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!
Set in 94 AG when the Hundred Year War rages on in a hopeless world where the Avatar has yet to be reborn, Fire & Ice is centered around the torn life of Kiharu, a member of the Southern Raiders with a giant secret that the entire future of the war depends on - he's really a waterbender. During one fateful raid against the Southern Water Tribe four years before, Kiharu had to leave with the Fire Nation in disguise in order to save his people. Now, he must stay undercover as an obedient Southern Raider, with the pressure on his shoulders that if his true identity is ever let out to the world, his tribe will be put in critical danger again. This is not an easy task, however. Not only must he hold back his waterbending powers, but being forced to fight against his own people as the enemy brings burning grief and shame that will push him to the very brink of sanity. At what point does pain no longer become worth saving who you love?
Spelling/Grammar 9.5 - The technical writing was solid. I spotted few errors besides a a run on sentence here or there.
General Writing 8.6 - In general, the writing was good. The author takes time to describe the scenes and characters, which is nice. The vocabulary wasn't too flashy, but it got the job done. Sometimes the sentences were a bit too wordy. For example, "The only sounds were the dripping of water and the quiet booms of waves that crashed this way and that out in the open sea" This sentence can be rewritten: "The sounds of dripping water and crashing waves filled the cabin." That isn't an exact replication of the sentence, and there are many other ways to rewrite, but I think it gets the point across.
Style 8.5 - I like the gritty tone of this story. Some of the dialogue is very well-done. The writing style could be a bit more multi-dimensional though. Mostly it focuses on concrete things like describing characters or scenes. Towards the end I saw more inner thoughts, but there wasn't enough material for me to judge other than that. From what I read, however, the style was decent.
Creativity 9.2 - I can't say I've seen an idea like this before. A waterbender in the Fire Nation army makes for a lot of potential. While I read, I thought about where this story could go, and I realized how many awesome routes it could take. This creative idea really sets up this series, and I'm interested to see how it turns out.
Plot/Organization 7.5 - It's pretty easy to see what's going on in the story. The author makes the action pretty evident. On the other hand, the motives aren't very clear. The plot jumps from action scene to action scene without much explanation besides, "We are enemies, so we will kill each other." I'm the kind of reader that questions everything: and I mean Everything. In the second chapter, the Watertribe and Southern Raiders fight, and there's a brief explanation about how they found the rebel's secret hideout. It would have been so awesome if the story detailed the finding of the hideout, the secret surveillance that went down! The transitions between developments need work.
Character Development 7.1 - I wish I had more chapters to work with. I saw some great development from Kiharu when he killed an innocent man. I thought that following description was outstanding. Other than the main character, the other characters are static. I specifically didn't like the introduction of the other "group members." Basically, the author tells us their names, personality traits, and appearances right off the back. First of all, there's too much information to absorb all at once. It's like going to a party and meeting a large group of new people...it's not like you truly remember all their names and life details by the time you get home, but if you happen to see them at the grocery store you'll still greet them and say something like, "Oh hey! I remember you from that party!" Second of all, it's best to introduce characters through experience. Let the readers get to know the supporting characters through the eyes of Kiharu, not through telling what they're like: it gives a better understanding of their personalities, appearances, demeanors, etc.
Interest Level 8.7 - I think Kiharu's complex situation and struggle with morality is extremely interesting. He's sitting on the edge of insanity, and everything is very intense. The action also hooked me from the beginning.
Reaction 9.0 - I was very impressed with Kiharu's reaction to killing an innocent watertribe man. I can honestly say it compelled one of the realest reactions I've ever had while reading fanon. The whole scene was eye-opening and truthful. I hope to see more of that.
Believability 8.3 - Kind of a similar reoccurrence with this review, I can't make an accurate call because there simply isn't much material. The fight scenes seem believable enough. I guess I have to deduct because the other characters are so undeveloped that their actions are a bit flat. This could very well change with more content. I have faith the author has a plan to flesh out their personalities.
Total Score = 8.48
4. My Thoughts
BlackMonkey does an excellent job portraying Fire Nation soldiers so you hate them. It's always good to have "hateable" villains. XD
I can see the beginnings of a very gripping individual struggle. It reminds me a bit of Zuko when he had to choose sides in Crossroads of Destiny.
The gory action was a brilliant way to wake up the reader to the violence of the situation. War is cruel. Death happens. Those truths are made quite evident in the first two chapters.
5. What stands out?
This stood out: "To stab a man. To brutally strike out and destroy someone's spirit, personally slicing through their souls and feeling whatever was inside die before you. Kiharu knew what it was really like, as horrible dread and agony took over his mind. It wasn't the clean cut they told him in the songs and stories. There was still life beneath the skin he punctured. Bone, flesh. Blood spilled out like a fountain. He saw the shock and pain in the man's eyes, he saw the horror rush through his face. He saw death - he brought death. He himself dug death deep into his body, and watched it consume him, cell by cell. He saw the truth of death. It wasn't just the man stopping working, it was a horrible curse that took him over and brought him down to the depths of darkness. And this man was Water Tribe. His brethren."
6. Advice for BlackMonkey
Characters drive the storyline. I think an interesting path to take is to make certain Fire Nation characters likable. That way, Kiharu has a tough choice to make between two sides. Consequently the reader will waver between who to follow. It opens up the possibility that the Fire Nation isn't all bad, which it isn't. In the case of Iroh and and Jeong Jeong there are good people. It's always good to be unpredictable.
7. Who should read this?
This story should probably be under the action/adventure genre instead of just adventure. Anyone interested in a fresh new idea with a lot of potential should definitely read Fire & Ice.