Reviews for Smoke and Mirrors
Decidedly Undecided chapter 18 . 9/28/2009
Ah, and so it ends, hm? When I first started reading this, I didn't quite know what to expect, but I must admit I've grown rather fond of it: it's a bit like Eragon, but with more anime references and dick jokes (always a plus, in my opinion). Also, I've noticed that your writing has improved significantly: your wording is smoother, and you make far fewer spelling and grammatical errors than when you started. I'm looking forward to seeing how things change in the rewrite, and you can be sure that I'll drop a review or two for that, as well. Shine on, you crazy wheat-based food product. Shine on.
THE BNZ chapter 1 . 9/3/2008
I like it! I've always liked libraries... XD
Solemn Coyote chapter 18 . 5/26/2008
1)"The geography was also great for tiring out advancing enemy troop before they reached the city walls," troops

2)"The darker do not tire." tense shift, but not a major problem

3)"The travelers left the old guard fuming at the gates and followed the little guard into the city." I like the way the commoners mostly just look out for their own interests. Even the exiles. Reilly is their only hope at returning to a normal life. As for the guards here, it's pretty difficult to be concerned about international politics when your first priority is getting enough to eat on a regular basis.

4) "Like a girl, he sighed, but in my defense, I’m pretty sure any normal person would have done the same." This proving that guys aren't normal people. Ah, well. Nothing I didn't already know.

5)"It tasted like crab seasoned with sweet revenge." When I was in Hakodate, there was this little booth with a tank of cuttlefish next to it. For twenty dollars, you could fish out a cuttlefish and the man there would prepare it for you. When I pulled mine out, it jetted water all over me. I think I understand how Reilly feels. That was some delicious cuttlefish.

6)“You are truly an asset to my – OW!” Great character interaction, and another reason why I like Red.

7)“And sleeping in the same room as unbetrothed men is unthinkable.” Yes, because Tiam, Reilly, Canon, Mika, or Wolf is totally going to make a pass at either of the ladies. The only one I can possibly imagine trying it would be Tiam, and that would be more to mess with them than out of genuine interest.

8) "“Yes, it is,” Wolfram replied. There was no forgiveness." Today is apparently 'everyone hate on Red' day. I feel bad for her. Still, this was a good chapter.

9)"I will not be abandoning this story - I shall endeavour to re-write it during the holidays. It will be bigger, clumsier, more perverted and funny."

I think I disagree. Not that the rewrite would be any good, (I'm sure it would be,) but because I think this story is already good, and it gets progressively better with each chapter. So what if the beginning isn't exactly what you want it to be? That's because the story, and your vision of it, has evolved as you wrote it. If you started a completely new version of this, with a completely new beginning, and wrote it for another year, it would probably evolve just as much over that period of time.

I'm waxing a little longwinded here, but what I really want to say after eighteen chapters of wit, amazing monsters, cringing every time Tiam makes a pass at Reilly, and rooting for Red to do something awesome is this: keep at it. The whole story doesn't have to be perfect. That idea is a will o' wisp that a lot of writers end up chasing out into the bogs of metaphor. The best that anyone can hope for with art is that it's close enough to perfect that it aches.

"Smoke and Mirrors" isn't there yet. Nothing I've written is even close. In my life, I've probably only ever read one or two things that approached it. However, the more you write "Smoke and Mirrors", the closer it'll get. In the last couple of chapters, there were a few moments that I really felt. I feel like if you reboot the series, you'll be back to square one with regards to perfect.

I know I always preach the same advice: "keep writing", but that's because I think there's something fundamental to it. There's no problem that you can write yourself into that you can't write yourself out of. Except possibly appendicitis.

Solemn Coyote chapter 17 . 5/26/2008
1) "Luckily, the road was well kept, cutting neatly through roots and void of other foliage." that made me wonder about who maintains it.

2)"there are bandits who thrive in places. My guess would be that they inhabit Amayfield now." for the last sixteen or so chapters, the story was told on a fairly personal level, centered around Reilly and his reactions to this strange world. Now, all of a sudden, the narrative opens up into epic-ness. I like it a lot, and I really don't want to have to wait for a re-write to get back to this point again.

3)"Canon screamed with feeble but brave swatting movements at Red while pushing Reilly back out of the way and into a clump of bushes." Canon tries to help, honest. Also, you've developed him way beyond the point that most writers would, and I respect that a lot.

4) I'm glad you included Mika's little story into the narrative. It does a good job of explaining why the girl from the forest wants Tiam alive. He's still carrying her Chi.

5)"“I told you,” she said softly. “I’m going to make myself useful to you in other ways. Now leave. I must arrange my hair.”" She's almost adorable, in a very impractical way.

6)"Reilly heard the twang of bow string and three arrows speared into the slay’s left thigh." it's hard to picture a marshmallow with a thigh

7)"Then, with all the energy of a determined voyeur, thrust (thrust) the point up into the slay’s body." that's no fair, making me laugh in the middle of action sequences. However, looks like there's more leftover editing in that sentence.

8) I like the way you've integrated magic. It doesn't overwhelm the story, but it does embellish the characters just a little bit. Plus, the colored auras are a nice touch.

Solemn Coyote chapter 16 . 5/25/2008
1)"Red was particularly welcoming with (a) snort of amusement." little bit of editing that got left in

2)"Just to be sure, the king reached inconspicuously between his legs to give himself a scratch. Yep, definitely still male." immature, yes. Hilarious? Also yes.

3)"“You can talk if you want,” Reilly said generously. “As long as you don’t talk about me.”" a little bit of power swiftly goes to Reilly's head.

4) you do an amazing job at creating monsters. The whiskered-couch-beast is an instant favorite.

5) nine out of ten horror movies agree: little girls are creepy. You do a beautiful job of writing her, though.

6)“Feeleth thy wrath!” mine wrath

7)"They have a built in reflex that makes them reel in certain lines during the day to prune off unwanted prey, but the one that caught you would have been sleeping while it did it." more great creature building

8)"spelling errors and just werid stuff that makes me look stupid" Those typos make my day. I really, really hope that they're pre-planned and that I'm not accidentally making fun of you here. If so, you have permission to mock me mercilessly for any spelling mistakes I might maek.

Solemn Coyote chapter 15 . 5/25/2008
1) It could just be the music I was listening to while I read the intro (Lacuna Coil), but it felt really powerful, in a quiet sort of way.

2) “A concoction that was once given to babies after they were born to adjust them to the temperature outside of the mother’s body,” That's an excellent idea, and something I would have never thought of.

3)"“Yes, Your Majesty,” both insubordinate companions sang in unison before bursting into surprised laughing." This unholy alliance between Red and Tiam has me worried.

4)"“And yet the more you try to disprove yourself as Rion, the more you sound like him.”" It has to be a horrible feeling, backsliding into being someone you never knew.

5)"“Let there be no secrets between us, Rion,” he said with a pat on the back that nearly knocked Reilly face first into the fire. “I have always treated you as my little brother.”" I like Wolf.

6) It's been nagging at me for a while now, but Reilly doesn't have the, I dunno, character-tone of a guy. There are a lot of subtle ways in which he behaves like a girl. They're minor details mostly, so it took me a while to piece them together, but a lot of them are things that, if a guy did them, they'd require some explanation why.

Reilly crying in Wolf's arms is one example. Even though it's a good scene, it feels slightly off because Reilly is comforted and relieved by crying. He doesn't see it as a failure of his composure, or have to brush off the way that it's embarrassing to cry in front of someone much stronger. He deals with it in a natural, non-awkward way, which is pretty atypical of when guys break down.

Guys tend to be either insecure or mentally blocked about crying (though this could vary a lot from culture to culture,) to the point where it's not so much a natural outlet for pent up emotion as it is a failure of discipline.

7)"Looking around...the animal activists back home would think." That's the first really vivid picture of the main characters that you've painted so far, but it's a good one. And it's perfectly timed. Introducing it earlier would've felt kind forced, I think, even if it might have been a welcome bit of information for the reader.

8)"“The darker have better night vision than humans,”" I am suddenly having very strong visions of the movie Aliens, only with gigantic maw-marshmallow instead of Geiger's monsters.

9)“I would turn around and give you the look, but I fear it’s wasted on you, Majesty,” excellent dry humor

10)"It was like being on an aeroplane as it descended, while having a serious case of pins and needles at the back of your eye sockets." That's the single best way I've ever heard barrier magic described. Of course it would create a pressure differential. I can't believe I never pictured it like that.

Solemn Coyote chapter 14 . 5/25/2008
1)"Higher purposes, and that’s all you need to know." oh man. This plot gets exponentially more epic.

2)“Whoever wrote those lyrics should be executed,” I kinda like the song, actually. Could be my inner-emo surfacing.

3)“Oh, stop wiping your mouth with his excretory hole, brother!” I realize that was supposed to be lighthearted, but holy crap. Them's killin' words.

4)"Reilly said instinctively, product of his grade 2 teacher’s methods of warding off possibly harmful beliefs." great line

5)"That was before he had to recite ‘There are no such things as faeries and dragons’ ten times a day in front of the class for a month. Funny how words became powerful when said out loud." It occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, Reilly's thoughts when he was in exile actually shaped the kingdom that he's in now. Disbelieving in dragons caused the species to die out, etc.

6)"He use to be somewhat of an expert on dragons." used

7)"The worst odour he had ever endured was perhaps a rotting pear that lurked at the bottom of his school bag for the better half of a semester. Not even the roaches had gone near that thing." That is truly a fearsome beast.

8)"The air was light and crisp with a hint of winter in the air." word repetition with 'air'

9)"I wonder if mum is feeding my hamster." finally, thoughts about his family

10)"Reilly covered his ears and shook his head, pretending that if he screamed ‘lalala’ long enough, he could erase the image from his mind." If only I could do the same. You've got a gift for shocking your readers, Bread.

11)"And nothing more was said on the subject of riding brooms and pubic hair." Thank Buddha.

Solemn Coyote chapter 13 . 5/25/2008
1) Good intro, starting a few steps ahead of the reader and then gradually revealing what happened. I like the technique.

2)"“What do I have to do for people to like me? Why does everyone hate me? I try so hard...” Tiam said softly, the tip of tears hanging from his words." Oh, god. Angsty Tiam is like a kicked puppy. I think it'd be okay for his happy, outgoing mask to slip every once in a while, but a full-on angst tsunami is a little much.

3)“Got ya.” Oh, man. You did.

4)"Tiam turned around and Reilly saw the magician’s eyes were glittering, but not with tears.

Agh! He got Reilly AND me! You were really good with the emotion manipulation there, Wheatie. Incidentally, I was on FP and saw an ad for Wheaties on the top, and on the bottom was an ad for self-publication for WheatStock. Not even kidding. That must be an omen." That sounds like a bit of WyrdWolf's editing slipped into the finished draft.

5)"He didn’t really talk to many girls back home and it must of shows." 'must have showed'

6)"which meant that every conversation was becoming an awkwardfest." I like that word.

7)"“Perhaps if I were useful to you in other ways you would remember me,” she said" She goes in an instant from blaming Reilly for not living up to ridiculous standards to internalizing that blame in an equally ridiculous way. It's good character writing, and it (regrettably) mirrors the behavior of some women.

8)"Reilly lent and brushed lips gently with Amayble in a chaste kiss." bent. Wow. That was not something I was expecting to happen, but kudos for developing the Amayble/Reilly dynamic in an unexpected way. Pity she's probably going to turn out to be the traitor.

9)"As he disappeared from sight, Amayble opened her eyes and peered out the doorway." her character was a little bland before this, but that bit of deception developed her a lot.

10)"The kind walked over reluctantly" kid

11)"It looked poisonous and smelt vaguely of almonds, but who was Reilly to judge." that made me laugh

12)"When chickens cross the road, one might ask the question of why. When tortoises cross the road, one might ask the question ‘what the hell was that?’." not only did that make me laugh, but I very nearly sabotaged my laptop with accidentally sprayed tea.

13)"What am I supposed to say to that? Reilly fumed silently. Thanks? I enjoy my wet noodle strength?" in the future, I will avoid drinking anything while reading your stuff.

14) The part with Victor and Markus was surprisingly touching. Good writing, there.

Solemn Coyote chapter 12 . 5/24/2008
1) "Only dorks train with wooden swords.

Real kings trained with real, gold gilded weapons." Meaning: because of the needs of decorum, kings train impractically. I can't imagine any other reason to start someone inexperienced with an oversized cleaver when a properly weighted stick would do.

2)"Situated high above the moisture of the damp rainforest floor was a room full of sharp looking objects." never occurred to me that they were in a rainforest (explains the sacknas), but now that you've brought it to attention, I like it a lot.

3)"In the few days Reilly had been in Alankeira, he had learnt not to trust his eyes without his ears, not to open his mouth without opening his mind and how to doge flying cheese." comma after 'mind', but great line all the same.

4) "his pride had grown from a peanut into a watermelon these past few days and apologising to Tiam would turn it into a piñata; a piñata full of peanuts ready to be crushed. A cruel cycle, indeed." That was absolutely excellent writing. Misspelling on 'apologizing'. I think. At least, 'apologizing' is the American spelling for it.

5)"Beyond the mountains, Reilly was told, to stop wasting time with pointless questions and get back to training." this is another of those chapters where the Tiam-related sketchiness is kept to a minimum and every other paragraph causes me to break out laughing. I'm enjoying it immensely.

6)“But the hardest physical labour I’ve done is mow the lawn and take out the garbage. I can’t compete with little girls.” Makes me wonder about his family in the normal world. It hasn't been brought up at all, but I would imagine it was a large part of his life.

7)"The song of the Qui the wind," maybe semicolon after Qui?

8)"The sounds of the world rubbed against him, thick, soft and rumbling like the purr of a fat cat." beautiful line.

9) Qui is the force. Rock on.

10)"“Resistance is futile?” Reilly joked with a desperate laugh.

“Yes,” Red deadpanned and brought her stick down." It might be scarier, and more in character, to have her say it very seriously.

11)"Little children accidentally get trapped in small spaces, not seasoned hide-and-seek professions." professionals

12)"In this dance of smoke and mirrors, there are those who remain wary of deceit." Oh! Oh! Title reference!

Solemn Coyote chapter 11 . 5/24/2008
1)"Tiam felt back, grinning unbashfuly," fell

2)“Technically? That’s a word you just made up! Don’t give me that magician lingo.” excellent exchange here

3)"It seemed as if living in the other world had more of an affect" Effect, I think. but I'm absolutely terrible about parsing out which one to use in which situation.

4)"She could only deduct that the words were randomly put into confuse her and add mystery to the mind and magics of a magician." deduce. I like that Red has no problem with magic, but the minute Tiam starts talking about technology, she suspects him of trickery. The entire sequence between the two of them is well written.

5)"Punch line: The cure Tiam had devised spread orally and the only way to achieve immunity from the red water was to ‘brush lips’ with someone who already had the cure." Of course Tiam would come up with a cure that works that way.

6)"Conclusion: Magicians are perverts who take advantage of the innocent public and should be made eunuchs as soon as possible to remove the possibility of dangerous sexual deviants who could literally charm the pants off you." Best line ever.

7)"Instead, he lay (guess what) naked and unconscious on a soft mattress while old men with beards poked at his body curiously." Oh God.

8)"Physicians, the old men called themselves." Phew.

9)"“She’s mastered a Major Arcana,” Red said out loud." I'm now very curious about this whole major arcana deal. Tarot, maybe? Or, even cooler, maybe it means that a magician has the potential to break one of the rules of the code.

10)"Let me guess – the Casanova in me broke her heart once upon a time and since then she’s been out to kill me but has always had a smidgen of love left in her for me which eats away at her soul." He took the words right out of my mouth.

11)"Lofae was his sister." I cannot read her name without thinking 'hm...loofah.' It is a terrible curse and it torments me at least several times per chapter.

12) Lofae's the bug-chick, isn't she?

13)“But should you change your mind, I’ll be in my cave growing mushrooms.” The dialog in this chapter is fantastic. I really hope the rest of the story maintains this level of witty repartee.

14)"I can't beleive there are people still reading this story. It's disgusting. People like to see other people suffer. Especially this Locus person who read all the other chapters in one go. I can't believe no one got seisures." You're too hard on yourself, Bread. This is a pretty good story, and it's studded with excellent ideas. Like the marshmallow of darkness. Besides, I can't imagine that reviewing too much at once could give anyone a sei-AUGH! *seizures*

Solemn Coyote chapter 10 . 5/24/2008
1) Chapter title caught me by surprise. "The Marshmallow"? Excellent.

2)"I wish I had a lightsaber, Reilly sighed inwardly. A lightsaber would be so kick-arse right about now." I have wished that many a time, all to no avail. Poor Reilly.

3)"bows and arrows, boomerangs (or Alankeira’s version of curves throw weapons that return to the thrower), slingshots and rope darts." Rope darts? I'll confess I've never heard of them, but they sound fascinating.

4)"Reilly pointed at the arrows at his feet with a questioning look." I like that Reilly gets pulled into the battle in a minor position. It's a lot better than the 'you are obviously our savior from another realm. Take this expensive sword and lead the charge' tactic that I've seen in other stories.

5)"Reilly ducked his head under the water and breathed out, the cool water soothing his heat burnt face and arms." isn't the river poisoned at this point? I do like the bug girl, though.

6)"“It is too early to say,” the little girl smiled. “But today you have taught me courage and compassion, things I thought had faded from this world. I am indebted to you.”" aw man. She's going to turn into some sort of important plot fairy. Not just a young bug-empath. Which would have been rockin'.

7)"warning bells began to ring in Reilly head." Reilly's

8)"“come on. Let’s disappear before Red brands my nipples with a hot poker," Reilly continues to come up with more inventive scenarios than I could possibly have imagined.

9)"I’ll be fine, because, you know, normal people can just vanish into the ether where I come from." another great line

10)“Big teeth. Like mushrooms, but sharp. Spiky mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.” Terrified, rambling Reilly is great comedy. I feel bad for being as amused as I am by it.

11)"Thankyou for that disturbing piece of information." wordmating

12)"“I’m not gay,” he leant in close enough to whisper. “It’s too limiting.”" okay. That satisfactorily explains Tiam.

Solemn Coyote chapter 9 . 5/24/2008
1) "Reilly had to admit, made him look looked bloody awesome," no 'looked'

2)“Questioning why an old toad like you should live.” I'm kinda glad that there are other characters who can dislike Tiam, 'cause Reilly doesn't seem capable of it in the long term.

3)"Affective, but lazy." effective

4) There's a lot of well-deserved character development going on in this chapter. I'm certain that Red's got an interesting backstory, and I want to read more about it.

5)"“No I wasn’t. You’re not my type, I prefer girls with larger breasts,”" Tiam likes girls? Now I'm thoroughly surprised.

6)"When a magician sees wrongdoing, he should instinctively move to correct it! The reward of the people’s happiness should be enough payment!" Wow. I kinda get the impression that it isn't just Red who's naive. That it's a common belief that magicians have to work only for the benefit of the people (hence the awkward magician's code.) If that's the case, I can't blame Lofae for going rogue. Speaking of which, I'm kinda interested in known what exactly her motivation was.

7)"“I’m getting bolder by the second, Majesty,”" somewhat audacious but still stuffy Canon is a huge improvement over just stuffy Canon.

8)"Tiam shrugged and wiggled towards Reilly so that his head rested in the king’s lap. For a moment, Reilly had the urge to smack the magician’s face, but his brain advised against this instinct" Okay, I'll level with ya. I'm not a huge fan of slash. Consequently, I'm not a fan of the Tiam-hitting-on-Reilly scenes and I probably critique a little bit more harshly after reading them. But I do like the rest of the story, which is continuously clever, so I'm probably just going to bicker about Reilly not being forceful enough in pushing Tiam away every time there's one of these scenes.

9)"“She’s never really been interested in anyone, ‘cept perhaps Rion, o’course.”" Once again, the story validates my Reilly's-awkwardness-based-charisma-field theory. Also, that's an excellent plot development. It would explain why Red avoids Reilly when she can. She seems intense enough that the thought of liking someone would make her uncomfortable.

10)"Corrupt me, break me into your slave pony and ride me into town, Reilly couldn’t help adding to himself." *blink* *blink* Reilly has an incredibly active imagination when it comes to Tiam.

11)"Lofae’s fiery wrath and vicious monster army" Dude, if there's anything that could ever validate my reading of this story, it's a vicious monster army. I love a good monster (as evidenced by my approval of the centipede), and a veritable army of them makes me dance around the room with delight. And earns me some pretty strange looks.

12)"just because the silver haired magician had a perverted smile, a secret dungeon below the library and claimed to witness his birth on Earth, didn’t mean that the magician was... no, wait, yes it did." great line.

13)"whomever an make the magical pendent glow gets the job." can

14)"“The monsters are struggling through the traps and the bogs,” Cannon reported. “But they’ll be here before the sun goes down.”"

I love this story so much right now.

15)"In the meantime, we're going to have a little fun with this story by having a character popularity contest" Judging by the prior reference to POTC2, I'm going to assume that the popularity contest is well over with. Of course, that isn't going to stop me from voting. Red is absolutely my favorite character so far, even if she hasn't gotten much time on-screen.

Solemn Coyote chapter 8 . 5/22/2008
1) Reilly's list of questions is great. I was even able to put aside my utter surprise at finding cursing in one of your stories.

2)"Perhaps your discomfort would be satisfied with more than just one woman?" *blink* *blink* Reilly apparently exerts some kind of magical charisma field. It scales up in power with proportion to how awkward he is at the time. Best superpower ever.

3)"By the way, if you see anything that looks like a cockroach, don’t kill it – call me straight away. They’re extremely rare." This sort of aside is great. It shows how normal the world is for everyone else, and how weird that normality that is for Reilly.

4)"They’re not glasses. They’re faerie magical apparatuses to help me see through lies and clothing" I can't seem to read more than two paragraphs in this chapter without snickering over something.

5)"Reilly was getting the vague sense that this magician was not a morning person." then again, Reilly is the one naked, in bed with his fiance, matter-of-factly reading off questions to the mage who barged into the room. So, either Reilly is a morning person to trump all morning people, or he is completely immune to strangeness by this point.

6) Canon's a good character, and he's got his own distinct way of speaking to boot. I was never very good at giving the latter to any of my characters.

7)"If you record on strong, what’s with the big book?" string

8)"“There’s something different about you,” he eyes Reilly suspiciously." tense shift

9)“And since when have you kept your promises to that woman?” past-Reilly promises to be a very interesting character indeed.

10) "Sone sentences in this chapter may not actually make sense." the disclaimer made me laugh really hard.

Solemn Coyote chapter 7 . 5/22/2008
1)You do a great job of establishing the otherworldliness of the Exiled's community, and then you drop this one the readers: "he realised that the object he held in his hands was – of all things – cheese." Very Douglas Adams of you. Also, I approve of cheese as a cultural gift.

2)"He had no illusions as to where his strengths, or lack of strengths, were. Pretending to be the long gone king of Tiam’s people was definitely not a subject taught at school, but if it were, he doubted he’d do too well" Reilly is sometimes a little too helpless. I'm glad he isn't the 'boy from a normal world that gets drawn into another and finds he is not only perfectly suited to it but can pilot a mecha' archetype, but I feel like he should have some talent. Even if it's just an understanding of anime.

3)“My brain hurts, and I blame you, Pikachu,” that sequence was a bit unexplainably strange, but it ended with a great line.

4)"the Scackna for one, though they are rare. We were blessed to have you bring us one on your return. They are difficult to track and the one you brought us will feed us all tonight." Scackna equals snacka? Excellent bit of weirdness.

5)"Your fiancé asked if she could meet with you soon" and that is a revelation worth springing on any amnesiac character.

Solemn Coyote chapter 6 . 5/22/2008
1) "In the winters the water is frozen and mirrors the sky." although the backbone of this story has so far been comedy, occasionally a line slips in that's completely lovely.

2)"Close up, the woman smelt of campfires and leaves in the morning, a smell he found himself blushing to." another excellent line.

3)"“Hump,” Red concluded, pushing him away." um, did you mean 'hmmph'?

4)"Maybe I’m not in a parallel dimension. Maybe I’m just in New Zealand" I want to steal that line. A lot. It would be completely at home in my 'RoW'.

5) The eight laws feel kinda...artificially restrictive. Except for the 'on the first of the month' one. I like that one a lot because of its potential for creating dangerous situations. The others feel too like superstitions...or limits created by the author. I think it would be a little bit more natural if magic just behaved very erratically whenever it was used to break one of the laws.

6)"The large, round orbs cast a warm glow on the trees, warming up the night. Lining the shore, men, women and children waited excitedly for the boat to draw near." I like how Lothlorien actually found a way into the narrative.

7) Wolf feels like he would benefit a lot from more backstory. There has to be something more to him.

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