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Typo archaeology: The Family Trade/The Hidden Family

Normally, I get one shot at fixing typos/errata in a book once it is in print; that's when the publisher gets ready to re-typeset it for a paperback release.

I can't say any more about this in public yet, but there is going to be a new release of the Merchant Princes series some time next year, and I have a remit to go through all six books with fire and the sword, not only fixing typos but correcting more substantial errors. (Not changing the plot or dialog, but: revolvers with safety catches? That sort of thing.)

Anyway, this is the typo thread for the first two volumes of the Merchant Princes. (Note: only the first two volumes. There will be typo hunts for the second two, and then the third two. I want to keep them separate for reference purposes.)

If you've stubbed your toes on any typos, mis-spellings, continuity errors, or factual bloopers, please list them here. Ideally also say what page they occur on, and in which edition (US hardcover, US paperback, or UK paperback). If you've got an ebook copy, cut-and-paste (or copy manually) a unique string of 3-4 words from the same or an adjacent paragraph so I can search for the blooper. I've got about four weeks to get this turned around, so anything you can come up with now will help!



Of course revolvers can have safety catches. It might not be as common, but they exist.


I'm going to rule that comment off-topic unless you can provide a specific example of a revolver sold to civilians in the USA between 1940 and 2001 that has a safety catch (so I can fix that apparent blooper).

Warning: this is a threat for notifying me of errata in two books, not general firearms geeking!


Kindle editions included? (I seem to remember that there's something about the Kindle process that is prone to introduce excessive typos. Or maybe it's just that I've been incredibly finicky about my ebooks, in ways that I can't be with paperbacks.)

If they are, I'll grab 'em and have (another) read soon.

... so does this mean we can expect more in that multiverse soon? ;)


Kindle editions included? (I seem to remember that there's something about the Kindle process that is prone to introduce excessive typos.

Kindle editions included, but if what you're seeing are hyphenation errors (words broken across lines in funny places, paragraphs where every line ends in a hyphen, and so on) I don't need to know: that's a robot reformatting error and nothing to do with the (hopefully clean) epub file the publisher shoves into Amazon's pipeline.

I'm more interested in mis-spelled words and names, characters who change name from one paragraph to the next, and so on.


This is probably after the first two books, but I marathoned through all of them so quickly I'd have to investigate later tonight to reverify where exactly: in at least the kindle edition of one of the books you switch the meanings of the Wu and Lee family names (and they slowly revert back in following books). If you are burning through the books with fire, I'd recommend cleaning up/clearing up consistency issues with Wu, it's originating family (Arnesen, IIRC?), and Lee. Maybe some other commenters will know specific occurrences.


A few of my Amazon Kindle notes are directed to author twitter accounts highlighting spelling errors ( one of note has the fire burnt bright mispelled as the fire bum bright. ). I for one would opt in to a tool on Amazon Kindle to allow me to flag typos in the books I was reading on that tool.


Happy to help, Charlie, hope this isn't too far from the mark.

The Singapore police used Webley & Scott Mk IV revolvers that were fitted with a safety, between the 1930s and the 1970s. When they switched to S&W many of the old Webleys were sold to civilians in the USA, within your pre-2001 timeframe.

There are also a number of Webleys from other sources (e.g. Hong Kong) with a different style of safety, that was apparently retrofitted by an importer to meet US import regulations. While I've been able to locate that in the period from 1968 to the present day, I've been unable to find a specific example so modified prior to 2001 (though such may exist).


<Slightly OT>
"... ebook copy, cut-and-paste (or copy manually) a unique string ...". Charlie, I wish I could cut-and-paste from the Nook versions of your books. (I'm currently working back through the Laundry Files, partially in preparation for the appearance of The Apocalypse Codex, but also because I want to use a (very) few brief quotes in my writing, as I often do (e.g., the line about sysadmins being bogon absorbers in The Atrocity Archives in a chapter singing the praises of sysadmins), but the REDACTED Nook app won't let me copy-and-paste; I have to retype it.)

I know what you think of DRM, so I know that it's not your fault -- but is it possible, technically and contractually, to enable devices for limited copy-and-paste? I think I've seen a few ebooks that work that way.

Speaking of which -- I see that all of the Merchant Princes books were published by Tor, which presumably means that per their announcement of a few months ago they'll be available DRM-free within a few weeks. When I look at, say, The Family Trade, I see a pull-down menu with a list of vendors for the e-book edition, but I can't tell which, if any, sell DRM-free copies. Any clue? Maybe I will be able to start rereading them in time for your deadline...

(If I were feeling snarky towards publishers who like DRM, I'd point out that I have yet to search for a PDF of an ebook and not find it, even books for which authorized ebook editions don't yet exist. I've mentioned this to my own publisher, in fact, but he just mutters about the piracy rate they're already facing. The DRM is helping, right? Sigh. But that would be rude, so I won't say that now.)
</Slightly OT>


I'll ask about whether it's possible for Tor to push a DRM-free update of the Merchant Princes into the channel. My guess is that they'll focus on new titles, initially: they've got a huge back-list.

(Meanwhile, please email me to remind me of your email address ...)


Yeah, I noticed a Wu/Lee swap in book 4, and don't recall seeing it elsewhere.

I've got a badly-OCR'd copy of that volume, but presume it wasn't -that- badly corrupted :)

Matching strings in text:
"Wu family"
"Wu clan"

(there's mention of "Carl, Eorl of Wu by Hjalmar", but that's consistent)

Btw, do you know if those changes, including DRM-changes, will tranfer to earlier Kindle purchases?


What about the pseudo-Germanic of the clans - do you want that corrected, also? (I remember vaguely some "uber" instead of "über" and could look at the phrases in more detail).


It's not actually meant to be German, but a German-related language that forked off around 1200 years ago. Any opinions welcome, along with any suggestions for consistency, but turning it into well-formed contemporary German would be a mistake.


Typos from "The Family Trade"

All references are to the first edition US paperback by Tor. (t) indicates top third of page, (m) the middle third, and (b) the bottom third.

1) p. 9 (t) " she tugged at a => closing quote is at the start of a line

2) p. 64 (t) so I switched track => switched tracks

3) p. 90 (t) his face was indistinguished => undistinguished

4) p. 91 (t) a traitorious faction => a traitorous faction

5) p. 113 (m) gave her a a sinking feeling => has extra "a"

6) p. 117 (b) narrowed at he looked at her => as he

7) p. 120 (b) Someone out there => Somewhere out there

8) p. 130 (m) a postgrad research, program => extraneous comma after "research"

9) p. 164 (b) Roland's raised his glass => Roland raised his glass

10) p. 165 (t) little Thorold- Lofstroms => extraneous space after dash

11) p. 181 (m) Chatellaine of Praha => Chatelaine

12) p. 184 (t) she might had to spend => she might have to spend

13) p. 188 (b) It her took a moment => It took her a moment

14) p. 199 (m) I've disrupt a load of plans => I've disrupted

15) p. 203 (t) from the chair around her neck => chain

16) p. 231 (m) deliver this into you hands => into your hands

17) p. 245 (t) Roland was asleep next her her => asleep next to her

18) p. 245 (m) took a deep breath. I'm going to => needs quote before "I'm"

19) p. 269 (b) " a flashback to Matthias's => closing quote is at the start of a line

20) p. 278 (m) came both a sick fear => came a sick fear

21) p. 278 (b) undercover investigativeexpose => undercover investigative expose

22) p. 286 (m) Perhaps if I a flog a few => if I flog

23) p. 295 (t) We're twenty-two floors up. => should be "twenty-four" floors up - room number is 2412

Additional Notes (that may or may not fall within your brief - apologies if they don't)

1) On page 21 of "The Family Trade", Miriam thinks "She'd lost her job and then, the very same day, her mother wanted to talk about selling her home". There is nothing in the previous conversation as presented in the book about selling a house.

2) On the day that Miriam loses her job, she gets home to find her answering machine light blinking (on page 24 of "The Family Trade"). She decides to ignore the messages. She then has her first adventure in the other world. On the next day, she checks her answering machine (on page 37 "It was backed up with messages from the day before"). The very first message, which must have been left on the day before (i.e. on the day Miriam lost her job) says "Listen, a little bird told me about what happened yesterday and I think it sucks." The message should have said something like "happened this morning".

3) Tuesday goes missing during the first week of Miriam's adventures. The timeline is:
-- Monday Miriam is fired
-- Monday evening she visits the other world for the first time
-- the next day she checks her answering machine and makes plans
-- on page 40, it states "That afternoon Miriam went shopping" then later "A couple of hours later she was ready"
-- she crosses over for the second time then says into her dictaphone "Wednesday, October 16, 8 P.M."
This must be Wednesday for the timing of the rest of the chapter to work, therefore, working backwards, she went shopping on Wednesday, and checked her answering machine on Wednesday.

Note that this could easily be resolved by changing "That afternoon Miriam went shopping" to "The next day Miriam went shopping"

4) There is confusion over who Miriam is working on the article for:
-- on page 43 (m) she phones Andy at the Globe and secures a commission for him (with the promise of a regular weekly slot)
-- on page 61 (b) it mentions "her phone call to Andy"
-- on page 143 (b) it states "the article Steve had commissioned"
-- on page 193 (m) it states "feature I'm supposed to be writing for Andy"

In "The Hidden Family",
-- on page 14 (b) it states "a feature to file with Steve, for the Herald! ... If I miss it there's no way I'll get the column"
-- on page 15 and 16 she has a lengthy conversation with Steve about her article
-- on page 165 (m) "Steve, from the Herald" leaves a message for her

So it seems that the references to Andy in "The Family Trade" should instead refer to Steve.

5) On page 263 (b), the king says "I believe we have met? The night before last?" It was actually the night before the night before last.

6) On page 284 (m), it states "She darted forward, pulling the door closed behind her". She should be pushing the door closed behind her since the door opened inward and it is now behind her.

Neil Campbell


Kinda on topic: My Kindle has an option to "report content error" when I select a given chunk of text, do these kinds of reports get sent to your publisher or are they strictly internal to Amazon? (if you know, that is)


[Praise section]
—E. Modesitt, Jr.
—L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

and a moment's thought told her that those machines would be being wiped right now.
would be being fabricated.
Feels awkward -- not simply were?

forged fire-wall logs:
forged firewall logs:

as if it was wrapped in cotton wool,
as if it were wrapped in cotton wool,
This seems to be ambiguous but 'were' appears slightly better.

"I know it's the case on the other side,"
"I know it's not the case on the other side,"

You'll have get used
You'll have to get used

Is this a stylized usage or hyphenation gone awry?

It worked! She told herself.
It worked! she told herself.

Which was was exactly what Miriam

a postgrad research, program,
a postgrad research program,

built in the romans model,
built on the Roman model,

red-and gold-tapestried

she might had to
she might have to

I've disrupt
I've disrupted

the chair around her neck

and then again, I'll know about it before you do.
and then again, maybe I'll know about it before you do.

once the servants have left is that
once the servants have left, is that

She took a deep breath. I'm going to
She took a deep breath. "I'm going to


to rub a clear swathe in the glass.
to rub a clear swath in the glass.

and with that realization came both a sick fear.
and with that realization came a sick fear.

any other undercover investigative expose

Perhaps if I a flog a few


Typos in Trade of Queens (iBooks)

pay them to be host mothers—paid handsomely
pay them to be host mothers—pay handsomely

Only one element of the conspiracy ran reliably to completion.
Only one element of the conspiracy ran uninterrupted to completion.
'Reliable' implies an unknown and a statistical sense over repetitions. This is a known sample size of 1.

Baron Griben

Fowler from Prisons and Reeducation
Earlier FBI Agent Judt introduced Fowler as his "colleague, Agent Fowler."

our nations armed forces;
our nation's armed forces;

"And if he doesn't?" Asked Brill
"And if he doesn't?" asked Brill

It's rim clattered

The United States are building time machines
That seems like a big jump to tuss in under the radar.

the work chocolate
the word chocolate

"I need a ship class identifying."
"I need a ship class identified."
"I need a ship class identification."

he Brilliana were returning
he and Brilliana were returning

He skewed Dr. James with a stare
He skewered Dr. James with a stare

sealed envelopes held in a safe on the flight deck.
sealed envelopes held in a safe on each flight deck.

very bright lights on the northern horizon

Then he turned to face the family sigil and focus.
Isn't it a different sigil?


Sorry, that was #1: The Family Trade.


Typos from "The Hidden Family"

All references are to the first edition US paperback by Tor. (t) indicates top third of page, (m) the middle third, and (b) the bottom third.

1) p. 45 (m) Clan, valuable beyond belief => line begins with unnecessary spaces

2) p. 46 (t) the lady Olga's rooms => Lady Olga's

3) p. 48 (m) Esau draw a finger => Esau drew a finger

4) p. 51 (m) Did you got where you wanted => Did you get where you wanted

5) p. 61 (b) "You have? What's about?" => What about?

6) p. 61 (b) "What about them?" Asked Miriam. => "What about them?" asked Miriam.

7) p. 77 (b) Roundgate interchange => compare with p. 100 (m) Roundgate Interchange

8) p. 81 (b) "What's that?" He asked, => "What's that?" he asked,

9) p. 99 (b) sought sollace with a long bath => sought solace

10) p. 104 (m) stared at the coffee machine blackly => blankly?

11) p. 121 (b) great Iroquis Nation => great Iroquois Nation?

12) p. 129 (m) crawl up to the twenty-second floor => twenty-fourth floor (room number is 2412)

13) p. 133 (b) we'll sort out this out in person => either "sort this out in person" or "sort out this in person"

14) p. 153 (m) Oh, right. I'll do it that way => missing opening quote before "Oh"

15) p. 155 (t) The sentence beginning "A bushy mustache" and ending "the open window" has grammatical issues around the verbs "stood" and "chased'

16) p. 165 (b) sent a message to you with lady Olga => Lady Olga

17) p. 208 (b) Miram felt ashamed of herself => Miriam felt

18) p. 217 (b) they've picking away at us for decades => they've been picking away

19) p. 229 (b) medieval squallor => medieval squalor

20) p. 230 (m) niece of the duke Angbard => Duke Angbard

21) p. 236 (t) before answering: "again, not as far => "Again, not as far

22) p. 292 (m) the way the hidden families kept going => the hidden family

23) p. 304 (m) into the shop mob-handed like => extraneous line break between shop and mob-handed

24) p. 308 (t) the harsh thought didn't have any fire behind them => harsh thoughts

Additional Notes (that may or may not fall within your brief - apologies if they don't)

1) On page 9 of "The Family Trade", Paulette is described as "a short blond with disorderly curls". On page 9 of "The Hidden Family", Paulette is described as "There were dark hollows under her eyes, but apart from that she was as tidy as ever, not a hair out of place. Which, Miriam reflected, left her looking a bit like a legal secretary: short, dark, Italianate subtype." These descriptions seem contradictory.

Paulette is also described as "Short, blonde, and bubbly" in the middle of page 6 of "The Family Trade".

2) On page 9 (m), it describes Brill as "nineteen or twenty, blond, and otherworldly". However, on p 188 (t) of "The Family Trade", it explicitly states "Brilliana an old maid of twenty-two".

3) On page 10 (t), Miriam states, of Brilliana, "Oh, and her family wants her back." However, on pages 120-121 of "The Family Trade", Brill talks about being in disgrace as far as her personal family is concerned. If family in this case means the Clan, it is not clear that Miriam would feel that they care that much about her (since at this point Miriam still thinks she is outer family).

4) On page 21 (b), Miriam says to Iris, "I warned Angbard that if anybody touched a hair on your head, he was dead meat." This is reinforced on page 128 (b), where she says "Do you know if Angbard got my message?"..."The message about my mother." However, I can't find anywhere in the first two books where Miriam gives Angbard this warning. The closest is on page 120 of "The Family Trade" when she's talking to Roland, but she doesn't tell him to pass any warning along to Angbard

5) On pages 63-64 of "The Hidden Family", Miriam is talking to Roland."Quickly, Miriam outlined her departure from the Clan's holdings in the capital city Niejwein, her encounter with the courier on an Accela express. 'Did he arrive alright' 'Yes, I think so.' Roland paused. 'So you're telling me that someone tried to kill you in the warehouse as well?' A note of anger crept into his voice." This strongly implies that Roland is aware of the bomb in the warehouse from p. 290 of "The Family Trade".
However, on page 164 of "The Hidden Family", Miriam is having another conversation with Roland in which she says "'...and booby-trapped the warehouse!' 'Booby-trapped --' [Roland's] eyes widened." This implies he's hearing about this for the first time. This seems contradictory.

6) On page 91 (m), Bates is described as "a tall fellow dressed entirely in black". However, on page 147 (m), he is described as "short, plump, and somewhat overeager".

7) On page 128 (b), Miriam states that she hasn't told anyone else about the hotel room at the Marriott. However, she took Brill there on pages 294-295 of "The Family Trade".

8) On page 136 (b), Miriam states emphatically to Angbard, "I am going to visit Olga tomorrow and I do not expect to be stopped." However, she then goes to visit Olga immediately. Does she expect Angbard to have passed along his instructions so quickly?

9) On page 156 (m), Miriam specifies an officer who was on duty "the morning of Saturday the sixteenth." However, on page 32 (b), it indicates that Miriam doesn't meet the officer until after Noon (when she enters Boston "It was twelve o'clock, and all the church bells in Boston were chiming noon.")

10) On page 186 (b) - 187 (t), it states "Miriam turned around and flipped the sign in the door to 4, then shot the bolt." It's not clear to me what "flipped the sign in the door to 4" means.

11) On page 194 (t), Miriam's dictaphone is "fully charged, fully rewound". However, on page 195 (m) "She picked up her dictaphone and rewound"

12) On page 194 (b), it states "And Olga vouched for Brill." However, on the previous page, p. 193 (m), Olga is suspicious of Brill

13) On page 199 (t), Miriam says "You're telling me Iris gunned down a couple of intruders?" However, Brill doesn't state this and when they investigated the incident on pages 110-115, there is only one body. Why does Miriam think there were two intruders?

14) On page 234 (b), Angbard says "Unlike whoever tried to ruin her hand by murdering my cousin and her husband." Doesn't he mean "his sister and her husband."

15) On page 242 (m), Lin says "'For seven years, he labored as a bond servant, before buying his freedom". However, on page 257 (t), Miriam says "he ended up as an indentured slave and took nearly ten years to save the cash to buy his freedom".

16) On page 250, Matthias takes "three small stamped, addressed envelopes, each containing a covering letter and a floppy disk". However, when a letter is received on page 261, it contains a small baggie and no floppy disk is mentioned

17) On page 256 (b), Miriam says of Iris, "who asked me to fetch down a box from her attic." On page 21 (b) of "The Family Trade", Iris asks Miriam to fetch the box from "the second shelf of your father's bureau in the guest bedroom upstairs."

Hope these (and "The Family Trade" ones in my previous comment) prove useful.

Neil Campbell



Not so much a typo as a jarring bit of unexpected 'britness'. You use the phrase 'on the back foot' a *lot* - or so it seemed. Once I saw it I kept seeing it!

A great term, and understood by all of us with a British education or a history of rugby (playing or commentary). Not so common here in the sport-challenged lands of the US.

I honestly can't recall if it is in *all* the books, but is certainly in the last three.


Typos in #2: The Hidden Family (iBooks)

"In the summer palace?"
I have a note questioning 'summer', but no longer recall what was odd about that. FWIW.

There are six families in the Clan,
ISTR being told there were 5 at some point.

"Memo" This is not Boston
Doesn't "Memo" need punctuation of some sort?

Miriam discovered a matching jacket, blouse, and long skirt that was in good condition
Miriam discovered a matching jacket, blouse, and long skirt that were in good condition


Her teeth chattering
Her teeth chattered

go baring off
go haring off

Ms finished her coffee.
Ms asked.
Ms looked thoughtful.
Ms stared at her.
All of these should presumably be Iris.

went backhand killed
went back and killed

"You have? What's about?"
"You have? What about?"

as if she was being taken into police custody
as if she were being taken into police custody

A bell dinged behind in the driver's partition
A bell dinged back in the driver's partition
A bell dinged behind them in the driver's partition

ft will take
it will take

a company mat I
a company that I

and farming out me rights
and farming out my rights

to hear about, the house

'oh shit'indeed."
'oh shit' indeed."

Almost as if she was bored.
Almost as if she were bored.

underfoot Drawers
underfoot. Drawers


sort out this out

as if it was made of wet cardboard.)

Oh, right.
"Oh, right.

Of such elements were a working day made.
Of such elements are a working day made.

A bushy moustache and a suspicious, beefy face stood behind an imposing warrant card with a crown and heraldic beasts cavorting atop it chased her in through the open window.
Two sentences in one?

If they were tailing Roger or had staked out Burgeson's shop
[Sorry, I don't recall what was funky about this -- perhaps she already knew about a stakeout?]

Olga looked as if she was going to explode:

a few padded expenses claims.
a few padded expense claims.

flipped the sign in the door to 4, then shot the bolt.

would be succeed?

Into which you checked in at
Into which you checked at

they've picking away at us
they've been picking away at us

The train sneaked
The train squeaked


Anyway. he
Anyway. He
Anyway, he

began to quieten down,
began to quiet down,



For some reason I thought 'on the back foot' was referring to a defensive stroke in cricket.

On the other hand, certain sports-related metaphors can end up so deeply embedded that their original meaning has been lost. 'Under my thumb', 'wrapped round my little finger' and 'fed up', for example, which all derive from falconry. (A fed-up hawk is one that has eaten quite enough, thank you, and doesn't see any point in exercise.)


I actually think both sporting origins are correct.


I've seen the phrase used widely both in sports and in other fora, but I've not encountered an origin before that comes from rugby.


"On the front foot" - pushing forward. "On the back foot" - being pushed. Relates to movement of the game line, generally of the ball-carrying team. Isn't it?


There is NO NEED to discuss the etymology of "on the back foot" if it's an anglicism. There IS a need to suggest an American English vernacular equivalent, if one exists!


"Twenty-two floors up" is probably right for Room 2414 in a US building; (a) the "second floor" is one floor up, and (b) most, or at least many, multistory buildings lack a "thirteenth floor".


Neil Campbell wrote:
8) p. 130 (m) a postgrad research, program => extraneous comma after "research"

If that's Miriam or another American, then I think "postgrad" is a misplaced anglicism. Americans would typically say "graduate research program" for a program which requires a Bachelor's degree for entry and leads to a Masters or Doctoral degree.


As I recall, from reading The Family Trade first volume in hardcover, your supposedly-American characters use the UK English phrases "drugs money" and "drugs trade" instead of the US English "drug money" and "drug trade".


Could you add a paragraph where Miriam's assistant points out that the traincar corvee is an obvious trap and Miriam ignores her? You're right that it's in character for M to be overconfident, but the assistant was supposed to be more cynical and suspicious.

Reading it through, I fully expected Assistant to say "DIS IZ A TARP, MMKAY," but then nothing happened. Would Assistant accept the malfunctioning laptop as a coincidence? Or that the contents seem tailormade to enrage a 21st cen American woman? Why would they be sending a hardcopy plaintext description of their supersecret operation out to the hinterlands anyway? No one out there needed to know.


There is NO NEED to discuss the etymology of "on the back foot" if it's an anglicism. There IS a need to suggest an American English vernacular equivalent, if one exists!

But we have to know what it means to suggest an American equivalent. Not being a sports fan, I can't suggest an alternative. Since I don't recall that in the book, the meaning must have been clear enough. Though it's been a few years since I read the first books of the series.

I read the series as mass-market, so I assumed they were in final form and didn't bother to make notes. I do remember that in the first books that cell phones were referred to as a Mobile rather than Cell, but since it wasn't quite our world, I figured it was a minor thing. Then there's what I mentioned recently about 'pulling a face' occurring twice in every chapter of "The Hidden Family", again not a big deal (but odd).

Also Postgrad is commonly used in the US, perhaps differently. I couldn't say.

In response to an @cstross tweet: Some of us noticed your Steampunk. I wondered if I should read it as tribute, or more as "Showing them how to do it right."


Interesting. I'm surprised that usage varies within the U.S. I have never heard "postgrad." At least among my peers, it's always "grad student", "graduate program," and "graduate research."

If someone said "postgrad" to me, I'd probably ask them whether they meant "grad" or "postdoc."


I'm not coming up with a sports-derived American equivalent of 'on the back foot', but 'off-balance' might cover it, depending on the sentence.


I may be thinking of postdoc, or at least of it being used the same way. I think I've taken it to mean someone who has finished their original major, and is working to expand on their work. But then, maybe I read too many British writers.

Like I said, I can't say, I never got that far. So take my statement with a grain of salt.


On the back foot = off balance


Which book are you referring to? "The Clan Corporate"? (Coz I'm not opening the thread on errata for that one for another month ...)


Oh, and Charlie: Do a global search and change all instances of "aluminium" to "aluminum". I know it's wrong, but it IS the American spelling. (It dates to a typo in Charles Martin Hall's brochure for his electrolytic refining process.)


#3: The Clan Corporate (iBooks)

7 “You won’t fool nay-one like that,”
In iBooks it's "nayone", and I thought it was a typo for anyone. Not sure if that's a soft hyphen that didn't need to be expressed, but it's odd.

9 He’s one of the hangers-on on at court.
He’s one of the hangers-on at court.

Helge, rough-cut and uncivilized.
10 In iBooks it's 'un-civilized.' Not sure if it has been fixed already, but I do not see the hyphen now.

12 “Do you have life?
“Do you have a life?

14 in contact with solid object-go nowhere then, too.”
in contact with a solid object-go nowhere then, too.”

14 Mike had been home for barely an hour when the phone rang.
3 paragraphs on it's the doorbell.
14 Mike had showered and unloaded the dishwasher and stuck a meal in the microwave, and he was working on a tin of pet food for Oscar (who was encouraging him by trying to get tangled up in his ankles) when the doorbell rang.

15 and on the fourth day, she actually began to feel as if she was getting somewhere.
and on the fourth day, she actually began to feel as if she were getting somewhere.

15 “Finally, there is the game of thrones. Which heats up apace, as the dauphin casts a greedy eye at our beloved royal father’s dominions in the Persian Gulf. He’s an ambitious little swine, the dauphin, looking to shore up his claim to the iron throne of Caesar in St. Petersburg, and a short victorious war that would leave French boots a-cooling in the Indian ocean would line his broadcloth handsomely.”
No typo -- I just love the Martin and Weber and history references all in 2 sentences.

19 and she had a vague idea that she might be able to join them if she was just a bit more sober:
and she had a vague idea that she might be able to join them if she were just a bit more sober:

20 A minivan with blacked-out windows was waiting the parking lot:
A minivan with blacked-out windows was waiting in the parking lot:

20 and Mike rolled over onto his back and tried to sit out.
and Mike rolled over onto his back and tried to sit up.

21 he casually dropped in the direction a baron,
he casually dropped in the direction of a baron,
Also, the source looks like there might be an unwanted paragraph break in the middle of this para, although it looks fine in iBooks.


That's not a Weber reference; it's a Plehve reference. (Thanks for the rest!)


#4: The Merchants' War (iBooks)

2 or greater than 101028 meters,
In iBooks it looks like 10^1028, which looks odd. Not sure what's special about that size, or if it was intended as 10^10^28.

2 had landed her in a metric shitload of trouble with the Clan.
Standard American usage would be more like "shitload", "metric ton", "metric shit-ton", or "fuckload". 'Metric' seems inapplicable to shitload -- it normally modifies 'ton'.

3 "Are you sure this is safe?" asked Rich Wall, fingering his mobile phone like it was a lucky charm.
3 "Naah." Rich glanced down. He was fidgeting with his phone, as if it was a lucky charm.

3 reached the killing zone and paused to check the identity of the victims.
reached the killing zone and paused to check the identities of the victims.

5 I can protect you up, to a point.
I can protect you, up to a point.

6 "As long I can be back here by Friday
"As long as I can be back here by Friday

7 Eric told to himself,
Eric told himself,

7 with members of the council-to
In iBooks, there is a bogus paragraph boundary between 'the' and 'council'.

7 Another blob of snot vanished from the gray surface.
Shouldn't it be doppelgangered by virtue of being far underground?

10 she'd have been in the shabby out-fit they'd passed off
she'd have been in the shabby outfit they'd passed off

11 Huw. "you worry too much."
Huw. "You worry too much."

11 and couple of expensive digital camcorders.
and a couple expensive digital camcorders.
and a couple of expensive digital camcorders.

12 According to the geo graph i cal database,
According to the geographical database,
Fixed already?

12 store, "where's your telemetry pack?"
store, "Where's your telemetry pack?"

12 not this well-or ganized, anyway.
not this well-organized, anyway.

12 They told me was your leg was broken,
They told me your leg was broken,

14 burst sewerage pipes.
burst sewage pipes.
burst sewer pipes.
'Sewerage' is not American usage.

15 forensics lead or an informant
forensics lead or an in formant

15 awake long after the other had fallen asleep.
awake long after the others had fallen asleep.

15 lowly shop keep er haring out
lowly shopkeeper haring out

16 And if Burgeson headed for London and the strangers followed him...
And if Burgeson headed for New London and the strangers followed him...

16 In any event, I don't expect the letter to reach her immediately, it'll take at least a couple of days."
In any event, I don't expect the letter to reach her immediately; it'll take at least a couple of days."

18 It's got hard vacuum on the other side. like a, a hole in space.
It's got hard vacuum on the other side. Like a, a hole in space.

18 thought Eric, as he twisting his left wrist
thought Eric, as he twisted his left wrist

18 UV-fluorescence images of patent prints in
UV-fluorescence images of latent prints in

18 The design swum in her vision like a poisonous toadstool,
The design swam in her vision like a poisonous toadstool,

18 like a junk yard spirit clearing his throat:
like a junkyard spirit clearing his throat:

19 while ahead of her half the bodies in the queue were doing just as he was
while ahead of her half the bodies in the queue were doing just as she was


#5: The Revolution Business (iBooks)

2 The to-ing and froing over identity verification
The to-ing and fro-ing over identity verification
Fixed already?

3 and none of the usual cross-play between the ancients that was normal when the eldest held court.
and none of the cross-play between the ancients that was normal when the eldest held court.

3 "Some kind of-"Miriam stopped.
"Some kind of- "Miriam stopped.

3 The Saber-16 can only climb at about six hundred feet per minute.
"The Saber 16 is an

3 "Their-"Rudi stopped.
"Their-" Rudi stopped.

3 "But-"Mike shook his head,
"But-" Mike shook his head,

4 an Internet router and a secure voice-over IP connection from another,
an Internet router and a secure voice-over-IP connection from another,

4 "She said-"Huw's larynx
"She said-" Huw's larynx

4 if you use the Lee's knot.
if you use the Lees' knot.

4 then took the sheet of paper from the corps-man's pad.
then took the sheet of paper from the corpsman's pad.

7 to ambush us from behind-—
to ambush us from behind—
In ibooks, this was an en dash and then an em dash.

7 field to which the Lee's trucks had brought them
field to which the Lees' trucks had brought them

9 subarachnoid hemorrhage are around sixtenths.
subarachnoid hemorrhage are around six-tenths.

9 Olga inclined her head-"there
Olga inclined her head- "there

9 My lord Baron!
"My lord Baron!

10 a discreet cabinet that might equally hide a projection screen or an expensive plasma TV as anything more exotic
a discreet cabinet that might as easily hide a projection screen or an expensive plasma TV as anything more exotic

10 calling Lady ven Thorold to report
calling Lady voh Thorold to report

12 and and no pomp,

12 And I'll wash my hair And then…
And I'll wash my hair. And then…

14 as did the twoman security team
as did the two-man security team

14 "Oliver, Earl Hjorth. Baron Schwartzwasser.
I don't remember what seemed odd about this. Weren't his whereabouts known?

14 Hang on"-the line went silent for a few seconds
iBooks shows curly open quote “, rather than the correct close ”.


Yeah, it's in TCC, pp 186-187 U.S. softcover.

On rereading, Paulette does put up a pretty good fight against Miriam and it's plausible that the circumstances of how M came across the memo didn't get discussed. I withdraw my request.


I vote that Americans be encouraged to acheive the realiSation that they can't spell.


It's missing the "under pressure" sense of the orginal, though, isn't it?


Standard Oxford spelling is (say) organiZation


Oh, that is surely a sign of the End Times. A quick search reveals Merriam-Webster's opinion that 'realisation' is a "chiefly British variant of
realization, realize". How can there exist "a British variant of English"? Where do M-W even think English comes from? I could cry, but I used all my tears for the week on Syria and Cameron's plans to torment the young.


Because -ize versus -ise is actually a live issue within English-English; Oxford usage is -ize, but -ise is also widespread. American-English is actually somewhat more rational about spelling, if not grammar (and don't get me started on the subject of the spread of idiotic or degenerated expressions in American-English, not to mention ghastly neologisms like "de-plane" when a perfectly good word such as "disembark" already exists).


"not to mention ghastly neologisms like "de-plane" when a perfectly good word such as "disembark" already exists"

Perhaps "Fantasy Island" was much more popular in the US than Britain...


There are so many answers to that:

1) if a dictionary is published for an American audience, why should it treat local usage as the "variant?" (I think other dictionaries use other words: simply "British;" or "British usage.")

2) there are plenty of British variants of English. Every planet has a North.

3) the English that is spoken today is quite a variant from what the original "English" spoke. It is not really a British variant though, more of a French one. A split infinitive is a perfectly cromulent usage in English. It is only when you get the French and the Church involved that you need to be ashamed of sentence patterns which are welcomed in say, Saxony.

4) I lost an elementary school spelling bee because I used a "variant" I read in a James Herriot book. Not really on point; I just thought I'd vent.


German grammatical structures used in English are a fantasy fiction cliche. Has Charles ever penned something like: "We shall to our mighty castles go"?


From the merchant princes, my hang ups, if I don't misremember:

Submachine guns and hand grenades lose against swords in a tunnel?! The lack of lightweight mortars using nerve gas bombs? No heavy machine guns laying a covering field of fire? Etc.


(I know, not really spelling/grammar. I'm not a native speaker, so I won't try to comment on that.)


Hand grenades in a tunnel - IMO they're about as dangerous to the side using them as to the other lot!

SMGs might be an advantage, if the swordsmen can be kept at range.


rather than "caught on the back foot" you could use "caught flat footed". It's used commonly in America, and has the same connotation.


One part of that that's relevant to The Family Trade would be that Miriam does something very similar at the end of "Economics Lesson" and the response is mostly that they expected her to do that. However, I don't think there's any way of fixing that in a minor edit...


Guns in a close quarter melee are dangerous to both sides unless you use special ammunition guaranteed not to fully penetrate. That's one of the reasons for having a bayonet on a rifle. A military rifle bullet will go through multiple bodies. Also, if it is *very* close combat a rifle or even handgun will likely lose to a knife.


Apologies to Charlie if we're heading down a tangent.

Dirk, I think we're arguing the same point (firearms are not intrinsically an advantage in closed spaces) from 2 different angles.


"getting caught flat footed" is closer in meaning to "unbalanced" or "unprepared" while "playing on the back foot" is more often than not a deliberate decision or strategy in cricket. I believe the literal translation of "on the back foot" into non-vernacular English would be "on the defensive" (as someone already mentioned). In US vernacular, it would be something like "playing it safe" or "played it safe".


Having come late to Merchant Princes, I read the first three one after the other a few weeks ago. Then I came to a crashing halt when I discovered that four to six are not available on kindle, in the UK at least. Does this reissue offer some prospect of that rather unfortunate state of affairs being fixed?

(and yes, I know I could buy paper versions, but I have migrated pretty much all my reading to the kindle now, and it takes an overwhelmingly strong reason to switch back)


Assume two teams and a one dimensional tunnel where you know the direction where the other team comes from -- and could choose among two weapons: Would you really choose the sword for your team and not the SMG? :-)


Depends on visibility and cover. If its pitch black, with flashlights the only available light source, and theres, say, crates or pipes for cover, particularly if the guys with guns don't know for sure you're there, then you have an excellent chance of getting to sword/knife fighting range, at which point you slaughter them. If they can see you coming from 100 yards away, forget it.

I don't know which situation applies here, since I haven't read the series (been waiting for the whole lot to be available on eBook - I haven't bought a book made from paper for years, other than from charity shops)


Well, I'd actually choose Barretts and intensifiers, if I get to idealise the scenario for my team so the swordsmen have to do several hundred metres along a straight tunnel with no cover.

The serious point is that you seem very certain that the team with the ranged weapons can engage the one with melee weapons at range. No-one else is making that assumption.


"The Family Trade" mass-market paperback, p. 125: A driver tells me that getting from Belmont to Logan Airport shouldn't involve I-95, and even_ I_ think that 'Cambridge Turnpike' should be 'Massachusetts Turnpike' or 'Masspike'.

Ibid, p.5: glad to see Miriam's office is in Cambridge, an earlier edition I think had it in Boston. Minor snipe: in the Boston area, cleaners are much, much less likely to be Puerto Rican than Mexican, Guatemalan, or Portuguese.

It's not in the first two books, so I'll try to get more specific in time (no copy available at the moment), but Boston's Government Center [sic] "T" (subway) station has only a single exit, at least for the general public (workers, C.H.U.D.s, and Morlocks [_not_ the title of a Warren Zevon song] may have other arrangements). The Park Street stop has multiple exits, and is the nexus of the two largest (and official/monied passenger) lines.


I need to find my copy of the first paperback: I remember that the Boston geography was a mess. Was it corrected in later editions?


Having come late to Merchant Princes, I read the first three one after the other a few weeks ago. Then I came to a crashing halt when I discovered that four to six are not available on kindle, in the UK at least. Does this reissue offer some prospect of that rather unfortunate state of affairs being fixed?

I am not allowed to talk about that at this time.

However, I wouldn't be taking on the job of revising a body of text that is roughly 120-150 pages longer than "War and Peace" if I didn't expect to be able to sell more copies of it as a result.

In other words, "watch the skies".


IIRC that particular fracas isn't a fight in a tunnel so much as it's a raid, by stealth, along a nearly-forgotten and not-properly-guarded tunnel.

It doesn't matter how well armed the guards are, if there are only two of them, they pulled that particular duty because they're useless for anything important, and they're asleep or playing cards or something when the bad guys sneak up on them.


According to the Internet, "playing on the back foot" means playing at a disadvantage or defensively. "Playing a defensive game" would be a good Americanism. If you want something more colorful, I can ask a friend or family member who follows sports; I don't myself. Let me know if you'd like me to do that.

Similarly, I recall a few Britishisms creeping into the opening chapters of the first book. In particular, I remember Maureen brings a tin of beans for breakfast on her first exploration into the parallel world. I remember that one because it tickled me; Americans say "can" rather than beans. We don't eat beans as a standalone course much at all, although we mix it up with rice if we're Hispanic-influenced, or mix it in with chili if we're not from Texas. If you want more specifics on the misplaced Britishisms in the opening of the first book please shoot me an e-copy and I'll flag them for you; my hardback of the novel is in that place where all my books are: Somewhere Around the House; the Flying Spaghetti Monster alone knows where.


Not Maureen. Miriam I get "Miriam Beckstein" confused with "Maureen Birnbaum," which I've often thought might have been an intentional in-joke by the author.

"Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson" is a wonderful title.

And do not call me "Muffy."


>Boston geography was a mess

Sounds true to life to me...


Ah... swords...
For any aspiring fantasy writers who would like to know what skilled medieval/renaissance swordsmanship was really like:


One of these days we'll get a film that actually uses proper medieval sword and other techniques. The oldest sword fighting manual in the world is 1.33, in the Royal Armouries at Leeds, and dates from before or after 1300AD.
The German stuff in the link of Dirk's has a history back into the late 14th century or so, with, as far as I can tell from what little study I've done of actual texts, development from then onwards for two centuries. It is important to remember this fact, as all too often people think that swords are all the same and nobody ever tried using them differently or practising things with them. (And by the way if you try leapy-jumpy eastern martial arts inspired combat methods whilst wearing authentic footwear you'll have problems, not least of which will be the sword through your face, throat or arm)

Of course having said that professionals started with pole weapons in actual battle situations; swords were more a secondary weapon or for wear about town except of course that it was frequently illegal to wear them around town because people kept fighting.


The edge to edge hacking at each others swords we see in movies generally did not happen, because that's the fastest way to destroy a sword. Also, the most common target were the legs. Plus, having a brief chat over locked crossed swords was a recipe to be kneed in the balls.


Hmm, I have a feeling of deja vu...
I know about the edge to edge thing, I spent a good 5 years learning western martial arts at one of the oldest UK clubs which spawned a number of quite well known people across Europe. On the other hand many other readers here may not know about it even now, if they don't I urge them to dig around on the internet on the topic and educate themselves.
Hmm, reminds me of a member of the public at an event a few weeks ago who mentioned Gygax and that in his system rapier beat everythin else, so I pointed out tht was wrong.

Your other point re. legs as targets, you'll have to expand on and reference that because in the main German styles and indeed as far as I can recall of the Italian, the legs were not the main target at all.

Oddly enough when swinging a sword towards them your body and head is more exposed. A good hit to your head or upper chest will kill you quicker than one to the legs, unless you happen to hit the femoral artery. In fact if we look at 1.33 sword and buckler the specific style is all about hitting your opponent on the head or arm, legs don't come into it. I remember seeing the well respected but now cut because of funding issues display team of the Royal Armouries using longswords and they didn't bash each other on the legs much at all.

Kneeing people in the codds when your swords are locked together lower down is harder than you'd think, because of where the forces and angles are and the fact you're trying to keep your balance etc. If they're together high up, this is less of an issue.


A nod's as good as a wink - thank you. I will keep an eye skyward with the intention of making a small contribution to your ambition.


Well, using the knees in close normally makes a hard impact to the opponents thigh, which can be quite disabling. Plus, if you are that close head butting is a danger.
As for swords and legs:


Another example of British vs. US English:

I noticed in one of the books when the FBI or other US government team is going to try to raid the Merchants, one of the US characters says either that he is going to get transport "laid on" and/or something would be "sorted." Most of the US police/military jargon in the books is quite believable, so I remembered finding this jarring. In the US, it's almost always "transportation," and it might be "arranged," but never "laid on." Similarly, things get straightened out, but not sorted.

Hope that helps; sorry I can't do better. I am away from home and will have no access to my books for quite a while.


Para 2 - Or in other situations it was compulsory; the otiginal University of Glasgow student regulations actually include a clause (not repealed until the 1970s) that "gentlemen shall wear their broadswords at all times whilst on campus".


It might depend on the context whether it would be appropriate. but it suggests to me a loss of initiative, rather than just being on the defensive or "playing safe". In cricket, it's typically about being very careful, batting against a talented bowler, but a good player would be watching for the chance to seize the initiative.

The point about cricket is that if the batsman gets it wrong, he's out. And that's not so bad an analogy for being in a fight. I think it fits better than do some of the other suggested sporting origins.

It's a complicated idea carried by a fairly simple phrase. Maybe there's something derived from Baseball but all I can think of is "Casey at the Bat" as a source.


Ah no, that doesn't provide evidence for what you think it does.
Firstly, earlier combat with sword and shield, the leg is a very specific and popular target, because there's a damn great lump of wood in the way of the torso.
But later on in combats without shields, the story changes. I'm afraid that a list of mentions of fights where people get hurt on the leg is no evidence at all for the leg being a main target, because of a lack of comparative numbers. Indeed one example the person with their leg cut off is on horseback, when the leg is of course about the only target a man on the ground can hit. The stuff about fighting on your knees is irrelevant to the question of where you aim.
Then we move into 16th century stuff. Which is to a large extent not longsword, which is the actual weapon you started this discussion about and related no doubt to their place in our hosts fiction. And of course the same caveats apply about lacking numbers to tell us how often the leg was deliberately attacked.

Whereas if we look at the treatises of the period (14-15th century), as I have done, we see few attacks specifically on the legs. They do occur, but are not the main part of the treatises. Of course the treatises are more of an ideal case, but the simple fact is, you are totally and entirely wrong to write "Also, the most common target were the legs."

Look up Talhoffer, or Ringeck or Lichtenaur for German stuff, or Vadi or whatsisname for Italian, and I.33 for the highly developed word and buckler that may have been taught in Germany at the time, perhaps developed from a Byzantine art of the 13th century. See how few pages are devoted to attacking people's legs. It happened, sometimes even by accident, but was not the main target.


Dirk, you know that Edinburgh is one of the major hotbeds of western martial arts, especially wrt. mediaeval German longsword?

(The only other place like it that I know of is Seattle. Prop. N. Stephenson.)

I am not a sword-fighting guy, but I have access to mediaeval longsword experts if I need them, and (if time permits and necessity requires) will run any scenes in the MP series that may need revision past said experts.


And a quick postscript - the article you link to is a 2000ad John Clements one. Frankly, I don't recall anyone taking him seriously, at least in the European western maartial arts, because there were a number of egregious errors in his works and his desire to play power games in and around whatever associations existed. Thus anything by him should be read especially critically.


"Whereas if we look at the treatises of the period (14-15th century), as I have done, we see few attacks specifically on the legs. They do occur, but are not the main part of the treatises."

That is generally irrelevant to real combat. The amount of space devoted to the most common attacks in all martial art books is dwarfed by the amount devoted to specialist techniques. By summing across all such books you might conclude that a punch in the face was a rare thing in a fight.


Actually, I did not know that. European martial arts were something I had little interest in until about 10 years ago. My focus has largely been on unarmed arts for practical reasons, although I did at one time have an interest in stick fighting (and might do again now I can legally carry a wicked "walking stick").


But my point about leg atttacks still stands, and I have quite a few hours of experience of fighting with actual techniques against people who did hit you in the face with their fist when appropriate.

Also you sound like you are generalising again. The German fechtbuchs that I have seen start with the basic attacks and the appropriate counters and move onto specialised techniques, which often counter the counters. Unless of course you are talking about the infamous Talhoffer, which caused no end of confusion by being one of the first translated into English, but it is the worst one to start reconstructing techniques and methods from. Talhoffer is thought more to be a show off book of the sort with nice big colour photos you leave on your coffee table, or in his case, show to potential clients.

Last I knew, in Edinburgh we have the Macdonald school of arms, the Black boar school and the Dawn Duellists society. There's a couple of schools in Glasgow, there may still be one in Aberdeen and there were enough people in the UK as a whole to get well over a hundred of them to a conference in Leeds every year. With special guests from all over Europe and the USA.

Actually a new thread about european martial arts would be a nice idea Charlie? There's much to discuss.


Have you read The Long Earth (Pratchett & Baxter). Seems to have stolen an idea or two from your Family Trade Series...


Which ones? The Zelazny one of a family whose members are able to walk multiple worlds?


The whole walking between worlds, possibilities for assasination and theft and terrorism, not being able to walk if an obsticle (sp?) there, feeling/being ill after walking.


Rapier v Katana being a classic


If it's this kind of Rapier against this kind of Katana I see no way for the Katana's owner to survive the encounter.

(Sorry: joke inevitable.)


Well, I think the riposte is that I rather doubt a rapier missile battery could actually shoot down a light aircraft flying low. It certainly had problems in the Falklands, but maybe they have upgraded it since then.


You missed the four subsequent generations of Rapier system since 1982. It's more or less compatible in name only with the Falklands-era model ...


My military knowledge is way out of date, esp with regard to big systems. It did amaze me at the time that Argentinian aircraft were in sight for more than 10 seconds and were not shot down. 10 seconds is a *long* time in combat. Ditto the fact that the old rapier system could not shoot downwards, which was insane given that it was utterly predicable that these would be mounted on hilltops looking down on low flying aircraft.


Alright. Two and a half things. I don't have a copy on me.

The Puerto Rican comment above is spot-on. It would, in fact, be rare for cleaning personnel to be Puerto Rican anywhere in America outside unionized shops. Puerto Rican net emigration stopped several decades ago. There are still a lot of poor mainland-born Americans of Puerto Rican descent; they don't fill unpleasant entry-level minimum-wage jobs these days ... and never did in Cambridge.

Second, Somerville Avenue runs into Porter Square. If there are any office buildings on it, let alone ones with elevators, I'm not aware.

Finally, I vaguely remember a reference to a bar on Grafton Street. The bar is called Grafton Street; it's on Bay Street.

Heck, a fourth: working from memory, there was a mention of a house around Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is entirely surrounded by triple-deckers; no single-family homes among them.

There are a few more things, but it would take actual work to find them. And the above is from memory ... but I remember a lot of WTF moments in those first few pages. (I was completely willing to ignore them, obviously.)

Charlie, do you have anyone you can source to fix the geographical errors? And if you don't, do you really care to have them fixed?


Yeah. What he said. There were a bunch of odd (but subtle) Britishsisms. And nobody said "wicked" even once.


"Charlie, do you have anyone you can source to fix the geographical errors? "

Google street view


To people obsessig about Boston geography - remember it isn't your Boston, it's an alternative Boston.


Note this line from the Wikipedia analysis of the Falklands - "The main problems were a lack of range, and the decision to omit a proximity fuse, an attribute which required the operator to strike the target aircraft directly with the missile." Also, they correctly describe the Rapier mk1 projectile as "a hitile".


Charlie, do you have anyone you can source to fix the geographical errors? And if you don't, do you really care to have them fixed?

Yes, I want to fix them. No, I don't have anyone on the ground fact-checking in Boston. (On the other hand, these days I've got Google Streetview.) If you want to take on the ground-level fact checking I'd be very grateful!


Miriam's world is an alternate Boston, but the branch-point from our own at which things really begin to diverge is some time after 9/11.

(I'm going to whistle past the graveyard of asking what effects the Clan would have had on history over the preceding two centuries by pointing out that the Clan were deliberately keeping as low a profile as possible, and had extraordinary methods at their disposal for covering up accidental signs pointing to their existence.)


The whole walking between worlds

Almost a trope in SF. The concept of being able to travel between universes goes back at least as far as the '40s. Being able to do it by walking goes back at least as far as the '60s.

possibilities for assassination and theft and terrorism

Once you note that crossing into another world and then back again gives you mobility almost equivalent to teleportation, then not looking at those possibilities would be almost denial.

not being able to walk if an obstacle there

Well, duh! The classic alternative is the horrible explosion. (Yeah, you'll note my term 'classic' there: teleportation is also an SF trope.) In story-telling terms, 'can't move' versus 'explosion' give different balances, with the latter paradoxically much more constrained. If you don't know whether an action is safe or lethal, you probably won't undertake the action.

feeling/being ill after walking

That's another trope in action. It's most common in magic-heavy Fantasy, as a way of limiting the power of the protagonist.

SF&F is a field full of ideas - there's a huge grab-bag of them, and it's not the ideas that matter, it's how you take them and build a story on the result. What I found interesting and new about the Merchant Prices wasn't the world-walking ideas, or even the particular combination, but the way Charlie looked at the political implications in a post-9/11 type world.

(Disclaimer: I know both Charlie and Terry, to the level of having had breakfasts with both, and both have bought me drinks. Only one came to my wedding.)


Miriam's world is an alternate Boston, but the branch-point from our own at which things really begin to diverge is some time after 9/11.

I thought Justice Bork turned up somewhere?

Have you read The Long Earth (Pratchett & Baxter). Seems to have stolen an idea or two from your Family Trade Series...

They seem rather different to my eyes.

OGH seems (to my poor brain anyway) to be mostly having fun in the MP books with economics, politics, and how new technology effects society (along with a rather pleasing homage to Zelazny)

Pratchett and Baxter seem to be mostly having fun with evolution, deep time and definitions of humanity.

Saying P&B stole from OGH seems similar to saying that Patrick O'Brian stole from Moby Dick since his Aubrey-Maturin stories are also set on boats :-)


Another anglicism...

"tin of pet food" should really be "can of pet food". (globally - I think it is mentioned a couple of times, especially relating to Mike's cat)

Brit's have tins, Americans have cans. (except when talking about a "tin can"!)


There's also some medieval swordsmanship in Helsinki. I'm not sure how many people there are practising nowadays, so not sure about a hotbed, but at least the scene seems lively from the outside. There also seems to be a lot of cross-talk to other countries.

I did practice it for a bit, but then decided to prioritize the family more. Doing martial arts requires at least 2-3 training sessions a week for it to feel worth it to me, so I just don't want to allocate the time.


In fact, "cat food" sounds much more natural than "pet food."


Basta! I'ma gonna shoot myself. All of you: for Somerville Avenue to be lined with offices, you need to change things back to the 1950s. Hell, earlier: you need to change the course of the Depression. In fact, you might even need to go all the way back to Brookline's successful resistence against annexation by Boston.

Charlie, I'll give the first book a shot. I wish I could promise more, but not in the next two weeks.


I may have met the/your Edinburgh ,Sword Play Mob, but, just consider that, well, you associate the location with the City of Chicago, with ' Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone (January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947) ' and of course with Tommy Guns but ....

" Welcome to the Chicago Swordplay Guild , where the art of the sword is undergoing a second Renaissance! We train four times a week at our home studio, ..."

Oh, .. 'ang about ..' as Willie Garvin might have ' 'av ' ... said. I was looking for a reference and accidentally came upon ...

" ... delivering the very best hair to the
great and good of Soho,
the salon vibe is relaxed and understated,
making it a popular venue for the locals.

A great place to ha ... "

It cost me £5 to have ...' 'av ' my 'air ' cut the other day but then that was in the North East of England and not the East End of London where they do things differently and rather more expensively than once upon a time.


Charlie: I've been in Birmingham and London for a pair of conferences and paper presentations. In my spare time, I've been re-reading The Family Business. Britishisms haven't jumped out at me -- I hope other readers catch those -- but I've got a few geographic and cultural bloopers. Not done yet, though. What's the deadline?


Here goes. I actually got caught back up in the plot, and may therefore have missed something. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to explain.

Page 5: “Trousers” would sound more American as “pants.”

Somerville Avenue is a residential street that’s mostly in Somerville. High-rise office buildings of the type described are in East Cambridge, around the Kendall Square T station and MIT. Any non-MIT office building should do.

Puerto Rican cleaners are extremely unlikely in Boston; nor would a Bostonian (no matter how racist) be likely to use the phrase as a generic synonym for “Latino.” (If the main character were a working-class black woman from Queens, I would think differently, but she’s an upper-middle-class white lady from Somerville.)

I would use the term “Latino,” although it’s quite possible that the crew would be Brazilian.

“’Lo” just sounds strange coming out of an American’s mouth. “Yo” would be more natural, or just “Hello.”

Page 7: “Mill” has one “l” in American business-writing.

Page 15: Lowell Park is surrounded by triple deckers. There was a time when the area was declining, and it is certainly possible that her parents could have bought all three units to use as a single-family. That seems unlikely, however, given that they had only one adopted child. Her mother might be renting the other two units, which would seem worth mentioning. After all, her mother’s financial situation comes into play later on in the book.

Page 40: You need to nail down where Miriam lives. Nowhere in Cambridge is the far burbs, which I believe her house was described as at one point.

The T, however, doesn’t go past Cambridge. Technically, buses and commuter railways are part of the T; in practice, the use of the letter means just the subway and light rails.

She might live up towards Malden (on the Orange Line) or out towards Lynn (on the Blue Line), but neither quite seems to jibe. That leaves the Red Line. She probably lives around the Alewife station, either in East Cambridge or across the line in Arlington. Thing is, she would have to really like to drive to go to work in East Cambridge by car instead of just hopping the Red Line.

You might want to put her in Arlington, or East Cambridge around Fresh Pond, but in that case there’s no way she’s getting her stuff home on the T.

I never found the Grafton Street reference, which I was sure I’d read the first time. Did I make that up?

Page 67: “Border” is more American in context than “frontier.”

Page 92: I have never heard of the “Masspike corridor.” It is possible that this is because I am not in the tech industry, but you should check the phrase.

Page 125: I-95 is pretty much never called I-95 inside Greater Boston. The inner ring road (which is also a phrase that nobody uses!) is technically I-95, but everyone calls it Route 128. The “Cambridge turnpike” is actually the Concord Turnpike.

The route they took to the airport was exceedingly circuitous, unless they had some reason to avoid surface streets. In addition, the connector tunnel between the Masspike (I-90) and the Ted Williams Tunnel didn’t open until 2003.

More likely they would drive northeast along surface streets through Arlington and Medford, then grab I-93 south to the Sumner or Callahan tunnels via the Central Artery. (There were some annoying delays and detours around that time.) Alternatively, they could take the Concord Turnpike east, then trundle along surface streets (mostly Somerville Avenue) and cross into the city to get the tunnels. Best thing is to just mention the annoyance of the multiple river crossings.

Page 139: I noticed that she wanted tea instead of coffee. Not a problem, just not what the average American would ask for under the circumstances. (Doubly so for a white person from Boston.) Also, “dictation software” doesn’t have a definite article in American English.

Page 179: A point and a question. The point is that they would have to cross the Harlem River at some point to get to Manhattan. If the wagon road paralleled those used in colonial America, it’s even possible that they would cross over to eastern Long Island and then again in Brooklyn. But even if they came in through the Bronx, they would need to cross the river.

It is, of course, quite plausible that Miriam would have no idea that they were entering Manhattan — even if the ferry from the south Bronx went all the way down the East River there’s no reason for her to recognize where she is. But it seems like something worth mentioning, if only to show that you know the geography. (I am reminded of the mountains around New York in Franz Kafka's Amerika.)

Of course, it would be only one of about five river crossings on the way from Boston.

The question is why they didn’t just take a ship from alt-Boston, which is what wealthy colonial Americans would have done. If it was just to test Miriam's mettle, her travelling companion would have likely complained. Or is there another reason for Gruinmarkt to refrain from using packet boats?

Page 190: “Main road” sounds totally weird in context. It’s Manhattan; she’s an upper-middle-class Bostonian. She’d say “Canal Street” or “The Bowery” or wherever the hell it is that she found herself when she got out of the side streets. But even if you don’t want her to name the street, “main road” is an odd turn of phrase for streets as urban as the ones in New York.

In any American city, including New York, the street signs are impossible to miss. She would know exactly where she was within seconds.

(By the way, Charlie, WTF is it with Britain and the hidden street signs? It ain’t like nice readable green ones are going to take away from the fundamental ugliness of London or Birmingham. And I complain as a pedestrian!)

Page 192: “Accela” has only one “c,” and it takes 3½ hours to Boston. She would also just say “Acela” or “Acela train,” not “Acela service.”

Page 202: Why didn’t she get a first class ticket? With her credit limit, there’s no reason for her to be buying cokes at the bar. The waiter would bring it, likely a friendly African-American man or woman from New York City or a fake-grumpy (but rather) nice older white gentleman from Boston, with the occasional younger Latina or Italian-American woman with a New York accent.

Yes, I take that train a lot, why do you ask?

Page 204: I noticed the tea again. Just saying: it’s quite possible that Miriam is a tea drinker. It isn’t common in Boston, but it isn’t super-rare either.

Page 240: given Roland’s education, I guarantee you that he calls himself an “economic historian,” not a “development economist.” I can even imagine exactly where he studied and who with! (Northwestern, with Joel Mokyr.) While economic historians and development economists read each other’s work, publish in each other’s journals, and discuss a lot, they are very different academic mafias. Moreover, development economists don’t write Ph.D. dissertations on the development of the Netherlands. It would be exceedingly strange for Roland to describe himself as a “development economist” absent an actual academic position as such.

Page 273: after the reveal that Paulette is half-Italian, the “goodfella” term jumped out at me. Paulette would know that the actual term is “wiseguy”: the movie was renamed “Goodfellas” to avoid copyright problems. If Paulette weren’t half-Italian and from Providence, the most Italian city in America, the usage would be entirely natural … especially for a middle-class Bostonian. (In the 1980s, a goodfella was somebody you could trust, not a gangster.)

Page 293: “Main road” again. That gives the impression that she’s out in the suburbs, not Manhattan.

Why would Miriam phone for a taxi? Taxis become scarce in the snow, but not impossible ... and either way she would mention the scarcity before calling a cab service. In addition, cab service drivers a decade ago would be much much more likely to be black or Puerto Rican (or Italian or Jewish) than Pakistani. (The Pakistanis drove yellow cabs.)

If she called a service, the cab that pulled up would not have a light — I have never heard of a yellow cab that took radio calls.

I should also mention here that when Brill asked, “It’s colder on the other side, isn’t it?” Miriam’s natural response would have been, “Not generally, no.” Heat island effect and all that, plus a century of warming.

Page 299: Nobody uses the term “express service.” She would have just said Acela.

Page 300: Freight trains do not use passenger tracks in the Northeast corridor. She might have seen LIRR commuter trains in the Sunnyside yards on their way through Queens out of Manhattan, after the tunnel and before the Hell’s Gate Bridge.

Page 301: Acela tickets are specific to the train. I know from experience that you can talk conductors into accepting them on later trains, but it is breaking the rules. (You are supposed to get a new reissued ticket at the station counter.) Miriam might have told Brill to try it, but she would have been taking a risk.

In addition, the trains from New York all stop at South Station. They do not go to Cambridge. Brill would need to take a taxi from South Station. That would not be a problem, Boston cabs go to Cambridge all the time ... but there would be a good chance that the cabbie would not know the address, since 2003 was before Boston cabs regularly had GPS systems. (Cambridge cabs still don’t.)

Page 302: Assuming that they were in the first class car, Miriam was lucky that (a) Edgar was sitting in a two-person row, instead of one of the solo seats; and (b) that the seat next to him was empty.

Page 305: Where is Central Avenue? I know of two, one in Medford, the other in Chelsea. I’m guessing Chelsea. I suspect the building doesn’t exist in real life, but it certainly could.

Was this helpful? Should I try going through The Hidden Family?


And what the guy at the above comment said.


Noel: I just finished NEPTUNE'S BROOD. I'm taking tomorrow off work, then I have to get cracking on re-editing THE FAMILY TRADE/THE HIDDEN FAMILY this Thursday for delivery before the end of this month!


Thanks! All notes gratefully received. (The annoying thing is I have a few days at liberty in Boston next month that I could use for recon on foot ... except that's going to miss the deadline.)


I'll try to give Hidden Family a crack in my spare time. My wife is working the night shift for the next few days, and I can't write 24-7, so it gives me something to do.

(Congrats on finishing! My editor wants THE EMPIRE TRAP in by the end of August. I'm looking forward to the feeling of being done.)

I made one strange typo above. I intended the statement, "Best thing is to just mention the annoyance of the multiple river crossings," to apply to Miriam's stagecoach trip to New York rather than her auto trip to Logan Airport ... although it does sort of apply to both.

Give me a shout when you're in Boston.


A friend just told me that freight trains to travel over the Hell Gate Bridge. I'll just add that I've never seen them from the Acela.


His note jogged my memory: there are freight yards visible from the Acela when you enter the Bronx.


Typos from "The Family Trade" (Part 2 - after another reread)

All references are to the first edition US paperback by Tor. (t) indicates top third of page, (m) the middle third, and (b) the bottom third.

1) p. 36 (b) industrial espionage techniques the Weatherman HR folks => shouldn't "Weatherman" be in italics?

2) p. 63 (b) Gramps was a Sicilian immmigrant => immigrant

3) p. 102 (b) Chatellaine of Praha => Chatelaine

4) p. 117 (m) before I go in to an interview => into

5) p. 66 (b) uses "Al Qaida" ("imagine if Al Qaida could do this!") but p. 141 (t) uses "al Qaida" ("could make al Qaida look like amateurs")

6)j p. 207 (b) You should inherit the Thorold Hjorth shares. => should this be "Thorold-Hjorth"?

7) p. 236 (m) felt the need to remedy the condition => remedy that condition

8) p. 257 (m) "My lord!" She said => she said

9) p. 266 (b) "What's happening?" She asked distractedly. => she asked

10) p. 277 (m) "Shit!" She called out => she called out

Additional Notes

1) On page 16, there is a possible confusion during the discussion about doctors. Iris mentions "my new neurologist, Dr. Burke", who has a report discussing a new drug to stop the progressive demyelination process. Iris is concerned that she doesn't understand the contents of the report and asks Miriam to "translate" it for her.

However, in the next paragraph, in what appears to be a response to the question, Miriam is concerned that Iris will tell her osteopath (not neurologist) about her and complains that she's not a "bone doctor".

2) On page 21, Iris lists stuff that she wants to give to Miriam. This includes "Photograph albums". "Photo albums" sounds more natural.

3) On page 3, the story opens with the phrase "a mounted knight with a machine gun tried to kill her". However, when we meet the knight on page 30, there is the line "The flat crack of rifle fire sounded behind her". At first glance, this seems contradictory. Later, it becomes clearer that the rifle is an assault rifle (i.e. a machine gun), but perhaps this should be mentioned here (e.g. "flat crack of assault rifle fire").

3) On page 31, Miriam has just returned from her first trip, when she encounters a passing car. After the driver yells at her, there is the sentence "Something clattered into the road." It bugs me that I don't know what that something is. Simply by mentioning it, it seems like it should be important somehow.

4) On page 50, "The camera had room for a thousand or so shots before she'd have to change hard disks." Perhaps it should say "SD cards" here instead of "hard disks" given the way digital camera technology has progressed?

5) On page 60, "she pulled over into the parking space next to Miriam's house." If Miriam's house is in the suburbs, and it appears to be based on the description of the neighborhood given on page 31 & 32, it would probably have a driveway.

6) On page 74, "she had precious little time for homemaking". In North America, we would probably say "housekeeping" instead.

7) On page 75, "she sat bolt upright and fumbled on the dressing table for the pistol, which she'd placed there when she found she could feel it through the pillow." However, a couple of lines later "she brought the gun around, trying to get it untangled from the pillowcase." Perhaps she got it caught in the pillow when taking it off the dresser, but it could also just be contradictory.

8) On page 182, there is the phrase "his most striking feature a pair of striking black-rimmed spectacles". Note that "striking" is used twice in very close proximity.

9) On page 122, Miriam is given a platinum Visa card. On page 198 (t), she says "They gave me a debit card". Is it a debit card or a credit card?

10) On page 276, Miriam thinks

The style is all wrong. Assassin #1 breaks into my room and shoots up the bedding. Twice. Assassin #2 tries to bounce Olga into shooting me for him, then sends an RSVP on an engraved card. Assassin #3 shows me an open door.

However, previously in the book:

a) She arrives at Thorold Palace, visits the royal court, then passes the night without incident with her ladies-in-waiting.

b) The following day, Miriam takes a day trip to the other side. When she gets back, she goes exploring with Brill. She finds an open door , which worries her, so she and her ladies-in-waiting spend the night in her bedroom, with the doors bolted.

c) The following morning, Miriam meets with Olga, who threatens to shoot her then tells her about the attempted rape. Olga says on page 226, that she killed the attempted rapist ("shot him dead"). While having tea afterwards, they receive word that the reception at court has been postponed.

d) Therefore, that night, Miriam meets with Roland in our world and spends the night. She says (on page 236) "Not when people try to kill me twice in one day." At best, this is an exaggeration, since the only person that actually tried to kill her was Olga. She is inferring that someone might have attempted to kill her before going to Olga's rooms.

While she is away, her bedding is shot up (as related by Brill (p. 253) when she returns). The day passes without further incident and that evening she goes to the reception. While there, Kara is given the message that Miriam should go to the orangery at midnight. When she arrives there, she notices the open door and thinks the above thoughts.

So, it seems to me that there are two issues here:

i) Miriam's bedding is definitely only shot up once

ii) If there are 3 assassins, it should break down as follows:

a) Assassin #1 attempts to kill Miriam, finds her bedroom doors bolted, so attempts to rape Olga, then is shot dead.

b) Assassin #2 shoots up Miriam's bed. It is not specified what happens after, so he could also be assassin #3

c) Assassin #3 gets a note to Miriam at the reception to meet at the orangery, then lies in wait for her there.

11) On page 276, Miriam sees the assassin hiding behind the orangery door when looking down through the roof. This implies that the door opens inward. On page 277, it states "she skidded toward the door and yanked it open." It would probably make more sense to say something like "shoved it open."

12) On page 292, Miriam thinks "She'd called Roland, told him to send cleaners". However, on page 273, when Miriam is talking to Roland, it's him who says "Right, I'll tell someone to get a team of cleaners around immediately."

13) The room number at the hotel is 2412. On page 294, Miriam thinks "Not on the twenty-second floor. I hope." I think people tend to think of floors based on the room numbers on the floor (e.g. in a hotel, if all the rooms were ten-something, you'd think of it as the tenth floor, even if there was a floor with a health club, and another floor with conference rooms below the guest rooms), so Miriam should think here "Not on the twenty-fourth floor."

Note that I actually agree with the person who commented that the line on page 295 "We're twenty-two floors up." needn't be changed, since the context is completely different.

14) On page 298, it says, "first time she'd ever met an electric shower." This may be another Britishism, because I'm not sure I know what an "electric shower" is. It might be better to just say "shower".


Another quick note about "The Family Trade"

All references are to the first edition US paperback by Tor.

On page 77, when we first meet Angbard, it says "The top of the desk was inlaid with a Moroccan leather blotter, upon which lay a banker's box full of papers and other evidence." It shortly becomes clear that the contents of this box are what were in the green and pink shoebox given to Miriam by Iris.

When I initially read this, I thought that Miriam had just transferred the contents of the shoebox to a banker's box for storage. However, on page 116 of "The Hidden
Family", she specifically notes that "The pink shoebox was gone, of course." implying that it still contained the articles and photocopies.

Should the "banker's box" reference in "The Family Trade" instead refer to the shoebox?


Typos from "The Hidden Family" (Part 2 - after another reread - up to page 176)

All references are to the first edition US paperback by Tor. (t) indicates top third of page, (m) the middle third, and (b) the bottom third.

1) p. 31 (b) Miriam's teeth chattered slighly => slightly

2) p. 31 (b) Brill said pragmatically, "my mother said => My

3) p. 59 (b) who lost the war of Independence => should this be "War of Independence"?

4) p. 86 (b) in Suite fourteen => Suite Fourteen

Note that coincidently, on page 139, Olga is in "ward fourteen".

5) p. 101 (t) a dark shadow detatched itself => detached

6) p. 111 (m) Check. The other bins. => should this be "Check the other bins."?

7) p. 116 (m) disks piled on a loose stack => in a loose stack

8) p. 131 (m) She's on a drip and pain killers => painkillers

9) p. 159 (t) The inspector paused => Inspector

10) p. 170 (b) Nearly two months of lonely nights was coming to the boil => were coming?

Additional Notes

1) On page 258 of "The Family Trade", Miriam's grandmother is introduced as "grand dowager Duchess Hildegarde Thorold Hjorth". However, in "The Hidden Family", on pages 7, 8, & 64, she's referred to as "Baroness Hildegarde".

Are these two titles interchangeable?

2) On page 14, there is the line "After all those years gathering dust in the attic the locket still worked". On page 21 (b) of "The Family Trade", Iris asks Miriam to fetch the box from "the second shelf of your father's bureau in the guest bedroom upstairs." (see also item 17 in my previous comment on "The Hidden Family").

3) On page 26, it says "She filled the kettle, set it on the hob to boil". I think this may be another Britishism. We would probably say "stove" instead.

4) Issues with exchange rate between pounds and dollars:

a) on page 86, Miriam thinks to herself "a pound seems to be equivalent to about, uh, two hundred dollars?"

b) on page 96, however, she thinks "Fifty pounds here was equivalent to something between three and seven thousand dollars, back home." This works out to between 60 and 140 dollars per pound.

c) on page 105, she's back to saying "A pound goes a lot further than a dollar, it's like, about two hundred bucks."

Based on this, it would be more consistent for Miriam to think on page 86 and 105 that a pound was equivalent to 100 dollars rather than 200. That would then fall nicely in the range from page 96. Alternatively, to keep the 200 figure, the range on page 96 could be "between six and fourteen thousand dollars" (120 to 280 dollars per pound).

d) also, on page 215, Sir Durant says "Oh, a hundred thousand pounds or so." Miriam does the conversion in her head, and thinks "That's thirty million dollars in real money." So now the exchange rate is $300 per pound. She should probably think "twenty million" instead.

5) Issues with the price of gold:

a) On page 37 (b) Miriam gives Erasmus a "quarter-kilogram bar of solid gold" (equivalent to about 10 ounces), and bought by Miriam for about $3000 (based on the gold prices in the early 2000s).

b) For that bar of gold, Erasmus advances Miriam the total amount of 75 pounds (10 in cash, 5 in store credit, and a promissory note for 60) (page 38). Based on the $100 exchange rate from the previous point, this is approximately $7500 (ranging from $4500 to $10,500) (or $15,000 for $200 per pound), so at the moment, Erasmus is significantly overpaying Miriam for her gold bar. This is 7.5 pounds per ounce.

Additionally, he promises on page 41, he promises that for two bars, he will pay two hundred pounds total, or 100 pounds per bar. This is 10 pounds per ounce.

c) However, on page 94, Bates says, "they'll give you a terrible rate, not worth your while, only 10 pounds for an ounce." This indicates that Erasmus could have been giving Miriam a much better rate, making Miriam annoyed.

d) However, on page 95, Erasmus gives Miriam an envelope containing 5 ten-pound notes, and says "I got a better price than I could be sure of. It seemed best to cut you in on the profits." Miriam becomes less annoyed ("The five ten-pound notes in it were more than she expected to browbeat out of him").


i) Shouldn't she be expecting at least 60 pounds based on her promissory note? Was she just never expecting to see that money?

ii) Erasmus initially thought he could get at least 75 pounds for the gold bar. Now he seems to have got no more than 65. How is this a "better price"?

ii) Related to that, Miriam has now received a total of 65 pounds for her initial bar of gold (10 immediately, 50 now, and 5 store credit). That's an even worse rate than she thought she had got at first, and that so annoyed her in Bates' office. Again, why should she feel better about Erasmus because of this.

e) On page 105, Miriam says "I'm getting about two hundred pounds for a brick weighing sixteen Troy ounces, worth about three thousand, three five, dollars here". However, one Troy ounce is 31.10 grams, therefore Miriam's quarter-kilogram bar would have been approximately 8 Troy ounces, which cost her $3000. So this statement has a couple of issues:

i) Miriam took across a quarter-kilogram bar (for which she got 75 pounds). She was promised 200 pounds for two quarter-kilogram bars in the future. The statement above makes it sound like she took across half-kilogram (sixteen Troy ounce) bar.

ii) The quarter-kilogram bar cost $3000. Therefore, a sixteen Troy ounce bar would cost twice that or $6000.

So when Miriam says "So three and a half thousand here buys me the equivalent of forty thousand over there", it is more correct to say "So six (or seven) thousand here buys me the equivalent of forty thousand over there".

Then when she says "But gold is worth so much that I can pay for it with five bars of the stuff - about eighteen thousand dollars on this side", she is only half correct. She can pay for it with five half-kilogram bars (not the quarter-kilogram bars she took initially), but that will cost her $30,000-$35,000 dollars, not $18,000.

5) On page 72, Miriam comments that the clan can ship "Two and a half tons a week" (or 5000 pounds). This seems low given that each world-walker can carry 100 pounds per trip and according to "The Family Trade" page 247, there are 150 world-walkers traveling twice a day (300 total, half working at any given time).

6) On page 113, Brill asks Miriam (about Iris's disappearance), "Why don't you call [Angbard] and as about it?" Miriam immediately replies "I will. Once we've returned this car…" However, at the top of the next page, Miriam's next words are "I'll do that. But first I need some stuff from my house." This duplicates her reply about calling Angbard.

7) Item 4 of my previous "Hidden Family" comment states:

On page 21 (b), Miriam says to Iris, "I warned Angbard that if anybody touched a hair on your head, he was dead meat." This is reinforced on page 128 (b), where she says "Do you know if Angbard got my message?"..."The message about my mother." However, I can't find anywhere in the first two books where Miriam gives Angbard this warning. The closest is on page 120 of "The Family Trade" when she's talking to Roland, but she doesn't tell him to pass any warning along to Angbard

Related to this, on page 132 (t), Miriam says to Roland, "I told Angbard that if anything happened to her, heads would roll, …" and on page 136 (m), directly to Angbard, "Listen. I told you something about my mother. That if anything happened to her I would be really pissed off."

8) On page 137 (m), Miriam says to Angbard, "Ask Matthias about the courier I intercepted on the train." But on page 303 of "The Family Trade", Miriam tells the courier, "I've got a message for Angbard, for his ears only, do you understand? It's not for Matthias, it's not for Roland, its' not for any other of the lord-lieutenants…" then "If anyone other than Angbard gets this message, I will find out and I will tell him and he will kill you." So, Miriam should not expect Matthias to know about the courier.

9) Item 8 of my previous "Hidden Family" comment states:

On page 136 (b), Miriam states emphatically to Angbard, "I am going to visit Olga tomorrow and I do not expect to be stopped." However, she then goes to visit Olga immediately. Does she expect Angbard to have passed along his instructions so quickly?

Related to this, on page 138 (m), just after talking to Angbard, "It was time to go pick up Brill and visit the hospital." and page 139 (t), from the receptionist, "Yeah, they're expecting you. Go right up."

Note that this can easily be resolved by having Miriam say to Angbard, "I am going to visit Olga tonight and I do not expect to be stopped."

10) On page 166, Olga says that Angbard came to see her "shortly after you left". She details the conversation, then on page 167, Miriam asks "How long have you been out of the hospital?" Brilliana responds "But Miriam, this was today." This is an odd response in that it seems to indicate that Olga's conversation with Angbard occurred earlier that day, instead of some time ago.

I'm just starting Part 4 of "The Hidden Family" and expect to get those comments to you by the end of the week, but based on your most recent posting, I thought I'd get this list to you now.


How tall is Miriam? She's described as 5'8" in "The Family Trade" but 5'6" in the later books...


Typos from "The Hidden Family" (Part 3 - from page 177 to end)

All references are to the first edition US paperback by Tor. (t) indicates top third of page, (m) the middle third, and (b) the bottom third.

1) p. 186 (b) He bowed stifly => stiffly

2) p. 193 (b) With her ski mask on hand => in hand

3) p. 195 (m) so he could world-walk, would be succeed? => would he succeed

p. 229 (b) with medieval squallor held at bay => squalor

p. 230 (m) her excellency the countess Helge Thorold-Hjorth => Countess?

p. 251 (m) "May I join you?" Someone asked. => someone asked

p. 256 (t) demanded Earl Hjorth, red-faced => Baron Hjorth

p. 257 (m) "Preposterous!" Someone in the front row snorted => someone

p. 279 (t) Roland unfrozen, drummed his fingers => unfroze

p. 281 (t) "Objection!" Shouted someone => shouted someone

Additional Notes

1) In "The Family Trade" p 222 (t), the police officer states that Burgeson was in a camp in Nova Scotia. On page 180 of "The Hidden Family", Inspector Smith says "A lot of traitors to the crown are going to go for a long walk to Hudson Bay,". It is certainly possible that there is more than one camp, however, if you were thinking that there was only one, this is an inconsistency.

2) On page 182, Olga brings Miriam a 10 kg gold brick. On page 187, Miriam tells Burgeson "The consignment we discussed has arrived." After some other discussion, on page 189, Burgeson muses "Fifty pounds weight. That's an awful lot." It's possible that the consignment includes other gold from Miriam's safe in addition to the 10 kg brick, but that brick itself is only about 22 pounds.

3) On page 198 (t), Miriam says to Brill, "So you world-walk?" It's not clear to me why Miriam would think this. She does not seem to have any suspicion of this prior to this point. Even if Brilliana is Clan security, many of them are outer family and can't world-walk themselves.

4) Continuing from item 7 of Part 2 of my comments (re. Miriam threatening Angbard regarding anything happening to her mother):

On page 198 (b), Brill says "He takes a keen interest in her well-being, and not just because you threatened to kill him if he didn't."

5) On page 199 (t), Brill says "It was during your first trip over here when she, she had the incident." (i.e. being attacked at home). However, it was actually Miriam's second trip. Her first trip was from the woods when she was accompanied by Brill.

6) On page 198 (b), Brill says, of the shotgun, "She kept it taped under her chair, the high-backed one in the living room." However, on page 199 (m), Miriam says "my mother just happens to keep a sawn-off shotgun under her wheelchair"

7) On page 199 (t), Brill says, of the intruder(s), "They were Clan security, from the New York office". As mentioned in an earlier comment, there is no evidence that there was more than one intruder, so this should say, "He was Clan security, from the New York office".

8) On page 209 (b) Miriam says to Angbard, "Listen, the Clan summit on Beltaigne is three months away." However, two paragraphs later, she says "it has to be now, in a couple of days' time, not in two months"

9) On page 210 and page 227, there are references to the Hjorth Palace. However, in "The Family Trade", this building was the Thorold Palace (e.g. page 181).

10) On page 232 (b), it says "emergency telephone numbers - a nine-eleven service, if you like". In North America, we would say "a nine-one-one service".

11) Continuing from item 1 of Part 2 of my comments (re the title of Miriam's grandmother), she is referred to as "duchess" or "dowager duchess" on pages 234, 251, and 254, and Baroness on page 286.

12) On page 253 (m), at the Clan summit in Niejwein (New York), "Brilliana was entering the room, pushing a wheelchair containing her mother." However, the next time we hear about Brill, on page 291, she is in world three in Boston, as Roland says, "Lady Brilliana got me on a train in the new world, from Boston to New London." In addition, on page 290, there is the line "Miriam had another surprise coming: Brill was right behind him." She shouldn't be surprised if she just saw Brill pushing her mother's wheelchair.

Now off to "The Clan Corporate".


Another quick note about "The Hidden Family"

All references are to the first edition US paperback by Tor.

1) I forgot to note one final reference to the exchange rate from pounds to dollars. On page 283 (b), Miriam tells the Clan, "one pound is equivalent to roughly two to three hundred dollars."


Here are the geographic checks (and a few other things) from Book Two, U.S. paperback edition.

P. 27: I’ve never heard the term “spokehead Web sites.”

p. 35: It would be a little odd for Miriam to call yellow “the interuniverse color of cabs,” since cabs in Boston are not yellow. They come in all sorts of colors, usually white.

p. 50: In the first paragraph, Miriam is cycling along a road paralleling the Charles River, but well outside the built-up area. There is no such road. There are roads along the river inside the built-up area, but they are very well lit at night.

p. 52: Miriam says, “Uh, about two miles southeast of here I found myself on the edge of town.” If “here” is Somerville, then she would already be within the built-up limits of alt-Boston. Our city reached Somerville by 1900; even with delayed technology, alt-Boston would have sprawled well past the Somerville limits by 2000.

p. 57: “Not far from Cambridgeport” sounds very strange. Cambridgeport’s boundaries are very vague. From the way the office is described, she would simply say “in Cambridgeport.”

p. 59: I do not believe that Miriam wouldn’t recognize the name Oliver Cromwell. Even Americans learn some history, and she is presented as fairly well educated. On the other hand, it is totally believable that she would know none of the details about what exactly he did.

p. 64: “Accela” should be spelled “Acela.”

p. 76: “Downtown Cambridge” is never used by Cantabridgians. For fun, I on Sunday asked “Where is downtown Cambridge?” at two churches, a coffeehouse, and a bar. Nobody gave the same answer. And I’ll add that I have never ever heard anyone use the term. She should say “Central Square.”

p. 131: Nothing wrong with Boston Medical Center, but Massachusetts General Hospital is the most prestigious one in the Boston area. (My wife works at the second most prestigious, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.)

p. 169: Miriam asked, “Are we safe here?” Most of the Boston waterfront is built on landfill, and safe from world-walking. As a native, she would know this.

p. 171: I assume the “warehouse redevelopment” is in the South End?

p. 226: Miriam states that the city is on a bluff overlooking the future Port Authority. That cannot be right. The city is in lower Manhattan; the Port Authority is on 42nd Street, halfway up the island. Perhaps the city isn’t in lower Manhattan, but that would be deucedly strange. Lower Manhattan is easier to defend, and easily accessible to farms on Long Island. Boats, meanwhile, won’t have to deal with the currents further up the Hudson, and the fishing is better in the harbor than the rivers.

Besides which, you placed the city in lower Manhattan in Book One.

p. 259: An American character says, “’Lo.” That sounds strange. “Hi” or “hello” would do. In this context, though, a grunted “Yo” also sounds natural for the character. “Hey” also sounds natural.

p. 268: The road is called the Concord Turnpike, not the Cambridge turnpike. The fact that Matthias then waited at an intersection implies that he took it into Cambridge, and was on the Alewife Brook Parkway when he tossed the phone out the window.


Another few typos in "The Family Trade" and "The Hidden Family"

All references are to the first edition paperbacks by Tor. (t) indicates top third of page, (m) the middle third, and (b) the bottom third.

Family Trade

1) p. 181 (b) Earl Oliver Hjorth => Baron Oliver Hjorth

2) p. 182 (t) said the earl, not cracking a smile => baron

Hidden Family

1) p. 209 (b) This is Helge Lofstrom-Hjorth => Thorold-Hjorth

2) p. 181 (b) straight out of House Hjorth => Thorold Palace
p. 219 (b) at the Castle Hjorth => Thorold Palace

Note: there may be other references that I missed.

Additional Notes

1) How many sons in Angmar have?

In "The Family Trade" page 148, Angbard says of Angmar Lofstrom, "He had many children," then later "Angmar the elder's youngest son, Marc, tried to cross the wilderness far earlier, but the attempt came to nothing and Marc was lost."

In "The Family Trade" page 269, there is the following conversation beginning as Miriam asks Brill

"Weren't there originally seven sons of Angmar the Sly?"
"Um, yes?" Brill looked puzzled.
"But one was lost, in the early days?"
Brill nodded. "That was Markus, or something. The first to head west to make his fortune."

But in "The Hidden Family", page 195, Miriam is listening to notes she made on her dictaphone, which include the following:

"The family founder had six sons. Five of them had families and the Clan is the result. The sixth -- what happened to him? Angbard said he went west and vanished."

Also, I imagine that at some point he must have changed his name to Lee.


Neil, you're too late. The MS is already with the editor and probably on its way to production ...



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