Reviews for Murder at the Monastery
Demonic Weasel chapter 5 . 8/27/2008
While I've greatly enjoyed all of your writing that I've read, this, I think, is clearly the most superb work of yours that I've yet read.

The true mark of excellence is that the shorness of this tale in no way affects my perception of it; the tale is as long as it needs to be. Effectively, the story is more about who Arjan is than the murder that he's asked to solve. That was very shrewd on your part, if I may say so. It dodges all number of difficulties that otherwise crop up in mysteries. Also, on that note, I have to say that I'm relieved to see that this is a pyschological mystery over anything else. To clarify, I don't object to violent mysteries in the least; I merely object to mysteries that use blood or violence as the main drive, as though that's a story in and of itself.

Enough rambling, however. The thoroughly fleshed out history of Dezolis is another strong point of the tale; it feels culturally authentic and is thoroughly believable. It adds another layer to the experience. Indeed, dare I say, the whole story feels very... official. A fleshing out of Dezolis that we've not yet had much of. Additionally, setting the tale on Dezolis was also very wise, methinks. It increases the impact of the history you build for the planet, as we always ever knew less of Dezolis than Palma or Motavia.

As to the actual story, then. Arjan is a superb character. You render his quiet thoughtfulness, his basic decency, his lack of overwhelming emotion very neatly. He feels so much like a simple middle-aged gentlemen who speaks little and says less, in a fuzzy-headed way, while not being fuzzy-headed. A very vivid main character, I must say. Abbot Kozil is also splendid. One really feels his age quite clearly in his dialogue... his general mildness and, most of all, how tired he is. I rather suspect that death might have come as a relief to him in some ways.

With that said, I'm in two minds about Ryth. As a character, she's nicely drawn, if a tad bland. As the murderer, she's a tad cliche. Having read many mysteries, just knowing that a murder was coming, I rather suspected it would be Ryth. There was nothing concrete that drew my attention to her, nothing so much about the evidence that you carefully put into the tale, but rather her type just seemed to make sense. And when I say that she was a little cliche, I don't mean her being the culprit, so much as I do her whole reaction upon being confronted with the truth. It's well-crafted, but it feels as though I've read it before. Oh, and Colce, unfortunately wasn't an especially great sidekick, to my way of thinking.

Despite the way I've gone on, I want to qualify that I think this is an utterly brilliant character study nonetheless. Ryth just wasn't all that developed and Colce didn't add anything to the story, I felt (although I do appreciate what you were trying to add with him, I just think it didn't really work). These problems are very minor, however, and the cultural, historical aspect of the fic only complements the very strong renderings of Arjan and Kozil. Overall, this is quite splendid.
Tarma Hartley chapter 4 . 5/4/2007
WOW! Well done! You've crafted a superb mystery story and I wait eagerly for chapter 5! :)
Tarma Hartley chapter 1 . 4/26/2007
EXCELLENT! Very well written, clear and concise descriptions of people and places-even a little humour sprinkled in with Colce's "irreverence".(I had to laugh at Ryth's reaction to Colce's comment about "It looks like Her Eminence was on the mark about it being a half day's travel from the main road." I also liked his response to Ryth's "You doubted Her Eminence's word?": "I doubted her judgement-on travel, not religion.I'm a city man, myself, and I know that cityfold don't understand copuntry traveling. Plus, being an educated woman, I'm sure that she has a map to go by and that just makes it worse. Maps are great for showing where places are. They aren't so good at telling you how long it takes to get there. Ask the boss." I like Colce! Solid, well versed in common sense and down to earth..I like him! :) WELL DONE! I can't wait to read what happens next so please do update soon! :)