Critique of Chapter VII(B)
By: Dhalgren99

Evenin' all.

As promised I'm back with Hensbane's it turns out and many thanks to NovaReinna for giving me the headsup on this...that instead of continuing into Chapter eight (and believe me I went to that first and got very confused, you should have seen the first version of this review) there's actually a chapter seven part two (and a part three! Hensbane you writing machine, what are you trying to do to me, you're going to make everyone else jealous) and maybe even a four but I didn't get that far. We'll work on that tomorrow. So to NovaReinna, I think it might be a good idea to place those sections on the main page with some note that they are part of the same chapter rather than hidden in the sections so that lazy duffs like myself can go automatically back to it if we're reading in pieces (that's right, let me confirm your suspicions, it really is all about me)...but it's your web page and since I'd rather not have my comments suddenly being changed into a manifesto against the President ("Hello, sir, Secret Service, we'd like a word with you..." "Oh, I'll get those people."), I'll let you decide what to do with the situation, if anything.

Hopefully I'll be able to make it through this review, I had the unpleasant surprise today of learning that the sight of someone pricking their finger for a glucose strip test makes me nearly pass out, I watched it, then my chest got tight, I got a massive headache and I started seeing "static" and almost everything went black for a second. Really freaked the guy out. Strangely enough I've seen people do the exact same test to themselves in the past with no problem and just the other day I had a blood test where they took three vials out of my arm and not only did I watch it get collected, I carried on a conversation while doing so (They said they were going to take all of my blood, I asked if they could just leave me enough to get back downstairs...I had no problem collapsing there).

So DanO, it appears that you're right, I am clearly not a real man. I'll be reading the bios over the weekend.

But enough about me and my psychomotor vasoconstrictive reactions to the sight of spilling hemoglobin (God I love this language) let's continue with Hensbane's chapter and her apparently shapeshifting heroine Hellbore.

It seems that Hellbore and family are humans, and so the shapeshifting thing that was mentioning in the beginning wasn't a heritage sort of thing...I like the more multifaceted portrait of Hellbore here than in the first section, I don't know how this was written but we get to see more of her than the whiny rebellious teenager, which I like. Also a nice reminder of the fact that this is all a dream and she's actually sleeping in some cave somewhere. The only thing that you might want to do different than that is just get funky (no, not like James Brown) with the dream stuff, maybe intersperse utterly random things in between memories, textured imagery, screwed up metaphors, people shouting nonsense...the one thing I always like to remember with dreams is that in real life they make no sense if any of you think about your dreams of the last few nights, there are places where you can point to something and be like, "Oh, I know where that's coming from" (for me that involves the planetful of Amazons landing in my backyard, hey this is my dream, stay out of it) but at the same time there's a whole lot of meaningless crap. Rhyming words for no reason, runon sentences (ha, boy do I get in trouble for that one)...if you want to make it seem more "dream-like" and less literal, especially in some of the more brutal sequences (heck even go with parenthetical comments...layer them if you want...let us break the rules like the brittle clay they were created with).

Other than that...whoa, Hellbore teaches people how to make...pouches! My people! Let my people go! Oh, I can't go on, grief constrains me.

No, it doesn't, I'm lying...I like the brief relationship between Hellbore and her little friend, as well as the happy cheerful pacing leading up to the wedding, even the verbal smackdown Hellbore and Maja gave that snotty young girl was really funny, even if Hellbore ain't too much better herself. You either are a fashion designer, Hensbane, an artist, or you have a secret desire to somehow take Calvin Klein's place...the detail you put into the stuff people wear is amazing, most of the time I don't even mention my characters are wearing clothing except when I'm shredding it (you know, in those steamy sex scenes I'm well known for...) or it's like, "He wears pants" (no crap genius)'re another one of those people who artists are going to have no problem illlustrating your work. Sigh. I feel no inferior. I'm going into the corner and weep now.

Sob. Oh sob.

Okay I'm done now. Back to the wedding...whoa, Hellbore shows a classic case of denial when she thinks that someone threw blood on, that'd be pretty sick frankly. It is sick, but for a different reason, it was rather unexpected (though the heated up birthmark tipped me off that something was going to happen) fact it calls for...Holy Left Field, Batman! Sixty monsters come out of nowhere, slaughter everyone in sight and nobody on the ships'd think that would have raised a bit of a ruckus. Still, the bits you did show were utterly horrible and no doubt traumatizing to Hellbore...interesting how her clothing saved her from what I at first thought was Bijou on a mad rampage (hey, even he gets tired of Odan...gotta get that frustration out somehow and he's not stupid enough to face the man himself) with fifty nine cousins.

Hm, though...howled at the shaped WOLF sort of things and the kicker...when they touched the SILVER wires in Hellbore's outfit...what rhymes with werewolf? Still, that must have been one big concentration of silver, I didn't think that it made their heads explode, it generally just burned (and in D&D terms, it did like double damage that carried over when they changed from one form to the other...color me king geek of all things irrelevant)...I guess the best way of beating them is basically just dressing in a silver costume (fortunately silver is cheap and plentiful) and then jumping on them while shrieking "Have at thee!" (or, my personal favorite, "Get 'em!"). But I'll give Hellbore that advice later.

Sick stuff, even if I'm not sure how sixty werewolves came out of nowhere, slaughtered everyone silently and then left without leaving any tracks (granted, not that I'd be first to go after them...let some other idiot follow the trail)...if I can accept an amphorous living thought, a girl with a cyborg bird for a companion, and Odan (that's all I'll say there...) I think we can live with this.

And then Hellbore has a mysterious illness, a fever nobody can cure...oh no. One of the werewolves cut her, didn't they? Oh crap. That means the next time the full moon hits, Hellbore is going to have to worry about more than just shaving her legs (why do women do that...I don't shave mine...embrace your hairiness!)...that should be interesting, especially with the references to a "hunger"...would those have been some unhappy sailors. Still, shaving off someone's hair to help a fever has to be some of the strangest medical advice I've ever heard, it's like dunking someone into a swimming pool to help them get less dehydrated...but different times and we can't all be health care professionals now, can we (or faint at the sight of someone else's blood, apparently...God that's just a bit embarrassing).

And so now Hellbore has to figure out what the heck has happened to her (werewolf! werewolf! werewolf!) and where the heck her entire city went (see above rant!) I'm impressed, you made me care about her, she's still a tad self centered and teenagey, a bit arrogant, a bit snippy but then her entire village was just slaughtered, I guess we can excuse some character flaws. The addition of the little drama was just what we needed to support the beginning backstory and now that you're painstakingly introduced her entire family, you did the right thing and killed them all off in one fell swoop. Nice. Just what I would do.

Okay then, I'll pick up on the last section of this chapter tomorrow (and then you've got chapter eight too I think...sweet mother of God, when did you sleep!) but if the pace keeps up and the tension keeps mounting I'll have to skip out of my job and come home to read it...ah well we won't go that far but still I should be able to wrap this up on the morrow.

I'm too tired to think of anything witty, you all make up your own jokes for me.

Aside to FragmentFour: It's finished!
Aside to Dru Driver: Oh, girl, you have no idea.
Aside to me: Put some pants on, company's coming!

Oh...oh! They're here! Or maybe it's just one of those dreams where you think you're naked, I'll pinch myself and see that...ow! That hurt. This isn't a dream.

Which means...

Um, I have to go now.


- Michael

"Let the sun beat down upon my face and stars to fill my dream, I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been..."
- Led Zeppelin, "Kashmir"

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