originally posted by Annettevk

Hello Janny and everyone. Guess what? The city employee news paper printed my review of the book!!! Yaaaaahhhhh. Here is the link if anyone is interested in looking.
If you have any problems getting through let me know. Thanks.

originally posted by Frank T Davis

Well done! I know Janny will be most appreciative.

Others interested in reading Annette's review, the website address is as she indicates except place an underscore at the following points in the address:
1) between alive and V4N8
2) between V4N8 and pg
3) between pg and 46.

Annette, you are most astute in your comment about big words, basically my only complaint about Janny's work. I absolutely hate to take time out to look up the meanings of words while I'm reading, particularly when other better known words would get the essential message across.


originally posted by Auna

Cool review. The link as posted works fine for me, underscores and all.

You really only need to look up a few words as they keep getting repeated throughout the books. I think only two new (to me) words popped up in the last book - sanguine and sangfroid. While not a fan of these newest words, in general I think the others do a better job of conveying description than a string of more common words would do.

originally posted by Hannah

An interesting point from the review: Annette said something to the point of the the people you think are the good guys are the bad guys, and the people you think are the bad guys are anything but. I drew a different conclusion from the books, which is that there really are no "good guys" or "bad guys". Only out interpretations of other people's actions and motivations, limited by our own paradigms.

I love the challenge of reading Janny's books. Not too verbiose for me! Why shouldn't we challenge our brain? I swear, some people are very anti-brain-exercising these days. Well, what're you gonna do, I guess.

originally posted by Miranda Bertram

I love 'sanguine' and 'sangfroid'! I actually like all of Janny's vocabulary. I hate the lowest-common-denominator fascism of insisting that authors should only ever use words that will be comprehensible to everyone, immediately. If a longer, less common-currency word says it better, the author has a duty to use that word.

originally posted by Chad Jenkins

Janny, you had me at "panoply". :stuck_out_tongue:

originally posted by Frank T Davis

It takes all kinds, I suppose. Is the author writing for her enjoyment or writing as a vocation with a goal to make money? In the latter it seems to me the writing would be in the fashion that sells the most books and engenders or gains the largest reading audience. I struggle through because Janny weaves fantastically well conceived stories. Though, TK was worth the price paid, it did not quite measure up to her previous work.

originally posted by Trys

I remember Janny saying that she writes these books in this style in an attempt to deliberately slow down the reader in the hopes they will pick up the nuances and details that will come into play later in the story. Considering some of the review of Fugitive Prince I've read, those people didn't 'read' the book, they rammed through it and so, IMO, missed the important stuff that is in that book.


On words - and how they are used. I do NOT "deliberately" use "big words" - what's a big word anyway??? I wouldn't know it if it hit me -

Does big word = "one I don't happen to know?"

What I don't happen to know - is that ignorance or is that "somebody in the know being arrogant?"

:smiley: Am I dumb for my lack of experienced comprehension, or are they dumb not to act as I could?? (the "c" on could is important, here)

We have inherited an incredibly rich language from our forebears…many words, each with a PRECISE meaning, and no two with the same defninition, exactly. Shades of nuance.

I learned my vocabulary by READING! Many books. It is a wealth of ability, to communicate with precision and accuracy and, in the end, LESS space taken to convey a specific concept…the Norse indiginous have MANY words for "ice" and every one of them is a different KIND of ice…this has meaning to them. The people living in the Pantanal have many MANY words for 'mud" all of which are different and have meaning to THEM. For these peoples what kind of ice and what kind of mud could mean a different choice of action…

To lose that nuance would take from their lives, and complicate communication in situations that may mean life or death choice in the moment…

A word is a word, to me…when I wrote Hell's Chasm, I deliberately "simplified" the language, and yet – some readers still complain! I used the word that suited the meaning I wished to convey - accurately and with that precise shade of nuance…but evidently I can't discern WHAT words people think are "simple" words - and what are not…the word is just THE word to me. It's not "flowery or complex" it is a word…sometimes a combination of words strikes to reach between a "gap" - in combination it asks your imagination to leap, too - and in so doing, it gets you INVOLVED in creation of something that isn't quite mine, isn't quite yours - but spans a point in a way that's creative and innovative…it pushes creativity and opens possibility.

I'd have to pause and LOOK AT LISTS (educational "grade level" lists) then decide what nuance of MEANING to jettison…this is not creative. This is dumbing down.

And not necessarily to the benefit of the treasure that is language - that CAN convey meaning with exactitude…and can ALSO convey meaning through invoking imagination - play between the gaps of what IS known to arrive at something that is mystery - why do we whine when we are offered gold, and we are used to pennies or been settling for silver? Why not leap? Sometimes, even, why not be playful?

Why do we want to shrink our boundaries and not expand them? HABIT! Because it's easy. Because it's KNOWN.

When we were creative children, all born to imaginative legacy we were not afraid to explore ANYTHING! Until we were taught "safety" as a "desirable limit.' How many dreams died, then??? Never to be recovered?

Reading created my comprehension of language. Reading for FUN! Words didn't challenge me - I read books and LEARNED the precision of words by their use by authors who were literate and loved their trade…it was effortless! ONCE in a grand while, I'd use a dictionary (curiosity killed the cat and ALSO saved it!)

We live in times when the "mass media" and certain national magazines and newspapers write to "THIRD GRADE READING SKILL COMPREHENSION!" This sucks. It doesn't expand us, enrich us, teach us to stretch. It teaches us to "settle." It quite fails to "explore" a darned thing! beyond the tangible. "What happens next" Period.

I have Never Ever Settled for less! Never quit trying, quit seeking, quit growing, quit looking for something more and bigger - This or BETTER! and there is always more, still. I held on to that bit of the freedom to dream…it costs, I fail alot, but I refuse to get so safe I won't risk a skinned knee or a bruise or a failure…I get up and go again.

Should I talk down to readers or give them less that can be offered - for the sake of the ones who want SIMPLE over precise? Should I go for "security" just so you can be "secure?" (Big numbers = security) Well - I have tried and been BORED…and I couldn't see thru those glasses, anyhow!

This thing about language and needing literacy at all - is an ongoing debate…not easily answered. Each is free to choose for themselves. Does what I do empower you and give you the option of creating more freedom still FOR YOU? Does it limit you? Answer this.

I tend to tell complex stories in which the characters change - they grow - they are not static 0r SIMPLE, either. Nor are they "complex" just for the sake of boggling you - they are explorations that look to challenge limits. Mine first.

I look to challenge limits. Mine first! because it's arrogant as heck to think I could do this for anyone else - I offer to share, that's the best I can do…it's an honest offer, honestly presented. If I did my expression well - you get something back for YOU. and that is yours, utterly. Do you want to challenge your limits or experience or just march along to be entertained in some sort of boundary (that I can't know or second guess?) Entertainment for me IS adventure - that means going further, looking further, expanding horizons. Not shrinking them.

I have traveled far with words - do I share the gift of that experience or smother it?

I use the word that has exact meaning. Should I shorten stride and dumb down the concept??? When it's an invisible line for me - I DON"T KNOW what word you, one reader, doesn't have - I use the ones I know are the right ones in the moment! It is effortless and natural. To "shrink" down this body of awareness - not natural and certainly NOT creative, which expression wants to bound ahead of limits. Freely and joyously reach outward and touch something MORE.

We have a gift and a treasure in our language - do we let that go and if we do - what else becomes "just too hard to handle" -when to OVERSIMPLFY robs meaning - from my words, and from you! Just as overly complex language takes away…what is excess? (the word rebarbarative, for example - I have NEVER used this one, it's just over the top, and doesn't convey much more than a "little" word in the moment)

I don't have the answer to this. Nor the discernment to recognize where your limits lie…it's not in me. Suffice to say - I use the word that's EXACT. And I did, because I discerned a difference between that word and its other cousins of WHATEVER length or "bigness"

I phrased the language in Light and Shadows to "slow down" skimming - to "sink in" because when brain function "slows down" more "sinks in" and the experience gets more vivid - strikes more emotional spark. I didn't do this "deliberately" - it is the natural style in which this story writes so that I get the meaning across…it happens to be a style that takes you in - and impresses deeply IF you are willing to go for that ride. The intensity of impression awaits - if you want a surface ride, the style won't allow it.

I didn't post a sign "dummies please decline" - I didn't "decide" to screen out ANYONE - I just wrote the story as the story demanded to be told - the concepts framed the language…obviously if I had the object of touching everyone - I'd have written another story.

This story tests limits - mine, first - it seeks to look farther and deeper…and I as an individual have an individual expression…

I can always do better - I can always learn more. Everybody's opinion has value.

What value is the "right" value?

Is it pearls before swine? Or is it an uppity sort of arrogance that some readers think - ?

I really hate to think of a world where dialogue and thought are reduced to "simple" words - pop culture TV is great for some things - but do we give up the gold given us, as our language, do we release that potential into the graveyard because we are lazy?

I do NOT work with reference books on words at my side!!! I work from my MIND and I learned by reading - and it was effortless and fun - to me. I was into the characters and the story, and telling it as I saw it unfold - with exactitude.

What are your reasons? They are yours and they are OK - I always listen. Do I choose to disempower ME for YOU - and in so doing, shorten stride in a way that ultimately robs us all - ? How important IS language and communication in this format? Do we need a wealth of words in our future?

I haven't got that answer. Maybe you do…

Alliance of Light is not complete at the end of TK. The arc ends after Stormed Fortress –
People can love or hate the story on their opinion of its merits and that's fine…but from my standpoint a half baked cake is just that. I don't take offense if the batter's not cooked at this stage - it wasn't meant to be! :smiley:

This statement was not a criticism of anyone :smiley: It's my ongoing search, in my creativity, as to how I want to temper the lense…

originally posted by Hunter

A quote from Australian author Lucy Sussex is very relevant here:

"I write because I get a buzz out of chasing words down a page - otherwise, why bother? And if I communicate that buzz to someone else, all the better."

I'm a big fan Janny of your phrasing… although I do admit to occasionally re-reading a sentence or phrase three or four times and think "what the heck is she trying to say here…"? :smiley:

originally posted by Trys

If anyone is interested in examples of how literacy has fared in the US, track down a letter written by any common soldier from the Civil War period (or watch one of the superb shows on the subject that are aired from time to time on Discovery or PBS including Ken Burns's documentary on the Civil War). These men, most often of low economic background (the rich at that time would often pay people to serve for them if they got drafted) and perhaps limited opportunities, wrote letters to their wives and girlfriends that sparked the language to a fine beauty. I don't know many educated people today who could write as well evidenced by my getting asked by co-workers (all of whom hold degrees) what a word I've used means… or worse, not asking but I can see the lack of understanding in their faces.

I suspect the people who visit here have above average vocabularies.

On the subject of learning or change: I had the opportunity to point out to some one at work that if one does not change how does one know they're still alive. :smiley:


originally posted by Deborah McNemar

I was told recently that "they" (who "they" are is still a mystery) say that if you wish to write for general consumption, one should not write above a fourth grade vocaulary. I would be truly distressed if this actually happened because I graduated 4th grade a long time ago.

One of the reasons that I love Janny's work is that there is always that nuance and shades of lauguage. It's beautiful, a rich tapestry of imagery and characters. I have only once had to look up a word and I can't say that I would quibble with any of her word choices. It's great to learn new words. I don't want her to write "down" to me but I love reading "up" to her!

originally posted by Annettevk

Janny: You are very welcome, anytime.
Frank and Auna: Thanks very much for your comments.
In regards to the "good guys and bad guys" comment I was trying to get across the idea that not everything is what you think in these books and I didn't know how to put it any other way that would make sense. Janny likes to keep her readers on their toes and thinking (which I greatly enjoy and appreciate by the way and one of the many things that I love about her work). And in regards to the last comment about the big words I think that it is fair to warn people that when they read these books they are actually going to have to think. In other words if you like to read at a third or fourth grade level then maybe these are not the books for you but if you like more of a challenge then these are definitely something that you want to look into. I lent my copy to a friend right after I got into Janny's books and she read the first couple chapters and gave it back to me and when I asked her why she said that the words were too big. I could never understand that way of thinking but then I do logic puzzles and Sudoku puzzles in my spare time in addition to reading pretty much anything that I can get my hands on. Thanks.

originally posted by Wendy Collett

Janny, that was an amazing small essay you wrote there!!! I wish I could send it to our newspaper as an article for a guest feature writer spot! Alas that more people won't see it and perhaps begin to think on the beauty and complexity of language.

Whn pple txt msg att wrds r shrt n smpl ths dys

(When people text message all the time, words are short and simple these days)

Shakespear's complexity in language is one I find semi-difficult to understand in the written form, and better understood first in a play, then the writing. I understand that he is still considered to be an excellent writer of his time, even if my high school teacher had to help us appreciate his works.

In almost everyday we (hope nobody is offended by this word, can't think of a better alternative) 'bastardise' our own language in our efforts to go quicker, be more efficient.

Taking the time to communicate properly and fully, either by spoken word, a letter/email, a text message or a book is becoming rarer. An appreciation of wording and the actual message given is becoming a thing of the past.

At work, I use initials, abbreviations, shortened words etc. It becomes a language of simplicity and efficiency, almost it could be called a separate industry dialect, and with the people I deal with, I have to be shift dialects constantly, even between departments. I used to joke that I was a translator for 'technicalise' to/from 'business', but it isn't a joke anymore. There truly are different languages and language barriers.

So when I can come home and live on my time, I enjoy the ability to stretch my mind by thinking through your books and the scenarios, trying to pick out the meaningful clues, and taking in new concepts and words. Sometimes I even see ways to use the scenarios to help improve my situation in my real life.

If I want to read a 'fluff' book, I have plenty of them also, after all, if I want to enjoy the finest books, I have to compare them with others. Somedays I'm too tired to concentrate so I'll pick up a Mercedes Lackey which won't require much thought. When I was younger it was Andre Norton. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy both of these authors, when I'm in different moods.

The only book of yours I regard as a 'light' book is Sorcerer's Legacy, and I still enjoy it and read it semi-regularly. I have introduced my young nieces and my sisters to your work through lending them this book, to graduate through to Empire, then Mistwraith series.

Janny, go for the words that are best for the scenario, challenge me to grow myself, dare me to expand my mind and my own experiences!

Some people will think it's all too hard and not attempt it, some may try and fail, and some will succeed, and some will win glory!

Anyone who at least makes the attempt, even if they fail, will walk away richer from the experience in ways they may not be able to appreciate for years.

Thanks, Wendy

Well I'd hoped to spark a discussion! :smiley:

I read fluff, too, when I don't want to think! Mostly on airplanes. :smiley: I am a firm believer that all things have their place.

And simplicity has its merits, also. Sometimes a story is so well told you don't notice the words. Sometimes the story is so well told you just are stunned by the beauty of the words.

Creativity can move in Any direction - I really only get peeved (and I wasn't peeved, here, just on a productively explorative rant) when people think there is ONLY one way to approach a thing.

There are as many approaches as people on this planet…you'd think, given the opportunity to appreciate variety, we'd handle differences as exciting.

With Light and Shadows I am really trying to push limits.

Not every story I write will do this, or approach this degree of challenge.

I certainly don't mind, Collette, if you share that bit with anyone you wish so long as they realize it's a personal opinion of the moment, and that the beauty and possibility of words are a fascination of mine…I am not out to change anyone's mind, or dictate what they should feel for themselves, just to throw light on an angle of thought.

originally posted by Blue

My own $.02 worth on your use of $2.00 words Janny:

Please use them!!

If the education system would get out of its rut of trying to turn everyone into mathematics supergeniuses, and realize that language is just as much a rich, vital, important part of our lives, culture, and history, I think we'd be a lot better off.

I spend more of my time trying to explain what I am saying when I use "big words" - and I am not speaking to stupid people!

From the time when I was very small, words and language fascinated me. Thanks to the above mentioned, rut, however, I received mediocre grades throughout most of my schooling, because the "logical/linear" discipline of mathematics did not hold even 1/100 of the fascination for me that language and words did.

Sometimes, when I read your text Janny, I am forced to pick up a dictionary - no problem, except I need to get a hardbound copy of the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] you recommended, because you have included words I have not seen used, - either in a long time, or ever, for that matter - or because I want to understand the nuance in which you used the particular word.

I also like collecting gemstones, and I look on new words as much as those gemstones. Something unique and beautiful that I can hold onto like a treasure.

I shudder to think what WoLaS would be like were you to "dumb down" the language, or try to make Arithon "more likeable" or "more sympathetic" by making him an inarticulate moron. "I, like, don't get my bro, Ly, and his, you know, problem with me. Oh yeah, do I have a hot old lady in 'Laira or what?"

Thankfully, you are having a love affair with words, you don't talk down to your readers, and best of all, you're standing your ground like the immovable object of legend against the whiners demanding you use simpler words or language.

I can think of someone else who likes using "bigger" words and does not talk down to her audience. Her name is J.K. Rowling, and I have yet to hear of anyone whining about her particular choice of words or language.

originally posted by Miranda Bertram

>> I shudder to think what WoLaS would be like were you to "dumb down" the language, or try to make Arithon "more likeable" or "more sympathetic" by making him an inarticulate moron. "I, like, don't get my bro, Ly, and his, you know, problem with me. Oh yeah, do I have a hot old lady in 'Laira or what?"

Blue - Good Lord, that's hilarious. When I was at school it was P.E. that everyone seemed wild about promoting. Everyone thought I was weird for sitting around reading all the time, and all the popular girls were the ones that were good at netball and hockey. I hated both. Netball usually gave me nosebleeds, and I spent hockey games fleeing from girls about 3 times my weight runing towards me and wielding sticks apparently designed to hack my skinny ankles into bruised, broken pulps.

My second contribution to the word controversy: Perhaps I just spent too much of my early life reading books full of polysyllabic words, but I've yet to skip a beat reading any of Janny's books, and I love seeing such splendid and underused words brought back from the decaying pages of unloved dictionaries and into the living fabric of a decent novel. Bring it on, I say!

originally posted by Frank T Davis

Please explain what 'dumbing down" means and please don't use words that we dummies will have difficulty understanding.

Appreciate most of your comments Blue. They are constructive. Some of us have engineering backgrounds because we excelled in mathimatics/sciences because we absolutely love solving problems. Back those many years ago when I was in college and I needed an A, I took a math or science course.

The three teen hostages, and the psychotic with the ouzie who lurked in the back of their dilapidated Impala, broke down in the middle of the suspension bridge at rush hour.

Dumbed down: The three helpless girls and the mean man with a gun had car trouble and stopped on the crowded bridge.