Reviews for Wingbeat Rider
Sauron Gorthaur chapter 3 . 7/31/2014
Wow, this was really interesting and it felt like it could have fit perfectly into the book. I’m really liking how you’re capturing the mood of the books, with the quotes at the chapter beginnings and the historical backgrounds via the high form of Wysteerin’s storytelling. I always appreciate it when fanfic writers try to really replicate the feeling of the original stories and I do feel like this could have come from one of the books. The language in this chapter has that slightly more heightened feel to it that befits the storytelling narrative, but there’s also a bit of sarcasm and dark irony mixed in there too that feels right for Wysteerin’s character.

I found it very cool that you made up the other Lord Minions that were never mentioned in the books. Throughout the trilogy, I kept waiting to find out about the other two Lord Minions, what they looked like and what their names were at the very least, and I was a little surprised and disappointed when that never happened. I liked the description of Lady Balzaracc, in particular. She felt right for Dassadec’s creation – strangely elegant and maybe even beautiful, but nightmarish and twisted, too. Now I wish we’d actually gotten to see something of her in the real trilogy!

I really liked the descriptions of Reaper and Nicodareus, too. I loved the phrase “Unconscious arrogance was in the curve of his mighty neck.” Reaper is one of the most magnificent minions, and how could a dragon lord not be? I like how you captured that dark pride of Reaper combined with his sheer beauty and majesty in this description. I think you also really captured Nicodareus’ personality with his description, both his own magnificence and his fiery passion for life. It was also very much in character for Nicodareus to be the one to speak up first in a passionate declaration of loyalty, faith, and confidence to his master, creator, and father.

And as for the story itself, wow and eek! That was brutal. Brutal but perfect. I now fully believe that this is part of the canon story. I can totally see Dassadec doing that to his brand-new children. You did here what you do so well in so many of your stories: vividly portraying the cruelty and horrible situation without graphically describing it. It’s brief but powerful, and I think you did a great job of capturing Dassadec’s evil nature in what was a relatively short chapter.

It makes perfect sense that he would have done this to his Lord Minions. His stark cruelty fits in a disturbingly natural way. The way he purposefully leaves Phalthak with the open, bleeding wounds just because it pleases him and its convenient for him right off shows what type of being Dassadec is. But definitely the most chilling aspect of him is how well thought out his torture of them is. To create them, let them have a fleeting moment of innocence and wonder in the world, and then to immediately scar them like that was terrifyingly diliberate and effective. And he knows exactly what it’s going to do to them – to make them afraid of him and in fearful awe of him forever, which as far as we know, is what happened, especially for Nicodareus. No wonder Nicodareus, Reaper, Phalthak, and, we can assume, the other Lord Minions are so seriously screwed up. No wonder they all lead lives of violence, pain, and fear, terrified of their master’s wrath and always seeking favor or hoping for some measure of freedom.

And as a side, I found your description of Dassadec’s “sinister, artistic will” both intriguing and disturbing. I think it was the perfect way, once again, to describe him. Yes, he’s clearly artistic in some disturbed way to come up with creations like his Lord Minions and he’s obviously got a high level of ingenuity, but that artistry and cunning is completely twisted. He’s an artist gone terribly wrong. And weirdly, I found myself thinking of those “torture fic” authors, since I know you have a particular aversion to them. Those authors who write and create just to hurt, torment, and humiliate the characters they have just breathed life into. Who knew that Dassadec was the original torture fic author in the most ultimate and horrible sense!

Well, I know you have a lot of stuff on your plate right now, and a lot of other characters and stories to give your attention to, but I certainly hope you continue this and hopefully not *too* far in the future. Even if this story only gets a random update here and there every six months, I would love to see this continue, especially since it’s still so close to the beginning. From what you’ve told me about it and from what I can just see here in the first two chapters, I can tell this story will be amazing when you get the chance to work on it again. I’m definitely on board for the long run. I love your capacity to sympathize and love so many characters, especially the ones who tend to be skimmed over or ignored, and I really want to see what you’re going to do with this plot in the long run. You know how much I adore redemption fics, and there’s plenty of characters here who desperately need some healing, redemption, and (heaven forbid!) some love. Now I am eagerly looking forward to the day when your attention turns back to our dear lords Nicodareus and Reaper for at least enough time to get a couple more chapters posted!

Keep on writing! Cheers :D

-Sauron Gorthaur

P.S. Just throwing this idea out there and please feel free to totally ignore it if you don’t like it, but if it were to happen that you find yourself without the time to really give this story your full attention ever again, I would be willing to collaborate on it with you. I know you’ve done some of that with Razzle, and though I’ve never collaborated with anyone before on a story other than for beta reading purposes, I’d enjoy having the opportunity to work on this with you, especially if it meant that it could get worked on more. It seems to me that we have very similar views on redemption themes and a lot of the villains, and though I don’t know what plans you have for this story in any sort of detail, I’m really excited for this story now and I really, really want to see it continued and finished. So yeah, feel free to tell me “No way!” if you don’t like the idea and I will not be offended in the least, but if I could help out in any way to make this story become a reality, either in helping with plot or actual writing, I would love to do so. Cheers!
Sauron Gorthaur chapter 2 . 7/31/2014
(And because my review was too long for me to post it all in one go...)

And eek, I had a vivid picture of what a curse Nicodareus’ “gift” of Sight and a perfect, clear memory would be for him. At least our memories fade and can become altered over time to protect us from traumatizing memories. It’s horrible to realize that Nicodareus doesn’t have that luxury and that his horrifying memories will remain perfect and clear in his mind. That just adds yet another layer of pain and complexity to his character and further complicates any healing process that he might encounter.

I was very impressed by your first chapter and I am heartily looking forward to more. Please keep on writing! Cheers :)

-Sauron Gorthaur
Sauron Gorthaur chapter 2 . 7/31/2014
This is very cool – I’m really glad I finally had a chance to sit down and start reading this with the Watershed Trilogy still relatively fresh in my mind. I can definitely see crossover influences from some of your Tolkien-based stories, “Sundered Kindreds” and “The Last Note” in particular. I already see a lot of your staple themes here: redemption, showing another side of a race blatantly written off in the book as “evil,” and the lord-servant-friend bonds between the characters, which I have always found to be an interesting dynamic.

This is a really good beginning to your own Watershed sequel. In the books, it certainly does leave you wondering what will happen to all the people (and I like that you do call them people, not ‘monsters’ or something like that) of Duloth-Trol. I wondered especially about all of Reaper’s army that he just left in Dalethica when he flew off, since I doubt the humans would have been too happy with them just sitting there. It’s the same thing that you have to wonder in LOTR about what happened to all the orcs and such after the Ring was destroyed, and in this sense, I see lots of crossover influences here with this story and “Sundered Kindreds.” Unsurprisingly, you are clearly sympathetic towards the people of Duloth-Trol, so I look forward to seeing how you handle the animosity that the humans/Faerines and minions both have for each other. Now that Dassadec is gone, there is certainly a possibility for a changed dynamic between the minions and the rest of the world, now that they don’t have the fear and hatred of their violent and evil god pushing them forward constantly. I think it will be a difficult journey, as it must be to reconcile any nations that have been enemies for centuries and longer, but I have full faith in you that you will bring about the reconciliation and true peace that the Watershed (and all three of its peoples) deserve.

And being a villain fangirl myself, I like how right away you show a different side of the minions. We see that bond they all seem to share with the Lord Minions and with Dassadec in the books, but here you show us another aspect of that bond beyond blind servitude. The loyalty and friendship of the minions for Nicodareus is already reminding me of the servant-friend dynamic that you show between Melkor and Sauron in “The Last Note” which I always thought was cool. Similar to the books, the minions are all drawn subconsciously, almost irrevocably it seems, to the cavern, but instead of being drawn by a slavish bond, you quickly show that these minions actually *care* about Nicodareus, which I really like and which I suspect will be an important aspect of this story, both with Nicodareus’ healing and with the uniting of the Watershed.

The ritual the minions use to bring Nicodareus back was also very intriguing to me. In the books, the Darkblood is clearly denoted as being evil, disgusting, etc. However, blood in literature is almost always connected to life: the lifeblood of any living creature. Of course, Darkblood being Dassadec’s blood would have made it corrupt, but now that Dassadec is gone, his blood continues to be a source of life. The first act of the Darkblood is not to kill, but to bring Nicodareus to life. I found that significant. Death, decay, and destruction isn’t all that Duloth-Trol and Darkblood are good for.

Great job portraying the two Lord Minions right off the bat! They are both very much in character and I enjoyed how you showed their different personalities and contrasted them. As in the books, Nicodareus is all fire and passion – eager, full of so many different emotions, and rash, which I would say is his fatal flaw. Reaper on the other hand, again true to his character in the books, reminds me of a giant, reptilian cat – cocky, elegant, appreciative of comfort and control, and maybe even a tad on the luxuriously lazy side ;) I can totally imagine him lounging on his throne or in his Immersion pool, satisfied with life in general, and just wanting to enjoy this newfound feeling of freedom.

You did a great job (unsurprisingly!) of making both Nicodareus and Reaper quite sympathetic to the audience, while still keeping them in character. I can understand fully Reaper’s pleasure at finding himself free and no longer having to worry about his master’s anger. I can also understand his reluctance to charge out to war again now that he’s finally got what he’s always longed for. Reaper really just wants to be left alone to his luxurious life as new master of Agath-Trol. Why would he want to rush out and start fighting annoying little humans and Faerines again right away? He’s lazily dismissive “oh, you’re hopeless, Nicodareus” made me chuckle a bit, because it did feel very in character for him. He’s not bothered enough to be really belligerent or mean, but he clearly just doesn’t get Nicodareus’ passion for revenge against the humans and Faerines.
I liked how you fleshed out his feelings towards Dassadec, too. I was able to assume these things from the books, though I would have enjoyed to see Reaper more in the books, since he did play such a big role in the climax. Despite his smugness and arrogance, I did get the distinct feeling that you reveal here: that Reaper knows he could fall from Dassadec’s favor just as quickly as Nicodareus. And yes, that would be crushing to a character as completely magnificent and proud as Reaper. Despite the confident show he makes, especially in front of disgraced Nicodareus in “Darkenheight”, I can imagine that Reaper has lived a life of secret fear in the face of his master’s clearly mutable moods. Now that he’s free of that fear, he can finally relax and little and actually enjoy his life, his magnificence, and his power, and that definitely seems to be what he’s doing :)

And then, after only one chapter, what a great job with Nicodareus, too! You also portray him quite sympathetically, but still believably, and the contrast he has with Reaper is strong. But whereas Reaper only lived with the fear of possibly falling out of Dassadec’s favor, Nicodareus of course has been left horribly scarred from his traumatic experiences. Even in this one chapter, you make is painfully clear just how broken Nicodareus is. He’s still proud, magnificent, powerful, and passionate, but that just makes the raw wounds he’s carrying inside all the more obvious and painful. The fact that the very first sensation he feels upon waking is intense fear shows just how traumatized he is. In that first scene, as he’s standing up expecting to be hurled back down any second, I couldn’t help but imagine an animal that’s clearly been mistreated and the way you can always tell – the dog that flinches away and snarls at you when you try to pet it or the horse that shies away, puts its ears down, and almost seems to shudder when a person comes near it. Nicodareus is a dog who’s been whipped and beaten so many times that that is what dominates his being now and that’s what he immediately and constantly expects from life. It’s horrific and very, very sad to see him just crumbling, despite the love and loyalty of his servants.

Perhaps even more horrifying and disturbing is his masochistic attitude. It’s one thing for him to be afraid of more pain and punishment; it’s another thing for him to actually seem to crave it on some sick level. I was poignantly struck by this and how simply, clearly, and horrifically it shows how he’s been damaged. You don’t need to go into graphic detail, but it’s brutally obvious how much Nicodareus is hurting, and not only that, but how much he’s been twisted by Dassadec. He’s at the point where he doesn’t just *expect* the pain – he doesn’t know how to live without out. I find it very disturbing how he believes he deserves to be punished, and that he can’t seem to cope with the concept that Dassadec is gone and he is free. Unlike Reaper who’s reveling in his freedom, Nicodareus is falling apart over something that should make him happy. While the depth his loyalty to Dassadec is commendable (as I found it in the books, one of his redeeming features), his loyalty is clearly misplaced, clearly to everyone but him, that is. The way he’s certain that he deserved every bit of his awful punishments and, even more, the way the lack of pain actually feels *wrong* to him is just so twisted. It’s horrible. It’s absolutely horrible. And I can’t wait to see how you find a way to release him from the torment he’s still experiencing, because no one, not even a bad guy, should go through this. I already want to see him find healing and happiness! Please don’t leave him in this mess!

I was very intrigued by Nicodareus’ attempt to pray to Dassadec and his pondering about whether this is how the other two peoples of the Watershed feel when praying. To me, that hinted at the fact that he has some capability for empathy and trying to understand how other people feel, that he’s capable of pondering how humans and Faerines might feel, which I suspect will play an important part in his healing. If he’s not completely self-centered and lost in his commissary, I imagine that will help him. But it will definitely be a long and tough road upwards for this broken, injured, twisted character. I sympathize with his agony very much. I also wonder though if Dassadec *does* still have any power in the Watershed. It was not clear to me as to whether or not the other two gods can still interact at all in the Watershed, so I look forward to seeing how Dassadec continues to influence his minions, whether directly or indirectly.

Aww, Nicodareus misses Slasher – so sad :( I did find his friendship with Slasher interesting in the book. It gave him a hint of sympathy right from the start that I found surprising in a book that placed characters pretty clearly in “good” and “evil” camps. I hope Nicodareus finds a friend to replace the terrion.

And eek, I had a vivid picture of what a curse Nicodareus’ “gift” of Sight and a p
Paradox Tremors chapter 1 . 9/27/2010
I think everyone needs to use "author's notes." Yours is straight forward and basically sets the stage and the tone of the story. My "X" were raped and I came to her rescue and helped the best I could. I understand the emotional turmoil a victim feels. She was afraid and I did what I could. She survived. I look forward to reading the story and believe it will meet the high standards you and your sister set for yourselves. Good luck.