Critique of Chapter VIII(A)
By: Dhalgren99

Well, hello my captive, I mean my fellow journeymen in the world of writing. Just recently you might have heard that I finished Hensbane's chapter, a three part monster of epic proportions (the best kind, it's the type I request in restaurants..."Give me the epic steak!" "Um, sir we don't sell that-" "Nonsense, good waiter, bring me the epic steak! I demand it!") and as part of Hensbane's secret plot to totally monopolize my commenting powers (which I'm supposed to use for good and not evil but darn it, I keep forgetting) she's written another three part chapter. You folks better be careful or she's going to smother you all in sheer word count, my kind o' lass...mark me words. So for the next three blocks of commenting, I think I'll be spending quality time with Hellbore and her toothy quest. Sounds good to me, don't the rest of you feel neglected, you'll all get your turns. I promise. Heh.

I don't know if everyone has checked out the website yet but NovaReinna went and fixed it up real nice, multipart chapters like Hensbane's are now depicted as such on the main story page for easier access (and for dullards like myself who are none too swift at that sort of thing) so hats off to her for making that change. The only glaring thing I saw was that note about that annoying guy who somehow thinks he's fit to comment on this story, I find his comments not only dismally unfunny but inspidly long. What's up with him anyway, all he does is talk about himself. Sigh. Some people just don't learn. My suggestion is to bury his comments as far down on the page as you can, to at least save future generations from being exposed to his inane blather. Think of the children, at least.

That little warning all said, Hensbane was kind enough to clarify some stuff about Hellbore...two hundred years old? Boy she sure doesn't act like it, how did she get that old anyway (well I mean other than the obvious, the same way the rest of us do), her people didn't seem to be anything special, and they sure seemed to die easy enough. And apparently werewolves can change anytime they want to...they just get better at it when the moon is full...gotcha. But with that stuff all cleared up, I've got a whole other can of confusion ready to be opened here. Remember how I said the last chapter ended a tad abruptly...well this one kinda begins a bit abruptly...the Green Man (who now actually lives in California and would rather be known as the "Guru of Green") had taken her for some training, after she went out and offed some blokes who were bragging about killing her entire village. And I do remember her being in a cave at the beginning of the last chapter and dreaming said chapter... okay she's still in the cave but I was sort of hoping it'd be explained how she got there, did the Green Man set her up there, is he going to train her...I had the impression that the entire dream cave sequence took place some time after her family had gotten killed but it seems to have taken place right after she went and killed the other werewolves, since she's still hurting from that encounter (but, note to self, apparently heals very quickly...which is typical I believe, it's only silver damage that carries over)...but, how did she get there, he asks, scratching his head ("Silly man, she walked," I can hear Hensbane telling me)...there's a bit of an unexplained gap between this chapter and the last chapter...if it's going to get explained later on, say, in the next two sections then by all means disregard my comments (Heck, just disregard all of my comments, I don't...sob...need you...I don't...sniff...need ANY of you...) but if not then a mention might be necessary.

Nice details in the beginning, you definitely set the mood for a brisk morning on a rocky coast, complete with bird calls and the freezing spray of misted over salty air. Nature seems to be a pet subject of yours, there's a placid peacefulness to those descriptions as well as an undercurrent of the simmering violence that's inherent in any natural setting...nature only looks fun, from what I've found, it's probably the only place where the sole goal of life is to cheerfully kill each other.

One of the gap questions is where the heck she got clean clothing to begin with, though she dresses tastefully and fashionable (she's probably hot, Michael, she's not real...repeat to yourself, she is not real...oh but what other characters can I fantasize over, Odan?...oh that decadent scribe would probably try to seduce me if he could...)...but I imagine that changing into a wolf tends to make a mess of your clothing (kinda like the Hulk...hey, he's green too, how many would want to see "Green Man...smash puny human!") especially since it happened a tad suddenly last chapter. Again, the beginning just begs the mild question of "how did she get there?" But all that aside, the rest of the chapter is perfectly clear, once you get the beginning sorted out in your head, it's a neat thing. The local color of the dockside bar, however briefly visited was well presented (I like how the barkeep mistakes her for a mercenary, werewolf, mercenary, same thing) and the entire conversation with Old Frank, who appears to know far more than he should, is only question again is what the heck is she searching for and when did that quest kick in, she wants to go to the inn apparently but I assumed that she would be looking for the Gustav guy who ordered her entire village killed for about as petty reason as one can imagine. Instead it's the Inn she wants. Hm. Other question is how she figured that Old Frank would know how to get there ("river flows from the mountains and back again"...sounds like my house to me...come on over anytime!) since she only mentioned hearing about the place in another chapter. And here we get the first mention that Hellbore is me, it feels like I missed a "lost chapter" in there somewhere, she mentions fighting the two rogue werewolves which I assumed was a few days ago but mentions that she used to sit in her village two hundred years ago. Hensbane, help! Am I missing something? Please enlighten this dense little man!

The scene with Old Frank was touching actually, I like her brief spurt of generousity and the blurb showing how it affected him was good, one of my pet projects in writing is showing how the wacky stuff some of my weirder character do affects the more "normal" people, folks like you and me who have no idea that this stuff is going on. To show how his life was changed by Hellbore, and for the better (it doesn't work out that way in my stories, but I've got my reasons) is a welcome touch, especially since she seems to be involved in a potentially bloody quest. I also found Old Frank's stories fun as well and I wish there had been space to devote more time to them (hey, you're a writing machine, make a separate section called "Old Frank's Tales", just the little bits sounded interesting as all heck) since I like how stuff that is considered legendary by most of the normal people is actually quite real they just have no perception of it because they live in basically a different "world" even though they're inhabiting the same space. Does that make any sense?

It does! Whee! I'm on the right track. Oh wait you're talking to the person behind, never mind then. The description of the valley is absolutely stunning, and it's very much a place I could picture in my head, though the offhand mention of fireballs brought a dark chuckle to my bitter heart. Heh, heh, fire in the sky, heh. I didn't know that the Inn resided in such a place, maybe Karl Black doesn't notice stuff like that or I just missed it the first time around. Dragons finally show up as well, I figured that fantasy staple wouldn't be far behind, I'm curious to know more about those buggers, are they good, evil, neutral, movable drawings painted onto the sky? They don't seem outwardly hostile, but who knows with dragons. But good mental image right there, that single part right there made up for the bits of confusion that I've been having throughout the chapter.

That seems to wrap it up for this section, it was short and my comments are generally shorter (not by much, I tend to make up for it by talking about myself more)...I'll get into the next section by tomorrow I hope, since I am curious to see how she gets to the Inn (that's what this section really seems to be all about, I know the rules state that your character has to go there first) and what she finds there, there's no telling what characters might be hanging around, perhaps the currently AWOL Karl Black, or Majica and the rest of the FragmentFour crew, or maybe Sir Scat (or Sir Bee Bop a Loo Bop...get it, I said, my mom thinks I'm funny) or Craven or Lillie or even (shudder) Odan, He Who Kicketh Butt Most Severely. I know it's early but I can't wait to see how everyone's characters interact, DanO has dropped some hints (mostly while defending my unfair potshots at Odan) of how the different characters perceive each other, but with just a sampling of the ideas in this chapter and other chapters, this should be fun.

Hensbane, I have to apologize for being so confused during certain points, I liked this section and reading it piecemeal like this does me no good but it's the only way I have time for. Please pity me. If stuff that I brought up has been explained and I just missed it because I'm a dope like that, please just point me in the direction of where to find it and I shall bone up on my reading pronto. If it's going to get explained like in the next few sections then ignore everything I've said, or chalk it up to a man who hasn't gotten much sleep lately. I'm cranky when I don't get my beauty sleep (okay so it's not beauty sleep, I can't afford to sleep for the next twenty years).

I did like this section though and Hellbore is really growing on me through sheer presence, the back to back chapter thing is really helping me get a feel for her and the longer chapters are just what she needs to cement her in the reader's mind. The actual writing is impeccable as always, my confusion notwithstanding there's absolutely nothing to complain about here at all. That's the problem, you people are so good I have to nitpick. Ah well.

Next section tomorrow then.

Note to all, don't watch Coyote Ugly, if you can avoid it, my sister rented it and the thirty seconds I spent watching during trips upstairs I'm sure caused me to lose a few braincells, other than the fact that it's got oddly beautiful women which I guess is supposed to appeal to me, it made me want to tear the tape out of the VCR and fling it in front of a passing truck. In Michael's World, that passes for justice. Fortunately I had to go do this, so you guys probably saved my sanity. Thanks! My dubious sanity thanks you!

Second note to all, those wishing a unique form of revenge that doesn't involve tracking me down and breaking my dainty fingers so I can't even write again (as well as hanging my unconscious body from a telephone pole with a sign that says, "Call me Pouches"), a legal way to get back at me presents itself in a story I posted on the Fantasy and Sci-Fi board called "Static Sparks the Air"...feel free to take out any and all aggression on said story if your rage feels up to it. That's all I'll say about that. I've said too much already.

Back tomorrow then, as the Hensbane-o-rama continues. Sunday Sunday Sunday! Are you people (wo)man enough for it? Are you? I said ARE YOU?

Guess we'll find out.

Bye all.

- Michael

"Every time I turn around I find I'm shot..."
- Pavement, "Summer Babe (Winter Version)"

Critiques and/or comments are most welcome.
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The WordSmiths thank you for your interest and participation.