Critique of Chapter II
By: Dhalgren99

Howdy all, I'm being cautiously friendly because the lack of flame mail from the last time is rather disturbing. This cannot be. You all showed a patience beyond your must be a trap you're leading me into. That's it. It's a trap obviously.

But what the hell, it's been a boring day. Actually no, I've worked eleven hours, got paid for only three, suffered through a fire drill that blared for twenty minutes while a man constantly intoned "Attention code red on the fourteenth floor please stand by for directions Attention code red on the fourteenth floor" then sat through an hour of traffic so I could lug computers all around while still dressed for my other place, enjoyed a delicious dinner of coffee cake and water somewhere along the line and eventually stumbled home not quite sure if I had left part of me behind. All so I could be here. And the best part is, I do all of that VOLUNTARILY...that's right boys and girls, only in the greatest country in the world can a man willingly run himself into the ground...and smile while he does it.

But that's neither here nor there. Nor even over there. So don't touch what's over there, I put it there for a reason. Okay? Good. Now we can get started.

Hensbane's up on deck this time...I don't know if you folks remember who's chapter goes in what order (I imagine checking the website would be simple but this is my gift here to you...oh ho!)...oh yeah old business first, "Rasthran" I don't know if you care or not but the last ramble-o-rama I sent out I had spelled your screenname wrong, you have my apologies ("Why is he apologizing?" Rasthran wonders, having suffered through everyone else moaning over the nut now reading) and if you want to see the first set, you're more than welcome to it and if you would rather I never ever ever said anything to you ever again, let me know and I shall stop.

But the story. Ah, the story. Actually, my rule about chapters has always been and this is a personal thing that a chapter, especially in a long novel should nine times out of ten act as a short story in its own right, having a quasi beginning, middle and end. This in its own odd way can even act separate from the rest of the story even though much of it seems to be acting as setup for later stuff.

This is just a technical note, but I did notice a tendancy in quite a few places for tense to shift from present to past and back to present almost randomly, sometimes in the middle of a paragraph. I don't know if it was planned that way, and coming from a man who can barely write coherent sentences, I'm not one to comment maybe but it can be confusing. And it does happen quite a few times throughout. Just doin' my duty.

So far I've read two chapters from two different people and while I expected different writing styles (and in fact was wondering if everyone would attempt a common "house style" for continuity's sake or just strike out in their own directions and damn the consequences (another reason to be glad the arty little boy ain't helping out...though if things are running too smoothly, remember my card does read "Spanner for the Works" opposed to "Spaniel with the Cork" which requires a license...go figure)...the style here is plainer and it seems far more grounded in reality and perhaps more like standard fantasy. However, the detail, Lord you people must either have photographic memories or...or, good God I don't know but your penchants for detail makes my brain bleed. I like it even though sometimes I feel like I'm treading water, I can't say that every description is absolutely essential but it takes a better man than me to figure it out. Or a better woman to be fair. Granted "better" can describe ninety percent of the planet but hey, it means I have nowhere to go but up.

Up? Up! Karl Strange is fun, defenitely in the "classical hero" mold, you people are going to have a nice mix of characters here if y'all keep this up...the dialogue isn't something I'm used seems more classical fantasy as well (what does that mean?) and some people seem to talk way too much...I tend to be a minimalist at heart (though those who read as far as chapter eighty in the story over in the Novel board probably are going, "Huh? What is he smoking?") and my dialogue tends toward the more naturalistic (that means lots of "uh" and "um" for those just joining us...hi!)...things like Karl's giant speech describing how Karnak got a stone that can...alter matter! Whoa! Think about that, that's a ridiculously powerful weapon...I mean matter can be anything...I could turn someone's bones into spongy rubber, convert a cloud to lead and drop it on an army (that's one BIG piece of lead), I could convert your horse into a steaming chunk of cardiac muscle...I mean it's probably governed by the imagination of the user and the fact that Karnak hasn't destroyed the world means that he hasn't thought of everything he could do with it (like say turn the core of the Earth into oh...grape jelly? That might cause minor problems).

Speaking of Karnak, he seems to make a good arch enemy for our hero... in the beginning at least (though if Karl doesn't figure out a way to counteract that stone it's going to be a short fight as he turns Karl into a particularily brittle form of tin)...Karnak's "origin" has all the elements of good tragedy and it'll fun to see if Karl tries to turn his friend away from the "Dark side" (ooohhh!) before no doubt just simply going, "Oh the hell with it" and running him through. Deformed little twit. How dare he be deformed. He does seem like pure evil though, that stuff in the castle was just sick...sick sick sick...but kinda ha ha cool as well. Stuck back in high school are we? Sure!

Warlock and Karl make a strange pair and I did like the relationship between them, nothing like the love between a man and his horse and oh that didn't come out right at all. Warlock almost seems brighter than girl actually since Karl never does get around to answering "How does a man come to hold the power of the gods in his hands" (and he can turn the gods into soapy water...I'm sure they're made of matter too) though maybe Warlock shouldn't slap Karl with his tail so much it seems to distract him.

And ah, the Inn is built as well. I'm sure that will have some signifigance later. I started to mention this before but the dialogue to me tends to overexplain just a little bit and in some places comes across a tad stilted...maybe just the phrase "Great God's of Light" used repeatedly is a bit unwieldy but then I was never thrilled when Superman kept yelling "By Rao!" all the time either. I think I just have to get used to it when I did the lovely SwordSearch tale over in the F&SF board the dialogue was very fantasyish but got more normal (well normal for I normal...tee hee, the fish are climbing my walls...tee hee) as time went on and that might happen here as we lock into the groove of things (unlike shaking my groove thang which the mayor of my town actually stopped over my house the other day to specifically ask me never to do that in his town again...nobody appreciates talent, sigh) so mark those as temporary complaints. That might change. Or Karnak might change me into...pollen! So I can clump on people's cars! And cause allergies! If you think about it, the magic power of being able to cause histamine release would be can you stop a man who can potentially give crippling allergies...think of what life is like for you when you have allergy attacks, pretty bad, huh? Imagine an entire army like that? How is Karl going to beat Karnak again, he might just want to start finding some evil gods to take him in ("Ah, guys, you see, ah, I know I...well said some not so nice things about you in the past but hey, I was wrong, okay, a man can be wrong ever so often, right...").

Final summations. Near information overload, it's well controlled but I had to read slowly to make sure I got everything and I'm damn sure I missed something along way...those gaps in my knowledge (make that crevices) will become more apparent as we trot along. I am the teacup and you are the firehose aimed at me.

Still, a jolly good time and now that Karl is settled, let's see what happens now! It better be exciting. If stuff doesn't blow up I'll... I'll...I'll just sit here and be quiet. That's what I'll do. Sob. God I wish I had a spine.

All that said, you kind folks out there have a good night. I'm off to pretend that today was all a fever dream.

Bye now!

- Michael

"I know how she feels but can't a say word because nothing is real in here, not even her..."
- Robyn Hitchcock, "Cynthia Mask"

Critiques and/or comments are most welcome.
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