Keep writing? Please? It's got potential to become a truely awsome story with a few more chapters.
Lei! I was so excited to see that you had posted the beginning of this fic, because I knew it would be brilliant. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get round to reviewing, but I’m here now and of course already in love with this.
First I absolutely must comment on the title of this and your starting it with part of Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” I mean, all love for T.S. Eliot aside, After the Agony is just such a great title for this. I don’t even have more to say about it. I just wanted to briefly express my immediate attraction to this.
This prologue serves as the perfect opening to this story. Immediately there’s a feeling that something isn’t quite right, shown so wonderfully through the description of the room. I love that the Minister doesn’t really move except to watch the men enter the room. It’s just got this slightly creepy feeling to it, and we know he’s watching what’s happening. And the slogan is something that just sort of makes me shiver, you know? It reminds me of the way the Ministry was in DH, this terrible institution that was totally shady and not at all what it should be. And of course, I get Big Brother and 1984 vibes, which is awesome.
I love the quick reference to Harry, because it gives us some sense of time. I suppose we could get this from the summary, but from a purely storytelling standpoint, it’s clear that this is set sometime after Harry’s life. And, it’s slightly eerie to think of him as just this guy on the cover of some book; we’re so used to Harry being kind of the center of everything, and suddenly he’s simply a “teenage boy with unruly black hair and bright green eyes framed by round glasses.” At first he seems so unimportant, and yet the lieutenant’s mouth twitches when he looks at him, and asks if everything is accounted for. And, as the reader, I’m just so intrigued and dying to know what’s going on. Quite simply, it’s great storytelling.
The introduction to Catherine is great as well. Knowing that she’s an employee at the Department of Mysteries makes her automatically interesting, because that’s such a, well, mysterious place. And then there’s the mention of The Conservatory, which obviously I want to know more about. Just – everything in this prologue works so well together. It’s short, but it tells us so much. We know that things have changed from the wizarding world that we’re used to, we know that something fishy is going on, and that some young scholar is going to be involved. Again, the story is just so compelling.
It is time for history to change course. Well, that doesn’t sound good, does it? It feel so ominous, and that, coupled with the last sentence of this prologue, is just a fantastic beginning to what is sure to be an exciting fic. In case you couldn’t tell, dearest Lei, I’m totally into this. -wink-
Firstly, your story is very imaginative. It seems to be a great original story and I have never read anything like it.
Your discriptrion is very indepth and must be appaured. Especially in the first chapter, of the room they were in. Anyone would have no trouble at all to imagine it. And yet you didn't go so indepth that it became boring.
The only think I could really find to mention improvement over is: the first paragraph in the second chapter is slightly confusing. Perhaps you should read your work out loud so that it makes perfect sense. Your line about Peeves seemed as though it was unfinished and she did one of the lines at the end of the chapter about Mrs Thomas' critisism. It really read as though there was suppost to be more on the line.
Over all I really liked it and I normally don't read story's in Alternate Universe catergory, only ones with warnings of it. But I found this not enjoyable and will read the next chapter when it is up.
First off, I must thank you for the dedication that you included in your liner notes. It makes my heart especially fuzzy whenever I come to re-read the prologue in the hopes that I will write a review for it. (I know, I know, I’m always late in reviewing. It’s a rather bad habit of mine. I’ll be sure to work on it in the future.)
The premise of your story, as I have told you many times before, is amazing. Not simply because you’re using the world of Harry Potter in such an admirable way, but because you’re taking outside ideas about political history and government and incorporating them into this world. It’s highly imaginative and clever, and I think Jo would be proud of the work you’re putting into this to make it as believable as possible. After all, she showed her political views through the Ministry; you’ve done the exact same thing here. I think it’s interesting that you’ve chosen a fascist regime to attach to the wizarding world, because I think, given the fear of Muggleborns by some clearly well-connected people in the higher rankings of the Ministry, a takeover by one especially prominent person who wishes to keep Muggle ideals from infiltrating their society is very likely. I see the age of Harry Potter/Voldemort, in canon, as a last hurrah for the prejudice against Muggleborns, and that eventually the fear died away. However, in your alternate universe, that fear became one for Muggles and it caused some sort of uprising to overtake the Ministry; Voldemort’s time was only a stomach rumble before the cramps begin. It’s fascinating, especially for us who geek out of such things, and I can’t wait to see what exactly happened to bring this fear back to the forefront of people’s minds.
From the very beginning, we see that something isn’t right about this setting. There was an attempt to bring warmth into the room, but there isn’t any doubt that the room has changed drastically from its original state. After all this statement - sweeping his forefinger across the table and leaving a dark line in the dust - clearly illustrates that for us. Of all the portraits that were hung on the walls, only one is left, but why? Well, I know why, but it’s a good set up for what your summary promised us: not everything is as it seems. This little anecdote could also be applied to this little bit of dialogue: “It is time for history to change course, Murphy. A new beginning for England. This sentimental nonsense associated with things long gone does not serve our purpose well. And neither does the so-called inspiration it brings.” In any other situation, this could be construed quite differently, but all it does it raise several questions in my mind. What exactly is this sentimental nonsense, and why does it need to be eliminated? It has something in common with the story of Harry Potter – cleverly inserted too, dear – and we, as the audience, know that it’s not for the better of the world, but for the Party that is in power.
While I’m speaking of the Party, let’s discuss them as well. I absolutely adore (and hate from a non-literary mind, as I should) the concept of this Party. When, for the first time you mention the Party, we’re given loads of information. We, the audience, begin to better understand everything that is mentioned in this prologue, because it is the Party that connects everything mentioned together. We know their motto (“Magic is Might. Truth is Power. Community is Strength.”), which sheds light on their ideals: Magic is Might tells us that there is no room for Muggles in their world; Truth is Power gives us an idea that their deceiving the public, since Hever and Murphy are attempting to cover information about the story of Harry Potter up; and Community is Strength lets the audience know that any individual who attempts to bring any sort of new, changing ideals to the Party will be labeled as an “enemy of the community.” You’ve given us so much with that motto alone, and I think it will factor into the future as well. It’s quite brilliant, actually. The audience also becomes aware, once the Party is mentioned, that whatever Hever and Murphy are planning is a government controlled operation. The question that brings to our minds is “Why?” What exactly is it about Harry’s story that doesn’t live up to the Party’s standards, and what exactly will they change? If someone who’s reading doesn’t pick up on any of this, they will at least know that something’s amiss, and that these people aren’t good people. Very good job on that front.
I also have to commend you on your subtlety in bringing your main character, Catherine, into the picture. We’re given only a little bit of information about her, but it’s enough to wet our thirst for more. She’s, at the moment, a bit of an anti-hero (given her support of the Party, who we already covered as being bad people), but she’s definitely smart, and that’s half of the battle right there. I’ve read the first chapter already, so I do know more of her, but I can’t wait to know even more. Why exactly is she following the Party? What’s her entire family situation? This prologue works, mainly, because in conjunction with the summary, many questions are raised about your story that will keep people coming back for more, and it’s going to be a very long journey. I want to know more about the Party and how they came to this situation historically, but my inner history buff can wait. It’s all about Catherine right now, and without Catherine, there would be no story. Great job there.
There’s not much to comment on in the realm of concrit, but one thing I did happen to spot was that you say that the room was somewhat decrepit even with the description that there were several gauges in the wood and dust and cobwebs were everywhere. Could you replace that word with something a little less definitive, maybe? Something like “worn” would work better, I think.
Overall, I love it. I’m uber excited that you began to work on the story in the first place, and your writing is always exceptional. I’m really looking forward to finding more about the Party, the current situations surrounding it, and how it came to be in the first place, but that will come in time. I’m sure that this is the start of another great fanfic, and I’m terribly excited that I’ll be able to sit and enjoy the ride.
Ah, Patrick. This WAS a nice surprise. Don't worry -- I don't mind the delays in your reviews, especially when I get one as wonderful as this.
Really, what else can I say? Thank you. And I really do mean that sincerely. You've supported this project from the beginning, and your unyielding encouragement is one of the major reasons why I'm determined to keep writing. I look forward to showing you chapter two!
Oh, very interesting story. This immediately caught my eye with your summary and reading the first two chapters only increased my interest. Fascinating topic on the fact that there had been a revolution, which in a way compares to the ideals of Voldemort’s separation of Muggles and witches, but at the same time it has a different feel. The fact that the government was taken over in a nonviolent way only makes it more appealing to the majority, particularly younger generations. Not to say that everyone will agree, but the Alliance must have had some influence over the people before they took over. This sort of capture of the Ministry makes it have a more realistic, more official take-over.
“You are aware of Harry Potter, yes? A scholar of history such as yourself.”
I had a bit of confusion here. Were you saying that Harry Potter was a scholar, or just referring to Catherine being a scholar? Just a quick clarification.
Potter’s story is nothing more than a fairytale
I really liked this line, as it relates to the reader about how we only know about Harry from what we’ve read (although we know more than most). It’s interesting how the Alliance would refer to Harry’s history in this way, and how they would want to change it for their own benefits (obviously trying to obtain more support, especially those who are older and may still remember Harry).
“It’s great to have you back, though, despite your shamelessly ambitious lifestyle.”
I love it when authors refer to a character trait that we just witnessed through action and thought. Nice reiteration of this here as it gives a better idea of how Catherine is viewed in her own home, as apposed to outside.
“They never leave anyone alone, do they?”
“Careful now, the owl understands,”
Another excellent introduction for how the government is now working. Almost like the whole concept of “Big Brother watching”, which if I actually begin reading 1984, I would probably have a longer response to this.
You’ve done a really great job introducing all of your characters, giving a proper feel as to who they are, even if we haven’t seen much of them yet. You could immediately tell of Catherine’s ambition but also great love of history, and how these two combining could have troublesome consequences, especially in the part where you described her discomfort with altering history. As for the Alliance personnel, you immediately received a powerful, ambitious persona emitting from them and how powerful they really are. I also liked taking a peek at the older generations’ feel to what is happening and how they are being affected by the new government, particularly with Professor Giraud and Catherine’s mother. Quick question: what happened to Professor Binns?
The plot, as I mentioned earlier, is so original and I can’t help but love it. You’ve already captured a lot of the characteristics of a fascist government. The idea of it taking place in the magical world makes it all the more interesting, especially since it is after Harry Potter. Actually, how long after Harry is this and where is he? Introduction to problems with the government were also well put, referring to the change in history to fit Party ideals, Muggle diseases that could have already been easily fixed, and the reaction of many people to the regime. I especially like how it takes a more personal level to Catherine, as that is more likely to affect her.
Overall, very well done and thought out, and I can’t wait for more.
Author's Response: 1984! Yes, I did take some inspiration from it, and you're right -- Big Brother is definitely one of them. I'm glad you picked up on that. =D And just to answer your questions in detail: i. Yes, the officials are referring to Catherine in that quote. ii. Ah, Professor Binns... I'd like to think that he was able to move on after the Battle of Hogwarts. And if he hadn't, I think that, when the Alliance took over, they wanted to update the Hogwarts faculty, thus making sure that all the teachers were well up-to-date in their respective fields. Professor Binns would not have fit into that category, I'm afraid. iii. I've set this nearly a century after Harry's death. Maybe 70 or 80 years after the fact. He only has a few descendants remaining--some of which have gone into hiding or left the country, and others... well, you'll find out in later chapters. ;) Thank you so much for taking time out to leave such a thorough review. It's reviews like these that really motivate me to write, and I'm really happy that you like it.