Hello everyone, for this friendly neighborhood ghost review, I'll be taking a look at, by . This is a short after-the-war fanon, which takes place in the Fire Nation and revolves around a conspiracy, hence the title. So, what's it about, you ask?
A month after the events of The Search, a mysterious enemy plots to distance Fire Lord Zuko from those he loves. Attempts on his life, growing suspicions concerning his friends, and the disappearance of his newfound mother push Zuko to the edge of his sanity. The Gaang does what they can to help, but Zuko isn't the only one in danger...
It has been a while since the last of this story was published, so it's currently marked as discontinued. Legendgrass sure does know how to keep the plot entertaining, and fills it with familiar characters for us to read more of. Let's check it out!
Plot - 9.4: It is quite a compelling story the way that Legendgrass has set it up and presented it to us. The characters feel like they really are following the show in an all-new episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The scene at dinner, the time spent with Team Avatar and the smaller role played by Ursa were all nice touches. At times, it seemed like not as much was happening in the central plot, but that wasn't much of an issue, especially in subsequent chapters.
Execution - 8.8: Just by reading it, one can tell that this story is organized well. There are zero plot holes, the events the characters go through tie together neatly and the stakes are raised from chapter to chapter sequentially, like the big and small blinds in a proper Texas Holdem tournament. Cliffhangers come along the way. With the tension increasing and the atmosphere of urgency, the chapters do get better as they go along. The deduction for this category is small, and basically comes down to certain information being released a little too early. Foreshadowing is fine and even good, but it becomes a drawback when too much is let on at once.
Proper Writing - 4.3: The main issue was in relation to instances where dialogue directly follows a comma. When beginning a quotation or line of dialogue mid-sentence, the spoken line must be treated as part of the same sentence. That means that the first word of that line should not be capitalized unless it is a proper noun. Unfortunately, many of these were capitalized and this error recurred throughout the fanon, which got distracting. Other than that, most of the spelling, grammar and punctuation was perfect, aside from a couple missing quotes, a broken sentence/paragraph and an uncapitalized proper noun here and there.
Creativity - 8.5: It's easy to tell that Legendgrass is quite a literary spirit with all the creative ways that he finds to describe the little things again and again. As an after-the-war fanon story, the basic plot is typical, but the mystery-solving and conspiracy-unraveling in the capital of the Fire Nation is most certainly a creative twist. There is also amply-expressed downtime with the canon characters in moderation. So far in the story, we haven't gotten to know any of the new original characters where, but their introductions were certainly creative.
Description of Action - 9.0: The description of character actions and events was spot-on. To some extent, it relies on the fact that I have watched Avatar and know the story and the background so well, but I never found myself having trouble picturing what was going on. Not as much bending or traditional fighting is seen here as in other stories, but the action is visually exciting. As for the dialogue tags, they were on par with the character imagery, though the frequent trouble with the capitalization was distracting from them. The action description could have been more immersing if all the senses were used and the reader were closer to the character's head, but its still quite praiseworthy.
Description of Setting - 9.3: The settings in this fanon were really great and fun to read about! It's always aesthetically pleasing to have rich scenery in the lining while reading a good story. From the beginning, the setting of the Fire Nation Royal Palace was painted really well, as were the other locations around the city. Moreover, its woven enough into the story that it scarcely feels like an exposition of too much information or extraneous detail overload. The deduction from this category is not a strong one. At this point, it's more a matter of taking what you already are capable of doing and keeping it up consistently.
Realism - 7.8: For the most part, the plot does seem as one that can plausibly take place within the Avatarverse. The canon characters are all very much in-character and close to their established personas. However, there were some points that seemed too elastically manipulated in order to serve the plot with convenience. For instance, Zuko seemed too easily convinced of some notions, and the newly-formed imperial bodyguard appears to be defeating its own purpose. If they're meant to replace the elite firebenders - who were not trustworthy due to their past loyalty to Ozai - as a trustworthy guard, but seem like they themselves cannot be trusted, what's their purpose now? Also, it seems peculiar that Team Avatar is still in their town house at this time when these mysterious folk and some of the authorities are hostile. It would seem smart for them to go somewhere more secluded to set up base camp until they solve the crisis.
Character Development - 8.4: As I've said before, the members of Team Avatar are all believably in-character. However, while our band of heroes who saved the world from Fire Lord Ozai in the recent past go on a new adventure with a new problem to solve and a new threat to face, they don't really develop all that much from it - or at least not so far, in the seven chapters that have been released. Sure we get to see Zuko's relationship with his mother evolve somewhat and Toph's adolescent hormones are brought closer to the surface, but not enough is seen from the rest. They've all been through a lot, but everyone should come out of any major trial in their life a changed person. The most development comes from Zuko, the young Fire Lord torn between duties to his nation and his loyalty to his friends. Outside of Team Avatar, there's not that much development. We meet characters like Kyro and Huan, but their motives and most about them is unknown. Granted, that's possibly intentional, given the nature of this story.
Constructive Criticism: There's not that much to say. Apart from ironing out various wrinkles with an extra proofread or two, try to add some more emotional depth to the characters and their struggles. You've done an admirable job at invoking interest and keeping a reader wanting more. With that said, write the next four chapters, damn it! :P
To whom I would recommend: Anyone who enjoys a suspenseful tale, and/or a believable portrayal of canon characters.