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6/13 c10 5ZosiaDetroit
Gaaaaahhhh, you made me cry BOTH times I read this! How am I supposed to leave a coherent review when I can barely read the screen through my tears? (ToT)

The writing in this chapter is just heart-rendingly beautiful. The additional action and sensory detail during the melee, as Eilonwy struggles with Melynlas, makes it feel even more heart-in-your-throat chaotic than the original. Then, once Adaon is mortally wounded... ooof. It’s one gut punch after another, between Eilonwy’s emotions, and her observation of Taran’s frantic denial of reality, and then his breakdown, and She and Gurgi trying to comfort him, and /Arianllyn/, and *gasp*. Too much! Too, too much!

Also, I am /right/ there with Eilonwy on the anger. I don’t care if it served a narrative purpose in terms of Taran’s overall character arc, this whole scenario was STUPID and UNNECESSARY from an in-world view, and I’d want to shake poor Adaon if he hadn’t died. Returning to Caer Cadarn /was/ the wiser course of action, and he should have commanded that they take it, leader that he was supposed to be. Even if there were some conflict of interest for him, it was /still/ the wiser plan, objectively. They knew where the cauldron was. They had no reason to think a few days lost would allow the enchantresses to wreak havoc with it. They could have headed to Morva /with reinforcements/, and more safely achieved their objective. The sheer /existence/ of an additional potential benefit for Adaon did /not/ render that option less rational. A man as intelligent and moral as he was should have trusted himself to think through that decision logically, and then make a judgement call regardless of his personal wishes. And such a judgement call /should/ have ended in a trip to Caer Cadarn, and a life possibly saved into the bargain. It was a cop-out, in my opinion, to defer to Taran. A gun was going to be fired, regardless, and Adaon just couldn’t bear to have his fingerprints on the trigger. Ooooooo, I’m all kinds of irritated about it. Poor Arianllyn! And Taliesin, to lose his only son, and then later be saddled with an /eternal life/ in which to miss him! Stupid, stupid, stupid, tragic, and unnecessary!

Whew! Okay... deep, calming breaths... Umm, I think you’d better send me a copy of this on which to mark up all of the writing elements I liked, because this review went sideways in a hurry... (o_O)
6/12 c9 ZosiaDetroit
I only have a few actual comments on this chapter, but that brevity is no reflection of how much I enjoyed it.

I liked how Eilonwy’s perceptive abilities illuminated the nuances of Adaon’s shift in demeanor after Taran’s decision. I’m fairly certain even Taran didn’t fully buy his superficially rosy portrayal of the dream, but Eilonwy’s viewpoint heightened the sense that something was amiss. This wasn’t the first case of you revealing such extra layers, to be sure, but I continue to admire how skillfully you do it.

That moment of reconciliation between Taran and Eilonwy was so tender! Throughout, leading up to that point, you did such a wonderful job of conveying Eilonwy’s conflicted emotions toward him. Then, you can almost feel everything coalesce and settle when he finally apologizes, takes her hand, and says he’s glad she’s there. Even through E’s eyes, you reveal Taran’s anxiety and his nascent love for her so clearly. Then, her reflection on that moment at the chapter’s end (and so poetically phrased, too!)... *sigh* I’m glad for the moment of calm before the tragedy to come.

A few favorite lines:
“Overhead, bare branches grasped greedily at the jeweled stars.” Vivid AND clever!

“[…] the hours sliding by like dark dreams.” Especially apt, given the discussion of Adaon’s dreams.

All of Doli’s banter with Fflewddur. It was so in-character that it took me a moment to recall that it wasn’t in the original. : )
6/3 c11 Irregardlessly
"seeming[ly] incongruous"?

Good chapter. Good character development. Good transition.
6/3 c11 J. Willem
Another chapter so soon? I feel spoiled! I think you nailed the tone between Eilonwy's sorrow at the loss of Adaon, and her guilty-anger towards him. Certainly the choice Adaon made seems quite questionable without further reasoning. Her feelings remind me of how I felt when my grandfather died. My family was preparing dinner to bring over to my grandparents. It was my Opa' birthday so we were trying to make it a little extra special for him, and I was tasked with peeling some potatoes. I did it rather begrudgingly, as the dish would've been fine with potato peels in it (in my opinion), but I was reminded that we were trying to make things the way my Opa liked them. When dinner was ready, we piled into the van to bring him his birthday dinner, and celebrate with him, but on the way there, my dad got a call that Opa had passed away. It's much more trivial than Eilonwy's situation, but I felt a little angry that I had gone through the extra effort to make the food the way he liked it for his birthday, and he died before he had a chance to eat any of it. I was also, obviously, quite sad that what was supposed to be a little celebration for his birthday ended up being a gathering of a different sort. But enough about me. What I'm trying to say is I think that you portrayed Eilonwy's conflicting emotions in a realistic and very believable way, and that for me it connected viscerally.

Thanks again for another lovely chapter. I love how you flesh out scenes and characters and give them believable depth and emotion that we don't read in the original texts. I'm sure part of that is that dear Lloyd was targeting a younger audience than you are, but I love being able to have and enjoy both. Both your and his writings complement each other quite nicely, which is a great credit to you. Cheers!
6/3 c11 25adaon45
I'd like to echo Skyboy91's comment on the previous chapter, about how you're expanding on the original story by adding "depth and color." If I may quote my own afterword to my Prydain fic "Out of the Ashes," there are two narratives that comprise the chronicles, one written, the other not. The written one is for the children and teens at whom the books were originally directed; this version "is a map to the second, unwritten one, in which we are invited to read between the lines on the printed page" and supply what is not spelled out for the youngest readers, but which nonetheless is visible to older ones.

As usual, you do such a wonderful job in this chapter of reading between the lines-of following the map from the printed page to what is unwritten. A signal example is Fflewddur's obvious grief and shock at Adaon's death, and his concern for Taran, Eilonwy, and Gurgi having had to face that blow on their own. As Skyboy91 said in his review of this chapter, in the books Fflewddur's reaction seems almost callous; he shakes his head sadly, pays tribute to Adaon in a line, but that's it. Here, there's so much more, and you once again add depth to the relationship between Eilonwy and Fflewddur, which you portray so well.

Another place where you add a great deal of depth is Eilonwy's conflicted feelings toward Adaon and Taran. Her anger at Adaon is quite psychologically believable, as is her conflict about it. I also love the way she reacts to Taran's emotional distance from her, and her worry that the brooch will turn him into someone else.

And I also appreciate your description of the weariness and grief that hangs over the reunited friends: "a pall of despondency . . . a deadly and despairing exhaustion." In the original story, the mood is lighter, almost joyous, as Taran realizes his increased ability to see and sense and know because of the brooch. But it makes such sense, again, that they would still all be struggling internally.

And I think it's absolutely brilliant that you portray Taran, through Eilonwy's perspective, as being bewildered and withdrawn as he figures things out, rather than immediately confident and exhilarated by the brooch's power. Again, it's a necessary deepening of what is there on the printed page.

And I love the image of the blossoms on Adaon's burial mounds being like "blue stars." Had to work that in somewhere.
6/3 c11 2Skyboy91
I loved this one! I know it was a daunting task, dealing with all these shrewish lines from Eilonwy. But you pulled it off beautifully, and in a way that makes total sense. A couple of little additions helped, like Eilonwy’s “I’m sorry.” I like how she throws out these barbs, and immediately internally regrets them, wondering to herself why this seems to be the “safe” way to react to him.

It’s just beautifully written. I like how you expressed her anger at Adaon, but at the end with “I hope it was worth it.” In my mind it was not by chance, it was what was meant to be. Adaon knew it, and did not shrink from it. I’m sure that Eilonwy will come to that realization too, sooner or later.

I love how she senses Taran’s preoccupation and distance…of course, his ignoring her barbs was a pretty good indication of that.

I also like how you add a bit to Fflewddur’s reaction to the loss of Adaon, LA’s depiction there is brief to the point of being callous. Of course that is the adult in me talking, as a kid I knew perfectly well how much Fflewddur regretted his death. Such was LA’s genius with words, and knowledge of how his target audience would react.

I loved Eilonwy’s fear at the end, that the broach would turn Taran into someone else, someone that she didn’t know, someone different from the person she is starting to love, in spite of herself.

Definitely one of the best chapters for me so far! I think challenges bring out the best in you.
6/1 c10 J. Willem
Hello again my friend! So glad to hear from you! I hope that the beginning of summer vacation gives you and your family some needed reprieve. Ok, on to the chapter review:

Ooph! What a hard chapter. The weight of the loss of Adaon feels to raw and exhausting, even though I knew this was coming. I appreciate that the gravity of this chapter must have been difficult for you as an author as well. In the mulling of this chapter, I was struck again by how you maintained an appropriate amount of focus on the interplay of Eilonwy and Taran. Even though their relationship to each other isn't the "main event" of this chapter, or even arguably (VERY arguably) of the Chronicles as a whole, you manage to keep us aware of it, and aware of them. I love that, and I think that you do a great job of keeping that thread in the weave, without it becoming distracting to the "greater" story at hand. I was also struck by some of your turns of phrase, and found them particularly arresting and evocative ("a streak of dark red was spreading downward, a banner of dreadful revelation" W. O. W. !)
I've been meaning to ask you about how you manage to write chapter by chapter. I have never dabbled in creative writing, and the process is fascinating, not least because it varies person to person. I know from our previous conversations that you start with the original text and then write as you "inhabit" Eilonwy. But it seems to me that it would be difficult to write a new chapter after a break from the last chapter. Do you review what you have already written before starting a new chapter (to make sure it flows smoothly, and that you aren't dropping "threads" between writing sessions? Or do you have an outline with important themes you want to pull throughout the work? Or do you just go for it, guns ablazin', and see what comes out on the other side? As always, it's a delight to read your work, and a privilege to be able to correspond with you. Warmest wishes and regards! ~JWP
5/30 c10 Irregardlessly
Intense, as it deserves.
5/30 c10 25adaon45
What a brilliant piece of writing.

Of course, you know me: I am still traumatized by reading Adaon’s death all those years ago, decades now, when I was eleven and had just figured out he was my favorite character . . . It’s hard, really, to have the character who perhaps more than all others has most affected you be on the page for only nine chapters. How I used to go back and read every word connected with him and yearn for more. The joy of fanfiction: finally, I can read more words. And words as beautifully written as these are a true treat. I will probably be rereading this chapter a lot.

One of the many things I appreciate here—wrenching as the account is in consequence to read—is how visceral the details are. In the original, we see Adaon’s face terribly changed—gray and damp with sweat—by the time they get to the grove, but there is no mention of blood, not even a drop (there would probably have been some taboos on how much violence could be evoked in young people’s fiction at that time). Here, you confront the reader with the full horror and violence of the situation. Eilonwy even gets Adaon’s blood on her hands; when she first realizes he is wounded, the spreading stain is a “banner of dreadful revelation.”

One thing I hadn’t thought about until you brought it to my attention is that Eilonwy would have been more used to death than Taran. What a horrifying thing for her. And her thoughts about death—her questions—as she watches Adaon die are so well put: death is “the winking out of a light, a flame burnt to its end and snuffed, there one moment and gone, irrevocably, the next. Where did it go?—and how,—and why?”

It only struck me in writing this how that “there one moment and gone . . . the next” echoes Gwystyl’s parting words at the way post.

The descriptions of emotions are also spot-on in their credibility. I think it’s great that you work in Eilonwy’s moments of somewhat guilty anger at both Adaon and Taran. Very believable, and yet very unsettling to the person feeling the anger.

And Gurgi—his speech to Taran over Adaon’s body is amazing.

And the last line is so beautiful too: “She turned back to the dark sky, a lump in her throat, and watched the stars waver through the fluid sheen of tears until blessed darkness blotted them out.”

Fabulous. Thank you.
5/30 c10 2Skyboy91
Goodness. Even sadder than the original, and more poignant.

This scene is very powerful in the chronicles, one of those things that you never forget. In my mind I always see an image of the bright glade, clinging to light and life in the early winter, and Adaon’s grave, with flowers springing from bare stones. But it goes so quickly in the chronicles. This hits all the notes of the original, but expands them from a simple tune to more a full arrangement. Just as sad, but with even more depth and color.

I really liked the additional scenes, such as Eilonwy struggling with Melynlas, and him almost knocking her senseless, and her reaction to the knowledge of Adaon’s wound. Of course we have more of the reality here of dealing with a wounded man, the dead weight that occurs when someone’s muscles no longer aid them. And Eilonwy’s reaction to his death, and her thoughts on that and the other apparent deaths that have “torn pieces from her.”

Taran’s feelings of guilt really come through here, and are something we don’t see that much of in the original, along with the new portrayal of Eilonwy’s feelings of rejection at the end. It’s clear sometimes here how much she really loves Taran, and how she judges most things by his reactions, and the distance between them, sometimes almost nonexistent, and sometimes a gulf she doesn’t yet know how to cross.

A powerful and emotional piece of writing. Here’s to Adaon! His part in the chronicles was all too short, but unforgettable.
5/12 c3 5ZosiaDetroit
That bloated cow analogy! XD I’m not sure whether to laugh, grimace, or marvel at how apt it is. Whoooo, boy. What a thing to witness, let alone feel analogous to.

Clever move, having it be a magical outburst from Eilonwy that shattered the poor, innocent earthenware. Cleverer still to use that as a segue into the lovely scene of Dallben coaching her. We see so little of him in the books that I never really developed much of an attachment to his character. I appreciated his wisely testy asides, but that was about the extent of it. I like how your portrayal /shows/ him being the sort of mentor I assumed him to be, drawing me a little closer to him.

It’s also fantastic to see Eilonwy’s magical abilities. They figure so little into the books that she never /felt/ like an enchantress to me. Honestly, I think that was a bit of a miss on Alexander’s part. I can understand why he wanted to downplay the importance of magic, but if we’d seen her being more connected to her powers in the first two books, her sacrifice in The Castle of Llyr would have felt even more momentous and gutting. Your exploration feels like it’s retroactively giving Eilonwy her full due on that front. {{{fist bump}}} I can scarcely imagine how viscerally that will all play out when /you/ take on a new rendering of CoL (but no pressure, of course, haha).
5/10 c2 ZosiaDetroit
Circling back around to the previous chapters (*rap on my own knuckles* for not commenting when I first read them more than a year ago)...

The banter in this one had me grinning! Eilonwy and Taran! Fflewddur and Doli! Narrator toward Fflewddur! Even a bit of Fflewddur and Adaon! I’m so glad you claimed space for a bit of humor before the grim trials to come. It flows so cleverly that, I swear, I recall going back to the original book and being surprised that some of the dialogue wasn’t there (upon my first reading of this, it had been quite a while since I’d touched the books). That self-deprecating line from Fflewddur about needing to resort to flattery for lack of other talents was so perfectly in character. Doli is spot-on here, too—as lovably crotchety as ever. All of Eilonwy’s observations and musings in this are great, but the comedic relief really did steal the show.

Onward I go! Hopefully, I can catch up before you post too many more new chapters...
5/10 c9 J. Willem
I'm not gone! It's been a busy week and a half, and I wanted to make sure I could give this chapter, and my commenting the time and attention I feel it deserves. Here goes :)

I like how you describe her inner turmoil about Taran. Although I'm not sure he deserves it right now... That being said, I think one of the reasons I was so disappointed by Taran's careless rudeness in the least chapter is because I hold him to a high standard, and whatever his failings and mistakes (which are many), he always seems to try to do what's right. Knowing how the story ends, I'm looking forward to you providing our dear boy with an apology worthy of the princess. I love the imagery in the third paragraph! It is so evocative, and a creative way to add intensity to her feelings.

Way to go girl! She is showing some serious self-control! Again and again she is proving her mettle.

I love that you have increased the presence of Eilonwy's magic, yet you have made it rather unobtrusive and understated. You choice of the word "intuition" to describe how she is "reading" Adaon's feelings conjures up the phrase "a woman's intuition", which I'm sure is not accidental. It seems like a very appropriate choice, to me.

Oh, dear poor girl! She's exhausted! That makes everything feel worse. The wall of silence again?! Taran! Do something!

Okay. I'm sure that you already have several comments on the imagery here, because it is magnificent. The wall of silence being torn down with Taran's apology is perfect. And thank you for giving Taran enough emotional expression here for me not to doubt his sincerity. I honestly wasn't ready to forgive him myself, but how can I not when he is so sincerely remorseful. Even his hoarse whisper tells me a little about how he feels. That's the assistant pig-keeper I know and love. Bumbling and hot-headed, quick to say something he hasn't thought through, but sincere in heart, and eager to be better

MAN! I love it! The wall becomes a quilt. Silence can mean so much, and so many different things. I love the juxtaposition. This is great.

I love that not only how you've painted the picture of Taran helping Islimach here, what with his gentle words to here, but also that Taran is giving credit to Coll for this bit of information. I think it was wise of Lloyd to give Taran a chance to show some genuine humility at a time when he could have easily vaunted his own knowledge and skill over the proud and provoking Ellidyr. It shows character, especially because he does it without any mention of weighing the thought or temptation to do otherwise. He simply says it as though it hadn't occurred to him that he could have claimed credit for the deed and the knowledge over a rival. Bravo to Lloyd, and Brava to you for including it in it's simplicity.

Again I love that Eilonwy's magic is mentioned. Just because she doesn't do anything with it here, doesn't mean that she couldn't. A beautifully written example of her forbearance, with a reminder to us, the audience, that she is indeed the daughter of a long line of enchantresses.

"Taran keeps trying to be better." As a human overflowing with my own foibles and weaknesses, I am so grateful that trying to be better counts for something. I am even more grateful that Eilonwy sees that about Taran, and seems to let it count for something too.

What a way to finish the chapter! With Eilonwy ruminating on her ride with Taran, and on his words, and cultivating the better ones in her heart. I love this. Like Coll's turnip field, Taran & Eilonwy's relationship will need both time and care to grow before we, or they, can enjoy the fruitful harvest.

Thank you again for another wonderful chapter! I get a little tired of saying how much I love these characters, and their stories because it seems that's the only word available. The nuance and depth you add to both the characters and their stories adds to my love and appreciation of both. I, too, am genuinely glad you're here, sharing your writing and your art. As always, thank you!
5/7 c9 25adaon45
Oh, this is wonderful.

I always want to say so much more in my reviews, because there are so many great things to mention, so this time I tried to take notes of lines I particularly liked. I soon realized I had a whole page, and I wasn’t even partly through the chapter. So, once again, my comments are somewhat incomplete. But here at least are a few.

Your portrayal of the strained relationship between Taran and Eilonwy in this chapter is so very well done: you convey beautifully Eilonwy’s anger and hurt following his sexist comment at Gwystyl’s waypost. I love the simile (and Eilonwy does love a good simile, no?) that the silence between the two was “like a stone wall, cold and hard and comfortless.” I also loved the way that Taran redeemed himself (at least somewhat) by confessing both his doubts about his judgement and his relief that Eilonwy is there with him.

And, of course, I just love your description of Adaon. I smiled at the line “Adaon seemed to think in another language, one which lost something in translation when he expressed his thoughts aloud.” Indeed. Perfect.

And the descriptions—“bare branches grasped greedily at the jeweled stars.” “hours sliding by like dark dreams”—are gorgeous.

As always, too, I just love the way you write Fflewddur. I realized that, in my review of the last chapter, I didn’t mention how much I enjoyed the dialogue between Fflewddur and Eilonwy before they leave the waypost, so I record this here. You convey so well the bond between these two. I also had to smile, in this chapter, when Doli reveals a certain affection for Fflewddur in the exchange between them.

I’ll end the way I began: how wonderful this is.
5/6 c9 4Prydainer
Wow...this chapter is so beautiful-talk about feeling so many things at once! Obviously I love the emotional interplay between her and Taran; it feels like there are so many lived-in moments behind it. (And I would like him to make a big public apology, but I guess his voice cracking on the last part will suffice, haha aw ;)

Love the portrayal of Adaon and Eilonwy's ability to somewhat intuit his feelings. And the companions' discussion of Ellidyr and Taran. Then of course all the great phrases throughout ("striped with shadows", "shreds of leaves"). But my favorite part is how Eilonwy works to overcome the hurtful words in her head at the end-feels so natural, especially to someone with her background-and then the lovely depiction of the kinder words, like "seeds that might take root and grow." Considering where she and Taran end up-and her own emotional development-it's beautiful foreshadowing.
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