“Your first death is always the hardest.”
Miguela was the third-born child of a well-off merchant family and knew from around the time she could speak that her life’s path was already decided for her by her father. She was to become an Orator, as was Xandran tradition. However, Miguela had an affinity with the magikal arts and somehow found herself studying at the Academy.
One fateful day, the government offers Miguela an opportunity to join a team tasked with the mission of gathering intelligence via scrying magik. The catch is that Miguela and her associates can only scry the deceased.
Miguela finds the memories of the dead haunting but is adamant not to fail because the prospect of regaining control of her life and using her magik to help others gives her a purpose in life that she never had before. Of course, Miguela soon discovers her new job has an exorbitant cost. Will she be willing to pay when the bill comes due?
Welcome to Five Kingdoms of Cordizal!
What is the Five Kingdoms of Cordizal?
I often get asked this type of question about my stories by friends, bloggers, and potential readers.
The Five Kingdoms of Cordizal is a high-fantasy epic universe that is the setting for most of my stories. The foundation of the universe is its multicultural, multiracial setting with several sentient races attempting to carve their legacy and survive. The world is fully fleshed out and vibrant with a rich and mysterious history not based on Tolkien mythology.
This brings me to magic. To me, magic is an essential part of the fantasy genre, so, of course, there is magic in the Five Kingdoms universe. However, one critical part of the Five Kingdoms universe is that magic is an abundant commodity that is a part of everyday life and not some plot device used to drive the story.
In short, the Five Kingdoms universe is the setting of epic fantasy stories with deep characters and world-building. I try to tell as many different types of stories as possible in the universe, and hopefully, you can find something for you in it.
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Overall, this is a unique take on a rather oversaturated genre. Magic, mages, and wizards have been part of so many fictions and they can sometimes get generic. The author avoids some of the stereotypes here which is a breath of fresh air. It's one of the best parts of the novel thus far.
Story: The story thus far is on the brink of development. It's still really early to give a solid rating but from what I have seen, it is a great start and the worldbuilding is done very well. Without going into spoilers, I really like the way scrying works in this world. Though I am not a huge fantasy reader, I haven't seen something like this before. The author avoids the annoying trope of exposition dumps by working it into dialogue and giving it to the readers in small doses.
Style: It's easy to read and is well punctuated with dialogue. It's not overly descriptive to the point of boredom (at least for me). Third-person limited is a great choice and is very familiar to readers.
Grammar: Aside from one or two typos, the grammar is correct. I suggest perhaps splitting some of your long paragraphs. They become quite daunting to read for some readers like myself. Give it to us in short bites.
Characters: I think at this point in the novel, establishing the voice of a character and at the very least giving the main characters strengths and flaws (not necessarily physical) is crucial. Miguela is well established and each of the Archmages and Caecilia (I hope I spelled that right) have some sort of personality. I look forward to seeing them evolve and develop.
Keep writing! This has a lot of potential and I would recommend this to people who enjoyed the likes of Harry Potter and other wizardry stories. It has some familiarity with other magical worlds but the author has certainly put a twist of his own in there which helps freshen things up!
The Reaper sends his regards.
The writing style is fine for the most part, but there are some areas where it feels like there are no descriptions where there should be, making the scene difficult to follow. Like we're simply told something happened rather than it being described, or we're told it happened, there's some other description, and then some disjoined description of the thing that was mentioned previously. It will probably not bother most people.
I also found some of the wording to be a bit distracting. Too many words to say something simple, the same words repeated too often in the same sentence, that sort of thing.
Normally I wouldn't nitpick some grammar mistakes, but they are consistently present throughout all chapters that I read. It ranges from commas where there shouldn't be commas which messes with reading flow to entire words missing or mispelled. These issues are small on their own so I don't want it to affect the score too hard, but they are frequent enough to be distracting.
As a note this section has been edited to reflect some of the changes the author has made.
I like everything about it so far. It has a lot of potential to be very compelling, with some interesting concepts I haven't seen before.
I only have one complaint, and it's the first chapter. The place where the second chapter starts reveals the first chapter to be a prologue. As soon as you start chapter 2, basically you can forget about everything in chapter 1 because most of isn't important anymore and anything that is, can be inferred or is explicitly repeated in chapter 2.
I hate prologues because they're usually pointless, and the massive disconnect from chapter 1 to 2 where it feels like we're given a bunch of information/characters, only for it all to be forgotten immediately by the story is exactly why.
I like the characters, they feel enough like people. Some of the dialogue is uninspired but I'm pretty sure mine's no better so I'm not judging it harshly.
In summary: 4 - Would Recommend
I like the story, but it lacks polish. If you go into it knowing what to expect as far as the issues I saw, I think it won't be too hard to look past them and enjoy the story.
To start, for the readers, is the story worth your time? If you like the idea of magical intrigue in a rich fantasy story, absolutely. This is a charming tale that reaches its ending at a breezy pace.
It does contain a lot of references to world building details and acts like you should just be familiar with them, but for the most part, either you can ignore them, or you'll pick up the relevant details as you go.
Anyway, for the writer, I'll go into the specific categories.
Possibly the weakest part of your writing, tbh. The pacing is good, and the prose is pleasant to read, but you have a bad having of telling too much and showing too little. There was even a spot where you spent more time telling than you would have showing, and that was just the obvious one (before "reader brain" kicked in and pushed out "editor brain"). I'd bet there are other places you made the same mistake, and that's just the worst of both worlds.
I treat the "Grammar Score" as though it reads "Technical/Composition." Anyway, as far as the basics were concerned, you did fine. There were some mistakes here and there, and occasionally I had to activate "writer brain" in order to rewrite a sentence in my head in order to make sense of it, or else just improve the flow.
At the more advanced level there were a few issues. There's a lot of word repetition (which at the very least, bothered my creative writing teacher enough to pass it onto me, lol), and worse still, idea repetition and redundant descriptors. I'm confident you could shave one to three thousand words out of your story while sacrificing literally nothing. If a detail is obvious from context, it doesn't need to be spelled out.
Definitely the best part of your story. The plot was intriguing, and very well laid out (even if there wasn't much of a surprising twist, which might be expected in something that acted, at times, like a mystery novel). I also appreciated how grounded in the world building everything felt. Like, I definitely believe you have plenty of notes about all the races, cultures, and kingdoms that make up your world. At times, the prose assumed a level of familiarity most of your reader's might not share, but the essential narrative details were all present, so I wouldn't call that an issue.
More or less perfect. In spite of being a supposed mugwump, Miguela was pleasant to be around, the supporting cast/villain all had their charms, and no one was ever obnoxious to see on the page. The only reason I'm taking a star off is because halfway through the story, Miguela picks up a bunch of totally out of character attributes which, if they got her into trouble, would have been a huge case of holding the "Idiot Ball."
As things went, after I finished the story it became clear she picked up her sudden adventuring streak simply because the plot needed her to do it.
Also, for all her talk of taking charge of her life, Miguela seems mostly content to just keep doing what people tell her to do (except when the plot needs her to engage in superfluous (from her perspective) skulduggery, and even that is not in service to her new found calling as a private investigator, but just another task she was assigned to).
Anyway, in conclusion, it’s a good story. I appreciate that it got to its end before the last star burned from the sky. You might want to give it a bit more polish, or even a quick redrafting, but overall it shows you've got some great chops.