|Reviews for Broken|
| anhedral chapter 30 . 4/14
Oh my goodness, what a chapter. I know you've been considering something along these lines for a while now, but even so the events described in the final sections of chapter 30 were shocking and deeply moving, to this reader at least.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The first twenty pages contained plenty of the excellence we've come to expect, such as fully imagined scenes set out with evocative descriptions that never risk becoming overblown; the very first paragraph is a fine example of this. The control of pacing and tension, building up and up with a certain inevitability to something terrible - but what?! Your dragon characterisations; I love how quick-witted and courageous Crush Claw is here. He presents partial truths to Smoketail (a skill learned from Iceblood, hah!), even while he's completely terrified and in mortal danger from the Gatherer. Your vocabulary: the emotion in Pebbletounge's broken, heartfelt phrases as she stutters the truth about the Great Eel's demise in riddles that puzzle and confound Smoketail. The young Gronckle is *perfect* here, even in the moment of her demise. Her descriptions of Toothless and Hiccup and her prediction of Smoketail's end have the tone of something out of the Old Testament:
"Two livers of fire, two hearts, bonded, ridden, loved."
This, I liked:
"He'd seen Iceblood, been serviced by that tiny lump of meat that clung to Crush Claw like a parasite."
Yeah, that would be Kettlecrack right enough.
"He drew another great, gusting breath and blew it over her small form, the smoke and heat of his lungs washing over her like water rushing over a stone."
You consistently demonstrate that simple, well-chosen vocabulary is often the most effective of all.
Now, to those closing scenes...
Normally I give each new chapter of 'Broken' at least a couple of complete read-throughs before putting together a review. And while I was happy to apply this same approach to most of chapter 30, I just wasn't able to for those last six or seven pages. The content was simply too disturbing and affecting for me to do it. By this measure alone your handling of the deaths of Bitequick and Jaspin succeeds magnificently; but it also means my thoughts here are based on a single reading and gut reaction, rather than on multiple, considered readings. Maybe that's a good thing.
I think I'm right in saying this is the first time you've tackled character death in such a direct, uncompromising way. Not to say that characters don't sometimes suffer in your other work - indeed they often do, just as in real life - but the treatment in this latest update still seems to be a significant departure. From the beginning of your story you've built these two characters up in some detail. Jaspin in particular you've given time to in terms of his maturation from boy to young man, but Bitequick has had her moments too. They're characters we've come to like and admire, and the depth of their bond only seems to reinforce this opinion.
So I had to gasp at the shockingly casual way that Smoketail kills the Nadder. Our poor, beautiful Bitequick, with nothing but happiness in her heart and a desire to protect her rider. How fitting that Jaspin's distress should be the impetus to break the spell of the Gatherer for the Nadder; and how cheap and terrible her end.
I was kind of hoping it would end there, but no. Jaspin seems motivated by righteous revenge from this point on, and in this how very Viking he seems, in stark contrast to Kettlecrack despite the latter's desire. (An aside: a man driven to revenge for a dragon's death...hmm, much food for thought there...) The swordfight was wonderfully described, and *top marks* for choosing 1st person POV in the death scene. Above all it's the immediacy of this perspective, the stark realisation of the dying Jaspin see through his own eyes, that makes this such a powerful and heart-rending read.
The deaths of Bitequick and Jaspin, equally fine, virtuous characters, seem meaningless here. I think this is why this closing passage haunted me as it did, for days. And yet how well it matches the fate of countless soldiers in countless wasteful wars throughout human history, right up to the present day.
Best chapter so far...for events that were required and inevitable but still I wish I never had to read.
| anhedral chapter 29 . 4/7
Another generous, multiple-POV chapter from you. What a treat this was!
We start with more of Kettlecrack's inner thoughts as he and Crush Claw leave the island. Everything the man imagines here is consistent with how you've set him up in previous chapters. His inner logic makes perfect sense to him, but with our wider perspective we understand all to well that he's hopelessly and dangerously deluded. But for all of Kettlecrack's self-delusion, the ongoing tragedy that strikes me hardest is that he still doesn't, won't or can't realise what Crush Claw persists in offering him despite weeks of indifference and maltreatment. Kettlecrack's dogmatism in failing to realise the true nature of dragons is painful to read, but it's also very, very human.
Kettlecrack shifts in our perception during this chapter. By the end of the Great Hall scene we see how completely focussed his is on his own advancement and glory, how uncaring about the welfare of the village and his comrades. And with that realisation, a single word comes to mind to describe this man: traitor. That whole extended episode was superbly conceived and structured, and delivered with fine descriptions and very natural dialogue.
Jaspin and Kettlecrack come across as polar opposites in your story. Jaspin practising with his new sword...again, this was beautifully described. We can feel the young man swelling with pride as he learns what the new blade's capable of; it's to his credit that he realises all to clearly the need to continue developing his skills to 'serve' the weapon better. I think a 'deadly dagger dragon dance' is one I'd like to steer clear of, too! Then, after his brush with Kettlecrack in the Great Hall, you paint a wonderful picture of Jaspin's dawning realisation of his need for action, his commitment to the dragons and his sense of urgency. He comes across as a bit impulsive here, but that's entirely in line with his youth and inexperience.
Crush Claw POV...what's impressive here is not just how you seem able to enter the mind and body of a dragon, but how you shift the tone and vocabulary in a way that's completely consistent with what you wrote many months ago. It really demonstrates your skill and discipline as a writer. I find myself trying to imagine your writing process...perhaps you have a list of dragon names, character traits, idioms and vocabulary scribbled out on reference sheets? Whatever the method, it's highly effective.
Crush Claw's behaviours around Hiccup are fascinating, particularly when the dragon slips into a submissive posture without even having to think about it. And then, what a conversation! Two Heart's quiet, measured deliberations; Yellowbreath's mature wisdom; even Crush Claw's painful, youthful honesty...everything in these exchanges gives your dragons every bit as much personality and intelligence as any of the human characters. Great stuff!
I see the final section as a good set-up for what's ahead. Kettlecrack's departure from his house, seemingly for the last time...the burning of Rorik...we get a strong sense of gathering momentum, of certain paths being decided upon whilst other options are closed off forever.
Lastly, of all the effective descriptions contained in this chapter, one sentence really jumped out as being a bit of a departure from your regular style:
"It looked like the ocean had been turned to pure froth and heaved upward into the sky."
Wow. Where did *that* come from? What a stunning phrase!
| Bonnie chapter 30 . 4/7
Whoops! Sorry about those random 3s there - apparently FFN doesn't like less-than-sign-three heart icons :B My bad!
| Bonnie chapter 30 . 4/7
Forgive me for this, but...
screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw you screw yo ... in truly the best possible way imaginable, though, honestly. I was highly intrigued by this story, enough to read every chapter thus far in just a handful of days, but now I'm hooked even more. I can't wait for the chapters to come - especially for Kettlecrack's comeuppance, should it arrive, because /gosh dang it/ I really liked Jaspin and Bitequick D: They were my favorite characters here, truth be told, outside of Hiccup and Toothless.
I'd also like to say I really enjoy reading the dragons' points of view, and that I love how much you've expanded on their culture and how they view the world around them. Worldbuilding is one of my favorite things about fiction in general, and you've done an excellent job on it here. Keep up the fantastic work! 3 3
| Will Heins chapter 30 . 4/6
Wow...just wow...The story is Awesome. Really is...
| Tagesh chapter 30 . 4/4
I'm, uhm... Wow... at a loss for words.
*Spoilers (sort of) Below*
I'll second another reviewer at saying it's an extremely well written chapter. Very engaging and an interesting bit of foreshadowing that now Smoketail has the knowledge of the battle, and of the threat from Berk.
But Bitequick and Jaspin. I first read this chapter the same afternoon I learned the overall story arc for the three HTTYD movies. I don't know which depressed me more, but it was quite a 1-2 punch. Afterwards, I reread perhaps my favourite chapter where we meet Jaspin and Bitequick and realized the effort you put into introducing them you also put into their end. The line "... Beneath them all was the sorrow at having seen the bright, happy creature he'd befriended lying lifeless, her graceful body battered and still", reminded me of that introduction and seemingly appropriate Jaspin giving his last thoughts to the Nadder.
From your AN, I expect you understand you may get some strong reactions. In any event, I think you should be very proud of the fact that you created OC's that are this meaningful to your readers.
-who does, indeed, feel broken.
| Notlobe chapter 30 . 3/31
I'm not sure, but I think I might be in a minor state of shock. Why Jaspin? He was a great character and now... I might cry.
On a brighter note, a good solid, well written chapter. Jaspin's death was one of the most well written scenes so far, along with Hiccup's discovery that Toothless can understand him.
Love the story. :)
| Tagesh chapter 29 . 3/30
I'm so very sorry I haven't gotten to review this chapter before now... RL sometimes interrupts. Quite an intricate chapter and I am left wonder in which direction the wind will blow, so to speak. While many of your chapters show great art in showing paths the characters may go down (the good as well as bad), this one seems to have so many different forces pulling in different directions I wonder which one(s) to root for. With so many working to their own purposes, it seems that an unintended path may be chosen for them.
And I thought the seeing into the way Smoketail thinks was dark.
-who hopes they come up with a better plan than “the old Viking fall-back” of just to storming the castle …er, I mean storming the nest. It’s going to take a miracle.
| johnnylee619 chapter 30 . 3/30
Wha- Wha- Wha- What...? Oh God...Jaspin...Bitequick... D:
| Nyxelestia chapter 29 . 2/17
Just read your whole story in one go, and it's fantastic! :) Definitely love the way you approach the issues Berk could face in the wake of that drastic a culture shift. And yikes, Kettlecrack's stupid move is about to start a Vikings vs Dragons war instead of a Vikings vs Smoketail war, isn't it? D:
| johnnylee619 chapter 29 . 2/15
Well then, reading this for two days now, and I've finally caught up. I have to say, it feels right, yet wrong, for Stoick to keep secret about dragons being people from the previous chapter. I mean, it's right since no one could take it and it will cause chaos, but it's wrong because of...the same thing. All for different reason though. If it was given early on, the people would go into denial and probably start an uprising to try to prove Hiccup wrong (no matter how much of a contradictory), but if it was given later, everyone would go chaotic and riddle themselves with guilt of all the innocent they had slaughter in past time and now.
I feel as though that was the small scene that could have changed everything if a different path was taken. Mostly Kettlecrack. Hell, maybe the other path would've been better than this.
| Pyrophoricity chapter 28 . 1/26
Incredible, awesome and fascinating story !
I really loved read it and am looking forward to see more of it.
Your writing is great, and easy to understand. Your view of the story and the continuation you made is beautifully done. The plot is strong and passionate. The characters interesting.
All that story is good waaaaaaaay too good
Thanks for it !
So, please keep going and see you next chap !
| anhedral chapter 28 . 11/6/2013
Oh now, but this is quite a chapter. There is a great richness in material and in storytelling here. Where to start?
Show, don't tell. I've spent a long time agonising over that adage for writers, trying to understand it properly. But you give us ample examples of it in this chapter, using Hiccup's inner thoughts to make his feelings explicit. *This* is a beautiful line: "He would have given anything to see them twinkle now." And later, in the forge, Hiccup forgets himself in worry over the control lines. Is Toothless still safe?
I see the whole chapter as a great exposition of your stated desire to re-focus on the relationship between Toothless and Hiccup. And boy does it pay off. The three questions that plague Hiccup over and over centre on his relationship with his dragon, and they contrast nicely with Stoick's three questions, which are really all about the welfare of the village. And again, 'show, don't tell' - right here, in these questions, we see the different priorities of the two men.
You cover a huge amount of storytelling 'territory' in this chapter, but maintain the flow with clever hints and links between the sections. As usual, I needed to read a few times to catch it all. One element I particularly liked was the motif of trust: Hiccup has it, then has doubts sown by his father's words and by Toothless' behaviour, but he decides to 'lean' on it anyway. How satisfying, then, for the young man to have his trust rewarded by being able to literally lean upon the object of his obsessive thoughts. (Well, to hug him, anyway).
Ah, that second scene, when Hiccup discovers T & S together. Such reading pleasure I found here! I took a kind of evil delight in H's surprise at seeing the two of them there, comfortable in each other's company at last, and Stoick with his knife in hand no less. And of course the moments of reunion between young man and dragon were so very touching. Absolutely delicious writing!
But for all that delight, the mood quickly sombres. I really like how you portray Hiccup's unease at someone else - especially his father - speaking with Toothless. Hiccup's long-desired outcome is finally realised, and guess what? He doesn't like it very much. It's all very understandable. And we learn something further about Hiccup too, his great sensitivity, almost empathy, to body language. He can 'read' his father very precisely despite no words being spoken, a skill presumably fostered by long hours in the company of unspeaking dragons, and one we feel could turn out to be very useful in the future...
I also like your mixing-up of different problems, how they combine to seem impossible to solve. It's interesting that both Stoick and Toothless seem to approach things in a linear fashion: first fix the Red Death 'problem', then fix Berk's relations with dragons. Both the chief and the Fury seem to have a streak of the politician in them in this scene. Only Hiccup, ever the dreamer, dares to wonder if the RD can speak too, and might therefore be amenable to discussion and an alternative to fighting. Is the RD really a 'pitiless beast', or a person?
Another parallel between Stoick and Toothless: the chief admits how hard it is to acknowledge dragons as people, while later on Toothless admits to his fear. Neither statement must have been easy for these characters...did they draw on each other's strength, somehow, to make those statements?
"...those huge, beautiful eyes seeking his automatically." - never have you captured their bond, their love, more palpably than in this moment.
And then to Smoketail's island, and I'm stuck by how well you've thought out the philosophy of this dragon, as well as its biology. What a striking quote you give us there from the big dragon's dam. I had big flashbacks to the writing of Richard Bach when I read the poetry of those few words, capturing the essence of their species with those allusions to flight. "Too high, too thin." - I really liked that bit, and you can probably guess why! The whole section speaks of Smoketail's curiosity, scheming, intelligence and ambition. He's certainly not a one-dimensional, unthinking killer. He'd make a great Game of Thrones character.
Is Kettlecrack really trying to *ride* Smoketail? Does he really think he can control and dominate him, as he thinks he does Crush Claw? There are strange, disturbing echoes here of Hiccup's notion of negotiating with Smoketail. Doomed to failure, surely: Kettlecrack is just an 'it' to Smoketail, and we feel it will always stay that way.
The last scene was a highly satisfying way to end. Toothless' pictographs seem to be turning into a proper written language now - wonderful stuff! Yet overall his communication with Hiccup remains rather broken - I really like how slowly you let their 'speaking' develop, how hard you make it for both of them. And at last the reveal of Smoketail's control - how satisfying that you give it simple biological roots rather than anything supernatural or telepathic. In biology we call your mechanism a 'superstimulus' - the way that a Red Death uses scent is an exact parallel of how a young cuckoo using its huge, bright gape to stimulate its foster-parents to feed it. In truth, therefore, Red Deaths are parasites! And therein lies the answer to Hiccup's musing about 'such selfish and ruinous behavior', because if you've evolved as a parasite then you'll never see that wider perspective. This whole section was so well thought through.
Phew! Amazing chapter.
| Tagesh chapter 28 . 11/1/2013
Another great chapter and you really got me with the visual of Hiccup seeing his father holding a dagger in front of Toothless. I thought back about the previous chapter and thought it was probably well that he hadn't come in a few moments earlier. That was a very well written scene- especially how you wrote the feelings of relief in Hiccup, then how he takes the news of a new Red Death, and finally making a 'deal' with his father about the true nature of dragons.
I want to say how well you worked out the 'attraction' between Smoketail and his nest, and just how dark it's thoughts are. It's also very true to Hiccup's make-up, I feel, that he needs to see a better way to deal with this situation than they always have, yet Toothless no doubt knows differently and is the one who now stands against that. I look forward to how you work through this.
Well written as always.
-who sees Loki's hand in all of this.
| Aipom4 chapter 7 . 10/27/2013
I'm trying not to cry