Critique Group – The Brothers of Elliar

Empire of the Sun

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The Brothers of Elliar – by Isabelle

Owain looked ahead. He was almost to the castle, but Feotheire had gotten there first. in fact, Feotheire was just now demounting and he was going to go in, and if he did, Owain would have failed.

Owain finally got there, he quickly got off his horse, and ran to where Feotheire was going. He had just about caught up with Feotheire, but Feotheire looked back, saw Owain, and ran down the hall until he got into the courtroom. Owain knew that even though he certainly wasn’t Rheovan, and he couldn’t truly make up for whatever Feotheire had done with words, he was not going to fail. Not today!

He strode into the court. Feotheire glanced behind him to see Owain and glared.

“I beg admittance to attend the court concerning Sir Feotheire Lontrey, your royal Highness, as his (here Owain inwardly cringed) brother, Captain Owain Lontrey, knight of the realm of Elliar”, he said, bowing to the king.

The king waved his hand in admittance.  “Yes, of course, Captain Lontrey”, and he waved his hand for the court to continue.

“You”, bellowed a courtier, “Are accused of being a cohort to participators, or participating yourself, in the Aquion Act, a rebellion against the king, and will be trialed here because of it. The proof that is offered is this letter”, he continued, holding up an envelope, “And it reads: ‘Lontrey, as you would take part, Captain A. (“that being Aquion himself, of course”, interjected the king) is this moment gathering the pack. The wolves are now poised to strike at the traveler, all that is left is for you to give them the right circumstances, signed General Gerrokes, leader of the pack'”, finished the man. “And as Sir Feotheire is the only Lontrey in this part of the country who has traveled even beyond the borders of our land, and has not sworn loyalty to our king as a knight, military man or counselor, the evidence would seem obvious. I would now beg you ,and anyone in this court who could, to defend these claims or acknowledge your crime”

The royal scribe began to write more vigorously, as it seemed the court had come to a time that forthwith some would call ‘the exciting part’ of the court session.

“I assure you, Your Royal Majesty, I have noth–“, Feotheire was then interrupted by Owain.

“Your Highness, I have come, in the name of your faithful servant, Lord Rheovan the Mirrorgazer, who would offer an explanation, apology, and would assume further responsibility for Sir Feotheire and his actions, which Lord Rheovan would assure you, were not intended to go as far as treason, but were only a mistake”, said Owain, hoping it sounded enough like Rheovan to be believable.

The royal scribe scribbled down this new suggestion wildly. The king seemed to ponder this for a moment. “I acknowledge Lord Rheovan’s willingness to stand for this man’s actions. However, Sir Feotheire can simply make himself known as repentant, and if he would but give us a new name of at least one other conspirator against the crown who was involved in the Aquion Act, I will grant clearing of his name”

This wasn’t good. Feotheire glared over at Owain, as though it was his fault (which Owain had to agree with, as he was not as good at handling a situation like this as Rheovan would have been).

“You Majesty”, began Feotheire, “I would pledge that I have nothing with the Aqui—”

Again he was interrupted by Owain, trying to make amends for Feotheire’s foolishness. “Your Majesty, perhaps Sir Feotheire knew not of the other rebels, as he himself mistakenly joined and is repented of it. Perhaps we could find the names, though, were Sir Feotheire to be seen by Lord Rheovan, perhaps Lord Rheovan would be able to make sense out of what little information Feotheire may have”

The scribe was penning most determinedly, at a speed that would tire most penmen.

The king stroked his jaw for a moment in thought. “As Lord Rheovan, called the Mirrorgazer, is one whom is trusted well amidst our court, I will allow Sir Feotheire to return to Lord Rheovan and hopefully he, the great sorcerer that he is, would be able to seek out even perhaps the leaders of this conspiracy. So as to give Lord Rheovan time, in the ides of September, two months from now, the court will reassemble to decide the guilt or innocence of Sir Feotheire, and to properly learn of whatever knowledge ,may have been gained on the Aquions”

The scribe’s quill should have been practically steaming from how swiftly he was trying to get this rather large bit to record.

Owain bowed in thankfulness. “In Lord Rheovan’s and in my own name as well, I thank thee, my king, and would depart from thy court”

“You are granted such leave, to return with Sir Feotheire on the thirteenth of September. And now, I would dismiss this court”, he said, waving his hand for the scribe to cease his desperate recording, and the scribe dropped his quill, looking exceedingly tired of writing (and exceedingly thankful for the dismissal of the court).

Owain left, Feotheire following hence, and Owain cringed, knowing he had just created two potentially very bad ‘Feotheire situations’.

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12 replies

  1. I enjoyed the medieval feel and the tension. Good job.

    I would like for you to concentrate more on scene setup and visuals. At the beginning, I would start with Owain riding alone while thinking about what he had to accomplish. Let the goal be shown first and then the obstacles later. That way, readers can cheer for the POV character and then worry about the obstacle. As you have it, you reveal the obstacle first.

    This method will also set the scene by showing Owain on a horse and the surrounding landscape as he rides. As you have it, you wrote, “Owain looked ahead. He was almost to the castle, but Feotheire had gotten there first. in fact, Feotheire was just now demounting and he was going to go in, and if he did, Owain would have failed.”

    There is no visual background in this. Is Owain on a horse (you reveal that later, but it should be right away)? A path? Is the castle on a hill? At the edge of a forest? Was there a drawbridge? A door? A guard?

    Also, some of your prose provides what might be called ambiguous setting. In other words, you provide action and presence but without real descriptions that help readers.

    “Owain finally got there.” Got where?

    “ran to where Feotheire was going.” Where was that?

    “He had just about caught up with Feotheire” Where were they?

    “ran down the hall until he got into the courtroom.” What courtroom? You haven’t yet mentioned a courtroom. Establish a goal before your character pursues it.

    “Owain knew that even though he certainly wasn’t Rheovan, and he couldn’t truly make up for whatever Feotheire had done with words, he was not going to fail. Not today!”

    I think this blinded perception is not helpful. We don’t know who Rheovan is. We don’t know what Owain hopes to do, so we don’t know what failure means. Allow readers to go along for the ride with Owain. Let them hope for his success and fear for his failure. Without knowing what the goal is, readers can’t come along.

    “He strode into the court. Feotheire glanced behind him to see Owain and glared.”

    Where is Feotheiere at this point? Near the king? Far away? Set the scene.

    Next:

    “I beg admittance to attend the court concerning Sir Feotheire Lontrey, your royal Highness, as his (here Owain inwardly cringed) brother, Captain Owain Lontrey, knight of the realm of Elliar”, he said, bowing to the king.

    When I first read this, I didn’t know who was speaking. The reference to “Sir Feotheire Lontrey” doesn’t help, because he could have been referencing himself. You put “he said” near the end, but I had to work to figure out who “he” is. The last person to do something was “Feotheire” (he glared), so it could be natural to assume that he was the speaker.

    If you are going to use a speaker tag like “he said,” insert it as early as possible in the paragraph. If the “he” is not clear, then state the person’s name, like this:

    “Sire,” Owain said, “I beg admittance …”

    Also, “bowing to the king” was the first mention of the king. Readers might think, “What king?” Always foreshadow everything that become active. Bowing to the king activates him. Mention that he is there in an inactive state before he is activated.

    The king waved his hand in admittance. “Yes, of course, Captain Lontrey”, and he waved his hand for the court to continue.

    The next paragraph was completely confusing to me. Who is the courtier? To whom is he speaking? Why is Owain here? What does he hope to accomplish? If Feotheire was on trial, why was he going there in such a hurry and without escorts? Don’t blind readers to what’s going on.

    “said Owain”

    This is another late speaker tag, and it isn’t necessary. You made clear earlier who was speaking. Also, you reversed the order of the tag. Earlier, you used “Owain said” and now “said Owain.” Both are allowable, but you should be consistent.

    “The king seemed to ponder this for a moment.”

    In what manner? Did he stroke his chin? Look up in the air? Give readers something to see. Show, don’t tell.

    “This wasn’t good.”

    Why wasn’t it good?

    “You Majesty”

    Unless this is a customary way to address this king, it should be “Your Majesty.”

    “Again he was interrupted by Owain”

    This is passive voice. I would activate it “Owain interrupted him.” In fact, I would discard it. Don’t tell readers he is interrupting; just show it, like this:

    “Your Majesty”, began Feotheire, “I would pledge that I have nothing with the Aqui—”

    “Your Majesty,” Owain said, trying to make amends for Feotheire’s foolishness, “perhaps Sir Feotheire …”

    “and hopefully he”

    If you hope to maintain and old-language feel, don’t use hopefully this way. It is a relatively new way to express “I hope” or “it is hoped.”

    The scribe’s quill should have been practically steaming from how swiftly he was trying to get this rather large bit to record.

    This is the fourth mention of the scribe, and I can’t see why you are giving readers updates about him. Don’t dwell on insignificant details.

    “I thank thee, my king, and would depart from thy court”

    Why did you switch to thee and thy? You used you and your earlier when addressing the king.

    “knowing he had just created two potentially very bad ‘Feotheire situations’.”

    Yet, the reader has no idea what this means. You need to set this up in the opening and let readers see it unfold.

    I hope all of these criticisms aren’t discouraging. Keep writing! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Mr. Davis. I will try to fix these problems. I assure you I knew not there was so little of such necessary things! As for who Rheovan is, and what Feotheire’s relation to Owain is, I will explain. Rheovan is a wizard, and older brother to Owain who has much influence. Feotheire is their troublesome and somewhat proud half-brother. Owain has some, ah, disagreements with him to say the least. Oh, and this is the second chapter of the story, not the first. In the first I set the goal and the other things. But, I will acknowledge, I was trying to avoid description because I often have too much. It seems here I have too little. I sent the second chapter rather than the first because firstly, I thought this had enough information to go on (apparently I was wrong there), and secondly, because the first chapter was too long to submit with the timeline and family tree that it has (and even without). What Owain terms ‘A Feotheire situation’ is one of Feo’s outbursts, which as often as not cause some amount of trouble. I am sorry about the scribe, you’re right, I shouldn’t have him there, this isn’t a comic situation. I created him for comic relief in this scene (because neither Feo nor Owain are comical), but this isn’t a comic scene, and I guess shouldn’t have it. Your criticisms are not discouraging, quite the contrary. I am feeling now like I need to keep writing, and fix it now, not stop. They are very helpful, and I thank you ever so much for allowing this to be posted, critiquing it so soon, and merely letting me be a part of this amazing critique group. God bless, and thanks! 🙂

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  2. First off, really love the names you have; and, even though I’m not quite sure how to pronounce them, names always fascinate me and I love them!

    The main things that I noticed were:
    1) “You”, bellowed a courtier,
    If the courtier is bellowing, maybe show that before you say he is doing it by adding an exclamation mark? I agree with Mr. Davis that as the reader I have no idea who he is talking to and that the paragraph was confusing in general.

    2) the thee and thy. You did not use these earlier, in the story; switch back to you or change the ‘you’ to thee and thy.

    3) I do not know what a ‘feotheire situation’ is; though I see that it is explained in a comment.

    Great job though!! Court was always confusing for me, so the fact that you can write it is fantastic; keep writing!

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  3. Thanks for your compliment and critique! Owain (oh-wane) actually is a name, I didn’t make it up. However, Feotheire (fee-oh-they-er) and Rheovan (ray-oh-veh-n) are both made up by me, as well as Lontrey (lon-tree). I had the darndest of a time finding the right names for them, in fact, Feotheire went through like a dozen or so names before I decided to make it up! Sorry about the speech tags, I will attempt to fix them. As for the addressing of the king, I will try to change all addresses to him to thee and thy. I don’t think Owain will address others so, though, because he only does it to the king as a sign of formality and respect. Thank you so much for the encouraging critique!

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  4. Sorry, it’s not Isabeel. 🙂

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  5. Hey, Isabelle. I like what you have going here. You have a natural rhythm, albeit a little choppy, but still a rhythm.

    Now, Mr. Davis covered quite a bit, mainly grammatically and setting wise, but there is one thing that kind of raised a red flag for me. That is, why is Feo able to roam free when he’s under suspicion, especially by the king himself? Why hasn’t he been clapped in irons and dragged away? This kind of leaves an odd taste in my mouth, as if the king is so comfortable with having a suspect running around because he himself is the villain…

    I hope that makes sense and wish you the best in the writing craft.

    D.I.

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    • That would be because he is of a quite respected, noble, and trusted family, and they actually were going to come and arrest him had he not come of his own free will (which he did). I’m sorry about this confusion, but as stated above, this is the SECOND chapter, not the first, and I am very sorry. Oh, and not to mention, his half-brother, Owain here, is a knight of the realm, expected to enforce the laws by his own honor (so, had Feotheire gone to him for hiding, he would have turned Feo in, which is a like situation for Rheovan, who is a Lord of the realm). He also is known very little about, because he is rarely seen about this country, as he travels much, so though this is not the reason I am sticking with, it may be that they had no more than a guess of where he was. And, actually, you’re right about the king himself having such suspicion. I didn’t mean to make it seem that apparent and bold about Feo’s suspicion nor to make it go that high up. Also, though, the law system of this country is based on honor, and a man’s dignity. So, he is expected, as a noble and well-thought of citizen, to present himself before his name and his family’s name is shamed publicly by his being declared as under suspicion. Honor means a lot in this country, and so it is governed thus. Thanks very much! I will take your tip into account and fix anything that I did not explain above. I wish you good days, good luck, and good writing. 🙂

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