Hubay

January 16, '12 – Hubay; Lord Domestic Ch 1(Lisu)

10 posts in this topic

Hey everyone! There's a lot of new faces since the last time I posted in my novel, so I thought I'd change things up and post a chapter at the start of the novel, only with a diffent POV. I've got most of Jhuz's storyline taken care of by now, so I might as well focus on Lisu and Duko, anyways. Chronologically this takes place at more or less the same time as Chapter 1 in Jhuz's story, but while Jhuz is located in the northern reaches of the empire, Lisu's set in the Imperial capital, Matis. Lisu's familiar is Ivy, which allows her to walk on walls, so there's some unavoidable parallels with her ability and a certain Shin assassin. Hopefully it doesn't seem too similar. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it!

Lord Domestic – Ch1 (Lisu) –[L,V,S,]

Lisu Carsada, a Druyan and Ivy-metsi, is forced on the run when the Imperial Legion tries to enlist her.

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This is my first attempt at critiquing.

There were many names on the first page, and I got a little scared and thought "am I supposed to remember all this?" but then I got saved by the “I never can understand all that nonsense they go on about” line, Then I felt a relief that there was a character who I could relate too.

I thought the “Miss. Miss! Two more glasses of the house red.”-line was very clever, the way you avoided describing the environment until then, since that line opened the world up to my imagination.

I think you described the characters well, for example "somewhat pretty" which will be interpreted differently by every reader. I'll happily steal that trick from you :D

The story felt very active (if that's the term), and you're good at pushing the story forward.

If the rest of the chapters work like this I know I won't be bored.

Since I just finished reading Warbreaker, I think this would be a great book to pick up next :)

Edited by Wrim
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This was well done. There were a few typos. Words missing letters and the like. You'll catch those and I've never read a novel that didn't have a few that made it all the way to publication.

You've got everything well thought out and possibly the largest original magic system I've ever seen.(That can be good and bad, I'll get to that.)

Watch your sentence starts for repetition. Watch for improper/excessive us of conjunctions. That kind of stuff was present, but not by alot. Just watch for it when you're revising.

My biggest problem was your names. Especially the ones involving your magic system. There are going to be half a zillion of the things and there is very little obvious logic behind the names. Hersadamejji will be my example. Mejji is obviously your variant on magi. That's good. What does Hersada mean? As far as I can tell-Nothing. I'm likely wrong. You probably have a well thought out logic there, but I'm never going to be able to keep all of you magic names straight and I can name every single Pokemon.(Did it at work one day to impress the kids at the after school center, took hours.) I would try finding something a little easier. I know it sounds cheesy, but Ivymejj sounds cool and is obvious.

As far as Commettsi, Dommettsi and the like go; those were good, but a little syllable heavy for something being used all the time.

Another thing. You have too many names with this structure. *i***** Lisu, Jiska, Vizza, Crissa, Mik. That's too many for one chapter. It's bordering on too many for one book. Start some names with Vowels. Use other vowels as a second letter. Use vowel combinations. Vary it up.

Last thing.

I was this " close to not reading your sample because the start was irritating. There was a debate going on about something I had no clue about. It struck me as maid and butler dialogue. It wasn't interesting. There was no hook. Don't start the novel with it. Use it if you can't find a better intro to the magic system, but don't use it as a hook. , even if its just the hook for a plotline, find another way to start that section...

Like I said, very good. I had to get pretty nitpicky on this one.

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I enjoyed the chapter. I'll admit that the large number of names so early on had me worried, but as we learn that Lisu has been working at the bar for a long time, it makes sense that she would know peoples' names and refer to them as such. And then she runs away, so we're not forced to remember all of the names(though I would guess that at least a few will show up again).

The only thing I had any issue with in the chapter was Lisu's reasons for her actions. We know that she doesn't want to get drafted, but not why. We also know that she wasn't all the surprised by the army coming to draft her, but she seems to choose the worst possible way to avoid the soldiers. Since she knew who they were and clearly suspected they had come for her, why didn't she simply sneak out, avoid assaulting the soldiers and running. That way Lisu's sister (who didn't seem to expect Lisu to bolt) would be less suspect of collaborating to help Lisu flee. At this point we don't know how the government works in this world, but I would generally assume that an empire would have no qualms punishing people connected to criminals, and Lisu did commit a criminal act. Is she not at all worried about her sister potentially taking the fall? (I'm not sure if I phrased everything right, but my issue really boils down to: Why did Lisu go out to the soldiers in the first place?)

This issue can be fixed easily if we know exactly why she had to do things as she did it. The chapter wasn't long to begin with, so adding a bit more information about her situation and choice shouldn't mess with the pace.

Other than that, the chapter worked well, and I look forward to see where the story goes from here. Also a question. So chapter 1 for Lisu would correspond to what with your other viewpoints? Are you just writing each viewpoint separately and plan to reorganize the chapters later?

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I didn't really feel her actions were unjustified. She was worried that her sister might get taken too. Basically, she needed to find out what was going on before just running away. This was a family thing. Now, I'm worried her actions will have repercussions on her family... Or more specifically it would feel unrealistic if there weren't.

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The only problem with that is there was a way of hearing what was going on outside, via the other waitress.

And based on her sister's reaction, she either didn't approve of Lisu's action or didn't know she was going to flee. Surely if Lisu was worried that they both might be taken she would have at least mentioned her escape plan to her sister.

Again, that's just how it felt when I read the chapter, and a little more on Lisu's reasoning for her actions would make this a non-issue.

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The only problem with that is there was a way of hearing what was going on outside, via the other waitress.

And based on her sister's reaction, she either didn't approve of Lisu's action or didn't know she was going to flee. Surely if Lisu was worried that they both might be taken she would have at least mentioned her escape plan to her sister.

Again, that's just how it felt when I read the chapter, and a little more on Lisu's reasoning for her actions would make this a non-issue.

I suppose making the reasoning a little more sound might work, but I can see it ruining the tension.

I honestly would have probably acted very similarly to how Lisu did, but I'm often a little on the arrogant side.

A couple weeks ago at work I was using a ladder. I set the ladder up. I took my tablet and phone out of my pocket because I was worried the ladder might fall, but instead of fixing the ladder I climbed up it. I was in fact right, the ladder wasn't secure. It scraped down the wall twenty feet with me at the top. I sprained my wrist out of the deal.

Lisu's decision feels similar to that.

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It feels good to read one of your chapters again Hubay.

I find myself in a strange position here, as I have read all your other chapters from Jhuz and now you're rewinding the story : I already know much about your world and I'm a bit worried that things may look normal to me, and they wouldn't to a new reader.

The beginning was a little bit unfocused to me. I felt like I was thrown in the dark with people I didn't know. It took me a while to recognize what exactly the situation was. For instance, you didn't establish right away which viewpoint we were in (and by your description, it was a Lisu viewpoint, so I asked myself who was talking here and why she wasn't). Maybe leading with a sentence or two telling us what Lisu is doing would have helped.

Good job establishing her character. She comes out as likable right away (nice touch having her sit before the two patrons). In fact, she might even be more likable than Jhuz who got a difficult start if I remember correctly.

After that, she gets on the street and things start to roll nicely. The magic system exposition was well handled, though I wonder if I would have said the same if that had been my first chapter read. For instance, the explanation of the 4 different types of powers was very interesting to me, but I think I would have had trouble reading that in a first chapter. Maybe you don't need to explain too much right away (her knowing there are no reinforcements could be explained by what you showed before, so you can skip explaining that). Scaling that back might increase readability for new readers.

I'm still curious about how you will intertwine the viewpoints : which chapter will end up first ? I still have some difficulties picturing the whole, considering the fact that Jhuz's storyline isn't complete yet. I guess I'll have to wait a while to find out.

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It took me a while to get around to reading and reviewing this, and I'm not really sure why (other than one week of a particularly relaxing vacation). Anyway, I'm getting to it now.

Like SkyhunterCommander, I've read a lot of the other chapters, so I know some about what is going on already. I haven't read all of them, however, and I didn't get any of the description of the various stages of magic the first time, so I can kind of view them with a fresh eye.

I agree with Aminar that the beginning might need to be reworked. I liked what it eventually revealed about Lisu's approach to waitressing, but the exposition of an argument isn't exactly something that draws me into a story. In fact, it was the slowest part of the chapter, and the hardest for me to read. I probably spent about half as much time reading the first 8 or so paragraphs as I did the whole rest of the chapter. One possible improvement for this would be to reduce some of the actual argument, and let Lisu summarize it in her head. This would accomplish a few things, including introducing Lisu as the POV character sooner, showing how familiar she is with the arguments (and the arguers), and also removing some of the extra words, especially the big, unfamiliar words. Lisu could summarize the argument in much more familiar terms, rather than the scholarly terms the other two are using.

Even with those changes, however, I'm still a little leery about starting a whole book that way. I can't remember if you have a prologue, but right now I'm going as if this is the start of the whole story. Of course, since you have a couple other viewpoints that aren't in the same location as this one, you could play with the three to find a better one for the first hook.

What you might lose from doing that is what I thought was a very reasonable primer on the different levels of abilities that people can have in this world. While I agree with some of the other comments about the number of terms being thrown around, I think the introduction to the levels and what (to an extent) can be done with them is very good. You might skip (some of) the actual terms for the first chapter, however, and focus on the levels using english words (communication, command, control, and power).

Going with something that worked well, the confrontation with the soldiers. Aside from the proliferation of names (I don't know why the Infantrymen need named, for example), I thought the action described was well done. You showed what she was doing and concentrating on, without getting distracted by the smaller details. It was also a good showcase for the system (as I mentioned already).

However, I have the same overarching concerns others expressed. By all appearances, Lisu was expecting that she might have to deal with the soldiers by running. She had also apparently given some thought to it, since she had a stash of money and weapons ready to hand. For all that, the actual actions she took seemed ill-conceived. The others had mentioned actually going into the streets instead of listening some other way, such as via her ivy or have the bartender relay the conversation. Another I had problems with was her attacking the soldiers, rather than just running right away. What did she hope to accomplish with the attack? Best case, she beats them and ties them up or knocks them out. Then what? Was she going to kill and dispose of them, to prevent needing to leave? Or to get a head start?

Plus, the lead solder mentioned crucifixion as a punishment, not exactly pleasant, and especially lending an overtone of control and cruelty to the emperor. I would expect retribution to come to the sister; she may be more useful where she is, but that much more useful? Much of the risk of repercussion could be avoided just by not being there, first of all, or secondly by just running and not attacking the soldiers. The running can be explained away more easily than an attack on representatives of the emperor, after all.

Now, I don't want to say these problems are insurmountable. Some of them, such as her going outside rather than staying in, can easily be explained by a small sentence or part of a sentence describing her thought process leading her to go outside. Attacking the soldiers is harder, but if you show she has reason to think she either has to, or has a reasonable chance at a good outcome, it may work better.

Finally, from what I've seen so far the metsi give their people very interesting and vast powers, but I would imagine nearly everyone by now knows how dogs track. I was thrown off by the idea that the canimetsi soldier could track Lisu even as she is escaping two stories or more above him. You may want to explain a bit further how that works, either by referring to them going well above and beyond what dogs have been shown to do, or the combination of intelligence with the ability to follow the scent leading the soldier to intelligently predict where she might go, and scent those places for her traces.

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Having read your Jhuz chapters I’m already reasonably familiar with your magic system, but since it’s been a while the names of the practitioners took some getting used to again. The start of the chapter, the philosophical debate, didn’t do much for me. This early in the story it lacks relevance and it feels instead like a maid-butler info-dump.

A little after that you do a sort of reversal of speaker and action, which makes the conversation between Lisu and Crissa hard to follow. I’ll explain what I mean. Someone speaks (attributed in places with ‘she said’ or a variation thereof) which is then followed by another character taking an action in the same paragraph. I found this confusing, since the speaker’s identity is not made clear. I had to backtrack when you finally wrote ‘Lisu replied’ to see who actually spoke where.

The following scene in the restaurant I liked, conversation wise. When she goes out is where things go south for me plot-wise. She knows the soldiers are there for her. She plans to run. Why not leave out the back in the first place and get a head start?

What I missed most though is descriptions. You don’t have to go overboard, but to me this chapter was on the wrong side of minimalistic. This is the first look at the imperial capital. From the chapter I get that we won’t be here long, but I’d still like to know what the capital actually looks like. What I got from the surroundings in this chapter is that there’s a restaurant, with tables and a bar and outside is the street. To me this feels too sparse. What is the architecture like? Is the street paved, cobbles, dirt? Is the bar made of wood, light or dark wood, or something else? Are there windows in the restaurant, etc.

The same with the characters. I only know gender and nothing else. Do Lisu and her sister look alike, are the soldiers in uniform and if so, what does that look like? I don’t know.

Final thing, motivations and name drop. You mention Duko and I hope this becomes relevant soon, because there’s no frame of reference. Is Duko a friend? A soldier? Some kind of familiar since she speaks of using him? And why does Lisu attack when she’s being drafted. Not liking the draft is one thing, but there is no reason why she’d react so vehemently. It came completely out of nowhere.

The rest of the chapter was interesting, but I’d like to see it fleshed out some more with descriptions and motivations.

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