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Mandamon

20191216 - Fall of the Imperium- 3661 words - Sub 1

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Sending this out early because I'll be on vacation all next week. I should have internet access fairly consistently but we'll see what happens.


For everyone who isn't familiar, this is the first chapter of book 3 of The Dissolution Cycle. Book 1 is published (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077V2YHKR), and the second one went through the forum during the first half of 2019. If you haven't read all 300k words or so that come before but still want to try to critique, you're in luck! The submission this week includes summaries of the first two books as well as a list of major characters (so...spoilers...). You don't need to critique this part. It's there for your reference (otherwise this is almost 8k long!). The actual story starts on page 8.


All comments are welcome. I especially want to know if this works as a beginning, and if you have a connection to the characters. Tear it apart!

EDIT: sorry, please ignore the weird "-" things every so often. It's an artifact of copying this to another document.

Edited by Mandamon
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I still can't believe how fast you finished this book! Looking forward to the conclusion.

Overall

I think the first several pages could be cut to get more to the action and forward momentum. I was most engaged with the Ari backstory and I wonder why they don't just go full on to get that information and then deal with everything else, since it seems like the Dissolu**** isn't coming super fast. I'd be super hooked if we got some large Ari bombs right here in this first chapter, to steamroll us into the new book!

 

As I go

- pg 7: there are some weird - inbetween words. Is that on purpose or an artifact of the speech to text software?

- Looks like the - problem is throughout the document

- pg 10: this feels like a very slow start. It's two and a half pages in and nothing has happened yet, and just a bit of dialogue. I think it'd be nice to start strong, maybe a big punch of discovery or dialogue, and lay background later

- pg 12: Something else that is not as important as the other things we need to talk about right now. As soon as I can, I’ll ask her. <-- this should be in italics I think. Looks like a thought?

- pg 13: I feel like this is where the narrative starts, where Sa makes a decision

- pg 14: there are a lot of unfamiliar words in this chapter. I don't know how much is WRS from having read the previous book chapter by chapter, and how much is just the characters and words of this facet being new-ish, but I'm confused as to a lot of what is being talked about. S wants to go back to his universe, check. The twins/instances are back, yes, this I remember. And the Eff from S's universe is dead and had a weird spined crown that I want more information on. I feel like more is being built up but I can't parse it.

- pg 16: yes I am much more engaged when getting to learn about Ari history!

- pg 18: okay but wouldn't they want to learn all about the Ari first and then do other things? Since the Ari are the key to pretty much everything here?

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14 hours ago, kais said:

I think the first several pages could be cut to get more to the action and forward momentum. I was most engaged with the Ari backstory and I wonder why they don't just go full on to get that information and then deal with everything else, since it seems like the Dissolu**** isn't coming super fast. I'd be super hooked if we got some large Ari bombs right here in this first chapter, to steamroll us into the new book!

There are some coming in later chapters, but I think I can move the first point from chapter five back to this one. The more I think about it, I may just move that chapter right after this one, or combine.

 

14 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 7: there are some weird - inbetween words. Is that on purpose or an artifact of the speech to text software?

Arg, sorry. Completely different translation problem, while copying to a new document.

 

14 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 13: I feel like this is where the narrative starts, where Sa makes a decision

Agree.  I think I can cut some of the stuff before this.

14 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 16: yes I am much more engaged when getting to learn about Ari history!

Good! That's sort of coming out as one main drives of this book. I'll see what you think about the others once we get into it...

 

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Jumping in as a new reader to your works so please forgive my ignorance.

The first paragraph is hyper dense with story specific names and terms. Having read the summary in the beginning I was ready for it. For someone who happened to pick up this book though it would be a little brain melting trying to sort it all out. 

I would love to have a clearer view of the setting for the first scene. I feel like this location should be familiar to me because the characters know it, but starting from scratch I don't have a reference for what this room/chamber/auditorium is like.

About page two, paragraph first sentence: "He looked E and I" unless this is story specific grammer it seems like you need a 'to' or 'at' here

Next paragraph: 'the E ambassador of it's people' I think you can skip the qualifier here. 'The E ambassador' is a bit clearer.

I agree that some action to work in the introductory exposition would be great here. There is a lot of info and dialogue to sift through right off the bat. If someone had just finnished your second book and picked up this one, I'm sure they would love jumping right back in. Starting cold though, I feel like I'm missing a warm up and introductions. 

Reading this chapter feels like I am about to follow some interesting people through an epic adventure! Your worlds feel rich and well thought out in your summery, I look forward to seeing your characters move through them.

Sarah B.

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Thanks @Sarah B! It's great to get feedback from someone who's just started and can point out where I'm assuming things.

9 hours ago, Sarah B said:

I would love to have a clearer view of the setting for the first scene. I feel like this location should be familiar to me because the characters know it, but starting from scratch I don't have a reference for what this room/chamber/auditorium is like.

Good catch. I can fill this in.

9 hours ago, Sarah B said:

The first paragraph is hyper dense with story specific names and terms. Having read the summary in the beginning I was ready for it. For someone who happened to pick up this book though it would be a little brain melting trying to sort it all out. 

 

9 hours ago, Sarah B said:

If someone had just finished your second book and picked up this one, I'm sure they would love jumping right back in. Starting cold though, I feel like I'm missing a warm up and introductions. 

Glad to hear the summary helps, at least. The second book ends literally seconds before this, so I need to work on how dense the first couple pages are to balance between people reading straight through and those who've waited a while to get to this book.

9 hours ago, Sarah B said:

Reading this chapter feels like I am about to follow some interesting people through an epic adventure! Your worlds feel rich and well thought out in your summery, I look forward to seeing your characters move through them.

Great! Hope you enjoy it.

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I am very excited to be back in this word and find out what happens next, especially since the last book ended with such a cliff hanger. However, my overall reaction to this was that not much actually happened. It was characters standing around talking, trying to decide what to do, but it wasn't until the very end of the chapter that action was taken. I'm not entirely sure I needed to read a chapter of Sam and the twins warning the other facet and then arguing about whether to stay or not. 

On 12/15/2019 at 9:39 PM, kais said:

I think the first several pages could be cut to get more to the action and forward momentum. I was most engaged with the Ari backstory and I wonder why they don't just go full on to get that information and then deal with everything else, since it seems like the Dissolu**** isn't coming super fast. I'd be super hooked if we got some large Ari bombs right here in this first chapter, to steamroll us into the new book!

I think focusing more on the Ari as @kais would definitely make this more engaging and give it a better purpose. 

On 12/17/2019 at 2:12 AM, Sarah B said:

The first paragraph is hyper dense with story specific names and terms. Having read the summary in the beginning I was ready for it. For someone who happened to pick up this book though it would be a little brain melting trying to sort it all out. 

Even having read both of the books that came before this, I still felt that paragraph was a bit dense. 

On 12/17/2019 at 2:12 AM, Sarah B said:

I agree that some action to work in the introductory exposition would be great here. There is a lot of info and dialogue to sift through right off the bat. If someone had just finnished your second book and picked up this one, I'm sure they would love jumping right back in. Starting cold though, I feel like I'm missing a warm up and introductions. 

I feel like if I had finished the second book and picked this one up immediately the next day, I might not have had as big a problem with this chapter, but the only readers who will experience that are the ones who will start the series after the full thing is out. However, even just having taken a few months off, I was having a hard time getting into this chapter as it was. Some little bit of action, or just trimming the chapter and shifting the focus, might help. 

On a more technical note, I noticed there were a couple lapses into first person, and a line of two that sounded like it might have been dialogue but didn't have quotes.

"Look at me, determining that the ruler of this..." Was this supposed to be dialogue? Or was this a lapse to first person?

"As soon as I can, I'll ask her." Same here. I wasn't sure if this was a lapse to first person or if it was supposed to be part of the dialogue. 

 

I'm sorry I didn't have more positive things to say about this one, but I looking forward to the next chapter! 

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Over all: This is a good tense start to the story, and I'm invested, but I'd be so very lost if I hadn't already read most of the prior book, even with the summary. As it is, I'm still moderately lost. There feels like there's a lack of grounding of the characters in a place and time to me, and so all the discussion feels a little talking-heads-ish. Especially the early paragraphs seem a little, sort of, distracted from the main point of the novel. 

I did notice the fair few formatting issues the others have pointed out. The thoughts that had no way to distinguish them from the rest of the narrative text also threw me a bit. 

I don't know that I need more Ari focus, so much as a bit more direction for the narrative parts, if that makes sense? And more emotions, of course. But like, there's plenty of worldbuilding and information already being presented: I'm not sure cramming more into this place is the best course, rather than rearranging or rewriting things to improve direction and flow? 

Still a very strong start!

 

As I go:

I won't crit the summary in detail, but if it is intended to go with the book as a sort of preface, it is a bit long. I feel like gets lost in details that are maybe not as relevant to the overall themes that I think are trying to be summarized as they should be (which is to say, i got lost in it somewhere around the time Ri started going to all the meetings in the book 1 summary and it didn't really straighten out until some point early in the book 2 summary.)

The cast of characters list is much improved from the last time I saw one. I know the characters' species and how they relate to the protagonist and each other. That's good! (Being me, I of course think it could be shorter, ;) but i'm not getting confused by paragraphs of affiliations anymore.) One thing I think maybe could be better is prioritizing the characters, so that supporting characters or occasional characters don't have quite as much info as the primary players. When everyone has the same amount of info and connections, I get a little lost in the descriptions.

 

That is certainly a good tense opening, there's urgency here, but not as much direction as I think I want, if that makes sense? It feels a little scattershot. 

 

"His girlfriend, and his boyfriend" -- OMG. OMG FINALLY. And it only took an entire book and the destruction of reality to get him there! Aaaah! :D 

 

I am having a little trouble following who's saying what in this opening dialogue. There is a bunch of it.

 

I think i could use a little more reminder sentences and refresher description inline with the text. The summary is helpful for a timeline of events, but having inline reminders right next to where they matter I feel like is a lot more helpful to me, and might ground the dialogue in a place, and break it up at least visually maybe. I could probably use some more refresher descriptions, too, and with E being new to everything, that might be a good way to work them in. 

 

"anger that she would so easily"  -- xyr?

 

Why is splitting up not an answer? Like, E and I are not per se necessary on the other side, not in the way S is (or wants to be), and they have a vested interest in getting their trauma taken care of by people who will, y'know, not kill them on sight for admitting it. I understand why S wouldn't be the one to suggest it, but why don't the others? S has proven he can come and go as he pleases, more or less, and reconnaissance would be valuable to the politicians (just as debriefing the twins would be, even regardless of their "reclaiming their heritage" beat), so, like, why is it a foregone conclusion to everybody that the lovebirds have to stay together? 

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Cheers @Mandamon. Managed to finish the first one and the summary so I can dive into this. Here's my two cents.

A couple of points on the first book, in case you find them useful:

  • I figured E must be Arid... when R touched her accidentally, then I got convinced when they all visited the place of the Dr... where the parents died but I can't say why
  • The Symp… feels like the wavefunction in quantum mechanics with synesthetic effects
  • I figured it’s time when you showed me the second Dr… in action (I think on Meth…) because of the cold and motionlessness. The description suggested nearing an event horizon
  • I really need more visuals/description
  • Some of the longer names are hard to read and remember

Chapter 1 Fall of the Imperium – unfortunately I couldn’t keep track of the page because of the intro sections. Comments as I go:

  • Still need more visuals/description
  • the second book probably ends in cliffhanger but even those who read it need to be refreshed regarding the location and events (maybe in style ‘in the previous episodes/and now the conclusion’)
  • “What they did was outside even the range of the Symp…” - wait, there’s something outside its range? Isn’t this stuff like the essence of the universe?
  • Possibly because I missed the Facets of the Nether, I’m confused in this first chapter; it’s hard to track who the factions are and what they want.
  • On the diadem that’s connected into the Eff…’s head – it’s a piece of Net… so it must be given to them by the Net… itself? So what’s the deal with the Eff… and how do they get their powers, are they special/chosen by the Net…?
  • Sam’s jealousy – so I’m not sure how their polyamory works at this point if he’s jealous; in fact, I’m not sure how polyamory with twins works logistically when they get to second base and after but that’s an aside
  • If Enos’ transformation was so major, I hope it was on screen, especially if it’s interesting and earned her character development. Speaking about it in retrospect reduces engagement.
  • This first chapter is loaded with expositional dialogue/backstory. On the upside, it’s interesting and I enjoy the information. On the downside, it’s hard to follow and perhaps there’s a way to show some of this information instead of dialogue delivery. On the hard to follow part, I think I’d personally prefer to just be straight told a good chunk of exposition instead of it trickling through dialogue. It would be easier to follow and over faster. In addition, the exposition in the dialogue is diced into bits that are mixed with extraneous anchors like, “and what do you think?” or “have you ever heard of it?” Since it’s not important if they heard of it and we need to hear it anyway, perhaps it’s easier to straight out tell. Or show - find a library crystal, plug it into the Net… and show it as a cool hologram maybe, or straight out tell parts of it. This could be a matter of personal preference though, of course.

Overall. If there's stuff outside Symp... range and inter-universe travel and effects are so common, they might become plot-breaking devices because they're too powerful when the physicality of a universe routinely affects that of others to such degree. i know you have an outline but the sheer power could still cause tension with suspension of disbelief.

Edited by Lightbearer
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2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I somehow missed all week that you'd commented? Sorry about that--I will respond tomorrow when we're on a bus ride to Munich!

Nope, I just commented tonight. Have a safe, pleasant trip, @Mandamon!

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On 12/18/2019 at 0:33 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

On a more technical note, I noticed there were a couple lapses into first person, and a line of two that sounded like it might have been dialogue but didn't have quotes.

 

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I did notice the fair few formatting issues the others have pointed out. The thoughts that had no way to distinguish them from the rest of the narrative text also threw me a bit. 

Another technical problem. Sorry about that. I don’t think the italics transferred over. I’ll make sure it’s correct for the next submission.

 

On 12/18/2019 at 0:33 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

However, my overall reaction to this was that not much actually happened. It was characters standing around talking, trying to decide what to do, but it wasn't until the very end of the chapter that action was taken.

 

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

There feels like there's a lack of grounding of the characters in a place and time to me, and so all the discussion feels a little talking-heads-ish.

 

10 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

the second book probably ends in cliffhanger but even those who read it need to be refreshed regarding the location and events (maybe in style ‘in the previous episodes/and now the conclusion’)

 

10 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

This first chapter is loaded with expositional dialogue/backstory. On the upside, it’s interesting and I enjoy the information. On the downside, it’s hard to follow

Yep, I need to tighten up the beginning a lot. Good catch. More visuals, more "what just happened," more emotion, less talking heads.

 

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I think i could use a little more reminder sentences and refresher description inline with the text...with E being new to everything, that might be a good way to work them in. 

That’s a good suggestion. I’ll try to use that on the next edit.

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I don't know that I need more Ari focus, so much as a bit more direction for the narrative parts, if that makes sense?

I agree. The next chapter will be heavy Ari to satisfy @kais, so I’m hoping this will be some grounding to get the reader back into the story. Just need to focus it a bit.

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I won't crit the summary in detail, but if it is intended to go with the book as a sort of preface, it is a bit long. I feel like gets lost in details

Noted. I can trim this.

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

The cast of characters list is much improved from the last time I saw one...One thing I think maybe could be better is prioritizing the characters, so that supporting characters or occasional characters don't have quite as much info as the primary players.

Good catch on this as well. I'll do another pass on this.

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

"His girlfriend, and his boyfriend" -- OMG. OMG FINALLY. And it only took an entire book and the destruction of reality to get him there! Aaaah!

Heh--yeah, pretty much. There will be more of this!

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Why is splitting up not an answer? Like, E and I are not per se necessary on the other side, not in the way S is (or wants to be), and they have a vested interest in getting their trauma taken care of by people

Glad you’re seeing this! It will be addressed next chapter (hopefully successfully...)

On 12/18/2019 at 5:00 PM, industrialistDragon said:

why is it a foregone conclusion to everybody that the lovebirds have to stay together?

Sam being clingy, basically...I can try to make this clearer.

 

10 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

A couple of points on the first book, in case you find them useful:

I do--thanks! Always great to see more feedback.

10 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

The Symp… feels like the wavefunction in quantum mechanics with synesthetic effects

 

10 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

Overall. If there's stuff outside Symp... range and inter-universe travel and effects are so common, they might become plot-breaking devices because they're too powerful when the physicality of a universe routinely affects that of others to such degree. i know you have an outline but the sheer power could still cause tension with suspension of disbelief.

Glad you're picking up on these things. The Symphony is based on a vibrational model of the universe, as every physical system can be modeled with an equation of vibration! But I don't put this in the story so people's eyes don't glaze over ;-)

On some of your other questions, E's transformation is shown, and the relationship between the three is developed more in the second book. You're missing a little development on the Net. and how it works with relation to what Sam can do, but hopefully it will clear up. I can provide some notes if you are still confused in a few chapters.

Thanks everyone!

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Well, I got here in the end. Many apologies for the delay.

(page 7)

- The epigraph didn't really pop for me. For one thing, it seems long, and it's about politics / forms of government, and I just want to get on with the story. I'd suggest a (much) shorter epigraph for the first chapter. Maybe one with a bit more drama, a recounting of previous near-disasters in Books 1 and 2? Something that engages the reader quickly. Effectively, it's your first line.

(page 8)

- "I know how the D will start" - I think this is your first line. Just because it's Book 3, and you can expect everyone to be on board who gets this far, the first line still has to grab us by the throat.

- "his fingers falling between I" - I's what? Oh, fingers. Unclear.

- "her mouth open at the collection of strange creatures" - thought she was trying to eat them.

- "Behind him, he let the portal they had come through close with a pop" - Okay, this is first draft, right? Okay, I'm not going to do line edits. I'm not. But... this for me was quite jumbled. I'm pushing the 'rule' of primacy and recency. Important words at the start and end of the sentence. 'Behind him' is not important. In fact, does the portal matter at all?  We didn't see them use it. 'He let the portal behind them close with a pop.' It's obvious they came through it: don't need to say that. And that's the last line edit. Promise. I'll save it for the alpha read, when/if you need it.

- A weird hyphenation thing is happening.

- "His notes returned, like a glass of cold water" - droplets of water would be more evocative of notes than a big glass.

- "while she was captured by" - to me, being captured is the action of the moment. 'while she was held captive by' is more like the time spent in captivity.

- "New creatures" - Aw, fiddle, I don't remember these, I was hoping not to have to check back. I'm confused here as to what / who she is talking about.

- "They are poison-ous" - I remember now, it's coming back to me, but a stronger (re)introduction of these creatures would help.

(page 9)

-  "like the Ds did" - 'do' would be more immediate. Even though there are no Ds active, they are still a clear and present threat.

- "he could only think of the oth-ers they left behind" - I don't remember.

- "WW pressed" - WW's dialogue here, to me, is unnecessary/ineffective. They are just asking about things S has already said. Not very engaging. If they asked 'How do you about...'

- "didn’t have enough attention" - Confused. Surely you don't need to pay specific attention, it just sounds like one's own language. Isn't that the point, there is no effort?

- "compound" - Ooh, surely that's not the true nature of this place, is it? Aren't they in the E's palace, residence, or something like that? This makes me think I'm in a concrete bunker.

- "let others through" - this is the first point at which I clearly remember what happened at the end of Book 2. I wonder if this could not come a bit further up? I dunno. It's hard to judge something like that, I suppose. I won't matter to anyone who has not read Book 2, but how likely is that, really?

- "the P" - took me a moment to remember this is a 'class' of maj.

(page 10)

- "One of the big, two-headed beings lumbered forward" - I'm having blocking issues. What is the context of this meeting? How many beings are present? Is it a Council meeting? At the start, it feels more like a conference between the five being, with no one else present or listening.

- "And what is that?" - somehow, this feels like taking several steps back. The reader is way past needing an explanation of what a D is, and it feels like this conversation is too.

- "briefly, they explained" - I know this is kind of skipping the exposition, but it's still exposition. It's a list of the all the exposition that's happening. Is there a way to disguise it more? I'm not sure, but it came over rather stilted to me.

(page 11)

- IMO there is a difference between a crown and a circlet. The latter is a plane band, whereas the former would be adorned / decorated with vertical features, much more ornate.

- "Another two emerged from one" - confusing. Another two could mean drains, because that was the last thing identified in the previous sentence.

- "The m left through a different portal" - Which maj? Not clear.

- "were who they were" - confusing phrasing. This whole section is very confusing because there are lots of pronouns flying around (they, them, their) that it's hard to attribute them.

- "thought they were bringing power with them, and hoped to use it to take over" - For me, this falls into the 'villains being unrealistically naive. Was that really the reason the LC were trying to bring the Es through? Why would the Es just donate their power to the LC?

- "We must prepare for them" - So wait, what? S, I and E are going to be in this facet? Who is protecting the 'main' fact? The other maj? Does this fact have an Imp? Are we in it?

(page 12)

- What is maj light?

- "S knew she’s been chafing" - she'd

- Oh, I've forgotten what the V is. I thought it was the race that WW was a member of.

(page 13)

- "S found someone who could teach more than he could, though it was painfully obvious S was not of the HoC" - these are two separate things. I don't think the go together like this, it feels jumbled/illogical. OK can't teach him anymore because they share neither of O's two houses. This is not contrary/in opposite to S having found a maj who can. In fact, the two things are complimentary, surely.

- "Once again, S was alone" - My heart sinks. I was hoping finally he had left behind this wallowing in so-called isolation. He is not alone. Clearly and demonstrably everyone here needs him. That's what they've been talking about for the last ten minutes (essentially).

- "I added" - I don't think this is an addition to what E said, it's an answer, surely.

(page 14)

- "What had they talked about before they ran off" - my problem with this is that 'they' are not the same theys.

- "anything they learned can be used to help prepare" - 'learn', IMO.

(page 15)

- "They were quite eager to meet you" - presumably they still are.

- "I gather it will have no use in your facet" - confused. There must be effs that are not Ar. Can't they use the power? It can't just a an Ar diadem.

- "You try to bribe me" - Huh? Don't follow.

- "cut out from their trio for the first time in months" - No, he felt alone about three pages back.

- "of this section" - Why not facet?

- "and S saw I’s eyes widen at the movement" - redundant: it's obvious. In fact, just 'S saw', because that also is implicit. Everything that happens the reader sees through S's eyes.

- "nearly yelling" - vague is not engaging.

(page 16)

- E's outburst is strange. Why would she say that in front of others? I can see her character has changed, which makes sense.

- "Blessed? Pillars?" - My reaction was the same. S's dialogue here is quite hackneyed. Not natural.

- Yeah, this whole page reads pretty clunky to me, in the interaction between the three kids.

(page 17)

- "strip of lights" - this is a really clunky phrase when it crops up in a sentence. If you said 'lights', no one would be in any doubt. It's well established there is a strip of them.

- "Less of them indicate" - fewer.

- "just from sitting still a few moments" - clearly WW is not just 'sitting still'. This comment is beneath I.

(page 18)

- "To be cut off and alone" - is WW so? I don't remember that. WW is here now with other beings.

- "ducking his head down" - sounds like he's dodging something, compared to 'bowing his head'

- "I will aid you in your fight" - but it's not just their fight, the Dis threatens all the facets, surely?

Conclusion 

The first part of this chapter had some good stuff, and got me back up to speed with the situation, but I felt the second half dropped off the pace, and ended up being a kind of vague debate about nothing very much. It felt kind of confused to me, if I'm honest, not worth the space of several pages to argue over. In the last few pages, the debate and some of the dialogue felt clunky to me, in the sense that the debate could either be ramped up, or played down and quickly resolved. Where they go first is not really up there for me in terms of stakes.

Good to be back though. I can see that this will be an interesting chapter when it's 'finished' :) 

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On 12/28/2019 at 8:15 AM, Robinski said:

The epigraph didn't really pop for me

Yep, just read over this and you're absolutely right. I'll replace this one with something more exciting to start the book.

On 12/28/2019 at 8:15 AM, Robinski said:

- "New creatures" - Aw, fiddle, I don't remember these, I was hoping not to have to check back. I'm confused here as to what / who she is talking about.

Also agree. These deserve a call-out to reintroduce them. I didn't want to overload the reader.

On 12/28/2019 at 8:15 AM, Robinski said:

- "compound" - Ooh, surely that's not the true nature of this place, is it? Aren't they in the E's palace, residence, or something like that? This makes me think I'm in a concrete bunker.

Yeah, I sort of settled on this as it's a large boxy structure. I could change it.

On 12/28/2019 at 8:15 AM, Robinski said:

I'm having blocking issues. What is the context of this meeting?

Check. I think a lot of this will disappear or be expanded.

On 12/28/2019 at 8:15 AM, Robinski said:

- IMO there is a difference between a crown and a circlet. The latter is a plane band, whereas the former would be adorned / decorated with vertical features, much more ornate.

I think I settle mainly on "circlet" or "diadem" later on. I'll have to check definitions to make sure it's what I mean, but I've also used those terms in previous books.

On 12/28/2019 at 8:15 AM, Robinski said:

- "I gather it will have no use in your facet" - confused. There must be effs that are not Ar. Can't they use the power? It can't just a an Ar diadem.

Good catch. I'm debating whether to leave this here, as it's explained later, or hang a bit more of a lantern on it now.

On 12/28/2019 at 8:15 AM, Robinski said:

I felt the second half dropped off the pace, and ended up being a kind of vague debate about nothing very much.

Yep. That's seems to be the consensus. I think I have a plan for how to fix this when I get back to this chapter in another week or so.

Thanks @Robinski!

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Trying to catch up on old submissions here.

Overall Impressions: 

As a new reader, I started to get a hold of what was going on after a while in spite of all the jargon. There's clearly a lot of backstory and it would be helpful to have a more clear summary of what happened. As it is, you refer to what happened but don't really tell it. At the top of page 10, the summary of all the events and who summarized them was really boring. I would maybe have them retire somewhere with the promise to tell everything to the ruler, then jump-cut and have the ruler summarize everything she heard in a clear paragraph that sets them up for decision making.

The dialogue doesn't read with a lot of realism. People would say "Slow down" when someone had hardly said anything, or seem to change sides in an argument. The argument about what to do needs to be extended into more back and forth. I felt like each option was brought up in one line and then immediately dismissed in the next. I wanted more back and forth on it, especialy before En blows up at her brother. It seemed to come out of nowhere when they'd barely started talking.

Speaking of that, I felt a bit confused by the characterization. Everyone seemed to get shouting angry and subside very quickly. Maybe you need a less strong emotion word than "angry." And Sa seemed unreasonably possessive, like creepy. Who gets mad at twins whispering to each other? Maybe tone it down? Or maybe they just need to have a DTR talk before they decide on their course of action.

I was also confused by the power dynamics. Why does Sa and his friends, all of whom seem to be random kids if my impression is correct, have the authority to decide on the plan for saving the world over the teacher and the apparent ruler? Why don't they need to listen to them? The decision ends up being a compromise between Sa and E and I, with almost no input from those in charge. Either they should have this conversation somewhere away from authority figures or the authorities should push back a bit more.

As others have noted, visual descriptions of things beside people need to be enhanced as well. Everyone was just talking in blank boxes the whole scene. I wasn't sure either if this was a place they had been before or somewhere new.

Also, my impression is that En is suspicious as all get out. Because all of her comments and Sa's view of them seem to point to her being a double agent/traitor in my mind. But maybe I'm lacking in background, so take that for what it's worth.

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Thanks @lizbusby!

20 hours ago, lizbusby said:

As it is, you refer to what happened but don't really tell it. At the top of page 10, the summary of all the events and who summarized them was really boring. I would maybe have them retire somewhere with the promise to tell everything to the ruler, then jump-cut and have the ruler summarize everything she heard in a clear paragraph that sets them up for decision making.

Good call. I'll work on this to make it snappier.

20 hours ago, lizbusby said:

I felt like each option was brought up in one line and then immediately dismissed in the next. I wanted more back and forth on it

Also a good catch. This will help me flesh out the parts that need to stay.

20 hours ago, lizbusby said:

I was also confused by the power dynamics.

I think this is mostly explained (or at least built up) in the previous two books, but I'll take a look at it.

20 hours ago, lizbusby said:

As others have noted, visual descriptions of things beside people need to be enhanced as well. Everyone was just talking in blank boxes the whole scene. I wasn't sure either if this was a place they had been before or somewhere new.

Yep. This will get a major overhaul.

20 hours ago, lizbusby said:

Also, my impression is that En is suspicious as all get out. Because all of her comments and Sa's view of them seem to point to her being a double agent/traitor in my mind. But maybe I'm lacking in background, so take that for what it's worth.

Yes, this likely comes from the events that just happened in the last book. She's not very stable at the moment.

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