Harvester, Reaper...  by Luke E. Richards

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Post April 03, 2007, 03:25:43 PM

Harvester, Reaper...  by Luke E. Richards

Good old fashioned sword-and-sorcery in the Robert E. Howard tradition. I liked the way the story is set up to make you think Thomas is the protagonist, making his apparent death at the hands of the witch that much more shocking so early in the tale. If this was another sort of story, I'd complain about the purple prose, but it's got a nice pulpy adventure feel to it as stories of this sort are meant to. Well done.
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Post April 30, 2007, 10:03:00 AM

Re: Harvester, Reaper...  by Luke E. Richards

I don't mind pulpy. I grew up reading Conan and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. The unstoppable warrior is a time-honored theme of gritty sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

That said, there were a few things that bothered me about this piece:

They forced them to march two to a file. The shock took a long time to wear off. By the end of it Thomas decided that they must have marched twenty miles.

I'm a big fan of moving the plot along, but a bit more detail would have been better. You just don't walk twenty miles in shackles. As it's written now, it seems to come off as a stroll in the park.

In a flash too quick for Thomas’ eyes to follow, she had plunged a dagger into his chest. He looked dazedly down at the ornate handle, feeling his senses fall from him, before she ripped it away and Thomas’ life was drained from him, spilling upon the cold stone floor.

The day had stretched into the pale colours of dusk, and the sun was just kindling the sky into its pink western blaze as the bandits finished their preparations.

A great fire pit had been prepared. Several wooden pikes had been sharpened and polished. Strange ceremonial masks had been carved and painted.

The intricacy of the work was both impressive and strange, and Kamoor wondered at the meaning of these ornaments, and why they should only be created now, as if in celebration of their captive’s arrival.

The POV shift is a bit jarring and clumsy. I would recommend starting a new chapter or section.

Orphan child of a warrior tribe on the North-eastern fringe of the Song-Lyn Empire, Kamoor had been chosen by one of the village elders to receive the education of the Taeal. Versed in history, military tactics, strategy, and the arts, Kamoor was more than a highly educated man. He had been trained since boyhood in an ancient art of combat, utilising knowledge of body mechanics and the science of fighting that had long been forgotten, save in that small mountain village from which he had come: Aa-Gaeal.

Et cetera. A lot of infodumps. This is bad for two reasons. One, it disrupts the flow of the story. Two, it weakens the best aspect of the unstoppable warrior: his mysteriousness. Oftentimes, less is more.

Even for a pulp-style story, this is very formulaic. No twists, no surprises. The action sequences are very descriptive, but that level of detail was lacking elsewhere. I didn't get a sense of the world or its culture. Stock peasants, stock warrior, stock ogres, stock sorceress.

The main protagonist seems interesting enough for this story to have potential. However, it does need a lot of work.
"Even the straight arrow needs a crooked bow."
- Samani

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