Sunday, June 12, 2011

Very thoughtful review by Old English Rose:
Morgan, or Anna as she begins the story, is a surprisingly complex character who develops convincingly throughout the course of the novel. She starts out curious, questioning and vulnerable but quickly acquires a steely resolve and an adult mindset as she is forced to mature by her circumstances. She’s so controlled and self-sufficient for much of the book that I don’t find her a particularly sympathetic character, but she’s still really interesting and a great strong female protagonist for a young adult story. I thought it was particularly poignant and a clever touch that what she works towards in Ireland, unification under one High King, is exactly what Arthur later works towards in Britain.

She objects to my putting pelicans in the Irish sea. She's probably right about that. I was trying to show the Irish Sea before it was fished out, and I'm pretty confident there were flocks of sea birds out there in 500 AD. But they were probably not pelicans, which tend to keep to the Mediterranean in Europe.

However, I did not put Morgan's three-toed horse in recklessly. Caesar had a three-toed horse, according to Suetonius, and Alexander's horse Bucephalos was supposedly three-toed. Snakes are sometimes born with atavistic hind limbs, and sperm whales rarely (1 in 5000) with hip bones. The genome has the information, but other genes suppress its expression. Presumably horses have the genes for three toes, but also genes that suppress the expression of any but the middle toe.

Here's a good article on polydactyly in horses. And here's a Scientific American article from 1892.



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