Reviews for Sovereign: Ascension
Caleb's Fantasy Creations chapter 7 . 8/18
This review will cover both this chapter and the previous one, as they were two parts of the same sequence.

One thing I thought a lot about while reading was the narrative style, which is more of a third person omniscient that tends to stay out of the heads of any specific characters, or at least doesn't linger for longer than to give a small insight into a character's mindset. Obviously this is a stylistic choice so there's no right or wrong, but I think it can make the narrative less engaging than it could otherwise be, since the narrative has little personality or voice of its own and lacks the distinctive voice that might come from a specific POV character. I think this is why my favorite parts of this story are the dialogue and character interactions, as Lorrik is very likable and has a good dynamic with Halsten which all shines through on its own while the lack of a distinct narrative voice makes the rest of the prose less engaging.

This is especially clear within the lengthy duels that made up these past two chapters. I understand why you included them in such detail, and they do show things about the involved characters (Syrosk's commentary after each duel aided in this as well), but it was hard to get invested and thus the duels (the warriors' in particular, though that may be more down to me personally finding the casters' styles of fighting more interesting) could be a bit of a drag. Having them told by an unbiased, uninvested narrator was part of this, as was the relative lack of stakes in general. Especially when it wasn't Lorrik or Halsten fighting, there just isn't much care to how each duel turns out. Sure, it's interesting to see how each character approaches things, but there's little in the way of stakes or tension. The duel between Lorrik and Arlia was the most compelling to read because of the character moments it provided with Lorrik. Even the narration seemed a little closer to him and more invested and it was more engaging to read as Lorrik executed his strategy well at first and flustered Arlia, only for her to turn it around on him and ultimately best him.

I'm not saying there's anything necessarily wrong with how you wrote any of this - as always, the prose is very clean and technically proficient - but rather these were a collection of observations I had while reading as to why this section had the effect it did.

That said, here are a couple lines that stood out to me:

"Halsten stared at [Lorrik's hand] for a second, then looked away, then settled on the hand once more. Finally, the wounded warrior reached out."
This was a nice little character moment for Halsten, and an example of a moment where we don't need access to his thoughts to know what's going on in his head.

"'You needn't be afraid,' Halsten continued. 'Win or lose... you'll still survive'
'Oh, well, that's comforting.'
'It should be. Not every day you get that guarantee.'"
A great line from Halsten here.
Caleb chapter 3 . 8/8
Introducing six characters at once is never going to be easy, so that considered you did a decent job of it with the other acolytes chosen by Syrosk. Enough time was spent with them and enough interactions had that by the end of the chapter there is at least some sense of who they are as individuals. Though there are times after their initial introduction where they are referred to be their attributes rather than their names which might not help with confusion. It's nothing too bad and it's still not too hard to match names with appearances, but it might be possible to strike a finer balance there.

"What? Those six upstanding acolytes? You think they'd go out to their way to establish dominance this early?"
"Should I be whispering in your ear?"
This is probably going to be a routine of me gushing over Lorrik but these two lines were particular favorites of mine.
Caleb chapter 2 . 8/8
(I'll have to review as a guest here since I must've already reviewed this chapter at some point. I guess I'll have to go back and see if I made any of the same points in this review as the last one.)

I can't make any guarantees as far as how many reviews I'll do or how much depth they'll have, as I don't want the pressure and effort of reviewing to prevent me from finally reading this story, but I'll do my best. Anyway, here's a couple thoughts.

As much as your writing can be on the slower side at times, this chapter sure did a lot in terms of worldbuilding and introducing characters. I love it when details about the world are skillfully woven into dialogue and there was plenty of that here, especially during the conversation between Lorrik and Jora.

There's a very good sense of environment built up with the several mentions of the drab grey surroundings which really complements this theme of how all the acolytes just really want to get out of there. (This, in addition to the ever-present idea of hierarchy within their order and how everyone is trying to increase their standing by any means they can.)

I can also happily say I'm enjoying Lorrik as much this time around as I did during past reading attempts. Also the line "If there was one defining trait for the acolyte, it would be the warm smile that managed to persist among such cold surroundings" is such a simple insight into his character that conveys so much.
Hibbidyhai chapter 82 . 5/15
Not counting the “X” chapter,I’ve reached the end! I enjoyed the in-depth encounter with the Magister, who despite this one appearance take on extraordinary depth and storytelling possibility. I loved their bickering, the glimpse of political manuevering. The top level view of the Dominion that they provide. Kelric in particular was engaging, and it seems you’ve set him up for future stories.
My only nitpick for this chapter was that Syrosk’s main monologue might need to be broken up for readability. On a tablet it was easy to lose your place. That’s mostly formatting though. An idea to split up the paragraph could be Syrosk glancing across the faces of the Magisters before continuing, similar to a speaker taking a deep breath. Other than that, I though this was a fantastic end to an amazingly original and epicly deep story. Great work!
Hibbidyhai chapter 81 . 5/8
I finally made it to the climax! And oh, was it worth it. The long game, Bradic's long mysterious plot, it was worth the wait. It played out differently than I expected. I expected jumping between each vault, seeing each battle play out in turn before jumping to the next, in a reflection to early parts of the story that jumped between each apprentice in turn. While those battles undoubtedly would have been really cool, it would have been repetitive and it would have slowed down the main arc of the story. Of cousre, that is not what happened. We got what we needed to know about what else was going on, but the focus was on Bradic and his struggle with Halsten and Lorrik, and the immediate aftermath. The focus was where it needed to be, and that was a really efficient and well reasoned decision.
I'm not quite done yet of course. There is still the epilogue and the other chapter to go. Knowing a little about all of the other stories that have spun out from this, I know I have barely scratched the surface. This is truly one of the most fantastic and original stories I have ever read. The world and characters are both well developed and three dimensional. Nothing is quite exactly as it seems. Nothing is exactly black and white, nothing is exactly a battle between good and evil. There is nuance and complexity.
I'm looking forward to continuing to dive into this marvelous world. Great work my friend. I've truly enjoyed the ride.
Hibbidyhai chapter 79 . 5/8
We finally get an explanation from Bradic as he provides answers not only to Halsten and Lorrik, but to the reader as well. It didn't take much of an explanation of his motivations, but it worked. We finally know WHY Bradic did everything, and also that for a long time there wasn't much of a why at all. Bradic is the ultimate opportunist. Its kind of refreshing, a villian that truly didn't have a master plan until the right opportunity presented itself.
The meeting and result of Syrosk reuniting with Lorrik and Halsten was good and surprising. It seems that Syrosk's vision was misleading on yet another front. We are starting to approach the end game, and the story continues to be both surprising and provide payoff to storylines set up quite a while ago. Good work on this chapter. I'll send over some notes via pm.
Hibbidyhai chapter 78 . 4/26
I really like the showdown between Syrosk and Bradic, it was a really epic fight. From Syrosk perspective I can understand why he wanted Bradic dead. Bradic killed his master, kicked him out of his academy for outlanders. Where I think the showdown is less impactful is because we know so little about Bradic's motivations. What his ultimate goal is beside using the apprentices to enrich himself (thereby obtaining again what his own master gave away). The elder Bradic is just so blank that it is hard not to agree with Ornell when he is indifferent to his fate. That's in contrast to the younger Bradic, who went through a very deep development during his youth. It seems that some of that motivation is about to come though, with the very mysterious whisper into Syrosk's ear. That is an excellent way of building excitement towards the next chapter, holding out a bit of mystery yet to be solved beyond the drama over who lives and dies. Looking forward to the next chapter, as always. This really is a fantastic story.
Hibbidyhai chapter 77 . 4/18
I really liked this story. There is a great sense of focus as we follow Syrosk. The tie-over to the previous chapter is actually happening sooner than I thought it would be earlier, after Syrosk deals with his Templar opponent, rather than the surely impending showdown with Bradic. The Templar put up quite a fight, in a tower that reminded me very much of Big Ben. Only thing that confused me was Syrosk's landing after jumping from the transport plane. Since he is cushioning his fall with magic I think he ought to hit with a thump, rather than skidding to a stop. Kind of like a gymnast sticking a landing, all of the force from the fall is absorbed and dissipated by his magic, rather than being transferred into kinetic energy (causing him to skid like he does). Or the force of the impact is reflected into the stone rather than into his body, causing it the street to crack and buckle. Maybe you did it this way to make his landing different from the other characters. Its just that the physics in that particular spot seemed off to me.
I liked the bit at the end, where Bradic simply bypasses the feat of knowledge required to solve the door's lock by ripping it apart with brute force. It shows the difference in thinking between the Templar and Sovereign philosophies. Good work on this chapter.
Hibbidyhai chapter 76 . 4/12
Good chapter. Ever since the revelation of the vaults was revealed I new this chapter would be arriving eventually, in some form. I've been wondering how you would handle it, dividing up the action between so many different characters, making the action between each vault seem unique. I've wondered if it would be presented with each pair of characters at a vault, from beginning to end, and then moving onto a different vault. Instead we get the intro to each situation at each vault. I don't know if there either organization method is any better than the other. The way you are telling it all of the action rises together, rather than rising and falling in a rhythmic fashion. There are a lot of characters, a lot of moving parts. I think you manage it all very well. You don't spend too much time describing each location and the Templar forces defending it before moving onto the next. I think this is good as you risk slowing things down too much. You also have done a good job of making each opponent unique and detailed. They don't blend together or seem repetitive. I look forward to seeing how each situation develops. I have a feeling that not all of the characters will make it out alive.
Hibbidyhai chapter 75 . 4/3
The end of the chapter, as Doran is surveying the battle, truly has an apocalyptic feel to it. Its big on scale, both of its violence and scope. It feels like a world changing event. Great job with how you have conveyed that look and feel. You also do a good job of focusing on the characters and how they fit into everything. We get both a macro and a micro view. I'm looking forward to the battles that are coming and seeing how everything unfolds. I will send over a couple of typo corrections via pm.
Hibbidyhai chapter 74 . 3/22
Airship! I'm so happy the dominion built an airship. As long as the Templar don't have any AA missiles I think they're good to go, haha. These last couple of chapters have done a great job of zooming out a bit, showing us what has been going on around the main storyline. That continues here. Tolman seems like an interesting character. I wonder if he is really as young as he seems. Only thing that seemed to be missing from this chapter was any mention of Kalos, Geron's demon. I was kind of wondering how his 'pet' monster would fit inside the airplane with everyone else, if it would be stuck in a corner (probably next to Stockman, haha). The Leviathan/Dreadnought was super cool, as was the opening of the portal. I think the build up to the invasion has payed off so far. Good work.
Hibbidyhai chapter 73 . 3/21
Cool chapter. It was fun to hear the other apprentices stories, or at least snippets of them, to get a glimpse of the world outside of the confines of this stories apprentices. My guess after reading the earlier chapter was correct, that the eight apprentices, wrapped up in their own struggles, might have their outlook shifted by Syrosks influence and their own experience, earned or not. The shift in understanding when Lorrik has the eccentricities of the others pointed out to him, how his companions are indeed unusual, but everyone else is too, was a nice touch.

You have great skills at characterization. These new characters we've just been introduced to seem just as interesting and fully developed as the ones we've spent seventy chapters with. Everyone has a past, everyone has depth. And the man whose partner is a suit of armor carrying the memories of his dead love, I really hope that is a fullmetal alchemist reference, haha. Good chapter. Can't wait to see what Syrosk's reaction to their disobedience is.
Hibbidyhai chapter 72 . 3/15
I really like the WWI vibe going on, although I suppose its more 1930's at this point with the metal skinned monoplanes. Although the Dominions relentless sense of progress seems to be what keeps them so dominant, I'm betting that down the road they are going to have severe resource issues. That kind of relentless consumption isn't great for the environment or natural resources. I would also assume that, among the lands that they've conquered, are agricultural centers that replace what they've paved over and mined out.
Getting back to the story, you do a good job of painting a picture of the environment. You can feel the buzz of activity across the base. You also see how the character's attitudes are shaped. Syrosk is the most paranoid amongst the group, followed by his apprentices. Their paranoia is earned, but it interesting to see how it bumps into the reaction they get from the other apprentices. Curiosity rather than fear and revulsion. Of course, they were only reacting to the two most 'acceptable' apprentices. I'm guessing we will see how they react to the rest.
Good work on this chapter. Its a transition scene, but you give it the same amount of attention as the rest of the story.
Hibbidyhai chapter 71 . 2/14
Good chapter. It's been a bit but it was very easy to get back into things. It seems like the group is pretty ready to get into the invasion. I liked the slow reveal of the Leviathan. Although the concept of this ship is basically a Nimitz aircraft carrier amongst WW1 era cruisers and destroyers, I thought it might be a bit bigger than it actually turned out to be. I also imagined it as an airship (perhaps propelled by magic?), a huge mobile base that could float over an enemy city. My favorite character at this point is Geron. I don't know what his fate will be, but I like the idea of this ancient being trying to find a life in a modern era.
You still play Bradic close the chest. That ambiguity makes you question the protagonists. Sometimes he might be a little too enigmatic, but you've built up such a background with this character and his relationship with Syrosk that it doesn't weigh him down, at this point.
Hibbidyhai chapter 70 . 12/1/2017
You made a good decision opting to go over the planning session, rather than jumping into the battles and explaining things as you go along. There are going to be a lot of moving parts. My favorite part of this chapter was Lord Geron marvelling at the changes since his time. The tidbits of info he conveys make it seem like some interesting stuff was going on during his time as well. Geron is somewhat of a late addition to the story, not counting his appearance when Lorrik and Halsten attack his tomb. But I think the character injects a lot of new energy into the story.

I'm hoping the Leviathan is a giant airship. Please let it be a giant airship. The story is rightly focused on the Sovereigns apprentices and Bradic, but I still feel that the opposition they'll face from the Templar is pretty vague. I'm sure that won't remain the case once the fighting starts.

Another fine chapter. This story seems set up for an exciting final sprint.
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