Reviews for Feather and Stone
Casey Drake chapter 8 . 11/21/2005
Definitely very good. I like the description of the assassin, and i have to know... did you make up this language?

:) CD
ice flyer chapter 8 . 11/20/2005
Great chapter! I see the connection to Quinn's story in the mention of the "Sewardian nobleman." I loved your characterization of Cannon. It was masterful! The one person that confused me a little is Barra. I might have missed something but is he royalty, or what? Anyways..great chapter!
Casey Drake chapter 2 . 11/19/2005
hm... sweet so far. thanks for reviewing Paladin. I'll be watching this one from now on.

:) CD
starsknight chapter 2 . 11/18/2005
Very well done! This is a great chapter. The plot is moving along at a great pace; I don't feel either confused by the fast pace of it, or annoyed by all the exposition and description. It's just very well done. Funny, charming, informative, and giving us some great characters to deal with. I love it.

Favorite character so far would have to be Gildas Vaughn. The mystery surrounding him is part of that, and he seems to say exactly what he's thinking, without regard for convention. While Quinn is the most sympathetic character (in terms of someone I can relate to), Vaughn is the most intriguing to me. Honestly, I like all your characters so far. You pick good names (I love the name Mair Donnel); much more importantly, even when mentioned in passing I don't feel they are two-dimensional or flat. Godfrey is interesting to me, and I like the fact that you've avoided stereotype with him. He's not as skilled a warrior as Vaughn, and he's softer, probably far more accustomed to comfort. But he will still punch Vaughn to defend a woman's honor, and he appears quite chivalrous, which keeps him from falling into the "arrogant spoiled prat aristocrat" stereotype that is all too common in this sort of writing.

Detailed comments below (and there are many of them):

"Quinn accepted her brother’s help down from her gray mare, and stood impatiently waiting for him to tie Vane up beside his own spirited Astril, back turned to the stables." This reads somewhat awkwardly. Whose back is to the stables? Quinn or Astril or Quinn's brother? I mean, contextually I assume Quinn, but it made me do a double-take. I think maybe the problem here is that you try to do too much in one sentence. I might be willing to accept this much condensation midway through your story, but not here. This is the first sentence of the first chapter. There are new characters. New setting. Most likely a new time frame. There's a lot to take in. Maybe that's why I feel that for the first sentence or two, we should only have to deal with one thing at a time. I'm not 100% sure; that's just my best guess at why this sentence bothers me.

"A fresh breeze wafted the scents of the fair towards her;" maybe a colon instead of semi-colon

"flowers sold by rosy-cheeked young girls carrying baskets, horseflesh, bread, leather," young girls carrying horseflesh? I know that's not what you meant, but that was the instant mental image this sentence conjured in my mind. Perhaps rearrange the order so that it's clear the young girls are carrying baskets only, and no horseflesh, bread, or leather. Actually, the whole clause "flowers sold by rosy-cheeked young girls carrying baskets," sounds a little awkward to me. I like the image, but it just feels a little odd; maybe it will help if you make it more clear that the girls are carrying baskets of flowers, rather than simply selling flowers and carrying baskets at the same time. Despite my reservations about the order in which you've listed things, I love the smells you've chosen to describe for us. It makes it very real and brings to life the chaos and variety of a medieval fair.

“Oh, Bryn!” she whispered, hugging her older brother’s arm close, I like this. In fact, it gives us a good enough picture of her that we really don't need "a breathless expression on her face" because it becomes redundant and wordy.

"'I can,' Bryn said with his usual good humor. 'Hold my arm much tighter, sister, and I will lose the feeling in my hand!'" Nice! I like this a lot. Should "sister" be capitalized, since he's using it as a form of address?

Quinn and Bryn...the rhyming names is a little distracting. I hate it when people say something like that about my character's names, because I've picked each one for a reason...but then again, sometimes someone points something like this out and I say "What? They rhyme? Shoot, you're right, I didn't even notice." So I thought I'd call it to your attention. And I may be mispronouncing; Bryn may be pronounced (brine)...if this is the case, if you do finish the book and try for publication, I'd suggest including a pronunciation guide. Or alter the spelling of Bryn so it can't be read (brinn) so easily. Again, it's only a slight distraction, and by the end of the chapter I wasn't noticing it so much, so if you're really attached to these names, I wouldn't let my comment phase you.

"She ignored this," Maybe "ignored his remark" or something similar. "This" is just a little vague.

"chewing her lip" I like this. Little character trait that helps bring her to life.

"The yearly festival had begun countless years ago, long before m’Lord’s predecessor’s predecessor had even been born, and in this quiet corner of Midshire, Seward, it was the most important event of the year, barring only the god’s feast at midsummer." This is a really long sentence. Maybe cut the "and" and split it in two-that would make it a little more manageable.

"She and her mother had been 'all of a fuss' yesterday, as Bryn would say." I like this a lot.

"and in a gesture that had touched Quinn’s heart, Elen had let her daughter use some of her precious scent (it smelled of new roses) and wear her coral necklace." Love it! "'For,' Elen had explained, 'the Governor’s nephew will certainly be in attendance.'" Very cool! Again, your neat trick of providing info. very quickly without exposition.

"Quinn turned her attention to the crowds" perhaps singular?

"Most of them she recognized as citizens of Brassal, the estate managed by Sir Godfrey’s father, Lord Devon, the brother of the Governor of Midshire." When I read this sentence the first time through, it really bothered me; on a second reading, it doesn't quite as much, but still, there are a couple problems. First "Most of them" I think you mean "the people" by "them" but grammatically it refers to "the crowds" and since crowds can't be citizens, it throws the rhythm of the sentence. Next "she recognized as citizens of Brassal, the estate managed by Sir Godfrey’s father, Lord Devon, the brother of the Governor of Midshire." This listing of relations is useful but feels a little stilted. Perhaps finish with "the brother of Midshire's Governor" to shorten a little? This may or may not work since it also makes it a little less formal. It's just that we get 4 place/people names right in a row, each modifying the foregoing, and that is choppy to read. Actually, now that I look at the sentence again, you've basically got the following structure:

Compound object-subject-verb-noun modifier-noun modifier, noun modifier, noun modifier, noun modifier-noun modifier.

That's kind of difficult to read.

"She greeted a few acquaintances absently as she followed her brother into the crowds." You just used the word crowds two sentences ago. Perhaps some variation.

"But those that she knew" awkward phrase

"the flamboyant, exuberant, curious Wayfarers," feels too much like a laundry-list of qualities, especially as it's followed by even more description.

"with their sun-browned faces and bright eyes, their dark hair worn long by both men and women, often intricately braided but as often left loose and flowing over colorful clothing." This description, on the other hand, I like. Maybe breaking the description of the Wayfarers down into two sentences would help you get all your adjectives in without it feeling overly crowded.

"speaking with that musical, lilting accent that belongs only to the wanderers of the world." Ooh, neat! These accents are one of my favorite bits of the chapter, from a technical point of view, as I'll comment on more later.

"and instantly she regretted her choice of clothing; the pale blue of her skirt and the golden thread in her brocaded bodice may have brought out the color in her eyes and hair, and her white blouse may have been of the softest, finest wool ever woven by Olweth hands, but beside the crimsons and cobalts and ochers of the Wayfarers, she looked pale and colorless." Nice! I like the wording and the feeling it conveys. A side note, though: you like cobalt, don't you? You used it in the prologue too. Here (unlike there) I think it flows very well...but it's just a kind of odd thing to have it reappearing after only a page.

"watching as a handful of Wayfarer girls no older than she was danced" I think you can remove the "was" and it will read smoother...but this is personal opinion, not a universal rule.

“Can I not stay and watch?” I like this bit of dialogue. Overall, I like your dialogue a lot.

"to the lively jig that the fiddler was playing." Perhaps take out the "that"-it's not really needed and it makes the phrase " the fiddler was playing" feel like it was just tacked on to the rest of the sentence.

"games of chance" I like this phrase.

"Indeed, Rhys was gathering his winnings by the time Bryn and Quinn had made their way through the labyrinth of benches." Good sentence. I like "labyrinth" to describe the benches.

"Grinning, he flipped Quinn a golden piece, and did the same to Aneurin. “Spend ’em well,” he said." Nice.

"the second-eldest of the Olweths’ four sons" It's good info but seems forced, here. And actually, we can glean this from the rest of the chapter, so it really doesn't need to be here. Everywhere else you gave us info. on ages of the siblings, it worked so I would advise cutting this.

“He kicked Cadog’s arse, he did!” fifteen-year-old Aneurin said enthusiastically, watching as Rhys tucked the rest of his winnings into the pouch at his belt. heh heh. Like it. That said, "said enthusiastically" is a little clunky. If you could find a single verb so you didn't have to use an adjective, that would be great.

“Nye!” Bryn scolded. “Watch your tongue or lose it!” very good! I love all the dialogue in this scene. You seem to have done an excellent job of giving each character a voice and sticking with it. Very fun to read! Also, the integration of the nicknames is very well done.

Aneurin just rolled his eyes. “Quinn doesn’t care, she hears the same—and worse—from you lot at home all the time!”

“Aye, but Quinn is not the only woman here,” Griffeth said reasonably.

“Quinn also objects to being spoken of as if she were absent,” she said, arms crossed and eyes narrowed. I love this sentence, and the description of her.

"Aneurin said in a condescending, conciliatory tone and putting an arm around his older sister." The "and putting" doesn't read well; tense is wrong. " tone, putting" would work, as would "tone, and put."

"Rhys stood head and shoulders above his other brothers." How about "them all" or "them both" for a little smoother read?

"Quinn, on the other hand, was cursed with being both short and slight, so that despite her hardiness—'an innate quality of us Olweths,' Bryn always said proudly—she looked listless and weak." Nice.

I love the perfume teasing section.

"Griffeth looked slightly abashed, Rhys rueful, and Aneurin positively gleeful over being named a ‘ne’er-do-well.’ Bryn laughed at them and hugged his sister." I love the reactions.

“Come on, Quinnwy, you’ve got a gold and a silver to spend now, and they must be burning through your coin-purse like brands!” Very good.

“Because you are the future Lady Governor,” he said. Then, fluttering his hand before him like a fan and faking a high, feminine voice, he said, “Oh, Sir Godfrey! Oh, your Grace! Do choose me! I am so beautiful, and I already have the airs of a noblewoman, never mind that I am but a weaver’s daughter, with dye under my fingernails and bits of thread clinging to my gowns!” lol! I love it! "Faking" sounds a bit odd, though. Maybe "assuming" or "imitating"?

“Oy, you!” Bryn said angrily, cuffing his younger brother on the ear just hard enough to make Aneurin protest. “Leave her alone, would you!” Very nice.

“Would that not please you, you sycophantic—” good word

"you know he won’t be half as lenient as Bryn or I—” "Bryn or me" is actually the correct way to say this.

"Bryn had put his arm protectively around Quinn’s shoulders as her eyes filled." I'd recommend taking out the "had." For one thing, for the tenses to agree, if he "had put" then it's got to be "her eyes had filled" which just sounds awkward. Moreover, I really don't think you need it.

"trying to rectify the damage those tears had done to her carefully applied cosmetics." Nice detail!

Bryn followed her after cuffing Aneurin again for good measure. “Oh, he’ll hear it when he gets home, believe you me, Quinnwy,” he said, obviously still hot from the quarrel. “Jealous prat!” I love it. Brothers!

"Quinn suspected that he had been sampling Griffeth’s ale when he wasn’t looking." Nice.

"And in all fairness, he had a reason to be envious." Do we need the article? What about just "had reason"? As it's written now, it implies he only has one reason, and from what you write below, I'd suspect there's more than one.

"It seemed that every single one of the seven" do we need single? It sounds a little colloquial for narration. I'd accept it in dialogue without a second glance, but in narrative, it gives the passage a conversational feel I'm not sure you want.

The description of the siblings is well-placed, and well written. A bit of exposition that flows seamlessly with the text.

"smoothing his ruffled spirit and straightening the collar of his high-necked surcoat," Figurative to literal prose in that kind of parallel structure sounds a little odd.

"That way you can court your young lady and keep an eye on your troublesome little sister,” she said with her most charming smile." Love it! Again, I am just really impressed by your dialogue.

“Aye, miss. Thank ye, miss. What color choose ye?” the little urchin asked. Nice use of dialect.

"Quinn stood with her back to the child," Consider substituting "girl;" you just used "child"-also, wouldn't Quinn have to sit for the kid to be able to reach her hair? Even though Quinn is short, we've been told this is a seven-year-old.

"and felt the small fingers release the knot her mother had put in, and delicately comb out the few knots" knot used twice with different meanings here; I'd advise a different word for one of them. This whole braiding passage is great, though! I can practically feel the kid's fingers in my hair. You make it very real.

"'Thank ye, miss,' the child said, offering Quinn a gap-toothed grin before picking up her burden again and wandering off, calling, 'Wreaths! One copper apiece! Wreaths for the misses!'" Nice.

"her loose hair over her shoulders prettily." This adverb does not work well. And you really don't need it. If she's arranging it, we know it looks pretty.

"A bright expression spread over her face;" This phrase kind of bothers me. Actually, I think I've used something like it in one of my own writings as well, and it didn't read any better to me then than it does now. It just feels awkward.

I LOVE the description of the young Wayfarer man. That whole paragraph is awesome. The feathers and medallions in his hair are a particularly cool detail and make him stand out against the average everyday "man in black" who we are so fond of seeing in fantasy stories. A great variation on a familiar (and still great) theme. My guess as of now: he and Quinn are the next High Sovereign and Eldest. And maybe, just maybe, in the long term Godfrey's out of the picture.

"Suddenly, he wasn’t watching the passers-by anymore, but Quinn. She found her own scrutinizing gaze returned, saw his eyes pass over her long blue skirt with the embroidered hem, the brocaded bodice, the coral necklace, and linger on her face. Cheeks burning, she looked hurriedly away from that unabashed stare, crossing the square to join Bryn and Mair. She chanced a glance over her shoulder before she reached them, and when he saw that she once again was returning his gaze, he gave a small bow and a smile." Neat. I like him already. "Quinn shivered and almost ran the last few steps to her brother and his lady." And I like this reaction.

"he said concernedly" My reaction to the word "concernedly" can be summed up in the single word "ow!" Yes, it's technically a word. But it's one word I feel should probably never be used. It just sounds clunky and awkward! So if you can find a way to say the same thing without using it, that would be ideal.

"Bryn stood before them, torn between concern for his sister and helpless adoration of Mair Donnal." Lol! I love the humor you've so skillfully interwoven here.

"This time it took him several attempts to silence the audience, a fact which the Wayfarer duke, who sat in the shade of the pavilion as the Governor’s guest, seemed to greatly appreciate. Quinn couldn’t help but smile at the man’s infectious laughter; Bryn frowned at her, and she quickly sobered." I like this.

"'The Wayfarers don’t believe in surrender to anyone but fellow clansmen,' Bryn whispered to Quinn. 'They’d rather die than be captured by an enemy.'” Neat info, naturally introduced.

"Quinn’s face grew sober as the Governor tried again, this time with more success. Did that mean that, for Sir Godfrey to win, the duke’s son would have to die? Not that she doubted Sir Godfrey’s ability to beat a Wayfarer in such a contest—but it seemed rather harsh to her." I like this a lot.

"Quinn rolled her eyes as several of the young women around her began to plump their curls and pinch their cheeks, sitting up taller and trying to catch the attention of the Governor and the duke, who were walking around the interior of the arena, searching through the crowds." I love her reaction!

“'What?' she gasped." Love it!

"'You must go!' Mair agreed as the duke motioned again." This is all very well written, flows very smoothly. Really a joy to read.

"Bryn helped her up and cleared a path down for her, lifting his younger sister easily over the railing and into the arena, where she curtsied to the Governor and the duke, feeling rather faint." I like this, particularly the part about feeling faint.

“'Quinn Olweth. Yes, I’ve heard the name before.' This startling comment came not from the Governor, but from the duke, a man whose face was dark even for a Wayfarer." Certainly startled me. I'm very curious about him now.

“If it please you, your Grace, I would be very happy to play at Lady Bounty; though I know not how, I am a quick learner.” Love it. Her speech becomes more formal and stilted as she's speaking to him. I get the feeling she's not entirely comfortable with this situation just through her speech.

“It does please me, very much so! By the god’s teeth you speak prettily, child. Come then,” And this is a great response from him, flowing more naturally, less formally, but with authority. I like your selection of oaths, by the way. Also that he addresses her as "child."

"He took pity on her confusion, motioning for her to sit on the padded bench beside him. 'A very fine dagger with an emerald in the pommel,' he explained. She listened closely, hypnotized by his lilting accent to the point that she scarcely noticed the Governor’s roar. His words, like those of the urchin from that morning, seemed softer than those of the average Sewardian, and the vowels longer. 'Whiche’er champion wins the duel shall receive the dagger, with a kiss from thee.'” Very good paragraph.

“A kiss?” she whispered, touching her lips. guess she missed this earlier He seemed to miss this comment, being focused instead on something that the Governor had just said. “Your Grace,” she said, and the duke looked over at her. “My brother told me that to a Wayfarer, death is preferable to surrender.” Neat. Tells me a lot about her, that she would bring this up. She's been flustered, she's in this weird somewhat uncomfortable position, on the spot, but within minutes she readjusts and is at least enough at ease to make inquiries to the duke, rather than sitting there silent.

“Your brother is quite correct.” Nicely worded.

“But—the Governor said that this is a fight to the surrender. Will your champion play by these rules, and debase himself?” she asked. And now she seems to speak more naturally, less formally. Interesting and confirms the note I made earlier about her ability to adjust to something unexpected.

"The champions looked at each other, and the black-clad Wayfarer—Gildas Vaughn—gave Sir Godfrey the same politely mocking bow that he’d bestowed earlier upon Quinn." Love it. I love him even more now.

"She noted that Gildas Vaughn seemed to almost have trouble with the lightness of the weapon." neat! Interesting. I get the idea Wayfarers are not warriors one would trifle with.

"The champions circled each other warily for a moment, close enough to where Quinn sat that she could hear their brief conversation. 'Having trouble, Vaughn?'” Again, very nice. This whole fight sequence is very well done-a gem.

“'I have never used this weapon before,' the Wayfarer said, shrugging." Nice.

“'I said I’d never used this weapon before, not that I’d never fought with rapiers,' he said with a wolfish grin." heh heh... Interesting. He's smart, and clever with his words.

"It was almost enjoyable, in a primitive, savage way—but then it was utterly horrifying when Sir Godfrey slashed Vaughn across his right arm." I love this.

"She heard the crowd gasp as blood blossomed on his bare skin. Beside her, the duke seemed to be holding his breath. But Vaughn was not done; he tossed his rapier to the other hand and began a furious onslaught, backing Sir Godfrey the whole way to the other end of the pitch. Quinn heard a murmur of surprise go up from the Brassalian audience, and beside her the duke murmured, 'Aye, son, that’s the way to do it.'” This is GREAT! I feel like I'm there, watching...and yeah, rooting for the man in black, because mysterious men in black are way more interesting than the ordinary nobles. ;)

"his strength and speed were such that Quinn was not overly worried as of yet." A little awkward. Consider removing the "as of yet."

"The parrying and slashing and all" This sounds very colloquial. You don't really need the "and all" and I think it detracts from the text.

"continued for such a long time, that if she hadn’t been so emotionally involved in the outcome, Quinn might very well have fallen asleep from sheer boredom. Fighting was never something that entertained or interested her, as it seemed to her brothers. But still, she found herself inexplicably riveted, unable to look away as the two fighters battled." This whole passage feels a bit awkward.

"had dripped the whole way down" For a cleaner read, consider eliminating "the whole way;" it's not necessary.

"She wasn’t entirely certain what happened, but one moment they were fighting and the next they were utterly still, Sir Godfrey’s arm still stretched out from its previous feint and the tip of Vaughn’s rapier resting gently on the soft skin at the base of Sir Godfrey’s throat." VERY nice. This is a GREAT sentence. I love "the tip of Vaughn’s rapier resting gently on the soft skin at the base of Sir Godfrey’s throat" The "gently," "soft skin" sets up a lovely antithesis, and a great mental image!

“the Governor will give a small speech, and you will give the victor his prize." Specify the dagger; I thought he meant both dagger and kiss until I got to the end of the paragraph "After this, the champions will retire to the pavilion, and if you know aught of the binding of wounds, you will tend the victor’s. Then,” he said with a knowing smile, “he shall claim the rest of his prize.” Great.

"Quinn was torn between the dread of kissing the black-clad man and relief at not having to do so before the assembled audience, so she said nothing as the duke handed her the dagger." Very good.

"The chant of “Gildas, Gildas,” rose over the whistles of the Brassalians as the two fighters—now both showing the weariness that Quinn had expected long before—approached the pavilion." Nice.

"'Your prize,' she said," The pronoun isn't 100% clear here; maybe use Quinn's name.

"Not meeting his eyes, she placed the dagger in his hands." Very good.

“'My thanks, Quinn Olweth,' Vaughn said. Her eyes darted up in shock. No man referred to an unwedded woman of marrying age by her full name!" Very cool!

"But he was just a Wayfarer, she reminded herself. How should he know to address her as Maid Olweth?" Very nice introduction of the information.

"Quinn sat very straight on the edge of the seat, avoiding both of their gazes by rearranging the objects on the table. 'Tha’ didst well, Gildas. Congratulations on a much-deserved win.'” Again, good use of just a hint of dialect to suggest the accent. This is fantastic.

"Quinn, meanwhile, set about cleaning the wound on Vaughn’s right arm with quite a bit more force than necessary." Very nice.

"Still, he did not cry out or so much as grunt once with the pain, though she heard Sir Godfrey on the other side of the pavilion cursing quietly as his mother cleaned his wounds." This made me laugh. Godfrey's obviously a little softer and less resilient than Gildas.

I love the phrase "her voice as stiff as her back."

"She looked up, aghast at this cheeky rejoinder, to find him smiling at her. 'You have nerve, sir.'” This whole conversation is great! Again, you made me laugh.

“And glad it is that I do," Word choice? glad?

"for though I have nerve I don’t have the gentlest of nurses, and that much-maligned nerve helps me a great deal.” NICE.

"Quinn bit her lip, flushing." And a great response from her.

“I daresay if Sir Godfrey had won the match, he wouldn’t be suffering from such ungentle tending.” I like him. This dialogue is hysterical.

"His face split in a grin. 'Why, I’ve ne’er had sweeter words spoken to me. Perhaps Sir Godfrey should be jealous—certainly I know I would be, were I he and he me!'” Heh heh. I love this, and the rapid-fire dialogue that proceeds it. It's classic.

"'You, sir, are not fit to wipe the muck from Sir Godfrey’s boots after he leaves the stable,' she said icily." Nice.

"his mother was still ministering to him, while his sister murmured about how he should have won, by rights." Nice.

"'I was promised a kiss of thee,' he said, his voice gentler now—almost apologetic." Interesting. I like this."the tattoo of her own heartbeat against her rib cage." The foregoing paragraph is well-done, but I question the use of the word "tattoo" here.

"A moment later Quinn was wrenched away from Vaughn as one of Sir Godfrey’s fists struck the Wayfarer’s face." Great!

"'Bad form, Vaughn,' he hissed. 'She’s barely a child!'” NICE! I just love this. Your use of "bad form" here thrilled me. It helps to bring Godfrey and this world to life. I do wonder, though "barely a child?" If they use the word "child" to mean maiden, that might work, but you've referred to the 7-yr-old as a child as well... If there's a progression where people aren't considered "children" until they're 16 or something, and then they only become "adults" later, then we need a word for people age 4-16 or so...and being introduced to this system fairly early on would be good.

“'This would explain her talent,' Vaughn said, rubbing at his sore jaw. 'Beginner’s luck.'” Oh, this is great.

"'Maid Olweth,' he said, his voice pained, 'there is nothing trivial about a maiden’s honor!'” Nice.

“You stand up for the man who would have stained your honor?” This is a very small quibble, but "stand up for" sounds a little anachronistic to me; perhaps "defend"?

"Sir Godfrey asked, his voice full of wonder. She looked anxiously up into his face even as he searched hers, eyes lingering on her golden hair, the flowered wreath knocked askew by the force of the Wayfarer’s passion. 'What a wonder is a woman’s mercy. Pray, accept my apology, Maid Olweth—and my kindest regards.'” Beautiful. A moment of suspense after the first sentence as to how he will take it.

“Call me Godfrey,” he said. “Now, Maid Olweth, your brothers must be awaiting you anxiously—go to them and tell them that all is well. Speak nothing of this incident, if it is your wish.” Very nice.

“It is.” Something you've done well several times this chapter, and here particularly I think it does you credit: you don't feel the need to tack on a "he said/she said" to every bit of dialogue. It serves you very well here, and elsewhere.

"'No, he was—as chivalrous as he knew how to be,' Quinn said, and Mair heaved a sigh of relief." Nice.

"Even in the light of her recent encounter with Sir Godfrey, the importance of this statement struck her. Just Bryn, eh? Not Master Olweth, or even Master Bryn? Well, it seems that Brynwy had more luck than I, today." Very nice, and also gives us a little more insight on how things work in this society. This is great.

"But even as she thought of that, she saw again in her mind’s eye Sir Godfrey’s softened gaze fixed upon her face, felt the warm of his hand on her arm, heard him say, 'What a wonder is a woman’s mercy...'” Very neat.

"Perhaps she had not been so unfortunate after all." Great concluding sentence. It does leave me wanting more.

That's it! Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to reading this; it's been a crazy week, and reviewing in this much detail takes awhile, but frankly, I think you deserve it. So long as this kind of information is useful to you, I'll be happy to go on providing it. Just let me know if it ever gets to be too much. And thanks so much for your reviews-they are extremely helpful!
ice flyer chapter 7 . 11/14/2005
Great chapter! The recovery and Bryn's emotions were great. I do love this story. Why don't you have more reviews? Grr! It is so true that often the best stories are under-reviewed! Get out there and review others, woman, you deserve more! lol, i just really admire your writing style.

What sparkled impishly? Was it tears? Because if it was tears, "impishly" doesn't fit. It sounds all too chirpy for some emotion that should be like "devastation."

Update, please!
starsknight chapter 1 . 11/12/2005
This is a great prologue. Short enough to be read quickly, as I believe prologues should be, and picquing my interest more than anything I've seen on fictionpress in a long time. The plot has drawn me right in, I am intrigued by your characters, and the writing is very well done. I'm particularly impressed by how much information you have given us while still plunging directly into the plot.

I'm also going to note (because personally I find it helpful to know how many readers agree on a certain criticism of my writing) that I would disagree with the assertion that the mood change in your text is too abrupt. First I didn't see a really calm, peaceful, no-danger mood ever completely set. From the beginning, Amris is exhausted and Brennach is anxious. Second, I found the progression of feelings and events flowed very naturally from the beginning to the end of the scene. Maybe you've modified the story since that reivew; I don't know. But in any case, I think the mood is handled very well.

Some specifics:

"Amris awoke to the sound of beating wings." That is a GREAT opening line. Already I am interested. I like the name Amris and I'm wondering whose wings are beating...birds or dragons or maybe even a pegasus or fairy. It just instantly makes me curious and draws me into the story. Enough about the first line already, but since I think openings are one of the most important parts of stories, I want to emphasize how good I think this one is.

"his wings fluttering anxiously" Right after "beating wings" this is a little repetitive; I appreciate that you need to convey that it's his wings that are moving, but maybe there's another way to do this? I can't think of one right off the top of my head, but judging from this prologue, I'm sure you're a good enough writer that you'll be able to come up with something

"one hand poised as though to reach out and awaken her." Gets the mental picture across properly, but sounds a little awkward to me.

"quivering attention" I like this.

"She nodded wearily, too tired to speak." Nice. Again, pulls me in. I'm very curious about what's going on, what he's asking about, why she's exhausted, what species they are, etc. Very nicely done.

"the evening sky was cobalt," I like the word cobalt, and I know what it means, but it's unusual enough to find it in writing that it made me do a double take here. It may be one of those few times you would do well to say "a cobalt blue" even though it's a bit redundant. But that's entirely up to you, and what you think best serves the story.

"A horse pranced, a wary hunter kept an arrow at his bow, and a serpent stalked an unwitting winged child." Ok, that is just cool. You give us an idea not only of the constellations, but the culture and mythology just by this sentence. This is great information and you don't even need to go into exposition to impart it. Excellently done!

"How long ago had it been that she and Brennach had listened to their parents telling the stories of the stars? Years. Decades." Nice.

"Their parents had been dead for nearly half a century," This feels a little awkward, can't say why. Maybe because it's the third revision to the time their parents have been dead; maybe because it breaks form with the first two; maybe because the progression from years to decades to centuries sounds a little contrived...honestly, I'm not sure. It just sounds awkward to me.

"finally claimed by the death goddess after long lives." Also sounds a little awkward, though "death goddess" gives us info. about the beliefs/culture without interrupting the flow of the story, which is really good.

"But Brennach and Amris were young as of yet;" sounded a little awkward to me on the first read-through; perhaps "still young" or "yet young"

"neither had children to tell the stories to." Good.

"ready to burst into the evening sky." I like the word "burst" for this.

"'Wait,' she said, freeing her own wings from the tangle of silken bedclothes." Nice.

"she smoothed the feathers," Good to know; til now I'd pictured something more like insect wings-nice that you give us more info. this early so the mental picture gets set right.

"soft and warmed by her body heat. She had slept for nearly two days—it had been a hard prophecy." Nice! I like the detail. Again, you are giving us SO MUCH good information without launching into pure exposition. This is really fantastic!

"The look of expectancy and excitement in Brennach’s face vanished." A little awkward. Maybe because expectancy and excitement are too things and it's one look. Actually, I'm not even sure you need "look of" in that sentence.

"'Sister?' he said gently, questioningly." There's a question mark at the end of it. We know it's said "questioningly" which is rather an awkward word to begin with. I'd suggest removing it.

"Amris bit her lip, rebelling against the swell of emotion in her chest. Making a hushing sound," I find this touching but also a little awkward. Honestly, not sure off the top of my head how I'd make it read smoother.

"The wizard just held her," Nice way of introducing us to the fact that he's a wizard.

"understanding that she was in great pain, but not aware of why, or how he could help her." I love what you're saying, but this sentence felt a little awkward to me.

"'Amris, you can tell me. You can trust me,' he said after a hand of time had passed." Nice to know how they measure time, and though I don't know how long this is (relative to our time) I'd assume 5-15 min. or so. Even if I'm wrong on that assessment, I'm sure it'll be corrected later on, so I'm not worried about it.

"the hot tears that had, moments before, spilled down her face." awkward. We already know it was moments before; maybe try taking out "moments before."

"'Did you see the next High Sovereign?' he prompted. She nodded. 'And the next Eldest.'" Neat, again tells us a lot.

"Brennach frowned. 'Both? Together? They are not—'" Very interesting.

"'Tell me who the m’Lord Interesting as a title is.'"

"There will be no mistakes with this one." Which implies there were with the last. Intriguing.

"'The High Sovereign is already past the age of choosing,' Amris said in the sing-song tones of prophecy," cool!

“The High Sovereign must find the way here, and cannot be fetched.” Again, neat.

"The next High Sovereign is true, unlike this one"—wow-again draws me in

"the prophecy says that this one must find the way here with no interference from the Council of Seers or the Elder Circle" cool, really interesting!

"There was a tinge of desperation in her voice now, and fear in her eyes as she struggled to withhold the prophecy until he was ready to copy it down." very cool.

"Cold adrenaline prickled down Brennach’s back;" cold sweat? Adrenaline isn't cold and doesn't flow down one's back

"his wings stood erect behind him" I like this

"There should be a trained stenographer standing here, not an Intermediate Master wizard! He knew the flows of magic, hundreds of spells and as many potions—he could transform himself into any shape necessary—but for all of his years spent by his sister’s side, he knew little to nothing of prophecies. This was Seer’s work." Very interesting again. In this short time (what, a page or so?) I already have the impression that you've created a coherant and unique world, societal rules, mythology, tradition, etc.

"as his sister intoned" good word

"the silverpoint scratched with frantic speed" This implies to me that it's moving without him directly controlling it. Maybe make him the subject of the sentence rather than the silverpoint? Other than that, the sentence is neat.

"In a small corner of his mind, Brennach recognized the danger of the situation. Amris had gone renegade. She had refused to submit her prophecy to the Council, had told him not to fetch the stenographer. It was sacrilege for anyone but a Seer and the High Master wizards to have access to the prophecies. Brennach was only an Intermediate Master. They could both be punished for this—but to have the prophecy lost because he was too cowardly to copy it down would be an even worse fate. With redoubled effort he attempted to write it down faithfully. They had been together since his birth, Amris and Brennach; he would not forsake her now." Awesome paragraph. It reads smoothly and gives me some idea what's at stake here.

"watched as her breathing deepened and evened out." Maybe "steadied"? I'm being very picky here but "evened out" sounds a little...what's the word?...colloquial, perhaps?

"He dropped a kiss on her cheek and tucked her in, just as their parents had done when they were children together." Neat. I already feel like I have a very good idea of their relationship.

"safe keeping," I think that's one word.

"the tapestry of the night sky that hung beside her bed." I really like this image.

"He perfunctorily scrutinized the woven constellations in the Sewardian piece before turning his face to the real stars." And that's just a beautiful mental something one would see in a painting. The tapestry mirroring the stars outside.

"Wayfarer clan" intrigues me, since it gives us a hint of a new setting and perhaps a new society.

Feel free to e-mail me if you need clarification on any of my comments. This is very well done! I will be reading more.
Clodhopper chapter 1 . 11/12/2005
very very well written. I thought that your prose were nice and as far as I noticed there weren't any large grammar errors. Very impressive. I liked it a lot. The story so far was interesting, and -btw-the summary was a good one, which is hard enough to get seeing as how little space is provided.

If I was going to give you CC it would be about the mood of the text: in the very start things seemed nice and peaceful but soon we learned different, thats great and all but the transition wasnt the greatest. I personally would suggest giving some hint to the fact that there is trouble before she rants since this chapter is basically from her eyes (as you determined by the first sentence.) I hope that makes sense...

That said, I want you to know that my comment is very nitpicky and can be diregarded if you wish it to. Basically, this was super well done and I look forward to continuing it.
ice flyer chapter 6 . 11/7/2005
agh! great chapter! poor quinn...hope she'll be okay. wonderful sense of impending doom, with the atmosphere of lightning and thunder and all that. gildas's premonition maybe suggests to me they'll meet again. well of course they will! the characterization of the boys was good too, it helped me sort them out a little more.

"shrugging his sealskin cloak further" - From what I gathered this is kind of like old England, and where would they get sealskin? Even if it is near the sea, I'd imagine it would be expensive or something, and they aren't particularly wealthy, are they?

I love the nickname "Quinnwy" - it's so endearing, makes her seem more vulnerable somehow. I also like your Wayfarers, they remind me of the rom - the gypsies. Anyways..I'm just loving everything today, aren't I? Good job :)
ice flyer chapter 5 . 11/6/2005
Once again...I am enthralled. Bryn is becoming one of my favorite characters - don't we all want brothers like that? Nice writing, and have I mentioned how much I like your dialogue? I mean, the dialect, really. So poetic and exactly in character at the same time - I wish people still spoke with poetry these days! Oh well that's why we have fictionpress, right? Anyways, just a minor point, about Quinnwy's smile? I was wondering why there would be "gravity in the lines" of her smile...she earlier seemed like a sunny enough person to me and it doesn't seem all that in-character. I'm getting a tiny bit mixed up between all her siblings too. But anyways, beauteous! good job!
ice flyer chapter 4 . 11/2/2005
ooh, interesting. so i foresee that bryn is in danger? interesting! this chapter was a lot shorter than the others though, it's kind of disproportionate, so you might want to make the chapters more even length. anyway, gtg, but i like! :)
miramee chapter 6 . 10/31/2005
Have you just invented that language, or got it from somewhere? Either way, it's quite impressive.

I think there's a typo in the last chapter where gods is accidentantly rendered god (when lilibet is speaking).

ah. things have got complicated. It's not even certain that Quinn lives. She will of course, but will she be healthy or injured? Scared perhaps?

And - was the storm, the fire, was it all entirely natural or not?

The squabbling between the brothers and the build-up to the fire (an odd cloud) were done well.

There is this: "Bryn leapt back as a chunk of hay, smoldering resentfully, tumbled from the loft above and into his path." I do not think 'resentfully' is the right word. I know it may be metaphorical and everything, but when I was reading this it kind of jarred, stopped me in my tracks - it interrupted the reading.

Though it might be a creative use of the word, it hinders the flow of the words (in my mind) and I think should be altered to something less incongrous, that will not momentarily jar the reader from the story.

'kill your darlings'. (link: ?nodeKill%20Your%20Darlings) Also, this is my personal view, it might be unique, so don't follow my advice without someone else agreeing on it. Maybe I am the only one whose suspension of disbelief is suspended by that short word.

Anyhow, keep writing!
miramee chapter 5 . 10/31/2005
Quinn is being very missish in this chapter, isn't she? She needs to grow up (well, I guess that is point - she does it over your story - character development and all).

The conversation about 'small clothes' was a little weird (sister and brother) but led nicely into her getting older, marrying, protectiveness, etc. (and why *did* he change his mind?)

i like the whole Welsh name deal - embarrassingly, I only just noticed it. - I wonder if you will be using anything else from Wales - lore, geog, history, etc.

So... criticising the High Sovereign... perhaps she or her family will be betrayed? Arrested for sedition, treason or whatever? Will *that* be the complication?

Your writing style is consistent; well done. I can't find anything to criticise here, and the descriptions esp are just right - not too long at all, nor too blunt.

There is some creation of suspense, particularly with the (elegantly slipped in) info about the current high lord. I hope the father-getting-injured part is relevant to the greater plot, because the characters are all sufficiently developed, and you need to pick up the pace ie. complications. If it is relevant, then all's well and fine.
ice flyer chapter 3 . 10/28/2005
wow. lovely. this honestly reads like a novel - i'm so impressed. i don't say that often either! but anyways, i loved gildas's thoughts at the end, and the prophecy was so cool. her true love will betray! is it gildas, or sir godfrey? i want it to be gildas but then i don't because i like him and don't want him to betray quinn! i did find spelling mistakes/punctuation mistakes but i kind of forgot where because i was so interested in the story (and i'm much too lazy to go back..) so maybe you'd want to proofread this one a little more. but anyways..bravo :)
ice flyer chapter 2 . 10/28/2005
wow. i *love* this. the action was excellent and i was completely riveted. quinn is a realistic character and her reaction to vaughn is great - the dialogue is also awesome, with its "olde english" style. i noticed you had a lot of run-ons again in the descriptions.

CC: "Quinn, on the other hand, was cursed with being both short and slight, so that despite her hardiness—“an innate quality of us Olweths,” Bryn always said proudly—she looked listless and weak." Somehow "listless" and "weak" are really strong and don't really fit the milder qualities of being "short" and "slight." It just doesn't fit her character, either - she obviously has her intelligence, so she wouldn't be listless.

The section about Nye was good, and interesting, but a little "telly." I think it might be better if you didn't tell us all this but instead demonstrated it through his words more. The readers can infer most of it.

Other than that however, WONDERFUL!
ice flyer chapter 1 . 10/25/2005
Great beginning! REally good writing style and introduction of the characters - I love their names too. Honestly I can't think of any decent CC because this prologue is awesome, so rest assured I'll return in time! :)
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