Hello, people following Melissa’s twitter links. You enjoying? Anyway, here’s the link to where I was reading last.
In transliteration works from Japanese to English, there’s a certain phrase you can look for that indicates first draft confusion. The term is ‘a certain,’ which is the translation convention for a number of Japanese context-sensitive pronouns. You probably won’t see that phrase used in professional, polished works (looking at you, Other M). When I see it, it says to me a writer either is trying to evoke an archaic style, or is uncertain of what word to use. In the first interlude, the term a certain showed up twice – which is just the perfectly wrong number for an indefinite element. Here we see it again – and we’re immediately put back in that style, where we’re hearing a fable-like story explaining world elements.
‘As’ is aslo an interesting word. When you say as, it implies foreknowledge. It’s why the phrase as you know is such a problem, because when you say it, you’re flat-out stating that you’re saying something already known. Not that you can’t do as you knows, but they are at their best when they’re used in conversation between two informed parties, for the benefit of an uninformed third party. If you don’t have that third party, you’re more or less stating that the reader is the third party, and it makes the dialogue stilted and unnatural. The sapphire, as the jewel had been a birth-gift…
Consider how that reads compared to ‘because the jewel,’ and ‘for the jewel.’ As. As as as.
Anyway, no need to dwell too much on the first fugging paragraph, we got a lot to get onto here!
This interlude presents us with the narrative around how Indranil became the goddess of Secrets, and in doing so, brings us back to the symbol of the serpent. These pieces are all, obviously, total crap – as fables are want to be – but it’s all the insight we have. What this created for me is a jaded, cynical perspective. I’m pretty sure that any of the people presented in these pieces in a positive light is in fact, a horrible twit. I’m a little interested by now in the God of Strength.
You know what’s really striking me about this as I read onwards? The way everyone talks. It’s very measured and tidy and that makes Chakori and Houri really stand out by comparison. Tsovinar might stand out even more distinctly, I imagine, if she was contrasted with them.
Also consider that at times the direction will restate what you can probably draw from the dialogue itself:
“That sounds… ominous,” confessed Hayr with worry.
“That sounds… ominous,” confessed Hayr.
”That sounds… ominous,” said Hayr.
It reminds me of a less-sinful version of how White Wolf’s late-90s writing went. The adverb ajective noun verbed adverbly adjective object noun.
Rashk abdicates responsibility for his actions, which is pretty much an explicit representation of a relationship with a guiding deity figure. You paying attention, Christian folx? This is pretty much what you’re saying when you are ‘acting as the lord directs me.’ You’re admitting you don’t understand what you’re doing, and you’re not responsible for all the wickedness done.
Also, Tsovinar’s bellowing…
Think about what it’s like to stand there. Think about what it means, with your feet on the stones, as they rattled. Think about how hard it would be to listen to those words, to hear them, or even to feel them as they billow through you. I wonder if this experience would stand out in people’s minds, be anchored powerfully to their senses.
Another thing that keeps striking me is the speed with which the narrative moves from point to point. Things are described, once, usually just as a sort of ‘bam, there’s a detail, now we’re moving on.’ This made those opening chapters where, well, almost nothing happened, a bit empty-seeming.
Still, scope and emptiness are part and parcel of the epic saga. With a work of this volume I find myself naturally wary of any attachment or focus. A part of my mind is now wondering ‘Hey, I wonder how the God of Strength got dicked over?’ I also feel that, simply in terms of the monstrous size of the story, I probably shouldn’t bother thinking too much about it. If Elliott returns to this topic, I’ll find out, but actually waiting for, or looking for that sort of thing will only drive me through sections I don’t care about, and cast things that don’t interest me in more of a negative light:
“Oh hurry up and get out of the way, Rashk, I’m looking for the God of Strength!”
This is something I remember in the Robotech novels – which is a series of about thirty books, pulpy cheap narratives which are full of adventure and access and coolness and characters I cared about and dynamics and all that, and it did this too, jumping around from thread to thread, maintaining a single linear time flow, but not focusing on any single person’s actions. The problem is, that sometimes key plot points would be focused around one character or another who I could not care less about – and because I wanted to hear about who this Lincoln character was, or wanted to watch Karen Penn kicking ass, every Edwards chapter flew past under my fingertips.
Thankfully, I can’t really do that here. The task of reviewing it means I have to take it slowly, and I don’t imagine anything like that will happen.
Meanwhile, we watch a fable about supernaturally powerful people with crap relationships. We see characters who you might love, or like, or care about, or not. Eventually, something has to come past to anchor onto, and that will carry the reader along with it.