|Reviews for The Namethief|
| Whirlymerle chapter 2 . 1/2/2013
I really like the description of the setting this chapter begins with. It added to your scene a sense of claustrophobia.
["Boy, you don't seem to realize exactly how powerful I am." Jag growled.] Jag didn't introduce his name until later on.
[He shed considerably less blood this time for he wrote less and not as deeply.] Such a cool concept! I'm assuming that the deepness has to do with how far down a floor they're going? I love it.
[The inside was as dark as befpre] typo in "before"?
My favorite scene in this chapter is probably the when Jag and Jathan visit the Cardery. I love your take on the elves and I got quite a vivid impression of them. The scene made me think of opening a bank account, so I thought it was really funny when they offer complimentary pens in this nonhuman other-world as well. Of course, I'm sure there's more significance to the pens, since Jag uses one to get around the floors.
I did not enjoy reading about Jag's explanation about the Dimensions and Grounds. The two different ways you categorize and count the levels is already complicated, and Jathan's confusion, while realistic, actually made me more confused about the technicalities when I was reading.
I like Jag's character as a mentor right now. His dialogue adds humor into the story, so it's nice to have him around. I'm intrigued by Jathan right now. In the previous chapter, the two scenes where he stole the names made him seem malicious and I was definitely distrustful of him. In this chapter, he seems to have adopted a more typical ignorant learning protagonist persona, so I'm curious as to how he'll turn out, morally, once he finishes learning.
| The Autumn Queen chapter 3 . 10/2/2012
Flat and disbelieving make an interesting combination. The concept is interesting as well, particularly as you're starting with a pen and not a pencil like we do in primary school. Pen licences were so cool back then.
["And I don't suppose you know how to read, either!"] - to be consistent with the "flat" descriptor, I'd suggest using a fullstop as opposed to an exclamation mark.
I also like the design of the Argot. There's something overarching about make it not a language per say but rather a test of sorts.
[Jag rubbed his face, all frustration and irritability.] - this isn't wrong strictly speaking, but I still think it would make more sense as "frustrated and irritable". The "all" makes it a little odd.
Interesting way to build up the frustration. You've fluidly moved through different time-frames while remaining in the same scene, but somehow the pressing of time becomes less important the longer Jathan takes to write. It's a little of an unflowing contrast between the haste and necessity to open the door and the longer process to learn how to write - perhaps you need Jag to take a little more of an active role there? He sounds the same level of irritated anyone would be attempting to teach something they feel should have already been picked up.
I do like how you escalated the tension there. Not too slow and not to hasty, but nicely followable and relateable to lead up to an irrationality between two unequal parties in status. You've also snuck in some politics there, another interesting point.
Why bronze though? I would have thought iron would be more appropriate for the lower levels so that was a bit of a surprise.
| Rogue Energizer Bunny chapter 3 . 9/9/2012
Oooh, illiteracy. I love illiterate main characters, because it's a subject most writers won't touch, because most of them are educated themselves. I love the idea of a protagonist who can't write.
I'd like more depth of emotion here. All of their confrontations up to here have been about dominance and posturing and pride, and I think there's a lot more to confrontation than that. Their relationship seems a bit shallow because they never interact past shouting at each other.
I'd also like to see how this all fits together more. There's a lot of different elements here - with the whole doag thing, and the namestealing, and the whole training thing, and the references to God and Satan. They're all great themes and such, but it seems a bit disjointed, because they seem unrelated. I'd like more development of that.
I do like the continuation of the illiteracy here. I was afraid that was just something you'd pick up and drop, so I'm glad your referencing it again.
| Rogue Energizer Bunny chapter 2 . 9/9/2012
I feel like the characterization of this is a little shallow. Like, I'm not exactly connecting with a lot of the characters - they don't have a lot of personality. So that's something you could improve on. Watch for bits like this ["Boy, you don't seem to realize exactly how powerful I am." Jag growled. "You have no idea who you're messing with."] where the characters act really dramatic.
I think the infodump is well-placed. I'm a big fan of never telling the reader outright what's going on, but it tends to bite me in the ass. This part here seems to work in fine, if it's a bit obvious.
Jag's abrasive personality is interesting, and something I'd like developed. It's not particularly unique at this point, but I think it could be interesting if you go in-depth with his personality and keep it from getting stereotypical.
Really love the description of the elf.
The worldbuilding here is very interesting and detailed. It's something I could never pull off myself. I love all the little images and how they add up to the general atmoshpere of the setting.
Very interested in the next. Will read more.
| Rogue Energizer Bunny chapter 1 . 9/9/2012
Oh lawdy. It's time for me to work on review returns, and it looks like you're first in line.
[People tended to find it peculiar] "People found it peculiar"? Skimming through the first little bit of this chapter, I'm seeing a lot of complicated verb choice. I think the prose would be more direct if you found a way to cut out some extra words. That'd make it easier to read and interact with, as well.
[He was called "boy" or "child"] "They called him"? I'm a huge advocate of active voice unless passive is unavoidable. Passive voice sounds less confident, like you aren't confident in the words your using and so add more to make up for it.
["I found it yesterday," the boy grinned. "You want to try?"] Since you can't grin a sentence, I'd prefer this to be " 'I found it yesterday.' The boy grinned. 'You want to try?' ".
Um... pardon me for nitpicking, that's a constant feature in my reviews.
I think the idea you have her is definitely interesting. I'd like some more development of why taking a name is so significant. I mean, in my eyes a name is just a name, and I don't see how it could cause such an impact. It'd be interesting to know how it actually works, too.
I'm not feeling a connection with Jathan in this chapter. The narration here is very detached, which isn't bad in itself, but I think the distance from Jathan as a character makes him hard to interact with emotionally. As of yet, we don't have a reason to sympathize with him or anything.
| whatthegreencarrot chapter 1 . 8/23/2012
This is a really interesting start. So a Namethief just steals people's names? That's very original, I've never seen this concept before.
It does seem a bit odd that he would just take Jathan Terry's name, because wouldn't there be two Jathan Terry's then? But that's okay, I guess. Keep it up!
| Ohana chapter 2 . 8/21/2012
Hi again. Since I haven't read this chapter, but as far as FP's concerned I've reviewed it, I just resorted to posting anonymously. Hope you don't mind. :)
(by the way, I'm Small Wings Flying. The entire penname doesn't fit in the above box so I just put my nickname in)
Somehow, I think "Jathan was not impressed" would have been a better opening line than what you've got; it's a good lead-on but starting with a description like that is always a little risky. It's not a bad opening; I just think swapping them around makes a better one.
["I didn't have a choice!" he yelled. "And I'm not going to do as you say - not going to leave this room - until you tell me what all this is for!"
"Boy, you don't seem to realize exactly how powerful I am." he growled. "You have no idea who you're messing with."]
"he" yelled. "he" growled. Since they're not the same "he", you want to avoid that. A little confusing.
I really like the description of the transformation, and particularly the use infinitesimal - because we did the law of opposites and similarities in pharmacology today. You are really good at throwing in little hints of the real world, but aside from that I also like the description because it acts as a sort of building block, focusing on similarities and firmly building them up into a bigger picture.
I also like how you've worked in the frustration and curiosity into the conversation, having it flow relatively naturally as it supplies us with a lot of basic information about the world. Some bits seemed a little unnatural, but I'm pretty bad with dialogue myself and totally the wrong person to comment there. :)
I like the quieter ending after all that talking, however "and soon fell asleep"? Not thinking about any of the information he got. Processing. Normally, it's "tried" to sleep, and that does seem to be the more realistic situation. This way's a tad more cliched...but that's just my personal opinion.
For consistency's sake, you may want to give "Chapter 2" a name. :)
| persevera chapter 1 . 8/20/2012
Count me among those who find the first sentence awkward. When there are two adjectives used like that, they could almost be interchanged. "He thought it was peculiar that people tended to find it stupid..."
I like the original Jathan. He was a friendly, generous kid. I hope the namethief didn't hurt him
| Stylistic Nightmare chapter 1 . 8/20/2012
Interesting concept. I was taken in more by the summary than the opening of the story, but I liked your beginning nonetheless. By going against the normal conventions of a story that has an orphan as the main character—having him completely uninterested in his parents and why they abandoned him—I think you avoid a lot of the possible clichés that can typically accompany them. Establishing that difference immediately really makes the story standout from the norm, right away.
Obviously from your title and summary, names are very important to the story, and I like how you made that clear from the very first chapter. That short bit at the end about how the nameless boy gets a name and is suddenly able to be more social and even establish friendships does a good job of illustrating just how important names are, even on small scale. It definitely sets up expectations of much larger things to come, more important names and the changes they can have on a larger scale.
I think you also do a good job of showing that taking a name could have possible repercussions. Stick with me here; this might be a bit of a leap haha. The first name your main character takes belongs to a street urchin whose introduction is him playing with a dead animal. Clearly not the most upstanding character. And yet, since he’s a complete unknown, the main character is able to take his name and use it to positively change his own life. It’s not much of a jump to see the opposite of that could easily happen; he takes the name of somebody who’s not completely unknown, and the reputation that comes with that name could have an unintended effect on his life, for better or worse. By showing what you did, it made me think and wonder about what would happen if he took the name of a policeman or a politician or anybody really, anybody more famous than a street urchin. Nice work.
Spelling and Grammar/Style:
‘He thought it was stupid that people tended to find it peculiar he hardly ever expressed curiosity about the circumstances about his birth.’
Replace the ‘about’ after ‘circumstances’ with ‘of’ to avoid repetition.
‘He had once fleetingly wondered if they had left him in Hassar, a town known for its orphanage, on purpose or if they had forsaken him without a single consideration for his survival.’
Remove the ‘had ‘ before ‘left’. It is unnecessary.
‘It had been that fleeting because he realized he didn't really care.’
Remove the ‘that’ before ‘fleeting’. It is unnecessary.
‘…after the town Kesterling Home was part of, a prospect he loathed.’
Replace the comma with an m-dash.
‘He was one of the lucky dozen to be chosen to go…’
Remove ‘to be’. It is unnecessary.
‘Once they arrived, they toured the shoddy workhouses - something that dampened everyone's spirits, including the matrons' - and the shoddy streets before being let loose to play.’
Replace the n-dashes with m-dashes.
‘"I found it yesterday," the boy grinned.’
Reword to something like ‘the boy said with a grin.’ or ‘the boy said, a grin on his face.’
‘He was about to turn back when the boy stood up and asked,
"What's your name?"’
That should be a single paragraph.
‘"I don't have one." he replied curtly.’
Replace the period after ‘one’ with a comma.
‘He was about to dismiss the immature offer when he looked at the boy; at his greasy, unkempt hair and mud-smudged face, the dirt all over his hands and stuck under his nails, and was struck…’
Replace the semi-colon and the comma after ‘nails’ with m-dashes.
Solid start, overall. I'll be checking back in to read the rest later, for sure.
| professional griefer chapter 1 . 8/20/2012
Some of your sentences were way too long, and that made it feel boring and like you were trying to get as much info into one setence as possible.
I also thought that though your concept was interesting, your dialogue and action were both really slow and you made it hard to find the actual plot intriguing.
The last paragraph confuses me, too. It's probably because of the long sentences, but it just doesn't make much sense.
| The Autumn Queen chapter 2 . 8/20/2012
Sorry, I forgot to mention in my review for the last chapter that there was another semicolon in the second or third last paragraph that I didn’t agree with completely. Once again, the phrases didn’t read separately enough to warrant a semicolon. I think a simple comma would have done in that case. You’ve set it up for one anyway.
Now, on to this chapter.
Ooh, a slaughterhouse. What’s with this story drawing in so many other references? It’s great though – may be coincidental, but it’s still great.
Again, I’d recommend cutting the use of “that”. I don’t think it’s really necessary. Unless the NaNo has a word limit. I’m not too familiar with it; always during my exam period.
[Surely he was more worthy of it, but no man ever became wealthy or powerful by working at a slaughterhouse] – I love the irony of that statement, considering how the slaughterhouse is where animals are slaughtered by humans and that’s a hierarchy of power in itself.
[One day, a few years after Jathan's exodus from Hassar, the city of Livenholt buzzed with the news of a duke-to-be, the heir to a powerhouse noble line, who would be visiting Livenholt.] – I think that sentence jumped around a little too much.
[So correction: until it was taken from him.] – I don’t see the point of the word “so” to be honest.
[Though it was heavy with wealth and power, it came to him easily for it had been abused and neglected.] – nice powerful sentence.
[Jathan watched as the young man's face drained of color and its confidence; the haughtiness of his title and wealth slipped away from him.] – agree with that semicolon.
Oh, you’re using the other English spelling. We spell colour.
I like the stranger. Sounds just as disgruntled as an adult stuck babysitting a kid…or that’s the impression I got.
["Sorry I didn't tell you to watch your step," the man chortled as Jathan got up with a groan.] – perhaps splitting that after the “sorry.” Punctuation or speaker-tag.
["The bigger the number, the closer to Hell."] – interesting. Hell’s normally down, so I wonder what that’s going to amount to. Already got symbolism buried in it.
| The Autumn Queen chapter 1 . 8/20/2012
Your summary definitely caught my interest. :) Just one thing about it though: [He was born without a name; died with a thousand] - the second phrase can't really stand on its own, so I'm not sure that's the best "divider" for it.
I don’t particularly like your first sentence, although the idea it contains is intriguing. The repetition of “that” makes the sentence drag and I have to wonder how many people would get to the end and forget what was at the beginning. Reading it, I think you could easily break that up to make it more readable. Particularly since the second sentence is so straightforward in comparison.
I like how you described the naming of the boy. You put it nicely into perspective by beginning with an orphanage – instant image of nameless children in grey for some reason – and then the dog metaphor, as if pet (well, not abuse but I can’t think of a good word) is better than him somehow, and then take that further into loneliness, alienation and then a fated meeting in a park (it just so happens I’m reading Tokyo Bablyon and the main two characters first met in a park :)). You’ve built it up very nicely.
A minor point at the end. I think you said the boy was bigger, and from the perspective of the characters in a slightly metaphorical sense, that works perfectly fine. At the end, the “little boy nods”, confirming he’d give the nameless boy a name. But isn’t the nameless boy the smaller one?
| Shirin Madavey chapter 2 . 2/6/2011
I really liked how you decided to set the story in the Industrial Era. It was interesting. It definitely felt authentic. As a reader, I could imagine myself walking though the unclean allies, and visiting the dusty sweatshops. After you set up this atmosphere, you carry it throughout the duration of the story.
I also enjoyed reading about the boy without a name and how all the children in the city were named Hassar. Little details like that make the story come alive.
| lianoid chapter 2 . 12/28/2010
He had been found by one of the orphans on one of their biweekly trips to the park, and when he was very young he had used to go to the place where he had been discovered in the hopes that his mother meant to come back for him, that it would only be a matter of time before he had a family.
-Personal: I would place a comma after "very young" although I'm unsure if that's merely personal preference or sticking to grammar rules. Also, I feel as though "that his mother meant to come back" should be "that his mother would come back" but, again, that might just be personal preference.
I adore your descriptions in this chapter. They well thought out and varied; you manage to paint vivid pictures in my mind so it's easy to image everything as it's happening and become engrossed in the story.
The plot certainly peeks my interest. Even from the Overture and this chapter, I'm thoroughly intrigued. The Overture didn't give a great deal of information, or let me know exactly what to expect, but it served its purpose in hooking and pulling me into the story. This second chapter fortified that. From the summary to the title to this top notch chapter, I must say that already this seems like a unique story in which I might find myself reading more of in the future.
Your pacing was beautiful. You gave readers quite a bit of information geography-wise, but you managed to do it in such a way that the story moved along smoothly with the pacing to match that gentle progression.
Your writing is really quite wonderful. It has a great tone to it that fits this story, or what I've read of it so far and the impression I received, so hats off to you on that aspect.
I love the idea of a orphan not having a name. Or at least not one that he accepts, so the ending of this chapter was great; he finally found a name and in doing so, became more confident and sociable, or at the very least, found an identity to help him grow.
Thoroughly interesting piece you have here. Excellent work and congratulations on winning this month's WCC!
| Loss of Words chapter 5 . 12/27/2010
You won the December Writing Contest! Well done. :) I absolutely loved your piece.
This story, The Namethief: This is a really interesting plot line. I've never heard of the idea of stealing a name, so you get bonus points for originality! One thing I would love to see is just *how* the name is stolen - or maybe some kind of theory behind it - even if it's just "oh, we don't know how; it's a mystical thing." Or, "a long time ago, angels and demons came down from 'cloud layer one' and mated with the others, and some of the offspring developed powers. That's the only way we even KNOW of a cloud layer one." Some explanation, I'd love to see. :) I'm also rather looking forward to seeing how the rules of name-thieving are developed. Can you steal the name(s) from a namethief? As in, if one name thief steals the name of President Obama, can I steal the name of President Obama from that namethief?
There also should be some mention in the story line about why all of "The Earth" is unaware of the different dementions. On another note, which floor exactly is the Earth on? Level 38?
As far as characters go, Jathan is a very interesting one. His rebellious and angry nature is really one that strikes a chord, though I'd be careful about HOW rebellious you make him. Even the rebellious know when to follow directions. In this case, alone and with only one friend in a whole new world, I'm skeptical about just how rebellious Jathan will be against the doag. (Read: I liked the character development so far, but his last actions I feel go against his sense of better judgment)
The story had very good flow; originally I was going to read only the first chapter, and ended up reading the other four. It was intriguing and interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done. :)
Final note: go through chapters 2-4 again; there were a few typos in there that I caught but didn't write down. Just one or two in each chapter.
I look forward to reading chapter six!