|Reviews for The Queen of the Dawn|
| Electrumwriter chapter 8 . 3/25/2016
Opening - I was thinking that since Hal is supernaturally empowered it might not make sense for him to wonder how he managed to get back to the palace - it is not clear that supernatural Hal could possibly have trouble repeating a routine feat when one takes into account what he can still do later on despite more and more reason for emotional turmoil. I am being nitpicky however. The image sprung on him last chapter was one of visceral horror.
Characterisation - Certainly strong in this chapter. Aurora obviously knew that Hal would not want to see the world he left behind unless another supernatural being interfered with her machinations. I think she cottoned on even before he spoke of the illusion. I wonder whether her offer of creating an adopted child for them both was sincere. There I think she is ambivalent.
An interesting conundrum about the Gray Lord. On one hand he might well want to expand his kingdom, but he certainly takes an interest in the living. Aurora warns that "he yearns to twist wills, corrupt innocence, poison love." She should have added that it runs in the family.
Worldbuilding: A great device, the crystal monolith, for scanning the entire world. I like how the memory of the cheeky kitchen girls pinching berries contrasts to the scene of carnage later.
As I had guessed, immortal creatures can certainly diminish. Whether the dragon does or not any time soon, I get the feeling that Hal certainly will...
We next get to see primitive whalers! In the 19th century and earlier, whaling did not seem quite so abhorrent, since the handheld harpoon was such a poor weapon to use against a huge, sentient beast and the fight could go either way.
Beautiful scenes of other continents and oceans, I especially like the glimpse of the ocean with the oyster bed.
Ending: And here Hal gets to see that in his absence there has been prolonged war and havoc wrought because of his absence, even though he had had the benefit of hearing the cautionary tale of the other hapless prince. So the invaders have the logo of a golden dragon...? I think I may have an idea who they follow.
The image of the kingdom laid to waste is both concise and suitably dreadful, but I am afraid I must address the point where Hal only hears violated women... in war torn places men get violated a lot that way too, it just isn't as widely acknowledged. Given how disturbing the story is already, there is no reason why this uncomfortable truth cannot be acknowledged. Any reader who cannot deal with the fact that male on male rape exists would probably not have read this far, given there has already been disturbing content.
| TheBeastlyPrincess chapter 1 . 3/22/2016
Have you ever published any books? Becuase I really think you should..your stuff is beyond great..:D
| Electrumwriter chapter 7 . 1/26/2016
Opening sequence: The part which stuck out for me most about the opening was that Hal is inherently a different kind of immortal from Aurora and the Gray Lord. He still cannot help feel concern for the mortals on the ground who will experience a shower of crystal shards. Of course any mortal who is not a psychopath ought to feel the same way, but the gods in so many pantheons look down on us as playthings. I also like the way the dream begins in the mode of Hal waking up from a dream. The dream is ironically mundane – a contrast to the waking reality of this chapter.
Theme: I interpret the dream as being an image sent by either the Grey Lord or these spirits of the Green Isles (if they truly exist) which is designed to show Hal what his rightful destiny was. The descriptions of the bedchamber, including the olfactory details of the herbal scents, are all very vivid. Of course it is much more of a challenge to write about an immortal realm. Wow – sounds like Hal could have got lucky if he had remembered his rightful place. A smoking hot redhead who could only be made more gorgeous if she had green bodypaint applied.
Imagery: The dream begins to turn creepy when we see the tapestries. They are distorted. When the familiar is blurred, that is a warning sign that a dream is becoming a nightmare. The Red Prince did meet with a dismal end and I have guessed what it is.
Setting: It’s a good idea, making Aurora’s realm one where there is no challenge. Take away our mortality and what excitement can there be? No danger. No variety. No time pressure to act as the lash and spur to our endeavours. It would be like playing one of those old computer games with all the cheats on. Just dismal.
Aurora has quite the collection of pets. And they’re bound to a futile existence which is like Hal’s but on a microcosmic level…
Ending: Well whether it was the Gray Lord or not, that image of a youth with no eyes almost made my skin crawl, the first time I read it. Really creepy as anything. I think it symbolises the emptiness of self-centred immortality. It is a thought provoking theme that gets more horrifying the more thought you give it. The moral is, be content with what you are.
| Electrumwriter chapter 6 . 1/19/2016
So at this turning point in Queen of the Dawn, Hal’s state of being changes forever. Such a thing is difficult for the human mind to comprehend and I was intrigued to see how you would handle it. I like this bit as a start: “every muscle and artery pulsed with inner fire.”
Aurora’s ability to change her hair like that is something I envy :p
I see the consummation of Stella and Clay’s marriage being foreshadowed here. This description of how a blazing touch might feel was enhanced and refined in Loreley Island chapter 15.
Your ability to paint picturesque landscapes is evident here as well, although your description is never too verbose in Queen of the Dawn. Citing: “pink and gold twilight landscape.”
Argh! Now I recall why I liked Stella so much better than Aurora! Stella did warn Clay BEFORE their marriage that there was no going back. And Aurora warns Hal at this point :\
Another downer, albeit one that merely creates a vague unease – Aurora’s dragon regenerates. It’s like Hal’s victory was for nothing. I suppose the dragon is her puppet as much as the poor fools who took immortality were.
Depicting love making or copulation when either one or both of the participants is not human is always a huge challenge for an author. I love how you do it with your elegant descriptive style and keeping up the fiery and otherworldly imagery.
I especially like: “You are impervious to fire,” came her glittering tones. And: “The obliterating light wasn’t painful. It was ecstasy.
Hal slays the Queen of the Dawn again and again at the end? :p If only.
| Electrumwriter chapter 4 . 1/19/2016
This chapter was surprisingly more upbeat than the others, in that the doomed prince seems to actually shake off his cursed obsession in the instances when he is in combat with the dragon. I know how it turns out of course and that this was simply a part of is journey away from the world. A particularly strong point in this chapter is the variety used when associating the dragon with fire by means of the imagery.
So commenting on the text:
A good touch for Hal to try to disguise his scent with the smoke.
The question of how Tesana's wisdom did not match her age was one I think that was only easy if you know the answer. As is the question of why she seems to be weighing on his mind in the manner of the goddess.
At this point it is revealed that Hal has been promiscuous. Couldn't this mean that he had sired an illegitimate heir? I know he didn't, but I think it should be clearly answered that his brief affairs came to nothing when he later sees the worst case scenario in chapter one actually comes true.
I wonder what Hal's father would have made of Tesana :) Although Tesana's own reservations about being a queen in the Green Isles are appropriate.
I like the imagery used with describing the dragon. Very forceful use of fiery images.
Hal is an incredible marksman. I like how elegantly the dragon's diamond shaped weak spot is described. Good work on making the image of the stars contrasting with the dragon. I also feel the stars represent the way the divine is portrayed in this story. Cold, remote and not really living.
To think I was relieved at Hal being able to think so clearly at this point as to realise the wrongness of riding to glory on a murderous dragon. On first reading it actually seemed that he was cured of his mania :(
| Sjoorm chapter 1 . 1/18/2016
I liked your opening. The Green Isles are clearly very rich, and I get a good picture of the landscape from your descriptions of verdant hills.
Your characters are "alright", in my opinion. King Harold is fine, he is just as wise and patient as one would expect from a great king who has brought his kingdom from the brink of extinction (although he is a tad less warlike than I would have expected considering he would have had to win his crown through battle in the civil war). Hal is the character who really bothers me. You describe him as a near-legendary figure, an amazingly formidable warrior, with looks and demeanour that were capable of charming woman both fair or otherwise. He is the picture of a perfect prince, with his only real flaw for most of this chapter to be his wanderlust (I will mention I hate near perfect characters, there should always be an abundance of flaws, as we are only human). But then you make an about-face, and he turns into a crude, proud and wrothful noble, one who believes the common folk to be beneath him utterly. This is closer to how I would have pictured a noble who has been sheltered within a castle his whole life, made to believe that he IS better than everyone around him, but you don't describe him that way in the beginning, so it just feels "off" to me.
The dialogue, oh man the dialogue. There are very few authors who satisfy me in their dialogue on this website, so I hope I'm not too harsh, I don't mean to get you down. This is clearly a medievalesque tale, one where the language should mirror it, and you make a great effort for the most part to portray this. There are, however, some scenes where the dialogue doesn't quite fit for me, it doesn't seem like something the character would say (or at least, not something that would be said in the way it has been). I'll list off some of the more telling ones (in my opinion).
"Let's hear it" - Let it be spoken, speak your mind, etc.
Switch "my boy" to the end of "Now is not the time..."
"What folly?" After the statement his father makes. I would take this out to make the sentence more concise.
"not right to curse the spirits" Unless he uttered his prayers out loud (unlikely) I would remove this, as his cousin shouldn't have known who he was cursing (especially since they aren't even close enough for them to have a hunting rivalry. He treats his cousin more like a servant).
"How dare you disturb..." If anything this should be said first, before he tells the peasant he should strike him down.
Everything the peasant says. Granted, he is old, but peasants would not have access to the same education that nobles have, therefore he should not speak so properly. However, you may be going for the "old man is actually a seer/spirit" bit, in which case Hal should remark in his mind that he finds the man's speech odd for being a peasant.
"Do you mock me...?" This sentence, and the one after it, seem a little awkward. Honestly, the whole exchange seems a bit awkward considering what I have already written, and I'm not sure if this should even be here, but that's my opinion.
As I said about the peasant, the scout should not speak so properly, as he is a commoner. Little things like this pull me out of the world when I see them.
"Everything I've ever wanted... in her eyes" Would sound better "Everything I've ever wanted was reflected in her eyes"
"I must get there somehow" I would write "I will travel there" as you are trying to convey his determination.
The writing is quite good, especially in your descriptions. I can clearly picture everything you describe, the deserts that are filled with desolate sands, the green hills of the isles. I have two gripes, which may or may not belong in this category. One, if these islands are so desirable, and the continent across the waters is so desolate, why has nobody invaded recently? Especially in a civil war, there is no more prime a target than an enemy who is not united against you. My second gripe is that Hal and the rest of his people are clearly superstitious, yet he disregards a warning from a mysterious old man that clearly anyone else would heed, as they know of the Queen. And he also doesn't think twice when a star begins to grow and shine far too brightly in the sky. Any superstitious man (which most of them would be in a medieval setting) would see this as a clear omen, and would be terrified. But Hal just shrugs it off.
The ending is satisfying, he has began his quest and I eagerly await the rest of your story. It sounds like I hate your story, but I am trying to be as critical as possible, for improvements. It was a good story overall, keep up the good writing, and congratulations on your win :)
| TS Conlon chapter 11 . 1/15/2016
*This review contains spoilers. Please read all chapters up to and including this one before continuing. Thank you.*
In this chapter we have the very first mention of a new character, “the Queen of the Night.” Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been around for a while, but in my attempts to find parallels between this new mythic woman I totally overlooked that she is somehow related to the Aurora, the Queen of the Dawn. I’m pulling some similarities between her and Morgan le Fay, but only with her dark countenance, that she came from the woods, that she was sexually agressive enough to keep him from his own castle and royal bed. But all the ties I try to put that she -is- indeed mythical are ruined by the line spoken by Hamon, “She was the daughter of a rebel chieftain ...”
It’s been a while since I’ve written any reviews and thus I have little to say—far less than I originally thought I would. This was a good chapter, well-paced and finely written. It was an exposition chapter to say the least, and the ideas keep building. However, it doesn’t look as though any chapters follow this one. The only things I can comment on are the good choices of names. Hamon is, of course, Middle-English name meaning “house” or “home” which is a good choice for him. As for Ragvold, it sounds likes it’s related to the name Ragnvald of Old Norse fame, a strong name perfect for a warrior. It’s basically the Old Norse equivalent of Reginald or Ronald, meaning powerful leader. I can only say that I wonder where the story will go from here, and when Hal’s call to action will begin. By the sounds of the last line, and the mention of fire, which we’ve discussed as Hal’s element—almost, and forgive the pun, as though it is his guiding light—it seems like the next chapter.
| Shampoo Suicide chapter 1 . 7/24/2015
Congrats on the WCC!
I really love the fairy-tale vibe of the beginning section. The way you open, with In all the West followed by the lush scenery description of the kingdom really evoked that for me. It helps, of course, that it's about a far off kingdom, that's probably an instant connection for most. But even the backstory of ending civil war and talking about his son and of course the story of the red prince brought up that feeling for me, and it's in large part to the language used I think. So I'm sure it was an intentional mood you were going for, and it really came across and worked for me.
It was a cool introduction to the Queen of the Dawn character too. I like that you managed to weave the details in of it naturally through the king warning his son. It was also a good introduction to the character of Hal and we learn a lot about him through his dissatisfaction with his insulted life and need to explore.
I really liked that the vibe shifted later though, at Hard ground broke his fall it didn't feel so much like the same fairy-tale sort of storytelling. I liked that shift because it made it clear the first part, while compelling, were details needed to get to the main storyline and it was done in such a clever way. Like the voiceover narration to the beginning of a movie almost. I always describe things in movie terms, I don't know why haha XD
Overall an enjoyable chapter! The voice is so different from your other writing, but I enjoyed the departure all the same! I'm intrigued by the plot concept as well and looking forward to reading more and seeing it develop, the idea of having him cursed with this impossible desire while already having this yearning dissatisfaction building in him was very cool. Nicely done!
| lookingwest chapter 11 . 7/21/2015
Like everyone else, I'm impressed by the imagery in this chapter, and I love the fairy-tale devices, as always. The "twig-like" fingers line everyone pointed out is one that I also enjoyed and stuck out for me too, but I also just liked the imagery of the opening scene in general with Hal and his hatchet.
Perhaps my only criticism is a bit of a nit-pick on paragraphs 5 and 6 - both felt a little list-like, like "Hal did this" "Then Ann did this" "Then Hal did this" - but that sensation did not last very long and was broken up when Hamon speaks. Other that that, the image of them just eating the raven soup was also very atmospheric in a dark, subtle way. It backdrops with the fire and cold nicely for the ensuing conversation!
Since this chapter is dominated primarily by dialogue and exposition, yes, it's a little transparent in regards to seeing the technique you're using as a writer (but I think that transparency is only obvious to other writers), for the average reader, this technique works wonders, *and* I think it also keeps with that "fairy-tale" tradition I keep spouting on about. It's almost meta, in that way too, because this is a story about a king and Hamon is telling us stories about kings.
The story Hamon tells about King Edmund feels like it could be its own novel, for instance, and I *loved* and envy your ingenuity in that sense, with the plotting of it all. I'm so bad with plotting, lol. And I'm reading through this and I'm like "damn, she just made a book inside a book." XD
I think my favorite parts of the story were the bits about the Dark Lady and then even Edmund's two daughters, and their fates. It's quite sad, but also a nice juxtaposition almost with Aurora and Hal's story. While Aurora is someone I was quite wary of, in comparison to the DL, she's an angel and treats Hal with a lot of respect, very obviously shown by the fact Hal's still alive, haha. I also have to wonder if there was any foreshadow going on in that earlier tale - anything we might see crop up again as Hal's journeys. I would not mind seeing the DL come back, for instance!
Explaining the reason for realistic storytelling within this chapter was also a nice nod to oral tradition. I agree with eagles about how things can take on a more mythical quality as they're retold and retold, people add things, etc. This isn't really a story for entertainment though, but more a history - it just made me think a lot about Beowulf and how it's original tellings probably lacked such a strong Christian influence, but since the story was finally scribed down by a monk, a lot of that pagan backdrop is really downplayed and replaced/retold to fit a different grand narrative. Anyway, I digress.
I liked the ending and the return to Ann since she doesn't play a large role in the history (though I do like the reference her Hamon makes in regards to his own family history and how he hopes to keep these stories alive). The comparison between Ann and Hal's father staring into the fire made for a nice chilling last line, especially providing perspective on what Hal's absence did to his people. Overall, I leave this chapter feeling like he's undergone a huge amount of character development from Ch. 1 - as seen by his pausing to learn a thing or two, and not jump right into battle, and the care he takes to put his people first. Now that I'm all caught up, I can poke you to update this soon too! ;D thanks for the read!
| lookingwest chapter 10 . 7/19/2015
Opening - I liked the use of dialogue for the opening, it got right to the point and also did wonders for world building and showing how different the world is in comparison to when Hal last left it - already I could feel from the opening that things had changed. Oh! And your opening also establishes Hal's age too. I thought dialogue-wise you did good with the accents. I'm horrible at accents like that, so I commend you with keeping the convo going in such a convincing manner. Plus the rest of the chapter's dialogue as well. But it really shined in your opening :)
Ending - The last paragraph was a good summation of where Hal's at character-wise this chapter. He's very one-minded, not so much thinking about his past or even how he's come there. It seems like Aurora was unfortunately easily forgotten by him. But I like the determination in the ending dialogue, and for a last line, it does well to establish foreshadow and the next main plot line!
Character - Hal the Old Man! It doesn't seem to phase him much - I suppose it wouldn't since he probably expected the changes. But I was surprised, actually - I didn't realize that most of the destruction he was seeing was over such a large span of time. But then again, I think it fits and is very believable - it made me wonder "why didn't I think that, duh!" haha. He seems to be back to his one-dimensional self though... I remember him feeling this way in the opening of the novel - mostly in regards to how he kills that boy and doesn't think a whole lot of it. He does have a moment of pause where I think(?) he detests his actions, but he doesn't dwell on them. This probably goes hand in hand with his one-track personality - it seems to focus so intently on one thing a lot of the time, the rest goes by the wayside. That was true here with his opening actions.
Setting - I thought it was going to be really awkward that he followed the boy back to the village after just killing a boy - as in, I was wondering if there would be a wailing mother anywhere and was thinking "dude you just killed a child and you don't think anyone's going to be upset about that?" but again - seems like the world has been wrought so horribly these past generations that yep, nobody really cares. I doubt the kids even have parents after the characterization of the village here. Especially the intro of Ann and her father. I thought that was a very natural way to introduce more world building and mythology on Red Richard. It didn't feel forced at all for background info!
Overall a great chap - really honing in on that fairy tale tradition with Hal's character. I like that. Congrats on winning the WCC!
| D.L. Keys chapter 7 . 7/12/2015
So time is passing, and Hal can't really tell how fast, a bit like for Oisin in Tir Na nOg, only this is more epic and exciting.
I like the clever way you weave in Hal's dreams and visions, though I'd have liked to have heard more of his inner voice.
Wonderful storytelling - love it.
| D.L. Keys chapter 4 . 7/12/2015
An action-packed chapter, and you've described the motions really well. The movements flowed so I could imagine them all, and the pacing was good.
I liked getting a better glimpse at Hal's inner workings here, too.
| D.L. Keys chapter 3 . 7/12/2015
Chapters 2 & 3:
I liked how you described the Prince's journey and the encounter he made along the way.
Very fairytale-like: he is warned, and he knows of the dangers that a wait him, and still he feels compelled to continue on his quest.
The wise woman you have living on the outskirts of the world is an interesting character. She can help him with her knowledge of the dragon, and she is also the temptation that lies along the way of our hero, a forbidden attraction that might keep him tied up too long, perhaps.
One small thing I might note: If I was working on this, I'd make some changes to the part where Hal is lying in the hidey hole as the dragon fire engulfs the world above - I'd love to have read some of the panic he would have felt at the heat, rather than the part where you describe his skin feeling as though it would burst open. I think the heat would have made it very claustrophobic in that hole, and physical damage by heat makes it difficult to hold still - he would have to have been an exceptionally controlled person to endure that kind of thing, maybe have had an inner protection, an inner safe-place to go.
Overall, I enjoyed reading these two chapters very much.
| D.L. Keys chapter 1 . 7/9/2015
Loved the writing here, very interesting beginning that pulled me into the story fairly quickly. Your descriptions are well-balanced, and the dialogues are comprehensively delivered.
| lookingwest chapter 9 . 7/6/2015
I was not surprised at all to see that Hal has chosen plot-wise to stay behind and return to the world of mortals! I was a little surprised that Aurora was so relaxed about letting him go - I mean, she was visibly upset and I liked the mention of the mist around her and the crying - especially her like "We feel sorrow" - it was really sad! But I think her reaction of letting him go and even claiming that plot-wise he was never actually trapped or forced to stay says a lot about their relationship, in a way. I mean, at the beginning of this story (it's kind of actually similar to how I feel about Clay and Stella!) I was thinking that they were doomed for each other, in a way, and that Aurora would totally take advantage of him and ruin his life - likewise, because Hal was very immature, if I recall, at the start of this story. BUT as it turns out, I think they both genuinely love each other, especially Aurora, and I do buy at this point that she wouldn't want to totally force him to do something. Somehow, at the end of all this, they ended up in a pretty healthy relationship considering the uh, goddess-ness and immortal realm and Kingdom bits, heh. I think I sort of mentioned that last chapter too, but it was especially evident here when they actually have the conversation about Hal leaving for good.
Which, uh, plot-wise (I hope they don't leave each other for good - there was PERHAPS a foreshadow of a happy ending towards the end there when he asks if he will ever be able to return. I don't it will be that simple. But we shall see if it ever pans out. For now, the romance between them feels authentic, for sure.)
I liked the way that their first conversation on the subject ended up escalating into sexy time, haha. It perhaps felt a little repetitious to have the same thing happen again in the next part, though obviously have a different kind of outcome to it, but that's perhaps my only point of tension with this chapter and I don't have any alternatives. The sexy time, I feel, is a bit necessary because that's also one of the last times they'll be together (it's actually interesting Aurora didn't try to have a "Last Night Party Bash with Hal" night, heh). But overall, I liked how their conversations both times led into those two different moments where Aurora is trying for the immortal life of her to get Hal to see how lucky he is right here with her in her world. I think... I don't know - there's this interesting implication that if he would've just whined / demanded enough he would've gotten to go on the chariot with Aurora in earlier parts of their time together. I don't know if that would've actually led to any different of an outcome here (if he had a bit more freedom and autonomy like she does world-wise), but I'm choosing to see it less supernatural, and more - Aurora did not want him to come because he would literally see his kingdom in ruins and want to go back like he does here. That explains maybe the ease in which she bends / allows him to come with her this time when he demands it. Or maybe from a supernatural angle, once he gets on the chariot, there's no getting off unless he's back in the mortal realm? Either way, I think there are enough explanations to explore!
Setting-wise, per usual I enjoyed seeing Aurora toy and play with her worlds, especially the way she can move both her and Hal around with such various ease. I liked in the second conversation they're having, how she tries to show him the mountains and trees, etc. and how you describe the grandeur of all of it. It does take on a magical and mystical quality so well. I also liked the inclusion / mention again of the Lord of the Dead and how he's toying with Hal in a way, too. It makes me worry for Hal if that is indeed the real enemy here besides the dragon. There are a lot of interested parties, heh.
Let's see - the ending was very powerful regarding imagery and the feelings of Hal. I kinda had to cringe a little at the description of "brain on fire" - yikes! But I liked the incorporation of sound and touch and how those both come together to create a punchy and scary ending. The attention to noise and what Hal hears - the noise turning "sharp and shrill" is a great word choice to compliment the "eye sockets" and "filling his skull" of the whiteness. If I knew he didn't stay immortal (since Aurora explains that he still gets to earlier) I have to wonder if maybe his immortal "glow" heh, is what's being taken away here, leaving only the ability to withstand the ages as the only thing he has with him as a mortal. I wonder also if this means he can't die - like even if he's stabbed or something, he'll still keep on truckin' - which I suppose would be a good perk to trying to turn your Kingdom around, but I could also see that pissing of the Lord of the Dead. Or maybe I'm ascribing too much personality to that figure and Dead Lord really doesn't care about anything but his dead, heh.
Anyway, thanks for the read mb!