|Reviews for Dragon Marked|
| Complex Variable 4/20/13 . chapter 18
[Convince them, she hissed. They know the cost of refusal, but the elder is strong. She refuses his call. Move on, now. You know the cost better than they do.] - - - Finally! The big girl starts talking at last! x)
[Riyin almost yelped as the dragon cut into him.] - - - I think you can choose a better word than "yelped"—it doesn't feel serious enough for the task you've given it.
[He couldn't imagine how bad the pain would be without Kirical's magic.] - - - For some reason, I want this to say "without Kirical's magic dulling it.", or something like that.
[Riyin did not wake.] - - - I would say "He" here.
[Kirical, who lay nearest to him, woke at the sound and went to Riyin's side.] - - - I think you can find a better way of saying this.
[under his skin, a huge black and blue] - - - "his skin, in a" Also, it would be a deep purple, at first. The black and blue only comes after the clotting sets in.
Also, the torture is sexy… not. XD
[His silver eyes rolled with the anguish of his injuries and terror.] - - - This feels a bit overdramatic.
["Would you shut him up?" Luria snarled.] - - - Luria means business, doesn't she? xD
Okay, so, this chapter feels rather lopsided. You start firmly in Riyin's perspective and then—WHOOSH—we zip on over to Luria's perspective. It doesn't feel like it's balanced, as is.
More importantly, the gambit that you've played with the sisters doesn't appear to be fully working—at least, not for me. Now that I think about it, the reason why I found (and still find) the sisters' entrance into the story to be so sudden is because—to be honest—they're better characters than Riyin and Liren. By that, I mean that they're more interesting from a psychological perspective; they're more conflicted, they have more problems to deal with. They're "deeper" than the boys, if that makes any sense.
The "gambit" you've played is that you've introduced these two DEEP characters rather suddenly, and then, as showed in this chapter, make them undergo what is obviously a significant development in their character/lives/struggles. However, because this change occurs almost immediately after we meet the girls, it feels forced and inauthentic. Having Luria finally give in to her dragon feels like it should be the culmination of a long, drawn-out conflict, but, instead of giving the reader that conflict, you've only given me the tail end of it. It would be a far more meaningful and powerful development if I had met the girls much earlier in the story, and had become invested in them the way that I am for the boys. Either that, or, you just prolong this change for a while, long enough for the reader to get to know the girls and appreciate the depth of their internal conflicts, and the importance that those conflicts play (and have played) in their lives.
| nightfuries 3/26/13 . chapter 17
Ah, and the girls are introduced!
So, so sorry it's taken me so long to read this, and after finishing this chapter, I really wish I'd had time to look at it sooner! Definitely enjoyed this one more than the last, the addition of the two new dragon kids was pretty awesome. Personally I would have liked the scene with the assassins to be drawn out a little more (happened a bit fast), but otherwise, nice work! I'm incredibly impressed with the fact that you have 5 main characters, yet they're all different in their own ways. Individuality with characters can be hard sometimes and you've done it perfectly :D
As always, super excited for more!
| Complex Variable 3/22/13 . chapter 17
I think you could have a better opening here; instead of just indirectly/brusquely mentioning that days have passed, why not use a montage-like sequence, showing the passage of time, and your characters' misery.
[writhing, screaming, begging the dragon for mercy.] - - - I would do "he writhed and screamed, begging (the/his) dragon for mercy."
[, and honestly started to enjoy riding the huge horse;] - - I would just start this as a new sentence: "He honestly started to enjoy riding the huge horse; "
Also, I'm thinking that Tera should give a "Are you people crazy?! He's in no condition to travel"-type speech to the team. In addition to fixing the opening of the chapter, you should have the characters engaging Tera a bit during that aforementioned montage-scene-thing that I suggested.
[In a drastic contrast from their last dramatic departure, they left the outpost at a shambling walk, exhaustion evident in every heavy step. As they departed, however, Riyin regained most of his senses.] - - - You can make this passage longer and more evocative. Describe the weather, or something—do something to set up an emotional mood/atmosphere for the chapter. It'll help make the situation "feel" more serious and dramatic to the reader, much more so than just having you tell the reader what emotions they're supposed to be feeling. x3
[The wolf had remained in the wilderness during Riyin's convalescence; she was unwelcome in civilization and knew it well.] - - - Unlike the horses, I don't think you're doing that good of a job with the wolf. She feels far too "humanized"—far too dog-like. It's rather hard to take seriously, honestly. xD
[Finally the mountains seemed closer, their jagged shadows near enough to touch, sharp enough to cut.] - - - You have issues with conveying the passage of time and space, both here, and throughout the story. In my opinion, using a section break would help alleviate the jarring quickness of these transitions. So, too, would giving more descriptions of their traveling. :3
[The forests painted the peaks in swathes of green, turning red and yellow like patches of flame where the leaves had begun to change.] - - - Pretty. 8o
[Riyin barely noticed that the forest was growing closer, a detail that would once have comforted him.] - - - Damn, girl, you should just let him pass out—put him out of his misery! xD
[Even Kirical's new magic failed to dull the blade of Salloria's encouragement. The pain was spreading, and growing worse. Even Kirical's new magic failed to dull the blade of Salloria's encouragement. But Riyin suffered in silence, determined to deny her the satisfaction of making him scream] - - - WTF is wrong with Riyin's dragon? Xo Like, does she ENJOY tormenting her vessel—is she a psychopath? Hasn't the poison done enough? I mean, come on! Xo
[Riyin calming the mare while the mage healed her injured hoof.] - - - This whole paragraph is very "tell"-ish. Make it more "show"-ish.
[thicker than Arolan's, but not so much so that the horses couldn't move easily] - - - The amazing forest-traversing horses of Askairrea! xD
[She managed a gentle trot for an hour or so before the arrow pierced Liren's] - - - "an arrow", not "the arrow"; "the" makes it sound like you've mentioned it before. xD
[three vicious assassins sent to destroy them. ] - - - Don't editorialize. Don't "tell" us they're vicious, "show" it!
[and haunted black eyes stared out at the world from beneath the black hair that hung just short enough to reveal her most striking feature] - - - Goth alert! Goth alert! XD
You could do a clearer job of describing this ambushed ambush scene, it feels a little too briskly done, the way it is now.
[She couldn't be older than thirteen, and her voice was soft and childlike.] - - - I would do "thirteen; her voice was soft and childlike."
["You speak to Luria of the Dragon's Fang. My sister and I have been waiting for you, Dragonwing."
"I am the Talon; Dragonclaw," Rillian told them, displaying her marked hand.] - - - This is very campy/silly, you do realize. (*Boom, guys drop dead. Girls jump down; "hello, I am so and so of the so and so. This is my sister. We've been waiting for you, in these exact trees, no less.* Why/how do they know this? Creepers. xD
This whole scene doesn't feel that strongly grounded in the setting; there could be more of a sense of the environment.
[They sat around a flickering fire, Liren's shoulder expertly bandaged by Rillian's quick hands. Kirical's search had revealed no poison in the wound.] - - - This transition was handled a little better, I think. But, also, how does one search for poison? I want to see it happen! :3
[weren't even terribly skilled] - - - this is awkward. Fix it.
["Their ancestors hunted the dragons centuries ago, when they still had their own bodies.] - - - WHYYYYYYYYYY? :D? Also—once again—how do they know all this conveniently helpful information? xD
[The shadows in the Dragonfang's eyes intimidated as she stared at each of the travelers in turn; ] - - - Please, try not to do this. It makes me laugh—in a bad way. xo
[The Dragonclaw resembled wild cane; slim but strong, ] - - - GAH! STAHP IT, PWEASE! xD
[The Dragonfang was a warrior] - - - WHYYYYYYYYY!? XD
[You, Dragonsbreath. Would you let your brother die rather than kill to save him?"] - - - *Punches Luria* HIS NAME IS LIREN, YOU PRETENTIOUS [CENSORED]! Xo
[She felt Kiereste pulling toward them.] - - - Yes, give the reader random names, without any context to them. Just because I know what this is, doesn't mean others will. Stop cutting corners with things like this; clarity is essential.
[The dragon in her reached toward him – or perhaps the dragon within him; Rillian wasn't sure. He too had killed, though the dragon had clearly played most of the part.] - - - What's with all this "reaching out"? Explanations are required!
Okay, so, this chapter is, overall, bad. It's just a bunch of exposition, with little plot advancement, and quite a bit of awkward, pretentious fantasy-ness. Referring to characters as "the [blank]" is, in my opinion, ridiculous. It adds an unnecessary level of formalism, one that does not add any depth of character or development to the story. It's like stories where everyone says "milord" or "milady"—it's just meaningless background information—as opposed, to, say, meaningful background information (say, like a servant in a palace who wants to climb up the social ladder; in that case, having her constantly being forced to emphasize the superior social class of her employers would be a way of developing her conflict with the society around her, and hence, a piece of MEANINGFUL background info—get it?).
More importantly, there is no "conflict" in this chapter; mostly, there's just info-dumping. They've met new people—so what? How does it advance their development as characters; how does it resolve the conflict brought up at the beginning of the chapter? (of course, there is none).
Also, as I've already said, this chapter has a marked absence of setting; it doesn't feel like it's happening in the story world, but rather, just in some abstract space. Adding little bits of detail—of characters and actions and observations interacting with the environment—would make it feel a lot more grounded in the setting.
| SandyJPhoenix 2/21/13 . chapter 1
Wow! Sounds intriguing! Can't wait to read more! (which I will do, just not right now!) I love your ideas, and the way we're introduced to the characters before the full story starts, works really well! Your style of writing is really good too!
| Infected Beliefs 2/3/13 . chapter 10
Let me start by saying that everything you write is amazingly enjoyable to read, but it is what you DON'T write that is nagging at me. I'll explain more in a moment. I will not critique your spelling or grammatical conventions as, honestly, yours are probably better than mine and the subtleties of grammar have never been my strongpoint anyway. Instead, I will comment on your story as a whole.
Firstly, when stories have the quality of writing which yours has, I am used to seeing much longer chapters. You're averaging under 2000 words a chapter, which isnt necessarily a bad thing, but some of your chapters are feeling rushed or...incomplete. eg Chapter 2 (the third chapter of the story): Riyin rides around for a bit, then has a dream. Great, but it easily could have been combined with chapter 1 (the second chapter of the story), which entailed nothing more than a single, fairly brief conversation. Combined together it would have given more meaning to Liren and Riyin's fears. The dream would have been a good culmination to emphasize that, yes, something strange was indeed going on with the dragons.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are kind of tricky, because chapter 4 could easily be combined with either 3 or 5. I think it would probably go better with 3, leaving 5 as a more dramatic standalone chapter.
Chapter 6 (IMO) seemed unnecessary entirely. Unless you plan to include Lahna further on in the plot there was no reason to introduce her. As a rule of thumb when writing, don't include something unless it is essential to the overall story arc of the plot (unless you are writing comedy then knock your shoes off). You have a very large info dump about religions which, while very informative, seems out of place considering that you do not usually use such blatant info dumps. Pretty much, their entire visit to Eshtal could have been summed up effectively in two or three paragraphs inserted in the middle of another chapter.
Chapter 7 was one of the ones I felt rushed on. It introduced Kirical but I felt that you could have gone way more in-depth with that encounter. It was basically: Learn boys name, boy makes one attack that fails miserably, dragon says bring him, and it is so. Way too fast and not nearly satisfying enough. Kirical is one of the Dragon Marked, and as such, you should give him the introduction he deserves (I felt the same way about your introduction of Miara). That does not mean that he needs some grandiose or dramatic entrance, but he is a main character, so treat him as such. Right now he has a less in-depth introduction than Lahna in the previous chapter.
Chapters 8 and 9 could easily have been combined together, with the death of the assassin and Riyin being wounded serving as the cliff hanger.
That brings me up to where I am now.
The second topic I would like to cover is character development.
Kirical has been with the group for the past three chapters, but I still know more about him from his half-dozen paragraphs in the prologue than I have learned in all three of these chapters combined. So far, he is cookie cutter, if you know what I mean.
Miara is the same way, I got a far too brief glance into her head and history during the Eshtal chapter, but still know little else then that she can control the dragons with song, is always frustrated/annoyed, and seems to know anything that is imperative to the group.
Even Liren could use some more fleshing out. By chapter 9 I really should have a firm grasp of your main characters, and frankly, I don't. If it is a story about Riyin, then make it so and stop flippy flopping between the two, but if it is a story about the brothers, I need to see Liren developed as much as his sibling. Also, if he is to be a main character, I need to see some active development, because the only place I have seen any so far has been in Riyin.
Riyin. (On a side note, I have been pronouncing his name Ryan, as in Ryan Gosling. Is that right? Or should it be more REE-yin? Something else entirely?) Anywho, you write in a very broad third person omniscient, which isn't bad in any sense, but it does provide less emphasis on individual characters. Riyin is certainly the most developed character. Is he supposed to be THE focal character? If so, I would recommend investing further in him and having less offshoots into the other characters minds. Let us feel Riyin. Right now the only character as developed as Riyin is Harbinger, which brings me to my next point.
I understand you like horses. I never realized how much I didn’t know about horses until I started reading your story. Your best descriptions and most in-depth/insightful moments come, generally, when a character (most often Riyin) is interacting with a horse (most often Harbinger).
Eg “Riyin stroked the horse with gentle fingertips, quieting him with soft murmurs of assurance. Harbinger settled, but his eyes remained uneasy. He knew, as he always did, that Riyin was in pain, and scared. But now there was something new, a quality he had sensed only once, when the prince had tracked and killed the man who murdered his brother. Riyin had the same cold strength now that had filled him then.”
If you put that level of detail into your descriptions of setting (which could use some embellishment) and your other characters descriptions and development, you would be on point and golden.
Wow, this is turning into a novel so I’m going to stop myself there. I really do like your story though, otherwise I never would have made it to chapter nine. I’ll catch up the rest of the way in the next couple of days and drop you another review when I do. Keep posting chapters and I will keep reviewing them.
Best of luck to you!
PS. I loved this line ["I am not you, woman. So you may know your killer's name," he whispered in her ear. "I am Riyin of the Dragon's Wing, and you will never kill me."]
| Infected Beliefs 2/3/13 . chapter 1
Fantastic stuff you've got here; really good start.
That wa a huge cast of characters to introduce right off the bat but I will try to wrap my head around them. They all sound fascinating though; I love good, flawed characters. I especially liked the sound of the two brothers - I can't remember their names right now - but a warrior in a philosopher's body and a philosopher in a warrior's body? Good stuff.
I'll leave you an actual critique here in a few chapters when I'm on a computer rather than a phone
| Complex Variable 1/31/13 . chapter 16
[Within an hour of riding, Miara was quite certain she was about five minutes from shooting Liren.] - - - Be careful; humorous starts to chapters must be done EXACTLY right; if they're even slightly off-makr, they come across as awful! Xo. This, right here, just needs a little tweaking. Something like: "After an hour's-worth of riding, Miara had to use all her willpower to keep herself from shooting Liren in the face."
[mundane as wind.] - - - I would do: "mundane as the wind."
[made do; wrapping scarves] - - - Shouldn't that semi-colon be a comma?
[might never trust him.] - - - "that he might never trust him."
[The storm raged, building small dunes against the horses' sides and almost choking them with sand.] - - - Okay. *Adopts spunky ghetto gangsta' rap voice* Girl, you need to add some descriptions-izzle of the setting, fo' shizzle! 'Cuz, like, if you duh-duh-don't, it makes it real hard for my mind-xorz to get in da groove wit' yo storay, and yo storay world-izzle. Y'hear? I mean, dang, girl, I still thought theyz was in da forest, yo! They be travelin', so you betta get on da Setting-Descriptions-Train, or stuff's gonna go down nasty in dis house! *Stops spunky ghetto gangsta' rap voice. Promises to never do this again.*
*Fingers were crossed*
But—more seriously—you have a problem with describing the setting independent of the characters. The only times you seem to give descriptions of the setting is when it is directly interacting with the characters, like when the spiny trees are poking the horses, or the characters are taking shelter from the wind. No one will crucify you for adding some descriptions of the setting that don't include your characters in them. Sometimes, people do just stare at the world around them. ;)
I don't really like "Pet" as a name for a horse. It doesn't sound right, if you know what I mean. :/
Also, what kind of forest wolf doesn't die from heat exhaustion in the desert? Xo
Nice description of Riyin's festering wound—it made my leg feel weird. x3
[I might be able to draw out the infection, but not here."] - - - I would add a "he said", here.
[allow himself to endanger Riyin further] - - - This sounds too formal.
Again, the horses are still my favorite characters. xD At times, they seem more human than their riders. Especially Harbinger. :3
[He twined his fingers into fistfuls of the stallion's mane in an iron grip, ] - - - this is too much, IMO.
[Woodenly, Riyin petted his horse's face] - - - Meh, he should be moaning. xD
[Kirical felt the heat of his fevered body] - - - I would replace "his" with "the" or "Riyin's".
The Harbinger-running-scene is very nice; just add some descriptions of the land passing by them, and it'll be perfect. Think like a film-maker: would you just keep the camera focused close-up on the horse? No, you'd have a montage of shots at varying ranges, showing the horse in detail at one moment, the riders at the next, and then pan out to watch the grand landscape rush by as they charge toward their desperate destination.
[Riyin, jolted momentarily to lucidity by his horse's cry of pain, staggered] - - - I would make this "Jolted to momentary lucidity by his horse's cry of pain, Riyin's staggered]; I might recommend also replacing "his horse's" with "Harbinger's". You have a tendency for using one or two words extra where they aren't needed, IMO.
[ As Kirical lifted Riyin, the prince's arm over the mage's shoulders, the brother and sister coaxed Harbinger to his feet, and he stood miserably with his foreleg lifted slightly off the ground.] - - - Messy sentence! Xo
[ Kirical asked the brother, Kuran. His sister, Katri, had ] - - - So Kirical has magical name-learning powers, too? xD
Okay, so—this seems to be a theme, now—you need to combine this chapter with the ones before it, IMO. More importantly, there are several plot-holes that I can see. One, you kept referring to the wound as being "infected"—that would imply that an INFECTION (bacterial, probably) was causing the suffering, whereas you then turn it around and say that it was poison that did it. Secondly, having learned that Riyin had one of the deadliest poisons in the land just makes this whole wound thing quite ridiculous. It's been WAY too long since Riyin was wounded; even with Kirical's magic, it doesn't seem plausible that Riyin would have been in not-so-critical condition for as long as he had been. You need to shorten the time gap between the wound and the treatment. Possibly, you could have the assassination attempt occur AFTER they meet Kirical's father in Arra; then, it will feel more dramatic, rather than something that was drawn-out for far too long.
Also, the correct term is "venom", not "poison". "Poison" is usually for something ingested and/or passively acquired—like in a poisonous mushroom, or from heavy-metals. "Venom" is when the toxin, in nature, is actively injected/dosed for the purpose of causing harm to the victim—e.g. snake-bites. Even if the toxin is extracted from the animal, it is still referred to as "venom", not poison. ;)
| nightfuries 1/28/13 . chapter 15
Whew! Finally found the time to catch up on this awesome story :) And now that I have, I'm kicking myself for not trying to make time to read before, because WOW, that was intense. I do believe I've mentioned my love for Kirical before, but now he's transitioned from really lovable to oh-my-gosh-I-need-to-hug-you-right-now-you-poor-ad orable-child. Seriously the poor kid! Having a psycho dragon in him, and a crazy father who wants to kill him; life just screwed him over majorly. I have to say though, I always fall for the tragic characters, especially if their main problems derive from some sort of murderous alter ego :)
Anyways, all in all, fantastic couple of chapters and I cannot wait to see more!
| Complex Variable 1/22/13 . chapter 15
["What in hell was that?" Liren demanded.] - - - One, don't use "demanded"—the tone of the dialogue makes the urgency of the statement ABUNDANTLY clear. Two—more importantly—are your characters entitled to say "hell"? xD By this, I mean that, "hell" would only exist as a cuss in Askairrea if its people (or at least, Liren and his fellow forest-dwellers) believed in a Hell—in a place where evil people were sent after death. Already, this would imply certain things about the religious system/tradition that Liren was raised in. You understand? ;)
[Murderer.] - - - little quotes [ 'Murderer' ] should be around the word, showing that Liren is quoting Kirical's father.
Also—this chapter should be part of the previous one! STOP CHOPPING THEM UP! xD
["I killed my brother… and nearly my mother."] - - - this (especially "and nearly my mother") could be phrased more smoothly/realistically.
[Liren did not ask why or how Kirical's brother died. He did not speak again, did not even look at Kirical, not even when Arra shrunk to a mere spot behind them and the mountains remained as far as ever.] - - - I don't like this transition. You can (and should) add more detail of them walking into the distance. Also, THIS should be the start of chapter 14; doing so would certainly make the transition less jarring, IMO.
[Miara finally broke the silence to suggest that they make camp and to remark that they would reach the next outpost within another day or so of travel.] - - You are "telling" here; "show", instead. Let us hear the dialogue.
[sand, the light, hesitant tread that could only belong to one person.] - - - "sand. That light, hesitant tread could only belong to one person."
[He could understand only too easily] - - - "He could easily understand"; don't get your words in a knot ;)
Okay, so, the beginning of this chapter is much weaker than the others. It really isn't until the wolf starts howling that you get back in your "groove", I think. You seem to have difficulty in directly confronting your character's issues—in having THEM directly confront their problems, and one another.
Compared to the previous chapter, I feel like the story leapt from it to this one; there is not much insofar as continuity of mood/psychological state. If I were you, I would spend close to a thousand words—if not more—dealing with the "fallout" from Kirical losing it; you just cut it off WAY too soon. Let your characters squirm—let us see them bicker and argue and give each other the silent treatment, etc. Show us their behavior with one another, instead of waiting until you have Riyin alone before you finally begin to address the conflicts and interpersonal issues.
As it regards the stuff about the wolf and onward, it's nice—certainly evocative—but it feels really tangential, not to mention IMMENSELY improbable and totally random. xD Once again, it's a "distraction" from the actual interactions between your characters; once the wolf appears, you get away with talking about her, rather than letting Kirical and Riyin talk to one another. Stop beating around the bush; the animals are there to enhance the story, not to provide you with something to write about in lieu of character conflict development. Xo
| Tavaril Lasgalen 1/22/13 . chapter 1
Oooh! You've roused my interest already. This is well-written, and the characters sound interesting. I'll definitely be reading on. :)
| Complex Variable 1/20/13 . chapter 14
[Arra appeared in the distance, dusty and just on the edge of decrepit.] - - - Nice opening sentence. "edge of decrepit", especially! :D
[Kirical's face revealed instantly that he hadn't seen home for a long time, probably several months.] - - - I would do something along the liens of "The expression on Kirical's face instantly revealed that he hadn't seen home for a long time, probably several months, if not more."
[Riyin watched the healer's anxious countenance grow more so with every passing minute ] - - -
"Riyin watched the healer's countenance grow more and more anxious with each passing minute"
[Miara, riding in front of him, and Liren, just a bit ahead of the others, did not notice; but Riyin did.] - - - this sentence feels weird. Fix it.
Okay, so, you should give more descriptions of the general appearance of Arra. I wanna know more about what this place looks like, especially since—at the moment—I'm visualizing a generic "Western" (as in, the genre) town, circa 1870. xD
[It didn't take long to find; Arra was so small that only three inns existed] - - - This is a terrible way of indicating the size of a town. X3
[and the Open Hearth was] - - - shouldn't the "the" be capitalized, too?
[A rather large and very hospitable woman] - - - I would omit the "very". Also, does large mean portly and/or muscular, or does she just have big breasts? xD
I desire more descriptions of the townsfolks' clothing. Until then, they're wearing lederhosen and traditional swiss/austrian/dutch clothing (with the green hats and the shorts and the suspenders, etc.). XD
[She scratched her arm ruefully.] - - - For the life of me, I can't imagine scratching of any kind being conducted in a rueful manner. xD
[The travelers took the very welcome opportunity to wash the filth from their bodies, the results of days – longer in Kirical's case – on the road.] - - - Um, how? Tubs? Indoor plumbing? Jumping in the nearby river/hot springs? Magic dirt removal? PROVIDE THE DETAILS!
[Dinner at the Open Hearth came across as modest, but made with great care. ] - - - And what did they eat, pray-tell? C'mon, you can do it—imagine up some Arran cuisine. ;)
[though he still refused to sit up.] - - - I would do "though still, he refused to sit up."
[but they…don't like] - - - space needed after the ellipsis.
[whose roars echoed in his ears like the very embodiment of war.] - - - end the sentence at "ears"; "like the very embodiment of war." is a bit too much, IMO. Also, there should be a page break after that sentence, seeing as you skip ahead to the next day.
[for riding and chores.] - - - For some reason, I want this to say "for riding and for chores."
[gripped by a powerful fondness for solid ground that he had not known he possessed.] - - - this phrase, especially "powerful fondness" sounds weird. Fix it.
[but not before Father fired.] - - - capitalizing "Father" is weird.
Okay, so, I think you could make this chapter longer. Include the aftermath of the fight (the "what the hell just happened" conversation, etc.); possibly some reactions from the townspeople as well—seeing as a town of such a small size would easily remember a "cursed" mage, it would only make sense for them to recognize Kirical and/or respond to the violence that occurs.
Also, I really think it would be much creepier if you had Sojarey scream some guttural, incomprehensible dragon-language things as he attacks. :3
Also, also, you have a tendency of cutting your scenes off a little too early, IMO. Take the time to allow the drama to reach a cadence point of its own. It's psychologically arresting to have to read chapter after chapter of development that gets cut off before it's reached a "natural" point of rest and/or resolution. And, especially—because this is still "exposition" of your characters, having these intensely unnerving cut-offs so early in the story ruins the more relaxed structures that one would expect from your chapters. In other words, combine some of your chapters together; don't stop a chapter until the scene (the conflict in question) gets to experience its dénoument. STOP INTERRUPTING THE DÉNOUMENT! Xo
| K. Lee Ash 1/19/13 . chapter 14
That was... Intense. I'm pretty sure I could think up some more words to describe this chapter, but I'm to lazy and it's to early to rack my brain for better descriptions. I like how you can see the difference between Kirical and when he's being possessed (?) by the dragon (?). I'm pretty sure I missed some things in the chapter, but I'll end up rereading it anyway at some point in time, so no worries on that. The way that stuff plays out for Kirical in this chapter is interesting as well, and I'm curious as to why his father calls him a murderer and vowed to kill him.
| K. Lee Ash 1/17/13 . chapter 13
I like how this chapter goes, although I'm trying to find the right words to explain it. The beginning part, from Liren's PoV, I can understand what he's going through to some point and all the dilemas going through his head. And then with Harbringer's PoV, or whatever you want to call it, that explains how Riyin made him his horse for lack of a better term, and the scars that I think you mentioned in a previous chapter. All in all, a good chapter and I can't wait for the next.
| Complex Variable 1/16/13 . chapter 13
[diseased, foul, stained with death.] - - - "diseased, fouled, and stained with death" makes it sound less redundant, IMO.
[almost revel in triumph] - - - "reveling" ?
[the name she gave him] - - - "had given him" ?
[Aciarzas loomed] - - - "Aciarza mountains loomed".
[amazed and astounded] - - - I would add "left them" before "amazed". Also—really really random comment—this reminds me of reading Sargon II's (the Assyrian king) record of what it was like, taking his army into the mountains in the northeast to fight the Urartians.
I don't think that the section-breaks are necessary here. You're not changing the scene/location/time.
[Five years ago, he had been born in one, ] - - - Since you start out this way, shouldn't the whole paragraph be in the "had been" tense? So far, it isn't; e.g. [and his mother managed to remove all of the] (it should say "had managed", right?). Also, that paragraph is rather long; you should break it in two.
[insulated cave over him at night] - - - I don't think "cave" is the right word; at least, it doesn't SOUND right. :/
[The humans thought themselves rather entitled to the free creatures ] - - - this, for example, should be set off as the start of a new paragraph, seeing as the flavor of the language is different, compared to the rest of that hulking paragraph.
[ his elegant head held high and stride as ] - - - "and his stride"
Yeah, you REALLY need to straighten out the tenses in the middle of this chapter. Xo
[He sprang without thought, heedless of his leader's warning snarl, at the black horse's legs, thinking to cripple him.] - - - I would do "Thinking to cripple him, he sprang without thought at the black horse's legs, heedless of his leader's warning snarl."
In general, I really like the way you give life to your animals. They seem very... animal-y. The language reflects this, seeming both focused in its narrations—assigning the creatures a sense of direction, and physical purpose—while not crossing over to the wrong side of personification. And, of course, your descriptions are as evocative as ever.
I would include a reason for naming him "Harbinger". Modify the tale slightly so that the name has resonance with their encounter/interactions. What is Harbinger a "Harbinger" of, for Riyin? His maturity? His freedom? His power? Think about that. ;)
| Lynn K. Hollander 1/16/13 . chapter 2
Your grammar and punctuation make this a pleasure to read.
I see some presentation problems: I'm not sure the bold three line intro and 'end chapter' finale are really necessary. It might be more helpful to the reader if in addition to just the chapter title, a scene location was given.
Picture this centered:
The Forest of Arden (or wherever they are)
and after the prologue, a reader will probably not forget the name of either the author or the story.
Another problem may arise because you know your story too well. The reader is sometimes faced with what appears to be an omission:
This forest was the only place in Askairrea where the great trees thrived – the only place in the world, for all they knew – and they had given the wood its name. (what is its name?)
Only a year ago had he given up on the matter, after eighteen devoid of leads. ('...after eighteen -years- devoid of leads...' seems to me to read better.) The general problem is that you -always- know what you're writing about, so you may charge straight ahead and the non-omniscient reader is left scrambling to catch up.