Reviews for Orion's Shadow
Paul W Littrell chapter 13 . 7/13/2014
Dear Writer, I keep checking in to see how the story is developing. I know you are really busy and all, but I know you can do better. Get back to work! What happens next?
Bowman72 chapter 13 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 13 notes:

This is the chapter in which your descriptive prose is more appropriately elaborate for what I
think the story deserves (especially the opening few paragraphs before you go back to dialogue - excellent work being done here).

Not sure about the Markus ("Mark") and Salvador ("Sal") characters - are they supposed to be
like Italian cliches? (Does that even apply to your new world created here? Wonder if it works...)

I like how you end up the chapter with Orion confronting his own self (or Beta? that could be
made a little clearer, I think) - but it's a good and tightly-etched end to the chapter. You're really up to speed here. Best of luck with the rest of your chapters, and I hope that these comments may be of help to you . . .
Bowman72 chapter 12 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 12 notes:

There seems to be an inconsistency of tone in how the dialogue is spoken and conveyed throughout some of the chapters. If it's reflective of a certain character's attitude, so be it . . . but when Lenny is asked by John why they don't just find the Beta, and he first says "Oh, wow, why didn't I think of that?," I feel like that piece of dialogue could be just as effective - and less distracting from the tale - if it starts instead with "He's not going to be easy to find," (just an opinion, but one based in seeing what works best in published books at this time).

This chapter wraps up nicely and certainly makes one want to read the next chapter to get
answers to the questions you pose in your own comments...rather than tell you what I think are
the answers to your questions, though, I much prefer at this point seeing what you come up with as your own answers.
Bowman72 chapter 11 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 11 notes:

"the painful screech of his cell door." To clarify why the screech of the door is "painful,"
perhaps make it the "painful HIGH-PITCHED screech" (always make sure you render an image
correctly - never be less than razor-sharp when giving a physical or psychological detail to the reader).

A rather sadistic set of scenes here - wow, that Alpha is mean! The slicing of Orion with
the sharp metal is especially harsh, but you definitely capture the feeling of menace here.
You just want to make sure that your "writer's" enjoyment of delivering violent and nasty scenes does not shift the pace & flow of your entire story totally - or even a little - out of balance. Any lack of balance in a work of your arc and ambition pops in a reader's ear like harsh radio static...
Bowman72 chapter 10 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 10 notes:

Again, words/phrases like "ass," "this sucks" and "little miss smarty pants" may be fine for a
kind of HUNGER GAMES-esque story that features Jennifer Lawrence being all angry but I just think it distracts the dedicated fantasy reader - and again, this kind of thing will often be clipped or minimized anyway if a legitimate trade book publisher were to show any serious interest in publishing it.

The revelation that Amari is a "Shifter" should be made fuller in the writing- it feels glossed
over here a bit.

I'm not sure that I like the idea of Rorik and Amari getting into a strong romantic relationship
because Orion should ultimately be the focus (certainly if the book's title has his name in it).
Then again, every King Charles has a Lancelot who falls for that template DOES exist for better or worse. Think on it, though. Move your game pieces carefully as you go.
Bowman72 chapter 9 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 9 notes:

I'm just not sure that phrases like "pissed" and "sh*t" (up ahead in Chapter 10, as I recall) belong in your story. I'm no prude, but I just wonder if it erodes some of the intended and built magic of
the story and the hero's quest. Something to think about...

Leonard O'Henry ("Lenny") is a great and enjoyable character. Incidentally, it seems that
he's the one with the "potty mouth" - but maybe there's a way to get that across to the reader
without having to use those words (and from a commercial book publishing perspective, why put words in that may need to be cut anyway so that the work can be published for the YA - Young Adult - book market?).

It seems that the John character just sort of appears as you read - everyone else has been so
carefully introduced, but I feel that John can be brought into things a bit more strongly.
Bowman72 chapter 8 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 8 notes:

Rorik is a good "new" character, but I'm not sure yet if he's a good thing for the book or a
bad thing.

Rather than describe in your "Notes" the detail of Amari's shockwave, why not make it known to
some level in the actual chapter for the reader's benefit? As long as you can make whatever is happening very visual in the writing, you can't go wrong. Remember, your words - all of our words, in fact - have more competition from other storytelling media than at any other time in the history of the world...
Bowman72 chapter 7 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 7 notes:

I get the "Princess Bride" movie reference in this chapter title, but I think the jokiness will again distract the reader from the world you are working to build here. Think again about not naming the chapters since the pace & velocity of your story - and this kind of genre - is such that you often don't need chapter names per se.

In previous chapter, Orion's question "Do you WANT to get us killed?" was said to be asked a
few times...and now here it is asked again in this chapter. Unless there's a deliberate reason for a repeat of that specific question, probably best to not use it over & over (otherwise, it feels like a
repeat that the attentive reader may consider to be a staleness or lazy aim on part of the writer).

Good advance of plot with the material about the "Arcale Initiative," but I think the strength
of your created world suffers when you say that characters do things like when "Orion's mouth
dropped." I get the point and understand why Orion reacts that way (new info about his father
that could change everything for him), but maybe his mouth could drop "open" or something more literal. When dealing in Fantasy genre, the most believable stuff from human characters is that which is described in an entirely realistic manner (the fiction of the late writer Franz Kafka is a
good place to go to see this kind of writing - especially his "Metamorphosis," "The Castle," and/or "The Trial").

The phrase "drop the act" appears here, just as it appeared in Chapter Three when the Tenebrie warrior was about to kill Amari if she didn't admit that she had been hiding Orion at her home. Maybe keep an eye out for repetitions in characters' dialogue.

The concept of "BETA" is interesting, especially alongside that of "ALPHA." That works nicely.
Bowman72 chapter 6 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 6 notes:

Some images are described the same way too often in the chapters so far - characters "purse their lips," or folks hear "leaves crunching" when the bad guys show up and start stomping around. Watch for those kinds of repetitions and see if you can find other, "fresher" ways to describe action and gesture among the characters.

I like how Amari shows Orion her magic, and how Orion teaches Amari how to work an archer's
bow & arrow - nice continuance of their growing relationship...but again, very talky here (might
not need that much talking - or perhaps break it up with some more descriptive copy).

Just a question: Do you want to have two different kinds of dialogue - the language of
Orion and Amari (younger characters), and the language of the older (or the "bad")? Unless you
deliberately want to enforce difference between the "good" and the "bad" through how they talk,
you may want to rethink how you have Orion & Amari talk with each other (you just want to
make sure you maintain the realm of the Fantasy genre so that the reader is never lifted out of the world you are working to create through the words you write.

The new "general" is interesting, certainly has a presence...but I wonder if he has a British
Cockney or Australian accent for a particular reason...or if it's just to differentiate him
from the other characters? When dealing in the Fantasy genre, you always want to make sure that
readers will not be jolted out of your new universe...and while I understand that an accent can help build a certain mood around a new and potentially menacing character, it helps to know
the "why"s and "wherefore"s of that choice.
Bowman72 chapter 5 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 5 notes:

The "single tear down" a character's cheek by now feels a bit cliche in writing (especially if you
have more than one character to whom that is said to happen - first Orion, then Amari here in this
chapter). While the shared image does connect the two characters, perhaps it can be conveyed to the readers in a less obvious - or "been there, done that" kind of way.

I liked Amari's talk before her father's grave (though maybe a bit too lengthy and articulated
for someone in the throes of grief), but the rant from Orion comes off a bit petulant, small, and
decidedly non-heroic. It's alright for Orion to have anger and to show a flaw, but perhaps this
is a good place to also have Amari counter what Orion says and - through her own show of support to his lot - then they are that much more of a team. Allow your characters equal standing on the page if they are to have equal standing in the story . . .
Bowman72 chapter 4 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 4 notes:

Again, it feels like too much dialogue here, I don't really feel like I can "see" Calma Cuore (always use descriptive prose to help readers "see" the world you are writing). It's harder than ever in the history of the world for writing (mere "words") to compete with everything that's out there - a large measure of it purely visual stimuli - movies, TV, apps, etc.

the phrase "more than once" happens more than once in this story - you may want to watch out for that, because its own repetition will catch the discerning reader's attention - but not in a good way.

Somehow, the phrase "conventional tactics" in the spoken dialogue between Orion and Amari sounds a bit clunky - not sure they'd have time and the inclination for words other than what are totally necessary" (given the hurried conditions of their actions). Always try to suit the nature of spoken dialogue to the truth of what is happening at the time it is spoken - even speak the dialogue out loud to see how it sounds spoken into the air - does it ring true to you? Could you see yourself saying those words out loud in any given situation?
Bowman72 chapter 3 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 3 notes:

This chapter begins excellently, and is nicely paced!

I understand that you are capturing the fast and excitable nature of young Luna - clever way
of getting the sound of it with a run-on sentence when she is telling Amari everything in that hurried way . . . but it should be pulled back a little, since I don't believe that Amari would let all that talking go on before she interrupts (doesn't seem true to character or the scene).

Seeing the word "paranoid" here takes one (or, at least, me) out of the Fantasy genre realm a bit - somehow, it feels a bit too "real life" of a term to see there (it also reminds one of those snarky "newer" TV cartoons - you just have to decide if you want that kind of different tone & shading in dialogue before deciding to go with it throughout).

Briskly paced action in this chapter, the best so far, especially the scene that builds up to the moment when Orson takes out the soldier with an arrow . . . and you get right away that a relationship will start to develop b'tween Orion and Amari. By the way, "Amari Falora" is a great name for a young female protagonist - has an instantly and unforced feminine and romantic sound to it.

I do feel like we leave Luna very abruptly, though. It seems unlikely that Amari would just
leave Luna there all confused - it makes Amari more of a sympathetic character if she takes her
leave of Luna with more emotional responsibility and tenderness.
Bowman72 chapter 2 . 9/2/2013
CHAPTER 2 notes:

Orion punching his father lightly on arm - somehow, that feels a bit awkward and would seem to be more something that a father would do to a son, in conventional story & lifestyle)...if, however, it is meant to signify a dysfunction in the father/son dynamic, perhaps it should be conveyed more clearly - or at least alluded to - here in this chapter.

I really like the part where you describe how Orion walks on the path to Forager's Barrow. It
involved me in the story fully for the first time - in my experience as writer & editor, that kind of writing always serves to establish setting & theme & mood better than straight dialogue right off the bat.

Orion "seeing a falling vase from a 2nd floor window" doesn't read as plausible - perhaps have the man shout out a warning from above to get Orion's attention, and THEN you have Orion catch it thanks only to his fast reflexes.

"pure chaos" - this is how you described the starting scene of the Prologue as well. Try something else - and meanwhile, this kind of intense description may be the better way to start the entire book or story - set the scene fully before getting to all the dialogue (create a world, then give it voice).

For an emotional loss to read on the page as you have set up for Orion (loss of the father is
very sad, and you are going the right way to get the raw emotion of it), there really needs to be
a little more detail (so that the loss is made more palpable to the reader this early on). So far, much of what you have here is a very solid outline for where you need to go with some more detail and supplied writing (scene-making).

"murdered without remorse" - well, how do we know that it was without remorse? Try not to pin
a motivation to an action without the reader understanding what that motivation is (or was).

"crunching of leaves" beneath boots is a very effective image - more of that throughout really
engages the reader...but not too much because you then have "rustling" of leaves right away.

The introduction of the "Tenebrium Bellator" seems to happen a little too quickly - a more intense and intricate description/introduction feels necessary here.

Good set-up of the "justice" motif at end of this chapter.
Bowman72 chapter 1 . 9/2/2013
As a writer and many-years member of the book publishing industry (in both nonfiction and fiction trade, and also in both children's/YA and adult category genre), I have some notes for you based on what I have read here from the thirteen chapters provided. They are provided here not only from my basic sense and experience with good writing (and sometimes having to contend with less-than-good writing), but also from what I have seen has worked best in terms of what is successfully "published"). It also comes from the fact that I just plain ol' like sci-fi and fantasy genre writing, and hope that some of my review comments may be of use/value to you. Here are my thoughts...

Prologue (notes):

At the very start of the story here, you may think about breaking down conventional sentence structure to convey for the reader that things are in fact "a blur." Disorient the reader as well in the chaos, rather than merely describe it.

Why do you have the soldiers use "paper & pen" when writing down the killed man as "Terminated"? Is this a fixed point in real time on the Earth - or are you shooting deliberately for a more Fantasy or Sci-Fi oriented genre? Is there a deliberate point for you in stating that they are using "paper & pen" - as opposed to something a little more tech-y?

CHAPTER 1 notes

What's Chapter One called? Other chapters are named, but not this one. Perhaps it's better not
to name chapters - genre works often prefer to just enumerate chapters and not attempt to convey meaning or concept in the chapter titles. Perhaps a good plan here? See what you think. If the first Chapter is actually called "Prologue," then maybe you want to have chapter names that aren't enumerated...all worth thinking about.

There are a few flubs in quote dialogue structure, and some typos throughout (but that's something easily fixed by a proofreader when the time comes - bear in mind, though, that any submitted publishing proposals should be VERY carefully combed through before sending in...assuming, of course, that you're even able to submit something as an "unsolicited manuscript" - most traditional book publishers do NOT accept unsolicited proposals and instead only receive solicited proposals through literary agents.

I think you can slice things down here a bit and make the writing tighter by not always describing the thoughts & presumptions of each character in each scene.

the images "pursed her lips" and "comforting arm" seem to contradict slightly in the images (intentional, perhaps, but otherwise a weird mix - might confuse the reader)

This chapter feels a bit too dialogue-heavy. It needs more introductory description of this world that you are working to create. The reader should be able to "see" the places in which these stretches of dialogue occur - especially in the Fantasy genre realm. And when someone repeats something for dramatic effect (e.g., " 'I know,' he said, 'I know.' "), that's where a description of their facial feature or a physical gesture or motion can further help underline that dramatic moment.

You also might want to consider making chapters in a book with this kind of narrative scope and ambition a little longer - creating sections between what you've got in the chapters...or cutting down to a short story or even "novella" level (rather than full-fledged novel size).

More of my thoughts/observations will follow on each of the other chapters...
Mainiac97 chapter 9 . 12/30/2012
Great two chapters, man. I quite like the character of Rorik, he seems honest and good-natured, although I retain this view with a pinch of salt, considering something could change at any time. I suspect this because of the blackmail and rotten techniques he used on Amari in order to accompany her; if he's so controlling and slightly underhand at this time, he could very easily do it again. It could prove disastrous.

I was going to comment on the character of Lenny and how he, in terms of ecentricity and mystery, reminded me in a way of Radagast the Brown from The Hobbit (forgive me, I've been obsessing over The Hobbit since seeing the movie), but that last twist has made me doubt that he was even a real person. It certainly has added an interesting edge to the plot; how will it progress from here? How will Orion escape? Is the Alpha even defeatable by the likes of Orion? Is there more to Orion than what meets the eye? Definitely a lot to ponder there.

I like the workings of magic in this story. It's very unique, different to the way other novels interpret it. Your magic is based off a spectrum with defined areas, requiring a certain type of energy (metaphysical stamina) to use. While LotR and Hobbit (excuse me again) see it as something very, very uncommon, the Inheritance Cycle sees it as something based off an individual language more than anything, and all it takes is learning what is required. I hope that, one day, Orion might be able to learn magic, since I see its advantages after what Amari did in chapter 8.

Until next time, toodles!
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