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FRS - Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes, by AvatarRokusGhost

Fruipit August 30, 2014 User blog:Fruipit

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FRSimage
This review was conducted by the Fanon Review Squad and reflects our best judgment of writing and fanon authorship quality. Please don't take offense if the review wasn't positive. We always give advice!

Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes


DSV logo
Ooh! I just read a historical saga where the heroine fell in love with the enemy general's son, who's supposed to marry the princess. You should do what she did!
Tell me!
She rode a dragon into battle and burned down the entire country. Then she jumped into a volcano. It was so romantic!

Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes (or DSV, as it's affectionately known) is the latest headcanon of esteemed author and Avatar, AvatarRokusGhost. And, it's a truly wonderful one at that. He takes the small snippet of information Jinora gives and just runs with it. I do have to apologise for being so late with this, although I have kept my promise of it being released before the end of August ^^" I hope the wait was worth it :)

Scores


Plot = 9.2: Now, ARG has decided to base his story on the historical saga Jinora once read. I don't think any user, myself included, expected him to do so well at the frankly ridiculously vage and open prompt. Omashu-style love story with a few dragons and volcanoes thrown in. Easy enough, right? Well, he certainly makes it seem so ^^"

The deductions I've made come from the fact that, while the basic (and complex) aspects of the plot are explained beautifully, there are some other parts that seem rushed, or glossed over (one scene in particular I talk about later). In other cases, something new is introduced and there just doesn't seem to be enough of a warning or explanation. That's not to say ARG doesn't foreshadow, because he does (and does it brilliantly, too), but rather just that there are occasionally a few small details that are missing when introducing something new.

Characterisation = 8.9: Characterisation is always a tricky one to cover. I have to say, with the number of OC and original characters, though, I'm impressed. Some characters, like Ratana and Iroh, I'm able to picture with almost perfect clarity. I know who these people are. I know what they stand for. Iroh's characterisation is unique in that he has a canon personality that can't—and doesn't always match up with this story.In this instance, it's perfect, because it shows his development during the years up to, during, and after the Siege of Ba Sing Se. Ratana is another fine example, though considering it's her story, that's hardly surprising.

That being said, I don't always feel like I know the other characters—the more minor characters. I know snippets of them, their personality, but some don't feel fully-fledged. There are a number of reasons why this occurs (least of all because minor characters usually are incredibly minor, and the author isn't given as much time to characterise them. However, those minor characters are the ones who really do the guiding for Ratana, and help us empathise with her—the way she helped the man in the marketplace,for instance. There's also the issue of throwing in backstory and information about a character half-way through a plot point, which results in throwing people off. I want you to show me about these characters during the story, not through in a few paragraphs of compressed information.

Believability = 9.5: The general plot of this story is about as believable as any story told in war—that is to say, anything can happen, and anything does ^^" It's a fine story, and considering the guidelines set out by Jinora, incredibly believable.

However, there were a few smaller moments and scenes that reduced the believability of the plot; one such scene was when Ratana is invited to dinner at the Beifongs. This in itself is not believable, though Ratana's interactions with Toph do lean towards that. The dialogue is also rather stiff when Toph suggests they move towards a tree. The fact that Ratana can use it to a degree is also a little harder to believe; I feel as though the scene would have played out more naturally had Toph been the one to show Ratana something in return for the Terra Team member showing her.

Technical writing = 9.3: I noticed a few punctuation mistakes, such as using a semi-colon before 'and', and a few missed commas. A semi-colon is used to indicate a pause between too main clauses, however it's not needed when 'and' is being used, as the word serves as a connector. Another thing was the use of 'its' and 'it's'. This only happened a few times, but it is something that really jolts readers. Whenever I see the conjunction 'it's', I automatically change it to 'it [tense]': it is, was, or has. However, in the contexts I'm talking about, it was used as a possessive, and not a conjunction. The second chapter had a good example: "Despite it's size, the hilltop position...". This sentence is discussing wooden huts (mentioned in the previous sentence), and thus should use the possessive form (its).

Regarding the grammar, there were a few cases the wrong word being used ('were' instead of 'was'), or a word missing that caused me to stumble, but it wasn't severe. I also noticed on at least one occasion a common noun was capitalised like a proper noun. The only other things was a formatting issue whereby some new speakers' dialogue wasn't on a new line. This seems to be purely accidental, but I suggest just double-checking after you post to make sure it's correctly formatted.

There is one more thing I want to point out, though no points were deducted for this (I'll explain why in a minute). The thing I wanted to mention was ARG's usage of 'couple'. Now, this is really a language-preference, and a (in)formality in writing, however (to my Aussie ear in particular), there is a certain way he uses it that is deemed incorrect. In formal writing, the 'of' shouldn't be omitted after 'couple': 'a couple of days', 'a couple of pieces'. By omitting that 'of', the entire writing loses formality. This is fine when writing dialogue, however when writing the actual body of the story, it should be added. However, I didn't deduct points because, frankly, it's such a little thing, and a quirk of both reader and author ^^"

Non-technical writing = 8.9: This section will likely be the longest because there is so much content. The longer a story is, the more room there is for mistakes, but also really fantastic writing.

I don't think anyone could ever claim that ARG doesn't know how to write—especially when he's compared to many other authors (and I'm thinking of the Zutarans on FFN here). His writing is simple enough to follow, but he weaves quite a complex story. Sometimes, the scenes and actions he describes are absolutely breathtaking, and I feel like I'm in that moment. However, and this is where I've deducted points, sometimes it feels no more awe-inspiring than a shopping list, because it feels like he's just listing things. This really is a quirk of the author, and it's not necessarily detrimental to the story—after all, he is describing the scene. Rather, it just doesn't immerse the reader as much as it could because it doesn't seem to flow very clearly. The reader ends up being inundated with too much information and we're not able to let it sink in and immerse ourselves.

Occasionally, there were sentences that dragged on too long, and I noticed a repetitiveness to some of the language user—mostly dialogue verbs. Long sentences are not a bad thing, but when you have a long sentence surrounded by several smaller sentences, it is distracting, and as for the verbs, try mixing it up a little! (and I don't mean just adding adverbs). One sentence reads "'Your Majesty, I regret to inform you that our metropolis may soon come under attack,' Roshune said regretfully." That's two 'regrets' but I actually have no more of a clue about what Roshune is really thinking. Does he truly regret it, with a lump in his throat? Or is he pretending in order to garner some form of favour? (that also comes back to my personal issue with adverbs, but that's a 'Fruipit thing' and I haven't taken it into account when scoring).

Organisation = 9.8: ARG has a plan. I know he has a plan because I haven't come across any giant plot holes that make me go 'what the heck?' He's doing something right ^^" This story has a complex storyline, but a simple-to-understand execution. Girl-meets-boy but with a twist. The organisation is wonderful. Because he has that plan I mentioned, he knows exactly what should go where, and he does a very good job of putting them there. My only note is that, occasionally, the action within scenes jump around just a little too randomly. Not enough to confuse me but enough to make me pause for a second and adjust. This can be put down to a few things—and I'm not saying your action-writing is bad—but just the number of characters you need to account for sometimes makes me forget 'wait, who did that again?'. I'm not deducting many points though, because it's is minor, and every reader has a different reading style.

Total score = 9.26


My advice: Work on your immersion. You have wonderful description, however while a reader can usually see it, sometimes it's hard to feel it. In such a vast and complex story as this, there are also a number of minor and supporting characters that probably could have had more development. Other than that, there's really not a lot to tell you. You're doing a bang-up job ^^"

Why I enjoyed this story: Honestly, ARG's writing. He knows how to write, and his creativity always shines through at the most random times. It's refreshing to read, and his ability to upload his work quickly also helps. Sixty-five chapters in a little over 16 months is impressive. The best part is that this work is of the highest quality. It's always a pleasure to read ARG's work, and I encourage everyone to take a squizz at this story.

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