|Reviews for The Terms of Defeat|
| Igenlode Wordsmith chapter 1 . 1/23
Hallo! This is a RLt 5th Anniversary review - I picked this particular story because it's the first one that features characters I actually know anything about, but I'm aware that it's an old one so I don't know how much use concrit is likely to be. However, I can't hold back my proofreader's eye from noting passing typos, so that's probably going to be in there anyway...
I actually have a weakness for character death stories, so this happens to be right up my street :-)
It's a long time since I read any of Salvatore's books, but one thing I remember vividly is his skill at choreographing the dice-rolls of combat so that one could visualise it, without making it tedious - and you've captured that here with this brief skirmish between an opponent fighting with twin scimitars and one fighting with sword and dagger. I also note that you've done so without ever explicitly spelling out that this is what's going on: it's evident from the narrative.
I had to do a double-take to realise that Entreri had actually been stranded with his dagger stuck in Drizzt's body, though, on reading about "his remaining weapon" - I hadn't realised that the drow's shocked recoil had snatched it out of his hand, and certainly didn't have the mental image of Drizzt fighting violently with a dagger-hilt sticking out of him :-(
Probably realistic, though: I know that blades getting stuck is supposed to be the reason for sabre/scimitar design in the first place...
"Finally, after losing battle after battle to the renegade, he had defeated him. He had defeated Drizzt Do'Urden" - this works well to 'verbalise' the sense of glee we are told about in the preceding sentence: I can picture Entreri thinking this to himself with rising excitement.
"The drow wheezed slightly as Entreri crouched down beside him" - is this an ongoing description of Drizzt's breathing, or a one-off noise that he makes in response to Entreri's presence? (Sounds like the latter, but if, as seems more probable, it's intended to be the former then the phrasing seems a bit odd to me.)
I'm not clear what Entreri's taunts ("your discipline and your morality has made you weak and vulnerable") are based on, since we don't know the background to this fight, i.e. how Drizzt comes to be alone without support. Presumably Entreri's logic goes "I beat him, this demonstrates his weakness in the fight, that must have been a result of his so-called discipline": I was initially a bit confused by this since Drizzt's fatal lapse of attention seemed more a case of failure of discipline while fighting, but I suspect that Entreri and I are using the term in a rather different sense.
"such a pity it is that these friends you speak so highly of are not even here to watch you die" - I imagine that Entreri would enjoy the spectacle, but presumably his meaning is that Drizzt might derive some comfort from their presence and that their absence is thus an additional twist of the screw in proving the vulnerability created by allowing oneself friendship.
"It was a ragged, grating sort of laugh that only someone dying could possibly muster" - a nice turn of phrase
"in that stare the Entreri so desperately despised" - I think there's a typo here ("the Entreri"?)
Drizzt's "terms of defeat" seem to amount to "I am dying happy with my life, while you are living in continued unhappiness, therefore I am better off then you are": I can certainly picture Drizzt saying it, but I'm not sure I find it a convincing argument of *victory*, however!
Apparently Entreri doesn't either, which took me by surprise - it wasn't the moral I was expecting to be drawn from the scene - but which I felt was a powerful decision as a piece of writing. The obvious answer from the assassin's point of view to the question "who is really the victor" is "I am!", and much to my gratification this was exactly the response that arrived: "you may die content, but you are still dead" is very much in accordance with Entreri's worldview. (I like stories that accord 'evil' characters the dignity of staying evil, rather than forcibly converting them for the reader's gratification.)
I imagine it's significant that Entreri *doesn't* use the power of his dagger on Drizzt (I was actually expecting him simply to pluck the dagger out in order to hasten the drow's death and shut him up that way!), but I have the feeling that the reason he doesn't act here is chiefly to avoid giving any hint that he might have allowed those dying words to get under his skin, rather than out of any existential doubts...
"black, slender hands" is an unexpected usage - these are cumulative adjectives and would normally be written without the comma as "slender black hands" - but the effect is to emphasise the alien colour of the drow's skin, which works quite nicely with the reference to "lavender eyes" in the following sentence. I don't know if this was deliberate!
"His lavender eyes holding Entreri's with their gaze, refusing to let go even as his breath grew shallower and shallow, until finally his chest remained still" - this isn't actually a grammatically complete sentence, but I'm not sure it was deliberately done that way... Also, is "his breath grew shallower and shallow" an intentionally unusual structure, or is "shallow" a typo here?
"[The drow's final words] shouldn't have mattered to him, after all, Drizzt was dead and he was still here, breathing and very much alive... but they did and profoundly" - I felt the punctuation in this sentence didn't quite work as a whole, although all the individual parts are grammatically defensible. For me the natural way to read it as currently written, starting from the beginning, is "they shouldn't have mattered to him, after all" - but what I think you actually meant was "they shouldn't have mattered to him: after all, Drizzt was dead". It's a question of what the "after all" is meant to apply to, and I found it a trap to the eye.
I also felt that it needed a comma after "they did", in order to mark out the basic structure of the sentence - which is effectively "they shouldn't have mattered, but they did"...
"Could this life empty life of his really be considered living?" - this is either a typo (repeat of "life") or else a case of missing punctuation: I suspect the former.
"He swiftly got to his feet and turned to leave, as he began to walk, however, his steps faltered slightly and he stopped" - this looks to me like a case of a "run-on sentence" where two independent sentences are in effect being hooked together with an inappropriate comma. I feel that you need some more definite punctuation (semi-colon, dash, full stop) after the "turned to leave" here, or else a conjunction of some kind to attach the two halves of the sentence together better.
"Instead, Artemis Entreri walked away feeling empty and very much defeated" - this last sentence is the punchline/'moral' of the story, but it didn't quite work for me, though I like the rest of this final paragraph. It feels a little over-simplistic (this is the moral that the story was avoiding drawing earlier, and hence I wasn't convinced that Entreri actually felt that way), and my own interpretation of the piece was a little different.
Obviously we all take from a story as readers what we put in, but I felt that the awareness of emptiness *is* the defeat for Entreri, rather than that he is aware of defeat itself. Not that he feels he has lost the fight - he is adamantly convinced that Drizzt was talking rubbish and that he has self-evidently won it - but that despite himself he has been forced by the drow's words into admitting that his existence is lacking.
| Lola Witherbottoms chapter 1 . 6/12/2009
Holy crap. This is absolutely amazing. I've never imagined Drizzt's death being quite like this. It's an incredible read and it really reflects both the characters well. Great job!
| 200meters chapter 1 . 3/8/2009
This was a very good story. I knew Drizzt was going to die, but it still hit me hard. You did a great job of writing his final moments. I especially loved Entreri's last words to Drizzt's body and his conflict at the end. Great work!
| Musingsage chapter 1 . 2/19/2009
Strangly enough, I actually like this. It's good, it's well writen and very thought provoking. Maybe not as much to Entreri, who still had issuses to work out. But in his mind he is the victor and the winner, because he still lives. That's the world he's known. Perhaps after the events in the Sellswords Trilogy he'll feel remorse for the act.
| blood-midnight chapter 1 . 2/3/2009
Rogue, this is such a good story!
Keep on rocking love!
| RazorStar chapter 1 . 1/31/2009
Very nice, but drizzt would never die. So you fail, fail miserably. I like stories where everyone loses, it really shows violence solves nothing. (I'm really happy you didn't have Entreri do anything "h" to Drizzty-poo)
| Zolarix Aster chapter 1 . 1/31/2009
That was...powerful. You managed to portray Entreri as a villain without making him a stereotype, and you managed to convey Drizzt as wise without being preachy, something else which is difficult to do.
“You may die content, Drizzt Do’Urden, but you are still dead.”
I especially like this line; it does seem like something he would say.