(I don't recall ever being taught the rules of punctuation/grammer/capitalizing in school -- fiction-writing wasn't ever a major focus, as I recall -- so I've mostly gone by what I read in books, and using that style. I guess you could say osmosis and a bit of logical guesswork taught me things like that punctuation goes inside the quotes (at least in US-based publications), etc.)
Normally, I'd write a sentence with dialogue like this.
"Hello," they said.
The entire sentence is hello-they-said. First word is 'hello', so it's capitalized. Since 'they' is not the first word and not a proper-name, it's not capitalized. Thus, it made sense to me that when the order is rearranged, the capitalizing is also rearranged:
They said, "hello."
I'm pretty sure this is a pattern I've read plenty, 'cause I had to have gotten the impression from somewhere that this is alright. It's also why/how I learned that when you've got a tag in the middle, capitalizing is still applied as an overall:
"Yesterday," she said, "it was sunny."
First, 'yesterday' is the first word. Second, the actual sentence -- 'yesterday it was sunny' is an entire sentence and the tag 'she said' is just inserted. Similar to the way if I had [ed: hi there] in the middle, it inserts, not halts the sentence and forces a new one. It's like a paren.
In my mind, if I've got a sentence like the following:
"Yesterday it was sunny," she said. "We napped."
...then the "we" gets capitalized because it's a new sentence; if it hadn't been, then it'd be a comma after 'said', not a period, and there'd need to be some kind of a tag -- ie, 'and', 'but', etc -- before 'we' to indicate there was more to the first sentence.
I'm not sure whether this is a house-style thing or just something I've completely misread/ignored all these years.
If you want to get on the filter, shoot me a reply. Since I'll be posting again from the beginning, you don't have to have read it already.
Kini has always abided by her family's rule: work hard and keep your head down. It's the only way to survive when your mountain village straddles the border between hostile provinces. When an injured mountain-spirit is threatened, Kini is the only one willing to protect it. She'll have to navigate between treacherous monks and suspicious nobles, in a province on the brink of war, if she's to save a lost mountain-spirit who may not even be what it seems.
First chapter is here.
First chapter, y'all, hot off the keyboard.
The lion-dogs were playing in the clearing when Kini arrived at the shrine. The two rock-gray puppies tumbled through the drifts of early autumn leaves, more intent on chasing a red-winged flit than paying Kini any mind. Their thick curly manes were tangled with sticks and bits of leaves, and their pink tongues lolled. They weren’t much higher than her knees, about the size of small stone guardians.
That seemed fitting. It was a rather small shrine, after all.
Well, then. Her sister had said if the dogs were around, then the huokei would be, too. Kini shuffled through the rain-damp leaves, kicking them aside to find the stepping stones that marked the proper path. The shrine itself wasn't much bigger than the moss-eaten idol it housed, and it listed precariously to one side. Its roof-shingles were green from weeds taken root, and the carved doors hung askew on their rotting wooden hinges.
Behind and to one side lay the monk-house, now a jumble of rotting wood and broken roof-tiles. In the clearing's other corner stood the mountain-god’s home, a fancy term for little more than a hut on stilts. In Sizija, it was a mansion in its own right, three rooms only ever seen by the mountain-god and its attendants. Here, it was one room, maybe not even big enough for one person to sleep. No wonder the mountain-god had been so happy to move to the big shrine.
Huokei were shy, preferred solitude, and would play nasty tricks if they felt disrespected, but this huokei had been injured. The big shrine at Sizija would've given it proper hospitality, but that was two miles away. The two rooms in their house were already crammed with five children and three adults, so that wasn't an option, either. The only choice left was this forgotten shrine-yard, with the benefit that it was closer to where Sozu found the huokei. To Kini's mind, though, the shrine's solitude lay solely in being abandoned. She wasn't sure it qualified as being respectful to offer what no one else wanted.
( Short pondering behind the cut. )
I used to come up with names so much easier than I do now. I have no idea why it's gotten so hard.
Khuojeung eased himself into the cushioned seat while Yuon's guard tested the tea. With a slight bow, the man backed away: not poisoned.
"Khuo, you've no decent reason to haul your ass out of that sick bed." Yuon poured tea for both of them and set the pot aside. "I could order you back to bed, you know."
"And I would have to go, of course, but then you'd miss the pleasure of my company."
"I'd also miss the guilt of knowing you weren't resting."
Khuojeung smiled and tried the tea. Dark, with hints of nutmeg and cardamon, the latest fashion in Huulqulku spiced tea. "I'm here for a reason."
"I didn't think you were here to discuss the tides." Yuon picked up her own cup and sat back, pushing her thick braid over her shoulder. Her hair held a few more strands of silver than she'd had the last time the cousins had seen each other, almost a year before. "You'd better not be here to discuss my littlest--" She halted at Khuojeung's smile, and set her cup down on the table hard enough to splash tea. "Oh, don't even. I've wasted enough time on him already."
( Really? From what I've seen, you've done your best to forget he exists. )
I think either historical fiction, or historical fantasy -- at the very least, alt-history. For some reason, I'm thinking renaissance era, like Venice or Milan (because apparently Italy was the entirety of the renaissance, but whatevs). The only plot-point I remember was that in this alt-history (or maybe secondary world altogether?) families could promise their daughters to a higher-born daughter, in a kind of promise/wedding. Sort of like being given as a companion.
And I remember thinking, that's a pretty cool change on things, I want to read that. Except now I can't for the life of me remember the title, or anything else pertinent, to google for it. Does this ring a bell for anyone else?
OH GOD NO! The new season of Kuroshitsuji has a completely new staff behind it. Noriyuki Abe is actually a very skilled director: before directing Bleach he gave us Great Teacher Onizuka, and that was no fluke even with a very strong source material. Kuroshitsuji is exactly the kind of series that can get something great out of him again. The first two seasons were adapted by Mari Okada, and this actually fitted her very well as a series with the craziness that went on. For season three though… we have to deal with Uber-troll Hiroyuki Yoshino. If you don’t know him, be glad. This is the guy who wrote the original story for Seikon no Qwaser, Guilty Crown, Code Geass, Mai Otome. This guy writes grandiose stories which are often so grandiose and convoluted that they collapse in on themselves. His stories are hardly ever complete, even when well written. You’re almost guaranteed to get a completely botched up ending here, even though the endings are what I loved about the first two seasons of Kuroshitsuji. And to make things even worse, Ichiro Okouchi, the original creator of Code Geass and the writer of Valvrave is joining in for the scripts!
I'll probably watch it anyway, even if I spend 90% of that time cringing, because holy crap, who let the Guilty Crown guy in here? ...and I thought the second season was trollish.
( Quick reviews for: The Thousand Names, The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, The Siren Depths, The Tainted City, The Wall of Night, The Briar King, The Magpie Lord, A Case of Possession, Too Many Fairy Princes, Traitor's Blade, The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension )
The Red Wolf Conspiracy - Robert Redick
The Innocent Mage - Karen Miller
Throne of the Crescent Moon - Saladin Ahmed
The Killing Moon - NK Jemisin
Sword of Fire and Sea - Erin Hoffman
The War with the Mein - David Anthony Durham
Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he's a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor's blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead.
And from The Alchemist of Souls:
When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?
The problem is that in both cases, these seemingly magical beings are real people.
I've run across lascars a few times in my own research, but they're not a well-known culture in the west. Wikipedia has a halfway decent entry on them, which summarizes things well enough:
A lascar (Lashkar, Laskar) ... was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century. The word comes from the Persian Lashkar, meaning military camp or army, and al-askar, the Arabic word for a guard or soldier. The Portuguese adapted this term to lascarim, meaning an Asian militiaman or seaman, especially those from the Indian Subcontinent. Lascars served on British ships under 'lascar' agreements. ... The name lascar was also used to refer to Indian servants, typically engaged by British military officers.
( Despite much digging on my part, there isn't a lot of Western/English study on the lascars. )
First: I really, really want to like David Liss' work. It's historical fiction, covering a place and time and culture that really doesn't get enough press: the Jewish finance community in Amsterdam, in the late sixteen-hundreds or thereabouts. This one in particular is about a Portuguese-Jew who moved to Amsterdam with the exodus, and was doing alright until a few bad decisions have landed him in hard times and hot water with just about everyone. A non-Jewish widow of his acquaintance has an idea to corner the market on this new commodity called coffee, but wrapped up in that is the character's sister-in-law, a meddling and somewhat abusive maid, another Jewish trader of major social standing who has it in for the protagonist, the aforementioned widow, a guy ruined by his investments in the protagonist's financial disaster, and a whole bunch more, all of whom have their own agendas and methods and motivations.
It's just... they're all such jerks, even our hero, who seems to want to put himself forward as a helpless ninny who's been cast about by fortune's disfavor, but sheesh. If I wanted suffocating world-building, the tiny and (apparently) leaning-towards-orthodox, highly regimented and self-supervised community of Jews in Amsterdam are clearly it. Given the narrative makes clear the Dutch are pretty live-and-let-live, it's almost insane that the Jews create a community for themselves that's almost as repressive as any Soviet regime. I mean, it's crazy-making. I fail to see how any of the characters haven't just broken and run mad down the street.
( Various comments and complaints and whatnot behind the cut. )
Alright, onto the one that I really, really did want to like, as much as I want to like The Coffee Trader -- similar time-period to Liss' work, alt-history, taking the bones of the original and grinding a lot of it up with a heaping of original ideas, much like The Thief series. Except some important stuff got left out while something bordering on appropriation got left in, among other things.
To get a few out of the way: yes, I adored The Goblin Emperor. Maia is non-angsty (but damaged all the same), lonely, compassionate, and above all else, genuinely good. There were more than a few scenes that in a quiet, understated way, simply broke my heart. It's not a YA-style everything-amped-to-eleven. It's a quiet story; when complete, you realize there wasn't truly a bad guy in the classic fantasy sense, and the one main conflict hinged on building a bridge over a river, but somehow it all works despite that, or maybe because of that.
The one major complaint? I would've much preferred if the naming scheme had been introduced before the story, rather than after it; it was damn hard to keep track of who-was-who, and I say that as someone pretty well-versed in reading extensive historical treatises where names change and/or are fluid and most definitely are not in English. I just couldn't parse the pattern from the text, and a short intro note would've been helpful.
Many things I liked (Maia chiefly, of course), but especially how his world -- no matter how suffocating, as it consists entirely of the court -- is still immensely populated. The author is really skillful at giving you enough people in a scene to make it feel crowded, without the sense that you'll be quizzed later on these teeny details; what's important to remember gets emphasized in just enough way that it stands out even more. In terms of craft, that's a rare and valuable skill.
( Behind the cut: Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Spirit Thief, The Thief/Queen of Attolia/King of Attolia/Conspiracy of Kings. )
Any way you look at it, minor quibbles are minor. I'd still recommend The Goblin Emperor and the four Thief books, unequivocally. The others, YMMV, and who knows, I may change my take if the stories pick up.
More in next part.
( Short comments about 'The Coffee Trader' and 'The Boy with the Porcelain Blade'. )
Eh, well. I'll keep slogging.
( The first thing to note is that each panel is run by a moderator, and other notes about how the panels were set up at AAS. )
If I think of anything else, I'll add it. Let me know where/when/how to send you the full post, B, although I reserve the right to cut a lot of this wordiness the hell out! I also expect starlady and branchandroot will probably be able to weigh in, too, being academics.
[Demonic possession and ghosts in Tale of Genji] are unexplained, but they’re not treated as explicitly supernatural within the narrative, since we’re talking about a time before Enlightenment nature-supernature distinctions arose. Ghosts and demons and gods are edge cases of Genji’s reality, but they’re not any less real than the people he encounters on a day to day basis.I didn't even need to add that emphasis; Gladstone did it already for me.
[The] fantastical does not seem fantastical to locals. Genji’s reaction to a ghost, or to a demonic possession, is not the Lovecraftian narrator’s “THAT IS UNPOSSIBLE” followed by a prolonged paragraph on circles of firelight, mad dancing beyond the edges of reality, etc., so much as “HOLY SHIT, GHOST!” He—and the other people in his world—are afraid of ghosts because they are dangerous and terrifying, not because they represent a hole in a world system that does not incorporate them.
In a sidebar, Gladstone also notes:
Notably, the reaction to a hole in one’s world system varies widely even within the modern age. Folks who just live in the modern world system tend to have the Lovecraft reaction to the holes they discover; scientists, though—and philosophers—respond, or should respond, by examining the edges of the hole and trying to peer through. I can think of two great examples of this in modern fantasy: in Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky novels, the wizards of Tsarepeth are presented as scientists and scholars with a near-modern understanding of the spread of disease. When they discover a demon plague that spreads through miasma, they’re initially flummoxed—since they’ve long known miasma theory to be false. Facts force them to revise their theory, in proper fashion. The Myth of the Man-Mother in Pat Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear is another example, played for humor—hyper-rational Kvothe fails to convince a friend of his that men have any role in the conception of children, since his arguments all devolve to an appeal to authority. The best part about this: it’s entirely possible that pregnancy just works differently in the Four Corners universe—or works differently among different peoples there.A day or so later, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) wrote The Emperor and the Scullery Boy: Quests and Coming-of-Age Stories, in which she remarked that
...there are female protagonists in fantasy who quest. Mary Brown’s The Unlikely Ones, to pick a random example, is as straightforward a plot coupon fantasy quest as you can ask for (and it still ends in marriage). But they’re swimming valiantly against an undertow, which is the great preponderance of young men who come of age in fantasy by questing. I’m thinking particularly of the trope of the Scullery Boy Who Would Be King, and I can reel off examples by the cartload, from Lloyd Alexander’s Taran to Robert Jordan’s Rand Al’Thor. (Scullery Girls Who Would Be Queen are so rare as to be nearly nonexistent.) Fairy tales, too, are full of these young men, scullery boys or woodcutters’ youngest sons or vagrants, and there’s even a version of the motif in The Lord of the Rings: although Aragorn is not a child, his path through the trilogy is very distinctly from undervalued outsider to King of Gondor. All of them are the protagonists of bildungsromans, of quests, and the pattern they trace inexorably has shaped and continues to shape the way we think about fantasy as a genre and what we think it can do.Both essays are (obviously) worth reading, but that single line -- "Scullery Girls Who Would Be Queen are so rare as to be nearly nonexistent" -- started me thinking. There must be at least one out there, somewhere. Isn't there?
I don’t want to argue against bildungsromans in fantasy—far from it. I don’t want to argue against quests, or even against scullery boys. But I want to argue for awareness of the patterns that we have inherited—the grooves in the record of the genre, if you don’t mind a pun—and for awareness that patterns are all that they are. There’s no reason that scullery boys have to turn out to be kings. There’s no reason that women’s bildungsromans have to end in marriage. There’s no reason that fantasy novels have to be quests. It’s just the pattern, and it’s always easier to follow the pattern than to disrupt it.
Hello? Hello? Don't tell me those are crickets I'm hearing.
On the plus side, coming back, I somehow lucked out and got on TSA's pre-boarding. No more shoe removal! Which was both good and bad. Bad, because I really really wanted to take the boots off (I wore hiking boots in the possibly-false hope that some compression would help) and good -- because if I had taken the boots off, there was a good chance I'd simply not put them back on. My hiking boots have the least flex in the sole, which in this case is a good thing.
But enough about me. ( Some random observations about AAS. )
"Oh, the staff certainly understood enough," Tsiu said. "Little grandmother taught me that people will always find something to talk about. Since I didn't want people talking about who we'd met for tea, or wondering why, then I needed to give them something of greater interest."
"That you might buy a tea house?"
"That'd I'd buy it for you," Tsiu corrected. "It's the kind of thing my mother would've done." And did, a few times, which was why Tsiu hadn't led Nakayari -- and the trailing Ozolekh and his wife -- to the more popular tea hall at the other end of the financial street. "Also, that you were less than enthused about the idea."
"I'd hardly know what to do with such a place," Nakayari muttered. "I don't even know how to make the tea you have here. It comes in little bricks. What do I do with that?"
"Steep it." Tsiu considered several other things to say, and settled for honesty. "You're from Nasoyunukona. You may be more subtle than most, with your short-sword under your robe instead of over it, but the reputation of your fellow countrymen precedes you. The last thing anyone would expect you to want, or care about, would be some tea hall. It's not a Nasoyunukona kind of business."
Nakayari looked mystified. "Then what is?"
"War." Tsiu looked down the street to the financial hall, where Sozu and Sindhu waited, trailed by Kini and the under-consorts. "Business is complete, I see. Let's see if anyone wants to eat now, before we head back to the palace."