Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Things that jarred me in Chris Butler's "The Flight of the Ravens"

"It had been almost a century since the French emperor Napoleon had obliged the Dutch to take surnames, against their own custom"
- this is protagonist Elizabeth's inward response to learning that her acquaintance Doctor Huginn Raaf wishes to be known only as Huginn. The scene is set in 1899; Napoleon's edict on surnames was in 1811. However it's entirely wrong to suggest that the Dutch were mononymous before 1811; generally patronymics were used. And the reference to a legal reform of 90 years before spoils the tone. I can't imagine anyone writing "Helena went to cast her vote, as women of her age had been entitled to so since 1928."

"Huginn had purchased passage by horse-drawn carriage to Frankfurt, following the path of the Danube, and from there to Amsterdam."
- in 1899 it would be a lot quicker and more comfortable to take the train (indeed, the previous chapter has an infodump about the train station in Amsterdam). I actually doubt if it was possible to find a regular horse-drawn carriage service (there are other passengers, so this isn't a special charter by Huginn) on that route in that year. It is implied that the carriage covers the 700km from Vienna to Frankfurt in a single day, which seems utterly improbable. Also the Danube does not go all the way to Frankfurt; you would have to head north-west by Ulm at the very latest. Compare "They travelled from London to Cardiff, following the path of the Thames, and from there to Pembroke."

"Where will you be staying?"
"In Frankfurt? A hotel called the Mercure, in the old part of town."
- the Mercure chain of mid-range hotels was founded about 40 years ago, so would not have been available in 1899. A hotel in Frankfurt then would have been called Merkur not Mercure. Anyway the hotel to stay at in Frankfurt, then and now, is the Frankfurter Hof.

Just saying, like.

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Tags: bsfa 2012

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