Last thread hit bump limit, serendipitously just as I was wrapping up my review of Friendship is Optimal
. Despite the thread being over limit, I responded to a couple more posts dealing with Optimal
because I wanted to start fresh with a new topic for this thread. Any further discussion of Optimal
or Past Sins
I would like to remain in the previous thread until it 404s, which I will still check for replies.
Previous thread: >>248482 →
Anyway, our current reading queue is:The Sun and the Rose
by soulpillarFallout: Equestria
If you would like to suggest anything for the queue, please feel free to do so.
And with that, we shall now commence reading:The Sun and the Rose
by soulpillarChapter 1: Lavender and Beeswax
Alright, first impressions. I've really got to learn to stop saying this, but so far this appears to be a more competently-written work than the last thing I read. The prose in the first few paragraphs is eloquent, if maybe a little overly florid, though I can usually forgive that if the author doesn't go overboard with it. In any case, this guy seems like he can actually write, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he does something to earn himself a gay nickname.
Also working in his favor is that his story dives right into the action, while still managing to set a compelling scene. Soulpillar manages to avoid the pitfalls of both Peen Stroke's opening (well written in eloquent language, but slow-paced and with description that is heavy handed at times) and Assman's (direct to the point and evenly paced, but utterly devoid of any feeling or mood). We've got a fairly good middle ground here, and I'm starting this off in a state of cautious optimism.
This, however:>A dull blue glow reflected off the hurriedly arranged pieces of battered plate on his body. His left arm and shoulder encased in a full steel pauldron and gauntlet whilst his right arm bore only an iron spaulder and a leather glove. Either leg had a metal shin guard strapped over well-worn leather boots. While a hauberk, a white tabard and an over-stuffed leather traveling pack stacked down on his shoulders. His gear rattled with each shift of his body, unbalanced, ill-kept.
Again, the writing is good, but this is probably a little more detail than I would have gone into about the particular type of armor a character is wearing. That's a matter of preference, though; plenty of well-respected fantasy authors do shit like this all the time. Terry Goodkind, who I like, will blather on for entire paragraphs describing the type and number of pillars in a room; George R.R. Martin, who I also like, spends more time describing what characters are eating than any author I've ever read (which is no surprise, considering what a fat fuck he is). So again, cautious optimism here.
Oh, also:>While a hauberk, a white tabard and an over-stuffed leather traveling pack stacked down on his shoulders.
This should not be a complete sentence as written. "While" usually indicates that you are either continuing a thought from a previous sentence, or are going to append an additional related thought to the end of this one. The author could have probably appended "while a hauberk..." to the end of the previous sentence using a comma, or alternatively he could have just kept this as it's own sentence and dropped the "while," turning it into "A hauberk, a white tabbard and an over-stuffed leather traveling pack stacked down on his shoulders."
Anyway, the scene itself does a decent enough job of grabbing our attention. An unknown character, who by all appearances is human and appears to come from some kind of fantasy and/or medieval-type world, has just stepped through a magic mirror.
The author actually gives us quite a bit of essential information in a relatively compact amount of text: this character dressed hurriedly, suggesting that he's dealing with an unexpected or emergency situation. His helmet has been nigger-rigged with extra protection for his eyes and mouth, which we are told is to ward off some type of miasma, so we know the air in the place he's going is toxic to breathe. The mention of the mirror portal establishes clearly that he is traveling from one dimension to another, and that we are dealing with a universe that has magic.
Finally, a purpose for all of this is established:>Uncle was quite specific; bring back Cecilia and nothing more.
All in all, what we have here so far is a pretty well-written opening. It gives us enough information to understand what is going on, while at the same time withholding enough that our desire to know more intensifies. It provides us a good visual and sets a good scene, without being too verbose in its description (except for the bit about the armor that I mentioned). Cautious optimism remains so far intact.>He looked around, shadows and shapes tested his mettle.
This could probably have been worded differently. For one thing, grammatically he should either use a semicolon after "around", or else change "tested" to "testing" if he wants to use the comma. For another, although this usage is technically correct, referring to what this character is currently doing as a "test of mettle" doesn't quite feel right.
Having one's mettle tested usually implies a battle or direct confrontation; in this case, he's just exploring a hallway that might have something dangerous in it. He's on his guard and wary of the shadows and shapes he sees as potential threats, but so far nothing is testing his mettle. The impression this man gives is that of a seasoned warrior, so a mere dark hallway probably wouldn't set him off this much. I'd probably just go with "He looked around, shadows and shapes keeping him on his guard," or something to that effect.