|Reviews for Medusa|
| dx713 12/26/10 . chapter 6
That was a nice twist to put on that tale. I like how you introduces Pegasus, and how you mix the gods and the humans, that's very ancient greece.
I like your English, the words you use, and the rhythm of your sentences, so let me get to the criticism part without forgetting that.
First, I have a hard time to buy nobody killing Medusa. My idea of the average man is lower than that. I also question the logistics of a single girl sculpting lifesize statues. You need help to move those big blocks of marble!
On the rest of the story, I think the part where Perseus goes to the dock could be more detailed. I had problems visualizing the action. There were also shifts in points of view from Perseus to Medusa that were a bit abrupt (unless I was mistaken and they were still within talking distance from each-other).
Even if it might be a bit unrealistic, I had no problem with the being already in labour part. I found the matter of fact tone of Medusa quite fun.
On the other hand, I would have liked a longer lead into the solution to Perseus' problem. It came a bit out of the blue, there.
I've liked how you introduced the setting in the first chapter, with the wind and the food, but I'm less sure about the reference to death with a scythe in the last one. I thought this one came from the middle-ages. But my greek mythology is rusty enough that it didn't bother me much.
| Palantean Writer 8/24/10 . chapter 6
Ahh, but my Greek mythology is rusty. I *know* I've heard the name Hermes. I think she was, well, a she? And she suffered a sad fate at the end? But I'm not sure. Either way, I'm happily tucking into this chapter!
"The rain fell on and on..." Funnily enough, it was my *second* instinct to go, 'this sounds more like a continuation than a beginning'. But you know what? These first six words work incredibly well. There's a very flowing sense to this introduction and considering what you're communicating, that makes it work. There's a 'swept-asunder' feeling to reading a sentence that feels like it was started half-way through, and the 'on and on' carries that sweeping feeling through.
I am already seeing, feeling and tasting that heavy rain!
"Beseiged inside the cave, they filled their time telling stories." And that sounds just darn cosy. One of my favourite places is in a lit, glowing pub with a drink in my hand when it's either getting dark or pouring with rain outside. You've evoked this feeling for me!
Ah. At first I read it that Medusa was the one playing with Chrysoar, even through that isn't what you said. Just to let you know I made that mistake. And that, perhaps, the scene can be expanded so we see him playing with the infant in a little more detail. It does sound incredibly endearing.
"I had my youth and strength and pride..." I can accept that he probably said this and we all phrase things badly sometimes, so this isn't a fault as such. But this suggests that a long, long time has passed and that Perseus is no longer young.
"I suppose I thought the gods would provide." This sounds like his belief is changing. Again, either it's just a quirk of the way he phrased it and he still retains a strong level of superstitious belief, or his dealings with the supposedly supernatural Medusa and hearing of her pining for her husband and seeing an allegedly demi-god of an infant who sleeps, cries and pees himself just like any other infant are making him re-think his beliefs.
But if you intended for the reader to read anything deep into his statement then I'd happily see him thinking these things through.
""But you had no weapons!" she laughed, shaking her head at his recklessness." Funny thing is, here I'm feeling a need for the conversation to slow down and for us to get a look at Medusa again. The image of her shaking her head had me thinking of the coarse movement of her dreadlocks. And we've had precious little in the way of visual cues in this story for some time. Especially of characters.
Ah, so the messenger was attacked by only one person? I had it in my head that a whole gang attacked him. Fair enough, though...
"He smiled at her responses, wonder how long it had been since she'd had company, that his poor tale caused her such amusement." There's a wonderful sense of emotional intimacy to this scene. If you ever end up building on this story I think you have a lot of room for extra mileage, seldom more so than in this chapter! Having one of the cast-in-stone, untouchable heroes from the Greek myths telling a story like you or I might tell each other of a hard day at the office is a refreshing twist on the tale.
""Oh, the dears, they can see nothing without it. You did give it back?"
"Of course, what do you take me for?""
There, see? What could be a more playful, kind and human bit of dialogue than that?
""Well, perhaps I'm not as much of a hero as I make out," he murmured a little self consciously..." Take care. You seem to be using the word 'murmured' quite a lot in this story. If I may put forward a suggestion, I think 'muttered' would work better here.
""That's not much of a story," Charis noted, stirring a pot of soup..." You mentioned before that Charis was present, but the fact that she was stirring soup (and had either been stirring, or adding ingredients, for some time) has only come to light at this late stage in the scene. I think it could add to the familial warmth of the scene by getting a mention earlier.
""Well, it's the truth," Perseus muttered,..." Ah. There's the word muttered. *shy grin*
And to the next scene...
I think you're using Charis as a... how to say this? A talisman of the Greek myths the way they're usually told. And that's an inriguing motif, given the contemporary humanism you're using to tell this story. She's being rebuked at the beginning of this scene by Medusa, and that brings back into focus what Charis is there for.
She is the old guard within this freshened-up story. Clever idea.
"...and attached her own locks to crown it..." Wily Medusa! While I'm fairly sure Perseus would not have noticed that Medusa had lost a few of her locks, I'm surprised he didn't see her cutting them off, or perhaps I am surprised after all that he didn't notice she had a few tell-tale tufts left over. But then, maybe she took them from the base of her scalp or something, so it wouldn't be obvious.
Maybe this needs some reference? Mind you, that might mean spoiling the surprise for the reader of what she had planned. Oh, I don't know. I'm just letting you know my impressions of this bit.
"...she revealed her shorn head." Ah. Again, this feels like it was revealed too late. The fact that she had a shawl on, I mean.
Aha, so in a twisted way, Perseus has exactly what he came for! And the pining wife/new mother remains unharmed! However, I feel this surprise resolution wasn't given the build-up it deserves. It could be punchier.
Aww, but the Pegasus bit at the end of that scene is rather sweet!
And the third scene...
"...his goats milling about his legs, all gazing at the stunning horse on the clifftops, like at an angel descended from heaven." What a fantastic image! I love this! It's as fanciful as it is unexpected! Excellent choice of simile!
...and I've got to the end of the story. Wow, what a tale! Overall, this is beautifully put-together! The ending feels a bit less hurried than other parts of this chapter, although it could still be embellished. All the really impressive bits are already in there, though. Wonderful work, and no wonder you were keen to get this one written!
- From We Return Reviews.
| Palantean Writer 8/18/10 . chapter 5
Oh! Pegasus! I love Pegasus, and I can't wait to see what you've made of his legend!
"The hours stretched endlessly in the firelit cave." If they're in a cave, where were the windows?
"With Medusa cradled in his arms, gripping his hands bloodless with each contraction..." I think you can take out that comma, but I like the unusual description of gripping someone's hand bloodless.
Again, I feel that this chapter may be rushed. But here: "Finally he was safely out, and..." Should be a new paragraph. Again, that comma feels superfluous.
I'm not sure what Poseidon was meant to look like, but some incarnations of him make him green and scaly, covered with fins and the like. Unless Perseus already knows that Poseidon is only human-shaped, is he surprised to see that the sea god's son is simply a human?
And I'd have expected to see Perseus feel fear at holding an infant. That old feeling of 'what if I drop him?'. I know I get that with kids...
""So you're an oracle, now, are you? Look, he frets, he wants his mother."" A nice line, this. Again, it takes apart the untouchable veneer of ancient Greek legend and turns it into a simple, familial scene. The way it should be; the way that, perhaps, it had been.
There is, however, no transition between Medusa refusing to touch her infant and her holding him so he can suckle.
The word murmured gets used three times that I can see in the first third of this story, so I'm starting to feel it's being overused here.
Although it's quite possible that Perseus' slaughter of the baby goat may have been quite brutal, personally I don't balk at seeing such slaughters on TV and wouldn't, as such, mind in this story. So if you're going to re-do this chapter at all, please feel free to include a scene/part of a scene where he actually does the deed.
""Hide the baby, child!" the woman scolded, taking it from her, fright pinching her mouth into a line, "Tell them you're pregnant still."" Hmm. Their timing suggests to me that somehow they know full well that she has given birth. They won't be convinced... will they?
"...oars out like a centipede feeling its way in the dark." Lovely description, this!
""We'll not need to tell them anything," he remarked, relief lightening his voice, "It is too rough to land."" I'm surprised Perseus is so weak-livered that he doesn't want to lie, even to save an infant's life. He may be young and idealistic, but it doesn't feel quite right. It should be in your story, I've no doubt about that, but his penchant for honesty needs to be given more gravitas, otherwise it simply feels like him being flimsy, here.
""But horses belong to those that love them best."" I don't remember reading anything particular about Pegasus' personality, just that he was an impressive and convenient steed. But this sentence makes for a wonderful announcement for him, and perhaps his strength of character, as he enters the story. Can I assume what they think is a horse is in fact the winged stallion?
I'm surprised by the next sentence/paragraph, where Perseus has left the cave/cottage and is leaving through the wind and rain, but they can still communicate. Especially as I didn't realise he was planning to go out to greet them.
Medusa's got a bit of a thing for horses, hasn't she? I've heard about her type... ;)
"Her voice was weak but carried through the rain nonetheless." Just an audacious suggestion here, but since the classic Medusa was a supernatural being and as you have a faint pseudo-supernaturalness to her in your own version, the fact that she is heard at such a distance, having spoken so quietly, could be a wonderful echo of her 'powers'. But it's not presented so well here - I think details like this need close attention by the author.
But I'm reading this with interest - the plot itself is keeping me reading.
So... your incarnation of Pegasus isn't winged? Or white?
This chapter ends prettily. Like I say, this chapter needs a lot of polishing/building up, but it's got a lovely familial feel with a threat of peril halfway through that you resolve.
- From We Return Reviews.
| Palantean Writer 8/18/10 . chapter 4
Right, off we go again!
"Medusa paced back and forth in front of the window to the sea, trapped in by the rain." I found this distracting at first. My thought process was - dreadlocked sculptress walks by a window... Hang on! A window, in ancient Greece? Maybe they could manufacture glass, only rather ripply, rough stuff for windows. But I pictured perfectly smooth, modern window first. Anyway, wasn't she meant to be exiled to the mountain, so she couldn't have been in the taverna or something, could she?
So I had a bit of a mental trip when I started reading this first paragraph.
"Perseus lounged by the fire, feeding and teasing it with twigs..." This half-sentence, however, is rather pretty. The warm glow it gives me to read is in sharp contrast to the rain that Medusa is looking out on. And maybe it says something about their relative states of mind, too. His youthful naivete and her world-worn realism.
""And then I lost everything."" Please excuse my usual habit of putting double-quote marks around chunks of narrative. This once, I'm regretful that I do it because it confuses the point I want to make. I was always taught that if you've got a piece of dialogue at the end of a paragraph and the speaker is going to carry on talking, like in this instance, you should not include a closing quotation mark at the end of the paragraph. But you should, though, at the start of the next one.
That's what they taught me, anyway.
Now that Medusa is speaking a lot in one go I can appreciate her subtly poetic turn of phrase. She chooses her words well, and not quite the way a modern woman might have done. It's pretty.
"...well and truly caught. Athena was furious," " I feel there should be a new paragraph with 'Athena...'
The point at which Medusa begins to feel distressed but carries on talking about her scar doesn't quite feel right. The dialogue is fine, but the timing of it doesn't quite feel natural. It might just need a bit of polish, a bit of rejigging.
"...its wretched stink the perfect companion to my own wretchedness..." The word 'wretched' is used twice here and it feels repetitive. Interesting comparison of how she felt, but in this case I feel there needs to be more variety of vocabulary. Medusa would have done so, I think.
"They took me to a seamstress to try and fix me..." A seamstress? Really? I'd have thought that was where you took clothes to be mended, but not a person.
"I did not talk for a long time..." This point also needs to start with a new paragraph, I think.
"That's where Charis found me..." Another turn in the story, and deserves a new paragraph.
"...he kept taking away those that came to test their manliness against me." She smiled at her little joke. "Like you."" This... it needs the subtlest bit of emphasis, but I'm not sure how. There's quite a change of mood in here and it's a welcome one. But it feels melded into the tragic story that comes before.
Charis' arrival feels, again, like it doesn't have the definition of prose that it should. I thought at first that Poseidon was coming. Or perhaps some kind of warrior on his behalf. After all, that's what Medusa was just saying. I'm surprised Perseus didn't jump out of his skin to see someone on their way.
Oh! Charis was at the taverna! Quel suprise!
And then... Medusa says that her birthing pains have started. But this is the first we've heard of it. Again, I've got a feeling that this chapter may have been rushed, and certainly there isn't the fine definition of description that you often lavish your writing with. Which is a shame because the story here is rich with potential. I'd have liked to have sat with Medusa and Perseus, listening in on their conversation with one side of my body burning hot from sitting by the fire and the other freezing cold from the mountain/seaside rain.
"She resumed her place by the window..." By the way, is Medusa standing for all of this? If she's at full-term she must be keen to sit. Maybe? I've not been pregnant, so it's hard to tell.
Ah, see. You mention that Perseus had ignored her discomfiture for unwillingness to be trapped inside, but we didn't see that. These movements, if you present them to the reader, would be wonderfully moody whatever we might make of them - and they could be present for so many reasons. It's a shame there was no build-up.
"He paused, uncertainty and fear in his glance." Ha! Good luck, boy!
Wow! An excellent cliffhanger. And an unusual one - while the next chapter promises to be highly dramatic, there isn't actually any peril, here. Apart from Medusa dying, but I can't see that happening. Let's see...
(By the way, the night is getting late so I might not finish reviewing by the time I turn the computer off so I might have to post the next review in the following few days. But I'll begin now.)
- From We Return Reviews.
| Palantean Writer 8/8/10 . chapter 3
The opening scene is as heartwarming as it is awkward. Poor... well, poor both of them, really. Somehow they need to come up with a solution. One that both find satisfying, for I strongly doubt it'll end up with him leaving her alone and simply never going home.
"She patted his knee, and got to her feet, wending her way..." Is 'wending' a word? I'd have guessed you might mean 'winding'. And I think the comma after 'knee' is superfluous.
"...swathed in robes, hair braided in scaly ropes." I'm finding the similarity of the words 'robes' and 'ropes' distracting, here.
Ah, now. Didn't you say at the beginning that there was only one dock? Or one known one? So here is a second one, and presumably this is quite some news for Perseus, even if he doesn't intend on using it. I wonder if you need to build up to this piece of news so that it has more resonance.
Ouch, so Medusa has to kill her offspring, or allow him to die? She really does have it tough. But the fact that you gave her the wisdom to see that she at least has a means of keeping herself safe and provided for adds to her, I think. Better than seeing her be angsty. I wouldn't have liked that.
""He will not succeed; you have named the child already. He has no right to kill him now."
" Ah. Interesting, this.
My favourite series of books by Graham Edwards uses the theme of names being important, especially in the final three. And certainly in the final showdown. I'm interested to see that you're using names in a similar way.
I'm enjoying this story!
- From We Return Reviews.
| Palantean Writer 8/8/10 . chapter 2
Ah, so we get to see things from Medusa's perspective also? This'll be good!
Not a surprising revelation though, considering the angle you're taking this story at.
That large paragraph is revealing, however, I wonder if it needs to be reshaped a little.
So we have a lot of exposition on Perseus himself. He's a lad with a real marine heritage; he's got the crash of the sea in his ears for certain. And yet this only becomes apparent after a bit of reading, I think because you tell the story of his life so far in roughly chronological order before getting to the main theme, which weakens the point a little.
At the same time, in the same paragraph, you tell us about his regard for his stepfather which, while heartwarming, needs its own paragraph, I think. Dictys was clearly a wise man and basked in the warm reception his wisdom had earned him back home, and that'll be why Perseus is struggling to follow in Dictys' footsteps. But again, the point of that is weakened because of the integration with Perseus' life story.
Polydectes. I don't remember that name...
"...with Medusa's head, Polydectes would marry another, and his mother would be safe." Hmm, not quite sure what to make of that. Therein, I guess, lies your cunning plan for this story.
"He approached sword raised..." I think that should either have a comma after approached, or a with after it.
Seems like this isn't from Medusa's POV after all, though. Or maybe just not yet.
"...torso's..." *ahem* there shouldn't be an apostrophe...
I like the ending to this paragraph, which individualises the statues. Nice choice of focus.
Hmm. Mis-shapen statues..? Reading on, interested...
I didn't realise the two would meet so early. But then, how could there be much of a deconstruction of the 'real' Medusa if they only met late on? This really is a divorce from the usual story, they're not even in the labyrinth yet!
"Her dark hair hung in dirty dreadlocks, snaking around her thin shoulders." Medusa's hair... one would have expected snakes, and I'm not surprised to see you use the adverb 'snaking'; but she's only got hair. What's going on?
""Your…?" he asked consternation creasing his forehead." Arguably, that might need to be 'You're', depending on whether he's echoing her or about to ask whether she's pregnant. But I think there needs to be a comma after that 'asked'.
Wow, this story really *is* taking a diversion from the classic!
- From We Return Reviews.
| Palantean Writer 8/8/10 . chapter 1
Ooh, a new story! Right. *wiggles bottom on seat, gets settled in*
"The boat bumped at last against the island's only dock." Hmm. Simple, yet descriptive. I already have a rough idea of where we are, and that's a good start.
"Perseus alighted at once..." School memories are flooding back with that name! Perseus - and a good number of other Greek myth figures, are so iconic that his name adds to the simple yet bold opening image. And your introduction of the main figure - and the use of our already-existing knowledge of who he was and what he did, therefore roughly his personality - only add to the picture you're developing here.
"...making his way through the familiar smells of rotting seaweed, and drying fish..." This landlubber knows what rotting seaweed smells like. Unfortunately. But I don't know what drying fish smells like. Could a quick adjective or something go in here, perhaps?
"...towards the village wedged in the little that existed between mountain and sea." Is there a word missing after 'little'?
"...his eyes eating up the village so like his own..." Ha! Perseus, homesick? Fair enough. But I'm thinking that perhaps we should get to see the village a bit for ourselves, as readers. That'd give us a feeling of familiarity with the village he's looking at, hence empathy with how he feels. Especially for me - I live on the sea front. Looking foward to seeing references to those sea-air blasted walls and tenacious plants! If you decide to go with this suggestion, of course.
"His approached was closely watched by two older men..." I think this should be 'approach'.
It's just occurred to me also: but I looked into the story of the Amazons a little while ago. The Amazons, as I'm sure you're aware, were a tribe of warrior women. Absolutely fierce and dangerous... but beaten by whichever Greek hero it was. It seems they were written as implacably fierce only to be shown to be *less* battle-worthy than men, who as we all know enjoyed a higher place in society back then.
It strikes me you're doing something similar with Medusa here, if the synopsis is anything to go by.
One other thing about the previous quote. We live in a society these days in which it is considered insulting to call an older person, 'old'. However, not all societies do this. In some cultures - rightly so - age is considered a positive attribute, indicative of greater wisdom. At least some African cultures do this, and you can compliment a man by calling him 'old man'. Is it likely Perseus would look at these two gents and think, 'oh look: older men'? Or would he happily think, 'old men'?
"...playing knuckles bones in the sun..." 'Knuckle'?
Ah, and there is the description of the village. Or at least the taverna. Very nice!
I like the idea of the customers 'appearing out of the shadows'; that's a fantastic way of putting it.
""Her head," Perseus replied steadily, pride refusing to let his fear show." Typical man. They'll do anything for head, won't they? *rolleyes* :D
""Everything she sees she turns to stone."" It gets that hard, does it? *smirk*
Seriously though, it's good to see the story progressing smoothly, yet quickly. I don't know if the six chapters of this are all that were written, but this story isn't hanging about and it's a good feeling, being swept up like this.
""the boy wants to try his luck; let him. Are you selling your wares or not? Show me your herbs."" The last two sentences are a bit strange - I'm not sure who his words are aimed at, but they seem an abrupt change in subject regardless.
An ancient Greek limerick? Now there's a thought!
- From We Return Reviews.
| Adrenalin 12/19/09 . chapter 6
The very first part of the dialogue is incredibly funny. I couldn't help but giggle all the way through it. Perseus retelling his own story is hilarious, and the tale of his search for Medusa shows there's really nothing heroic in his travels.
And Medusa's so cunning! Really, modifying Euryale's head so that it looks like her? Genius!
The end was the greatest part, because suddenly, it all fit together. I could see how your version supposedly gave birth to the myth. It was a great story!
For the RM, link in profile, blabla.
| Adrenalin 12/19/09 . chapter 5
And again a nice twist of the myth. Well, I'm glad you didn't keep the gory version of Pegasus' birth, I wouldn't have been very happy with Perseus had he beheaded Medusa.
I loved the dialogue at the end of this chapter. I could feel the fond affection between Perseus and Medusa, especially in the two last sentences.
| Adrenalin 12/19/09 . chapter 4
Take care, long paragraphs again!
I loved to hear about how Medusa came across her scar. It's in agreement with the way Athena's described throughout greek mythology; a great and intelligent goddess, but very vindictive (just like about every god in the greek pantheon I think).
And the joke about Perseus' manliness cracked me up. It is so interpretable a phrasing... I wonder what he would say if Medusa proposed to test his manliness in... other ways...
I also liked seeing some Poseidon's characterization through Medusa. Especially the part about him being loud when he's furious, it's very vivid.
| Adrenalin 12/19/09 . chapter 3
Medusa is such an interesting character. She has so many tales, and so much art in her hands... I wish she was not doomed to a life of solitude (and death in the worst case, but I'm not sure you're going to follow the legend to its ending).
There is a great deal of imagination in the way you twisted this myth. Inventing a second passage so that the villagers wouldn't know about the leaving men is a great idea.
| Adrenalin 12/19/09 . chapter 2
One thing first: there's a very long paragraph at the beginning, and it's very hard to read something of this length on a screen. You should think about cutting it into two or three parts, it will be easier on the eyes.
This was such an unexpected development. I liked the way you took some basics from the legend - Poseidon, Medusa and her statues, her being disfigured - and changed them to fit a more 'logical' explanation.
Perseus seems a bit prejudiced for me. If you're going for an historically correct fiction, then it's great (though it's counterbalanced by Medusa working... She'd had been dishounoured right when she first put her feet on a naval yard). If you're trying for a more modern one, then you might want to change a little his opinions :)
| Adrenalin 12/19/09 . chapter 1
Ah, Medusa... I never quite understood why Athena cursed her when she had not much reason to. After all, it was not her fault that Poseidon raped her. I think it is a great proof of those myths being created by men, at a time when being raped was considered to be due to some fault made by the woman, because of course she had an indecent attitude or had done something to provoke the man. Moving on.
Perseus seems like a very lost young man. Yes, he's come to confront Medusa, but you made him much more human (and much less hero) than in the original myth, and I like that. His foolish (mock) bravery made me laugh.
The settings are also well described. I loved the way you took the original legend in which Perseus is given a bronze shield into an object of mockery in your version.
RM, profile, all that jazz.
| lookingwest 12/18/09 . chapter 6
Oh yay! A happy ending! I like how you ended it happier and danced around the morbidity of the original story. Everyone just seems to live in a much happier place, XD. I like how it kind of becomes magical realism because of your descriptions of Pegasus and his "flying" over the cliffs-great ideas! I thought the theme of Perseus telling stories in this chapter was a fun idea, but I did think here was some weirdness for me concerning the illusions to death with a scythe-did that image actually exist during this time period? I felt like there was some weirdness concerning the historiographical placement of that iconic image, but I honestly can't say I know where death with the scythe originated from, so I could be wrong about my thoughts. I like how it started with Perseus telling a story and ended with him telling a story-it was a great full circle that completed everything well. This was a great little story here and I think you really did some valuable twisting of the original tale that I'll totally not forget when I'm watching the new cheesy movie Clash of The Titans, lol.
From the review marathon (link in profile),
| lookingwest 12/18/09 . chapter 5
What twists to the traditions! I liked how you kept the intensity up at the beginning with having to hide the baby from the men, and also whether or not they would even reach shore, but I did feel that it kind of dissipated and because more light-hearted towards the end of the chapter. I feel like there should be more tension and stress involved with this story, but it seems like the entire birthing of the baby was a little vague-I would have loved to see more of that struggle, if there even was one-it just seems so stress free! I liked the entire idea surrounding Pegasus and how Medusa just kind of came up with it, XD, I thought that was funny actually, how it just pulled from her head, and I like how you drew out the theme of her creativity in this chapter with Perseus's comments about "the things that come out of your head" because it also had a double meaning considering she's supposed to have SNAKES coming from her head in the original version!