|Reviews for The Queen of the Dawn|
| TS Conlon chapter 7 . 3/6
*As a warning, this review may contain spoilers. If you are reading reviews before the story, please read the chapter it is associated with before continuing. Thank you.*
—… but concern for the the thin flesh of mortals far below flashed in his mind.: The word “the” appears twice in this sentence.
This was indeed the best chapter yet—not that they all aren’t very good. The symbolism mentioned in previous reviews become paramount in this chapter, and we can see the unraveling begin.
Looking back to my little exposé regarding heat and fire symbolizing transformation and revelation, there IS something I forgot to mention: the color red. In terms of classical elements—whether you look at Western or Eastern—red is the color associated with fire. It was only hinted at previously, but it seems this chapter is loaded with “red” symbolism.
It’s been a while since we heard about the “red prince,” but it seems he’s back with a vengeance. He first appears in Hal’s dream as one who has slain a white stag, a black bear, and the golden bird, only to have a snake bite him. I must wonder if the Lord of the Dead turned on him. I know the golden bird is Aurora’s animal, and therefore must assume the white stage and black bear are the animal familiars of other gods/goddesses. By that logic, I might also assume the snake is the Lord of the Dead’s animal familiar. However, I conclude I may be wrong considering Hal thought of him as “the Gray Lord” and the snake was “bi-colored.” On the other hand, it was not the snake that WAS grey but the red prince that BECAME gray when the snake bit him. Dreams deal with as much confusing symbolism as poetry, and everything I can offer thus far is only speculation.
What do I know about the red prince? I know he was a prince that shot a golden bird. Do I know WHY he was called “the red prince”? No. Whenever I hear a color associated with a historical figure, it makes me think of the color he or she wore, perhaps the standard they bore. However, “red” makes me think of “Erik the Red,” named as such for his red hair and beard. From what I understand, though, the red prince entered into Aurora’s kingdom. Red is associated with fire, and therefore with transformation. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Hal sees a portrait of a “young, heroic-looking man with striking red hair,” nor do I think it coincidence that he sees a “metallic red” cricket—that Aurora refers to said cricket as “this old man” only shines more light on the situation, something that poor Hal has not picked up on.
That is another factor in Aurora’s kingdom that continues to appear. Crickets are mentioned several times—their song, some of them in cages but allowed out to feast upon fruit. Just how long has Aurora been at this? Well, at least 20 times if the portraits are what I think they are.
Lastly, I’d like to discuss the “alternate timelines” that take place in this chapter (although saying it like that makes it seem too science-fiction-y). It was definitely strange to see how things might’ve played out if Hal had not stole away from his kingdom and duties. The young princess, his father’s heart attack … and then the end when he meets the zeitgeist of his son, who bears no eyes, and mentions he was summoned by the spirits of the Green Isles, sent to let Hal know of his mistake and that his former kingdom has suffered. How will Hal react, I wonder?
Hal, to me, is very prideful. It seems that is his cardinal sin. It was pride that led him to chase the golden bird on his own; pride that guided him to flee his kingdom in search of Aurora; pride that bade him slay the dragon and eat its heart (and perhaps a little bit of lust, too); and pride now that blinds him from seeing the danger in front of him. Knowing that his birthright is being ravaged by war, but also knowing that Aurora forbids him from going back, I wonder how he’ll react considering the last time he was forbidden from leaving a place by his father, he left anyway.
As a side note, in the Catholic faith, pride considered the original and most deadly of the seven cardinal sins. In demonology, pride is associated with Lucifer, and the most famous act of pride is when Lucifer challenged God but was cast out of Heaven into Hell (fire) and began his transformation into Satan. Whether or not you intended this, I cannot say, but it does make for a funny coincidence.
| TS Conlon chapter 6 . 3/4
*As a warning to anyone who has not read the story, this review may contain spoilers.*
I didn’t notice any grammatical or typographical errors. All the details were so nicely put together, so laconic but so vivid. I like your rare use of adverbs, and wonder if you contemplate each one. Your writing style is truly wonderful and I’m definitely a fan. There was only one part I had an issue with …
—Shining flight feathers pounded the zenith of the dome, …: I’m unsure about the word “flight.” I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but wanted to point out that, to me, it doesn’t make sense as an adjective.
Let’s talk about your use of “fire” in terms of symbolism. Fire has come to mean different things to different storytellers over the course of history. Fire can mean strength, passion, courage, anger, danger, transformation, wit, and many other things. Since you’ve introduced fire (and heat) into your story, I’ve associated them most with secrets and revelations.
That’s not to say there aren’t other elements to your fire—the danger is present, and with it courage, and this chapter in particular was full of passion. I’m only stating the most prominent symbol for revelations, whether it is the unseen side of a character being revealed, a secret coming to light, or a transformation.
For instance, the first time heat is truly introduced as a symbol in your story is at the end of Part I, when Hal is walking through the “Gray Desert,” I believe it was. The heat was unbearable. Hal ran out of food, his horse died, and he continued until he collapsed. Danger and courage are there, but also revelation, which comes when Hal awakens in Part II. Here we see a friendlier side of him that wasn’t apparent in the first chapter.
The next time flames play a big role in the story is with the dragon. So many different things were revealed through the dragon’s arch: Hal proved he was a worthy hero (something I doubted a little, or at least went unconfirmed) by slaying the dragon, and Tesana revealed herself to be Aurora. As the dragonfire died—or made smoke, if you will—more questions and mysteries arose, and things became obscurer.
When Hal ate of the dragon’s heart at the end of Part V, fire consumed him. But fire, in your story, does not destroy—rather, we never SEE it destroy. Of course fire destroys; and in your story fire HAS caused destruction. But up until this point, I haven’t witnessed it do so. In the beginning of Part VI, it is revealed that Hal was not consumed at all; instead, he was revealed as an immortal man—he was transformed. So when Aurora reveals her true form to Hal, her hair turns “fiery red and gold.”
During their first sexual encounter, dragonfire again surrounds them and Aurora whispers, “You are impervious to fire.” At this point I can only wonder what that means. If I had to try an guess, I’d say the dragonfire is the revelation of Aurora’s desire for Hal. But if I look at the phrase, “You are impervious to fire,” I can also interpret this as a turning point for the symbol of fire. There are still secrets and mysteries yet, even more than before. Did Aurora desire Hal as well? Does she, in fact, love him? Or is she only leading him on, and Hal has not yet caught on to her games, and therefore her secrets? I guess I only time—and perhaps Part VII—will tell.
| TS Conlon chapter 5 . 2/28
*A warning to those that read the reviews, this contains spoilers. If you do not wish to spoil the story for yourself, please read past Part V. Thank you.*
—Though he lay on a bed of soft rushes his entire skeleton ached.: I like this description, but the sentence is a little out of order; there should be a comma in the middle. [Though he lay on a bed of soft rushes, his entire skeleton ached.] The sentence in proper order is, [His entire skeleton ached even though he lay on a bed of soft rushes.]
—[HAL: “Will you eat of the heart? I do not want to live forever unless you are by my side.” TESANA: “You do not know me.”]: Called it. :)
—“Our eyes do burn.” She untied the blindfold. “But with fire of their own.”: Did not call that, though …
I could find no typographical errors and there were only a few grammatical/punctuation errors. There were many descriptions I liked in this part, though it was very short. I liked the idea of Hal’s “tongue of baked clay,” and I liked the other descriptions of him in pain. Not because I don’t like Hal (yeah, that makes me sound sadistic), but because it’s all very well-written.
Hm… I thought Tesana was dead last time around, which is why I decided to dedicate the last review to her and the fairy tale cliché of “true love.” Then again, after reading this part, it was most fitting. Now I see that Tesana was not, in fact, a blind sibyl living out her days on the coast.
So now that I know more about Tesana then I did before, I have to wonder her story, and Aurora’s story as well. Was this entire thing a set-up? Did she bring the dragon to the coast? Was she ever truly in danger? Will Hal question her about this later on or will he accept this turn of events without question? Speaking of Hal, I wonder how he’s faring. That’s quite a cliffhanger you left us with there. Dragon heart sounds delicious, by the way. The two ideas conveyed in the final paragraph of this chapter reminded me of two movie scenes. The first is Violet from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” before she turned into a blueberry—“The most amazing cream of tomato soup” became “moist, tender roast beef.” The second image is the scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” when the Nazis opened the Ark of the Covenant.
Since I don’t have very much to say about Part V (it pretty much speaks for itself), I’ll comment that I’m really enjoying this story, and your writing style in general. You’re very good with flow and at capturing my imagination with descriptions and details. You have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish in terms of the story’s themes (both surface and underlying), dichotomies, and references. It’s entertaining which is good, but there are so many things underneath for those who care to look. You’ve done your research, and it shows. If this should ever appear on bookshelves, I would gladly pick up a copy.
| TS Conlon chapter 4 . 2/27
—He wondered if dragons were able to perceive scent. If so, the dirty clouds might keep him alive.: I think you meant to begin the second sentence with, “If not …” If the dragon could identify scents, the clouds wouldn’t help him.
—The soot was carried on the northern wind, …: This is the passive voice, but I can tell you want to use “soot” as the subject. Consider, [Soot, carried by the northern wind, masked the stars and dimmed the crescent moon.]
—How could someone young be so wise?: I feel like you’re missing a “so” here. [How could someone so young be so wise?] It could just be me, though, since that’s what I’m used to saying.
Overall, I thought this chapter was just excellent. There are so many things to comment on, all of them good. The descriptions were right on, the focus remained sharp and clear through. When it was time for Hal to be concerned with Tesana, he was concerned with her; when it was time for the dragon, the focus was on the dragon. And the end blended both of Hal’s conquests together so flawlessly. I liked the “molten rage” description. I also appreciated that there was no dialogue, although there was more inner-monologue here than any other chapter. That’s just a comment, not good or bad.
In typical fairy tale fashion “love” is a word thrown carelessly. Despite having spent only one day with Tesana, Hal feels he loves her. Then again, he might feel protective of her, she intrigues him, and he definitely lusts for her … but I don’t see any reason why Hal would be smitten otherwise. She doesn’t seem to harbor feelings for him. As mentioned in this chapter, there were tavern wenches he bedded and Hal even compares them to her, in a sense, when he comments that all women have their secrets. This makes Tesana and the tavern wenches similar, but opposite. The tavern girls offer their bodies, but not their minds. Tesana offers her mind, but not her body.
While I believe love is logical, I believe lust is not. Going by fairy tale rules, let’s give Hal the benefit of the doubt and say he has fallen in love with her. The problem is “love” is a word many find hard to define, especially if they’ve never experienced it. Fairy tales never really explain the meaning of “love.” It’s haphazard; a handsome man sees a pretty girl, they’re both mutually attracted, and it’s defined as love. What makes this a unique case to fairy tales is that Tesana CAN’T see.
As I’ve tried to point out above, Hal is your stereotypical fairy tale hero, but Tesana is NOT a fairy tale maiden. She’s not even a cliché Disney heroine. She’s beautiful, yes, but she’s blind, she’s concerned with her own life and her psychic abilities. I don’t know what she thinks of Hal, not really. Sure, I can interpret, but I’ll never truly know. To me, she seems more like a “real person” lodging in a fairy tale world. She isn’t concerned with love, or riches, or power; she doesn’t want to be free from her hut or her position as sibyl—she just wants to be free from dragonfire.
All in all, I don’t believe she loves Hal as Hal loves her for a number of reasons. Firstly, I believe Hal lusts for her, and she, being blind, does not lust for him. From the previous chapters she’s in, I garnered that she thinks Hal’s reckless, perhaps even foolish. At the same time, she’s willing to help him fight the dragon. However, I don’t believe she does this because she’s smitten with him, or even that she believes he can do it—in fact, her skepticism is quite clear. But if a dragon was terrorizing MY hut each night, I’d take whatever chance I could to stop it. Secondly, I don’t believe she wants to fall in love.
That is my assessment of Tesana’s character and of her “romance” with Hal. If you think I’ve made some good points, let me know. If not, let me know, too. Thank you. :)
| TS Conlon chapter 3 . 2/26
Again, it’s your descriptions that draw me in. I could, easily, imagine the heat of the dragon’s flames as they swept over the hut. It most had to do with that line about sweat on the upper lip. That annoys me most about hot summer days, irritating, almost itchy. It was a wonderful addition that really tied the scene to reality.
I also enjoyed the imagine Tesana raking through ashes, looking for a hopeful tuber. It sparked sadness in me, and made me wonder just how she lived like that, and how long she actually has.
The story with the boy and the dragon was very exciting. I liked the bursts of description within the monologue, where Tesana’s toying with a dragon scale, the scents of toasted wildflowers, her robes rolling in the breeze. But while I thought those descriptions were pretty, I also found them distracting. The same thing happened when Hal spoke with his father. The king was petting the hound, acting, moving … but he and Hal were having a conversation. This felt more like a monologue. Hal would ask a one-sentence question, and then it would go back to Tesana’s exposition.
However, those descriptions were not without their purpose, I think. Hal was noticing things about Tesana. While the king moved, she remained static. He noticed her clothes in the breeze, her scent, her actions, and so on, but she really didn’t move. To me, she was more of a statue during this scene—a work of art, an object to be admired. My interpretation is that these descriptions, because of their beauty, are supposed to give insight to Hal’s longing for Tesana—or perhaps for any woman at this point in his journey. Still, he’s not one to assume she requires the company of a man. He wants to explore these affections, but not without her permission, which she has not given, or may not ever give. In that, I see his discipline, and which I can associate with his honor. Therefore I wouldn’t necessarily do away with the descriptions interspersing the monologue, just attempt to clean them up. The focus is on the dragon tale, not her. This is just my interpretation of the scene, of course, and I may very well be wrong.
Here are some questions/comments I had.
—“You believe you can slay the dragon? After what you have seen?” There was cynicism in her tone.: The passive voice [There was …] is throwing me off a bit. Try something like, [Her tone held cynicism.] or even […?” she said, cynical]. Or perhaps you can even use a single dialogue tag or an action that denotes cynicism without outright saying so: [She scoffed]. All in all, though, I don’t think you need it. This woman has lived under the dragon’s flames for a good long while now, survived the heat, and witnessed the destruction. I think her words alone are enough to convey disbelief.
—“Pricked? Are you talking about poison? A poison arrow? Can you poison a dragon?”: I thought this was a weird connection. Even in the most archaic sense, the word “prick” does not denote poison. To me, it’s a bit of a leap to make. I think if you used, “stung,” the bridge will be more apparent, because that does denote an injection or the addition of poison.
—“Any tox with the strength to kill one …”: “Tox” is an abbreviation of the word “toxic” or its other varieties, and is mostly used as a prefix or suffix. It is not, itself, a word. To give you the benefit of the doubt, I tried to do an internet search to look it up, but found nothing. Feel free to let me know where you discovered the word, and I will concede. :)
—“Is that such a potion?”: Should this be, “Is there such a potion?”
—“This is essence of tithon root.”: Mm-hmm, I see what you did there. Nice one. :)
| TS Conlon chapter 2 . 2/23
The first section, describing Hal carried by Aurora, was amazingly done. The sentences were short, succinct, but certainly enough to evoke emotion. At first I had a little trouble with the line, “Her flames were searing his flesh.” I thought it was the passive voice at first, but realized the voice was past continuous: that it was happening throughout. It confused me for a bit, I figured it out.
—“The sibyl says he who kills the dragon will conquer death itself and live forever.” The woman’s voice deepened.: I feel like the action (The woman’s voice deepened) should be before the quote. Otherwise it seems like her voice deepened when she no longer spoke.
—As he unlaced the knots that bound his mail he was glad he’d just bathed in the ocean. At least he would smell of salt water and seaweed instead of weeks of dirt and desert.: Here is the passive voice—“At least he would smell of saltwater and seaweed …” If he’d already bathed, then he already smelled like saltwater and seaweed. I can see what you’re trying to do here; it’s just that the implication isn’t as clear, and I believe the implication is that he’s worried about offending the sibyl with his smell. [As he unlaced the knots that bond his mail he was glad he’d just bathed in the ocean. At least the sibyl would smell saltwater and seaweed instead of weeks of dirt and desert.] Correct me if I’m wrong, though, because I fear I may be. As I typed that, I recalled Hal’s interaction with the old peasant in the first part. He didn’t seem to concern himself with a peasant’s worry then, so why would he now?
Once again, your imagery and evokes a good number of emotions for me, mainly nostalgic. I remember reading about heroes like Hal as a child. As the story goes on, I feel more and more the fairy tale effects you’re trying to impose upon the reader, and I think you’re doing a good job of it.
To me, Hal is a hard character to figure out. I find myself wondering where his fire went. In the first part, he seemed brash and brazen—and he still is now, to be sure. After all, he hears about this dragon terrorizing the seaside and decides, immediately, to slay it. He’s different from the first part: Previously, he spoke out against his father, commanded his cousin, threatened the old man, and then decided to leave the Green Isles on a whim. I also thought he was cold and callous toward his guide, but that’s because they didn’t interact much, at least in the prose. In this part, though, he is much more courteous and open with the people in the village, namely the woman that saved him. Granted, they saved his life, and he’s been on this journey for who-knows-how-long. When he meets the sibyl, he does what she says without arguing and even concerns himself with her thoughts and feelings (if I interpreted that “smell” part right). If he’s changed in some way, that’s fine. I just found myself wondering about it because the transformation isn’t too apparent. On the other hand, you did mention to me that you wanted to avoid the inner voice, and have readers interpret the characters for their words and actions alone. At the same time, weeks, perhaps even months, pass by between scenes, so anything can happen in those temporal gaps.
One the other hand, what I previously mentioned were all MALE characters—the king, the cousin, the peasant, the guide. He only female character he truly interacted with in Part I was Aurora herself. (At least where quotation marks and conversation were concerned; I’m not counting those fawning maidens he hung around.) Anyway, at Aurora’s appearance, he humbled himself before her. At first I suspected that he humbled himself because, well, she’s an all-powerful goddess. However, he humbles himself again with the village healer and with the sibyl, who are also both female. While he doesn’t grovel as he did with Aurora, he seemed kinder and more fair-minded toward them. I know that Hal likens himself as noble warrior, and I know your proven knowledge of other medieval things, so it could just be that Hal evokes the chivalric code—“to be respectful to women”—when he interacts with them. On the other hand, the knights’ code of chivalry also states to never raise arms against anyone unarmed, which he forsook with the old peasant in the first part.
There it is, I suppose, the character’s actions make me wonder and try to discern for myself. If that was your goal—which, I think, it was—then I sincerely commend you. Excellent job!
| TS Conlon chapter 1 . 2/22
This was really. I thought the paragraphs, before the interactions with other characters, were a little bit ... stagnant, I guess is the word. You painted the picture of the Green Isles beautifully, but I didn't really get a lot of emotion from it. It seemed like exposition in the form a pretty portrait; not bad but not entirely gripping. Once I started feeling more for Prince Hal, getting to know his desires, his heroes, seeing how he interacted with his cousin, the peasant, and even Aurora, I started opening up to the story more. The hunt with the golden crane was really nicely done. By the end of chapter, I was impressed and glad I continued reading.
Moreover, I could tell and appreciate the research you did, using terms like "villein," going for a more romanticized speech, the fact that Hal traveled with an entourage, and other such things. Another thing I thought was clever was the marriage between a medieval setting and pantheon more Greek/Roman than, say, Nordic or Slavic. Or maybe that's just me. When I think of titles like, "Spirit of the Hunt," "Queen of the Dawn," "Goddess of the Night," my mind drifts more toward Greek. Then again, it could be that Aurora WAS the Roman goddess of the dawn.
I also appreciated your lack of dialogue tags. Nearly every time someone spoke, there was an action accompanying it. I think the choice suites you better stylistically and impacts me more emotionally. All in all, I'm definitely impressed and will definitely read more.
| lookingwest chapter 1 . 2/4
I liked the fairy tale quality writing-wise in this story. Your style lends itself really well to describing things in a typical fairy tale esque manner. Especially the opening descriptions and then even later, the description of the Green Knight and the Red Prince when Hal is first describing those stories to us. Or well, the narrator
I also though it was very interesting how when I started this story, I felt Hal was actually a pretty level headed kid, or seemed to be a good person. His argument with his father shed my first bit of doubts on him - as he seemed very selfish, but then later when of course, he pursues the Queen of Dawn and the bird, it was even clearer. I don't think I've ever started a fairy tale not really knowing what kind of disposition the prince/king character has though... he just didn't feel very spoiled to me in the opening, even as the prince. Maybe it's the lack of action there up until he has a conversation with his father, I'm not sure. But I'm also not sure how I feel about it. It almost was as if his characterization isn't quite as smooth as I would've liked for the whole piece all together...but this might bring me to my next point...
Overall, though I love some of the imagery and the narrative style of this story (which I think does a really good job of not getting too purple prose like or anything, and has a good balance) I did feel like this specific chapter was quite rushed pacing-wise. We pass not only many days or weeks in a single paragraph - but also many months and many years. I almost could see this chapter being broken up into three chapters that go more in depth and round out character more: 1) the opening with the background information on Hal's childhood and his childhood heroes, plus even any anecdote that could perhaps frame his child-like demeanor a little better in indicating he's more of a spoiled brat than we first think etc, reducing such a big jump to nineteen 2) the conversation with his father - adding in more details perhaps about daily life, Hal's general routine, and perhaps even introducing any secondary characters, maybe just one, though I'm not sure what the rest of your story is like so maybe that wouldn't work (if he's the hero going off on the journey, probably not) but then 3) the whole hunting scene and queen of dawn bit. I feel like 3 had the best scenes - they were well rounded, balanced not only setting, but also dialogue, character, and relationship/developments - plus even a little bit of plot... whereas 1 and 2 felt a little lacking and lead to my feelings that 3 was overall rushed. I hope that makes sense. This might just be something to consider once you're done with your entire first draft and you're looking back for revision ideas.
Anyway - one more thing. The Hal's birthday bit felt a little forced to me. I wish he had mentioned it earlier. I didn't like that just out of nowhere it just happened to be his birthday, it felt like it came from left field and I feel like someone as self-centered as Hal would've mentioned to us it was his birthday before that point, especially if he was out hunting earlier that morning/afternoon. Unless he comes back on a different day? That was also unclear. Just adding in something like, "It was his birthday OR his birthday was coming up within the next week" would really benefit that bit, I think.
So okay, haha. With all that said though, I really did overall like this chapter a lot. The writing is pretty solid and I really like the themes you're dealing with, plus the fairy tale frame - the Green Knight bit was interesting to me (I was wondering if that was inspired by the Pearl poet at all) and I also liked in the story how the Red Prince hunted 3 animals. 3 is a huge number in the Arthurian Tradition, and I found this first chapter reminiscent of many Arthurian devices like that. The "curse", as detailed in your summary, is also unique. I look forward to seeing how that plays out plot-wise. Although...desire? Like does *only* encompass desiring to find where the Queen of Dawn lives, or does that also mean like...sexual desire and is hinting that he can never er, get excited again? I'm probably in a bad place though, haha. I usually think of desire as being passionate/love or uh, food or dreams, hahaha. So I was wondering if it might have to do with *all* of those sorts of things, or if it was just very specific regarding leaving home. I'm guessing that the rest of your story will probably unfold that though, so I'll just have to see! Hope I could help, and thanks for the read! :)
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 9 . 2/1
Wow, your last line 'setting his brain on fire' is very vivid and frightening, but that's really what I love about your writing - it's so detailed and clever, packed with so much detail, and intricacy. Moreover, this story is a delight, a real delight and I'm really pleased I got the chance to read this :) What I especially love is the mixture of dark fairytale, biblical themes of redemption versus lust and a bit of other things tossed in too (the theme of immortality being boring for example).
I really like the character development so evident in this chapter: Hal has grown from a spoilt, temperamental youth into a man who feels he owes his kingdom a debt. He is still is temperamental, but I feel that he's not as selfish anymore, and actually has realised that there is more to life than just being forever young (like having children and being a good king - a king who owes benevolently and doesn't force his subjects to a life they do not wish to lead).
I also feel Aurora has become softer, even if she still doubts human (though she is right, I feel; human fear what they cannot understand). I was so worried she would turn out to be a dark creature, but she's actually quite ...different. I still don't trust her entirely, but I do think that there is something very genuine in her desperate love for Hal. It seems like he's the only thing that makes her *immortal life* worth bearing. I hope she will not grief too much without him.
Anyhow, notwithstanding that, I'm actually quite curious as to how this story will proceed :)
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 8 . 2/1
Wow, this was intense D: but before I focus on what I liked and adored about the last part, let me say how I liked the dialogue in the first part of this chapter. It flowed very easily, and I liked how it depicted so many emotions. I also like how it's slightly archaic but never too formal, so as to still sound very natural. I hope that makes sense. I also like how Aurora's dialogue especially is a mixture of so many things: magical, inhumane, but also wise, feeling and loving. She's really a bundle of contradictions – and her dialogue captures that fully.
Before I forget:
*I found it interesting that Aurora and Hal could have a child together that they can watch over. I saw a bit of Greek mythology bleed in here – that of Hercules, whom Zeus looked over. I know that Hal didn't react to Aurora's offer, but it's really interesting what it implies, as it makes them both gods – especially if they can watch over the child, and make sure it grows happy.
*I'm also intrigued by the Lord of Death. Here, I saw biblical themes; he seemed like Lucifer, tempting Hal with his dark words (a bit like the snake in Eden). I do think this 'boy/lost son' awoke something dark in Hal – he needs to explore now, is growing up...
*I'm also intrigued by immortals desiring 'desire', lest they do not want to become shadows (or cease to exist). I wonder if this will be addressed again at some point in the story?
So, now: the second scene: I loved your gorgeous descriptions here, of all setting, of all those countries ...and the scene of destruction that is now Hal's kingdom. It was a bit vague, and I had to re-read twice (but I'm not complaining :D), because I wanted to know what was going on. And I still do. Has the dragon come to haunt Hal's kingdom now? Is the price he had to pay for his immortality? Whatever it is, I think the descriptions were very vivid, and heartbreaking.
And the ending lines were very powerful, tugging at my heartstrings. I really felt Hal's pain at that moment ):
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 7 . 2/1
I have a lot of things to say about this chapter, but let me gather my thoughts, because a lot of good and plotty things happened, and I'm trying to make sense of what I should say :D
So the opening – I really liked it. Beautiful, eerie imagery and simple writing meshed in one, creating an interesting mood. I also like how it flows/transitions so well into the next scene. But it was a gorgeous opening: definitely made me want to read more, and also set this slightly eerie mood that really fit in with the rest of the chapter.
Now, for the second longer scene: it made me sad, as it really highlighted/foreshadowed Hal's missing his former life (and possibly realising the mistake he made, maybe?). I think it was heartbreaking how you set this up, this scene of musing of 'what ifs' and faux-happiness, only to shatter it towards the end. I think your writing style, in its fairy-tale like style, with all those details of the Queen's beauty and all the other happiness abound, really worked for the scene, because it was so deceptive. What especially touched me was King Harold expressing happiness and gratitude before his death. It later saddened me, though, to realise that King Harold probably died alone, and worrying for his son ):
Other things I loved about this scene: how Hal analysed the tapestries and how they were all a deconstruction of hero tales who didn't get what they deserved (but were all broken). I did NOTICE how they were a foreshadowing of sorts, because of the themes of dragon-slaying and immortality asurfacing there.
What also frightened me: Hal's changing and Aurora being so possessive.
Anyhow, to the last scene: I think it's really interesting how you paint this 'magnificent' palace. It's a bit like … a forbidden fruit that quickly turns sour, I think? It's interesting how the palace and Aurora's grounds are so perfect and intricate on the onset, but quickly turn dull (like those creatures being lost and confused, the landscape ever changing). It's delightfully eerie :D
And the plotty stuff! So all my fears were confirmed – Hal's kingdom has fallen, and he is trapped (and this 'son' of his has confirmed it).
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 6 . 2/1
Your love scene is very interesting – I'm actually not sure what to think of it, but I think I'll wait what happens further, before I let any judgement come to pass. I think that what you're doing with the sex scene – comparing it to a battle, or Hal slewing Aurora is very significant, and that intrigues me a lot. Maybe I don't need to rate the love scene, since I don't think you wrote it for the sake of titillating the reader (maybe a bit, and I will admit I did enjoy it, though I enjoy the foreplay more :3), but are hinting at an event in the future, or – better – creating a very specific mood?
And the mood I got was that it was a very artistic, language-wise very beautiful scene, just like the rest of this chapter. A lot of this chapter was an exercise in very beautiful scenery porn/world-building, and I really felt that that it was all there to impress Hal (and the reader, with your prose). I really thought your prose was very refined in this chapter, still easy to read through, but also beautifully crafted, and I kind of admire you a bit for writing this beautifully :)
Plot-wise, I'm intrigued what will happen - I kind of feel that, when it comes to deals like this, there is always a downside to it. And in this case, Aurora's insistence on Hal not being able to leave - well that's not necessarily a good thing. But we shall see what happens :D
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 5 . 2/1
To be honest, I'm not that surprised by the twist towards the end of the chapter – it's not that shocking, since the hints were here and there (most especially because Tesana kept her face veiled). I somehow always thought that Tesana had an ulterior motive, if only because she was so calm, so accepting of his story and she had such a mysterious aura too! But I'm not disappointed by this twist at all :D I'm actually quite pleased, and I also love how you incorporated the reveal into this chapter, but let me first say I really love you writing style.
It's so rich, sultry and sensuous. I love those little details, even when you describe broken bones and Hal healing. It's just a treat to see how much love, creativity and interesting detail your pour into your prose, but still manage to keep your chapters very easy to go through. I don't think I needed more than fifteen minutes to get through this chapter – and no, I wasn't speed-reading this time either :) Just so much love for your prose – especially its richness, but also its relative simplicity.
Other things I loved:
*Hal's heartfelt confession of love for Tesana was beautifully written. I liked how it marked his character development, especially since he was willing to give up The Queen of Dawn for Tesana, and lead a simple lifestyle. I like that he able to look beyond beauty, and accept Tesana for who she was too. I also like the idea that he's rather reluctant towards immortality now, and wonder if this change of mindset shall have further consequences for him.
*I wonder about Tesana's motivations – was all of this, including the dragon a ploy to get Hal where he is now? I really do wonder! I hope not, but she's ambiguous when it comes to her motivations, so you can never be too sure XD.
| AppleCinnamon chapter 1 . 1/30
The opening backstory, while intriguing, felt very heavy for Chapter 1 and, imo, didn't make a very strong hook. It's possible you could convert it to a prologue, however I think it would be better if you sprinkled the backstory throughout the rest of the story, touching on different parts as they become relevant to the story. Having something to tie it to helps with reader retention and overall story flow. All that being said, if the opening is something you don't want to budge on, I would highly recommend condensing it. Details such as qualifying the direction of which tapestries are hung where won't stay with the reader and bog down the chapter down a fair bit.
The overall writing is very fairy tale-like. I especially love the bit between Hal and the old peasant, which is where the real hook is, imo. It really just takes off from here. Another thing I think you do well here is your effective execution of cliches. A goddess/enchantress/etc laying curse to a misguided young man is certainly one of the more popular tropes among fairytale-esque stories, but you make it your own by giving the curse an insidious twist. Normally curses are meant to teach the victim a lesson, where as in this case it seems the entire purpose was to drive Hal mad, which makes for a far more interesting journey ahead.
| alltheeagles chapter 6 . 1/29
With reference to my remark on the previous chapter, I think these lines are very significant: "You love the holy sister, not the Queen of the Dawn." ... "So we are the sibyl." Firstly it shows that Aurora is not deceiving him - she admits indirectly that she may not in fact be the sibyl, but appears as the sibyl because that is the one whom Hal loves. It also implies that Aurora is now willing to meet Hal at least halfway, in contrast to their first encounter in which she had been the proud, aloof goddess punishing a sinning mortal. In other words, it's now 'This is how much I am willing to change to win your heart' instead of 'I'm not giving you a choice. You shall love me as I am.' Did Hal impress her with his dragon-killing feat, or in killing the dragon (which also seemed to be one of Aurora's identities as well) did he subdue that part of her that was unattainablyinhuman and make her at least part human that she would be drawn to him? Your story can be read literally or metaphorically, and either way it is still thought-provoking.