Hello again. When I saw your status update on the forums, I couldn't pass up the chance to drop by and read a bit more of your story. It's been a long time since I've really sunk my teeth into a Founders-era story and I've got a sneaking suspicion this on is just going to get better and better.
I can't really comment on the historical accuracy bits (the only history class I took in college was about the American West -- so not so helpful here), but it certainly feels authentic to me, especially the reference to Venn watching the peasants work, knowing they can't reap what they sow. It instantly conjured up old high school history lessons on serfdom and feudalism of the Middle Ages.
I'm already liking Venn a lot. There is a bit of a brooding air about him, but not in the sort of way that makes him dis-likable. He's clearly strong-willed, and his sort of "well, I guess I'll meet the girl if she's really that pretty" attitude make him feel authentic. He's principled in that he doesn't want to marry just to please others or to gain his crown, but he doesn't really seem to look down on the whole idea in utter disdain. You've really created a nice balance with him in such a short period of time.
Salazar's introduction was really well done too. I walk away liking him but not entirely trusting his motives. And the nod to the necklace was a perfect touch. I don't know if it was meant to be ominous or not, but the bit about when Venn says he wishes to wear the crown as "its true owner," I kind of got a little shiver, like someone saying they are the "master" of the Elder Wand. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it caught my eye.
I know it's been a long time since you wrote this chapter, so I don't know if you're interested in/would find it helpful, but I did have one bit of CC. In your dialogue, there were a lot of instances when the character said a line, then did an action, then spoke again. Example:
-- "Darling, I was blessed with a son, but many of the other ladies at court were not so fortunate." She placed her hands softly on his broad shoulders. "It would be to their benefit and ours if you made a baroness of one of their fine daughters, don't you agree?"
Maybe just for a little more variety, think about putting some of the actions before the character speaks? You did that once or twice, but maybe just keep an eye out for more opportunities...? There were actually a few dialogue tags you could have cut altogether if you wanted. In the Edeline/Salzar conversation, the speaker was identified each time they spoke, even though it was only two people talking, so there wasn't really any question about who was saying what.
Anyway, just a technical kind of suggestion. I thought the substance of the chapter was great, and your language throughout, both the dialogue and the narration, really capture the era of the story wonderfully. I can't wait until Helena makes her first appearance. I'll definitely be back to read more soon!
Author's Response: Hello! Yes, I was happy to swap with you, too. I only hope that this lives up to your expectations!
I'm happy to hear that the story feels authentic. It was a little difficult to track down information about this era and to balance that with a plot that readers can relate to, one that has elements that aren't quite so distant. I did want to use that scene to display Venn's tendency to be a little full of himself, and I'm glad that it worked to establish his personality.
The way I think about it, Venn has been influenced by his uncle's presence, probably even before his father's death. I can imagine wanting to grow up and inherit a legacy that mirrored one as prestigious as being a Hogwarts Founder. I don't think you're reading too much into the necklace at all; you'll see that Venn can be a tad impulsive, and he often focuses on the end result of his actions instead of being concerned with the steps in between and their potential consequences. I think you could read a little bit of that into his reaction to Helena, too. He doesn't really want to bother with marriage at the moment, but the idea of meeting up with a pretty girl is a bit hard for him to pass up. I'm glad you feel like he's complex enough.
Oh, yes, CC is always welcome, so thank you. I do feel like I use that dialogue-action-dialogue pattern a lot, and I probably overuse dialogue tags, mostly because I used to not use them appropriately and now I'm a little obsessed with making them right. I may go back and edit these chapters once the story is finished and I find time to do so, and I'll keep your critique in mind as I write future chapters.
Thanks so much for your lovely review. I do hope we see more of each other in the future; I definitely need to read more of your work!