|Reviews for Distant Shores|
| Electrumquill chapter 1 . 11/20/2016
I like this piece, even the battle parts. The Vikings were also my ancestors, but I would NOT rooted for them at all. Now for the review.
I really approve of how the opening paragraph shows right away a good reason for the Vikings liking England as a hunting ground. Of course living would actually be easier for them here than in their own realm. One can guess at how the Ancient Romans would have found England (complete contrast!) I’m impressed too that you have researched. Wagluk’s preparation of the venison with his seax is well done and I am a pedant for this kind of detail.
I liked Aleifr’s sassiness. I can tell that he appreciates his mentor really. I would like to know more about how Wagluk was appointed his mentor.
I’m guessing these Vikings don’t have nicknames because of that cumbersome WCC word limit? A shame how restricting it is. I’ll bet it was indeed painful having to prune this. Wagluk could be Wagluk-the-stingy-with-food; poor Aktorn The Viking nicknames in their epithet style were so much more dignified than calling him Waggy or Lucky would have been.
Your prose is very pacey and punchy throughout. I’m glad that you have also researched the role of Thane. The well rendered scene which shows the Viking depredations doesn’t exactly endear them to me, but your research is infallible and it’s all correctly depicted.
It’s tough to accurately depict a battle, but you do it convincingly. Wagluk does get in a lucky kill, but he’s not a superman and will fall against overwhelming odds. And with his death he keeps his promise to the very letter. However, wouldn’t the Viking’s be scared of dying on a bed like Aleifr’s dad? :o you know what their mythology said … I would actually have expected him to want his son to die in battle.
I like the little touches you work in despite the word limit – like the hint about Wagluk’s history with Rognwulf, but I think the piece requires a mention of Viking sagas somewhere… it would have been fitting given the nature of the WCC game.
| Solemn Coyote chapter 1 . 2/16/2016
There's not nearly enough Nordic fiction out there. I was very happy to see this, and to see that the language had been researched. I'm not usually an authors' notes guy, but this one was very informative and very welcome.
As for the story itself, it felt strong. There was a cadence to it, aided by the intermixed bits of Norse language, that made it very easy to read. I'm not actually sure if seax were used for mundane butchery, but the image of Wag walking into the hall with the reddened blade on his back made for a really nice addition to the scene.
The only real critiques I can offer here feel kind of petty. Like, not really reflections of faults in the story but of faults in the reader.
The first is that you went with a hero narrative, where the young boy has his mentor killed by the unstoppable advance of some terrible foe, which the boy will have to bulk up and fight against some day. That narrative *works* from the Saxon side, but it feels a little more shaky when it ennobles a hero from a culture of psychotic bastards. The Saxons here don't feel like terrible monsters, despite their description. They feel like the heroes.
The second critique is that the story abruptly changes pacing during the final scene. It feels like there should have been some more interstitial stuff between the awareness that the Saxons were coming and them suddenly showing up on the Vikings' doorstep. 2k words is a ridiculously tight limit, and the story is otherwise paced perfectly, but if it's expanded a little more words in the middle would be welcome.
Anyway, I feel like kinda a cad for those critiques, so I'm going to end with the following: you wrote this story way better than I could have, and you've got a great, readable style. If anything I said was discouraging, ignore the hell out of it and keep writing. You have a gift.
| Infected Beliefs chapter 1 . 2/11/2016
RG Multi-chap EF review
I loved it!
You picked all of the topics to peak my interest. Nordic warriors? Give it to me. Medieval battle? You dirty slut. All the characters die? Aww, work the shaft.
Seriously though, I really enjoyed this piece. It reminded me of something that I might write (check out my story “To Be Mulje” if you want to see something similar I did a while back). I have always been fascinated by Nordic culture ever since I learned about Norse Mythology in like the fourth grade. I loved that you incorporated the language; I didn’t even need the translation at the end. I would have been content with taking it in context.
I loved the fact that your main characters weren’t gods. They fared as one would expect in battle. I really appreciated the fact that Wagluk didn’t go down killing a dozen Saxons. It is so much more realistic that he gets a lucky kill then gets taken down. I LOVE realistic reactions like this.
Even though I have an entry in too…good luck on WCC!
| wisedec4u chapter 1 . 2/10/2016
RG-Easy Fix I truly enjoyed your attention to detail in this piece. Though Norse Mythology is not something I read often, I can easily tell that you put plenty of research and time into making the characters and settings as authentic as possible. I enjoyed the playful banter between Wagluk and Aleifr. I think you accomplished what you meant to through their dialogue and established that their relationship was deeper than just a master/apprentice. Wagluk thought of him as a son and was willing to sacrifice himself to save Aliefr. Another thing that stood out to me was the contrast of barbaric actions going on around them (e.g. pillaging, massacre of the priest and nuns) to the lightheartedness of Wagluk carving the deer meat, making smalltalk with the butcher (though somewhat in a threatening manner), and joking affectionately with Aliefr. My only gripe is that I wanted there to be a part two. The ending felt a bit open ended in regards to Aliefr. Also, I think you can kick up the brutality a bit more at the end between the Vikings and the Saxons to make it more climatic. Overall, I enjoyed your writing style immensely. Great work!
| lookingwest chapter 1 . 2/9/2016
A small pick - when you use "vika" or "vetra" I would italicize them if you submit to any mags! Or basically - any time you are using saxon terminology. I don't think you even need to include the glossary. But definitely italicize since the words are sort of foreign from the regular English of the piece. One more: take out the "6'7" and just say "nearly seven foot" - the exact height isn't needed to get the point across, and it feels too much like an exact stat - we don't normally know exact heights of the people we live around, so generally I think exact heights aren't really necessary unless under certain circumstances, I didn't feel that this was one of them for the narrator. But that's all I got pick-wise! :)
This overall has wonderful writing in it! Wow! The research and time to create a visceral historical scene is spot on, and one I'm envious of because I'm never good with writing historical pieces. I think you've done a great job creating the setting and everything felt very convincing given the time and the place. Writing historical pieces is not an easy task and I think it's one this piece shows you've got a total knack for. I liked the images that went into the blood and violence, which I think reflected the characters, especially Wagluk. The attention to detail about the butcher-scene and the actual kill that's hauled in from the opening suited the overall atmosphere - which I think was totally my favorite part about this, hands down. I liked the parallel with the violence in the opening - the slaughter - and then the actual slaughter at the ending. It really comes full circle thematically - lots of stuff going on here!
My issue is that this just doesn't read like a short story to me. I kept wanting there to be more, and it almost felt like there should be more... The intensity of the relationship between Wag and Ale just didn't reach the pitch I think it needed in the span of 2000 words. It's not surprising to me that this had to be cut down. I didn't feel the emotional impact as much between the two characters just because there was so little time to get to know them (though you did a good job working with the limit that you had to portray how close they were) - I think I would've overall felt more of an attachment or sorrow if this had been a novella or even novel-length piece. It feels like you've got the beginnings to a project that could be created with a much larger-scope. I think maybe there could be more of a short story here if the relationship was parred down and we only had the actual battle towards the end (just my opinion though!) this is a fantastic bit of historical fiction here though, like I said. The writing shines, tl;dr: I just don't know if I got the emotional distress out of it that was intended from Wug losing Ale.
You've certainly got a talent, though! This was very easy to read and I liked it a lot!
Best of luck in this month's WCC! :D
| Timbo Slice chapter 1 . 2/9/2016
This was an awesome story. Being a big fan of Vikings and Norse mythology myself I have to commend you on the research I'm sure you put into this as it helps to establish the time and setting in history in which this took place and the realism helps to keep t keep the writing more engaging by thrusting the reader into the world you've written.
The dialogue itself was enjoyable as well and was written as well as I can imagine centuries old Norse Vikings talking. Even if some of it was left to the imagination the banter between Wagluk and his pupil was good and highlighted their relationship of teacher and pupil quite well. I thought the battle scene was ok, but a more active voice would've helped to heighten the tension of the situation. Very good stuff!
| Victoria Best chapter 1 . 2/6/2016
I have mixed opinions about this. I think it's because here in the UK Anglo-Saxon history is part of the school curriculum, it makes up all of our museums, some of our architecture, our town names, etc, so I know quite a bit about it just from that alone, and so I spotted a few issues with this.
"Bradwell-on-Sea." Let me start by saying that it's wonderful that you are using a real life town. I really appreciate that. Seeing that made me smile :) It's always lovely to see when a writer has done their research and has made an effort, and particularly when they take risks. Choosing a real town was definitely a risk, but you handled it well, I think - the description in this section was strong, as always. Particularly chilling image was the part with the chapel standing alone! :) However, in the Anglo-Saxon period it was not called this, but 'Ithancester,' or 'Ythanceaster.' "Bradwell-on-Sea" is a fairly modern term, I'm guessing probably sometime in the twenties. Also, any British person reading this will immediately think of arcades, seagulls and fish and chips, because all the 'on-Sea' places are beach-y holiday places consisting of this :p Not the right image for the whole dark, viking atmosphere.
Then we get the part with the "Chapel of St Peter." I think (I'm only going by what I have researched, so don't take my word for it) that this was the name giving to it after its reconstruction in 1920. Originally, it would have been called the same as the town, 'Ythanceaster.'
"Having landed only a week ago." This would have been a good opportunity to bring in some viking measurements, like mil, vika or sjømil. You could have possibly even brought in some viking time, also, like "daegur," which means "twelve hours" or "daegurs sigling" which means "a sailing of twenty-four hours." The lack of viking terms, only a couple in there, didn't really put me in the setting, you know? I get that you are restricted in terms of the word limit, but for me this would have been much more relevant to set the scene than some of the dialogue, for example. A line or two could definitely been cut in exchange for this extra detail.
"Though he had been a man for over five summers now." Another error here - vikings did not use "summers" to measure years. They would use "winters" or "vetra."
Finally, it was simply the dialogue that just completely threw me when reading. It just didn't sound 'viking-y.' Lines like "will you ever tire of it?" had me wondering why they sounded so formal and pretentious? Vikings were vicious beings, who ripped, and tore, and ravaged. I am sure they didn't ask each other "when they will tire of their incessant questioning." Don't get me wrong, I loved the dialogue. Very illustrious and characterising. It felt like I was reading Game of Thrones dialogue, or another epic fantasy, and it would have been absolutely wonderful dialogue for those books. However, in my humble opinion (take it or leave it) a piece about the vikings was not the place for it. Vikings would have used harsh, terse, ugly sentences that were very basic in terms of content - no 'flowery' language, like "incessant." There are some great videos on YouTube where they actually speak old Icelandic. They're really awesome and I would really recommend giving them a watch. Also, it might have been worth researching how vikings actually spoke in terms of word order and sentence structures. I know, for example, they would say "what say you" rather than the other way around. I know you were trying to make the piece accessible, but it might have been worth at least some of these lines to really immerse us in your world. A few more actual viking lines might have been good here also rather than just the "halt, heathens." One good one to use might be "deyja skalt pu," which means "you are going to die."
Just some ideas there; you don't need to take any on board if you don't want to. The actual story itself was very good, it's just the viking part I found errors with. Otherwise, your description is always really spectacular. Love the line "his teeth yellowed and broken," and the "taut and leathery skin of his hard cheek." My two favourite lines have to be "grimace that hid behind his eyes" and "his word was his lifeblood." Both exceptional lines, really showcasing your writing ability. I especially loved that lifeblood line - very powerful and original. I don't think I've seen anything like it before. I can tell you've put a lot of work into this, so great job with that.
I also enjoyed the way you drew comparisons between the land they are in, and the land Wagluk is from in the very first paragraph, by talking about the meat. Really clever idea and helped to immediately set the scene and bring us into the world.
"Thin and dusty parchment." Why not just "thin, dusty parchment?"
Vary your vocab - careful/ carefully was in here four times, twice close together.
"Glistened in the daylight." Somewhat cliche line.
Seap? I am sure that the word is 'seep.'
"Blade remains sharp" is missing a closing quotation mark.
That's about it. Hope that helps! Keep writing! And good luck! :D
| Ckorkows chapter 1 . 2/6/2016
Wow. I really enjoyed the battle at the end. Fight scenes are the sort of thing that can go terribly wrong or incredibly right, and I felt drawn into this world the minute Aktorn cried out to Wagluk for help. Even though you only briefly introduced these characters, I felt myself drawn to them and was pretty touched when Aktorn died – I was even more touched that Wagluk was willing to help the slave.
I have one little ConCrit thing below:
((He replied impishly. Wagluk had trained…)) – In this paragraph I got a little confused because you had two different people speaking. I’m not sure if it’s necessary or if this is even a grammar rule, but it certainly is easier on the reader if you separate out the dialogue from paragraphs. I generally stick to a rule of a one-sentence dialogue tag (if needed) plus the dialogue being one paragraph, anything else I have to say starting on the next one.
I’m glad it seems that Aleifr made it to the boat – he seemed pretty stubborn and I was worried that he might refuse to leave Wagluk, but it appears the vow his teacher made to his father was enough to prompt him to swim to safety.
Thanks for an interesting, if sort of sad, look into a Norse/Saxon battle! Ckorkows
| Ventracere chapter 1 . 2/6/2016
"Fighting his bodies cries for mercy" Bodies should be body's.
Okay, the first thing that that I thought of when I read this was Ranger's apprentice. That's the only other place that I've read where a seax appeared and were actually used. It also helped that you were talking about the Vikings and my mind went to the Scandinavians. Anywho, I liked the way you took this piece. It starts out with this gentle lull, the "banter" between the master and the apprentice. Kind of what you expect to see with mentor and student. It wasn't all fluff either, which I liked, cause in such a short piece with word count restraints, you really have to make the most of your words. And I think you did that in the dialogue. It flowed well, didn't seem stunted.
For me, this piece lacked a bit of description - your setting was fine, visually, everything was good. The fighting scene didn't come across as active as it could have been (personal opinion, feel free to ignore). Shorten your sentences to make the scene feel a bit faster; in this case it wouldn't be stunting your description. Break up the parts a bit to give us a bit more of a fast paced feel. Another thing was that in the beginning I felt like you spent a lot of time telling us what was going on, that they did this, they did that. You ended up telling us what they were feeling. Show us how they were feeling, how they were wary of what was going on. How the sense of calm washed over him. I know you're restricted with words, but later, I guess, haha.
Thanks for the read!