Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 98557
date submitted 17.07.2010
date updated 25.07.2013
genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, ...
classification: universal
complete

The Ark of Humanity

Scott Justin Toney

God flooded the earth to annihilate humanity's sins. What if that sinful race didn't die when floodwaters covered them but instead adapted to breathe water?

 

Under the depths of the ocean one boy has raised himself, until the day when he meets a dark-skinned man with news that will change the lives of his civilization forever.

Now he must save his people from another empire of water dwellers bent on enslaving the oceans and torturing his peaceful realm.

Yet another question is posed as he learns that his people are descended from humans that lived on the land above the ocean; a people that were destroyed by floods made by the rage of God.

If they have to, in order to escape, will they be able to breathe air and join whatever is left of the world above the waters?

What would they find there? Is the mythological Noah still alive?

 
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tags

, epic, fantasy, fiction, journey, mer, ocean, religion, sea, underwater

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Chapters

9

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Crescent Dusk

9

Crescent Dusk

Orion’s Birth

 

    Maanta’s heart beat heavily in the morning as he awoke, somehow Anna’s hand still resting softly in his. A clear clementine glow illuminated the water’s surface above, bathing them both in gentle warmth. I wish I could wake her so that we could share this sunrise together, he thought. But I can’t. She’s too beautiful while she sleeps and she needs her rest after the days we’ve had. I wouldn’t want to wake her from what looks to be such a peaceful slumber.

    Anna’s head tilted beautifully to the side as small yellow fish scampered by.

    He had been startled awake. He knew this, but at the same time it hadn’t been a panicky startle. A zesty fish scent swept across his nostrils. Where’s that scent coming from? He wondered.

    “Do you preference the scent of spiced squid?” Sift whispered while floating beside and above him in the waters, careful not to wake Anna. “When closeness to the nostrils comes, awaken any beast it can. But such smallness was the piece I swept across your nose to awaken you.”

    “What happened to the good old fashioned shaking?” Maanta whispered back, grinning.

    “Such a spiced scent will keep your senses alert for much time, more then any simple shaking.” The large man returned the smile. “Come. There is much traveling to be had this day. With luck and early leavings of this place my realm might you find before the darkness falls.”

    Maanta swam away gently from Anna, careful not to let his movements or the ripples he left behind wake her. The currents somersaulted beneath his cupped webbed hands, pressing him in Sift’s direction, toward where the riding companions were resting. He looked back once more upon Anna and smiled while swimming away, as the sight of her flooded him with a sense of tranquility.

     Archa, Lola, Lisaly and the other riding fish dove and spun in the waters, as if playing a chasing game with each other, as Sift and Maanta dove down toward them from above. Archa nudged Lola’s side with her smooth dolphin head and Lola in return sped quickly forward and back, gently whisking Archa’s nose with her waving fish tail.

    “AAAOOO!” Archa beamed in reply, spinning in a circle around the large fish.

    “Lola!” Sift beckoned to his riding companion. She glided swiftly to his side. “You must be taking our young friend Maanta to our living waters now.” His large hands gently brushed back and forth on the fish’s vibrant scales. “Arrive him safely to our home Lovely Lola. Missing you shall I be while you are away.”

    As Sift said his goodbyes to Lola, Maanta also gave a temporary farewell to Archa, kissing her smooth round head. Her long mouth nudged roughly upon his palm while she ate the salty crustaceans he had saved for her from last night’s feast. Devouring the last crispy morsel from his pale webbed fingertips, she then opened her mouth wide, bobbing it and smiling. “AO, AO!”

    Sift stuffed something, bundled tight in kelp, into a pouch along Lola’s side. “Last night, as to sleep you went, spiced and saved I some leftover whale meat for you. Its spices shall keep it safeness to eat in days to come, and preserve a little tender tastiness as well.” He spun a tiny dark piece of something between his lips. “And have dried I some miniature morsels also for Lola to savor.” Another of the small dried things passed from Sift’s large dark fingers to Maanta’s pale ones.

    The boy peeled it in half for smaller portions and mentally salivated while partaking of the salty treats. “Thank you. This is delicious. I’m sure Lola and I will appreciate this many times during our journey. Take care of Archa for me while I am away.”   

    “I will. Do the same yourself with Lola, my friend. And take care while riding. The strength which possesses, Lola does, is far greater than that of most companions.”

    “What do I do when I arrive to your people? Whom should I ask for?”

    “As for words which use you should, they shall come to you. And for asking for someone with whom to speak, simply say to anyone that Sift has sent for them. For you see although my people have no leader, I am an elder and one whom they look up to most. Now you must leave for the journey this shall be, before sunlight arises higher overhead.”

    I wonder how well Lola will accept me as a new riding companion, Maanta pondered while petting her vibrant scales. He kissed Archa’s forehead once more, spun freely in the waters embracing his own movements, and slowly floated down upon Lola’s back. As he clenched his slim legs tight to her muscular sides, a strong feeling of respect for the strength of this fish surged through him. His webbed fists braced tightly to the holding stones Sift had placed along Lola’s front side. I wonder what riding with her will be like. How will it be different then riding with Archa?

    Sift smiled sternly. “Fare thee well, young Maanta.”

    “Fare thee well your self friend.” With this Maanta pressed his heels to Lola’s sides, letting her know it was time to leave. Lola’s strength became obvious as she burst forth through the depths, as if a giant muscle carried him. He had to hold his body close so as not to be whipped off in the counter-flowing currents about her.

    Faster and faster she sped, blurring all existence from vision as if a smudged cloud masked all things. Lola quickened more still and the waters around him dissolved to gray before a hissing entered his hearing.

    Ssssssssssss.” The waters barely tipped upon his earlobes while zipping by. Ssssssssssss.”

    This is maddening, Maanta thought to himself in the almost silence. I don’t know how Sift can stand to travel like this. He must have been holding back while riding with us before. Lola’s back bucked and sloped upward causing the boy to grasp tighter to the riding stones. His legs almost choked at the fish’s sides now. I don’t know why I was being so careful before when nudging her forward. It seems as if she barely knows I’m here with her. She thrust down again, to the left and right, quickly pivoting in a full circle at times. Whenever she did this, Maanta would almost lose his grip and spin off into the empty abyss.

    With time though, hours it seemed, Maanta adjusted and became used to her movements. The hissing and blurry world took him mentally to a place where he was quite accustomed to being, a daydream.

   

Within the Daydream

Two nova white eyes glared at him, as he lay bonded to the darkness by molten chains. A chill breath rippled upon his neck, and he felt his singed arms and the foreign mind clawing, dragging at his soul.  His stomach went clammy with blood’s pulse.  Maanta was alone, not knowing where, but alone. Somehow this was familiar. Where was he?

    “Come to me,” the spoken sounds burned within his mind. “Come and be adorned.”

    “Who’s there?” Maanta replied. “What do you want of me?”

    “I am power. I am strength. I am darkness.” Sizzling, the nova eyes glared through him as the words were spoken from the darkness beyond them.

    “What do you want of me?”

    “I am lust. I am hatred. I am fire.”

    A shiver swept through Maanta’s body, sliced upon his skin. What was this thing speaking to him? What was happening?

    “I am denial. I am jealousy. I am fear. Do you fear me?” It spoke in low ominous tones. “Come to me! Come and be adorned.”

    Maanta huddled in a corner of the darkness with the light of the reflecting nova eyes shimmering across his face, unable to speak. Waters began to sizzle about him, forming boils upon his flesh. Tears flowed from his open eyes as his eyes themselves cooked like eggs and burst into the darkness.

    The boy’s chest split, splattering the nova eyes with deep red blood, fizzling upon their touch. Then the world faded to nothing but rippled aquatic daylight.

   

    Maanta convulsed as he awakened from the daymare, floating in open waters while Lola nudged roughly at his sides. Whatever that thing had been in his dream, he had no desire to see it again. “Did you throw me in the waters as I slept, lovely Lola?” He smiled to her; thankful she had noticed him missing and had come back for him.

    To his surprise the daylight seemed to be nearing its end along the waters above, playing in pink hued colors now. He would have to rest here tonight, on a plain of open stone. Dark, glowing-eyed eels dipped and swooped after smaller fish in the far waters beyond.

    “Thank goodness for our leftover whale meat, eh girl? Do you think it will taste as good now as it did in the morn’s light?”

    Lola spun in the waters with apparent happiness and hunger. As he took the meat from its bag, a spiced scent wafted up to make his taste moisten. Lola partook of the dried portions Sift had taken such care of preparing and the boy heated his meat cube over an open malta shell, browning it ever so slightly.

    As he chewed, he reveled at the way it melted in his mouth.

 

***

 

    …fathoms away in one of many hearth rooms of Cardonea Tower

 

    The room was barren of mortal life other than Illala’s own, as it had been since she had awoken that morning to find Evanshade gone. It was silent, and dark, and cold, but outside in the waters beyond she heard screams.

    After what they had done together last night how could he just leave, without even a kiss goodbye? 

    In the corner of the room, setting upon a small ornate pearl desk he had left her salmon, hardened seaweed and cubes of something sweet to eat. She had let it sit there, nibbling on the seaweed from time to time, but too depressed to eat much in her longing for his attention.

    She hovered in a lonely lost state as goose-bumps rose upon her body. Then a soft stone grinding noise began below her, attracting her attention. Diving, her fingertips searched the smooth stone floor. Vibrating in her touch a single shale brick ground up and out of the floor and following it was a single hand, grasping in the open waters before her as if for breath. Its fingertips were pulpy, bloodying waters about them. Illala’s throat gurgled in repulsion.

    A metallic voice came next, as if it had come from teeth being ground against an iron plaque. “Save me!” The strong hand grasped upon her thin wrist. “They’ve imprisoned me in this darkness. Free me!”

    “Who are you?” she responded. “Pull back your arm, and show your face through the hole to me.”

    The massive hand released her, scraping the holes cragged sides while descending. The pained metallic voice returned. “I saw you through a hole in my cell’s wall as you arrived the other night. I am a Meridian, as you yourself appear to be.”

    Illala gasped while looking through the hole upon the man’s almost featureless metal-clad face. His blue flesh stretched and melted across his head, bruised in places and deeply gashed in others. His nose looked to have been torn off somehow, his lips stuck together in places around a metal contraption clasped upon his head.

    “What happened to your face?” she asked, trying not to hurt his feelings by sounding totally disgusted.

    Coughing up something from his lips the man’s head shook violently. “The day they took this realm I was made with others to dig and open up the lava flows below Meridia. As the molten streams bubbled upon the sands they laughed at me, pressing my face and body into its flow. I am outwardly but a shell of the man once known as Odyssey. But inwardly I am a stronger man then they shall ever know.” As if in a nervous twitch the man’s head shook again.

    How can I love a man who leads others in doing this to my people? Illala thought to herself. “Do you have any ideas for how I could free you? I know we are in Cardonea Tower, but I don’t know much about its inner workings.”

    “There is…” The man spoke then swiftly hushed, a look of terror playing on his deformed face.

    It was then that the world played itself in slow motion before Illala’s sight. She wished to speak or interfere in some way but lost all voice in her throat, her body turning to stone as the noise of an opening door echoed within the man’s room below. Odyssey dove from view as Evanshade glided in.
 
    “Have you lost your wits with your appearances you poor soul?” Evanshade thrust a pointed bone club against Odyssey’s fleshy form, and the sound of weeping softly filled the room. “Your babblings resonate unintelligible sounds within the outer halls. There is no one here with you, you poor creature. Do yourself a favor and silence your lips before the guards do so themselves. Soon as you are healed, you will work with the molten streams again.”

    “…no…” Odyssey mumbled and Evanshade struck the bone upon his shoulder, blood rippling out from where it was thrust and clotting in the stagnant waters. The hull of the man was overtaken by limp unconsciousness.

    Illala went cold, her eyes beholding the grin stretched across the features of the man she loved.

    “Don’t worry.” Evanshade spun to leave the unconscious man in cold blankness. “You won’t be alone. We’ve discovered your runaway fellow Meridians along the outskirts of Orion’s Birth. Soon they will return to slave by your side.” He spat in the waters. “Do you think they’ve missed me?” The stone door echoed in his departing.

    Silence swept through Illala’s soul as she came to the full realization of what Evanshade was telling Odyssey. He’s going to capture Maanta and the others and bring them back here to torture, she thought. Images of Venge swooping from nowhere to capture her, against her and the rest of her traveling party’s wills, drowned her mind in dark thoughts. There will be no escape. There will be no hope for any of them, and then a darker thought aroused in the mind of Illala while she placed the shale stone in its floor opening. Should I murder Evanshade as he sleeps tonight? Would that make a difference?

    Wrapped in seaweed sheets, she hovered in the waters as night came, not asleep, but clenching a sharp bone hair tool, plotting for when Evanshade would join her.

 

    The waters were cool and still as Evanshade entered the room. “I missed you today,” he whispered to Illala, careful not to wake her barely crimson-lit form floating wrapped in seaweed sheets in the room’s center. “I wish I could have been here with you today. I wish a lot of things.” His strong noir hands gently moved her seaweed sheets and then wrapped them once more around them both as he moved his arms around Illala to hold her close.

    “No!” Her harsh voice filled his ears while her foot throbbed against his tailfin. “No!”

    “Why? What has happened to you?” he asked, worried, but there was no reply. He wrapped his arms around her again, only to be kicked once more. “If I didn’t do what is being done to your people it would just be another of my people doing the same.”

    Hours, it seemed, after Evanshade had made his last attempt to hold her, Illala managed to find the world of slumber.

    The man she was no longer sure she loved, Evanshade, spent his night staring and lost in thought out the bedroom window upon Meridia’s ruined city. Was what he was doing so wrong? If he had not obeyed his master would he not be dead himself? In the darkness of this night I see Meridia has lost some of its beauty since I first arrived here. They were such a joyous people before we arrived. If we had not come they would be joyous still. And yet then I would not have found Illala.

    Throughout the long hours of the night, Evanshade found neither sleep nor solace. But in the wee time before aquatic dawn, in a state of sheer exhaustion, other thoughts entered Evanshade’s mind. Regret formed for the ways in which he treated Odyssey. He called Odyssey’s guards away for an early morn eat before returning dressed in flowing, disguising black garb and entering the stone prison room.

    “Who are you?” Odyssey’s gritty metallic voice greeted him. “What do you want of me?” Evanshade grasped Odyssey’s shoulder where he had received the beating earlier that night.

    “Shhh…” The hidden Evanshade whispered. Would the man attack him if he knew who he was? “They will hear you if you speak loudly. I am a friend. That is all you need know.”

    “Are you here to rescue me?”

    “Here.Evanshade shoved a heavy bundle of kelp and whale meat into the man’s hands. “Eat this or hide it before the guards come with your mush. You deserve better food.”

    “Thank you.” The starving weary man tore open his package, getting whale meat beneath his nails while devouring his morn meal.

    As Evanshade thrust his tail in the waters and left the room he felt as if a stone had struck his heart. “I’m sorry…” he whispered.

    Odyssey’s grotesque face looked up, covered in food. “What?”

    But Evanshade had gone.

 

 

Chapters

9

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Scott Toney wrote 588 days ago

HarperCollins Wrote:

"Reimagining the outcome of Noah and the flood, ‘The Ark of Humanity’ tells the story of a society of beings living in the sea. In ‘Ark’ those creatures who resided in the sea during the flood, and those who entered it at that time, survived. They subsequently mutated and formed different sub-species and sub-societies. In the peaceful underwater city of Meridia, Maanta, a pale and bullied merboy, comes to the rescue of Sift, a man/creature from a different race, who is trapped beneath rocks. Sift warns that a legendary species will enter Meridia to enslave and kill its people, as they did his own.

I can see comparisons to Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy in some of the themes raised [in The Ark of Humanity]. As with Pullman's 'daemons', the relationship between the beings and their companions who transport them is particularly enjoyable, a relationship which also reminded me of the dragons in the film 'Avatar'. I can see this as a fantastic storyboard for a Pixar film."

Cara Gold wrote 720 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} - Scott Toney

Though this book has already won its deserving gold medal, I am compelled to comment once again on Scott’s beautiful story.

It is with pleasure that I continue reading, and I have just finished the tense, heart-wrenching chapter twenty-two.

In this chapter Scott depicts so vividly the corruption of beauty and purity. When Maanta sees what his people ‘have become’, as readers we think about how evil is not just the enemy – but a dormant bacteria within the heart. When seeds of hate are sown, the evil can spread, growing into a horrible disease.

As a reader I wonder; was Maanta’s destruction of Meridia in vain? He destroyed his homeland to save his people: but how to conquer the true evil – darkness of soul?

I was truly marked by the ruin of the once beautiful, peaceful, Meridia. Now, the pure blue waters are nothing but a murky brown haze, and I wonder how the faith of the people will be restored and renewed.

Yet amidst all this darkness, there is nonetheless hope. As always, Scott’s work is perfectly balanced, and the words of the young Maanta are very wise and inspiring indeed. “We will create a new home, a home free of tyranny.”

This line reminded me of the words of Russian master, Anton Chekhov, in his play “The Cherry Orchard.” I do not know how many are familiar with the story, about the decline of a Russian aristocratic family set in the late 19th century – and representative of the entire social upheaval of the time. In the most hopeless scene, when the family’s estate has been sold and their beautiful cherry orchard is lost, the young aristocrat Anya comforts her mother. “We will plant a new orchard, more splendid than this one… and Mama you will smile.” From out of the darkness, a new, hopeful thread emerges – and this is exactly what author Scott Toney does.

“The Ark of Humanity” is infused with deeper symbolism and hidden messengers for us readers, but Scott does this in a subtle way. He invites us into Maanta’s underwater world, and intimately positions us alongside the struggles of the Meridians, so that we feel their voices gently nudging our minds.

Such a perfect balance, such a beautiful read.
Best of luck,
Cara

PeeJay wrote 1342 days ago

Scott,

Where to start? How is it possible not to be impressed by this? The idea you outline in the premise is intriguing enough, enough to make any prospective agent or publisher sit up, but you really carry it through with some of the best use of language I've seen on Authonomy thus far. The way you weave aquatic lingo into your narrative is quite masterful, and though there's a dark, sinister undertone to everything, it's also quite cool and relaxing at the same time - a potent combination.
My one small issue would be wordiness. You carry it off very well simply because your imagery is so enchanting and vivid, but it would work even better if such imagery was interweaved around the action, thus keeping the pace.

But my attention was held regardless, so perhaps it's a moot point. Stellar stuff, strong, polished and confidently told, this deserves real plaudits, which is exactly what I'm giving it. Shelved, naturally.

PeeJay

Anthony Brady wrote 1343 days ago

THE ARK OF HUMANITY by Scott Justin Toney.

At first, reading the opening Chapter of the 35 posted, I thought I was re-entering the watery world of Charles Kingley's - The Water Babies - but this exceptional book surpassed all my expectations. It is simply magnificent in its scope, range of characters and sheer power of descriptive imagination. All superlatives fail to adequately express my admiration for its quality on all the standard merits for the required criteria of the genre. I read on: every Chapter is exquisitely rendered: beauty, philosophy, moral persuasion and an illuminating contrast and comparison with the earthly world adorns the pages. It's a winner! I can't see it failing. COMMISSIONING EDITORS PAY ATTENTION! Backed.

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

andrew skaife wrote 1369 days ago

Now this is what fantasy is supposed to be. The fact that so many are so much the same proves thta people can copy but this takes a step forward. If we look at the writings of Chaucer today we can see that things have evolved in writing. If we compare modern to historic texts we see difference but fantasy seems to have stalled lately. Your writing takes such a divergent path and moves so far as to to be fresh of idea, fresh of approach and fresh of instigation.

BACKED

Dallasstar123 wrote 278 days ago

I really enjoyed this! Great read. Very exciting. Congrats on the ED

QueenofSamsara wrote 334 days ago

This is brilliant! :)

QueenofSamsara wrote 336 days ago

I have not read your book yet; I will comment again when I have finished. I just had to tell you that this idea is very creative and drew me in! I love the concept. :)

made wrote 553 days ago

Very imaginative piece of work better than mine by far

Scott Toney wrote 588 days ago

HarperCollins Wrote:

"Reimagining the outcome of Noah and the flood, ‘The Ark of Humanity’ tells the story of a society of beings living in the sea. In ‘Ark’ those creatures who resided in the sea during the flood, and those who entered it at that time, survived. They subsequently mutated and formed different sub-species and sub-societies. In the peaceful underwater city of Meridia, Maanta, a pale and bullied merboy, comes to the rescue of Sift, a man/creature from a different race, who is trapped beneath rocks. Sift warns that a legendary species will enter Meridia to enslave and kill its people, as they did his own.

I can see comparisons to Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy in some of the themes raised [in The Ark of Humanity]. As with Pullman's 'daemons', the relationship between the beings and their companions who transport them is particularly enjoyable, a relationship which also reminded me of the dragons in the film 'Avatar'. I can see this as a fantastic storyboard for a Pixar film."

gaiajuliacaesar wrote 599 days ago

Hey, I just wanted to say keep up the good work on this! I really love the story and I love the new cover! Fantastic!

Ivan Amberlake wrote 616 days ago

The Ark of Humanity Review

The Ark of Humanity is an absolutely stunning novel exploring the idea of how people managed to survive the Great Flood by mutating and living underwater. The plot line Scott J. Toney has created is very engaging, making the book unputdownable.

From the very first chapter I got immersed into the underwater world, fascinated by the imagery the author has created, eager to read more and find out what will happen at the end. The characters are believable and easy to relate to, and what’s really important – I did care about them when they found themselves in trouble.

There is an unexpected twist closer to the middle of the book, which in my opinion, works great for the book, but I’m not going to spoil the fun for the readers.

It’s not the first (and I hope not the last) book I’ve read by Scott J. Toney, and I want to say it is a remarkable book. You won’t get disappointed if you decide to buy and read it.

Ivan Amberlake

Kestrelraptorial wrote 656 days ago

Hi Scott,

I finally completed reading "The Ark of Humanity". I had started the story over a few times to truly catch on, but once I did I very much enjoyed it. I love the undersea world you created.

The story is of three descendant races of humans who adapted to an aquatic existence when the world was flooded over. Maanta, the protagonist, is of a merfolk race that have fins on their limbs but are otherwise humanshape. The merfolk of Sangfoul are the fish-tailed race, under the rule of a dark master spreading slaughter and conquest to the other kingdoms. Then there is Sift and the dark-skinned peoples of Baneal.

I love the idea of multiple species of merpeople living at the same time, sort of like back when several species of humans existed at once. It was also fun to imagine, that at the end of the story, when the merpeople of Baneal and Meridia rise to the surface world, the fish-tailed Sangfoul folk might become the ancestors of the fish-tailed merpeople of folklore?

I loved how the story of Anna and Maanta unfolded. started to quite like Evanshade near the end. I agree with many readers that adding chapters from his perspective really balances the tale and I feel sorry for him. I would have liked to see a bit more from the Sangfoul peoples' side though. Anyway, awesome book.

Kestrelraptorial

Cara Gold wrote 677 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} – Scott Toney
Post HC Review Edits: Chapter 7 ‘Siege’

Scott, in your email to me you said ‘This is a longer chapter but I’m really hoping you will enjoy it.’ For a moment I mistook your tone as potentially being a little concerned that a longer chapter would bore me :P No!

I read this chapter captivated by your prose. I can see you have been working hard. In my opinion, all these newer chapters you are writing are tidier and cleaner. There is less description getting in the way of action, but enough to paint a vivid scene and put the reader in the picture.

This is a lovely addition to your book. The siege from Evanshade’s perspective does a great job at balancing the story and also connecting readers with him; high marks for character development.

A few points; at times I felt it was a little too black and white, and I would perhaps soften Evanshade’s transitions between being possessed, and being a good man. I’d be carefully of making him appear to be too good at heart – and strengthen more the internal struggle he is faced with. I’d steer from expressly stating ‘I must serve my master in Sangfoul, but I will do what I can to not shed blood’ and rather, go through a sequence of frantic emotions and thoughts as he flits between his loyalties and values.
→ E.g. ‘It felt as though cracks ripped open his mind, and his thoughts screamed to be released from the dark clutches of his master. The sight of such bloodshed around him stung his eyes like acid, and he hovered in an empty place devoid of truth.’

Last think is a nitpick; a few times the word ‘leery’ crops up in one form or another, and I’d be careful to avoid any sense of repetition.
That’s all from me though! A tense, gripping read. You’re doing great Scott, I’m so excited for the next one!
Have a fabulous day :)
Cara

Cara Gold wrote 681 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} – Scott Toney
Post HC Review Edits: Chapter Four ‘Possession’

And so the immense pleasure of reading Scott’s work continues…

Scott has written this chapter with the plan of adding it between the original second (when Maanta meets Sift) and the original third (when Anna is introduced). Here, the reader once more engages with Evanshade and the evil people of Sangfoul. A scene involving slaves and bloodshed, Scott’s portrayal of this dark world is truly chilling, and provides contrast to the peaceful land of Meridia. The reader wonders how the two worlds will collide, and conflict is foreshadowed.

However, what is perhaps the best thing about this new chapter, is that it portrays ‘evil’ and ‘darkness’ in different shades. Scott builds the character of Evanshade as a complex one, and nothing is straightforward. Evanshade is merely a pawn in a greater game, and he himself is contrasted by Venge.

Thank you so much, Scott, for letting me read! And good luck as you continue writing, I can’t wait to see what more you come up with!
Cara

Cara Gold wrote 691 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} – Scott Toney
Post HC Review Edits: Chapter One ‘The Escaped Scroll’

I have had the honour and privilege of reading a new first chapter that Scott has written. Taking on board some of the HC editorial advice, Scott is beginning a new thread in the story from the perspective of Evanshade – portraying the darkness of Sangfoul, and the ‘evil’ in this land.

In this chapter, Scott portrays both the terrible atrocities that Evanshade is forced to perform – as well as establishing a complex character, a trapped man, conscious of the evil world he is a part of.

Scott foreshadows some of the themes that will later be explored: the blurring of the line between right and wrong, and the idea that there is good and bad in every heart.

As well as laying the foundations for these deeper messages, Scott also establishes the grounds for the coming conflict. This opening is tense and gripping, and a perfect lead into a beautiful story.

I have tremendous faith in this book, congratulations Scott!
Have a fabulous day,
Cara

Tarzan For Real wrote 692 days ago

Scott congratulations. You wrote one Hell of a novel!--JL "The Devil Of Black Bayou"

Cara Gold wrote 701 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} - Scott Toney
Chapters 32 -35 **spoiler warning**

Scott,
I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this, such a moving and emotional ending! I was struck by Evanshade's sacrifice, and cried just as much in 'La Fin' , this time tears of joy - knowing Maanta and Anna live on and the baby Equilious survived.

I was particularly moved by Equilious being born into the world of air, as his father died... You brought together life and death so beautifully in this chapter - a perfect harmonious balance.

Your comment today on 'Awakening', about love being what you try to base your life around... well that shines through in your writing. We see Evanshade's love for Illala and his nobility when he says 'Take our child to freedom! His life is more important than yours or mine!' I *love* how love as a pure and strong emotion is portrayed throughout your book, and subtly telling readers to love in their own lives - through love we can conquer evil, as opposed to being vengeful.

Thank you so much for this beautiful story. I am still all emotional and getting myself another cup of tea now :) You are an amazing writer and this has been such a privilege to read. I am also incredibly honoured to be able to help out with editing, glad to be helpful :)
Take care Scott and have an amazing day! I'll be off to read another of your books soon, I'm a fan!

Cara

p.s. I would love a signed copy! I am so honoured :)

p.p.s. Have a lovely day of rainbows and sunshine!

Cara Gold wrote 701 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} – Scott Toney
Chapter 31
Scott,
You had me on the edge of my seat throughout this entire chapter. When Evanshade joined the Meridians, I was so fearful… of the danger that he might bring, with warriors of Sangfoul following…

Tension rose and fell – what a beautiful reunion with Illala and Equilious in the midst of the chaos. How noble Evanshade is – and I am so glad that Illala has steered him towards the ‘good’. The relationship between them reminds me of Arian and Alexander!

Amaranth’s mystical return was well-timed too, very intriguing! (just a quick edit fix for ‘sorcery’ not ‘sourcery’)

The threads are linking together, as we plummet towards the end. I hold my breath as the group swim on to Orion’s Birth! Can’t wait to read more!!
Have a fabulous day and thank you so much for the enjoyable read :)
Cara

p.s. thank you so much for more comments on ‘Awakening’. I am so glad you are enjoying, and excited for you to finish! I’m also really happy that after ‘The Ark of Humanity’ I have more books of yours to enjoy :)
p.p.s. Sorry to be slow with the edits now, I’m just a little swamped with Authonomy :S

Cara Gold wrote 705 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} - Scott Toney

Scott writes with such vivid clarity, such powerful description, pulling us into the scene. The battle of chapter 30 was one such chapter that showcases his ability to write fast-paced, gripping action.

In this tense chapter we also see the lines blur between good and evil, and our minds are left hoping and praying that Evanshade will be strong and choose the right path - and that evil will not conquer him.

Terrific, stunning writing!

Cara

p.s. sent you more edits! :)

Cara Gold wrote 707 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} – Scott Toney

I always have a special time reserved in the day to read this book. Generally, accompanied by a good tea or coffee, with some chocolate cookies.

But I have to say, reading Scott’s work brings me far more delight than any sweet treat could :)

I have just completed chapter 29, and I find myself almost reluctant to read on, because soon I will have finished this beautiful book – and I just want to continue reading it forever! I will probably go back to read it again… and again…

There are so many important messages that Scott infuses into his story. As readers, not only do we connect with the characters and feel their personal and physical struggles, but we also connect with these deeper themes that are so pertinent to our world and society today. Particularly, the idea of ‘conquering evil’. I wholeheartedly agree with Scott, that “To best the Devil, one must be above its tricks and sins… If you do not hate, do not lust, are not gluttonous, have no greed and do not kill then the Devil cannot exist.”

The ‘Devil’ is not just a religious entity, but a symbolic representation of everything bad in the world. Though in “The Ark of Humanity” we read of a physical manifestation of this being, it is important to remember that the ‘Devil’ lurks in our own lives. And it is important to remember that no matter what struggles we are faced with, what turmoil the world is in, with love and purity of heart we can always survive and make it through to sunnier days.

Thank you Scott once again, for sharing your stunning story and insightful messages.
Have a terrific day!
Cara

p.s. Edits coming again shortly!! Just needed a little breather :P

fictionguy wrote 710 days ago

Scott, I like everything about this book. I am backing it.

DanielP wrote 711 days ago

Wow Scott the story is unfolding amazingly!! The takeover of Meridia was vividly done and you've got us crossing fingers for these peaceful people who have been slaughtered so mercilessly.
There should be a 7 star rating lol. Oh well, you've already made the desk so I joined too late to help anyway. Still, thanks for sharing :D
Dan

DanielP wrote 713 days ago

Scott,
Cara recommended this to me, and it is truly a brilliant read so far. She has good taste lol!
Amazing vivid descriptions of the underwater world. The plot is also so original and I'm looking forward to reading more of it. Congratulations on making the desk and good luck with the review!
Daniel

TDonna wrote 714 days ago

I miss your book on my shelf, but happy it's on the ED :) Scott, you've a treasure of a story here. The flawless writing and gorgeous descriptions captivated and transported me into a fascinating world only a writer with your talent could create. A W E S O M E.
TDonna
(No Kiss Good-bye)

Cara Gold wrote 719 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} – Scott Toney

Oh I just shiver and tremble with a thousand emotions when I read your work. Chapter twenty-three touched me incredibly; such a moving blend of magnificent storytelling and engagement with your characters.

I love the ‘shades’ to Evanshade’s character, and how his love for Illala brings out his gentle side. The birth of their baby is also so moving: life is created immediately after the darkness and death of battle, giving a hopeful edge to your story, as the reader engages with a grand circle of life. But I hold my breath now, before I plunge onwards. I pray for Evanshade, Illala and their child. I pray that the evil Dark Master will not destroy this new family, and that Evanshade will be strong enough to do what is right.

Scott, it also excites me and amazes me how I can connect to your story and writing, and see elements of what I aspire to do in your work. Evanshade so reminds me of a character you are soon to meet, and elements within this chapter remind me of a scene in book 4!! It is so refreshing and delightful to be able to draw these parallels, despite the physical differences in our stories :)

Cara
p.s. thank you so much for your ongoing support and I am so glad you are enjoying “Dawn of Destruction”. Let me know what more support I can give to you: if you want me to continue chapter edits, I will gladly do so! :)
Have a terrific day my friend!!

Cara Gold wrote 720 days ago

{The Ark of Humanity} - Scott Toney

Though this book has already won its deserving gold medal, I am compelled to comment once again on Scott’s beautiful story.

It is with pleasure that I continue reading, and I have just finished the tense, heart-wrenching chapter twenty-two.

In this chapter Scott depicts so vividly the corruption of beauty and purity. When Maanta sees what his people ‘have become’, as readers we think about how evil is not just the enemy – but a dormant bacteria within the heart. When seeds of hate are sown, the evil can spread, growing into a horrible disease.

As a reader I wonder; was Maanta’s destruction of Meridia in vain? He destroyed his homeland to save his people: but how to conquer the true evil – darkness of soul?

I was truly marked by the ruin of the once beautiful, peaceful, Meridia. Now, the pure blue waters are nothing but a murky brown haze, and I wonder how the faith of the people will be restored and renewed.

Yet amidst all this darkness, there is nonetheless hope. As always, Scott’s work is perfectly balanced, and the words of the young Maanta are very wise and inspiring indeed. “We will create a new home, a home free of tyranny.”

This line reminded me of the words of Russian master, Anton Chekhov, in his play “The Cherry Orchard.” I do not know how many are familiar with the story, about the decline of a Russian aristocratic family set in the late 19th century – and representative of the entire social upheaval of the time. In the most hopeless scene, when the family’s estate has been sold and their beautiful cherry orchard is lost, the young aristocrat Anya comforts her mother. “We will plant a new orchard, more splendid than this one… and Mama you will smile.” From out of the darkness, a new, hopeful thread emerges – and this is exactly what author Scott Toney does.

“The Ark of Humanity” is infused with deeper symbolism and hidden messengers for us readers, but Scott does this in a subtle way. He invites us into Maanta’s underwater world, and intimately positions us alongside the struggles of the Meridians, so that we feel their voices gently nudging our minds.

Such a perfect balance, such a beautiful read.
Best of luck,
Cara

Elessar-Kasikai wrote 721 days ago

This is a really awesome book, lol so cool

leejohn wrote 722 days ago

Well done Scott. Wishing you all the best! ;)

Leejohn

mhebler wrote 722 days ago

The Ark of Humanity

First, this is a fantastic concept, very intriguing and refreshingly original; however, I did have a little trouble following the story at times with some of the complex sentence structures and adjective usage. Also, be careful of repetative descriptions, such as "translucent liquid". Other than those few criticisms, congratulations on this novel and best of luck with Harper.

Michael Hebler - "Night of the Chupacabra"

Cara Gold wrote 723 days ago

YAY!!!!!

I just needed to let out that massive burst of excitement. I am so, so, happy that "The Ark of Humanity" has made the desk, it has made my birthday!! :P

Congratulations, Scott, on a well-deserved success! Best of luck with the coming review, my fingers are all crossed for you :)

Your friend,
Cara

Karen Eisenbrey wrote 723 days ago

Scott,

It's the last day of the month, but I hope my backing will help you to the Ed Desk. I really enjoyed your detailed imagining of what it would be like to be a sentient, humanoid creature living comfortably in the ocean, that most alien and hostile place for us land-dwellers. You also set up a mystery right away about the transparent fluid that Maanta and his people have to keep away from. The language of his mother's tale made it seem like an actual ancient myth. The first chapter is quiet but beautiful and engaging, and ends nicely with a boy and his dolphin, about to set a speed record.

I didn't note any obvious corrections. Good job!

Karen Eisenbrey
CRANE'S WAY
ENDURANCE
TIME SQUARED

WritrWlf91 wrote 723 days ago

Ok now I have officially finished your book and it was truly a wonderful read. I found that there were moments I was a little confused with the wording and the way that Sift spoke however I feel that it was an overall success. I mean, you're ranked as number 5 for a reason. :) My favorite character was probably Anna I mean yes I am a woman so that could cause bias there however what I really liked about her was her determination and passion for her people. It is clear that she would sacrifice herself in order to save them.

Another story plug that I thought was great was how you took the story of Noah and shifted the outcome. It was a very original thought and I've never seen anything like it done before. Also, I really liked the inclusion of God, some writers may have taken this alternative approach to the Noah story and changed the outlook on God completely. However, you kept it close to home and even Noah was someone I felt that was portrayed very well.

Again sorry it took me so long to get feedback to you!

Thanks so much for the opportunity
Bethany Rojsczyk
Shadow's Breath

Clare B wrote 723 days ago

Good luck tomorrow Scott I hope the editor enjoys as much as us.

Clare Be The Human Sunshine :)

jtrobison wrote 723 days ago

Scott, I am impressed with your book, although I didn't read all of it. From what I've seen, you have a winner here. Congratulations on spot #5. I think you should be #1.
Jim

TDonna wrote 723 days ago

If there is one book that I will want to read over and over, The Ark of Humanity is the one. None other can compare with its richness of language, memorable characters, deep emotions, fascinating settings, intriguing plot, and extraordinary descriptions that make the story from the first to the last word an absorbing read. I loved it and always will. I hope that HC will be the publisher to seize this opportunity to publish it and let others discover the treasure therein.
TDonna
(No Kiss Good-bye)

TDonna wrote 724 days ago

I am breathlessly counting down ... The ED will read the book that will captivate a broad audience with its stunningly beautiful descriptions, intriguing storyline, and fascinating characters.
Donna :)
(No Kiss Good-bye)

Grey Muir wrote 724 days ago

You have a great story here, Scott. I am glad to see you made it up to the top five this month!!!!
Congratulations. Hope you make the desk, bud. Seemly likely now.

Putting this in as a comment. I have you bookshelved, watchlisted , and 6 starred your work. Comments are the last way to add a little help.

Daniel Rider wrote 724 days ago

Having read other comments on this book, I have to agree that this book does an excellent job of description, especially of the underwater environment (is the author a diver? I wonder...), and giving a feeling of awe to the reader. There's also an underdog character (the walrus/voice comparison was awesome!) who doesn't quite fit in and his friend, a dolphin, a neat pairing that should be used well over the course of the book, and a startlingly unique premise to catch readers' interests. I think this could really do well.

The only area that may use some work, as mentioned in another review, is wordiness. I sometimes felt like there was just a little too much description, but quite frankly that might just have been me. I can say that I was a bit thrown by the way the story of the flood was told (not the Bible telling, but the underwater telling); I wish that could have been told in plainer language, without the need to sound so archaic in sentence structure. Perhaps that's the way the underwater people talk, or at least tell stories, but I do wonder if it's necessary. There's a definite contrast between this storytelling and the rest of the narrative, but it is somewhat jarring.

Ka'zaphir wrote 724 days ago

read the first two chapters and liked every word. Definitely a completely new idea that i have not seen done before. I liked the bits of back story, as well as the different words that these merfolk use to describe things in our world.

fatema wrote 725 days ago

What a imagiantion Scott! It is a fabulous book with a very unusual and exciting fantasy tale. An unexpected World under the water, full of activiites, challenges and surprises.

This book is for all age group, family suitable, good for aged and for fantasy lovers. The cover is very attractive and inviting. Readers of all age will get joy of read and therefore it should sell well. It deserve to be at the top.
I will back it soon. Good luck, Not because i am wishing, infact because you created it with your imagination. 6 stars.

upforgrabs wrote 725 days ago

My analysis/proof-reading of the first half of your second chapter....

Looking forward to your next review of "Tamria"!

James

***

“long mucked historic writings” – “long-mucked”, needs a hyphen

“then there were all those numerous shimmering trinkets…” – lose “numerous,” it’s made redundant by “all those.” “then there were all those shimmering trinkets in Amaranth’s hollowed-out cove on The East Shale Wall” – Also, is “The East Shale Wall” the name of a ship, like Orion’s Birth and The Meridian Sands? If so, it should be italicized. Stay consistent.

“as he anticipated what magics might unfold within” – “wondered” instead of “anticipated.” “trembling as he wondered what magics might unfold within.”

“spewing black poisonous ooze” – I think probably lose “black.” “Maybe even a fang-toothed ocean worm, spewing poisonous ooze…” – you’ve enough adjectives in this sentence already.

“with all of its swift approaching perils and heart pulsing speeds” – first off, “swift approaching” and “heart pulsing” need hyphens, because they’re being employed as adjectives. “swift-approaching”, “heart-pulsing”. I’d lose “all of”. –> “Maanta loved this wild ride, with its swift-approaching perils and heart-pulsing speeds.” Does that read better to you?

“There were never any wars; not so much as a skirmish” – “wars” here is plural, “skirmish” singular. You could try making the latter plural as well. So: “There were never any wars; not even skirmishes.” But I think a better phrase might be: “Maanta thought of the Meridian as a place where nothing of interest could ever happen. Conflict was unheard-of. Peace eternally reigned.” – Remember also what I told you about shortening usages of “The Meridian Hearth Sands” and “Orion’s Birth.” “Meridian” and “Orion” – you’ll be saving yourself a lot off the word count.

“gifted in adoration of…” – maybe “in worship of” is more appropriate

“with all of their food and merriment” – how about “bountiful”? “and with the weekly festivals to Gelu, with their bountiful food and merriment, Maanta was left to his own devices…”

“left to his own devices” – kind of a cliché phrase. I haven’t seen many clichés in your book so far. Here’s a much shorter, pithier phrasing (and better for it): “left to entertain himself.”

SO:
“An abundance of fish was gifted in worship of King Nicholea Rocaran from the people of Meridia, and with the weekly festivals to Gelu, with their bountiful food and merriment, Maanta was left to entertain himself.”

“the waters paled in their reflections from the ocean’s crest far above where Maanta glided” – an awfully complex passage. Break it down. And split this sentence in half. “Many light sheddings of time passed. The waters paled as Maanta glided, reflecting glimmers of the ocean surface.” - Isn’t that what you meant?

“Famished, both from… and from…” – change the word order. “Famished, from both… and…” – “Famished, from both the many whale-lengths swim and missing midday meal at Orion’s Birth” (I cut out the verb “while basking in” to make this smoother.) Simpler is often better

“Maanta’s soft touch caressed the side of Archa’s head” – more words than necessary. “Maanta caressed the side of Archa’s head”

“giving her the command to” – how about: “directing her to”? Much shorter and simpler.
SO: “Maanta caressed the side of Archa’s head, directing her down into the pulsing current.”

“well hidden resting places” – “well hidden” needs hyphen.

“teeny” – this word is just SO out-of-place. Like “fancy,” it doesn’t fit with the sophistication and complexity of the rest of your writing. “miniscule” is more suitable.

“swam a half circle” – W.R. (word repetition) again. How many iterations of “swim” have we seen now? And “half circle” needs a hyphen. “Maanta turned a half-circle”

“He was being careful to only take…” – different phrasing: “He was careful only to take what was needed for his dusk-meal.”

“’Maanta,’ his mother had once said” – since this a recollection of something his mother once said, maybe it should be in italics and not in speech marks?

Two uses of “partake” in this paragraph. It’s not a word commonly used. Please try to think of an alternative for the second one. There’s nothing wrong with a simple, straightforward “eat.” “We must eat of them to stay strong but that does not mean we should disrespect their lives.”

“red and pearl hued edible delight inside” – that needs hyphens. “red-and-pearl-hued delight inside.” Don’t need “edible.” We know he’s looking for food.

“contently savor” – “contentedly”

“remains of the food” – lose “of the food.” “Only when he had seen to did Maanta savour the remains.” Lose the adverb “contentedly”, it doesn’t add anything to this sentence and we know from the next sentence that he’s “contended.”

“He hadn’t truly realized how hungry he had been” – ‘he had been” should be “he was.” And watch out for unnecessary “had”s, they slow a sentence down. You really need to read your work over and over to get a sense of the rhythm and flow. “He hadn’t truly realized how hungry he was until he spied the critter-crawlers in the sands.”

Like “ocean,” the word “sands” appears to be recurring a lot.

“critter-crawlers” – that’s another recurring word. Use “critters.” “critter-crawlers” had an unintended “cute” effect.

“Rested and fed” – How about just “Nourished”?

“to take to the task of venturing home” – I think the other problem with your writing, not just your being a “description hound”, is that you often use more words than necessary when fewer will do. It’s what I call “fluff.” I’m working at hard at eliminating all possible fluff in my own writing. LESS IS MORE!!! “take to the task of venturing home” = 7 words. “return home” = 2 words. Do this kind of thing throughout your manuscript and the cumulative effect in reducing word count will be enormous! –> So, my phrasing: “Nourished, Maanta was ready to return home.”

“Cupping his fingertips once more” – didn’t you notice “once more” appeared on the previous line? Replace it with “again.”

“took his perch upon her sleek back” – AGAIN, more words than you need. What a simpler phrasing than “took his perch”? “seated himself.” “Cupping his fingertips again, he swept under Archa’s belly and seated himself on her sleek back.” (I’d have “on” not “upon.”)

“Ooooahooo” – should be italicized, because it’s not English. And maybe that doesn’t need speech marks.

“Maanta sang to Archa in her dolphin tongue asking to home” – make this two sentences. “’Ooooahooo,’ Manata sang to Archa. In the dolphin tongue, that was a request to go home.” (I know this is more words, not less, but I feel this works better.)

“haunting whispering response” – “whispered” instead of “whispering.” “The ocean spewed a haunting whispered response.”

“She reared in discomfort and tossed him from her back, off into a rising cove wall above where they had been delighting on dusk-meal just moments before” – I’m sure there’s a technical term for what you’re doing wrong in the second half of this sentence, but I don’t know what it is. Anyway - FEWER words. “She reared in discomfort, and tossed him from her back, off into a rising cove wall.”

How many times do we need to be told about the pallor of Maanta’s skin?

“in such pained unease” – you used “unease” in the last paragraph. W.R.

“Or should he go off investigating, into the ocean’s quickly blackening obsidian hue” – AGAIN, more words than you need. Shorter is more dramatic! – “obsidian ocean” is hands-down better than “quickly blackening obsidian hue.” It has an alliterative effect too.

“Not too far off on the ocean floor something stirred” - another sentence that could have a few words trimmed. “Nearby, something on the ocean floor stirred.” – THERE’S “OCEAN FLOOR” AGAIN!!!! PLEASE, SOMETHING DIFFERENT! “SEA-BED” IS A PERFECTLY VIABLE ALTERNATIVE!!!!!!

“moss covered stone” – hyphen. “moss-covered”

“Maanta swam with all the speed that could be summoned from his soul” – like the alliteration here, but 1, it’s the word “swim” again, and I don’t know how many times you’ve used that now. 2, it’s too long and purple-prosy. Shorter is better! “Maanta swam with all the speed he could summon.”

TDonna wrote 725 days ago

Everything about this book is memorable -- characters, storyline, setting, the intricate plot. The style of writing is so beautiful, it tuned out distractions and I became a participant within the story. An absolutely wonderful read!
Donna
(No Kiss Good-bye)

TDonna wrote 726 days ago

There is one line: "I am so blessed. ... There is beauty in everything." That's what you did for readers in every chapter. You've given each a gem. An emerald here. A ruby in the next. A sapphire in another. By the last sentence, we sigh with delight for having enjoyed beautiful writing while rushing through underwater caverns, battled evil forces, loved with the greatest might, and found our way through the darkness into the Light. Anyone with an open heart will see this book for the treasure that it is.
Donna
(No Kiss Good-bye)

leejohn wrote 727 days ago

Hi Scott

I will give your book a read. Love the pre face! ;)

Thanks

Leejohn

sandstone1521 wrote 727 days ago

What if?
I only read the first chapter and i'm totally captivated. Wow, what an awesome idea for a novel. I won't be able to read much more today, but i can tell the writing is brilliant and well worthy of six stars and a place on my shelf. Gl with the ED.
sandstone

upforgrabs wrote 727 days ago

Hi, here's my first in-depth analysis of your first chapter. I am not going to question your talent as a wordsmith, you have an enormous vocabulary and an exceptional aptitude for description and world-building. However, I think your weakness is that you allow the description to overwhelm the story.

You and I are very different writers. I believe that description should serve as a backdrop to action and storytelling, whereas you expend an enormous amount of time and energy painting your world. But some of the description is redundant - there is repetition of information, as you will see in my comments below. You've done a marvellous job of conjuring up this fantastic worldscape for us, but your story would be so much better if that was leaner. Less is more, as the saying goes.

Remember the old version of Tamria I had on this site? The first chapter ("A Very Special Day") was originally eight A5 pages long, mostly description, and it drew a fair bit of flak for that. I've managed to trim it down to half the length, and it feels much stronger in its compact form.

There is a big problem with word repetition here, and I'll be surprised if no one else has noticed it. "Ocean" appears eleven times in your first chapter - I did a page count - and "ocean floor" four times. In many cases you could cut that second word out, and it wouldn't hurt the story any. In fact, elimination of unnecessary words is an effective way of streamlining your work. If you just had "floor," the reader would know what you meant - the ocean floor! And why not "sea bed" or some other alternative?

You're rather free with adjectives and adverbs, and there are numerous instances of complex, elaborate sentences being used where sparser, simpler, more straightforward ones might be more effective. For example:

"Dipping swiftly down, he swam quickly and with ease, tensing his muscles like a harpoon through the oean depths"

- I changed to: "Dipping down, he tensed his muscles, propelling his body like a harpoon through the ocean depths."

In the original version, didn't you notice you a massive tautology? "quickly", "swiftly" and "with ease" - they all mean practically the same thing!

Some paragraphs might be broken up, made shorter. This would create more "white space" on the page and give the impression the story is moving with more pace.

Some purple prose: e.g. "outstretched rainbow of beauty." Nice phrase, but I wouldn't have it.

There's a more comprehenxive list of suggestions below. Please don't think of me as being unduly harsh in my appraisal; I am still awarding it six stars, because I see tremendous potential in your work, I just feel that you're letting yourself down on several counts. Seeing how many people have been gushing over your work here, I'm probably not going to make myself popular saying that. But I don't see the point in pulling my punches. The literary world won't. I wouldn't have spent the last three hours preparing this critique if I wasn't genuine about it, and I wouldn't bother posting it here if I didn't think it could help you out!

Always your friend, Scott - and really hoping you'll take this advice on-board.

James
"Tamria"

**********


“the lord” – “lord”, like “God”, is always capitalized: “the Lord.”

The first paragraph: ‘To many men…” – I wonder if that might work better broken up into segments. That’s one thing I’ve been doing with my editing, chopping up longer paragraphs and finding ways to make them leaner, shorter. Generally speaking, smaller paras are more attractive and white space looks appealing on a page. It can also add drama and tension to your prose. Here’s how I might dissect your first paragraph (and I’ve made some edits as well) – tell me if you think this makes for an improvement:

To many men, Orion’s Birth was a place hushed: plagued within their thoughts, vanquished from their words. But Maanta was not just any man.

In truth, he was not a man at all but rather something of a boy, and even among his peers was acknowledged as more strange than not. The most “normal” of his bizarre traits was the fact that his body had not particularly agreed with him in the decision to lengthen and evolve into adulthood.

In the recent illuminations and fallings of the sun, his peers in the Meridian Hearth Sands had grown many minnow lengths. Their chests had broadened, muscles gained definition, and their vocal cords had evolved into tones akin to that of walruses – as opposed to the high-pitched sounds of whale song.

***

“All about Orion’s Birth” – I notice that “Orion’s Birth” isn’t italicized here, but it was before. This is something you want to keep consistent throughout a manuscript. If you’re using Microsoft Word, there’s a hassle-free way to change every instance of this in a document. Go to Find and Replace, click More, enter Orion’s Birth in Find what, Click Format (at the bottom left), then Font, in Font Style click Not Italic, enter Orion’s Birth in Replace with, click Format, Font, enter Italic in Font Style, and then Replace All.

“swiveling hues” – a clever word-combination, but is “swiveling” really the right word for the context? “shimmering” might work better. Kudos though for not choosing the obvious word!

“sewn within his thoughts” – clever combination of words

“simmering upon his tongue” – maybe “simmering on his tongue”

“whence” – it’s an old word meaning “from where.” (and “hence” = “from here.” “hither” and “thither” are “to here” and “to there” respectively. Like “hitherto”, those are words whose meaning isn’t fully appreciated nowadays.) I wonder if you’re using this word in the wrong context – you didn’t just choose it to give a veneer of antiquity, did you? If what you really mean is: “Many fathoms past *when* aqua fabrics first roamed the world, *when* mortals breathed beginnings” then your word-choice is wrong.

“finished this particular haunting tale” – I think you could do without “particular.” Cutting out extraneous words is a good way to tidy up and streamline your manuscript. I’ve taken about 5,000 off mine (c. 100,000 words) just by doing this. “Maanata’s mother had finished this haunting tale with a warning…”

Again, “Orion’s Birth” – no italics. “Meridian Hearth Sands” no italics also.


Another instance of paragraph shortening: here’s my take (with some editing):

Maanta’s mother had finished this haunting tale with a warning never to approach the deadly fluid which pulsed within the walls of Orion’s Birth. Of course, Maanta being naturally rebellious, this was all the more reason for him to seek it out.

Because of this very tale – whether it was true or not Maanta did not know(1) - the people of the Meridian(2) dared not venture past the mystic blue-glowing walls. Maanta was not the only one to have entered(3) this place for many tides and was shunned for doing so.

Water currents swam between his back(4) and the clay earth beneath him. Closing his eyes, Maanta submerged his fingertips in the cool earth, embracing the currents rippling beneath his body.

Whenever he closed his eyes like this he almost felt as if he were a Manta Ray and not just a Maanta boy, with his swiveling body braced close to the sands and kelp ocean-floor. He imagined he was ray combing the depths for food and exploring the world, speaking to the fish as he pulsed along. He imagined the sunlight warming(5) his closed eyelids to be molten crevices in the crust of the Meridian(6), illuminating his trail to future seaweed fields and blackened volcanic chasms.

EDITING CHANGES:

1: “whether it held true merit or not” – I felt “whether it was true or not” Is much more straightforward and conventional. “true merit” is tautology; “whether it held merit or not” is better. “whether it held truth or not” is a possible alternative.

2: “Meridian Hearth Sands” – with long names like this, I think it’s a good idea to occasionally use a shortened version. So “Meridian”, and sometimes just “Orion” instead of “Orion’s Birth.”

3: “entered within” – “within” isn’t needed. “to have entered this place” is much smoother-sounding.

4: “slim, pale back” – that description was given just a little earlier in the chapter; you don’t need to repeat information. Or, if you choose to, don’t use the same words.

5: “warming over his closed eyelids” – I think the word “over” isn’t needed. “warming his closed eyelids”, better.

6: see point 2


***

The next paragraph: “A school of glimmering silver fish…” contains several adjectives and some words that might go. I’ve spoken to Cara in person and we both agree that while your writing is fantastically descriptive and imaginative, it is slightly weighed down by over-wordiness. Here’s my suggested edit:

A school of silver fish swam in unison across his long bluish fins, tickling them. The fish flowed(1) with graceful ease(2)(3) until the horizon swallowed them. While immersing his thoughts in the cast of imaginary lava-webs and swaying vegetation(4), Maanta awoke. One lone ripple peacefully swept itself across his daydream, then another, and another until every precious flowing droplet of his illusion(5) shivered into a blur.

EDITING CHANGES:

1, the verb “swam” appeared in the last sentence – avoid word repetition. And what else do fish do but swim? There must be verb variants, look some up. I’ve changed it to “flowed”, which is a nice alternative.

2, I think “with graceful ease” is good enough on its own, you don’t need “swiftly”.

3, “through the water” – this really isn’t needed! They’re fish, they’re swimming, of *course* they’re in water! Just “the fish flowed with graceful ease until the horizon swallowed their path”.

4, a logical question, does vegetation sway underwater?

5, “imagined illusion” – tautology. Just “illusion”, you don’t need “imagined.”

***

“which was built long ago to assist Orion’s Birth in performing whatever task it might have been created to perform…” – I think “which had been built…” would be better, to fit with the tense of the rest of the sentence.

“pale, trembling fingers” – the word “pale” has appeared a few times now. Try a different word. How about “white, trembling fingers”.

“beneath where Maanta hovered and slept…” – surely “beneath which”? “Swarming, transparent bubble liquid plumes rose from the inner room sands and from the very sands beneath which Maanta had hovered and slept just moments prior.”

“silver fish” – since this name appears to refer to a particular breed of fish, maybe it should be one word, “silverfish.”

“Maanta thought while watching as the bubbles played in a waltz towards their new home with the rest of their fluid’s family on the ocean’s surface” – this is a long sentence which could do with being tidied up. Here’s my go at tightening it up: “They dance like northern silverfish schools, Maanta thought as he watched the bubbles waltz toward their new home, with the rest of their fluid’s family on the ocean surface”

“Relinquishing his embrace…” – rather verbose, the word “relinquish.” How about “release” ? “Releasing his hold on the ocean floor…” Notice that I’ve changed “ocean’s floor” to “ocean floor”, because this sounds more proper. Ever heard the phrase “sea’s bed”? No, it’s always “sea-bed”. Should be “ocean floor”, then, not “ocean’s floor.”

“Along his ascent away, he wove fancy, precise somersaults and flips through the inner room’s bubble tapestry” – the word “fancy” seriously hurts this sentence. Did you choose that for a particular reason? Why “fancy”? Is he showing off, trying to impress someone? Just cut it. And you don’t need “away” after “ascent.” “Along his ascent, he wove precise somersaults and flips…” - But also, is there any *reason* he is performing acrobatic manoeuvres? I find this confusing. Wouldn’t it be so much simpler and pithier just to say he released his grip on the ocean floor, and propelled himself toward the Orion’s wall?

“… and managed the last minute rescue of a pearl white snail from the sands a few feet from the wall…” – 1, the word “sands” is recurring a lot. Look up every instance of the word in this chapter and change/delete as many of them as possible. 2, is his rescue of the snail significant in any way? Does it do anything to advance the story, build up Maanta’s personality, or is it a fancy throw-away descriptive passage? I really think this should go. With this scene, you should paint a much more concise picture of the Orion’s Birth without this extraneous information.

“His latest treasure was tucked delicately in a whale hide satchel his mother had gifted him some time ago before her passing” – again, is this important? Never drop casual plot/character details like that into descriptions.

“made up of stone” – lose “up.” “made of stone”

“Orion’s Birth consisted…” – quite a bit of what might be called “purple prose” in your description here. I’m not averse to description, and I’ll admit I’m no master at it myself, but you have to be careful, weigh every word. Certain phrases could be condensed, to speed up the flow of the passage and decrease the word count. For example: “shimmering of the purest white” – “pure shimmering white.” “The third inner wall was pure shimmering white, splattered with glowing runes…”

“This wall glowed with the soft, seemingly beaconing glow”
1, the word “glow” – that was used in the last sentence (“glowing runes”), AND in this sentence: “glowed.” That’s three “glow”s in the space of two sentences! There must be synonyms!
2, I’ve seen the noun “beacon” used as a verb before! And I feel it’s one more adjective than necessary. Sometimes less is more, as they say.

“coral-covered walls” – that’s another reference in this paragraph to the walls, which were described just a few lines before as “consumed by millennia of kelp, coral and anemone inhabitation” (as a side note, maybe “habitation” is better than “inhabitation.”) You’re repeating information. Don’t need to re-reference the walls.

“sprink shades of yellow, red and orange…” – do you mean “sprinkled” ? Because “sprink” – I don’t know what that word means – looks to be present tense, but the rest of this passage is past.

“outstretched rainbow of beauty” – this is what some would call purple prose.

“Their outstretched arms reached up….” – the word “outstretched” appeared two lines above: “Four outstretched pillars.” Again, you seem to have a problem with word-repetition. What’s an alternative for “outstretched”? “extended,” “grasping,” “reaching” – there’s three.

“Instantaneously, the centre of Orion’s Birth…” – I would have “All of a sudden” instead of a verb to begin this paragraph. “Instantaneously” implies that this happens IN AN INSTANT, which is impossible – how could Orion fill up in one second? – whereas “All of a sudden” suggests *unexpectedly*, without warning.

“He had seen this display so many times before yet…” – lose “before,” it’s one word that isn’t needed. “He had seen this display so many times yet was always mystified by the sight.”

“however it was also magnificently intricate and amazing” – the word “amazing” seems out-of-place. Like “cool”, it has a specific context. I’d just lose the second half of this sentence. Here’s how I might phrase it: “He knew that it was death if you caught in its plume.”

“Dipping swiftly down, he swam quickly and with ease, tensing his muscles like a harpoon through the ocean floors” – I liked the simile “like a harpoon,” thought that was clever. But you have two adverbs in that sentence with the same meaning. “swiftly” and “quickly”. One of them should go, and maybe both could be eliminated. The more words you excise from you writing, the stronger it will become. Here’s my edit: “Maanta grinned with anticipation. Dipping down, he tensed his muscles, propelling his body like a harpoon through the ocean depths.”

“upon reaching the ocean floor” – again, word repetition. The word “ocean” appeared in the last sentence (“ocean depths.”) You must keep an eye open for this sort of thing! Just “floor.” We know it’s the ocean floor! SO: “Dipping down, he tensed his muscles, propelling his body like a harpoon through the ocean depths. He knew what he would discover upon reaching the floor.”

“His sleek, webbed fingers quickly slipped around her smooth fins” – I’m going to use the acronym W.R. for word repetition. The word “quickly” was used in the previous paragraph. Here, I don’t think you need it. “His sleek, webbed fingers slipped around her smooth fins.” But do we need a detailed description of his fingers at this point in the action? We know his fingers are sleek and webbed, you described them to us at the start of the story! “He slipped his fingers around her smooth fins, and Maanta braced himself.” There, that’s a LOT fewer words!

“Her deep dolphin eyes swept the yonder aquatic realm in preparation, partaking of the calm before the storm” – a complex and over-elaborate sentence. You have a large arsenal of words, but the skill of the writer is in knowing where to use them and, more importantly, when NOT to use them. I’ll be honest, I have a penchant for description myself, but I usually take great care with my descriptive passages. Simplify, simplify, simplify. We *don’t* need the word “aquatic,” we know the setting! “Her deep dolphin eyes swept the distance in preparation, partaking of the calm before the storm.”

“swarming towards the ocean’s floor” – W.R. How many times have we seen “ocean floor” or “ocean’s floor” in this chapter? Something different: “sea-bed”.

“in a tight hug” – “embrace” might sound better here than “hug.” “Maanta softly kissed the dolphin’s smooth forehead and pulled himself closer to his friend in a tight embrace.”

“The two… a harpoon in the ocean’s breeze.” – This is an excellent final sentence for your first chapter, but how many times has the word “ocean” been used in this first chapter? I’ve done a search on this page and found 11! (Not including the prologue and your book description.) In some of your paragraphs, it appears twice! You MUST change some of those words, or else it becomes redundant. We *know* this story is set underwater, so you don’t need to keep reminding the reader!

jtrobison wrote 727 days ago

Great book. Top 5. wow!

TDonna wrote 727 days ago

Scott, what else I like about your book beside the beautiful descriptions, fascinating settings, and exciting action? Your characters, primary and secondary, and how they relate to each other and develop through the story. A reader can extract so much wisdom from watching their transformation while enjoying a fantastic experience!
TDonna
(No Kiss Good-bye)

ViViAsh wrote 728 days ago

Congratulations on making it to the top 5! Your work deserves to be published. You have an exceptional talent with the written word and you create a compelling universe. I could definitely see this developed as a movie or even a video game! Congratulations to you!

Wishing you all the best and support!- Victor (ViVi Ash)

Shelby Z. wrote 728 days ago

Way to GO!
Praise God's timing!
Best wishes, Scott!

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

faith rose wrote 728 days ago

Dear Scott,

It is so great to see you in the top 5...we're all pulling for you! 'The Ark of Humanity' is a wonderful piece...your position on the desk is very well-deserved! :)

~Faith Rose

Scott Toney wrote 728 days ago

I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone! You all have been such a tremendous help in getting The Ark of Humanity to the top 5 and in getting it ready for my HC review and I want you to know just how much that means to me! I would not be where I am without you, and more important than my space on the site to me are your friendships. I would trade my space and even my books themselves to keep the friendships we have. Their value is that great. I want you to know that once The Ark of Humanity is taken and given a star I will remain as active on the site with you, giving full reads to all of my friends who have meant so much and doing all I can to support you as you rise in rank as well. You are so important to me! Your friendships are so important to me!

Have a fantastic, amazing, wonderful day!

- Scott, The Ark of Humanity :)

TDonna wrote 728 days ago

A reader knows from the first lines that s/he is about to explore an extraordinary tale that appeals both as a literary jewel and an absorbing adventure. By the end of the first chapter, you've created a mysterious setting with an intriguing character and gave me just enough clues to make me want to keep reading. This is an absolute treasure, Scott!
TDonna
(No Kiss Good-bye)

Grey Muir wrote 728 days ago

Congrats, Scott. You're in the top five. Awesome.
Keeping you on the shelf, starred, and watchlisted.
Plus a few comments. Good luck.