El’Mindeeya Do’Katal is the Emerald Bard, Deeya to her friends, is an Elven Troubadour who wield’s magical power through sound. With secrets surrounding her ever step, she walks through the world, looking for her place within it.
Feb 3, 2013: After having read the first three sections of the currently available four sections of Ballad of the Emerald Bard, I wish I could say that I felt I knew the character more. I did like that the main character, Deeya, is a strong female lead, and I could see the author’s enthusiasm for her as I read. I also liked the author’s positive portrayal of women’s same-sex relationships, and the fact that he gives time to a strong rejection of domestic violence, a subject that’s near and dear to me, as well.
I know some of the earlier reviewers of this story had said that they had problems reading the blog due to animated snow in the background that also comes across the text. In my case I run NoScript, and was able to successfully navigate the pages without having to accept any of the scripts, so I didn’t have any trouble with that.
With that said, as I’ve alluded to, I did have some problems with the story itself. First, as mentioned, even though I’ve read eighteen chapters about Deeya, I don’t feel like I know her any better. The main reason for that is that large portions of the story are told in a highly summarized manner by what seems to be an omniscient third person narrator. Since we rarely get to see her detailed interactions or conversations with other characters, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to know her much. It’s almost like I’ve been listening to a friend tell me about a third person that I don’t yet know – I know a lot of facts about this person’s background and short, summarized tales about things she’s done, but since I haven’t had a chance to meet her, I don’t really know her. I’d love to see this author make more use of real-time in his storytelling; letting the character’s day-to-day interactions and conversations tell me who they are, instead of letting someone else decide that for me.
Another thing I’d like to get more of a sense of is the surroundings of the story. So far, the main character has traveled to several towns and cities in her world, but I don’t even know the names of most of them, and only rarely seem to get any sense of the terrain surrounding them. Are the towns filled with half-timbered houses or stone cottages? What’s the main industry in the town or city – mining, farming, smithing? Is the town surrounded by a forest, the sea, a desert, or vast grassy plains? Please, let me know a bit more about that, because I’m curious.
Something that kept throwing me out of the story as I tried to read were the spelling, tense, and use errors in the story. They calmed down a bit after the first few chapters, but they still persist as you read forward, more of them things that spell check won’t pick up as the story goes on (e.g., “burrow” used where “burro” is meant). I’d advise the author to always run spell check and to get a friend who’s got good English use skills to look over his chapters before he posts them. It’s great way to improve a lot in a short amount of time. A related item (one that may simply be a nit of mine) is the occasional use of very modern slang (i.e., “baby bump” and “baby daddy”) in the context of the story. It threw me completely out of the narrative and left me scratching my head as to why it was used at all. I’d advise the author to use something that you can find in a standard dictionary in the future.
This point is definitely something that bothered me personally; it may not bother others, but I feel I need to mention it. Most of the men portrayed in the story so far seem to be completely irredeemable villains, sometimes with no seeming motive behind their rotten actions. Only one (elf) male character has been introduced late in the third part of the story who doesn’t seem like a complete bad guy, but even he’s questionable. I’m not comfortable with this, especially since it doesn’t jibe with my life experience. I also think that if you keep portraying the lion’s share of your male characters this way that you risk losing your male readership. No one wants to be shown as being the bad guy all the time.
Related to this, in my opinion, Deeya seems to be a bit of a hypocrite. She says at a number of points she doesn’t like “bigots” (in her parlance, those that hate elves for seemingly no real reason). However, as far as I can tell, she seems to be just as bigoted about men, especially human men (i.e., her first boyfriend abused her, so all men suck). I’d really like to see that change as this story progresses and the character (hopefully) grows.
At any rate, although this story has issues, I think that readers of fantasy that have a liking for strong female leads would be advised to check this story out. I am interested in seeing how this author develops this story in the future.
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Feb 4, 2013: I think ‘Ballad of the Emerald Bard’ is a first draft. The author might not agree, but most of the problems that I’m about to complain about are things that writers tend to take care of while editing: the prose (not quite purple but heading there), the typos (‘collected her tip money from her bowel’ gave me a rather peculiar image), the contradictions (the building that is first nondescript and then a beautiful manor building, the sword that when drawn becomes an ax, to find ‘the only thing out of [more . . .]
Jan 28, 2013: The Good: Strong, queer female protagonist, some fun tropes
The Bad: mediocre prose (with occasional typos), lack of imaginative world building, character infodumps, coincidental plotting, and a very distracting website
The Lowdown: I read the first episode (chapters 1-6) of the Emerald Bard’s exploits, and I don’t think I’ll be reading any more. While the premise sounded interesting to me (I always ended up playing a bard in my pnp days, often [more . . .]
Jan 26, 2013: Ballad of the Emerald Bard is, on the surface, very traditional fantasy. That said, it’s a hard work to analyze beyond the surface level, and I wish I could say that was because it had depth to it. Unfortunately, the issue is just the opposite. It doesn’t convey a great deal of depth, and I couldn’t give it a detailed read because I couldn’t bring myself to read all of it.
As far as the writing goes, it isn’t strong, and [more . . .]