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monseratthefool
June 25th, 2013, 05:48 PM
Hello friends!

6 months ago I posted several chapters of a fantasy novel called "Dance of the Emerald Archon". I've been rewriting a bit, and wanted to post an updated excerpt for your reading pleasure :)

"The Griever"

Two dozen goatskin drums were now sending the throbbing, captivating cadence of “Lalin’s Ascent” dancing down the dusty streets of Pachasan and bounding up into the surrounding mountains. The sky’s final blue notes were fading into grey as the sun sunk behind the mountains.

Durrikan was standing near the rest of the boys his age, all bare chested and pacing and shouting in excitement. The boys were clumped into their usual rowdy packs. Durrikan, as he often did when in a crowd, felt the tense desperation of being on a lonely orbit far away from the inviting gravity of the social constellation.

He watched the rhythm of conversation between the other boys, but found no moment of opportunity in which to slip himself in. He was frozen, like a child watching the intimidating flurry of skipping ropes.

Mercifully, a head of two-tone spiky hair was weaving through the crowd in Durrikan’s direction. It was Ramlin, his smile and eyes bright as if he was glowing from the inside.

“You ready, Dee?” asked Ramlin with a kind of sturdy excitement. His confidence with soothing, and his smile invited its reflection from Durrikan’s face.

“As ready as I can be. Do you know who is leading the procession this year?”

Ramlin pointed in the direction of the town hall, where a line of costumed villagers had just begun to spill out of the wide double doors.

The procession was led by a woman whose face was hidden behind a colorful mask, but whose age was revealed by graying braids and wrinkled hands wrapped tightly around an ornamented pole. Hoisted up on this pole, high above her head, was the first painting in the series called the “Deliverance of Pachasan and the World.”

These paintings, of which she was holding the first of eleven, depicted Pachasan’s heroic role in overcoming the Cataclysm, the thirty-year plague that sucked the life from more than half of the people of Sadutran. That was more than a century ago, and yet visitors still came to the town hall to walk their children through the paintings and re-live the story of Pachasan’s great savior. If they were lucky, Walok would be nearby, and everyone knew he gave the best rendition of the story of the Rise of the Archons.

Led by the old woman, the procession of paintings began its caterpillar crawl through the crowd. Durrikan saw the first painting approaching, and although he had seen it nearly a hundred times, his heart beat faster to see it again.

It was a composition of earthy oils and shades from which emerged a profile of a young man in wretched clothes, his head in a heavy droop. He was standing on the edge of a cliff, eyes drawn to the greying valley below. Ominous veins of black rot cut through the grasses, and the landscape seemed shattered as if it were broken glass.

The man’s face was frozen in lament of the desolation below him. The skin on his cheeks was the same washed out and sickly grey and brown of the fields fading into the distance.

The drabness of the painting seems unbroken until the beholder finds himself drawn to the man’s painted eye. His iris, a single ring of deftly applied oil paint, was a deep and brilliant green. Durrikan could never tell if it was the natural sheen of the paint, or a subtle ornamentation by the painter, but the eye shimmered as though a tear had magically bound to the surface of the painting.

“The Griever”, was the name of this painting, and the name of the griever was Lalin.

Lalin, as everyone in this town knew, was the most powerful Pachan that had ever lived. He and the Glorious Three elsewhere on the continent had shone brightly enough to lead the people of Sadutran out of the shadow of the plague more than a hundred years ago. It was in recognition of this feat did Lalin gain the mantle of Emerald Archon, which was passed down to the man who succeeded him, and the man after that, who dances now.

Durrikan never broke his stare into Lalin’s painted eye until the painting swiveled on its pole and danced away into the crowd.

Folcro
June 25th, 2013, 06:09 PM
You show great promise. You craft your sentences very well.

I would, however, prefer the active voice, especially for the opening line (if this is, in fact, the beginning of your work). For example:


"Two dozen goatskin drums were now sending the throbbing..."--- This would reach me better if it were said: "Two dozen goatskin drums sent the throbbing..."

I would also take out throbbing. We know what drums sound like, and the extra adjective makes the other one less effective (adjectives tend to do that--- they're very greedy).

How can streets be dusty? Do you mean dust as in dessert sands? If so, specify that this town is in a desert.

"Social constellation"--- just doesn't work for me. Others may disagree.

"In which to slip himself in"--- We don't need another Paul McCartny!

"The procession was led by a woman whose face was hidden behind a colorful mask, but whose age was revealed by graying braids and wrinkled hands wrapped tightly around an ornamented pole. Hoisted up on this pole, high above her head, was the first painting in the series called the “Deliverance of Pachasan and the World.”"--- This little paragraph was brilliant.

"the thirty-year plague that sucked the life from more than half of the people of Sadutran"--- for a plague to suck the life out of someone doesn't sound right to me. I think you can make it work by saying "...sucked the life from half of Sadutran"

"and although he had seen it nearly a hundred times"--- removing "nearly" would make this more effective. This is not a news article. You do not have to be precise.

"frozen in lament of the desolation"--- At, not in.


"Lalin, as everyone in this town knew, was the most powerful Pachan that had ever lived. He and the Glorious Three elsewhere on the continent had shone brightly enough to lead the people of Sadutran out of the shadow of the plague more than a hundred years ago."---What is red, the reader could have already deduced, or was already told, and therefor is not needed.

Overall, very well done. You write beautifully, and you draw an emotional connection between the boy and this hero. Maybe a touch more emotion wouldn't hurt. A few small grammar and syntax errors, which I'm sure you'll find when you go over this once again, like the second to last sentence. But a very nice piece. I look forward to reading more.

InkwellMachine
June 25th, 2013, 08:12 PM
"Mercifully, a head of two-tone spiky hair was weaving through the crowd in Durrikan’s direction. It was Ramlin, his smile and eyes bright as if he was glowing from the inside."Argh, no! the pain! The head is not merciful and it is not doing merciful weaving. I understand what you meant by this, but you must phrase it differently because, although any intelligent reader will also know your meaning, it does not read correctly.


"The procession was led by a woman whose face was hidden behind a colorful mask, but whose age was revealed by graying braids and wrinkled hands wrapped tightly around an ornamented pole. Hoisted up on this pole, high above her head, was the first painting in the series called the 'Deliverance of Pachasan and the World.'"Not bad imagery, but mind your words. Was her actively revealed or was it just apparent? You could do more with fewer words if you worked on reordering some of these sentences. For example, it would suffice just to say "the procession was led by an aged woman who hid her face behind a colorful mask..." and then you've effectively cut that sentence in half, giving the paragraph more room to breathe.



I suppose those are the two major points I want to make in critiquing your style. While you use good imagery and it's clear what you intend to describe, your prose seems to drag out in a few places. Consider working on conciseness. I know it feels more professional to use more descriptive language, but it hinders the flow of the piece by taking the attention away from the what the scene is really​ focused on.

As Folcro said, you certainly show promise in your writing. Especially in the concepts. I can already tell this world was finely woven--very little stitch-work shows through.

monseratthefool
June 25th, 2013, 11:41 PM
Thanks so much friends;

Folcro, you've put your finger right on the pieces I wasn't sure about, and the guidance is much appreciated. A few things, like the dusty streets, are explained earlier in the chapter (this is an excerpt). It's funny that the paragraph you seemed to like the most didn't seem to land with Inkwell, the next reviewer, but I suppose that's the story of it :)

Inkwell, points very well taken. I'll try to beware the dubious allure of verbosity; its nice to get called on it once in a while. It actually does not feel more professional for me (spoken as a marketer who strives for minimalism) to be more descriptive.

Thank you both such much for the time and thoughtfulness!

Ariel
June 27th, 2013, 01:29 AM
Monserrat! It has been so long! Welcome back.

I still like your style but I can see what the kind gentlemen above me are saying.

Having read (and remembered) your previous posts I can say that this has much more immediacy and seems more modern. I think this is a nice change and gives background to this world much more effectively.

I would still love to read more.