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Old Screeds

Review 6 [17 June 05] Wemic, from Pride of Place, by Jason.

Jason, who I have mentioned before, wrote a chapter of a story about a wemic. The chapter is called Wemic, and the full stroy is Pride of Place. I have been promising him feedback, so let me put it all out there in a screed.

Overall, I liked the chapter very much, although I have suggestions for the ending. Let me jump in with the nitty gritty, though.

The story starts with a neat idea -- lands speak to those who live on them, in breezy voices. The plains that are home to this band of wemics are bearing fearful tidings -- good foreshadowing. Might have been neat -- of maybe too hokey? -- to hear what those voices had to say at the end of the chapter.

We open with a wemic, his "firstwife," and his son:

I looked over my shoulder. My firstmate walked to my right; opposite her, my son.
So the female is on his right. Where is his son? On the narrator's left? Beyond the wife? I admit to confusion. What does "opposite" mean in this context?

In the story, the wemics refer to themselves as lions and lionesses. My problem with this is that the reader unfamiliar with liontaurs will think they really are lions. Talking lions, maybe. I would not mind the terminology so much if there were a clearer description of what the "lions" looked like. Maybe when the hero looks at his mate, we can get a description that reveals she has four paws and hands. Or maybe when the enemy shows up, a wemic could remark on the similarities and differences. Taken alone, the chapter does not satisfy, but then, the chapter is a part of a longer work, so this comment is a bit overblown.

The story heats up with the arrival of an enemy. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the modern cadence of the enemy with the formal tone of the wemics:

“I swear, if you ignorant savages weren’t so pitiful I’d just wipe you all out and save myself the trouble.” He seemed to be muttering to himself, albeit quite loudly; all who heard him say this last drew a pace or two away.

“We were not,” I said evenly, “on anyone’s land. We have caused no harm.”

“Oh hey!” he cried, waving his long arms. “Look at me not caring!” he singsonged. “Now are you gonna get out, or what?”

I crossed my arms. “We take nothing we do not need,” I informed him coldly, “What claim have you to these lands?”

So the conflict of the story is set -- an overpowering force is set against the hero. He is smart enough to see that there is no chance to defeat this foe, so he leads his people away. But he leads them in the wrong direction, or maybe there is no right direction, and the enemy finds the pack and kills everyone except the hero, who runs away in a magic-induced terror.

Yup, I disliked the ending of that chapter. I hope the rest of the story offers a more satisfying resolution.

Still, i wonder what actions the chief could have taken to mitigate the disaster. Maybe the breezy voices of the plains could have given better warning of where to go. Maybe the wemics could have travelled in pairs widely spaced but still in earshot -- liontaurs are good at hiding in plains grasses -- if they voices of the plains warned them in time, they could all be hiding when the enemy comes. I don't know ... something!

And the hero was enspelled and frightened off -- has he considered that others from his pride may have been scared off as well? Has he thought about finding others? How will his experiences affect the hero in future stories? Will he be cautious? Scornful of the spirit voices who failed to give good warnings? Stricken by grief from time to time?" That's what I'll be looking for as I read more.

Review: Please do not think that my nit-picking signals unhappiness at the story. In fact, it is good, albeit too short. I'm rating Wemic three paws. With a pounce!

Explanation of ratings:

  • One Paw: Broken, badly flawed, may damage your game. Discard.
  • Two Paws: Flawed but not dangerous. May have a good idea or two. Not worth buying or downloading.
  • Three Paws: Excellent ideas despite slight flaws. Good value.
  • Four Paws: Essential and recommended. Seek this out.
  • With a Lick: Slight or inconsequential feline/wemic content.
  • With a Pounce: Significant feline/wemic content.

Corrections! [12 July 05] I had originally reviewed this chapter, Wemic, out of context. Having been alerted to that, I've altered my screed somewhat. Sorry for the confusion!

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