Reviews for Raquel in Cadence
Will9035 chapter 8 . 9/28/2016
I figured there wouldn’t be much of a conclusion to this chapter, and it turns out I was right.
Before I get to my usual pros and cons, I want to start off by-what else?- asking questions about things I don’t think I entirely understand.

So Johanna was the assassin hired to protect Nona, the Observer. At first, based on the introduction she received, I thought you were going to reveal that *Johanna* was the Observer. That would’ve been a neat twist. But since Johanna turned out to only be a protectorate, I can’t help but feel that her actual role was a little redundant. Was her main contribution to stop Alise from killing Hakim earlier on? Either way, her sudden inclusion at the end seemed pointless, especially since she was beaten so easily and neither Kyle nor Alise were hurt in any considerable manner as a result of their battle.

Also, something occurred to me as I was reading this chapter. Was there a reason only Nona could be an Observer? Alise considered whether the position of Observer could be transferred to someone, but I was wondering why, if push came to shove, Hakim couldn’t just find someone else from Real Space, and teleport *them* into Cadence? That way, if something happened to the first Observer, he’d still have the second one as a backup. You said that a Divergent Universe would still exist so long as one person from Real Space was around to observe it, right? It seemed like Hakim could have much more leverage if he had, say, 10 Observers, and he planted them in extremely isolated parts of Cadence so that the mere act of uncovering all of their locations would be a quest, never mind actually travelling there and killing them.

Also, did Kyle ever explain how he knew the Observer was in the Arctic? Maybe I missed it, but I went back and checked twice, and I didn’t see anything that hinted at an explanation.

Alright, onto my list of overall pros and cons. As always, I’ll start with the cons, and I think you have a pretty good guess about the first one I’m going to mention:

-More explanations throughout the story would have really been helpful. To start a story and just name drop things like Divergent Universes, Slip-Gates, Derivative Manifold, etc., and not explain them, led to a lot of confusion. I would definitely recommend you find some way to define terminologies and theories earlier on so that the reader knows what your characters are talking about. If it’s too difficult to believably incorporate explanations into the dialogue, or if it would be impossible to explain them without bringing the story to a screeching halt, then maybe a “chapter” at the very start of the story, which includes nothing but terms and definitions, would suffice?

-Like I said a few reviews ago, I wasn’t crazy about how the narration became so casual in a few spots. If you’re going to have passages where people draw words out for longer periods of time, or if they’re musing about how fun it is to watch stuff blow up, I would consider just italicizing the words and passing them off as what the character is thinking. It didn’t feel right as third-person narration.

Now for the good stuff:
-I liked how subtle you were developing Alise and Kyle. Without going into a single (or several) long paragraph about their personalities, their backstories, or any of those details, I feel like I know them well enough at the end of this story that I would feel a little jolted if one of them were to now do something out of character.

-Once again, you had great imagery throughout the story. In this last chapter, for example, I enjoyed the passage about Alise shooting Kyle and your description of his blood splattering over everything white. I’m pretty sure there was at least one occasion through each chapter in this story where I could very easily picture the scene exactly as I’m sure you were imagining it when you wrote it.

-And finally, perhaps most importantly of all, I’m looking forward to seeing the big story that will unfold from here. Admittedly, I’m a little confused about why you felt the need to stop the story here, rather than just treat it as the first act to an 80,000-word novel-length work, but maybe your reasons for ending it here will become obvious once I start going through the Epochal Chronicles. But if nothing else, this ended with a tantalizing sequel hook. Based on what this story has entailed, I think you were right to recommend this to me before I read the Epochal Chronicles.
Will9035 chapter 7 . 9/26/2016
Haven’t any of these people ever seen a movie, or something? Things never go well when a bunch of leaders are assembled into the same area, especially one that’s so vulnerable to an attack.

So Alise is really okay with letting an entire world get destroyed so Hakim can’t go about conquering other worlds/universes in Real Space with the army he’s acquired in this observed universe? But at the same time, this observed universe, which will collapse if the Observer is killed, will take down all the innocent people inhabiting it. That’s…certainly quite the moral quandary. I guess if anyone has the personality to carry out this sort of mission, Alise does. But at the same time, based on how you’ve written her up to this point (the person who acts like they don't have much of a heart, when they oh so clearly do), I wouldn’t be completely surprised if she ended up feeling some remorse if their plan succeeds. I also wouldn’t be surprised if she changes her mind, or if she’s only pretending to be going along with Kyle’s idea of finding the Observer and then *stopping* Kyle from killing her.

I don’t really have much to say about this chapter. I feel like it was just supposed to be a stepping stone to the final one of this story, and I’m sure *that* chapter will just be like a stepping stone to the Epochal Chronicles. So I’m not expecting anything conclusive to happen in the next chapter…and if it does, I’m guessing that *its* conclusion will only lead to more questions that the Epochal Chronicles will be charged with answering.

Either way, I’m interested in seeing where this is headed. I wonder who this lone Observer can be (unless I’m missing something, I have no idea right now who Kyle could expect it to be or why he would know it), nor am I really sure what will happen when Kyle and Alise try to put this plan into action. But I’m willing to bet this next chapter is going to be quite the explosive one.
Will9035 chapter 6 . 9/23/2016
So Kyle is a descendant of the infamous Kenzi? Despite that, he actually seems to be a good guy.

This feels like the kind of chapter that I’ve been clamoring for since the start: one with no major events, any new terms/groups are introduced and immediately defined, and the backgrounds, the missions, and the stakes are made perfectly clear. Now I think I’m beginning to see how this will feed into the Epochal Chronicles. I don’t know, I just have this hunch that a chapter introducing something called the Epochal Guard might end up playing some role in a story called Epochal Chronicles. I’m guessing a Second Time War might be a strong feature of it.

Also, do I spy a little more humanity to Alise? Incorporating the word “we” into her mission more (as Mr. Porter so graciously pointed out) and her willingness to save the entire world from Hakim when no one else will is a nice little reminder that she’s not totally the cold and heartless killer that she might wish she could be.

If I were you, I really wouldn’t include sentences like “Annnnd he was following her,” or “No way. No freaking way,” in the narration. I understand it complements Alise’s thoughts and it helps us to get inside her head, but I found those way too casual and as a result it came off as a little jarring. But those are my only real complaints. For all the major revelations in this chapter, there was a refreshing lack of melodrama or over-the-top theatrics. Then again, I think it’s safe to say that that’s not exactly Alise’s style.

So right now I’m assuming Hakim will survive this story so he can be the villain in the Epochal Chronicles, though it wouldn’t surprise me if you had a trick up your sleeve where his death ended up triggering a Second Time War. I don’t quite know what to expect right now. And for that, good sir, I commend you.
Will9035 chapter 5 . 9/22/2016
This chapter was perfectly good for the first 80% and any complaints I had would have been nitpicking. Your pacing was quick like always, and descriptions about little things, like the shacks where soldiers were supposed to be camping, were very well done. I could picture them perfectly based on your descriptions. Little things like that really brought the scene to life.
But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the usual “Wait, what are they talking about?” moments reared their heads at the end.

Some examples:

“Do you know the concept of the derivative manifold…the idea that each Earth is unique, with its own laws, individuals, and rights to exist?” So, is that just the idea of alternate universes with vaguely (or not) different variations of Earth? Aside from setting that up so Alise could allude to Joslyn, that didn’t seem to serve a lot of purpose.

“The Slip-Gate keeps Cadence and Real Space paralleled in the arrow of time…” I had to go back and re-read this. I thought the Slip Gate was what enabled jumping from one point to another. How does it keep Cadence and Real Space ‘paralleled’ in the arrow of time? That makes time sound incredibly linear. With alternate realities, wouldn’t it make not so much sense for time to be a straight arrow? Especially since realities can fizzle in and out so long as there isn’t a “Real Space” observer in one of those hypothetical universes?

“…they could mutually tap into each other’s abilities. He could see, she could jump.” I don’t remember it ever being established that Chronometrics could “lend” each other their abilities. Plus nothing really came about from them being able to swap powers, so I don’t see the point in mentioning that. Or perhaps you’re laying the groundwork now for a battle later, in which they do swap abilities?

“She fed the thread to Kyle. He gasped, his mouth agape when he saw it.” So time threads (that’s what he was looking at, right?) are a physical thing, and something you can look at and see the effects of what’s happening in it? And as an aside, why does Kyle sound so shocked when he realizes Alise will be mercy-killing Shinju? He knows Alise is deadly, and I didn’t think he was aware of any history that Alise and Shinju had with each other. So I don’t understand why he’s so shocked.

At the risk of coming across as overly-negative, I’ll stop with the questions. But my concern still stands. I totally agree with you that the author shouldn’t have to explain every little detail and that handholding should be discouraged. But I’m past the halfway point in this story, and I’m still not sure I’ll be able to follow this or the Epochal Chronicles fully if passages like the last 20% of this chapter are going to become the norm. You don’t have to spell out every last detail, but a little bit of an explanation (rather than the characters just talking about these concepts like they’re common knowledge, and hoping I can follow it based on the context clues) would help.
Will9035 chapter 4 . 9/19/2016
Something else has been making me scratch my head since chapter one. At first I just shook it off, because I figured that you were just mentioning a term that didn’t matter a whole lot. But since Alise and Oanez mentioned it quite a few times in this chapter, and it looks like it’s going to be particularly important for Hakim’s plans, I think I should probably ask this: what is “Real Space”? Apologies if it was touched upon previously, but I don’t remember reading much of an explanation and it sounds like understanding the concept will be important to fully grasp where the story goes from here on out.

Questions about the terminology aside, this was a really well-written chapter. I loved the descriptive parts like, “…his shadow loomed in from the lit hallway,” and “Oanez nodded, trying to hide the fact that she was pleased. She was mostly successful.” The first example added a very ominous, foreboding touch to the scene (even if Alise had less than some trouble dispatching the doctor), and the other showed that Oanez wasn’t completely unreadable like she was probably trying to portray herself. It was a nice bit of depth.

So no one actually likes Hakim, and they’re all just pretending to be loyal to him because they think it’ll get themselves closer to the throne when he eventually kicks it? (Or so says Oanez, who doesn’t seem completely trustworthy herself) It makes me wonder how Hakim got into power himself. If he was in a similar situation to his subordinates, perhaps he’s aware that they’re all probably faking loyalty to him just because they want to have his job someday.

It’s striking me as very strange that this story is now halfway-done as far as chapters are concerned, and yet big questions (like Alise’s real identity, which was hinted at by Kyle) and this lurking power struggle with Hakim seem like they’re only just starting. Then again, perhaps this is just a prelude to The Epochal Chronicles and these will be the plot threads mainly addressed in that story instead. I’m sure there was a good reason that you told me to read this first, and now I think I’m beginning to understand why.

I don’t have any complaints about this chapter. Another well-written entry that introduced a new character in Oanez, and several questions along with her.
Will9035 chapter 3 . 9/16/2016
Right off the bat, I liked the quick little notes you made about Alise hating the rain and why it reminded her of what sounded like an absolutely miserable childhood. It gave us a clear indication of her past without going into an excessive or melodramatic amount of detail, and it showed us how it’s affected her to the present day. And you said it in about as many words as it’s taken me to point it out. So well done there. I liked that little bit of humanity that you added to her character.

I’m kind of surprised you revealed Hakim so early, considering how ominous of a figure he was made out to be in the last chapter. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never known any of your bad guys to resort to raping. I mean, I remember there being some pretty gruesome moments in the old Seminary Gang stories from the past, but I think restraining a woman and having his way with her is a new boundary you just crossed. Now I can understand why Alise isn’t so fond of him.

Speaking of Hakim, I’m kind of surprised that Alise tried to run from him when their little battle was about to start. I know self-preservation is a major driving force in everyone and she would probably consider herself far more useful alive than (probably) dead, but I still didn't think it was entirely in character for her to just bolt before the fight even really started. On the same note, I find it a bit surprising that Hakim would suddenly go from wanting Alise alive so that he could interrogate her, to suddenly trying to have an assassin kill her. (I’m assuming the assassin was under his ploy, though considering how sneaky she was, I guess it’s possible Hakim was unaware of her presence just like Alise was.) Then again, being forced to run for your life could very well inspire the motivation to deal with the problem permanently.

All in all, this was a fast chapter in both senses of the word. There was no terminology or references to past events/locations/people that had me going, “Wait, what are you talking about?” and the action scenes were well-written. I really feel like you demonstrated Alise’s street smarts well, along with Hakim’s cowardice and disgusting nature. And now, Alise is confronting someone who very well might have the power of foresight herself. That opens the door for some very interesting possibilities.

And now I’m curious to see how Alise survives, because things are not looking very promising for her at the end of this chapter.
Will9035 chapter 2 . 9/14/2016
After just two chapters, I think you’ve done a great job demonstrating Alise as a sarcastic, not-very-chipper, mostly unfriendly “one woman army” who is very good at what she does, doesn’t care too much about making friends, and doesn’t seem particularly eager to impress anyone. (Though maybe she has some surprise character development coming up in the later chapters?) I’m liking her as a protagonist so far, and I also like the little asides such as “It was fun how a few well-placed bombs could make such a boom,” or “My, wasn’t she getting ready awfully early?” Those sentences really added some extra depth to Alise’s personality.

But the concerns I had about having questions during the first chapter are still here after chapter 2. In fact, if I'm being honest, they’re kind of amplified. It was one thing to meet Alise in the middle of her mission, when you were trying (and succeeding) to draw us into the story with action, intriguing characters, and mysterious circumstances. So I was perfectly okay with not knowing every detail then.

But this second chapter was a “slice of life” one…or at least, it started off as one. And while it did a great job explaining Alise’s life, her habits and quirks, her chronometric abilities, and the like, the chapter also confused me and left me feeling like I missed some of the details or didn’t understand a lot of things. Admittedly, maybe I should know some of these if they featured in The Seminary Gang stories, but in all fairness it’s been almost a decade (!) since then.

I had questions like: Sinju is clearly getting ready for a big day at the Academy. But what sort of Academy is this? It’s obviously a military one, but does everyone in this region of Cadence go to it, or is it just meant for people who might be chronometrics? (It sounds like a general population thing, based on the brainwashing bits you mentioned.) Alise seems to have particular disdain for this Empire, but why? You said it’s been running the show for 80 years, and since Alise obviously is too young to remember a time before the Empire, why does she resent it? This chapter stated that the Empire’s been around for 80 years, and she wants to throw a wrench in the operation—are we not supposed to know her motives for that right now? Maybe she has a beef with Emperor Hakim? You certainly wrote about him as if he will have some importance later on.

Maybe this is all just in my nature; I’ve told people that it’s something of an M.O. of mine to ask a lot of questions at first as I’m trying to build the foundations for knowing something. I know that having questions or doubts is imperative for drama—heck, the entire point of my stories right now are for there to always be questions. And I understand that you don’t need to elaborate on every detail of every character, event, etc. But in a story that takes place in a different world from our own (well, technically it’s our world, but you get my point) where people have superpowers, and the protagonist isn’t an everyman fish-out-of-water, a little something to help keep the story grounded might have been useful. I’ve always found it helpful when stories point out if there are things that aren’t supposed to make sense—it would point out to the reader/viewer the important things they should be focusing on, but it could also alleviate some anxiety if the reader/viewer feels like they’re missing something.

I will say, though, that your explanation of chronometrics, the abilities they have, and their disbursement was very well done. Not only was it clear, but the disbursement bits were very sensible and logical.

A few last notes. Did Alise blow up a munitions warehouse in the vicinity of a bunch of children who were strapped down and forced to watch propaganda? That seems a little reckless on the part of someone we’re presumably supposed to be cheering for. Also, it’s very interesting that Alise has foresight. It’s certainly a handy skill to have, but I can’t imagine it’ll create that much drama if she always knows the outcome of a scheme before she does it. Maybe her foresight will eventually show her a dilemma that demonstrates multiple horrible end results, and she has to choose which one will be the lesser evil?

Anyway, those are my thoughts so far. If this was one of your novel-length works, I wouldn't have elaborated so much in one review. But I noticed that this was a shorter story, and I’m sure there will be far less exposition or background info once the plot gets rolling, so I feel like if I don't understand what's going on now, then I probably won't understand when this story ends in six chapters. Despite what I’ve written above, I actually think this is pretty good so far and I like the direction that it's headed.
Will9035 chapter 1 . 9/11/2016
Ah, climbing through ducts isn’t so foolproof after all.

Well, for starters, I felt that the descriptions you used to describe the posh outward appearance—and in particular Marius’s and Kersten’s clothing—were good. I just feel like they went on a little bit long. I’ll admit the opening wasn’t too long or bogged down, but it could have been trimmed even a little bit more without that detail on the fashion.

That’s only a nitpick though, and I’d say it barely even counts as one (I just hate reviews that say nothing constructive). The rest of the chapter did a good job setting up where this story is going. I forget if Alise was a character in the old Seminary Gang stories (and what her role was if she did take part in them) but I got the nostalgia of those works with the quick gunfire battle and the jumping through a portal.

As an aside, good work as always on the action scenes. Quick, vivid, fast-paced…just the way they should be. Even that brief one that followed after Alise unceremoniously “dropped in” (geddit?) was a good burst of energy.

I know we obviously are getting introduced to the story in the middle of something, so talking about how many questions I have right now would be silly and unhelpful. But Alise seems like a very capable (even oddly likable) protagonist, and it’s clear she’ll be tackling some shady individuals pretty soon.

As you said in your review for "First Night" it's too early to make any major calls on the characters and the like. So all I can say for right now is, good job so far. Let’s see where this goes.