|Reviews for The Queen of the Dawn|
| Whirlymerle 5/21/13 . chapter 3
[His hot flesh swelled. The surface of his skin grew so taut he was afraid it would burst open.] I’m not a big fan of this image, because as hot as things get, muscle doesn’t really swell (or at least as noticeably) as bread does
[My eyes were not 'shrouded' at that time] I don’t think the single quote marks around shrouded are necessary.
So interesting development. I like the moment when Hal talked about honor. The realistic/cynical part of me still wants to jump up and down and believe that it’s his ego talking. At the same time, however, I get that honor’s a big deal in fairy stories, so it could indicate Hal’s nobility.
One thing I think would be interesting for you to touch on is Hal’s desire. If it’s a curse placed on him by the Queen of the Dawn, I feel like he would be constantly be feeling the pain of the pull or whatever. I see that it’s still his long term goal, but I thought the curse would manifest in this compelling desire that I’m not getting.
Tesana serves as an interesting mentor/guide (ps, I didn’t get until now that she was half naked also in the last chapter, she mentioned Hal’s modesty, what about her own?). I’m curious as to whether anything will come of Hal’s lust.
I'm also excited to see the dragon!
| Whirlymerle 5/21/13 . chapter 2
[His epidermis] I don’t know how I feel about the word ‘epidermis.” It’s super scientific, and given your fairytale-esque narration, I’m not sure if that’s appropriate. Also, “skin” is an incredibly powerful and sensual word, I think.
[Resting on the shore he realized he had made it to the edge of the world.] I would have liked to see more of Hal and the Sea. I mean, he’s at the edge of the world. How does he feel?
[straight like the people of her tribe] Not sure if people can be compared to straight hair. Maybe you mean “straight like that of the people…” which would shift the comparison to hair?
I think you set up Hal’s character well. I think he has some hubris, but he’s also willing to learn from others, such as the sibyl, and from that his character can develop.
I also like the sequence of events you’ve set up. Everything that comes to Hal feels like a mini quest within a quest that’s testing him and allows him to gain knowledge.
I don’t know if it’s a foreshadow, but I thought it was interesting how the old woman says Hal can’t get up to the palace without riding a terrible dragon, and boom, he’s got a dragon to deal with.
Looking forward to reading more!
| Whirlymerle 5/21/13 . chapter 1
Returning your review! :)
[who the pubic adored most of all] public?
[a magnificent long-necked golden bird with a scarlet crest.] You have a line break after this line. I personally don’t see the need for this break, especially since the sentence you begin the next part with also works as a direct continuation of the above, I think. If the tapestry scene has to be your ending line, considering adding another sentence to it to make the scene more conclusive.
[courtly ladies] I think “court ladies” would do just fine. It would also be a more effective contrast to “village maidens”
[Spring bled into summer] Great verb to follow the sentence about hunting
[creatures, only] need conjunction or semicolon
Overall, I thought this was really well written and engaging. I think you do a fantastic job capturing the fairy tale voice. Your descriptions are also magnificent. It’s a very rich land you’ve created.
My main critique stems from what I mentioned above. Your ending sentences before your two paragraph breaks as well as your ending just didn’t feel very punchy, especially given how strong the rest of your writing is. I don’t have anything specific to comment on, but I think that for each case, adding one more more conclusive sentence might help.
| Emerald Viper 3/18/13 . chapter 4
“In the gloom he examined the poisoned arrow. He'd fletched it with the golden feather. The barbs gleamed brighter than ever. Against the pitch black surroundings, it was the only light in the world.”
Elegant and beautiful. In reality it would be extremely difficult to make an arrow that would fly straight with only a single feather (it has to do with how you split it). For fletching you usually want several feathers from the same wing – either left or right side. When they all curve the same direction, this causes the arrow to fly on a spiral path. However, the use of the Queen of the Dawn's feather is perfect for a fairytale.
“beyond the curtain of ash smothering the Moon and stars.” Again, excellent.
“transforming the broken timbers into columns of fire” Good again.
Hal flying with the dragon and then killing it in the air is very, very cool. I like the “cold” with the stars. It makes me think of the winter sky in western Colorado, which is really something to be marveled at.
I think this is your best chapter yet.
| Emerald Viper 3/15/13 . chapter 3
"Prince Hal's limbs and organs cooked in the heat." - I really dislike this sentence.
"The surface of his skin grew so taut he was afraid it would burst open." - I am not thrilled with this sentence either. If you are hit with a lot of heat suddenly, the feeling is more akin to standing up way too fast. You feel the heat, but the first thing it does is make you disoriented. If the environment is so hot that it is burning him, his perception of what was happening to his skin would probably be very limited. My best comparison would be getting inside of a car somewhere like Phoenix, AZ in the summer (130 degrees).
After a few minutes, you'd think you were going to die, but you probably wouldn't notice physical burns until after you were out of the heat. Anything that causes pain to your nerves/brain supersedes whatever your limbs might be feeling.
The dragon scale armor on the sibyl's hut is really cool. I love the story of how the boy almost killed the dragon. This has a very beautiful mythic quality right here.
"Sister Tesana". Do we need her name? I'm not sure that we need her called anything besides "sibyl", but that's up to you.
"I fear whether you kill the dragon or no you will pay a terrible price." - Woooo, now that's some loaded foreshadowing there! Nicely done.
| Emerald Viper 3/15/13 . chapter 2
A few things:
I am assuming that "Aurora" is another name for the Queen of the Dawn. In your opening paragraphs, I would use Hal's name the first time you say "he", and I would refer to her as "Queen of the Dawn" at least once. While I know it's your intention to keep a lot of this abstract, remind your reader that this is actually the same story and we are still with the same characters.
"using the language of the West" and "the cliffs that bordered the endless Eastern sea" - "move inland to the West" - This is confusing. I am guessing that the villagers moved away from the coast (they moved West), but where they were originally was already located to the west of Hal's kingdom.
I like this chapter a bit more than the first chapter. It feels more like a faerie tale, and the pacing is much better. While you explained your decision to write simplistically, I would still like a bit more insight into the characters.
I love the "take off your clothes" part - in preparation for the dragon. It feels a bit Greek.
| GossamerSilverglow 3/15/13 . chapter 6
Maybe I was confused. Are the sibyl and the Queen the same person? Or did the Queen just take over? It’s pretty tremendous that his love is actually overwhelming them. To find out he went through all the trouble just to be told the damned demon was going to grow it’s heart back? It’s an interesting feature for dragons. It makes them more mysterious. So the dragon was actually the Queen and the sibyl was just a part of them? I may understand it and just now know it though.
The way I see it the Queen, sibyl, and dragon are all the same, that for him to be with the Queen herself, which is what she wanted, he needed to kill and eat the heart of that dragon to show he was worthy to be with her. Let me know if I’m right. Now you could end the story here. It doesn’t say complete so I’m assuming it’s not finished. I’m just letting you know that this isn’t a bad ending if it is in fact complete. It leaves the story open ended and gives the reader a definite future for Prince Hal, but (for when I mentioned open ended) also it allows for a multitude of other possible endings. I wonder if he’ll have to slay the dragon every day…forever actually, to prove his love? Or maybe he’ll eventually tame the dragon since his love is so over powering and he’ll be able to fly her. Like I said, possibilities. Very nicely done!
| GossamerSilverglow 3/15/13 . chapter 5
Wow, this prince really is noble. He’s really upset he stabbed the dragon in the back. It’s really great that you make Prince Hal say this to the sibyl, it keeps him in character, as strange as that sounds considering he’s your character. Basically, it’s what I would have expected, but wouldn’t have considered had you not pointed it out. It added more depth, yet reiterated his…is chivalry the word I’m looking for here? Is this the first time we’re seeing the sibyl’s name? If not, I missed it before. From the beginning I felt Hal’s attachment to her, even though he didn’t really know her as she points out. I thought maybe I was reading into it because Hal really wanted to be with the Queen. Was I wrong? I think it would be great if he really fell for Tesana.
Whoa, he’s willing to give up everything for her. Isn’t that every woman’s dream? (rhetorical) To have someone love them so much they’d give up something so important to them? This was a great addition. So Tesana was the Queen? I knew he had a thing for her. I mentioned that up above. It shows that his love, even it has only be for a few days, will stay with her. And finally, some heart eating. You really did it well. Most writers would’ve gone for the gore of it, but you made it sound pleasant. Hell, I want to eat a dragon heart! I would HATE to be immortal though. Who ‘actually’ wants to live forever? Great chapter!
| GossamerSilverglow 3/13/13 . chapter 4
*Rubs hands together in anticipation* time to eat a heart! I never thought of it, but he ‘could’ tame the dragon and ride it to the Queen’s castle in the sky. He could’ve solved all his problems yet he questions his honorability. That’s why there’s a fine line between heroism and stupidity. It’s probably a test he has to go through, to show he’s worth whatever he’s going towards. This was a short chapter and I was little upset there was no dragon heart eating. Great job!
| GossamerSilverglow 3/13/13 . chapter 3
I didn’t comment on it yet, but your descriptions are fabulous. “Above the air rippled and sparked as tongues of dragonfire licked the thin fissures between the roof rafters and penetrated the gaps in the weave of scales coating the exterior of the hut.” Really? Who could come up with that? It’s just freakin’ great. That poor brave little boy, it’s funny out of all those manly men that it was the child that even hurt the thing. Isn’t Hal already immortal? Or is this talking about his name being immortalized? I want to read Hal eating the dragon’s heart. That sounds cool. You could put so much detail it. He’s need for immortality makes me think this is a possibility.
| GossamerSilverglow 3/13/13 . chapter 2
As you stated, this reads like a fairy tale and as it so happens I’m a fairy tale fanatic. I love fairy tales. I’m excited about Prince’s Hal’s journey after meeting the Queen. What is it that she did to him when she made the burning pain stab into his chest? Did she take his ability to be fulfilled and happy? Or something else? I hope his horse will survive. Animals always suffer the most. The Queen won’t let him down now, what would be the point? So I’m gonna hurry to the next chapter!
What a torturing tease of delight…good to know that you aren’t opposed to write more adult scenes. It was done well too, so while throwing a random sex scene is usually good, it shows that the planned sex, or rather, the planned mature scenes are much better. I’m assuming this was planned because it fit well into the plot and I feel it will add to the rest of the story. I thought you were using Aurora as a description, but is it the Queen’s name? Scales of gold, a gold bird…I’m guessing the two are related. The Queen’s been busy. Is that how she got that old lady to help Prince Hal, by attacking their town? Oh well, whatever works. It was a nice touch with the dragons not being able to burn it’s own skin and how the sibyl’s house was made of the skin. That was pretty nifty.
| Emerald Viper 3/12/13 . chapter 1
I usually don't review stories rated “M” because graphic descriptions of gore and sex freak me out. That being said, I think I can still help you. If you have questions, please do PM me. Let's start with chapter one.
In your opening paragraph, an adjective precedes every noun in the second sentence. While evocative language is good, this feels like a bit too much. I would omit “bountiful shores”. I'd also make two sentences here, one describing the countryside and another describing the inhabitants. The last sentence is excellent.
“Yet no one in the realm was more popular”. I'd change the word “popular” - beloved, maybe?
“Everything a person could wish for” - is a bit of a cliché.
Why does Hal rush after the bird with his bow? Speaking as an archer, it would make far more sense to fit an arrow, take a deep breath, and try to place the shot. Running after the bird would almost certainly ensure that he wouldn't hit it at all.
“and wailed and waved” sounds a bit awkward.
This first scene where Hal speaks makes him seem a bit despicable. I am not sure why the people love him when he's acting like a jerk. He makes me think of Arthur in the BBC television series Merlin. If there is a disconnect between Hal's public face and his true character, I think it would be better if you explain that following your first paragraph about Hal. That would make his treatment of the old man seem less jarring. We're ready to like this guy in the beginning, and then you make us dislike him almost right away.
“Sun” should not be capitalized.
“the crane fluttered away, eluding his volley” - “Volley” implies more than one arrow. This word doesn't work here.
That instant heavenly brilliance purged the dark. Blazing light surrounded the crane. The body of the creature stretched vertically as its wings lengthened and broadened. Then the burning, beating shape swept towards the prince, breaking night into fiery day.
When you introduce the Queen of the Dawn, I am wondering what role she plays in your world's mythology. I like the imagery in these paragraphs, but the character seems flat – she has no context. If the crane turns into a woman, perhaps she has to tell Hal who she is? Even if he is aware of godlike beings, it seems that he probably has not seen one in person before.
Timing is essential when you are introducing an important character. You don't want to drown your readers with your whole world's history, but you want a little more “lead up”. You want to gradually tell us more about her so that we begin to realize poor Hal is in big trouble. I'm still not sure if we are supposed to like him or hate him. In either case, if we know what or who the Queen of the Dawn is before we meet her, that first meeting is intensified.
This is what I would do:
1. The old man warns Hal not to harm the crane, but Hal chases it anyway. The crane turns into a woman. Hal is mesmerized, cannot find words to speak, but notably does not bow.
2. "How proud you are." Her words rang from the four cardinal directions. (And how foolish...)
3. Realizing that this creature is powerful and supernatural – perhaps he asks “Forgive me, great lady, who are you?”
4. The Queen of the Dawn either answers him (or doesn't), but in either case, he puts it together. A moment of silence.
5. We have a bit of back story (a few sentences). “The Queen of the Dawn was ancient, supernatural (etc.) I am not sure whether she's a Goddess or what. The old man warns Hal, but he doesn't give your readers much to get a feel for what (and who) the Queen of the Dawn is. Before she grabs him and flies off with him, we should have an inkling of what is in store.
6. THEN, realizing he's made a grave mistake – Hal bows and offers recompense.
“We are immortal." (Is this meant to be a royal “we”, or is the Queen of the Dawn part of a race or group of beings?)
“Hal sensed arms enfolding his ribs.” I dislike this sentence, but I can't think of how to improve it.
“Beyond titanic walls of translucent marble” (omit “titanic” - we already know the citadel is “vast”)
Again, “Sun” is capitalized. If there is a reason for this, it would be nice to include it in the story. Otherwise it ends up just being annoying to the reader.
You have an excellent vocabulary, and this story is not without merits. You obviously have created a very beautiful and exotic world. My chief complaint is that we don't know anything about it beyond what it physically looks like.
“Later that night, alone in his chambers, he pulled out the feather he'd kept secretly in his tunic. It glittered in the candlelight.” This is ominous, and fabulous. I like the Queen of the Dawn's punishment for Hal – appropriate. I see what you're doing now, and I quite like it. It makes me think of Arabian Nights.
“Aurora's first rays”. Who or what is Aurora? Different from the “Sun” and the “Queen of the Dawn?”
“Moonlight” is capitalized. A reason for this? Same with “Moonrise”, “Dawn”, and “Dusk”. I'd like to know the reason for drawing attention to these words. What do they mean in the mythology of your world?
Off to chapter two!
| Echo Dancer 3/3/13 . chapter 6
I’m not sure I have enough adjectives to express my feelings on this magnificent chapter! OMG probably sums it up best :-) The imagery is painted with the skill of a master – breathtakingly beautiful. And mesmerizing. And so creative.
Flames, heat, winged Auroras, burning desire, kaleidoscopes of color bursting in a visual feast captured in words. All the while, I couldn’t help but think of a brilliant sunrise – its hues shifting and merging and trailing across clouds and sky. Then the sun breaking the horizon, burning brightly and intensely. Queen of the Dawn.
Her references to ‘we’ invite questions as to her true nature, as does her shifting forms. Loved her playfulness in the ‘find me’ and her removing his clothing. A very sensual and powerful disrobing! And the lovemaking scene? Doesn’t get much more sizzling than that! Is it getting hot in here?
Your descriptions of what Hal sees and experiences create clear visions in imagination's eye and help us 'feel' with him...again displaying your talent for crafting a multi-sensory, vicarious experience for the reader.
The entire chapter left me breathless, marveling once again at your skill as a writer, and very much anticipating Part VII!
| Echo Dancer 2/17/13 . chapter 5
What an amazing tale this is! Lyrical in the telling; concise, yet beautifully and richly painted. Gripping without being overly dramatic. Claremonty, you have a true gift for weaving 'can't stop reading it' stories.
Every emotion evoked, each word perfectly suiting the scene and character - I could go on and on about what makes your writing exceptional.
Eagerly awaiting Part VI to learn the fate of hero.
| Guest 1/24/13 . chapter 3
Can't wait for the epic battle!