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Bard_Daniel
April 11th, 2014, 07:20 PM
I'm really interested in what people think of a piece I wrote, recently, for a friend. Hopefully, I'm not posting too soon...

==

Ave, Gladiator


“The Romans staged spectacles of fighting gladiators not merely at their festivals and in their theaters, borrowing the custom from the Etruscans, but also at their banquets…some would invite their friends to dinner…that they might witness two or three pairs of contestants in gladiatorial combat…when sated with dining and drink, they called in the gladiators. No sooner did one have his throat cut than the masters applauded with delight at this fight.”

Ausonius


==

“…morituri te salutant!”



The voices of the gladiators roared, like lions, through the arena, and seemed to echo in the ears of the spectators long after their mouths had closed. The helmets lowered, the spears leveled, and swords were raised.



The message was clear: they were ready.



The Imperator loomed, like an eagle, on his throne at the top of the coliseum. His tired eyes spoke of disinterest, sadness, and, although no one else would ever admit it, pity.



Below, the masses began to cheer, taunt, and leer at the participants in the spectacle of blood lust that was set to occur before them. Mothers and fathers lifted their children over their heads in order for them to fully experience the event.



Hadrianus looked, with his deep blue eyes, at his fellow men, his brethren, and then looked up at The Imperator. Behind the helmet that he wore as a mask, an expression of hatred, deeper than you, deeper than me, formed on his face. When he looked back at the other gladiators, it was with malice and fury. Carbo, his fellow, nodded at him from the right as he rushed forward and entered into melee with a man twice his size.



The man rushed into the mess with a battle cry of despair that sent a shiver even down his own spine. It was for them, all of them. You were all my brothers, was what he wished to yell. If it is cruel and twisted fate that we die, I am glad it was with all of you.



He hacked and slashed, at first edging along the corners of the cacophonous tumble of bloodshed, but then, finally, desperate to end his own life or that of another, Hadrianus forced his way into the center of the circle of death.



Time passed: more men died. Blood scattered, splattered, and cackled within the throes of the dead and the dying. The crowd booed. It was not enough. They had seen better the septimanae before.



Hadrianus dodged past a man with a cleaver and stabbed into his back, through his spine and into his heart, and then withdrew. Another fighter came at him from the side but he cut low, swooping down on his back at the man’s knees. When the man hit the ground Hadrianus forced himself back up and sealed his fate with a downward embrace from the tip of his sword.



Soon, there were only two left standing. Hadrianus was covered with blood and gore, cuts and nicks had pierced away at his already-scarred body. He spat red, and took a moment to look at the fallen. The lives they once had muted by the suffering engulfing their faces. None of them appeared at peace.



Hadrianus forced himself to gaze at his opponent, and was horrified to see that it was Carbo, looking the same as himself. He seemed poised to attack, but then he stopped, raising the visor on his helmet. His axe went up, and then back down. He paused, he hesitated, he struggled. Hadrianus did not move forward either. The crowd was pulsating, furious, indignant, but they hardly heard them.



His opponent, his friend, took off his helmet, slowly, and tossed onto a wreath of flesh beside him. Carbo watched it go as one would a stone into water.



Hadrianus felt his hands move, beyond him, beyond everything, and in a moment his own helmet was gone. They stared each other down, as if seeing each other for the first time. Each scar, each crease in their face, every moment of pain in their eyes… they saw it all, beyond space and time, reality and illusion.



Carbo’s eyes moved and he caught the guards appearing at the gates of the coliseum. It was time.



They fought like the Praetorians they once were, viciously, arrogantly, defiantly. Wounds appeared and were ignored. Muscles were twisted and fingers were broken. Still, one did not fall– there was no victor.



When their swords met and they looked each other in the eyes, for the last time, Carbo slipped and fell. Hadrianus’ sword dipped into his chest. It was nearly over now, but Carbo was not finished. He looked up at Hadrianus, as in a dream, and smiled sadly.



“Atque in perpetuum frater ave atque vale,” Carbo whispered before he died.



Hadrianus could not even look up at The Imperator to witness his own fate.

TheGreatKhan
April 12th, 2014, 10:31 AM
Wow! I think that that action sequence is written really well! However, perhaps you could double check that the sentence structure is ideal, as you may have over-complicated things in a few instances, such as They had seen better the septimanae before, as the meaning can be a bit vague, or maybe its just my poor knowledge of Latin! That's just me being picky, though, and I think that the sequence overall conveyed fear, tension, and chaos tremendously well!

Bard_Daniel
April 13th, 2014, 01:22 AM
Wow! I think that that action sequence is written really well! However, perhaps you could double check that the sentence structure is ideal, as you may have over-complicated things in a few instances, such as They had seen better the septimanae before, as the meaning can be a bit vague, or maybe its just my poor knowledge of Latin! That's just me being picky, though, and I think that the sequence overall conveyed fear, tension, and chaos tremendously well!

Thanks! :D

I wanted to keep the latin to make it seem like you were actually watching it, there in the audience. Maybe that did not work as well as I thought...

stormageddon
April 13th, 2014, 04:34 PM
Annoying point- did you mean amphitheatre rather than coliseum? Because there is only one coliseum, the Coliseum (at least in those days, the word has been misappropriated for a few modern buildings). So if it's a coliseum, it should be the Coliseum.

"an expression of hatred, deeper than you, deeper than me, formed on his face." not sure what you mean with the you and me bit. I think it could be rephrased to be clearer.

"They had seen better the septimanae before." the Latin doesn't seem to serve a particular purpose here, though I felt smart for understanding it. Arguably it makes the piece more authentic, but it's already authentic enough, and many/most readers won't understand what you're saying. Sorry, just noticed that it's already been mentioned. Well, my advice- use these things only when they fit very well, this use just seems a little random. Everywhere else, it worked well.

"Hadrianus was covered with blood and gore, cuts and nicks had pierced away at his already-scarred body." I feel this sentence would be improved either separated into two at the comma, or joined with a semi-colon. Doesn't quite work as one sentence. And I think the "away at" is redundant. And the "already-" as he is receiving cuts, not scars (though they will eventually turn into scars). So, "cuts and nicks had pierced his scarred body.". Feel free to disagree with everything I say, for the record.

"The lives they once had muted by the suffering engulfing their faces." were muted?
"and tossed onto a wreath of flesh" tossed it?

But...it was great ;) I'd think up a fancy compliment of my own, but I also think that "the sequence overall conveyed fear, tension, and chaos tremendously well", and can't think of a better way to phrase it.

Bard_Daniel
April 14th, 2014, 03:43 PM
I'll definitely take those suggestions into mind.

By saying "...deeper than you, deeper than me" I tried to break the fourth wall between narrator and audience. Maybe it did not work.

Were muted is correct. TYPO. :X

Tossed it, yes.

Glad you enjoyed it!

stormageddon
April 14th, 2014, 06:17 PM
By saying "...deeper than you, deeper than me" I tried to break the fourth wall between narrator and audience. Maybe it did not work.


It might work, but your meaning isn't clear. Did you mean his hatred was extended towards more people than you or me? Or that neither I nor you could ever experience hatred so intense as his? Or something else entirely - your meaning wasn't obviously apparent to me, though if it was it'd be a nice touch.

I sympathize; typos are painful. And I'm glad I enjoyed it too ;)

Drakkith
April 15th, 2014, 04:17 AM
“Atque in perpetuum frater ave atque vale,” Carbo whispered before he died.

If latin isn't their normal, everyday language, I'd recommend adding a translation in italics. For one thing, we, the reader, are viewing this from Hadrianus's POV, which means that since he understands latin (or at least enough to know what Carbo said) it makes sense to have him translate it in his head for us, just like he'd do for himself. However, if latin is the language they commonly use there may not even be a reason to make the dialogue in "real" latin. Just type it out in english since the story is being "translated" in order for us to read it. It's a little ambiguous in this specific case since you don't have any dialogue other than the 2 lines of latin, but if you had more dialogue you'd see what I mean.

Bard_Daniel
April 15th, 2014, 06:44 AM
Okay. I see what you mean.

Thanks again for the suggestion, Drakkith!

Vain Vanir
April 16th, 2014, 06:20 PM
Looks good to me as well although I personally didn't find the action scene very thrilling, although that may of course not have been what you were aiming at either. To me the action was more telling than showing but the tragic ending was neat.

Bard_Daniel
April 17th, 2014, 07:25 AM
Looks good to me as well although I personally didn't find the action scene very thrilling, although that may of course not have been what you were aiming at either. To me the action was more telling than showing but the tragic ending was neat.

I found it too much of a horror to write a detailed killing of all his brethren. Too much.

Thanks!

Drakkith
April 18th, 2014, 04:14 AM
Hmmm. I though the combat was pretty good. Specific enough to know what was going on, but it wasn't so detailed that it became a chore to get through. It flowed well.

Bard_Daniel
April 18th, 2014, 10:41 AM
Thanks! :D

thepancreas11
April 18th, 2014, 06:01 PM
I see that most of the people above me have caught my qualms up in their critiquing webs. Alas, not much juice for me to suck out.

My only worry going forward is that this seems an awful lot like the movie Gladiator whereby a fallen soldier of Rome, a particularly influential one as Hadrianus here, is forced to fight in the arena. I'm wondering what distinguishes your story from what has already come to pass. What special sauce goes on your burger here? Otherwise it's just like any other, right? The first chapter has to be that special something or at least allude to it. As action-packed and fun to read as this may be, it's just not something new to me right now. What is your new thing? What do you bring to the table?

You're clearly a good writer, especially for someone who appears to be new (?) to the writing scene. I just want to make sure that your efforts are rewardable.

Bard_Daniel
April 18th, 2014, 06:17 PM
I see that most of the people above me have caught my qualms up in their critiquing webs. Alas, not much juice for me to suck out.

My only worry going forward is that this seems an awful lot like the movie Gladiator whereby a fallen soldier of Rome, a particularly influential one as Hadrianus here, is forced to fight in the arena. I'm wondering what distinguishes your story from what has already come to pass. What special sauce goes on your burger here? Otherwise it's just like any other, right? The first chapter has to be that special something or at least allude to it. As action-packed and fun to read as this may be, it's just not something new to me right now. What is your new thing? What do you bring to the table?

You're clearly a good writer, especially for someone who appears to be new (?) to the writing scene. I just want to make sure that your efforts are rewardable.

It's not a chapter.... this is the entire piece.

thepancreas11
April 18th, 2014, 06:36 PM
Oh, well, hmmmm...

As it's own piece, it's lacking a little resolution for me. Rather, it might be lacking a little of the problem. As silly as this may sound, there isn't as much struggle in here as I want. There's just a little too much unexplained. How did they get here? Why were they taken from the pretorians? As a short piece, this would work with maybe a few additional lines to explain their predicament.

Bard_Daniel
April 18th, 2014, 06:42 PM
Oh, so it's good enough that you'd be interested in it being expanded, you mean?

Wander
April 19th, 2014, 04:01 AM
I liked this piece and can agree with what most the others have already picked out. But, I feel this reminds me of a scene in the t.v. series Spartacus. I think it was the first season where Spartacus had to duel his best friend Varro. It was only suppose to be a showy sparring match that ended in blood. Spartacus had to kill his best friend. I do feel the action and emotion in your piece, its thrilling.

Bard_Daniel
April 19th, 2014, 11:30 AM
I've never seen the series only heard of it.

Ok. Maybe it is cliche....

Drakkith
April 20th, 2014, 05:46 PM
I've never seen the series only heard of it.

Ok. Maybe it is cliche....

I don't see it as cliche, it's just that it's been done before. (Everything's been done before, so don't worry about it) It seems to me that you accomplished exactly what you set out to when you started writing this small story. That's the thing about stories, they can be as short or as long as the writer wants them to be, and can explain as much or as little as the writer wants too.

Wander
April 21st, 2014, 12:25 AM
I wouldn't consider it cliche either, I apologize if I made it sound that way. As Drakkith said it's been done before, but you have to think of the setting of which your writing. Gladiators, if they weren't kidnapped and sold into the trade they volunteered knowing the consequences. When they made friends with others from their same house (so to speak because I forgot the word for their dominion) they knew they might have to kill each other one day. I liked that he had to face his friend in the end. It added a wonderful twist and just the right kind of drama to the piece to really make it stand out. Truth is I don't see a lot of Gladiator pieces out there, but I love the ones I do find.

Recon
April 21st, 2014, 03:23 AM
I found it too much of a horror to write a detailed killing of all his brethren. Too much.

Daniel (may I call you Daniel?),
I understand your feeling here, as I have struggled with it myself (my current main character fights a sadistic streak and fights against a psychopathic villain), but part of the power of the story you are trying to write should come from the emotions of the character you bestow the POV on. If the gladiator fight is horrible, emphasize how horrible your main character finds it. That way, your readers will share Hadrianus's disgust and be more impacted by it. Such an addition would also help to lengthen your story; as a standalone, it seems a little brief.

Other than that, I think you did a nice job of pacing out the action and keeping the flow strong throughout; it reads quickly and pulls you in, which is one of the more difficult parts of the craft. If you keep practicing with ones like this, I think you will find that they grow naturally stronger; you seem to be a solid writer. To be honest, I think the best thing you could do to improve this piece is simply to dive back in and read it several times, making changes or adding content wherever they seem to fit. I really like your writing style.

Recon
April 21st, 2014, 03:26 AM
Oh, so it's good enough that you'd be interested in it being expanded, you mean?
Absolutely! Very much so!

Mr. Meaner
April 22nd, 2014, 11:13 PM
From a reader's perspective (not versed enough to talk about any writing aspects), I liked this one. I enjoyed the pace of the action, especially when it came down to this part.


They fought like the Praetorians they once were, viciously, arrogantly, defiantly. Wounds appeared and were ignored. Muscles were twisted and fingers were broken. Still, one did not fall– there was no victor.

Liked the punch of the descriptors (viciously, arrogantly, defiantly) and I've read plenty of action scenes and found this to be true. Rather than lengthy descriptions, things done in concise statements seem to have more of an 'action' feel more so than longer descriptions. For example, I enjoyed all the actions in the piece but I really liked things like quickness of the shorter statements to keep it moving. Plus, that echoes more of a real fight with how quick things happen. If I had to make any sort of suggestion, it would be maybe to incorporate that into another fight scene? Like I said, I'm more versed as a reader than a writer.

Anyways, I also agree with Recon. Would love to see more of this story.

Abby
May 12th, 2014, 09:45 AM
Wow, this is awesome! Totally gripping from start to finish. I know this is a stand alone piece, but I would love to read the story that precedes it had you written one.