Critique of Chapter IV
By: Dhalgren99


Hi all!

Back again I am...a little later in the night than usual and with a lightning storm just itching to get into my surge protector. It'd be fairly ironic if I got electrocuted writing this, I'd probably be the first person to perish in the name of Commenting. However, I wouldn't be the last and I think many others would take their laptops out to large empty fields and eagerly tap away at their keyboards as thunder cracks overhead. Maybe they'd even strap a metal pole onto their backs for the added thrill. Sigh. Pity I wouldn't be around to see any of it. Can't have everything I guess.

Oh! We're up to NovaReinna's piece this time...and I have to say that after reading it I was amazed, my body tingled all over and the world all gained this heavenly glow...I went outside and the air seemed brighter, cleaner, more full of life, even the worst of the factory sounds were but symphonies...my whole perspective was changed, nay, altered and for many minutes after finishing I could do nothing more than stare at my screen in stunned silence, tears of incomprehensible joy streaming down my face. I even hugged my monitor. Aw, gosh, thinking of it again...the feeling comes back. I can't go on. My words do no justice to it. I cannot bear to speak anymore. Good day all.


Psst...is she gone?

She is? Really? Okay I'm back...now that I've assured myself a place on the website I'll speak to the rest of you on what I actually thought about this chapter, so y'all just tiptoe out of the room and leave her to her Commenting Ecstacy, everyone quiet now, this is her moment, let her have it. Easy...easy...shut the door, softly...ooh the lights dimmed that can't be good, we'd better work a bit faster now, shall we?

Actually while the chapter didn't change my life (at least not that I've noticed, a large bag of money dropping onto my doorstep would probably do more, or a overly cheerful man coming up to me with a writing contract saying they'll publish whatever swill I wish to write)...it was highly entertaining and one of the more understandable chapters...to me this is the first one that isn't continuing a running plotline, it might be but NovaReinna is hiding it very nicely (not that it fooled me, stories always think that if they can't see you you can't see them...brats)...the characters are new, there's no reference to other stuff going on, the Inn is mentioned but being that Hensbane devoted her entire chapter to how it got built, I'd say we're going to be seeing a lot of that old place...still for the most part it stands alone and at this point it's a good thing...for me. You old (no! I didn't say you were old...back up...get away from me, no I don't-ahhh!) pros out there pick up on this stuff a lot faster than me.

The chapter kicks off with the Morphyd, which because of my profession reminds me of a certain drug...Morphinoil which is used to help you grow hair so healthy it bounces...I mean literally bounces, like people take hairballs and use them for basketballs...swoosh. Everyone's a winner. Why is it I get the feeling you were thinking of a different medication. Stop whispering back there...I'll get back on track.

And tracking on back I am...ah, the Morphyd, at first glance a playful little being, it seems to be an idea given physical form, what idea that might be I have no idea but that was the impression I received (perhaps because the Morphyd beamed it into my brain... out! out! damned Morphyd!)...it appears to adapt to whatever it sees and is a much better shapeshifter than anything we've seen so far...even to the extent of taking on the characteristics of whatever it appears to be (but does it have organs and stuff, or if I stab it will glowing goo ooze out and sicken me greatly...ew, goo), a pigeon and even a person later...the mystery in its appearance is nice, especially since it's so darn cheerful about it...definitely might have ingested a few of its cousin's pills...though generally a cheerfulness like that masks great psychosis so I'm sure the body count will start rising eventually (see I told you, I'm great at this guessing stuff...I don't even need to keep reading)...as the Morphyd remembers that it is actually the deposed ruler Morphydeus the Terrible, He Who Eats Your Young and Maybe Your Food If He Has Any Room Left. Only a matter of time before the truth comes out really, but then you've all read this already so I'm sure you know what's coming.

And Lillie...funny gal that one...in a few lines you definitely capture her, from her wandering sort of spirit to the fact that she can be conned as easily as the rest of us...I like how everyone has to have a second name added to their own, like they can't just be "Lillie" she has to be Lillie, the Maid of Jade...but you guys are so good at that sort of thing, I'd have names like Tristian the Alternatively Guilty and Proactive and Ranos the Tall of Height but Bald of Head. See how bad I am? See? Stop laughing...that's right you over there...and keep watching the door she might be back any minute. I buttered her up pretty well but you never know, sometimes the ol' charm just ain't what it used to be, ya know? Sigh.

For a creature called a Hellion, Kyte sure seems cute and again no doubt hides her terrible Hellion Rage behind that cuteness. Or his. Is it a he? I think so. It's a good idea actually, especially in the beginning when Lillie is talking and this way she can give a quasi-monologue and not seem like she's talking to herself, thus making her less like me, who doesn't have a half mechanical half organic flying companion to fall back on in those instances. But, er, my therapist said not to discuss those. Where were we? Oh yes, Kyte and Lillie make a fine pair and have the makings of a classic team, she captures how they care for each other without coming out and getting all gooey about it, no doubt Kyte will have a heroic sacrifice toward the end because all quasi-living close companions generally do that (psst...because they don't know any better...when I get Kyte aside I'll teach him the Every Man for Himself concept).

As a side note, I like how NovaReinna snuck physical descriptions into the paragraphs without coming out and saying "This is Lillie. She is tall. And slim. She has brown hair" and stuff that lesser writers (like me! me! he calls out, raising his hand like the class brownnoser) would often do. We boldly go for the obvious, please don't hold it against us. But it's a subtle and eventually more rewarding way to do it, both for the writer (because it's a challenge) and for the reader (because it breaks us of the spoonfeeding habit).

The dragon scene made me laugh deep down in my black heart...given the circumstances the outcome is totally expected and I really didn't see any way for the nameless crusader (I hate when people don't have names...and so he's Hymie) to succeed unless our pigeon shaped blob of light intervened but being that it can't really even fly right I couldn't imagine what it would have done...the entire was paced nicely though, the foolhardy Hymie (oh wait this is the Realms...Hymie the Well Done) getting more and more foolishly, when I would game with my friends this is the kind of thing some idiot would do and the rest of us would just sort of back up and start rolling saving throws to prepare for the inevitable blast of fire that was coming.

Do dragons have a protracted lisp? Though it was neat how he even thought with one...do people who stutter think like that? It would actually suck if your speech impediments carried over into all aspects of your life...can you imagine your car starting with a lisp..."vrroommssss" or even brushing your teeth to a lisping noise? Oh, death would be sweet sweet mercy at that point. All I remember thinking at the time is "This can't possibly end well at all" and for once in my wretched little life, I was correct about something (alas I'm right in all the wrong places...let's not go over those pharmacology grades, please)...in all fairness if I were Hymie, I would have definitely gone for the eye, take a piece of him with you when you go down, boy! Be a man! Or just been like, "Hold on a second" and fallen on my own sword simply to end it quicker. I hope we'll see this dragon again, it'd be funny to see our former blob/pigeon/Morphyd kicking its asssss (oh my cleverness truly knows no bounds) though Lillie might not appreciate being dragged along but it does give Kyte that heroic sacrifice chance (in the Companion Afterlife, you have to sit in the uncomfortable chair for eternity if you haven't given your life for another...and everyone looks at you funny and whispers...like high school but anthropomorphic) he'll desperately need.

I like how the death of Hymie was handled still in a lightly humorous manner but NovaReinna did manage to convey the subtle horror of someone being cooked in their armor without going into gore city. I probably would have been much more descriptive in that instance but skimped on physical details or landscape which is what people really want to read and not see me showing off what I learned in physiology (you see, the skin of a burn victim tends to...oh...ew! I hope you're going to clean that up).

The minor appearance of Ricore was a good crossover (if that who it was and not the winner of that month's "Act like a witch for a day" contest) though is she really that rude? But Sir Scat's appearance is a riot...it's quite clear who it is, though one wonders if he's really attached to that armor (after all he only saw Hymie in his armor, why wouldn't he think he was naturally like that...might make the folks wonder)...and a good introduction to the character who will probably be as much a source of comic relief (and irritation to Lillie...maybe she'll want to make Scat her companion so he'll make the sacrifice) as he'll be useful (you need that balance or else you get, say, Jar Jar Binks).

Not much bad to say about this chapter...NovaReinna obviously did her homework and managed to capture the setting (as far as I can tell, I'm not about to compare floor plans or whatnot...I do have my limits) as well as her characters (I can't quite say she nailed Ricore, since we didn't see that much of her...would a crusty old witch really treat a befuddled knight kindly...I figured she'd just give him lip like everyone else...ah, reckon aye was wrong, ma'am)...can't speak too much for dialogue since there was little actual conversing, mostly Lillie talking to her disposable companion (come on, they're like tissues) though Scat's brief conversation is highly amusing. That's what I liked best about this chapter, it kicks her chapter off on a humorous note, more overtly so than anyone's elses (not that everyone didn't do theirs well...DanO has the weirdness quotient going on, Hensbane has the historical context, FragmentFour has the simmering epic stuff, and...oh KENICY, what's left for you...here you can hold my wet raincoat...no, no just kidding, we'll find your niche next time...)...the lightly humorous tone should be good if its kept in check, I like humor but if I want Mel Brooks I'll hit the local rental outfit.

As with the others I'm treating this as an introduction...obviously a writer won't hit all their high (or low, even I turn out a readable chapter once in a while) points and strengths in the first chapter...as it stands I'll take the chapter for what it is, an introduction to a set of characters, done in a clear and concise manner that doesn't take itself overly seriously. Nifty.


Now if I can send this off before she...oh hi, NovaReinna, I was just...just you know, entertaining everyone with my latest plot ideas and...yeah I know they're all asleep, I get that response all the time, I'm actually thinking of licensing it and...what, no we weren't talking about you, what gave you that...don't look at me like that...don't get mad at...what you're NOT mad, oh that's good you...oh...oh well that's nice but...now, I really can't be your travelling companion, you see under my theory that would mean I'd have to...you know eventually I'd have to just...

Sigh. All right. Find an empty seat and sit down. I'll start from the beginning.

Cheers all and good night! I made it!

- Michael

"I've been talking to the wall and it's been answering me . . ."
- Elvis Costello, "Human Hands"



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