Book Review: The Duke’s Handmaid

The Duke’s Handmaid by Caprice Hokstad is a romance in a fantasy setting, with a bit of a fetish twist.

Keedrina is a Itzi peasant, considered dull and stupid by the ruling class of Elva. But she’s smart and has learned to read and stuff. When her mother and sisters are brutally murdered, the Duke takes her into his house until she recovers and decides how to make a living. Keedrina opts to sell herself into slavery to the Duke, who treats slaves kindly. Over the course of the story, Keedrina’s love and loyalty to the Duke help her uncover a traitorous plot to kill the Duke and the King.

The fantasy setting is good, but not overly done. There is magic, but only mages do it. There are two suns, two moons, and two races. The rest of the details are like Middle Ages Europe, and satisfyingly consistent.

But there is a weirdness to this story. Keedrina’s worship of the Duke Vahn pretty much starts when she sees him stroking another slave’s hair. She wants him to stroke her hair. So she falls at his feet and worships him. Constantly. She’s perfectly submissive 100% of the time. She takes the heat for other slaves’ mistakes and never makes any of her own. Her loyalty never wavers.

Kee’s obsession with the Duke, and the Duke’s enjoyment at owning her, borders on creepy fetish territory. He never takes advantage of her, but the emotional stuff going on is just … weird. He loves her, she loves him, yeah, I get it. But this combined with the perfect submissive slavery stuff …

Uh … yeah, okay. It was a good story, otherwise. But I lost sympathy with Kee about halfway along. She was like a robot because her actions were so predictable.

Commission pic: The Dragon and the Doctor

Here’s how it looks so far! I spent the evening working on the dragon, and only got to the Doctor in the last twenty minutes or so. I’m trying to keep his face very simple, because it’s only like 50 pixels tall. Why do I always do faces so small? They’re so DIFFICULT. Anyway, he looks sort of like Matt Smith. Likeness is so hard for me still. Especially Matt Smith with his weird pointed goblin face.

Writing projects

Well, the August Camp Nanowrimo starts next week. I’ve decided that I’m going to use it to churn out my Sonic 360 adapt. My mind is still blown by how fast my July story came together. It’s like Nano is this crazy writers’ weapon, and if you can stick with it, you can blow massive chunks out of a writing project.

I’ve been trying to close loops in the meantime. Finish commissions, try to finish Spacetime 1’s fifth draft (ha!). The fifth draft is a fleshing out more than a rewrite. My critique group pointed out a logic flaw in one of the later chapters, that if followed through, means all my characters go on the run from the magic police.

Which is win and awesome. On the run from the magic police and STILL having to save the world!

I feel like I’m stuck in limbo between the Sonic characters and the Spacetime characters. If I’m not careful, they’ll have a crossover story. Which would be hilarious. “It’s not magic, it’s chaos power!”

I’m also modifying it into Deep Point Of View, which is great, because it forces me to show and not tell. And also dig deep into each character’s psyche in each scene. I’m learning lots of fun details, like Michelle is self-conscious about being a redhead and having so many freckles. Indal hates being seen as the spoiled rich kid. Rayne wants people to respect him, especially Inferna (the big bad), and Inferna doesn’t respect anybody. And Carda feels like he’s trapped in an ever-shrinking box of parental expectations, and his new magic powers exasperate that.

This draft is concentrating on getting Rayne’s subplot worked out. Next pass through will be figuring out what’s up with Alatha, Carda’s not-so-ex girlfriend.

On the Sonic side of things, I’ve learned that Silver isn’t just out to save his world–he’s out to avenge his parents, who were killed by the Flames of Disaster. Shadow is working with GUN against his will, with Nox tagging along, being annoyingly cheerful. Sonic is caught in a really awkward love triangle he never wanted.

Writing is so much fun!

Two commissions

Been working on two commissions. First, the dragon. I made some clean fill-ins of the main color masses, then added some basic shading. And also a background of a park. Because for some reason this is happening in a park in my mind.

Also worked on another commission, this one of a scene from an audio fanfic.

I love drawing the Sonic characters beating each other up. The trouble is, I have to bust out my Sonic action figures to see what they look like from such odd angles. Then I have to find pose reference.

So that’s what’s been going down.

Featured and site stuff

Got up this morning to find I got a little feature article over at TSSZ. Nice! Some of the comments aren’t so nice, but you get trolls everywhere on the internets.

Also, I found some hacker stuff lingering around my website. Apparently it was getting in through an old forum install I’d forgotten was still around. That’s gone now. Also the script that ran the old site stuff is gone, too. There was no way to update it and I never felt it was very secure anyway.

The only things of value it contained were the radio dramas, the how to draw section, and my art gallery, all of which I can migrate to WordPress. Heck, I can dump the radio dramas to youtube. In all of their crummy fanmade glory, hee hee.

Time dragon sketch refining

I’m trying to get back into the groove of things after loafing for a solid week. It’s hard to cudgel my brain into work mode.

Anyway, I refined this sketch and slapped a rough color layer on it.

It still amuses me very much. My commissioner graciously agreed to let me keep the Doctor in there, so I’ve been staring at Matt Smith’s weird face. I want to go back and watch all of seasons 5 and 6 now.

Vacation pics

We just got back from vacation yesterday. We house-sat for my aunt, who has a nice yard with a swing set for the kids’ amusement. We had a wonderful time. Mostly we sat and watched the kids run around.

Trees were climbed…

Grass was picked.

I also put my aging cockatiel through bird therapy by making him sit on tree branches while we were outside. By the end of the trip, he’d discovered that flying is a wonderful thing, and got grounded to his cage.

Commission sketch – time dragon

I’m prepping to do the commission I gave away at the beginning of the month. My commissioner has a neat-looking time-traveling dragon, so I did a couple of concepts.

This one is okay.

Just the dragon walking through an old-timey English village.

Then there’s this one.

Time traveling dragon vs. THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR!

I hope she picks this one. I might finish it even if she doesn’t. 😀