Critique of Chapter V
By: Dhalgren99


Hi all!

Nice to see you all looking refreshed on this fine day...chances are the lengthy nap you all had a few days ago probably helped...unfortunately that's about as interesting as I get and I'll probably be even less interesting tonight, I had to finish off my project (dosing on coumadin...let's talk kinetics!), get set up for the next rotation and a whole bunch of little things (plus they gave me shots today...however using my inverse reasoning, I attest that since I have not read the bios yet, I am a real man, since I ascertained that real men do not read bios...three cheers for skewed logic, I so rule!) that you don't give a flying ^$%$@ (try to pronounce those!) about.

But I have learned to almost snap my fingers! My "snap to slap" ratio is higher now, before I sounded like one of those seals clapping their flippers together.

Oh, ha, who am I kidding, this isn't about me. Sniff. It's never about me. Aw.

What it IS about is KENICY, who seems to be most of the guiding force behind this monster of a chapter (I think this is the longest so far) plus another look at our special friend who kicked this whole world o' fun off...my comments on his appearance will come later...to me this chapter seems more KENICY than DanO, though that might be because the box of whatever mushrooms he ingests before writing didn't quite make it to her house before she finished...my random guess is that DanO helped plot and work out the stuff at the end and the rest is all KENICY (can I make that lower case, it feels like I'm shouting your name..."We're here today with KENICY! who has her bestselling novel, so KENICY! tell me what went through your mind when you won the National Book Award...").

Craven Justice has to be one of the funniest names ever and for once he's just "Craven Justice" and not Craven Justice the Musicial or some such witticism that I don't have the strength to think of right now.

I really like the overall look into the dwarven culture and homelife, you obviously had it worked out well before you started writing, it seems to take a lot of cues from either Scotland or Ireland, that was the voices I heard when I played the game in my head (certainly better than hearing the head voice that says "Well thanks for playing, Rupert" especially since I don't know a Rupert, my parents suspect radio signals from outer space)...on one hand just about every dwarf tends to be stuck with a Scottish or Highland sort of accent for some bizarre reason, I don't know why people look at a race of stumpy midgets (no offense to actual stumpy midgets, I really do love you all...here's a hug!) and decide "Whoa, they'd sound like they came from the British Isles" if I were British or Scottish or Irish I think I'd be a bit miffed myself. I'm actually part Irish but I'm not wearing my MiffWear today so you're all good. So alas you don't get bonus points for originality but you get major points for doing some of the finest accents I've seen in a long time...I really could hear those voices in my head speaking those words, you nailed it right on the head and once you get used to it, it's really great fun...you have a good ear for dialogue.

As for the story itself, I liked the way it flashed back and forth, while it wasn't as extreme as some of the stuff I like to do once in a while (take out all the punctuation and put every sentence on a different line and there you have it) it definitely gave the story a drive it might have been lacking otherwise...you might want to intersperse the "present" sections more often to give that page turning feel, but that's nothing more than a minor point and upon rereading they actually fit in better than I originally thought...they blend in nicely, as it turns out. The descriptions are clear as seems to be the norm here and the landscapes are detailed, again in keeping with everyone else. Boy I wouldn't fit in here, I barely describe stuff like that, it's kind of like, "There goes Tristian. He's got a sword. Hi Tristian! Slice, Tristian, slice. Mope, Tristian, mope"...you people constantly amaze me with that.

I like the idea of Craven Justice being not all that athletic and heroic, in the sense that he won't be running into battle swinging a giant sword over his head booming war cries. Good, it'll make for a change of pace and that seems to be the forte of Hensbane's character...I almost expected Craven to smack himself in the face with Bolo...he really does appear clumsy. Has a way with words, I'm not a fan of poetry in any way shape or form, I'd rather incorporate it into the structure of the story if I'm going to do it but what I saw was nice, he deserves his reputation even if I think he likes the rhyming couplet too much but then free verse just means you couldn't be bothered to think of words that rhyme.

The berry stains mistaken for blood motif (very common in literature, goes back to the earliest cave paintings, as it turns out..."Is he kidding?" they whisper amongst themselves...oh you'll never know my children, ye shall never know) is something that I thought in my head and was like, "Oh come that's too obvious"...even after reading the section where they accuse him based on that evidence I thought..."Ah...I guess they needed him to leave the denop somehow"...maybe the dwarves just aren't too bright or quick to jump to conclusions but let's look at the evidence...Craven has shown no murderous tendancies ever...he is the clumiest man ever and isn't even that large, you prove to me that Craven could have found the strength to beat the bejeezus out of that girl when he can barely pour a bucket of silver...and berries and blood do not look the same, I know they aren't about to whip out the centifugal equipment and run sophicated tests but I'd hope they could tell the difference, they don't even dry the same (blood would be darker than berries and wouldn't wash off as easily...hey, Pharm Phact of the day, animal red blood cells apparently have nuclei while ours do not...when drug addicts come in claiming kidney stones they often substitute blood in their urine to fake it, not realizing this fact, knowing that I will stop trying it today, it never really worked anyway)...that point there struck me as sort of contrived, maybe we'll find that it's all part of some grand plan and Craven had to leave the denop (or else there'd be no story...oh!), other than that no problems.

Pity that the dwarven chick had to die...wonder who did it, the White Beast certainly fits the bill, actually. Much like elves, I've heard that he too eats babies (it's a fantasy delicacy...sorry this is a quasi in-joke) and to a nigh immortal...thing not unlike the shaggy orange beast from the Bugs Bunny cartoons ("PEOPLE! Ahhhhhhh!") I imagine we'd all be babes.

Dream sequence...rock on! I love dream sequences, especially nonlinear nonsensical ones, I'm sure it all means something (and some is explained right away, how's that for service)...why do story dreams have to make sense and connect, it's playing off our subconscious and how often does that make sense? Um, never. At least mine doesn't. So hopefully a lot of that was just playing around, I'd enjoy that very much, especially trying to figure out which is relevant and which is just delibrate gibberish.

And then...Odan shows up. Sigh. I think I've finally figured out why Odan bothers me deep down inside...he's too perfect. Every other character has some sort of flaw, whether it's arrogance, self doubt, cluminess, a bit dense, excitable, you know what I mean. Odan is always on top of every situation, granted Malef probably wasn't a great test of his skills, but the ease that he extricates himself from every single situation (we're two for two so far where he's been totally in control, no wonder why he's so self assured, God, I'd be too). I mean right in the beginning where was off balance, I thought, "Whoa, great, Odan finally having to work on his wits and work a little for his victory" and then Malef shows up and gets his rear kicked with impossible ease. Let's see, Odan is charming, ultrasmart, always has a plan, a brilliant fighter, poet, whatever you can think of...be warned now but I am so going to be rooting for the bad guy to show him a little humility. In my opinion if you can't have your character get his ass kicked on a semi-regular basis and show him working overtime to get his way out of it (and I mean I want to see sweat), then Dark Side it is, kids. However Odan probably will grow on me, KENICY wrote him well, even preserving all those qualities I both love and mildly detest, did Odan write the dialogue or just give you an idea of what was going to happen (I don't detect his style at all here but I don't know how much of a chameleon he is).

Oy and now Craven doesn't even know that Odan is Odan (who now has apparently regained some of his memory and his baby devouring White Beast...pushing him once again back into "unstoppable" class, Craven just better stay the heck out of the way when a fight comes and tune his lute up or something)...is the pool only one way...maybe if Craven sees his own White Beast (and that's one large chicken, let me tell you) it'll all come back to him.

But oh...Odan. And that's all I'll saw to that.

In fact that's all I'll say to all of this. Darn fine chapter, I loved the peeks into dwarven society, I haven't seen that detailed a cultural workout in quite a while, the accented dialogue was effortless (nearly Dave Sim class and I consider him one of the best dialect scripters), Craven was fun and I really liked him and the plot even gripped him, except for that one tiny details. But tiny details mean nothing in the big picture, and the big photo looks fine indeed. Good work.

I think I've hit upon all the authors now (unless someone returns like Asphyxi8 or gets added like Dru Driver) so from here on it'll be neat to see how all of these intersect, both style wise and character wise. You folks have hit on something good here, you'd better keep it up until the end or I'll find out where you all live and...and beg like the sissy schoolgirl that I am (apologies to all sissy schoolgirls, now stop crying).

That said, it's late and I'm outta here. Gonna fall asleep during the presentation but I'll blame each and every one of you! That's right, YOU! Ha!

'Night, all!

- Michael

"But last night my plans for our future world were all I saw on channel four..."
- The Smiths, "Shoplifters of the World Unite"



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