One of the things I often do as I'm reading a novel or short story is keep track of words whose definitions I do not know or that I find interesting. Either way, these interesting words are ones I feel might be of use in my own writing. That, and it's good to expand one's vocabulary every once in a while.
These interesting words were found in David Drake's Lord of the Isles.
breechclouts: a cloth worn about the breech and loins; loincloth
brocade: thick heavy expensive material with a raised pattern
cordage: the ropes in the rigging of a ship
garret: floor consisting of open space at the top of a house just below roof; often used for storage
gunwale: wale at the top of the side of boat; topmost planking of a wooden vessel
hawser: large heavy rope for nautical use
hobnailed: marked by the wearing of heavy boots studded with hobnail (hobnail: a short nail with a thick head; used to protect the soles of boots)
loofah: the dried fibrous part of the fruit of a plant of the genus Luffa; used as a washing sponge or strainer
oarlock: a holder attached to the gunwale of a boat that holds the oar in place and acts as a fulcrum for rowing
sluices: conduit that carries a rapid flow of water controlled by a sluicegate
transom: a horizontal crosspiece across a window or separating a door from a window over it
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Lord of the Isles by David Drake is the next Tor.com free giveaway I'm going to review. This one is going to be a short one because, ultimately, my time with this novel was short.
There were two problems I had with Lord of the Isles: (1) the characters didn't reach out and grab me and (2) the author didn't allow for any time for the characters to reach out and grab me before the story swept them away. Unlike a Robin Hobb novel, for example, where the reader is introduced to the characters with a steady, depthful narration while the story moves along in like fashion, Drake dumps both characters and story on us with such brusqueness it was difficult to enjoy either.
The prologue details magic gone awry as a sorcerer successfully repels an attack by invaders but sinks his own city in the process. A trireme is thrown off-course from the resulting choppy seas and comes upon a small, out-of-the-way town where they discover the missing daughter of an important count and countess who were slain years before. Next thing we know this young woman is aboard the trireme and being whisked away to claim her birthright. Meanwhile, her brother, who we now know is not really her brother, looks to also be leaving the town via a visiting merchant. I stopped at that point, so I can't say what happened next.
While Drake is an accomplished writer of military fiction, he fired a blank on this one. Lord of the Isles, unfortunately, isn’t worth your time.