Mandamon

20191223 - Fall of the Imperium Ch2 - 5170 words - Sub 2

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Time for chapter 2 of book 3! Again, if anyone is completely lost, I can provide summaries of the first two books. Slightly over 5000 words this week. Apologies.

This week will have a lot more of the Ari interplay, as some have suggested. Let me know how it works.

All comments are welcome. Still looking for any major plot problems, as well as for a connection with the characters. Anything else is fair game too!

Previously: S, E, and I arrive in the other facet and tell the inhabitants what's going on. E and I learn a little about their species, but they all decide to go back to their facet to learn more.

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@Sarah B - yeah, I think the mailing list is acting up again. I'm talking with @Silk about it.

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Hopefully everyone has the submission at least once by now...or maybe three times. Let me know if you don't.

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I got it four times!

Overall

Well I really enjoyed it. All the information I'd been wanting and we got some cool powers interactions. There are a few areas I'd have liked even more information, but I suppose that might come, too. I like that we see that S has really grown, and I like that I isn't in a lot of control. 

I think the background of the Ari in terms of their similarities with the Ss could use a bit more lantern hanging, or a brighter A HAH moment. Otherwise though, I was never bored and really enjoyed the information!

 As I go

- pg 1: He couldn’t know the extent of her struggle. Really? I have questions. He was held for longer and how did he manage to not absorb or be absorbed? And surely he knows most of her struggles, having had to fight them off, surely

- pg 8: love the 'they' as a singular pronoun description here

- pg 9: was close to them in an instant <-- because you use 'instance' for the Ari, I'd suggest not using 'instant' here. I had to read the sentence a few times and got a bit confused

- pg 14: I love them using their powers together!

- the ending I think needs more punch

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Hello,

Great pacing for this chapter and enough action and cool moments that the exposition didn't drag at all. 

A few things that were confusing as a new reader of your series;

Opening quote. It seems like the speaker is A but is also referring to A as though they are a different species.

Around 15% mark; Instead he made a grab for I's hand.... This sentence seems to flip viewpoints mid way between S and A, partly because it indicates S's thought process and partly because I is referred to twice in different terms.

"....although they had escaped the E's sick room in different directions" this seems like you're touching briefly on something from a previous book. As a new reader it completely knocked me out of the story. If it isn't an important point at this time, maybe the nessicary information could be worked in another way?

The E wall: this sounds cool and it's been mentioned a few times already.  Now that we're seeing it I would love to get some more description of what it is and what it looks like.

"Kill them!" Paragraph: This is also very confusing. A quick reminder of what 'instance' means in this context and names instead of 'them' and 'he' would help quite a bit I think.

Around 25% mark: "She grabbed a and squeezed the notes out" Only a vegue idea what she is doing here without re reading the Story Bible you included with the 1st chapter. A reintroduction of these terms earlier in this book would be great so the newby readers like me are ready for this sequence.

"Did they not have a tram line?" This seems like a very abrupt change in tone and topic for her. It would seem like moments after being possessed and nearly forced to kill her boyfriend she's speculating on architecture. Maybe another character could introduce the topic change to break the tension?

Around 50% mark: wood is an organic material 

"But I have brought you two of our species..." Species seems a very impersonal term to use here. Since she defines them as being of their 'Kind' (I like this term and use it myself for types of Aliens) in the next sentence, maybe she could identify them as 'young people'  'sibblings' or another warm term on initial introductions. 

Near the end: "That if you are certain..." grammatically "Then, if you are certain..." works better I think.

That's it for me! Thank you for sharing, I feel like the story is really gaining traction in this chapter and it was fun to read.

 

 

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Straight in,

(epigraph)

- I find it a bit oblique. Not sure it really flows, and what is the final message, in what what way do the Ar behave in the reverse? Unclear, I thought.

(page 1)

- "though it was at the expense of her tenure with the LC" - the word 'tenure' to me implies a longstanding / permanent arrangement, but E was with them for such a short time, really. It rang untrue to me.

- "months or cycles" - so, do they have months? They have ten days, and they have cycles (years?), so it seems odd that they use a human measure in there.

(page 2)

- "He deserves you" - This seems contradictory. It seems the presence is suggesting that E and S should be together, but is it not only interested in E killing S, killing everything? It seems weird it would be interested n her love life.

- "Will you come through with us?" - Eh? Why on earth would they? They were trying to talk them into staying here. It seems very naive for E to ask this.

- "proficient at offense or defense" - clunky phrase, IMO.

(page 3)

- "The Symphony can be used for anything" - Whose thought is this? And surely it isn't true. A house is completely restricted by the limits of its symphony. This implies the H of Time can heal, for example.

- "ask S about his new confidence" - why would she ask now? Not an appropriate time, it seems to me.

- "trying to put enough" - does she or does she not? Vagueness not compelling. This is a matter of fact, surely.

(page 4)

- Good tension in this exchange. It reads a bit jerky to me, but that all editing.

- "When she first met him, her rejection would have been enough to keep him in his shell" - this bit is particularly wordy, but not all that clear. I feel it can and should be more pithy, direct. Something like 'A month ago, her rejection would have left him a quivering wreck.'

(page 5)

- "though he never displayed that attribute" - how would she know if he never displayed it? I wonder if it's not 'utilised that attribute' or 'used'.

- "her kiss fierce on his lips" - This page/moment is a wonderful emotional payoff so early in the story. I greatly approve! It gives the reader some emotional certainty which has been fairly scarce in previous books.  It gives us  relationship anchor, a restore point, if you will.

- "he was back to being submissive. So not everything had changed about him" - I don't like this thought. It reduces personality to a level of certainty that just does not exist. It's naive of E to think that he would have changed absolutely with no possibility of any scintilla of his former personality remaining.

(page 6)

- "bovine-like behemoths" - Since bovine means cow-like, I feel that this reads 'cow-like-like', which strikes my ear as wrong.

- "the long-limbed symbionts on their backs moving as fast as their rides moved slowly" - How can this be? They must be moving at the same speed, surely?

- "so prevalent they had been active" - I find her logic a bit muddy in this paragraph.

- "wide slatted fence " - I think 'wide-slatted' means the slats are wide, 'wide slatted' means the fence is wide, and slatted (but the slat width is unknown).

(page 7)

- "They were here voluntarily" - I feel like this deserves to have more punch. I wanted it to say 'They were penned up voluntarily.' I feel that E should have more of an attitude towards the set up.

- "backed away from the opening" - confused here. First, it's a doorway, but it has a gate (not a door), then, the Ari backs away, but there's nothing about them opening the gate: I had pictured them looking through it, not opening it. And the phrase 'opening' suggest neither door nor gate to me, but an unbarred opening.

- "The inside of the fenced area contained houses" - redundant. I know, line edits not really needed at this stage. Oh, well! While I'm at it "rather than the organic substances in the rest of this facet".

- "her parents' caravan" - missing apostrophe.

- "I told you of one of them when he last visited" - pretty maid-and-butler exposition clunky around here.

- "It was strange not to know the body language of her own species" - but would the N not translate? It translated the inanimate signs on the fence. I'm sure body language is translated in the Imp.

(page 8)

- "as if they should be familiar with it" - the assassins spoke just to her (didn't they?), so would this not be 'she'?

- "His simple concern had driven them away" - I feel like this is belittling the emotion that S displayed, the feeling was much stronger than something simple, certainly, in E's reaction.

- "concerned at I’s non-answer" - This is vague. I feel like there is another emotion that could go here that would better evoke what the reader should feel / what I is feeling.

- "I certainly hope the Blessed have not grown rampant" - This word, IMO, undermines the impact this comment should have. It makes me feel 'I do hope it's not going to rain' levels of concern.

(page 9)

- "group we belong to" - I think this would have more impact in the present tense, it's still undetermined, after all.

- "M was close to them in an instant" - this sounds like magic to me. Also a bit clunky. 'was beside them in an instant' - although could M not just examine them closely without moving?

- "We were both captured by the species which held a group of Ar in secret" - but surely it was not the Sa that captured them, not the whole species, it was the LC, which is not one species. Why does he not just say LC at this point.

- "to remove the trappings of the B teachings" - for me, the trappings are just superficial aspects, decoration, symbolism. This is not the same as removing the actual teachings, just the signs of the teachings.

- "Such advanced age" - This feels to me like a sudden segue into a completely different topic to the war.

(page 10)

- Confused, so I know who the bless are, but who are the pill?

- "inherited his diadem" - hang on though, it doesn't belong to E. Surely they are just in possession of it until  they can get it back to the authorities in their facet. Surely it belongs to the new eff in their facet, when they are appointed.

- And then the next bit. Confused. So only Ari can use the diadem? So every eff ever must have been an Ari, and only an Ari can be eff? This is... weird. It implies to me, quite strongly, that the Ari must have set up the nether, or at least must have set up the structure of governance that rules it.

(page 13)

- "sucking in moisture from the air and inflating until they were healthy green succulents" - I feel that inflating, specifically, is associated with air or other gaseous substances, not liquids. Also, the term succulent in botanical terms does not I think applies to vines, which do not store water in their leaves (@kais?).

- "How had they not heard each other’s music before" - But surely they never could, and never should have expected to? I thought it was fact that different houses could not hear each other's music. E speaks as if she would always have expected to hear I's music, which doesn't make sense to me.

(page 14)

- "of an Ari maji" - majus, surely?

- "Perhaps that is why there are none around. There are simply too rare." - this is self-evident, does not need to be stated. There are so few because they are rare - tautology. 

- "we may be too late for the D" - too late to stop the D, surely.

(page 15)

- "reemergence of a lost aspect of a species" - I don't know what this is referring to. Oh, wait, is it S? Is he an aspect of Meth?

(page 16)

- "That if you are certain you will be well" - grammar/typo?

- "The death of her other..." - I don't feel there is any foreshadowing of this in the chapter, so this collapse seems sudden, unearned.

- "if you are willing" - so wait, they don't have any maj in this facet? No, they do, so it doesn't need to be E and I that do it. This seems quite convenient from a plot viewpoint, although they had already decided to stay. This last bit just feels forced to me.

Overall 

Lots of good stuff in this chapter, but I feel it has issues that need to be ironed out. There are some bits that feel quite clunky. I enjoyed it though. Decent dynamic between the three, and a top class emotional payoff, although it fell away quite quickly after it happened (almost instantly).

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On 12/27/2019 at 5:35 PM, kais said:

Well I really enjoyed it. All the information I'd been wanting and we got some cool powers interactions. There are a few areas I'd have liked even more information, but I suppose that might come, too. I like that we see that S has really grown, and I like that I isn't in a lot of control. 

 

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

Decent dynamic between the three, and a top class emotional payoff, although it fell away quite quickly after it happened (almost instantly).

Glad this one went better than the last chapter. There will be plenty more Ari for @kais, so I'll see if I need to move any of it sooner. Could tie into more emotional payoff for @Robinski. Glad S is working so far. Keep me posted on if his development works for the rest of the book.

On 12/27/2019 at 5:35 PM, kais said:

He couldn’t know the extent of her struggle. Really? I have questions. He was held for longer and how did he manage to not absorb or be absorbed? And surely he knows most of her struggles, having had to fight them off, surely

This may be a good thing to go into more in depth in this or the first chapter. I know what happened and why, but I'm not sure it's made it to the page completely.

On 12/28/2019 at 7:57 AM, Sarah B said:

A few things that were confusing as a new reader of your series;

Yep--I know some of these would be answered by reading books 1 and 2 in full, but definitely keep calling them out! You're a great resource as a fresh reader for where I need to reintroduce background info, @Sarah B.

On 12/28/2019 at 7:57 AM, Sarah B said:

"Did they not have a tram line?" This seems like a very abrupt change in tone and topic for her.

Good catch. Reading the earlier books would help, but I think this is a place where I need some extra info.

On 12/28/2019 at 7:57 AM, Sarah B said:

"But I have brought you two of our species..." Species seems a very impersonal term to use here. Since she defines them as being of their 'Kind' (I like this term and use it myself for types of Aliens) in the next sentence, maybe she could identify them as 'young people'  'sibblings' or another warm term on initial introductions. 

Good suggestion. I'll look back at where I use those terms.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "months or cycles" - so, do they have months? They have ten days, and they have cycles (years?), so it seems odd that they use a human measure in there

I have a different word for hours, weeks, and years. I wanted to keep from using too many new terms, while still seeming different enough. The rest "translate" pretty much 1:1.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "He deserves you" - This seems contradictory. It seems the presence is suggesting that E and S should be together, but is it not only interested in E killing S, killing everything? It seems weird it would be interested n her love life.

Yep. This is one of those parts that registered in my brain and I didn't fix it. Every time I do that someone in the forum calls it out! Gotta learn to listen to that voice...

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "The Symphony can be used for anything" - Whose thought is this? And surely it isn't true. A house is completely restricted by the limits of its symphony. This implies the H of Time can heal, for example.

This is clunky. I know what I originally meant, so I'll clean this up.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "her kiss fierce on his lips" - This page/moment is a wonderful emotional payoff so early in the story. I greatly approve! It gives the reader some emotional certainty which has been fairly scarce in previous books.  It gives us  relationship anchor, a restore point, if you will.

- "he was back to being submissive. So not everything had changed about him" - I don't like this thought. It reduces personality to a level of certainty that just does not exist. It's naive of E to think that he would have changed absolutely with no possibility of any scintilla of his former personality remaining.

Yay! And poo. Glad I got halfway there at least. I can clean this up as well.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "the long-limbed symbionts on their backs moving as fast as their rides moved slowly" - How can this be? They must be moving at the same speed, surely?

Hmmm...I meant that the symbionts' generally have quick motions while the "body" creatures have slow, deliberate motions. Will fix.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "His simple concern had driven them away" - I feel like this is belittling the emotion that S displayed, the feeling was much stronger than something simple, certainly, in E's reaction

Ah. Good catch.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- Confused, so I know who the bless are, but who are the pill?

- "inherited his diadem" - hang on though, it doesn't belong to E. Surely they are just in possession of it until  they can get it back to the authorities in their facet. Surely it belongs to the new eff in their facet, when they are appointed.

- And then the next bit. Confused. So only Ari can use the diadem? So every eff ever must have been an Ari, and only an Ari can be eff? This is... weird. It implies to me, quite strongly, that the Ari must have set up the nether, or at least must have set up the structure of governance that rules it.

Hopefully all this will become clear later on? Let me know if it doesn't.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "How had they not heard each other’s music before" - But surely they never could, and never should have expected to? I thought it was fact that different houses could not hear each other's music. E speaks as if she would always have expected to hear I's music, which doesn't make sense to me.

I think part of this is lack of clarity on my part, and part will be explained later.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "The death of her other..." - I don't feel there is any foreshadowing of this in the chapter, so this collapse seems sudden, unearned.

Yep. Can add some of this in the first chapter.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "if you are willing" - so wait, they don't have any maj in this facet? No, they do, so it doesn't need to be E and I that do it. This seems quite convenient from a plot viewpoint, although they had already decided to stay. This last bit just feels forced to me.

I was meaning that it would be more "in the family" with Ari maji, but I can unpack this more to get across what I mean.

Thanks everyone!

Edited by Mandamon
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On 12/30/2019 at 7:37 AM, Robinski said:

"sucking in moisture from the air and inflating until they were healthy green succulents" - I feel that inflating, specifically, is associated with air or other gaseous substances, not liquids. Also, the term succulent in botanical terms does not I think applies to vines, which do not store water in their leaves (@kais?).

Succulents store water in their leaves, correct @Robinski, which is why they're sort of... pudgy I guess is the word we could use. There are vine-type succulents, like String of Pearl, but they more hang than go up. Sucking in moisture from the air makes me think of air plants and some Thai orchids. Maybe it's worth a thought by Sam about how the plants seem to be succulent-air plant hybrids?

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Well, break is over, so now I'm getting caught up. Overall, I feel like this chapter is still a little scattered. It's jumping around a lot. Mostly though, I feel like the characters aren't really behaving in ways that are true to themselves or to what I've read about the world in the previous book. This whole chapter feels to me a bit like it's being drawn out to pad something. Like this chapter plus the prior one has characters being purposefully oblivious to the obvious solutions in order to manufacture more drama. I am left feeling slightly cranky that it took this long to get here.  :( 

 

As I go. 

So, I understand why E is thinking of Ri at the beginning here, but I'm a little confused why there's no mention of the what to me seems to be very tempting offer of psychological help from actual Ari that they'd just been presented in the previous chapter. Surely that would have stirred up SOME emotions in E? She went from thinking she and her brother were the end of a species, to thinking she was a part of a horrific group of bloodthirsty monsters genetically primed to destroy all she held dear, to finding out she's part of a rich non-violent culture that still exists and welcomes her and she is the same species as the universally-beloved emperor-- and all that in the span of what, a month or two? Then she gets offered medical treatment by a group that is intimately familiar with what she's going through, people who won't harbor unconscious biases or stereotypes (which Ri would and does, from what I remember from prior book) about her and her inhuman nature, and she's just like "Nah, dawg, my boo wants to go home. S'cool, there's a lady on the other side who doesn't hate me all the time who won't know what she's doing. I'll get her to mess around in my head." And it's only when she physically attacks S that she clues in on the possibility of not doing what S wants. It's S's decision to stay that makes E accept staying.  Did she lose all her sense of identity? I feel like she's being very plotful at the moment. 

"They were here voluntarily" -- Um. I would be careful with fantasy ghettos and making assumptions like this... 

"It even smelled a bit like her parents caravan" -- Emotions, please. There must be some here, given everything that such a smell association would bring up, and how closely smell is associated with memory... 

"strange not to know the body language" -- wouldn't the N tell her? Does it assume "you know your own kind" and ignore untranslated communication from species the same as the self? 

"She lifted one of her three arms" // "she gestured with all three arms" -- they?

I really like the two of them working together, though it makes me wonder about E's other personalities watching and then taking over her mage powers at a later date... :) 

"the way to use the diadem" -- Why do they need to use it? Did they know previously that it HAD uses, other than being the symbol of the emperor? I feel like E just picked it up almost as an afterthought at the end of the last book.  Do they feel anything about being assumed to be the only ones capable of using it, despite being variously barely stabilized from extreme traumatizing experiences and literally at war with the internalized personalities of a bunch of terrorist zealot assassins whose philosophy was so corrosive even the "good" dimension has eradicated it like an infectious disease?  Do they feel like they should turn it over to the authorities now that they know its srs bzns? Like, the other Ari assuming E and I are going to wear and use it, sure, I can go along with that, but E and I (and S for that matter) being okay with what's tantamount to declaring themselves emperor? That feels a little weird to me. 

"There wasn’t anyone else suitable" -- Why are they assuming only Ari can wear it? Just because a pair of Ari siblings are/were wearing it now doesn't mean they're the only ones who can. Is this stuff the "natural to the species" superior attitude of the Ari that was tossed around last book coming through in E?  It feels weird for the people from the other, non-Ari facet to be just assuming that yes, Ari *are* the only people capable of wearing the magic crown and thus ruling the N, and yes, of course anything an Ari was using has properties that only another Ari can access or manipulate.  This current Ari-ruled facet, sure, why not. The zealot terrorists, definitely. But S, E, and I? I am skeptical. Am I forgetting something in-text that makes these foregone assumptions?

 

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Thanks @industrialistDragon

Yes, I think the first two chapters need the most work. I think I can fix a lot of the motivational problems by adjusting the order of things, to make it flow better. I know I need to add some more reaction from E as well to help explain what she's doing.

There are some more explanations about the diadem farther along, so I'm interested to see if you think they clear things up. I my need to put some bits in book 2 as well to set it up.

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3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I may need to put some bits in book 2 as well to set it up.

I think that would help, especially with some reminders then in this book. Right now, it all seems to be popping up out of nowhere and that sets off my continuity bells. 

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Sorry for the delay, just recouping now the unexpected break I had to take over the holidays. Here are my comments on chapter 2 - will upload chapter 3 and 4 soon.

I’m not completely lost but there are clearly things I don’t know, the most interesting being the other minds in E’s head. I can kind of guess how Time and the facets work though, and I have a feeling E might have absorbed other Es from different facets but am unsure if this is indeed the process.

It’s still hard to picture what’s going on.

Probably due to skipping the second book, I find it hard to get into the romance, so my take on it is likely not representative. However, when things get emotional in pages 3-5, the emotional part is more telling than showing. I generally find that with emotion a mix of showing and telling is ideal. This isn’t to do with my investment in the romance but to the way emotion reads to me on page in general.

I don’t mind it but should still make the point about the super-alien looking aliens. If all the different species can co-inhabit the Net, which offers one set of living conditions to all, then it’s strange they evolved to be so different in morphology – up to breaking suspension of disbelief. I am personally happy to play along and ignore the problem but not all readers might agree.

End of pg. 15, from ““Will you be all right…” to “He had grown in the last few days.” – this reads like a reaction scene dropped in the middle of the plot. It’s pulling the handbrake so ideally reaction scenes should be kept separate. Also telling he had grown may come across as jarring to some readers, ideally growth should be convincingly demonstrated. Moreover, to me personally it reads very meta, i.e. character development, so it pulled me out of the story.

 

On a different note, I recently had a Fridge Horror moment, albeit not at the fridge. So, is the Net… taking the emotional information it’s passing around from the body language of characters or lifts it straight from their minds?

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Before I read everyone else's comments, I want to let you know that I really enjoyed this. I was highly engaged through most of it, and absolutely loved seeing Sam through I's eyes and then seeing I and E work together with the symphony. 

I got a little annoyed on the going to the wall then leaving it, but on the other hand, what happened there worked well. 

The only part I struggled with at all was maybe the first page or two. I got a little confused with who was saying what and had to re read just to double check I was on the right track. This has happened before. I think it just partially has to do with your dialogue style and is maybe my problem as a reader, not yours as a writer. 

I liked the nonbinary Ari. I think I especially liked them because they were nonbinary even though they were from a species and culture that had a binary understanding of gender. Having species that have more gender diversity is nice, but I don't connect to it like I do when I see nonbinary characters that come from more binary cultures. 

There was one typo I noticed:

"There are simply to rare." Did you mean "They're or They are simply to rare?"

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @Lightbearer and @shatteredsmooth!

16 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

It’s still hard to picture what’s going on

 

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

The only part I struggled with at all was maybe the first page or two. I got a little confused with who was saying what and had to re read just to double check I was on the right track.

Agree. I really need to clean up the first few pages to make it clear there are lots of strange aliens, and to give some more blocking to the scene.

 

16 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

I don’t mind it but should still make the point about the super-alien looking aliens. If all the different species can co-inhabit the Net, which offers one set of living conditions to all, then it’s strange they evolved to be so different in morphology

I think there's a note about this in the first and second books hanging a lantern on it. I don't precisely call it out, but if you look carefully there are specific morphologies in one facet vs. another.

16 hours ago, Lightbearer said:

So, is the Net… taking the emotional information it’s passing around from the body language of characters or lifts it straight from their minds?

Heh--yeah, there was a discussion about this with the first book, a few years ago. Suffice to say the Nether is...problematic in the way it enforces that everyone understands each other. It's a bit of handwavium and a bit I just don't go into it.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I liked the nonbinary Ari. I think I especially liked them because they were nonbinary even though they were from a species and culture that had a binary understanding of gender.

Thanks! I was trying to buy a nonbinary character in (in a predominantly binary culture), and this seemed like the right place.

Edited by Mandamon
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My thoughts on this chapter:

This chapter felt very flip-floppy to me, making me mad at the plot decisions. I felt like the things that happened weren't really being driven by character so much as plot necessity, and so they felt empty. The beginning of the chapter essentially reverses the decision made last chapter as they decide to stay. Then the decision reverses again when Sa is suddenly willing to leave on his own. I don't understand what makes him willing to leave so suddenly. Wouldn't he want to stay and learn about the culture of his girl/boyfriends as well? I know I would. But he expresses no desire or curiosity to do this, just says, "Ok, I'll go." Is it forbidden in some way? I'm not sure what makes him suddenly okay with splitting up, which is exactly what was proposed in the last chapter and made him freak out.

I enjoyed seeing how the symphony worked, but I felt that it could use less technical explanation of what was possible and not possible. The flow of the description kept being interrupted by hypotheticals ("if she left these notes here, this would happen. If not, this would happen.") Having it happen once is fine, but there were several descriptions like this and it pulled me out of the moment.

The characters all feel very same-y to me too. Everyone talks in the same reasonably polite way of conveying information. I don't get different emotional reactions from anyone. Even M is able to quickly dismiss his amazement at finding two maji, something that was literally thought impossible. This should have a longer emotional impact. I also thought the sudden collapse of the leader at the end should have been foreshadowed by her behavior in the scene.

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Thanks @lizbusby!

Great comments, and they seem to be in line with everyone else's. This and first chapter will be getting a big revision in plotting and character decisions.

5 minutes ago, lizbusby said:

The characters all feel very same-y to me too. Everyone talks in the same reasonably polite way of conveying information.

Thanks for calling this out. I generally fall down on the emotional beats, so that gets ironed out in the next draft. This will help a lot with it!

6 minutes ago, lizbusby said:

I also thought the sudden collapse of the leader at the end should have been foreshadowed by her behavior in the scene.

Definitely. I plan to put some more in foreshadowing this in the first chapter.

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