Critique of Chapter XVII
By: Dhalgren99


Hey all! Once again another brief hiatus but there's no reason why I won't be able to nail down the last few chapters that'll bring me up to date and thus more fully able to participate in some of the wacky chapter construction that's going on ("Quick!" they say, "Write a bunch more chapters so he's not caught up!")...isn't that swell? My life has finally settled down...for five weeks at least, before the clammy spectre that I like to call school decides to swallow me up again. Then you're all going to forget what I look like. Oh wait, you have no idea what I look like. It's my family that's going to forget. You know it's bad when you have to show ID to get back into your house ("Who are you?" "Mom, it's me, your eldest son, your firstborn!" "Our son vanished a long time ago...never saw him again...you do bear a strange resemblance though...probably should remove that ugly mask first." "Hey!").

But does anyone really care? No, didn't think so. You're all here to take in one of my fine, fine reviews of your fine, fine work. We're all like good wine. I prefer to enjoy these chapters with crackers...how about the rest of you? Or do you just read this and have to stop yourselves from reaching for the spoon to carve your eyes out? Heh, you'd be surprised how often I get that reaction.

Still, here we are with the ever perky NovaReinna and another slaphappy episode with everyone's favorite humanoid shaped blob of pure thought...the endearingly wacky Sir Scat. This chapter still seems to stand apart from the others, Darvon is briefly mentioned in a roundabout sort of way, which is a nice crossover from the last FragmentFour chapter where he appeared and is now apparently riding Darvon (and boy does that come across wrong when I say it like that!). Other than that, not much of the ongoing events are mentioned...the sort of "chapter stasis" that settled down a few chapters is still going strong, babysteps are being taken (how's that meeting going, kids?...) so I guess we can look at this as a nice diversion from the main action...I hope something is going to happen soon though. Please? Guess I'll have to find out. Lillian barely shows up either, I wonder where she's at...the lovely Maid of Jade (eh?) is mentioned toward the end but our feminist out of time and her freaky metal bird (is he metal? boy, wait until he hits that oxidation spell...whoops...who says science can't be fun?) are AWOL, for this bit o' Realms madness at least. Is she invited to the meeting, I can very much see her trying to force her way into the meeting, though it all depends on where Karl holds in...though she's shapely enough that if Odan does indeed appear, she can probably convince him to let her in for...er, favors later. Not that Lillian would do that, but she might tell the promiscuous Scribe otherwise. Doing it's a different story. Hey, even the mighty Scribe possesses that most male of areas.

The writing here is extremely efficient, there's not a word out of place, the dialogue is to the point, the descriptions balance between "let's give the reader what they need" and "Let's aim a firehose at their brain!" quite nicely and you still possess a finely tuned sense of humor, the timing is excellent and while it'll be interesting to see if Scat has potential outside comic foil, I have a feeling you've got that all planned. I was actually curious about this chapter because I had my doubts that Scat could hold down a chapter, he's so nebulous and works best playing off other characters that I wasn't sure it could be done. The peeks into his warped thought processes are good...I know he's thinking human like thoughts right now because that's the shape and form he's in but I'd definitely like to see the more "alien" face of his thoughts, I mean Scat is as far from human as you can be...in his purest form he has to be something utterly out of this world, the possibilities for some nifty prose are quite high, if you ask me (are you? oh, I suppose now, I'll stay quiet)...still the whimsy inherent in his thoughts now are fun...ah well, a boy can dream can't he?

Probably the best part about Scat is how nothing ever fazes him whatsoever, that has a lot to do with his not being human but his utter almost psychotic cheerful in the face of any danger, no matter how large or small is rather comforting. I mean, why can't we all just be more like a quasi-sentient blob of pseudoenergy and not let life's little problems irritate us? I think there's a lesson we can all learn here.

For the rest of us, we can laugh that the idiot can't ride a horse correctly. Hell, I've been on a horse exactly twice in my entire life and I can probably do it if pressed. Maybe even starched.

I do wonder if someone stabs Scat through the chest, if he'll think he's dead and drop over and basically die...at least until he either gets bored with being dead or someone manages to convince him otherwise. I pity the poor dragon that tries to eat him. Dude, that's a hell of an ulcer.

The brownies are beyond cute...I just want to take them home with me. However, in this state that will get me arrested so I shall merely admire them from afar. I like how they're utterly polite, even when faced with a very dense little being...heck they even call him "Your reverance" which I thought was saved for members of the clergy (religion is something that hasn't been touched on all that much...Karl seems to be a druid, Odan alternates worshipping his pen and his crotch, Hellbore seems to be rather agnostic (as getting your entire family wiped out will tend to do to you), but everyone else...well if there's gods nobody really mentions them (Odan mentioned the "Benevolent One") being that dragons are about to kill everyone, I think it's about time the characters found out if there's a god/goddness/anthropomorphic deity representation of your choice)...actually how does one go about becoming a knight, even? We've seen two fairly poor ones as it is and Scat isn't really a knight...someone had to bestow it, unless the Realms are one of those libertarian places where you wake up one morning and you're like, "Gee I'm going to be a knight today!". Gah, it makes my head hurt.

Oh, wait the pain has gone away and, ew...there's blood on my hands, how did that get there? Ah well, it'll wash off. Lord of the Pit, eh? That's a dubious honor if I ever saw one...interesting how everyone is treating Scat like royalty since the consensus last chapter (last NovaReinna that is, True Believers!) was that the Pit contest was sort of a joke that nobody took seriously...is life that boring around the Inn or do the people just need something to distract them from the fact that people are getting killed (whatever happened to that...since Hellbore very much left everyone in the dark about that...bad, bad werewolfette)...you'd think Ricore alone would keep life exciting...but I guess you can't have everything. My little town (one square mile! And I still can get lost!) has me and yet that strangely hasn't made it more exciting. Perhaps nobody truly cares. "Let the monsters use our bones for toothpicks" they say, "Let Karnak turn our pancreas into uranium, we care not!" Go figure.

Scat's thoughts don't seem as scattered (heh) as they have been in the past, that does drain some of his patented zaniness but makes the chapter far more coherant, it is weird to see him actually making an odd sort of sense...some of his thinking almost borders on (gasp!) logic...hm, we've never seen Morphyds before, but I wonder how long they can safely stay in one form before they forget what they used to be? Or before they start to lose coherency completely and become subject to the whims of the majority (i.e., the people think that Scat is a heroic warrior, therefore like it or not, he's a heroic warrior...if all the dragons think really hard that he's a toadstool...well, wonder how Lillian likes spores in her hair?).

Actually it was kind of disappointing to note that the gnomish subplot hadn't been picked up since the last chapter, they seemed all ready to talk to him and yet they haven't been mentioned. Did they talk to him in between chapters and we'll get that story later (oh, poor, poor continuity, what are they doing to you...and where the devil is Craven anyway?)...a mention would have been nice, if only to get us all on the same page...but then I doubt I'll ever be in step with Scat (nice name for a workout video, for the record, if that knight thing doesn't work out...)

So Scat gets an entourage that might be more trouble than it's worth (but cute trouble!) and...hey! Moog is back. Great, he was too damn good to be a one-off character in a single chapter, it's good to see him still around scheming (especially since the Pit contest did work out very well, it's not his fault he's too devious for his own good)...I can't wait to see what he has in store for the rest of the Innsfolk...the knights were as fun as ever and Moog's one sentence description of Lillian is probably the funniest thing in the chapter (and also gave me more about what she looks like than I've seen so far...oh, THATS why she's called the Maid of Jade, she has green skin...oh, now you know the "Lillian smash puny goblin! Why screwy knight not leave Lillian alone!" jokes are going to start flying! I'm so glad you guys don't read comics)...it'll be interesting to see those two wits playing against each other again later. Even funnier to see them having to team up to save the Inn or something, I'm sure Lillian will have to bite her tongue there, even as the two of them are running for their lives (and actually Moog wouldn't be so bad, he appears to be a decent strategist, he just has that self absorbed thing going on).

And that's it, really. Another decently short chapter, boy you folks are going to have to work on that epic length stuff, I write sentences longer than this chapters! Still, quality is better than quantity (one day I'll learn that) and this chapter serves the purpose very well, giving us something to chuckle over while we're STILL waiting for that damn meeting. It does fit in nicely with the rest of the saga, but feels like oddly adrift since it has so little to do with recent events (and I don't mean the Pit chapter but then heck it ignores stuff there, too) and while Sir Scat and Moog are both pretty funny, we don't really get into their heads yet (and the one person who's head we should be getting into is absent...put her in next time...please? I'm giving Bambi eyes) but I guess we're really not supposed to. Still, you've shown that you can do characterization with the best of them, a bunch of funny moments are nice but...eh, you know what I should stop complaining, since this was a pleasant way to spend an hour or so reading and writing about it. It even advances the plot, in its own little internal fashion. Neat.

I think I've exhausted my potential for tonight, boys and girls (some may say I've done so long ago)...the work is still as stellar as always and I'm really looking forward to see things kicked into high gear soon, the stuff that's been passed back and forth (again, except for that Dhalgren guy, who remains consistently uninteresting) is rather exciting and I'm curious to see how all the various ideas get worked into the still cooling plot. Hm. Strained metaphor, but no more strained than my mother's delicious pea soup. Ha, my mother doesn't make soup! Or does she? Perhaps I'm my own mother! There's so little you know. Or, for that matter, care about.

Sob.

But I'll get over it.

Take care folks, and mark your calenders for tomorrow, 'cause that's when we'll be back!

Bye now!

- Michael

"Your friends didn't make it through..."
- Genesis, "Dance On a Volcano"


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