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Author Topic: PC103: Attar Of Roses  (Read 7960 times)

Heradel

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on: May 11, 2010, 01:22:43 PM
PodCastle 103: Attar Of Roses

by Sharon Mock.
Read by Deborah Green.
Originally published in Clarkesworld.


They say that when I was born, blossoms spread on the rose bushes outside my mother’s birthing chamber. They say that where I step, blood-red petals spring from the earth. The first, my father tells me, is a legend. The second has been known to happen on occasion, though only by my design.

I was born deep in the northern mountains, far from the great confederacies, where my father nurtured his magic without interference. His was the power of earth, roots of stone and springs of water. My gifts, on the other hand, were merely decorative—grace and beauty and youth forever born anew in spring. Sorcerers traveled from the tradelands to court me, Rosalaia, Blossom of the North. I would have none of them. My father sent them all away. Far better for me to grant my grace at my father’s side, take my consorts from the young men of the city, make our land a well-defended paradise.

For centuries I believed that this was the life for which I was intended.

Rated PG for roses which may smell sweet but still have their thorns.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2010, 07:58:40 PM by Heradel »

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RicV

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Reply #1 on: May 11, 2010, 03:36:17 PM
I enjoyed this piece for the world created.  I found it an interesting concept on the sorcerers outlawing magic to protect as very interesting as well as the father figure being a hermitted sorcerer even though he kept a kingdom of sorts.  For this the setting was intriguing and spiked my interest.

The characters were also developed well enough, but I had problems with this story in the voice.  I think the author was trying to bring across the desolation of the soul that was evident in Rosalia, but instead it slowed the story to a hard to get through piece.  The plot elements I found too spread out and the same story could have been presented in much less space.  Or perhaps bring more to the story.  I ended the story feeling cheated that too much of the story and development was unfinished.  There was too little of the relationship of Rosalia to her mortal partner to be meaningful and while I understand the authors intent in keeping to the voice selected, I firmly believe it could have been worked in.

As for Theme, I am not aligning with it yet.  The whole good vs. evil, or count what you have as blessings, didn't come over.  Overall I would give in 6/10, a good start that could use more polish in this forum.  This piece could work spectacularly as a prologue to a larger story, or an intro to a more romantic view of the situation, but as a standalone short I was somewhat meh.

Ric

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Swamp

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Reply #2 on: May 11, 2010, 04:25:58 PM
I enjoyed the voice in this story and thought it was a good use of the second person narrative.  Rosalia speaking to her bethrothed in the story gave it an interesting pespective and foreshadowed that there was more to the story.  It was confusing a couple of times, I think mostly due to being in audio where we can't see the quote marks, but an effective use nonetheless.

Mostly, I am commenting to say how happy I am to hear Deborah Green back on EA.  She has a very clear voice and engaging style that brings me into the story without distracting from it.  She's one of the best.  I may have missed a reading, but I think it has been a couple years since she has read for the podcasts, Citytalkers being the last, though I may be wrong.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 04:29:09 PM by Swamp »

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DKT

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Reply #3 on: May 11, 2010, 06:13:52 PM
Here's the text version, for anybody interested  :)


Listener

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Reply #4 on: May 12, 2010, 12:06:44 PM
Despite good writing and a decent performance, this story didn't really connect with me in any way. It developed too slowly, the whole "princess talking to her dead lover who she never even met in the second person" kept pulling me out of the story, her general worldliness in accepting being a mistress, the whole "gray sorceress saves her from something related to her betrothed" thing... this just wasn't the story for me.

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Unblinking

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Reply #5 on: May 12, 2010, 01:28:37 PM
Didn't do much for me.  Good to hear Deborah Green reading again, and the writing itself was of good quality, but it just didn't really keep me interested.  I didn't stop early because I wanted to see where it was going, but I was never really engaged.

This was to my tastes as many poems are.  I can understand why other people would like them, and I can enjoy a good turn of phrase, but in the end it just didn't keep me interested, and in the end it's forgettable.

Mostly it was just way too long for the content, and the protagonist was passive to a fault, simply allowing life to happen to her.  When her husband dies, I can understand grieving, but she went so far as to say that her life was without purpose--that I have trouble relating to, your relationship to another being your only purpose in life.  The 2nd person narration to the husband she never met was a distraction to me, striking me more as a literary device that the author was trying instead of being truly organic to the story.



Gamercow

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Reply #6 on: May 13, 2010, 02:42:25 AM
I agree with Unblinking and Listener on this one.  The talking in second person was really jarring for me.  I listened to this one, then listened again, thinking I missed something, then read the text, for which I thank DKT.  They all left me with the feeling that I missed the boat on this one, or was off synch, or just plain too dumb to understand the deeper meanings of the story.  I liked the idea of the grey sorceress, bending iron and stone to her will.  I liked the idea of the citadel that could be controlled by its ruler.  I liked the thought of a powerful sorceress trying to hide her powers away.  There were interesting facets, but the overall crystal was flawed. 
The biggest flaw, in my mind, was the motivation of the MC.  She was yearning to meet the leader of the western lands, but wishes her father to flee to avoid this.  She says she should feel happy about her betrothed's death, but instead slept with his picture under her pillow.  There could be something I missed there, but I don't see the reason she was so attached to this man.  I did very much enjoy the reading, it was superb. 
All in all, this story seemed disjointed and too cryptic for this slow cow to comprehend.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


stePH

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Reply #7 on: May 13, 2010, 02:24:25 PM
This one was completely lost on me.  I thought maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention (was operating the Risograph at work) but other comments here lead me to believe it really was murky.  I won't bother with a repeat listen.

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blueeyeddevil

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Reply #8 on: May 13, 2010, 03:05:00 PM
As I just finished commenting on over at PP, this story almost could have been switched in the cradle with "Bed of Scorpions."
In fact, this story may have been better on that feed because the tone is so dark. This story is essentially 'how I became the dark queen, and loved it' while the other is essentially redemptive (forgive the cross-referencing, but I think it's appropriate).
In general I find post-innocence deconstructions to be kind of self-indulgent. This character never really conveys the proper sense of what she lost to become what she is now, and instead seems more tied up in her own worldly tone. When she embraces her own deceptive nature at the end, it doesn't come as a shock or even as news, really.
I don't know, it seems like this story wanted to be a kind of sexualized/sensualized coming-of-age/corruption fairy tale, but missed the mark by being neither subtle nor overt. Had it gone more in either direction, i.e. been more explicit in description or more allegorical in its evolution. I think it would have realized this goal well.
I am left somehow feeling like this is the introduction to a different character's story; like it's a prologue to another person's quest to free/slay this character.



kibitzer

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Reply #9 on: May 14, 2010, 09:32:27 AM
I really, really wish that StEpH would get rid of that mondo distracting image in his sig.


stePH

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Reply #10 on: May 14, 2010, 02:21:48 PM
I really, really wish that StEpH would get rid of that mondo distracting image in his sig.

Spell my name correctly and I might  :P

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megamanky

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Reply #11 on: May 15, 2010, 04:07:50 AM
Hi there. I am new to the forums but not new to listening to podcastle. I draw a lot of inspiration from the creative writers here so thanks for this podcast. I really enjoyed the character of Rosalaia so I gave her concept a shot. So here's my interpretation of what Rosalaia could look like. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_sWUUMO4c5VI/S-4bJs6UxlI/AAAAAAAAAnY/JM08-UqkbGc/s1600/Rosalaia_concept.jpg
I listened in a few times to make sure I didn't get some detail wrong but if I did, I'm sorry!



danooli

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Reply #12 on: May 15, 2010, 12:35:49 PM
wow, megamanky, that's pretty cool!  ;D

i had a hard time with this story...i guess I'm stuck on not understanding Rosalia's emotions regarding the un-named and un-met fiance. The entire story is based on her feelings for this man, but I just didn't get it.

i do usually like the twist of innocence being attracted to "evil" though.  I just didn't really believe in it here.



Allie

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Reply #13 on: May 16, 2010, 05:37:06 PM
It was a bit murky, but as Unblinking pointed out, the style with which it was written and read made me feel like I was listening to poetry. When I thought of it that way I relaxed and enjoyed it much more. I think Ms. Mock created a world with so much potential. Fantasy citadels vs. Steampunk sorcery (if I may dare to label it Steampunk..) I hope she expands on it!

Really, no mention of Holly Black yet? I find that my friends love to listen to podcastle episodes I've picked out for them on their morning commutes. However, my best friend is the extremely stubborn sort. She is  in the "better read not said" camp, though she never minds storytelling around a campfire. (I'm sure many of you have run into one of these) There is hope though... she absolutely adores Holly Black and it might be just enough to persuade her!



Unblinking

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Reply #14 on: May 17, 2010, 01:48:38 PM
I really, really wish that StEpH would get rid of that mondo distracting image in his sig.

Spell my name correctly and I might  :P

kibitzer did spell it right, all the right letters in the right order.   ;D



stePH

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Reply #15 on: May 17, 2010, 02:17:38 PM
I really, really wish that StEpH would get rid of that mondo distracting image in his sig.

Spell my name correctly and I might  :P

kibitzer did spell it right, all the right letters in the right order.   ;D

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kibitzer

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Reply #16 on: May 18, 2010, 10:59:01 PM
Aha. My apologies.

I really, really wish that stePH would get rid of that mondo distracting image in his sig.


stePH

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Reply #17 on: May 19, 2010, 03:33:37 AM
Very well; it's been there long enough anyway.

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kibitzer

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Reply #18 on: May 19, 2010, 08:43:43 AM
My thanks, stePH.  :)


jjtraw

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Reply #19 on: May 22, 2010, 05:05:37 PM
This one left me cold, I have to admit.

The magic system was interesting, and the reading was clear and melodious, suiting the gothic feel very well.

But if a story doesn't have at least one likable character, cool concepts just aren't enough to hold me. Meh.

Megamanky's image, on the other hand, is awsome. Thank you for sharing!

-JJT



eytanz

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Reply #20 on: May 27, 2010, 06:40:56 PM
I was rather disappointed by this story. It seemed to be telling a story of a woman making bad decisions due to "love", but I never really felt she loved her betrothed; she never met him, never interacted with him, or anything else. She was just entirely certain from the beginning that she's "destined" to be with him, and later that she's the one who would finally be able to be a proper mate for him (note, not be equal to him, just be sufficient to survive him).

That doesn't sound like love. It sounds maybe like infatuation, and maybe like the feelings that someone in an abusive relationship might be undergoing, but she was never in a relationship with him, of any kind. Maybe we were to take that she was put under a spell early on in the story, and her behaviour influenced? If that's right, then I just don't get the interest in the story.

So, it's either a story about genuine emotions that doesn't manage to get them across well, or it's a story about how you make bad decisions under the influence of magic. Either way, not a good story.



yicheng

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Reply #21 on: May 28, 2010, 03:06:58 PM
I listened to this two time and I still don't know what happened.  Why'd she take the boat?  Who was the ancient evil that she woke up?  Who was the western witch?  What happened to her lover?

Color me confused!



eytanz

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Reply #22 on: May 28, 2010, 07:10:26 PM
I listened to this two time and I still don't know what happened.  Why'd she take the boat?  Who was the ancient evil that she woke up?  Who was the western witch?  What happened to her lover?

Color me confused!

She was supposed to marry an evil sorcerer from the west.

Said evil sorcerer was killed, but he left behind a spirit that called itself his son and wanted revenge; also, according to the spirit, the sorcerer himself was not fully killed but was at least in part across the sea.

The western witch was the witch who killed the evil guy; after that, she outlawed all sorcery to prevent them from waking up the spirit and/or other magic traps left by the dead sorcerer.

The protagonist took a human lover so that she'd have an excuse to go to the west. Then, he dumped her, and she went and woke up the spirit. Luckily(?) for her, the lover felt bad about dumping her and followed her, so he saw her in her weakened state and summoned the western witch. Then, he left with her once she was exiled. The story ending with her using him to go across the sea to find the sorcerer.

Does this help?



yicheng

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Reply #23 on: June 02, 2010, 06:33:15 PM
I listened to this two time and I still don't know what happened.  Why'd she take the boat?  Who was the ancient evil that she woke up?  Who was the western witch?  What happened to her lover?

Color me confused!

She was supposed to marry an evil sorcerer from the west.

Said evil sorcerer was killed, but he left behind a spirit that called itself his son and wanted revenge; also, according to the spirit, the sorcerer himself was not fully killed but was at least in part across the sea.

The western witch was the witch who killed the evil guy; after that, she outlawed all sorcery to prevent them from waking up the spirit and/or other magic traps left by the dead sorcerer.

The protagonist took a human lover so that she'd have an excuse to go to the west. Then, he dumped her, and she went and woke up the spirit. Luckily(?) for her, the lover felt bad about dumping her and followed her, so he saw her in her weakened state and summoned the western witch. Then, he left with her once she was exiled. The story ending with her using him to go across the sea to find the sorcerer.

Does this help?

That clears it up considerably.  Thanks!



mbrennan

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Reply #24 on: June 11, 2010, 06:29:42 AM
I think I could have loved this one, if the MC's motivations had hit the mark for me; the tone and atmosphere were really evocative and cool.  But as others have said, her emotional attachment to her fiancee didn't really come through, so her weird attraction to evil and wrongness didn't pull the weight it was clearly intended to.  The second-person approach didn't bother me, personally -- I thought that actually helped sell her obsession more convincingly -- but it felt like things never quite fell into step, the way I hoped they would.