|Reviews for The Queen of the Dawn|
| lookingwest chapter 8 . 19h
WELL HAL. This is what happens! This is what happens when you abandon your kingdom even though your Dad says not to! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS, HAL. I mean, his Dad did tell him not to go, right? Haha. And then he went. And then this all happened. All's I can say is - oh my goodness, I really really hope that this sort of Mega Regret does not actually happen with Stella over in Loreley Island. I mean, he also does live on an island. So hopefully Anthony doesn't turn into a dragon and destroy it all. Anywayyyyyy. So the irony is strong with this one regarding the dragon at the ending. That was pretty horrifying. I thought you worked wonders leading up to that in the last scene. Great ending punch.
When Hal speaks with Aurora in the opening scene, I really liked their conversation and how you had Aurora speaking in multiple voices. I know you've used those details previously, but I just really appreciate how you keep weaving them in. Also, basically everything she says is really cool and fantastical, lol. Have you ever read the Elric Saga? This just reminds me of the first book. You might actually like it if you could find it! There's just a lot of super rich imagery that really works here. Like "the forever tower" - like omg, you don't even need to go into super detail, that just *sounds cool* ya know? But I liked the details about it later, with the thrones of gold that are actually made up of light. That's awesome. In Elric, there's a throne carved out of a single massive ruby. See? Just cool fantasy stuff, exactly how I like my fantasy.
So anyway, the scene with Aurora and Hal talking was probably my favorite, just because I really enjoy the world building, especially the details about the Underworld king. That's an interesting plot point, especially because his manipulation also proves to be true. If only Hal was like "well this is my own fault, I'm sure it will work itself out without me" haha - that would make the Underworld dude annoyed. Hal's kinda gotta watch himself on all accounts, you know? I'm sure he'll want to plot-wise do something about this plague on his people - but will it be from a god-like stance, or will he try to go against Aurora? That would suck. I don't think she'd like that very much. Really oddly enough, I kind of like Aurora? Like I know if Hal betrayed her she'd probably be like, "well, there's another "love of my life" gone again, just another notch on my girdle" BUT for some reason I still think it's eyeroll worthy if Hal does betray their love just to go save his people because I almost guarantee that decades later on his death bed he'd be all, "Ohh if ONLY I could return to that magical place where I was immortal. Holding this squirming baby just isn't the same as a goddess' lovely breasts." and all his grandchildren will be like, "Ew grandpa's getting delusional again." AHEM. Just saying.
Okay. Where even am I in this review? Totally all over, haha. OH. Setting. I talked a bit about that, yeah, but I liked the details about the earth being round. Look, Hal, she's even giving you geography lessons. But okay I'm not sure advocating that all his people die in horrible ways either (your descriptions were spot on sad / gruesome about that) BUT I don't know, I just hope / strive for as a reader, a happy ending where he can have both worlds, haha. That doesn't happen much in fairy tales / fantasy, drats. The effect of spinning through the world was really cool. I liked all the little details about the other parts of countries and people - and hey, off topic from that, but even about the mythology of how a dragon's immortality. It's a really nice explanation for why we're sort of in the fantastical world we're in, but still in "ours" at the same time - it's just that everyone's become a story. WHOA, so meta! Haha.
Enjoyed this chapter! The plot thickens! I can't wait to see what it has in store for Hal and Aurora's relationship, though.
| lookingwest chapter 7 . 5/24
Ya know, I was kinda skeptical of this opening while I was reading this chapter - and not the very first opening part, but the second part where the chapter I feel, kicks off the most. When we go into this "tell" mode with Hal and him sleeping with his Queen etc. etc. and the death of his father - I was willing to go along with it (wondering if it was some kind of dream, either way), but it did feel like the "tell" aspect of it drug on a little too long for me? The thing is though, I'm not quite sure how to suggest ever alleviating that, because by the mid-point, then it all *is* revealed to be a dream. It's a unique technique though, and I do like the strange quality of it really feeling like it lasts more than just a moment of sleep, and I think by the end here, I feel won over looking at these three chapters as a whole. It works, and the technique itself after the reveal of the dream make it worthwhile.
I will note though - I did have to read the paragraph where he "awakens" after reading the tapestries over again because I wasn't 100% sure that he was really "waking up" with the reference to the wings, etc. But by the next paragraph when he starts speaking to Aurora, I knew what had happened and been revealed. Again, not sure if you could add anything else really into it, but if I'm the only reviewer who had any trouble, eh, I wouldn't bother, haha.
Things really started to straighten out here plot-wise again, I was wondering what might be in store for Hal after the last chapter, but I like that there's the feature of his unrest that's brought up while he's in Aurora's realm. It harkens back to Ch. 5 again where she told him she'd give him anything and he would never want - but clearly not being able to leave is gong to be the one thing that he really wants. Poor Hal, I doubt there's really a loophole there like it looks like, but I'm very intrigued to see how he might handle this - if he'll go behind Aurora's back (attempt) or if he'll start arguing with her about wanting to go. The device of the spirits of the Green Isle sending his future son to him was very spooky and uncanny. I liked that moment - especially the detail that he had no eyes.
One of my favorite moments character-wise in this chapter was when Hal looked at himself in the mirror, and how at first the mirror was split apart. There was some wonderful imagery regarding writing that followed, but I think it also becomes a great moment for the reader to see how Hal has visually changed due to his journey, even if a lot of it has to do with his transformation into an immortal being. His reliance going back on hunting to try to pass the time was also a nice facet of his continued characterization, and I liked the idea that it just isn't enough because of the way the animals act. The changing landscape was described wonderfully too.
I loved the imagery of Aurora riding off on her chariot, etc. and Hal's paragraph about how he first appreciates the beauty but then starts to envy her freedom. That was such a rich a paragraph for both characters. I really commend though that Hal is making an effort here - but I think his future son appearing was the last straw. I have to say, he feels much more likable this round than in the first few chapters, if I remember correctly. Thanks for the read! (3/3)
| lookingwest chapter 6 . 5/24
Cool, cool, part 6! Okay so, I wanted to start this one out talking about the opening. Oh - I think the reason I felt like I was missing something last chapter is that I misunderstood the sibyl and Tesana as two separate characters - but that was cleared up for me in the beginning here, because he catches Aurora between phases and the wording is clearer. I suppose maybe my advice would be to just call Tesana always by her name after she's introduced, and never use her title "the sibyl" after he learns her name, but this could also just have to do with my abilities reading on FP, and again, the gaps. I'm glad I got it straightened out though (I believe). For a "waking-up" opening, this was again, chuck full of imagery, and like I mentioned already, I liked the imagery of when he takes off her blindfold again.
This chapter was the most surreal of the three that I read today - I almost feel like there was some strange setting blending going on here, where they sort of transcend the cavern at some point and there's perhaps the shift into her realm? I didn't feel like the settings were completely concrete, but that adds to the surrealism which I really did like here. The bit with the cottage though, like when he has to search for her and finds her so quickly - all that I believe was happening having shifted from the cavern into a new more magical space? I enjoyed the fluidity of place here throughout.
Since I know where we end up in Ch. 7 - looking at this right now, I'm wondering what the significance of the dragon again is... I mean, when I was reading it came across as very fleeting for Aurora, like she'd done this sort of thing before to many men (and perhaps that's true as well, though I do feel by the next chap things are a bit genuine), but since it doesn't come up again and Hal has left this space behind by the next chapter, I just wonder if it was only here just to create a bit of tension OR if the dragon fire is essential to sort of build Hal into the "god" that he becomes. I like thinking the latter. I do like the line about dragons not dying only once though.
Well, I gotta talk about the sex scene, heh. I liked it a lot. I thought you did a great job, like another reviewer mentioned, making it pretty hot but actually referencing little direct sexual moments, like anatomy. It was poetic but also strange (in a good way) - due to the dichotomy between desire and violence, I think. The imagery gets very forceful. Especially when Hal is overcome and basically is shouting "I have to have you" at her - in that sense it also feels very mystical or that there's this higher magical power that's also drawing out his desire. Which makes me wonder what's up with the summary / other facet of this story where he's struck with a desire he can't get rid of - is that the desire to have her? I can't quite remember Ch. 1. BUT anyway, and then the violence of the line "slew her" as well as a euphemism for penetration. I also liked the imagery / attention paid to the hip movement. Overall, intriguing and well done once again! Though others lamented plot here, I think characterizing both of them / their relationship is an essential part of Hal's story before moving forward. (2/3)
| lookingwest chapter 5 . 5/24
Hello, hello! I did something weird this time with Depth multi and I actually read all 3 chapters in a row without stopping to review each time. So if I start to blend the chaps together or talk about one and then the other, I apologize. I'll try to keep everything straight and tidy - the only downfall is I know what happens afterwards for Ch. 5 and 6 haha. Anyway, just thought I'd mention.
So it's been such a long weird time for me reading this story from when I first started - and I'm trying to get things straight but I just want to make sure because I couldn't even figure it out by reading other reviewers' reviews of this chap (which can sometimes help, but not clearly in this case). So the sibyl, Tesana, and the Queen of the Dawn have turned out in this chapter to be all the same person, right? But the sybil and Tesana are just different facets of the goddess? If I'm wrong, just let me know. The next two chaps didn't really clear up that question either, but I at least got for sure that Tesana was the Queen, just a different part of her - I'm guessing that's why she speak in "we" and "us" because she sort of has multiple incarnations? If so, I like that characterization.
So plot-wise because of the above reveal, I felt like this chapter really got somewhere with progression on Hal finding the Queen, which was kind of his first task, right? I thought it might take a bit longer than it did but it was cool to see it come above mid-novel, it makes me wonder what the rest might be about, though having read Ch. 7 I'm guessing it will have to do with Hal trying to leave her. I feel like overall - while when I was first reading, the Queen felt a little shady in this chapter promising love and immortality, in the end I think she really does desire Hal and love him, though it's kind of like one of those fairy tale deals where if he goes out of bound from what she says, he could end up breaking both their hearts. But yeah, I liked the intensity of her offer and when reading I was very exciting to see that he does eat the dragon heart at the end!
Well, I'm going to sound like a broken record by the time I get to reviewing Ch. 7, but of course, your writing was very well done this chapter. Though there was a lot of dialogue, the writing managed to weave in a lot of poetics even with that - like towards the ending when Aurora (that's the Queen's name right? Is that sort of the *true incarnation* of her, and then Tesana and the sibyl are different aspects?) when she really selling Hal on the idea of immortality and joining her in her realm. I think what I find most interesting too, is when she tells him that he will "want for nothing and your greatest desires shall be fulfilled!" because as we learn by Ch. 7 - that isn't so at all. In this sense, it makes me wonder if she is blatantly lying, OR if she just has a misunderstanding of what he would want and that she actually can't fulfill it, much like gods usual underestimate or misunderstand mortals and humans in things like greek myth, etc.
Otherwise, writing-wise, that last paragraph was so rich. I know I'm talking about the ending a lot, but that's what really swept me up here, I think. That and when the blindfold of Aurora is taken off and Hal describes her eyes as stars that "sear his sight" and the tresses of her hair that seem like they're on fire. That really correlates here with the last paragraph - I like the imager with all that "fire" - words like "boil" and "melt" - it all fits into that theme rather nicely. Great way to end, with some excellent writing. (1/3)
| 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.