mtvessel: (Default)
Feb 2012
The Dragon Waiting - John M. Ford - Gollancz, 2008
* * * *
A recurring annoyance to readers with a working knowledge of European history is the relative thinness of the worlds dreamt up by fantasy writers, particularly those of an American persuasion. Typically their detailed history only goes back a couple of centuries or so and the resulting civilisations and the characters that inhabit them often feel sketchy as a result. This is not surprising because inventing a history as quirky, contingent and complex as the real thing is incredibly difficult (I should know - I’ve tried).

There is an alternative solution, however. Simply take real-world history and add magic and monsters. You get all the richness of reality and still get to play in the fantasy wonderland. It has to be done carefully, however, with due thought given to the consequences of the changes you have made. John M. Ford has done this outstandingly well in The Dragon Waiting and the result is one of the most densely textured fantasies I have ever read. It has to be said, though, that he may have overdone it a bit.
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