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The Volara Cycle - Review Topic


BuckJohnson
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Review Topic for The Volara Cycle

Here's a map of the island I made in Inkarnate, alongside a new stylized map made by my amazing boyfriend. Also below is a list of named, important characters to help keep track of the changing landscape of Volara Nui.

Spoiler

Volara-Nui.jpg

 

Spoiler

V-NuiMap.thumb.PNG.b58bac27e70b6967da99739f4aa26252.PNG

 

 

 

 

Spoiler

Characters listed in order of appearance

Akarius:  A Toa of Stone, the main protagonist. Washed up on the shores of Volara-Nui under mysterious circumstances without his memory.

Kulu: A Kra-Matoran, servant of the Master. Acts as the Master's eyes, ears, and right hand.

Master: A shadowy puppetmaster, an enigmatic force with dark plans for Volara-Nui.

Voti: A Bo-Matoran, member of the Le-Koro guard (known as the Vine Striders)

Serus: Turaga of Le-Koro

Likar: Turaga of Po-Koro

Kwynn: Toa of Lightning, came to Volara-Nui from the Tren Krom peninsula on behalf of Krakua

Inix: Ta-Matoran, Sergeant in the Ta-Koro guard

Killi: Ta-Matoran mask maker

Tera: Su-Matoran smith

Utri: Ta-Matoran guard

Nemick: Turaga of Ta-Koro

Nava: Turaga of Plasma

Hoku: Ko-Matoran hunter, accompanied by Kopa (a Koaka, a Rahi similar to a Muaka except smaller)

Oren: Turaga of Ko-Koro

Ivith: A member of the Le-Koro Vine Striders and friend of Voti

Julus: A member of the Le-Koro Vine Striders and friend of Voti

Yara: Turaga of Ga-Koro

Feria: Commodore, leader of the Ga-Koro naval militia

Leida: Lieutenant, member of the naval militia

Edited by BuckJohnson
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The map is amazing!! I'll definitely be taking a look at the program you said you made it on. 

Anyways, I get a Mata Nui/Voya Nui vibe from the world you've created and Akarius is discovering. Love it! Always up for a good Toa quest, and I like the multiple layers of mystery you've already laid for both characters and readers to follow - Akarius' past, the darkness threatening the island, the history of Volara Nui itself, and I'm sure much more to come. Keep up the great work!

I can't get over how great the map is. Seriously. 

(disclaimer: none of this banner art is original, I just smooshed it together in gimp. Torchic, Matau)
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Those pesky firespitters... 
Library | The Sculptors and the Smelters | The Ternion Review Topic 

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3 hours ago, Aderia said:

The map is amazing!! I'll definitely be taking a look at the program you said you made it on. 

Anyways, I get a Mata Nui/Voya Nui vibe from the world you've created and Akarius is discovering. Love it! Always up for a good Toa quest, and I like the multiple layers of mystery you've already laid for both characters and readers to follow - Akarius' past, the darkness threatening the island, the history of Volara Nui itself, and I'm sure much more to come. Keep up the great work!

I can't get over how great the map is. Seriously. 

Thanks! I was hoping to capture the feeling of discovering an island similar to Mata-Nui that was such a big part of early Bionicle. I'm glad you like it so far. There should be more chapters up soon! Also Inkarnate is actually not my favorite program. It's definitely the best free mapmaking program you can kind find but its interface is pretty restrictive when using the free version. That said it's pretty good when you need to quickly whip up a map for a story or something like Dungeons & Dragons.

 

Hope you enjoy the rest of the story!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I'm tempted to get a month on Inkarnate and see what else it can do now. Hmmm...

Anyways, chapter 6 - Ooooh! You know the stakes are high when the Order steps in! Super interested to see how you handle the Calix. I have only foggy memories of its canonical use(s). Also, with mention of Metru Nui, I'm interested where this story falls on the timeline, or rather, when it falls on the timeline, besides before Onewa became a Toa. Another layer of mystery for us to unravel! Also, the antics of Turaga Likar earned a few genuine chuckles - kudos!

(disclaimer: none of this banner art is original, I just smooshed it together in gimp. Torchic, Matau)
ThosePeskyFirespitters.png.3dbdb65e6a28cbbc5957d81c09a685b6.png
Those pesky firespitters... 
Library | The Sculptors and the Smelters | The Ternion Review Topic 

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18 hours ago, Aderia said:

Yes, I'm tempted to get a month on Inkarnate and see what else it can do now. Hmmm...

Anyways, chapter 6 - Ooooh! You know the stakes are high when the Order steps in! Super interested to see how you handle the Calix. I have only foggy memories of its canonical use(s). Also, with mention of Metru Nui, I'm interested where this story falls on the timeline, or rather, when it falls on the timeline, besides before Onewa became a Toa. Another layer of mystery for us to unravel! Also, the antics of Turaga Likar earned a few genuine chuckles - kudos!

The timeline question should become a bit clearer sometime in the next few chapters. I’m also interested in finding ways to use the Calix. I’m all about creative uses of mask and elemental powers so I’m hoping this mask will open up some fun opportunities. Thanks for your continued support!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Awesome chapters, again. Things that stood out:


    - The efficient and plausible quick setup and play-out of the tension between Matoran groups in Ta-Koro. Didn't feel like a forced or rushed set up.  Matoran living separated by elemental grouping has always perplexed me, so it was cool to see a mixed Koro, albeit with it's own internal political issues. 
    - Kwynn's archery - super cool way to implement non-lethal rounds and elemental powers. Love it! 
    - Definitely didn't expect chapter 9 to end the way it did (trying to be vague because don't want to be a spoiler for anyone else), and I'm interested to see the aftermath! I also enjoyed use of Nava's Komau, and still have no idea why it's not considered a taboo/immoral mask by Toa. Like, I know a stipulation is 'can't make someone do something against their morals', but a huge loophole is just to find someone with no morals. And, if it can control some types of Rahi, do Rahi even have morals? Anyways, haha that's more of a speculative ramble than anything. 

Good read, as usual - happy writing!

(disclaimer: none of this banner art is original, I just smooshed it together in gimp. Torchic, Matau)
ThosePeskyFirespitters.png.3dbdb65e6a28cbbc5957d81c09a685b6.png
Those pesky firespitters... 
Library | The Sculptors and the Smelters | The Ternion Review Topic 

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Thanks again for the feedback! The mixed Koro thing was something I had already tried with the Le- and Bo-Matoran living together in Le-Koro, but didn’t really play around with the implications of. I’m glad you liked the unorthodox usage of the Komau. The idea that it’s considered moral for Toa to use but Krika’s mask (which just pushes stuff away) isn’t is definitely a bit silly. I hope to have more chapters up soon. Hope you enjoy the rest of it!

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For a while, this has looked like the most active story thread going on on BZP, so tonight I decided to finally start reading it, and I must say I regret having waited so long! It is a great send-up to the mysterious stories that seem to natural to the Bionicle universe. Your writing style is detailed without being bogged down, good and readable in much the same way Greg Farshtey's own is. My thoughts on the individual chapters I have read so far:

1: The opening from the POV of an amnesiac character makes me realize how common that was in Bionicle, from the Toa awakening with no memories to Takua/the player in MNOG. It is a tried-and-true, yet effective way to make personal and immediate the beauty but also danger of the protagonist's natural surroundings. The amnesiac opening does not overstay its welcome, and the second half with Kulu wisely shifts into a more conventional style. In particular, the opening lines that he was "the Matoran" but "had once been an Onu-Matoran" was a great introduction to his nature as a Shadow Matoran.

2: Voti seems to go from attacking the stranger to befriending him a little too quickly, though I did enjoy how it allowed him to show off his mask power. The settings reminded of both the open field where the Boxors fight the Nuhvok in the Bohrok Online Animations, as well as how Timothy Zahn describes Kashyyyk. I'm not sure if that was intentional, but it was rich, detailed and fascinating imagery. I also enjoyed Kulu's interactions with the other Kra-Matoran, specifically how quickly he went from neutral to annoyed by them. I realize at this point Kulu is the most three-dimensional character. He's the only one whose goal I fully understand and despite presumably being evil I don't particularly dislike him as a person.

3: Akarius learning about all the island's problems really reminds me of the Onu-Koro miners all complaining to Whenua in MNOG. The allusions to early Bionicle are strong with this one. One thing I don't fully understand is Akarius' amnesia. If you're familiar with retrograde vs. anterograde amnesia, the text isn't consistent with which variety Akarius has. For instance, it's hard to accept that he remembers his mundane life as a carver, but not his own name. The struggle of a Toa who misses being a Matoran is definitely a compelling narrative, but not a logical one to give to an amnesiac hero. Other thoughts: Kulu sneaking into the party was brilliant and creepy. There are some real, though rare, gems of horror in your writing. You use the reference to something "stabbing" out of the ground for the second time in this episode, and it's not how I've heard the word used before, but I like it.

4: Is it fair for me to call Kulu an anti-hero at this point? I felt bad for him thinking about how to explain the failure, and worse when he was noticed, then I felt relieved when the Rahkshi saved him. I'm sure there's some evil plot he's working toward (and he does try to kill Akarius...) but I just can't help but root for him.

5: That was an excellent action sequence. I'll be honest, the first action scene between Akarius and the Kra-Matoran felt a little too rushed and busy, and I sometimes had trouble keeping track of precisely what was happening and how many enemies were left. Maybe because this was a one-on-one battle, I was able to get a much stronger feel for the two combatants. The Guurahk's arm coming off was a creative use of the oft-forgotten artificiality of Rahkshi. And of course, at the very end, I can't help but feel bad for Kulu.

I will continue reading on tomorrow. Excellent work thus far. Keep it up.

6: Another great reference to searching for stones/masks excellently subverted by the mask being useless. Likar is a fun character. Part of me wishes Turaga Matau could have been more like him in canon. Krakua was a welcomed familiar face that helps ground everything in the main story, and I look forward to learning more about Kwynn. Spunky female characters proving themselves is a favorite trope of mine.

7: Doesn't Harry Potter use part of a mirror to talk to Dumbledore? Maybe that's why I like Kulu so much. He's like Ahkmou if Ahkmou weren't so insufferable. The entrance into Ta-Koro reads like a much better version of the introduction to Voti (who, come to think of it, I wouldn't mind seeing in the story again). This time, the hostility in his welcome appears intentional and meaningful, and builds up the suspenseful and anxiety-inducing atmosphere I commended your ability to create earlier. (...) My wish is granted! Reading about Voti once more is a joy, especially since she has a cool Toa senpai to talk to now.

8: This one was just plain creepy, in a good way. I already dislike Nava infinitely more than Kulu. It's like an evil Orwellian version of Ta-Koro in MNOG. I knew the hostility in chapter 7 would pay off, and it made this chapter all the more gratifying.

The stakes really seem to ramp in these three chapters. The more I read, the more tragic the loss of Akarius' teammates becomes. I can imagine how much easier this mission would be for a team of Toa and the frustration Akarius faces going it alone is appreciable. I will continue hopefully later tonight, potentially later.

9: My boy Kulu did something! This episode was a ride. It was the right time for all these plot threads to come together. It was all very gratifying and I appreciate the extra time this chapter took to showcase these powerful moments.

10: This might be the first time in years I read about a Toa transformation, and it was powerful. It reminded me of all the glory and splendor Takanuva and the Toa Metru got when they transformed. Many questions answered regarding the master as well. I had predicted the master's master would be Teridax, and I was fairly certain the master himself was also a Makuta. I love the description of him from Kulu's uninitiated POV. One forgets having known of Makuta for years what a weird, unhuman concept they really are. Kulu's transformation is fitting and well-earned as well.

11: I'm not sure how I didn't see it coming, but looking back the time period makes so much sense. This actually feels like a well-done supplement to the G1 storyline that rewards my uncanny amount of previous knowledge. And yet the story I'm being told now is still its own and independently competent. The Order definitely comes off like the SCP Foundation in this chapter even more than it did in canon.

This story reminded me so much of classic Bionicle I had to put on some MNOG music while reading. It all fits so well. The plot threads are building at a tantalizing pace and I am eager to see the final battle.

Edited by Master Inika

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

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Click here to visit my library!

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Thanks so much for your exhaustive review! I was eagerly waiting for each addition to it. Writing this story has been a joy for me so far, and I’m glad that others can enjoy it too. I’m also happy that it evoked such a strong feeling of classic Bionicle for you. Trying to tell a story that wove the themes of the early years of G1 with story elements from the later years is the main goal of this story. I hope to have more chapters up soon! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry it's been a hot sec - real life, ya know? But I finally got around to reading your updates. Always an adventure :) 

From Ch. 10

Quote

“M-My sister, Nava, where is she? I haven’t seen her in so long, is she ok? Can you help me find her?” Akarius felt a pang of sorrow in his chest, and he frantically searched for what to say next. 

This was heartbreaking to read, definitely. I really feel for all of them in this scenario. I think the way you set up and portrayed the long term effects of a long term, abusive, toxic relationship between the two Turaga was well handled. 
 

Quote

Akarius himself had been given a heavy warhammer and shortsword by the same weapon maker, who had likened them to a “Po-Matoran carver’s hammer and chisel”.

This is genius, the Po-Metru heritage behind his weapons. Love it. 
 

Quote

“I thought not. I don’t think you could understand even if I told you the full extent of it. The Great Spirit has been cast into a deep slumber, rendered comatose by my own master,” explained the shrouded figure, “what’s more, my master has been defeated by a team of Toa on Metru-Nui. Kulu, there is no greater time for us to strike. This is the moment I have been waiting for.” 

OOOOOOH!! Canonical context!! Yes! Been looking forward to this forEVER! I love the Metru Nui era, so, even better! Totally worth the wait ^_^ Also, I feel like you built up the reveal for the sinister Makuta Vortidax very well. As others have noted and commented, it harkens back to the old Bionicle days when THE Makuta was the big bad, shrouded in mystery. The Makuta being revealed as a species almost felt like it cheapened Teridax's menace from the early days. Your gradual revelation of Vortidax was well-paced and established a clear good/evil dichotomy, with definitive motives and multi-faceted conflict between the two forces. 

Ch. 11

Love the new map. Very stylized indeed. Always a fan of Matoran font. 

Quote

Before you go, I looked through the Order’s archives to see if I could find anything about the original Toa Volara,” he said. 

“What’d you find?” asked Kwynn, her interest piqued. 

“Not much concrete information, unfortunately. Most of their exploits are redacted for some reason. I do know they were one of the first Toa Teams. It was a time when it wasn’t clear what being a Toa actually meant. The Toa Code wasn’t as established as it is now. When the Six Kingdoms War began, they were part of the Makuta army that defeated the League’s forces on Volara-Nui. There’s not much else I can say, but it seems like they were swords for hire before something made them decide to settle on the island, doing things modern Toa would never dream of. This business with the League seems particularly nasty.”

This was a fascinating passage. Like, it makes you wonder about the sociological aspects of Matoran culture and how they view heroes, and the general culture of Toa in the early days of the universe. Really great, self-consistent and canonically plausible worldbuilding detail. 

 

Ch 12

Quote

The newly minted Turaga chafed in his chair. Oren, who only a week ago was simply foreman of the ice carver’s guild, was now the leader every Ko-Matoran looked to in their time of need. He had been hastily elected as Turaga after the death of the previous elder, Velal, during the raid. Velal had given credit to his past as a Toa, using his mask of shielding to hold his own against the shadowy warrior that led the raiding party. However, it was ultimately futile; Velal was killed, and Ko-Koro was left leaderless. It was rare to see a Matoran fill the role of Turaga, something only seen in dire times. Oren couldn’t think of more dire times than these. The number of true Turaga on Volara-Nui seemed to be quickly shrinking. 

Another cool societal aspect you took on here - the title of Turaga more as a mantle of leadership, as opposed to the station of life simply coming after 'Toa' in a chosen Matoran's lifecycle. I also noticed the different leadership styles distinct to each Koro. Describing Oren's audience chamber with a 'throne', specifically, drew my attention. And contrast that with the leadership we see in Ta/Su Koro, etc. It helps set up a feel of real diversity on the island. 

I forget exactly which chapter this was, since I read a bunch in one go, but the scene where the two new Toa Volara are created definitely gave me Legends of Metru Nui flashbacks. 

The Kra-Matoran society and the Makuta's army is interesting. It did seem to come a bit out of nowhere, but perhaps that was me not reading carefully/consistently enough? Just like, boom, we suddenly have the point of view passages from Vortidax's underlings, not just Kulu (congrats to him, as well, getting Toa-zapped). 

Also, and this may be too much and that's fine, but would you consider adding a list of characters and their elemental affiliation in the review topic? My life outside the internet has become less conducive to consistent involvement with online communities, so having a quick reference for characters that have regrettably slipped my memory would be useful. 

Either way and as always, keep up the great work! 

(disclaimer: none of this banner art is original, I just smooshed it together in gimp. Torchic, Matau)
ThosePeskyFirespitters.png.3dbdb65e6a28cbbc5957d81c09a685b6.png
Those pesky firespitters... 
Library | The Sculptors and the Smelters | The Ternion Review Topic 

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Once again thanks so much for your feedback. I always look forward to your replies. I think a character list would be a really good idea, one I’m sure why I didn’t think of before. I’ll try to work on it sometime today. The character list is up! Thanks for commenting! 

Edited by BuckJohnson
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  • 2 weeks later...

This was the best chapter yet. I meant to read it last night, and I'm glad I didn't wait any longer.

It's official, Kulu is my favorite character. There was just something so cathartic about watching him win. I can sympathize so much with how he wants Vortidax's respect and I feel a wave of joy every time Vortidax rewards. I'm hoping Kulu's life before being a Makuta's minion is explored. Unlike Gavla, he doesn't seem like a particularly unpleasant individual, and unlike Ahkmou, he doesn't seem to be forced into this role. It's something Bionicle has never showcased, a legitimately dangerous enemy who serves the Makuta with a real sense of nobility to them. I have to remind myself Vortidax is supposed to be the antagonist, too. Unlike other Makuta, he doesn't belittle or shift blame onto Kulu. They oddly have a genuinely healthy, respectful master-servant relationship. As much as I like the good-aligned characters, a full chapter dedicated to our antiheroes was just what I needed from this story.

"You are an absolute in these uncertain times. Your past is forgotten, and your
future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.
"
-- Turaga Nokama

nichijou2.jpg

Click here to visit my library!

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