The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning


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Post March 16, 2005, 11:29:45 PM

The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

The Coming of the Ronsardi was an enjoyable tale.  The story gave us a new twist on witch stories--none of the cliched things like brooms, black cats, and batwings and eye of newt.  I did, however, guess that the witch’s price for dealing with the Ronsardi was a young female.  <br><br>I thought the tale was well written, with good imagery and sensory input.  Exposition wasn’t overly used.  Characterization was excellent, as was dialog.  Description was okay, except that I’d have liked a little better description of Bobby, other than to say that he was as hideous and scary as was expected of a hobgoblin.<br><br>The pacing was a little slow at times, but good for the most part.  My suspension of disbelief was maintained throughout the story, though I did wonder about the size of the group of Ronsardi bandits.  For all the damage and terror they caused, I expected a horde of them.<br>Only two dozen men causing all this carnage and trouble strained credibility a bit.<br><br>One last note: I thought the title was a little bland. I'd have liked something like The Black Witch of Storm Tower, or some such. Perhaps more trite, but less bland!<br><br>All said and done, a real good read.  I enjoyed it,<br><br>Donald<br>
Last edited by dsullivan on March 16, 2005, 11:41:54 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post March 17, 2005, 04:11:32 PM

Re: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

Don...I'm with you again here too....and would second almost all of your points....but for a few points I wanna make...<br><br>First the use of the two failed efforts to get the aid of the witch was well done; picking years apart like that spoke well I think of the slow invasion of the bandits...and that worked quite nicely!!<br><br>Next, the small aside that the blackwitch comments on when learning of whom was just left at her front door as the "price" of the deal left me shaking my head. I didn't follow the reasoning behind her "dang" comments? What was that again?<br><br>Next, the small byplay with the mephit, was (IMHO) not that well done. I could easily suss out the mixture would be it's upbringing....that I think could'a  been better done.<br><br>While my own reading never includes any of what I'll call "fantasy" this ss was well done. I'd leave it to others to rank the piece within that category as I'm really a hard sf kinda guy....<br><br>Jim<br><br>PS...would sorta like to share a scotch with that witch, betcha she's got STORIES to tell!!!!<br><br>:-)
Last edited by JVRudnick on March 17, 2005, 04:13:37 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post March 18, 2005, 12:45:29 PM

Re: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

Good story. Well-written. I liked the style or relating the tale. <br><br>But I had trouble accepting that the price for the witch's help was too dear. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seemed she simply wanted someone to assume her responsibilities. If so, I didn't see it as a bad gig--power, seemingly vast resources, longevity, and a personal hobgoblin.<br><br>Couple of quibbles:<br>I think we need to know about Briant's Walking ability earlier in the story; otherwise it acts as sort of deus ex machina device.<br><br>Without much formal training that I saw, why would the witch send Briant into the camp? As a test? And Briant certainly meets the challenge with the kind of courage one would anticipate from someone of far more experience. I guess I would expect her to be a bit more tentative in her challenge of these raiders that have been impossible to stop for centuries and who have committed atrocities.<br><br>The Ronsardi leader says he's going to begin the slaughter with Briant. However, they've been terrorizing the land for centuries.<br><br>I concur that the title is a bit weak. First the story is really about the Black Witch and Briant. Second the Ronsardi aren't really coming. They're already there and have been since before the story begins.<br><br>These are just details. I would enjoy learning the Black Witch's whole story.<br><br>Dan E.
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Post March 18, 2005, 02:24:19 PM

e: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

... I had trouble accepting that the price for the witch's help was too dear. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seemed she simply wanted someone to assume her responsibilities. If so, I didn't see it as a bad gig--power, seemingly vast resources, longevity, and a personal hobgoblin.

...The Ronsardi leader says he's going to begin the slaughter with Briant. However, they've been terrorizing the land for centuries.
Dan E.
<br><br>Either<br>(a) While they wanted the Black Witch's help, her presence and power were themselves seen as a threat.  Hence they didn't want to give her the means to pass on her abilities beyond her own ridiculously long lifetime.<br>or<br>(b) They thought she wanted a young girl for nastier purposes, involving lots of leather and whips and -- never mind.  What I meant was, they thought she wanted a young girl to sacrifice in some horrible ritual.<br><br>As for the slaughter beginning with Briant, he meant this particular slaughter. Apparently Ronsardi consider a slaughter to be an event of limited duration, not an ongoing activity that lasts for centuries.<br><br>Robert M.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on March 18, 2005, 02:27:30 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post March 18, 2005, 04:13:25 PM

Re: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

I guess I'm feeling argumentative today...<br><br>... I didn't see any justification for viewing the witch as a threat. She seemed pretty isolationist. Imposing yes, but only when people approached her for help (for which they were unwilling to pay). <br><br>And because there was little if any discussion of what the people believe will happen to any girl sent to the witch, I was left wondering by the end of the story, well, what's so bad about this? The girl was only annoyed with her father's decision to send her; she wasn't frightened, and surely a preteen would have heard the frightening tales of what the Black Witch does to the girls she gets. <br><br>I think it's an interesting element for the people to have terrifying misconceptions about the witch and her intentions, but it wasn't explicitly discussed and if it was implicit, it was very implicit.<br><br>Dan E.

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Post March 19, 2005, 04:39:05 AM

Re: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I love them all.<br><br>dsullivan- I really appreciated the comment on characterization. Thank you. As for description- that is something I have always had to work on. Something I apparently should have made more clear- the Ronsardi do have a huge army; however, they send raiding parties first in order to destabilize an area, then they invade, strip everything out, and bring in their own settlers. And, lastly, TITLES, TITLES, TITLES (bangs into head for future). <br><br>JVRudnick- Two people agreeing, must mean something. Thanks for noticing the year thing. "Dang" I should have been clearer. And I love your PS.<br><br>Robert_Moriyama- Answer A- could not have said it better myself. Answer B- probably the tale I should have told. <br><br>unforgibbon- You are probably perfectly right about that Walking thing. I meant it more as a statement about tribes vs citified people, but even so.... The comment about courage vs. tentativenss is something for me to really think about. And as for the title, well, my intention was- the Ronsardi are always coming somewhere, always pushing and conquering and settling- now as to being bland...that is a point that must be pondered. (see above)
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Post March 22, 2005, 01:12:05 PM

Re: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

I liked this story. The characters seemed quite real. I enjoyed the subtle nuances in their behavior. For example, the Black Witch surveying the destruction and then wondering if she should have gotten involved earlier.<br><br>I do have a gripe: Word Variation.<br><br>I'm going to quote and put in bold the words I'm referring to:<br>
They came to ask for help. No one ever came to the Tower of Storms for anything else, despite the fact that the Black Witch very rarely helped anyone. They came because they were desperate, and desperate people do desperate things.

But, despite their desperation, the Tower of Storms gave them pause. The tower always gave outsiders pause, since everything about it was entirely beautiful -- the brightly-colored stonework, the fine furnishings, the incredible frescoes covering the walls. Everything. Which was just all so unexpected, not to mention somehow... wrong. Wrong because, having heard all the fell stories about the Black Witch of Westlund, people rather expected something... else. Especially since most people associated beauty with openness and invitation.

Yet despite its beauty, visitors were unwelcome at the Tower of Storms. It was a point that wasn’t made through appearances, but was rather made through more subtle means. Means such as the fact that guests were taken to a lounge that contained only one sitting couch -- a couch that was always already occupied by the tower’s owner.

And then there was the goblin doorman. That creature always did its best to frighten visitors away before they ever saw its mistress. And being a goblin, it was quite skilled at frightening people.

But these men were desperate -- desperate enough to endure all of the goblin's various leers, and follow the creature up the stairs to the gold-inlaid doors that led into the lounge.
<br><br>Word repetition can be useful to emphasis a point. When overdone, however, it becomes distracting. I almost gave up on the story. Thankfully, this is pretty much indicative of the first section only.<br><br>One question. I saw a parallel with the Isles/invaders with England/Romans, with the Black Witch something akin to a druid. Was this done on purpose?<br>
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Post March 26, 2005, 01:38:19 PM

Re: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

Drat. After such praise from others, once again, I'm going to seem to be off my nut or the "evil" critic...<br><br>I also had a problem with the opening. I didn't have any quibbles with the style and word variation--I liked that. <br><br>My problem was that this opening was written like it was going to be a comedy. Perhaps a tongue-in-cheek or Douglas Adams-esque version, but I thought it was going to be funny. Maybe this is why the repetition threw Jaimie. <br><br>Along those lines, I think this one may have been better as a comedy. I know that may sound like a terrible thing to its author, who lovingly sweated blood over the thing. No personal assault on you or your writing style was intended. My point is about marketing. Not a lot of writers can do comedy (or at least, comedy that's any good), so immediately that can make a story stand out against the slush pile. Furthermore, readers don't see comedic SF nearly enough. That can help give impact with readers, and help them remember your name. SF readers are very "brand loyal," so you want them to know your name--even if funny was by accident.<br><br>To give an example of how comedy can help someone break through, my first story that was published by Aphelion last April wasn't selling at all. No one wanted it, even though I peddled it everywhere I could find for over ten years. It was too classic in style, and editors told me so in no uncertain terms. Then I added some funny bits in and changed the ending so one of the main characters opted to skip the fame and fortune from the discovery of time travel--and just go fishing instead. The changed tone worked. The very next time out, Cary Semar liked it, and put it up. <br><br>In either case, two roads diverged in the woods, and the serious path was chosen here. <br><br>On setting, I just couldn't picture things. I didn't get enough sensory input to make the characters and sets concrete and real in my head. I would have liked to know what Bobby or the witch really looked like. (Why didn't he get a character name until halfway through the story? Before that point he was "the goblin".) Experience is not universal, and you have to assume that when you write. Example: the frescoes on the tower walls. You'll find painful few frescoes around the rural "tundra" here, so I only knew what one looked like from books and public television. Moreover, a lack of description kept me from feeling any real impact when the Filidda rose from the ground. That should have been especially creepy, but instead I was nonplussed. (And why was the wound in the back of the leader "bloodless??")<br><br>As others observed, the witch's price didn't seem all that high. The "desperate" people in the beginning weren't very desperate. They all left quickly. Moreover, as a plot/character point, it didn't seem logical that she would wait that many years if all she wanted was an apprentice. She must have done magics around the land, or otherwise no one would have wanted to go to her for help. She knew Liloi was capable, so she kept her eye on the surrounding townsfolk. If someone was going to have to be forced to learn from her, why not just go and get the person you want in the first place?<br><br>I agree that a group of 15 brigands hardly constitutes a horde, and I doubt that they would have even had enough tents to notice that they were lined up. A group of city/town guardsmen would have wiped them out all by themselves. I think what was needed here was an army so large that it really would be scary, something that Earl Owain couldn't handle. That way, sacrificing his daughter and raising the dead Filidda would be justified.<br><br>So I guess, in my gut, I just didn't buy this story. The witch wasn't all that endearing, and the challenges she had to overcome to satisfy her character's conflict weren't all that difficult. Likewise Briant. They didn't undergo any serious hardship, and at the darkest moment of all, they didn't really call on some insight that was not accessible to them at the beginning of the story. Then, they didn't succeed in their efforts in a tremendously dramatic or revealing way--it was more sort of a teaser, hinting that the witch had something to do with the fall of Zalovar (who wasn't in the story at all until the end). <br><br>I thought it had great potential, but that potential didn't materialize as well as I felt it could, and it fell a bit flat for me. My advice to its author would be that next time the roads diverge, try the less traveled one. I think comedy may be a path you could do well on.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on March 26, 2005, 01:44:12 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post April 02, 2005, 07:09:59 PM

Re: The Coming of the Ronsardi by A J Kenning

Jaimie- Yes, the parallel was done on purpose. Thank you for noticing!<br><br>kailhofer- "Evil" can be good too. <br><br>I have often considered doing comedy, but have always wondered if enough people would like my sense of humor. Perhaps it's time to give one a try, eh? <br><br>On setting, apparently I wasn't anywhere near as clear as I needed to be- the peoples of the Isles don't have armies or cities. Nor are they organized into a nation. They are a scattering of clans, being defeated one by one. <br><br>First, a clan's villages-- most of which don't have more than a couple dozen people-- are terrorized by raiders. Then the army comes in. The army isn't a horde-- numbering usually only a few centuries-- but then it doesn't need to be. It eats hordes for breakfast. And then, after the army, comes the settlers. After which, everything settles down. Until, a few years later, raids begin on the next clan.<br><br>-So, yes, obviously I must endeavor to be much more descriptive in future. (And not be so concerned about my ever-growing word count)

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