number extant both medieval, Roman, and even older) weigh between 2 1/2 and 3 pounds, just over a kilo for the metric folk.  Even the really big flamberges and other two-handed broadswords weigh less than 10 pounds.  One of our SCA members had a replica flamberge that we would allow people to heft at demos; they were surprised to find out that its actual weight was 7 1/2 pounds, less than a gallon of milk, as their guesses were always in the 20 pound range.

As for being winched onto one's horse...far from it. A medieval knight was supposed to be able to jump onto his horse's back from the ground, without recourse to stirrups.  He could run, jump, and even turn somersaults while wearing full armor. (Swimming, however, wasn't a very good idea.) Depending on the type of armor, the exact period, and the place, armor weighed from 30-90 pounds.  The heavier end of this range represented late-period jousting armor, a different beast entirely than combat armor.   Still, even that weight didn't require winches -- that appears to have been created by Mark Twain for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 
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parrot_girl

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #36 on: February 10, 2013, 03:16:03 AM »
For historical fiction - I think sometimes people (I'm not referring to anyone in this thread) need to remember that it is exactly that - fiction.

The great Edna Ferber made reference to that in the preface to one of her books - I think it was Cimmaron.  She acknowledged that a couple of the dates she assigned to real events were in fact a year or two off - but she had to do it that way, in order to make the rest of the story fit.  She did have a rather creative term for nitpickers who would constantly let her know how "wrong" she was (I gather people did this by snail-mail in the 1920s and 30s) - unfortunately I lent out my copy so I don't recall exactly what it was.
There's a difference between bending the facts a wee bit and not bothering to do your research at all.  A modern author cannot assume that if she can't find it in a 2-minute search of Wikipedia, the answer isn't there at all, so she can make up whatever nonsense she likes.  You can also get nailed by those things that "everybody knows"; let's take on two of the most common:  1) Medieval swords weighed about 20-25 pounds, and 2) armor was so heavy that knights had to be winched onto their horses.

Typical swords (of which there are a surprising number extant both medieval, Roman, and even older) weigh between 2 1/2 and 3 pounds, just over a kilo for the metric folk.  Even the really big flamberges and other two-handed broadswords weigh less than 10 pounds.  One of our SCA members had a replica flamberge that we would allow people to heft at demos; they were surprised to find out that its actual weight was 7 1/2 pounds, less than a gallon of milk, as their guesses were always in the 20 pound range.

As for being winched onto one's horse...far from it. A medieval knight was supposed to be able to jump onto his horse's back from the ground, without recourse to stirrups.  He could run, jump, and even turn somersaults while wearing full armor. (Swimming, however, wasn't a very good idea.) Depending on the type of armor, the exact period, and the place, armor weighed from 30-90 pounds.  The heavier end of this range represented late-period jousting armor, a different beast entirely than combat armor.   Still, even that weight didn't require winches -- that appears to have been created by Mark Twain for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 
Slightly OT- today I did a 5km fun run and was chatting before the event to a fellow runner, who was dressed in full plate armour. He was getting lots and lots of fellow runner attention (and in lots and lots of photos, too, everyone was most polite about asking him first!) He was going to do the 10km, and said he would run as far as he could and walk the rest. I saw him still jogging at the 8km mark; I hope he made it!
(I have been wondering how he attached his number to his front though. I'd safetypinned mine to my tshirt; maybe he sticky taped his on?)

Ereine

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #37 on: February 10, 2013, 06:17:03 AM »
Nit-picking about a (free) Regency romance novel: the heroine's lips are described as the color of burnt sienna. I don't know why having brownish orange lips would make her a great beauty but Wikipedia tells me that the color name's first recorded use was in 1850s. Still, the idea of the orange lips is what actually bothers me, it seems so bizarre in the list of attributes that are supposed to make her a classical beauty.

The book itself seems to be a pastiche of Georgette Heyer.

faithlessone

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2013, 06:32:59 AM »
This thread made me remember another book that bugged me.

In one of Sarah Dunant's books (I think it's "The Birth of Venus"), there is a nun who has a tattoo of a snake wrapping around her body, from her shoulders to her *coughs* lady parts.

I know tattoos have been around since the dawn of humanity, basically, but how likely is it that a reasonably well-bred woman in Italy during the Renaissance would have one?? She obviously couldn't have done it herself, and they don't reveal who helped her (as far as I remember). It just doesn't ring right to me.

Barney girl

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2013, 07:56:30 AM »
Slight spin off here I don't know how accurate the adaptation from the book "World Without End" the TV series is, but so far, it's featured a daughter of Edward III called Joan, who was not born until 5 years after the events  in episode 1, the execution of his mothers lover, Roger Mortimer, and who appears, by the cast list  on the International Movie database to be played by two actresses, one a child, one a grown up. Joan died of the Black Death aged 13.
Episode one shows Edward II's funeral in Westeminster Cathedral. Apart from the fact that whoever captioned the TV programme probably meant Westminster Abbey, Edward II is buried in Gloucester Cathedral.
Queen Isabella was imprisoned abfter the death of her lover, and I doubt she presided over the courts of appeal, as in the series. It was because she had had too much power that her son deposed her and Mortimer.

I also think people would know that the Lord of the Manor couldn't  have a Bible small enough to sit on his bedside table., but  maybe I'm just nit-picking on that one.

I switched on part way through the second episode of that one and it immediately jarred how modern everyone looked. I couldn't pin it down, but it was probably hair styles and everything too clean.
Then they showed a church service in which the congregation was sitting comfortably in pews, rather than standing in the nave. I switched off once the got to the obligatory rape scene - it was sign posted a mile off. Of course you're going to have medieval village girls swimming in a nearby lake, then for no reason one tells the others to go on as she'll catch them up.....

Gwywnnydd

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #40 on: February 10, 2013, 11:30:13 AM »
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)
Is that the one that had to do with a shoeprint?  Because I caught that one too.

Why would a shoe print be a problem?

I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very period complaint!  ;D).

Jocelyn

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #41 on: February 10, 2013, 12:37:02 PM »


As for being winched onto one's horse...far from it. A medieval knight was supposed to be able to jump onto his horse's back from the ground, without recourse to stirrups.  He could run, jump, and even turn somersaults while wearing full armor. (Swimming, however, wasn't a very good idea.) Depending on the type of armor, the exact period, and the place, armor weighed from 30-90 pounds.   

In other words, about the same weight as current infantrymen wear in combat gear...

Although I shudder at the idea of the armor bites one might get from turning a somersault in plate armor.  >:D

Jocelyn

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #42 on: February 10, 2013, 12:41:06 PM »

I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very period complaint!  ;D).
However, if one wears a soft-soled handmade shoe or boot for any extended time, the shoe will fit itself to the foot. I have some slippers that were interchangeable when I bought them, but now, I can tell instantly whether I have them on the right way or reversed, just by slipping my feet into them. And I suspect, although I've never actually looked, that if I stepped on soft ground, you could indeed see enough of the footprint to tell if it's my right or left foot, just like one could tell from a bare footprint.

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #43 on: February 10, 2013, 02:33:43 PM »
Oddly enough, I do worry about accuracy, despite not reading historical fiction.  I read a *lot* of sci-fi, and I see things and think "What the heck?!"

Smoking cigarettes on a space ship.  Even if the air is filtrated perfectly, I don't see that particular vice as being one to survive in an enclosed environment without access to easy resupply where if the air scrubbers (or whatever) break, the vice in question puts the entire crew at risk.

I also read a lot of Star Trek fiction, and seeing things that don't seem very Star Trek throws me off.  (Threatening to have a medical officer court martialled for exercising their jurisdiction in medical matters, for example.)
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Elfmama

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #44 on: February 10, 2013, 02:42:52 PM »

I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very period complaint!  ;D ).
However, if one wears a soft-soled handmade shoe or boot for any extended time, the shoe will fit itself to the foot. I have some slippers that were interchangeable when I bought them, but now, I can tell instantly whether I have them on the right way or reversed, just by slipping my feet into them. And I suspect, although I've never actually looked, that if I stepped on soft ground, you could indeed see enough of the footprint to tell if it's my right or left foot, just like one could tell from a bare footprint.
As has been said, shoes in the Middle Ages were the same shape for both feet.  While a shoe certainly could form itself to one foot or the other if worn consistently, medieval children were taught to switch the shoes from day to day, so that yesterday's left shoe is today's right shoe.  It made them wear more evenly and last longer, a significant consideration in the days when all shoes were made by hand instead of a factory in China.
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