Three common failings in bad writing, and in this passage in particular:
- Rushing your main love story. At this point in Eyes of War, Mat and Janevra have known each other for a day. A DAY. They keep talking about feelings they don’t actually have. Isn’t Mat the first guy you’ve ever met, Janevra? Cool your jets.
- Dealing with sexism by creating a stereotypical “strong” female character. There’s a bunch of nonsense about inheritance laws and women needing a man to rule, so basically this is the literary version of “Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.” That little tidbit about the palace guard not thinking Janevra was capable needles me. It’s unnecessary and seems needlessly mean.
- Okay. This is a personal preference. I hate it when stories talk about fate and destiny. I am at the opposite end in the free will camp (for the most part). Not that it can’t be done well; I just finished an excellent novel about how to live when you know your destiny. Here’s why this passage doesn’t work: it tries to imbue the most mundane of occurrences with special meaning. “Is it happenstance that I blurted that out, or because the gods interfered?” IT’S BECAUSE YOU ARE A NOBLE WITH UNEXPLAINED FIGHTING ABILITIES WHO CAUSED A HUGE SCENE THAT DREW EVERYONE’S ATTENTION. ALSO, YOU’RE AN IDIOT WITH NO BOUNDARIES, AS EVIDENCED BY THE AMOUNT OF PERSONAL INFORMATION YOU TYPICALLY SHARE IN CONVERSATIONS WITH STRANGERS.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to get so testy.