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Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling, by Tony Cliff - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling, by Tony Cliff [Mar. 3rd, 2016|06:58 am]
Marissa Lingen

Review copy provided by First Second Books.

This is the second in a series, and I have not read the first, which is called Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. Its content is easy to infer, since the titular characters are both in this volume: the Turkish Lieutenant, Mister Selim, narrates to the reader his role in events and his (slightly more sensible) opinions of Delilah’s exploits.

And exploits: they are many.

There is swashing, and also buckling. There are adventures on horseback, on sailboats, in carriages, at fancy balls, in gardens, at teas. There are adventures with multiple different sets of soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars. The swords, the muskets, the barrels of powder, and the written-out sound effects are copious. So there are many of you for whom this is going to be exactly your sort of rollicking adventure. If you have ever thought, “The biffs, bams, and pows of ’60s era Batman: if only they were attached to a young woman in the British Regency!”, then your long nightmare of waiting is over and this is the graphic novel for you.

Those of you for whom it maybe isn’t: the ones who care about the social mores of British society during the Napoleonic Wars. In the author’s note, Tony Cliff says that despite his best efforts there will inevitably be some conflict with the astute reader’s knowledge: boy howdy. And then he invites readers to help him with his research: um. This is a complete cop-out, basically, because when it comes to social mores he pretty clearly does not care. When can you, as an unmarried woman of good family, go introduce yourself to random other people of good family? How does that work in the Regency? Hahaha Tony Cliff patently does not care–I cannot imagine that a reader saying, “That’s not how it worked, actually,” would have gotten anywhere with the plot he had contrived. It looks very much like he wanted to write a rollicking adventure with a very modern heroine who does not care either. And if you, the reader, care–if you cannot un-know the things you know about the social interactions of the time–if you cannot set them aside to go biff, bam, and pow–this is probably not the graphic novel for you, swashing and buckling though it may have.

Please consider using our link to buy Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling from Amazon.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: oursin
2016-03-03 01:57 pm (UTC)
It is not as though there are not vast amounts of helpful information on Regency mores widely available on the internet! Perhaps obviously, skewed towards the requirements of romance writers who want to Get It Right (more power to them), but still, it is probably one of the periods with the most readily available at the click of a mouse helpful info for the lay reader.

Edited at 2016-03-03 01:58 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-03 06:15 pm (UTC)
That's why I felt that it was disingenuous of him to say that he wanted reader help, yes. As someone who has been interested in, say, peasant customs in Karelia in the 18th century, I have some sympathy for topics that are difficult to research in English. This is not one.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2016-03-03 02:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a disappointment! The first part of your review had me all wahoo! But the second part . . . no.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-03 06:15 pm (UTC)
I think you are one of the readers who will self-identify correctly here, yes.
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[User Picture]From: SorchaRei
2016-03-03 07:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this, because on the face of it, it sounds awesome. But I have thrown multiple books across the room for anachronisms with respect to Regency social norms and technology. Think I better skip this.

(One of my favorites: A duke invites a young lady he has encountered walking along St. James Street one afternoon to join him for a private picnic in Hyde Park at 8am the next day, "when your mother will be entertaining morning callers". He repeatedly addresses her as Lady Helen and also Lady Lastname, despite the fact that her father is a baronet. He calls her mother Mrs. Lastname. He also serves her hot coffee out of a thermos and offers her his favorite breakfast food: cold pizza.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-03 09:28 pm (UTC)
And you know, some people just roll with that. And for others, that sort of thing is data. Like the "Lady Helen" and "Lady Lastname" thing: you can use that to signal that someone is out of place socially, that they have no idea what they're doing. If you're not using it to signal, then it's just the author not knowing what they're doing, and for a lot of readers that's just less fun.
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From: diatryma
2016-03-03 09:57 pm (UTC)
This is why I talk about trusting the author-- there are some books I've read in which I spotted and rolled my eyes at mistakes that later turned out to be actual clues. But I didn't trust the author to get it right, for whatever reason, and so a layer of the story didn't exist for me.
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[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2016-03-04 12:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, for all that the samples of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant seemed very swashbuckling, the singular disregard for and disinterest in historical realism in any form that it displayed did not motivate me to try it.

I'm sorry to hear that the sequel suggests my assessment was accurate.
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[User Picture]From: dormouse_in_tea
2016-03-04 01:04 am (UTC)
I would consider using your link to purchase it if your review hadn't made me screamingly averse to ever, ever, ever reading it. O_o;;
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-04 01:06 am (UTC)
Not every book is for every person. That's what reviews are for.
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[User Picture]From: therck
2016-03-04 01:59 am (UTC)
I made a go at reading the first book a few months back and bounced hard. I rather felt that Delilah was too much of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
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