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Sick of "Wry"

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Earlier this summer Shelley introduced me to a series of science fiction books whose female protagonist – Honor Harrington – lends her name to it. Usually her name plays into the title of each novel, such as Field of Honor, which includes a significant scene set on a dueling field. Although I've not read the Horatio Hornblower books that many people compare these to, from what I know of it, the reference is apt.

Anyway, I've just finished another one of them (Echoes of Honor), and felt compelled to mention the author's apparent laziness or simple lack of vocabulary. I noticed this in the previous book too, but the problem is getting worse. Namely, he uses "wry" or "wryly" in about every case someone smiles, and in other places as well. On a rough count as I read, I caught about 30 such instances.

Grepping the CD-ROM version of the book bundled with a later novel, however, it turns out the actual count reached 55, almost doubling my guess. The previous book had "only" 22; his next book drops back to 21, while his most recent on the disk climbs back to 33. He's certainly infatuated with the word and apparently so are his editors.

It seems to me that a wide variety of other words could be used to describe smiles, whether from the same or different characters. The fact that I noticed this problem only makes it worse because I keep seeing the language choice now. I curse him for overuse of such a simple phrase that it brings me out of his story. In a similar case, he has a growing tendency to have people say "Um" before they begin speaking. That's fine in general, but everyone seems to say "um" instead of vocalizations like "hmmm" or other variants that real people use.

Oh well, only two more books in the series to go at this point (until and unless he writes more).

Best to take a break and move on to the long-awaited newest installment in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy saga by George R. R. Martin. It's called A Feast for Crows. This book is so overdue that it was well behind schedule last Christmas, when Brenda ordered it for me. The author kept writing and writing, however, and finally broke it into two novels, so he could get this part of it to the press. Thus, this book will cover some characters while we wait for him to tell us the stories of the others in the next installment.

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