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So perhaps some commandments for historical novelists should be:
I. Thou shalt not change significant/universally-known historical events and facts. Every reasonably well-read reader of thy story will throw thy book against the wall and instantly label thee an ignoramus who couldn’t be bothered to do even minimal research.
Pretty basic. You can’t get away with saying Marie-Antoinette escaped the guillotine or that some other European explorer got to America first (and lived to tell about it and bring stuff back with him that other people eat in your novel) without plunging straight into the realm of alternate history, and you’d better darn well TELL us it’s alternate history. On the first page.
I should probably use the word “manuscript” rather than “book” here, because it is highly (more…)