When sword and sorcery fail, only words remain.
Dialogue focused scenes drive stories inward, emphasizing the character’s inner conflict.
The Dance of Kali 4/5
After untold eons, Kali is at last free to destroy the world. But time grows short. She has only this one day, and an army of demons is determined to delay her, and thus gain dominion over the Earth. Her only hope lies with the servant who released her, and the demon king that stands against her.
What follows is a very novel approach to the concept of the end of the world. This time the heroes fight to achieve it rather than prevent it. Through the demons, the story explores themes of necessity, and how prolonging something beyond its time can in fact invite suffering. Details are few but well used. This minimal approach gives the story a certain classic fairy tale style, reminiscent of oral traditions. The story leaves little doubt as to its outcome, but the plot moves at such a brisk pace that it hardly matters. And when the ending does come, it brings a kind of exultation and awe befitting such a scene.
*Minimalist writing style
Ancient Heartbreak 2.5/5
A young girl wakes in the night, drawn to the forest by the sound of pipes. She sneaks out, and finds a creature of legend, who awakens a wondrous power within her. She returns home only to find tragedy has struck. Eventually she finds others and joins them on their quest to find and stop the one responsible.
The opening pulls audiences right in, alternating between the current question and the relevant background information. Lavish descriptions enhance the sense of “otherworldly beauty” that dominates those early scenes. But then the story takes a rather sudden and dramatic turn. The otherworldly beauty is left behind, replaced by harsh realities that force the protagonist to mature quickly. Through their relationship, her companions provide some much-needed levity, which is sadly short lived. The story hurries to its conclusion. Its villains are revealed as utterly vile, but audiences gain no insight into what motivates them, beyond a generic lust for power.
Throughout the story the emphasis remains on the relationships between the characters. The overarching conflict becomes little more than a necessary backdrop upon which to cast those relationships.
Hero Worship 3/5
When a young girl appears with an unusual request, Bracer reluctantly accepts, and for a time it appears Bracer’s gamble has paid off. Until one day, the girl returns with a new opportunity, one that will test them both.
In a genre full of grand epics and dire consequences, it’s rather nice to enjoy a more mellow, down-to-earth story. The story is told from a distance, focusing on Bracer’s reaction to events. Much of the conflict is found in Bracer’s inner struggles, her misgivings about what others say and do, though she often stops short of openly expressing her disagreement. Instead she strives to mitigate the conflict, underpinning the moral ambiguity that dominates this humble mercenary’s tale.
*Emphasis on internal conflicts
Spells of Wonder 5of5
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