|Reviews for Death and the Maiden|
| enid.lee chapter 3 . 5/31/2013
You write very well. I really enjoy your descriptions and the streams of thought Rilian has work in a way I wouldn't have expected (they don't feel like run-on madness, they pull you in and make you part of her story).
I've struggled with similar feelings towards Arl Eamon, but the conclusion I came to after reading a bit about sending children to monasteries and convents in the Middle Ages is that he could be somewhat interpreted as a well-intentioned, weak man who didn't want to take full responsibility for Alistair's parentage (or parenting, for that matter) and, once he married, attempted to give him the best life he could. In medieval England, children who could not inherit a fortune or land would be sent to receive the best education through monasteries and convents. It was a rather good opportunity. The trouble, of course, is that as a Templar there is addiction to Lyrium. I will admit I like to think Eamon didn't know about that.
| Legionary Prime chapter 25 . 4/19/2013
This was a pretty great story. I love the twists in it. I got several ideas for my own DA stories as well
| Josie Lange chapter 25 . 11/16/2012
An exciting conclusion to a fabulous story! The fight scenes at Ostagar and in the Deep Roads were as exciting and thrilling as I knew they would be. I loved that not everyone came out uninjured (or alive!). I also enjoyed seeing the relationships between Ril, Loghain, Rylock, and Wynne evolve from varying degrees of distrust and suspicion to respect. They may not all like each other, but that doesn't mean they can't work well together.
I love the haunting imagery of the Song as Ril made her way to the final confrontation, beautiful and terrible all at the same time. I also thought the final transformation of Urthemiel was wonderful. The Dragon of Beauty personifies that description once again.
Now, I worry that Ril's desire to find a cure for the taint could take her down a dark road. "Any means necessary" has gotten more than one Warden in trouble before (Avernus, Sophia, Began, Genevieve, etc.). What lengths will she go to? I can't wait to find out!
Again, well done! I'll try not to get so behind in SoD. :)
| analect chapter 25 . 11/12/2012
I love the face-off between Sarela and the Legion - the meeting of past and future Orzammar, perhaps, at a place and time which is so full of meaning. It feels like Ril draws particular strength from the implacable attitude the dwarves have, too, whether she realises it or not, and I love that comparison to Sigrun: "She, too, was filled with horror like water in a barrel. When the barrel was overflowing, all the torments in the world had no power to add to its capacity."
Again, you bring the battle to life vividly, and there's a grim beauty in returning life to Ortan Thaig. Similarly, Ril's descent with the Architect is both beautifully evocative and chillingly creepy - so many lovely bits of description! - and that little moment, "Speak to me of love", and the gulf between the Architect's "torturous reasoning" and Ril's sudden realisation that a part of her own nature will remain undimmed, is full of such hope, even in the darkness.
The final scene truly did leave me a little breathless, with its twisting, evocative majesty. Ril's projection of the Litany, "something alive that she merely released from her caging mind, something that might turn on her if she relaxed her concentration", was superb, and that ever-present tension between the spiritual - the ethereal - and the physical, which has been a part of her Jeanne d'Arc motif for a long while, and a strong theme in the whole story, comes to a flawless pinnacle, even though she's outdone by the Architect. I think his making the Ultimate Sacrifice is a wonderful solution, not just because it's interesting to see Ril's plan - something she's struggled so hard to accept and prepare for - subverted, but because of course it opens the door to whole new realms of possibility and philosophy, which I can't wait to see how you approach in the sequel.
Speaking of which, I'm very excited for Nathaniel Howe as Champion, and Ril's focus on the cure, among other things! This has been a wonderful story, so incredibly full of life and detail and stunning depth, and thank you very much for sharing it. It's been my pleasure to bounce ideas around, and if I've helped in some small way form any of the great scenes you've produced in DATM, I'm very happy.
Thanks again, and here's to the future for Rilian... because she's already taken two years of your life, and you *know* she's not going to be satisfied with that. Stories have a distressing tendency to run away with their owners. *grin*
| analect chapter 24 . 11/12/2012
I feel for poor Rylock, manipulated into command, but who can say it's not the best place for her? Still, it was sad to see Greagoir go, though I loved the little touch with the Chasind warrior repeating his own tribal ritual, and feeling better for it, even if he wasn't sure why.
Again, the battle sequences feel so real and compelling, even through Loghain's clear, commanderly eye. As ever, wonderful turns of phrase - I particularly liked the "heavy soup-like haze" of spilled oil.
Being admittedly biased, I loved the bits of Anders' POV, particularly the observation that mages "have to die in war to be treated like people", as opposed to the sly cremations at Kinloch Hold (and very true - where *are* the remains of old Enchanters? Good point! I will have to check out Arsinoe's fic.). His inner asides and snarky tone are dead on, and I'm also rather charmed by the notion of him being elf-blooded.
It's great to watch Rylock beginning to take command, and I appreciated her stirring thoughts about Tranquility as blasphemy - as well as Harith's moment of brilliance - and the line about Leliana as "a raconteur who gathered bits and pieces of other lives"... very true, in some ways! There's so much wonderful detailing of the characters within the Circle, it feels as if there's a whole tapestry of backstory already written behind them. Lovely. Also, Carroll gets a terribly bad press, but I found him the perfect foil. *grin*
The scene with Shianni and Leliana was great - I loved their moment of recognition, and Shianni's rueful comparisons with Ril: the darkening of thought vs. physical purity. Obviously, I agree completely with her awakening from the set of alienage values to the Dalish view of virtues like courage and commitment. Great stuff!
Nathaniel's mission was a great read - his playful dialogue with Zev genuinely made me chuckle aloud - and the hints of the rebellions to come in the Marches are tantalising.
Loghain and Alistair against the ogres is masterful, especially the fragments in Loghain's mind casting back to Maric and the armoured chevaliers. Beautifully done, as is the aftermath of that terrible, bloody battle. The sniping and the argumentative petulance of the wounded, the weary assessments, and the Chasind funeral drum... a wonderful compound, beautifully painted, over which the final chapter spreads its wings. Can't wait!
Also, thank you for the kind words on Ephemera! *blush*
| analect chapter 23 . 11/12/2012
Ril's fear is painted so beautifully in these opening paragraphs - "The space under ribcage seemed huge and hollow, bent to the shape of everything she was going to lose", and the panic that brings her to the ground. So very real and terrible, despite all her preparation and rationalisation, and, like Ril, I want so very much to cling to Rylock's recitation, and believe that "nothing He wrought shall be lost".
The goodbyes are devastating, without exception, perhaps most of all Cyrion, holding her at arm's length until he breaks completely. Ouch. A desperately, desperately sad scene that says so much about Ril's incredible strength and very real bravery.
Similarly, the journey we take through Rylock's eyes is humbling and terrifying - wonderful description of the blood mage, lips and teeth "stained red" - yet brings through the power of that faith and determination she has made her own, as she has owned herself. The tension builds beautifully, and the Loghain's-eye view of the battle's beginning strikes, I think, a perfect balance between objective assessment and subtle, terrible clarity. "They died in heaps" says, in four words, a multitude about the nature of war.
As a sidenote, I positively adore the group of mages who "had the air of people who would prefer to be at home reading". Great line - as is the fencepost observation in Anders' mouth! - and I love semi-senile Enchanter Sweeney arguably napping in between smiting darkspawn. There's something delightfully shambolic about it, which is usually what happens when academics are brought into any kind of practical field! *grin*
The grimmer side of battle, down with your admirably steely Cauthrien, is intense and gripping, and the "blow for everyone she had ever loved, every soldier of Ferelden who had ever died" is wonderful, and makes the resignation with which she falls all the more devastating. Loghain's grief for her is absolutely just, and rings very true - and it's a sad little mirror to the broken-minded Eamon when he sees Maric in Alistair. Mind you, I admit I had a little open-mouthed "Noooo!" at Teagan's death.
Ser Otto's dream, and his measured, eloquent view of the trenches, is intensely involving, and I really like the way Jowan's descriptions weave into it for the reader as well as Otto himself. Very nicely done.
There isn't much I can say about the last third of the chapter except a sort of wordless, gasping, flailing kind of noise... it's at once painful and raw, and yet liberating, yielding satisfying but never easy endings. I think the whole adaptation of Duncan and Boann into the Architect's plan is very clever, and you get into the dark space that has seeped into what has become The Mother with terrifying clarity. Again, so vividly portrayed - "shrunken inward like the petals of rotting roses" is staying with me some time after reading - and detailed with an incisively effective touch. Ril's words - "That is love. Maker, it hurts! But that is love." - are so powerful, as is the line "A blind man led them home", dovetailing such beauty here with the unspeakable horror.
Perhaps because of that, the Architect's quietly curious contemplation is even eerier. The links between him and Ril - and the idea of taint, demons, and blood all being linked in one central origin - feels exactly right, and I can't help but feel poised on the edge of an abyss myself as I wait to turn the page.
| analect chapter 22 . 11/11/2012
Awesome chapter. I'd been wondering since Chapter 10 what would happen with the hinted-at ritual, and you followed through in excellent form! The relationship between Morrigan and Ril is wonderful to read; I feel like Ril has enough steel in her to meet all of Morrigan's hardness, and possibly that's why the vulnerability in Morrigan comes out so naturally, especially as we see her face this particular episode. However, I absolutely love that Ril subverts all her expectations/hopes and - though it's terrible to read the pain from Alistair's perspective - it sits perfectly for these characters. Of course Rilian can't perceive the ritual as anything but an impossible evil, even if she also has to realise that Morrigan's child will still be manipulated, even if it's without the taint. Incidentally, I love how you skirt up to the issue of conception and life with this, using the time lapse between impregnation and Morrigan's proposal. I always felt, in-game, that the timing was off, and in order to do what she intended (indeed, as you point out, exactly what Flemeth ostensibly meant to do to her), Morrigan would have needed to conceive at least a little bit earlier than the timeline suggests (though, imho, the in-game timeline at that point is pretty much FUBAR anyway, given the distance between Denerim and Redcliffe, which is why the geographical tweaks you've done in DATM are so sensible!).
My wafflings aside, you bring the whole thing together elegantly, and give us a very heart-felt view of how difficult this is for everyone involved, for many different reasons. As ever, beautifully written - my personal highlight has got to be the descriptions of Morrigan's shapeshifting, and her flight over the snow. Very, very cinematic!
The argument over Maric's sword is a clever counterpoint - the symbol of so much, of the "unsullied" remnant of the past - and it feels very right for the blade to sit in Ril's hands. The detailing of camp life as we prepare for the battle is immersive and full, and I love the contrast between Ril's bombastic performance, and the quieter interludes, when Loghain's able to connect the fears she has with his own past, and conversations with Maric.
On to the final few chapters now... and yet not really wanting it to end!
| analect chapter 21 . 11/11/2012
Great to get a glimpse of what Alistair's been up to! A lovely opening, too, with that "impression of softness, of a space without edges" that has replaced the gore and horror at Redcliffe... and is rather wistful for him. The dialogue with Isolde was great. "The Circle's not so bad... well, it won't be, once they've got rid of the abominations and everything" - pure gold! Like you, I do think Isolde's actions with Connor smack more of wanting to protect his inheritance - and the succession - rather than solely a mother's instinct to shield her son, and that degree of transparency in her character is nicely exposed here.
I adored the details of the Chasind forces, and the melding of tribal and Andrastean practice and belief - especially the war drums, and Fergus at their head, "war paint spangled by pearls of sweat" (lovely!). It was also great to see Anders ("Alistair thought Anders reminded him of someone" - HAH. He was not alone. *grin*) and Karl, and see the whole line coming together. The battle scenes themselves were intense and yet so very focused - just as Al's character is - and those short, powerful sentences work so well.
The moment with Teagan was tender, and I loved the line: "that quiet, diffident voice flaying him". Alistair's pre-Warden life being "defined by negatives" feels absolutely true for me, and there's a crushing sadness in the realisations that culminate in him finally seeing the bigger picture as Rilian has seen it, and realising that she had been truer to Duncan's ideals.
Avernus' appearance was chilling and brilliant, dripping with callbacks to the Architect - that "change" from human to "something else" that presents both threat and hope in equal measure - and with the whisper of demons hanging over him, or, as Ril says, "the living dead and the dead living". Great stuff! The steps he and Rilian are taking towards a cure for the taint are tantalising, and I think the revelation of Sophia Dryden's narrowmindedness sits very well against it; you have centuries of different orders and individuals motivated by their own purpose - a fabric against which it's difficult to impose the kind of wider view Ril has.
Back with the rest of her forces, the scent of madness among lyrium-deprived templars knee-deep in politics is a great evocation of the chaos involved in rallying troops, but there's a wonderful sense of the growing tension and determination. I also love Dworkin's promised "bigger and better" gaatlock explosives - this should be memorable! I also heartily concur with the idea of dwarven suppression of same in order not to upset the status quo, though that's probably a plot bunny for a different time. *grin*
I have always been very fond of your Jowan, and he shows himself so well in this chapter, even (or possibly especially) when he's babbling in front of the Joining chalice. I also agree with the philosophy that the Joining was secret for Weisshaupt-centric political reasons rather than the idea
that it would affect recruitment (or possibly that it's more like blood magic than anyone ever thought and is completely illegal(!) ), but, either way, the influx of volunteers - and the familiar faces among them - was touching. Sarela Aeducan's inclusion was great; a wonderful way of crystallising Ril's choices, and forcing her to face them.
Fantastic, meaty and satisfying chapter... I look forward to the next one!
| analect chapter 20 . 11/11/2012
Wow! Lots going on in this twisting, darkly vibrant, and compelling chapter. You paint some bold and brilliant strokes of lore and technicality here, sprinkled as ever with beautiful moments and phrases. I like the way that Ostagar looms over everything as a broken, tainted corpse - and yes, it makes much more sense to keep with DATM canon and relocate the Architect here, as well as giving another layer of symbolism to that comparison - and there are some gems of phrases, my favourite probably being "mouldy tents fluttered like dead moths".
The prickly difficulties of facing this place as the group they are were handled sensitively, and I liked seeing Loghain's regrets laid bare without miring him in them - the "my country" lines were perfect. As for all the complexities tantalisingly revealed in Ril's encounter with the Architect, there are some great ideas here! It's both horrific and fitting to give a backstory - and a memory of life - to the Mother, albeit encompassing terrible fates. And Duncan...! I definitely agree about the Children as proto-Broodmothers and evolved darkspawn (the issue of female Wardens and sterility had occurred to me as well - indeed, Weisshaupt would either have to have knowledge that it couldn't be possible for female Wardens to be used like that, or have some form of protocol about either not letting women into the Deep Roads in the first place, or having their compatriots kill them in case of capture, which isn't vastly practical. Does make you wonder how far down the command structure some of this information filtered, though!). Anyway, all the tie-ins to Genevieve, Remille, and the other events of The Calling were both chilling and thought-provoking, with gloriously creepy descriptions. I particularly liked the Architect's "mask of life" and - like you - I do think he has no reason to understand what his "peace" would destroy. It's merely a completely different way of looking at things, however disturbing that way would be from the human perspective.
Speaking of perspectives, I also love the idea of these potentially shared origins of Wardens and templars in the fight against Tevinter, and the role of Corypheus in that. The thought that - at some other time - the exact same argument was being had about "dangerous experiments" is probably very true!
It's great to see Ril's immunology and biosciences stuff coming back to the fore, and I can't wait to see how that will be passed on, though in the middle of thinking of the future, it was still terribly sad to bid farewell to those Night Elves who fell, especially Pir Surana. Loghain's final mental apology for his failings was also a little heartbreaking - almost as much as the intensity with which Wynne tries to bring Ril back to herself.
Reading on through the twisty-chest and the feels! XD
| analect chapter 19 . 11/11/2012
Oh, Ril... been there, done that. The ol' waking-up-with-the-equivalent-of-qwerty-printed-backwards-on-your-forehead. Bless her. I like the notion of her intent to leave a black-and-white legacy beyond just her own legend, too.
As ever, there are some beautiful descriptions in this chapter. I particularly liked the old sniffs of alienage memories - superstitions about ladders, and the "four tiny demons" - and the comparison to the Brecilian Forest's "deep roots and quiet power". There's a real sense of the Wilds swallowing up the years, which has poignancy ( a word I know I'm using a lot, but still...!) given Ril's sense of impending finality in these chapters. My favourite phrase in this chapter has to be "Rylock's face Chantrified", though - fabulous verb! :D
Continuing the theological threads, it's sweet to note Rilian's ability to see that her viewpoint on the Maker differs because of her own experience - despite alienage deprivations, she had the childhood that Rylock might otherwise have wished for, and I feel she's grown a lot in being able to appreciate that.
Loghain's hollowness connected with the recollection of Flemeth is telling and melancholy - and I think it's clever to use the witch's words as Ril's method to convince him of her story. I love the humour in the sparring, pierced only by those bitter memories of darker times - it is true that, for all her idealism, made ever brighter and more brittle by the things she fights through, the Warden is never quite going to shake her shadows away... which is beautifully conveyed in that line about Adaia, "Rilian shared her garden of dreams - but didn't understand the darkness in the corners". I also had a jolly good laugh at Cailan's little error in the palace scene, but oh, how dark it becomes against the dipping into the story of Adaia's fall. The lines about beauty are powerful, and Cyrion's wounded tightness is stark and painful, the whole sequence well-observed and full of impact.
Saying about the shadow of finality that hangs over Rilian, it's positively heart-breaking when she finally voices it. The dream of the silver tree, the final articulation that she is not just scared of death, but of not having had her life - the life she was cheated out of (and I agree with what you said on one of your reviews of FoD; just as for Meri, it was a should-have-been she *wanted*, not to mention the dream of a life with Alistair) - and the fear that, whatever the Golden City might be, "it won't be just the same". Wonderful.
The final vision here is both chilling and compelling, the Architect as a creature that "was dead. Yet feared death" eerily mirroring Rilian and the way that she straddles finality and life. I look forward with great excitement to the events of Awakening!
Also, yay for Richard Rolle - I'm glad he was useful, and thanks for the shout-out, and for letting me play with Ril! :)
| analect chapter 18 . 11/11/2012
Yay! I've been trying to make time to catch up with the flurry of updates for ages. It's lovely to be back with Ril and co., and as usual there is so much to enjoy in this chapter. As ever, wonderful turns of phrase, description, and characterisation. Some of my highlights included theatrically-attired Ril, "stealthy as a peacock", and Bodahn's awesomely bravura attempt at extracting coin without *actually* being strangled(!) - lovely dialogue there - and the fact that she still makes time to indulge her magpie instincts! Also, Loghain as the "grizzled, dark-shrouded old wolf", absolutely in his element, and Rylock displaying her nature just as clearly in her preparedness for that good Templar death - "ours not to question why" indeed. Very sobering, and starkly poignant in Wynne's envy of that moral and spiritual simplicity. Gorgeous comparisons there, and yet they complement each other so well in battle, "two glowing figures in a twilit wilderness".
The whole battle sequence works brilliantly as a violent, visceral thing, and I loved Wynne's awareness of the seductive danger of that power as she watches Ril enveloped by it. I adore the phrase "tender edge of madness", and that lovely clipped dialogue that accompanies it. Surreal and wonderful. The post-battle point about magic that involves blood vs. blood magic, and templars as "low-level, artificially-created mages" is lovely, especially against Wynne's view of the background to how Ril's opinions are formed.
Also, "dragon tastes a bit like chicken" made me laugh far more than it really should have done. ;P The threatened revelation about, ahem, "fraternising" was an added light and dextrous touch of amusement, and I like Rylock's complete shut-down of the conversation about Andraste's potential magedom - something I always thought made a lot of sense as a theory.
Speaking of theory, the continued thread about power and abuse here is very interesting: Rylock's optimistic idea that templars can't become tyrants by virtue of their ordinariness, and Wynne's point about the position of mages in Dalish society. Seems like it's the structures of governance themselves that make for corruption - a terrible and frightening contrast when put to the question "would darkspawn envy Wardens?", because ultimately it's only in such a state of total, feral, animal existence that people could be without those systems... and even the darkspawn are governed by their own structures. Dark and complex thoughts indeed, and beautifully balanced by Ril's delicate scene at the end, and her meditations on the things that lie so near across the Veil. There's something very haunting about the tiny details she recalls then - little moments of physicality and observation in the calm before the storm.
| Arsinoe de Blassenville chapter 25 . 11/10/2012
Yes-I do think separating this off into its own chapter is better for the overall structure. It makes it easier to focus on it. I really look forward to TSoD.
| Tyanilth chapter 24 . 11/6/2012
It's been wonderful to work my way through the final chapters and see this epic piece come to a conclusion. Now I've got to get this into a format that my Kindle can handle and work through it all again from the beginning!
And if this took two years of your life, it was two years well spent. And I look forward very much to the sequel. (And yes, I do intend to get back to Hour of Prophecy once I finish the Black Nightingale, I came to the conclusion I just couldn't write two novels at once!)
Congratulations on an epic journey vividly brought to life, and a conclusion that still leaves us wanting more.
| anon chapter 24 . 10/31/2012
Wow, what an ambitious ending. This really was an epic tale you told, and I cannot wait for the sequel. A truly impressive, if sometimes dark telling of the finale of Dragon Age.
| Arsinoe de Blassenville chapter 24 . 10/30/2012
Well, this was a wonderful conclusion, and I really, really did not see that ending coming. What an inspired choice! A clever way to save Ril, and a real apotheosis for a troubled, anguished being.
I liked Greagoir's final speech to Rylock: wise words and sadly, wisdom seen in hindsight. And he, of course, had lived long enough to see patterns. I've very much enjoyed your use of the Chasind in this story.
Seeing Rylock's brave speech through Anders' jaundiced viewpoint told so much about both characters. His insights on the Circle were powerful:
"From their earliest days, they were taught nothing beyond spells and following rules. They didn't cook, do their own laundry; were treated as potentially dangerous creatures without morals, loyalty, nationality or family."
Wonderful characterizations among the Templars. Nothing like the Kobayashi Maru for a test of character. And the greatest moment of condemnation of the status quo came from the Tranquil Amell, describing himself as an "earthworm." Yes, I firmly believe that Tranquility is a crime against humanity.
Leliana has her secrets, doesn't she? It's just as well that she keep them. They certainly wouldn't make Ril feel any better.
My absolutely favorite bit was the team of Howe, Zevran, and Anders. Talk about special forces! Your Nathaniel must be my favorite: ruthless and idealistic at once. Keeping Anders on a long leash, and keeping Zevran at his side. Quite inspired, as is his long-range strategy. I would love to see Nathaniel as Viscount of Kirkwall. His anti-clericalism is quite persuasively characterized.
I cannot wait for the sequel!