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5/25/2013 c34 9Ms.Julia
If only they understood :(
5/17/2013 c23 mysteriousguy898
This world you've crafted is amazing. Your characters are nuanced and not at all boring, the lore seems more airtight the more I look at it, and I can practically see the map of the land in my head. I faved at Chapter 4, but I was speechless until now. I'm going to review some more later. The only problem is some missing words here and there, but it's not that bad about it compared to others.
5/17/2013 c33 Ms.Julia
Love love love update soon plz
4/12/2013 c32 Ms.Julia
Sporadic makes me sad but I understand lol great update and I can't wait to read more
4/6/2013 c31 Ms.Julia
Uh oh.. Please update this soon, like now :)
4/2/2013 c30 Ms.Julia
Love what you have here :) and I can't wait to read what comes next!
3/29/2013 c1 2chibilover28
I love it. The action... the suspense... It sent chills down my spine - in a good way of course. good job!

P.S.
Please read my story :)
3/22/2013 c29 28Glissoning Raven
What?! But...why...how...what did you just do! She can't be dead! No, no she has to survive and so do some of the others. Please update soon, the agony of not knowing is killing me!
Great place to put a cliffhanger btw, though it may take me some time to forgive you for doing it. :) Beautifully written as always.
-Raven-
3/9/2013 c28 Way-Gway
'The Bottom of the Barrel' is by far the best name for a fictional pub I've seen thus far. Ever. :D
3/8/2013 c28 Glissoning Raven
One question...why aren't there more reviews?! Seriously! This piece is creative and unique. It's a hidden gem. Okay, maybe it's a bit of a diamond in the rough. Most of the problems I found where inconsistencies in characterization, especially with Claudia. One moment she docile and shy and the next moment she's cutting a man's ear off for insulting her. Now, if the characterization change has something to do with the magic of the sword, that's a little more understandable, but you need to explain that.
Please don't take this as I am tearing your work apart. In fact it is quite the opposite. I love it! You add just the right amount of humor and balance it out with the serious moments perfectly. You spelling and grammar are better than most of the stories posted on here. Your chapters are just the right length, not too short but not too long either. Honestly I could probably ramble on for an hour picking out all the good things I see in this story because this diamond isn't very rough. I see such potential in you as a writer. Keep up the good work!
-Raven-
2/26/2013 c3 10Complex Variable
Hello again.

[Finally, the attendant pronounced her work complete] - - - Maybe you could just have her say, "There, done" and then take a step back, or something. :D?

["Ergo my favorite by default!"] - - - They speak Latin? Xo

[Either way, she stepped out of her rooms ] - - - For some reason, this phrasing seems odd, particularly the word "rooms". I fee like it should say "room". x3

[Their father, Lord Maxwell Rosemont, sat with King Edrick Septimus and Prince Edrick Octavian at the high table, looking glumly at his empty wineglass. ] - - - So, feudal society?

[He offered his arm, and she took it. They entered the ball together and took in the proceedings. A small string ensemble played in the corner, and a few couples waltzed in the center of the room.] - - - Waltzing! :D Ah, I love waltzes. I can't dance, but I can play them on the piano. Lovely stuff. One-two-three one-two-three. Maybe you could add a sentence about what KIND of waltz it is—fast, or slow; graceful, or rhythmic; formal, or celebratory. It would help cultivate a more palpable atmosphere for the scene. IMO, you've quite nearly got it—it definitely feels like a noble's soirée—but the atmosphere—the background, the mood—seems just a tad shallow, if that makes any sense.

[I… It's an honor!"] - - - the "I" in "It's" should be lower-case. An ellipsis is not equal to a period.

["Lady Claudia Rosemont, your highness."] - - - Shouldn't it be "Highness"? I see a lot of lower-case "highness"es here. Capital-P Princes and capital-K Kings deserve capital-letter honorifics.

[ The rather tall fellow with dark hair.] - - - I would say, "The rather fellow with the dark hair." The "the" just feels right to me.

[Of course Allister did not know he was mere feet from her in the final battle!] - - - This should be in the "had been" tense; "Of course Allister did not know he had been mere feet from her in the final battle!"

["Indeed. I am Isenthrel Mantarodesyn."] - - - Oh, my eyes! xD How do you pronounce this!? For the love of calculus, please insert a pronunciation guide! x3

[The young woman knew that Cassius had been taught by his swords master as a young boy first to dance, and then how to actually fight.] - - - this sentence could be smoother.

[She had barely had the chance to pluck one of Rosemont's prized grapes when she was whirled around.] - - - Um, why is she referring to her family in the third person? xD This should say "She had barely had the chance to pluck one of her family's prized grapes when she was whirled around."

["Leave me alone, Cato."] - - - I feel like just writing this line of dialogue is not enough here; maybe show her "struggling", as you say she did.

[But the baron only tightened his grasp on her wrist.] - - - Confusing; you haven't said that he grabbed her wrist, so how can he tighten his grip on her wrist?

This little scene… Claudia is surprisingly docile for someone who fought in the Final Battle against the Dark Lord. Xo Why DOESN'T she scream? That would be far more interesting than having her brother come to save the day; it would also "show" the reader the verity of Cato's insinuations that Claudia's cries for help would be dismissed by the men, rather than simply "telling" us, as it is now. In a similar vein, how can it be that Marius just punched Cato bloody, yet no one reacts to it at all?

You do a good job in differentiating your characters' various modes of dialogue—the formal versus the informal; especially with Marius. I like it. :D

It's rather strange, having the Mother appear in the room like that. xD If other people can't see the Mother, then Claudia is just talking to herself—which is quite weird. On the other hand, if the Mother IS visible to others, than her just appearing would be quite weird. Maybe having Claudia being in a secluded spot would help?

["What an odd one," she murmured to herself. "Who would not want such a boon?" Then, she gritted her teeth. "The Darkness must have a sovereign. I cannot afford to waste more time dallying with her. Drastic measures must be taken.] - - - Then what happens? Does she disappear? Does she just stand there? Does she start break-dancing? Don't leave loose ends like this; it's REALLY annoying. x3

Okay, so after the Mother appears and says her two cents, the chapter becomes rather boring. There are several problems, as I see it:

1) It's really jarring, the way you (and Claudia's character) just WOOSH out of "Dark Mother talking to Claudia" mode and into "Heroes of Light Story" mode. If I was in Claudia's shoes, I'd be thinking almost non-stop about the Mother and her mysterious demands, mulling it over in my mind. It's not at all believable that Claudia can shift gears so easily, and just blow it off. Same for the aftermath of Cato's harassing her. Instead of just having Claudia blow it off both externally AND internally, why not include her reflections, her worries, her hopes, etc.—show her reacting!

2) For someone who is vehemently against info-dumping, the story about the Heroes in the second half of this chapter seems rather hypocritical. It's a well-written info-dump, granted, but I feel that it's the wrong sort of bone to throw the reader's way at this point. Yes, I know that it's tied in to the whole representatives of Darkness/Light thing you get into later, but, here, it has little bearing on developing information relevant to Claudia or her immediate family. Same thing with the mentions of all the different lands; yes, it's nice to know, but it has no immediate relevance to the reader. I don't (and so far, can't) do anything with "the battle for Frost River Bridge" or "Syballa" or "that Katunai from Arakurrom". Instead, why not develop things that CAN be utilized by the reader—things connected to the characters and their immediate surroundings—things that provide context for story-elements that are currently present, rather than those that are far away. Talk about the Rosemont grapes/vineyards—that could lead to family history, or something. That's relevant to understanding who Claudia and her family is, and where they come from. Returning to the "hero story" thing, it also interrupts the "drama"/"action" of this chapter. You've been developing a trajectory for Claudia in this chapter, and then you abandon it. Have her ruminate over what's happened to her so far, and her thoughts about her life/society/etc.—then, you can get a strong dramatic effect from the twist ending of the chapter.

CV
2/15/2013 c2 Complex Variable
Phew... this is much less crazy. :D

I would recommend adding more detail to the scene inside the room (kitchen?) and the house. I don't know what anything looks like. What about the furniture? Are there windows?—what can be seen out of them? What do these people look like? (I see that you give descriptions bit by bit, later on, but I think it would be better if you just got it over with in the beginning. I don't like having disembodied voices floating around in empty settings when I imagine a story. x3) What are they wearing? Is she eating in bed

[he did not do mornings well.] - - - I feel like this could be phrased better.

[They walked to the stables in a comfortable, companionable silence. The grooms quickly saddled their horses and the siblings rode through Rosemont Keep's heavy wooden doors.] - - - You could expand this, and insert descriptions in here, for instance.

[the hunting hounds her brother cared for nipping around the horses' hooves. ] - - - This kind of stuff—this is the problem. I don't like it when story elements just "pop" into place like that, even though they've been there for some time according to the story's chronology. It makes me have to do a "do-over" in the scene I picture in my mind—and that's really quite distracting.

[The summer breeze was warm on their face, and the trees swayed slightly above their heads. The boughs made soft shhhing noises as the wind played through the leaves. The dappled shadows on the well-worn trail seemed a whole world away from the sinister air this forest had conveyed mere months ago.] - - - More of this. I want more of this kind of stuff. :3 You can obviously do great descriptions when you want to, so, just insert more of them. My imagination cries out to want to better experience yours. ;)

Also, what kind of trees, and what kind of forest?

["Briefly," admitted Marius.] - - - I think "Marius admitted" sounds better.

I find it odd that Marius calls Claudia "Claude"—that's a boy's name. "Claud" would make more sense, I think. "Dia" would also be a nice, affectionate term.

You don't have enough dialogue tags in this, IMO—especially for Claudia. Just because she's the viewpoint character, it doesn't mean that you can leave her lines of dialogue just floating in the page, orphaned from their speaker's name.

[ along it to help the irrigation of the peon fields. ] - - - "along it to help irrigate the peons' fields."

[as they passed through a meadow dotted with pink wildflowers.] - - - That's it? "pink wildflowers"? Why you no give the pretty pretty descriptions of the pretty pretty scenery? It makes me sad. Xo

[You could have ruined all your pretty clothes."] - - - After this, it would make complete sense to have Claudia look at her clothes (and herself), and thus, to give the reader a better description of what they (and she) look(s) like.

[upon their faces a look of serene calm] - - - "looks of serene calm graced their faces"

["We are Darkness's Triad."] - - - I don't care what anybody says; never write an " 's " after a word that ends in "s"—just the apostrophe will do.

["But your people are not. The creatures of the Dark suffer each day you do not accept your destiny, Claudia."] - - - Don't you mean "our people?"—the Dark's? More importantly, this is a TERRIBLE justification for why we should care about the "Dark".

Okay, the Triad thing was done rather ridiculously; it felt way too casual, especially for beings that are supposed to be supernatural. Also—more importantly—if you've established that the Dark Lord was "evil", why should anyone care about what happens to the Dark beings.

["I can't do it," Claudia murmured. "I can't be the Dark Lord. I'm… I'm just a woman."] - - - That's a TERRIBLE reason. xD What about the "But you guys are the living incarnations of evil!" argument?

[Dark Lord Melestrophrastes was one of the most benevolent kings to ever walk this world. ] - - - And yet, he wasn't the one who was killed in Chapter 1. If a Dark Lord is meant to actually cause strife for the beings of Light, than screw the "Balance".

Ooooookay, so, I skipped/skimmed ahead to the point in the story when the necessary info-dump about "the Darkness" occurred (Chapter 5). For starters, this "Triad" seems quite bumbling and petty—at least by the standards of quasi-divine beings. xD But, more importantly, your arguments as to why the Darkness is necessary could use some work. First of all, it would be winter in the opposite hemisphere of the planet, so, in theory, you would just need to transport mature crops across the equator, and they would magically age and bear fruit. Also, it's very easy to induce ripening of fruit using certain chemicals, or by creating artificial environments/weather (such as cooling a field using magic). x3

Secondly—and this bothers me—you're making Claudia somewhat of an idiot. Xo Although, yes, the argument for "maintaining the balance" has some merit itself, it's quite obvious from the Triad's constant ramblings about supreme power that their concern about the Balance is limited to the extent that it concerns their own survival. The problem with your premise (and it's quite easy to fix this) is that you're trying to play both sides of the moral game, at once. On one hand, you're trying to make the (admirable) point that the Darkness isn't inherently evil—that it's just different from "light", that's all. But on the other hand, you're obviously going to have Dark (Darth? xD) Claudia commit "evil" acts later on—absolute power corrupts absolutely, etc. etc. This, of course, is a contradiction of your assertion that Dark isn't inherently evil. As it is, if the Darkness just needs a vessel, Claudia could agree, and then go on her merry way, never using her power—simply acting as a vehicle for it, so that the Balance wouldn't be upset. If Dark isn't really evil, than it should have no reason to fight against Light; if it has to fight against light, and if humans are, as Claudia says, "creatures of light", then, for all in tense and purposes, Darkness IS evil.

I think your plot would be more compelling if you made Claudia a more dynamic character. Instead of having her get "converted" to the Dark side—the process of which reveals all those silly contradictions I was talking about—make her actively embrace the Darkness from the her a rebellious streak and/or disdain for being manipulated by her family/parents—that way, her conversion to the Dark will be far more connected to her own character, and thus, to her development as an individual. In this case, you've resolved the contradictions by placing the Light/Dark conflict within Claudia's own character, and her own conceptions of morality. Furthermore, doing so would create a lovely irony in the story: Claudia agrees to the Triad's decree because she wants to be in control of her life, only to end up becoming the pawn of a higher power—the Darkness.

That would be far more exciting—but, to do so, you'd need to establish Claudia's rebelliousness/desire-for-power right from the get-go, by showing her being forced in a situation that she is adamantly opposed to, but can do nothing about—do this for a few chapters—and then have the Dark Triad appear, and have her accept their offer after just a single chapter of Claudia's mulling over her desires to get control over her life. As it is, the whole "women are powerless" issue you raise is really vacuous—it's a cop-out, 'cause you don't really explore it in depth.

Instead of having the Triad spill out awkward arguments in favor of Darkness, just show Claudia suffering, and then have her grab the power in an attempt to get control over her life. Try to have the Triad "explain" as little as possible—otherwise, you let the cat out of the bag. Slowly, Claudia's power grows out of her ability to control and/or she starts being consumed with Darkness, and causing worse and worse things to happen, etc. Cue Claudia's own conflict about what she's doing, and her decaying morality—that she's slowly turning into a monster—and you'd have quite an interesting story to tell.

I hope this makes up for the crummy review of Chapter 1. :)

CV
2/15/2013 c1 Complex Variable
Haldoo. I've seen you occasionally hanging out around the Review Game Forum, so, I might as well pay one of your stories a visit. ;)

I'd like to see a pronunciation guide, please. :3

[Their mouths were lolling, baring their fangs for all the world to see. They were accompanied by changelings, who would writhe and alter their form at will. The conniving shape shifters were notoriously hard to kill.] - - - I notice that you have this habit of making some of your descriptions just a wee bit longer than they need to be. For instance, "They lolled mouths, baring their fangs." has all the power of your sentence, but less of the baggage ("for all the world to see"). Likewise, "writhe" just doesn't feel right, here—I imagine them having seizures on the ground, not transforming. xD Also "shape shifters" should be hyphenated: "shape-shifters".

[howling with a sound so terrible that when it reached a loud enough level, men's eardrums burst open. ] - - - this is slightly over-the-top; just write "howling with a sound so terrible that it burst men's eardrums."—straight, and to the point. In my experience, over-the-top descriptions are best done curtly, so as to keep the reader from stumbling over unnecessary words.

[above as arrows from the elves peppered their wings.] - - - "above as the elves' arrows peppered their wings.", or—even better: "above, as the elves' arrows peppered their wings with blood."

"Deep Forest" and "Great Forest"—is there a difference? If so, the names should be more dissimilar, don't you think?

[Those that had more martial skills than magical] - - - this phrase sounds awkward in my ears.

[Silver furred wargs] - - - "Silver-furred" (hyphen needed).

[A herd of beautiful unicorns] - - - really, that's all that's going for them? Beauty? xD

[Allister gave a fencer's salute.] - - - Meaning? Does he raise the

["It was a cantrip. It's fine. You needed it." ] - - - a what?

Okay, so, I tried to finish this chapter—really, I did—but, I just couldn't manage it. Xo

You have a nice writing style—not fancy or anything, but it gets the job done; however, that's not the problem that I see here; the content is what bothers and baffles me. I've read stories that started with a combat scenes, but, this is just... crazy. You're pulling out all the stops—not to mention, most of the tropes of the fantasy genre—in the very first chapter of your story. It's chaotic and terribly overwhelming. Worse, it's ridiculous.

You say in your author's notes at the end of this chapter that: [I'm pretty sure this will be like no other fantasy story you've ever read. The line between good and evil is never black and white, not here at least. This is a new, unique take on the fantasy genre.] However, reading this chapter feels like reading all of the most clichéd high fantasy stories in a row. Not only is there too much information, but the information is, from my perspective, only detrimental to the story.

If, as you say, you want to take a unique take on the fantasy genre, you should stay as far away as possible from manichean characterizations of your fantasy world in terms of capital-L "Light" and capital-D "Darkness". Every time I see those words with a capital letter in the middle of a sentence, my eyes roll. Xo I get that you're going to be telling this story from the villain's perspective, but, that doesn't make up for the fact that you're still operating within a heavily absolutist dichotomy between "Light" and "Darkness". Setting up your story this way makes for a world that, IMO, virtually without nuance.

For instance, why are goblins, shape-shifters, werewolves, and so on "automatically" grouped into the "Dark" side? Why are centaurs and unicorns and elves and so on "automatically" grouped into the "Light" side? Doing so completely forces the cultures, societies, politics, history, and livelihoods of all of these fantasy beings into ugly little clichéd boxes, where the only answers are "because that's the way it is". You introduce many, many elements of the story-world into this chapter, and yet you spend little, if any time on giving them any depth. What's an "elf" in your world? How can humans communicate with unicorns? Are werewolves a separate species, or are they "cursed"/"afflicted" humans? What are all these countries? Who are these people? Where is this happening? WHY is this happening? Why is the Dark Lord "Dark"? Etc. Etc.

I would recommend doing a 180 on this Chapter—make it intently focused on ONE, SIMPLE EXPERIENCE—something that is captivating and intriguing, rather than over-the-top and overwhelming. Tone down all that blood-and-thunder. Save it for later, when the battles being fought actually MEAN something to the reader. Right now, it feels very immature—all of the "features" of fantasy, but with not a whit of depth behind them. It's honestly nauseating, I'm afraid.

The fact that this is all a dream doesn't make me any more interested in this story; I have little, if any perceptions of Claudia as an individual. I can see only cardboard figures here, and that—IMO— does not make for a captivating story.

I'm sorry if this review seems harsh; I didn't intend for it to be like this, but, it just ended up that way. I feel bad for leaving a disappointing review, so, I'll take a look at the next chapter. Hopefully, things will get more serious there.

Apologies in advance,

CV
1/20/2013 c22 geekman9097
Hello, geekman9097 back.
I too get the same sentiment or feeling as the person below. This was reenforced when the maiden calls darkness evil, which has been shown to not be true. She is using allister to achieve a person al goal. That said, i get the feeling that the person below os roght, as i had that same feeling, and am using an example from the book to reenforce this.
1/20/2013 c1 Guest
I am now rereading hwat you have, and get a feeling that it is not a battle between light and dark, but simply a rivalry or jealousy between the two triads, and they convince their folowers that the other triad's are their mortal enemies, while they could co exists while the triads themselves battle it out.
This is probably not what you were aiming for, but it is the feeling i get.
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