Book Jacket

 

rank 5918
word count 10274
date submitted 14.06.2012
date updated 19.08.2012
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Popu...
classification: moderate
incomplete

The Pendulum Blade

Meera Taj

Walking a land where little order can be found and knowledge is the true embodiment of power, a mechanized veteran seeks vengeance.

 

What's left of the country has reached the end of a decade-long war where no life went untouched. In this world, damaged ages earlier, sharpened steel rules the day and technology stems from the ingenuity of soldiering engineers.

Claiming dominion over the surviving city-states, The People's Army refashions itself as The Gilded Revision, enacting civil and economic measures in an ambitious reconstruction. Their first act as a governing body releases thousands of veterans deemed unfit for further duties.

Ten years after his impressment into military service, a wandering stranger arrives on the doorstep of an aging blacksmith. Offering his own skills on the anvil in exchange for shelter, the opportunity may just be what the old man needs to leave his grandchild a future. In the neighboring city-state, a military official is investigating the assassination of his regime's appointed governor for the area. Sensing the beginning of a trend, he looses upon the killer a vicious subordinate of his own.

'The Pendulum Blade' is a steampunk fable, allegorizing the timeless struggle between humanity's individuality and the masses that seek to dehumanize.

Strike while the iron's hot.

 
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27 comments

 

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AudreyB wrote 677 days ago

Wow--this is good. I'm reading way outside my comfort zone, but you've created a believable, violent world in your polished manuscript. I can't quite connect the prologue to chapter 1, but suspect our hooded killer to be the son who saw his parents murdered. I loved your word choices: halved cadaver, this trade circumvents the barrier of language. Specific, evocative and well chosen words.

I'm not able to read more at this moment, but will surely be back to finish what you have posted. I really like it.

Best of luck to you on Authonomy!!
~AudreyB

Trenor wrote 448 days ago

Now this is good! (Reminds me a little of Cormac McCarthy's work). Expertly written. Interesting premise.

HIGH stars and BACKED!!

- Trenor Rapkins
THE LORDS OF INVENTION. (Steampunk, but not steampunk).

rikasworld wrote 593 days ago

Things I like about this are the the dialogue which comes over a realistic, and the action scenes. It's a bit gory for me but that's probably a plus when looking for publishers or agents.
What I did think, was that the prologue in particular would read better if the language was simplified a bit. For example, why his creator? It's confusing. Why not just say his mother? With calm deamenor would read better as calmly. The aft of his hand too read a bit oddly to me.
Obviously this is just my take. Other commentators love your word choice so please feel free to ignore. I have found the crit. here really useful and any crit. I make is just meant to be a help.
The pacing is excellent and it's an exciting read.

Shelvis wrote 593 days ago

Club Grimoire Review of "The Pendulum Blade" by Meera Taj

I've been wanting to read this for ages, long before you signed up on the Grim, so I'm going into this very excited!

The first thing that impressed me was that your prose is so tight. Clearly you've been over this many times, and you either have good editing help or a great eye yourself. I'm a grammar hound, and nothing jumped out at me as out of place or missing, which made reading this delightfully smooth.

The subject matter, however, is far from smooth. You have a talent for depicting the brutality of violence like a punch in the gut, and I'm not sure this should be classified in the YA genre. Typically violence fades to grey or is implied. You ride a fine edge of implied and visual, so just wanted to mention that. Whenever you connect with an agent or an editor, though, they'd be far better equipped than I am as to defining where this falls (it's just that YA is something I've been closely examining lately, otherwise I wouldn't have even brought it up!).

But please don't think this is a big deal, because it's not at all. ^_^

By the end of the first chapter I have some questions, which is a good thing, but I do wonder what the plot will be, and at what point will the events of the prologue tie in. Judging by your pitch, I suspect the mechanical warrior to be the boy from the beginning. That's just my hunch, though, and I could be totally wrong. That's what makes a great story, though. It leaves me guessing, and I like that.

~ Shelley

junetee wrote 594 days ago

Club Grimoire review.

Well I'm just starting to realise I kind of like a book with a bit of blood and guts.
I certainly enjoyed this read.
You begin brilliantly. The prologues great. Nice and dramatic.
You described the scenes very well, and made them easy to visualize with your excellent choice of phrases.
Enjoyable read. Nicely done.
junetee
FOUR CORNERS.book one.The Rock Star

mat012 wrote 596 days ago

Club Grimoire Review:

You certainly have a high paced beginning to a book here. A very good hook at the end of chapter one which makes the reader wonder who the stranger is and, more importantly, what he is. There is a bit of an oddness in the prologue and the first chapter that tugs at me. Normally prologues give some hint of what is to come in a what the is reasonably clear when the main book starts. I did not quite feel that here. Perhaps you get into it a bit in the next few chapters but as I only had the first to go by it is hard to judge.

In the prolouge the words you use to describe the scene seem at odds with the boy's point of view. Perhaps it is just me, but they seem a bit for, what I take, for a resonably young boy. It felt at odds with the pace and the action in my mind.

The story idea is good and I think you can make this into something that could do well.

Good luck

Meagan

Kayla H wrote 603 days ago

Club Grimoire Review:
Prologue:
You start off with a very dramatic, if slightly detached, scene. You’ve made me curious to know who all these men are and why they chose to attack this family. Also, I wonder what will happen to the children.
Some nitpicking:
“Not upon their eyes” seemed a bit strange to me.
“turned at the boy” should be “turned to the boy”
“the aft of his hand” also read a little oddly.
“clutched at the hair” should probably be “clutched by the hair”
“this summer last” didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me; I’m not sure if you mean “this summer” “last summer” “this past summer” or what.
I’m not really sure how old the boy or the girl are in this section.
Also, I wasn’t sure why the boy would just stand there; I’d think he’d try to run with his sister.
Chapter one:
Again, you start off with a very dramatic situation, that doesn’t yet seem to tie in to the fate of the children from the prologue. The stranger the thieves meet on the road is very mysterious and interesting.
Some nitpicking:
“fallen pine needles staring” needs a comma after “needles”
I’m not sure why, but the way in which the dialogue, names, and character description is ordered seems a bit awkward to me. I also don’t really have a clear sense of the perspectives and personalities of the characters.
“to turn at their leader” should be “to turn to their leader”
“a familiar person” why not just say “Pike”?
“sidestepping towards his opposite direction” seems a bit complicated. Why not just “sidestepping past him”?
“He stayed honed in her direction” didn’t quite work for me.
For me at least, this complicated way of saying things distracts from the story instead of adding to it.
But, I think you’ve got an interesting story idea and an ability to create a sense of curiosity over what will happen next.

Emily Rebecca wrote 604 days ago

Club Grimoire Review:

Prologue & Chapter one both have a lot going on as far as action, but, with the exception of the highwaymen (who are no longer necessary) I don't get much of a feeling for the characters.

You have the atmosphere down, giving the reader a squeamish feeling. A lot of blood and guts so far.

Some of the turns of phrases struck me as a bit off. I appreciate the fact that you're trying to avoid cliches and many of them work well. Others, like 'his level of maturity was indecipherable' felt a bit awkward.

Only my thoughts. Feel free to disregard. ;-)
Best of luck!

Jenny-B wrote 609 days ago

Club Grimoire Review - The Pendulum Blade
Meera Taj

**Prologue**

I tend to take notes as I read, marking what I like and what I don’t, what works for me, and what doesn’t. At the end of it all, I’ll write my overall impressions on style, plot and characterization. I’m not a pro, so please remember my notes are just my opinion, so feel free to disregard anything you don’t agree with.

“Not upon their eyes” – strikes me as an odd expression.

“The girl had been crying since the hanging, and silently since the pogram’s sergeant unsaddled to lend a boot to her hip.” You lost me here. (pogram = riot / an organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group – I had to look it up).

Okay – it’s taking me some time to get used to your use of language, so maybe I’m completely off the mark, but some of the words you use are swirling around in my brain and are having difficulty taking hold: “aft of his hand”, “his creator”, “bolus garb” (bolus = quantity of food at moment of swallowing), “cruor”.

“...pile of terrified girl” – I like this.

In all – the prologue is a vividly grotesque opening (which I’m sure is intended). It needs a thorough edit, to improve flow and cadence of the words. Try reading it aloud and you’ll know exactly where a sentence gets tricky and needs additional punctuation or rewriting.

**Chapter One**

Again, I’m struggling with language. The characters come across as uneducated and crass, so words like “circumvent”, “barrier” and “reassess your predicament” seem out of place. Unless there is something that has yet to be revealed about their initial upbringing.

“A fading resonation remained to challenge the silence,” – I like this.

The dialogue between Dezra and Pike after Jev is dead is very realistic and flows well. It’s also indicative of their characters.

I’m not familiar with steampunk genre, and I know each genre uses language differently. However, there are times when it seems you are stretching the limits to find unique descriptions when sometimes, simplicity works too. I don’t mind looking up the occasional word, but having to read with a dictionary at hand is frustrating.

In general, your descriptive prose is pretty good, I could visualize both the scene in the prologue as well as the forest in chapter one. You create colourful characters, but need to be careful about making their speech patterns match their personalities (again, this is just my opinion, others will think differently). You’ve left me with a good hook – enough to make me want to read on to the next chapter.

Jenny

EllieMcG wrote 611 days ago


Club Grimoire: pendulum Blade
hi Meera,
You obviously enjoy twisting and pulling at words until you've woven them into a tapestry of prose. And you do it very well! The writing was fluid and intricate - it feels like you've chosen each word carefully in order to avoid cliche . I like the contrast between the prologue and first chapters - each have their own taste of horror: one blatantly cruel and unjust, the other a slightly shocking "got what you had coming" showdown. Anyway, I thought it was a confident opening, and it definitely pulled me in for more.
Crits:
Prologue: 
 Not upon their eyes. - I kind of think the first line would be more effective without this 

Her attacker turned at the boy and girl - should be turned TO the boy an girl, I think.

the elder tree in front of their home - this is possibly an example of where a little too much effort with the writing has come at the loss of clarity - is the elder tree the old oak that his father is hanging in (as in, a tree that is elder... Or older than the boy) or an elder tree (also known as an elderberry tree?). I can only assume the former, since you only mention that one. I thought the tree was burning, but wasn't really sure. Where is the woodpile? I guess, just overall, these couple paras are lacking a bit of positional understanding: I'm not really sure where the structures are or how they are placed in relation to the boy and his sister, or which ones are on fire. 

a haphazard scream finished as a muffled gasp, with a masculine grunt finishing the gesture - finished twice here, presumably from two separate characters, but you can't tell based on this sentence.

to her pate and forehead - if I were reading this in modern English, I'd read it as "to her head and forehead" - well, maybe "to the top of her head and forehead" - I guess I'm trying to say that it reads to me as a bit redundant. 

Chapter 1:
Pike to turn at their leader for - should this be turn TO their leader? I'm not sure if I'm wrong about this now...
this trade circumvents the barrier of language like no other - I really liked this. :)
In particular, I really like the dialogue, action, and interactions of the first chapter.

Overall, it's a promising start, with a lot of mystery surrounding the traveller (the boy, maybe?) and the fate of the young boy and his sister after the prologue. This definitely makes me want to turn to chapter 2.

Hope this helps!
Ellie 
Paragon

Daniel de Molay-Wilson wrote 611 days ago

Club Grimoire Review:

I didn't enjoy reading the prologue. It's violence seemed to be clinical in a way that a movie censor would snip it here and there, as would a broadcaster, say the BBC or SKY (assuming you're Britsh). But no, we're in book territory here, thus we as Writer's must be allowed to assert our ideas into slightly more drawn-out fashions.

So, I read on...

The mention of Steampunk in another comment here, genuinely hooked me and kept me going, as I'm a strong advocate of Speculative Fiction, under the umbrella of which, Steampunk is a rather challenging and new(ish) concept to a mainstream audience.

Yet although it's a (sub)genre I've not written much about, I am very familiar with it's styles and imaginings, so well done for doing something here in this manner...

Club Grimoire is a wide canvas, so you'll find many who appreciate you work. I would say only that you maybe place your prologue in the context of some flashback later on, or as a token scenario specific to someone's character-arc. The reason being, what follow is of an altogether different tone and pace, so the emotional investment you ask of your readership, really ought to be dealt with using an early scene that actually propels the momentum of the real story forward.

In closing, a good effort and I'm glad you're apart of our Club on account your ideas are different and somewhat uneasy to tackle, which makes you nicely interesting, when compared to the tide of recycled concepts we're all up against in the world beyond this forum. So keep writing, my friend, and good luck.

Kind regards,
Dan

Nancy Lopez wrote 613 days ago

Club Grimoire:

Hi, I enjoyed reading the prologue and first chapter of The Pendulum Blade.

Your descriptions and dialog are your strong writing suit. The pacing was, inmy opinion, perfect.
The structure and plotting also was well executed.
My only concern was that at times I wasn't sure what time period I was in because a few words and weapons or rather straps and metals were mentioned.
I don't know if it was intentional so just thought I mention it.

Loved the line --winds ambient trickle amongst the tree above.

--"the smell of an exposed gut ..." okay, here, consider swapping the word smell for stench. Stench is more powerful of a word and tells us something more..it tells us how it smells. You could use this kind of clean up in a few other places. But honestly, this is a great story.

Glad you joined the group. This is a good start. the story seems its going to be an interesting journey. You
have some lines lines in here too.

Happy writing
Nancy
highly starred

Karataratakas wrote 615 days ago

Club Grimoire Critique.

Alway glad to see another steampunk novel on the site ;)

This was a great opening chapter, well paced, well written, with a good hook and compelling characters. I got a very movie-like feel to the first chapter, I could picture it happening in my head very well. Superb action and a from your pitch I can guess we're going to see a lot of really great world-building as well, so a great start all around, highly starred!

KT

eloravelle wrote 623 days ago

Club Grimoire Review-

I like the way you set up the starting prologue nicely done against the opening chapter 1 with that big one. It is eyecatching and done well.

Each paragraph compliments the next with substance, back story, dialogue, and tension as the scene plays out. This is beyond polished to me it is ready to be published. I can imagine seeing it done as a graphic novel or manga, or anime, maybe even a comic.

One of my favorite lines is "I do lots more than minding your worm!"

The characeterization between Dezra, Pike and Jev was comical and curious. Just as you brought them in you put them out cold. I am wondering if the child in the prologue is the mysterious stranger upon the thieves road that coldly kills two people dead in the middle of the road.

Other thoughts are what era this is in, seeing the leather straps and mechanical weapons that can cut a man in half but my thought process brings me to the title of your book and once again your opening.

The train tracks lead me to questioning what year it is even though the two cousins and lover are watching a road while another is walking it alone.

I would definitely like to read on to see how Dezra ends up and if you will use her as a MC to continue on the story or the stranger with the weapon. I will be backing this soon as it is one of my faves for the club.

-Elora

Lucy Middlemass wrote 623 days ago

This is a YARG and a Grimoire review

The Pendulum Blade

“Strike while the iron’s hot” is a great line in your long pitch.

Prologue

There’s incredible violence and cruelty in this opening. I like your mixture of subtly and directness.

“The slow breeze..” This sentence is a lovely, subtle way to tell us what happened to the father. Quite a contrast to the way you describe the mother’s death at the end.
“and father.” This couldn’t be a stand-alone sentence so doesn’t belong after a semi-colon.
“form the girl’s clutches…” Just a typo - from.

Ch 1

This is a second, violent scene but it’s quite different from the first. This time, the reader is encouraged to hope for the blood - perhaps not for the woman’s but definitely for the men alongside her. I’m not sure what the link is between this and the prologue but they are sufficiently short for this not to be an immediate problem.

“but it was far more popular than the one that was.” A neat way to tell us that the road is called that informally. Your writing is full of sentences like this - a familiar idea put across in a new way.

You have a wide vocabulary for a YA novel but it stops short of reading as though you’ve raided the thesaurus, which is good. You’ve made the scenes easy to imagine and it’s one of the Grimoires I’m looking forward to returning to most. I’ll star it highly for now.

Lucy

Inkysparrow wrote 624 days ago

Club Grimoire

This first chapter comes at you with two spike covered fists. By the end of the chapter I was completely obliterated by your prose and the subject matter. The world you've built is stark and definitely dystopian. The violence in the first chapter, while shocking, is still kept very general which is in keeping with a YA. I didn't flinch and grimace while reading through it (or close the chapter while flapping my hands in disgust for that matter).

I like the boy - who isn't named, and wonder if he's the traveler in the second part of the chapter with the first part being a flashback of his violent past. I also liked Dezra and hope that she shows up in later chapters. She seems sensible, and though she's a thief she had more compassion than her companions. I give you high marks for characterization.

Tone and Atmosphere depict a grim, hungry world. There's minimal accounts of scenery, but in an opening scene like this one it would probably detract -since you have so much movement here.

All in all a good start/

Colin Neville wrote 626 days ago

For me, the interesting feature of this unusual and interesting novel was in the relationship that the mysterious stranger, Galvan, builds with Hastor, and his grand-daughter, Ulie. I liked these sections, particularly when Galvan engages Ulie in a discussion on the nature of the world and reveals his sophisticated armoury. The description of this weaponry was very creative, and we saw its deadly impact on the would-be robbers in the earlier part of the book. Galvan's aim and purpose in life is still not revealed by the close of ch. 5, but the long pitch suggests revenge or vengence in a post-war world still troubled by a break down in the social order.

There was a 19th century North American feel to the story, although a specific time period is not given, and this was suggested by the formality of the language used throughout. My immediate reaction was 'American Civil War' and its aftermath, but references to 'Gilded Empire' and ''People's Army' suggests an imagined period of time, perhaps influenced by the US Civil War. I felt, however, I needed a time frame to anchor myself to this novel - maybe via the long pitch.

The language in the book was a mixture of clear, direct and unambiguous prose, with over-formal and rather long-winded sentences. It felt as if the author was attempting to connect with 19th century US literature, but it resulted in some laboured sentences. For example: "Inclining his head, he remained seated, wondering if a trip across the room was necessary or more fool's errand induced from an increasingly unreliable subconcious." It might have just been simpler to say he wondered if he was hearing things.

''The most obvious quality was its unquestionably silver composition'. Again, why not just say it was silver?

The author might want to try reading out sections of the book aloud to try and identify any over-long sentences and simplify these wherever possible.

However, full-marks for an original and creative idea here, with some intriguing characters - particulary Galvan and Ulie - to engage the reader's interest.

Eftborin wrote 627 days ago

Club Crimoire comment.

Hi Meera,
I like it so far...the prologue and 1st chapter flowed nicely along without over descriptive writing leaving the reader to use his/her imagination. The fear and hope in the young lads eyes were perfectly depicted and i am looking forward to more.
Will place on my watchlist.
Pat

JCS87 wrote 634 days ago

Very well written. I'll back a.s.a.p. Couple of notes, though.

The prologue is attached to chapter 1. Not sure why, but I feel it's better they're separate. It's okay that chapter 1 is short, but it is my opinion.
There are areas words have been repeated, and this a common writing issue among a lot of authors on this site. I read through my book out loud to help spot my repetitive banter, lol.

Other than that, there's no need to tear your manuscript apart. I really enjoyed what I've read. I'm always busy, but when I have the time, I'll come back to read more :)

Good luck with your book!

JCS
Anguished Immortals Trilogy

Lynn Demarest wrote 646 days ago

A BHCG review

The Pendulum Blade
Meera Taj

Reading notes:



PROLOGUE

How could they NOT be oblivious to what happens next? We all are! Strikes me as a cheap tease.

I guess the mother objected to the sergeant kicking her girl, too?

"his acknowledgement of the audience" is his spit? Huh?

"his creator" is his mother?

What other direction?

haphazard scream? what's that?

"finishing the gesture" What gesture? We were just talking about sounds...

"wet meat" I guess the mother is dead...

"jolted?" his focus?

Slaughtering or just killing? Slaughtering makes me think they got it ready for cooking.

"despite the pattern" what pattern?

cruor!

his thoughts "ventured?"

youngling?

The bad man kills the boy's mother!

Who's the "Highwaywoman?"


CHAPTER 1

Hides and fur would set them apart from leaves, wouldn't it?

Land pirates stealing grain...arguing.

dirt-coats? These the guys that were just killing chickens?

"the wind's ambient trickle" huh?

"level of maturity" = age?

"a bolt through his chest" ? not an arrow?

"learn it" learn what?

smell of an exposed gut? what's that like?

how did the trees "make up" for his silence?

how can you tell a person's age by their voice?

supplied?

"several lengths" How long is that?

Seems strange she would run after he's already gone.

Cara Gold wrote 656 days ago

{The Pendulum Blade} – Meera Taj
YAL Review and return read

After reading the prologue several weeks ago, I was very eager to return, and first of all I’ll say well done with the new pitch – it’s definitely much stronger than the original, and you make use of that word count! Just a small point, perhaps ‘But soon they will remember’ or ‘But now they will remember again’, so it’s a little more sequential and less jarring?

I’ll make some general feedback first;

I like the premise of this, and from what I’ve read, it seems you are building up a complex story – I’m very interested to see how the threads will come together. What you’ve done well is sow the seeds of mystery, and your writing is polished and easy to read. You also handle dialogue well, and use it to bring in relevant info.

My main point of feedback concerns character development, and the ‘emotive/thought’ action as opposed to dialogue and what is physically going on in the scene. At times I don’t feel connected enough to the characters, and in my specific feedback below I’ve highlighted points where I think you could work at this. After five chapters, I’m not entirely left with a clear sense of where things are headed – now, this is of course okay if you maintain interest and ensure the reader is engaged with the scene. I mean mystery is great, and I’m a fan of complexity!
But, if the reader doesn’t have enough to cling to, enough attachment to the characters, then no matter how good your writing is or how great the plot will unfurl to be, you might lose their interest. I don’t think there’s a lot of work to do; it’s merely picking out the places where you can captivate the reader’s attention more and make them feel in the scene as one of the characters.

I hope this feedback will be useful to you and that it doesn’t sound too harsh. Honestly, I really see a lot of potential in this. I wouldn’t have read all you uploaded if I didn’t. I sense a clever plot and lots of intrigue, and with a little more character development, I could imagine this being a huge hit – not only amongst Young Adult readers, but a larger readership range. Best of luck and thank you also for supporting ‘Dawn of Destruction’! :)
Cara
------
C1
I think missing the word ‘one’; ‘the short-cropped black ::one:: turned at her and spat…’

I felt a slight lack of emotions in this chapter. Not quite sure how Dezra is feeling and I think it’s something you could develop more; she doesn’t seem like she’s really afraid, because she has quite a firm resolve and is able, obviously, to shut out the emotion of Jevrid dying… yet I think you could do more. E.g. the sight of Jevrid jolts her, but describe how she struggles to fight back the sorrow because right now what matters is the survival of the rest of them… etc. Or, though inside she quivered with fear, she didn’t let that show… Details like this to make the reader feel more connected to their predicament, and also if she feels the emotions but pushes them away, she becomes more admirable and heroic, if you get me?

C2
Perhaps ‘teeth clenched in reaction to the ::strong:: alcohol’??

Need to have capitals for the dialogue at; ‘and with full access to over’… and ‘on the contrary’

You use dialogue well in this chapter to reveal hints of information and background, however I have a slight suggestion of perhaps cutting back some of the dialogue at times, and informing the reader of that info through personalized thoughts. It might be just my taste, but I like a bit more balance between ‘thought action’ and dialogue. More thoughts in this scene would have helped me engage more

C3
Full stop instead of comma at the end of this dialogue ‘and she’s taken to forging as well as any boy…

Similar feeling as in the second chapter, I felt I wanted a little more feeling…

C4
Okay, love the opening paragraph; this is terrific, what I’ve been waiting for. Atmospheric, emotive, we’re finally close to one of the characters and experiencing the world from their eyes.
I like this girl; she’s feisty, intelligent, aware and observing of her surroundings… and then we find out this is Dezra! Nice to have the threads coming together here and I’m starting to engage more with the story

C5
I enjoyed the dialogue at the beginning with the girl and her tutor, also her self-awareness and analysis of her strengths/weaknesses.

The discussion about the pendulum is good and I like the link with the title, you also raised questions in my mind that made me want to know more.

A small thing; I’d perhaps like a little more context of the society and why young girls are safer disguised as boys. For instance with my female MC disguised as a male storyteller, I showed the vulgarity of men in the poor town where she lives – how they speak crudely to women and if a girl is pretty, well there’s only one thing they want from them. A little more background on the society/some male-female interactions might be good here

C6
Damn no more to read!! Okay well best of luck with editing/writing the rest :)

patio wrote 660 days ago

Explosive story

Zoe Ramone wrote 662 days ago

This is one of those books that makes me feel like I'm missing something. From the opening words of your pitch, I find the writing mannered and jarring. Also confusing. I guess it has to be a deliberate style choice but I cannot read sentences like "He turned at the boy and girl staring in witness on his scene ..." without wanting to take out a big red pen. Since no one else seems to have a problem with it, I am prepared to accept it might be me. However, you should accept that I buy and read lot of books so I'm potentially your reader :)

There seems to be the basis for a good story here but I won't read past your prologue. The sentences that killed this for me were:

- "the rusted bar fell into her ... indenting her cheek."
- "... the man ascended his arms and struck again."

And WTF is "bolus garb"?

My honest reaction? It's English, Jim. But not as we know it.

AudreyB wrote 667 days ago

Back for more YARGing. I just read along, swept up by the story. You have quite enough up for Authonomy; don't worry about adding more. If you're willing to send it to interested readers, that's sufficient.

I've never really thought of myself as a fan of fantasy (mainly because I didn't like The Hobbit), but I found this to be clever and engaging. I can imagine this being quite popular with the avid readers in middle- and high-school.

I think it would be wise to link the prologue better to the story now that I've read all that's posted.

Best of luck-
~AudreyB

Cara Gold wrote 673 days ago

{The Pendulum Blade} – Meera Taj

I’ve only read the prologue so far, but I thought I needed to hurry up and give you a comment! Will be reading more soon for sure, you’ve definitely captured my attention :)

Great active scene to begin, terrific details and I like your portrayal/introduction to the boy. There’s a good handle of the perspective, so we see both the broader scene, and are able to connect to the characters.

Love this image ‘The man turned to the tree, now more flame than flora’ :)

Small suggestion so far… well, it’s on the pitch. I’d develop your long pitch more and make use of that word count to really showcase your story and sell it. I think we need a bit more detail on the plot/themes. Pitches are hard… it’s taken me lots of reworking to get mine to where it is, and I’m not saying I’m an expert…. But that’s just my gut feeling on yours! Your short pitch though is nice and gripping.

I’ve also made a few editorial suggestions in thanks of your support of ‘Dawn of Destruction’ – I hope you’ll find them useful! Feel free to take or leave anything :)

Cara
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Prologue
I think ‘Not for their eyes’ … ‘on’ felt a little funny to me

Capitalize ‘Father, help her!’ → ‘Father’ is being used as a proper noun here, so it needs capitalization

‘knew better’ ‘the only home he knew’ → ‘knew’ is repeated, perhaps think of rewording?

Perhaps ‘The man’s smile did not waver, and was instead complimented by a tongue that wiped dried spittle from the corner of his mouth.’ → smoother? I think in any case you need ‘by’ not ‘with’, not sure…

scargirl wrote 675 days ago

nice title, nice cover, nice concept. the pitch reads more like horror-thriller. gripping.
j
what every woman should know

AudreyB wrote 677 days ago

Wow--this is good. I'm reading way outside my comfort zone, but you've created a believable, violent world in your polished manuscript. I can't quite connect the prologue to chapter 1, but suspect our hooded killer to be the son who saw his parents murdered. I loved your word choices: halved cadaver, this trade circumvents the barrier of language. Specific, evocative and well chosen words.

I'm not able to read more at this moment, but will surely be back to finish what you have posted. I really like it.

Best of luck to you on Authonomy!!
~AudreyB

ses7 wrote 677 days ago

Welcome to Authonomy Meera! I’m excited to be the first to leave you a comment on your book.

I think you have a fascinating premise and a very intense underlying story here. There’s this military-like group that appears to be conducting a raid (although Jev doesn’t want to call it that), lot’s of chaos and cruelty going on, particularly in the opening before the official “chapter 1.” I absolutely hated the awful guy who was smacking women and children around and burning everything. I hope he gets it in the end. You have some very vivid details in this brutal environment, and strong dialogue, strong characterization insofar as it lends itself to the world conflict, which seems to be the main focus of your story. Well done there. These are all things that I think are strong in your writing and that work very well.

If I may offer a few suggestion—take into consideration only what you find helpful. Two things in particular stood out to me in your opening chapter that were hard for me to grasp: your setting and the identity of your characters. I got a general sense that we were in a war zone, perhaps in the Middle East because of the way women are being treated (that was my guess) but I wasn’t entirely sure where we were located, what the timeframe was. Is this a historical piece or is this a unique, fictional wartime and location? I think giving us a few more concrete details would help orient us to your setting better. Also, I wasn’t sure if your characters in chapter 1 were part of an active military organization on a mission, or if they were cut off from main organization in the chaos, renegades, rebels. Just a few more concrete give-aways right when they’re introduced, like reviewing their mission plans or how long they’ve been out of contact or who they report to, etc., might help make that more clear. One more thing that I noticed is that your writing, particularly in the prologue is written more in passive tense. You also use quite a few adverbs. If you shifted your writing to active-tense and cut or replaced some of the adverbs, this might give your writing more energy. For example, you write: “Offering a wad of spit in acknowledgement of the audience, he turned back to their mother with a crack across her face from the aft of his hand.” If you said something more like: “He spat on them in response/acknowledgement to their audience and turned back, cracking the aft of his hand across their mother’s face,” this would shift to a more active voice, make things a little more concise, and add energy to the prose, I think. Just a thought.

I hope this is helpful. Again, fantastic ideas, interesting concept. Terrificly vivid detail and imagination in here that evokes that sense of chaos and urgency you seem to be going for in your pitch. I’ll keep this on my WL, and I look forward to seeing how this project progresses.

Good luck!

-Sarah E.S.
(Destiny of Species)

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