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Into The Darkness (Xms 1) Review Topic

Xaterex Chronicles

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#1 Offline Varkanax39

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Posted Dec 15 2011 - 06:42 PM

This is the review topic for my story serial, Into the Darkness. The epic is 15 chapters long, and I'll try to post a new chapter each day. Reviews, comments, criticisms, and all forms of feedback are welcome here. :)

Edited by Varkanax39, Jul 02 2012 - 02:00 PM.

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Volume I: Into the Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW PageVolume II: The Shadows Coil  (Review / CBW Page| Volume III: The Darkest Light  (Review / CBW Page| Volume IV: Shattering (Review / CBW Page) Volume V: The Final Prophecy  (Review / CBW Page| Volume VI: Eternal Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW Page)


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#2 Offline Varkanax39

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Posted Dec 17 2011 - 03:09 PM

Chapter 1 is up! I've posted Chapter 2 as well, and am waiting for the post to be approved.
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Volume I: Into the Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW PageVolume II: The Shadows Coil  (Review / CBW Page| Volume III: The Darkest Light  (Review / CBW Page| Volume IV: Shattering (Review / CBW Page) Volume V: The Final Prophecy  (Review / CBW Page| Volume VI: Eternal Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW Page)


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#3 Offline Varkanax39

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Posted Jan 01 2012 - 08:50 PM

Any reviews, comments or questions?
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Volume I: Into the Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW PageVolume II: The Shadows Coil  (Review / CBW Page| Volume III: The Darkest Light  (Review / CBW Page| Volume IV: Shattering (Review / CBW Page) Volume V: The Final Prophecy  (Review / CBW Page| Volume VI: Eternal Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW Page)


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#4 Offline Varkanax39

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Posted May 19 2012 - 09:28 AM

I've just returned, after a long period of inactivity. Expect more Into the Darkness updates coming soon!
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Volume I: Into the Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW PageVolume II: The Shadows Coil  (Review / CBW Page| Volume III: The Darkest Light  (Review / CBW Page| Volume IV: Shattering (Review / CBW Page) Volume V: The Final Prophecy  (Review / CBW Page| Volume VI: Eternal Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW Page)


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#5 Offline joev14

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Posted May 20 2012 - 04:53 PM

I'm going to update this review as I read each chapter...Prologue: I like how you begin mysteriously, until about halfway through this chapter, we don't even know the name of the first character, you are very descriptive of your characters, and the almost immediate intense fight scene is a good touch (Though I did feel a little bit as if it went on too long). You succeeded very well at sucking me into the first episode, and I'm about to start reading the "next" chapter (first chapter technically). Nice start :)Chapter 1: I got a little confused about the characters in this one, since you don't name them every time It's a bit hard to tell them apart (Until you've made it very clear the visual appearance of each character, you should always be naming them). I enjoyed the detailed scene you described in this first chapter, I got a very firm image in my mind about the fire being all around, and I liked how you had Shardak describe the stars as "Burning" at the end. Also I'm a bit confused about the relationships between the characters, is Nightshade Shardak's sister, and Arcturas Shardak's father (And therfore Nightshade's as well)? Just one thing though, too many 'X's in the names, Kodax, Intax, Xaterex, I was getting them kind of mixed up :P. Other then that and the confusion of characters, great first chapter :biggrin:Chapter 2: This Chapter is a bit shorter then the rest, but it still was very well done. I enjoyed the little sparring session between these two characters, and you developed their physical appearance and ability very well (Xhallin is slow and strong, Valkyria is not very strong, but fast and agile). Though I noticed more 'X's in the character names, I didn't notice it as much as the last chapter. I also liked the mention of this "aura field" and I get the impression that it's something like "the force" from star wars, as Xhallin used it to try and get his weapon back from a distance.Chapter 3: This chapter is probably my favorite so far, I'm amazed at how well you did this chapter, since it's mostly a long journey (And I usually get very bored with journeys that drag on for a long time), but you did a very nice job of giving me a detailed description of how they got to where they are, I felt as if I was walking through the tunnel with them. Nice job :)Chapter 4: The beginning of this chapter was very interesting, and this "Hooded One" reminds me much of the "Shadowed One", leader of the Dark Hunters, also the part where the Fury mentioned a spy, my first thought was, is Nightshade actually one of the bad guys?. Though I felt as if the fight scene in this chapter went on for a little bit too long, and really felt as if the creatures should have died a little bit easier, they got stabbed multiple times, had limbs cut off, and yet they still kept fighting, a bit unbelievable IMO. Also nice cliffhanger at the end with the Obsidian beings to keep me reading into the next chapter :PChapter 5: This chapter was quite...interesting. You introduce me to a strange "world" known as the Void. Throughout this entire chapter I felt a cold feeling wash over me, this place has a feeling of darkness and cold, except for Shardak and Blast, I felt as if every other being in this world was the very definition of pure evil. Very nicely done chapter.Chapter 6: This chapter gives me some more insight as to the Ix's morals. They have almost none, they live to kill. I really felt angry at the Ix as they killed the matoran who were completely defenseless. Though one thing that I should point out, the Ko-Motoran don't keep records of the past, the Onu-Matoran do. The Ko-Matoran are always looking at the future, while the Onu-Matoran study the past. (To quote Nuju).Chapter 7: Chapter 8:I highly recommend this series, it has a nice blend of action and adventure, something a lot of authors often can't handle (Either a book generally has too much action, or too much adventure, but Varkanax blends these two well). +1

Edited by joev14, May 21 2012 - 03:38 PM.

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#6 Offline Cayde-6

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Posted May 24 2012 - 05:37 PM

Prolouge=Fightscene! Such a nice way to start off a novel. Since I can be in two places at once with the power that be google chrome, I do not have to just read it on CBW! Overall, I don't have any qualms with it, and I plan to print off the rest of it and read it at school. :3
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#7 Offline Velox

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Posted May 28 2012 - 08:13 PM

Official ECC Review of the first 6 chapters, as requested.As I usually do with epics, I'll simply go through the story as I read it, pointing things out that I think deserve pointing out.

the dark-armored Elemental’s head as he raced down the ledge of the tall mountain.

Perhaps you mean "Element Lord"? Unless it's a custom species, then you should make that more clear and explain the species better to ensure the clarity.

The flames’ heavy shroud of darkness obscured almost everything around him.

This was a very cool sentence and I hate having to say this, but the "darkness" doesn't exactly make sense -- flames are bright, not dark. I get that the flames could have obscured almost everything around him, but it wouldn't be because they're dark.

Even with the full moon shining above his head, he couldn’t make out anything but the path before him and the deathly red of the horrid flames as they danced across the summit of obsidian peak like a destructive, raging demon.

Very good imagery.

If the Spirit Toa is lost, all of our work has been for nothing.It’s too late for the Shadow Orb.

What is the "Spirit Toa" and "Shadow Orb"? These could be easily explained by you saying something like "he thought back to the creation of the Spirit Toa" and then in a couple sentences giving a brief background, but you never actually explain their importance, just that they are important.

It’s too late for the Shadow Orb. Thought the elemental grimly as,

The period after "Orb" should be a comma, and the T in "Thought" should be uncapitalized -- treat it as if you're using quotation marks (someone's speaking) instead of italics, grammar-wise. Also, you left "elemental" uncapitalized here (and some other places as well) -- make sure you're consistent: either always capitalize or never capitalize.

Turning away forever from the scene of their defeat, the Elemental strode through the forests, toward the small group of Copies of Corpse he’d left guarding the Spirit Toa while he'd been at Obsidian Peak.

This kinda bugged me. For one, we never got a detail description of what exactly a Copy of Corpse is. Furthermore, I don't understand the name, and I think it's a little weird -- it just doesn't make sense to me. I suppose you're trying to say they're copies of corpses, and it's fine to describe them that way if you go more in-depth with it, but I don't like that as a name; I would suggest trying to think of a better name if possible.

but with all of his elite soldiers and mercenaries guarding the primiter of the mountain, there had been no choice.

Should be "perimeter."

He knew that while it was unlikely any of the soldiers he'd hired to guard the mountain in case of attack had survived --the traitor was far too skilled to allow any of them to escape-- but it was likely that several of the order were also still alive.

Awkward sentence. Firstly, you say "had survived" saying that they were already attacked, yet in the sentence above you said that he hoped the traitor didn't get there first. So you should change the "had" to "would survive". Also the "but" after the second dash is unnecessary.

Their lives are irrelevant. The Spirit Toa is the only thing that matters now. he thought as one of the Copy guards came into view.

Period after "now" should be a comma.

then with a contemptuous flick of his curved, scythelike tail, vanished into the cavern.

Should have a dash between those two words. Also, here you bring up something interesting; the first description of the Elemental. I think it's cool that you left it in mystery until now, but at the same time I think you should go more in-depth. You describe him as "dark-armored" at first, which is good -- doesn't give to much away and, for me at least, assumes he's humanoid, then. But with this revelation it becomes clear that this guy isn't a normal species, and therefore you should try to describe him more in-depthly within the next few paragraphs.

The Elemental was about to reply, when another being, taller and armored in red and black, seemed to materialize out of the darkness behind the Toa.

You give no explanation as to how the red and black armored being got there. Yes, it's fine that Elemental sees him as coming from nowhere, but there should be an actual explanation given or else it's just a little too convenient -- of course the bad guy is able to just magically appear at the perfect moment. See what I mean?

"Arcturas!" screeched the Elemental in rage. He pointed a single curved talon at the other Elemental. "Surrender. This Toa is mine."

The "Surrender..." seems like it should be spoken by the newcomer (Arcturas). For example, think of the middle ages. If an army attacks your castle, you don't tell them to surrender, they tell -you- to surrender. Because you're not attacking them, they're attacking you. Same thing here -- Arcturas is the one that's attacking as he materialized from nowhere.

Dark energy crackled from the Elemental's hands as his power exploded from his claws toward Arcturas. The fire Elemental raised the flaming sword and blocked both of Skorpix's attacks. Seeing that his attacks were ineffective, Skorpix, dark fire spiraling wildly from his talons, slammed into Arcturas.

This and the surrounding sections become confusing -- it should be definitively established who is the fire Elemental and who is the [insert element here] Elemental. Also, since you refer to them both as "the Elemental" that just adds to the confusion. Try to stick to names or some other defining characteristic (that's with every section around this paragraph).

As Arcturas, realizing the attack had left Skorpix open to a fatal blow, stabbed outward beneath Skorpix's guard.

The "As" should be removed.

The ancient Kanohi that the red Elemental was wearing spurred Skorpix on, allowing him to wrestle Arcturas to the ground.

Why? I don't remember you mentioning the Kanohi or its importance. I suppose you simply mean "seeing his face caused the rage to build which spurred him on" in which case that should be explained more clearly.

As Arcturas raised his head weakly to stare at Skorpix, the elemental fired several bolts of shadow from his outstretched hand.

How does he have so many powers? Chain lightning, shadow, etc. Element Lords only have one power, I thought. Unless of course an "Elemental" is a custom species created by you, then they should be explained more -- the powers they have, what they look like, etc. And more importantly, how they have so many powers. They seem like Makuta to me.

Skorpix raised both of his weapons and stabbed out at Arcturas’ chest.

"At" is good enough.

"Finish it." he ordered casually.

Period after "it" should be a comma. I won't point out the rest of them, but just remember that if you have someone speaking and then you say "he said" (or any variation thereof; he ordered, Sporpix asked, continued Arcturas, etc.), there should be a comma as the "he said" is technically part of the same sentence as the dialogue. ------

The moon cast its dispassionate gaze down on the city below, and the tall towers rose like avaricious avengers against the cold north wind.

The alliteration of "avaricious avengers" is cool, and the description of the moon was very well done. I'm not sure what you meant about the tall towers being avaricious avengers against the wind, though.

And itwasn't death.

Missed a space there.

The flames spun in a whirling, deadly kaleidoscope of red, orange, and yellow, and the stars spun around and around his head as though something had set the planet spinning at light speed.

Nice imagery and diction here.

"I'm not going to leave them!" snarled Shardak. As his vision cleared, he could see the beings in the distance, and he could hear Arcturas'voice, defiant but weakening.

Something got messed up here; "voice..." belongs on the line above."Arcturas! watch out!" he screamed.Needs to be capitalized.Overall this chapter was enjoyable, though. I definitely look forward to see how it plays in with the Prologue; it's interesting to see this different "side" of Arcturas.-----


Three Years Earlier

You should explain what/where Illiera is, specifically in relation to the city you already showed us. Not right here, but in the next paragraph or two. Also, I would mention when you go back into the present -- unless chapter 3 is still Three Years Earlier, then I'd mention that you're in the present then.

The sun set to the west of the sea in a brilliant flare of orange and red, bathing the ocean in an ethereal twilight glow. For a brief moment, the sun flashed down at the faces of the two figures standing near the edge of the shore, the waves lapping at their booted feet.

Once again, good imagery. You seem to have a knack for that.

"You're getting good, Xhallin." she said, breathing only slightly.

I think you mean she was breathing heavily/panting/etc. only slightly -- it's kinda hard to actually breath only slightly.

Once again I look forward to seeing how the chapter plays into the rest of the story -- you introduce some interesting characters here.


NOTE: I exceeded the number of quote tags you can use, so from here on out I'll have the quoted parts in black text.

Shardak noticed very few beings had emerged from the buildings yet, and only saw two Kodax, wearing the blue cloaks unique to Intax's police guard. One gave

Shardak a long stare, and Shardak began to worry that the Kodax would speak to him.

"Shardak a long stare...." should be on the same line as "One gave" -- someone must've messed up when you copied this to BZP.

"Even more abandoned then last night." observed Blast, and Shardak remembered Blast's comment as they'd returned from the unsessessful hunting expedition that had led to the death of Arcturas.

It's "unsuccessful"

So we haven't lost their trail. said Shardak, relieved.

"thought" would be more appropriate.

"You're absolutely sure that we didn't confuse their tracks and that this isn't a secret Kodax outpost?" asked Blast."I'm sure." answered the yellow Glatorian. "You've confirmed it as well, and your skills are better then mine."

Why did he ask if he was sure if he had already confirmed it himself?


The massive canyon lay between two mountains, hundreds of torches from the two mountains above shed light down into the gorge, where the Ix commander known as the Fury stood, following his subordinates toward the cliffs above.

This sentence dragged on; I'd split it up into two.

"You will follow me." he ordered, his voice deep and commanding. "There has been a change in plans. The Hooded One has heard of your report, and wishes to

speak with you immediately."

Again the formatting got messed up.

Two other beings stood guard as well, two green armored beings, one heavily armored, the other tall and crooked, as though her body had been shattered and then remade.The links don't work for me."Approach me."Maybe it's just me but that sounds odd and unnatural. Perhaps just "approach"?"Shardak!" yelled Blast. "The-" He was abruptly cut off as a third winged creature grabbed Blast by the arm and dragged him down the slope. Shardak slashed downward at the creature, and felt the Blade of Arcturas tear through the creature's wing. Momentarily distracted, the creature released his grip on Blast, andShardak lept over the ledge and raced down the gradually descending slope, worried Blast would fall over the edge and continue falling through the void.Once again, formatting "and" and "Shardak lept..." should be the same line.


They wereideas and emotions.Missed a space.Out of curiousity, he attempted to probe the Blade of Arcturas with his strange sense.Should be "curiosity" "Do not fight the darkness." rasped the Ix on the left. "Or it will rend your soul apart."

It was cool seeing the relation to the title here -- how they should not fight themselves entering into the darkness in a way.

Overall this chapter was very enjoyable, though -- not only because of the relation to the title, but you get a sense of what this story will be about -- not two friends following people who took another of their friends. Rather, it truly is about going into the darkness -- about being corrupted, consumed by the darkness. And I think you conveyed that well. However, the chapter was also slightly confusing, but at the same time I realize it may have been meant to be.


First of all I think it's interesting how you went to three years earlier after such a "revealing" chapter. It's a good thing, I think -- it makes people wanting to read more, to figure out what happens next after this chapter, and it also makes people think. What's the importance of this chapter that you stuck it in the middle of that action? And getting the reader to think is always a good thing. =P

They didn't have very many weapons, but had something even more precious to the Ix. Information.Not necessary by any means, but I think it would've been cool to take a few sentences to describe the importance of information. Yes, you said that it was information they didn't know and needed, but I'm talking about information in general. How can information kill or protect just as good as weapons can, for example? What is the value of information to some people? Etc. Then you could start a new paragraph with "These Matoran were prestigious recorder..." to break it up nicely. I definitely want to know more about the Ix, as I feel like I don't know enough about them, being a secondary storyline. But still, these chapters were interesting and definitely added to the overall story.I also liked seeing the moral conflict; she felt bad about killing the Matoran, whereas most of the others wouldn't have. It says a lot about her character and the characters of others, so well done on that.----Overall this story was an enjoyable read. I think I've said pretty much everything, so I'll just add a couple other things. Namely, your strong point is definitely your writing -- you've got some great imagery and word choice here, and you utilized your vocabulary quite nicely. On the flip side, however, one thing lacking would be descriptions. Firstly simply in the characters themselves -- you describe the cityscape nicely a few times, yes, but I don't feel like I know any of the characters at all, given no character depth or characterization. Then simply in their looks as well; you tell us the color of their armor, but not much else. Everyone should have defining characteristics that can be described, and with the species you made up, those especially should be described more in-depthly. Going along with that, your description of other things as well. You've got some really interesting ideas here, but they weren't all explained enough. The main thing would be, as I said above, the different species. But furthermore even just the surroundings and the whole idea of the Void and everything should be given more description to it. But going back to the interesting ideas, I did mean that -- the oppressive government, the interesting societies and towns and species you created, the different plots and how they might possibly come together, etc. Those all created an interesting read, but again I just wish they would have been explained more. How did that city become taken over by an oppressive government? What happened before? I realize that that's not the main point of the story, but it's things like that that slow down the pace of the story -- I start thinking about that and suddenly that thought is in my mind while I'm reading through the rest of the story, and then when someone else confusing/unexplained comes up, it just adds to it and I feel the more I read the more lost I get. But again, the writing coupled with the interesting qualities of the story kept my attention throughout, and if I didn't have finals tomorrow I'd definitely be reading the whole thing. However, if you would like to have your whole story reviewed now that it is finished, you could appeal to Cederak as stated in the ECC main post: "However, if you believe a substantial amount of work has gone into your epic since its ECC review, PM me to make an appeal on the matter." I apologize I don't have time to read more, as I did enjoy this epic, as I said. That said, keep up the good work! You're a good writer, and I know that with a little more work you can become even better. I look forward to reading more from you some day.Posted Image

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#8 Offline Varkanax39

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Posted May 29 2012 - 07:47 AM

Thanks for the review, and the suggestion to PM for a review of the completed story. Your critique was very well done!I'd just like to add that the lack of decription in the prologue and the lack of clarification about the Elementals (who are indeed a custom species) was meant to be rather ambiguous, a hook to draw readers in for more. I think you understand that, just wanted to clarify...
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Volume I: Into the Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW PageVolume II: The Shadows Coil  (Review / CBW Page| Volume III: The Darkest Light  (Review / CBW Page| Volume IV: Shattering (Review / CBW Page) Volume V: The Final Prophecy  (Review / CBW Page| Volume VI: Eternal Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW Page)


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#9 Offline Steelsheen

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Posted Jun 01 2012 - 06:38 AM

ECC Review of chapters 7-15

Horrific, spellbinding and creative. These words kept recurring as I read your epic. Your pen is a vibrant screen through which I can almost see the story unfolding. Varkanax39, you have real talent, and Into the Darkness is proof. Since Velox has covered the grammatical issues that you have in the first six chapters, I'm choosing to focus on the storytelling. (although I do applaud you for no misspelled words that I could find) Your style is dramatic and bold... And a little hard to follow. You introduce a character by name, give us their physical description and then expect us to remember which one has orange and which has yellow armor five chapters later. With non-canon characters, it's pretty hard for a reader to remember something so detailed. Try using more "he said/she said" for dialogue and names for the action. Speaking of action, I have to compliment you on how well you choreograph your fight scenes. I myself have difficulty in writing battles, so I appreciate how much work you must put into it; I think I'm safe in saying that every single chapter has a fight. However, this can be (and in your case, I think it is) overdone. Remember that good action is like dessert: you can have a whole party with nothing but dessert, just not every night. Too much action makes a story hard to understand - we get lost in all the stabbing and cutting and by the end of it, we have no idea who did what to whom. I realize your story is based in action, but perhaps you could sprinkle some thought or narration in between to help the reader. Now we come to my favorite part: the characters themselves. You have a rather large cast, but each one is very clearly a multi-faceted personality. Shardak, as the main character, has most of the spotlight, and he has spent most of it being by turns afraid or vengeful. Blast is a long-suffering companion who very clearly has some great mystery about him. Silence is an old, worn hero who becomes our young Toa's patient mentor. Valkyria, I felt some pity for at first, but that died fairly soon. I'm still not sure who Kyhrex is, because she can use the Aura Field (not a Glatorian trait) but she doesn't seem to be a Toa. Is it possible that she is a penitent Ix herself? Which of course, brings us to what is perhaps the most central part of your story: the Force excuse me, the Aura Field. Introduced at quite an early stage, it is fully explained by Silence in a Qui-Gon-to-Obi-Wan moment. (Hmm, I keep making Star Wars references for some reason) This power or force of nature seems at times a little deus ex machina, but is in general an imaginative use of mental battles. I wonder just how far the powers of the Aura Field go; it seems very difficult to defend against. I think my most major criticism can be summed up in one sentence: your plot twists are too predictable. As soon as Nightshade was taken without a struggle, I knew she was a traitor. When Silence said they would be escaping the circle, I suspected it would be through some impassable labyrinth. And when Shardak is first introduced, it's obvious he's the Spirit Toa. Your subtlety could use some work. Try thinking of it as you are Sherlock Holmes and the audience is an average pair of eyes. Don't tell us what you see (via narration), just tell us what we notice. That will help you maintain the element of surprise. These quotes are not grammatical errors, exactly; they are examples of one recurring problem.

From chapter 7-"This is your cell." Banrax's voice jolted Shardak back to the present. They were standing in front of a large cell carved into the rock itself. Shardak felt despair sink into him.

You can't have despair sink into someone; the person should sink into despair.

From chapter 7-The way he was looking at Blast made Shardak shudder, as though he was slowly destroying his friend's mind and enjoying every moment of this.

Enjoying every moment of it. Okay, that one was just grammar. ;)

From chapter 7-Over the course of three days, more interrogation sessions with the Ix followed. Shardak and Blast rarely spoke, but it was because the interrogation sessions left them completely drained, tearing all of the vitality from their bodies in a single decisive swipe.

The "but it was because" isn't necessary. Just say "because".

From chapter 7-In the spire, time lost all meaning. After one sleepless night, his time in the Holding Cells seemed to ebb and flow all around him, and hours seemed to last for years.

You say that time lost all meaning, but then you follow that with a "sleepless night", which means Shadrak is aware that it is night, and therefore the passing of time. Little nit-picky of me, but I think you have the talent to word it better.

From chapter 7-However, his face was a mask of urgency. "There's no time to explain." he whispered to Shardak.

Okay, if Silence is wearing a mask, then his face can't be a mask. I think you mean something along the lines of "wore an expression of urgency". I could go on with the quotes, but chapter seven was enough to make my point - in your quest for originality, you have made the narration wordy or complicated. Don't forget that in one's endeavors to be erudite, one may turn out to be incomprehensible if you try too hard to use inventive descriptions, the wording ends up just being confusing. You have a great story, and it doesn't need to hide behind fancy descriptions. In summation, this is a great story with fair execution. I look forward to seeing what you do next!-HHPS- I know Velox commented on the lack of explanation early in the epic, but I thought it was a good thing. That's how your plotlines should be revealed - little or no warning.

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