I know that this is a fantasy website, but I need to talk about reality for a bit today. I have no problem accepting magic and dragons and wizards and what not, that’s not the type of reality I’m concerned about. I’m talking about those niggling little errors that creep into stories that drive me bonkers.

I’m reading afantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews story right now, and it’s not great but it’s entertaining, and we get to a big fight scene and the protagonist is described as being unarmed. And then a few paragraphs later he pulls out his knife, after the bad guy has been bashing him against a brick wall for a minute or two

And I felt like banging my head against that same brick wall until all memory of the book was pounded into oblivion. Excuse me? You had a knife and you didn’t use it? You’re a trained fighter and you don’t think until now to get out your knife? What kind of an idiot are you?

And that is my problem, dear readers. What kind of an idiot is letting this stuff see the light of my reading lamp? Do I blame the author for writing it in the first place? Do I blame the editor for not throwing it back to the author and making her rewrite it? Do I just have particularly bad taste in books and should blame myself? I want to know who is to blame for some of the travesties of writing that are inflicted upon innocent readers. I’m not talking about just horrible books, because that is another topic in and of its self. I’m talking about breaking the credulity bubble that is the foundation of good fiction, either through breaking the rules the author has set up, or by contradicting the story she is telling.

So, dear readers, let me know: Do things like this irritate you, or I am just weird? (Those choices may not be mutually exclusive, now that I think about it.) Do you have any particularly egregious examples you would like to share with the class? And who earns your ire in these circumstances, the author or the editor?

Leave a comment and we’ll enter you into a drawing to win the book of your choice from our stacks!


  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.