Reviews for The Third Circle
Weiila chapter 1 . 5/16/2008
You describe action beautifully, but when you get to more peaceful descriptions there's a slight problem with pacing. Descriptions of appearance are all well and good, but it's difficult to lump a detailed description of somebody or something into one paragraph and then have the readers remember it. Instead of painting a picture of Adarin on the battlefield piece by piece, try to intergrate those details into what's going on. For example, you could mention how the too big vest annoys him when he's drawing his bow.

Hmm... "Fandral & Hamuul." The & stands out a bit there. I'd imagine that Nelves, being very formal, would write "and" instead of a symbol, but it's just a nitpick.

Don't be afraid to use "said". A little variation is nice, but "said" is neutral and floats past easily. If you use too many spoke, stated, etc., it becomes a little jarring. It's personal preference, of course.

I'm sorry, I giggled at the "I sense a great disturbance in" part in the beginning. There's just no getting away from mentally adding "in the force". It was probably not what you intended, but it was hilarious anyway. It didn't take away at the serious sense of the scene though, so no worries.

Anyway, I think this seems to be a solid story - I especially liked how you blended in quests from WoW in the characters' discussion. It makes the story seem much more connected to the game world itself. That you let the furbolgs into the mix also is something I haven't seen before. Nice! I'll keep reading this.
Elzom Greenglade chapter 10 . 5/15/2008
Hey... Sorry for the long wait. This was really an exciting story. I really enjoyed taking time to read. There were some mistakes I noticed, but I won't get into that. Take your time in updating. Take care...

- Amarito
Arek the Absolute chapter 10 . 5/11/2008
Not too much to say about this chapter. There were places where the language was murky and the air of sentiment was undeserved. As usual, your descriptions were strong. Overall, I would say that this chapter serves its purpose without incorporating anything unnecessary.

Looking back on these ten chapters, I'm optimistic. As I have stated, there are various problems that should be addressed, but they are not insurmountable. You have demonstrated some skill for this kind of writing, and I have no doubt that as you write more you will only get better. I would also recommend doing some recreational reading, as not only will it give you more insight into writing, but it will inspire you to continue writing.
Arek the Absolute chapter 9 . 5/11/2008
Once again, you show your skill at writing combat. The battle scenes are well-constructed and easily visualized. The downside is that they are constantly being interrupted by scenes that drag on and serve no real purpose. The description of Bael Modan in particular, though a good description, seems ultimately pointless. You spend a good long while building it up, the setting and these new characters and whatnot, and then in the space of two sentences, we leave Bael Modan behind never to see it again. And all the while it's interrupting a very fast-paced war. Personally, I think a lot of these interrupting scenes could be either bunched together near the beginning of the chapter or done away with altogether, since they don't add anything beyond another famous face or two.

Thank you for clarifying Rahoda's position within the Twilight's Hammer. Before now it was quite unclear why he should apparently have such respect.

Staghelm's portrayal seems inconsistent with my knowledge of him. Here he seems to be heroic, self-sacrificing and a generally noble druid. In the game he comes off as arrogant, self-indulgent and brooding. While he is doubtless a powerful druid and would fight for his life with every ounce of strength he had in him, he has never been one to inspire confidence in his soldiers.
Arek the Absolute chapter 8 . 5/10/2008
I feel that this chapter, and indeed this fic as a whole, are represented by Adarin himself, if you will follow my reasoning.

This story's strongest element is probably the plot. It is clear that you have put a great deal of time and effort into weaving this multi-faceted story, spanning thousands of years and integrating many different parts of the Warcraft mythos. This chapter perhaps more than any before it advances the plot in a meaningful way. Similarly, Adarin was designed by the Aspects to serve an ultimate purpose, fulfilling and ultimately renewing the dragonflights after even the darkest times, which is in a broad sense what most literary plots concern themselves with.

At the same time, though, the greatest failing in this story is the characters. I have already mentioned several times the weaknesses in the characterization, be it in terms of the missing conversations, in the utter lack of emotion or believable human response, or the way in which the dialogue that does exist serves only to advance the plot in the dryest tone possible (as is exemplified by the meeting between Staghelm and Krogarr). Adarin perfectly exemplifies this failing. He is the main character and though we follow his exploits constantly, I find myself entirely ambivalent towards him. He does not respond in a human way towards finding out about Rahoda's ensalvement or his being a draconic fabricant. When he does react in an emotional manner it's usually over the top and so different from his typical behavior as to be unbelievable. Based on my observations, I believe that when the dragons created Adarin, they did so designing him to serve a purpose (the plot) without giving him a personality (character).

Good writing demands both plot and character (as well as 32 other crucial elements, but those aren't at issue here). You have certainly proven yourself skilled at writing the former, and for that I commend you. The latter, though, needs to be there or else the story simply cannot hold together. Most important of all is the fact that plot and character do not exist independently of one another, but plot must flow from the characters. Plot is created by the actions, motivations, and conflicts of the characters in the story. Without character, plot becomes transparent, its soul motivating factor being the writer himself.
Arek the Absolute chapter 7 . 5/8/2008
Okay, this chapter had a major problem. There is no emotional context. We begin with Rahoda under the ogre's spell. He is clearly not under the influence of complete mind control as, say, Zanzil's slaves are, since he clearly still has a will and mind of his own. All that seems to be compelling him to kill and to join the Twilight's Hammer is a nagging voice. We don't see him trying to resist it in any way. We see no struggle on his part. Either his conscious mind needs to be completely subjugated by the spell, or he needs a compelling reason to have such a drastic change of heart.

Furthermore, there is the case of Jin. This is a character who has been through a lot because of Aurakai. A lot of people have died because of the Emperor and Jin lost everything he ever knew. So what does he care about in this epic confrontation? The Emerald Destiny. That's the only thing Jin seems to care about. Injustice, vengeance, the fate of his people and those murdered by Aurakai are nothing in Jin's eyes, but that damn sword sure as hell gets his attention. Jin is either emotionally dead, or he really is a traitor and he lied about his past so that he could get his hands on the Emerald Dream once more.

Admittedly your combat is well-written and it was handy how you harkened back to Adarin's training, but those are just the nuts and bolts of this chapter. They're there to hold the framework together, but without the emotional context there is no framework. This chapter is nothing but nuts and bolts.
Arek the Absolute chapter 6 . 5/7/2008
Now in this chapter we see some interesting things taking place. You are using more dialogue than you had earlier, which I like. I particularly liked how you handled the scene inside the palace at the end. It incorporates interplay between characters, good description, and well-executed combat without relying on exposition to communicate what it is you are trying to convey. I feel it is a well-balanced scene which is only harmed by two things: these two named Pandaren guards came out of nowhere and seem unlikely to be recurring characters, and I can't quite imagine how Ling could wield such a large weapon indoors and at close range.

The downside of this chapter is something I don't typically criticize. The scene of Bashana's arrival at Orgrimmar was a bit disappointing. While I do appreciate the inclusion of dialogue, I don't believe the scene adds anything to the story as it stands. The reader is quite capable of assuming this exchange took place and without anything to contribute to the plot or characters, this scene would be better off left out.
steelmongoose chapter 10 . 5/5/2008
Chapter 10

- Krogarr uses an axe to chop silithid in two, yet in chapter 7 wields a long sword against the infernals

- If the storm is too fierce to see through it, it would probably be far too strong for the gnomish pilots to do anything but hold on for dear life, let alone fight and maneuver through it.

- Mis-spelling of "wrath" to "wraith" when referring to the spell.

This is my last review for this particular story. I have seen the direction you are taking it in and I have no desire to see it to its conclusion. You focus almost entirely on getting to the next fight, which, while well executed, leave the characters one-dimensional and ultimately forgettable. Many opportunities are presented to allow Adarin, the protagonist, to show some emotion, but the strongest one I've seen from him to date is "confusion".

Warcraft is a setting that very much lends itself to action-oriented story-telling and beings of immense physical or magical power, but Blizzard always, at its core, makes the story about people and the hardships they must endure. The most valiant heroes and the most wicked of villans display emotions and motivations which we, the average person, can relate to. Illidan, for instance, is a powerful, badass demon hunter who plays by his own rules and and wields amazing power. However, under all that he feels he's lived his whole life in his brother's shadow, and his questionable choices have cost him the love of the only woman he really cared about. Arthas has become one of the most powerful beings ever to walk Azeroth, but before that he was a good-hearted and just young man with the weight of a kingdom on his shoulders. His choice to kill innocents rather than have them enslaved by the Scourge started him on the path to damnation, slowly stripping away every last bit of goodness left in him.

Adarin, by contrast, starts off a barely competent archer, then thousands of years later he's a powerful and well-respected druid. Next, he's given a destiny to master all three circles of druidism, which so far has been as easy for him as falling out of a tree. Next, he was created with the combined power of the dragonflights and turned into a super-saiyan druid with protoss zealot blades, destined to destroy an old god whom the combined might of three dragonflights and the kaldorei at the height of their power could only fight to a stand-still and seal behind a wall. Now, Malfurion Stormrage, the most powerful druid who ever lived, asks HIM for help, not the other way around. I can only guess what new powers and titles will be granted to him in future chapters.

Through all of this, Adarin is just a basic shape. He feels physical pain, but little else. We are given no window to his thoughts and internal struggles to come to grips with what's being asked of him. He finds out that Avarielle, whom we're told he loved, is actually a blue dragon, and that's why she left him. Adarin feels no betrayal, relief, anger, sorrow, just confusion. He's told that he has to slay his friend to free him, and he does so, then delivering a bland, one line eulogy to mark his death. He finds out he's really not a night elf, but some magical creature to be used by the dragonflights for their own ends, and he, blase as ever, accepts it as truth without batting an eyelash. He's not a character, he's a plot device.

I'm not saying you need to launch into a three-page discourse on how he was picked on as a child, or how much he hates burnt toast, but give us SOMETHING. He can fling massive, multi-ton sand worms into buildings all day long, but I'd be more impressed if he held a meaningful conversation with anyone. Let him destroy C'thun with a hyper-giga-wrath spell then decide if he can accept Avarielle's affection again after thousands of years of wondering what had happened to her and suddenly she's back in his life. Describing action is your strong point, now let's fill the gap with character development.
Guest chapter 5 . 5/5/2008
You use dreams/visions too much. Admittedly we are dealing with druids, who have a penchant for dreams, but even so it seems like a bit much for Jin to actually induce a vision in Adarin to show him Pandaria when he could simply describe it.

This two-headed ogre has me intrigued. He seems to have powers similar to a dark druid, being able to shift into a core hound and all. I have my suspicions regarding his plans for Rahoda, but I'll just have to see where that goes.

One thing that appealed to my literary side is the inclusion of that arming scene for Rahoda. Traditionally, though, the weapons and armor used in such a scene have more personal significance. After all, I'm certain that a druid with as much renown as Rahoda has some fairly decent equipment of his own, though I can't be sure of that as he is a Druid of the Claw and they typically rely more on their claws and hide than on weapons and armor.

Along the same lines, I like the inclusion of this training for Adarin. I do wonder, though, if again you might have rushed through it a bit too quickly. Barely enough time in there for a Rocky-style montage. Even so, it affords the reader a chance to see how he develops the skills that will need to be applied later on in the journey, as well as furthering the connection between Adarin and Jin.
Arek the Absolute chapter 4 . 5/4/2008
One thing I noticed when reading this chapter is that the way you write is too focussed on getting to the next plot point without covering the necessary spaces in between. Why not actually write out the conversation with Albagorm instead of telling su about it? Why spend a mere two paragraphs on the journey to the hidden village when it's such a fine opportunity to establish the mood or maybe throw in some interplay between Adarin and Rahoda? Why should Adarin not defend himself after he has been attacked and Rahoda knocked unconscious, and then happily bed down for the night without so much as an apology? There is a good story here, but you seem to be sprinting to get through it. (I'll admit I have the opposite problem myself-taking way too long to get through a story.) In general I think it's best to start with too much and then to scale it back as far as you can without compromising the integrity and most importantly the enjoyment of the work.

The strength of this chapter lies in the new elements it introduces. It establishes the journey that Adarin must undertake in order to proceed along his intended journey toward war with the Silithid. By removing Rahoda as a crutch, Adarin is forced to rely upon his own abilities which opens the door for character development. I also like this new character Jin'tao for several reasons. To begin with, I feel I understand him better than I did Rahoda mostly because he's had more lines in one chapter than Rahoda had in all four. Secondly, I also sense that he is a very complicated character. The combination of his noble upbringing and warrior training give him a great deal of self-control, but at the same time his exile from the society that instilled those vlaues in him undermines his presence of mind. He is outraged by the emperor's betrayal while simultaneously wracked with guilt over the deaths of the emperor's consort and the many Pandarens who were loyal to his family's cause. It is clear that his drinking is not merely an expression of Pandaren custom, but is important to him personally in order to dull the many strong emotions at conflict within him. He's probably a lot less stable when he hasn't been drinking. That being said, a lot of this is only based on my assumptions. Whether he is really that complicated or not depends on his portrayal in future chapters. He has a great deal of potential as a character, but that can only be realized if he is written properly.
Arek the Absolute chapter 3 . 5/3/2008
I'm having a little problem with Adarin's characterization. From his behavior around Ysera, his awe for Rahoda (a much younger and far less experienced druid), and his lowly station within the Cenarion Circle, he seems to be a very young and inexperienced night elf. While this may apply well to his characterization during his memories of the War of the Ancients, I have trouble accepting that he would still be the same ten thousand years later. He seems to be next to nothing when compared to Staghelm, despite the fact that Staghelm wasn't born until a thousand years after Adarin was already fighting wars. Surely you could still characterize him as being a meek individual with limited druidic skill, but there should also be some recognition of his greater age and experience.

Now that that's out of the way, I liked how this chapter highlighted a strong awareness of lore figures and their place in history and stations of importance to druids. I also liked how this chapter incorporated more dialogue, plot advancement and characterization. It's important to note that the only reason I am able to raise objections to how Adarin is portrayed is because his character comes through so clearly from the writing.

I note that runes are being used in a few places in this story. I'm wondering whether you've read up on Runemasters. They've become a personal favorite of mine since I read up on their natural approach to arcane magic.
steelmongoose chapter 9 . 5/2/2008
Chapter 7

- According to the Warcraft RPG, the curved blades wielded by the Pandaren wardancers are called "shaktani warblades"

- Inventive use of the Earth Storm, Fire spell, greatly added to the drama of the battle.

Chapter 8

- Adarin doesn't seem too emotional over hearing Rahoda will being subverted. Perhaps a bit more inner dialogue rather than an outsider's view of his reaction?

- Fandral would likely demand to be called, at the very least, Archdruid Staghelm by a savage like Krogarr. Using simply his first name sounds far too familiar for such an arrogant person.

- "Instantly" and "wandered" don't compliment one another. Perhaps "fled" or "reeled" would be better than wandered.

- Childhood lover seems a little creepy. Maybe just shorten it to "love" or maybe childhood to "adolescent" or "youth".

- So, according to your story, it takes Jin'tao and Adarin two days to travel from Xiong to the Temple of the Elements. It would then, logically, take Jin two days to return to Xiong. On his return trip he decides to let everybody know the emperor's dead. In FOUR days, no one has noticed that he's gone? One Pandaren even speaks up and says he saw Jin kill the emperor, but he just decided not to talk about the death of the despot ruling over them to another soul in all that time?

- Jin'tao tells Adarin before he heads into the Temple of the Elements that Rahoda's mind has been taken over by dark forces, yet when facing off against Cho'gall, Jin is surprised to learn the very same thing?

- Jin'tao seems awfully well informed about the power structure of the Horde during the second war, considering he was on an isolated island during the whole incident.

- The Broken Isles are "not far south north of Pandaria"?

- Interesting descriptions of the caverns, but the traps are over-come with a single sentence. Somewhat anti-climatic.

- Ok, Adarin has just learned that he was created by the dragonflights to repopulate the world with dragons should they die. Created. Not born. He is a "mere creation", empowered by the dragonflight for this purpose. He then goes on to ask why he was chosen. He wasn't chosen. He was created. He asks why the dragonflights don't do something about it. They are, they created HIM! He then accepts the responsibility of the very thing he was created to do. What would he have done otherwise? He goes from hero acting according to his own moral compass to a sentient tool of the dragonflights. A key to unlock the power of the armor he has been given.

Chapter 9

- Ouro is listed as "queen of all silithid" then as "he" a sentence later, and finally a generic "it" shortly thereafter. Which is it?

- Why does Enron have to add that Foehammer is the leader of the very facility in which Gauntlet works and lives?

- We know from before that Leoric is a human paladin, no need to mention it again.

- Deus leads Enron and Leoric through the fortress, but when they are challenged by guards he has to come around to the front to explain they are friendly?
Arek the Absolute chapter 2 . 5/2/2008
The only real weakness of this chapter was that it could use a thorough proofreading. Again, I would have liked to see more dialogue.

Your description of the battle(s) though was quite good. The action was easy to follow from one action to the next, the details regarding spellcasting were vivid and in keeping with the world, and the pacing was actually very nice, which can be quite difficult to achieve.

Overall I would rate this a good chapter in and of itself, but I think it can be used to further the plot or develop character more than it already does.
Arek the Absolute chapter 1 . 5/1/2008
First chapters are always tricky, what with all the exposition needed to establish characters and setting. I feel like perhaps you may have rushed through it a bit, but at the same time I'd prefer getting it over with to dragging it out mercilessly. I wonder, though, if you might have started things with Adarin and Rahoda en route to Stonetalon, talking to one another about what led them to where they are. Just a possible alternative way of starting out.

That being said, I did appreciate the attention to detail regarding character description. It is quite helpful in visualizing the action. The characters' personalities come out well through their dialogue, and I would like to see more of that from future chapters.
steelmongoose chapter 6 . 4/30/2008
Chapter 4

- Adarin and Rahoda are both druids, in tune with the wilds and able to take the forms of it denziens, and yet they cannot forage for themselves? They actually look forward to seeing civilization again?

- "humans" should not be capitalized, just like you woulnd't capitalize "birds"

- You mention both Stormshine and Stormstout as the drink they are imbibing, which is it?

- if Adarin and Rahoda passed by all the guards to get to Jin'tao's home, why does he attack them like they are enemies? Did he think they killed/subdued all those in the village silently and afterwards calmly walked up to his house like expected visitors?

Chapter 5

- Rahoda is in bear form, but the two-headed ogre faces "the lion" a sentence later

- Krogarr seems to easily abandon his duties in Desolace and lead his riders halfway across Kalimdor at a moment's notice.

- Sylia is decked out in Wildheart armor. Rahoda wears Five Thunders armor and wields Earthshaker. How about a little description of these items for those who don't play WOW? Never assume your readers know everything you do.

- I can only assume Rahoda recieved healing when he was picked up by the Riders. Nobody seems too concerned about them since no one asks how Rahoda recieved his extensive injuries.

- Imaginative detail in fleshing out Pandaria. Seems like something Metzen himself would have thought of.

Chapter 6

- Jin'tao uses a six foot staff to vault up to the top of a wall that has doors the size of a building. Are the walls a whole lot shorter than the doors?

- They walked for a few moments, arriving at their destination that before was described as far in the distance.

- The two guards removed their concealing hoods when they caught sight of the intruders, or they weren't wearing them in the first place?

- What weapon, if any, is Adarin using to fight Shuu?

- Emperor Aurakai just happens to be fully armored and ready for battle, wielding the weapon they seek, in the same building on the same floor as they are seconds after dealing with the previous guards so there's no interruptions for the next fight? An emperor would have many duties to attend to on a daily basis, even an evil one. Wandering around spoiling for a fight fully equipped for battle in the middle of his heavily guarded fortress seems a little too much like a planned RPG style final boss fight. Perhaps if you had him mention he heard the commotion they were making and decided to deal with these intruders personally as a sort of sport it would be easier to accept.
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