Critique of Chapter I
By: Dhalgren99

Hello to everyone out there. As DOlarnick mentioned some time ago, I was asked to take a poke in and see what kind of fun you folks have going on here. So here I am. Hopefully if time holds out for me, I'll eventually read every tale of the chapter that's written (that's the plan at least)...the message board can get kind of messy and the website is so nicely formatted that I can't unless anybody has any specific objections, I'll just e-mail my comments...other note on that note (I'm a very recursive man, get used to parenthetical comments) to make life easier I just dumped everyone's name in an address book, and when I comment I'll just send it out to everyone, that seems to be standard procedure anyway, but if there are those who prefer not to have me rambling at them on a quasi-regular basis, or would prefer I only send them comments on chapters they wrote specifically, let me know and I'll adapt to that person's wishes. It won't offend me, I've been called worse.

Oh, let me get some introductions out of the way, if only because I love doing this sort of thing. Some of you know me, some of you don't, many wish they'd never met me but to all of them my name remains the same: Michael. Actually, in all honesty my personal rule is that as long as I know you're talking to me, I don't care what you call me, so if it's Michael or Mike or Dhalgren or Dhal or Pouches the Giddy Kangaroo so if none of those options interest you, make up your own. Maybe I'll get it legally changed if I like your idea better. Quick background: (oh ho, right, like I do anything quick) I'm a college student and even though it's summer I'm still not out of the ballpark yet so if several days pass without comment from me (and if the sun doesn't stop moving in the sky and everything, y'all know the drill) it's probably because I'm tucked in a corner quietly weeping to myself and rocking back and forth, frantically trying to remind myself that I'm supposed to make a lot of money when I graduate. So they say. On more relevant matters, I do write, I'm not the most prolific but I'm the most longwinded (and yes Virginia, there is a difference), interested persons may find my stuff scattered around the various prose boards, lately the novel board but like most dogs I leave droppings all over. Fantasy isn't my genre of choice, though I have dabbled in it from time to time (examples of that mess are on the board as well)...I don't let it stop me though, so fret not, I won't turn this into a daily rant on why I hate fantasy.

I think that's everything, anything else I think of I'll send your way but I figured this way you'll get some idea of what kind of nutcase you've invited to share in the festivities. I'll try to keep my comments to the point but I go off on tangents almost every other paragraph which can be good or bad depending on your patience that day. If you find yourself getting frustrated, stop reading, print out a copy and then proceed to stomp and scream all over it . . . feel free to draw my face on it as well (I look not unlike those Have a Nice Day smileys)...I hear it's very therapeutic.

But now, enough of that stuff about me, let's continue to talk about me while I pretend to talk about the story. No, no, only kidding. If you've made it this far down (or just skipped down...hi!) then let it be known that I'm reading DOlarnick's Prologue/Epilogue, which appears to be subtitled A Metaphorical Tale. It also appears to be the product of a seriously weird mind...I'm not sure I knew exactly what was going on but I'm not one to talk when it comes down to stuff like that. How much of this is actual "action" and how much is "metaphorical" action I guess depends on the reader...taking most of this literally, it appears that Odan muses over some things, faces down the Four Horsemen, gets his head chopped off, said head turns into crystal, a giant white beast turns the guy who performed the act into cutlets and then jumps into a pool where Odan dropped a bunch of other crystals.

O-kay. I think we'd better go slower. The first thing that struck me about Odan is that if you rearrange the letters in his name you get "DanO"...I don't know if that was intentional or not but it's kind of fun. I don't know anything about him other than what was written so far, I delibrately didn't read the bios that are helpfully placed on the site (because real men don't need them, he intones in his deep manly, sure).

Odan seems about as single minded as they come, you get the feeling if someone dropped him in front of a firing squad, he'd get the ol' book out and start writing about it. He doesn't seem to be very human either, many of the comments he passes seem to suggest that he was human but abandoned it some time ago or "moved up" perhaps achieving a sort of transcendence...he's almost godlike in attitude which probably accounts for his detached confidance. We don't get much of a sense of him here...he's so confident that we don't ever think that the Four Horsemen (like Metallica! bang your heads!) are going to do anything drastic to him. He's definitely too smart for his own good here...if I may confide, I was almost rooting for the Horseman to run him through with that thirty three inch blade (whoa! that's a hell of a long sword...I can imagine the Horseman standing around in their spare time (especially the Horsemen that aren't needed that often) comparing sword sizes... "Dude, why did the Dark Master give you the long one?" "All in how you ask, my friend...") but then Odan probably would have just dipped his finger in his congealing blood and started writing about it. Figures.

Hm, for Four Horsemen they aren't too brave...four on one odds, I'd take them. Still it'd make for a short story if they were just like, "Oh the hell with it" and piled on Odan...concepts come flying at the reader almost too fast to be absorbed, it's definitely giddy, in one chapter alone we've got Others and Odan and Horsemen and the White Beast (hey I've been called that too!) and Pools of Life and God my head hurts somebody make it stop oh please! No, just kidding, keep them coming.

One of the things I'm not sure of in this chapter are the charactizations, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to feel about the characters yet. Odan is sort of fun and seems to be on the side of good but we don't get to peek into his head too much (bias alert: I'm a huge fan of digging inside people's heads) and so when Moultrance out of nowhere beheads him (points for not going for the obvious and making it gory though)...which appears to be one of the things immortals aren't found of (Holy Shades of Highlander, Batman!)...would the Horsemen have turned into crystal as well (and if I were Odan I would have taken the crystals and written naughty, naughty things on them) if Odan hadn't just magicked them out of existence or whatnot) I don't know if I should root for Moultrance (I mean Scrivener isn't a word with great echoes) or hiss at him or anything. It just sort of...happens and now it's like, "Ah, now what?"

But...ah ha, they apparently were friends. Boo hiss time. But wait...maybe Odan did something to deserve it! Ah! Fish or cut bait! See what happens when you try to draw conclusions from the first chapter...bad idea boys and girls, bad bad idea. I think I'll stick to just commenting. Moultrance is actually kind of fun, I like my villains jolly and his pointing and laughing sort of reminds of the kind of stuff we'd do when we'd pick on the smallest kid on the playground and take his stuff and...oh wait that happened to me. Talk about transferance.

Okay, this falls under "Do as I say not as I do" territory (anyone who's read my stuff will understand why) but some of the sentences seem to be fragments (you're not the person I expect that kind of thing from...oh ha ha I'm so droll) like:

Moultrance held the glistening stone high above his head, tightly clenched within his fist--"I've won, you fool-" his sentence cut off in mid-speech--The Terrible Howling Beast...

That for example. Things flow real well until you hit something like that and then get that fly splattered on the windshield sensation. But that's a minor comment.

Moving on, the White Beast perhaps gets the best line, "Roarrrr!"'s going to be fairly hard to challenge Odan if nothing can stand up against the White Beast (but then hey buddy where were you a few minutes ago)...Moultrance should feel grateful he just had his arm bitten off (ow!) and not his head.

I'm going to assume that the Pool of Life will restore the lifegems to actual people in some fashion or another. Moultrance should probably just chop his own head off and let it roll into the water, no doubt he'll feel much better.

Interesting chapter...the fun thing about collaborative writing is that predicting where this is going turns out to be an exercise in futility (not that I'm not going to try anyway, being the Squire of Futility) but I think I'll tag along for the ride nonetheless. The descriptions were stunning, multifaceted, and rather offkilter (and even oddly placed, some things are described in intricate details and others like the apparently fearsome Horsemen are given just a few lines) and made the chapter worth reading just for those.

Hey, I'm off to a good start at least, those of you reading out there might be getting that queasy feeling about now but it'll pass. Trust me. Feel free to comment on my comments, give me advice on what I'm doing wrong, refute my statements, call me names, it's all in good fun.

I shall definitely enjoy perusing this little shindig though. Later in the week I'll try to continue (what's that? everyone holding their breath?...why I'm so flattered) but until then, all youse take care!

Cheerfully obtuse (or obtusely cheerful), I mundanely remain:

- Michael

"There's a fat old lady outside the saloon, laying out the credit cards she plays full tune, the deck is uneven right from the start and all of their hands are playing a part..."
- Genesis, "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight"

Critiques and/or comments are most welcome.
If you would like to critique this, or any other chapter,
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The WordSmiths thank you for your interest and participation.