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A Fantastic Novel
Your story was fantastic Erin! The Rising Sun was one of the first stories I read on Inkitt, and I have to say I don't regret the three to four days I spent pouring through the story.
Probably the biggest strength I see in your writing is your characterisation of Eliana, Oriens, and the rest of the book's characters. You spend the time to really flesh out your characters - you give them a history/upbringing, you give them a personality based on said upbringing, and you give them motives and purposes that make sense when drawn from the character's past. I also like your method of writing dialogue. Many fantasy stories I've read have strong period language (I've been guilty of it myself), so it's refreshing to see a fantasy story that isn't so heavily steeped in rustic language. That's not see your dialogue is ill-fitting - I think it is simple, straightforward, and flexible enough to enhance your characters' nuances without being bogged down. I especially like Oriens - he alone made me laugh quite a bit. Though he is a wise character who wishes to help his rider, he isn't above poking fun at her once in a while (and Eliana, likewise, returns the favor). Oriens actually reminds of Sapphira from Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle - except, well, funnier. X)
Now, if I had to pick any areas for you to improve on for the future, I'd say there are two places that need work: the plot and the antagonists. The plot...isn't bad, per say, but it's pretty standard fare for a coming-of-age fantasy tale. While the story was enjoyable thanks its characters, I found myself accurately predicting most of the events and twists in the story. In this regard, the only advice I feel I can offer is to perhaps expand on the world a bit more - weave more intricate lines between different factions, create reasons for things to not go so smoothly for the protagonist. For example, I felt that the dwarves were a bit to sudden in allying with Eliana. Yes, she is the first dragon rider in forever, but because the dwarves have been so secluded beneath the surface for so long, I was expecting a bit more resistance to suddenly jumping into a war on the surface. Maybe the dwarves could be skeptical of Eliana's powers, and would have her do a quest for the king to prove her worth? Just some ideas.
In addition, I felt that the antagonists didn't get the same fleshed-out treatment that the protagonists did. Nocens seems bad just because, with absolutely no redeeming traits, as does Peior. And while Ater at least has some explanation for betraying Eliana, Iocus comes completely out of the blue. Granted, there's been suspicion building up about Iocus throughout the story thanks to his "forwardness" with Eliana, so his turning evil isn't entirely unexpected. That said, I don't think a motive is ever given to Iocus's betrayal, just that he was evil all along.
Anyway, those are my two very long cents on The Rising Sun. Despite the flaws I still think you have a great story on your hands, and I greatly respect you as a fellow writer for accomplishing so a big milestone. Thank you for all your hard work, Erin, and I look forward to reading the other stories in the Sky Riders series. :)
A Great Start to a Series
I really like your story Lauren! Catalyst Moon: Incursion was a delightful read. I was initially reluctant to get into it, as it seemed at a cursory glance to be more ordinary fantasy fare, but I am glad to be proven wrong. Incursion was a blast to read from start to finish.
A lot of fantasy stories I read that are not set in our world (i.e. high fantasy and such) often have quite a lot of lore that is dumped in at the beginning. One thing I really like about Incursion is that the lore is trickled in over time, and its up to the reader to piece things together. While there isn't anything too earth-shattering, the lore you've introduced is sound and works well for the story. You've created conflict between the mages and the sentinels, and between the various people of Aredia with their tier system. I also like that the magic in your world isn't "overpowered" so to speak. It obviously takes a lot of effort for even these mages, who have spent years working magic, to work their spells, which in my mind makes them a bit more believable.
Another thing I like is your focus on characters and their interactions. Most of the story revolves around Kali and Stonewall, as well as interludes with the twins Milo and Flint and Eris and Gideon Echina. You're juggling a number of perspectives here, yet I never felt you lost focus on any of them. Again you introduce conflict between your characters to keep tension and provide room for dynamic growth. Kali and Stonewall must work past their differences as captor and captive to survive. Milo must reconcile with his sister's changing behavior, while Eris must learn to grow her shapeshifting abilities in order to find freedom for herself and her husband. It all adds to a nice blend that not only contributes to world-building, but also keeps the reader invested in the fascinating characters you've created.
I have very few criticisms for Incursion, but if there's any one I can pinpoint it's the mature language. It's not that it's out of place. It isn't, and in many cases, particularly with Flint, it helps open up new facets of your characters and show the reader just what kind of ordeals they go through. Rather, it's the way in which you use the language that feels a bit too...modern? For the most part your characters spoke in with a light period language, so to suddenly hear them speaking more like modern day people felt a bit a jarring. Perhaps changing the way the words are used or replacing them might be better; I know that "sod" is considered a swear word in your universe, though to what severity remains unclear. At any rate it's a relatively small gripe in what's otherwise a fantastic story. Aside from that and a few grammer/syntax errors here and there, Incursion is a wonderful story! I look forward to the next books that you have planned for the Catalyst Moon series.
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