Book Jacket


rank 43
word count 140872
date submitted 20.04.2010
date updated 25.07.2013
genres: Fiction, Fantasy
classification: universal

The Shard

Ted Cross

Doing his duty to the realm may mean that the minor noble Midas must sacrifice everything he loves most.


A dying king. A mysterious invader. The vision the seer saw was clear--find the lost shard from the Spire of Peace or the realm would drown in blood.

The problem--eight hundred years ago the elven hero Kathkalan took the shard with him into the lair of the most vicious dragon ever known to mankind...and he never returned.

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dragons, dungeons, dwarves, elves, epic, fantasy, goblins, heroic, high, martin, orcs, tolkien, trolls, wizards, wyrmen

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PATRICK BARRETT wrote 1516 days ago

An intriguing plotline which offers so many threads which could be woven in many different ways that I was keen to read on to see which paths your book would follow. You are a good storyteller and this is pure escapism. It is lovely to be offered a book which you can literally become so involved in that you forget your surroundings and just become totally absorbed. I am sure your book will have wide appeal and I feel that teenagers will happily choose to read your book rather than being told that they have got to read it. Wishing you every success - Paula (Cuthbert - how mean is my valley?)

Anthony Brady wrote 1520 days ago


Ted - This is way out of my genre but I read Chapter 19 - Midas. Your descriptive talents are here displayed at their best: an interlude where you describe bleakness of location and spirit. The companionship of Sol and Midas is captured as they reflect on their memories of significant women in their lives: mother and girlfriends. There are so many complimentary Comments on your book, so I am going with the flow on this one and it's happily Backed.

Best Regards. Tony Brady - SCENES FROM AN EXAMINED LIFE - Books 1,2 & 3.

Sharahzade wrote 1536 days ago

THE SHARD (Chapters 14/22)
Ted Cross

Really great Fantasy novels have at least one quest, or characters roaming around into all sorts of unpredictable situations. The Shard is no exception and has everyone merging toward one confrontation. That isn't even clearly defined yet and with a goodly amount of conflict along the way.

With extraordinary skill, you have introduced the mystique of the Elves into this mix of Trolls, a Dragon of supreme power, and now a tribe of man-eating savages that are terrifying. This in no way distracts from the lurking Wyrmen who are sure to pop up at any time. It's the Elves that are revealed with a subtle shadowy way they have of remaining just out of the sight of Humans. This gives them a mysterious feel that really delivers an impact when you finally let us see one of them. Oh how I wish I could have been there myself to witness that meeting. You let me see it through your writing for you build up to it with the attitudes of your characters. It was reminiscent of the entry into the Elven outpost Rivendell in The Lord of The Rings. You show us the Beauty, creative skills, with a lustre that defys imagination in the nobility of the Elves.

You have given the reader a cast of characters with a variety of personalities so that it is constantly entertaining and makes me eager to see what is coming up next for each of them.

Can you tell I like your story? That's an understatement. It surely is going places and I want to join in the ride. I expect to see this one on the Editor's Desk as only a brief camp on your way to the house of a publisher who will congratulate themselves that they got you signed up first.

Keep up the great work.

Mary Enck
A King in Time

AshNau wrote 65 days ago

I read through your first ten chapters, and was very pleased. I only spotted few minor typos, but it is very well written. Your opening is very fast paced, spanning across this fantasy kingdom and following several different characters. It is a method I don't usually enjoy, but it works well for you to show to span of the oncoming threat. There is a great sense of the fear creeping in at the edges. I was especially drawn in by the elves killing men forced into breaking the truce. I will gladly return and keep reading. Backed and high stars!

Mattew J.L. wrote 108 days ago

I enjoyed the first chapter. I think this book deserves to reach the editors' desk. Five stars and backed.

Daniel J W wrote 134 days ago

I read the first 7 chapters, I'm surprised this hasn't hit the HC after all this time considering the quality. One thing I would say is that I feel the opener should be longer or from Midas' perspective, I didn't really feel the weight of Miras' death because I didn't know him well enough, I couldn't help but feel a little ambivalent towards it.
Anyway, I'll back this after I've figured out what to remove from my shelf.

Beverly W. wrote 147 days ago

Your pitches caught my attention. I will read more and comment later. Very well written.

Faceache wrote 285 days ago

Certainly very intriguing. I have added this to my watch list to read more later. Good luck

Pam B wrote 323 days ago

I read the first 3 chapters & whilst I was intrigued to read more I soon got bored. I don't see the point of introducing Miros in the prologue just to kill him off, perhaps the incident would have been better dealt with from Midas's point of view since you us him later. Then you introduce a wizard with no explanation before returning to Midas, all very confusing.

There is no real scene setting and no sympathetic character building. I think it needs a lot of work but has potential.

The King's Blessing

R.E. Ader wrote 326 days ago

This is very well written.

Sharahzade wrote 351 days ago

Read my previous comments and then do yourself a favor and read this story. It will stick to you like glue so you will be unable to lay it on your nightstand and go to sleep.

Jaclyn Aurore wrote 386 days ago

Hi Ted,
just getting to this now :)
first thing i see is "complete at 140k words" - crazy! can you not split this into two books? though that would screw up the "every book in the series can be read as a stand alone" theory. i had this issue too, with my saga... i wanted to have three books in the series, told from three different perspectives, but books 1 and 3 were too long so i chopped them each into two. now i have four books in the series told from two different POVS instead of one each... screwed up. but as far as word count goes, it feels better. this way i didn't need to cut out major parts of the story to reduce word count :)
anyhoo, this has nothing to do with your book, so back to you -

powerful hook at the end of your prologue, i found the entire thing gripping actually, but at the end, my heart broke too, if you must have a prologue, this is what it should be like :)

oh bloody hell, i only meant to read a chapter - then stayed up late into the night - this is the problem with short chapters, you keep telling yourself "just one more" and ten chapters later you look at the clock and say "crap, i have to wake up for work in three hours. g'damn... one more chapter"

Midas is easy enough to get sucked into, and so, is my favourite character to read about. i don't have anything to offer as far as critiques go - i love the unique name choices of people and places ... Geldrath... Lythandia... Barmin... gah.. jealous. excellent stuff and felt natural for the setting. Jealous Aragorn, you're going to go places and sign things. Looking forward to meeting you at some big time event some day :)
Jac x
My Life Without Me

Bill Scott wrote 400 days ago

Well done, Ted. You're beyond any advice I could give.


hockgtjoa wrote 451 days ago

The author has an imagination for characters and "types"--men, barbarians, tribes, various kings and princes. One get lost easily in them. Presumably a story line will emerge, but it is to my mind paced too slowly. The writing is sound.

April Delphinium wrote 490 days ago

Dear Ted,
I read through chapter 4, and it is a very exciting read.
Is the name Midas meant to make us think about the mythical character? It seems appropriate, since his values are misplaced - a stronger man would tell his wife no to leaving and woo her back to himself...or would have done so years ago. Also, I think (assuming this is a medieval setting) that allowing her to live at her father's permanently would show weakness to his underlings (in not having control over his own family) and that could potentially lead to his being usurped.
I would adjust the 2nd (really the 1st) chapter and not do the flashback within a flashback, since it lends some confusion. And I might shorten it a bit, since his son is not a character we will get to know, but whose death obviously has tremendous impact.
I like it that your chapters are generally very short and digestible - it works well on authonomy, where our time is sometimes limited. It is also very well paced, especially in this chapter 4 where there is a lot of action and dialogue, and vivid yet succinct description. Also, I enjoy the cliff hanger at the end of this chapter, "Why would someone want to provoke the elves?" So I'm left wondering...provoked? Or is there an evil elf on the loose?
High stars - April
P.S. Please read my book Elluminite when you have time. I would really appreciate it!

tojo wrote 491 days ago

I have reached chapter 22 and decided to comment now before I continue reading on to the last chapter and last word in the next few days. First I will do my best not to be bias, because this genre is my favourite, especially when well written as this is. Tolkien purist as myself can always find small parity in books like this, but it would be impossible to write about Elves and Trolls without the odd small parity, so I find no fault with this author, he has done well to avoid it where possible. I love the format by going to different characters and story line as you read through the chapters, thus building up tension in what is to come. I could go on but have no time as I want to carry on to read chapter 22.

Phil. Portraits Of A Small Peasant.

jessicaminor wrote 505 days ago

I love the opening to this, i hope to be able to read more of it soon, it looks to be a good read.

evermoore wrote 513 days ago

Ted...I haven't read your complete posts, but am blown away by what I have. Midas is a figment of your creative imagination that stands out so clearly. He's lost his son in the first chapter, his want to only keep him safe. It was vivid...both his reaction as well as the last thoughts of his son. What's more, I can visualize the time and place because of your way of clear description and it is picture perfect. That his wife still mourns 3 years later and wants to leave with two of their sons, unfolded again, with such ease. I could feel her frustration and heartache as well as his own pain and want of his family to remain. I can see this on the big screen...and I think you should look into finding a vehicle to promote that. It's an outstanding body of work, Ted. I mean that sincerely. Thank you for sharing it. Leaving you with six stars and high hopes...


JennyWren wrote 540 days ago

Ted - I normally don’t read fantasy or science fiction, but I found this to be the product of a truly top-shelf mind. You have created an action packed story with wonderful characters.
It was well worth every minute it took to read it. I am a very picky reader but loved the story. Fans of fantasy and this genre couldn't ask for better writing than this. A fantastic story that brings you right there where you can feel like you experience it with them. A true marvel of imagination.
I wish you all success with your work.

Seringapatam wrote 561 days ago

Ted. Wow, this is really brilliant. I cant even begin to think how you would plan this, let alone start writing it. It really is fantastic and other than the tiny issues already identified there is not much other than congratulations I could offer. I loved the flow, the characters, the story and everything else about it. its a massive score for me.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or Watch list wont you. Happy New Year. Sean

Software wrote 572 days ago

Read up to chapter 10 of The Shard. Very imaginative and inventive approach to a fantasy filled with all manner of mythical creatures. At 140,872 words, this is a genuine novel length story which is certainly very engaging in its opening chapters. Highly starred.

Clive Radford
Doghouse Blues

Su Dan wrote 604 days ago

a true epic; great writing style, with excellent narrative and dialogue...
read SEASONS...

Gordon James Ritchie wrote 633 days ago

Hi Ted,

Delightful epic! Oddly so, your opening reminded me of H.G. Wells' short stories. Yet, it fits so well into your kind too.
Then, by the second paragraph you have established your protagonist as a fifteen year old boy, who has clearly been held back in what he imagines he might accomplish. There is the presence of some father-son tension already. Great hook and departure.
Fantastic linguism in the accent of the two men who arrived with the woman. The concentration on dialect and accent is reminiscent of Dickens. I also felt that this was the real beginning of the story's strength, where I began to really be pulled in.
The contrast between Miros' thoughts and the descriptive prose is so striking, and so telling of a teenager (of any land, race or world).

On criticism, there is not much to say - I fear anything might be a simple reiteration of what others have already said. But, one thing I had noticed while reading is: You can get caught up in telling the story through prose, when quite clearly dialogue is your stronger point. As such, I would keep my focus on the dialogue.
However, your descriptions and prose are still poetic - they drew me in, even in a different way to the dialogue. But it might help to achieve something smoother, less forceful.

Kindest regards,
Gordon Ritchie

K E Shaw wrote 714 days ago

Hi Ted,
I realise you are probably concentrating on Club Nanobots right now, but I have to say I'm really sorry that you aren't still in Club Grimoire! I popped in for a quick look-see, and became completely caught up in this world of The Shard. So far I'm only up to chapter 4, but have watchlisted and will be back. This is one of those books I'd like to have a print-copy of in hand, rather than online (I really loathe e-reading). Having said that, I think you have nailed the online, e-format (length and style) perfectly.

In what will seem like a schizophrenic episode on my part, however, I do feel that if this book is aimed at the adult reader and a printed version, the chapters are a little too short - I could be wrong, but I'd estimate that they would be 2-3 printed pages per chapter. Will refer back to this further on...

I am sure you've probably already had comparisons to Mr Martin's work made, and in terms of complexity of structure, with a range of viewpoints (so far), that seems to be true. However, what you do seem to have done is create a unique, complete, and exciting fantasy world in its own right. I look forward to seeing how all the various threads will be woven together as the plot unfolds.

Chapters are short with tight, lean prose - but you show remarkable skill in developing characters with a very economical use of words. The relationship between Midas and his wife Rina, their pain and conflicting reactions to the loss of their son - all extremely well done. Each chapter ends on a note that draws the reader on - from the tragic end of the prologue, the mysterious wizard Xax and his message to the elf-queen, to the final tension of the dead bodies, presumably killed by the elves, at the end of chp 4.

Referring back to my earlier comment on chapter length: given your obvious skills, I really felt that ust a little more 'visual' placement for the reader would not go amiss, and would certainly not wiegh down waht you have already. Perhaps you have deliberately chosen to give very little description of the surroundings (exept in chp 3 with Xax)?

Perhaps one shouldn't read other comments on a piece of work, but I always do, in order not to be repetetive. I can say that all the praise you have received is well-earned, and fully seconded. I know next to nothing about 'gaming', so I couldn't say whether references to that are relevant or not - but I can say that from what I have read so far, this is a polished, well thought out piece of writing.

I have taken note of your bio page as well - I really do hope this book makes it to the desk. It is in my opinion amongst the strongest of the fantasy books I have come across on the site so far. Thanks for sharing on site.

The Seventh Gate

Joshua Roebuck wrote 729 days ago

Club Grimoire review: Chapter 2/3
A gripping start to the story; an unfamiliar genre to me. The spare quality of the prose at times resembles, to my mind, the directions of a screenplay. The descriptions are precise, yet managed to create vivid images for me; a very visual, literal style of story telling that works well. The prologue's past tense POV of a dead character isn't text book but I'm guessing this is OK in a magical world where the dead could tell their tale? One metaphor grated for me; the soil being the 'breadbasket'. Would not the lands be seen this way, rather than literally the earth, which could be just one handful?

The dialogue and thought speak were particularly effective at pulling the reader in to the story and characters. All round, well drawn and involving.
JR, The Sea People

Nancy Lopez wrote 730 days ago

Club Grimoire review:

Hi, Ted,

I am thrilled you joined the group. . .why? because I so adore this story! Where have you been?

This did what a prologue is suppose to do. It set up the future and talked about the past. It presented a problem to be solved.
The word choices were apropo.
I heard the voice of the narrator and the tone in each character. I am a visual reader and if the author is not a visual writer then I better hear the voice.
One tiny nit pick: "Midas pulled her to her feet." You can cut out that extra her in the sentence by simply saying Midas pulled the woman to her feet. Or, placing his hands around the woman's elbow, Midas pulled the woman to her feet. ---...Okay, not the best example, but my point is, you can show this versus telling us....

Chapter 1:

Great descriptions. I followed the wizard who was lead by the narrator. I'm hoping the narrator will silently start to fade so the wizard's voice can speak up.
I would consider all those italics you have on the last line to place them on a single line so those personal thoughts can pop from the page. Especially that last one where you write, "The elf queen in the woods...."

This has been an ejoyable read.
On my wl, highly starred, on my next roation list for shelving!!!
Backward Glances

Sharahzade wrote 731 days ago

Club Grimoire Fantasy Critique

Ted Cross

I reviewed this book over a year ago. (See my cherrypicked review.) The Shard remains as one of my favorite Fantasy Novels.

Now, with the Club Grimoire reviews of Chapter One, I am pleased to see that Ted has trimmed it sails and made of it a fine, professionally written opening. It was good before but it has taken on an element of revealing a tale that cannot be read in only one chapter. It should be read straight through some night when you can ignore sleep and stay with it. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Mary Enck

Inkysparrow wrote 731 days ago

Club Grimoire

I read both the prologue and the 1st chapter. The prologue is very dense in description and gives a good picture of the planet. I was quite satisfied with the ending of the prologue - it was quite dramatic and had me turning the page.

I liked chapter 1 - You start out with a problem for the MC to solve and immediately involved me as to what the solution might be. He decides to request aide. My curiosity will have me turning to chapter 2

I didn't notice any spelling or punctuation errors or typos except possibly "The dragon but sleeps" in chapter 1. Did you mean the dragon that sleeps?

Like your tale so far

Eftborin wrote 732 days ago

Ted, I cant add anymore to my original comment under 'Goonerpat'. Am amazed that it hasn't. reached the top echelon here.
'No wonder The Shard just beat me in MAYHEM. Very good Ted. Great story line and will read further. not into deep-constructive comment but this should be published and sitting beside 'Game of Thrones' on the book shelves.'

Elizabeth H wrote 733 days ago

Club Grimoire crit.

Hi Ted

I read your prolog together with chapter one and there is a marked difference. I'll start with chapter 1. If I had opened this book at that place in a bookstore it would be coming home with me. The setting is vivid. I can picture the wildness of a place left to recover and now over run by nature. The remains of the inn are sharp and I learn this happened eight hundred years ago.

Xax is a wizard come to find if a dragon stirs and sends a message to the elves via a birds mind, which is neat. Even better is the way the age of the wizard is casually woven into the story. Now you have my full attention and I want to read on. I am hooked.

The prolog ... doesn't match the quality of chapter one. Sorry. I wouldn't have read further in a bookstore if I had started with this. The problems are IMO too many character names without establishing them as people in the reader's mind. By this, I mean making them distinct as in a picture of the character flows into focus with all the things liked or previously done by the character. Yes, it did happen towards the end with Midas and his doomed son.

Another problem with the prolog is that there was a lot of telling versus showing. A character saw/watched/etc and then the action. This is passive and the sentences would work fine and in active mode just by taking out the character seeing/watching etc once the character starts thinking.

I think the biggie with this is the purpose of this prolog, which is obvious, reading your pitch. This is about Midas having to take his remaining sons into battle and probably losing them and the prolog is designed to show he has already lost one and how much this cost him. IMO, it is overkill and not necessary. This can be shown to greater effect as the novel progresses.

The prolog doesn't draw me into the story. The first chapter does this in aces and having read this, I want to continue. Sorry to be so negative about your prolog. It just doesn't work for me and hinders the great chapter that follows. Now I am sitting back happilly thinking about something akin to Tolkein's world. Thanks for sharing.

Wanttobeawriter wrote 753 days ago

This is a good story: a fantasy story with wizards and dragons and even trolls as the villains. I like the way you don’t spend a lot of time in the beginning describing everything even tho this is a strange land for your reader; just get right to the action of the missing boy and the sheep. The troll was certainly a fearsome creature. A good way to let your reader know there are going to be fierce battles out there. A good read, I’ve starring this and adding it to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

Tarzan For Real wrote 757 days ago

Ted you have done it again with "The Shard". Descriptions are brillantly detailed on a George R.R. Martin's "Clash Of Kings" level. Yet you made this fantasy gendre your own and that's a feat in itself given the massive fantasy talent on the literary market.

Grammatical errors, sure there are a few but I forgot about them and tense changes because you have great compelling characters and a great storyline. Midas' complexity and frailty make him appeal to me quickly as do Rina, and Sol. The story flows so well too.

Tension and plot twists plus foreshadowing kept me reading on. You built up internal conflicts early and continued to elevate them.

The world you developed using the five senses I feel is palpable and I'm right in the middle of it as I continued the reading journey.

Highly starred, will get to the WL, and shelve at some point soon.--JL "The Devil Of Black Bayou" & "Wings Of The Seraph"

revteapot wrote 762 days ago

This is good writing. From the well-told tragedy at the beginning to the nicely satisfying ending, you write well, with plausible dialogue and timely drama.
I confess Midas' squabbling with his wife was more vivid for me than his soft words for Alvanaria, but perhaps that says more about me than about your writing!
Thanks for the read.

A Priest's Tale

Alex Cross wrote 766 days ago

My uncle's book and one of my favorites.

Ronnie Raygun wrote 774 days ago

I've read this book four times. I just love it!

Goonerpat wrote 803 days ago

No wonder The Shard just beat me in MAYHEM. Very good Ted. Great story line and will read further. not into deep-constructive comment but this should be published and sitting beside 'Game of Thrones' on the book shelves.

Bug289 wrote 839 days ago


The comments I promised on The Shard.

I have found it difficult to come up with any constructive critism. I found your writing flows, your chapters are a nice length, your plot is intriguing (and yes, a more personal pitch works, I'm still struggling to decide how to focus mine :))

I scraped these few things together but only because I wanted to be of help in some way :)

When you refer to Midas and any other character with an 's' on the end, it isn't necessary, in my experience and education, to put the s after the apostrophe i.e. Midas' not Midas's.

In Chapter 2 you said 'Sir Brindor' three times in two sentences, I felt a 'he' would be less clunky.

And lastly, I have a similar issue as a commenter below but with different parts of the text so it's probably a preference thing. I felt some of the dialogue between Rina and Midas in Ch 1 jarred because of the mix of old and new language structure.

I.e. they say things like 'it matter's not' and then Midas starts a sentence with 'Suppose' rather than 'I suppose' and RIna says 'there've been no wars for ages'. 'Ages' with a capital I can believe but it is a bit casual otherwise. Perhaps 'eons'??
Hopefully they are something to think about but otherwise I like the book enough to put it on my shelf.


Bradley David Harris wrote 848 days ago


Splendidly captivating. From the very first sentence...


Askander wrote 854 days ago

Hi Ted,

I am a huge fantasy fan so felt more than comfortable reading this. I think you write very well and it is obvious that you have spent of lot of time building this world of yours and it shows in your writing. Highly starred.

Once thing which I could not help but notice is that I have a similar scene to one in your ms. In my prologue an Elf communicates with an eagle and as you know there is scene in which Xax communicates with a kestrel. Obviously I liked that scene in your writing lol

I really liked the Known Lands as a name.

One other reviewer mentioned that your writing reminded him of World of Warcraft and I did get a similar impression from the description of the Troll. Although I am not criticising you, I have no problem with your description, just pointing it out.

All I can say is that after reading the prologue and first chapter I know I could happily read the remainder of this ms and time willing I will.

I lack the analytical skills to point out any flaws in your spelling or grammar but for what it is worth I didnt notice any.

To sum up, I think you are on the right tracks and hope to see this published one day.

Hope my ramblings are encouraging to you :)


LizX wrote 859 days ago

The Shard.

Wow, Ted. That prologue is seriously action packed and I really enjoyed reading it. You got me straight into the pov of Miros, then killed him off. I was so surprised I just had to carry on reading to find out what you were going to do next.

Liked the change of character in one. Wasn't sure about the sentence – They fear the dragon but sleeps. It didn't seem complete or I missed what you intended. The descriptions were spot on. Particularly like – gossamer thread of magic. Beautiful.

You drew out the angst between Midas and Rina in two very well and I connected with them straight away. Their dialogue was realistic and suited them well.

This is a very well-paced fantasy. I like the way you drop into the action. It kept me reading and wanting to read more. Take my hat off to you. A very good book, excellent story and a job well done.

Oriax wrote 888 days ago

Ted, I’ll post a first comment on the dozen chapters I’ve read so far. I’ll carry on with The Shard, and post again later. The writing is clear and fluid, I have no problems with imagining a scene or what a character looks like. Your descriptions of the natural landscapes are spot on, just enough brush strokes to paint a vivid picture without muddying it with unnecessary detail. You introduce a bunch of potentially interesting characters, hinting at an interesting plot, so I’ll just point out the two things that nag at me.

I know you have been told the opening is too slow. I think the problem isn’t so much the pace as the content. The story is about a world hurtling towards a war. The wheels are turning before the story starts, so all the characters you introduce are almost immediately on a war footing, so to speak. This whole first section is about military manouevres and to my mind it’s missing a bit of human interest. Concentrating on armies and the conduct of a war precludes strong female characters for a start. I would have liked to see how these people, not only Midas but the ordinary, non-military people live when they are at peace. What the world looks like. You say there hasn’t been a war for centuries, so the story ought to reflect a peaceful society, but your characters are all kings, nobles or soldiers, all waving their weapons about and rushing backwards and forwards on military missions. I realise that in the build up to a conflict soldiers are going to play a major role; all the more reason to introduce them in peacetime so the reader can get to know them a little as people with jobs and families not just soldiers. For example, I don’t have a clear idea of Midas’ relationship with his sons, which I think you intend to be much more complex and modern than Medieval.
I’m not advocating a long digression into the customs of the country, but a little balance, with a few characters who are not military, or who come from a civilian background that you could describe. This is a big book, it can cope with a little whole world building.

The other point is about the language. Although as a general rule you are consistent, more or less contemporary with a slight American twang, you do sometimes throw in archaisms and I find that it jars. For example the first exchange between Midas and Rina:
Rina –‘I can’t take it any more, Midas.’
Midas –‘ You always bring that up.’
Rina – ‘Perhaps. It matters not.’
Midas - ‘They’ll be fine.”
It mixes archaic and modern speech patterns, but the characters also sound like actors in a tv series. I think you should decide how you want them to sound and stick to it. And I would seriously consider changing milord to My Lord. Milord is too like the Edith Piaf song, or how Jeeves addresses Bertie Wooster.
These are just first impressions. I hope to get back to you with some more later.

sensual elle wrote 894 days ago

This is a classic legend, a modern myth well told in period language. Although the wording is ornate, it's not flowery or overblown with modifiers.

I'm not sure, but I wonder if there's another level referring to modern life or current times. I can't put my finger on any particular thing and perhaps I'm reading something into it, but it's like seeing movement in the shadows from the corner of my eye.

If you like C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, you'll love this. Backed!

gilbertmartin wrote 1199 days ago

I dont know why but it reminds me of War Craft for some reason?

TRM wrote 1257 days ago

Hi Ted. Here’s my commentary on The Shard of Kathkalan. It’s a bit short compared to the long wait for it to come, but that’s because there was very little I could add. I have read the first 10 short chapters and these are my first impressions. Please take with a pinch of salt and don’t hesitate to bite back.

This is a very polished work, one of the best I’ve seen so far. It is also a very confident High Fantasy with very subtle use of elves and dwarves, promising a mature and original tale rather than anything derivative. It is very well written with engaging and complex characters. Also a Fantasy that features football (let alone any sport outside jousting) has to be applauded. It is very enjoyable indeed and deserving of publication very soon.

A few things caught my attention however:

1. At the outset, I was disturbed by the presence of willows at the top of a rocky escarpment. I felt that perhaps landscape isn’t quite as strongly featured as with JRRT for a good reason?

2. I was a little confused by the names. Welby is very suggestive of northern England / Scandinavian origins and the names of its inhabitants simply don’t match, suggesting something Greek. This made me think about how much cultural information is given: there’s a plethora of information but it is difficult to place as your different localities and different peoples don’t have as much of immediate identity as could be conferred via the sounds of their names. The barbarians beyond the East Gate being the exception.

3. This also brought a further thought that there’s a huge amount of characters and places to learn about in very short space. It’s difficult and can be confusing when you use a number of parallel plot lines. I don’t know how to fix that, but somehow the ideal is to have everyone and every place instantly recognisable. I’m sure you can do it.

4. The profusion of detail also causes a little slackness in the plot, whereas the style of writing and the pace of the narrative demand a plot as taught as a violin string. I love Edo and Orcbait, but I can’t help but feel their episode is unnecessary as Vorix still needs to speak to an intermediary. Similarly, it seems silly for Dalthis to go all the way to the Dwarf just to bring back a rebuttal and then try again. Plot eddies like that let you down whereas you otherwise provide a clear tidal wave of events ineluctably flowing in one direction.

That’s it for the moment. Hats off, this is very good stuff indeed and I will be reading more. Good luck with this. I am genuinely impressed.

Cheers, TRM.

J.S.Watts wrote 1322 days ago

An epic sword and sorcery fantasy, but with intriguing SF leanings. There is a lot of good stuff here, though as a sometime reader of fantasy (rather than a diehard fan) I did briefly think - oh, good grief not more elves!

The other minor niggle was the choice of "Midas" as the King's name. This has so many links to mythology and the King who turned to gold everything he touched, that it coloured my acceptance of your character. If this is intentional, then fine (I probably just need to read more of the book). If it is not intentional, then you may want to rethink it. I found it distracting and it preveneted my upfront belief in your character (but that may be just me and a sign that I've spent too long immersed in old myths and legends).

All in all, this was a good read and, I think, should sit well with regular fantasy readers.


Gabrielle Fírinne wrote 1325 days ago

I read the first six chapters of The Shard. I enjoyed what I read but think that you could work on how your story flows. My head is swimming with all these different characters and before I feel familiar with a character the story moves on to someone else. I do like the description in Chapter 4 of Dryin Hador. All the best =)

child wrote 1329 days ago

The Shard (Young Adult) - It would appear the author's fantasy world is very similar to that of Tolkein's. In the prologue the reader is introduced to Xax, a wizard, who is journeying to an as yet unspecified place. Descriptions here are very vivid, his connection with a kestrel is very well done and the reader is made aware of oncoming difficulties. In the next eleven chapters read, some of the factions peopling the world are introduced together with a little of their backstory and struggles against once another. The thread running throughout, is one of impending danger and a coalition coming together.
In chapter four Vortix, king of the barbarians, has deep concerns about invaders, which are given voice during an audience with rangers of a king with whom Vortix now has an uneasy peace. He is so concerned he says 'a king crawling out to meet a captain.' I had problems with this chapter as Vortix knows the might of the invaders has crushed all tribes opposing them and my question is this. If invasion is imminent why was no alliance sought earlier? This thought was endorsed again when it is revealed Vortix knows who these invaders are, what they look like, the weapons they use and battle formations employed.
In chapter eight Valgorn, a dwarf, begins to train Geldath, (introduced in chapter six), in the art of weapon play and warfare. I thought this was odd as the impression I got in chapter six was he hardly knew Geldath, but it turns out he had done the same to prepare Geldath's brothers. No explanation for this is given.
I would suggest the author might consider putting in a skirmish between scouting wyrmen and Vortix's men, although this may have been hinted at in the discovery of bodies in the wood of the elves. If so, make it clearer as this would heighten the interest of younger readers and be a good hook to draw them on into the story. Also, in the short chapters, just to keep in the minds of the reader the wizard still has a part to play, it might be an idea to show him continuing to travel as, had it not been for my notes, I would have forgotten about him.
In summary: This is a simmering pot coming to the boil. The writing is fluid although a scattering of old language was a little distracting, but I accept this may be a tool the author uses to show how speech differs from one people to another. Descriptions are well executed. Dialogue in the main is realistic, although in parts a little flaky. Characters, their personal situations and traits, being nicely developed. My feeling is young adults, in view of the trilogy of films of The Lord of the Rings and that of The Hobbit currently being made, may very well seek to enjoy further tales along the same line and would enjoy this book.

Child - Atramentus Speaks

Richard J. Dean Jr. wrote 1329 days ago

You seem to have a good grasp of dialogue and dialect. Exciting end to the prologue. Definitely makes chapter one seem closer.
Backed and starred.
Twin Fates

K A Smith wrote 1331 days ago

The Shard Notes.

First thing I will say is that this is a joy to read with a critical eye, as there are so few obvious flaws that I can just get on with reading and enjoying the story. Second thing I’ll say is that the story is worth reading.

I have an irrational prejudice against prologues, so I am not going to say much about your prologue other than ‘are you sure it is necessary?’

I don’t mind short chapters, but someone wouldn’t read my MS because of the short chapter length(!) Really, it’s in my comments. You have to be aware that people kinda come up against the buffers when they reach the end of a chapter. It can help to keep them turning pages, as long as there is something they want to get to (it worked for Dan Brown), or it can let them ease out of your world every time a chapter ends, if there is not enough of a payback or hook or cliffhanger, or whatever you use to keep them immersed. The short chapter length has to be accompanied by a sufficient piece of gratification or expectation to get the readers to launch themselves into the next chapter, lest their interest wane. Longer chapters are immersive in and of themselves, but over-long chapters will cause fatigue. If in doubt, run each chapter through into the next one, unless it really doesn’t make sense.

Having read 11 short but finely crafted chapters, all good in themselves, I have one major misgiving – nobody I care about is in an obvious situation of ongoing imminent and realised peril. I feel that somebody needs to be. The nebulous threat of the wyrmen is in the future and uncertain, somebody needs to be in danger of losing their life NOW. Perhaps someone who is running ahead of the wyrmen and only just managing to keep out of their clutches, trying to warn those who are in the main narrative of the story? Someone with a piece of crucial information that can save the day?

I couldn’t understand why the dwarfs would train a young man in fighting skills, as it seems that they are doing this for no reward whatsoever and there is little apparent threat on their route, so he’s not even cannon fodder, do they owe someone a debt or are dwarfs just like that?

I’m still waiting for the magician from chapter 1 to make a return . . . I’ve lost the thread of who he was and why he was there. (Useless, aren’t I?)

Chapter 14. There is great love between my people and the flora and fauna . . . flora and fauna didn’t seem right, it struck a false note, why would an elf speak Latin? Between my people and anything that lives . . . ?

Chapter 15. He wore worn leather clothing seemed a teensy bit of an awkward phrase. Also, slung behind him on his steed? Calling the beast a horse in one breath and a pony in the next just didn’t seem quite the thing.

Edo silently wished that it wouldn’t rain . . . sleet or snow . . . I get a mixed message here, hoped the clouds were headed elsewhere?

Chapter 16. Havlin said, ‘What man will ever understand . . . but I’ll never regret marrying (her to?) you.

Some 16 chapters in, and I’m wondering why you had the prologue and chapter 1, because they don’t add anything to what I’ve read. Yet. The essence of the prologue comes out quite effectively in conversation as part of the backstory as Midas talks with his wife. The intrigue (the prince being the one who provoked the elves) is all but unheralded, none the worse for that, but consider some sort of foreshadowing / mirroring or whatever, so that it appears to be part of a pattern rather than an apparently isolated event. We like patterns so we can go Aha!

The mail shirt seemed over the top as a gift, unless they think Geldrath brought them luck. (As one of the dwarfs doesn’t believe in luck this could be used for a bit of tension / comedy?) Or is this part of some bizarre and sneaky plot to embroil the youth in their skulduggery?

Chapter 23. ‘Yes, I supposeD I need to see the prince shortly.’

‘Mayhap my runners have tracked him down.’ The mayhap sounds out of place as you don’t use many archaisms.

You use ay? Where I would use eh? I would pronounce ay to rhyme with pie, as in ay caramba. As far as I know it is a variant of aye or an expression of dismay. I could be wrong.

Democracy seems out of place as a concept in this meeting, as does revolution; kings were overthrown or deposed, and the Prince could do a mock horror ‘should just anyone be allowed to rule? I can imagine the mess . . .’ while the reader can grin knowingly.

Chapter 25. ‘I am not sure it is my place to speak much about them.’ The ‘much’ seems superfluous.

The reason for Alvanaria leaving the woods is presumably the message from the wizard in chapter 1 (2 – because of the prologue), the gap seems too large to me, if there was something to keep the thread of connection, possibly two three little vignettes, or mentions in passing somehow of a matter that can tie these widely spaced events together, instead of just the one mention of wizards as not being men (Linvaris) pretty much immediately before. This does give a heads up, but seemed sparse.

27 chapters in and again I think that there needs to be a bit more mortal peril. The rangers and Geldrath have had a pretty easy time, as these things go, the intrigue is good, the potential debacle of an attack on the elves, but something that brings a feel of clear and present danger to the work would ramp up the tension, heighten highs and bring the lows down lower. Some of it could be the observations of the wizard, concerned about the rampaging horde of wyrmen, maybe?

I’m that bit more gripped now that Zareg has died, but it seems predictable that it would be him. I think it would be stronger if it were Edo, because that would cause a real quandary.

Chapter 34 - end. "...tonight should be an interesting meal." I thought this was an odd turn of phrase, the meaning is clear enough, but it took me out of the narrative.

Chapter 36. He knew the dwarfs were up to something, but they had never said what.
The dwarfs have shown him the map and intimated (at least) there intentions, telling him there are secret entrances, when they stayed at the inn, after his illness.

Chapter 38.The Black Woods across these mountains were so foreboding - I think you mean forbidding.

Chapter 39. A testament to the strength of their build. This phrase seemed a little'off'.

Chapter 40 and still not enough peril and fear. Midas lost one of his sons in the prologue, the barbarian died. What else? Oh yeah, the elf, he probably died. All at a bit of a remove, or before we've started to care about them, or they were cannonfodder. If., for example, Alvanaria had twins, and her daughter is off finding out about the Wyrmen, that would be someone else to care about and there would be a poignancy, Father dead, Mother going off into peril, all that. The scale of the threat has not really been established at this point. 45,000 Wyrmen, sure, but I have no idea of the numbers of any of the other contingents. Most of the nastiness has been committed by the prince, or the kiddies throwing stones, or trolls, or the cannibals that the trolls happened to. The wyrmen need to be better established as a threat. If you are going to have a prologue (and I'm not endorsing the habit) then the ravages of the wyrmen would seem a better subject than the troll hunt. There are some mildly scary passages, but you need to scale the heights and plumb the depths a bit more. Don't be afraid to kill people off. Don't be afraid to put major characters in harms way, as long as you get them out of it in a fit state to carry on.

You definitely don't need to start another chapter when you move to a different scene. Chapters can happily accommodate three scenes, sometime more, sometimes less. If you move to another scene within a chapter it is a good opportunity for subtle (or not so subtle) mirroring of words, action, motives, symbols--anything which you can imbue with significance to tie the threads together more tightly. Don't overdo it to the point where it feels forced, but it is something which you can have fun with while exercising your creativity. Or not.

You call the Sea of Ashes a lake and an inland sea, or am I mistaken?

If the dragon were known to be active, the journey on the lost road would be far more fraught.

Chapter 43. Vorix was all ready (already) up and directing

Chapter 44. The fight with the dragon could be bloodier and harder. After a first encounter (where the dragon can kill a couple and maybe gets wounded) you can build the tension with the dragon making off with one of their party and they can seek it. It seemed too easy after the build up, almost a let down, the virtual adrenaline just gets going and then it's over. Hunting the dragon whilst being hunted by it through the tunnels and caverns is an opportunity it seems a shame to pass up. Especially if they don't know if there are any other dragons in there. Then they can discover the big one is dead. Then there'll be a much nastier shock when the goblins turn up, because the reader will think they're safe.

Chapter 44. No sooner did he think that thought then (than) he . . . Awkward phrasing and typo.

Chapter 49. I'm a little puzzled by 'moss' growing in the absence of light in the cave.

this blade was far lighter than what he expected. You don't need the what.

Chapter 50. I really don't know why I was uncomfortable with the phrase an 'ancient crone healer', I guess ancient crone is getting close to tautology, and the fact that she is fussing over orcbait's wound makes it obvious she is a healer. Sorry, not big picture at all . . .

Chapter 52.

Geldrath's recognition of the significance of the worked stone is a nice moment.

Given Geldrath's significance in the storyline and Xax's occasional prophetic vision, could Geldrath not be hunted because of similar visions on the part of the Bilach? That could help ramp up the danger and tension. And the mystery. Why are people after me? Who is this guy and what has he done?

People that the characters (and therefore the readers) care about need to be in the path of the wyrmen, or potentially in the path of the wyrmen, or we need to feel their encroachment somehow, as well as follow at their heels. Midas' wife and daughter take refuge in Pangalia, the strongest city in the known lands?

Chapter 72. You have (long lances and barding)--I think this represents something you have not yet written.

He couldn't comprehend the breadth of Death--I'm unsure about breadth here--enormity? It's probably more hackneyed, but it works . . .

Chapter 76. That's not reassuring . . . I think your vision betrayed us. Somehow this feels wrong in Alvanaria's mouth. Perhaps it could be rephrased without the betrayal?

The reaction of the barbarian could be more despairing???

The End. Geldrath needs to grow in stature over the course of the book, he is the 'nobody' with whom a number of your young male readers will want to identify and from whom they will want to derive some vicarious wish-fulfillment. He also needs to make amends for his cowardice in the face of the dragon. It doesn't matter how hard it is for him, but he needs to show increasing signs of bravery and capability as a willed and witting progress. Antos could also have his personal growth being pointed up a little, again, younger male readers may well identify with him, as he is bookish and sensitive, he is an alternative to Geldrath.

Susanna.K.James wrote 1336 days ago

As a Tolkien fan, I found this a fascinating read, Ted - I enjoyed the first four Chapters although I was getting a bit confused with the three different kings by then: Vorix, Midas and Alderic. Eighty seven chapters and counting seems like quite an epic - and a commendable one at that. I wish you all the best with this novel in the future. Highly rated.

mala iyer wrote 1341 days ago

this is so lyrical and gripping. i'm truly enjoying reading it.

waylander wrote 1344 days ago

Nice pacing and tight dialogue and thread arrangment mate. I'm really enjoying the read atm. I hope the near future holds some 'paid' reads in it for The Shard. It deserves it.
More comments as I read more.

Pat Black wrote 1346 days ago

Hi Ted,

I'm a big fan of David Gemmell, and I liked your take on the heroic fantasy genre. It had that atmosphere of fathers and sons, honour and valour as well as fear and failure, especially with the troll encounter in chapter one. I think your tone is important - it helps keep this type of story nailed down in realistic terms that we can engage with, and I think that can be a difficult thing to do in fantasy. Six stars from me