Reviews for The God Slave (Prev: To Walk in the Wind)
Adrenalin chapter 5 . 3/22/2013
I reaaaally like your world-building. The way you casually threw information about the religion in this chapters through Isoba's PoV was great. It shows that you have really thought this through.

I also enjoyed reading Isoba. He's a great character, and his fading faith makes him three-dimensional. At first I was a little wary because Daja's opinion of Isoba (kind but not very fond of him) clashed with the way you described their relationship here, but then the interaction between the two of them showed that Isoba is so controlled that Daja's impressions are logical. I think you did a very good job at characterizing Isoba in a few pages, even though it's the first time we're getting into his head. I wonder if it's the last, though? I'd really like to see him again.

I enjoyed your descriptions of Daja's adornement. They were vivid and detailed, I could picture everything without any difficulty. It was maybe a bit too detailed at times, or rather you stopped including Isoba in it so that it didn't feel like he was the one to follow the processings so eagerly but only you wanting to detail as much as possible of your mental image. I'm not sure I'm making myself perfectly clear, but I think this scene would flow better if you added more of Isoba's impressions upon the whole.

My favorite part of this chapter is the second one, with Balasar and Ismene. First I liked the parallel between Isoba and Balasar. They're such different characters, almost opposed actually, in that Isoba has faith in the gods, but it's wavering because of Daja, and Balasar doesn't believe in them, or so he would have everyone believe ('cause, as Oz said, who would go to such lengths to piss off gods if he was absolutely convinced they don't exist?). But they share some similarities because they're damaged. And I love damaged characters.

And this remark allows me to go straight to my next point: I LOVE Ismene. I think she's your best character so far. That might be pushing it a little, but I really enjoy strong, independent female characters. Sure, Ismene needs Balasar's protection, but she doesn't just ask for it and think it's owed to her (like a lot of women characters in fantasy), she knows she has to earn it. She pays it with sexual favors: again, I like this, because she's aware she's doing this and it's her choice, she assumes and enjoys it. I must say, I'm not really that fond of slash stories, and it's mostly due to the general absence of women in them, especially strong, interesting women (that, and the fact I have a hard time identifying to the male leads, which kind of ruin the romance part for me :p), but if you keep on including Ismene that will not be a problem.
The Autumn Queen chapter 5 . 3/22/2013
[He chided himself for this.] – ‘Chided’ seems a little too casual for what you seem to intend in that context. It makes the effort of Isoba attempting to distance himself seem quite insignificant, or alternatively he doesn’t overly feel it’s something he should have accomplished. Apart from that, I like the brief tale of Isoba’s past. It seems like a small interlude to the story but at the same time something important; maybe it’ll show up later on. The description was quite interesting as well; I really like how you’ve brought the desert into the story in not only a physical but also a metaphorical way.
[…Gift's shoulder blades nearly to the middle of his back.] – I feel “nearly” sort of breaks the flow of that sentence. (Haha, my CW tutor would scold me for using the word flow) I think “…blades to nearly/almost the middle…”. Almost is a personal preference over nearly, but I think it would work better after the to.
[Ribbons of rich forest green and gold, Vhaki's colors] – this is sort of the reverse definition, but I think you could still use a colon before “Vhaki’s colours. I find it interesting though you don’t put a separate adjective before “gold”, leading me to wonder whether you meant the “rich forest” to be a descriptor to both colours or not. If it’s the former, it gives an interesting natural feel to the gold, which blends in nicely with this ritualistic preparation.
I also rather like the interaction between Ismene and Balasaar, and Ismene in general. She breaks the typical stereotype of the subservient women, which is what I expected after the buildup of Daja and his sacrifice to the Gods, so it’s very interesting to see the first memorable woman to be a direct contrast to that. Of course, it helps that the main characters are both male.
[before you give it a second glance."] - lol, I thought you said chance there.
emmadotlouise chapter 1 . 3/20/2013
Wow, you had a lot of setup to get through - I appreciate the way that you've outlined your world and given the reader more insight into the inner workings of it.

I will confess that I found myself skim reading the beginning as my attention wasn't grabbed from the forefront. Upon reading further into the story, I was more engaged with the story as you alluded to events rather than setting up your backstory as to the whys of what is going to happen. The hook was lacking for me though - your first sentence spiked my interest, but as this was followed with a description with nothing for me to connect to (though that said, I am an emotive reader (if that makes sense...)), I found my attention drifted elsewhere. Perhaps connect your characters together earlier within the story, interacting with each other, rather than focussing on your main character's observation of what is going on around him. Often what is happening to them or how they are feeling is more of a hook as it gives others a chance to relate to them.

Your writing style is superb, though I think the story would benefit from less description. You paint pictures very well as a descriptive writer and use a lot of elegant language - some of your analogies almost border on poetic - but in some places you over-describe and I think with a tighter pen in these areas you could communicate the same message in fewer words. For example:

""Do we have a deal, Minister?" Balasar asked, meeting his fuming client's gaze dead on this time. He swore he spotted angry sweat beading up on the man's red faced brow as he sputtered."

Balasar is already looking at the Abdhi, you established this in an earlier paragraph. You could say something along the lines of "directly meeting his fuming client's gaze". In the following sentence you could lose the "he swore he spotted" and rework this sentence. Balasar doesn't strike me as the kind of character who would be overly bothered by someone being pissed off, from the way you've described him.

I already feel sorry for Daja and I haven't even come to meet him yet. You develop your characters well, I already have a feel for the greed of the minister and Balasar's cunning. It will be interesting to see how Balasar's character progresses throughout the duration of the story and how he differs when he is interacting with Daja.

The ending ties your chapter up beautifully and leaves the reader wanting for more. Despite the difficulty of trying to get through the first half of the chapter with nothing to connect to, the conclusion of the chapter leaves things open for the reader to think about what is going to happen and what kind of adventure Balasar is set to get into.
Guest chapter 9 . 3/19/2013
OOOH I really like this story. It is very intriguing! I feel really bad for Asseo though, but I am not sure if he is even going to be the main love interest. Isn't the Bala? If so, his character is very interesting, albeit with some very negative qualities, but I don't really like the huge age gap between him and Daja. No matter what though, I am super hooked with this and I can't wait for an update!
Chiisutofupuru chapter 7 . 3/18/2013

Definitely interesting. Asseo survived! Yey! Doesn't sound like he will be liking it though. Poor Asseo.

Now I'm wondering how Daja will be when he wakes up. I think he's curious about the man he 'dreamt' about. I don't think he will kill himself or even attempt it. Unless of course Balasar gives him more reason to.

What's this about a princess? Where did she come from? This question... is the 'princess' for-shadowing something. I bet Daja is going to meet her. That alone makes me want to read on.

Infected Beliefs chapter 9 . 3/18/2013
[...forcing stale air down a throat that felt raw as the skeleton of a beached fish picked clean by desert predators.] - I have been enjoying your metaphors. I meant to mention that in the last review but forgot. Your metaphors tend to be long but they are always so descriptive; I love it.

Ah, look at that. A little bit of redemption for Balasar hidden behind gruffness. I always knew I liked the dude for a reason. The dialogue between him and Asseo was very well done; I could feel Asseo's scorn and Balasar's amused indifference and confusion keenly. I still love Balasar (not in the sense that Asseo loves Daja get my drift) but Asseo really is acting the fool. What can he expect to do?

[Ira's attention settled on him like a bear fresh from hibernation spotting a lame rabbit...] - Another of your delicious metaphors.

I thought you handled Asseo's shame and determination well. It was a good balance of his defiance mixed with his embarrassment at the situation which he has been thrust into and his reluctance to present himself before Daja. I feel that he is living under a delusion though. His circumstances are not going to improve, if anything, they will worsen. Daja would probalby have been his best bet for surviving the rest of the journey, though pride has always been a strange thing.

I am curious to see what will happen once they reach some sort of civilization. Daja has never encountered the rest of the world, after all, and I am interested to see how he handles it. You have developed the characters nicely to this point and I am really enjoying the story on all accounts. Keep up the good work.

Sorry for the shorter review but it is all I can come up with given my current circumstances.

Best of luck to you and your writing,

Update soon,

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.
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