What I gleaned about the story: Brave sir knight is trapped in a burning building and must flee, but not without the children. Then the bad guys come.
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Analysis: Our hero, the good knight bravely thinks of the children: “We must save the children. They’re trapped upstairs.” Then, in the very next paragraph, we get: Ferro looked at the stairs and saw that one of the flasks of flaming oil the bandits had thrown through the windows had landed on the steps. A wall of fire blocked the way. But he already knew that they were trapped. We know this because he’s already told us so. How can he only be seeing that fact now, after having made his first declaration?
I understand that the author is providing further information about the predicament, but the way it’s presented felt like the hero only learned about the problem after he had told us about it, and that disconnect popped me out.
Analysis: The knight runs into the room. He sees the kids. The kids are crying. The knight tells them to follow. They run out of the room. They climb some stairs. Etc. Those are not the actual words used, but that’s the feeling. Statement, statement, statement. The result is a plodding trudge through the story, which in this particular case, completely conflicts with the sense of panic, impending doom, and heroic dashing about we are supposed to be witnessing.
Analysis: Consider the following exchange, which takes place after the knight has rescued the children only to be surrounded by the marauders who started the whole problem:
“What are you going to do?” the girl asked.
Ferro inhaled. Fighting meant certain death, but he could not sit by and violate his oath to protect the people.
“I am going to arrest these bandits.” He did not wait for a reply. Instead, charged up by rage and desperation, he rushed one of the marauders.
In one moment, he’s having a reasoned discussion with the girl, in the next he’s driven by rage and desperation. But how did he go from reasoned thought to rage and desperation? The two conflicting images of his state of mind came crashing together in my head and knocked me out of the story.
Note: I have to confess that I found the prose very stilted in this story, as though it had been taken from a Victorian melodrama, and that almost certainly acted to keep my immersion shallow.
Consider this one declaration from the knight, when confronting the marauder captain: “You won’t get away with this. Justice will be served—mark my words.”
The problem for me is that these utterances add virtually nothing to my understanding of the character, except to say “clichéd hero.” And the text is quite full of these phrases, to the point where I was rolling my eyes on many passages, even though there was nothing particularly “wrong” with them. So if you don’t mind that note of melodrama in the style, you might get further than I did.