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August 8th - Akoebel - The Fifth Compendium, Chapter 8

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Hi everyone,

This is chapter eight from my first novel, The Fifth Compendium.

Last time on "The Fifth Compendium" : Destra, throws herself into the river to prevent Lorn and his men from taking away the book she's carrying. Ciera, a librarian, discovers the book while doing inventory and finds an old friend, Onmk, in the process. Lorn discovers that the book is still hidden in a library he can't enter. Onmk tries to help Ciera perform her library's inventory. Lorn finds a way into the library

Chapter 8 : Ciera is working late at the library

This is the first big scene - actually one of the 3 I had in my head before writing the book.

I rewrote it so Lorn doesn't appear as cocky as he was on the first draft. Tell me if you think he's still coming as too confident.

As always, comments will be greatly appreciated.

Arnaud Koebel

(Note on all my critiques: for now, I won't be focusing very much on things such as typos, minor grammar mistakes, or the occassional oddly phrased sentence. For one thing, these are often very early drafts. In addition, the technical aspects of writing are some of my biggest weaknesses at the moment, so there are people much better qualified to give that level of critique. But if something is especially noticable or odd, or constantly repeated, I may mention it.)

First, what I liked.

Ciera's obsession with books, especially her love of books with unusual topics like vapor mechanics.

The world seems to be VERY female dominated. I can't really guess exactly what you plan to do with this from just chapter 8, but I see many interesting possibilites, which is always a good thing.

Lorn. At the moment, I can't tell whether he'll be hero, villian, or something in between. Regardless, he's my favorite character right now.

Next, what I  didn't like so much. Keep in mind that I havn't read anything before this chapter, and it's possible that if I had it would eliminate some of these issues.

The first paragraph seems extremely long and a bit unwieldy. Some of the other paragraphs were also like this, such as the one shortly after Ceirra encounters Denalia, though none were as long as the first.

"Ciera started to move quietly, despite the fear tying her bowels into knots." What, what? This expression doesn't sound right to me. It stood out and took me out of the scene for a moment.

The paper tearing scene. Where did Lorn get the blank page? Would Ciera even hear the sound of paper ripping through the trapdoor? And Lorn just happened to pick Ciera's mother's book? The scene felt a bit contrived.

Ciera revealing what she knows to Lorn. When she first saw him, he was polite, and yet the mere thought of a man laying his "dirty hands" on a precious book infuriated her. Lorn then revealed that he's been involved in one death already, threatened Ciera's life, and threatened her books.

And after all that, suddenly she without prompting reveals to him that the Compendium isn't written in a dead language, but a code. Why would she reveal that to him? Even if she had a habit of speaking before thinking, this seems a bit of a stretch.

That is the first chapter I've read of this story, and my criticism will be affected by that fact.

 I love the way they count time there. Chimes, divisions... Those things small as they might be really pulled me into the world.

The women-dominated reading culture reminds me of the one in Stormlight Archive. I am interested in seeing what other jobs are gender-specific.

The speed in which Ciera opened up to Lorn and told him of the ciphering feels off. I'd expect her to distrust him and try to get him to leave.

Lorn is also my current favorite. The part where he ripped the empty papers instead of the books was strong.

"I suppose you can keep them with you. I don't want you to feel like you're missing on something. Who knows for how much time you will be with us?"
Us? Is it a mistake or does he have someone else with him in wherever he's taking her?

I don't see Lorn as confident or cocky, only determined.

Can you send me the first chapter to read? I'd have asked for more, but I have way too much to read already.  :P

Good chapter. Everything has been leading up to this point in the story so far, so it was good to see it finally happen. I absolutely loved the scene with Ciera in the storage room and Lorn outside. I am very curious as to what kept Omhk away for so long. I kept expecting him to arrive on the scene, but he didn't.

I also felt that Ciera opened up to Lorn a bit too much too soon. I could see her doing this as she got to know him a bit more (since Lorn is also my favorite character), but not right away. You had a line where she mentions stealing the Compendium back from him, but her chattiness kind of drowned it out.

My only other complaint would be how slow the chapter started. You have to explain why she's still there when Lorn breaks in, so I get that, but their meeting is what everyone is waiting for in my humble opinion. When you end the last chapter with his break in, you have to get back to that quick or the tension can fizzle a bit.

Overall, I'm very curious to see what happens next :)


Thanks for all the comments.

For the two of you jumping on the story right now, the society in this book is a pure matriarchy where women have put an effective ban on education for the men.  Basically, men can do pretty much anything that doesn't require reading or writing, but any woman worth her salt should see men as uneducated children - not people you can trust to perform elaborate tasks.

The fact that Lorn just happens to pick up Ciera's mother's book always felt a little too coincidental to me. My primary alpha reader already pointed this out, but at the time, I didn't know how to fix this, so I left it. With your comments, I think I found a nice way to do this, so thanks.

The "us" sentence isn't a typo : Lorn has some friends (henchmen :-) ) who are staying at his place.

As for Ciera giving out too easily, I can see the issue now. Maybe I should make this last a little longer. The fact is, she's under a lot of pressure to go with the book at any cost. Since Lorn already has the book, the voices in her head demand that she accepts Lorn's proposal and try to escape later on. For her chattiness, maybe I should tune this down a little, you're right.

@Amnonian : Are you requesting a partial? :-)  I'm sending you the prologue (since chapter 1 is basically 3000 words to say that Ciera went to work).  It's been revised a little after the group's input back in february, so you might notice different things than the ones they saw back then.


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