Reviews for The Queen of the Dawn
Saffron123 chapter 6 . 18h ago
So I read the rest before doing this critique. You said you wanted me to look closely at themes, characters, and plot.

SYMBOLISM:

I will also focus on symbolism because this story seems filled with it and its feels intricate to the other three elements. This chapter opens with fire dying and the end of Hal's pain. His pain of the flesh that is. He was always more focused on that than the pain of the soul.

His immortality ends mortal pain, but the wounds in his soul are only beginning. He first becomes aware of the presence of his gilded cage when his clothes feel constricting around him. There is a feel that he is being held back in some way. Moments later those clothes get torn off.

CHARACTERS:

After Hal gets what he wants (at least for this moment in the story) his character feels less interesting to me. Somehow the most intriguing element of him, his ambition to get something, is lost.

The Queen of Aurora never really felt like a character to me because I've never known what she truly wanted. Later in the story she says she didn't know love. So I suppose when she tasted desire with Hal she realized she wanted it, but somehow I just didn't feel her need. If this is a newly discovered thing, I felt she should something more.

PLOT:

Hmm... it seems like the story is about a young prince who desired the sun (Aurora) and fought a dragon to gain immortality so he could have her only to learn that he really wanted to rule his kingdom after all.

This seems to be mid-section of the story where he has achieved his first goal in the story: find aurora.

THEMES:

There seems to be many, but they don't seem to strongly enhance each other. I can't figure out the main theme. It seems to be almost "Be Careful what you wish for". Hal wanted Aurora, but as we see later getting her turns out not to be what he only wanted. However, he has to give something up to get another thing he wants. Hal never seems to want what he has.

He didn't seem to want his kingdom when he couldn't have Aurora. When he could have Aurora, he wanted his kingdom more. I feel like if he gets his kingdom he'll go back to wanting Aurora more. He's a tragic man who can never be happy with what he has.

Perhaps that could be the other theme of this story: be happy with what you have while you have it.

I'll work on more of the story. Please pm if you wanted me to examine other elements. I hope this is more of what you wanted. :)
cybersheep chapter 4 . 4/15
Hi! So sorry it’s taken me so long to get to this – I’m trying to find somewhere to live, so it’s like stress central *sigh*. BUT. Hello!

‘woolly smoke’ – I think this was one of my favourite descriptions in this chapter – just the adjective seems so original, but also so perfect :).

I liked all the dragon stuff – such a big dramatic scene. Also, the way that Hal’s focus has shifted quite a bit away from Aurora in this chapter was pretty cool (well, ish… he’s still thinking of her quite a bit :p). When he used that golden feather in his arrow, I was like wahhh, what if you never get it back? But I guess that was never a concern – I mean, if he failed in killing the dragon, he’d’ve probably ended up dead anyway, right?

I like how quickly he seems to have fallen for Tesana – how he goes off on this big imaginary conversation - ‘She is blind, but she can see things no others can’. It’s an interesting character trait – the guy is hella impulsive, but in a pseudo-romantic way. I like too that he automatically assumes that Tesana is blind, and this is because of the dragon. He seems a little disconnected from the world – a little like he’s just living out his own story, like the prince on his walls when he was a kid.

‘Hal no longer cared if he saw the Queen or her palace ever again’ – HAL. Aurora is going to have FEELINGS when she hears this. Jk. But seriously, I thought this was very clever.

I’m not sure this is really crit or not, but I wasn’t really aware that Tesana had died until Hal things back about it. If she’s definitely dead, then maybe that could be made a little clearer. But then, as I’ve said, Hal seems to like assuming things, and writing his own stories in his head, so maybe a normal person (sorry Hal) observing what Hal had (i.e. the destruction of Tesana’s house) would also be a little unsure of whether she’d died.

And hmm, I wonder if this dragon actually has something to do with Aurora. It is gold, after all. And and and Hal was thinking of OTHER WOMEN. But I could be being UBER paranoid :P
Saffron123 chapter 5 . 4/15
Hmm... one thing I'm noticing and I think this is what bothers me about the tone and style of this: it does settle on one.

It's beautiful, but it alternates between a modern tone and then stays at a more lyrical one and then switches to something else. I'm not saying making it have a Beowulf rhythm or even a Shakespeare-like one, but it definitely needs a rhythm. A beat as this being told in a very detached style like this is a legend being passed down to others. And yet it jumps out of that so often that it makes it difficult to settle into the story.

I feel that going for such a tone can be wonderful and work gorgeously, but only if you go in all the way. And that means really focusing on the beat of this as well as telling the story.

It might help to pick the perspective very concretely that you wish to tell this from. Is it third person omniscient or very intimate third person (where we can see the characters thoughts) or is it the most difficult: the totally detached third person? Is this almost being recited like a legend of old?

For this kind of story I feel tone and style are crucial to pulling it off. The plot is almost second to the way its told. And I applaud you for taking on that kind of challenge.

I was confused if Tesana was the Queen of Dawn herself or merely a servant of her. Also if this is like a legend being told or passed down the themes should be stronger and more present.

In a way there should be lessons made more poignant (without being heavy-handed). For example, that he would knowingly choose what he desired over the interests of his kingdom. He knows that as the sole heir, without him there will be civil war, and yet he casts that easily aside for what he WANTS.

The storyteller (even if its third person narrative) should be putting his/ her own perspective in that. Coloring the narrative with whether they regard that as noble or selfish.

And there should be more symbolism behind him eating the dragon's heart. He is consuming a heart like a savage to become immortal. He shouldn't just eat the heart, he should tear into and taste the hot blood. There should be almost a symbolism of lost mortality and innocence.

That as he's set on fire and his humanity stripped off, there is a mourning and a fear for what he's done. Or something. These are really just some suggestions, but the heart-eating is a big crux in the story and it needs to come off much stronger to really make this shine.
Saffron123 chapter 4 . 4/14
"Moonbeams filtered through the dissolving dust" What follows is more great imagery, but one thing I'm noticing is a lot of repetition in sentence structure. It's generally front-loaded, medium-length sentences. I feel like your very elegant writing style could really sparkle if you changed it up a little with more sentence variety.

For example:

"A powerful gust raked Hal's hair and chilled his cheeks. He heard shearing sounds, like broad sails ripping in a torrential squall. 'Dragon wings,' he murmured, sliding his arm into the grip of his shield."

That's good. But why it's also the same sentence type repeated all four sentences. Also why is his reaction separated from the events. For an action scene, the two things should be fused in my opinion.

And would he feel the wind before hearing the sound? Is the wind being caused by the dragons' wings? If that's the case, he should hear the sound first and then feel the wind.

What about using "when", "after", and "as" to create more back-loaded and parallel sentence structures. Here's just an example using your sentence above:

"Then, he heard shearing sound (is a comma needed?) like... As he slid his arm into the grip of his shield, he murmured, 'Dragon wings,' and a powerful gust raked Hal's hair and chilled his cheeks."

I don't know if that's works better, but I think the use of "as" or "when" or "While" could spice up your already great writing style.

What do you think?
Saffron123 chapter 3 . 4/13
Of the chapters I've read so far this was the most gripping and intriguing. I was riveted to this. I like scenes about planning an attack. Whether it's for a bank heist or taking down a dragon, I think that's interesting. I also like a hero that puts some thought into how to fight and doesn't just blindly run at the dragon and hopes things work out for the best.

In too many fantasy stories the hero rushes in blindly and is saved by a Deus Ex Machina. Wow, what was that magic crystal doing there? Lucky me. And BAM! The dragon is defeated. I dislike that.

But this story features a hero that is getting progressively more interesting. I also like how ambitious Hal is. He's not the typical protagonists (aka the farm boy who just wants to farm but the old wizard says *sigh* that he has to save the world. But reaaaallly doesn't want to.) Hal is refreshing as he WANTS to achieve his dreams and is willing to do what it takes to get it. He's not being dragged around by some wizard. He's actively choosing his destiny. I appreciate that a lot.
Saffron123 chapter 2 . 4/13
Well, Prince Hal's character gets a lot more depth in this installment. He starts to become very interesting and his quest to find the Golden Queen is intriguing. It almost sounds like a lust-fueled quest though, but it gives him drive.

I like where this is going with a dragon battle and all.

As always the dialogue is like that of most epic poems. I like your style and your prose. Please keep up the good work.
Saffron123 chapter 1 . 4/13
First off, wow. This was some rich and elegant prose. It reads like a fairytale of the ancient days.

OPENING:

This reads like high fantasy written in the spirit of Beowulf or the Lord of the Rings. It tells the tale of a prince Hal, the sole heir to the Green Isles Kingdom. It works decently as an opening. It doesn't give away enough of where this going though for me to decide yet if I'm hooked.

DIALOGUE:

The dialogue is lyrical and reads like something from a fairytale. It's not very natural to the characters. It rarely sounds like its the characters speaking, but that is common in epic tales. I suppose it's a matter of choice. However, Prince Hal's dialogue never sounds like a person talking as much as saying what he needs to in order to progress the plot.

I don't get any sense of Hal from his dialogue, except for a couple lines with his father when he speaks of what he wants.

VOICE:

This has a rich and dynamic voice. I feel like a bard is reciting an epic poem to me and I like it.

DESCRIPTION:

This excels in vivid description. I could picture things well and this story was painted with gorgeous imagery. Kudos!

CHARACTERS:

Just like the dialogue the characters don't stand out. Hal's father had the most depth, but even that wasn't much. The Queen of the Dawn felt like a caricature. But then she is a higher being so perhaps that fits. Hal though is completely lacking in any complexity. Hopefully he'll develop better as this unfolds.

PACE:

Not bad. Not great, but not bad. It kept me interested. And I definitely will read the next chapter.

BOTTOMLINE:

The writing is top notch and great. The dialogue and characterization need the most work. But that can be tricky when writing a fairytale. Maybe just a few tweeks that give enough (we need a little) to understand the characters.
Echo Dancer chapter 10 . 4/13
Apologies for taking so long to read C10. Such a destitute and sorrowful world Hal has returned to. He was warned time had passed and things not as they were, but facing the atrocities that now rule his former land would be exceedingly difficult. As always, your imagery paints vivid pictures in my mind...images jolting in their contrast to Hal's life with Aurora and surrounded by beauty.

Wondering about Hal's age and what he looks like. How did the world become such a terrible place? What happened to his father? Who is the Lord of Truth? Looking forward to learning answers. Hoping Hal can help these people - someone has to. And then can he indeed return to his beloved with a untroubled conscience?
CardMaster123 chapter 2 . 4/11
The Review Game: (chapter 1- I think this is my fourth review for this?!)
This story is fantastic! I love all of the characters, especially the prince! He is so believable, and I really enjoyed the moments on his childhood. The way the plot changes with the father-son argument along the feather is enticing and enjoyable, because it adds flavor and depth to the story; it makes it feel real. I didn't really dislike much, save for the fact that the story speeds up a tiny bit too quickly. Try adding in a part where the story goes on and adds some foreshadowing. Great job!
cybersheep chapter 3 . 4/11
So…I don’t really know how review trades work :p. If you want me to avoid like RG reviews for this (and just like stick to trades?) just shoot me a pm. But I guess so long as I also return reviews and stuff, it should all be gravy, right? But yeah. I’m an idiot. I’m also overthinking everything. Jeez.

Soooo chapter three!

Your first line was fantastic – I loved the horrible image of him bursting open from the heat. Like a sausage. Eek! But it was so gross and vivid and lovely, and totally conveyed how bloody abnormally hot it must be to make him thing such strange, lovely things. And eeek the ceramic cracking too – it’s such a strong picture.

‘The song will be sweeter when it slashes the beast’s throat’ – haha, real romantic, Hal.

I love all the planning on how to kill the dragon, and that story about that heroic little kid. Tesana’s concern over the dragon’s evil spreading makes me all edgy, because this seems like one tricksy beastie, who’s a little hard to kill. Loving the contrast between Tesana’s thought on the dragon killing and Hal’s (nicely emphasised with his question at the end there) – like Tesana wants to stop the destruction, while Hal just wants to live forever to catch himself an Aurora :p. It’s an odd sort of take on a heroic dragon slaying (Hal’s un-heroic motivation), and I really like it :D.

Aww, what a lovely magical world you have. I think this is the only story of this style I’ve really read on FP, so it’s so sparkly and different :D
Deedee Elle chapter 4 . 4/11
Something I haven't mentioned so far is that I really like your use of Roman numerals for chapters. It is only a small detail but adds to the feel of this being an older story than it is.

I like Hal's internal monologue as he's waiting for the dragon to arrive. I had to smile at his staring to feel he loved her after only knowing her for one night. It's such a male reaction to fall into love so quickly then you contrasted it nicely with his pragmatic reasons for marrying her. I found this particularly interesting because it implies that Aurora's curse isn't as strong as she thought. It sets up his decision at the end cleverly and I love how even though Aurora's palace is almost within his reach Hal chooses to avenge Tesana instead (anoher indication of the weakness of the curse). I'm still hoping that as we didn't actually see her death she's safe in the cellar and survived.

Your description of the battle is so clear but remains very fast paced, I think the lack of dialogue helps with that. I also thought your use of colour in the chapter was very effective, especially the description of the dawn.

Just a couple of notes:

I'd consider the repetition of 'or' when he's comparing Tesana to other people because to me the rhythm felt wrong.

Leviathan is a word usually associated with sea monsters so I'm not sure it is appropriate for a dragon being a creature of fire (unless I missed something and it did come from the sea). Behemoth, which you use later is a much more effective choice.

Also, one thing that jumped out at me was your use of the word 'stored' for Hal's sword as more usually it would be 'sheathed' so I wondered where he had put it.

'Concept' seems a very formal word to use for the circumstances. Maybe thought or idea might be a simpler choice?
CardMaster123 chapter 1 . 4/10
This is amazing! I really like the way in the first chapter where you describe the prince's life and the history isn't too shabby, either! I'm not one to hate upon stories like this, this is really good! It feels like a mixture of some Lord of the Rings and Frozen altogether! I really liked the prince's argument with his father. You made it seem so real, even though this is a story. Great job!
Deedee Elle chapter 3 . 4/10
The opening of this is really good with lots of lovely imagery such as the sweat on Hal's lip and brow and the ceramic jars and herbs hissing and cracking. you really manage to capture the claustrophobia of the situation. The fire licking the rafters is a striking image of flames too. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the description of his flesh swelling and skin shrinking as you make it sound like that is literally happening, which as far as I know it doesn't so maybe you could change it to Hal picturing that being what it feels like.

Hal is definitely growing as a character with each chapter. Thanking Tesana for her help shows he has come a long way from the arrogant boy in the first chapter. I like how he doesn't feel he can tough her though is obviously attracted to her from the mentions of her scent and the clothes and so on.
The fact that he decides to stay and help shows he is not so obsessed with Aurora that he cannot see there are other important things, in fact I thought the fact that he only briefly thought of her before going back in search of the sibyl was interesting. When I started reading this I assumed he would eventually find her and break the curse but now I'm wondering if the journey itself is going to be the means. Already you're creating a real sense of an ongoing quest with adventures along the way before he finally reaches his destination and destiny.

There was nothing in terms of grammar or structure I picked up on as being odd. Great chapter again.
Deedee Elle chapter 2 . 4/6
I really like your opening paragraph, with the switch from what started off as quite erotic turning to something altogether more sinister by the end of the scene. I wonder if using Aurora's name would be better later on and reminding the reader who she is by defining her as Queen of the Dawn might be clearer. There's a great load of alliteration which was fun to read.

I'd start a new line with 'By evening he was able to walk' as it signals a change in time. Talking of time, you cover what feels like huge amounts in this chapter in a couple of sentences and I'd have liked to get a sense of how the journey is affecting Hal.

The sentence that starts 'Most of his companions...' seemed slightly clunky, though I can't exactly put my finger on why. Maybe you could shift the emphasis onto the old woman being the only who who can communicate with him rather than the 'extras' not being able to.

I liked the scene with the old woman as Hal seemed less arrogant than he had in the previous chapter when talking to someone of a lower status (the peasant man) and it shows that he is becoming slightly less arrogant.

I know what a sibyl is but you could make it slightly clearer for readers who might not. I thought she was a great character. I loved the idea of her gathering dragon scales and reassuring Hal about his nakedness. Him being concerned with how he smelled was a nice touch too, and noticing that the woman was younger than expected shows he isn't completely wrapped up in Aurora's influence.

With your last line, I'd consider reversing the structure so that 'The dragon comes..." is at the end, which sounds more ominious than finishing on a descriptive tag. It's a good hook though and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Ventracere chapter 6 . 4/6
I think this chapter was a little detached. Maybe that was the purpose of the scenes, but as you opened with the introduction of the Queen of Dawn taking the form of the Sibyl, it felt like there was little emotion exchanged between the two. However, the first half of Hal and the Queen of Dawn coming together felt like reading a nightmarish-dream so I think that may have contributed to the detachedness - in a good way.

Linking to that, I think is also the lack of emotion that is actually present in the scenes. "Love" feels cursory here, there isn't any real - I feel like I'm going way off, so I apologize - it's more said in these scenes than felt. The mating between the two, although, yes is censored, is not exactly strong either. In this case, I feel like perhaps this is going more along the lines of instinct, that Hal is doing these things because he has taken the power of the Dragon from it's heart, not in his right mind.

Descriptions. 0_0 The way you describe the sibyl's transformation and her entire entity is amazing. It gives her an aura of the mystical, and when I read it, the details are 1. enchanting 2. extremely easy to picture. I have to say my favorite lines have to be her golden irises that Hal was able to see behind the blindfold and the second to last tiny paragraph "her streaming hair turned fiery red and gold."
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