A series of vignettes, all set in the same world. The main story focuses on Dragon, a dragon who delivers mail, and how he affects the lives of those he interacts with. Sometimes I veer off on tangents, and not all the stories are related.
A lot of this is me trying to get better at writing certain things. If you don't like the way one story is going, try checking out a different name!
No litrpg, no nobility, no long descriptions of war. LGBTQ+ themes, although it's not normally the main focus.
Cover art adapted from here
[Participant in the Royal Road Writathon Challenge] (April) and CampNano, started for the November Writathon & Nanowrimo 2021. Continued for November 2022.
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I started reading this thinking that it was a series of one shot stories set in the same word (and was not expecting to enjoy it that much). What I got was a series of interwoven episodes following different characters, many of which are introduced in the background of previous chapters which kept me interested and engaged.
It is exceptionally well written, it has a unique magic system and an interesting mix of high and low technology. Many of the stories are from the point of view of the lower eachelons of society, they portray peoples struggles and simple joys at things we would see as everyday.
There are a few chapters that I didn't quite gel with the protagonist but far more that I enjoyed and wanted more.
I haven't gotten to the end yet, I do keep expecting everything to suddenly marry up and make sense but I think these are in fact disparate stories which are simply linked by circumstance.
The only thing I noticed that grates at my sensibilities is that the rain must be highly acidic, everything is rotted or pitted by rain in days or weeks, even oilskins!
It is rare to find a story so flawless. I am speechless.
Crests the Skies is a marvelous series of stories, loosely tied together by the world they are set in and the Dragon who delivers the mail. Each plot lasts from one chapter to upwards of 6; easy, readable bites of high fantasy with touches of an industrial revolution.
The characters have all so far been immediately likeable. Within the first 500 words of each new arc you will be rooting for the underdog, laughing at the pompous fool, begging for the heroes to survive the unsurvivable, and empathising with the totally non-human in multiple forms.
The world, one of the author's own invention, is never truly introduced to the reader. To be clear, I find this a positive thing. We are drip-fed information over the course of each story, carefully and gently, allowing the reader to immerse themselves at their own speed, not by digging through massive textblocks or incomprehensible expositional dialogue. If you want to imagine that this is all taking place on an alternate Earth, you probably could; if, however, you want to go exploring for the hints of fantastical otherworldliness, you will find them. Oh, you will find them aplenty.
The writing is smooth, and shifts from narrator to narrator with clarity. Even switching from a grizzled veteran to a four-year-old orphan, the narrative style remains consistent, while still having clear tonal and expressive characteristics that differentiate each from the next.
Released at the rate it is, one can expect some minor editing issues, but no grammar or spelling mistakes so far. That the author is able to pump out so much content, each arc so unique, within the limited timeframe they impose on themselves, is a testament to their creativity, organisational skills, and devotion to their art.
I find myself wishing, like a kid being read a bedtime story, for "just one more page!" of each arc, but the nature of the story forbids that, sadly, and the tale must move on to the next episode. I risk never reading anything else ever again if I keep reading this - and, frankly, that wouldn't be so bad after all.
I will preface this review with two things:
1) This was a review swap.
2) I really like short stories set in the same universe like, a lot.
I started reading this as part of a review swap and boy am I glad that I did. There is something really nice and satisfying about an author who knows how to weave stories.
Each chapter is a breeze to read through, and Nettles have a really evocative and fun way of writing. There are a lot of little things that I enjoy about the writing and the way it flows, but the chief one is the way thoughts and little bits of everyday worldbuilding are presented as we learn what various characters are thinking. There is an early part, in the chapter about a person named Wind, that really spoke to me. The way he thinks about colors is very telling about the person himself, and his need and desire for a particular crayon that had landed him in trouble.
The stories are full of these little human touches such as these, about how people go through various obstacles that they themselves sometimes create out of a desire for something we might think as small and insignificant. Or it is an obstacle that society has put before them.
There is also quite a bit of clever writing in the way Nettles know how to turn a phrase, which really builds a picture with very little in the way of actual descriptions.
Another thing that might seem like a small thing, but I really enjoy the naming conventions of the stories. With names like Wind and Wordsound and kitten, you get a very different feeling too each character and making each easier to remember.
There is a lot of magic within the writing and in the world, itself and I can highly recommend this for anyone who likes short stories and world-building at a micro rather than macro-scale. Come for Dragon deliveries, stay for the world and its inhabitants.