Critique of Chapter III
By: Dhalgren99


Hidey ho and welcome back to all those following along still...with Novareinna now kindly posting my comments on the site proper (giving the entire world a chance to express sympathy to my parents), I'll renew the offer to those who may not want to receive these comments being that they can easily read them here. If you'd like the continued convenience of having them delivered right to your doorstep (all for the still low low price), then do nothing, it will be sent to you automatically. If not, all youse gots to do is says the word. That simple.

Speaking of word, there are lots of them here. FragmentFour kicks things into gear this time and I've gotten the feeling from the rest of you that this was already in place when the "Phantom Realms" officially started to grow as an entity...this chapter gives me the best evidence of that since we seem to come in on an already started plotline, with one character waking up in the fight pit, others characters introduced only somewhat and a lot of things seem to be in motion as we tumble in. But maybe that's not the case and only that illusion is being given (ooooh!), only the Author knows for certain. What I do know is that the Red Gryphon (are these the same as the mythical Gryphons or similar to the John Gryphon I knew once, who for some bizarre reason that no one could discern enjoyed going by the name of Cuddles) Inn reappears, we've seen how it was built in Hensbane's chapter last time and we finally get to see it in action. This appears to take place a few years or maybe months after the last chapter since the Inn is well up and running. Karl himself is only mentioned, though I imagine he's still around, I can only assume people were playing the hands off game with other people's characters (much like I have to get other people to keep their hands off my studly body...sob, I'm so delusional...).

Perhaps because there is already ongoing action here, this chapter reads the clearest and most economically, DanO's was beautifully weird and Hensbane's had a lot of backstory to supply us with (somehow managing not to detract from the plot...neat)...freed of these constraints (why do I picture FragmentFour running into a rainy street with her arms in the air shouting "FREE! FREEDOM! OH LORD THERE IS NO TASTE AS SWEET AS THAT OF FREEDOM!") it gives us a chance to focus on the ongoing fun...even if one does have to work overtime to piece together what the devil is going on.

Several plots dance around here, not stepping on each other and a buttload of people (that's a technical term, it means eight) get introduced...Majica is a shapeshifter by her own admission (but is she a girl...she has the appearance of one here, but I imagine a shapeshifter could shift more than just her form, wink wink nudge nudge) that seems to be hiding from something or someone and having a stopover at the Inn. It's a good way to introduce some of the staff of the Inn, including a witch (mwah-ha-ha-ha) and the fearless owner (where is Karl...is he out trying to catch Karnak...dude, don't bother he can alter MATTER...like what you're made of)...even if we don't get much info on the shapeshifter. And as is my wont, my mind goes dough-nutty trying to think of odd ways for a shapeshifter to make beautiful havok with her powers...I wonder how much she can shapeshift, like does her mass have to remain the same or she does get weaker the larger she gets...also can she only shift into real things or can she play fast and loose...say put her heart somewhere else so when she gets stabbed...or alter her lungs so that they're more efficient for going down in those large caverns, or shifting her eyes so that she can gather more light and see nearly in the dark. She'd be the head homegirl on my block if she could do that.

Darvon and Pedrin appear to be related...Altar (a block of marble?) must be the "Arlen wrestler" that Darvon was talking about...what the fight was all about is a bit of a mystery, seems that Brigar double crossed Darvon and absconded with a bit of money that didn't belong to him. Pedrin was rather humorous actually, though Ricore's solution to their dislocation problem made me laugh...probably just didn't want to go outside and heal them (being that Karl placed the antimagic cloud over the Inn...does magic just poof out or just change the potential caster into the rough equivilent of a drooling idiot for a little bit)...I can very much imagine Pedrin and Altar slamming their shoulders into each other in an attempt to get the joints back in place. Never had a dislocated shoulder but I hear it hurts like the dickens. Kind of like if someone dropped Bleak House on your head. That's one heavy book. And someone spontaneously combusts! Rock on, Mr D!

Alas the special effects budget for this section is darn small...not that it's a problem (I'll make up for it in the fireball story...I promise!), Darvon has some interesting powers as well...it'd be interesting to see him and Ranos get together, the mental net concept is something I hope you have great fun with, although it appears to be neither fast nor a sure thing which can't be good. Is it like the Jedi mind trick..."I believe you find me a great writer" "Michael, you know, you're a great writer" (boy is that scene fantasy)...he doesn't go much into detail on how it works but it does work to great effect...the old switcharoo of Brigar and his horse was classic (and quite fatal...he must have been pissed)...though there'd be minor irony if the horse happened to be a disguised Majica. His scene reminds me of a piece in one of my stories where Ranos, a bit irritated after getting shot by the General, decides to take it out on Brown (being that it's a tad hard getting into a robot's head...and don't think that doesn't bother the College) by talking in his head and proceeding to make him think he's been set on fire...only this is better done, since it actually serves a purpose. I tend to just wing it. Plotting? Ha! What's that? It's for lesser beings! Oh, I'm so sad.

All told, Darvon's revenge is good stuff, my only quibble is that we don't get a sense of Brigar and thus I don't know whether to feel bad for him or cheer Darvon...I don't know either of their motivations, I'm sure Darvon's will become clear in time, Brigar is going to have to relearn the art of fly swatting with his tail...the wizard is certainly a man I wouldn't want to stop paying attention to. I wonder how easy it is to keep him out of your head...say if I imagine a rather large metal wall and Darvon goes through that only to find I stuck a mental time bomb there that says "Sucker!" Oops City. Like do you just have to concentrate really hard or maybe even do one of those stupid repetitive mental exercises ("One and one is two, two and two is four, four and four is eight, eight and eight..." or calculate pi out as far as you can go...Darvon will be too bored to try and take you over) or even rhymes ("The rain in Spain lies mainly on the plainly the rain in Spain lies").

Either way, I think I managed to get the gist of the story here thus far...the lack of any "what has gone before" section probably does a bit of harm to the less adventurous (not that I'm the Indiana Jones of commenting or anything) and of course there are a lot of nuances to the charactizations that I'm missing being I'm an involuntary late comer. However those are all minor problems and will vanish once I get into the chapters, already it seems some plotlines were resolved and I'm sure new ones will either be reintroduced or just simply pop up. POP! There's one now! Get 'em, boys!

Good stuff then, it even brought a chuckle to my bitter and evil lips...the quality on all of these is excellent...you folks are going to make me so dejected I'll stop writing (and the world holds its breath "By God, can he finally be serious, can it be true" No I'm really probably kidding about the dejection "Aw, DAMMIT!" goes the world, now disappointed) and it's certainly better than the ongoing study to find the best darn INR values I can discover. You betcha.

So here's something else for the good NovaReinna to clutter up her until now litter free site with and a bit for the rest of you to line the bird cages with (an old joke I know but the good ones often are)...I'll push onward soon, get ready next person, the last three people have set the standard...can it be matched? All evidence points to a resounding "yes" thus far.

Take care all!

At your service, I remain the ever pungent:

- Michael

"I'm a charming and dangerous guy, if you don't expect too much that's all right..."
- Robyn Hitchcock, "Beautiful Girl"



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