Author Topic: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4  (Read 2094 times)

hubay

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January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« on: January 25, 2011, 12:12:51 AM »
Here you go, sorry for the wait. I'm pretty pleased with this chapter overall, but I have two things I was hoping to get feedback on – is the description of the Medusi clear? And I resolve the first main character crisis with Jhuz in this chapter, and I was wondering if anyone thinks I should have drawn it out a little longer. Anyways:

Hubay – Lord Domestic Ch. 4 (L,V, S – if you know Latin) 3900 words

Summary – after a heavy defeat to a barbarian army, the Imperial Legion is on the run in forest. They have made camp on the edge of a river, and the Standard Jhuz is still feeling guilty over his 'cowardice' in the first battle.

Ch 4 – a messenger from Matisu brings ill-timed news, the barbarians attack again, and we meet our first barbarian.

« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 05:09:53 AM by hubay »

fireflyz

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Re: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2011, 01:21:53 AM »
Alright, first impressions:  I liked it.  There's some mystery there and it's starting to intrigue me.  I still feel like this bare bones though with little description and all action, dialogue, and exposition.  It makes it very hard for me to get drawn fully in, because you haven't given me a clear enough picture to work with.  Especially with all of the foreign names, characters, and creatures.  That's fine if the rest is solidly grounded.  As it is, I feel like I'm in a world only half drawn.  The beginning wasn't bad, but as soon as Jhuz leaves the tent, the description falls apart.  It's all action, but I couldn't tell you where they are, the terrain, the weather, the effect the attack is having on the encampment, etc.

Ex.  Jhuz is flying over the encampment, but we don't get a large impression of what's going on.  Is this like ants overruning crumbs of bread (barbarians and tents) or is it little pockets of resistance, or is it a single, precision strike right there.

The Medusi weren't badly done, but I think you should use a different word to describe thier arms.  It's hard to see paper being that strong.  I keep thinking of toilet paper and it doesn't mesh with throwing trees and rocks.  Now, a clear, ribbon of membrane, that I could see working.  Also, you switched once or twice to Madusi. 

I missed out on a lot of the beginning, but I thought the reveal was appropriate.  The reaction to the reveal, I didn't think was executed as well as it should have been.  Granted, it's in the middle of a fight, but there's little thought given to it.  Yes, Jhuz wretches and feels sick afterwards, but that's it.  There's no recurring thought in the back of his mind, there's no anger, there's...nothing.  Just acceptance and we move on.  I want a reaction, positive, negative, whatever. 

The problem with a writing group is that we only have one chapter in front of us.  It could be that the next chapter really digs into Jhuz's reaction, I hope it is.  If it were a novel, I'd turn the page and find out, so if that's the case, I apologize in advance.

One last small note, I don't think you should use the term screwing in the final page there.  If you have latin then use another term for it.  Also, if you have centuries, why not centurions instead of captains?  Or did I miss that part?

I really like where you're going with this.  It sounds interesting.  It is a little hard to juggle around all of the names, especially when you drop the tags and have them arguing when they are several characters together.  I feel like that description would really pull this together.  You do good with the sickly Legate.  Even the Cobra officer.  Little descriptors that reoccur over and over again help the reader identify with the characters, even if thier names are alien.  Also, I think you're letting the plot run everything.  Jhuz sounds like he has the potential to be interesting.  The other players, I don't know thier motivations and that's fine, but I want to eventually.  And I want them to have motivations, not just be there to move the plot along.


If you can delve into the psyche of the characters and just put a little more description in, I think this novel has a lot of potential thus far.
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hubay

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Re: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2011, 02:54:25 PM »
Thanks for the feedback. The captains are in charge of little subdivisions of the legion, like the airborne. I hadn't been able to think of a good Roman-sounding name, but I'm open to suggestions.

Description is my biggest problem as a writer, I know. Right now my plan is to finish writing a barebones copy and then embellish it after the plot's taken care of. I'm not sure if that's the best way to handle it, but its helped me plow through so far.

fireflyz

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Re: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2011, 04:23:08 PM »
Alright, if that's your plan, that's fine.  I think it might be the best way to go, actually.  I'll stop commenting about description then as there's no need to belabor the point so long as you're aware of it (which you obviously are).

Well, in the Roman army the non coms were called principales, but if these captains are in charge of subdivisions, it sounds to me like it'd be centurion or centurio.  I know that century means a hundred, but in reality they were about 80.  Also, just a minor note that the standard bearers were called signifiers and the senior standard bearer that bore the Roman Eagle was called aquilifer (aquila meaning eagle).  I'm sure you're probably familiar with most of that, so I'm not trying to insult your intelligence.  Captains work, it just seems that you're trying to use a lot of roman terminology so I think it would flow better with a different name. 

Hope that helps!
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hubay

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Re: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2011, 05:13:40 PM »
Yeah, to make it easier I decided my centuries are a true 100, and made the penti in charge of 5 centuries.10 penti = 5000 men per legion, more or less. Hrm. I hadn't minded before, but now that you brought it up I'm going to have to come up with a replacement for 'captain.'

akoebel

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Re: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 06:28:33 PM »
Another interesting chapter to read. I hope you'll continue to submit them, because I wouldn't like not knowing what happens next.

I'll take a side note on roman military structure. If I understand correctly, the legion is lead by a Legate (high born), with a tribune (also high born, but frequently a young man waiting for a Senate career) which acts as a second in command when the Legate is incapacitated. The direct field command is given to a prefect (often a veteran from the ranks) who oversees the 10 cohorts, each commanded by a senior centurion, and a junior centurion per centurie constituting the cohorts.
With that in mind, I wonder why Gaitu doesn't hold the rank of Legate, since he's obviously high born. I ask this question, because it felt like Ponticae's rapport to Gaitu isn't clear. From his rank, he should be clearly over Gaitu (even if Tribunes didn't have too much to do in operational command), but it feels like he's the junior here, which would make Gaitu a Legate, not a Prefect. Also, tribune is a stepping stone in a political career, and not a pity assignment.
And I'll join Fireflyz here : your captains need to be Centurions (I know, almost everyone is a centurion, since there are so many types of centurions).
I'd like to commend you in your research, I didn't know that Immunes were indeed people in the support corps.

Side note over. Now, to my actual impressions : I like the fact that we're fast paced At the beginning, I told myself "Another war council?", but since it's cut short, I can't complain about it. Love the fact that the soldiers go on swearing by their gods, despite the fact that they're not allowed to anymore.

Some word of warning here : you've put in a very nice chekov's gun when you told me about power struggles between the prefect and the emperor, and the emperor disavowing the legion. I now fully expect the story to take a political turn, with lots of plotting and betrayals (Felt like you were writing a Malazan book for a while here : great!). If this was not a promise you were aware you were making, consider yourself warned!

Now, I have some issues with Gaitu's "plan" with Jhuz : why go to such lengths to make him take part into the fighting? It would have been much easier for him to talk to Jhuz, or even order him to fight (despite the imperial orders against it). In that respect, the reveal didn't work for me. I think it comes at the right place, though. Just make sure that even though that plot point is resolved, the character of Jhuz does change gradually in the next few chapters. I'd hate for him to go on a barbarian killing spree without any remorse from now on.

The part about Gaitu dying didn't work for me either : first, because the man was wounded in the leg, but shows signs of sickness all over 3 days after? First, I don't think that gangrene spreads that fast, and even if it did, any man in the legion would have taken a saw and cut off his leg well before it got that bad, so I didn't buy having him die there (and off the screen). It felt too much like the plot demanding that this character died, so you killed him off. And having him die also cuts off the resolution about Jhuz (though it might be something that you wanted to do).
I like the character of Zaisha : I hope you treat her well in the next chapters (you might even consider fleshing her part out :-))

Now, some lesser points:
* At the beginning of page 4, the dialog doesn't have attributions, and I found difficult to tell which character was speaking.
* "Lexio’s shrug was relaxed. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s not like he has to do any of the fighting.”I’m sure I gave you enough time, mejj-master. " : This felt a little like a POV error to have the character talk to himself in between two parts of another character. I would have put this in a different like.
* A couple of words seemed poorly chosen (his custom to speak (habit?), Imperial Glory is disappointed (saddened?), can afford no soldiers  (send?)).

I'm still very much interested in your story, despite the fact that I think Gaitu disappeared too suddenly. I'm ready for the next installment!

Asmodemon

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Re: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 05:29:58 PM »
This is nice, some political upheaval to threaten the army that’s already in trouble. We’re also getting some action by Jhuz, finally. In all I liked reading this chapter, but there are a few points I wasn’t particularly fond off.

To me the message is unclear. “The Empire can afford no soldiers at this time”. At first read I thought this meant the soldiers were all getting sacked. But the next line says there are other threats, so I take it to mean that the empire can’t send new troops. I think you should clarify this section more.

I’m also unclear, given the message, why Pentus Arilu thinks the emperor thinks the army has rebelled. The empire is in trouble and can’t send new troops, doesn’t mean the current army is rebelling. The emperor is disappointed, which is natural since the empire is in trouble and the army just lost a battle. The empire outlaws two cults, because the two cults have been doing things – that doesn’t mean it’s an act specifically against this army, just against the cults.

Ah, we get an explanation for the ‘rebelling’ bit later. Perhaps this should be made clearer before, because from the information given I didn’t think the talk of rebellion before Gaitu showed up made any sense.

I’ve also being reading about Mejj for a few chapters now, but I’m still not really clear on what all the different Mejji actually are and do. You’ve explained these when you posted the first chapter, but in the story itself the differences are not immediately clear and the terms are so many they blend together.

Jhuz suddenly goes on a killing spree and while I’m all for him showing some backbone it seems a bit too sudden given what we’ve seen of him before this – he even thought he was a coward, he was surprised he could catch ballista bolts from mid-air, but now all of a sudden he uses these powers of his as if he’s born to them.

The plan to get Jhuz to fight is another example of the rather wacky way you go about discipline in your army. How can any commanding officer hatch a plan in which it’s required of the soldier to break the chain of command and break an imperial edict, all by his own will? A will that is, apparently meant to be broken for him to function as a soldier – broken soldiers, whether in mind or in body, are not good to have in an army. Jhuz could easily have snapped in a different way, causing the army untold trouble.

Dark_Prophecy

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Re: January 24 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch4
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2011, 12:15:35 PM »
I'm okay with Jhuz's sudden change into Angel of Death here, but the part that threw me for a loop was Gaitu's death. It seems a little quick, just in the pacing of the chapter. We've got a fight, then a brief from Zaishu "Let's go talk to Gaitu," then another brief fight, and then another "Let's go talk to Gaitu...oops, he's dead." If it's Zaishu delivering the news, it seems like she shouldn't have been able to get back to command to get that news fast enough, and if she's heard it from someone else, it seems like it came too quickly. I think you just need to stretch that section out at the end a little bit more. Perhaps this is an excellent time to put some further reaction from Jhuz about how terrible it is killing women.

I'm still a fan of this book. Go you! However, I'd give my left arm for a war story that DIDN'T have a country with a weird sense (from the POV of the main character) of honor. I'm getting pretty bored with this idea. I know it's factually based, but just once I'd like to see two or three armies duking it out where everyone understood the rules clearly, and weren't stepping all over each other's culture's honors.
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