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

25

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His Return

25

 

 

 

His Return

Outside the crumbled shell where Meridia once stood

 

Maanta’s legs beat slowly in place as he hovered in the sandy waters outside where Meridia had once stood. He had met up with the almost 200 Meridian slaves he had freed after releasing the air pocket but had decided to keep the group close to the city until the sands dissipated and they were able to see their hands before their faces once more.

After all, what was the point in being freed if only to charge blindly into the unknown to be devoured by creatures of the deep you could not see? The tail finned people of Sangfoul might also be searching for them close by. The whipping sands in the waters about him were so thick that he could not see a finger before his eyes.

Where is Archa? He questioned in his mind. She knew I was coming to Meridia. She should have arrived by my side by now.

The others about him jostled and whispered to each other. He could hear them in the storm of sand. “Be silent,” Maanta spoke to them. “We do not know who could be listening. Wait until the sands clear to speak.”

With a hush they silenced their lips.

And then amongst the silence and clicking sand winds he heard other voices, fainter voices then the hushed whispered tones he had heard from his group.

One of the voices was deep and that of a male. “Stay close,” it said. Maanta could barely make out the sound.

Maanta cupped his hand next to the ear of the Meridian beside him and whispered to her that he wanted them to stay there while he investigated. He instructed her to whisper this in the same way to the others.

Silently Maanta swam away from the freed Meridians. He moved so slowly as to not be heard with the movements of his legs and hands, and listened so intently to the waters about him, that he heard every pulse of their movements.

A female voice glided across his hearing from the distance. Once again it was barely audible. “Did you feel that?” It asked.

That voice, Maanta thought. It’s so familiar. Where have I heard it before? Anna? His heart raced. Could she be here? He quickened his pace to get close to the voice sooner. Surely it’s her, he thought. Her voice was unmistakable to his mind.

He heard the first voice a little louder this time. “Probably an eel,” it said.

Maanta longed to hear the female voice once more. He was certain it was Anna’s. Through the sands the features of a young woman slowly became visible as a silhouette before him. Surely that wasn’t the young woman who had spoken with Anna’s voice.

When he had last been with her, Anna’s curves had been slimmer than this girl’s and she had been shorter as well. He swam quicker and as he did so the sands dissipated some before his eyes.

The girl’s features shone through the aquatic sand breeze. Her curly red hair flowed in the waters behind her as her emerald eyes looked longingly into his own. Those were Anna’s eyes. He knew them instantly. She had matured and was more beautiful then ever. It was her.

Maanta?” Anna’s beautiful voice called to him. “Could it be you?”

Maanta rushed to her now with no caution to be silent anymore. Anna was the only thing on his mind. He wrapped his pale arms around her pastel-blue waist and back. “It’s me,” he spoke in her ears. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Others were speaking to him now but he paid them no mind, focusing solely on Anna.

“I feared you dead,” Anna wept into the waters. “Where have you been? Why didn’t you come to me? I’m so happy you’re alive!”

Maanta held Anna close, not wanting to let her go. He traced his fingers through her hair and along her head as she moved closer. “I have seen so many things and been so far.” He could feel her warmth joining his own as he held her close. “There is so much to tell you. When we’ve settled in some place tonight I promise I’ll share it all with you. I’m just so happy to be by your side once more.”

“Did you think of me where you were?” Anna brushed her cheek against his own.

Maanta’s thoughts went back to the mountain when he was daydreaming about Anna so much that he fell from its cliff. “Sometimes I could think of nothing but you.”

She kissed his lips and he held her cheek with his hand. It was a deep passionate kiss that they held for long moments before looking into each other’s eyes once more.

Maanta stared into Anna’s warm, pure emerald eyes, and marveled at the strength, purity and passion within them. He still held her cheek with his hand. “I love you, Anna.” The world about him seemed surreal as he said the words. He had wanted to say them so badly in Orion’s Birth before he had been swept away to the world of air.

“Oh Maanta!” Anna hugged him even tighter than she had before and kissed him deeply again. “I love you too!”

“Ahem!” The loud, grunt-like noise came from somewhere close by and finally registered in Maanta’s hearing and thoughts. “If having a reunion like this, she gets, dread I the reunion I am to recieve.” Sift’s dark muscular body hovered slightly beside Anna’s in the swirling sandy waters.

Maanta kissed Anna once more and then went to shake Sift’s hand. “It’s great to see you again too, Sift.” Maanta gave him a hug too. He petted Lola on the head where she floated close by. “I can’t wait to hear all about what has happened with Anna, you and the others since I have been away.”

“Nor can, waiting we be, to hear what done have you my friend.” Sift waved some of the Meridian warriors and Tao over to his side now to also greet Maanta. “Although, as must you have guessed, Meridia and our enslaved there have, I fear, been lost.”

Most of the Banealian and Meridian warriors were paying attention to Maanta now, a few of them shaking his hand and giving him their best regards. Tao looked distant and stared off into the blank and distant sandy fog.

Maanta’s heart raced. He couldn’t believe he had waited so long to tell them about the good news. “It is true Meridia seems to be lost.” He gave Sift a heartening grin. “But the slaves of Meridia live. I freed them from the prisons beneath Meridia before the city’s collapse.”

“Do not lie to us, boy!” Tao snapped at him with a dark look in his eyes. “They are all dead! How could they have survived?”

“Tao,” Sift gave his comrade a stare. “If Maanta says free they be, then free they be.”

“Then where are they?” Tao looked dark and lost again.

“Follow me. I’ll show you.” Maanta swam forward and began to disappear in the sandy fog before them.

“Toward Maanta we follow!” Sift shouted and waved his armored arm in the currents as he mounted Lola once more.

The group mounted their riding companions also and swiftly followed in Maanta’s wake. Anna and Sift were at the lead. The only one who didn’t come was Tao. Instead he swam down to look for the beheaded body of his son that had sunk to the ocean floor during the battle.

Venge will pay,” Tao cursed beneath his breath. A lost and blind hurt consumed him.

The sands whipped and curled before Maanta’s eyes as he swam to where he had left the freed slaves. In truth they were only 15 or so whale lengths away. Soon their faces and bodies became visible in the now settling sandy fog. They stretched like a large circular wall in the waters before him. He wasn’t able to see how many there were through the sands until just now. It was worth the sacrifice of our city, he thought. Thank goodness they are all now free.

Maanta swam into the group and was about to tell them about his discovery of Zharista Anna and the others close by when the Banealian and Meridian warriors burst through the sandy fog.

“My people!” Anna cried as she raced to them, hugging each one of them she was near as she arrived to their side.

Other cries of jubilation could be heard over and over again in the coming moments as warrior Meridians met up with loved ones they had long believed dead.

Candinar!” One man called out as he rushed to a freed Meridian’s side. “Brother!”

A female warrior noticed her malnourished husband in the mass of freed slaves and rushed to be with him, kissing him repeatedly.

The warriors of Baneal smiled and cried as they embraced the previously enslaved who had no family here to greet them.

It was a bittersweet reunion, because for each person who was now here reuniting and celebrating their freedom, at least 20 more had died in the massacre, the enslavement and battles. That didn’t include the numbers of enslaved people of Baneal who were dying or had perished in Sangfoul.

The reunited kissed, held and comforted one another until the light streaming through the surface of the water above began to set and fade.

Sift suddenly appeared by Anna and Maanta’s side as they spoke with the first slave Maanta had freed. They had discovered his name was Medvedev.

Medvedev spoke of how he had been forced to mine the lava by hand from the caverns beneath Meridia. His hands were crippled and black as coal. He also told the heroic tale of how Maanta had freed him after the air had burst through the tunnels. “But I fear our people’s spirit will not be repairable after losing Meridia to the sand and coral ocean floor,” he spoke.

Maanta put his arm around the man. “It is our souls, Medvedev, that make who we are, not the place where we were born.”

Medvedev had a blank stare as he spoke. “But you must remember, at least for many of us who were enslaved, our souls have been broken. Without our homeland, where will we heal them?”

Sift broke in to the conversation and spoke to both Anna and Maanta at once. “Getting dark it is, and we have left many of our people who, not warriors are, a good distance away from here. Return to them before nightfall, we should.”

“Good point,” Anna agreed. “We should be heading back to them.” She took a conk-shell that Sift had had strapped to his side and held it to her lips. “My fellow Meridians and Banealians,” the noise echoed through the spiraled shell, “it is getting dark and we must return to others of our people we have left beyond these waters!”

The now massive group stopped their talking to listen to her words. There was barely any sand left to block their sight in the waters.

“Travel closely!” Anna spoke. “For the people of Sangfoul may still lurk about us!”

Within moments they grouped together and began heading back toward Tao. Once more Sift, Anna and Maanta led the group.

At first when they came to where Tao should be they did not see him.

“This is where he was?” Anna questioned Sift.

“Yes,” Sift answered while looking about him. “And we must find him. For leave him behind, we cannot.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Anna assured him.

The waters were relatively clear now so Tao should have been easily visible but darkness was also falling and Maanta realized, as he searched too, that it was possible the darkness was shading Tao from them. It was bizarre though, if Tao was here, that he hadn’t swum to them the second they arrived. Their group now numbered close to 300, once combined, and would be easily noticed by anyone close by.

Then, beneath them on the still-stirring sandy ocean floor, Maanta noticed a body curled and cupping its hands to its face. “Tao!” Maanta shouted down to him before showing Anna and Sift where he was. “Tao!” Maanta called again.

At first Tao paid them no mind. He didn’t look up, but after Sift also called for him he swam slowly upward.

When Tao arrived to their side his eyes were sunk with darkness and depression. “They’re gone,” he spoke with disparity.

Maanta couldn’t understand why Tao seemed so dark and lost. He should be joyous that the enslaved had been freed.

“True it is,” Sift responded to Tao. “Evanshade and the others of Sangfoul appearing are to be nowhere about.”

“Not them,” Tao spoke angrily now. “The bodies of our slain are gone, swept away by the currents which churned in the falling of Meridia. My son is lost. He should not have died this way.”

Tao’s son, Maanta thought. Why was this sparking a memory? The boy, he remembered. Tao’s son was the boy who greeted me in Baneal and begged to come with us to Orion’s Birth. He must have come here with the others to fight the people of Sangfoul and free our Meridian slaves. “I’m sorry for your loss,” he said.

“Don’t be.” Tao’s voice was crisp and harsh. “He gave his life for a just cause.” Tao was trying to justify losing his son, Maanta could tell, but the look in Tao’s eyes said something different. They spoke of hate.

And hatred can bring nothing of goodness to our world, Maanta thought. We have to help him try to move past his son’s death and find some other light in the world. Otherwise it will consume him and could bring harm to us all.

Sift put his arm around Tao. “Tonight, hold we will a memorial for him and our other lost brothers.”

Tao looked distant and did not respond.

Sift petted Lola’s smooth scales with his strong hands. “Now, leave we must for the group, which leave we did, in the waters outside Meridia.”

“Agreed,” Anna moved forward before looking back to Maanta. “Join me on my riding fish until we find you another riding companion or Archa meets up with us again.”

Maanta swiftly swam up and mounted the riding fish while hugging close to Anna’s waist.

The group traveled slowly through the currents as they made their way back to Millay and the Meridians and Banealians they had left behind. The recently freed slaves had no riding companions and so wherever they went they would have to move at this slow speed.

Maanta enjoyed it though. It had been so long since Anna had been by his side and he was enjoying each moment closely holding on to her.

“How far off is the group we’re looking for?” He asked her while holding tight to her waist. Cool currents zipped along his body as he and Anna led the group behind them. Sift rode Lola at their side.

“Not far, only a little ways.” Anna took a hand from the riding-fish and caressed his hand where it touched her side. “But I’m not in any hurry. I like having you close like this.”

“Maybe I can hold you close as we sleep tonight.” Maanta smiled and caressed her fingertips. Anna’s back was warm against his chest.

The remains of Meridia were out of visibility as the group rose and dipped across a hillside in the quickly darkening night. The coral, fish and terrain seemed to glow about them as the group swam, like ghosts.

As they swam above a swaying kelp field, illuminated by the paled light of the descending sun above the ocean, Anna slowed her and Maanta’s riding fish, turning her head in Sift’s direction. “Wasn’t this the place?” She asked him.

“Thought I that it was so.” Sift looked carefully below them, squinting his eyes. “If here they are, then a grand job have they done of hiding.”

Anna halted their riding fish. “Then why haven’t they seen us and come to our side?” As she asked this, the field of illuminated kelp swayed and parted as hands pushed at the dense kelp leaves.

Bodies shot up from the kelp basin and swam quickly toward them. One particular female body headed in Maanta and Anna’s direction.

“Anna!” Millay called up in joy. “Thank goodness you have returned. We feared the worst when a fog of sandy currents consumed the waters about us. We didn’t know what it could mean.”

Meridia has fallen to a rising pocket of air that rose from beneath the seafloor,” Anna smiled. “But there is fantastic news. The tail fined people of Sangfoul fled as Meridia fell, and Maanta has freed the once enslaved of our people.”

Maanta?” Millay hadn’t noticed him before, behind Anna, but as Anna spoke his name he caught her eyes. “You have come back to us, Maanta.” She hugged the boy that she did not yet know. “I assumed you dead but Anna was always convinced you were alive. If you freed the enslaved of Meridia then you must be a great boy indeed!”

The other people who had glided up from the kelp basin were now welcoming their warriors back and greeting the freed slaves. In the darkness, all movements and facial features could barely be seen.

“I am not great,” Maanta said. “I have done nothing hard or difficult that someone else could not.”

Sift had been listening to their conversation and spoke to Maanta now. “But thought of an idea, you did, and put it to action where all others did not. In truth, certainly brave this is. Be not so modest, Maanta.”

Maanta blushed but tried to hide it from the girls by sitting up straighter on the riding fish. “Thank you, Sift. I appreciate the compliment. I will never see myself as great though.”

“As you shouldn’t,” Sift patted Maanta on the back, “for seeing yourself as great, to arrogance can lead. Greatness in truth can only exist in modest souls without corruption overcoming.”

Moments of silence passed as the group thought about what Sift’s words meant. Sift dove off in the currents to greet others rejoining them.

Millay’s facial expressions turned concerned. “How did Sebastian fair in battle?” She asked. “Why is he not by your side? Does he ride with Tao?”

“He was killed in battle,” Anna reached her hand out and held Millay’s.

It was as if Millay’s heart dropped. “I knew we would lose warriors in combat. It is unavoidable. But I never thought it could be Sebastian who would fall.” She bit her bottom lip as she thought she would cry. “How is Tao?”

“He is not taking it well,” Anna spoke. “He seems to be slipping into despair.”

“I will go to his side and try to comfort him.” Millay looked worried. “It’s so good to have you back safe. I don’t know how I would have taken it if you would have fallen as well.” Millay swept off in the currents to look for Tao.

 

As darkness fell to its pure black night the group decided to rest in the kelp basin until morning when they could mourn their dead and decide what was to be done next.

Millay and Sift slept close to Tao and tried to comfort him before his thoughts traveled to the world of dreams.

Maanta held Anna in his arms at the edge of the kelp basin, slightly away from the others. Kelp swayed and clung to their bodies as they stared up to the moonlight shimmering across the ocean’s surface above.

Anna turned and whispered in Maanta’s ear. “We have laid down to rest now.” She kissed him softly. “You told me you would tell me tonight of the places you’ve been and the things you’ve experienced since we were last together.”

“You won’t believe me.” Maanta traced his fingertips down the bare of Anna’s back.

“I will believe whatever you tell me.” Anna laid her head on his strong, pale chest. “I trust you. No matter what you say I’ll know it is true.”

A cool hush of currents sent goosebumps up both of their bodies.

“It all began when I was ripped away from you by the gust of air in Orion’s Birth,” Maanta began. He told her about how Noah and two of his sons had rescued him after he had come to float on the crest of the ocean. He recited Noah’s story for her about God’s flooding of the world and about how he had learned to breathe air along with the other ways of the people of land.

She cringed when he told her of how he had choked up his gills from his mouth and she was shocked to discover that Noah was the man called Noa she had heard so much about as a child.

“How could he still be alive?” Anna asked.

He told her that he didn’t know but that Noah was now over 900 years old.

Gelu must be strong in him!” She exclaimed.

From there Maanta told her of the letter he had received from Amaranth and about the symbiotic creatures which he eventually tucked in his cheeks to assist him in his breathing underwater again.

She hadn’t expected him to tell her that he was the one who had released the air pocket from beneath Meridia that had toppled her kingdom, but she surprised him by thanking him because without the loss of Meridia her people would have never been freed.

“I wanted to return to you so many times before now but I knew the only way to free our people was to release the air pocket as Amaranth had suggested.” Maanta’s fingertips traced Anna’s curly red hair. He kissed her forehead.

“It was worth the wait.” Anna smiled. “But what are we to do now?”

“I’ve been thinking about that.” Maanta still stroked her hair. “The people of Sangfoul will never rest until our people and the people of Baneal are either completely enslaved or annihilated. But before I left the world of air and land I spoke of our dilemma with Noah and his sons and I think there is a way for us all to live free and without fear of the people of Sangfoul.”

Anna raised her head and rested her arms on his chest. Her pure emerald eyes peered into his own. “What way is that?”

“If I was able to breathe air and learn to walk and live on the land above our waters then surely all our people can do the same.” Maanta put his arms behind his head and smiled back at her. “The people of Sangfoul could never again torture us because even if they were able to learn the ways of breathing air they could never walk because they have tailfins instead of legs.”

Anna thought for a moment, still looking in Maanta’s eyes through the flowing dark currents. “It would work. But we would have to convince the others that it was a good idea and they may be harder to convince of the truth of your story then I was. I would never be able to leave them behind.”

“Neither would I.” Maanta held her close in his arms as the two closed their eyes and drifted warmly off to the world of sleep.

In the morning they would tell Sift and the others of their idea.

The darkness drew Maanta downward to dream.

 

 

Chapters

25

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Scott Toney wrote 587 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 1342 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 1368 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 277 days ago

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

QueenofSamsara wrote 333 days ago

This is brilliant! :)

QueenofSamsara wrote 335 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 587 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 690 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 691 days ago

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

Cara Gold wrote 700 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 709 days ago

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

DanielP wrote 710 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 712 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 713 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 720 days ago

This is a really awesome book, lol so cool

leejohn wrote 721 days ago

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

Leejohn

mhebler wrote 721 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 722 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 722 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 722 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 723 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 723 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 724 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 724 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 725 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 726 days ago

Hi Scott

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

Thanks

Leejohn

sandstone1521 wrote 726 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 726 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 726 days ago

Great book. Top 5. wow!

TDonna wrote 726 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 727 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 727 days ago

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

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

faith rose wrote 727 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 727 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.