Hey it's Whiskey here for review swap :)
Well, first off I must say the writing is impeccable! I could tell you worked on picking the right words, and I was happy to see that you didn't over-do the dramatic/esoteric tone associated with centaurs, but instead sprinkled it into the narrative when necessary. Good job on style, I really enjoyed it :)
I would say that the scene with the unicorn was my favourite. Not only because - unicorns (*yay*) XD. But because of this sentence: "But something about the wood sprites reminds me of locusts swarming over a rotting body, and with a small shudder I turn away and walk on." I think that this little inner conflict really defines the entire story. Firenze is between two worlds, and he can belong to neither fully. On the one hand, he is a centaur, a nature-bound and intuitive creature that should not have been bothered by the similarity of the unicorn's body to somethign decaying and filthy - that's just nature, after all. But he is also human, and cannot help his desire to structure the world based on morals and civilizational ideals. I like how you pull this theme through not only to his character, but to the future of the wizarding world and to the "traitor" boy that gets caught by the centaurs, as well as the obvious conflicts among the centaur pack.
I enjoyed how you connected the greyness of everyone's alliance to the feeling of change, as shown by the skies and grieving forest. It makes sense, since, I suppose, change must come when opposites are no longer opposites. Also, your choice to have the centaurs bounce back from the war with more aggression makes sense. It makes more sense than everyone just being so happy its over that they would allow no more conflict. WWII came from the bitterness left by WWI, after all. Someone will always feel like they lost more than they should have. Your story paints a unique new AU apocylptic scenario where wizards must face the consequences of having oppressed a massive amount of the magical population for centuries. Rogue bands of house elves? Sounds like fun stuff, got me inspired haha
Let's see, I did have a few comments, though. For example, when Bane says: "Entertaining foolish notions of diplomacy and civilization..." I felt like that was a slightly forced thing to say. While "diplomacy" can be used with a negative connotation (mostly meaning lying and manipulating), civilization really can't. As Bane was speaking to a group of his own and organizing them into a unified force based on certain political or ideological beliefs... well, he too was entertaining notions of civilization. You know what I mean? Either you need to explain what civilization means to him ("and falling for a false, greedy civilization!" or something :P), or you need a different word. What is it that he hates about the wizards? Their disrespect for nature? Maybe their selfishness and individualism? Their abuse of others? There are plenty examples in our own history to draw inspiration from, i'm sure ;) And I know it may seem like i'm nitpicking here, but honestly, it's these little thigns that make a conflict either back and white, or grey and nuanced :)
And one more tiny thing: the Dark Mark on the boy. I know that sidestepping cannon is what fanfic is for, but I thought that Draco was an exception and that, usually, Voldy didn't recruit schoolkids? Maybe the boy could have a Slytherin scarf or something else that would undeniably identify him as a traitor? After all, he does admit it himself that he switched sides at some point, so mabye you don't need the mark?
Well, I think that's it! Great story, I'm glad I clicked on it :)
Thanks for the swap!
Author's Response: Hello!! Thank you so much for checking out my story and for leaving such a thoughtful and insightful review. I really appreciate it!! :)
Thank you for your lovely compliments on the story: it's really good to hear that you enjoyed the tone and thought it suited the centaurs. I really thought that the time after the war would be not only of rejoicing and healing, but also of conflict, and figured that groups such as the centaurs had probably reached their breaking point and saw this as a good time to strike now that the common enemy with the wizards (Voldy) had been eliminated.
Haha, I just couldn't write a trip into the Forest without a mention of unicorns... even if it was dying. :(
I'm so glad you liked that line about the unicorn, it was one of my favourites as well. Firenze is such an interesting character because, as you said, he's suspended between the human and animal worlds even more so than other centaurs. While centaurs live in the natural world, they do indeed have many attributes of humanity: acknowledgement of their selves as unique, for one. I imagined centaurs as being a more... well, not primitive, but pre-liberal/Enlightenment kind of civilization, in which the identity of the group is more important than the individual. Firenze challenges this by making his own decisions and going against the will of the herd, and I imagined Bane fearing him because of this power.
Those are such excellent comments about the word choice of diplomacy and civilization!! I've been brainstorming to think of some better ones which embody more strongly the sense of detachment from humanity that centaurs feel yet their own insistence of being a special, strong group. Above all, Bane hides his irrationality well and is a dangerous leader for a bereaved group. Maybe that humans impose rule on the centaurs, who are a separate nation within the jurisdiction of the wizards. I'm thinking along the lines of First Nations conflicts within North America at the moment, but will definitely work on that, so thank you for your help. :)
I gave the boy a Dark Mark because it fits with my novel that I'm writing and this story can be seen as existing within the same canon. But I can certainly see how that could seem a bit off, and will consider re-working it. :)
Thank you so much for such a helpful review!!! :D