Monday, January 17, 2005

Erstwhile

I read a lot of fantasy literature. Right now I'm reading "Assassin's Quest" by Robin Hobb. It's really good, but I have a pet peeve.

DOESN'T ANYBODY KNOW WHAT ERSTWHILE MEANS?

Look it up, for god's sake. Erstwhile means "former". When you write, on p. 149, "while my erstwile king sleeps..." and he's the antagonist, and has the crown on his head because he cheated his brother and killed his father, it's not the "former" king you're talking about. He's the king presumptive, maybe in this case. You might as well say he's an impostor or pretender, but he's not erstwhile.

I don't blame Robin Hobb. Tons of people do this in fantasy. I blame the copy editors.

Thus ends today's rant. I feel better now.

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