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6/4/2007 c8 12iamthedave
Okey-dokey! I'll try and help you out.

Generally, before into the specifics, it's actually a pretty good chapter. There's still a lack of a uniting theme, other than the lead's apparent disillusionment with war, but it was obvious he didn't like it anyway. But yes, stuff happening, good writing.

-We carried three days’ supply of food on ourselves, and bore between us coils of rope and tarps of glue-coated linen that could be shaped into waterproof tents. We did not have enough for everyone, and the common soldiers complained and cursed the weather as they marched.

Even in this fairly small amount I imagine you'd need a wagon train to supply the army. The soldiers have to carry their armour, after all, and their weapons, neither of which are very light. At the very least they'd need attendents or squires for the carrying of foodstuffs.

-“Twenty-five men against four hundred and some won’t last long.”

This is where comparison comes in. Who has the better training and equipment? In a similar situation where the Spartans from the movie 300, and in the historical battle of thermopylae (might have spelt that wrong). In that situation, the Spartan army, which numbered about 70 men, held the pass against 2.5 MILLION soldiers. for three days. In the process they inflicted 20,0 casualties. Here's the link if you want to read on the details: http:/en.

In short, if the army can actually fill the street, they'll win without taking a casualty going by what you've said. The enemy'll have no chance to actually attack them. But that depends on tactics and armament. The Spartans were among the greatest warriors who ever lived, after all. Nonetheless, the proportions are there for a Thermopylae-esque situation, only ending with victory as opposed to defeat.

-“There will be too many casualties. I suggest we just rush in on all sides and surround them. They’ll panic.”

No, the general's wrong. It'd be FAR more devastating to morale for them to stand their ground and hold them back with so few numbers. The only issue's whether or not the troops are well trained enough for it. If they have a lot of shields to defend their position and spears for the back ranks, they can attack all at once anyway, and the enemy are STILL going to be hampered. After the first couple of pushes fail, they're going to break.

-We had no answer for him.

Good grief. That wasn't expected. Hmm. Golly. I think the soldiers are described as being too wild, personally. Well-trained men don't lose themselves THAT badly, that quickly. It took the conditions of Vietnam to make monsters out of the US army's boys, and those were mostly boys who hadn't been trained very well. A disciplined soldier's job is to follow orders, and they were specifically ordered not to do the looting, carnage thing.

It doesn't ring true for me, but you haven't gone into detail about the military system so there's only so much I can comment on. Hope this helps.

Please review me if you have the time.
5/28/2007 c7 iamthedave
This one's another of those painful chapters where I can't point at any one thing and say 'this is wrong' but there's something about it that stops it clicking with me.

First, the beginning completely threw me off. I never really got back into it after that first sentence, because it never really made sense. The problem is that I couldn't work out what on earth this chapter was about. So many things were raised in the first half that it all seemed completely random and jumbled. I had to read the first half THREE TIMES to work out what I think you're aiming for. And I'm still not sure.

My guess is that you raise all of this stuff about the privy partly because its funny and partly to set a plot strand for future chapters. The chapter is actually ABOUT the marriage. Close?

Second and last, I think its too big. It feels like it wants to be two chapters, each of which are more focused and clearer in what they're doing for the plot. I hope this is helpful.

-“I like…your boots,” she said, apparently at a loss to come up with anything else to like about me

It took until this quote before I felt like i had an idea of what's going on.

-Hannah was also a widow. Her husband had died during the epidemic.

Now I've lost it again. What's this got to do with this chapter? I don't understand what I'm reading about. Is this about a marriage, or what?

-The next day, some men broke into Hannah’s house and dragged her from there to the public stocks. They stripped her of her blouse and gave her to wear a specially designed shirt that covered everything at the front but was only held at the back by a single lace at the base of the neck. Then they gave her fifteen lashes. I made myself watch.

Let them fight all the wars that they want, I thought. For me, the world ends here.-

You MUST describe this scene. From the sound of things it's actually the only really important one in this chapter. You really do have to detail a character's emotional high points. From the way the chapter makes me feel, I think this should be two chapters, not one.
5/26/2007 c3 10libertinetea
What a wonderfully written and absolutely hilarous story. I've only read three chapters but I'm having an absolute riot. Your writing is top-notc but the true merit of this story, the one that makes it stand out from the rest of the drivel in this site, is the voice and sense of humor you employ. Great job!
5/20/2007 c6 12iamthedave
as you know, my elbow's a bit banged up, so i won't be as in-depth as usual, but i'll do my best to still give useful feedback.

good lead-in, explaining why the doctor's hated, what his perceived crimes are and thereby showing more about your world. yes, some deft worldbuilding there.

later, though, the story's style lets you down. you tell us a great deal about the guy's encounter with Absolom: you SHOW almost nothing. That makes it hard to emotionally connect, and therefore hard to react properly to what is A) a disgusting act and B) a disgusting act being done just to get at the character. I also find it odd how every soldier in the world appears to be incompetent (the 'halfhearted attacks' bit). if this is intended to be unreliable narrator territory, you need to make it more prevalent.

interesting twist towards the end, with the soul escaping through the mouth, and all that. also a very good ending.

so in short, good chapter. it could do with being longer, though. at times it feels too much like a summary.
5/14/2007 c14 Azrail Liddell
Finally I get around to reviewing. And I'll say straight off that I really like this story. Really. Your style is great, your characters interesting and quirky, and I'm very interested in where this whole thing ends up.

My one problem, though, is that I find myself much less interested in the narrator than I am in the other characters. His tone so far has been really detached and one finds it hard to tell how he really feels about things, since he has proven himself not entirely trustworthy as a narrative voice. Maybe you did this on purpose; I don't know. But it doesn't really work all the time.

But, once again, the story is really great, so I shall continue to read.
5/14/2007 c1 4Isolophobic Encounters
Hey! I got your reply, thank you, I will most definitely work on my story now.

But that's not what we're here to talk about... we're here to discuss your work.

This is interesting to me, but that's probably because I usually gravitate towards the horror section when i visit this site and then i see all the annoying stuff with the zombies and the flesh eating viruses. ARGH! IT BURNS! It's nice to see something neat and original every once in a while. lol.

This has an automatic appeal to me because I have a huge interest in alchemy. My favorite anime has alchemy in it (Full Metal Alchemist), one of my favourite books SORTA has alchemy in it (Bartimaeus Triliogy) and my favourite video game incorporates quite a bit of the ancient science (Golden Sun). You could check them out if you want, they may amuse you, may not. I liked 'em, but you're not me (thank goodness, you wouldnt enjoy it very much, i have an extreme lack of reading material right now... lol).

The main character looks promising. You can tell he's bi... the subtle thing does work. The way he described the dead dude's hair...

I like how you were able to rub two braincells together and the alchemist didn't go 'omg elixir of life good god yay!' and drink it. goddamit, there's no reserve once it comes to that damn elixir. it is nice to see something that doesnt involve the first person that gets their hands on the thing to fling themself over the edge, you have no idea. site for sore eyes i tell you. it's so much more interesting because he has a practical yet different view towards life, and some gaddamn RESTRAINT.

Oh, your dialogue is excellent. cracked me up. it was cool. never heard of the elixir of life smelling ANYTHING like strawberries... i laughed at that. but then again, my sense of humor is just wierd like that.

i would have to analyse this in more detail to come up with constuctive criticism... i'd also have to read more than ONE CHAPTER. lol. but i'm on borrowed time and have to go home and do bloody... homework... but this is not the last of me! i'll r&r again when i have time. expect to hear from me!

all in all, this does seem good though.

kudos, good luck, and look out for me! and thanks for your help!
5/13/2007 c14 6The Last Backpack
Nice opening; it makes you somewhat jump, and then snicker when you realize who he's talking to, and then sink back into the discussion. And then by the time it's done, you've already gotten back into the story again.

The whole Hannah-incident is still interesting me; you say that he's never spoken to her since, but I think it'd be somewhat interesting to see what the common people's reaction would be to him/her; while she was misliked even before, their reaction to Jack could potentially change seeing how he just up and left her.

Lola's betrayal was unexpected, and very nice to read (a change! Aha!) but I'm a little surprised by Jack's lack of reaction. Is he in shock? That would make sense, although most people I'd think might jump, or act shocked, when they hear what's happening. Then again, the whole knife-at-the-throat thing probably had something to do with that.

Also, I was wondering if it was intentional, accidental, or a mistake to at the end make a reference that sounds as though Jack is perhaps becoming more attached to Eleanor than before. When he said that he felt "a throbbing pain that not even Eleanor could assuage" it seems that perhaps he was thinking Eleanor could relieve some other pain/s.

Or maybe that's just teenager hormones talking.

5/9/2007 c6 12Lccorp2


You Could do with a little more showing, and a little less telling, especially on the context of emotions and character traits.

"“I saved his life,” I said. I was close to tears."

"The statement could have meant anything, but I felt it as an accusation."

"I sat back on the grass and felt pretty good about myself."

Part of me here is going "O RLY?" I don't really see any physical action here to back up what the narrator is telling me here. I only have his word to tell me that he's feeling so and so, and after so many "author tells me one thing but shows another" fiascoes I'm not the very trusting type.

-"“He must have dived in at that whirlpool yonder, where the current’s strong,”

Whirlpools do not occur in rivers. Plunge pools may, if there's a waterfall, but he'd be much more than drowning if he'd dived into a plunge pool.

-I can see how your life has had an effect on your writing.
5/8/2007 c6 feeder
"I think that old lady spat at us" - I was slightly surprised by the doctor's reaction to that. I was expecting him to make some kind of sardonic remark, but I guess it just shows that he acts differently depending on the circumstances, which is good. Most fantasy writers seem to give their characters an absolutely defined personality that never changes with context, which is obviously totally unrealistic.

"and no less than three authentic aliens, complete with white lab coats and probes" - i thought it was meant to be the autopsy scientist people who wear the lab coats instead of the aliens...?

Jack seems to share your alien fixation I see. Will the continued references to aliens have any relevance to the plot? It would be kind of nice if they did, I think.

"Only then did I notice that he was fully dressed. He even wore his boots." - Obviously he wasn't paying much attention because he was trying to save the boy's life, but it says, "after I had pumped the water out of the boy’s chest", which kind of makes it a bit strange that he didn't notice.

It's a good chapter, although not that much seems to happen plot-wise. Some interesting characterisation though, and I quite like it when the plot slows down a bit anyway.

Are you sure you've never read Salman Rushdie? Some of this really does remind me of him, and considering how amazingly good he is, you should probably take as a compliment.
5/7/2007 c5 Lccorp2

Now let's see. Nothing too bad as far as the eye can go, but I just want to have a word of caution with you.

The whole euthanasia speech the doctor gives-be careful about this. While it's indeed a subjective PoV of a character, if the reader gets the sense that a character is there to be the author's mouthpiece for his or her views (and wise old mentors are very susceptible to this), it descends into preaching.

That can and will put some readers off, especially if it's a push-button issue.

I think that's about it for now. Otherwise entertaining.
5/6/2007 c5 12iamthedave
Great chapter. It's got all your positives and none of your negatives. The thread has shown itself and the dialogue/thought here is a lot more pointed and meaningful than in previous chapters. So... excellent, I guess. A few things you can tighten up on, I think, but in general it's all good from where I sit.

-When most people see brains, bones and bowels, they are appalled and disgusted to learn that all of that mess lies beneath their skin. When I see brains, bones and bowels, I am awed by their intricacy. Being far from tidy myself, I have no more of a problem with the mess beneath my skin that with the one inside my bedroom. It’s what I like to call “organized chaos.”

Ah, now this is some lovely, pointed in-character perspective, which at once remains a bit janky and unusual. This is where it's definitely not just random anecdotes. There's meat behind this. Goodness.

-“The outcastes,” he said. “Please leave me, Jack. I cannot help you.”

And again, some very pointed dialogue. I now feel like there's a direction forming. This is good, very good!

-He lowered his head, so that his hair curtained his face. “Is that all?”

Very nice, very stylish. Its subtle, yet emotive. It is, in short, what you ought to be aiming for in the first place. Good writing.

-I could merely forestall the inevitable. From the moment he stepped out of this keep, he was doomed.

You never clarified WHY he was killed. I'd suggest you do that at some point. It's a minor point, but it's A) one that ought to be obvious to the main character or to Doctor Green and B) one that would give utmost clarity to the situation, which is good because the last part of the chapter hinges upon it.

-Insofar as doctors are concerned, we are all immortal.”

Ah, and there's that linking thread you were talking about. Hmm. I sense good times ahead.
5/2/2007 c4 iamthedave
Your work's at the same time lovely and utterly frustrating. You have a great character voice here, and really there are very few of the kind of niggling flaws I worry out of everybody else's work, but there's big structural ones that it's hard to talk about without seeming like a big meanie.

Basically, this is again lots of good character-perspective narration; but there's too much. You've got a MASSIVE infodump about the scarecrows. Really, it's gigantic, it takes up nearly a third of the chapter. That's a bad proportion. And the problem is that it's not emotive. The lead's voice is so casual and disconnected that you can't FEEL his fear when he heard the scarecrows coming, can't really connect to any of it in anything but the way he does; as a kind of light, fluffy remembrance. And I still have no feel for where it's going.

-As might be deduced from my close observation of the fight, I hardly did anything at all. A little outlaw, even shorter and thinner than I was, once blundered at me, wielding a staff more to keep himself from slipping than out of any more warlike intent. I looked at him, then at the sword I held in my hand, and then back at him again. I considered. A brilliant idea struck me. I made a fist with my free hand and punched him in the chin. He went down at once. I looked down at him as he tried to get up, only to slip and fall back, and decided that using my blade would be overkill.

This, I must say, is fantastic. I owe you pointing out something great in here after the opening to this review. It's an example of what you do so very well in this tale.

-Then he passed out. I sat besides him, hugging my knees to my chest, and waited watch in hand for hell to freeze over. It did, exactly forty-four minutes later, when my people left in the outlaw village the cooling remnants of fifty-one and some gutted scarecrows for the snow to bury.

very Good ending. Very good indeed.

And my usual sign-off, though I'm sure you know it by now: If you have the time, please R & R my stories.
4/30/2007 c2 4Melt-DisneyWorld
I like the narrative voice, and the slight twinges of sarcasm it acquires at times. The mild sardonic whimsy seems appropriate for the child of someone like Gabriel.

The main thing this story lacks so far is imagery, that is, I understand what's going on here, but I have no idea what it looks like. Visually, the story's being left almost entirely to the reader's imagination, which is fine, if that's what you're going for. But if it's not, you may want to go back and describe the world you've created a little more. Whether it's the father's land or the alchemical chamber at the beginning, some imagery would help to bring your world to life a little more, as cheesy as that sounds.

Some things so far: "It was a dark and stormy night" For all I know, that was used intentionally, maybe almost mockingly by the narrator. That's fine, since it helps characterize him. However, if you didn't intend that, a phrase as cliched as that might not be the best thing to use. Try saying it better, or not at all.

The events and anecdotes really weave together, in Chapter 1 especially. Everything flows together. It's a fine way of getting the information across, but as you told me, don't overlook the plotline. I assume the driving conflict of this story will manifest itself soon, so I'm just making sure.

I'll try to think of something more meaningful to say next time I review. Hope this critique wasn't too half-assed.


4/29/2007 c1 Von Grim
Lovely, while I have only had time to read the prologue the story has already pulled me into it. I love the relationship between the two characters so far, it seems almost like a farther son relationship, if you weren’t intending for it to come across as this im am dreadfully sorry. I like where the stories going and I like how you ended the chapter, it builds us up for what's going to happen yet holds back vital information that just fills us with an urge to read on and find out. You certainly do have a talent for writing, its evident.
4/25/2007 c3 12iamthedave
A surprisingly small amount to say, other than it's a lot of thunder about nothing. What IS here is good... but I don't have a clue where it's going. There's no real sense of a plot moving forward, and at this point the dramatic departure from the tone of the opening chapter is very peculiar, because the plot you seemed to be promising at simply hasn't appeared. This seems completely unrelated. Two chapters in from the start of the story, that's not a good thing. Read your own prologue, read these; they could be chapters from totally different stories. I'd suggest you find some way to tie them in better, or at least clearly indicate that this is one narrative we're reading, rather than a Prologue that has no relation at all to the rest of the story, as it seems at this point.

-“I wish your sister was here,” said my father at last. “She’d dissuade you.” He sighed. “Well, I suppose there is no helping it. You’ve inherited my own obstinacy.”

This is where I have a problem with the 'madness'. To quote a friend: Madness does not work that way. People with delusions inevitably become fixated upon those delusions and do NOT react well to having those delusions challenged. People who have the power to do something about it when someone dares say 'no' have a historic reputation from using it, to disastrous consequences. The problem is you're remaining cute and fluffy, but it really doesn't add up to an appealing whole. Again I can't tell what it is you're aiming for, and again the Prologue is unrelated to what I'm reading. That was semi-realist, grounded fantasy, this is exactly the opposite. If you seriously think about the duke's madness and how it works then you'll get both a better character and a better tale, at this stage, out of it. The other option would be to find a way to emphasize that we're dealing with an unreliable narrator, and work in things that indicate he's papering over a far darker truth.

My usual sign-off: Please do read and review my stories.
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