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The Lone And Level Sands: Review Topic

A Tale of Terra Nui Terra Nui Ballom Shakaz Sharaku

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#1 Offline Ballom

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Posted Jun 22 2012 - 07:54 PM

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And so, after a year and a half, another epic of mine. However, as I mentioned in my blog a few days ago, this functions both as another work in the writings of Terra Nui and as a standalone epic, for new and old readers.The first section contains a brief introductory summary, including synopses of my first three epics leading up to this one, but complete information can be found from my library, Akito’s Archive, which contains bios of all characters in my earlier writings, as well as links to my other three epics and two relevant short stories.Otherwise, questions, comments, and more can be directed into this topic. Enjoy!

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Edited by Ballom, May 31 2014 - 11:11 PM.

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#2 Offline Zorrakh

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Posted Jun 25 2012 - 01:30 PM

As soon as I started reading the poem I thought it looked familier... :PAnyways, I certainly hope that the poem does set the stage for your new epic. I am very interested to see how the interaction between the Sharaku of Terra Nui and the Sharaku and Torika of Shakaz, as that's something I don't think has been done too often. It is a very nice summation of the general events of the previous trilogy and I am looking forward to this one. :)
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#3 Offline Ballom

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Posted Jun 27 2012 - 12:33 PM

First of all, thanks for commenting, Zorrakh. :)And yes, I imagine you might have read the poem Ozymandius before, it is pretty famous. However, you'll have to wait to see how relevant the poem may be for the epic . . . :sly: Anyway, glad you're interested in how the interactions may go, as that is one of the main points of the epic, after all. And, given that I've just posted the first chapter, you actually can see how these events will begin to unfold!Small note about updating, though: I'm thinking of posting a new chapter every five days or so, if possible.~B~

Edited by Ballom, Jun 27 2012 - 12:35 PM.

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#4 Offline Zorrakh

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Posted Jun 28 2012 - 02:09 PM

Oh, I imagine the poem will be important to the story, since you opened with it. You have had good foreshadowing in the past, so I'll wait patiently for the relavence. :PSpeaking of interaction, we've got a fight in the first chapter. :D Your description of the fight is very nice, and I especially like how Rhakjasp was faking being under the influence (I'm allowed to say that, right?). The Sharaku seem much (much much much) more level-headed than the Skakdi, at least after the Skakdi's unfortunate experimentation courtesy of Spiriah, and I think you've established that nicely. The legend of the origins of Sharaku seems like something straight out of human mythology, which I have liked from an early age, so that was a treat for me. Good job and I'll be looking forward to the next chapter. :)
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#5 Offline Ballom

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Posted Jul 02 2012 - 07:17 PM

Well, on one level, the title is already relevant by referring to The Dark Lord himself, and his physical body.And yep, brief mentions of alcohol and such are certainly permitted, as long is they're not in the form of ludicrous over-the-top advertising. :P Also glad to see that the origin myth of the Sharaku didn't seem like it was shoehorned in there, as I worried about a little. Anyway, I actually don't subscribe entirely to the view that the Skakdi are all volatile maniacs. Sure, they'd have some anger issues, but often in canon they come across as excessively . . . unbalanced, I suppose. But, that's neither here nor there.Well, as you guys might be realizing by now, a reply of mine in this topic means a new chapter in the epic, so you can go check it out!~B~
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#6 Offline Zorrakh

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Posted Jul 03 2012 - 06:14 PM

According to Canon, apparantly all the Sakdi on Zakaz have been exmperimented upon by Spiriah, and one of the side effects was an extremely short temper along with new powers. That's the only reason I suggeed it in the first place (female Skakdi are even more vicious than the males, and just look at the Piraka :P).As I said, I appreciate the mythology because I've always loved it. It might be different for other people, but I wouldn't know because they haven't posted yet. :P I'm going to post the banner and a link to this in my signature to get some word out; maybe that will help, although I think I hardly know as many people as you do, but I might as well try, if you don't mind.Anyways, I was actually wondering the other day (some time after you posted the prologue) where Chazok went off to since the Tales of Terra Nui. Now I know. :P A Bounty Hunter/inventor is a pretty cool combination that is not normally done and it certainly shows insightful thoughts on his part in this chapter. It will certainly be interesting to see what scheme Chazok's cooking up. Good job. :)
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#7 Offline BioGio

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Posted Jul 07 2012 - 11:34 AM

I just got through a line-by-line review of the prologue. Here it is. At this point, I had more to say about style than plot or characters, since nothing much happened.One thing: When I refer to an "academic" tone or style, I mean something very neutral, almost like you'd see in a paper--but not necessarily journalistic. ("Academic" isn't quite the right word, but I can't think of any other way to phrase it.) To sound "academic," you can use big words and complex sentences, but you shouldn't be too poetic. My recommendation that you write in this style is restricted to the prologue.~ BioGio

Edited by BioGio, Jul 07 2012 - 11:34 AM.

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#8 Offline Ballom

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Posted Jul 07 2012 - 01:22 PM

New chapter is up!

According to Canon, apparantly all the Skakdi on Zakaz have been exmperimented upon by Spiriah, and one of the side effects was an extremely short temper along with new powers. That's the only reason I suggeed it in the first place (female Skakdi are even more vicious than the males, and just look at the Piraka :P).As I said, I appreciate the mythology because I've always loved it. It might be different for other people, but I wouldn't know because they haven't posted yet. :P I'm going to post the banner and a link to this in my signature to get some word out; maybe that will help, although I think I hardly know as many people as you do, but I might as well try, if you don't mind.Anyways, I was actually wondering the other day (some time after you posted the prologue) where Chazok went off to since the Tales of Terra Nui. Now I know. :P A Bounty Hunter/inventor is a pretty cool combination that is not normally done and it certainly shows insightful thoughts on his part in this chapter. It will certainly be interesting to see what scheme Chazok's cooking up. Good job. :)

Thanks for trying to get the word out with the banner, Zorrakh. :) I really appreciate it.And yep, Chazok does return for this epic after all! I do personally enjoy his character a fair bit, which is part of why I've woven him into this one too. Plus he's not as much of a generic lawful good character as most of my other characters, which makes him more interesting to write about anyway.

I just got through a line-by-line review of the prologue. Here it is. At this point, I had more to say about style than plot or characters, since nothing much happened.One thing: When I refer to an "academic" tone or style, I mean something very neutral, almost like you'd see in a paper--but not necessarily journalistic. ("Academic" isn't quite the right word, but I can't think of any other way to phrase it.) To sound "academic," you can use big words and complex sentences, but you shouldn't be too poetic. My recommendation that you write in this style is restricted to the prologue.~ BioGio

The line-by-line review is very much appreciated. ^_^ It's good to get some more in-depth comments on style, as instances such as passive often have escaped my attention. :PNoted about coordinating conjunctions. I guess I felt they were necessary to string the intro together more coherently, but it got out of control a little bit. I attempted to remove some of the more egregious examples, along with comma overuse. Same for the gerunds.The adventures of the Toa Terra and Akito on Punt and Kemet Nui did take quite a while overall, spanning two epics, but it probably was less then a year or two total. Speaking of which, some of the instances where descriptions are vague, such the battle on Kemet Nui, and the events with the Quntaino, were left intentionally vague to minimize spoilers for those who haven't read my earlier works, in case they wish to later. Admittedly, mysterious is a very hackneyed word; I'll have to think of a better one.Glad I've sold you on the story. :)Finally, you mentioned possibly going for an academic style overall, but I prefer keeping with the poetic tone because I think it fits in more with some of the Bionicle tones. Vakama's tales and the other events of the storyline seemed to tend more toward waxing poetic than academic, I think.Edit: The next chapter is posted as well, although unfortunately a day or two later than I originally intended. ~B~

Edited by Ballom, Jul 14 2012 - 03:48 PM.

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#9 Offline Brooklyn Pace-Carlisle

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Posted Aug 15 2012 - 10:37 PM

ECC Review: The Lone and Level SandsWell, I’m going to be frank: this is the first epic of yours that I’ve read; this is something that is too late to rectify, but rest assured that I’m going to start reading through the rest of your work eagerly, and you can expect some more reviews of this magnitude in the near future. In addition, though this is apparently not the first in the series, it’s easy to read as a stand-alone. You don’t leave your reader wondering what exactly is going on, or what connection the plot has to the plot of the earlier stories, and that was something that initially intimidated me, so kudos for that. ;)Now, it’s time to get into the thick of things. I like the setting you’ve crafted here a lot: as I started reading, Shakaz hardly seemed like the most original name for a sister island, but as I continued reading, I started tossing it around in my head and decided it truly wasn’t that bad of a name, if still a bit unoriginal sounding. The internal strife of the Sharaku - which, by the way, you did an excellent job of showing right off the bat with Hanak and Rhakjasp - as well, seemed a tad too similar to the Skakdi to me, but considering their shared heritage and their close traits, that’s to be expected as well.Your characterization, too, is original and fresh: in particular, I loved the fleshing out and life you breathed into the Skakdi bounty hunter, Chazok with his words and thoughts. Many Skakdi in epics and short stories – and I’ve been guilty of this myself at times – have been treated as mooks and dumb brutes, but you decided to go the difficult route and create an almost warrior-poet out of him.

Certainly a curious thing, the way a weapon worked. True, it may be a marvel of engineering, a perfect tool of destruction, hidden life able to cast forth gruesome death. And it may perform this job flawlessly, year after year, time after time . . . but it still remained a tool, and just that. If no one were there to pull the trigger, to reload it, it would become nothing more than a shiny bauble, its lethal potential useless while it would gather dust. A million of this weapon would only change the universe if they were held by a million hands, for without an arm to use it the tool is . . . nothing.And, in essence, was that not unlike Chazok himself? The troubled bounty hunter continued to absent-mindedly manipulate the gun, disassembling portions to rub off miniscule flecks of grime, reassembling with the ease of years of practice and familiarity. So often had he used the dart gun and its pistol brethren that it seemed but an extension of his own body. Perhaps he had fallen victim of the reverse, becoming an extension of the weapon . . .

This quote, in particular, and the way he waxed philosophical on both his profession and the tool with which he carried it out, helped make the second chapter my personal favorite of the eight that are posted at the time of this writing. Another character I feel the need to mention is Rhakjasp himself: while you could have gone the route of the drunken, decadent warlord – which, actually, was what I was scared you were going to do while reading through the first chapter – you proved him to be adept and powerful right off the bat when faced with a challenger, and it left me in suspense. After all, if you could prove me wrong with a character I figured I had relatively pegged, what could you do with the others?That said, I’m left with the plot itself: as I said before, it’s relatively easy to jump into regardless of whether you’ve read the other stories or not, and you’ve woven several different subplots together intricately to create one convergent, main storyline – at least, at the time of this writing, anyway; who knows where you could split off or start anew from here? I stopped pretending I could after about Chapter 3 – that both makes sense and leaves the reader wanting more. I give you props for that, because your writing style is both fast, not too drab or dull, but doesn’t give too much away too fast. It’s like eating a chocolate bar, in an odd sort of literary way. There were no grammar or spelling mistakes I could find, either, which made the story much easier for me to read; I wasn't constantly searching for anything I'd have to point out and quote for this review, so thank you for saving me the time. :POne quibble I had, however – and this is just that, a mere quibble, just personal preference – is the chapter length: it’s not too long at some places, and it’s not too short in others, but it seems to fluctuate at times, which throws me off; once or twice I had to stop and make sure I hadn’t accidentally read straight past one chapter and into another, and when I found out I hadn’t, I had to find where I was in the first place and start rereading from there. Usually, I’m used to chapters that are usually the same length, and you had certain chapters that were about the size of two others combined. Just a quibble, again, but something that threw me off-balance a tad.Other than that, you’ve done a masterful job at hooking a new reader into your saga, and like I said, keep looking for more reviews sooner or later for your other epics; you’ve definitely deserved them, and I hope to someday read all of these concurrently so I can get a real grasp of the world you’ve put together. Good job, Ballom.-Teezy

Edited by Tyler Durden, Aug 15 2012 - 10:38 PM.

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#10 Offline Janus

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Posted Aug 16 2012 - 03:21 PM

I've been trying to figure out this review for about three weeks now, so my apologies if it's not as clear as I hope.To begin with, I'm going to be blunt: The introduction actually put me off reading the story for about a week. I read that and was so uninterested that it took me some time to try again. As for why--well, Shakaz seemed lazy at first, but it was more than that, it wasn't written with any sense of excitement. It was an info dump, and not a very pleasurable one at that.However, that's not say that the entire story is like that, once I managed to slog through the introduction and got to the real meat of the story, I was far, far, far more pleased. While I absolutely detest anything even remotely relating to the BIONICLE cannon storyline, I didn't mind your usage of the Brotherhood this time, and I quite enjoyed seeing how they fit into your universe.Any questions of characterization (For example: Why was Rhakjasp fighting at first) were cleared up fairly quickly, and left me more time to enjoy the setting and plot. The set up with the Sharaku is very intriguing, and the idea of the moving fortress while certainly not original, gives an interesting main villain, as well as a reasonable explanation for the title.However in my opinion, Chazok is without a doubt the most interesting character in the entire story, and I really can't wait to see where his plotline goes. I gather this is because he's an existing character from your series, but it works incredibly well nonetheless.My main complaints here are that the main Sharaku don't seem to have been very developed thus far (which is easy enough to fix) and the fact that you make reference to events and characters that I as a reader have no idea about (because they happened in previous epics) and as this isn't a 'real' book, I can't just flip to the front of back cover and see a list of books I haven't read. In fact until I read the reviews I didn't realize this wasn't a stand alone epic.Regardless, this is quite the intriguing storyline you've got going on, and I'm eager to see where it goes. Keep it up.-Janus
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#11 Offline Ballom

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Posted Aug 17 2012 - 06:01 PM

ECC Review: The Lone and Level SandsWell, I’m going to be frank: this is the first epic of yours that I’ve read; this is something that is too late to rectify, but rest assured that I’m going to start reading through the rest of your work eagerly, and you can expect some more reviews of this magnitude in the near future. In addition, though this is apparently not the first in the series, it’s easy to read as a stand-alone. You don’t leave your reader wondering what exactly is going on, or what connection the plot has to the plot of the earlier stories, and that was something that initially intimidated me, so kudos for that. ;)Now, it’s time to get into the thick of things. I like the setting you’ve crafted here a lot: as I started reading, Shakaz hardly seemed like the most original name for a sister island, but as I continued reading, I started tossing it around in my head and decided it truly wasn’t that bad of a name, if still a bit unoriginal sounding. The internal strife of the Sharaku - which, by the way, you did an excellent job of showing right off the bat with Hanak and Rhakjasp - as well, seemed a tad too similar to the Skakdi to me, but considering their shared heritage and their close traits, that’s to be expected as well.Your characterization, too, is original and fresh: in particular, I loved the fleshing out and life you breathed into the Skakdi bounty hunter, Chazok with his words and thoughts. Many Skakdi in epics and short stories – and I’ve been guilty of this myself at times – have been treated as mooks and dumb brutes, but you decided to go the difficult route and create an almost warrior-poet out of him.

Certainly a curious thing, the way a weapon worked. True, it may be a marvel of engineering, a perfect tool of destruction, hidden life able to cast forth gruesome death. And it may perform this job flawlessly, year after year, time after time . . . but it still remained a tool, and just that. If no one were there to pull the trigger, to reload it, it would become nothing more than a shiny bauble, its lethal potential useless while it would gather dust. A million of this weapon would only change the universe if they were held by a million hands, for without an arm to use it the tool is . . . nothing.And, in essence, was that not unlike Chazok himself? The troubled bounty hunter continued to absent-mindedly manipulate the gun, disassembling portions to rub off miniscule flecks of grime, reassembling with the ease of years of practice and familiarity. So often had he used the dart gun and its pistol brethren that it seemed but an extension of his own body. Perhaps he had fallen victim of the reverse, becoming an extension of the weapon . . .

This quote, in particular, and the way he waxed philosophical on both his profession and the tool with which he carried it out, helped make the second chapter my personal favorite of the eight that are posted at the time of this writing. Another character I feel the need to mention is Rhakjasp himself: while you could have gone the route of the drunken, decadent warlord – which, actually, was what I was scared you were going to do while reading through the first chapter – you proved him to be adept and powerful right off the bat when faced with a challenger, and it left me in suspense. After all, if you could prove me wrong with a character I figured I had relatively pegged, what could you do with the others?That said, I’m left with the plot itself: as I said before, it’s relatively easy to jump into regardless of whether you’ve read the other stories or not, and you’ve woven several different subplots together intricately to create one convergent, main storyline – at least, at the time of this writing, anyway; who knows where you could split off or start anew from here? I stopped pretending I could after about Chapter 3 – that both makes sense and leaves the reader wanting more. I give you props for that, because your writing style is both fast, not too drab or dull, but doesn’t give too much away too fast. It’s like eating a chocolate bar, in an odd sort of literary way. There were no grammar or spelling mistakes I could find, either, which made the story much easier for me to read; I wasn't constantly searching for anything I'd have to point out and quote for this review, so thank you for saving me the time. :POne quibble I had, however – and this is just that, a mere quibble, just personal preference – is the chapter length: it’s not too long at some places, and it’s not too short in others, but it seems to fluctuate at times, which throws me off; once or twice I had to stop and make sure I hadn’t accidentally read straight past one chapter and into another, and when I found out I hadn’t, I had to find where I was in the first place and start rereading from there. Usually, I’m used to chapters that are usually the same length, and you had certain chapters that were about the size of two others combined. Just a quibble, again, but something that threw me off-balance a tad.Other than that, you’ve done a masterful job at hooking a new reader into your saga, and like I said, keep looking for more reviews sooner or later for your other epics; you’ve definitely deserved them, and I hope to someday read all of these concurrently so I can get a real grasp of the world you’ve put together. Good job, Ballom.-Teezy

It's been a while since I started posting the epic now, so I confess I don't remember if I specifically requested an ECC Review earlier, but your review is very welcome regardless. :) I'm also pleased that this has sparked some interest in your reading and reviewing my other epics. Speaking of which, given that I've worked on this epic and the LSO entry since the forum upgrade, I'm thinking of reposting my library again soon, so that would be a good place for any other reviews you may eventually have.Anyway, as my first epic was written beginning in 2007 (and actually is pretty bad at points, which fortunately improved a lot with the sequel, I'd say), and planned for a bit beforehand, Shakaz and the Sharaku have been created for a long time. Admittedly, yes, they are a bit unoriginal at the core, but I'm going to blame my 12-year-old self for that at the moment. Regardless of their origins and island name being somewhat unoriginal, the society of the island itself was thought of a lot later, so hopefully that part's a bit less lame. :PI'm actually not splitting off to more storyline sections from here, as this isn't going to be too long an epic in all. It's just Zakaz and Shakaz from here on out. As for grammar and spelling, I like composing in Word, which fortunately covers that -- yay! As for chapter length, I originally conceived this as something to be posted in Short Stories, and wrote the content of the first six or so chapters with that mindset. When I realized it was going too long, and that it would be better as an epic, I broke up the chapters, but that did leave the lengths a bit odd relative to each other.Once again, thank you for your comments! :)

I've been trying to figure out this review for about three weeks now, so my apologies if it's not as clear as I hope.To begin with, I'm going to be blunt: The introduction actually put me off reading the story for about a week. I read that and was so uninterested that it took me some time to try again. As for why--well, Shakaz seemed lazy at first, but it was more than that, it wasn't written with any sense of excitement. It was an info dump, and not a very pleasurable one at that.However, that's not say that the entire story is like that, once I managed to slog through the introduction and got to the real meat of the story, I was far, far, far more pleased. While I absolutely detest anything even remotely relating to the BIONICLE cannon storyline, I didn't mind your usage of the Brotherhood this time, and I quite enjoyed seeing how they fit into your universe.Any questions of characterization (For example: Why was Rhakjasp fighting at first) were cleared up fairly quickly, and left me more time to enjoy the setting and plot. The set up with the Sharaku is very intriguing, and the idea of the moving fortress while certainly not original, gives an interesting main villain, as well as a reasonable explanation for the title.However in my opinion, Chazok is without a doubt the most interesting character in the entire story, and I really can't wait to see where his plotline goes. I gather this is because he's an existing character from your series, but it works incredibly well nonetheless.My main complaints here are that the main Sharaku don't seem to have been very developed thus far (which is easy enough to fix) and the fact that you make reference to events and characters that I as a reader have no idea about (because they happened in previous epics) and as this isn't a 'real' book, I can't just flip to the front of back cover and see a list of books I haven't read. In fact until I read the reviews I didn't realize this wasn't a stand alone epic.Regardless, this is quite the intriguing storyline you've got going on, and I'm eager to see where it goes. Keep it up.-Janus

Thanks for the review, Janus. And it's no problem at all; your review is quite clear.Anyway, I can see why you're not a fan of the introduction. It is a bit of an info-dump, and it was written relatively quickly when I realized I should tack on an intro for readers unfamiliar with my prior epics. However, I'm glad you persevered with reading the epic after your initial dislike of the first little bit.In regard to the Brotherhood, it seems that the canon relegated their status as a formidable organization to "Hey, there's a bunch of Makuta and they're slightly related to each other maybe?," really undercuting their menace, so I do prefer the idea of them as a bunch of tyrants backed up by legions of Rahkshi, and other evil servants. I also do agree with your dislike of canon in general, particularly for things like the Great Spirit Robot and no love/romance/offspring, but I digress.Chazok appeared in two of my other epics, as well as a short story about his background, which contains the details about various items mentioned in relation to him, such as his robotic companion Iron Knight, and the reasons for his particular hatred of Makuta. The Sharaku had some characterization and development in their respective epics, which contained their earlier character development, so I guess I didn't feel it necessary to have much more if it in this epic, which is a poor excuse, really. I'll have to see about revising some forthcoming chapters to mix the problem. A number of the events and characters alluded to are briefly mentioned in the intro, but unfortunately they really don't carry much meaning without having read the other epics.Anyway, a new chapter is posted and such. :)~B~

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#12 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Aug 27 2012 - 10:11 AM

Official ECC Review:The first thing I'd like to point out is the font color. Normally, I'm against coloring the text of a story because, depending on the color, it can distract from the story itself or at least make it very hard to read. The light purple you use here, though, is neither distracting nor difficult to read. In fact, I actually end up ignoring it after a while, as though I'm reading plain old black text, so good job there.Next, I agree with Janus that the prologue really isn't that interesting. I understand that you wanted to let new readers know about what happen in previous epics and all, but it really was boring. I'm glad you abandoned this style after the prologue, though. Otherwise, it would have been unbearable to read.Also, I love the title. "The Lone and Level Sands" . . . something about that just rolls off the tongue well. It reminds me of the kind of titles I love because it tells you something about the story, yet also holds back information to make you want to read the story. It's just really awesome.I gotta say that I like the chapter length. The chapters aren't too long, but at the same time aren't too short, either. It feels to me like you've hit just the right length for each chapter, which can be hard to do sometimes. The chapters never felt like they dragged on or were cut short.My favorite character would probably have to be Chazok. His desire to leave a legacy behind makes him really different from a lot of characters I've read about. Also, I like the fact that he's an inventor. It again adds to his uniqueness, not to mention makes sense. If he's a loner, it makes sense that he'd have learned a thing or two about how to keep his airship and weapons in shape so he wouldn't have to rely on anyone else.The other characters, though, are less interesting. Particularly the Sharaku, who for all intents and purposes feel like Toa with a different name to me. I noticed in your previous post in this topic you said that the Sharaku have already been developed in past stories, but they still feel like they lack anything to make them stand out. I mean, they're all obviously different from each other, but they still feel like generic hero characters who rarely make mistakes and don't have any real flaws that could affect the story in any meaningful way.Rhakjasp, Bokoch, and Zeratura are slightly more interesting, particularly Rhakjasp, but I am not particularly fond of any of them. I don't dislike them, but they really don't seem that interesting, even though they're all fairly relevent to the story.I think the biggest problem so far is a lack of a real antagonist. I'm not asking for a villain, necessarily, but someone who is working against the protagonists' goals, whether for good reasons or bad. Good antagonists can do wonders for the protagonist, bringing out aspects of the protagonist's personaliy that you'd never thought were there. I imagine the Sharaku in particular would do well to face a real antagonist, especially if this antagonist is working specifically against them.The plot is pretty good. I like the idea of the heroes trying to unite the different tribes together to fight a common foe. On the other hand, though, I'm a bit confused as to whether they've already done that or if they're still trying to get the tribes to work together. Sometimes it sounds like they've already succeeded, but other times it sounds like they haven't, so I'm quite confused there.Overall, despite my criticisms of the characters and prologue, I do like this epic. The plot is tight, at least a few of the characters are interesting, and you got me hooked and waiting for the next chapter. Keep up the good work.-TNTOS-
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#13 Offline Ballom

Ballom
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Posted Aug 31 2012 - 10:41 PM

Official ECC Review:The first thing I'd like to point out is the font color. Normally, I'm against coloring the text of a story because, depending on the color, it can distract from the story itself or at least make it very hard to read. The light purple you use here, though, is neither distracting nor difficult to read. In fact, I actually end up ignoring it after a while, as though I'm reading plain old black text, so good job there.Next, I agree with Janus that the prologue really isn't that interesting. I understand that you wanted to let new readers know about what happen in previous epics and all, but it really was boring. I'm glad you abandoned this style after the prologue, though. Otherwise, it would have been unbearable to read.Also, I love the title. "The Lone and Level Sands" . . . something about that just rolls off the tongue well. It reminds me of the kind of titles I love because it tells you something about the story, yet also holds back information to make you want to read the story. It's just really awesome.I gotta say that I like the chapter length. The chapters aren't too long, but at the same time aren't too short, either. It feels to me like you've hit just the right length for each chapter, which can be hard to do sometimes. The chapters never felt like they dragged on or were cut short.My favorite character would probably have to be Chazok. His desire to leave a legacy behind makes him really different from a lot of characters I've read about. Also, I like the fact that he's an inventor. It again adds to his uniqueness, not to mention makes sense. If he's a loner, it makes sense that he'd have learned a thing or two about how to keep his airship and weapons in shape so he wouldn't have to rely on anyone else.The other characters, though, are less interesting. Particularly the Sharaku, who for all intents and purposes feel like Toa with a different name to me. I noticed in your previous post in this topic you said that the Sharaku have already been developed in past stories, but they still feel like they lack anything to make them stand out. I mean, they're all obviously different from each other, but they still feel like generic hero characters who rarely make mistakes and don't have any real flaws that could affect the story in any meaningful way.Rhakjasp, Bokoch, and Zeratura are slightly more interesting, particularly Rhakjasp, but I am not particularly fond of any of them. I don't dislike them, but they really don't seem that interesting, even though they're all fairly relevent to the story.I think the biggest problem so far is a lack of a real antagonist. I'm not asking for a villain, necessarily, but someone who is working against the protagonists' goals, whether for good reasons or bad. Good antagonists can do wonders for the protagonist, bringing out aspects of the protagonist's personaliy that you'd never thought were there. I imagine the Sharaku in particular would do well to face a real antagonist, especially if this antagonist is working specifically against them.The plot is pretty good. I like the idea of the heroes trying to unite the different tribes together to fight a common foe. On the other hand, though, I'm a bit confused as to whether they've already done that or if they're still trying to get the tribes to work together. Sometimes it sounds like they've already succeeded, but other times it sounds like they haven't, so I'm quite confused there.Overall, despite my criticisms of the characters and prologue, I do like this epic. The plot is tight, at least a few of the characters are interesting, and you got me hooked and waiting for the next chapter. Keep up the good work.-TNTOS-

First of all, thank you very much for the prompt review! It's much appreciated. :)Now, to respond to various comments of yours. The post color hadn't occurred to me, actually, as I've been using it for so long, so I'm glad it doesn't seem to get in the way. The style of the prologue (which I'll have to make a mental note not to reuse, given how disliked it's turning out to be :P) wasn't one I ever considered for an entire work, as it's not the general narrative style I'd like to use anyway. Glad you like the title; it actually took me quite a while to think of a decent title for the work, which was untitled for quite a while as I wrote the start.As for Chazok, it's actually the reverse; he became a bounty hunter because of his unusual skill with making weapons, and then as he acculumated wealth from bounties it could be used to work with other technology such as for creating his ship. Part of the generic-ness of the six Terra Nui Sharaku comes from how there are six of them to characterize, while Chazok, Rhakjasp, Bokoch and Zerakura are not clumped into a group, and thus have more screentime as individuals, but I am trying to work more individual characterization of the six Sharaku into upcoming chapters.The fortress and the Brotherhood forces as an antagonist will be showing up soon in a more direct role, when the battle eventually begins, so that will definitely show the Sharaku and their strengths against villains. However, given that I intended this to be a short story originally, there aren't too many other antagonists involved.As for the situation of the tribes, they aren't united yet. The six protagonist Sharaku gained the Lauxak on their side with Rhakjasp, and he was able to gather his old contacts, but that's mostly it. Their strategy is mainly to challenge the Brotherhood and use it as a way to get the other tribes to rally around them afterward, basically.Anyway, there is a new chapter posted!~B~

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