My god, that has to have been one of the most ham-fisted expositions I have ever read. A veritable wall of history! Delivered as a question-and-answer dialogue! But it seems ham-fisted (and the next chapter reads as the “real” beginning) to the point where it probably was something the editor insisted on, over the author’s protests.
Editor: These are Americans, man, they’re not going to have a clue what you’re talking about.
Author: But, shit, a dialogue? Are you kidding me? They’re not going to sit through it long enough to get to the actual book!
Editor: And how do you think they’re going to sit through the actual book when they have no idea who half these people are, or what their politics were, or what politics actually meant in these countries at this time?
Author: Yeah but–
Editor: Enough. Do it or GTFO.
In the editor’s defense, he has a point. My dad has likely the largest private library of history books in his state, and was not gentle in his insistence that we make use of it, but I still appreciated the history lesson, however contrived. I know a bit more than I would have otherwise about this period because I read Edward Rutherford’s London not so long ago, and the parts surrounding Cromwell (my grandfather named his labrador after him) were particularly interesting–but barring that I’d’ve been a bit at a loss here.
I do try to cut the authors some slack when I come across these flagrantly copped-out expositions. No one would want to start a book this way, surely. Maybe no one would want to think so little of their reading audience that they might need such a historical bludgeoning, right off? Perhaps one has to believe better of one’s readers, to engage in such a huge affair as this series turned out to be. Surely you have to go into this thinking a bit better of the people you want to reach. Who wants to write a 4,000-page series for people you condescend to?
Anyway, the first glimpse of the next chapter sounds more like the beginning everyone wants to write. So I shall stick around. I was having my doubts there in the agonizing dialogue but nope, okay, we shall carry on.