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Note: This is a test review, conducted with permission from the author by a user who is not a member of the FRS. Please don't take offence if the review wasn't positive - constructive criticism has been given. This is based off the personal interpretation of , and with all opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Thank you!
Fruipit here, trying out for the second time for the Avatar Wiki Fanon Review Squad!! Ta-da!
I actually have the pleasure of both reviewing, and interviewing the author, (hereby shortened to LL, due to the fact that she shares her name with one of the lead characters). In a paraphrased - and less poetic - version of the blurb LL gives us on the main page (because it is massive), Heiress of the Nile is a dramatic tale of adventure, supposedly following the Crown Princess of the Fire Nation, Lostris, as she struggles to overcome the obstacles placed in her way by her guardian, the Grand Vizier Naja. He wishes to become Fire Lord before she can officially be crowned on her birthday - only a few short months from the beginning of the story.
I say supposedly, because this story does so much more. There is another main character, Serapine, who has her her own secondary - let's say harmonising - plot that is far more mysterious. While a lot is left to the imagination regarding her, it is by no means less important, and I feel that as the story progresses, Seraphine will be become a major influence. But, that's just my interpretation. On with the review!
Plot = 9.5: I found this to be a compelling story. Considering my general aversion for OC stories, this story really raised the benchmark for me, and has got to be right up there alongside's . There are no gaping plot holes, no severe issues relating to either Avatar or Egypt that makes me wonder "did this person actually research anything?" Especially in the later chapters, this story draws you in within a few lines - a feat that I'm rather proud to say is achieved not through action, like many stories, but honest characterisation and an actual storyline. LL doesn't use cliffhangers or twists (well, she doesn't overuse them, although there are a few surprises) in order to keep her readers interested and entertained. The points I deducted were purely based on my own interpretation of the story, particularly in the prologue. I began it several times, only making it about half-way through before giving up and coming back a half-hour later to try again. Once I allowed myself to get into it though, the story grew on me remarkably fast.
Characterisation = 9.1: This story is full of absolutely beautiful characters. Each have their own personality - something that I've noticed a lot of Original Character stories lack (if only because of the vast amount of characters that need personalities). Even within a single chapter, it's obvious that LL knows who the characters are - intimately - and what they want to become. However, I had to take away points because of Seraphine. I love her; she's a beautiful character, with a perfect balance of good and bad within her (but she doesn't know that). That being said, the points I deducted were due to her block of dialogue in. After getting to know her over quite a few thousand words, I found her sudden lack of sophisticated language to be incredibly confusing. She began using slang such as 'ain't' and 'ya'. It wasn't that I don't believe she wouldn't talk like this, particularly when angry, but rather that it was unexpected, with her never having really spoken like that before. I was also slightly disappointed with the lack of development with two secondary characters, Tanus and Meren. While Seraphine and Lostris both grow as people, these guards don't really change much over the course of the story. I feel as though they will become somewhat important to the story, but for now they just appear to be a means to and end, a way for LL - and Lostris - to achieve certain objectives without viewing them as actually important.
Action = 9.1: The action in this story is fluid and well written - I have almost no difficulty in picturing what you're trying to explain. However, there were a few moments where a character did something, and I have no idea how it occurred, such as in the prologue, when Amanra "...took Tayla back out of the soldiers arms..." How did she do it? Did Tayla kick out and manage to loosen his grip? Was it a mother's blind fury at watching her child be taken away? These little snippets of inexplicable resolution of a problem are distracting, and take the focus away from the action.
Spelling/Grammar = 9.3: Almost impeccable, although I noticed a few things that can easily be explained by the fact that English is LL's second language. These things are mostly simple words that sound like one but don't have the exact same meaning - such as using 'older' instead of 'elder'. Not quite synonyms, in the context you used it in, 'elder' would be more appropriate. Another example was when you used the word 'encircled' instead of 'circled'; to encircle something is to form a ring around them, whereas to circle someone is to move around them. These are simple mistakes that I probably only caught due to my reading of this several times. I also noticed a few punctuation marks - mostly commas - that were unnecessary. They didn't mess up the flow of the story, but they were somewhat distracting; that being said, these small mistakes were far and few between, and on the whole I found the layout to be succinct and organised.
Language = 9.8: This ties in both with the spelling and grammar, and to some extent the characterisation, although it is independent of the two. LL uses a fantastic array of metaphors and similes to achieve a rather imaginative setting or character - something I found to be rather refreshing. Lady Lostris knows how to write, and knows she's good at it. The sophisticated language ensures that no information is forgotten, and the word count isn't taken up and wasted by pointless segues. Even the swear words are rightfully placed, adding to the believability of the characters who use them. The few points I deducted were due to the accidental misuse or misplacement of a word, such as the older/elder, circled/encircled conundrum I mentioned above.
Believability = 9.4: I actually had an incredibly difficult time rating this genre. As a story, I found this to be quite believable, with each action and reaction perhaps not what I expected (which is in no way a bad thing) but ones which made sense in the grand scheme of things. The reason for the deduction is based purely on fact that very little has been fully explained thus far. One of the biggest things I find strange is why Naja is her legal guardian, when he has next to nothing to do with her - surely Taita, Queen Amanra's personal servant and family friend would be more suitable? Just little mysteries that remind me that this is indeed a work of fiction, thereby causing me to lose myself in reality and not the story.
Execution = 9.7: Despite what I said in the previous category, this is a wonderfully thought out story; even if Lostris has no idea what she's doing (and she probably does), the way she ties it all together makes the reader think that she knows exactly where she's going with it. I like the mix between Avatar and Egypt, relying on my general knowledge of both subjects for the story to make sense (having never read River God, I feel as though I'm missing out somewhat). That being said, it's not difficult to equate aspects of the story to Avatar directly - Thebes is Caldera City, the Gand Vizier, Azula (or Zuko, depending on the perspective you want to look at).
Organisation = 8.9: I found this story remarkably easy to follow. Within the first few lines of a chapter, I knew whose story we were focussing on - Lostris's or Seraphine's. The paragraphing is appropriate, with them containing the right amount of information so as not to be obscenely lengthy and therefore "skimmable". I did find the 'previously on HotN' to be a little unorganised, particularly in Chapters 7 and 8, where you speak of Seraphine and then Lostris respectively, but the chapters are based entirely on the other. To me, it sets the chapter up to be related to the character you mention, and it throws me a little when you talk about the other one.
Total score = 9.35
My advice? Keep writing. Like I said above, you're good at it, and you should know it. Looking back at your past stories (namely the one-shot on FFN), I can already tell you're improving, with more flowing and emotive language. Keep writing!
Why I enjoyed this story: Lady Lostris has such a way with her words that even during my initial trepidation of reading an OC story, I was soon drawn into the powerful plot, the danger and intrigue, and the characters. Ahh, the characters. They really add life to this story, and Lady Lostris is the Blue Fairy turning her puppets into real people.
I honestly... I can't rave about this enough, and considering it was the first story I ever heard about here, I'm shocked that no-one ever forced me to read it before. Just try it - you won't, absolutely won't regret it.