What I gleaned about the story: A prince and a slightly older Knight-trainee are about to battle for a singular prize, but that’s as far as I got.
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Kudos: He kept his chin tucked into his chest and drew the sign of the circle around his heart.
I really liked this detail. I’ve seen all kinds of gestures and genuflections described in fantasy – both religious and magical – but I don’t think I’ve seen this one before. And better yet, it is so entirely simple and believable that I can hardly believe I haven’t seen it yet. It is the elegant little details like this that make a world begin to feel true for me.
Analysis: There’s at least one adjective too many in that, for my tastes, but that’s not what stopped me. The problem was that, three paragraphs earlier, I had read: Dusty particles drifted through the stale humid air and settled into the dark hair of the young prince.
We’ve already seen the drifting particles. I get it. I was able to picture the room nicely with the first instance. But when the author hits me with essentially the same image a second time, I have to ask why he repeated himself. Does he not trust me to get it? Does he not have confidence in his ability to convey the scene adequately? Or have I maybe lost my place? Have I jumped back and re-read the same line again? Nope. But by forcing me to ask these questions, the author has broken my immersion.
Analysis: All four of those passages are on the first page. So again, it feels like the author is not trusting me to understand the bit about Ronan’s deeply focused attention. Paradoxically though, by reminding me of it so often, he actually breaks my attention, and I popped up out of the world with each new echo.
Analysis: So here’s the thing. In the paragraph previous to this, Ronan went on at length about Bryson’s superior age, size, and experience. Moreover, he has also told me that he knew it would be Bryson out there in the arena waiting for him, and that he had known this for some time. So why in hell would he wait until he was half way through beginning his attack to realize that he couldn’t use a surprise attack on this guy and that he’d need to come up with a different idea? The realization expressed in the quoted excerpt is not based on new information – it’s based on information he’s known for days. This disconnect snapped me out of the story, because it seemed so much at odds with all the concentrating that the author has invested in this guy. Clearly, he’s a thinker, but when it came down to it, apparently, not a very good thinker. Anyway, immersion broke here, and that was the third time.