So, I read more, and have some more feedback if you're interested. The first I struggled somewhat to follow, although it was tense, but the second interlude I felt flowed very well and I greatly enjoyed reading.
I want to make it clear that these are my subjective impressions and suggestions, not some kind of objective writing clues. I've also focused on trying to not get bogged down in too minor details (misspelling, etc.), but instead focus on issues of narration and sentence structure - as I think this is the most valuable feedback to give from a reader.Interlude 1
Tendrils of shadow snaked acros the obsidian brickwork. Azat danced betwixt the crumbling arches, fading in and out of corporeal vision as he did so. Shadows fought to consume him wholly, but he moved too quickly for the all-consuming dark to take its hold on him. Obsidian, his wicked-edged sword, lashed out like slivers of brilliance too bright to repress.
So, there are a few things here that touch on the issue of wordiness I mentioned i a previous feedback post:
- I feel like the word "corporeal" is superfluous here, since vision is by default, well, relating to corporeal things. I understand wanting to do poetic descriptions, but they can get in the way of clear narration if overdone or done at the wrong time, in my opinion.
- The whole deal about shadows fighting to consume Azat, and him being too quick is a bit too much for me. Partly because it's giving too much space to what is essentially just a metaphor (I think?), but also, since this is a fantasy story, you might trick readers into thinking that the shadows are literally fighting to consume him - which was my first impression. If the term shadows are just another term for the assassins, then it's not made clear, at least not to me.
Azat slid around the pinpoint thrust of a dagger meant to cut open his throat. Obsidian cleaved through a blue-white shimmer of steel held aloft in front of him with a keen cry.
This sentence makes it seem like the steel was held aloft in front of him with a keen cry. I assume that it's rather the cleave that's making the keen cry. I'd suggest something like "With a keen cry, Obsidian cleaved through a blue-white shimmer held aloft in front of him." This is less ambiguous, imho.
From the ashen clouds roiling across the evening sky, barbs of forked-tongue lightning made their rapid descent to earth. Echoes of thunder crashed over the limestone dunes of Myria. It impacted the earth with such force that the earth beneath his boots trembled in violent protest.
This paragraph uses the term earth three times. Varying with, for example "ground" or what have you, at least once, makes it flow better.
The winter rain crept into the gaps of Azat’s chainmail and soaked his clothes through. It made his movements somewhat more cumbersome. But if his movements had become more impaired, then these wretches before him moved with all the grace of slaves chained by their ankles with iron shackles.
A bit more about the wordiness thing. These long descriptions can clash with the intent of creating a tense, fast-paced action scene. In my experience, shorter sentences with less flourish can help get across speed better. This is just a general point. Putting in a few longer, descriptive sentences every now and then can help punctuate that, adding more weight to them.
More specifically for this paragraph, I don't think there's any need to specify that they move like slaves chained by their ankles with iron shackles. Saying that they move like chained slaves, or iron-shackled slaves is a more succinct way of getting the point across and fits the tenseness of the scene more, in my opinion. Others might disagree.
The assassin clamped a quivering hand onto the open wound, vainly attempting to stem the blood. Azat violently seized the figure by said hand and commandeered the assassin as a living shield. A flurry of poisoned knives slunk into the dying man’s back. The shield spasmed and foamed and gasped his last in choked, guttered inhalations.
"Said hand" is a bit of a dry phrase I'm not sure fits in an epic narrative style, but is more of a letter or essay style thing, I think. Perhaps saying "seized the figure by the covering hand" or something feels more natural, others might disagree.
This is followed by a run-on sentence: "spasmed and foamed and gasped". I'd suggest cutting at least one of those, especially since readers are informed later on said inhalations were "choked, guttered" as well, so it's really covered twice.
“My, my,” A woman with a serpentine wisdom to her voice greeted Azat. She stood poised over the corpses of her dead compatriots. “Aren’t we skilled for a lowborn nobody? I’m almost afeared to try my hand next at killing you.”
Another one of those things that sound good when writing, but might not make a lot of sense when reading: how does one identify "serpentine wisdom" in someone's voice? I'd suggest using the term "hissing" or "sibilant" if you are trying to get across an auditory quality, and replacing "wisdom" with something that's more interpretable from tone, like "confidence", "smugness", "playfulness" or something else you can think of.
Azat tumbled face-first onto the obsidian brickwork of the Myrian Palace.
I believe the term "Myrian Palace" is used three or four times in the passage. I suggest dropping the qualifiers after the second time, and just write "palace floor" or "ruined palace brickwork" or something like that. By now the readers should know where they are.Interlude 2.
Cast the thought of vengeance aside, Azat thought, he would drag Aslan from out death’s clutches by his skin of his ankles, if he must.
"his skin of his ankles" should probably be *the* skin of his ankles. This is a very minor mistake. I've probably made worse in my own reply post right here.
Interlude 2 works a lot better for me. Azat is given a static observational role, so the descriptive sentences feel a lot more natural, whereas in Interlude 1 they feel more confusing and intrusive to me. Interlude 2 also has more character information, which I always like and which ground the character. We get some in Interlude 1 as well, but that's pretty late. It does improve once the dialogue starts though, in my opinion.
I hope this was valuable.