Author Topic: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One  (Read 692 times)

Comatose

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July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« on: June 15, 2010, 12:37:23 AM »
Okay, here is my first official submission.
 
It's 4800, so it is a little bit too long, but the prologue was really short, and I felt it a shame to post it on it's own.† Just so you guys know, my chapters usually are on the long side, I'm currently writing Chapter 11 and am on page 150, standard manuscript format.
 
Critiques of all kinds are welcome, but as I said in my introduction post, what I'm looking for the most is advice on style.
 
River Lord is a fantasy in the epic style, set in an empire that spans a continent, ruled by the strange and reclusive Desert Queen.
The prologue occurs during an unprecedented lunar eclipse.† A woman is visited by a strange winged figure, the Desert Queen observes the sands as they tell her what is going on in her empire, a beast beneath the earth hungers for it's prey, and an old man excitedly observes that his period of waiting has come to an end.
 
 
In chapter one, you are introduced to the main characters Adam, Eshra, and Felix.
 
Adam is an Aurok-Hal, a young man with the ability to manipulate water, who possesses blood that can heal in an instant.† He is currently finishing up his term at the Aurok-Hal university.† The first part of this chapter covers his final trainining session with Headmistress Selda Krag.
 
Eshra is also an Aurok-Hal, and a governor of the Balar Isles, the smallest province of the empire.† She employs Adam as a body guard, along with an Aurok-Hon (a manipulator of fire) named Trinian.† Eshra has† been attending council sessions, and has just learned that she is to be framed for treason against the Desert Queen by the Magistrate of Trinar, the empire's capital city.† Eshra and Trinian make preparations to flee Trinar.
 
Felix is an arbitrator, one of four who serve the Desert Queen directly.† Of the Arbitrators, Felix is the only one (and thus the only person in the empire) to share to Desert Queens ability to manipulate sand.† He is not an Aurok, and thus has no healing abilities.† The chapter ends with the discovery that Felix and the Desert Queen are having an affair.
 
V/S*
 
*Sexual Content is very mild, and I may not even need to have flagged it, but I will to be on the safe side.
 
I hope you enjoy,
Comatose.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2010, 02:00:08 AM by Comatose »
"Look, I'm just trying to change the world, okay?† I don't have time for a grudge match with every poser in a parka!"
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"There's always another secret..."
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Asmodemon

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2010, 10:26:25 PM »
Well then, for your first submission, hereís your first critique.

First of all, I really liked the prologue. Itís four small windows into your world and story and something happens in each of them. To me that whets the appetite to read further and find out what is going to happen. As far as hooks go your prologue works great for me Ė and four such small pieces might work as a back-cover blurb as well.

Where the story falters a bit is in the first chapter. Again youíre giving snippets of several main characters, but where that strategy works in the prologue it doesnít here. And the reason for this, I think, is that youíre trying too hard.

Weíve got three main POV characters in the first chapter alone, which is, especially for a first chapter, too much. There isnít enough substance to each of the POVs to really get to know the characters and care for them before you switch to another POV. Part of me shakes my head while writing this, because I have similar issues with dangling too many POVs in a single chapter too.

Another thing where I think youíre trying too hard is in showing the reader your setting and all the awesome things youíve thought up, such as the magic system, the political intrigue, etc. Each POV addresses a different aspect of the world, but nothing real about the characters themselves.

For Adamís part youíre explaining the magic system, the signs and the advanced signs. The first part is great; youíre showing us Adam using the magic. But the rest of that part is essentially an info-dump disguised as a conversation. We donít need to know the ins and outs of the magic system yet. Youíve shown us a glimpse and thatís enough. It feels like you think you have to explain his Combination Sign because heís going to be on the run soon and so you wonít be able to show it in his final test.

For Eshra itís the magistrate and the political system. For Felix itís to show the queenís secret cabal. In all thereís a lot of talk about how things work, who people are, what some of the locations are, but nothing much in terms of action. After the fast prologue the pace just slumps immediately.

In some ways youíre also killing the tension in places by giving too much information on the situation at hand. For instance, Eshra fears the magistrate (for framing her) and the Queen (for believing that she is a traitor). Tension for Eshra in this case is tension for the reader because we have to feel for her. Except that in Felixís part you immediately show that the Queen is aware that Eshra is innocent. Though Eshra may worry about the Queen I donít, because of what I now know. In one small piece youíve cut off reader tension for half of Eshraís fears. Yes, the Queen is awesome, she knows things, but maybe itís better if the reader doesnít know she knows certain things.

Maybe you donít want to hear this, but what I see most in this chapter is the huge amount of information that is presented to the reader. If you cut out all the info-dumps you might just want to cut the chapter altogether and instead start when Adam, Eshra, and Trinian, are already on the run, or when Eshra and Trinian get Adam (while heís doing his final test maybe, so you can also show off his magic).

Thatís my two-cents. From what Iíve read so far youíve got an interesting world and the makings of an interesting plot, youíre just trying to give too much at the beginning.

Comatose

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2010, 01:57:25 AM »
Thanks so much.† Those are just the types of comment I am looking for.
I'd actually forgotten I still had that bit about the combination sign in there.† It used to be a much more big deal to the plot, but I don't think it really is anymore.†
I completely agree with what you said about the Eshra scene with Felix's scene right after it.† My problem is that in future chapters, the two main Arbitrator characters (Felix and Sareneth) play a pretty big role, and I don't know how to introduce them without showing the Queen's intentions, because they are in the Queen's inner circle.† I've actually been struggling a lot with the character of the Queen in general.† She's surprisingly complex.
If you have any suggestion on what I should do about that, please give them, because I really don't know.† Once I thought of just focusing on Trinian, Adam and Eshra's story, and then back tracking and giving the Arbitrators story in a different part, but that would have been very awkward several chapters down the road when several less major characters begin to cross between plotlines.
As for introducing three main characters at once, I did it to try and lend my chapters some structure.† I try to do around three viewpoints a chapter, that way if I have a shorter on, it's usually paired with a longer one.† There is one chapter (eight I believe) that only has one viewpoint, as it is the conclusion of Part One, with a lot of stuff going on, but I still try to be consistent as much as possible.

Should I maybe break the viewpoints into individual chapters?† And how would you recommend pairing down the amount of information given.† See it's strange, I agree with everything you are saying about the chapter, but while I was writing, I felt like I was keeping loads of information back.† It's funny that way.
Anyways, thanks so much for your comment.† I completely agree with everything you said, although I don't know what to do about a lot of it yet.† Keep the advice coming!

Oh and thanks for the compliments on the prologue.
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Asmodemon

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2010, 06:47:02 PM »
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Anyways, thanks so much for your comment.† I completely agree with everything you said, although I don't know what to do about a lot of it yet.

All right, Iíll try to give you some advice. Itís hard because I donít know where the story is heading and which characters are truly important, but Iíll give it a shot.

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Once I thought of just focusing on Trinian, Adam and Eshra's story, and then back tracking and giving the Arbitrators story in a different part, but that would have been very awkward several chapters down the road when several less major characters begin to cross between plotlines.

I wouldnít recommend this. Iím reading a book right now where the first part switches back and forth between Ďnowí and thirty years ago in order to show how a relatively minor character from the previous book grew into the person he is now. By the end of the first book this character got into a powerful position and now heís becoming a main character. Iíve been struggling with that first part because I donít care how he grew up since I already know where he and the people he knows are going to end up. I want to know whatís going to happen next, not whatís already happened.

On one hand I understand wanting to flesh out that character, but it doesnít really work for me. If you go down that road you risk doing the same.
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As for introducing three main characters at once, I did it to try and lend my chapters some structure.† I try to do around three viewpoints a chapter, that way if I have a shorter on, it's usually paired with a longer one.

In the current story Iím editing, The Citadel of Thorns, I also have quite a few chapters with multiple viewpoint characters (also around three). What Iím finding now is that the chapters I wrote with one viewpoint work a lot better than the last two chapters I did, which juggled three viewpoints. So Iím rewriting those chapters, and the following ones, to be more focussed: one viewpoint and perhaps a scene with a different one at the end if I donít want to focus an entire chapter on what that character is doing. Later on, when I get to some climaxes, Iíll switch viewpoints for tension effects.

Itís interesting that your approach is the complete opposite to what Iím currently trying to do. Should you break the chapters into single viewpoints? Maybe, but if this works for you I say wait to see whatís said about your next chapter (and this one, since so far Iím the only one critiquing, and I can be wrong), before really changing things.

Like I said, the biggest problem isnít really your viewpoints but what you do with them.

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And how would you recommend pairing down the amount of information given

What youíve done in this chapter is give a lot of information in a Ďtellí fashion instead of Ďshowí.

In the case of Eshraís section sheís telling Trinian what has just happened to her. What I think you want to accomplish with her section are the following points.
1.   Show the political structure and upheaval.
2.   Show just how powerful and scary the magistrate is.
3.   Get Eshra to run.

The way you currently do this is arrive after the facts, when Eshraís in a panic at her room. There she explains and explains and explains all that just happened to her. Weíve seen nothing of this and have to take her word for it.

Now if it was me, I think Iíd start the first chapter with Eshraís point of view at the end of the council meeting. Sheís frustrated by what she sees and worries about the magistrateís power. Then, when sheís about to leave the magistrate approaches her and they talk about all the things you currently have her explain to Trinian. You can make her fear more real to us by really putting down an insidious magistrate Ė itíll be harder to write than Eshraís talk after it happened, but it will be a lot more powerful.

This is also your chance to introduce the reader to Felix. Heíll be on the look out for the magistrateís plots and be interested when he sees Eshra with the magistrate. The magistrate can point Felix out, note his interest in Eshra, remind her (or perhaps she reminds herself) of Felixís position, to really make her believe the Queen is out for her already.

Then you can end the chapter when she reaches her rooms and tells Trinian they need to run. You'll give the reader the same information, but instead of telling it you're showing it and that will make Eshra's section fun to read.

Because Iím trying (going to try) to focus on a single viewpoint per chapter I say leave the first chapter with Eshra as the sole viewpoint character, but thatís your call and Iím biased right now.

Iím not sure what to do with Felix, other than you donít want to include the inner chamber talk with the Queen Ė it gives too much away. It seems heís investigating what the magistrate is doing, so instead of his report to the queen you could focus on his information gathering, leave off when heís meeting the Queen, and get back to his viewpoint just after heís gone to bed with her.

Or you can do the reverse, have his chapter start when heís in bed with her and she tells him to proceed with his duties. He can then meet up with Sareneth and do what heís supposed to be doing. If you donít tell us his assignments and the characters donít talk about it (because they both already know what that assignment is) you can make the reader think theyíre going after Eshra instead of the magistrate.

As for Adam, showing off his magic system in the first chapter is cool, but thatís basically all heís doing. I might suggest that you wait to introduce him until Eshra and Trinian come for him. If they come in while heís doing his test you can show off his magic then.
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but while I was writing, I felt like I was keeping loads of information back.† It's funny that way.

It is funny; Iíve had the same thing happen to me. I wrote a chapter in which I droned on about how important a city was to the region. I knew that I was going to cut out a lot, since I wrote it mainly to flesh out the city for myself. So in the first rewrite I did cut out a lot. But when I looked at it a few weeks later I was amazed to see the chapter was still an info-dump. Suffice it to say I tossed the whole thing and rewrote it from scratch. Sometimes you just donít see the surplus of information anymore or it takes a while and a fresher perspective to see it.

Comatose

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2010, 08:35:39 PM »
Thanks once again.
Eshra's viewpoint originally started with the council meeting itself, introducing all the players one by one, but that got treally boring, to write and to read.  Suffice to say, it was even more of an info dump.  So I decided to jump to her and Trinian.  Perhaps I jumped to far ahead though, starting with her encounter after the meeting might not be too bad.  I kind of like it.
One thing about Eshra is she likes to talk, and I hope this chapter showed that, but I'm sure I can show that in this chapter, and in chapters to follow, without the huge info dump.
As for the Felix issue, I'll let you see the next couple chapters and see what people think.  I definately could cut out the first bit with the meeting without too much trouble, and just give a brief paragraph explaining that Tristan is going off to recall soldiers, and Gareth to find the girl.  Do you think that would work?
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Asmodemon

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2010, 09:54:26 PM »
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Eshra's viewpoint originally started with the council meeting itself, introducing all the players one by one, but that got treally boring, to write and to read.

Not having read your first draft of the first chapter I canít really say if it would be boring to read, but if you think it was boring it probably was. That puts to my mind that you were probably giving a lot of world information and explanations on the points the characters were discussing in the meeting. Itís also not necessary to introduce all the key players in the meeting.

My advice there would be to cut the explanations and just leave in the characters discussing some political matter Ė preferably where they are deciding on a resolution that would favour the magistrate, despite there being better solutions. Since the characters know the situations at hand they can talk without the need for explaining what theyíre saying in the context of the world.

Without those explanations you leave in the mystery of whatís going on in your world and by dropping some careful in-world terms you can create the feeling of depth so the reader will read on to find out what it all means. Your focus can then be on what Eshra feels and what she reads in the faces and words of the other politicians.

Since we donít need to see the whole meeting the chapter can start at the end there so it doesnít need to drag on. The key there is to not explain things right away. Starting at the decision making moment is soon enough.

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I definately could cut out the first bit with the meeting without too much trouble, and just give a brief paragraph explaining that Tristan is going off to recall soldiers, and Gareth to find the girl.† Do you think that would work?

The majority of Felixís part is the meeting, so if you cut that thereís very little in Felixís part that we absolutely need to see at this point of the book. His interaction with the queen is interesting and a source for conflict later (since he doesnít seem to want to be there) but I can easily see that scene happening later in the story.

The thing about Tristan and Gareth also isnít really necessary. We already know Eshraís fear of being followed and without evidence to the contrary weíll naturally assume this is going to happen, so declaring that itís going to happen isnít really necessary.

What I think Iím leaning towards is leaving the first chapter solely to Eshra, because I donít think you need the other viewpoints in the first chapter. But thatís of course your call. We'll see what happens in the later chapters, they may prove me wrong about the importance of certain events right now.

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2010, 06:02:48 AM »
Hrm, apparently you're not being serviced by very many people. I'll fix that. I have all sorts of people in my head, right guys? *resounding "RIGHT!" echoes in my head*

Ahem. Well, I'm going to counter Asmodemon's praise for the prologue. It really does nothing for me. All I get is "Oh boy, a giant chess game with people has started." I will agree that it could be modified a bit to be the jacket synopsis or something, though. Also, I get this impression that these people are behind-the-scenes types from the prologue, but then in Chapter 1 there's the Queen, taking an active role in your story.

For chapter 1, yes, you have too many viewpoints. My personal limit has always been 2 to a chapter, and only then if there is some reason that I need to show multiple POVs at the exact same point in time. So, for each:

Adam's mostly useless, here. His little battle is cool, but doesn't do much except introduce how the Auroks work. I know he has an examination coming up tomorrow, but I could just as easily find out about that after. It's not a good enough hook.

Eshra's POV Is definitely the most gripping. You get the feeling that things are going south real quick. That's great. Like Asmodemon also stated, the meeting would be a good place to start. I don't think we really care much about the council meeting, but the little side meeting with the magistrate... now that'd be gold to start out with. Start right out with him threatening Eshra.

The kinky little bit with Felix... well, I think it needs to be a lot more fleshed out (oh the pun!). Of course I'm not talking about the Maybe make that the focus of the next chapter? Looking at the synopsis of your next chapter, it looks like you're doing multi-pov again, so... maybe take the characters out of the two chapters and put them together, one POV per chapter? Dunno, I'll look at the next chapter in a bit. I'm not too fond of having one of the uber characters have an active role in the story, either, but I'll wait until later to judge on that. If you're going to focus on the relationship between Felix and Sareneth, then do so. The queen... meh.

All in all, I didn't have much problem with the actual writing. I do think you have a few too many things starting with Tri-. Trinian, Tristen, Trinar.... You need to change at least one of those, if not two.  You also have this problem with giving visual description at the wrong times. Like this:
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Felix rolled his amber eyes.  Tristen was always itching to give his soldiers some action.  He was a tall and slender man with curly dark hair and pale eyes.
You need to introduce the information about Tristen's build in a better way. Spread it out, or give indirect indications (Felix gazed up into his pale eyes). Right now it's just dropped there.

Onward to Chapter 2. Keep it up. :)
I don't have good days. I have great days, where I'm a magician ridding the world of all evil, or at least everything I don't like. And then I wake up, and it's back to work for me.

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2010, 06:29:14 PM »
Character description is definitely something I have to work on. 
Your feelings of the prologue are shared by me, I must confess.  It seems over done, which is why I was really glad when Asmodeon liked it, I thought Maybe it's just me, because I wrote it.'
I'll try and get some more opinions on it, and see what sticks.
As the viewpoint per chapter thing, I think I'll wait a while and see what you guys think about the next few chapters.
When you say things need to be "fleshed out" are you talking about his relationship with the Queen or Sareneth?  Your post was a little unclear, and it looks like there might have been a typo.
As for the Queen being a behind the scenes player and playing an active role in the story, I intended her to play both parts, if that makes any sense, so I'm glad you noticed it.  But it seems like you didn't like it?  Is there any reason why?  Or just personal preference?
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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2010, 07:18:25 PM »
When I said fleshed out, I meant that that particular viewpoint doesn't really have a whole lot going on. Showing  a few people meeting and plans made is good and all, but all it does is give away the other side's plans too early. It seems like what you want to do is get Felix to open up to Sareneth, yes? And I'd imagine that'll happen throughout the story. So just get on to that. It's like you're starting the scenes in the wrong places, which puts emphasis on the wrong things, and doesn't give us enough to latch onto for the character (and yes, it does seem like I didn't finish the sentence I had started. Sorry, got distracted).

The reason why I don't like seeing overlords as active roles is that they're usually the driving force behind a side. If you see them making the decisions, you know what's going to happen. You have no mystery surrounding the why and the how of that side. For instance, I already know that the Queen is toying with the magistrate. That pretty much ruins the arc for me, since I have little doubt that he's eventually going to get the ax. There's the little bit about not knowing why she's keeping him around, but it's just not enough. If she remains hidden from view, you gain a lot more questions that the reader wants to find out by reading the book. Of course, the Arbitrators themselves seem very powerful, so I might have a problem with that later on, too. Powerful characters are just very difficult to make believable in active roles because they should have the power to get out of most situations very easily, so if they don't, I wonder how they got this powerful to begin with.
I don't have good days. I have great days, where I'm a magician ridding the world of all evil, or at least everything I don't like. And then I wake up, and it's back to work for me.

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2010, 07:50:08 PM »
Ah, I see what you are saying now.
The scene's with the Queen in them are something I've been struggling with for a long while.  On one hand, I completely see what you are saying.   She's the obvious overlord at this point in the story.  Later on however, there are some changes in her character.  I felt I needed to show her before these changes occurred.  She's actually sort of becoming a fairly major character, in a different way than Eshra, Felix, and Adam are.
I'm not sure if I mentioned before, but River Lord is a working title.  I'm not particularly attached to it, it's just what I ended up calling it.  I'm not sure if it suits the book.  I was also thinking of The River Lord and The Desert Queen, to show the Queen's importance to the plot, but that doesn't quite fit either.  I'll let you know when I come up with one.
Suffice to say, the Queen and her character become very important in the later part of the book.  What I'm struggling with now, is showing the Queen's character as she is, without giving away what she is doing.
I'll make a point now, and you can tell me if it has come across in the story yet or if I need to put more emphasis on it.  The Queen is not an evil ruler.  Her empire (yes, I know she should be an empress or should be ruling a kingdom, but there's a reason for that), before the events in this story start to take place, is a good place to live.  There are problems, but there are problems in any society.  The people fear her, but they adore her as well.  She can be cold and calculating, but she also has a heart.  The face she shows the Arbitrators is not necessarily her true one.  I've actually just finished writing a scene that starts to lake a look at the dual nature of her character a little more.  A scene later in the story with Adam is what sparked the novel, but the addition of the Desert Queen is what made it a story.  She not a typical immortal unfeeling evil ruler, she's not even really evil.
Now the problem.  How do I show this, without giving away her actions?
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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2010, 07:58:37 PM »
Usually, you would show it through the eyes and actions of the other characters. Maybe the city has festivals to honor her (and you would have to make it look like they're really honoring her, not just doing it out of fear). Or, they would just praise her in their daily lives. Since she's locked herself in the tower, though, things get more difficult. She appears to be evil, and her subjects no longer see her, so they think maybe she doesn't care about them. If she does really care about them, you're going to have to do more revealing as to why she's turned into a recluse. When a ruler doesn't show him/herself to the people, the people just innately dislike the ruler.

You could always have a main character contrast what the city was like before everything hit the fan, but with most of them leaving, that could be rather hard, too.
I don't have good days. I have great days, where I'm a magician ridding the world of all evil, or at least everything I don't like. And then I wake up, and it's back to work for me.

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2010, 07:58:00 AM »
Your writing is pretty clean for the most part, but it's a bit bogged down by adjectives (particularly attached to dialogue tags) and by description in general, I find. I think that the reason I feel that there's a lot of it is that you stop to describe basically every new character and every new setting. While it's good to know what people and things look like, and while on their own these are all relatively short descriptions, it adds up pretty quickly, and it also starts to feel formulaic.

There are places where I think that the characterization works really well, and I've tagged some of them in my line edits, but overall I'm finding the emotion... not bad, not flat, but a little bit superficial. I think you can delve deeper.† And I do think there is interesting stuff here to delve. :)

The prologue feels more like a set of previews you'd see just before the start of a TV episode or something than a prologue to a novel. You know, "Coming up on CSI" or something.† The prologue doesn't have to showcase every plot arch in the novel, or even most of them. I don't feel like I have anything to sink my teeth into here. If I knew more about one of the situations you were throwing at us here I might be more interested.

It could just be that there's information† that I'm not privvy to, but for someone who's supposed to be graded on his thesis the next day, and who is not satisfied with the results, Adam seems awfully casual about it.

Is it plausible for sand dunes to form inside a walled city?

I would have liked to be introduced to the actual conflict of Eshra's scene a bit sooner.

When Trinian started using Eshra's first name I thought that he was more than just a bodyguard (not necessarily a lover, but someone who knew her very well, at least) and was interested, but it seems that he's just impertinent hired muscle. Ah well. That still tells us something about him, I suppose.

Trinian, so convinced that the Queen (or whoever) would help Eshra, seems a bit naive.

Okay, again getting the impression that Eshra and Trinian know each other quite well. All's well, moving on.

At first I assumed that Adam was another of Eshra's bodyguards. Eshra seemed to lump him together with Trinian, and they're both Auroks, so I jumped to a conclusion.† found it a little bit jarring. Because I figured that Adam was Eshra's bodyguard, I thought that there was a fairly significant time gap between† Adam's scene and the scene that I'm reading now, and I couldn't see any reason for said gap. Maybe I was making weird assumptions, and nobody else will think this was a problem. But was a bit off-put until I realized that Adam was still at the university, and there's a fairly long period between when Adam is first mentioned and when it's revealed that he's still at the university, so I've had almost a page to puzzle over it.

If Felix suspects the Magistrate, why doesn't it occur to Eshra that Felix might help her?

The Queen's entrance is one place where I think that stopping to describe a character's appearance actually works really well--or at least, that it COULD work well. It makes sense because sheís entering the room, and because as royalty, sheís likely to be the center of attention when she is present. So description like this not only lets us know what the character looks like, it places emphasis on her entrance. It loses its impact, though, because you do it so often.

At first, with all that about the isolated Queen and the way Eshra discussed the Senate and the Magistrate and all the powerful figures of the kingdom (or so she made it seem) but the Queen, I assumed that the Queen was, at best, a disinterested ruler, and probably a puppet. I see now that this isn't the case. Good job on subverting my expectations here.

Saraneth strikes me as a bit of a whiner. She seems to start a lot of her sentences with "But, Majesty!" That's fine if this is what you intend, though I do wonder why the Queen lets her get away with it. Then again, it does seem that they know each other well enough that their relationship might bear this out. I'll wait and see, I guess.

Now Tristan is but-majesty-ing too! Augh!

Oh, wait. The Queen is taking them to task for it. Good. Nevermind.

The latter half of this scene, when the Queen switches from talking about the current problem--Eshra--to this miscellaneous other stuff, feels extraneous. That is, it feels like a way to introduce us to all of these other conflicts in the kingdom, even though (as far as I can tell) they have little to do with the situation at hand. It has a plausible segue, but that's about it. If it's really important that this information come out (and come out right now) reframing some of it in terms of "how this other stuff effects/is affected by this Eshra problem" might make it feel a bit less infodumpy.

I have no idea why Tristan and Gareth are giving Felix "knowing" looks, or what Felix is being "judged" for. Of course, I don't necessarily need to know right this second, but a little more information here might be nice.

Oh, here it is. This could potentially be a very interesting conflict for Felix. You don't have to reveal it before you do, but I would really like to see this dynamic played out in the earlier conversation. I had no idea that Tristan and Gareth "judged" Felix for his relationship with the Queen until their "knowing looks," and I had no idea the Queen and Felix were lovers until you told me. All of this ought to have a huge effect on how these characters interact with each other, and I think you can bring it out much more.

Some responses to what others have said...

I'm not sure that the three POVs in one chapter is "too many" all on its own. If you're planning on introducing three POVs in EVERY chapter then yes, that might be a bit of a problem. :P But it's not always a bad thing.

Here, I do think that it does become a bit of a problem. Specifically, I'm kind of wondering what Adam's scene is doing in this chapter. As an introduction to his character it works just fine, but it doesn't really accomplish much other than that. (Which is--again--not necessarily a bad thing all on its own. Like I said, as an introductin to Adam it's fine.)† So Adam's scene really stands out in comparison to the other two scenes, which are both focused on the same problem. Adam is only mentioned once, tangentially, so if you're worried about us knowing who he is, well, I don't think we need to know this early.

I have to agree with Asmodemon is right that there's a lot of explanatory setting stuff going on at the expense of character development. At least, it feels like you're focused on getting as much information out as you possibly can, and while it's great that that information is there, we don't need to know it all at once. So: Less about the world, more about the characters. I think all of your characters have some interesting conflicts going on, and I want to see more of that in their words and their actions.

Asmodemon makes an interesting point about undermining the feel of danger/tension that we have for Eshra, but I honestly can't decide whether I think it's a problem. Do with that what you will. :P

Breaking each viewpoint into seperate chapters might become artificial and cumbersome. I don't know if this helps, but I think of my chapters as units. Each one focuses on a particular problem. The end of the chapter comes when that† problem is--not resolved, necessarily, but dealt with in some way. So I don't fuss particularly about the length of the chapter or the number of viewpoints or anything like that. I just make sure that every POV/scene/what have you is contributing to the chapter's central conflict. I think that the problem Asmodemon has identified with too many viewpoints actually has to do with the fact that Adam's chapter, as I've already mentioned, doesn't seem to fit with the conflict of the rest of the chapter.

Of course, I say all that like I actually know what I'm talking about. This is just one person's opinion.

I think paring down the information that you're giving comes down to two things. One is what I was just talking about, which is relevance. Reveal information as it becomes necessary to understand the problems at hand and not all the problems down the road. The other, as Asmodemon's already said, is the age old "show don't tell."

Oh, I did notice the similarity between "Trinian" and "Trinar." I didn't personally have a problem with it, but I can see how it might trip readers up. I never got the impression that the Queen was evil, by the way. Actually, the bit about her locking her up in her tower made me think that she was a puppet ruler.

Okay, wow. Sorry about the long and disjointed critique. Hopefully it's at least SOMEWHAT helpful.

Comatose

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2010, 04:32:49 AM »
No it was very helpful.  Some of your thoughts are exactly what I want Readers to think at this point in the book.
Trinian is Eshra's body guard, but he's held that position since she was born, so they have more of a relationship than is normal.

Adam is one of Eshra's body guards, but he's  currently training at the University before he joins Trinian in her service.

Your assumption that the Queen is a puppet ruler is one that some of the other characters will make later on....

Overall, this was a great critique, you gave me a lot of stuff to work on, that I feel is really manageable.  Thank-you!
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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2010, 04:45:29 AM »
In that case, it might not hurt to slip it into Adam's scene somewhere that he's training to be a bodyguard, or that he has an assignment coming up, or something of the sort. You don't need to do much for readers to make that connection, I think, and maybe it will help people avoid the moment of confusion that I had. If, of course, you decide to keep Adam's scen in the current chapter. If you don't it may be a non-issue.

You're welcome. I'm glad it helped! :)

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Re: July 14, Comatose, River Lord: Prologue and Chapter One
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2010, 05:08:02 AM »
I actually kind of like the idea of waiting to introduce Adam.  I'll keep that in mind.
"Look, I'm just trying to change the world, okay?† I don't have time for a grudge match with every poser in a parka!"
- Dr. Horrible

"There's always another secret..."
- Kelsier