GGK’s note on reviews

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There have, of course, been negative reviews over the years, too. I thought of urging Deborah Meghnagi to include some, but it seemed both masochistic and a little bit ‘cute’. Most of the time what this author (any author?) wants is for readers to take the time to do some reflecting before shaping their opinions. When books are ambitious, when they attempt different things from previous works, it can sometimes be frustrating for readers – and I am aware of that. I’ll give a fast example: some readers have lamented that the ‘tone’ of the Sarantine Mosaic is too cool and detached for them (especially at the outset) compared to The Lions of Al-Rassan. The first paragraph of Sailing touches upon this question of tone (the failing of historians … have a look). What a writer needs a reader to do is consider why this change of style might be present. To think about the possibility that it is deliberate, not a failing of skill, and – perhaps – mull differences in how we perceive and imagine Moorish Spain and the hieratic court and culture (and art) of Byzantium in Late Antiquity. One might still prefer the ‘hotter’, more intense tone as a reader, but if that preference emerges after an understanding is arrived at regarding the author’s purpose in using a different style then the author (this author) is certainly not about to complain. — GGK

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