Hey fanon portal, Minnichi types this review before a temporary self-banishment from the wiki. Even though it's like 2 days haha, I guess I'll still have to point out that I'm seriously disappearing from the face of the earth during that time. This upcoming exam. Can't. Be. Ruined. o_o But for now, I'm offering my commentary on Champions of Old Ba Sing Se by Allhailhades, a post-LoK story that gives a very interesting twist on just about everything in general.
Republic City. Almost 400 years ago the Avatar at the time was battling a tyrant, and went into the avatar state, he then somewhat lost control and destroyed the city by causing an earthquake. The avatar at the time, and natural airbender, died and killed many citizens of the city. This angered some nomads because many of them blamed the tyrant, an earth kingdom ruler, for causing the destruction by triggering the avatar state. The nomads split into 2 groups, the traditional nomads who hide out in the air temples and the Ming-Hua nomads who seek revenge and plan to stop the avatar cycle because they believe it is to powerful and dangerous. For nearly 400 years no one has seen the avatar, many believe the cycle was broken.
I am captured by the Ming-Hua nomads and I meet the new avatar, an Earthbender named Lin. She has already mastered Earth and Fire, so we must escape and find her an Airbending and a Waterbending teacher. But we find out that the Ming-Hua nomads have a plan to destroy the Avatar cycle and make the other nations experience the loss that they did. Together, Lin and I must form a Team Avatar to stop the Ming-Hua nomads, but things aren't always what they seem. A lost hero, a secret society and an unlikely alliance.
My name is Kaine, and this is my story.
The first-person narrative of this fanon makes it very engaging and just an exciting read overall. Ideas that I've never seen before are overflowing all over the place, and I'm sure any reader would want to know what I'm talking about. Now onto the review~
- Plot - 9.0: Overall I think it's a very good plot, though I feel like the antagonists could be a little more well-rounded. I'm referring to their system here more than their character, which'll be discussed in the later section. The plot would feel more complete if you were to elaborate on how the antagonists developed the whole prisoner system or how they were able to advance that much while technically being in secret for a long time. They have a pretty legit and organized system and I'd just like to hear more background details. But yep...I like the plot.
- Organization - 8.7: Pretty good in this area as well. The only gripe I might have is how quickly the scenes change. They don't come out of nowhere, but things just jump to the next when I feel like there could be more elaboration inbetween for a smoother transition, especially when it comes to things like the characters moving from a dark prison cell to the ocean where they escape on boats. It's stated clearly but it feels a little rushed at the moment. This honestly doesn't stick out too much, though.
- Creativity – 9.4: A strong point in this fanon. The creation of the Ming-Hua nomads was pretty darn unique in my opinion. The main cast seems pretty diverse as well. Only thing is I would say the background stories of the characters are a tad stereotypical; not everyone has to have a tragedy, if you ask me. Also be careful not to let the character interactions start to become cliche. I'm just saying all of this based on some warning signs I saw, but most haven't really established themselves as true flaws yet.
- Writing – 8.4 (x3): The grammar does make things flow a little less smoothly due to some awkward uses of commas and an occasional shift in tense. But the overall writing had a nice quality to it that I liked, and the author really put effort into his descriptions. Like I said earlier, more attention could go to those little things between scene shifts that end up not being so little. The picture becomes a bit unclear for readers when things begin to be listed more than they're described; there's a lot of "we went here, and then went there" situations where things grow vague. A little more "show" in this case would do the trick, which would eliminate the need for the narrator to actually tell us where things are happening. The pattern in the writing that I'm talking about just makes it sound more informational than it needs to be, but the descriptions that it does have are good quality. Other than that, I would say to balance the descriptions of characters with everything else - and I mean in the sense of making physical description flow more naturally. I appreciate that there's great physical detail on the characters, of course, but sometimes I feel like it happens during the wrong moment. Perhaps make it flow better with what's going on around them, but it's really a small complaint. Keep writing!
- Character Development - 8.7 (x2) What I love most is that each of the characters have their own established personality along with a nice, vivid image for me to picture. Many of them are well-balanced as well. However, I would make sure the protagonist and his love interest also share this well-balanced quality that the others have. I've yet to see a flaw in Kaine, and he's starting to take on an unrealistically perfect character. This applies especially to the way in which he leads others, and how his words seem to work every time, not to mention he's wildly talented at earthbending. Speaking of which, I would like to hear some more background details of the characters' lives and their bending origins. But returning to the love interest issue, I also think that relationships progress a little too quickly. There's lots of details on inner feelings, but it hasn't quite elaborated on the "why" yet. Not enough, I mean - it does explain a lot already. But I'd just like to hear more about how they feel about the relationship, how Kaine seemed to get his girl without any trouble, or how they decided to go from friendship to official romantic relationship in the first place.
- Action - 8.5: I'll say it...for however many times I have to say it... My deduction on action will always strike when I see "he (insert element)bended." In this author's action scenes, it happens maybe 2/3 of the time, and I really love the moments where he goes through with the literal description instead. And I love those moments because, since I'm not just told that someone happened to, say, "earthbend," I actually know what's going on and how to picture the fight. When I'm told that someone earthbends something during a fight, I don't know anything other than they happened to use earth...and that their opponent suffered whatever blow they did because they happened to use earth. Visuals are honestly gone when "(insert element)bended" is there. So Minnichi's number one deduction strikes again! But on another note, I would also go more in depth on the usage of weapons. The physical movements involved when using them would also enhance the clarity of the picture for readers. Everything aside, though, the action did a lot of good for the story and had enough quality to keep things exciting. Nicely done!
- Believability – 8.5: The lack of elaboration mentioned earlier with the antagonists makes their sheer amount of power a tad bit unrealistic. Just go more in depth with them and let us see why they could become what they did and that pretty much solves it. Other thing is the characters' awesome bending abilities. If we were to hear more about their background story, such as the details of their training, they would appear less as unaturally talented people and more like just a group of young, hard workers (which I think the author was striving for). Aside from that, be careful of out-of-place words in the story (although I did love the statement referring to The Last Airbender movie). Certain curse words, especially "hell," should be carefully considered as to where they stand in the Avatarverse and if they have a true meaning in the religious aspect. But it's all buyable overall.
Overall Score: 8.67
EDIT: After looking back, it looks like the author has completely gotten rid of his chapters for a rewrite! With that in mind, I think it's best that I advise readers not to take these scores to heart, as it seems there's a massive revision underway. What glorious things does the author have up his sleeve? More epic fights? The Dai Li? ;) (Hey, the story does have Ba Sing Se in its title ya know...) Either way, I suspect another review in the future. Look forward to it!
My advice for Allhailhades: Give some more detail to your antagonists, more depth to romantic relationships, and always show, not tell. Anddd I think you're all set. Nicely written fanon you've got there!
Who should read Champions of Old Ba Sing Se? Action fans will surely be pleased with this tale, as well as people who are avoiding slow and cliche fanons. It was a very interesting read for me, and I'm sure it'll be the same for others.