6,000th post critique

thaddeus6th

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#1
Originally wrote this for a potential anthology of my own, but that seems unlikely to happen, so here it is.

Sir Edric and the Taming of the Fire Demon

Sir Edric stared at the fire demon’s prison. The inferno spirit was nowhere to be seen, and its lair was cold and vacant. He gazed in confusion at the stone dwelling, before deciding a goblet of wine would soothe his worries and enliven his mind, readying his wits to do battle with the enigma before him.

The cook was dead, of course. Killed by flying baboons as he wandered home on his monthly night off.

That’ll teach me to be generous to servants.

Worse still, Dog had been poisoned. His manservant was a fine chef, but had been unfortunate to drink a bottle of wine Sir Edric had given to him. Dog’s excellent nose had soon detected the poison, intended for his master, but not before it had laid him too low to offer his culinary expertise.

And, to cap it all, Corkwell was offering to provide dinner. He did not look forward to the prospect of force-feeding himself chunks of incinerated meat marinated in ash. To avoid putting his innards through purgatory, he had therefore decided to educate himself in the ways of the oven.

Its mysteries were not entirely unknown to him. But then, any buffoon could work out which end of a sword did what, and that didn’t make him a swordsman. The oven was a magnificent modern addition to his kitchen, a concept imported from Andelias and available only to the wealthiest of men. It was also intensely frustrating.

He sipped his wine and pondered the problem. Inspired by the divine beverage, the answer struck him like a haddock across the face.

“Sod the oven. I’ll just use the hearth.”

The heart was large enough to roast a whole pig, and he was tempted to try, for the heavenly porker provided not only pork, but ham, gammon and bacon too. On the other hand, he knew from watching Dog cook whilst travelling that larger things took more time to cook, and he wanted to practise the art, that he might master it before Corkwell arrived.

Fortunately, he had committed an avicidal massacre during the morning, and had a ready array of winged corpses upon which to develop his mastery of the hearth. He rammed the spit up a dead bird’s posterior, lit the hearth, and replaced the spit over open flames.

“Bugger.”

He removed the spit, plucked the partridge, then put the featherless fowl back over the hearth. A mere two goblets of wine later, he checked the partridge, and found it was wonderfully cooked on one side, and all but raw on the other.

During the next hour or so he experimented relentlessly, roasting multiple birds at once and taking them off at intervals to inspect their fitness for consumption. Pausing only for a spot of wine and cheese, he proceed to investigate the optimal spices and herbs, brandy and wine to accompany his dishes.

When Corkwell wandered in, he looked up from his important work and noticed darkness had fallen.

“What’s all this?” she asked, gesturing at the pile of used crockery, bloodied utensils and assorted bottles of alcohol and jars of spice littering the table.

“I,” Sir Edric pronounced, “have been conducting a substantial examination of the best way to cook a bird. It’s been surprisingly engaging.”


Corkwell, a bag over her shoulder and sword at her hip, leaned against the wall. “Wait a minute, you’ve spent the entire day working out how to cook a pigeon?”

“Many pigeons, Corkwell, not just one. And partridge.”

She sighed. “Oh, Edric. Gods know where you’d be if you hadn’t inherited a fortune to pay for servants.”

“Honestly, Corkwell. The cook was killed and Dog’s malingering in the cellar. I’ve spent all day mastering the art of cookmanship, and being met with profound ingratitude is a mite disheartening.”

“You haven’t left this room all day?”

“Well, I did take a small break for cheese and wine, to renew my strength and stiffen my resolve.” He pointed at the silver platter. “And what did you do?”
She dumped the bag on the table. “I bought two pies at the bakery.”
“Oh.”
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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#2
Congratulations on the 6000th! And well done for continuing to uphold traditional traditions!

A fun read, and I loved the haddock across the face line, but I wonder if the humour quotient could be increased a little both as to the events of the day -- could he burn himself, perhaps, or set light to something else and cause a mini-conflagration -- and the use of language, ie further grandiloquence regarding mundane issues or puns as a matter of last resort (did you know that burning feathers make a fowl smell? *cough cough*).

A few very minor nit-picks:

His manservant was a fine chef, but had been unfortunate [would Sir E think "unfortunate" rather than eg "careless"?] to drink [?from?] a bottle of wine Sir Edric had given to him. [unless you're implying Sir E guessed it was poisoned, does it matter that he gave it? This and the "intended for his master" add words to the para making it a bit ungainly, so if they could go it would help speed things up] Dog’s excellent nose had soon [surely a "nose" would detect the poison before drinking, and it's his palate that's detected it afterwards, but if it's only after he's drunk the whole bottle, "excellent" seems a bit misplaced, unless that's meant ironically!] detected the poison, intended for his master, but not before it had laid him too low to offer ["offer" seems the wrong word; surely "provide"?] his culinary expertise.​
for the heavenly porker provided not only pork, but ham, gammon and bacon, [strictly a comma needed] too. [presumably it's his ignorance on show here, since ham, gammon and bacon aren't made from roasting the animal like this]
When Corkwell wandered in, he looked up [not being au fait with Sir E and his cohorts, I didn't know Corkwell was female, so I thought the "he" related to her, and was confused for a bit; perhaps make it "Sir Edric looked up"]

And since he never tames the fire demon which is in the stove that he doesn't touch, is the title deliberately and unwarrantedly vainglorious or just you couldn't think of a better?!

Anyhow, good job.
 

CTRandall

I have my very own plant pot!
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#4
I find it utterly unbelivable. 6000 posts? I think Edric must have been on his tablet posting while the birds burned like tiny, feathered Romes. Looking forward to the next 6000!
 

thaddeus6th

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#5
Fair points, TJ.

Aye, Corkwell is one of several recurring characters (along with Orff, Sir Edric's best friend [and also a slaver who eats humans], and Lysandra the elven sorceress). And Dog, of course.

Incidentally, and I probably should've put this in the first post, Sir Edric's Kingdom is in the fourth SPFBO. I'll probably put it on sale something like 1-5 August, so if you enjoy the comedy style, do give it a look (or just buy it now, it's only a few pounds and I need money for many reasons).

Hope, my own culinary aptitude is not fantastic. Roast parsnips are the only thing I can cook which is more difficult than shoving chips in the oven and trying to remember to take them out before they become charcoal.

Thanks, Randall. Been in a bit of a writing funk, recently. Sometimes think about trying a new short project (maybe sci-fi comedy) just to see if that gets me going.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
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Apr 9, 2016
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1,594
#6
Enjoyed it. Few nitpicks

- I completely forgot the fire demon thing until I was reading TJ's notes.

- "He removed the spit, plucked the partridge, then put the featherless fowl back over the hearth." - This is a far longer, messier and arduous process than is shown here. I think Edric would make it through the best part of a bottle of brandy having to do this, nevermind doing it for multiple birds.

While I'm being pedantic about preparing freshly killing birds for cooking, not drawing the guts is going to result in a bad time. I'm not sure whether Edric would know that, or Corkwell would spot it and laugh, or whether its at all relevant to the story, but the more you know

- Maybe to a certain extent this is the joke, but Edric not feeling paranoid about people killing his staff (and possibly/probably targeting him) feels odd and wrong. And Corkwell not asking questions about it even more odd and wrong.
 

thaddeus6th

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#7
I must admit, my knowledge of plucking a bird is, ahem, minimal. So just a huge gaping crater of ignorance there, by me :p

One of the long-running themes of the Sir Edric stories is quite a lot of people want him dead (the back end of The Adventures of Sir Edric is all about him trying to pay off his own bounty to get an elven prince off his back). People trying to murder him, to paraphrase Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade: "Happens to him all the time".
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
1,594
#8
Once was enough for me!

As for Sir Edric - well, you know your own characters best. But at the same time, I have read most of them and it feels off to me. Particularly for Corkwell. I can buy Edric not really thinking through the implications, but not Corkwell.

I also think Sir Edric cheerily ignoring what the reader thinks is likely to try and kill him again is a source of comedic potential that you've done nothing with.
 

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