Date: 22 Oct 2009 04:37 Title: Chapter 1
From the moment Tain started falling in love I knew this had to end badly. The love-sick young pup must somehow have been forged by circumstances into the hard, unyielding operative that rose to the pinnacle of the Obsidian Order.
I have to admit that Melva's capture and interrogation of Tain threw me. For a moment there I was wondering if some other agency in the Union had replaced one of the family's daughters without their knowledge prior to Tain's assignment to this mission.
This is a wonderful character study, both in respect to what the experience did to Tain as for how Melva's ‘weakness' ended up condemning her family to death. I also very much appreciated the irony of Tain laboring away as a servant when he himself had come from nearly as privileged a family.
Simply terrific stuff all the way around.
Author's Response: Well, it was also written for your worst case scenario challenge, so there's no way it could go WELL. :D I started thinking about back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, otherwise known as my teen years, and how it really didn't matter how many people told me certain things were a bad idea or warned me against certain behaviors. I was hell bent to leather to learn those lessons for myself. Love or avoiding love isn't something any school or training can truly teach a person. They've got to get bitten and burned before love lessons sink in deeply. DS9 Tain strikes me as a very bitten and burned soul, not a tortured soul at all, but somebody who has taken his difficult life lessons to heart and allowed them to temper him to steel.
I tried to set that up as at least believable, though definitely not predictable. Mevla was an intelligent, perceptive young woman, too idealistic for her own good. She tried to play Tain in the hopes that he would slip and reveal his true identity. In the process, she played herself with disastrous consequences.
I got more enjoyment than I should've out of the mental picture of Tain slaving away in a manor house. As any of us who have been in hierarchical organizations know, though, it's all part of paying the dues. The lesson Tain learned was a double one, both in what his sentiment almost cost him and in what Mevla's did cost her and her family. It's something he won't soon forget, although it doesn't mean it will never happen to him again, as we've seen. One of the biggest ironies to me about Tain as a character (even just the canon version of him from DS9) is that the very thing he despises in himself and considers an unforgivable weakness is the thing that most would see as one of his few redeeming qualities, even most other Cardassians. To me it's a tragedy of sorts that this is something he will never understand, even on his deathbed.
Thanks for the great review, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it. It was another departure from a comfort zone for me, and I thought the challenge idea was terrific!
Date: 21 Oct 2009 10:12 Title: Chapter 1
Wow, a fascinating story. It starts off with some misdirection (not being familiar with your other stuff), then into the meat of intrigue, then a love story that echoes fairytales... until the twist. I was honestly surprised by that. The scenery painting throughout was excellent, as well, and I could vividly paint your settings in my mind.
Definitely an excellent story, all intrigue and romance and still not predictable at all.
Thank you! Fortunately, familiarity with the other Tain stories isn't really a necessity for this one, as it's a glimpse of the character in his early years, well before he becomes a honed and polished master intelligence operative. I had hoped that the twist wouldn't be too obvious or so out of nowhere that it would be off-putting. Setting is sometimes a struggle for me. With this story it came a bit easier than it usually does for some reason.
I'm glad you enjoyed, and I appreciate the review!
Date: 16 Oct 2009 14:05 Title: Chapter 1
Wow wee. Tain certainly proved able to rise to the bar and do whatever needed to be done in order to get his work done. Seeing as this was his first assignment, this was all the more impressive considering his attachment to Melva.
Melva herself, was an impressive character and the courting was nicely done between the two. Very Jane Eyre meets DS9. It however, developed nicely and Melva turning on Tain like that I hadn't quite expected despite her smarts.
Really great to see even earlier glimpses of Tain's life and career, and it seems his own father was also hard pressing and a tough regime set down. fascinating to learn these details of Tain's life.
Oh and I loved the head housekeeper. She seemed a very forceful and steely personality, a pity then her ending. :sob:
Author's Response: The whole thing sort of struck me as having an Edwardian feel to it, too, although that wasn't my original intent. The Bamarran Institute for State Intelligence trains its students well, too well perhaps. I'm glad you liked the twist.
And fear not! The head housekeeper wasn't killed, merely rendered unconscious so that he could finish the job. I may go in and do a small edit to make that clear, since knowing Tain, the assumption that she was dead isn't an irrational one!