In other words, instead of doing his own research with primary sources - actual politicians, actual diplomats, academic experts on diplomacy and politics in history - he was drawing his source material from other fantasy writers. Writers who, one assumes, had never had political or diplomatic careers of their own, but were cribbing and researching themselves. He was researching at one remove.
It made me sad.
There is a weird pool of derivativeness that bubbles up in the heart of certain sections of fandom. Some fantasy fans seem to prefer the