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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Epic Arthurian Editorial FAIL 
9th-Jan-2012 06:27 am
It's the little facts inside a story that can make or break it. Please check your historical fiction for setting errors!

Think of all the blood spilled in war - if it were merely blood that was required, the lands that were battlefields should forever be waist deep in lush grasses and yielding four times the corn of others for all eternity. - Gwenhwyfar, by Mercedes Lackey, page 313

King Arthur was a legendary British leader who lived in the late 5th or early 6th centuries.

Corn, or "maize," was domesticated in MesoAmerica and brought to Europe after trade routes were established in the 15th or 16th centuries.
9th-Jan-2012 12:19 pm (UTC)
Is the author American or British? Because using corn to mean maize is a North American thing (and I think Australian, too); in Britain and elsewhere, corn is the generic word for grains.
9th-Jan-2012 01:44 pm (UTC)
This book is by Chicago-born, Oklahoman resident Mercedes Lackey. I've edited my post to include her credit.

Edited at 2012-01-09 01:51 pm (UTC)
9th-Jan-2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
Yep, see the words to the old ballad "John Barleycorn Must Die".
9th-Jan-2012 11:10 pm (UTC)
many places. The use of the word 'corn' to mean 'grain' is part of how ashkenazic pesah is so annoying.
9th-Jan-2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I thought the same thing when I started reading more English lit - but they were usually just using it to mean wheat or another kind of grain. I would guess that even though Lackey's an American author, she's using an English phrase for an English story.
9th-Jan-2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
::nod:: That is a possibility. It could be laziness, it could be "authenticity," or it could be a combination of the two. Daw books could have assigned Lackey a British editor, and between the two of them, it slipped through.
9th-Jan-2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, "corn" in that context would mean wheat/barley/etc. It's pretty common usage, but it does take a little getting used to.

Selections per the OED: c888 Ælfred tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. vii. §4 Swa fela welena swa þara sondcorna beoþ be þisum sæclifum.
1496 Act 12 Hen. VII c. 5 Every Sterling to be of the Weight of xxxij Corns of Wheat that grew in the Midst of the Ear.

Since the first historical mention of "Arthur" is around the same time as their first reference and there's only a couple hundred years in it, I wouldn't quibble - given the way she writes there are undoubtedly larger howlers waiting around the corner. ;)
9th-Jan-2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
the way she writes there are undoubtedly larger howlers waiting around the corner

My sister was kind enough to remind me that I should check my Arthurian history at the door for the book. With that warning, I had been doing just fine so far. But with Lackey being an American author, and there being no other specific "dialect" in the book, this one caught me like a swinging door to the side of the head.
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