Critique of Chapter XIX(A)
By: Dhalgren99

Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! Emerging from whatever hole he crawled back into...heeerrreee's Pouches! As I explained to the writers a few days ago, I found myself with a lot more time at night to get things done and as typical for me, I choose to use that time for evil instead of good. So while I'm ten thousand words or more farther along in that wacky fiasco I call a novel you kids have been Pouchless (like most mammals, I suppose, unless some of you are evolutionary throwbacks like myself)...DanO I hope to make this worth the wait, especially since you're plugging along with it (which I suggest just gets added onto this chapter but you and NovaReinna can debate that one when the time comes) and have basically finished another part of it. We'll see what we can do. Who's this we? Why, me, myself and I, of course. And we all say hello!

So let's get this bucket kicked into gear, all right? Prepare to rock the party, gentlefolk, because the master of Cheerful Incoherence is back. Um, that'd be me. DanO is actually fairly straightfoward for the majority of the chapter, as we take another tiny baby step toward getting the spirited Odan toward the Inn.

They're actually close as it seems here but I have a feeling this is going to be the longest two mile walk we've ever seen. Tri-Nova hasn't made her journey yet, apparently (and it seems the writers have gone into the meeting...I'm curious to see how Craven gets explained, since like I said it's clear he was in the area at the time of the Lord of the Pit contest...did he run from Odan?) and no doubt a lot of other nuttiness chronicled by the lovely writers hasn't happened yet. I know no one cares but I like to keep track of that stuff for myself since as a reader not knowing who is where at what time can truly mess you up.

Craven is written fairly consistently between both Kenicy and DanO...both appear to explore different aspects of the character, DanO appears to play up the "schemer" aspect of Craven quite a bit, it's about the third time he's mentioned getting Odan into the Pit and letting him have it out with random people. And as we all know, Malef is still on Craven's trail...granted I rather doubt if Craven reaches the Inn (which we know he does) Malef will be able to do anything, frankly I don't want to mess with Karl (unless he's not funny if Craven got there and everyone has left to go to Mordock..."Hello? Anyone? Hello?") and bloodshed on the Inn grounds would certainly be a case where Karl might have to uncork the can of whup-ass I'm sure he always carries. Though he is a sissy druid, so he might be too busy hugging trees to do anything really macho. Yeah, you can control plants...I'm so scared because you know what plants can do...catch on fire! That's right. Better to grab that sword there, Karl, you might have a better shot. If Karnak doesn't turn your brain into cotton candy (or the Realms equivilent).

But back to Odan. Or Craven, for that matter. Interesting that he should want to talk to the Skull since it a) seemed to scare the utter crap out of him next time (which is the proper response of any reasonable sane person to a talking skull) and b) Odan did say not to talk to it (but then proceeded to do just that, so I can see where the mixed message factor might come in).

He had seen magic incantations performed before - at least through his eyes -- when his mystical lute, Odellis, whispered to him in her seductive, musical tales of a long, forgotten past.

This line confused me a seems to me to be two different thoughts tacked together in the same sentence...Craven is saying that he's seen people do magic...okay fair enough this is a fantasy world, granted but I can't see how "at least through his eyes" (how else do you see stuff?) and what does that have to do with his lute whispering to him about a forgotten past? You may want to look at that again and see if either I'm off my rocker (possible) or maybe you aren't conveying what you want to say as clearly as you'd like. I'm not sure what it's trying to say but at the very least I think it should be two separate sentences since it seems to be two separate thoughts. But your call, DanO.

Um, the transition into "Past events" is none too smooth...the "Past Events" thing reminds me of stuff you used to do in the Tick when he fought ninjas, they'd stand on the roof and read off their parting threat off a paper that said "Parting threat"...I'm sure you can think of a better way to segue into the flashback other than by writing it in big letters like that since it's a tad jarring. Perhaps bracket the flashback with notes from Odan's journal...or maybe even stick the flashbacks at the beginning and then flash ahead when you hit the end of the chapter (ie move the beginning to the end since the beginning really tells us nothing other than that Odan and Craven are getting closer to the Inn...there's no reason why we have to know that right away, especially since by the end of the chapter (or this section) they still aren't there).

It's not very clear which is flashback and which is "present", I thought the Bijou stuff not in italics was also flashback but since Craven and Odan are on the road still, I can't really tell what order these sections go in, since they tend to bounce back and forth. Perhaps a countdown ticker is in order, set one important event for the end of the chapter (perhaps have Ms V suck Odan dry...heh, somehow I don't think DanO is going to go for that) and just be like "Two hours ago" and just keep counting down, it'll leave the reader wondering just what the heck is about to happen (especially with Ms V and company puttering around in the spider shop), not only will it help the reader figure out what happens where (unless you like our dazed looks, in which case carry on, chuckles) and keep the chapter that all important suspenseful drive that those young readers dig. I'm so hip I use slang that's thirty years out of date! Hotch-cha!

Interesting how Craven is basically trying to rig the Pit contest in Odan's favor...nuh-uh Craven that's dirty pool, taking advantage of stupid people. It's interesting how the scribe is basically a talkative moron here, babbling about whatever pops into his head but then suddenly snapping back to brief moments of does make it hard to get anything resembling a handle on Odan but maybe that's the point. I certainly can't figure the guy out but then you barely get to see his head at all, Craven does most of the talking. Bijou's return is spiffy...Craven's attempt to use the bolo is a bit abrupt, he never seemed to quick to combat before but perhaps he's learning...I'm not sure what he intended to do with the bolo though, David and Goliath analogies notwithstanding but I rather doubt it would have worked.

Hm, the gem is in Bijou's chest (now is it "Bijou" like the name or "The Bijou" like the hotel?)...I'm sure Odan thinks that it's fairly safe there..."who would be able to get close enough to cut it out" the fair scribe might boast. Ah ho, except that anybody with a decent telekinetic ability can rip the gem right out of there. And don't think I won't try that. Either that or Karnak can turn the skin surrounding the gem into bubble bath and simply pluck it out...less mess that way...and it's self cleaning.

So Bijou and Odan are back together. Yay. A return to the status quo. Still Craven is nigh obsessed with money (so much for wanting justice for his poor dead near sister in law), it's a bit disturbing, being near Odan has made him more blatantly conniving it seems, next thing you know he'll be breeding Bijou and Odan together so their offspring can fight in the Pit. Oh, Odan! Also, Craven makes no mention of the fact that Bijou just changed shape (and just for the record, that counts as illusion...I know, I won't let it rest...heh), you'd think he'd find that a bit odd. Also, DanO be careful right when Odan is changing Bijou you've got both Odan and Craven talking in the same paragraph...maybe that's a formatting error but watch out.

But hey, talking to spiders, that's neat. I also liked the hints of the upcoming (or is that farcoming?) battle with Moultrance, the mention of the debt with Ms. V, in fact the whole talking to spiders scene was well done, Craven had a believable reaction and Odan for once acted his age (two billion or so, boy he and the Agents could probably have some interesting conversations). Though I am curious to see what form the "Quest" will take...Odan mentions it many times and appears to believe it's going to be a zany, madcap affair. Hopefully we'll get a chance to see the good scribe get to work for that inevitable truimph. But the wheels are still being set in motion. So all in due time.

And then the chapter changes gears completely and focuses on the recently introduced Ms. V...being that a dalliance with Odan was mentioned in Hensbane's chapter, this is only apppropriate and hopefully this will lead to a bigger role for the giant spider (who right now no doubt makes a living as an extreminator...nobody wants pesky flies around)...interesting how Ms. V finds the human form to be weak and fragile...hey, spider lady I hate to break it to you but internal skeletons really are the way to go...if I want to beat you all I have to do is disrupt the ridiculously simple spider brain so you can't shift forms and then increase the air pressure in the room until your exoskeleton cracks like bad walnuts. Or, if I'm Karnak, simply cover you in peanut butter. Works for ticks, works for spiders. So maybe you want to rethink that, gal.

God, Ms. V forces men to mate with her before killing them...ew. Ew ew ew. That is just sick. I'd fall on my own sword before getting raped by a giant spider, frankly. Not so fun when you put it that way, eh? I imagine she changes into her human form (or maybe she just keeps herself a spider but grows a giant vagina...boy would that be something I wouldn't want to take to my grave) before attempting the act of forced that all she does though. Geez. I've got friends who do that all day, except for the beheading part of course (and even then...) you think she would get bored with merely sexual existence. I mean sure killing is probably a great substitution for the typically male role of lighting the aftersex cigarette but, I mean doesn't it get old after a while? "Hm, let's see what's on my agenda for, rape, then a beheading, then another rape and a beheading...oh wait this is last week's schedule..." maybe just for a change of pace she should reverse the order, eh? If we've going to dive full first into sadism, let's go all the way.

I'm very much interested to see what "walking the webs" is and maybe given Odan a chance to show us that he can do it (of course he can, as my brother would say), you know that he's still got the magic.

Is Egeria the oldest surviving daughter...what happened to Odan's kids who were mentioned in Hensbane's chapter...aren't they still alive (it wasn't indicated that they had died, in fact it was said they barely left Mom's home)...after all Odan did the wild thing with Ms. V right before Karnak turned her into a spider (and probably would give it another go even now) and she had her kids right after. Where are Arachnia and Whisper?

Those of you who are Monty Python fans might have gotten a quick recollection of the scene where the lord gestures toward the window and tells his son that "Son, one day all of this will be yours" and the dunce is like, "Wot? The curtains?"...when Ms. V said "One day this might be yours" I thought of that. I'm terrible sorry, that won't happen again.

Ms. V unfortunately appears to have gotten a rather large ego in her sheltered existence...her kids are merely fawning slaves who tell her exactly what she wants to hear. Come on, there must be some smart villains around here (actually her role is unclear at the moment, but as usual I shall be patient) know Odan has lost his head already this could be an interesting encounter, I'm sure there's a dotted line going around his neck with a "Please cut along" notation. In fact, Ms. V seems almost senile, not able to stay on one subject for too long, caught endlessly in the past and...talking about eating her kids? My mom mentioned that one time and, well, we haven't let her out of the basement yet. Don't worry, we keep her well fed. I'm just not feeding her local children. What kind of nut do you think I am?

So interesting looks into the characters, the beginning of this chapter was a tad awkward for the reasons I've mentioned, if you're going to jump around you need to ground the reader so they don't get lost, give them a starting base to work with and then leap from there. And while I know there are at least two more parts of this chapter coming up from the ever perky DanO...if Craven and Odan keep taking four steps before launching into a chapter length recollection and then repeating the process...between you and me, they ain't ever gonna get there. The quest will be over. So if they aren't at the Inn by end of your chapter (however many parts you make it) I'd start thinking about picking up the pace somewhat...however do what you will in the end, I'm just suggesting. I did like the brief look at Ms. V since it did fill her out a bit, exposition is good but it won't make up for actual character interaction.

Overall, a normally woolly and weird DanO effort, not all that much happened but I may have to breeze over to his SIP's to get the full poop on what's going down.

But I can debate that while talking to myself at work tomorrow (ha and they still have to pay me because we're so short staffed we need every person...boy am I going to milk this!) and let you all know tomorrow. The ol' wrist ain't doing so hot (in fact I'm feeling...kind of...numb...THUD!...ha, fooled you all there for a second, right?) so we'll call it a night here.

Hope this helped DanO, sorry for delaying so long.

The rest of you nutty folks, have a good night (and day!)

- Michael

"And the nurse will tell you lies, of a kingdom beyond the skies, but I am lost within this half world, it hardly seems to matter now..."
- Genesis, "The Musical Box"

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