Dragon Wizard's Apprenticeship Contest
Hi Dovetailed !
This in depth
rate and review is a thank you for your fantasy short story entry in the August Round of "Invalid Item
Gist and Tone
Ooh! An epic tale about magic, vengeance, and tragedy, in a time of swords and monsters. A very dark and serious drama.
August Picture Prompt
Great use of the prompt! There's desolation, the lone warrior, snarling wolves, and a magic battle axe.
My Favorite Part
"As Jorgund had said, he had met giants before in battle, but only those that were young and that had arrogantly wandered too far from their own kind."
Your Notes say: "Finally, you may well end up sympathising with the monster to some extent..."
I would say you accomplished this feat with flying colors. My mind was churning after I read that line. I was wondering hm... was this redirection of sympathy accidental? I was very happy to find out that you were pushing for it all along.
a) This section explains why Jorgund felt the debt between Ograr was nearly square by killing Thragg. Ograr may have slain offspring related Jorgund.
b) Of course, it's also quite likely these offspring brought Ograr's wrath upon themselves, at the very least by terrorizing the locals.
c) Who (the locals) in turn probably did something to cross the elder giants over some other matter.
Pretty much the feud escalated with each newly cast stone.
Oh I do love a rhyming ice giant. The act of spontaneously bursting out in rhyme is so unnatural that it has to be magic.
"the giant’s curse had a blessing"
I liked how the curse cloaked Ograr's movements through enemy territories.
"With a clap the giant fell and melted away to nothing."
Magical yet thought provoking. The area is cold enough that Stilled Cascade is fast moving water turned to solid ice. However the giant melted upon death.
Makes one wonder what the giant is made of. Or did the axe cause the giant to melt? Very little is known about the powers and effects of the axe.
the knock had come – ‘boom... boom... boom...’
People huddled around a fire, trapped in the greathall by a raging blizzard. A loud steady knock booms on the door. Omenous.
Fortunately his wolves, his enchanted axe and his horse still remembered their master well, for the curse...
Great snapshot of Ograr and his odd lot of companions.
She clearly did not trust the wild looking warrior who stood before her, flanked by terrifying white wolves, and besides - she had fulfilled the obligation Jorgund had placed upon her.
Another great snapshot of Ograr and his companions.
Food was scarce in these lands such that their empty stomachs gnawed at their resolve
I could imagine them almost giving up and turning back.
Fortunately their destination was only at the very edge of this land.
Gave the sense that the land of eternal night is much much vaster than what I've seen so far.
Miscellaneous Thoughts & Impressions
Oh dear! The story gave me a lot to think about...
... and although men may have forgotten what lay in the lands without light, wolves were not so foolish.
I had trouble agreeing with the message this statement implied.
eg -- Were I a stranger that ever came upon a place where darkness was the norm, I would most certainly be on my guard.
eg -- Had I grown up there and never known or lived in a place with more light, I would probably lower my guard due to familiarity and set routines. I would focus more on fulfilling my daily needs rather than on dwelling on dangers that lurked in the darkness somewhere outside of my known universe and routine. So the dangers are not so much as forgotten as they are ignored and replaced by more urgent immediate needs.
The dogs ceased their yammering and...
The switch from wolves to dogs doesn't work for me.
I can't help but view wolves and dogs as vastly different animals. For me, wolves are wild with unpredictable natures, whereas dogs are domesticated and often bred to exhibit specific traits and behaviors.
In my opinion, I think it would work better to just stick to either wolves or dogs, but not use them interchangeably without some explanation to lead in as to how in this particular case, dogs and wolves are synonomous.
... shone in the dim light. A beard of icicles hung from his chin, occasionally dripping melt water down the patchwork of furs that clad his monstrous bulk.
Mysterious! Now why would an ice giant wear skins? Are they trophies? Customary displays of rank and family history to other giants?
Also, "dripping melt water" also sounds a bit odd like a typo.
The occupants of the hall cowered in mortal terror – all aside from young prince Thragg, only begotten son of Ograr, whose father had taught him not to fear such evil.
--- versus --- Thragg said with a strength that masked his fear.
A contradictory moment breaks the flow of the story. After convincing myself to believe the boy had learned to not fear evil, I then realized in the next statement that the boy was in fact fearful.
What he had said was true – the Ashraen contained only the women, children and old folk that peopled these lands.
Interesting... I suppose it's plausible for a king to leave his kingdom defenseless by taking all his warriors with him if he's convinced the rest of the world that he is too strong for them to attack and risk retaliation. If I accept this premise, then this King Ograr must be powerful indeed.
... whilst the other would hunt game that Ograr would occasionally eat mindlessly.
The following questions spring up from my mind about mindlessly
What game could he eat with little preparation? Bugs? Snails? Soft edible chunks torn out of larger animals such as the flesh and organs? Regurgitated meat?
Do wolves cook? Do they skin or pluck their catch?
The only one brave enough to stand up to him was our young prince - Thragg son of ... son of ...
Apparently Thragg's princely identity was not forgotten.
This makes it all the more perplexing as to why the people did not appear to mourn his loss or bury his body whether out of respect and sympathy or for political gain. From the description of the moment that Ograr discovers the boy's body, there was no mention of other bodies so I assumed that all the bodies of the other victims had already been claimed and buried. If he is remembered, then why was Thragg's body left behind? Why did his kinsfolk treat him more like an orphan nobody than a fallen prince and hero?
... he went anonymously and relatively unmolested...
Rating: 4.0 stars
minus 1/2 star for the punctuation. I felt the sentences were unnecessarily lengthy and chopped up the flow.
minus 1/2 star for that bit about the "dogs" and the line: "... and although men may have forgotten what..."
. Though used early in the story, "dogs" jolted me and lingered in the back of the mind. It still feels odd in subsequent readings. I still disagree with the implication of the line. It made getting into the story a bit awkward.
Thank you for sharing this story . I hope you find my comments useful. It's very complex for its length and style. Each time I read it, there's like a whole different perspective demanding consideration. I bet if I read it again, this review would gain yet another impression. Many wonderful ideas. I hope you will continue to polish it.
The Green Dragon Inn Member &
Dragon Wizard's Apprenticeship Contest Judge
My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed" .