That was a fantastic story. Gloriously written, and very moving.
Author's Response: I'm grateful that you liked it so much. ~Ken
Wow!!!! I balled through the entire prologue. That was amazing. It SO should have won 1st place. AMAZING!!!! I hate people who overuse exclamation points, I'm not sure what has come over me. Really, really emotional, I guess. Bravo.
Author's Response: Thanks so much. I'll reply at length to your longer review.
Eagerly reading through the QSQ winner stories (congratulations!), I had to stop for a long while after yours. Simply because I had to process it and restore my emotional balance - it went on a roller-coaster ride during your story.
I love your portrait of Ron in the first chapter, he has just as much of wisdom and insight as he can without falling out of character. The twist that the discussion was more about Harry's judgement in a crisis than about Ginny's safety deepend my interest in their discussion (and by then I didn't even know it would be the main theme of the whole story!).
The second, dystopic, chapter was absolutely brilliant. You have a marvelous feeling for how to delay important information. When Ginny first drops som numbers (17, or 12, or 20, or 5000) it just sounds as she wants to reduce her own importance, but by the end of the chapter, I realise that every number was carefully chosen.
Poor Ginny, she is "doing a Harry", blaiming herself beyond common sence, and there is no-one close enough left behind to bring her back... you make it plausible, and I cried, I cried.
Your dark vision of muggle medicine evolution in the future is also plausible, which is horrifying enough.
Final chapter: Again you show how well you master the timing in revealing information. The fate of Philippe, the new Minister of Magic, the crying girl in the statue... and more I don't recall precisely enough to mention. Maybe, maybe, I could join those who find your treatment of Petra White confusing. You have a nice autrhor's response about Weasley clan continuation, with love arising again. I could have needed a bitter comment predicting or even whishing the opposite from Ginny in the previous chapter (after all, her strong Weasley kind of love caused disaster in her own eyes), to include Petra more in the main story. Difficult to do wihtout getting melodramatic, though.
Author's Response: Thank you, thank you, for that very thorough and flattering review! I was honored to be nominated for the Quill, and very pleased to get the Runner-Up award.
To me, writing is all about reaching other people, and so your emotional response to my story means as much, or more, to me than the award does. It's very gratifying.
About Petra, I completely understand the perspective of readers who find the incipient love story a little out-of-place. I chewed my lip for a long time over that one, and asked the advice of a lot of friends, before including it. I almost ended the story with Georges-Jacques crying before the statue, imagining a cinematic shot in which the camera pulls back, showing him alone among the crowd to have this reaction. I think I would have been a little dissatisfied with either solution.
Thanks again for your kind words.
That was the single most beautifully moving piece of prose that I have ever read in my entire life. That is saying something, because I don't read books, I devour them. I have been an avid reader since about the age of ten and my appetite his only increased in the twenty-one (or so) years since.
Bravo! Give yourself a huge pat on the back...and keep writing.
Author's Response: I'm honored, Steven. I don't know what to say to such praise; it means the world to me that the story moved you.
I am still writing (waves his hand at other stories on the site), but right now I'm trying to complete an original (non-HP) story.
Thanks again, ~Ken
I loved it, and you can add me to the list of people you definetly made cry.
I love mythology and symbolism, so I was very happy to read about the way you included the Sacred Band of Thebes into this story. It was very creative and definetly added to the story.
Oh, and just in case it matters, T.S. Ellitot is one of my favorite poets. ;) And that quote you included is from his poem, Portrait of a Lady.
Author's Response: Thanks, Emily. Thanks so much for identifying "Portrait of a Lady" for me; I felt bad for not being able to pinpoint the Eliot quote, but in Gray's play the person who uses it (Ben Butley) is supposed to be an expert on Eliot, so I thought it was a good chance that's where he got it.
Oh, and if (as your profile says) you're interested in Severus Snape, stay tuned; I have a multichapter story coming up soon called Returning Were As Tedious which is all about him.
You know what? I forgot how affecting this was.
Like I said in my earlier review, I came into this story cynical, but by the time I finished I felt that it was completely plausible. I think it’s that the idealism is so unabashed and brave that I had no room to disbelieve. “One who thought she had done wrong, who thought she had cost lives, dedicated her own life to saving others. She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams — not only did she save lives, she healed the rift between Wizard and Non-wizard that has existed for millennia. Because of her, tens or hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved. One person, one soul, working patiently and with dedication, changed the face of our world. It takes only one.” *loves*
Your writing is very nicely different than anything I’ve read. The reverence with which you treat the past in your stories is mind-boggling and wonderful. I don’t know how else to say it, and I’m not sure that you’ll know what I mean, but you seem to strive to give the past honor. And your fictions, and this one in particular, are the most original I have read, overall. Because it’s not just the idea or the style that’s original--it’s both. This story is like a breath of fresh air, truly.
The technical side is just as good. Once again you show your adroitness at subtle foreshadowing, gently pointing out who Georges-Jacques is without giving it away too soon, and the backstory should have been boring, but it somehow wasn’t. Not to mention that three very different moments in time were woven into one coherent story that doesn’t appear like it could have been better any other way. Blows my mind.
There were only two dissonant chords for me: Petra and Ned. At first Ned’s appointment as Minister of Magic seemed corny, but I think you won me over in the end. It doesn’t seem so impossible when compared to how many lives Mother Ginevra touched so profoundly. However, Petra just seemed…random. I don’t expect you to fix it or anything, but that’s my opinion on the matter.
I’m sad that I’ve finished my review, actually. This is a beautiful story. I nearly lost it when he realized that the statue portrayed Ginny’s younger and older self, reconciled, and at the last lines:
Our beginnings never know our ends.
From the love of one heart, a new world can be born.
Author's Response: Thank you so much, yet again, for your kind reviews. “Reverence for the past” sums it up pretty well, I think. Lately (maybe because I’m getting older) I’ve been thinking a lot about memory and loss – what will be remembered later, and what should be remembered that won’t be?
The business about Petra – Well. This is actually only the first time it’s happened to me, but Petra was originally supposed to be there simply to add depth to the setting: a statue is being unveiled, so naturally the sculptor would be there. But when I started writing the scene, Georges-Jacques noticed a lot more about her than I’d expected him to, and before I knew it the two of them were falling for each other. I almost took it out, but then it seemed somehow so right that we should be promised new love and new birth, that the Weasleys would go on, that there would be spring after winter. Some of my friends have told me that this is “gilding the lilly” and wasn’t necessary. Maybe it wasn’t.
*shivers* This is so powerful. The turn that the story makes is remarkable--utterly unexpected, but completely logical.
Once again the atmosphere is finely wrought, though I noticed that it is much more detail-oriented in this section, and enjoyed it. The story really came alive, and I felt like the scene was playing in my head. I don’t really have any examples, because all of it was wonderful. The part where Ned recoils in horror was particularly well done, though.
Another aspect that recurred was a sort of “setting up” aspect that you excel at. Before we even encounter Stranger’s House the readers are shown the poverty and desperation of the streets, and Ned’s unwillingness to use magic in front of Muggles. I can’t stress how much I admire this subtle part of your writing.
Stranger’s House and Mother Ginevra are the genius of this chapter, however. Your description of her was captivating. I especially loved this line: “There was beauty to her now, but of a different sort — the ascetic beauty of a bare branch in winter as opposed to the florid beauty of a rose bush in June.” I have to admit, I was very skeptical when I first realized who she was and what you were trying to do, but was eventually won over. I like how a distinction between her younger and older self is made by her use of her full name, but that hints of the old Ginny shine through. Her quick wit and temper are very familiar.
“Edward Mason, Ma’am; my friends call me Ned.” “Are you saying that we’re to be friends?” she asked, her eyes widening slightly.” It made me smile. But what made me catch my breath was her righteously angry confrontation of Ned, which was so noble and Gryffindor and true.
“The wealthy members of every society in history have made exactly the same argument against helping the poor. ‘If we help them, they’ll never learn to help themselves.’ Such rubbish. Hold the hand of a man dying from an illness one flick of the wand would cure, and say that. Try to stretch a pot of stew to fill the bellies of too many hungry children, and say that. Do you know what I think?” She was clearly starting to get angry, but she caught herself and took two long breaths. “I think we just don’t want to share our wealth with others.”
I know it’s a lot to quote, but that’s one of the best monologues I’ve ever read in a fanfiction. Really, really excellent work. It’s both realistic and powerful.
The entire idea of Ginny devoting her life to helping the poor and disadvantaged to atone for the lost lives that she thinks she’s responsible for is brilliant. It’s as simple as that. Not to mention the way the Statute of Secrecy and the wizard perception of Muggles was handled. I’m sure that most people who’ll read your story have never thought about it in that way, that it’s selfish and deeply prejudiced, because in canon the focus is on the injustices of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. This is something that I’ve noticed about your work, that it tends to open eyes (or at least my eyes.)
The inclusion of the information about The Sacred Band of Thebes is fascinating. “The Sacred Band was a battalion in the Theban army more than two thousand years ago. It was composed entirely of couples, of sweethearts. The Thebans believed that no warrior would betray cowardice or weakness where his beloved could witness it.” I did not know about that before reading this fiction, and it’s just perfect for this. What better way to parallel Ginny’s probable argument to be allowed with the trio on the Horcrux hunt? The last comment that she made about it was like a punch in the gut: “I should have remembered that the bodies after their last battle were found lying where they had died protecting each other, not protecting their objective. Five thousand, two hundred and eighty lives!” The anguish was palpable.
The irony present here is perfect. “I didn’t want to be left behind — and so my punishment is that I am left behind profoundly, by everyone, for half a century or more.” I think that can go without comment. :)
The one part that I didn’t like was how you lightly threw aside the prophecy, simply stating that it was just never true. It didn’t feel right, and I wish that that plot hole had been closed up another way, but it’s not of the utmost importance. I also have one nitpick: “Under the hopelessly overcast skies and uniform mist of rain, the street was dark and badly maintained; stray bits of rubbish were creeping on the pavement in the light breeze.” “Creeping” was a bit of an odd word to choose. Try picking another one, perhaps.
But yes, I love this story very much. Onward to the next chapter…
Author's Response: Once again, Ren, thank you so much for that incredibly detailed, thoughtful review. (Sorry it's taken so long to respond, by the way; I was on the road for several days.)
I want to be fair to JKR about the Statute of Secrecy: she needed it as a plot device to explain the division between the Muggle and Wizarding worlds that provides such important dramatic tension in Harry's life. But once I got started really thinking about it (which was while writing this story), I began to get mad.
I first learned of The Sacred Band of Thebes in the novels of Mary Renault. There's an oblique, foreshadowing reference to them in The Last of the Wine, and they appear in two important scenes in Fire from Heaven. (If you've never read those novels, by the way, they're breathtaking.)
The idea that a youngest child feels left behind, and that she'd feel left behind even more when her older siblings die, has been with me for a long time and comes from my own family experience.
Sorry about the prophesy, but I needed it in order to get to where I was going. Also it helped to rub in the fact that it's choices, not predictions that make the world. The creeping rubbish? I thought it was "creepy" and emphasized Ned's paranoia.
Note: I’ve already read the story all the way through, loved it, and am now reviewing the chapters individually. Just so you’re not confused. :)
What strikes me most about this first chapter is how real the description is. “He walked across the field in long, slow strides, compensating for the uneven ground under the grass without realizing he was doing it. The grass hissed around his legs and began to ripple and wave with the coming weather.” The atmosphere of a storm coming comes across both clearly and sharply, drawing the reader completely in. “The wind began to crack the grass like a carpet of whips” is another favorite line of mine.
When viewed from the perspective of the entire story, an approaching storm is the perfect way to set up the main action and purpose of this story, and I envy that ability. It foreshadows that something bad is coming, and coupled with the fact that what Ron and Harry are discussing is Ginny’s safety and defeating Voldemort, gives the reader a strong clue about where the story’s going, even if they don’t realize it. And then there’s the foreshadowing of counting, which Ginny will be haunted by for the rest of her life. Really superb.
The characterizations of Ron and Harry are handled deftly as well. I loved the bits of humor that you included in their conversation, which is quite natural for them. “It’s usually considered a bit thick to stand out in the middle of a field during a thunderstorm,” Ron observed. “Lightning, you know, likes to strike the highest thing it can find. At the moment that’s you.” “Actually,” Harry said without turning, “at the moment it’s you. Thanks.” *snickers* The dynamics between them are great, and Ron’s dialogue, overall, was handled better than is usually found in fanfic: it’s down-to-earth and just…Ron. I absolutely adored this line: “‘You alone’ is probably the worst team roster,” as well as, “But I’m not the Seeker; I’m just the Keeper.” How typical of him to relate something to Quidditch, no matter how serious it is. Or maybe that’s how he deals with serious things. Your description of them resonates with truth—“too old to be boys, too young to be men.”
But with Ron, you still have to be careful; in some places his speech sounds just a shade too sophisticated for him. If you went back and tweaked anything that looks suspicious, that would probably eliminate it.
As far as more constructive criticism goes, I have a few nitpicks that I hope you won’t mind.
“When you’re alone is when you get yourself in the worst messes, innit?” I know this isn’t a big deal, but that “innit” really bothers me.
“Ron’s skin and nose and eardrums, long accustomed to the countryside and its habits, recognized that a real tiger of a storm was awakening.” I was reading this sentence and thinking about how lovely it is, but then something jarred me. I think it’s the use of “tiger”—why would Ron relate it to a tiger? Maybe just substitute with “monster” or something to that effect.
“The clouds in the west looked like flat stone; the temperature had dropped suddenly and the world was a bit moister; there was a tension in the thick air that Ron could almost caress with his hand.” I’m not sure that the use of so many semicolons in succession is grammatically correct, though I’m inclined to think so. But regardless, it’s awkward to read. Consider changing it to something like, “The clouds in the west looked like flat stone; the temperature had dropped suddenly and the world was a bit moister. There was a tension in the thick air that Ron could almost caress with his hand.”
“Yeah, mate. You love us. But you know, we’re your mates, not your Mate, if you know what I mean.” The capitalization of “mate” was confusing to me at first. If you changed to italics, it would be clearer to me, at least—don’t really have any justification other than that.
And one last little thing (I know, I know): the word “darken.” It was used quite frequently throughout the chapter, so in order to have more variety I’d recommend sticking in a few synonyms.
All right. Concrit over. I don’t particularly love this chapter most out of the three, but I love how it has a very important purpose and fulfills it brilliantly. As stated before, the characterizations and description are excellent. Fantastic job. And now I’m on to the next chapter…(hopefully I’ll get the review finished soon.)
Author's Response: Wow, Ren! That's a marvelous, detailed review, and I'm grateful. I have a hard time, given the sophistication of your comments, believing that you're really only fifteen, but I'll take you at your word.
First of all, thank you for noticing some of the little touches and their function. I think you're the only person so far to notice that Ron's counting in Ch.1 foreshadows Ginny's counting in Ch. 2. And yes, Ron's Quidditch talk is simply an easy metaphor for him -- but in a real sense on this quest Harry is the Seeker, and Ron may well think of himself as the Keeper.
As for the concrit, I agree with (or at least see the point of) most of it. The battle with semicolons is something I always struggle with in my writing; most of my teachers, editors and betas have said that I overuse them. I just like them a lot. :)
Things like the Tiger, and the capitalization of Mate, annoy me as well, but I wasn't able to find another way of doing it that satisfied me. As for term "innit," I'm told that it's a not-uncommon way of writing "isn't it" in England, a spelling that implies a certain tone of voice. (But my informants may have got it wrong.)
At any rate, I'm delighted that you're planning on reviewing the other chapters too! I look forward to reading those reviews.
Wow. Precious few fics can even come close to making me cry, and I'm happy to say that this is one of them. It was so beautiful. It's going in my favorites, definitely. ~Sam
Author's Response: Thanks, Sam. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to your review. I'm honored by your praise. ~Ken
5 out of 5
Author's Response: Thanks again. ~Ken
Wow. That was good, I love epilogues, but hate it when they get tacky. On this one though... a lot of originality. Loved it.
Author's Response: Thanks, Luis. For me the question of an Epilogue is, what function does it serve in the story? In this story, the function was to bring about the redemption Ginevra needed.
Good job, that was wonderful.
Author's Response: Thank you, Zoheb. I am honored. ~Ken
i am sobbing...this is the first story i have ever read where i cried full-out... i loved it...one of the most beautiful things i have ever read...i am adding it to favorites 10/10
Author's Response: I sometimes feel guilty about making people cry, but truly I'm so happy to know that you were moved by the work; it really is what I strive for. Thank you! ~Ken
This story is very beautiful.It made me cry and it made me think about everything it talks about. Really good.
Author's Response: Thanks, Alexandra. I'm delighted that the story was meaningful to you. ~Ken
a bit unclear at some points to what the two of them were talking about, but a good style altogether. applause are needed!!!
Author's Response: Thanks! Hopefully the rest of the story will clear up any confusion. ~Ken
Simply wonderful, I admire your ability to tell a deeply meaningful story with a great sense of completion that still leaves the reader wanting more.
Author's Response: Keith, that's kind of you to say. I'm glad you like the work. ~Ken
I love your tribute to RAH
Author's Response: Thanks, Keith. Oscar Gordon didn't know there was anything wrong with his clothing selection, and neither does Ned. ~Ken
Wow, what a fantastic story. I just read the whole. I thought you portrayal of an older Ginny Weasley or Ginerva was oustanding. This is really a good fan fic, maybe one of the best I have ever read. I am adding it to my favorites and plan to read it again soon to see if I missed anything! Great work!
Author's Response: Thank you, James. I'm honored by your good opinion. ~Ken
This is an excellent peice of literature.
Author's Response: Thank you, Coleman. I'm glad you think so. ~Ken
What a moving story! I really loved Ginny's character and that she had family that she did not know. The statue made me cry too.
Author's Response: Thanks; I'm glad that you were moved by the story.