Saturday, September 29, 2012

Follow Friday - A Typical Tarot Deck Has Seventy-Eight Cards

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - (un)Conventional Bookviews and J'adore Happy Endings.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What is the BIGGEST word you’ve seen used in a book lately – that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition & book too.

The word I am picking is sabretache, which I first encountered in Gene Wolf's Shadow of the Torturer, and is used throughout the remaining three books of the Book of the New Sun series. I don't know if it was the biggest word used in the book, but it was the one that I actually looked up. Wolfe uses a lot of unusual and archaic words, such as optimates, aquaestor, and fiacre, and most can be figured out from context. And sabretache is no exception. Based upon how the main character Severian uses it, one can pretty readily figure out that it is some sort of bag or pouch. And that is the case for most of Wolfe's writing - you can figure out what he's talking about, but not exactly.

But I wanted to know exactly what he was talking about, so I looked it up. A sabretache is a flat leather bag used by hussar cavalry starting at the beginning of the 18th century, and spreading to use among many other types of cavalry by the beginning of the 19th century. The British cavalry still used them in the Crimean War, and the Prussian Guard Hussars used them in the Franco-Prussian War. By the beginning of the 20th century the sabretache had been discarded by most cavalry forces. So that is exactly what Severian was supposed to be carrying. But the odd thing is that except for some limited time serving in the Autarch's army as part of his destrier cavalry, Severian walks pretty much everywhere he goes. In any event, that's what sabretache means, even if it is used by someone who isn't technically the sort of individual who would traditionally use one.

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  1. New word for me!

    New follower hopping by!
    my ff:

  2. Haven't heard that one before! I have The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe to read =)

  3. @Jenny: Glad to see you, and glad my word was new for you.

  4. @Rinn: I highly recommend the Book of the New Sun. It is regarded as Gene Wolfe's masterwork for a reason.