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11/9/2003 c27 The Highwaywoman
i'm sorry you're having issues with the story... half-life... i'll have to go check that out. it's okay if you have all these plot holes... maybe you should write the whole thing before you put it on the site. it would be worth the wait... anyway, don't stop writing. i love reading your stuff :)
11/9/2003 c27 1ChiefO
OK I am new to this fictionpress place so bear with me.

I love this story! I read all 26 chapters nonstop. (and I had tons of stuff I should have been doing)

I read some reviews you have recieved and figure that any critizism has been covered. Do not give up on this story. Yes, if you are going to publish it, rewrite! My work is always rewriten (it always improves) But do not stop.

11/8/2003 c27 Karma you fool
Ah dearest Scotia, I'm telling you, they're going to revolt. I'm interested to see how Half-Life turns out though. As always, I remain a fan. =)

10/31/2003 c11 8Kezkay
wheehoo! Fights-scene...Duh duh DUH! Hehe! WHE~! The description of the flightwings and the pulleys and the strings...well, awesome image. Sapha's kickin' some tail eh? What? No! Don't go into the spiral, no! *runs around in panicked circles* Pull up, pull up! Er, where's did Ashiri get to anyhow? I'm vewy curious as to her past/present/future role in this story.

Hehe, Sovay is funny. I hope the two are going to meet soon, that would be...interesting. heh.

Ah...one of them is the imposter. Benevolent being...he sounds, um..nice and benevolent. Hehe, "foolish mortal!" *smites* I like that word. Smite. MM'mm. Can you tell I'm like, sugar-high? Gosh, my hands can't stay...still...can't..type...vision...blurring...GACK! -"happyhappy" Kezhound
10/24/2003 c10 Kezkay
I'm back! As usual, on-going commentary:

mmhmm, I see your fic has "arabian" horses... hehe. Point taken i hope? *snickers* Haha! The butler, stupid little people with hooked noses! He kinda was a little cliche, stereotypical though. But, he IS the butler of the emporer, so he has a right to be that way. The description of the grounds and especially the upholstery, was enviable. I really like " The Tenth Emperor of the Vertexian Affiliation of Phaetonite Nations." Now THAT's a title.

Interesting young man, this redeemer person. Is he one of the "Children?" Perhaps Salt? Or am I way off..? Copper? Wait! Quicksilver! "the superhuman intermediary between the heavens and the earth, and he channeled the gods’ wills down to the mortal realm." hmmhmm?

AHAHAH! Thane North proves it! Soo... are Saphra and Sovay the sisters? hm... I dunno! I'm not too confused, but let me sort it all out. -kez
10/18/2003 c26 12HarmonyIsarine
This is a very well written story. Not got many criticizing comments, but All... Lelly is kinda cliche. Cliche is bad. Annoying noble girl is always a fun point, but annoying dumb blonde fashion stereotype noble girl?

That's all the criticism I have. Nice idea for the Flightwings! In my stories I just gave the people wings, but this is an awesome detail. ^_^ And if you're starved for AIM conversations, go ahead and talk to me. I need to talk, too. Sn is same as penname, HarmonyIsarine.

Update as soon as you can, this is an awesome story! I'm incredibly sorry I didn't go past chapter 1 before today! ;_;
10/17/2003 c26 27Morcar
Overall then.

If I have one piece of advice to you it is this. Read more fantasy. You say in your profile you avoid it so as to avoid accidentally plagerising people. This is a mistake, and by far the best way to develop your ideas is to find people who have had the *same* ideas as you and see what they did with them. Sir Isaac Newton's famous line holds as true for writers as for scientists, do not be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants.

If I was going to recommend one set of books to you, to give you an idea of how other people have handled similar themes, I would actually probably name the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. It has nothing whatsoever to do with piracy or quests for mystic doodads, but Steerpike's ascent to power seems to be the kind of story you're going after with Sovay. I also recommend A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin on general principles - it's a fabulous complex tale and, like QM, cuts between the viewpoints of a bewildering array of characters.

Alternatively, if you want a quick guide to more original fantasy, and don't mind taking things with a pinch of salt try one of the many Fantasy Cliche Lists you find scattered throughout the internet (like this one http:/amethyst-angel.com/cliche.html if the url doesn't get clipped by fictionpress).

There is a lot of potential here, although perhaps your biggest problem may be in seeing where that potential lies.

Thanks for bearing with me.
10/17/2003 c24 Morcar

Firstly, don't kill off Makethran, he's quite an interesting character. He's not all that likeable, but of such things are strong characters made. Flawed individuals hold my interest, flawless ones bore me.

Whether you realise it or not, what you have with Kethran is a pretty damned original character. Fantasyland is full of spunky heroines with funny coloured eyes, and has a reasonable number of chivalrous male leads, but the idea of an almost-perfect student who didn't quite have the patience or dedication to attain perfection is actually rather interesting.

The fight scene needs serious work. Only in the most *insanely* over the top paradigm does the idea of stabbing somebody in the neck *with a pike* "just between their carotid artery and jugular vein" rate as anything but ludicrous. Using a poison-tipped pike is a bit odd as well, it's rather like bashing somebody over the head with a laced sledgehammer.

The Redeemer/Saphra relationship is ticking over nicely, although so far I'm noting a lack of any effect from his deep religious beliefs apart from the early spat over her not being a Pantheist.

I'm not convinced by the yiddish Golems. Perhaps I'm just overly PC but it strikes me that nicking an archetypal concept of Hebrew mythology and turning it into an ethnic stereotype is a little distasteful.
10/17/2003 c23 Morcar
The interaction between Sovay and Kym is rather well done. It's a bit like that sequence in the Princess Bride ("I cannot take the glass in front of you...") She works far better if she has a foil, and its good to see her finally have somebody who can stand up to her. The plot dump from the Truthbearer is nicely Gnomic.
10/17/2003 c20 Morcar
Okay, on the plus side at least this time Sovay's attack is being played through slowly rather than happening off camera.

Niggle the first. Why on earth did nobody react to her comin over the wall. Even if your barracks *are* on fire you notice invaders swarming over your walls.

Niggle the second. She picked all four locks herself? Where did she learn that little trick? She was never a sneak thief. People don't have locks on their purses.

The hall of mirrors is cool. I have something of a thing for mirrors. However its coolness is significantly lessened by the fact that Sovay, once again, just breezes through it. Sure at one point she takes all of forty seconds (which, lests face it, is less time than it takes me to write this review) to deal with one of the obstacles, but again you're telling rather than showing. You show us that the Kym is cool, we know this because she has things like the rather ingenious rotating room (which is a fantastic idea incidentally) but you then mar that by *telling* us how cool Sovay is, by having her work the maze out only slightly non-trivially.

On another point, you need to do something abotu the formatting of this chapter, because there's switches of perspective separated by a single linebreak.
10/17/2003 c17 Morcar
You seem to feel under some sort of obligation to have Sovay be cool as often and as grandly as possible. So much so in fact that you apologised in the A/N section of the last chapter for her not being particularly cool in that chapter.

Here we come to that old rule "show, don't tell", and that lesser known corrolory "and remember that you can show with words and tell with pictures."

You spend an awful lot of time *telling* us that Sovay is cool (right down to such lines as "(she had captured it through skillful, ingenious maneuvering, of course)". She realizes things before anybody else. Always. Nobody yet has managed to put one over on her, fool her or beat her. Furthermore her victories are frequently offpage, and seem to boil down to "then she did something really cool and won".

While I'm here, a little style note. Periodically I note that you have brackets in direct speech. I'm not entirely sure this works. People don't talk in parentheses. Its only a small thing, but I thought it worth mentioning.
10/17/2003 c15 Morcar
I've mentionned before that I don't think chartering a ship on serving girls wages is likely.

I'm not sure that Saphra going back and getting another job at a different tavern doesn't render the entire incident with the assassins and all a little bit irrelevant. On the other hand the fact that she's noticing that a lot of this doesn't make sense implies that at least the bits that make no sense (at least in part) *deliberately* make no sense, which is comforting.

Saphra and Sovay identical... pretty much what I'd expected I'm afraid.
10/17/2003 c14 Morcar
Chapters 12 13 and 14 then (or 11 12 and 13).

The introduction of Makethran feels a little rushed, you get his introductoin, his background and soon and so forth all within the space of a chapter. On the other hand I do see how you don't want to attract too much attention away from the main thrust of the plot. Similarly the Redeemer is having a suspiciously easy time collecting the Five, but again, fair enough, he's a background element.

I'm not entirely convinced by Saphra's plan to charter a ship by working in an inn. Ships are expensive, inns are cheap.

I do quite like your assassins, they seem to be brutal violent thugs rather than oh-so-cool black clad ninja-ripoffs. This is all to the good.

The aside about firearms is distracting and pointless and should be removed. It feels like you've hit the pause button on the action to deliver a lecture on 15th century weaponry. Furthermore you give a long speech about how these assassins never miss right before they, in fact, miss. This damages credibility.

I like Saphra. She seems to be well rounded and properly thought through. She actually makes mistakes and suffers setbacks and is all the better for it.
10/17/2003 c11 Morcar
Okay, Saphra's becoming a stronger character, which is a good thing, and more of her background is being revealed. You're pacing this very well, incidentally, and while the expository sequences could stand to be a *little* less heavy handed I've seen far worse in professional writing.

Jiranor's visionquest is likewise a nice way to get a few more plot hints and background hints into the mix without it sounding too "your father, the king" (if you see what I mean). I probably wouldn't have put in a personal appearence by a god, at least not just yet, but that's partially my pesnal preference.

So we get to Sovay. You say repeatedly in your Author's notes that Sovay is your favourite character, and this is rather the problem. She is your favourite character and it shows something chronic.

She steps on board ship for the first time and within moments she has rallied the crew to mutiny, within hours they seem to have made her an admiral (did nobody object to this, did Lt Tollin not say "hang on young lady, I outrank you, I've been doing this longer than you, and you never would have got this far without me") and she seems to have picked up a fleet overnight.

Now you can claim a bit of leeway because she is clearly Different And Special, and assumedly has a similar "aura of kewelness" that the Redeemer has, but even so this girl went from the foundling daughter of a highwayman and a barbarian woman to midshipman in an imperial warship to admiral of a pirate fleet within the space of - what a week?

A writer does, of course, need to love their characters, but they also need to maintain their distance. You need to remember that just because *you* think Sovay is the coolest thing on two legs does not mean that every single character in your story should think the same thing. Furthermore just being cool is no reason to be good at everything. There is a rather wonderful scene in The Invisibles by Grant Morrison in which the invisibles - a cell of weird reality-terrorists - are in an aircraft hanger belonging to The Evil Authoritarian Conspiracy, and are wondering how to steal the kewel alien tech fighter jet they find there. At which point everybody turns to King Mob - the cool as all hell sleek unstoppable assassin, and his response should be required reading for anybody who wants to create a truly cool character:

"Why are you all looking at me. I'm a **hitman**. Christ shoot a few people and everybody thinks you're James Bond."

The point being this. I am quite happy for Sovay to be a talented highwaywoman, she's a special girl and was brought up in that culture, but where the hell did she learn to captain a ship, let alone a fleet? How does she understand naval tactics? Why is everybody compelled to do everything she suggests? Why, to cite a recent example does she - a brigand - know what the word "detente" means when Tollin - a carreer military man or so one must assume - does not?
10/17/2003 c10 Morcar
Generally a good chapter. The Redeemer, from the little we've seen thus far, seems to be a genuiely interesting character. A decent enough guy, a product of his upbringing, he seems in particular far more well rounded than Sophay, who just seems to be going around being cool.

I note a strong "heroes as popstars" thread running through the story, which I am not sure sits entirely well with me.

The Five Children interest me a lot more than a number of similar "prophecy children" you get in this sort of fantasy (I assume that Jio is another one of them) and the elemental associations are rather nice, and a deal better than the usual "wind, fire, water".

One brief note, at the start of this chapter you describe the messenger's horse as "a tall, grey Arabian". I also noticed that earlier in the story the dwarf made reference to a Napoleon complex. Neither of these terms really make sense in a world where neither Arabia nor Napoleon exist. Of course it is possible to get far too pedantic about the origins of words ("That word has a latin root! But in your world there was no Roman Empire!) but anything that is a specific and obvious reference to a real-world figure, nation or concept really (IMO) needs to be trimmed.

A final note to those who have said that this is too confusing. Learn to concentrate. A lot of the best fantasy literature switches back and forth between viewpoints like this (Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire - and in a shameless plug my own Land of Two Suns, which isn't precisely great fantasy literature, but I never miss a chance to self-promote) and if you can't keep track of more than one character at once it really is more your fault than the author's.
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