The Princess Bride (was Re: McKillip)

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Wed Sep 5 15:25:25 EDT 2001

Melissa said (re "A College of Magics")...

> Pushy, pushy, pushy...  :)  It took me FOREVER to finish this book!
> because it's boring or anything, but because people kept
interrupting me for
> stuff like dinner and bloody noses.  It was all very frustrating.

Heh.  Yes, I read it in pieces too, interrupted by the fact that I was
at a weekend-long live-roleplaying event with little reading time.
> This will contain spoilers for _A College of Magics_.  They occur
> down the message, so this is the only warning I will give.  If you
> want the plot revealed to you, for heaven's sake stop reading now
and go
> read the book.

Since I'm replying to Melissa's remarks, this message, too, will
contain spoilers.  Go read the book!
> This time, I figured out almost immediately that it was supposed to
be early
> 20th century, with the references to cars, trains, and King Edward
> England (though it's possible that it's a different Edward, I think
> combination of hints implies that this at least follows our own
> history).

I assumed that it was...well, whichever one it would be - Edward VII?
(I'm not immensely up on such things.)

> I also realized that I'd read the book longer ago than I'd first
> thought, because none of the historical elements had meant anything
to me at
> that time.  It's only in the last three years or so that I've read
> that gave me a context for that historical period.

Ah.  Yes, I can see how not being familiar with that particular period
could lead to confusion.  Having discovered Sayers, and E. F. Benson's
Lucia books, in my teens (not to mention having a long-standing
interest in historical fashion), I wouldn't have suffered from this
handicap even if I'd first read the book as a teenager.  <frowns
thoughtfully>  I'm not sure it would have confused me all that much if
I'd read it earlier, either; I read "The Prisoner of Zenda", Sherlock
Holmes, and assorted other fiction from earlier ages from about ten or
so, and simply asked my parents about the bits I didn't understand.

> On the other hand, I had remembered it as a Regency era story when
it was
> actually set about a hundred years later.  The first reason for this
is (as
> above) my lack of education.  I also associated Stevermer with
_Sorcery and
> Cecilia_ and I think I assumed the two books were more similar than
> are.  That's as far as I'd gotten when I wrote the above post.

Not having read the other book, I didn't have that putting spanners in
the works. :-)
> The other reason, which I came up with after finishing the book, was
> the parts of the book that stuck with me the first time were all
related to
> Galazon and Faris's thwarted betrothal to King Julian.  (Also the
> ending, but that didn't have any bearing on my sense of what era the
> belongs to.) And those bits all seem to belong to an earlier time
than the
> rest of the book.  The idea that Brinker could negotiate such a
thing and
> have it work seemed archaic by contrast to the university and the
trains and
> the educational model.  Maybe if I'd read _The Prisoner of Zenda_ it
> make more sense, but even that book takes place in the late 19th
century, so
> maybe not.  At any rate, that's why I was confused.

Yes, I agree that those parts of the book are very Ruritanian, and do
seem to belong to a slightly earlier era...but I can also imagine that
a teeny-tiny Balkan state like that would be, well, a bit "backward"
compared to the rest of the world, so it seemed reasonable to me that
Brinker was coming over all feudal or whatever.  Faris has a more
cosmopolitan mindset because she's been away to more modern climes,
but Brinker would be completely a product of his culture, which is a
good fifty years behind Western Europe.  At least, that's how I looked
at it!
> Happy now?  :)

Yes, thank you. :-)

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at

"I feel that if a character cannot communicate, the very least he can
do is to shut up!"
--Tom Lehrer

To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list