Reviews for The God Slave (Prev: To Walk in the Wind)
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 8 . 5/31
Little things that I’m just mentioning for bookkeeping – you’re free to disregard them or come after me with a pitchfork. Okay, so you know that I love your similes: they’re really imaginative, and I do think that they convey a sense of beauty to your prose. But, on the other hand, there were instances in this chapter – especially at the beginning with Daja, where I didn’t feel that they added or amounted to much. Daja is already in a vulnerable state, and the lovely paragraphs about his confusion as to whether he’s dead or alive (or just wishing he was dead) already convey a lot of emotion, that I’m not sure we really need the comparisons to X and Y while he’s meeting Balasar for the first time. I think cutting down here would/could help to making your writing even smother, but as I say, YMMV :D On other hand, I do think it might just be that Daja’s POV is more emotionally charged than Balasar’s, so if that’s what you are going for: coolio, and I’m absolutely fond of that technique then :D

I was going to criticise the supposed POV shift in this chapter between Balasar and Daja in this chapter, but just reading through it: I realised that you kept in omniscient and never once let us glimpse into what Balasar is thinking after Daja passes out. That’s unexpectedly clever and a very natural/smooth solution to a problem that makes many a narrative confusing. I just so rarely see this done well that … welp, I am really pleased that you solved it this well XD. It makes this chapter a smooth read, and I really like how you keep Balasar’s thoughts in the dark, but still hint at the workings of his mind through the dialogue. But I’ll get to that later :D

I really, really loved this chapter, but more than anything I love, love how you flesh out Daja and Balasar (and everyone else). Let’s start out with Daja: I love that he’s emotionally wrought in this chapter, and so very humane in his reactions here: confused, in denial, wavering between hope and utter despair. I think you capture a multitude of emotions, rather than just having him lash out at the unfairness of his situation. I think that may come later, in fact; I think he’s too much in shock right now to even process what has really happened to him. And I like that you’re showcasing this so realistically. I also like that he’s just trying to make the best out of his situation: like latching onto protecting Asseo, because that’s the only person he’s got left from his former life. Of course, he’s a bit naïve here – assuming that Balasar is not manipulative and honest, but I think that fits in with the fact that he’s lead such a sheltered life up to now. I kind of like how you that into consideration, and also further flesh out Daja, by showing how easily embarrassed he gets when he thinks he’s out of line. I think that shows how he’s still used to pleasing others, rather than just thinking of herself (he’s a bit of a puppy like this, and I feel so sorry for him when he feels guilty for having survived; I sense that he’ll be having quite a bit of that too, as the story goes on ): I want to hug him). Honestly, I could talk eons about Daja and how loveable he is. He’s very human in how he reacts to everything, and – beyond that – I just think that he’s a very nice person so far. A bit gentle and also compassionate. I think he may just offset Balasar’s more practical/jaded approach to life, but we’ll get to the shipping later :D

I honestly love Balasar: yes, he’s a jerk in some ways, and very callous, but I think that’s only natural, given that he has to lead a troop of men who rape little boys for fun. He’s definitely in the grey zone though: the fact that he let Asseo live, because Asseo showed enough guts to defy him is kind of intriguing, but it’s also callous because he knows that Asseo is going through hell right now (being raped over and over again). I don’t think it’s just sheer curiosity that made Balasar keep Asseo alive, but sheer disgust for anyone who chooses to serve the gods. I very much like how you hint this through his dialogue with Daja, when he says that Daja is nothing special, but just one of many humans. At first glance, I think that’s a very cruel statement, but on the other, it shows that Balasar is a man who’s – maybe – got a very strong sense of every human being the same, and there being no such thing as a higher power that requires people to give up their lives for it. Sure, Balasar allows Asseo to be raped and clearly states that he’ll sell Daja – he also makes it clear that he’s an opportunist, but he’s also honest and showcases a sense of … tired jadedness over the accusations that both Oz and Jaleah toss at him in this chapter. I like that you hint that, deep down, Balasar is a very broken and lonely man (who lost someone he loved). At least, the fact that he didn’t want Jaleah to be taught a lesson and openly asked Oz for his opinion show that there is some goodness in this man.

Yes, I really loved your dialogue in this chapter: it flowed very well, and each line served as a fleshing out of Balasar’s character. I liked how it showed that he’s practical and rational but also bitter and judgemental (when he scoffed at Asseo). I liked how Jaleah’s angry words towards Balasar implied that she may have gone through horrible experiences herself (further evidenced by the shaking of her fists), and I like how she hinted at knowing that something had happened to Balasar in the past. I liked how Oz’s words were so brutally honest, but still gentle, showcasing what a great friend he is. I liked that Balasar was honest in his replies to Oz, but yet didn’t say anything. I love so much of the dialogue in this chapter that it’s about the main reason for my ‘criticism’ at the beginning. I just think that you do very, very well with your dialogue and body language of your characters. XDDDD Some of my favourite aspects of this story, in general, are the interactions between your characters and the great dialogue you have :D

I’m a big fan of how you wrote out Balasar and Daja’s first meeting – well, first conversation anyway. There were no hints of instalove, and Balasar did not spare Daja’s feelings. He quite frankly told him that he had nothing left to lose, and that the rest wasn’t going to last long. I should not enjoy this kind of brutal honesty (because hey it’s not sexy or romantic), but I feel that it makes their interactions quite … thrilling; I actually like that you’re showcasing their contrasts so much: Daja’s politeness and emotive nature coupled with Balasar’s far more pragmatic and cold approach to life. I cannot wait to see how they will clash and mash. The chemistry is already undeniably there, even if you have not made it explicitly sexual yet. But then I’m not reading this story just for the sake of romance – or that all.

You have a great plot and great characters – one of the things I appreciate the most is how you take your time with this story and really let us get to know everything. I cannot wait for the next few chapters :D
pumadelic chapter 6 . 5/31
Opening.

A terse two line opener. Ramal is on the alert and we learn rumours of the ambush have reached the monks.

Writing

As usual, this is an accomplished blend of sensory detail, variation of sentence rhythm and some effective metaphors. - I like the desert hare racing for its burrow partly because it also serves to remind us that there will be no such refuge from the heat for Daja. Daja's understandable fears about his fate are vividly expressed - choking and cooking in his body as helplessly as a starved fish yanked from the protection of its muddy river to suffocate in the sun'. Loved 'the world melting inwards in a single black spiral' as an image for losing consciousness.

Characterisation

You very economically keep all the monks in character even as they accompany Daja to his final destination. Ramal is tough, sexy and protective; Kaffir a leering sadistic creep, and Isoba tender and protective even in death. Which upset me because you had created such a complex and sympathetic portrait there. I hope it wasn't meant to be karma for Isoba's role in maintaining a ritual he no longer really believed in but it is realistic that a few of them would die in the attack. Daja's preference for a flight from the tower shows he fears death itself less than a slow degrading death. His tears for Isoba, which he doesn't recognise at first, are moving because you have established that his training is supposed to have deprived him of spontaneous natural feelings. Asseo is trying to do the best thing for Daja but I'm more touched by Isoba really breaking the rules and telling Daja to live. Fantastic. Daja typically feels unworthy of all the slaughter committed in his 'service'. This is ironic because these men are dying for him so he can die for the gods.

Dialogue

Another strong point. Kaffir calling Daja 'rabbit' is suitably icky and all the conversations add to the themes, are realistic and in character. We learn more about Asseo's sense of connection with Daja as someone sharing his name day and the final interchanges between Daja and Isoba transcend the cliche of the usual deathbed grief, partly due to the wierdness of this particular situation -eg Isoba wasn't the one who was meant to die.

Plot/technique

This is nicely paced. As we knew what was going to happen, it was a question of how Balasar would pull it off and when. Not too long spent on the actual fighting which is quite well described (fight scenes generally bore me in writing) It is right that it is Balasar himself who grabs Daja, and the moment of recognition prefigures interesting interactions to come. I know why you spared Asseo (and wish I didn't) so I'm not going to comment on that.

Ending

Daja remembers his dream and passes out in Balasar's arms. I understand why you've told it from Daja's pov but felt a desire to have Balasar's first impressions of Daja. Maybe not the best chapter for that.
Cheddar and Graham chapter 1 . 5/31
RG Depth review

Opening
That's a good line to open with - it ticks all the boxes: stirs up interest, is directly relevant to the premise, and introduces the MC. I think it could be improved just a tiny bit by actually linking the name Pandrigon to the man Balasar. Quick fix: just start the second sentence with his full name.

Character
I won't talk about Balasar at this point, cause I'm pretty sure I'll be reviewing this again and I want to get a better picture of him first. I'll talk about the minister instead - I think he embodies a non-western worldview very well in his tacit acceptance of the supernatural, while watching out for no. 1. At the same time, he covers all his bases by not personally doing the deed, so presumably whatever consequences will be borne in full by Balasar. Top grade scheming, that...

Dialogue
I am very, very, pleased that the characters don't sound modern because that is one of my absolute top pet hates. If one of them had gone, "Don't give me that crap, dude." that would have immediately, as far as I was concerned, taken away at least 75% of this story's credibility. Instead, we get a witty exchange and I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Plot/pacing
Nicely paced, not too much information given all at once yet the premise was clearly presented. I'm not sure how big a role is given to the magical aspect of fantasy in this piece, ie whether the god is an actual god or just an abstract creation of mass superstition, but either way I think you're well able to carry it through based on what you've given us so far.
alltheeagles chapter 4 . 5/31
RG EF review

Hahaha… you answered my question in chp 2! Both of them, in fact. Riiighttty…. Darling Daja is so versatile. I think it’s sweet. Not in an awwww, how cute kind of way but Cool, he’s a complete guy. I like very much that he isn’t a total uke – it’s one of my pet hates how the submissive partner in slash is often so wimpy he might as well be a girl.
I like the gentleness of this chapter, and the melancholy beneath the passion. It’s sad not just because it is undoubtedly a parting scene, but because to Daja it was still ‘business’. I like the implication here, that though he’s given his body to many, he has never given his feelings, maybe because they have never been his own.
In conclusion? You’re making a fan of me.
Chiscribe chapter 3 . 5/30
This chapter does a great job of revealing more of the character of Balas, like how he would rather starve than leave his affairs unfinished that really gives him a strong sense of altruism and shows leadership qualities. His relationship and banter with Oz was a highlight of this chapter as they came across as not only natural with each other's but I also though you did an excellent job of showing the intangible part of their relationship, how time has forged a strong trust between them

Speaking of Oz I liked his quirky personality and humorous quips to his dialogue, which was reenforced his haughty appearance.

Your knack for vivid detail is in full effect in this chapter, I especially liked the image of the palace grounds compared to the open market, like two different worlds side by side you do a great job contrasting them with each other in their physical descriptions. Can't wait for the meeting between Bala and Daja!
Itsa Mia chapter 13 . 5/30
Is this one shorter than usual? Or maybe I need to stop reading epics. That's probably it lol. I just didn't want to stop reading Dx
Excited for a fight next chapter if Bala doesn't step in
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 7 . 5/30
I don’t think that this story is going to end well for Asseo – I’ve tricked myself into reading the last chapter, and from what I saw there briefly, the little mouse is in for a world of pain. But, already given the hints here, I think it would have just been more merciful of Balasar to kill him ): I think it’s testament to your good characterisation that this makes me sad and worried, because Asseo – from the looks of it – is not necessarily one of the main characters. Or is he? I’m not sure: I don’t trust you XD You kill people off in the blink of a second, and I’m honestly not sure who’s going to make it out alive at the end of this story (or you know, past the next few chapters) XD I seriously was surprised that you’d killed off Kaffir and Ramal that quickly – without actually mentioning their deaths directly, but rather just have the mercenaries flippantly state that Asseo was the only survivor. It’s cruel and surprisingly callous, but then I think it fits the moral of the story to a T, reminding us that this is *such a world* (a world where everyone and anyone can die, quickly, under the heat of the sun, with no one to really mourn them). You have my respect for honest and unfalteringly bleak storytelling.

And yet, I don’t think that Balasar is being unnecessarily cruel here when he condemns those priests for being fools; he’s ultimately right in his judgement, I think, and I like that – in his practicality – he sees the world for just what it is. I do like that he feels guilty, and that he’s perfectly honest to Asseo reagarding his fate; I like that he shows enough glimpses of compassion to tell Asseo not to make his life more difficult. I also like that he does tell his companions not to break him too much. Still, he also makes it clear that Asseo will die if he’s a burden, because they don’t have food or clothing to spare. Why do I like that? It shows that Balasar is a man of logic and competence; he thinks ahead and does not allow compassion or pity to overrule the more immediate necessities and responsibilities ahead. He’s a good leader, and I get why these men and women choose to follow him. I also respect you for not trying to make Balasar too sympathetic and kind – that would only cheapen the story and ruin the darkness that is already evident. Also, I’m maybe just tired of too many excuses being always tossed at us in stories: just let people be cruel and cold, because they have to. We don’t need all those Freudian excuses XDDD.

I liked the immediate characterisation of the other mercenaries. They are cold and ruthless, but I think they would have to be in a world as corrupt as this. I keep wondering who’s more evil really: the priests who were willing to ship off a young man to his death, or the mercenaries who kill and steal for money? At least the mercenaries are fully aware of their actions being wrong. There’s no delusion here.

I really, really love that Jaleah was so tender in her handling of Daja; she’s gentler than the others, and I can tell that she may – or I hope – that she’ll treat Daja with some kindness. I do like though that she points out the obviousness: that Daja may kill himself, because of his situation. I like that she’re realistic and forward-thinking enough to realise that Daja is not just going to be some cute little doll that’s going to be pretty and quiet. She’s already aware that Daja is a *person* rather than a doll, and I kind of like that Balasar was just a little jealous there, tehehehe.

SO YES. I like that Balasar is already noticing things such as Daja’s beauty: it already shows that he’s interested, and the little touches of jealousy here and there (towards Jaleah, and Asseo) pinpoint that he’s not just going to sell Daja to the whorehouses before … maybe at least finding out what Daja is beforehand. I don’t think he’s necessarily thinking of sex yet, but I do think he’s curious. Especially because Daja is so beautiful, and I think that Balasar, despite his dislike of beautiful things, is drawn to something as interesting as Daja (who is a little cracked and broken). I actually really liked the subtle hint of him viewing Daja as an object at first, before he shifted to feeling sorry and then finally seeing him as a human being. It showed his more tender side and also implied how critical he is of this system: openly rendering a young man into a thing of beauty (rearing him to be a sextoy) just so the gods can be pleased. Reading all this from Balasar’s perspective really makes one realise how fucked up Daja’s fate is :/

So yes, I’m really, really curious as to how you are going to take this further. I really like that you’re building up the plot so slowly, letting us sink our teeth into it – it helps me, at least, to really care for the characters and get invested in them. It also is nice that you pour so much attention into world-building and actually making this a story that is more than just SEXY MERCENARY SAVES PRETTY PRIEST FROM DEATH LOL LOL LOL. I’ve always liked my slash with plot and edge to it, and my only complaint is: WHY IS THIS NOT PUBLISHED? I honestly have read my fair share of published bad books (of the M/M variety), and some like this would honestly help others maybe view slash as more than just oh yay kink and nothing but sex. This is so much more than just kink – actually, I wouldn’t call this fic kinky at all, and say that the slash is merely a byproduct, but that it’s a great story that makes you question a lot of things.
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 6 . 5/30
FFFFFFFFF JUST GO AND BREAK MY HEART YOU. *shakes fist*
I should have known that Isoba was a goner :/ It’s a cruel tactic writers always use: flesh out a character in one chapter, and then kill them off in the next. You are mean, but I love you for how you handled his death. I thought it was ultimately sad and beautifully handled: the few seconds of horror and mortification Daja felt as he realised that Isoba was in danger, his horror turning to certainty as Isoba fell, and his panicked, emotional reaction when he ran to Isoba’s side, undeterred by anyone or anything else. I think that sort of behaviour was not only perfectly consistent with what you’ve provided us so far of his characterisation, but also natural and realistic. It was real and emotional, without any touches of melodrama or stilted writing. It was beautifully handled, also, in terms of dialogue and Daja’s breakdown – whoever gives you crap about Daja crying too much is an idiot. If my father figure was lying dead or close to dying at my feet, I’d be a sobbing mess too D: And honestly, it was just heatbreaking that last exchange: the way Isoba managed to be so gentle, and how he tried to tell Daja not to waste tears. It was such a nice continuation from the last chapter, and I liked how it reminded us of the fact that Isoba truly cared (and never wanted Daja to die).

NEXT THING. The scene with Asseo and Daja before the world went to hell/descended into chaos was very well-handled; I especially liked learning that Asseo was Daja’s age, because it not only pointed out how ridiculous this entire situation is (seriously, 20-year-olds dying for the sake of religion?), but also endeared Asseo to me. It helped remind us that he’s really just a kid himself still, and that – if circumstances had been different – he might have been the one sitting in that wagon, waiting to die. I like that he’s so aware of it, and I like that he feels guilty over having been relieved that he hadn’t been chosen; the little hints of his mother being disappointed in him, with the further implication of him having been sent off to live in the temple due to the fact that his family didn’t want him…well, that further endeared him to me. Poor kid has had it rough, I can tell ): Also, I liked that Daja realised all this too, and I really did enjoy their little interactions here. ‘Awkward’ sex scene from last chapter aside, I really think that these two are kind of cute and adorable in their own way, because – as much as Daja needs help in this chapter – I can tell that Asseo is really terrified himself. And that makes him so very human.

I guess I should talk about Kaffir. He’s an interesting guy :D I thought of Bradley really when he asked whether that messenger was dead or alive. It made me grin XD. I have a soft spot for those bastards – cold as they are. I especially liked how he seems brutal and openly mocks Daja XD. I guess I’m just worried that you’ll kill him off before I can get to know more of him :P As for Ramal – I think it’s interesting that he’s a good fighter, but so far he’s the one who shows the least concern about Daja being shipped off to death, but even here, I like that you do point out that he’s just made himself think of Daja as nothing but a tool.

And that’s what I really liked about the first portion of this chapter (and the later ones too, only that the kidnapping took centre stage here): how Daja was beginning to break and be flooded with doubts as his ‘end’ grew nearer and nearer. I like that you make it clear that he’s feeling ridiculous, that he’s tired and that he’s bitter. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would be happy to be shipped off to death with none of their two cents. And you got that fear and sadness right, without descending off into melodrama or any kind of whining. Again, I just admire the way you flesh everyone so well out here. And I … must say I never got the idea that Daja was a crybaby in this chapter; he’s tired and emotionally drained. He cannot fight, because he’s been essentially been deprived of water for more than a few hours. I think anyone would be ‘weak’ in this kind of situation, and it makes me a bit sad that you had to point this out in your author’s notes. Certainly most readers would be able to place themselves in your characters’ shoes? I know I could. I think you’re a competent enough writer for that.

I don’t like pointing out things that could be improved, because I really, really love your writing, but perhaps what I did notice: you love your similes. I love them too – in my own writing, and in others, but I feel that too much can sometimes be a little jarring. Generally, I think you maintain the balance quite well, but there was this particular instance of Asseo and ‘looking like a hare whose skull had been shot through with an arrow’ that threw me off quite a bit. I actually stopped reading there, because I thought you had killed him off O: I just wasn’t sure I could handle that, and was a bit surprised when I came back to the text to learn that you hadn’t. LOL. What I’m saying is that I’d maybe consider rephrasing or just … toning that down a bit. It was just worded in such a way that I really thought the worst had occurred lol. Also, in other places, I didn’t feel that your similes were necessary, even if they were pretty. They didn’t actually add more tension or emotion to the scene, because I think you already do that well through dialogue and the characters’ actions. So, maybe tone it down a bit? It’s up to you, of course, but I generally think that you don’t really need that many similes to draw emotions from your readers :) (But hey I like them, and you’re free to keep them for my sake XDDDDDD. I’m just pointing out that the less is more strategy may be a good thing to consider :P )

OKAY OKAY. I really think that the kidnapping/action parts of this chapter were very wel done: the slow build up, the horses ramming against the wagon … the tension was already there, before Daja drifted off to sleep, and I like that the priests were actually aware of the whole danger. It helped not make this whole action thing appear out of the blue, but did showcase that the temple was well-protected. It would have been too fabricated and contrived otherwise, me thinks – and too easy. I like that you actually opened up the action by having Daja wake up to it: it helped make it more shocking and surreal. All in all, I actually think that your descriptions had a surreal quality to it – the men in the weird clothes, with their weird hair and skin; this helped match Daja’s confusion and also gave this scene something of a menacing and horrifying quality to it (which was wicked and cool). But I am not going to ramble any longer about this because…

THEY FINALLY MET AND IT WAS FANTASTIC. I really, really liked how Daja was arrested by Balasar’s appearance, and how he tried to place his features before gradually passing out. Also, I just think it was an epic way for them to meet: Daja gradually giving away, while Balasar was holding onto him tightly … (BE STILL MY FANGIRL HEART LOLOLOLOL). I am excited for more. I am :D :D :D

… *hides* this review is just a mixture of wacky and fangirl. Sorry not sorry.
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 5 . 5/30
*shakes of zombie mood to snap awake* and *fkjfkfjkfjfkf* Why, why is this chapter so awesome? I only hate the fact that I have to force myself to write a coherent review, when really all I want to do is gush at you. So I’ll just start off with what I instantly or first liked XD.

Isoba is a really nice and gentle man. Whatever suspicions I may have had about his being cold and impersonal towards Daja being just a front…welp they are no longer just suspicions XD This chapter, IMO, nailed the message home that he really does care, and that – even if the whole teaching/taking Daja’s virginity is, perhaps, a tad bit creepy when viewed in this context – he’s the closest thing Daja had to a father figure. I really like how you showcase Isoba’s affection and protective nature, by drawing attention to how tired and exhausted Daja looks through Isoba’s eyes; it really helps remind us that Daja’s fate is not an easy one, and that anyone connected to it – by caring for Daja – is not in for a fun ride either. I also like how Daja is characterised in another light through Isoba’s POV: you can tell that Isoba views Daja as a gentle, friendly and open kind of young man – I like how attention is drawn to Daja’s attributes like his laughter or his eagerness to learn gardening. I also like how Isoba is able to read Daja well, immediately being able to place when Daja is lying. I think all that made me warm up to Dala more, but also made me sad – it was heartbreaking to see how much Isoba cared.

It also makes me wonder how he managed to have sex with Daja, given that he seems to care more like a father than a lover. Some *hint* of attraction is implied, of course: he does observe Daja’s beauty – and that, in itself, was a lovely treat for us readers, but I still think that his affection seems nearly more fatherly. Nearly I say XD The last scene between him and Daja: with Isoba running his fingers through Daja’s lips was very erotic and suggestive, but in a very subdued way. I loved it, because it was subtle and emotional, without anything being overdone. I think I found myself tearing up a bit there, or wanting to at least, because the words exchanged between Daja and Isoba were just so genuine.

I just love that you’re fleshing everyone out so much here. I kind of want to know more about Isoba, actually? Since his first appearance his story has intrigued me, because he’s essentially lost two people to the gods. I kind of wonder if that would not prompt him to, maybe, become sympathetic to Daja getting kidnapped. Or not. I may just be getting ahead of myself. :P

So yeah: I loved how you switched scenes/POVs in this chapter; you did it very smoothly in my opinion, and I think that turning our attention to Balasar helped roll the plot along, reminding us that there is hope for Daja. Kind of XD. I really, really just liked that you did it so smoothly, by directly indicated that a switch was taking place. Aaaaand, anyhow moving on XDDD (let’s not waste too much talking about technical details, when I really just want to talk about Balasar lol).

Oh, oh, oh I cannot tell you how much I loved Balasar’s little monologue about scars and imperfections. I literally just wanted to fangirl and write fkfjkfjfkjf in response to them. What can I say? I find Balasar’s insight here very refreshing, because it’s such a contrast to men who only crave perfection and untouched lovers. I like that Balasar likes his things to be broken, because it says that he likes a challenge and also appreciates beauty in a way that most don’t. Of course, it implies – as Ismene correctly pointed out – that he’s broken himself. But I also just think that it shows what a kind of different and weirdly insightful person Balasar is. I say ‘weirdly’ because he consciously detached himself from everything, and even if we do see pinpricks of guilt here and there, it’s obvious that he’s more concerned about his mission rather than anything else. Still, I liked that he did feel bad about leading Ismene on, and that Oz’s words did have some effect on him. It does show that Balasar is not just another detached jerk on the block, but that he’s fully capable of caring and wanting to be different. I think it’s kind of tragic that he cannot bring himself to do that just yet.

And oh, I loved how you focused on Ismene’s scars here: the writing here was so beautiful and imaginative. You made it clear, immediately, as to why Ismene is beautiful in Balasar’s eyes, and also – in the dialogue that followed – made her a very likeable and awesome character. I like that Ismene has no illusions whatsoever regarding Balasar; I like that she seems to be able to read him well, able to tell that Balasar is a broken man and drawn to imperfection, because beauty untarnished disgusts him (which you did hint at in the earlier chapter, with the water fountain). I get the idea that Ismene is not a helpless woman, but fully capable of defending herself and getting the best deal out of whatever she share with Balasar. Of course, I’m not implying that it makes her happy and, it’s sad that she has to make such compromises. But, on the other hand, she knows exactly that this is the only way that she can be close to Balasar. Tl;dr – I want to know more about her, and how she became the woman she is. She’s really an awesome character too, lol.

So what else? Your writing is really beautiful in this chapter. I thought that it flowed very well in this chapter, seeming more refined and polished than in the previous ones. I don’t know – but I assume that it’s because you found your mojo in this chapter, and it really shows :3
pumadelic chapter 5 . 5/30
Opening - Isoba has already been established as a sympathetic character and it is good to see him in his garden, a nurturer of the earth. The theme of renewal and the supposed necessity for Daja's sacrifice to the gods cannot be far away in such a setting; Isoba is preoccupied with guilt, love and loss of faith in the value of such a sacrifice.

Relationships

This is a strong point of this section, built as it is around two intimate conversations rather than action. Isoba's relationship to Daja is of both father figure and lover which might be more than a tad queasy - yet this is the strange nature of the monk's set up. He manages to get Daja to confess his true feelings about his role. At this stage Isoba values genuine communication over duty although he says Daja has not been taught to lie . This does not seem entirely true as the previous chapter demonstrates: he has been tutored to ignore his own truth in all circumstances. It is a very poignant scene. Both men are attempting to be brave and dutiful. It contrasts well with the 'make over' ritual that turns Daja into a gorgeous doll fit for the god's pleasure even while he is already affected by dehydration.

Balasar's conversation with Ismene is intriguing. It fills in his character, especially the line about innocence being over-rated. He does not respond to prettiness alone but appreciates the scars of mature experience. I love the way you are writing the women. Ismene may be a courtesan. She seems emotionally independent and strong-minded. He trusts her to raise the issue of his qualms about the kidnap. She does not want to go there. As to Ismene scars, I love the line 'a mulit fragmented look that spans several emotions at once'. Ismene doesn't open up about her pain. We suspect that that has something to do with her maintaining her sense of control and dignity. In comparison to the scene with Isoba and Daja, there are confidences but less love. Ismene thinks that love would make her vulnerable .Balasar is similar. They can get along respecting each other and enjoying sensuality.

Writing

You have a smooth flowing style in this section. Not overly metaphorical . There is both effective sensory and emotional language. Examples of the latter include 'like I am simply watching the world around me, trapped in the glass cage of my body' and the 'boy who..over twenty years..had so cruelly stolen his guarded heart of earth and stone.'

The sensory details of Daja's adornment 'hundreds of tiny braids..ribbons of rich forest green and gold' take on a sinister beauty. I also liked Ismene's scars being compared to ripped off angel wings. You've done this in a more detailed and realistic way so, although it is a familiar image for loss of innocence, it is not cliched. Some of Isoba's descriptions of Daja feel a little more overused and sentimental in comparison 'the boy who laughed like a spring breeze and smiled like new sunshine in the morning air' Having said that, Daja is already linked to the environment and you are emphasising that he is just a young boy who should be as free as the elements.

Plot - Although this appears to have little action, you are carefully setting up the encounter between Balasar and Daja. Both have doubts about their assumed and given role. Balasar can't help but wonder if there is something in the legends. At the very least he will be causing social chaos. Daja does not want to die.

Ending - Balasar's enthusiasm and adventurousness returns. 'It was not every day a man got to steal from the gods' The reader is looking forward to this encounter between two such different personalities and to the outcome.
Chiscribe chapter 2 . 5/29
Daja is quite a fascinating character, he comes across as delicate in his physical appearance but possesses an unshakeable resolve in the inevitability of his life which really makes him deceptively strong and brave. One thing I can commend you on is the exceptional characterization of both Daja and Bslasaar as they are both well rounded characters with amiable human traits and flaws.

I like the scene where Daja is recounting his time with the suitors as you have such a subtle yet exotic way of getting the slash across without being overly crass, it's tasteful yet sensual and I can't wait to see what..."interactions" the two main characters come across with each other.
alltheeagles chapter 3 . 5/29
RG EF review

Hmm... just as I thought this was a pretty straightforward plot, here's this new (and conflicting) version of things. You weren't kidding about the projection of the dark side of the human psyche. So anyway, I liked how you used that exchange to tell us about Bala's character - or his outward image anyway. He's pragmatic, devil may care, and does what he does for the... money? adventure? some private mission thus far unannounced? Not sure about that bit yet.

I like the balance in this chapter between Bala and Oz's bickering (which also imparted background - well done on that) and the preparations (which brought Jaleah into the scene). It was a good idea to introduce the other key characters one by one and with sufficient 'airtime' for us to get to know them. I can't tell you how many times I've given up on stories where a million characters are introduced at once and with nothing more than a sentence on their gender, hair and eye colour, and age if we're lucky.
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 4 . 5/29
I don’t think the sex scene was as awkward as you made it out to be at all! If anything, it was very sweet, a bit sad and very, very telling of just how much Daja has missed out. I’m not spoiled for the rest of the story, but I thought it was kind sad how this was so obviously about love and affection for Asseo, but a very confusing, if not even bewildering experience for Daja? I really liked that you brought out the conflict so clearly here: Asseos’s very clear desire and willingness to submit, by focusing so much on his pleasure, his ability to just let loose and his shyness, while Daja was very, very analytical throughout this scene. You can tell that, no matter how curious and likeable Asseo is to him, that Daja is really not into him at all. Or he’s just been so cut off from any kind of pleasure in his life that the idea of having sex just for the heck of it – just for the thrill and fun – has never entered his mind.

In many ways, I would just say that this smut scene wasn’t really a smut scene at all, but an exploration of Daja, and his total isolation from having a life of his own. I feel that you handled it – in this respect – very well; you didn’t create this scene in mind with just the intent to thrill, but actually wanted us to feel for both men – or boys? XD. I felt for Dala, because this was all so new and confusing to him; I even felt his fear when he was worried that he’d have to give in (what did they do him? :/), but also liked that you made clear that he enjoyed some aspects of sex, like oral. I especially liked that he likened blowjobs to a position of power, because that’s sometimes not made clear in fiction of this nature, and it further showed how Daja is not a pushover at all (he’s already showing an assertive nature that is merely held back by feelings of responsibility). I also felt for Daja when he tried his best not to be clumsy or too hurtful, because it shows that he’s a good person: I think that’s where he also got very analytical, since he consciously tapped into his memories to see that he was doing everything correctly. I think that’s where it got sexy :D, since you did go into clear detail here, without shying away from the feelings or emotions that the characters were going through. I liked that you focused on both of them (maybe my only quibble would be using the word ‘member’, but then – the more I think about it – using anything else might have been too crude or not fit the elegant storytelling you have here so XDD). I also liked that you had quite a bit of foreplay before you went off to the main event :) Ehhhh XD What I’m saying is that your smut is very, very good, and I had no issues or qualms about it at all :D In fact, Daja topping made me very happy since I had indicated that I wanted to see that happen in the last chapter?

But really, more than anything, this chapter just made me feel so bad for both of the boys here: Daja is infinitely confused, and Asseo is in love, but it’s unrequited (and Daja is not even aware that someone could care for him). My gut feelings tell me that this is not going to lead to anything good at all. Since it’s already evident that Daja wants to escape, and that his encounter has – at least – made him half-aware of the fact that he’s never been allowed to really do as he *pleases*. And in a way, that must have at least filled him with a bit of bitterness during the sex (even if he’s not fully aware of it yet).

There were a lot of other things I liked in this chapter, like how you dipped into the general, everyday lives of the monks and even described the ritual in detail; it really show how intricate your world-building is, and it also helped make the story feel more authentic and real to me (you are basically dragging me into this verse and making me see it in my own mind). I also, also LOVED how you described the temple further: the structure of it, Asseo’s room and Daja’s surprise at it being so modest. It really helped show how Asseo is not at all just an teacher, but how he wants to be more. Little details like him worrying his earring/thingie were also very important, and conveyed a lot of information. Basically, essentially, I just love how you writing is so full of little details; it’s honestly a pleasure to read :)

Hmmmmm. The last scene :D? It rocked my mind. Honestly so well-written, and just full of HINTS HINTS HINTS HINTS. I don’t have anything smart about it to say, though I think it’s cool that Daja apparently has the power to see the future? Maybe? The dream did have that kind of disjointed, trance-like appeal to it; I honestly loved how you wrote it – the atmosphere in it was amazing.

XDD Um. I should stop. Play around the RG more? This is so much fun :)

(I'll admit to having seen you around and wanting to read your stories before, but general laziness/business prevented me from doing that.)
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 3 . 5/29
There are a lot of things I really, really liked, but it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Hmm, can I just start saying that I love Oz :D? Yeah? XD See, there’s always going to be the type of character that I’m going to root for immediately, and Oz is that kind of character: a bit quirky, carefree, with funny hobbies (like collecting trinkets and all that jazz in his case), but ultimately, very wise and insightful deep down. I can already sense that Oz knows Balasar better than anyone else in this story: there’s the concern he so obviously shows, the not hostile but also not holding back criticism of how self-destructive Balasar is being in his choice of jobs, and the fact that he just goes along with it, because he knows that Balasar won’t choice (because of his past, because he’s looking for vengeance :D). What I’m saying is that it’s not only the mark of a great friend, but a great person overall. I really want to see more of him, and I really want to see more of him and Balasar, because their interaction in this chapter was so smooth, so well-written in terms of dialogue and meaningful pauses that I just cannot help wanting more. Their interactions also helped me learn so much more about Balasar.

But before I get to that, I want to talk about Jaleah. I already like her, too – a lot. She’s the modern woman in an era that treats women like objects, rather than human beings, and I like that she’s bitter about it; I honestly like that she’s rebellious and more than a little feisty. But, aside from that, I like that she seems to be a cheerful girl when around her friends; her interactions with both Oz and Balasar were very natural in this chapter, making it a pleasure to read. Can I just say that you do a great job so far of writing all those relationships? Not only because you show us how close they are, but because the way you present these relationships is just so natural and fun. I end up favouriting you as a writer, because I can already tell that I care about everyone here. And that – more than anything – is what makes a story good or bad for me :3

But yes, Balasar: so he’s not just a non-believer, but he seems to be actively challenging the gods in some pursuit of destroying himself. That’s worrying, but what’s more worrying is that he actively acknowledges that, and also seems to be so nonchalant about it. In fact, some of his character traits remind me of Sherlock – like him forgetting to eat and needing to be taken care of – but he’s not Sherlock: he’s not socially awkward, and if anything, I think he’s just pushed himself away from people (apart from Oz). There is also the hint here and there that he hates rich people, and actively wants to change something in his society. He’s really fascinating, I admit, and the more I read, the more I really want to know how wound up being the man he is. There are a lot of little things I like about his character too: like him watching out for his comrades ( caring enough about Oz to admire his newest item in his collection and listening to the story behind it, or making sure that Jaleah was kept busy when they realised no one would talk to her …) or actively side-stepping a wagon or something to avoid stepping on a cat XD. Amazing! Balasar might be nonchalant and self-destructive, but he’s a kind man at heart.

Ummm. What else? I really liked the opening paragraphs of this chapter, because of how well-written and visual they were? What really struck me was how Balasar showed disdain for all the luxury, because he deemed it a waste. That said a lot about him as a character.
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 2 . 5/29
About the only issue I have with this story so far is an absolute non-issue: it will take me a while until I remember the names (I’m really bad with names XD). But I care enough about your characters (your babies) enough that I want to call them properly by their name, so I actually went back to the first chapter to make sure that I remembered Balasar’s name XD. Why? I cannot wait when he will pop up, and free Daja from his ordeal :D (…and more, but I’ll keep my thoughts out of the gutter, for now :P).

So: your writing is absolutely pretty. It’s really, really obvious that you’ve poured thought and care into your words, and that you’re conveying an atmosphere through your rich descriptions. I really enjoyed those quiet moments Daja had in this chapter, like exploring the garden and just enjoying the company of the wind. It created a mood that was both wistful and also helped me gain a clear idea of what his settings are like. I enjoyed it a lot: the descriptions were just rich enough to help me create a mental image of the settings, but sparse and so scattered throughout the chapter that they never distracted me from the dialogue or the general plot. Kudos on that :3 Basically, I’m just saying that this chapter fulfils both my needs for having a) an easy read, but b) also being pretty and inspiring in terms of prose :)

I like Daja already – he’s not just a pretty little sex doll, but does have a mind and wishes of his own. I like that you don’t make him too entirely conflicted yet; he wants to escape, but it’s more of a natural reaction to being well-read and well, being a human being. He’s not overtly miserable, and I like that he has a sense of duty and responsibility, even if that isn’t always easy. Why do I like it? It avoids this cliché of the protagonist being desperate to escape (just waiting for a miracle), and rather paints the image of a more realistic, nuanced character. Daja is nuanced: he wishes to be independent, but he’s also eager to fulfil what he feels to be his destiny. I sense a lot of conflict and character development ahead of this. I also like that he’s implied to be good at many things – like fighting and reading. That makes for an even more interesting character and defies the notion of him just being some cute little ‘uke’ :P (not that he has to be *that* either :D I’m all for reversible couples/switching :P).

Haha, I appreciated that you kept the naughty bits very, very tasteful in this chapter. Far too often, I think, writers feel the need to flesh out all the implied adult bits in a story – even when it doesn’t serve any plot-related purpose. Yes, while I feel that it might have been interesting to read about all of Daja’s experiences with his masters, I think it was great to tone down the adult material here and just focus on what was really important: namely the difference in how they treated him and how each master helped Daja grow up just a little bit. I think I’m torn between his first and the second one: the first, because he may turn out to be an important character perhaps, and the second one… because I have a specific kink that you somehow fulfilled there XDDD. I liked the newest master as a character – it seems that he really does care about Daja, and it’s a shame that he and Daja could not have met under different circumstances.

About the third master? I like that Daja had some positive sexual experiences, but I feel that he’s not defined by his sexuality yet. If anything, I feel that Daja still has to learn what good sex even is, at this point. After all, he’s never really been with anyone he’s really wanted :/ I’d really like to see how he grows as a person and lover when he meets someone who challenges and defies him.
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