DNF. I’m convinced that what bothered me wouldn’t be a problem for most readers. It still spoiled my read, though, that’s why I couldn’t finish.
What’s my problem, you ask? Let’s call that “too much misuses of references”. This is not a world-building, this is a soup : Basically Rosamund Hodge used TONS of French folklore/history/literature references which isn’t a problem per se but which became one when I couldn’t connect with the story anymore because I was too busy trying to make sense of the world-building. Also, she’s not French and does not seem to know them well. It shows.
See, references aren’t gratuitous : they create expectations and when none of them is fulfilled, it gets annoying and above that, distracting. Wouldn’t you feel confused if a character was named Abraham Lincoln but wait – not that Abraham Lincoln? If the city was named after where you live but wait – not that city? If the kingdom was named after a very famous legend you know but wait – not that legend? If the magical objects were called the exact same name as really, really important other magical objects from medieval folklore but wait – not these objects?
No? I guess I have a shorter attention span, then.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining because Rosamund Hodge didn’t follow the original stories : this is Fantasy, she can do what she wants and I’m really okay with that. However, to me it was a core to read because I constantly needed to readjust my knowledge and it got really confusing. I’m not complaining about historical inaccuracies, because that would be ridiculous, given the genre. But in my eyes all these misused references seemed lazy, messy and I can’t help how I feel. Moreover, she *forgot* to quote all her sources in her acknowledgments and I do have a problem with that (but I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps her sources talked about the legends I’m referencing here).
About Durandal and Joyeuse, the magical swords : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Roland
About Rocamadour : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocamadour
About Gévaudan : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A9vaudan and its horrible beast : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_of_G%C3%A9vaudan
Not to mention the King who shares a name with a 12th Century King but whose château de Lune is basically Versailles (salon de mars, anyone?) and his rites those of Louis XIV (the levée, for one). Oh, and whose mistress is named after one of the most famous poet and fabulist from the 17th Century, La Fontaine.
I’m really, really sorry about that and you can call me unfair. But this book is making my head spin. What can I say, I’m a History/French Lit nerd. I can live with that.