Reviews for A Serpent's Greed
Myst Marshall chapter 1 . 1/17/2016
Hi. Coming over from RG.

Firstly, your commas need to go inside the quotation marks. Also, I saw a few periods that were outside quotation marks as well. All punctuation should be inside the quotation marks. Also all numbers under one hundred should be spelled out. :)

Good job conveying the desert scene. I can clearly imagine being in the desert under the hot sun and high temperature. The description of that was very relatable.

Your dialogue is very intriguing. It seems to me that they are speaking in more of an older style of speaking. Nicely done with keeping the speaking style consistent with all characters.

The ending seemed kind of open ended to where I would expect it is a multi chapter story. I would suggest writing a bit more so it has some kind of closure to it.

Good luck with WCC! Best wishes.

Ventracere chapter 1 . 1/16/2016
First off, good luck at the WCC. Anywho, onward!
So I agree with a couple of the reviewers. The piece reads a bit like it's a prologue - because it doesn't seem complete. You end at a very open place. If Latava is so old, isn't Arivi going to be old as well? Won't he have passed the key onto his successor? These questions we don't know the answer to. I'd be curious if you went on and continued writing this piece.

Another thing, you tend to tell instead of show us at a couple places. For example, when you're talking about Latava's greedy eyes. You're telling us that he's greedy - show us how. Tell us about what he used to do in the past, what makes him greedy. Give us a little more backstory to back up his greed. We know about his conquest, but how does that show up on his face? Does he lick his lips at the mention of money? You mentioned a lot of eyes in this chapter - thought you might want to be aware of that.

I did enjoy the imagery and the description though. I liked the part about the Djinn. We've seemed to see a lot of them in books, but they never seem to make an impression on me. But this one, he was easy to picture with his gleaming red eyes and when he brought forth the electricity. It was the "boom" of the piece, which was a nice change of that steady pace before.

Thanks for the read!
Solemn Coyote chapter 1 . 1/16/2016
-Having numerical numbers in the first line instead of written ones reads a little oddly. Usually the rule is to write out anything under three digits.

-Good costuming. Good sense of the aesthetics of the setting. I like arabian styled fantasy and don't think there's nearly enough of it in print, so it's nice to see other writers stepping away from quasi-europe.

-Your narrative voice is very folkloric and your characters are very clear and simple. This isn't a bad thing, but the end of the story feels like you're looking to develop a longer plotline, and for that you really might want a little more complexity. Csal seems like he could be an interesting protagonist if he gets to have some depth to him and a sense of his own agency. I'd definitely like to read more.
Ckh chapter 1 . 1/15/2016
Yo! Returning review here.

The piece seens unfitting as a contest entry, or even to be considered a one-shot. It appears to be a prologue of sorts, though the ending segment disrupted my reading experience albeit.

There is potential to be had for a mythos story here, the kind that repeatedly explores the lore of the world within the plot, and that is engaging enough to make the readers want to discover more.

The writing is sufficient to pull off such a story, and you may want to mix locations from time to time (if you want to follow through), allowing for more diversity in world.

Like I said before, the ending seems quite redundant really, and it would be better as a standalone chapter, with more voice added on to it to make it stronger.

Overall, the story is a hard one to judge based on its unfittingness as an entry and a tad of redundacy. Nevertheless, good try for a first attempt. All the Best!

m. b. whitlock chapter 1 . 1/12/2016
RG EF #8,160

“Arivi shuffled through the soft, warm sand, and in his exhausted state he was barely able to lift his feet.”

This is a really long, cumbersome sentence, especially for your opening line. I recommend you break it up.

This seems like a somewhat awkward way to tell your readers what Arivi’s brother’s title is:

“Saddling a camel, Arivi stocked his pack full of provisions and left at once for the Count of Amahset's castle.”

I had to reread the paragraph to understand that this count was the brother of the first character that you introduced, if I’m right.

“It was at this *very* moment that Arivi crested the *shifting* sand dune that he had been climbing, and set *tired* eyes upon the *rocky* crags of Amahset.”

So many modifiers there! Just a suggestion, you don’t have to modify every noun. Being a bit verbose is a problem I have as well btw. Keep it lean is my advice. :)

Why say ‘what looked like’?:

“Two horsemen rode out towards Arivi from Amahset, bearing down with *what looked like* great speed from such a distance.”

I think the sentence above will work better if you cut out that unnecessary phrase.

“He had always been a kind-hearted sibling, ill-suited to the hard decisions one must make as a ruler.”

Okay, I am losing track here of whose pov you are telling this story from. Is the sentence above supposed to reflect Arivi’s perspective or Latava’s? I totally can’t tell. I think in your next draft you might want to try to be more consistent and stick with Arivi’s point of view throughout the piece, or put in a break and make it clear that you are switching to Latava’s pov.

Aside from *who* is being described as being “kind-hearted” and therefore ”ill-suited to…hard decisions”, I don’t think you are getting your message across that well using the adjective ‘kind’. I think a modifier like ‘sensitive’ or ‘delicate’ might work better. This is because you are trying to say Arivi (or Latana) *feels* too much to be a tough ruler, right? ‘Kind’ doesn’t really communicate that very strongly to your readers. Just a suggestion. :)

I like this description:

“Now, the sweet respite of a soft bed and cold stone walls pressed their dreams into the back of Arivi's head.”

The multiple sensory elements, temperature, touch, etc. are quite effective! :)

“Small tendrils of *electricity* and sparking magic floated through the air, and the clouds that swam across the Djinn's eyes slowly began to fade away.”

Since I think this story takes place in a pre-industrial, pre-electronic age, a word like ‘electricity’ seems anachronistic. It pulls me out of the world you are creating. Perhaps try a word like ‘lightning’ instead, something pre-industrial people would know.

I also have to say that the riddle was way too easy for Aviri to solve. It kinda destroys the suspense when the hero immediately knows the answer *and* he’s right… Where’s the conflict?

Also, you might want to make more refs to serpents (like use some 'snaky', 'slithery' verbs and stuff). Just the one line about Latava's grin doesn't resonate that much (only saying this because of your title).

I’m not a big fan of the ending. It doesn’t quite make sense and seems a bit abrupt.

You definitely have some cool ideas though! Good luck in the WCC!

Very best,

m. b. whitlock
Victoria Best chapter 1 . 1/12/2016

Let me start by saying, great world-building! It felt magical and unique. Good luck in the WCC! I think this will do well.

As well as the world you have created, I also enjoyed the character development. Latava, at first, seems to be a mellow, kind-hearted characters, the way you describe how he "always spoke with tenderness in his eyes." However, it is clear that greed gets the better of him, which we get subtle hints about very on, for example, "his grin seemed more hungry than happy." Just that one line alone shows us that Latava is either hiding a darker side, or that he started off as a good person, but now greed has twisted him.

You also captured the feel of the world through the narrative, with the language used and the structure of the sentences. Conveying worlds through language is an extremely difficult thing to do, so well done for that.

My favourite line has to be, "Only dark clouds marred the man's vision, swirling and churning in an endless storm." Great job with this and with the Djinn section as a whole - this whole part was excellent. I liked the riddle he told, the magical way he spoke and the overall rich, intense feel of the scene. Another line I loved was, "Small tendrils of electricity and magic floated through the air," and then the description when the Djinn disappears in smoke. So yeah, congrats with this.

"Choking on dust whilst being blinded by the grit." I liked this sentence, as it captured Arivi's struggle. However, you then finish it with "flying in his eye." I don't think the word "flying" carries much impact. Something more immediate, original and sharper might be better, for example, shooting, spearing, stabbing, hurtling, tiding, bristling, scraping, grating, etc.

I didn't like the sentence with the mention of the "blazing sun" and the "endless expanse." Both of these are quite cliche, generic descriptions. Plus, you use the word 'endless' later down also, so mix it up a little. This is an opportunity for some more great description.

"Latava's teeth shone white." Okay, I'm going to be that annoying, picky reader that everyone hates. The time of the piece would mean that, realistically, no one would have white teeth, and the word 'shone' implies they are clean. More realistically, with no teeth-brushing, the characters would either be toothless or with black teeth, unless there is a particular reason for how he has managed to have white, shiny teeth, in which case I apologise for misreading.

Finally, did you definitely intend to have Latava first come across as 'tender,' until the ending? Perhaps you could give more of a hint on how this drastic change has happened (greed, I'm assuming). Also, I think Arivi would have been a bit more horrified when he finds out his brother's plans; he seems quite passive and is surprisingly articulate for the situation that, for him, would have been completely world-shattering, you know?

Hope that helps! Otherwise, this was pretty solid. Good luck!
Whirlymerle chapter 1 . 1/12/2016
Scene: I think your scenes are very vivid; I could definitely picture everything. You describe everything carefully, and I think that’s useful in a fantasy setting.

Character: Latava’s character confused me a bit. The first time we see him Arivi notes that he has “tenderness in his eyes” and has “always been a kind-hearted sibling” yet we don’t ever see him be kindhearted or tender for the rest of the story. Of course, it’s possible for Arivi to misjudge him, but then we learn that Arivi left because of his brother’s thirst of war. So that seems a little contradictory.

Ending: I like the ending. It’s pretty chilling to see Latava as an old man but still keen to go to. The line “it would not be so” suggests that the assassin is successful. It’s a nice note to end on (or quite terrible, for Arivi).

Overall, I enjoyed this. I think your plot is quite tight and you have an interesting story with a few nice twists. What would make me enjoy this more if your characters were less unambiguously good or evil. They’re perfectly fine as they are, but I just think they would be more realistic if Arivi has some flaws and Latava some nice qualities.

[His brothers warlike behaviour] needs an apostrophe
Commas and periods should go inside quotes

Good luck in the WCC!
LincolnCrowe chapter 1 . 1/10/2016
Hi, this is the Rule 10 review.

I like the use of Djinn and middle-eastern mythology. It was an interesting setup. I'm curious if you're planning on writing more.

I didn't like the introduction so much. I don't think you need to tell the reader that the story is a story (especially when it seems doubtful that it is). It's kind of like you're over compensating.

I also think the issue of the brother being warlike should be more pronounced earlier. Perhaps also with a sense of love and brotherhood between the two of them so that the ultimate decision to kill Arivi has more dramatic weight.

Anyways, good job on the story. I think there is some good potential here.
Timbo Slice chapter 1 . 1/10/2016
Honestly I don't think you really need the introduction paragraph in the beginning. I get the sense of fantasy your trying to convey in this story but the writing itself strongly establishes the fable like aspects of this story so the passage in the beginning came across as a little unnecessary IMO.

I like the duality of the brothers, how Latava comes off as the greedy opportunist while Arivi is more reserved in his ambition. I thought Latava was more of a well rounded character though, his dubious character traits were more sharply defined through the chapter .

The djinn was a cool addition to the story, I liked how you drop subtle hints of his manipulative nature with the sly grin and cat metaphor.
Electrumquill chapter 1 . 1/10/2016
Opening: Openings to myths and stories of the supernatural are granted leniency for with regards to sounding like exposition. This opening does sound authentic, like it is preparing the reader for a story which has supernatural intervention. The idea that this is a folk tale is reinforced well with the reference to stories told round the camp fires. Before writing everyone did rely on an oral tradition.

Setting: The setting of a desert is naturally quite arid – get it? Anyway, you describe it as well as can be done, with details of the blazing sun, deadly sandstorms and shifting dunes. And the desert lies at the foot of a mountainous region? So this is like the geography in some parts of the United States?

Characters: Latava came across as the more strongly written of the two brothers. The glint of greed shining in his eyes when he is introduced is telling. Csal was evidently his kindred spirit. Just a tip though, I prefer “the golden idol” as a metaphor for avarice. Gorgeous description of the Djinn incidentally. It’s sad that humanity doesn’t come in bright colours. Good hint that he is a manipulator as he smiles slyly and speaks ambiguously about the treasure.

Ending: Good place to end it, since I do want to know what happens next. Will they succeed in assassination and heist? Just one little detail… you know what it is… Exactly how much gold is Csal going to receive and how is it measured in context?
Cheddar-Graham chapter 1 . 1/9/2016
RG Depth review

I felt that the introduction did not add very much to the story, overall. Yes, it told us clearly this is a fable, but then I could have worked that out from the writing itself. Considering that you had a word limit for this, perhaps it would have served better to use the allocation elsewhere?
Things start off a little slowly, and I think that’s because there’s a fair amount of recall/backstory. It highlights the eternal question of whether to jump right into the action (and only later present who’s involved) or to introduce the MCs like you did. Personally, I’d have preferred an action start for this one. But once things got going with the djinn, I really got into the story, so it was just a small hiccup.
The formality of their speech is appropriate to the setting and general storyline, of which I greatly approve because one of my pet hates is when characters in a fantasy or olden-day setting start going ‘dude’ and ‘chill out’. There is one line that puzzles me: There is always a tell. No idea what it means.
First of all, nice riddle! Not so familiar (and boring), yet not so hard that it needs a long and complicated explanation. There is a tiny bit of mismatching in that firstly churches don’t usually go together with djinns and secondly I believe desert burials do not involve coffins (and thus Arivi is not as likely to have the necessary world knowledge for solving this riddle) but I suppose it could show that Arivi is a well-travelled and/or well-informed man.
Returning to my remark on the opening, I think some kind of more definite closure would work better here. If this were the first chapter of a book, it’s great, you set up the anticipation for just how Latava gets his hands on the treasure, but because this is a one-shot, it’s rather frustrating to be left hanging like that.
flights chapter 1 . 1/9/2016
Hey! This was really great and you had some great description in here and drew me in. But I do have some points of improvement.

First off, I feel like there is too much telling and not enough showing. And example of this is where it is written, "Arivi was disgusted" after Arivi had realized why his brother wanted the treasure. Instead of just saying Arivi was disgusted, it would be better for you to show how by saying why he was so disgusted, explaining the characters current thoughts at that moment. Doing this would also engage the readers into the story more.

There is other points like this in the chapter, but I think you can find them yourself when you read through it again.

Once again, great job on the chapter, when I was first reading, I was wondering how I would review a story that had barely any flaws. Never stop writing! :)