Reviews for The Queen of the Dawn
Virtuella chapter 8 . 14h ago
What a fantastic chapter this is. I am enjoying this story more and more with each new instalment. I loved the panoramic vistas of their travels above the planet and all the stark contrast that you bring out here. There is some great detail, like that Hal did not now the earth was a sphere.

The scene between Hal and Aurora prior to this journey is breath-taking. Wonderful how you invert his earlier longing for the palace in the clouds into longing for the down-to-earth experiences of the real world, like the women coming home from berry picking. And I cannot quite put into words, but Aurora felt terrifyingly on the edge of something, as if any moment now she would lose control and reveal herself as some terrible monster. I had wondered this before – whether Aurora IS the dragon? Even if not, her coldness when she talks about this child she is planning to “create” chills the heart. Hal’s simple wish to hold and cherish a child of his own contrasts with that beautifully.

Here are some other favourite bits:
“Hal saw a spectrum of colors. The coruscating hues sang, each at a different pitch.“ - Lovely synaesthesia. Did you know that Kandinsky based his abstract paintings on the idea that colour can be used like music?

“"Will the dragon never stop hunting?" Hal imagined endless villages set ablaze.“ – The despair in this question is so palpable.

“Even immortal creatures can diminish.” - This paragraph reminds me of Pratchett’s concept that Gods need belief to sustain their existence or else fade away.

“husk-like men” This is a really good image that says so much about their suffering.
Jalux chapter 7 . 3/31
[Opening]
Not going to lie you threw me for a loop here, first I dreaded we would get the wake up from a dream trope but then you transitioned it nicely into the castle and his mortal wife being the dream and subsequently switching back to the more deity-like Hal and Aurora. It reads well and it's pretty clever in it's own right. Makes for a nice sense of tension for the opening.

[Character]
I have a feeling this dream in some respects shows Hal still misses his mortal self and it shows in their conversation. He wants to reunite with his father to show what he has become and maybe partly wishes Aurora was human? I think Aurora senses this too and tells him to forget his mortal life and forbids him from trying to find his father. The spirit of his supposed son though is going to throw a wretch into things. Hm, I wonder about his lack of reaction to his new form though.

[Ending]
I felt something like this would happen. His kingdom is now in peril and needs him but he is beyond their reach. Still I sense that he'll manage to get there somehow and set things right but I am curious how. So for an ending hook this is amazing.

[Dialogue]
It's great as always. I felt the conversation between Hal and his supposed son was excellent. Hal's denial comes through perfectly but the boy's manner of speech makes it feel like he is really telling the truth. Also love the line "Yes. I was King." because I think it shows part of him still yearns for his mortal self.
Virtuella chapter 7 . 3/29
This is an absolutely excellent chapter. First I loved how as a reader I though he awoke from a dream, but in fact what seemed like reality was the dream. But then again, maybe not? Delightful ambivalence. Also, the mutated tapestries are a great motif.

Secondly, I really enjoyed the setting, which is very vibrant, fairy-tale like and beautiful. I can easily visualise it in the style of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. And it’s great to imagine that the scenery changes every day, but has fixed elements. There is a wonderful, glass-bead-game surreal quality about this, which I really enjoyed.

The pictures of the young men, now – I wonder if this is some sort of foreshadowing and whether Aurora is a female Bluebeard?

Finally, the plot twist at the end is very good, after all, this story has to continue going somewhere, and now we know where it needs to go next. I’m looking forward to reading that.
Virtuella chapter 6 . 3/26
Ah, unexpected nuisance that the dragon cannot really be killed. And it raises the question, why didn’t she tell him that in the first place? Is this a test, a trap, a betrayal? Curiouser and curiouser!

The descriptions in this chapter are beautifully vivid. I could imagine the scenes in all their light and colour. The final section is getting intriguingly surreal and in the end I you have me thoroughly confused about the identity of dragon and queen. I like the ambivalence of this whole scene. The oscillation between sexuality and violence is surprising and disturbing.
Virtuella chapter 5 . 3/24
I liked the opening scene here very much, especially how the words “You live” were echoed between them. It’s a lovely way to show a connection between them.

The dialogue between them is delightful. There is a danger for this kind of conversation to slide into the corny and trite, but you manage to steer clear of that particular cliff. Hal’s vulnerability as he tests the waters regarding his future is touching.

I was a little disappointed with the turn the story took then. I would have quite liked him to forego immortality for the sake of his true love. But never mind, I am curious as to where the plot will lead us now.
Jalux chapter 6 . 3/22
[Opening]
I think it led on nicely from Hal consuming the dragon heart, I especially like how he sees the kingdom differently now he has consumed the dragon's heart. Your description of sibyl is excellent, she really does feel like a being from another world. I do find it strange that he feels almost no regret for his choice at all even when she tells him he can never go back. All in all though this was a good transition opening.

[Plot]
The plot took a backseat this chapter and I didn't really find that a bad thing because I feel chapters like this are needed to expand on the world and the characters in it. That being said perhaps there is a little too much focus on the build up to them getting it on then the actual scene, I think the chapter could be trimmed a bit so we still get some interactions between them but make it shorter so we stay fully invested.

[Writing]
Your use of language is superb, I think you did the bed scene well all things considered. It is kinda strange to think how can a dragon-man and a goddess can go at it but I suppose it works well. I think mainly because it's not exactly explicit but while reading I also got the feeling this isn't going to end well for some reason, I feel like there are going to be repercussions.

[Character]
It'll be interesting to see where Hal goes now. He has achieved his goal and found someone he loves but is that all there is? What about his kingdom that he can't go back to? Will he regret his decision and try to become human again, I kind of feel like his character is still far from fully developed (not because of bad writing but because it's fairly complex). Aurora is okay in my mind, she's not super interesting to me but I can see how others would like her and in a way that's not a bad thing too. Character diversity is nice.
Virtuella chapter 4 . 3/22
I like the opening paragraph, which is very atmospheric. The references to smells are very good and help to evoke the scene. It also links nicely with Hal’s memory of Tesana’s scent.
“How could someone young be so wise?” This should maybe not follow directly on her warning that a light in the dark would attract attention, since that’s a fairly obvious observation. Perhaps insert a sentence at the beginning of the paragraph that identifies this as a general reflection on Tesana.

I think he is kidding himself if he thinks his father would welcome Tesana as his queen. But I like it that he is considering this scenario, instead of stubbornly clinging to his obsession with Aurora. It shows him as a very real person.

The description of the dragon is magnificent and wonderfully vivid. I particularly liked the “pulsing veins of spitting embers.”

I’m not so convinced of the phrase “volatile emotions.” Perhaps because emotions is too vague (what emotion exactly?) and also because it seems too modern a word to fit the tone of this story.

Either I missed something or there is a continuity error: Wasn’t the plan to stun the dragon with a poison arrow and then kills it while it was knocked out? Admittedly the events of this chapter are far more dramatic, but the original plan was very sensible!
Virtuella chapter 3 . 3/20
I like the rational way they are planning here. Stun the dragon, then kill it: This sounds like a good scheme to me, and much more sensible than the, ahem, traditional approaches. I never quite did buy Bard the Bowman. Not sure though why the potion would kill Hal?

The opening scene is very intense. It's easy to imagine that he doesn't want another night like that, neither for himself nor anyone else. At the same time I like the subtle suggestion that there was heat of another kind involved as well.

Eating the beating heart of the dragon. *shudder* Does he have to eat the whole heart?
Jalux chapter 5 . 3/17
Okay so first and foremost is Hal longing for Tesena part of the curse the Queen of Dawn inflicted on him? I can't imagine him being so willing to give up everything for her when he just had a few days to know her. That being said the conversation was well written and quite touching honestly that he would go to such lengths. So Tesena was not actually a human or is she one but ate a dragon's heart? Little confused here but that might just be me. Honestly I loved the description when he bit into the dragon's heart and his reasoning for doing so is understandable given his devotion to Tesena earlier. What will become of Hal I wonder?
Virtuella chapter 2 . 3/16
The opening dream sequence is very good, very convincing, and so is Hal’s response when he wakes up, half clinging to it as a “shimmering surge.”
Lovely sentence about the breakers beckoning.
If the woman is a seer, should he wonder that she knows where he comes from?
“He was curious what the rest of her was like.” This seems a little prosaic. Maybe something like “He wished he could see the face fully” or somesuch?
Very intriguing about the house being protected by dragon scales. I’m a bit puzzled, though, because we are told that this was the first time the dragon attacked and it took the people by surprise, but then the Sybil seems to be familiar with its habits and has had time to gather the dragon scales which must have been shed over time.
I like how the story gets moving here and opens up all sorts of possibilities. We’ll see how the dragon attack goes…
Virtuella chapter 1 . 3/15
A nice exposition that plays confidently with traditional elements. So now the prince is off on his quest, and I am looking forward to finding out how it goes.
Jalux chapter 4 . 3/15
Hm, I liked Hal realizing that age was not always a sign of inexperience and how this journey is showing him that the world is much bigger then he expected and that his perception of women was in fact wrong. That being said I do wonder why he starts to question himself? His character so far seemed so reckless and young that even a dragon didn't scare him but I did like this does show he has some common sense after all. And of course he's thinking of making her his wife because she's capable and probably pretty, very human reaction I'd say for a prince.

I think the action scenes are wonderfully written here, the pacing is superb and the level of description allows me to envision Hal grappling with the dragon while seeing the surroundings. I like the insight we get into his mind as he's fighting too. Hm, I do think he's grown quite fond of Tesena very quickly and I wonder if she has a major role to play later? Great stuff all around here.
AppleCinnamon chapter 11 . 3/14
Last chapter! (You'll update again soon though, right? Riiight?)

[Character] Hal has certaintly grown more patient and tempered. Previously he seemed much more rushed to go ahead and get into the thick of things, so to see him take the time to make Ann and her grandfather comfortable before moving forth was a pleasant surprise. I also enjoy the physical details you are including abou him, particularly the mention of complexion as I don't often see people mention this in their writing. It's definitely easy to see why the boys in the previous chapter would have mistaken him for a lonely soldier, and the delayed mention of his physical appearance works to keep the reader somewhat in his perspective.

[Plot] Hooray for more backstory! :D I'm really happy to see you get more into what's gone on since Hal's been gone. From an objective standpoint, I will admit that I wonder how much of the information will be necessary in the long run. It seemed last chapter that the plot was going to be focused on defeating Richard, so this new information seemed irrelevant for the plot to continue forward. That being said, I still loved getting further into the history since Hal's been gone. It makes the story's world feel much wider.

[Dialogue] I'm pretty sure I've made comments in the past about parts being dialogue-heavy. In this case, it's very well executed. We do have the little break aways to touch on atmosphere or what Ann's doing, but they're kept subtle enough that it creates a natural pause instead of a deliberate breather. At some points I would almost forget that I was reading dialogue, which really helped keep the immersive atmosphere of last chapter alive. Overall, beautifully executed!

[Ending] The end I think is the only weak point of the chapter. It didn't really grip me the way last chapter's did. I think the biggest issue here is that the last chapter hints at an impending rise in action, where as this chapter ends on a much more sullen, lowkey note.
Jalux chapter 3 . 3/13
Opening: Loved this opening, leads on from the last chapter beautifully and the description here really captures the tension and fear in the scene well. Really shows the difference between a man and a dragon and what Hal has to do to get to this palace in the sky. Interesting way to show him fainting too, I'd say some people may think you're overwriting at this point but I think it's still acceptable.

Character: Hal is an interesting character, I like how despite witnessing the power of a dragon he wants to help out Tesena and slay it. It's a good trait for a leader as he wants to help out his people (even if Tesena is not technically his people). Tesena comes off as old and wise and is a good foil to Hal's brashness and reckless nature.

Scene: I love how technical some of this is, especially the scene where Tesena and Hal are busying sharpening swords and affixing dragon scales to shields. It shows the rules you implemented into this world of yours and is more realistic as a result. Extra detail is also cool since it means you've put a tonne of thought and time into building this world.

Ending: Tense, I like the backstory we get on Tesena and the boy who slayed a dragon but the ending was interesting for me as it foreshadows Hal perhaps getting his immortality faster then he expected? I don't think he'll slay the dragon next chapter but it's possible and I wonder if there are other ramifications to eating the heart. Good cliff-hanger...
whispers of lowlit flames chapter 6 . 3/13
I reviewed the first five chapters under my old account (The Autumn Queen), so picking up this story again with Ch 6. :D

RG-Depth

[Opening] I really like your first sentence: how you've separated "flames" and "burning" - which hints at the burning being something deeper than just related to fire. It gives quite a fantastical image, even without the context. And of course, the way you word that sentence also leans back to the previous chapter and particularly its end. It gives a sense of time passing and continuity together. And the way you continue to bring that element out is quite clever as well: the light/sight, the energy etc. and the new world as well.

[Flow] He opened his eyes; his lids were no longer sore and swollen - I like semicolons in general, but I found this one a little jarring. Perhaps you could reword that so it's a single sentence instead: eg. He opened his eyes, his lids no longer sore...

The paragraph that starts with "You loved the holy sister, not the..." also read a tad jarringly. Maybe it's because of the way you structured it: the dialogue interweaving with the general prose. But I found the general prose distracting from the dialogue - obscured almost. Partially it seems the effect of the perspective, but it's a paragraph I got caught up in so I figured I should note it. :D

After that, the chapter descends into a nice pace. There's a feel of action. supplementing the fire motif nicely, and there are some beautifully poetic bits as well. Gives a nice lovestruck image.

[Relationship] The poetic descriptions lead to a nice picture of a fleeting moment: almost-dream like - and suggests/hints quite strongly at the possibility that this won't last. That something is going to come along and change it, or something it going to change on its own. Exemplified is the focus on physical things: her beauty, the straps, the scenery, physical passion. There is little emotional connection and its placement, at the post-accomplishment stage, seems appropriate for such a hint as well. The ambiguity in Aurora's words helps in that as well - but I imagine they'll take on different meanings depending on what follows. :D

[Ending] It's a well-worded paragraph, but in context I can't really see how we've gone from a love scene to a killing scene. I may have forgotten something from the previous chapters that explains this - since it seems like the wings are a trigger for something. Partially also is that the scene changes so dramatically in that one paragraph that trying to grasp the change in emotion is, without a bit of help, quite difficult. We have cries - what sort of cries? Still caught in the love-making or cries of pain? Back to the burning from before? Or something else entirely? Maybe a little something in between the final two paragraphs would help clarify that final scene, since with the way this chapter started in relation to the last, I can't be sure the next one will be a direct continuation or have a bit of a time skip.

Looking forward to continuing this story!
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