Customer Review

45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor, 15 July 2011
This review is from: The Parthian (Parthian Chronicles Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Unfortunately this is one historical novel attempting to join the burgeoning proliferation of the ancient/medieval historical fiction genre that simply doesn't cut it. The book suffers tremendously from a lack of proof-reading. Here are some examples:
a) the Oxford Comma makes a liberal and inaccurate appearance throughout - it's hard to find the word 'and' that doesn't have a comma after it
b) the constant misspelling of "Caesarea" (we have Ceasarea over and over again); we get told about Mount Vesevius (Vesuvius)
c) several typos: "I spared with my father, who invariably humilated me" ('sparred', surely?); Crixus is described as wearing "a thick silver torque" ('torc', surely?); added words: "unfair to start a quarrel with the a dwarf" (It is 'the' or 'a'?)
d) there is grammatical confusion: "Romans are a practical people, that and ruthless". I am still unsure what is being said here
Many notions throughout the first 25% of the Kindle version (I confess I got no further, grinding to a slow halt looking for something better to read) are just plain inaccurate. For example, whilst there is an accuracy with Spartacus' henchmen names matching the historical record, there is glaring historical license: there is no record at all tying a Roman Legion losing its Eagle in Parthia around 73BC. No Aquila is recorded as having been lost until 53BC (Carrhae).
The "archaic and forumlaic" speech of the Mesopotamian priests looks like it came out of popular concepts of European Medieval liturgy: "And bless in particular King Varaz and Queen Mihri, who by your infiinte wisdom have produced their son and your servant, Prince Pacorus". 'Amen' is a term used in Islam, Judaism and Christianity whereas the author has his Mesopotamian priests use it liberally in prayers to Shamash: "Praise be to Shamash, and may He bestow great fortune on those who devote their lives to His service. Amen."
There is repetition of description and action. For example, we have Pacorus and Spartacus repeating word for word the whole "don't call me a lord" speech within pages. Most of Spartacus' army are dressed either in "simple..tunics" or "simple...stola". The depiction of females is repetitive. We are told about their 'shapely figures' - breasts always get a mention - but that they possess a 'strong' or 'proud' characters.
All this aside, my main problem is the protagonist - Prince Pacorus. A prince of Parthia, we follow him as he bloods himself in war, learns how to lead his men, comes to understand humility and then leads a "band of brothers" on a killing spree against Roman Syria. He gets himself and his band captured, enslaved and taken away to Italy. By this point (about 18% into the Kindle) I'd settled down to the technical errors throughout and was cautiously moving along. Then it nose-dived when we reached Italy - Rome in the first century BC is a particular speciality of study for me so I was reading it with a very critical eye - and I stopped. I simply didn't care about Prince Pacorus. This is a major problem with any book that is trying to keep pages primarily turning with use of hooks and anticipation rather than Dickens-esque brilliance of language. Generally the characters comes across as very one-dimensional and whilst I know I should give the book a complete read before being able to assess the whole there is a fundamental disconnect if the reader is not being entertained at all.
So...unfortunately, not a terribly good impression. I'd be reluctant to pick up another unless other reviews managed to convince me effort two was a huge improvement.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Nov 2011 14:35:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Nov 2011 14:38:10 GMT
tony g says:
I haven't read this book and so can't comment on its particular vices, however, you have picked up on a grwoing and rather unfortunate trend towards a certain laxness of literacy in literature.
More unfortunate is the fact that editors seem incapable of proofing works. Perhaps it's the autocorrect generation that doesn't actually check texts in the standard way.
Also, I made similar comments to yours about a Ben Kane book and was assailed by such vehement hate mail that I eventually withdrew the comment. This poses more questions about types of readership I won't delve into here, but I wholeheartedly agree with your comments and defend the attempts to keep a certain standard within our language.

Posted on 18 Jan 2012 19:35:05 GMT
I found reading it equally irritating. I may be nit-picking (OK, I am), but 1st century AD Roman legionaries about a century ahead of their time, transverse plumes and all, the incredibly grating "Ceasarea" mentioned every second sentence, the complete ridiculous depiction of a Parthian religious ceremony and so on and so forth meant I could read no further. I am glad I am not alone in thinking that historical fiction is more than just flashing a sword about.

Posted on 4 Feb 2012 09:40:36 GMT
Mike Mac says:
Yes, dreadful editing, and many examples of poor grammar - certainly in the Kindle edition. I wonder if the hard-copy version is the same?...
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