Hi, there, and Happy New Year! I thought I'd stop by and enjoy another chapter.
You did a really great job of describing the hunt that Venn goes on at the start of the chapter. The first paragraph, in particular, was gripping. It pulled me right into the scene. All of the details were vivid and you captured the intensity of the action very well. I love the way that you constantly find new and fascinating terminology and historical references to weave into this story. The grounds the events in the period so much more firmly.
Poor Venn is so conflicted when it comes to finding a wife. He's at that awkward stage that I think a lot of young men can relate to. Everyone he knows is "doing it", which is to say, getting married. He feels all of this social pressure, but truthfully he doesn't want to be married. He wants to hunt and ride and do as he pleases.
During the hunt scene, I think that might have been the first time you mention wands and magic in the entire story. I have to commend you for not letting "magic for the sake of magic" interfere with the story you're telling.
Is it me, or did Venn sort of sleepwalk through his Hogwarts years? If seems like he barely noticed any of his schoolmates, at least the female ones.
At the Blacks' wedding feast, the social pressure just continues to ramp up. I liked the small bit of mockery when the young ladies smirk at him for being accompanied by his mother. You've managed to package up a lot of teenage awkwardness in Venn. He still allows his mother to manage most of the aspects of his life, he really has no patience for the opposite sex and he seems more fascinated with the trappings of his father's position than the actual role and responsibilities.
The exchange of dowry and bride was really nicely written. I thought the dialog complimented the scene beautifully and the ceremony seemed very appropriate to the time period. Even though great emphasis is placed on Priscilla's care and well-being, she still winds up sounding like property of a sort.
The Rookwood girl made for a very interesting contrast to not only the other girls at the feast but also Helena. She seems more intellectually compatible with Venn, at least in the sense that she isn't afraid to defy social customs. Apparently she was also a classmate of his and she's still single. It also seems like Roldan Lestrange fancies her. Why are Lestrange men always the quiet, creepy, stalkers in these stories?
I love the idea that Venn just decided to throw caution to the wind and ride all night to find his way to Helena. It adds something volatile and impetuous to his character, which I think belongs there. Very interesting to see the four founders of Hogwarts already beginning to fall out over the role of muggle-born students in the school. I liked the idea that the word "mudblood" was considered base and offensive even this far back. Too bad Venn seems to agree more with his uncle, but I guess it's understandable given his upbringing.
Courtship in this era is such an amusingly drawn-out, time-consuming affair. He rides all the way to Scotland just to spend less than fine minutes asking her on a second date. Even around her, he's so awkward. It's almost charming in a way. "Hunting" is the best lie he can come up with, even though he's still dressed for the feast.
Lastly, there's the scene where Salazar lies for Venn to spare him his mother's wrath. Salazar seems strongly motivated to see Venn and Helena together. I'm not sure what he's playing at, but there's plainly something going on.
Your writing was lovely, as always. The chapter didn't feel nearly as long as it was and it was easy to get immersed in the scenes you created. Nicely done!
Author's Response: All right, I'm finally caught up to the current month with review responses. I really must try harder to keep up next time. Thanks for stopping by, and I apologize for my lateness.
It's interesting that you liked the opening here. Some felt that the imagery was a bit too deliberate in that it slowed the pace unnecessarily, and so I've been trying to lighten it up a little. It's good to know that you like it when I do go a bit heavier, though. I've got zero experience with hunting, but it was fun to follow Venn on his ride in the forest.
The magic in that scene was deliberate; another reviewer commented that the story felt like it could have come from somewhere other than Potterverse, so I tried to throw some magic in there. Sometimes I need to be reminded to do things like that, because I get caught up in my own plot and characterization. It's good that you felt like it was well-placed and not overpowering.
You're really getting Venn down to a science! He's very self-absorbed and quite childish at times; as you said, he just wants to hunt and survey his kingdom and not bother with marriage and babies. His caving to Salazar and his mother is very much about getting the crown rather than getting the girl, at least for now. We'll have to see if Helena changes that.
The treatment of women has been an interesting issue for me to explore in this story, especially given that I'm female and employed and consider myself fairly progressive and whatnot. On the one hand, you have Priscilla, who is more than willing to live the rest of her life as a noble's bride. Then, there's Emilia, who's a bit more free. You'll see more of her as the story goes on, and yes, she has no problem defying customs. Helena is sort of in the middle for me--she believes in marriage and wants her happily ever after, but she wants it on her terms. As you mentioned, her personality kind of throws Venn for a loop, and it could help explain some of his erratic and volatile behavior there.
Yes, the Founders play a background role, but that doesn't mean they aren't important. You haven't seen the end of the "mudblood" dispute, nor the extent of Salazar's selfishness. Unfortunately, he seems to have taken over the father role in Venn's life.
Thanks so much for the wonderful review :)