Word Wednesday.



Charlatan, noun.

  1. Quack.

  2. One making usually showing pretenses to knowledge or ability: Fraud, Faker.

– Charlatanism, noun.

– Charlantry, noun.

[Origin: Italian ciarlatano, alteration of cerretano, literally, inhabitant of Cerreto, from Cerreto, Italy.]


That certainly makes me wonder about the inhabitants of Cerreto in the 15th century. Many thanks to rq for the recommend, Uprooted is a splendid story.

“I put my hands on it, and then I said abruptly, “What does it summon? A demon?” “No, don’t be absurd,” the Dragon said, impatiently. “Calling spirits is nothing but charlantry. It’s very easy to claim you’ve summoned something that’s invisible and incorporeal.” – Uprooted, Naomi Novik.


  1. rq says

    I loooved it. It had its faults, but I liked the author’s unapologetically Polish spelling (according to people online, this was unfair and inconsiderate and impossible to pronounce) and the distinctly traditionally feminine type of heroism and problem-solving -- not just waving wands and/or swords, but a very balanced-nature-oriented type of issue. Also the bend towards slavic/baltic storytelling and less the typical anglic line. These two things may be connected, but I don’t know for sure.
    Incidentally, I’m set to continue Cogman’s Invisible Library series. I was a bit meh about the first (couldn’t name a specific thing, though), but you’ve complimented it several times and besides, it was a lot of fun.

  2. says

    Christ, people will whine about anything. The Polish didn’t bother me at all, if I wanted to know how to pronounce stuff, just went to Forvo, listened and learned. I thought it was an absolutely fabulous story. It’s hard to come by good stories these days.

  3. says

    Oh, I’m still enjoying the Invisible Library series, but at this point, I’m positive that Irene is Alberich’s kid, and if the ‘big reveal’ doesn’t happen in the 4th book (out in January), I might wander off it.

  4. rq says

    True about the good stories. This is why I like Aaronovitch, and The Expanse series has been doing decently (though it’s going on the 7th book now, I wonder how long they can maintain it but I have hope), and also why Uprooted felt like such a surprise. I still have Okorafor and Jemisin and others to get to, though. Slowly but surely!

  5. says

    Nnedi Okorafor simply doesn’t write fast enough! ;) I love her books. Rachel Caine’s latest in the great library of Alexandria is out, but I’m having trouble getting started. It’s difficult to get into the overall grimness of that world after Uprooted.

  6. rq says

    That’s the name I’ve been missing on the list, Rachel Caine.
    Uprooted was certainly a happy read, but it wasn’t too sappy for my tastes. Very positive vibe overall but could have been excellently dark, too.

  7. says

    I found the thread of darkness in Uprooted very grim, what could be labeled a tragedy, but was at the behest of nasty humans. When you learn the truth of the wood, that’s a bitter swallow. I liked that it ended upbeat, there isn’t enough of that. And my favourite part, the one bit that stayed with me was the old man on the bridge in Zatochek. His love and enthusiasm for life after life was sheer wonder. It would be nice to have such a choice at the end of this life.

    And the fact that Agnieszka managed to wrap her roots around Sarkan is relentlessly cheerful, but it was nice to leave them, knowing that he’ll continue to be a prickly sourpuss and Agnieszka will continue managing him.

  8. rq says

    Oh, I loved the detached romance, that it wasn’t all feathered doves and rose petals and cute little words. Loved the ending for that, haha, and it was one thing that made me wish it wasn’t a standalone book (though it’s nice to read a standalone book, series don’t always agree with me).
    The old man left an impression, too, but the tragedy of the Wood was heartrending, because it wasn’t the usual evil (as such) to be eradicated. A reminder that actions can have deep, painful consequences long into the future (also they didn’t make it about cis-hetero love).

  9. rq says

    And I love the name Sarkan, in Latvian sarkans means “red”, which was a nice association. It tastes nice on the tongue, too.

  10. says


    It tastes nice on the tongue, too.

    Yes. Yes, it does.

    but the tragedy of the Wood was heartrending

    Gods, yes. Brought about by one nasty, greedy child who didn’t like daddy getting married. It was appalling, the depth and consequence of that one action.

    My fave line: “I don’t want to be a tree yet.”

  11. says


    Also the father who decided to stay a tree.

    That’s who I was talking about, the man on the bridge in Zatochek. He so loved his life after life, he grew so big, extended fruit, had roots wrapping around the bridge, strengthening it, and all the birds and squirrels made a home in his branches. That’s the bit that stayed with me so, and made me think of just how nice an option that would be. “Ah, dying. Time to be a tree.” His happiness and eagerness translated to being a massive strength and joy for the town; while he went dreaming, he didn’t lose sight of his children, or the townspeople. He became a great guardian tree.

    He’s a story all his own.

  12. rq says

    Ugh, I mixed up my villages.
    But yes, him.
    And there was nothing about the city that I liked -- and I’m pretty sure it was written for that effect.

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