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Mandamon

20180128 - The Society of Two Houses - Part 2 - 3600 words - Mandamon

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Hello folks,

Here is the second part of my new mystery novel. Let me know what you think!

The biggest complaint last time was why the society was secret and how it could be kept secret. I've added in that the members are under a geas (created within the Symphony) which the leader conveys on each member when they're brought in, and keeps them from talking to those outside the Society. I haven't fleshed it out completely, but let me know if that works for you in relation to the other conversations in this section.

Other than that, let me know if anything is confusing, boring, or unbelieveable.
Any comments on the characters emotions are also good. I tend to add more of that in  later drafts, so it's good to know where I'm lacking.

Thanks! 

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 I saved my favorite story so for last. ^_^

And so,

Have I expressed my intrigue over M yet? No? Well. I think M is very intriguing. The ben species seems so creative.:ph34r:

So, the geas. When I think of that, I think Lelouch vi Britannia sweeping his hands melodramatically while his eyes light up with his geass. So, just hearing about a geas is fine, but it's got potential to be so much more. It would great if there is some  noise (I assume the geas is part of the Symphony) and plays like a jingle or somesuch whenever it's mentioned/thought of or whatever it's preventing comes up. Like him being in public and trying to mention it would trigger it,  an alarm going off on a locked car sort of deal.

Very good with the ben emotions. I can grasp the implications. M is tired, and his life's legacy, as it were, has just been lost. So sad.

I would like a description on what the mansion looks like. Last chapter was rather devoid of detail as well once Manda left the office. These places must be spectacular, but for the most part are ignored. But not by me. I question.

Next, there is a logical problem, so maybe it's only my frail mind, but: when Manda is narrating about M and Ae worrying more about the secrecy of the society instead of the murder victim, Manda mentions the geas again and how it stops them from speaking. It's no the repeat of the information that bothers me, it's the "why". A list of society members getting stolen has nothing to do with them revealing the truth of their own volition, verbally or otherwise. Therefore, why is he using the geas as a part of his observations of their behavior? It only makes sense to me if I assume the geas works on anyone revealing the truth, which I know is not the case. But Manda is implying something similar here. I understand the point is that they don't care about Thu, but the reasoning, I am not following it.

Next, I think you should stop repeating the line about using the Houses of Healing and Potential. Manda has said this several times now, not just to the reader but to M. Better to just say he Investigated. Another Society member should understand.

Reading further, and you are absolutely nailing it with M's description movements. It feels like reading about an Ent that's discovered coffee. I love it. and those ones drive the conversation and pacing along quite nicely.

But, I have come to a point of confusion. Manda mentions the defense system that uses six parts of the Symphony, and that it was made by a single individual of great talent. But that clearly means, given later dialogue, that he most certainly did not have Six Houses available to him. So how did he do it, exactly? I guess he had help? But wouldn't that mean Manda is wrong and multiple beings built the manson's defense mechanism?

Excellent. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't much care for first person, but it is wielded skillfully here. And the Ben was an excellent surprise. I wasn't expecting things to keep focused on them.

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On 1/29/2018 at 8:58 PM, Curiosity's Splinter said:

So, just hearing about a geas is fine, but it's got potential to be so much more. It would great if there is some  noise

Great suggestion on the noise in the Symphony. Honestly, I put this stuff in last minute as a sort of placeholder for what I intend, so I will definitely be expanding on it. I think this leads to your confusion later on as well. I'll need to dig into this and make it work logically.

 

On 1/29/2018 at 8:58 PM, Curiosity's Splinter said:

I would like a description on what the mansion looks like

There's some more later, but this will also get expanded in the next draft.

On 1/29/2018 at 8:58 PM, Curiosity's Splinter said:

it was made by a single individual of great talent. But that clearly means, given later dialogue, that he most certainly did not have Six Houses available to him. So how did he do it,

Good catch. It's half a plot hole, and half that I didn't explain it well. I'll fix this. Better to say one individual created the theory behind it, and had help to actually put it together.

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Yes, that makes sense. I think the word "designer" would have been more appropriate. Then again, I guess there is already precedent for this. The System Beast is built from multiple stuff, right? And from multiple developers, but Manda is getting credit for it anyhow. At least from M, if no one else.

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Overall: I had some trouble with the basic premise for having the House exist at all. Like, it just doesn't make sense to me. I get that whole "who watches the watchers" thing, and I'm 'Merican enough to appreciate preparing for unknown unknowns and potential threats, it's just sounding very tinfoil hat to me at this point. The murder being total no-big-deal and basically an afterthought rubbed me a little wrong, too.  It now reminds me less of a mystery and more of an action drama, which isn't bad (I like NCIS as much as anyone), but it's also not what I thought I was getting. I got kind of ranty in my fridge logic. Sorry!

 

As I go:

So his old master was house potential, but his new one is healing, and two-talents are still a see-krit, soo... nobody thought that was weird? Like now there's a random dude with a potential talent studying under a healing talent and apparently doing fine and nobody's thinking it's odd? Unless this is WRS and Mo is official potential too? but the way the sentence is set up, it sounds like Moo is officially healing, which, I mean, how often do masters bite it and then their students randomly switch talent houses afterwards that this is normal and not totally giving away the big two-talent see-krit? And i'm like a paragraph in and already feeling mixed up :/

 

I'm not sure I buy the "two talents good, three talents bad" line of thinking. Maybe it's because I haven't read the other novels, or it's the way two-talents are portrayed here, but it's never felt to me like having any number of talents would be inherently dangerous, or that somehow having two talents means having more physical power than someone with only one. Having a wider range of application for that power, sure, but more? Does having two (or three) talents somehow award the person more notes too, so they can totally automatically dominate anyone with fewer talents like it feels like it's being implied here? 

Also, going mad/insane does not equal going on a murderous rampage and killing everyone in an orgy of unstoppable magic-fueled destruction as he's implying here. That's kind of an awful stereotype, that insanity automatically means murderer. Also-also i'm wondering a bit how a three-talent two-year-old would be any different from a two-talent or any other kind of two year old, since it's implied earlier that secondary (or tertiary) talents can develop later in life (like our protag), which would presumably make them easier to control when they come in for the average adult wielder... Which makes me now wonder about detection, since they can apparently detect the three-talent disasters as toddlers anywhere in the worlds, but not the late-onset two-talents like the protag? Or was the "watching you for a long time" bit earlier implying that they CAN detect two-talents that young, which would presumably mean they can detect one-talents as well? And they're just withholding this ability from the general public... for reasons? Because they like to watch new mages suffer?  

 

"grind the Assembly underfoot" Again, why would they? Are two-talent mages twice as prone to conquering and destroying all of the known worlds as one-talent mages? They're one step closer to the three-talent cliff, after all.  It would seem to me, that even if we allowed the three-talents-cause-instant-destructive-insanity idea, then why wouldn't the afflicted simply destroy themselves to make the insanity/pain/whatever stop? IRL people with mental disorders are more likely to be victims of violence than the cause of it....

 

I'm not thrilled with the reveal that this is like some see-krit CIA/homeland security department, but I'd feel better about it if they hadn't just gone through that whole rigmarole with the "evil three-talents coming to destroy us all" thing.  

I also feel a little like I've fallen for a bait-and-switch. I came in for a murder mystery and suddenly we're told that's not important and we're really in an episode of 24. Spy action/drama and murder procedural aren't quite the same things, though they both can start with a dead body and be entertaining. Maybe some of this feeling is WRS. I've had a week to consider it a mystery instead of a page-turn to chapter 2. 

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23 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

The murder being total no-big-deal and basically an afterthought rubbed me a little wrong, too.  It now reminds me less of a mystery and more of an action drama,

Yep, murder is tagged as not having enough reaction. I think I got better at it later on, but need to shore up this first part. I think this does go back to more of a mystery later, so hopefully I'm still fulfilling that goal!

23 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

So his old master was house potential, but his new one is healing, and two-talents are still a see-krit, soo...

Noted. This is still a bit of a handwave. I'll figure out what to do with it.

23 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I'm not sure I buy the "two talents good, three talents bad" line of thinking.

It was discussed a bit in the first novella. I can flesh this out some more. Basically the two house folks are...eccentric, but hearing three houses (or half the music of the universe) leads to mental breakdown and death from information overload.

23 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Also, going mad/insane does not equal going on a murderous rampage and killing everyone in an orgy of unstoppable magic-fueled destruction

Nope. Agree fully. I think this was bad wording on my part. I didn't mean to imply that insanity = murder. More that Moor is thinking a bit outside the box as to what could happen with meeting an undiscovered civilization. No telling what their government would be like and what their intentions would be toward other civilizations. No way to know if maji there have free reign, or are made into some sort of magical weapons.

Also, if it's not quite getting across, Moor is a bit paranoid.

23 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I also feel a little like I've fallen for a bait-and-switch.

Hm. On this one, I both want to submit more to see what you think, and hold back until I get it a little more polished. I'm trying to go more for the "nothing is as it seems" murder rather than "how did this body get killed" mystery. So yes, the body itself is important, but the reasons behind it are the real mystery, especially in relation to the Society.

Thanks as always for the comments, @industrialistDragon! This will help greatly in revisions.

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As an aside, I'm about halfway through your most recent book, so this is dovetailing in nicely!

Overall

I think this chapter did a good job of tying in previous books and giving us the motivations and backstory for the rest of the book. I'm reasonably invested at this point in list of mensa-members and their peril. Bonus: nonbinary species always make me happy. Loved the use of the various nonbinary pronouns in your latest book, too! Made me smile and remember when I first started using them here on RE!

Overall - enjoyed it!

As I go

- the start with 'the dusty musk' is hard for me to parse. I had to read that intro sentence a few times to get my brain to sort the words properly

- WRS: I remember someone is dead, but not the importance of this list

- page six: so they're talking about the system animals here not being proven--is this a much earlier time than your other books?

- page seven: oh! You have an epigraph in your newest book that talks about magi war and stuff! Connection!

- page ten: resin-flesh? I am intrigued. Is it because they are living wood?

 

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On 2/2/2018 at 11:00 PM, kais said:

WRS: I remember someone is dead, but not the importance of this list

Yes--this will get beefed up in the edit process.

On 2/2/2018 at 11:00 PM, kais said:

so they're talking about the system animals here not being proven--is this a much earlier time than your other books?

This is quite a bit earlier. You should be able to get an estimate of how much earlier by some clues between this one and the novel, and M referencing his age.

On 2/2/2018 at 11:00 PM, kais said:

resin-flesh? I am intrigued. Is it because they are living wood?

More on less. I didn't want to do full-on Ent, but they are definitely more in the "ambulatory plant" category than "animal." Suggestions are welcome too!

On 2/2/2018 at 11:00 PM, kais said:

I think this chapter did a good job of tying in previous books and giving us the motivations and backstory for the rest of the book.

Great! This will expand on some side-themes in seeds, and will also tie in a little to the second seeds book!

Thanks as always, @kais!

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On 2/1/2018 at 2:04 PM, Mandamon said:

Also, if it's not quite getting across, Moor is a bit paranoid.

Yes, I did notice that, just a wee tiny smidge. :P I had to think about this for a bit, but I think what's throwing me is the way Ma, who is not portrayed as paranoid, just is totally on board with Mr. Paranoia's rant and is like "Yes, what you are saying is totally reasonable. I understand everything now." Like, from what I recall, he doesn't even think or internal monologue that Mr Paranoia's going a ways too far with things, and he's just, like, accepting everything like it's simply building on common knowledge. I think? If that makes sense?  

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6 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

but I think what's throwing me is the way Ma, who is not portrayed as paranoid, just is totally on board with Mr. Paranoia's rant and is like "Yes, what you are saying is totally reasonable

Ah. Got it! Yes, that's a good point. I can try to bring out that Ma would be skeptical of Mo's paranoia.

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Looking forward to Part 2 :) 

  • Has he not sniffed already, as he’s detected the musk?
  • The use of ‘their’ before the word ‘Ben…’ threw me off. Doesn’t seem to be a reason not to switch it.
  • We are now getting emotion from Man, which is good.
  • that was a far second in their thoughts” – must say that this sounds inelegant compared to the conventional phrase ‘distant second’.
  • I think “Hallways branched off” is part of the next paragraph describing the building.
  • nestled beneath the light of two of the massive walls that gave light through the Nether” – awkward phrasing, and repetition of ‘light’.
  • ‘Little revelation’ seems like an oxymoron. Surely, a revelation would be huge. Whereas maybe insight could be (a) little (at a time).
  • I felt that would eventually lead to failure, but I also had many other projects to work on” – I don’t follow this bit. The last sentence doesn’t seem to follow the logic of the paragraph.
  • They might have ben of an age” – typo, ‘been’, obvs.
  • thin blueish panes of his face” – typo? Also, in the next sentence. This description feels odd.
  • His ever-moving hands” – compound adjective.
  • Quickly, give it here. “
  • had reacted similar to Moor” – similarly.
  • members secret,” I said, “Why have a compulsion” – For me, this is a new sentence, if you're going to use a cap. Otherwise, it’s part of the same sentence, and should be ‘why’.
  • The prototype to show to the Assembly was not ready” – but wasn’t that what he took to the speaker’s room? Or was that just a model? I forget.
  • gently poked my in the chest” – typo.
  • This was the most candid the guarded Ben had ever been” – these two ‘opposites’ so close together are awkward.
  • most of the passages” – typo, I think.
  • Some lived here all the time, but others shared their time in P with socializing with other” – grammar here is off.
  • I smoothed the small beard I had attempted to cultivate in recent months” – if he can smooth it, then he has succeeded already in cultivating it.
  • And what about Majus I’s work” – caps when it’s a title.
  • Ben talks about being very young, then gives a precise date. That sounded weird to me, because being young does not come with a precise date, of course. Ben then talks about finishing the apprenticeship, which is more precise, so I think it’s just the order of the statements.
  • The first sentence of the announcement is a bit of a lung-buster!
  • ‘Gloom----- Prison’ for me, as it’s the name of the place.
  • their sound magics” – as in audio, as in music, as in old-fashioned term for the symphony?
  • More advanced, certainly” – I think people need to be or have something that is more advanced, rather than them being more advanced in general terms. For example, people’s sense of fairness is more advanced, their understanding of complex political and social issues is more advanced.
  • Not sure I see the need for the chief of the society to be on the Council, or even for the goals to be aligned. Something about the logic here felt fuzzy to me.
  • They knew everything about me—plenty to reduce my standing” – I tripped over this twice. I guess it means ‘enough’?
  • The murder of Speaker is a big mess. Wouldn’t the Assembly be open to the work we do here if we told them?” – I don’t see the connection between these two sentences, or the logic of the progression.
  • a bark, more than mirth” – A bark can contain mirth, surely? ‘Mirthless bark’ would be clearer.
  • Such an individual would be very powerful” – I feel like this statement needs to be qualified, also very bland, considering the implications. E.g. ‘If ever such an individual survived long enough to use their abilities, they would be immensely powerful.’ (p.s. ‘very’ sounded quite weak to me.)
  • in the great universe” – this adjective seems unnecessary, especially when you have the Grand Symphony as well.
  • The discussion has turned to the Society being a quasi-military organisation. I feel that I'm disappointed by that, because it starts to takes the story out of the mystery/criminal realm, and into the sphere of a spy story. I’m thinking of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, which I think are still my favourites (on the basis that Sherlock, with every episode now, dispenses more and more with the DNA it shared with Conan Doyle’s work, to its increasing detriment, imo). Those films became increasingly propagandist, not surprising considering they first was 1939, but it changed them.
  • Why is Man the only choice to lead the Society forward? I don’t think that’s been earned, seems like a jump to me.
  • I forget what actions of Man’s have left him with nowhere else to go.

I found this part rather slow, quite a bit of exposition, and rather wordy—which I suppose are all pretty much the same thing. Perhaps a little repetitive too. I know you’ll go over these things in the edit, though. So, I'm no overly worried at this point. I just feel this section could be a fair bit more economical. I understand and completely defend your admirable choice of making a Ben a main character, but it doesn’t help with the flow of the story. With the pronouns and their mode of speech, it’s a bit of a double whammy. It’s consistent though (with the D-verse), and it’s not pretending to be anything it’s not, so kudos for that. I’m hoping the pace picks up in the next part, which I'm looking forward to.

<R>

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Thanks @Robinski

I think this first section needs a lot of work, and you seem to be consistent with the others. I can fine-tune this but looks like it's at least working as a rough draft. 

The problem of Sherlock Holmes as a protagonist vs. a force of nature continues to plague me, and I think I've gone more with the protagonist option for this one. We'll see how it comes out in the end!

Oh yeah, and this is probably Moor's biggest section, so less confusion after this!

Edited by Mandamon
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9 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Oh yeah, and this is probably Moor's biggest section, so less confusion after this!

It's me, not you, of course :)  I think if I was tired, I would tend to put it down and pick up again when I was more alert. Sign of age?!

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Hey @Mandamon, just catching up before I move onto your more recent submission of part 3.

I'm finding myself wading through a lot of names/terms, etc. Maybe I need to read the previous works to be up to speed? Regardless, I just let it wash over me, but I am finding it very dry. In my very humble opinion, I want to know more about the dynamics of the characters involved, their relationships, how they operate, motives etc. If it's going to be a mystery then I want to be invested in the mystery, which I assume is the murder? Right now the murder feels secondary to the Society. 

I'm on the fence I think on this one, though I am getting some "The Name of the Rose" vibes for some reason (just sub religion for science), which is a good thing.

 

 

 

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Thanks @toomsta! I just did some work on this today, and I think cleared up some of the name confusion and focused on the murder more.

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