The High King’s Embalmer, by S. Copperstone (7:47)

IOD-EmbalmerToday we see that sometimes a tricky detail can seem right, until you actually think about it.

What I gleaned about the story: A dog-man working as the king’s assassin waxes introspective while awaiting his next tasty assignment.

Find this book on Amazon.

Note: I quite like the title. In addition to suggesting the genre and milieu, it also manages to suggest a relationship that raises questions. And a shopper with curiosity piqued is often one breath short of becoming a customer.

WTF #1: The act of translating his unusual Kamustan dialect into the complex nuances of my native pictographic language proved to be energy-consuming. 

Analysis: The protagonist is listening to a man defend himself at court, and is complaining about how much work it is to translate the proceedings. In short, he is listening to a spoken conversation. So what does a “pictographic language” mean in this situation? Pictography is about how a language is written – not how it is spoken. This is either a case of an author using a word he does not fully understand, or else it is a case of providing insufficient context to make sense of the statement. Either way, immersion broke.

WTF #2: To blend into the shadows cast by the weeping palms, I darkened the pigment of my skin, then leaned against the whitewashed stone wall.

Analysis: If I’m picturing this correctly, there are shadows darkening a whitewashed wall, and our protagonist is leaning against that wall, listening, and trying to remain unobserved. To accomplish this, he wants his body to appear to be the same color as the shadowed wall behind him, which is (obviously) the color of shadows spilling across a white surface. So why did he darken his skin? The correct solution to this situation would be to whiten his skin, to match the wall, and then to be darkened by shadows in the same degree that the white wall is darkened.

This is an understandable mistake, but given my background in 3D rendering and animation, this leapt out at me as an error, and broke my immersion. Because I knew that if he’d done it as written, he’d have made himself into a dark silhouette standing against the wall.

WTF #3: Exposition dumping

Analysis: There are a number of passages that are over-explained, with too much background detail provided to be natural for the context. But a page or two in, the exposition actually gets more dense and I balked.

The Prophet's Daughter, by Kilayla Pilon (3:19)
Space Junque, by LK Rigel (40:00)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That’s why he writes.