Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

December 12, 2009

Misogynist marketing – The Thief of Kalimar

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Sam @ 1:55 am

By Graham Diamond.

This one is a triumph of marketing, for 1979ish values of “triumph”, and for the kind of marketing that doesn’t involve very much honesty about the book’s contents. In fact, it hits a double word score on the ism front – it’s racist and sexist.

The blurb starts, Ramagar was a thief, and carries on talking about him, mentioning in passing his clever mistress Mariana, the beautiful dancing girl. The front cover shows a very Nordic guy in a short tunic, with a small scimitar; this is not Ramagar. The book has (of course) a map in the front, and the map is a slightly distorted version of Europe with all the names (except Brittany) completely changed. There’s an Aran, but it’s both much larger than either Aran or Arran, and in entirely the wrong place. Ramagar, on the other hand, comes from a city which roughly corresponds to a heavily exoticised Marrakech. It isn’t a case of whitewashing, but what they’ve done is almost as bad; they’ve put a more minor member of the adventuring party on the front, rather than the headline guy they talk about on the back, because the headline guy has brown skin.

Oh, and guess what? He’s not actually the hero, either. 90% of the book is about Mariana, the clever dancing girl, who talks to people, recruits more help for the quest, saves everyone through quickwittedness a few times, gets the long-lost family plotline, and makes the decision to go back to Not North Africa instead of staying in Small North Atlantic Continent when the quest is complete. If they’d written her into the blurb instead, though, goodness only knows what their sales would have been like… someone might have got the idea that this was a book for girls. (Aided, admittedly, by the note in the author’s bio that says “His young daughters, Rochelle and Leslie, were an inspiration for this book.)

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