Hi, knight! Sorry I've taken longer than expected to get to this!
So first, the highlights for me:
- Cor and Aravis arguing about their son's name. It's very much what they do, as we all know.
And, considering that they've had a few months to discuss this already and still
haven't come to a conclusion... even better.
- Ram is clearly his father's son, what with his rapid improvement in swordplay.
- I'd prefer a slower pace, but I liked Ram and Marian's first encounter.
- Okay, not just the first encounter. I rather like them every time I see them. She could use some rounding out as a character, but what you've got so far is bringing about a positive reaction from me (and let me tell you, when it comes to romance, I'm a hard fish to net
I only had time for the first two chapters tonight, but my constructive criticism so far are as follows:
- Punctuation in the dialogue will really help your readers mentally phrase the sentences the way you want them to. This ranges from placing commas after names of direct address (for example, "Sit down Archin." should be "Sit down, Archin."), inserting dashes to offset explanatory bits (for example, "... a bear cumbersome as it is and knowing...” should be "... a bear -- cumbersome as it is-- and knowing..."; this will help the reading go smoother), or putting in commas to mark natural pauses in speech (for example, "Besides it isn’t original." would be "Besides, it isn't original.") There are other easy corrections to be made, such as grammar and spelling.
- The revelation that chapter one is in Ram's perspective threw me for a loop. For one, the story really starts off in either Cor's, Corin's, or an omniscient perspective. For another, (and this is a piece of criticism I'd received on a story I'd written from a toddler's perspective) Ram is far too young to be telling that part of the story, unless he's doing so as an older character and looking back, in which case, he should consistently be calling his parents "Mother" and "Father". (I'd also like to point out that it seems to me that the origin of his name is very important. By that, I mean, its importance has been so impressed upon me that I expect it to turn up again later in some significant way.)
- Speaking of "Mother" and "Father", when Ram is referring to them directly (as opposed to "my mother", for example), those nouns should be capitalized.
- The sudden transition from sword training to Parliament was... well, sudden. I certainly expected to see more training, but even if that's not in the plan, I'd recommend taking the time to at least pad the runtime, so to speak, by getting the royal family ready for Parliament. After all, this is a very important occasion and there's no way Ram would be sworn in as heir in his sweating training gear.
- In addition to the above, I'm left wondering why we needed the Parliament scene. Unless it's in the parts I've not read yet, there doesn't appear to be any more trouble about Ram's lineage and thus, appears to be a scene that detracts from the rest of the story? But again, I've only read the first two chapters.
- When new speakers say their lines, the fresh dialogue should begin a new paragraph. This will make the scene (and dialogue) easier to follow.
- I might believe that sixteen-year-old Ram might best his father in a duel, but four hours is too great a suspension of disbelief. Not only do I think that a number of folks would have lost interest far before the four-hour mark, but Cor and Ram would have tired (especially after having gone through the entire contest already). On top of that, Ram has not (from the information you've provided) seen battle; as such, I rather doubt he'd have the endurance for such a long fight.
I hope that doesn't seem too critical... if you would like further help or explanations, please don't hesitate to shoot me a PM! What I've seen so far makes for, I believe, a good foundation. With some building up and renovations, I think this could become really good fanfiction.