|Reviews for The Queen of the Dawn|
| lookingwest chapter 4 . 5/11
Haha, so, I'm sure you'd prefer reviews on your other stuff. But ta' here I am! It's also been a long long long long long time since I've read this story, but it turns out I'm on ch. 4, and I do recall a bit from seeing your summary - so I'll go ahead and get started! Apologies if there are things that I ask or allude to that I don't know or I've simply forgotten, by the way, but I hope it comes back quick!
From what I do remember in regards to this story, I recall not being a total fan of Hal and his attitudes, kind of (now that I've read more of your work) in a similar way to how I feel about Clay, actually, haha. He's another man with an obsession (perhaps that you're theme ;D) and in this sense I think they share sometimes a little bit of selfish qualities. But I mean, I like that about Clay and Hal. They're complex and real people in that way - with flaws. Not totally likable, but real! I saw that happening a bit with Hal when he talks about Tesana and what he wants to do with her - make her his Queen, etc. and how he isn't really thinking about if she says no to him or what she wants. I mean he does consider that she doesn't want to leave her home, but then negates it, ya know?
What I also remember and has stuck with me is the wonderful descriptions in this story. It's fabulous and this chapter is no different from how I remember. I enjoyed the opening descriptions in regards to the setting and then also later of course with the dragon - but the opening with even "night cloaked the land" - so great! The literary devices are expertly used here but not overly flowery. That was a huge highlight in this chapter. The action scenes were also wonderful in regards to the bit with the golden arrow. It reminds me of this Grecian myth but I can't for the life of me remember which one...but just that imagery - it also harkens to myths like that and fairy tales. Love love love, heh.
His obsession with the dragon at the end, I felt, really captured the climax of him killing it - that desperation of everything else being pushed away and him obsessively like "the dragon must die" was something I felt was realistic... Not that I've ever killed a dragon before, but when in life and death situations, I feel that emotion would be laid very bare, all previous hookups disposed of.
Fun story point to jump into again! Thanks for the read! So poetic!
| Jalux chapter 10 . 4/18
Interesting how Hal has changed into an old man basically, it's something we were told through Aurora but being able to hear it through the bandits through to loot and kill him was a nice touch. Also cool to see his immortality at work here, you show us rather then tell us with the bandits trying to stab him to death only for him to shrug it off. I do wonder why Hal is so quick to murder the youth though? Is it because he's angry at what his kingdom has become or perhaps he just woke up and retaliated in self-defense. I suppose it is explained in that he feels slightly guilty. Cool scene where you show the youths reacting to his eyes as well. It's a good reminder to us that although Hal is back in the human realm he is anything but human (I mean there are other signs of course like the knife part but this really stood out).
So Hal finds out it's been a century or more since his time and you do feel terrible for him knowing everyone he loved is dead. He does sink to his knees but I do wonder if we need more of a reaction from him? Certainly he is not human anymore but he has the emotions of one still if his arguments with Aurora show. And this is further shown by him being kind to the child. The ending is solid really, not amazing but it gets the job done. Hal has a purpose once more and I'm excited to see where this takes him. Part of me thinks he'll return to Aurora but there also seems to be hints of him wanting to stay here. Excellent stuff.
| Jalux chapter 9 . 4/17
I liked the argument between Aurora and Hal, how he tried to convince her to rule these humans with him. He response is sound to me, they aren't really human and eventually the humans would likely turn on them. It makes sense but I also sense Aurora cares little for humans in general. Hal obviously still has his attachment to them. I'm also left a little curious as to what their true 'true' form is and how Hal cannot even lay eyes on them despite being immortal. It's a good premise that keeps the reader wondering on these divine beings.
I loved the scene where he tells her he wants to return. Aurora is surprisingly kind to him but I thought it was good characterization for Hal to realize what he truly wanted was people to be with and to be respected by. In a sense he got what he set out to achieve when he went on this journey. I'm a little confused though, Aurora says he has eternal life but will age like a mortal? So does that mean he's immortal but his body will degrade? Anyways I like the open ending as there will likely be some ramifications for him returning to the mortal realm. Good chapter.
| Jalux chapter 8 . 4/16
The opening was superb, I do wonder if Aurora is lying to him about the spirit being sent there to deceive him but I thought it was a good idea to have him being obsessed with what he saw at the end of last chapter. It ties in nicely and makes sense which makes the overall chapter feel very cohesive. I also appreciated the extra insight into Hal this chapter, the regret is really coming through nicely. He was rash and didn't really know what he wanted, in becoming this divine sort of being he's lost a lot of what he valued before in his family, humanity and his kingdom. I feel like Aurora is humoring him for now but isn't happy with the way he longs for his humanity. I get the feeling she's on edge.
Interesting that Hal didn't know the world was round but him seeing it from a new perspective was cool. The extra insight and information on dragons was also nice to have, world-building is something you do well and adds another layer of depth to the story. You feel terrible for Hal in the end as well, seeing his kingdom ravaged and taken over by another force. It's such a great cliff-hanger because you know now that somewhere or somehow he'll return to save it. And the anticipation for how he'll do it. I mean he could do it as this divine being but I feel like he'll return to his human form to save his kingdom.
| Virtuella chapter 11 . 4/6
It is an eerie setting for tale of what happened in Hal’s absence. The raven soup in particular adds a gothic feel. I like that you use the motif of having to eat as a proof of being real.
“The axe seemed to shrink as it passed from her tiny, twig-like fingers into his grasp.” That is a great sentence, it really brings out well the contrast in size between them.
I like it that Hal’s assumptions about the common people is challenged and that Hamon is able to give his such a comprehensive account. A lot of new characters come into play here, of which the Dark Lady is perhaps the most fascinating. The report is well done; it could have been dull and monolithic, but because it is integrated in a natural dialogue, it works really well.
| Virtuella chapter 10 . 4/5
What horror to contrast with Aurora’s artificial splendour! Hal seems angry, but hasn’t quite realised yet that it was his selfish disdain of duty that has brought such endless misery in generations. It is chilling to witness him kill the boy, so casually and without thinking. Likewise the weasel, such a tiny animal.
You deftly drop a few hints that much time has passed, well before you reveal this for good. This creates a nice sense of irony while Hal has no such notion. He is remarkable calm when he finds out – presumably he must have had the suspicion.
The sheer scale of the atrocities is quite sickening and brings to mind real historic events. We have already had glimpses of this when Hal flies across the world, but now we are well and truly jolted out of our Pre-Raphaelite dreamscape.
“'The Lord of Truth, the Lord of Love” If this is a nod at Orwell’s 1984, it is very clever. If not, it is very clever AND very original.
I was puzzled by this sentence: “Hal felt familiar crevices against his spine.” I’m not sure how one can feel crevices with the spine, let alone identify them as familiar?
| Virtuella chapter 9 . 4/2
The sense of conflict in this chapter is hair-rising. Such tension, and again the sexual encounter is tinged with brutality. I really like the many different levels on which the conflict is played out:
-The fire and ice contrast, which is associated with very powerful imagery
-The overwhelming beauty of Aurora’s realm, which Hal nevertheless rejects as unreal and sterile (linking in well with the previous theme of children)
-The razor-sharp verbal sparring in the dialogue
-The clash of values: honour, duty and responsibility versus the “love” Aurora offers but which seems little more than selfish consumption
-The references to similarities between Aurora and the dragon (yet again!), suggesting that she really is “the enemy.”
Hal emerges in this chapter as a true Arthurian hero when he says, “"I was born to protect the people of the Green Isles, to keep the peace my father fought for, to continue his line.” This is kingship in its ideal form and I dare say it is completely beyond Aurora’s comprehension.
And finally this: "You will live forever, but you were born a mortal man. And all men grow older." This is where you put on the screws and twist. It is going to be very interesting!
| Virtuella chapter 8 . 3/31
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?