So, here I am to dissect what isn’t working about that second fight scene. It’s not necessarily bad, but it isn’t working as it should.
I think you need to simplify. You have so much stuff going on, and all of it is cool but I lost track of what was happening.
You have three points of view, ten pages of action, and like eleven named characters, most of whom are in the fight at the same time.
Any one of these is fine by itself, but the combination of all of them makes it complex and hard to follow. I had to really focus to keep track of who was where and doing what, and by the end of the last page I had no clue who had the book and who had succeeded and who was hurt. It was exciting so I wanted to keep reading, but it was long and I got tired.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but you’re writing it the same way you wrote the earlier fight scene, like a one-on-one fight, except multiply it. That worked great because you only had two characters and one fight to focus on.
Thankfully, this isn’t a hard fix! It’s more a kill-your-darlings solution. You’re going to have to cut some of it, but it will make it more realistic.
So, as far as I remember, besides Joelle and Hugon and Tristan constantly fighting with each other, (That dynamic where they were all trying to get the other one to team up with them was fantastic though, loved that) you also had a bunch of side-fights. Rolant, Piers, Maven, Bayard, Joelle’s sidekickes, Delphine, and Adrienne were all in fights of their own, and they got nearly the same amount of detail as the main characters’ fights. It makes you feel like you have to focus on everything at once.
Observing someone else fighting while you’re fighting is virtually impossible, you’re completely laser-focused on your opponent if the fight is hard enough.
So, I’d write it more like a battle and eliminate some of the characters.
That doesn’t necessarily mean injuring them enough to put them out of a fight, though I do recommend some of that. You had a long, intense, hard fight scene with many weapons and skilled fighters and the amount of injuries, as far as I can remember, is one cut on someone’s forearm.
There’s always the struggle of injuring your characters enough to be realistic but not so much that it gets in the way of plot. I’ll leave that up to you to fix, but even non-dangerous, quickly resolved injuries go a long way. I’m talking scrapes, cuts, bruises. (With swords and daggers, hands are really vulnerable because they’re closest.)
Besides that, get them out of the way. Just, out of the POV character’s field of view. Mention something like they caught a glimpse of Person 1 and Person 2 getting in a fight and then a page later one of them shows back up injured.
With battles and bigger fights, I’ve found the best way is to break it up in sections. A POV character won’t be actively engaged in a fight all of the time. As soon as there’s a lull, assess what has changed with the others, then plunge back into it. (That also means keeping the POV deep works best. You already had a pretty deep POV, just something that might help.)
Now, changing points of view isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it can be helpful, but check to make sure every time is absolutely needed.
Also, you have two fights consecutively. Instead, you could split up the groups, that would simplify your fight scenes. For example, you could get Hugon, Joelle, and Tristan to get through to the final room while the others fight it out off-screen.
Just an idea, I can’t tell you exactly how to solve this. You know your book better than I do, I think you see what I mean.
The scenes themselves are fine, the placement and results work, and the plan to set the mews and stables on fire is pretty genius. I liked that Delphine and Bayard got a part.
Toggling several characters at once is hard, I often eliminate several of them early on, either by getting them injured or giving them something to do that the reader assumes they just keep working on.
I hope this explained it alright, I think you see what I mean 🙂
Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?