Reviews for To Walk in the Wind
Infected Beliefs chapter 8 . 3/18/2013
[Sleep well, little priest. You will need all the strength you can get."

Balasar rose just as someone scratched at the tent flap.] - You need a line break, or white-space or something separating these two sections since you change perspective between them. I was quite confused and had to reread these two paragraphs a few times.

I am having a hard time remembering who Jamiss. Ozzrick is the second in command, if I remember correctly. Jaleah is the angel chick. Who is Jamiss again? Wait, Never mind. I just looked back to chapter three and discovered Jamiss to be one of Balasar's soldiers, and Jaleah to be the snappy female soldier (so ignore my quip about Jaleah from the previous review). Who the bloody hell was that angel chick then (wanders off to find out)?

I said Balasar was my favorite character, but I think Ozzrick might be. Fucking awesome name. I would steal it if I didn't think you would notice :P

["How could you—this is—they're raping…" Her words butted up against one another, violent and disgusted, all too eager to have their say at once] - For a veteran member of a mercenary troupe, I am rather surprised that she is not hardened to this. Raping and pillaging is fairly common after most battles, and certainly after most sacks and sieges. She rides with bad company and she knows it, and she seems a hard woman on top of that. I don't understand her lack of understanding, or at least lack of ability to ignore it.

["Touch her," Balasar cut in, "and I'll see to it personally that your genitals are sold to witch doctors on the black market to be ground up and used as exotic potion ingredients in aphrodisiacs. Understood?"] - I think this might be vying for the best threat I have read this year. I cracked up and shivered at the same time. Good writing, good dialogue, good characterization.

Ok, if Balasar has never allowed the company to take slaves before, why would he all of a sudden allow it? And also, why would Ira even think to ask (aside from so that Asseo could remain in the story)? Seems a little strange and out of character/unrealistic to me. Well, there you answer Balasar's half of the riddle for me. I should learn to be more patient. Still curious why Ira would even think to ask though.

[Overhead, the sky roiled with clouds black as ink, but it did not rain, and the air was impossibly still. As though the earth itself were holding a giant breath before a scream.] - Absolutely loved this ending line. It does a really good job at setting the tone and the mood (same thing? maybe...too much wine)

Anyhoo...Nice Job! I thought this chapter was much better than the last.
Infected Beliefs chapter 7 . 3/18/2013
Is Jaleah a fighter? I was under the impression that she was not. I thought she was more of a camp follower type person. Why is she at the sight of the ambush? Also, how big is Balasar's troupe? I have been trying to figure it out but can't put my finger down on a number.

And how does Jaleah know that Daja is dehydrated just by looking at him? How does she even know what 'dehydrated' means? Unless she is familiar with the customs of the Gift, I can't see how she would know that an unconscious man was dehydrated just by looking at him, especially with all of that make-up.

[The boy—fifteen or sixteen, judging from his build alone—gave the impression of a squealing rat...] - Ok, you have been very inconsistent with Asseo's age. First, you said he was fifteen or sixteen. Then last chapter you said that he was twenty, since he had been born on the same day as Daja. Now he is fifteen or sixteen again? I am really confused. Did you decide to make the edit. and not completely edit all of the chapters yet? Are you still in the process of editing some?

I wasn't aware that Asseo was as small as you made him out to be in this chapter. Like, I knew he wasn't a big guy, but from your descriptions and dialogue here, it seems as though he is incredibly small and petite. Maybe he has always been, but I don't remember you emphasizing that so much before.

["Heathens," the boy said in his native tongue, spitting the word like a nettle caught on his tongue.] Whose native tongue? Balasar's or Asseo]

Ooooooh Balasar is a cruel badass. Definitely my favorite character of the story so far. I love how cold and disinterested in everything he is. It's like he sort of wants to care about something, but decides it's more effort than it's worth. Great character. I loved how blunt and heartless his dialogue with Asseo was. Freaking awesome.

[«With what?»] - Eh, what's with the dialogue tags? You haven't used this punctuation up to this point in the story and it seems a little strange to start now.

This was a good chapter, as all of yours are, but it seemed less polished than your previous chapters. I don't know if you have done less editing on it or what but that was the impression I got. Still though, fantastic stuff here, no question about that.
Adrenalin chapter 4 . 3/17/2013
I think you did a good job building up to the sex scene, and showing Asseo's infatuation for Daja through the latter's eyes. It's obvious enough that we get it immediatly, and yet it's perfectly understandable that Daja wouldn't spot it because he hasn't been raised to believe himself the object of such feelings.

Concerning the sex scene itself, I think it was well described, especially the way Daja doesn't really involve himself in it but remains very detached - much to Asseo's disappointment. I also liked that Daja was so bewildered by Asseo's demand of taking him, and Asseo's hurt at Daja not having 'finished'.

Asseo feels a bit young to be a priest though, especially one supposed to instruct someone older than him. I wonder how he managed to get that status so young?

I liked the foreshadowing at the end of the chapter, and it made me wonder whether all Gifts have 'supernatural' abilities, or whether it's a particularity of Daja's?

I have only one problem with your story for now, that the pace is too slow for me. You spent four chapters describing events that merely cover a few hours, and I'm hoping it will pick up a little after.
Eren chapter 9 . 3/17/2013
This is quite a richly conceived world you've got here. So far, my favorite character is Asseo- I find his POV and motivations to be the most compelling and feel that he makes a much more interesting character than Daja. I'm not a fan of Balasar at all and I'm hoping there are no Daja/Balasar romances (the age difference itself makes that relationship...unsavory in my opinion) in the future. Again, I'm hoping to see more Asseo in this story- or maybe a story focusing solely on Asseo as a character. Overall, a very interesting story.
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 6 . 3/17/2013
[Daja made himself look up to Kaffir's his eyes. ]

Typo - Take out "his."

["Did you know many women strive bear children on the year of reaping?" ]

Typo - I think you're missing a "to" before "bear."

Scene: Since you're asking for some opinions about the part where Isoba dies, I'll go ahead and give you mine. I think it makes perfect sense for Daja to be crying, especially considering how exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed he is during this scene. And him crying doesn't seem over-the-top or eye-roll worthy, so I wouldn't worry about that. The only thing that didn't really work for me was as soon as Isoba started talking to Daja, telling him not to cry. It struck me as bordering melodrama. There's not really anything wrong with that, but melodrama tends to carry with it a certain amount of cheesiness I don't know if you want, and I almost wonder if Isoba being dead when Daja gets to him and there being no words exchanged between them might make the scene even sadder and leave more of an impact without the risk of melodrama. Deaths are always so hard to write, in my opinion, without them coming across as emotionally manipulative. One other thing I was uncertain about during this scene was the man who kills Isoba. Where was he while Daja was kneeling beside Isoba? I just assumed it was Balasar who had killed him and Balasar was either preoccupied with another fighter or was giving Daja the chance to talk to Isoba as he dies. I don't think the clarification is completely crucial, but you might want to clear it up in case someone else starts wondering about it, too.

Relationships: The scene between Asseo and Daja where Asseo is talking about being born on the same day as Daja is really touching. I think that's my favorite part of the whole chapter, oddly enough. Mostly because it started off seeming silly that Daja would think about birthdays when people are attacking his entourage, but you quickly twist it and make their conversation credible and believable in this situation. It feels almost like Asseo is admitting this to Daja in the heat of the moment when he's overwhelmed by both fear and guilt. And I think it's also is a great way to not only develop his character further, but to build on the relationship between them, adding another complicated layer to an already complicated situation. The dialogue is masterfully pulled off - I really loved it. There's a lot of skill behind it, considering how you so easily go from one subject to the next through his speech. Feels very organic and natural.

Writing: You writing is wonderful in this chapter, especially the action and fighting. The details you give of the blood and the driver's blood as Daja steps in it - it's very chilling. I particularly enjoy the part where one of the mercenaries are standing in front of Daja, and a sword suddenly erupts out of his stomach. I think the way you describe it and address the sense of sound makes it all the more vivid and gory. Comparing the mercenaries to demons is also another clever device. And earlier on in the chapter when you are addressing the things Daja is smelling - and at the very end - as well as his parched mouth/throat, it's all just so vivid. You have a wonderful talent for detail and closing the psychic distance in your third-person narratives to a point where I feel like I'm right there in the character's place.

Ending: I think this ending opens up to a lot of possibilities. Before when I mentioned you might want to mention what happens to the person who murders Isoba, I think leaving who exactly that is a mystery for right now is definitely a good choice. Because now I'm wondering if it *was* Balasar who murdered Isoba, and what Daja is going to do once/if he learns this. I'm also curious to see how Daja is going to react to being kid-napped - just how complacent is he going to be? Is he going to try to run? Will he try to fight back? What is Balasar going to do to him now? How will Balasar treat him? You leave the reader with some great questions at the end of this, and it really gives me a strong drive to continue. I think you couldn't have stopped this chapter at a more perfect spot.
AlternatingCurrent chapter 9 . 3/17/2013
Ahhh..The feeling of reading something that by someone who has a clear concept of how to properly string sentences together...

That being said, you have much more ability than simply writing complete sentences. Your descriptions are fantastic, especially in the opening of chapter 1.

In terms of characterization, I think Daja's character has some really strong points, especially in his demeanor and the way he views the priests who raised him. I'm not sure how I feel about Balasar. I think having a character who is closed off, cold, and distant, is difficult to pull off when you are writing from his perspective. It becomes harder to hide things about the character from the reader when the reader has access to the character's thoughts. Nonetheless, I think you did a pretty darn good job of it anyway!
Adrenalin chapter 3 . 3/17/2013
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding you have going on here, and the way you use the fact that Balasar and compagny are foreigners to provide so many information about both Surrhi and the country they are from, especially regarding the place of women in each. The character of Jaleah is well-used in this aspect, as she serves to show that in Surrhi, women are ostracized, except for "holy" or "desecrated" ones, by the fact that she can't have any interaction with the locals, while her desire to do so and to be useful (and her overall attitude) shows that it isn't so where she comes from.

Regarding characters, you do a good job at making them separate in the reader's mind. Oz is especially interesting since he seems to have such a close relationship with Balasar and don't hesitate to tease him, which allows us to learn more about him. I also liked his physical description - sort of made me think of Jack Sparrow and the beads in his hair. I was interested about the tidbit with Ismene, first because I liked that Balasar was also interested in women (though apparently only for their body at the present), and also because he declared he had no interest whatsoever in a romantic relationship.

You also did a great job at describing their surroundings - I felt I had a good feeling of where they were and what it looked like. I would have liked to know whether the buildings in the Traveler Quarter were in good state though, it would be an interesting bit of information. The fact the Traveler Quarter exists shows that the people of Bhepal don't trust foreigners, but if they put them in ruined buildings, it would precise how much they dislike them... Just an idea though.
Adrenalin chapter 2 . 3/17/2013
I was sort of amused by the setting in the tower, it reminded me of all those fairytales where the princess is locked away in one. With the description of Daja's hair I thought of Rapunzel.

I liked your characterization of Daja's throughout this chapter. You do a good job at describing his past life and current predicament without it sounding overbearing or whiny. We can feel that he is resigned to his fate, though still regretting it. Given the environment he was raised in, his thoughts and actions make a lot of sense, and the fact that he's curious about the world shows that his personnality survived the endoctrinement of the priests. At first I thought he had too many doubts for someone whose only truth had been the one the priests told him, but the way you treated the matter at the end of the chapter reassured me that, even if Daja was questionning it a bit (by the way, the fact he has access to so many books also helped me believe that he could be of a different mindset than the priests), he was not to the point where he would try to escape it.

I also liked the way you described his relationship with each instructor through the "sex education" lessons they gave him. I felt sorry for him that he had to go through this, especially with Kaffir, but it was believable in this context. You also gave a perfectly logical explanation for the homosexual relationships (past and to come) and I appreciated that, since I often find that fantasy slash stories lack that realistic aspect (sometimes the male lead has numerous homosexual encounters that are not logical in the social background provided by the story). Anyway, here it made sense that as a servant intended for a male god, Daja would be instructed in the way to please a male.

If I have one drawback, it's that the two first chapters lack some action and are too focused on characters' presentation and introspection (but that's a personal preference).
Adrenalin chapter 1 . 3/17/2013
My turn to try and give you reviews as good as yours. (They probably won't be as long though... but like you said in your A/N, hey, I'ma try).

First of all, I liked the desert setting. It's not one you often meet with in fantasy stories, and I think it's a shame, since I really like the cultures that go with it. You made a good job at describing yours, too. Your worldbuilding skills are pretty impressive, and you exploit it well. I liked the way you made your plot consistent with it, making water the centerpoint of conflict here and tying it with the fantasy element of the God-controlled cycle of rains.

Your dialog also reads smoothly and very natural, but I have a few problems with its overall contents. While I understand that you need to give the reader all those information, I feel Balasar plays too much the role of the vacant interlocutor. Most of the things Abdhi tells him, he already knows, which makes it look like he says it only for the reader's sake. Like the part about Vhaki's Gift, which you sort of made sound like every one in Surrhi knew about it. I understand that Balasar is not from this country? If that's indeed the case, I think you should make it more obvious, and maybe insist on why he hasn't heard about it before. I think people would talk about a legend so pivotal to their lifestyle.

Another thing: it seems to me that Abdhi seriously lack shrewdness. From how you describe him at the beginning, I know he's extremely proficient at getting what he wants, but then he goes and tells Balasar outright that he's the only man in Surrhi that would dare lay a hand on Vhaki's Gift, and that's why he seeks to employ him. It doesn't leave much room for bargaining though, and it felt out of character for such a man not to take this into account. Balasar could come to that conclusion himself, considering Abdhi came to a stranger with his proposal. In my opinion, Abdhi is also providing too much information about his plans, telling Balasar it is all for the sake of reuniting the Akan's empire under Bhepal's rule... It seems strange that he shares so much with someone who, in the end, is simply a hired thug.

I can't wait to see where you go with the rest of this story. I would especially enjoy it if there was actual interventions from the gods... I love 'real' gods impacting on the plot in stories.
Chiisutofupuru chapter 6 . 3/16/2013
That was pretty exiting for a chapter from this book. Everything felt like it moved in slow-motion with all of the flowing descriptions. I just couldn't really tell when the carriage stopped moving. I thought they were all riding on horseback while fighting off the bandits for a little bit.

Don't worry about Daja crying too much. He seems to fit the part... I thought he would've been taught a little combat with all of his lessons.

NOOO! Isoba! I was beginning to like him!

"""Did you know many women strive bear children on the year of reaping?""" - quote from story
This and the part for the 'reaping day' explained a bit. I don't remember there being an actual 'day of reaping' explained in the previous chapters.

I couldn't find it a second time but I had a favorite description that had to do with clouds and colours 'bleeding across the sky'. Just awesome.

Sombrette chapter 2 . 3/15/2013
I found this chapter to be kind of sad. I think Daja's characterization is very good. This chapter was informative enough that I felt like I could understand his personality. His personality being, one who serves faithfully. That's the sad part I took from this. To be born into something with no choice in the matter, to know you don't like something, but know that you were essentially made for it. I felt really bad for him.

His desire to know more than what's in front of him, such an innocent almost childlike desire, but I think people who are sheltered like that are naive (in an endearing way) that they are unaware of the harsh realities outside their sheltered lives. Though, I guess that's not very true with him when it comes to being forced to please when he obviously doesn't want to. I also thought it was sad when he was paranoid about loosing his shoes that was such a simple little mistake and he was just so afraid of the consequences. To have to walk on eggshells like the your whole life...and he's supposed to be some revered gift to a god. At least that's how I see it. Though... I guess since he's apparently going to be some sort of slave to the god he has to be taught that way. Bleh... I don't like his situation at all.

I did think though that the differences in the teachers was interesting and his opinions of each. Asseo particularly. To have to answer to someone younger than you (and shorter ;p) has to suck. Asseo's comment about the wind doing strange things around Daja had me curious. I wonder if that's just a side effect from him being meant for the god or if it's implying something more, as in, is Daja more peculiar than just simply being this gift? It seemed to be hinting at something.

The ending to this chapter really gave off the air of Daja's disappointment, it supposed to being his days for himself. I don't get why Asseo would ask, knowing this. Perhaps he hoped Daja would willing go to him, with desire in mind. Hmm... anyways, again the description was great, the tower top especially. Reminded me of those Greek structures with circle of columns.

The only thing I have to point out is [ Only a guilty, shameful dread. And endless uncertainty where there ought to have been unconditional faith.] - This to me looks like it could have all been one sentence, with a comma for the pause the period it giving. But, other than that I really admire your writing style ;)
Chiisutofupuru chapter 5 . 3/15/2013
They really go all-out when dolling up the gift. Surprised Daja could still stand.

What I should have mentioned in the first review... your description is quite amazing. Definitely got a desert feel to begin with. So far never got any other, no hint to any other terrain.

I did find the first two chapters kind of dull. Maybe it was because I was kind of distracted while reading them but I found them to be a little description-heavy. Nothing really happened either than the bandit making a deal and the 'gift' feeling things... thinking about stuff. It felt as if I was reading forever.
Their views are totally different. You displayed that really well.

Balasar is interesting but nothing really draws me to him. Nothing there to want me to keep reading about him either than wanting to know how he performs this job. He's just a bandit in my eyes, nothing special about him. If that's what you were going for, you did a great job.

The 'gift' was portrayed well. He is just a vessel and that is all he really wants to be in his position. That is what he tries really hard to be. Nothing else.

There was a lot more talking in the third chapter then there was in the first two. Introducing a few more characters I guess can do that to a chapter. No idea why they were all introduced in the first place. Like the bandit, didn't feel anything for any of the new characters. I was just reading about them for some strange reason unknown to me.

Isoba is interesting as a character. He's feeling mixed thoughts about what exactly he had done to this child. Making us all feel sorry for the gift. Making us all feel sorry for him. I wonder what his reaction will be when the gift is stolen.

Ismene and Balasar... I just read the last part here. She brings out the best of him, made him seem more like a main character. I got a feel for him through her. They make a great couple I think.
They also made Oz sound like an annoying someone, giving him a potentially important role in the story.

Balasar should find something to care about either than destroying things that are built for the gods.

(I would repeat what you said to me about trying not to be a critic in a harmful way.
I'm really beginning to like how this is turning out. The first few chapters are 'just' the first few chapters.)

Infected Beliefs chapter 6 . 3/15/2013
Ah, I did so enjoy this chapter. As a male reader, I don't mind reading the love scenes, or the tender moments, but I need me some good 'ol blood and gore to be truly happy xD. And a named character's death? Even better. I have always been partial to the idea that any person can die at any time. No character is safe. It does a good job of keeping your readers on their toes and guessing, never quite sure of who will live and who will die. Makes for good suspense.

I thought the bit about Asseo and his being born was good. It explains much of his obsession (that seems a bit more intense of a word than I am looking for but I can't come up with anything better right now) with Daja but also makes his romantic interests somewhat...disturbing? I know they are not siblings but somehow, to me, it just seems, eh, borderline wrong. Same village, same day, same purpose. Some people might sigh and say, "Destiny," but I cringe and say, "Not quite incest." Meh, maybe I'm just cynical and sick in the head.

["What. He die?" No remorse, simply casual interest.] - Kaffir seems a cold bastard. I like him.

I am a little confused as to this wagon they are riding in. Is it like a giant wooden box with wheels? It reminded me of an armored car but I didn't think the image fit int he world you have so carefully created for us. Maybe more will be explained in the next chapter when Daja comes out of this blur of confusion. Speaking of those blurred senses I thought you wrote that very well. Daja seemed very disoriented and his confusion leant itself to the narration, though not in a bad way.

I liked his description of the mercenaries. So alien to him.

Maybe I missed it but where did all of these guards for the caravan come from? I guess it could be explained that they came after Daja was inside the carriage, so he never would have seen them, but I was slightly confused. I thought it was just him and the priests? It makes sense that there would be guards, I just missed their introduction.

Good fight sequence, not too much, not too little.

Really enjoyed this chapter. I am interested to see the interactions between Balasar and Daja and what judgments and prejudices the make against each other.
Nesasio chapter 4 . 3/15/2013 tug a the single looped gold earring...

...finalized its decent with a silent billow to the floor...

Never show shame…
-If this is a lesson the priests taught him, I'd rephrase to more the effect of 'there is nothing to be ashamed of'. Keeping in mind he was raised by these priests, he wouldn't know to feel ashamed unless someone said it's shameful. That feels counter-productive to their purpose. I suppose he could have gained the concept of sex as shameful act from one of the books he's read, but if he was worried, I still think he would've been taught more like I rephrased.
Addition: "...and Daja felt a blush of shame rise up his neck." I can't tell if this is the same shame as the above. I guess I assumed it was in the act itself, but here it's that Asseo thinks so much of him. Regardless of which it is, this comes back to what I said on ch.2 about his thoughts and training not matching up. It seems like somewhere along the way the training to excel backfired in his perspective of things. Whether it's because the priests always made him feel inadequate or just the doubt inherent in it being his last days, I was surprised he wasn't even a little pleased to be doing the right thing according to how he was raised.

...where the small of his back ended and his arse began.
-I laughed a little at the use of arse here. It took me out of the scene because I didn't expect such a common term in a sensual scene like this. It's like seeing 'pussy' in an otherwise poetic love scene. Very jarring.

He held his mouth to Asseo's as he rocked his hips in...
-I'm by no means an expert on anal or having a penis, but I was under the impression the first time tends to be difficult if you don't know what you're doing. I mean, obviously Daja has some experience at receiving, but it's stated he's never done it himself and he's taking his time and all but it seems like he knows enough to multitask. I guess I'm just saying I was surprised with all his other doubts that this came to him so naturally.

I sort of said in the ch.1 review that I like action and lose interest easily and this is true. The story has held me to this point and I will certainly check out the rest at some point, but I do want to mention that the pace never really picked up for me. I mean, 4 chapters in and this is the same day and basically the first 3 chapters were exposition. It's well-written exposition, but it hasn't built up yet. I'm not saying I need action by ch.4 or I hate every story regardless, haha, but I haven't gotten the sense of movement that something will happen soon. At this point the two main characters are far from each other and neither one has started toward the other so the story feels like it's idling, waiting to begin. I'm impatient, man. Could just be me, though.

I liked the section at the end, though. It's a good hook to lead into the next chapter. I don't know if the ominous hint will be immediately addressed or not (are you alternating POV or just playing by ear?) but it made me want to read on to find out more.

I feel like I've been mostly critical in these past reviews but I really am interested in this story. You've developed a rich, full world and you obviously have a firm grasp of the direction you want to take it. Dialogue and description are done well and set the mood of the piece.
Nesasio chapter 3 . 3/14/2013
He even wore toe rings, currently hidden under his boots.

Word choice nitpick: Balasar purses his lips like every 4-5 paragraphs, it seems. Repeated actions are all part of characterization, admittedly, but it's an unusual phrase that keeps popping up. I'm adding this note as of the third usage in this chapter and the find feature informs me there's a fourth as well and I have an irrational desire to slap him, haha. I probably wouldn't have picked up on it if the same action hadn't been previously applied to Daja as well and I thought 'wow, I haven't seen someone use that phrase in a while'. And then I kept seeing it.

...her dirty blonde hair...
-There have been a few places before now where I thought hyphenates might be appropriate but I left that up to personal preference. Here, though, I can't tell if you mean she has a specific hair color or if she's not particularly hygienic.

Jaleah's description stood out to me as it was the first aha moment I had appearance-wise. "...her dirty blonde hair currently wrestled into a tight braid out of her face, sat with her back to Ortega, Jamiss's large and famously skittish spotted stallion. Arms folded, jaw set, and grey-green eyes..." Up to this point, I'm pretty sure this is the most specific physical description of any character, including the two mains. I'm still having trouble visualizing even a general picture of them and that's making it hard for me to stay in the story. So many things about the setting are described in detail and yet the characters are mysteries to me. I understand how hard it can be in limited POV to naturally work in a description of the focal character, but even offhanded comments about their clothes, hair color/style, current physical health...etc., will add up to a good description in the end.

I really liked the dialogue in this chapter. The banter between Balasar's people felt really natural and I thought it showed their familiarity well. In this case, the exposition dialogue stood out to me but even that was reasonable given the situation.
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