|Reviews for The Zilos Chronicles: Rise of the Crimson Ravens|
| TamariMizu chapter 1 . 10/15
Nice start to your story. It looks like poor Prince Richard started his adventure on 'maddening' difficulty.
I get some interesting vibes from your stories.
1. I picture the Centurion armor like something out of Warhammer 20K.
2. Richard is way in over his head. He reminds me a bit of Naofumi from Shield Hero who starts the series having no idea who cruel this new world is. I expect that Richard was isolated in a fancy castle and had no clue how suffering much his father and brother have inflicted on the realm.
3. The way the Centurion forces (especially Stiener) deal with 'problems' reminds me of Shinra Inc. from FFVII: if terrorists blow up a reactor just drop an entire suspended plate atop thousands of people! That's a proportionate response, right? I can't help but think of the grunt soldiers look a bit like the Shinra mook troopers.
4. All that hard work Stiener and Orion...slaughtering a village, defeating Orions' little brother and you end up blowing up the mine that you were commanded by royal edict to secure? You had *one* job, boys!
It promises to be a fun ride!
| Brievel chapter 1 . 2/4
Wow. What a start. The action just pulls one in, and enough of the politics of the place is laid out throughout the chapter to give the reader a grasp on what's going on. The blending of technology and magic was impressively handled, too.
I did notice a couple of missing words - mostly articles - and one or two words used not quite properly, but overall the readability was excellent. I look forward to more.
| Eytha chapter 30 . 1/18
This was a very long epilogue, which I guess stays in line with any of the rest of your chapters. Though typical expectation is an epilogue is usually short extra bit to add something to a story's ending. I haven't read a ton of serial book series, but having an epilogue for a story that will be continue seem a little repetitive and awkward. At least in my mind, an epilogue provide some final closer on a story you will not see further. Which is not the case with this.
And while some of the elements of this do provide something of that nature. It also just is another chapter that is continuing the plot. It isn't ending anything. It is actually a 20k word way of saying "to be continued..." And when there are literally three words and do exactly what this chapter is doing you have to question the merits of this chapter. Because you have done what I thought might happen from the last chapter, you hit ROTK levels of problems of not knowing when to just stop the story and roll credits. Only in this case you don't know when to just say "to be continued..." and pick things up next book.
The short answer to my recommendation is delete this whole chapter. The story ended last chapter and nearly none of what happens in this chapter is that useful to this book. The reader already knows nothing's resolve, Steiner's dead, but the larger fight still remains. Save yourself 20k words and end it sooner.
If you want to keep the chapter, there is a lot of trimming that can happen. The entire Claire bit can just be dropped, it's fluff that is just padding the chapter. The reader already knows she is staying so this doesn't resolve anything and doesn't bring new tension to anything. It's merely redundant.
I'd shorten the Dan segment heavily. It gets into repetitive territory really fast. Though being honest, I'd recommend cutting it as well since it falls into the same fluff territory of padding the chapter. Dan's already talked about his father, nothing new is learned from this that couldn't be included in a single sentence in future books if these details are important.
The Voltaire scene is dialogue dense for very little value. It's another fluff segment that serves better to be dropped. The only parts that are expanded are with the Detective, which can be included in future books as she becomes more relevant and given my previous feedback of not even including her in this book, that would render the rest of the value of this segment completely empty.
The Steel scene is part of your to be continued and post credit scene. So it being around still has value, just heavily shorten it. The two points you want to make are his reaction and the Emerald hunt. The rest you want to calm down on the dialogue as it's already well tread ground.
The royal scene combined with Richard, is a massive scene that's basically chapter by itself and doesn't belong in an epilogue. It is set as part of the to be continued since it puts a new target on Richard head, but in all honesty, it probably would make more sense in book two or something rather than here. It's a massive distraction for the greater plot and is a really long road to a fairly straightforward outcome. Edit down severely the dialogue, the important parts would be showing the Kings thoughts since they do provide more to build his personality. Have the bit with the brother wanting to kill him and then just stop completely. No conversation with Richard at all.
| Eytha chapter 29 . 1/18
This was a very long conclusion chapter for something that was already largely resolved in the previous chapter. Large chunks of this chapter probably could be cut without much less to the overall narrative. A lot of the things happening is character returning and post victory celebrations. Much of that can be shortened into something significantly more concise.
Jumping from that, you probably want the speech to be the end and just drop everything else that come after. While the speech definitely goes on too long and over stays it welcome, getting pretty repetitive, it's statement as a declaration to the world and people feels more like the note that you want end a book on than people talking about going drinking or debating the nature of Greymont's dragon status. The speech is a more dramatic and meaningful note to finish on. Knowing that there is an epilogue, I'm not sure what happens there to warrant further story past this point, but knowing when to end the story is a good thing to figure out. It's easy to go into the Return of the King route and people keep asking when it's going to be over.
As before with the Detective, everything with it should be dropped. It's just filling up the ending with the matter already resolved in the previous chapter. All you're doing is repeating yourself in this instance. Even the reporting to police the next day can just be talked about later as an after the fact thing. But if you remove the Detective completely from book one and put her in book two, you don't even need to worry about that as well.
| Eytha chapter 28 . 1/17
Things are coming to a conclusion now with the final fight, maybe, being the Steiner rematch. It's another long one that probably should be cut up into at least three different chapters for each of the stages that you go through with Steiner, maybe more. Though if you cut out a heavy amount of monologuing and chatter, it would make the split up chapters more manageable.
Monologuing for this story is not too much of a surprise at this point. It is sort of it's clear intention to go with speech heavy characters. We've discussed things like this before. The intention of the story feels like you want to be more ground and taking more serious with effort put into trying to make things have some logic and reason to them. You work to give everyone motives and reasonable actions. But having your people deliver speeches and monologues on the regular is not really a ground thing normal or even abnormal people do. And then in movies or anime where it is a thing, it's a reserved sort of thing. And it is not something you do repetitively. That is what Steiner's monologue at this point is, we already know his thoughts from past monologues that he has had. So his rants aren't really doing anything to give the reader new information. And Richard mostly repeats himself in even single monologue he delivers, which is hard to avoid being the main character and thus being in a lot of scenes, but it would still be something you want to try to reduce. Readers are only going to take so much of him saying the same thing in slightly different words or emotional states.
Given that you gave him the super juice from Steel earlier, it was no surprise that it would show up here as part of the fight. Though the extra transformation at the end felt like an unnecessary addition to an already very long fight. It doesn't really feel necessarily out of place or anything. And I don't think having it is bad persay. It definitely is intended to push the escalation of the fight and ramp things up. Though for book one it feels like more than is needed and I didn't find that it really added much to the fight. The drug felt like the cap of the fight rather than the ape form. But that is just something probably more done to taste than anything. Though reading through a massive unending chapter for a single fight is probably what hurts it for me. If they were broken up into more manageable segments it probably would not have given the same feeling to me.
I don't know if it shows up in books, so if there are examples I won't question it. But this is probably where some of my more orthodox mindset comes into play, but there are two things that I have trouble when I see them in stories, sound effects and long repeated letters in dialogue. Both in my mind are examples of not letting the prose do what it is there for describing the scene and characters and leaning on shorthand to carry it. So while it may or may not be a valid critique, I would recommend changing it.
| Eytha chapter 27 . 1/17
Another very long chapter that can do with being split up into several parts. Most of it is focused on the fight with Dan and Dick, but even that will want to be split up to just make it more manageable. Either that or heavily edit down the volume of conversations happening.
It's pretty safe to just cut everything that with the detective that randomly shows up. She was appearing in the previous chapters, but she doesn't bring anything valuable to the story. It's just another character introduced way too late and simply slows down everything in the chapter. Bringing her into the next book would make more since. You really don't want to be introducing a brand new character at the end of the book, it's a big distraction. If they have something to do for the plot, then it can work, but she doesn't.
Additionally, it'd recommend cutting the old man as well. He does not really add anything to the story at the moment. And while he was around before, it's the same problem as before. Introducing another character in the final chapters is just a distraction. You can have other characters already around handle the fighting he does or just not have that encounter at all and save on words.
There is a very Gundamjack and stealing of the Gaiwan from Code Geass sort of moment where conveniently Dan and his team find unique machines and not just stock models. I feel like it would have been a more interesting conflict if they were factory models they were using to beat Dick rather than also having some type of custom machines.
| Eytha chapter 26 . 1/15
This was a really long chapter, I feel like it might be the longest one yet, but it's pretty dense. Though it would definitely be a good idea to split this one up in multiple chapters, it is just way to long by itself. There is a lot of the pre-setup with Richard explaining things, the monitoring the event and the fighting. And that is just three things which still makes this very large set of chapters. It'd almost say you would want to cut it down to 5 or 6 chapters with how large it is.
It is interesting knowing that with the previous two chapters and the next ones until the end this makes up a fifth of the whole book making it the size of a novel by itself without anything else going on. Which is a sign that this probably could be it's own book. It's a massive plot by itself and a really involved one. It would do well to have build up and tension throughout the book rather than just being at the end. A lot could be done with this and probably is well suited to being book 2 or 3 material.
The Magna Obelisk is a rather over the top thing to show up. It is certainly a climax moment dealing with thing. But it just feels really out of Richard's depth to deal with in the immediate moment. Must like the previous arc with the summit, they're getting forced by the plot into something that is well beyond their scope right now. There is nothing small scale about this weapon. And at 10km long this is a massive resource sink and Steiner claims it's going to be mass produced. I don't know what the scale of the Republic is, but it feels like they would not have access to enough materials to mass produce this thing, maybe make a few, but it feel like it would strip the lands dry. This feels like something that would be available when they hold the whole planet or have access to materials from space. A good example, the stock star destroyer from Star Wars is only 1600 meters and the Executor from ROTJ is 19km, this is in half the size of the Executor. The city destroyers from Independence Day, which cover massive parts of major US cities are 25km long. Some real world examples, Rhode Island, the small state in the US is 60km in width, it's a sixth as long as the state. The city of Chicago without the suburbs is about 13km width. This thing would be like living under the plate in Midgar. I don't know how this compares to other things in the world, but I feel like this would completely change the military and political landscape.
The bomb was a creative touch. The handling of it by something from the field seemed a little over the top, I don't know how far, accurate or strong that was needd to be. I solved the problem, but sort of feels like someone else should have.
Voltaire being put on the team seemed like a heavy plot convenience and really unbelievable. Admittedly, this isn't real sports, but making comparisons to football, basketball, etc, I would have to imagine that there are rules that actually forbid people that are not part of the league to play. He might own a part of the team, but that doesn't really give him the ability to just be on the team. And it also seems unnecessary for the sake of the bomb threat. I'm pretty sure having any one of the guys scouting the stadium or even Voltaire from a sniper spot could have still achieved the same goal without breaking plausibility.
Troy felt like he got Wolf'd really hard. If you're not familiar with the term, it's used to describe the purpose of a character. In this case, being Wolf'd means that the character is known to be very strong, stronger than the rest of the cast typically and it used to show when a new threat arrives that the new threat completely trivialized this character that you, the audience, should worry because they're so strong. It feels though like you didn't want Troy to fight him so you made him lose fast and you want to show how supposedly strong Steiner is supposed to be. Though it feels really unbelievable given that he gave a good effort to the Zandoris guy which should be well above Steiner and yet Steiner just man handles him. Feels a little inconsistent, Troy's got to lose to Steiner because it's Richard's job to beat him, but it feels like there should have been a more well defined fight if you had one. If you didn't want a long fight, then completely remove it, because it feels like you're not serving your characters well with this one considering the lengths you go to in past fights to show them holding up against the odds.
| Eytha chapter 25 . 1/14
Another setup character that included a lot of conversations. There is some good tensions built up with some of the characters, but they chat for a very long time making things start going in circles at a certain point. Though it is leading now to the end of the book and the final confrontation. There is some mix messaging that Centurions in some manners seem to not be very strong, but in other manners are still a threat. As things are now with what Richard and his group survived, none of the Centurion look like a threat in any way, but the story and character keep stating that they are a threat. Even Steiner's getting so much extra help because by himself they don't think he can do it, his arrogance notwithstanding. It's really weird to feel like the final villain of the book isn't that much of a threat and I think part of that lessened feeling of threat is hurt by the fact that so many people superior to him have been introduced and been survived that he just doesn't look imposing anymore.
The meeting with the Don had good development, though it seems a little coincidental that he literally knows about everything, not just a piece of the plan. But everything, it sort of leaves any sort of sense that Richard is going to be surprised low. A lot of tension to the upcoming battle is sort of gone because we know Richard will win. The whole plan is just laid out before him. Also, the reader already knows the plan and since you're giving away everything, it's probably best to just skip all of that and focus just on the debate on helping or not. It'll save you a lot of dialogue.
And even more with the Nathan and Steiner scenes, they can all be cut completely. There is nothing new or informative that is brought to these scenes. The reader already knows all of this is happening told by two other characters. All the protests and denials are also expected, since nothing surprising or a twist comes out of these it's best to just drop the whole scenes and save your word count for other areas.
You try to build Steiner back up to being a threat in the story with Richard talking about him, but we've only seen him fight once and he got beat pretty well by a lesser Richard than he is now without back up. So it doesn't really feel like Steiner's threat is earned here. It's just a character having self doubt, but the narrative hasn't given the reader any reason to think Richard's in any real danger against him. If Steiner had more fighting encounters to prove why he's a threat then that would be a different story, but he's someone that likes talking more than fighting right now. And even all of his Centurion allies don't see him as a threat, making it feel even less like he's a challenge and just an opponent that'll have to be buffed through other means to make him a challenge still.
| Eytha chapter 24 . 1/13
A dense feeling chapter and a pause between all the action. Having some down time is definitely good after everything that happened. Though it's a very long chapter for a cool off. It also looks to be setting up the final conflict of the book given how many chapters remain. Though there a weird sense of aimlessness with everything going on now. Things are moving forward, but they feel more convenient than natural if that makes much sense. It's an ending that so far doesn't really looking like it's really feeling earned. But I guess we'll see where it is going.
There is an extensive amount of time spent with Alec, Steiner and Dick, which really should be trimmed down heavily. It feels excessively talking for something that is pretty straightforward. And it feels like Alec is rating Richard to be a reasonable threat to Steiner despite your indications that should not be the case at all, given how much extra stuff that he is handing to Steiner. If Steiner truly beyond Richard as you claim, then Alec should not be worried about given him any extra support to finish Richard off. But you have Alec putting Richard as being something that even the Ibis soldiers had trouble with. Which should imply that Richard is more reasonably comparable to Steiner. Excluding the defensive and one combo action he had with Greymont, everything that Richard has been doing is his own unaided power, not because Greymont is enhancing his capabilities. So it is setting some very weird power scaling circumstances that need to be more consistent.
Also I can't recall if it is said somewhere, but why is Steiner getting the title Lord? Is he supposed to be some sort of nobility or position of status beyond being a Centurion?
And something that feels a little sudden, but gang members are starting to show up because they're seeing the changing signs. But the Ravens have only made two actual actions within the city. And I was under the impression that Midas was a metropolis. Would a small time group that defeated two gangs in an encounter really be getting that much broad recognition already? It seems way too fast for what has been presented as an institutionalized gang warfare and underground mafia within the city. I'd imagine the city probably has new people trying to make a name for themselves all the time and failing. Two successes hardly seem like enough to start making people think they need to shift sides. It feels more like you were coming to the end of the story and you needed to show them starting to grow and make a change rather than making it feel like a natural development.
The mob showing up makes sense because they actually made a hit on their operations. So that seemed normal that there were be backlash from that happening. What the circumstances of it will be remain unknown. Though initial thoughts would have suggested that they'd just having them killed rather than talk since they crossed them and know exactly where they are. So it feels a little weird that they're going the talking route and does feel like it might be a story convenience to get Richard where you need him in order for the climax to happen with Steiner killing the Don. I guess we'll see.
Everything with Nathan and the royal family it putting some o the further stuff together it seems. Though to a degree you could probably have just covered all of that with Alec rather than being explicit about everything happening. Given that you need to save on words. You can take more advantage of letting one scene play double or triple duty so that you don't need three scenes. If you know something is happening became someone says it, then you don't need to repeat yourself with another scene. And the only point of value from the Nathan and family meeting is their investigating Steiner and related people.
| Eytha chapter 23 . 1/12
It's looking like this chapter is going to be wrapping up the summit arc of your story. All of the major conflicts seemed to be handle that are directly tied to the summit. Being that this is a four chapter arc putting that somewhere around 70k words, maybe more that is a very sizeable chunk of your story. Looking it at pure logistics, you nearly have a book right there without much more to do to it. I've already said that the summit story line you're doing is still early in your story. I think because it is so involved, this should really just be it's own book. Given that this is a lot of build up and putting things in place for the Ibis group and your larger scope conflicts to come, just making a guess this probably could be a book 3 or 4 placement.
I say that because the first book should remain in Midas as I've said. That would focus the book on their rise as a functioning group to what Richard wants to achieve. The second book could focus on them growing beyond the bounds of Midas and introducing some of the greater scope issues with teases of your Ibis group. Then book 3 or 4 can properly introduce what I'm guessing Ares is, which is the series villain and push things more to the world stage. It would involve a lot of rework, but I still have to see where the rest of the plot goes to know exactly where it should fit into the great scope. But it is definitely unchanged that this story arc is far too soon.
This book is running into the Spiderman 3 and Amazing Spiderman 2 problem, adding too many villains into the story and too many plot threads. And it's only hurt more that this is not even a sequel, but the first book. Keeping things focused, find one villain and stay on track with that. Definitely have some thoughts on what that should be.
As for the chapter itself, this is a shockingly busy and chaotic chapter that just moves all over the place. It is very clear that you're trying to work chronologically through events that are happening along each other while have a lot of different things happening as well. Though the core recommendation is to remove it along with the other three chapters, to sort this one out is a different story.
There are a different directions that this could take to making it more manageable. The most important part is going to be severely slice it up. Not necessary cut things, but just make some individual chapters. While if you're pressed to keeping this here, I'm going to take this with the approach that this will all be a separate book and it can all still breathe if not even more. Because this is the climax more than anything else before, so it should be given its due.
The easy thing to do is just make breaks wherever things jump scenes. Most of your scenes are large enough that they can be chapters on their own. It'll make it clear that there is a change, it'll likely make it easier on you. And you feel comfortable with them in each piece rather than rushing or smashing stuff together. So rather than two chapters from this, I'd recommend probably 5 or 6, however many times you jump around.
Though another choice is deal with the non-linear nature and keep a scene until its end and then jump back to show the other side. Which is an option, though possibly rough and difficult to deal with in the end. Not necessarily the most recommended, but still a valid option.
Another would be removing some of the less useful parts, which are interestingly the parts with the main characters. They are no longer part of the climax, Nathan, the General, the Empress and Zach are the focus right now. So omitting them from the story isn't going to hurt anything. We already know they're going to escape and things are going to be fine. Jumping to the end where they need help is where they can safely jump back in, post the conflict and keep tensions on the immediate problems. Anything necessary to them can still come from Nathan, since that actually is what happens. That helps to streamline everything as well.
| Eytha chapter 22 . 1/11
This was a shorter chapter surprisingly and interestingly split between things. Focusing on the chapter to avoid repeating previous feedback, I was surprised about half of it was spent on political debating and world building. Some of it felt a little heavy handed for delivering the world building and establishing some history. But it did not feel too bad. It had the tensions and drama for a political encounter. It went on for quite some length so it would likely need to be trimmed down, since there was a lot of circular talking happening.
I'm trying to remember correctly, but wasn't it like a few chapters ago that the Ibis Corps was considered an unknown and mysterious organization that was rumors and might not even exist? And now everyone is just treating it like it's always been around. It feels a little contradictory that they would just be talking like they're real when common thought is that there isn't even enough proof that they're real. There would be more scrutiny about the incident with the ruins I would figure. So it feels pretty unnatural.
It's interesting that you put in a power scaling, scouter, into the story now to explain the power difference between everyone. But they don't feel internally consistent with what you've shown. Richard's displayed significantly higher capabilities than your system is claiming. You're stating that Richard isn't very powerful, but that's clearly not the case with quite a few things he has done. It also feels like you're underselling some of the rest of Richard's team.
The fight itself went about to be expected, just too long. Given the gulf between them, the fight really should not have taken long at all and even him getting caught off guard so they can escape feels a little unbelievable. It feels like it makes the villain look really weak rather than Richard and group clever.
| Eytha chapter 21 . 1/10
Continuing from the previous chapter and carrying forward to the next as well, this turning into a large event. Though the feedback from the last chapter is unchanged after reading this one as well. This is still too early for this event to happen in the story. I could see this working out if this was the only book then the dramatic escalation would make sense, but this is a long series of books. So you want to save these sorts of major events till the right time for maximum value.
Some minor points that I have been thinking about now that I'm seeing your lobbyist in action. I could be wrong, but I view a lobbyist as someone that is a representative of company or group that works in the central governing body talking, buying, gifting to get their policies supported by the politicians. They are not the actual dealers. Alec Steele looks like an arms dealer, not an lobbyist the way he is acting. So if a lobbyist is what you want and what I"m saying is accurate to what a lobbyist, you probably want to change how you have Alec Steele interacting with people.
Additionally, isn't it pretty brazen and concern for those there that a corporation representative is trying to in front of all the governing representatives? Normally if you're trading with tension driven opposition, you would want to do that sort of thing in private and individually. Alec Steele seems to act like someone that really doesn't understand how politics and discretion works. Given that he's presented as someone being really intelligent, he's not acting like that.
Another point, one more of power scaling and confusion. Richard is a Centurion, who defeated Steiner and while not all Centurion are equal in power, they are all regarded to be strong enough that the Ibis Corp sees one as a threat, their upper ranks. So how is Richard struggling so much if they're nearly comparable with the way they talk and act. Also a whole group struggled against one Ibis, but two Dan and Voltaire and take down one. There seems to be of a weird scaling issues that aren't very clear.
Alec Steele now showing up is another concern for power scaling. Reasonably, he should completely destroy everyone with little effort the way that he is being hyped up. However, I'm guessing there is going to be a fight with him, where there is not be one. He such completely destroy them. But he is also just like the event, here at the wrong time in the story.
| Eytha chapter 20 . 1/9
Another odd chapter, that I will need to see where it goes. But this feels like an unnecessary amount of plot escalation for the first book. You are on Chapter 19 of 30 for the first book and you're talking about threats to world peace, large scale war and moving the story out of Midas again. Even from the early pages of this chapter, this read as a massive detour and something that was out of place in the story.
Stepping back to look at what you're doing, as I've said with everything else, I can see what you're trying to do. However, in this instance I can't say I agree with the choice even as an anime format which this is written more like. This plot escalation is just too sudden and too early. Your group isn't even properly working as a team yet. They still have massive issues to deal with back at Midas. This is an invention of a problem you don't need right now. It was never brought up before from what I recall, so this was not on radar of the reader. So this comes from nowhere with this massive threat.
The immediately recommendation I have for this and however many chapters this lasts for is to cut them completely from the story and don't keep any of it. Save this plot for a later book. As I've been saying more recently, keep the story in Midas, don't leave the city for book one. You have already too many things you're juggling for a single book, this is just unnecessary fluff.
This chapter does still suffer from the same matters of the other. Long conversations that need to be shorter. This is all a setup chapter for your fight. Very little actually happens in the chapter, it's just a lot of character introductions and how everyone is related and the world tensions. All of it should be heavily trimmed down, but that's only if you keep any of this, which I would not recommend.
| Eytha chapter 19 . 1/8
This chapter felt like it was back on track with the main plot. While it has many of the troubles the rest of the chapters have with long conversations and drawn out encounters, this is a chapter that I feel was missing from the earlier ones. It feels like you're returned to the plot after a lot of distractions.
Given that Dick and the Don were brought up a while ago and then largely been a footnote until now, it's a little surprising that it took so long to get back to this point. Given that the Don runs the most organized aspects of the city's underworld, it would have seemed like they would have been running into him a lot more often than they have.
The path that things have taken have been logical with what has been setup, but it has involved a lot of detours to get to this point. And I don't know how long this will last before there is another detour. Given the importance of the Don and what he means in the city, it feels like Richard would be going after him in a more focus way. Given that Dan wanted revenge against Dick, it also would have been a course that would have helped to get them more on board rather than side tasks that took them away from their objective.
For the chapter itself, Dick is an excessive talker, as character's point out. Which seems to be a reasonable character trait, though given your already known tendency to talk for a really long time, it makes someone like Dick more difficult to deal with as a result.
Breaking this chapter up would be more difficult than the others since there are just a lot of little fights scattered without a lot of over arcing things to build the chapter around. About the only place I can see is to cut on Richard popping in to do his batman thing and then pick up after that.
It will say that the first parts of the chapter where you handle the passage of time and completion of tasks that don't need to be seen a good approach that you need to take advantage of more. It will save you thousands of words in the long run and keep the pace tighter than it current is. Something are fine without massive details because th reader can fill in the blanks. Trusting them to see things on their own is important.
Aside from this chapter being more Batman Begins than Code Geass, these are the ones you want to focus on for your editing. This chapter is important to the origin story you're trying to tell. So look for more of these and you'll be able to have a solid streamlined narrative.
| Eytha chapter 18 . 1/7
This was a very character dense chapter, in the sense that there was a lot of character development and conversations happening. It's good to see a chapter that does not rely on physical action to still provide conflicts. That does make this a good chapter on those merits. Though it still suffers for extremely long talks and some rather inconsequential ones as well.
I'm of two minds about this chapter. That it happened was an inevitability rather than a question of will it. Hiding your identity is going to lead to the turning point that it gets revealed. Much like what you're modeling so much after with Code Geass, it's similar to the one that funds all of the Japanese resistance groups where Lelouch reveals himself, but that is a two minute scene where as this was an entire chapter or keeping with analogies, any entire episodes devoted to a single thing. And even that isn't necessary a bad thing.
Like I said, it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when. The two minds about this chapter is where it comes into play. I think this was the wrong time to play that card. Which is a compounded issue. With that you setup within the plot, it all makes sense. Something went really wrong and they're in doubt. Which lead to this confrontation. The irony is that it wasn't really needed because Dan already knew all of the answers. He just didn't trust Richard. Which makes this whole scene really weird because it just turns into a one up game between the two of them of who miserable enough in their life until they find themselves on common ground.
It makes sense what you're doing, it's just weird. But I don't think this was the time to do the reveal. As is what happening in so much of this story. You're cramming into far more plots and sub-plots than is necessary for what is supposed to be an origin story for Richard and the Ravens. You have so many bigger issues that the story needs to cover in the first book than the identity reveal. That's a card you save until the second or third book. Going back to the examples of Code Geass, the actual real meaningful face reveal, the one that you're trying to duplicate in terms of weight and importance is the cliffhanger at the end of episode 25 where Susaku and Kallen both see Lelouch for the first time, even though Susaku already knew it was him. That's the moment you were wanting, but that only works because an entire season was built to that pay off. You're trying to do that same scene but at episode 6. The Black Knights are barely together at that point. They have enough drama and narrative complications as a newly formed organization from external sources and just the general untrained nature of the group. Which is exactly where you stand with the Ravens right now. They were literally on their second mission.
As I said before, everything that you've setup makes sense. This occurring is logical with what you've done. So the question becomes, if it's too early what do you do with the internal conflict they're having. It's pretty simple, it doesn't happen. Because the whole encounter of Ibis also shouldn't have happened, that's a book two problem, not a book one problem. If the encounter with Ibis never happened, then the conflict and deaths also wouldn't have. And that keeps you focused on what's important for book one right now, seeing the origin story of the Ravens. They can have conflicts and struggles, but they shouldn't be focused on revealing Richard. The focus should be on Richard knowing what he actually wants, finding how he's going to achieve that goal and make that clear to the gang members that he's being genuine about it.
Some side notes, the Emeralds sound like you're stole that from Naruto and the tailed beasts. Talking about how the nations all have them. It all reads like Naruto. Which brings me back to the same point as before. This is too early. This is a book two or three problem, not a book one problem. The whole ruins missions should have been them finding the Emerald, not knowing what it does and it basically is forgotten for the rest of the book and setup as this mysterious thing for the future, so that you have your seed for the first, but don't have to do anything explanation. Because the tailed beasts weren't introduced in Naruto until Gara showed up and not in a full way until Shippuden when they became the plot device. Naruto and Gara were the seeds and they didn't explain more than they needed to. Stealing for inspiration is good, but you need to be more careful about how you manage your elements. Analyze how your inspiration worked them and explained them, because right now you're making the classic mistake of knowing you have all of these things and feel like you don't want to make the mistake others do with just suddenly introducing something huge. And you've overcompensated for that by putting everything in and not being measured about anything.