|Reviews for Song of the Broken Birds|
| Rogue Energizer Bunny 8/23/12 . chapter 1
BELATED REVIEW RETURNS, HUZZAH.
Reviewing as I go.
[I don't think I could ever forget that day, no matter how hard I try.] Love this opening line. It's not really *creative*, but I think it's nice and immediate. You establish some of the conflict, grab interest, and then establish the setting. To me, this is everything an opening line (and following paragraph) should be.
[the one located deepest underground in the maze of tunnels beneath our house.] "the deepest one in the maze under out house", maybe? I'd probably remove some modifiers in that sentence, too. Don't want it too complicated :).
I love the characterization of Cardinal. You show strengths (unique hair) and weaknesses (shivering) all in one go, and then that's all the physical characterization you need. Good job.
[I thought with a sick lurching sensation.] and [I murmured out of the side of my mouth.]: I don't remember the actual grammar rule, but I'm pretty sure there should be a comma between the sentence/subject and the prepositional phrase. You might want to look this up - I'm FOS.
["One day, you boys will be assassins just like him. Like me. You will serve the bidding of the royal family and destroy their enemies. Let this to be a lesson to you: such is the price that failure exacts."] You give the father's tone very well. The short, blunt statements justify his actions with characterization.
Hm. This is funny to read for me, haha, because I'm in the process of planning a story about an assassing with an abusive mentor. I'm going to focus more on brainwashing/manipulation than a father/son relationship, but the part where he bosses the boys aroud really reminds me of what I'm about to start working on. Building off that random anecdote, the father's character is very convincing. He's harsh enough to be sick, but not enough to be unbelievable.
I love the names. A lot of writers give their characters unique names, but "Egret" "Cardinal" and "Shrike" are obscure enough to not seem stupid. I'm glad you steered clear of "Raven" and all that shit.
My reviews to the other chapters will not be this long.
[Quick as a striking snake Father grabbed Cardinal by the shirt and hauled him in the air.] Comma after "Quick as a striking snake". I do remember this grammar rule, haha. Since it comes at the beginning of the sentence, it's an introductory phrase, so there needs to be a comma.
[I heard the click of metal and saw the knife that Father was holding to Cardinal's pale, pulsing throat.] Passive voice. "I saw the click of the metal and saw Father holding the knife to Cardinal's pale, pulsing through"? Do you see the difference? I'm nitpicking a lot in this review, beg pardon...
[He could do it in a flash, parting eyeball from socket with the same ease as pitting a cherry. I had no choice.] Love this metaphor. There's something wonderful about comparing eating to violence.
Random stab in the dark here. Are you comfortable writing gore? You describe Egret's actions more than the assassin's reactions, which draws attention away from the actual violence. Like, [This time, his screams sounded worse, gargled and choked by blood.] There's passive voice ("garbled and choked by blood") and you lead into the sentence with a prepositional phrase, which also draws the emphasis away from the gore. I'd rewrite it as "the blood garbled and choked his screams, making them sound even worse", and, depending on my mood, I might leave off the participial at the end. Don't get me wrong, it's fine as it is, but I feel like you're holding back.
[Father started by breaking the assassin's fingers, one by one.] I'd love a description of the sound here. Fingers snapping one by one would have a very distinct sound, haha. A popping, cracking sound, maybe? Most readers don't have the imagination to picture the action, so showing the result is a good way to keep them involved, especially with medical/violence-related stuff.
[I tuned out Father's words. Made my decision.] I love the technique you're trying here, and I saw it several times throughout. I think it might work better with an em-dash, instead of a period? That'd be "I tuned out my Father's words - made my decision." The em-dash would indicate the stop in the sentence, without closing the thought like a period does, so the idea would stay continuous even with the break.
Oh my lawdy, world's longest review.
What else was I going to say?
The family dynamic is very interesting. I can see Egret's protectiveness (word? it should be) towards Cardinal, and the tension between him and Shrike. Cardinal's got a very clear character - the innocent kid who was born into a violent family. I love all the brothers, definitely. Shrike does seem a little unclear, just compared to the others. I think it might be because you're focused on conveying Egret's disgust towards the situation? It's hard to justify his character, haha, but make sure his motivation is clear, even when you write from Egret's POV.
I love the concept of this story. I love assassins (writing one now! LOL) and the family relationships are hard to pull off with that sort of background, but you do it wonderfully. The characterization is definitely a strength in this story.
Overall, I'd say the only major weakness is the pacing/description in the action scene. This is an issue you'll work out, haha. Make sure not to dilute the high-tension scenes with modifying phrases. That's my only suggestion in that area, again, that's something you're gonna figure out on your own.
Really like this story, again. I can see what you're trying to do, and I love it. Great work.
Again. The other reviews won't be this long.
| S.H. Marr 8/23/12 . chapter 4
So an imperial assassin is killing the emperor. Interesting.
I'm starting to wonder how this story is going to end. You've already provided thhe roots for a few different conflicts. The main one, as far as I can tell, is the country being at war, but then there is their missing father, Shrike's manipulation of his master, and whatever the heck is up with Daz.
Also, of course, romance, but we'll see how that goes. I am interested in all of these relationships. They seem much closer than normal slave-master relationships, especially considering that the royal family must have plenty and are so far from slavery. And they also seem to double as bodyquards, not just assassinating enemies. Perhaps that's a quirk of their language. It would be interesting to see that.
| Anihyr Moonstar 8/23/12 . chapter 4
"I heard robes whispering on the floor, the light, precise footsteps." (Did you mean *then* light, precise footsteps, or the light precise footsteps *of* someone/something?)
Ahh, three chapters in and already the plot cauldron is having morsels added to it. So far, I think I like Cardinal best as a personality, but intricacies of Egret's position (what he and his master are getting up to, and how they communicate) are fascinating.
I'm wondering already if I ought to be jotting names down or something for future reference - with one romance and plotline, it's one thing, but with three, when they're all dealing with different people and different issues, I just know my disorganized/scatter-brained mind is going to start getting people and events mixed up.
Also, only this chapter was I reminded again that I probably don't have an accurate picture in my head of each of these brothers. I know Cardinal's a redhead - that was introduced in the first chapter - but for some reason long white hair in Egret's case caught me off-guard. Also, delicacy. I suppose I keep expecting them to be bigger for some reason and need to adjust that.
In any case, good to see Egret can handle himself despite his sickness, and I hope said sickness isn't either a.) him being poisoned, too (seems unlikely since he's an assassin, you'd think he'd know how to figure out if that was the case) or b.) something serious. Egret seems like the perfect head of the trio; the best leaders, I think, are those who don't think they deserve the responsibility, and always look back on their choices (not so much that it interferes with going forward, but still, thinking everything through), and he's certainly shown he does that.
Er. Long review again, sorry. I'll shuddap. Looking forward to seeing what's going on with Cardinal again next chapter. :)
| S.H. Marr 8/21/12 . chapter 3
I approve of a more frequent updating scedule. I like this story too much to wait.
Anyway, I always knew Shrike was a bit of a psycho, since the first chapter. You could read it in the reactions to what Egret had to do. I really, really love your characterization.
Strategy: always a difficult thing to write if you're not really, really good at it and you're trying to write a character that is. Someone will always point out that it doesn't make sense. Then again, people who suck at it do the same thing if it does make sense.
Eh. I guess that's all I've got to say this time around. Laters.
| Anihyr Moonstar 8/21/12 . chapter 3
Well, Shrike's certainly 'outspoken' but I expected that; he's very loud for a slave, though, I was surprised it took him as long as it did for him to get in trouble for that attitude. I'm curious as to why someone as young as he is (and in his position, socially) is even being allowed to speak up in a room full of much more experienced and wizened military figures. As an assassin, it probably makes sense that he would be schooled in the mechanics of war and the politics of nearby regions, but it was surprising to see him right in there with "the best of 'em" so to speak. Times of war and neccessity, though, I suppose.
Shrike and Rother have an interesting relationship; the kiss caught me off-guard, but it doesn't feel out of place, really. It makes sense that he's using all his resources to keep things going the way he wants. I really like Rother, just as a character, too. At the outset of the chapter, he came off as a blustery, easily angered guy (although Shrike was certainly *fishing* for that), but by the end of the chapter I get more of a sense of a good man backed into a corner, really just trying to do what's best. I'm impressed that he has as much respect for Shrike as he does (okay, so he hits him, but he *listens* to him and he doesn't beat Shrike to a pulp; sounds like Shrike asks for a whippin' anyway).
Anyway. I'm relieved that Shrike hasn't turned out to be disturbingly sadistic (violent, yes, bloodthirsty, yes, but in a semi-relatable way that doesn't make him sound like he's gone completely off the deep end - yet). I look forward to and/or hope to see Shrike develop some genuine compassion for his 'master' though; his heart could use the exercise. I was worried about him after the prologue (like his older brother), but I have hope.
I look forward to seeing Egret's chapter!
| Anihyr Moonstar 8/19/12 . chapter 2
Ah, I was worried it would be like this (since you chose first person for the prologue, I was wondering, since you plan on writing for three different brothers, if you would try to keep writing in first person, or switch to third). I was hoping you would switch to third person, limited. It has all the "benefits" of first person (showing the world through one person's eyes, having the tale told in their voice, etc.), but it is really the only way to go (other than third person omniscient) if you want to tell a story from more than one perspective.
If you have to write in first person (simply because you like it, or you want to get something across in a specific way that you think only first person can manage) then it's doable, but it should *only* be used for stories that will stick with that one character from start to finish. Period, end. Switching between multiple first person perspectives is going to get jarring and strange very quickly. (Unless I'm wrong and you plan on writing from Cardinal's perspective the entire time and simply want to tell the other two's romance through...his...eyes...which would be strange, but I'll admit I could still be wrong at this point.)
I'm pointing this out now because you've just started. Switching from a first person prologue to a third person novel is acceptable, because prologues are often done in a different style than the rest of a story, but I really, really, *strongly* recommend against telling three different first person narratives. You write very well, and I think you can tell a great story, but there is absolutely no reason I can see for you to tell that story this way. (But of course, in the *end*...it's your choice.)
Now, with all that *said*...I quite like this new chapter. :) You do a great job of description when necessary without going over the top. I love the "bastard son's" room; it sounds amazing. I like the detail you go into about culture, too - the balance of power, how Cardinal and his family are the equivilant of very specially trained slaves - many won't bother with those types of things, but they add something to the atmosphere and belivablility of the story.
Love Daz already, too. Very full of energy for one who strikes me somehow, at the same time to be bookish (you know, books lying everywhere) even fantasy equivilant of geek (extreme interest in the stars) but it's fascinating and unusual, and definitely adorable. I look forward to seeing how their relationship progresses.
AND, really want to know what was going on at the very end there. Is Daz some sort of...only half human...being? That would award him special priveleges despite being a bastard who doesn't take after his father? Curious curious. As I said, I definitely plan on keeping up with this. :)
| Anihyr Moonstar 8/18/12 . chapter 1
Wow, very gruesome - chilling, but still real in a way that (forgive the...pun?) cuts to the bone. For all the gory details, I think my favorite description is a softer one: "His voice, deceptively soft, sounded like wind whistling through a graveyard." I love perfect metaphors; ones that not only get the point across hard, but that *fit* with whatever their describing, and that one hits it spot on. Perfect for an assassin.
The various reactions, too - how none of the brothers were the same, especially the detail with Shrike's reaction at the end - make it stand out to me. It's rare that an author can get that much *character* into their characters in such a short period, but I think you did a stunning job. Very strong opening. Good job.
| S.H. Marr 8/18/12 . chapter 2
Waiting for the next chapters of this is going to suck. I love it.
Astronomy is awesome. So I like Daz so far, and he intruiges me. I like your characters so far. This was kind of short, so I don't entirely no what to say yet besides I can't wait to find out more.
| S.H. Marr 8/16/12 . chapter 1
This is really good so far. It has a good mix of characterization and description mixxed together. I'll be interested to see how this fits in as a prologue; I'm guess the fact that it's far in the past, but we'll see.
I've done fantasy slash stories with multiple couples before, so I'm also going to read this in a weird curiosity-I want to see how you do it. Of course, the plots are completely different, but hey, there's at least some similarity, right?
I'd also like to thank you for reviewing Sh'yan, but you have private messaging disabled, so I can't send you messages back and forth. It is to sigh.