|Reviews for Sullivan's Shadow|
| TheNonyMouse chapter 1 . 18h
Congrats on your WCC win for November!
Opening: This reads as a fairly typical fantasy opening, which is both good and bad. Your use of language effectively draws the reader into a mystery, though it does get a bit heavy-handed at times. Still, you've clearly set up a main character and a conflict while leaving plenty unexplained, so as not to spoil the story before it's begun.
Characters: I enjoyed your introduction of Sullivan right up until Moira appears. Sullivan at first comes across as either the protagonist, or the mysterious old wiser man who's going to aid the protagonist. Then Moira appears, and he kind of just turns into a jerk. The primary details we get about Moira are her "shapely" figure and that she's probably been pining for this guy for six years. She doesn't appear to have done much with her life, and Sullivan immediately proceeds to strip her even of any perceived agency by ordering her to bring him a kid and making it clear that she doesn't need to know why, just needs to follow his orders. It would be nice to see her argue with him more, or show any sign of life outside of downtrodden and docile.
Setting: I'm intrigued by the setting. A dark night is a fairly typical introduction for fantasy and horror, and that is how this chapter reads to me. Fairly typical, but not necessarily in a bad way. You still capture an air of mystery, and the well-worn setting allows the reader a broader sense of what to expect than your words alone convey, with room to later either subvert or expand upon those expectations.
Dialogue: The dialogue is a bit stilted, but that makes sense considering that these characters have apparently not seen each other in six years, but share some only vaguely defined history. The only thing I'd like to see changed, personally, as I mentioned above is for Moira to have a bit more to say.
| lookingwest chapter 2 . 12/1
Returning back to this after such a long while! (Looks like this and Coma Kids had chaps I hadn't reviewed yet, shame on me!) Congrats on your WCC November win! Overall, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that /maybe/ you might be re-thinking this draft or considering it "old writing" etc. But I'm going to go ahead and provide a reading of it like I would anything else, hope it can be helpful!
Pacing - Looking back on Ch. 1 and 2, it's been such a long time since I read the original version of this story that I remember very little about how it opened then as opposed to now, but I'd say that overall and re-assessing, I think this is something you could slow down, especially given all the action that takes place in Ch. 2. The pacing felt quite fast for me, especially in regards to introducing the baby being born, as the character of Mrs. Folsham didn't appear in the scene prior to her saying "well, I'm having a baby now." I feel like perhaps Amise would've been prepared or foreshadowed/thought about the coming of the baby just because she later states that Mrs. Folsham had many miscarries in the past years and the babies haven't been coming to full term. That being said, I can also see a case for her being distracted due to awaiting the arrival of Ioan - so perhaps make that more explicit by having her think/state it.
Character - So working off of the pacing, I think you should also consider slowing the pace down just because there are so many added characters in this chapter in comparison to the last one. We've got Moria here at the end, but I'd love the foreshadow or even use of a scene break to denote her arrival. The sons feel as though they could be cut for this chapter (off in town or something), and brought up later, when they /need/ to come back in. I would even consider bringing Rosalie into the chapter sooner - perhaps even start Ch. 2 with the labor and the pregnancy? It feels as though it's a big deal, but I also can't for the life of me remember the significance of Ioan, though the name feels important as well. I had the same question as Oogle mentioned in this chap in terms of the narrative perspective. I would urge almost going more limited omniscient, since omniscient is so difficult to do overall, especially if it's a fantasy novel. Using section breaks to switch from character to character could really ground and center some of that pacing, too.
Writing - Saved the last/best two categories for last! I really loved your writing in this chapter in terms of its cleanness and the atmosphere it creates right from the opening of it being a busy house. The perk with having all the characters is that is does show how hectic that day ends up being, so structurally that works really well. I also liked how you characterized Rosaline, by the way, with including in the information about her "off-ness" in the village. Choices like that managed to craft that fantasy/folk setting vibe I was getting out of this piece so far. Plus we also have the showing of magic and emphasized importance on the child, which was a great way to end the chapter, in my opinion.
Plot - Working off the ending, character, and pacing - just looking at the first two chapters, I want to say that Sullivan, Moria, and the baby are all the central players, BUT, I feel like the chapter is indicating they aren't the main focus - which is why intention-wise, I would adjust those factors accordingly - that being said, I like the idea that the novel is starting off with a placed importance on the child, and everything - the world and motif is familiar, but the characters are bringing it to life right now (I'm thinking mainly Sullivan, Moria, Rosaline here). Amise, too! But she fades a bit into the background by the end of things in the Ch. 2 - which again, I have a bit of a hard time coming into this after so many years recalling where my attention as a "main character" is supposed to be. Anyway, should probably stop rambling. I hope that you revive some of these stories! Either jumping off from what you have and moving forward, or revising/doing a new take.
Once again, congrats on winning the WCC, you deserve it! Let me know if you got questions.
| nightfuries chapter 3 . 1/12/2013
Tael! I liked him! Even if I only saw him in this one chapter :)
This story is incredible so far, and I absolutely cannot wait for more! It's exciting and action-packed, and you have a wide variety of characters, a lot of whom are so likeable that they start to become my favourites after only a paragraph or two of reading about them. And then they die. Which sucks. But ah well, I'll forgive you since this story is so amazingly fantastic :)
| Dreamers-Requiem chapter 2 . 11/24/2012
I actually prefer the older version. Maybe because with this, there seems to be a lot going on and a lot of explaining behind it. With the way this scene was written previously, I felt like there was more tension, allowing the reader to wonder more what was going to happen next. As it was, it was hard to follow with the introducion of so many characters, and right now it's hard to tell who, if any, will play a larger role later on. It was hard, too, to really connect to any of them, as they didn't seem fully fleshed out. Maybe try to focus it more on one or two characters experiecning the events? Just a suggestion.
| Skyward Ending chapter 1 . 8/23/2012
I liked the idea of betrayal being something you can taste, and "where unruly hill met trail" also stood out to me.
"Long-forgotten memories" implies that those memories are pretty much gone forever, so that struck me as a bit odd. I think you should new-paragraph more of the dialogue. "What does she mean" would work better than "How does she mean." There were a couple of other wording things that stuck out.
It should be interesting to see how Moira's name ties into the story.
| Dreamers-Requiem chapter 1 . 8/12/2012
Good to see this back again in some form. Really liked the way you introduced the two characters, and there's a strong sense of some sort of connection between them, though the true nature of that connection remains slightly unclear. It's got a strong hook, and enough questions to get a reader invested. The only timy suggestion I'd have is to drop the 'upon' from [which, upon sensing she was prepared to leave,]. I feel 'upon', like 'then' in a lot of cases, doesn't add anything to a sentence and can mostly be left out.
| Tawny Owl chapter 1 . 7/4/2012
It was your story description that drew me in - it's not often that I come across one that's so intriguing.
It had been many years since he had last been here. On the outskirts of town where unruly hill met trail, the man stood as still as a statue. -Using 'he' first and then 'the man' makes it almost seem like the 'he' is watching and 'the man' is someone different even though they're the same person. It feels like we are in his head and then getting pushed out again by not thinking of him as a he, but the man, and a man who's having his name concealed. Anyway, I feel it's a speed bump to drawing people into the story, although it is also one of those quirky personal things that I'm starting to obsess over so if you disagree, hey ho.
That aside, lovely sinister beginning with the looking and the moonlight and betrayal lingering on his tongue. Nice.
Sullivan and Moira - I think I've read this before. Have you taken it down and reposted? From what I can remember Moira would make you feel fatigued.
There's a sinister feel to this meeting, partly because if he's been away so long she must have somehow known when her was coming back, but there is also an edginess to them. Like they are a pair of former lovers who are keeping secrets from each other.
After setting up the atmosphere so well in the first paragraphs though you did then let it ebb. Although the relationship being depicted was good the surroundings could have been brought in more - like how can he tell she's shapely if it's nearly dark and she has teh trees to her back? Is tehir moonlight reflecting on things? Any haunting noises? Just to remind us where they are.
Sullivan is very mysterious. I like the fact that he has journeyed so far and doesn't even have an idea of how long his been gone for. I hope we see more of him. Although it does feel like there's alot of cloak and dagger going on I never felt confused there was a lot of mystery in this chapter, and hints of a world not entirely like ours.
If you do wnat to return, whenever, reviews for Eternal would be appreciated. Cheers.
| this wild abyss chapter 3 . 7/3/2012
Prince Stephan of the House of Norwood, and his personal guardsman stood [would omit comma]
Withdrawing a sword from his belt [rather than "withdrawing" I would say "drawing"]
a gurgling sound erupting from his throat just before [typo, "erupting" should be "erupted"]
This chapter is definitely a change of pace from the previous two, and I think you did a good job in handling that shift in atmosphere. I'm not sure where Norington is in relation to Woodell, so that might be a nice idea to include. Otherwise, though, I think you established the setting nicely, without too many words or flowery descriptions. I got a feel for where this took place, and then I moved on.
Again, your characters are always enjoyable. The contrast of the two princes was well handled, and though I don't have a good idea of either of their characters quite yet, I see potential for strong characters on both of their parts. I really liked how they served to contradict each other, in both their appearance and mannerisms and beliefs. I found that to be a very clever technique.
The only thing, honestly, that I found missing in this chapter was emotion. Tael, for instance, rides up in a bit of panic but then seems to loose that agitation as his conversation with Stephan progresses—I would think he'd be in a bit of a state of shock, all things considered, rather than having a calm and rational (if not uncomfortable) conversation with another man. That's just my opinion, though.
While this chapter doesn't exactly tie-in with the previous two in the way I prefer, I still get the sense that it takes place in the same world, and the hints of God and sorcery are consistent. The mentions of The Purgings were interesting, and overall I liked the subtle incorporation of detail and foreshadowing. Some questions were raised, but not enough to make me impatient with the plot at this point.
| this wild abyss chapter 2 . 7/3/2012
It had been months since Ioan Folsham had been home. [Not sure if this is intentional or not, but you start the first and second chapters with almost identical opening sentences]
and she had made it quite clear that everyone was to be washed [could omit “had”]
and was now fussing about her dress [the sentence would read better if you reiterated the subject and had it as “and she was now…”]
and everyone who knew he well [typoe, “he” should be “her”]
the youngest son of fourteen [personal opinion, but would sound better if “of” was switched out for “at”]
Little Noll poked his head into the kitchen [as you’ve just described him as being tall for his age, “little” probably isn’t the right adjective—maybe “young” instead?]
asked God to help her, but still, the babe would not come. [would omit the second comma]
Merely bring it into this world [possible typo, would write this as “merely to bring it…”]
"What do you mean? Who's life?" [typo, “who’s” should be “whose”]
I think you might have mentioned this some place before, but what is your intended perspecive with this? I definitely get the sense that it’s intended to be omniscient, and if that’s the case, you’re doing an excellent job with that. I’m not personally a huge fan of omniscient perspective, as it can sometimes veer into badly done third person limited. All that aside, I think that, just because of the scope of this novel and the massive amounts of characters you have to manage, omniscient is a very good choice for this particular plot, and, like I said, you’re doing a very good job with it.
And speaking of characters, I love how yours are so unique and interesting without wasting a ton of buildup space inside the narrative. Obviously, unless we want Umbra to become truly massive, you can’t devote a lot of time to each character’s introduction and inner thoughts. So I love what you’ve done with them in this chapter. I get a sense of who everyone is and what their place in the story is without it seeming like you’ve just gone and dumped a bunch of names into the story and expect me to remember them.
The only character I had a question on was Amise. You describe her as a “small girl”, which, for me, brings to mind a girl somewhere between the ages of 6 and 10. Yet I got a sense that, in this story, Amise at least 10, and probably older. Not a big issue, but you might want to clear that up.
Other than that, my only issue with this chapter was when Amise found Mrs Folsham in labor upstairs. You hadn’t mentioned her pregnancy before, so it felt very abrupt. Maybe in the beginning when you mention that she’s been so busy trying to get things ready for Ioan that she may be putting undue strain on the baby? A quick sentence early on would make that transition a lot smoother, I think.
I do like, though, how you brought Moira into it at the end. One problem I tend to have with multi-character stories is that in the early stages it’s hard to see a connection. So by bringing Moira, who the reader already knows, into the end, you gave your chapters a sense of continuity, which I appreciated.
| The Autumn Queen chapter 3 . 7/2/2012
[Prince Stephan of the House of Norwood, and his personal guardsman] - I don't think you need the comma there. It's a little jarring.
[Stephan, remaining perfectly calm during these proceedings, glanced at Amol. He walked back to the log, knife still in hand and said, "I'm tired of pretending, Tael. I grow restless, waiting for my father to die so I can storm the West and rid this world of the evil that plagues it. I care not how many men will die or villages burned. All I wish is to make my kingdom a mirror of Heaven, with me sitting on the throne and being asked for mercy like God."] - it's a little unclear who's speaking at the beginning of that statement there because of the mention of two names at once. And what was the purpose of the glance?
It was an interesting chapter, and somewhat disjointed from the two previous ones. Makes me curious to see how they all will link together. I also like the image where Tael's eyes brim with tears.
| The Autumn Queen chapter 2 . 7/2/2012
You had me interested to read the rest of this. :)
It's amazing, how you managed to portray the panic and action during the childbirth fiasco without relying solely on dialogue and quick changes in scene. The choice of timing seemed a little odd (but still interesting) until the end of the chapter linked back to the previous one. Rosalie's statement certainly leaves quite a bit open, but she must be a brave woman to say something like that and accept it. I have to wonder though what she was thinking as she walked back: whether she chose to because she did not want to speak of the matter further or because she did/could not reveal the answer to Moira's question.
| The Autumn Queen chapter 1 . 7/2/2012
Freebie review (from lookingwest):
I love the line [Time hadn't paid him any kindness; the taste of betrayal still lingered on his tongue, as fresh and as bitter as it had been years ago.] Apart from that though, your beginning didn't seem as fluid as the rest of your chapter, which made the reading a little difficult. It seemed a little too dense so by the time I got to the end of that paragraph, the only thing that had registered was the fact that time had passed. I didn't even realise there /was/ a man until the next one. I think that wouldn't be so much of a problem later down, but because it's your first paragraph, it's something that stands out for me.
Apart from that, I really like this chapter. What particularly endears me about this story is the way you've represented time, particularly with the images of the moon and the conversation. While both are relatively conventional means, you've done it in a way that's special. Your images are beautiful (and unlike me, you're not blabbing on about them), and your conversation both different and natural.
And how you described the character with such detail without giving us a block of information and yet don't start straight off the bat with the name.
| Michodell chapter 1 . 7/1/2012
[Time hadn't paid him any kindness; the taste of betrayal still lingered on his tongue, as fresh and as bitter as it had been years ago.] I really like the description here. It not only speaks to his appearance, but his past. It makes me curious to know what he's gone through.
["Why have you come here?" Moira's voice cut through Sullivan's thoughts like a blade through cloth. "You've had a long journey, you should rest in Barrendale."] I find it a little odd that she asks him why he's returned but then tells him he needs to rest. I'd either get rid of the question or let him give some sort of response before she continues on.
Overall, I really liked this. Your writing style is very fluid and the dialogue flowed easily. I'm curious to read more and that, to me, is the sign of a good story :)
| Vivace.Assai chapter 1 . 6/26/2012
From RH (in lieu of a return):
So before I begin, I must say the summary instantly caught my attention. I’m not entirely sure what the plot is about, but the summary pulled me in and made me want to read the story to learn more. So great hook with the summary! :) Now, let’s get to the actual chapter.
The start of this chapter was interesting. It had description, but it also gave the description a personal connection to the man. This was enough to transport me into the setting while not boring me as descriptions can do. Since you are writing fantasy, it is always nice to get the reader involved into the setting (especially if it is a magical setting, something we don’t know). Usually, I prefer it to be more progressive and I like being integrated rather thrown into it. However, somehow, your descriptions instantly brought me to this one place in the setting, and I enjoyed it.
For example: [The moon beamed at him mockingly… Like a giant lantern, it hung in the sky, caressing the clouds as they glided past] Instantly, I got an image of the moon, and the way you described it gave me this peaceful atmosphere that had tints of eeriness (as found with most moonlit nights). Your mention of “betrayal” also adds a dark spell to your moon description. But overall, what I’m trying to say (sorry if this review doesn’t make too much sense – my mind isn’t processing the way I want it to right now) is that you did well in getting me into the setting and using that setting to create a mood.
Furthermore, I really enjoyed the dialogue in this chapter. There’s something complex about it and you set the scene between the two really well. Furthermore, their language sounds different – not something you’d expect to hear in this world – but it also is understandable and sounds natural. This is rather hard to do, but you’ve accomplished it. And once again, your language helps integrate me into this setting you’ve created. I’m getting a better feel of everything from this one chapter.
The dialogue also helped show Moira’s and Sullivan’s relationship. Clearly they know each other very well and do care for each other – otherwise, they wouldn’t be excited about seeing each other. However, there is some tension between the two as their conversation does turn sour and slightly distant. Their complex relationship really shone well through the dialogue and I always enjoy reading a great moment like that.
Now, as for the plot, their conversation was quite curious and I wonder what Sullivan is doing (and how it goes against what the two usually do). I’m just as confused as Moira by Sullivan’s cryptic words. But this gives a great set-up and hook for later chapters. So this chapter definitely made me excited.
Overall, this was a great chapter. It started on a high note and ended on a high note, too. Thanks for the great read.
| lookingwest chapter 1 . 6/26/2012
..as fresh and as bitter as it had been years ago. [Maybe "was" instead of "had been"? Recently I've been on this "drop the "had"" kick, xD. I don't know why except to say it strengthens the sentences for me without it. Optional, as always, though.]
Like a giant lantern... [Liked this line, though when I see the clouds are "gliding", I think of them moving quite quickly, so then I expect it to be quite windy where they are - but I don't know if I'm getting any description of wind either. Also a personal thing maybe.]
The journey had been tiring enough... ["was" maybe instead of "had been"? Again, optional.]
He had been farther East... [I really liked this line and how it ended with the "mountains past the Tribe of Amon", it just sounds really well crafted and I think it was a great slip of detail about the world you've created. Good to let the reader know you have a handle on things, and also how vast this setting spreads]
...he had traded too much and now... [maybe omit "had"]
...wondered at the cryptic task Sullivan had assigned to her. [same as above]
...for this had been the first time they had ever agreed to a task such as this. [I feel this might be less wordy without "had been" and "had" here too. maybe "for this was the first time they agreed to a task such as this", or "ever agreed" too.]
...she had been relieved to the point of elation... ["she was" instead of "she had been", maybe]
So anyway, that was my read-through above, so now on to content ;D Can I just say for a moment: WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG SHADOWS IS BACKKKKK I'M SO EXCITED GURRL THIS IS AWESUM I LOVE SULLIVAN AHHH.
Okay. Now that I have that out of my system. It's really hard for me to remember what your prologue was like in the first draft of this story. I think this one mirrors closer to the second draft version, I'm sure, but it makes me curious about what changes did stick. I feel like there weren't as many moments brought to the vastness of the setting during the first drafts? At least, I don't remember the names of the towns, and I remember you coming up with them in Skype so I'm guessing they were recently added. I like that you do that. The more detail the better in this sense, I think. I'm really excited to continue with this story, I haven't read it in awhile so a lot of it comes across as new to me, especially in this re-drafted version.
The attention to setting was great. I like that you gave us the full scope of everything here, from the sky to the dirt, really. The picture was quite complete - I think my only thing I mentioned was whether or not it was windy outside. I think it would be kind of fun if it was, then you get this really turbulent windy thing like nature itself is a bit wary of Sullivan at the moment. And this is a good thing, but this first scene kind of reminds me of Harry Potter's first chapter, when Dumbledore and McGonagall meet up to talk about Harry, this baby no one knows what to do with.
I remember when I first read this story, I got this terrible impression that Sullivan was the bad guy. That he was this evil antagonist come to fuck with everyone in a very ha-ha Nigel, fetch me my sword and let's do some damage around the countryside, kind of way. BUT in this, and maybe because I do know a bit more about him, I don't really get that same antagonistic vibe. I'm hoping that you intend it this way - with all the moments here when he just talks about how tired he is, I get this sense that he's in too deep and he's faltering a bit after the Neor exchange. Which, by the way, I'm glad to see that incorporated too. I know that took ages to come up with and perfect as far as the details and you do a good job giving us a little teaser in the beginning here.
As far as Moria, I remember she came across to me as someone caught in the middle, someone doing this thing for Sullivan and getting really pissed about it and upset - but she left me at the end feeling like she would really do anything for Sullivan and she isn't *too* bothered by the task so far. Maybe a little "uh, okay..." about it, but not seethingly angry...yet. That might come though, but I really got this intense connective relationship between her and Sullivan coming across here. I feel like she cares for him more in this introduction than I remember her caring about him in the past.
Let's see, what else. Pacing, good - had no problems there. This chapter really eases you into things instead of throws you in, so it admittedly did move slower for me, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I just makes me kind of crave a really punchy-in-your-face follow-up chapter, and for the life of me I can't remember how you begin after this, so I'm kind of looking forward to taking a peek here. Anyway, I think your pacing is fine. Techniques are good, like the literary device, you know how to handle your settings so there's never a problem there. The writing, well edited as always ;D, no typos that I found. Smooth read. (I'm just kind of rambling at this point, so excuse the randomness). I think your opening and your ending have similar flavors. This whole scene feels very dreamy, it just eases into things and then drifts away. All shadow-like. Ha! And of course I enjoyed this. OH. I like the "flick flick flick" lines. I don't remember what those beads do or anything, so that quipped my interest. Made me want to know more. I liked the technique you used there to bring attention to it. Good dialogue, realistic, didn't find any problems with that. I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle formal/informal dialogues in this story. I know you've put such a vast amount of research and work into this project and I really can't wait. Top-notch stuff :) I'm glad that you're getting back into action, oh how I've missed you so!