Yesterday I read Greylady (Clan Wars 1) by Peter Morwood; first published 1993. The start of a prequel series to the Horse Lords. The second (Widowmaker) was published but the mooted third in the series never appeared and neither did projected extensions to his Horse Lords series. Some joint writing with his wife, but his own writing seems to have come to a stop around 20 years ago. Apparently now 'consults on modern militaria and medieval European weapons'. He and his wife, Diane Duane, appeared at the Discworld Convention in Warwick on 22nd July last year and will be back again this year.
Came up on my random number generator, and I thought I'd check Goodreads before diving in. 3.89 - not good. None of his individual books were as high as 4 - not at all good. Worth bothering? I thought about it, but decided to check it out. And actually it was
good. Rich sonorous prose. Somewhat derivative setting, but very little isn't. Too slow for modern pace junkies, but they would surely stop after a few pages, realising it wasn't for them. So looked to be worth a higher rating (OK, not by me - but I'd probably rate 1-2 points lower than the average rater). Not very, very good. Deus ex machina shows, hurrying some transitions. No tension build, and no sense of impending resolution either; can be OK, but not usually in this genre. All tweakable. And, I think, still is. Up to 90%.
But then a massive flaw. Six missing months. And it simply jumps into the new present. Fine in some books, but this style was about reflection and internal development as well as external. Those six months may have had no big external events, but personal events were moving apace.
And at the very end the protagonist does something he simply wouldn't have done.
Why? The short answer is rank bad editing. The book shouldn't have gone out like this. The author is probably culpable too.
- Fixed word target, and the book was cut down to fit.
- The natural end was thought not to draw readers on to Book 2.
- Author boredom. He'd demonstrated an interest in his settings and that he saw action as scenes, visually, and maybe saw the missing six months as rehashing.
Poor editing in any event. Either poor executive decisions about how the book should be, or a failure to direct or persuade the author to address the issues. No idea if he how much editing he did himself or how much input there was from his wife.
Not read any of his other books, so it is hard to know whether they have similar issues - I'm pretty sure the writing quality would be similar.
I'd still recommend it; always a good sign if a book is finished in a day.