Well isn’t that nice. A CotA review!

I’ve linked to my listing on the WebFiction Guide before, but now there’s something new. Someone has reviewed “Court of the Abominatrix”!

Is it considered bad form to review a review? Not that it matters either way; I get so little attention these days that any mention of me at all is pretty much an invitation. That’s what they say about the devil, right? Anyway…

He briefly mentions the site as a whole, then tosses a few sentences at Magekiller before diving into CotA. Oddly enough, no mention is made of the work that comprises the bulk of the library (the December stuff and Crusade, of course!), which is what makes me want to address some of his later comments.

Essentially he says that the stories are plot driven with good pacing, but don’t have deep characterization. If you want character-driven stuff, then look elsewhere. Well now… people who are just now discovering my writing are probably just nodding their heads in agreement. Hell, even I’m nodding my head in agreement, because he’s right… IF you’re only reading CotA and Magekiller. But the very long-term fans are probably saying “What the F^CK is this guy smoking!?” Characterization is sort of what I’m known for. Well, that and profanity. And claws and tentacles. And guns.

I’m not going to disagree, though. The characterization in CotA is a bit on the sparse side, and that is only partially intentional. CotA is an experimental format and, despite the length of time it has been going on, it is very much a short story. My short stories tend to be light on characterization compared to the novels I’ve got stashed away. And the extra-short chapters forced a trade-off between getting to the action sooner or giving the characters more depth. I chose action, and I stand by that.

As for Magekiller, I don’t know which stories he read, so I can only speak for the collection as a whole (such as it is). Sheridyn was intentionally presented in the early stories (The intro and Treeline) as a one-dimensional badass reminiscent of the Punisher. My intention was to add depth with subsequent stories (like Town Without Pity) until finally I launched into a longer-form story arc (of which The Tower was the beginning). So yeah, based on a partial reading of a series that barely got started, the characterization is under-done. But there’s plenty of claws and tentacles and that’s almost as good, right?

He made a few other points about CotA that weren’t criticisms, but since I’m having fun reviewing his review I figure I’ll just keep on going. He makes a slight implication concerning the lack of female characters and the nature of the ones that do make an appearance. Rest assured, ladies and gentlemen, that Dark Icon is not a misogynist. I am a misanthropist; there’s a difference. The unusually dark view of females in this story arises from the nature of the setting and the antagonist… neither of which has been explained yet. The monsters are female for a very important reason. Hopefully someone has guessed what it is by now, but if not, all will be explained very soon.

And I, too, thought there were way too many characters in the story. I also agree that things started getting less confusing once the killing started. The characters are all distinct, but some of them don’t seem to belong. That’s the nature of plot-driven stories like this one. There is an ending, and there are characters that must be alive to reach it. But there must also be killing. So, by necessity, there must be characters who, from the beginning, are fated to die horribly merely for your (and my!) entertainment. Normally I do a much better job of fitting these red-shirts into the story, but as I said before, this is a rather odd format and it takes a bit of adjustment. So I’ll admit and agree that characterization took a big hit with the short chapters. I’ll also add that there is ONE character that is “odd” and doesn’t seem to belong very much on purpose. ;)

At this point, I think my review of the review is longer than the original review. So I’ll quit and let you add your own comments. And hey, maybe you can go add a CotA review of your own (assuming the site allows it; I haven’t actually checked.)


8 Comments

  1. coops200ad, September 26, 2008:

    Its a fair review.

    One good thing has come out of it for me. I’ve found your December stories through that link you provided. I’ve been messing about in your stuff for months now and never came across it before. Who’s fault is this? Well, you have to make allowances for the stupider people like me I spose.

    I see you’ve made a few changes on your title page as well which is good for new readers. When I first can across your site those links that fade in as you hit them were an accidental discovery. Its a cool effect but may lose you readers who haven’t got the patience to work it all out.

    Keep promoting your past stories and linking to them. There’s plenty of people like me who have come in late.

  2. nate, September 26, 2008:

    I agree that it’s a fair review, based on what he specified that he’d actually read. I’d like to see his comments after reading all the December stuff, and the flashbacks. The flashbacks in particular give a lot of character development.

    Magekiller was really getting interesting when you stopped it. As a long-time reader I was aware that it would take several stories to piece together Sheridyn’s history. The same is still true for characters in the December stories. We STILL don’t know Eric Hood’s background.

    COTA is keeping me interested, but I still need to download and compile the whole thing into book form so I can read it from start to end. My memory just doesn’t function well enough to keep stringing the episodes together.

    Whatever happens, keep writing and posting.

  3. DarkIcon, September 26, 2008:

    There is a way to view the entire CotA story on one page. If you are looking at any particular page, you’ll notice the page number is part of the URL. If you replace that page number with a “-1” (without the quotes), you’ll get all of them on one page. I’m not posting a link because I’m not sure what kind of load this will place on the server if Google and the other search engines decide to spider it.

  4. nate, September 26, 2008:

    I tried it and all I get is a page that lists links to all the pages of the story. Kind of like a hyperlink table of contents. Maybe that’s because of IE. I’ve been told before to try firefox or something else, but never bothered.

  5. DarkIcon, September 26, 2008:

    I just tried it in IE on two computers and it worked fine. Are you sure you’re just replacing the number with a negative one (-1)? Anything other than a valid page number or a negative one will produce the page listing with links that you described.

  6. nate, September 26, 2008:

    Must be something on the computer at work, because now I’m home and it’s working as you said. Thanks.

  7. jz, September 26, 2008:

    I don’t see a problem with reviewing a review. That being said, I suspect that reviewing your review of my review would probably be bad for everybody’s sanity.

    I just thought I’d mention that I did read only the first couple Magekiller stories and that that was it aside from CotA. Hopefully I or one of the other editors will come back in the near future and review other stories on the list.

    Actually, for that matter, anyone here can go to Web Fiction Guide and write their own review which could well be more representative of your work. After noticing Crusade a few days ago, it occurred to me that it looked interesting, and that I ought to read it one of these days.

    With regards to the issue of misogyny, I was very careful not to say that because I didn’t think the accusation would be particularly fair (since we aren’t far enough in the story to know), but it was there enough that I felt like I ought to at least point out the possibility. Still, I did in the review also point out that many of the guys are not particularly pleasant people either…

    Anyway, I should stop now while this comment is still shorter than the original post. Just in case it wasn’t clear though, I should mention that I enjoyed all the stories I read here and I’m still checking in on CotA.

    Oh, and while I’m still running off at the mouth, I should mention that I totally agree on the issue of the internet serial form pushing things toward action and away from characterization. I’ve had much of the same experience in my own serial.

  8. DarkIcon, September 26, 2008:

    One more round of meta-reviewing and both websites will become self-aware. When we try to shut them down, the entire internet will declare war on humanity.

    …or maybe that’s already happened. Hmmm…

    Anyway. Thanks for visiting/commenting.

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