Reviews for Freedom Bound
zagato chapter 10 . 12/27/2018
This is amazing, thank you!
leauduciel chapter 9 . 9/14/2011
amazing writing. compelling characters.
The Saturday Storytellers chapter 7 . 7/17/2011
I am working *so* slowly on this chapter. Please do accept my apologies!

"Timo's first concern on arriving in Demnos was to find the baths. " This launches a little too prematurely into the plot. I'd like a bit of scene-setting. Maybe this is exacerbated by the fact that I've just reviewed chapter 28 of Bickazer's Broken Memory and chapter 33 of Tawny Owl's A Little Light Gothic, both of which have beautiful introductions. But an atmospheric start to this chapter would set it off beautifully.

Especially with your writing talent.

"Besides, relaxing in the warmed waters was just what his fever fatigued muscles were crying out for." This bit's just crying out for a laid-back description of being in said soothing waters!

"Manes stifled his amusement. Serrae did not know how house slaves lived. But he wasn't about to try and tell her. Serrae would do best to see for herself." Oh, aye? I'm not sure here whether Manes is keeping silent out of spite, or whether he has a more kind-hearted motive. Although I'm not sure why else he might choose to keep information from her.

Ah, I'll see...

Thing is, at first you've got Timo unwilling to see anyone he knows. Then suddenly he's already met up with this group of friends/colleagues. It'd be nice to have a transition between the two so that it doesn't feel so jarring.

""Manes knows many people thereabouts, he will speak for us," Timo replied, glancing at his food in case they saw the lie in his eyes." Hmm, but lie or not, Manes has remained quite inscrutible so far. How trustworthy is he? Given that you've just pointed out through Georgios' exposition that the area is still politically unstable, I wonder whether Manes is quite who he claims to be.

""Mm. Passable. Pretty for a slave, I guess," Andorra replied with disinterest. Serrae took instant offense. She began to notice that Andorra was much too close to Timo, closer than polite acquaintances should be, and found she touched him overmuch, when she had no need." Do I see the subtle glimmer of cat's claws?

""He is undertaking some business, sir," Syros replied respectfully. And very thankful for it he is too, Syros thought. " Change of POV :)

"...Why do you not leave it to your slaves to do, and leave you free to enjoy life a little?" Serrae found her appalling, but Timo was smiling at her and accepting her offering as if it were witty. This angered Serrae no end." Hmm. See, this is potentially a telling little bit of story, here. A great deal of its impact is lost, though, because of the generally hazy characterisation in this story. I recognise that Serrae is jealous because Andorra is flirting with Timo. But they need to go out of their way to be polite at the moment. Does Serrae simply not understand/care that Timo might just be being polite? Or does she - realistically - know that Timo would spurn her for Andorra if he wanted to?

Oh, Serrae. You're really bollocksing things up...

Serrae's hatred of Andorra and the other diners generally has a feel about it, as if it's been festering for a long time. Have I missed something about this story? I understand her feeling angry and jealous about Andorra, perhaps feeling angry at the hypocrisy the diners are showing, and perhaps feeling worse still because Timo may be untrustworthy. But her anger feels more like old rot rather than an acute attack of fury.

Someone pointed out to me once (maybe it was you?) that if you want to get to know a character, either get them to have sex or to fight. And Serrae's arguing, here, which is the equivalent of a fight, given the circumstances. And she's coming across as really quite green. And, as Syros says, spoilt.

It doesn't bode well for Serrae. Either she's got to learn how best to act in this place, or make her move for freedom (how far away are they from her homelands, now? I forget), or speak her mind and duly fall.

"Serrae didn't like the women's quarters. Partly because it was crowded and dark, but mainly because the women there didn't like her." A-ha! I think I'm starting to get a good picture of Serrae now, now that she's outside of the comfort of the few (not very healthy) relationships she had only one chapter ago. She doesn't seem to get along with others very well... and an enclosed area with lots of women she doesn't like, that's a dynamic that's going to get very nasty very quickly.

Is it evil of me to say I can't wait to see how this turns out?

"There, little one. Do not think of it. It is my fault for teaching you bad habits." o.O No wonder she's fed up of being patronized!

"You are still the prettiest, smartest girl around." Pfft. Timo, you are no realist. Ze girl, she 'az ze lessons to be learningz, no?

"They're just jealous. Rest here awhile while I finish this off, then I'll take you back and tell them not to be horrid with you, alright?" Err... that's not going to help. As in, that's *really* not going to help. Perhaps he's already aware that they'll end up spending the night in the same bed, so he needn't feel a need to keep the promise.

How up each others' backsides are these two? God, it's entertaining to watch!

- From We Return Reviews.
The Saturday Storytellers chapter 6 . 5/21/2011
"Syros wore Timo's cloak awkwardly, shoulders hunched, pulling at the unaccustomed folds, as they walked through the streets." Eee, so not really looking particularly like a lord, then? Might cause him problems, looking so uncomfortable.

"Serrae walked beside him, and Manes carried Timo in his arms behind, feeling as if everyone's eyes were on them." Who in particular feels that everyone's eyes are on them? I'd understand them all feeling self-conscious, but the way this is phrased makes it feel as if Manes is the one feeling this. The mood of this scene could be quite different depending on whether this is from his or the whole group's perspective. I feel it's quite ambiguous how the group feel about each other - are they starting to gel, or is it still every man (or woman) for themselves? I love it when a group feels like a group rather than simply a collection of individuals.

I'm not sure what else that scene needs. It's lacking something. Depth, or a locking-on to my emotions, or what, I'm not sure.

But I'm still glad they've managed to get passage!

"Manes would reply quietly, watching Serrae act her part with Syros a little too well for his liking." ...really? How come? Is Manes getting possessive of Serrae?

"Manes patted his hand gently, and let the fever take its course." Manes is coming across as quite the metrosexual in this story. He's been called by a female name in front of the other boat passengers and tolerated it, and now he pats the hand of a sick person. There seems to be more to the battle-scarred warrior than first assumed. This suggests to me that perhaps his disquiet at Serrae's acting has more to do with a feeling that she shouldn't be too quick to turn her back on Timo just because he's ill. Is Manes' feeling about this really so selfless? It doesn't seem to be very, well... of the time you're writing about.

""Go see to the slave," Syros muttered finally, and she could he see he ached to see to him himself, "keep him quiet." Serrae obeyed head bowed, stroking Timo's sweltering face and singing him soft lullabies til he quietened." Serrae seems to transfer from being by Syros' side to Timo's without any time passing in-between. Perhaps this could be phrased differently?

"She put all her faith in his answer, anything to escape that tightness, and at once the fear had all but left her eyes." A bit of uncertainty over whose POV this is. Almost certainly it is Serrae's, but she wouldn't be able to see her own eyes. And I'd like perhaps to see a bit more craftsmanship in bringing the reader to have the same amount of faith in Manes. She trusts him so quickly. I realise that probably she wants to share the burden of the fear Timo might die, but I'm not quite getting a sense of that, here.

"And soon enough, he was stifling his laughter too, trying to imitate a lovesick Timo." I'd love to hear more of this, what was actually said, and what passes for Timo being giggly and loved-up.

"Serrae knew he was a considerate master, and herself lucky to have to tend to only him. But she didn't have him. He had her." A semi-argument happens here where Syros berates Serrae for her lack of attention. Interestingly, she thinks through her defence but doesn't really say it so much as goes a bit defensive. I think there's a lot of potential here to strike a chord with the reader's personal experience - we could really feel this dynamic.

"Ay, and he lets our hearts starve." Well-said, really. Well-said.

But... surely Serrae already knew the whole story that's just been recounted?

Well, this chapter was as pretty as the others. I just feel that the characters deserve more work to show them off in the most human way, and I'd love to *feel* their surroundings. The sand on the beaches and the smell of the scrub, and the relentless, dry or sweaty heat of the sun!

- From We Return Reviews.
The Saturday Storytellers chapter 5 . 3/6/2011
"Syros scouted out the bandits camp while the other waited hidden in the rocks, relaxing against the wonderfully solid, sandy ground, dozing with the sun-warmed scent of oregano drifting around them." The oregano scent and the sand sounds lovely, but are they not anxious about the situation? They don't know the area and there are bandits about, so they could be being spied on.

"And all went according to the plan, Serrae climbing back up the steep slope from the cliffs, have tended to the ladders, and signaled to the men, who rushed the caves." Aww - we don't get to feel the tension of her struggling to untie the ladders, wondering if a bandit is going to turn up at any moment?

"A few bandits were left behind at the caves, and tried to put up a fight. Though taken by surprise, they weren't outnumbered, and Timo got a fair beating before Manes and Syros got the better of them." Hmm - again, this is a tell when you could have exploited the situation for its drama. Plus, because it would show your characters fighting, would have provided valuable insight into what your characters are really like. It would especially have given us clues on how noble a character (or otherwise) Manes really is.

"One didn't stay to fight, but ran to the horses, freeing their lead ropes and slapping at them til they bolted. Manes drove his dagger into the man's guts, but too late, for the horses were well away, and making for the path that hugged the top of the cliffs." Again, here - I initially thought you meant that this particular bandit decided not to fight so ran to the horses to ride one away. But then you reveal (if I've understood this part correctly) that he let the horses loose so that they would run and Timo's group would be unable to use them. That would mean he had to stay and suffer Manes' wrath. The latter situation has some thoroughly unpleasant implications: if these bandits have an ethos of sacrificing the self for the good of the group then we've essentially got a group of kamikazes on our hands. These are going to be nastier to deal with, surely, than a run-of-the-mill group of ruffians.

"Serrae looked up from the sheer rock she was scaling to see the horses veer down the mountain path." Sorry, it seems like I'm doing nothing but complaining. I am enjoying this story - it's certainly got its twists and turns. So the plan was to take the ladders apart so that the bandits couldn't get up the cliff. But Serrae is now scaling the cliff, and if she can than surely so can the bandits. Plus, where are Manes, Syros etc.? I've got a mental image of them down below on the beach. Therefore similarly compromised by the lack of a ladder. And why is Serrae climbing, anyway? Plus, if the ladder offers the only way up or down the cliff, where are the horses running if they passed Serrae and she watched them go?

Blimey - brave Serrae! Lovely bit of drama there!

""Serrae!" Timo cried sternly, causing one of the horses to toss its head. He held her tight, ignoring them." Umm, sorry: who held whom tight, ignoring whom?

"Seeing himself outnumbered in his disapproval, Timo left it at that and slid onto the back of his own mount." He really has been easily overpowered, hasn't he? Thing is, this might be the status quo as far as Timo, Syros and Serrae go. So long as those three know how the dice rolls they'll all manage Timo's lack of dominance fine. But Manes is new to this group. Presumably he's used to a more conventional situation where the master is just that: a master. So how is he really getting on in a situation where his master is not really anything other than his equal? His presence could upset the whole balance of Timo, Syros and Serrae's dynamic. Especially as there's a woman involved.

"Then they made camp in a secluded valley, in case of any pursuers arriving in the night." Would Manes recommend this position for watching out for pursuers? The bottom of a valley, especially a secluded one (does this mean lots of trees, or high walls, perhaps?), seems like a weak position to me, both from a defensive position and an observational one.

"Timo was the last to arrive, directing his horse towards the glow of the shielded fire." Shielded? I'd love to know what they've done here to shield the fire. Presumably you mean shielding its glow. I have done a certain amount of research on bushcraft and there are different ways of building a fire. I didn't learn any that would conceal one's position, but I do know of one that maximises the amount of heat you get by building a log screen on one side, meaning the heat is reflected back to you. I suppose this could be an effective way of shielding the glow of the fire from a distant observer. Then use the right materials so that very little or no smoke is produced, and Robert's your mother's brother!

Sorry, this kind of detail gets me excited. I'd love to know what they did, and how. And whose idea was it?

""The young master blooded at last!" Manes added, appreciatively, and a small bashful smile spread on Timo's face." If Manes said that approvingly then fair enough, but the actual words chosen could just as easily be a taunt. Not sure quite what I'm getting at here, but I suppose Timo must be good at seeing the best in people if he's not taken offence at Manes' comment. Especially given the soldier slave's undermining of his position he has done before.

Is this is a sign that Manes has a true understanding of the way Timo's social group works? I wonder about this, as Manes is a natural warrior so I'd half-expect him to be more confrontational than this. So for him to give such kudos to Timo is interesting. Is he a hot-headed warrior, this Manes, or an older, wiser one who has learned that discretion is the better part of valor? I still feel that I'd like to know each character a bit better, as their personalities still seem quite up in the air.

Manes is quite a progressive thinker if he is talking about teaching Serrae to fight. Again: interesting.

Timo's subsequent thoughts, the ones you describe of him being afraid he might lose Serrae, are quite telly. And there's a bit of confusion over whether his fear stems from the fact that he caught she and Manes talking quietly together (so his fear might be that she'll go off with another man), or whether she's just too much of a risk-taker for him to be confident she'll survive the journey (the jumping onto horses thing was, after all, very dangerous, and he told her so at the time). So I'm not entirely sure where his worries here lie.

Again, you describe a rather uncomfortable dinner where everyone's quiet and just wants to get some food down their gullets and get to bed, but the emotion in this scene doesn't really filter through. It would be great to feel the stiltedness, the rising and reining in of tempers, the sideways looks, the achey bones and the clenched stomachs in this scene.

Also, if everyone is tired at this point, perhaps we might see more resistance to the idea of learning to fight from Serrae? Talking things through is never a good idea when one is hungry, angry, lonely or tired, and she is weary to the bones at this point. She can always think it over again later on and go back to Manes to say she's changed her mind. Just a thought.

Ahh-ha! Here we go, then: Timo gets jealous of Manes and Serrae, even though there is little to be jealous of (for now, at least).

""Timo, how is your head?" He laid his hand on Timo's head and Timo tossed it away with a groan of irritation." Mmph, he really is a bit of a boy-child, isn't he?

""He never should have swum back to that damn boat," Serrae said wretchedly, and Syros quietened her with a hand to her shoulder." I thought previously that Syros and Timo were sitting, and Serrae was standing, as she'd just come over from fighting. It would be hard for Syros to put his hand on her shoulder if this was the case.

Also, it's just occurred to me to ask, but what is the relationship like between Syros and Serrae? All we've seen so far is facts: how they behave towards each other, but it could be the careful politeness of two people who really can't stand each other, one could be in love with the other, they could be deep friends together... it's hard to know.

Ah, so Serrae feels uncomfortable around Manes. Okay. This makes me wonder why she agreed the previous night to learn to fight, especially when she was tired and would have been less happy to take the risk of agreeing to be close to him like this.

""They will," Serrae replied determinedly, "If they think Syros is Timo."" Ah! Clever gal! Nice one, Serrae!

- From We Return Reviews.
The Saturday Storytellers chapter 4 . 3/6/2011
"The next day broke cloudy, warm, and still, the perfect prologue to a bad storm." This opening sentence starts of sounding like a weather report. Given the ancient myth feel of the premise of this story, perhaps something more evocative of that might help?

You then move on to say that 'they' reboarded because they were miles from anywhere, but again, this doesn't feel very descriptive. It may just be because I haven't read any of this story for some time, but a sense of waking up with your characters, perhaps a bit of reinforcement of who the characters are, their histories and goals, that kind of thing, might strengthen your story.

"At length lights could be seen winking between wave crests and the passengers cheered as one. Surely it must be the harbor?" Again, I haven't reconnected with the characters, so this speculative question feels like it's floating in space. To connect with even one of the characters at this point would make the question, and it's answer, more relevance.

Also, it would be lovely to have a scene here showing just how rough and cold and frightening and downright uncomfortable this oceanic storm is.

So when even the sea captain is frozen with fear, Timo can keep his head and get himself and his friends to safety? Well, while I don't think this is terribly realistic, this is a myth-type story and I can see this being something that would happen with Perseus, Hercules or the like. It's got that egocentric quality we see so often in myths.

"She was brought back instantly to Timo teaching her swim in the warm calm waters around Athens..." Teaching her to swim?

"But as she surfaced, it became all too clear that it was a far cry from the glassy waters..." I'm picking this out more as an example than as an anomaly, but the phrasing of this doesn't feel very myth-like. 'A far cry' feels like a very modern phrase, as does the likening of calm water to glass. Whether this is a problem depends on the image you want to portray with this story, but I thought I'd point it out.

"...of that coast to the raging boiling stew they struggled through now." 'Stew'? I like it!

Oh! Manes! Of course. I remembered that there was a new slave but not his name. I'm surprised that in the panic, Timo really was calm enough to keep tabs on Manes so that he's with the rest of them now.

"Timo pushed a piece of board towards Syros with his foot, and when Syros snatched it to him in a vice-like grip, he seized the slave under the shoulders..." I'm not quite understanding why Timo has to get Syros to grab for this piece of board to be able to get his hands under his shoulders?

"Timo would have to take Manes, the bulkier man, and still sluggish from the blow." Blow? What blow?

I'm also surprised that Syros, who seemed so artful and resourceful in the previous chapter, has been reduced to such a helpless shadow of his former self in this situation. Also, the fact that a woman is going to have to help him doesn't quite ring true for the myth-feel. From what I understand of ancient myths, for a man to genuinely need help of a woman (who was not a goddess) would have spoken such bad volumes of that particular man (or whatever he represented; he was, after all, a fictional character and therefore a construction of tropes) that he would be nothing better than scum. So this suggests to me that either Serrae is a goddess in disguise (or one who has not realised her potential?) or Syros is going to prove to be a snake in the grass.

To break from ranting on about myths, I'd like to say at this point, when Serrae's emotion changes from fear at the general stormy situation to panic at being left alone, I'm feeling a bit disappointed in her for not finding even a grain of mental strength in all of this. I don't doubt she's terrified, but is she not going to rally somehow?

"Why do you have to be such a bloody hero!" Heh!

"Serrae sat on the beach, knees drawn to her chin, and waited in the darkness and the shifting rain." Yuck! Is there no shelter at all? No trees, or a rock overhang?

""I couldn't… they're gone…" he spluttered between gasps, the wash pooling around him in the lea between waves." There's something delightfully elemental about this. The idea that the hero has returned and that it doesn't matter that he failed to save the other sailors because he pushed himself to his limit doing it, as all young men should. And that he is so great that the sea relaxes around him as if sensing his exhaustion.

"He felt her lift his face out of the sand and into her lap, but he couldn't move another millimeter. His limbs felt leaden and waterlogged, his muscles spent and jelly like, his eyes and throat raw with salt." This is great for a contemporary fiction, but it wouldn't fit in an ancient myth, so again, I'm keen to know which style you're writing here. I don't think we'd get an admission from the hero's POV that he's this tired. The nearest we'd get would be the sea pooling around him as in the above paragraph.

""Oh Serrae," he groaned between sips of the rainwater she held to his lips, finally catching his breath, "I think I might turn in early tonight. What do you think?"" Allo, allo! Timo's having a sense of humour! This really isn't mythological at all - it's distinctly contemporary. I didn't expect it at all, given his stunted thinking up to this point, but it's an interesting insight into his character.

"She understood then the confusion of the ship's crew: these men had lit the fires to make the bay seem like the harbour with the town around it. They had lured the ship onto the rocks, and were now collecting their grisly harvest." Oh, that old trick! Looters used to do this, I learned it in a museum! Nice little historical reference, here!

Also: oh bugger. They're not alone...

""The young master can stay out of it if he fears the sight of blood," Manes added quietly, watching Timo bridle at the slight." Oh, hallo. Sounds to me as if Manes might be a bit too much of a handful for Timo, and that he'll pretty much make his own decisions. He's turned out to be hot-headed, here. I'm looking forward to seeing what else there is to his personality.

- From We Return Reviews.
Arreana chapter 1 . 2/21/2011
I really like historical stories, I’m a bit of monster about them too. Most of my stories take place in Ancient Egypt, but I was drawn from this story for it’s ancient roots. This would appear to be an older story, so I’ll reframe from going into too much detail on my corrections/notes.

I did find a lot of potential description missing from your opening chapter. Ancient Greece was so bright and colorful, and the food so pungent! I would have liked to see that come out a bit more. The relationships between slave and owner are complex and even intricate, and I felt that we might have been better introduced to the character’s relationship through their physical interaction. Between the two main characters I’m led to believe that there is already a long-standing relationship between them, but I would have like that to have been established a bit better. As it stands now, I could just as easily assume that Timo was taking sexual liberties from his slave and she – being a slave – could not complain.

Enough content takes place over this chapter that breaking it into several chapters would allow you the space you need to fatten it up with descriptive details.

Not sure if this helps at all, since this is an older story!

The Saturday Storytellers chapter 3 . 1/30/2011
"Each night they pulled up on a beach to sleep, lulled by the waves lapping along the shores and the crackling of the fire." M, pretty. Show me more.

"So Serrae obliged, telling the story of Perseus and Medusa." There we are, a nod to your other story! Did she tell the usual version, or yours?

""Well. I've never heard it told like that before," he said eventually." Yours, then ;)

"Timotheus knew the first few ports, having travelled and traded there with his father before. But all too soon he knew he would be in terra incognita, and reliant on Syros to show him the way." This paragraph zooms out a lot from the scene that's gone before. I feel that it needs to be handled either as a new scene, or dealt with a bit more smoothly.

"Syros did not disappoint him. He knew the ports to aim for, the boatmen to steer clear of, which taxes were genuine and which a rort." Oh, show us! Totally - show us! I'd love to see this cleverness!

"Timo was congratulating himself mentally for staying under budget..." Congratulated himself for Syros' shrewdness? No offence to you, but your Timo boy is a tosser!

""Buy him," Syros muttered urgently, seeing the slave dealer growing sour. If he did not sell, there was no use throwing good money after bad, feeding a dead weight. Syros knew the man's life hung in the balance." Well yeah, but Syros, has the would-be slave decided his life is no longer worth living?

So far, only Syros sounds like a sharp-minded individual. can we have a bit more of his POV?

Or maybe this new slave will turn out to be a sharpie. Let's see...

Oh, hang on. Who is Kallos?

Hmm, so Manes is something of a mystery to us all, so far. Can I guess that he holds some significance to Serrae? I have to say, I want to warm to him - clearly he's been through a lot and he didn't approach Serrae violently when left alone with her. But so far... my feeling of goodwill toward him isn't as... warm, as *animated* as it could be. I'd like to see a shreweder sketch of this character, even if there isn't much information to go on yet.

So it looks like this chapter's purpose is to introduce us to Manes. But it also showed us that Syros may be the most intelligent and knowledgeable person on the expedition. While not all of the potential of this chapter has been released, we've moved appreciably forward.

- From We Return Reviews.
The Saturday Storytellers chapter 2 . 1/30/2011
The opening paragraph where you describe the dolphin as being equally at home in the air as the sea is elegant. Very pretty. And the reminder of the sensation of release from pressure and responsibility is again, a wonderful introduction to whatever may be to follow.

""Well then I will free him," Timo had replied quickly, galled by the thought that his mother knew the ways of Athens better than he." A bit of classic Greek mysogyny, yes? :P

"And better, she knew from long experience that when he became determined, there was no standing in his way." Doesn't automatically mean you make good decisions every time, Sonny-Jim.

"He had had to go to his uncle Andreas to raise the cash for the voyage." This paragraph is quite an infodump. Consider presenting some other way, perhaps?

"He could see the hurt in Syros face when he broke the news to him. This caused him great discomfort..." You're still infodumping here, and quite a bit of telling rather than showing happening, too. Although of course, these days you know the value of showing.

"The slave's arguments swayed him." The telly quality of this imparts a sense of the stark storytelling of ancient myths, but still I'd prefer to hear for myself the beat of indecision or othersuch that Timo must have felt at this time.

With the paragraph that describes Serrae dancing, I wondered at first whether Serrae deliberately meant to be caught dancing so as to convince Timo to take her with him - remind him of what he'd be missing, so to speak. Then you mentioned the insecurity that she carries around with her. But I remember that you conveyed in the first chapter that she's quite a calculating girl, so are we to read anything into her insecurity or not, I wonder?

"...he found the thought of leaving her strangely difficult." We call that love where we come from, Timo. He's starting to come across as a bit of a dim sort. Although again, the stupid wall of muscle does tend to fit with the ancient myth genre, so as such it fits.

But one thing I'd love to see would be all of this from Serrae's perspective, to see just how she sees it and uses - or doesn't use it - to her advantage.

Ah! We hone in to this scene with Stavros and Serrae. Good-o! There's an element of realism to the powerlessness of Serrae's position, here. As much as you've implied Serrae is clever about getting her own way, I think this should be played carefully and the fact that she wasn't able to do anything on this occasion (perhaps due to the suddenness of his approach) has earned my respect for your portrayal of her.

""Yes. A … business trip. A long one." He would have told her everything, but there were too many people who might overhear. He led her outside into the quiet night." Despite her position as a slave, the magnitude of this trip and their closeness suggests to me that she'd know about this trip already. Also, her reaction seems too muted, given the fact that you say she genuinely didn't know about it. Or is her reaction seen as weak because we're seeing it through Timo-Nice-But-Dimmo's eyes?

I think I'd also like more immediacy out of this scene, and you could achieve that by not revealing the outcome of their discussion beforehand. The thing about him finding it too hard to leave her behind makes the following scene a foregone conclusion, which detracts from what you've written.

Ah, and you go on to mention that she has a spark, a freshness etc. that makes her so memorable. Give us examples! It would be great to see this character brought to life, rather than simply being promised - or perhaps sketched.

There are some pretty descriptions in the beginning of the voyage scene. Some of the emotional / storytelling elements still need honing, but the visuals are very nice.

As for the way the story is going, I'd like to be more excited about the prospect of watching these two on an adventure together, but I think what's lacking is that I haven't yet seen what these two are like as a couple, as a team. I haven't seen what each of them is capable of, yet. So how exciting can I guess the adventure to be?

"Timo had laughed when she'd told him her story, and she knew he didn't believe her." For real? Is this because he's been so coddled that he can't imagine such a story being true, or because he's a callous tit, or because she's something of a wind-up merchant?

"She did remember counting the number of sleeps on the voyage from her birthplace so she could find her way home again one day. She held to this as her guiding light. But the ocean was larger than she had thought, and her quest grew more overwhelming the further into it she got." Does she not intend to use the knowledge of how many sleeps it had taken, then?

"But she couldn't give up hope. This might be her only opportunity to find her family again, prove that she wasn't a slave, and get her freedom. It was a goal more dear to her than anything in the world." Again, here is a crux point of the story - where you're essentially summing up what the story is going to be about. I'm enjoying reading this story for the descriptions and the ancient myth, but I'm not able to get excited about the plights of the characters.

At least, not yet - perhaps the story'll find its feet further along.

"But Serrae knew that he would leave her as easily as an old garment, one day, and she guarded her heart in advance." Here, for example. Is this because she's a very suspicious person, or because she feels she's been betrayed before (left by her family, even though they didn't actually leave her - she was kidnapped), or because she's been loved and lost before and doesn't want it to happen again?

"For at the heart of it, his needs were not hers, and his dreams did not include her as anything other than a slave." But I was under the impression she knew she was closer to him than that, or that she was manipulative enough to be actively making sure that his affection for her remains.

"And she would use him to find her freedom." Ah. So they're not going to be much of a team, then.

Or are they? *strokes chin*

- From We Return Reviews.
qczhao chapter 10 . 1/8/2011
Nice happy ending!

There's not a lot to say, save that it was an enjoyable read. :)
qczhao chapter 3 . 1/7/2011
This story is moving at quite a clip. I really like the spare way you've written this.

There are no superfluous words and all the scenes are meaningful.

I could learn from this - I tend to waffle! haha.
qczhao chapter 2 . 1/7/2011
This is turning into a fun read. :)

I like the situation you've set up here - how they are both using each other for their own ends, despite their feelings.

The closing scene of this chapter is especially good - Serrae's thoughts really bring life both to her character and the world.
qczhao chapter 1 . 1/6/2011

I know this is one of your older pieces, but the premise interested me, so I've decided to read it :)

You know, I can immediately tell a difference between this and "A Puppet in the Hand". It's obvious you have made a great improvement as a writer.

I guess most of the technical feedback I could give on this piece would be quite useless, so I'll just share with you my general musings as I make my way through this story.

I quite like the master/slave dynamic you've established here. You establish Timo's character through the way he treats his slaves. Since expectations from the modern reader would probably dictate that slaves were treated badly, this sets Timo up to be a decent guy.

I like how you get the motivation of the character out on the first Chapter too. Some books take too long to get to the point, others jump into the action and never really explain anything very clearly.

This feels like a good balance. I would have liked it if you had described the place of the symposium, and Serrae too.
The Saturday Storytellers chapter 1 . 12/30/2010
Now, this story looks to have an unusual storyline. Initially, Temple Dancer looked interesting to me, but as it's the sequel to this story, I suppose it makes more sense to get the background information first.

Here goes.

The opening paragraph feels serene, and I'm seeing what you're portraying. Very pretty stuff. But when you mention Tim's anger, I'm not quite sure how to respond. I mean, either it needs a new paragraph, or it needs to be presented some other way, but as it is it feels too much a change of direction. Certainly it feels like you've thrown away, rather than contrasted with, the serenity that's gone before.

The second paragraph gives us a bit of background into Tim's family situation, but it feels a little bit twisted around upon itself. I think it's because in paragraph one (as well as two), the subject is Tim. You do this, while at the same time sounding as if you're trying, but not quite managing, to turn the subject around to focus on the father. But somehow, Tim remains at the centre of it. Daria is not his sister, but his father's daughter, and Stephanos is not described at all as Tim's brother. While I think there's plenty of room in writing for not being too literal, it doesn't quite sit right with me, this beginning. Which is a shame, because it's got the shine of your better works, it's just got this sense of awkward twisting.

Is that a mistake, calling Serrae Sesserrae in paragraph three?

You begin with a sense of introspection, and then you shift to showing some very immediate-sounding dialogue between Tim and Serrae. I'm feeling that it would be nice to have a sharper, more defined break between the two, as it feels too much like a melding not given much thought.

I am already feeling quite drawn into the story as a whole, though.

I'm enjoying the banter between the two - it seems so far that, although Serrae is his slave, the balance of power between them is such that she can get what she wants/needs if she must.

As Syros comes into the story, I'm beginning to feel it would be nice to have more description to give more contextual feel and to make the most of the sense of intimacy in this scene.

Syros looks at Serrae's bandage? Does he have a soft spot for her, too? I suppose I'd guessed that, as Serrae was described in the blurb as a slave, people who saw her as a human being and treated her as such would be few and far between. I'm starting to wonder whether she's more of a servant-girl than a slave. But let's see.

"Timo had not felt the need to join the army yet." This doesn't seem to fit with the anger we saw at the very beginning of this story, when Tim crouched beside his father's funeral pyre. Granted, there hasn't been enough time to get to know him properly, but my first instinct (which, I'll admit, has more influence than it should) was to see him as an impulsive and angry young man. But with his warmth towards Serrae and Syros, and his lack of inspiration to join the army, I'm seeing more of a kind, easy-going type.

Perhaps even the kindest person may feel anger at their father's passing, especially if it happened in cloak-and-dagger circumstances, but I feel the two need a little more reconciliation.

""I can think of none more worthy," Syros smiled, for what master called his slave 'brother'?" Ah! Interesting. Syros is also a slave, then.

"...his head throbbed just at the thought of having to converse with them before bed." I feel your pain, mate.

Ah, so while that's quite a large infodump, we have a brief history of why Serrae is so ingratiated to the family. And she really is - I think she's got an awful lot of leverage, there.

"And before, before Daria's death, Stephanos would have replied with a crack about his brave son enduring such punishment like a stoic. But now, he stared at the table in deep silence. His grief weighed heavy on all of them." But I thought Stephanos was dead. *scrolls back up to the top and reads, 'At any rate, death had found him'. Ah, see! I read that to mean that he'd been killed in battle. So actually he'd just waded through a bit of death, rather than being killed himself?

You mentioned that Stephanos had bought Serrae for Tim. Because I thought Stephanos was dead, that seemed another - quite a powerful - reason the family might want to keep Serrae. She was a gift from his brother, who I assumed was dead. That's something they'd want to keep immutable, I think. Now that I realise he's still alive, I think her position in the family is slightly weaker, although still strong enough to have almost any influence she wants.

One thing I am finding, however, is there's an awful lot of charactrs in this story with names beginning with 'S'.

There is also some confusion for me over timings. The story starts: Tim's father is dead. You mention that he remembers the last time he saw his father alive, but the actual mention of his last view of his father is nearly at the end of the chapter, so I'd forgotten that that was the story you were relating by this time, and had assumed we were in post-dad-death times again. So it was a bit confusing, I'm afraid.

Oh. Gosh. His dad's leaving at such short notice? Short notice for Tim, anyway. Now *that's* a bit of a shock...

"His father embraced him back, gently, with none of his usual strength, and Timo felt dread creeping into is heart." That lack of strength says so much without saying it. And with that, I find I'm worrying for his dad, too.

Oh, and... should that be 'his' heart?

"Syros had done his best. But he couldn't stand in the way of death." Given the sentence structure that follows, I feel these two sentences should be linked, perhaps with a comma.

"Privately, the family were in disarray." Was in disarray? And... blimey. You're weaving quite a story, here! I think I'll be coming back to this one!

"Timo hated the endless cycle of waiting and grieving that consumed his family, and was determined to set them free of it somehow." And such is his quest! Ah, I love these stories that are, in fact, love stories but not with a boyfriend/girlfriend direction! They're so refreshing!

"Stephnaos had had inscribed above her: "Goodbye, beloved daughter."" Not sure whether that should be one 'had' or two, but it depends on what you mean. And the fact that he had 'daughter' inscribed there made me re-read this bit, it pulled me out of the story a little. Perhaps 'daughter and sister' would flow better?

"Visions of a river plagued him." This is a tell. If they really plaque him, I'd like to see this come up as a theme. Show me. I'd like to see this. To feel it.

Well, yes! Yes, indeed! This is a very engrossing story and I look forward to reading the next part.

- From We Return Reviews.
this wild abyss chapter 1 . 7/1/2010
From the Roadhouse:

- Hi! This caught my eye, so I’m going to review it, if that’s okay with you. (:

- Very nice first sentence. Already, you prove to readers your descriptive prowess and get them asking questions. Why is there a pyre? Who is watching over it? What’s the mood about this funeral? Sad or triumphant?

- “Though the breeze brought with it a [nights] worth of ocean cooling…” There’s a comma missing in the bracketed word.

- I feel that you throw too many names out in the first few paragraphs, especially since these characters appear to be dead. It’s always a good idea to focus on the main character/narrator or descriptions in the beginning of a story.

- I think the transition between the funeral and the memory of the hangover was a little rough. Maybe italics or a scene break? Something like that would be a lot easier on the eyes, I think.

- “Alright, run along [my pretty]…” The two bracketed words fall under the name/title/endearment category, and so they need to be separated from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

- “Come [father]…” Same problem as above.

- Overall, I thought that the content of this chapter could have been spaced out over several chapters of similar length. Each scene, for instance, could have been one chapter. In short, the pacing was a little rushed and though not forced, it went too quickly for my tastes.

- Your writing, as in grammar, is mostly good. Except for the errors I pointed out, there was nothing wrong grammatically speaking. I do think that your sentence structure could use a little tightening, like getting rid of repetitive adjectives, but on the whole it was very nicely done.

1/1 repaid
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