|Reviews for Broken|
| 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
| PippaFrost chapter 28 . 10/26/2013
this was amazing! i loved how everything made sense!
| anhedral chapter 27 . 9/18/2013
I've read this chapter a few times now - it's become my habit with your work. Normally I try to distance myself a bit during one of those readings with a view to typing up a review, but this time round it proved hard to find the necessary separation. Put simply, my engagement with the mindsets of your dragons, and my overall enjoyment of the chapter made it difficult to for me to take a step back.
(None of which excuses the shameful lateness of this review, but that's another story.)
The chapter falls neatly into two halves. In the first, Toothless' sense of burden, his responsibility to two nests and his feeling of helplessness are well conveyed. I did like that opening exchange with Flicktail, how she quotes Long Eyes' words back to the Fury, startling him to action. After that we get an even better idea not only of the intelligence of the black dragon, but also of his humility and emotional depth. He's able to see the problem from different angles yet remains powerfully committed to keeping Hiccup out of trouble. The visceral level of his connection with the young man is something we can immediately relate to; but we're also left wondering how many humans have really enjoyed - or perhaps suffered - this depth of bonding.
"Where is his place?" asks Yellowbreath; followed by the Fury's unthinking and immediate reply: "With me."
After that, Yellowbreath raises Hiccup to the status of Kin, justified by Toothless' love. This was such a touching inclusion. Reluctantly Toothless is forced to see that he must involve Hiccup for the sake of dragons and humans alike. The whole passage was so beautifully done.
I also liked the other dragon characters we get to hear from for the first time, their different qualities. Yellowbreath is calm, methodical and analytic; Truthseeker wise in his/her appraisal of the twins; the older Nadder a little arrogant. And as in previous chapters there's plenty here of your 'dragon phrasing', using comparisons with the physical world and metaphor to convey feelings. It certainly gives the dragons a distinctive 'voice', one that I find intrinsically attractive and engaging. But perhaps more importantly it establishes their connection to the natural world that the Norse of a thousand years ago probably still recognised, but which humans of today have largely lost. I particularly liked these:
"as tangled as a husk full of eels"
"an unbearable weight to lift"
"Heart truth. We have eaten things with stronger minds than theirs." (hah!)
"...see the spread of his wings, ask him a bellyful of questions" - here, I think a wide spread of wings represents experience and knowledge, and maybe protection too; I'm not quite certain of that last one but the imagery does seem to fit.
The tension you set up in the first half sets the mood perfectly for what follows, and I have to say that Toothless' difficult conversation with Stoick is one of my favourite scenes from the whole story so far. The Fury's courage and determination in the face of enormous challenge and risk shine through, and as at their previous 'meeting' I really like that it's the dragon that takes the initiative. Credit goes to Stoick too, for *finally* acknowledging Toothless as an intelligent, communicative being. A tiny part of me feels that Stoick reaches the correct conclusions about the dragons' absence and about the Gatherer rather quickly, given the hostility and lack of understanding he showed in previous chapters; but meh, it is a minor point.
Toothless' uncertainty and the way his feelings wax and wane come across strongly. They're mirrored in the scents that the dragon picks up from Stoick - the concise descriptions for what the dragon senses here are very effective. And how fitting for Toothless to take inspiration from Hiccup in those final, wonderful moments, when the Fury at last gains Stoick's trust. Interesting how Toothless' enhanced senses come to his assistance at the crucial moment: he can smell that Stoick has no bloodlust. Hiccup had no such reassurance when first he reached out to the dragon in the cove, so arguably the boy's risk was even greater than the one Toothless takes here.
"His liver was bursting with sparks."
What a dazzling, affirmative closing statement, couched in terms of the dragon's own senses, and a fitting end to a real emotional rollercoaster of a chapter. Writing intelligent, non-human beings is hard, I've been told. But you, sir, carry it off with triumph.
| nyteangelofdarkness chapter 27 . 9/12/2013
Absolutely brilliant! I was absorbed in this from the first to last word. If and whenever you update will not come soon enough.
| Tagesh chapter 27 . 9/7/2013
Sorry for the late reply, but I wanted to read this a couple times! The idea of Toothless being put in a position to reveal what's happened to Stoick with out Hiccup being there- and told through Two Hearts' eyes, was wonderful! It was another of those moments you do so well when, as the reader and the character know, it could go either way.
For Stoick, it was fitting to see how described the conflict, too. He must think he's gone form 0 to 100 in terms of dragons culture over the last 24 (?) hours- and now not only must accept what he's learned, he trust to work with them or they're all doomed.
But, I can see how this could take some time to write, as well. Setting the scene to discuss the new Gatherer with the assembled dragons, and not endangering Featherstone- it was something which had to be addressed, but no doubt was difficult to get right. But even there, what you add to colour the back stories are great: the scene with the Truthseeker made me laugh, along with two Hearts 'ruminations' on sharing fish.
"Heart truth. We have eaten things with stronger minds than theirs."
-This I know ;-).
| SoNevable chapter 26 . 8/20/2013
| anhedral chapter 26 . 7/13/2013
We have seen chapters with multiple 3rd-person-limited POV in the story before but not, I think, one with so many characters or one in which the seemingly unrelated scenes contribute so well towards a unified whole. I have to say that you manage this style so well.
I had to read it more than a couple of times before I realised the themes that tie it all together. Perhaps we could summarise these as "aspiration and struggle" running alongside "perception and deception"? They complement each other very well!
Poor Tuffnut. He's prepared to half kill himself to attain what he thinks he wants - but he's still so young (what are these kids now, 15 or 16 or something?) and we can't help but feel that he's yet to find his true calling. In any event his test gives you another chance to flex your descriptive muscles - to anyone who's spent any time in small boats the scene in the skiff will have been horribly involving.
And that boat episode rather sets the tone for the whole chapter: fleshing out each of the characters through a series of separate but vividly descriptive scenes that complement each other perfectly and contribute to the unsettled feel that's come over the whole village.
Mord is an excellent teacher - I wonder if all Norse villages had such effective mentors? And Snotlout - thinking he's already a warrior but still so far to go. As in previous chapters we see that the only moment Snotlout approaches tenderness is when he's with his dragon. I can't help but feel that any chance for progress or redemption in Snot's character will be mediated through his dragon - and that's something I'd love to see. But for now it's Mord, not Snot, that senses immediately what's wrong with the Nightmare. Sometimes older folk see things so much more clearly than the young. If only Stoick was so perceptive.
I do like all of the limelight you give the dragons in this chapter, for instance, the parallels between the behaviours of the various species as each of them senses they'll need their humans close by if they are to stand any chance against the new threat. The only exception is the Zip - I guess Bjalki and Bjarki haven't heard the bad news yet. The description of the two heads working from each end of the arc of fish guts was lovely - as was the moment when one head licked the other clean. Ruff's dreaming that she and Tuff might be better off as a Zippleback sets me in mind of where their true fates might lie...
...Mwa. Been reading far too many transformation stories recently.
Ahem. Other little snippets:
I loved Grima's earthy character...
...and the imagery of a dragon smouldering in death...
...and the courage of Crush Claw compared with the idiocy and delusion of Kettlecrack.
Inspirational work, as ever.
| Tagesh chapter 26 . 7/2/2013
Reading the last section made my heart speed up in what could be coming. Reading about Jaspin and Bitequick again was like living vicariously through them. Reading about Tuff and Snot made me think about the choices which have lead them to where they are. Reading Two Hearts thoughts made me think of how things here have always been on a knife-edge, even as this reader may wish for "happily ever after."
This is exactly why I enjoy your writing so much.
-who is stunned that Kettle Crack is still breathing.
| anhedral chapter 25 . 6/3/2013
In any longer work both writer and reader are likely to have their own favourite chapters. I'm not sure which yours are within 'Broken', but by any objective assessment chapter 25 must rate as one of the very best. Subjectively, for me, it also ranks alongside chapters 7 and 16 as one of the most emotionally wrenching.
I'm immediately struck by the strength of handling of the different POVs - as you said just recently, bringing everything altogether in a convincing way (I may be paraphrasing). This aspect alone is amazingly accomplished, and I think it's the first time we've seen your four main viewpoint characters given substantial 'air-time' in a single chapter.
Loved the opening. Of course as humans we'd expect the individual on the beach to be a human as well, but of course it's not. Nice surprise right to start with, reminding us of your recurrent theme - 'dragons are people'. The descriptions of Toothless swimming then emerging, having failed to 'get his thoughts to fly in a single direction' were delicious - as was the following scene, in which you capture Flicktail's dread perfectly and makes it seems so very real. I like that you didn't rush the dialogue between the two of them here.
Powerful symbolism with the eels in Hiccup's dream. You should perhaps include dreams more often; you're really good at them! And then the imperfection in Toothless' speech, resonant with Stoick's words to Hiccup later in the chapter - very nice.
I was intrigued by the description of T moving soundlessly like that down the stairs. It conjured quite a striking image to me. Did he use the same method for coming *up* the stairs? A staircase is such a human device and locomotion on steep slopes can be a tricky for large vertebrates. Excuse me, I'll put the pedant biologist back in the cupboard now...
Stoick's POV was fascinating. The various strengths and weaknesses of the chief were fighting for dominance here. On the one hand there's his love for his son and his protectiveness of the village, his willingness to consider Hiccup as a future leader. On the other, his tendency to 'over-think' the situation, to impose (negative) human characteristics on dragons, to be sensitive only to interpretations that reinforce his existing world view. He'd rather interpret the 'mouths in dust' as 'funny pictures', not language. He would rather imagine flaws in Toothless' character and jump to conclusions, than take a balanced look at the evidence and consider alternative explanations. This sort of selective vision is so tragic and so very, very human.
The final section came as something of a surprise, but a very satisfying one. Astrid is in crisis, both personally and as committed defender of the village, so I really hadn't expected her to be the one who had that epiphany, nor the one who would rescue Hiccup as she did. Of course Folkvardr's role was pivotal, and your descriptions of his behaviour around Astrid, evidence of his deep bond, were incredibly moving. Indeed it seems that some - all? - dragons in your universe are hard-wired for this sort of attachment to humans, and we're left wondering why it should be so, and what is the mechanism? Perhaps it is a theme you're are thinking of evolving in later chapters, but if not it doesn't matter - in fiction of this sort, not all mysteries need be completely resolved.
Fantastic chapter, thematically rich and complex, impressively detailed and worked through. Wonderful stuff and a thoroughly engrossing read.
| Tagesh chapter 25 . 6/1/2013
Once again a very full chapter from you, and I really felt the oppression of the situation sink in. It seemed that every character in this chapter, Viking and dragon, had their own "Liver Quenching" moment. Again, that's good writing, but left me with a very bleak feeling afterwards: "Unravelling" is the perfect name for the feeling here. I did, however, get a kick out of Hiccup's dream- that really /did/ seem like a lot of Eels.
Very well done, and I look forward to how these threads work out.