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The Quill Chronicles
Here is my review for the first two chapters - if I continue, I will update this review accordingly.
You have a very grand set-up: soldiers from many nations, the great Alexander making earth-shaking pronouncements, men with world-spanning ambitions. This is quite exciting. I think you need to slow down the pace to accommodate it, though. The switch from the scene with Alexander and his lords of Storyworld to a forest scene that seems to take place perhaps *years* later between a young woman and one of the lords (a pair the readers have never seen to meet, and yet, they act like good friends) was disorienting. There are many unanswered questions; granted, you might answer these later in the text, but I found myself suddenly wondering, "OK, I accept that unicorns exist in *some* northern European-styled fairytale land, but isn't Miltiades Greek? How did he find himself so far away from Greece-proper or even the Greek mythosphere so quickly? If he had met centaurs by the lake, that would have been easier to swallow. Also, where did Beatrice come from? Did Miltiades or Alexander recruit her to go to Storyworld? Or is she a native of Storyworld?"
Along with all these questions came a sense that this story is dealing with a lot of interesting parts, but going much too quickly. I think it would serve the atmosphere of the story to not jump so far ahead in the timeline of events via the chapter break between 1 and 2. Also, it would be nice for the reader to meet Beatrice earlier in her life: how long has she known Miltiades? Has she lived in Storyworld all her life? Can we see her in her natural context and get to know her a bit more before this scene in the water with Miltiades? I feel like I have far too little context on Beatrice and Miltiades' relationship in order to process and understand their interaction in the lake with the unicorn. I feel like there might be hidden undercurrents that I might be missing.
A couple of technical nitpicks: in the first chapter, when the the men "laugh" at the end, I found this quite ambiguous. Is this a secret, mischievous laughter among them, or is it merry laughter among friends off to drink? I think you should find a way to clarify this in the text, in a natural way. Also, in the second chapter, you specify, using a second sentence, that Beatrice is collecting herbs and berries in order to spice some food and use as ingredients in potions. I think you could collapse these two sentences into one, or at least don't begin that second sentence "As spice for..." with "As"; it's grammatically incorrect.
This story has a lot of imagination and potential, but it needs some time and care.
This was brutally powerful. Well observed, too; if the end of the world did come in a blaze of magenta light, I think this is exactly how it would play out. The numbing acceptance of personal loss, the newly fatalist approach to life ("nothing much to live for except beauty"), etc.
What a wonderful characterization you've given for the dark-haired woman who lost her mother. Very strong; also tragic. She definitely earns the 'survivalist' title that the narrator has given her.
Your details are well-chosen and very evocative, particularly those in suburbia, the woman's white dress, the camping trailer, and the woman's dark hair mingling with the night sky. I felt like I was in a film. Also, I love the picture you chose for the banner; it evokes an environment I know well, and it helps conjure up the proper atmosphere for you story, in my opinion.
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