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Old July 4th, 2006, 09:28 AM
Negrek's Avatar
Negrek
Edgewalker
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Lurking
Gender:
Nature: Impish
So I'm what, three months behind in doing my reviews, here? ; Thank goodness for summertime...

Prologue: Backstory

Quote:
There was a pause for emphasis that could have slain thousands in suspense.
Eh, I think it would sound better as "with suspense."

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The governments of the world now own computers and computer operators such as myself to record every last detail of the society under it.
I believe it's "under them", as the pronoun is referring to "governments."

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In the bitter-cold, snowy air, throngs of listened motionlessly to his every word as if it was a gospel from the Messiah Himself.
Throngs of people, right?

All in all, a very effective prologue. I can't get over the inventiveness of the whole game thing--it's intriguing and seems to lend itself very well to a good story. It's a pity I wasn't around when the RP was up; I would have loved to have signed up, as this looks like it would be a fun story to play out, as well.

Anyway, I think that you nailed the tone for this part. It really does sound like somebody getting ready to tell a story, and an interesting one at that. This prologue is a great hook--it definitely made me want to read more, and it gave just enough information to set the scene but held enough back to cultivate the appropriate sense of mystery. My only sligth qualm is that I don't, at this point, entirely understand Ariel's description of how the game is supposed to work, but I'm notoriously slow on the uptake, here. Great job with this one.


Chapter One: Open

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They were the original log in Verona City, and all of them were hardly intimidated by their wealthier neighbors.
Eh, I don't think I've ever heard the phrase "original log" before. What's it mean?

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Her name was Viola DiAngelo, but that was all anyone really knew about her before then.
Before... when?

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The bell attached to the glass door of the shop rang as it creaked open on its hinges...
The subject throughout that whole thing is "bell", so at the end there, it reads, "The bell rang as it creaked open on its hinges." And I think you see the problem there.

Quote:
She assumed that it was Sebastian on his return from wherever he was advertising and that if it wasn't, Haunter, a Pokémon she only recently succeeded in teaching the ways of the cash register to, could take care of anyone else.
Dangling preposition in the middle there. You could reword it as, "...if it wasn't, Haunter, a Pokémon to whom she had only recently succeeded in teaching the ways of the cash register, could take care of anyone else."

Quote:
Moments later, Viola realized that her store fell into a cold silence.
"Had fallen" instead of fell, I think, because you're talking about a silence that had actually begun before she realized it, right?

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A strange shiver ran down her spine as she wondered where the doll came from, but she pushed the thought aside.
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It was indeed large, roughly eight inches long by six wide and deep.
"Indeed" large?

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As Sebastian continued to pace angrily, her thumb slid a small panel of wood on one of the faces to the side and out of a notch. Curious, she slid the entire face downward until the two-inch panel above the one she slid hit the wood barrier that kept the entire thing from sliding downward before the other panel slid out.
@_@ Sorry, that really confused me. A lot of sliding going on, there.

Again, fine chapter here. I love the description of the shop in particular; you managed to get the right sort of mystical, almost magical atmosphere down very nicely. In general, it just sounds like a real neat place. I also like the way the characters are looking thus far, though we haven't seen much of them yet, and I look forward to getting more information about haunter later. Haunter's an interesting pokémon, and I think it'll be interesting to see how you use him.

Not really much else to say at this point, except that I'm eager to continue and see how things play out.

Chapter Two: Key

Quote:
Viola shoved her hands in the pockets of her long, grey coat as the wind played with the tie she hastily put on before departing.
I'm not good on the names of tenses, but I think that it ought to be "had hastily put on", because the whole thing's in past tense, but this is talking about something that happened even earlier than the action described by the sentence's predicate. But like I said, I don't know if there's a name for that, or even if I'm right there.

- It's kind of odd that Sebastian refuses to tell Viola why he's worked up about the key thing, given that he's just claimed to have heard stories about the Knights. It seems he could have as easily substituted one of those, something about the horrible stuff that goes on in the organization, for his real reasons if he knew that not saying anything to Viola would only make her angry.

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...the cobblestone courtyard and toward the large, oak doors set against the building's stone walls.
You don't need that comma after large. People wouldn't tend to say "large and oak", or even pause between the two words when speaking.

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Immediately, Viola was startled by the light and the scent of fresh roses.
I dun think it would be "the light",just "light and the scent of fresh roses."

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She looked up to find herself not on the set of a horror movie (as she expected) but instead in the lobby of a fancy hotel.
Again, I think it's "had expected."

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The mahogany walls, decorated with all sorts of paintings, rose to the vaulted ceiling bearing two chandeliers.
"Mahogany walls" is the subject throughout all this, so it looks like they're the ones with chandeliers. Just rewording the end a little bit (i.e. "...ceiling, which bore two...") would fix that easily enough.

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(There was room for a third, but it was understandably missing.)
IMO, "understandably" is an interjection there and should have commas around it as a consequence.

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The Data Bank, should anyone need to comprehend how vast and incredible it was, could only be described as one word: God.
Which makes our friend The Narrator an angel, mm? Assuming that the History Keepers are associated with the Data Bank.

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It was only until the witch hunts began that government officials finally produced the truth.
Little preposition confusion, here. What this sentence says now is that the government told the truth until the witch hunts started, at which point they clammed up. I believe you mean "after" instead of "until."

Quote:
You've found Key 151, the Illusion Key, so from now on, you'll be referred to officially by the codename Knight Illusion
Uh, the Mew key? I know all the keys correspond to a pokémon and are named to somehow represent their associated species, but is the numbering system employed by the Game related to the pokédex number of the companion pokémon, or was that just the system you used when creating the keys and all the number refers to is the order in which the keys have been discovered?

Quote:
Each rank has its own set of privileges, so to keep your rewards, you'll have to work hard to get more.
That sentence seems to imply that in order to keep the privileges associated with a particular rank, you'll actually have to continue rising in rank. That's not right, is it?

Quote:
She almost forgot the night before ever happened.
Eh... "had almost forgotten?" When the sentence is this simple you can see that what it's saying is that she's almost forgetting at this instant about the night before, but what you mean to say is that she was almost forgetting a couple moments ago, but is now remembering. I thinks. There's a lot of sentences like that in the next paragraph, because it's a flashback sorta thing.

Quote:
She only closed her eyes for a moment when the device started beeping wildly.
Another case where the tense makes things seem strange. "She had only closed her eyes for a moment when..." *scratches head* Maybe it's the past perfect tense? I'll have to look that up when I'm online and can get to Wikipedia again... although the table for that article is confusing as all-git-out...

Quote:
Though he wanted to suck the energy from the well-groomed souls around his master, Viola already forbade him from doing so.
Nnngh, "had already forbade him...". But the real reason I picked this out was that it should just be "forbade him to do so." I would try to explain why it's that way, except I can't find the words for it. Uhh, trust me?

Quote:
As a result, he had to content himself with simply sampling a taste of energy here and there as he floated along behind Viola.
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She never imagined that she would be taking orders from a complete stranger.
Which is exactly what she'd be doing if she stayed with the Knights, ne?

Quote:
Black locks were pulled back into a tight bun tied with a red bow that matched her scarlet, Chinese-style dress with gold trim.
No female in this section has been introduced except Viola, so all the "her"s in this sentence are referring to Viola, not the other Knight. Same goes for the next sentence.

Once again, nice chapter. I liked the section about the mansion in particular; I find the stuff about the Data Bank very interesting, and I liked the description given for that place. Also, plenty of character development for Viola this chapter, and a bit for Sebastian as well. They both seem to be shaping up well, and the plot is progressing at a good clip, no problem with pacing there. The conflicts in Viola's character come through well, and you do a good job of balancing introspection with action. So I guess it's "good job" once again; not much else to say about this chapter.

Chapter Three: Duel

Quote:
She knew there were bound to be some fights because she was a Knight, but she still felt reluctant to do anything.
Because "fights" is plural, yah?

Quote:
Its thin arms – each tipped with a different-colored rose – were crossed in front of it as its head bowed in the same way that ballet dancers sometimes bow their heads just before the curtain rises.
Because "both" refers to her arms together as a unit, and "each" refers to them individually, and the rose colors differ between arms, not within the same arm, if you get what I'm saying there.

Quote:
Such is the case with Haunter.
Wait, random switch to present tense, or is that the narrator cutting in?

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Viola clenched her teeth as the pain still bit the severed nerves.
Severing nerves in her wrist would probably lose her the ability to control some regions of that hand...

Quote:
"You didn't deserve that win," Rosaline hissed.
Well, it didn't really count as a win, right? Or did Viola get the bonus for the battle anyway?

- Again, more of those "had + verb" things in this chapter, but I didn't feel like pointing them out because I figured you'd gotten the point by now.

Overall, I liked that chapter. Kinda all one big pokémon battle, but nevertheless a few more important things were revealed through it, such as Viola's (possible?) color-changing eyes trick, which goes back to one of the questions I asked earlier, but I'll wait until you answer that before I speculate further. My only gripe would be that the battle seemed a tad slowed down by all the interaction between attacks; it sort of robbed it of a real sense of urgency and intense action. Nothing major, though, nothing major. As I said earlier, I really like haunter, and I'm glad we got to see a lot more of him this chapter, even if most of what we saw was him getting wounded in one way or another.

On to chapter four, then...

Chapter Four: Induction

Quote:
The door swung open at her command easily, and she stepped forward into a dark and somewhat more organized office.
I think that "easily" would sound better somewhere earlier in that clause, but it's no big.

Quote:
The shouts of the riot in the pit became increasingly muffled until they were barely audible when she clicked the door shut.
Again, "shouts" is plural and the subject here. Whenever you need to check for something like this, just strip the sentence down to its barest parts, including those you want to analyze; "The shouts became increasingly muffled until it was barely audible." makes no sense.

Quote:
At a desk against the far wall sat a man with his face framed with a dark ponytail on top and a fringe of dark hair on his chin.
Framed "by", perhaps?

Quote:
A single lamp illuminated his tanned face and the collar of his black blazer as he pored over paperwork on a mahogany desk while a Persian rubbed against his legs.
...although I'd be quite interested to hear what he was pouring on those undoubtedly important documents! XD

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Her snow-white hair was smoothed down, though it was otherwise the length of Viola's.
Eh? How would whether it was smoothed down or not affect the length?

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Somehow, the room seemed brighter.
Brighter than what?

Quote:

The chattering of everyone else was abruptly silenced by Viola's scream, and the awkward hush continued for a few brief seconds before resuming with a certain caution.
Since "hush" is the subject throughout the second clause, what the sentence actually says that, after Viola's scream, the room got hushed, and then the hush resumed, cautiously.

Quote:
But then, she had already defied Sebastian's orders already.
You can nix one of those alreadys.

Quote:
But, dear Tide, for who else could that present be?
I think it's supposed to be "...for whom else...", but that does sound rather odd.

Funnily enough, it seemed like a little less actually happened in this chapter than in the others, despite the fact that Viola's life is now directly in danger, she's a full Knight, and we got to meet the Trio. Dunno, maybe it's just me. The twist involving Sebastian was very nice; while it would have been interesting to see how long Viola would be able to keep the fact that she was a Knight from him secret while running missions, I think it will be at least as interesting to see how their relationship works out now that they're both Knights. Imogen looks like a cool character as well, and a good pair for Viola. The Trio are sufficiently dastardly, and indeed, anyone who would make somebody play Petals Around the Rose for their life is unremittingly evil. ; Ohh, I dislike those kind of games...

Really, though, this chapter didn't disappoint in the slightest. I feel a little silly putting such short comments after each chapter, but aside from saying that I enjoyed it and didn't find anything wrong with it, really, is about all I've got...

Chapter Five: Petals

Quote:
If she didn't want to die in the first place, Viola would have stabbed herself with one of the butter knives on the table to get relief from the incessant beeping of the black box.
This sentence is a bit confusing. I had to read it over several times, because the first few times that I read it, it looked like it was saying that in order to prevent herself from dying (because she didn't want to), Viola would have stabbed herself with a butter knife. Which was fairly strange...

Quote:
The game was beginning to become a headache for her, and she almost envied Viola for at least knowing enough to know what couldn't be the answer.
Beginning to become a headache? 0_o

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She didn't have time to inhale again before Imogen nearly knocked out of her what wind was left in her lungs by diving onto her in a cross between a tackle and a hug.
Aren't they, err, across the table from one another?

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She felt the hot dampness of tears soak through her shoulder.
Through her shoulder? That must be decidedly unpleasant.

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His eyes craned upwards to see the hazy moon and the velvet-black sky just beyond the aura thrown by the city lights.
I don't think that "crane" is entirely the right word to describe that action, as crane as a verb is listed in my dictionary as being either 1) to hoist or move as if with a crane 2) to strain and stretch (the neck) 3) to stretch one's neck for a better view. All have to do with stretching and and at least imply the use of a neck, and besides, stretched eyeballs aren't really good for much.

This chapter really brought out a lot about Viola's character. Her lack of confidence in times of crisis seems almost debilitating; I'm sure that won't server her well in the future. Nevertheless, I'm with Butterfree (dangit, I can't believe you got in a review one day before I was able to. Ngggh...) in that it took a lot of suspension of disbelief to buy that Viola could figure out Petals Around the Rose given only one set of dice, one chance, and under such pressure. Unless, of course, there's something more at work there--but I'm undoubtedly reading too far into things as usual. But yeah, speaking from experience with Petals Around the Rose (hatehatehate!), it doesn't seem all that realistic. The battle against ariados was cool, though; ariados is a realy nice pokémon that gets too little screen time IMO, and you showed some of its abilities off well in the battle there. It's somewhat interesting that a lot of the characters have personalities or pokémon that seem indicative of the key that they carry, some even having the pokémon that their key is supposed to represent, Knight Tide has thus far been seen using only a marowak and doesn't seem to have any outstanding personality traits that would link him to the name of his key.

And so, let's go to a review of the whole thing overall.

Probably what I love best about this story is the concept behind it. It's very intricate, and the amount of detail to the system is both admirable and much-appreciated; the whole world seems to fit together very naturally, and that makes it a very compelling and strangely believable concept to read about. On the whole, I find both the Game and Verona City itself fascinating. It's a pity the RP is currently dead, as I would have love to have joined and tried my hand at playing out the Game myself. Even though I'm not directly involved, I still feel a kind of excitement as Viola starts to progress through the game, as I want to see how it plays out as much as Viola (given her general reluctance, I'd feel safe in saying even more so). In general, this story creates a very large cliffhanger effect--no matter where you stop a chapter, people (well, me at least), are anxious for the next, if only because they want to find out more about the Game and about the world that it takes place in. Already this story raises several interesting questions for me, although I have a nasty habit of looking at other people's stories as though they were on and thinking in terms of what I would have crafted certain circumstances to mean and a tendency to see significance in innocent details. And you're taking the plot at just the right pace as well. You've gotten together a very nice blend of action and character development.

Speaking of characters, you certainly have no problem in that part. The Trio and Knight Rose seem a bit flat at this point, but other than that you've crafted characters that seem very real and interesting. Even relatively minor characters like the butler have plenty of attention lavished on them, so that they stand out in my mind despite their relative insignificance to the plot itself. Dialogue is more than fine as well. Even the pokémon, those that have been given significant screen time, are starting to shape up as real interesting people in themselves.

In general, your writing is just a pleasure to read. It reads very easily and shows fine attention to detail and to effect. The effort put into it is obvious, and of course the mechanical quality is very high. Indeed, the only problem that seems to plague you consistently throughout the piece is that issue with that tense thing, which I'll, uh, have to get back to you on.

So all in all, very nice work you have here, and more than deserving of Fanfiction of the Month.

By the way, any chance you could tell me what the name of the key for slugma is (#218)? And on a similarly unrelated note, wherever did you get that lovely avatar?

EDIT: I looked it up, and it is indeed the past perfect, or pluperfect, tense that's giving you trouble. I'm afraid that mistakes involving it appear throughout all chapters, and I stopped marking out examples in the last couple because I figured you'd catch on quickly and be able to identify and correct them yourself. Funny, I've seen a couple other people who've had problems with this tense before, but you used it right in some places and not in others.
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