|Reviews for The Epochal Chronicles: Rising Generation|
| Will9035 chapter 21 . 11/11/2016
Bravo, sir. No doubt you’re hard at work on “Battlefields” now, and I’m sure you have plenty of ideas about how to wrap up this little trilogy. Or perhaps it’s another quadrilogy? I remember being taken aback way back in the day when I thought TSG3 was where it was all going to end.
Either way, this story was a great set-up for everything that will follow. I think I can see where Alise’s story with finding Nona now fits into the bigger picture, and I’m curious as to how the events of Raquel in Cadence will complement the colossal task that the Seminary Gang has to carry out.
Like always, I’ll start with the things I would have done differently if I were writing this story.
The thing that springs to mind the most is about the “lesser” (if you will) members of the Seminary Gang. Maggie, Jillian, Marissa, Seth, Morgan and Skylar were certainly given ample time to interact with Kyle and establish their relationships with him. And I feel like you did a good job with it, even if I think most of them see him as little more than a pain in the neck who was crazy for trying to start a new Seminary Gang. I can’t say that I blame them, of course, but a little variety might have made their interactions a bit more interesting. As it stands, I can’t recall too many of the several conversations Kyle’s had with these guys. Ironically, the parts that stood out the most were the bits where Kyle was talking to people who *aren’t* in the new Seminary Gang, like Allie or his father. (Alex is the exception, but I’ll touch on her in a bit.) But I don't feel like we got to know enough of the supporting cast to the extent that I could imagine what a conversation with them would sound like.
The only other thing I would’ve tried to improve upon was some of those flashbacks. Some of them, like the one where Kyle confessed his feelings about Morgan and leaving Alex heartbroken, were great and added immense amounts of character while pushing the story forward. But others, particularly the ones that focus on Kyle as a small boy, could probably have been cut and I don’t think it would’ve made any significant changes to the story or the characterization.
But there were plenty of things I liked about this story, and they can be summed up in two words: “Kyle” and “Alex.” (I’m beginning to realize your two leads are almost always my favorite parts of your stories) Both of them were developed extremely well. I’ll start with my thoughts on Alex: he came across as an incredibly believable character, who acted different in subtly (or not so subtly) different ways with each person. It’s clear you had his character, and his relationships with others, down pat from the beginning. You also got his personality across very well; he was consistently a cocky, occasionally irresponsible, but overall likable playboy who was treating the situation with Hakim with the urgency and complexity that it deserved, despite the appearance he sometimes gave to others. I really hope he stays a fixture in “Battlefields” because he’s a likable character.
Same thing with Alex. Her relationship with Kyle was perfectly fleshed out, and just about every single conversation she had with him featured at least one memorable or surprisingly human/tender moment. You also did a great job as building her up as someone who could kick butt in any military capacity, but is just as prone to human weakness as anybody else. The biggest example of this came during that scene when Kyle first announced to her that he was starting a new Seminary Gang; she knew he was playing to her emotions, she knew it was a crazy idea, she knew she could be in big trouble for going along with it, but she succumbed anyway out of childhood attachment. I found that to be especially believable.
I liked Raquel a lot by the end of the the first story in this series, but I like Kyle and Alex as a duo a whole lot more. I’m sure all three of them will feature in “Battlefields”, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these three strong lead characters will play off one another.
And finally, I must commend you for one more thing: basically, that you wrote a character-based, action-less story and it was still a good read. I know you were concerned that I would find it to be too slow, but honestly I didn’t mind the lack of action at all. (Allie and Kyle’s scuffle notwithstanding)
Those are my thoughts on this story. You’ve demonstrated a knack for building up characters, worlds and conflicts. As you’ve been telling me for a few months now, I look forward to seeing the payoff in “Battlefields” when Hakim is finally brought down (or not. Like I said, it’s always tough to tell with you.) Please do deliver on your promises.
| Will9035 chapter 20 . 11/11/2016
Ah, so this is what you’ve been building up to across these two separate stories: the first time the new SG is together. I think the sudden intrusion of Raquel and Arianna kind of killed the mood at the end, especially since all they basically did was ask Kyle if his team was ready, which he very easily could have done on his own.
But regardless, this was a really well-written chapter. The reveal of the whole gang together, about to embark on their mission, really felt like something special. You did a great job of building up Kyle’s new team. But even more so, you did an excellent job capturing Kyle’s self-satisfaction with bringing the whole gang together. Without going over-the-top, you managed to perfectly convey how proud Kyle was of himself to get everyone into the same room, and to get them on board a mission when everyone understood just how important and dangerous it was. This entire story has seen Kyle trying to *become* a leader, and it was a very satisfying payoff to see him now that he finally is one.
| Will9035 chapter 19 . 11/10/2016
I think Kyle took way too much flack in this chapter and was way too hard on himself. Yeah, the old SG did everything while they were still teenagers, but they were an exceptional group. Could Autumn really rip into him so much for acting like a teenager when he still was one, especially since the task at hand was so enormous? Autumn needs to cut him some slack; he's just one guy in his mid-twenties, and she's comparing him to a group of people who thwarted someone who attained godhood. (Or maybe she was just ticked because he was sopping wet and sat down in her easy chair. That would certainly get me fired up.)
All that being said, I'm interested in where you're taking this plot thread with Autumn being able to summon Kyle in the first place. You hyped up this ability of communicating across timelines as incredibly rare, so I don't think you were just using it in this one scene as an excuse to bring Kyle back to see one of his ancestors so she could give him a tongue lashing, or to see Raquel before the events of "Raquel in Cadence."
Speaking of which, that was a nifty little bit to connect this story with your previous one. So I take it at this point, Raquel doesn't have anywhere close to the combat abilities that she does in "Raquel in Cadence." So for all intents and purposes, her role in the story actually starts here chronologically, right? I'm wondering if any more of her backstory will be filled in now that we've seen when Kyle first meets her. (Well, sort of first meets her. You know what I mean.)
| Will9035 chapter 18 . 11/8/2016
Hmm, once again I don’t quite see what this chapter contributed to the overall story. Maybe it was supposed to show that Alex is still torn up over Kyle not falling in love with her, but I thought it was kind of obvious that she still harbored some resentment and bitterness over it. The bit at the end where she teared up caught me a little off-guard, too. Not to sound old-fashioned, but Alex strikes me as too “tough” to have that little outburst; having gone through the training that she has, and considering a few years have passed since that heartbreaking discussion, I would have expected Alex to be a little more…restrained. Her regretting the outburst and composing herself seemed pretty true to character, though.
I enjoyed the little recap about the past adventures in the SG stories and the exposition about what followed afterwards. I’m sure you wouldn’t have mentioned all of that unless there was something important that will come about from it, but it’s getting pretty late in this story. I’m anticipating these next four chapters to fully establish where this new SG will stand before they embark on their next big mission.
Also, once again I must commend you for keeping me guessing. At the end when Alex was talking about how her and Alex would be a “nice story” but it wasn’t “hers,” I caught myself thinking, ‘Yup, it’s not.’ But then I asked myself if you would do something last minute to get Kyle and Alex together when all is said and done, and…honestly, I can’t rule out the possibility. I think it’s more likely one of them will get killed and there will be a last-minute confession but, again, I can never tell with you.
| Will9035 chapter 17 . 11/3/2016
Hmmm...now I'm starting to think Allie is going to become a significant antagonist in the same vein that I thought Kyle's dad would be. We've all come across the plot device where an older brother turns out to be one of the story's villains, but I don't think I've ever seen it where the evil/antagonistic older sibling was a female while the younger one is male. If that's the direction you're taking this, that would be a neat little twist.
Once again, the dialogue and chemistry between these characters have is superb. That entire confrontation between Kyle and Allie was just teeming with resentment. I loved it. Best of all, if this story were being told from Allie's perspective, I could very easily see Kyle being the irresponsible, potentially dangerous one.
Interestingly enough, my favorite line in this chapter and my least favorite one were back-to-back. My favorite line was, "It was time to start living in a world where disagreeing with Kyle meant she could be wrong." I think that summed up Allie's mindset perfectly, and it's extremely easy to understand why someone like her would be so unwilling to accept that. But then the next sentence just confused me: "And Allie didn't like being wrong, especially when she knew it was true." That line didn't make much sense to me; if Allie was wrong about something, then, by definition, it can't be true, so I'm not sure what you're trying to say. In fact, I think that second sentence could've been cut altogether.
But on the whole, no real complaints. I'm liking the direction you're taking this story. (I told you a slower pace wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing!)
| Will9035 chapter 16 . 11/2/2016
Not a very happy chapter, was this? The smoldering ruins of a once proud city and the monumental task that lay before them would have been enough, but you just had to go the extra mile by adding that gut-punch for Alex into the mix. (Although I’m not sure why Alex thought that was the appropriate time and place to have the conversation that she wanted)
I must say, when Kyle made it clear he was going to confess something, I thought he might actually confess that he had feelings for Alex, too. I mean, obviously something would’ve happened in the following two years to bring them to where they were at the start of this story, but I didn’t see any reason why he couldn’t have had some feelings for her, too. Ouch. Poor Alex.
I like the way you had her handle that disappointment, though. It was extremely mature and stiff-upper-lip as befits someone with her sort of background, but her reaction still had those very human, emotional elements that are impossible to get rid of altogether. She handled it like a champ, though, which adds a lot to her character and a lot to the dynamic she has with Kyle. The frustrations she’s expressed with him so far make a lot more sense now (on top of the already obvious reasons).
And even though Kyle’s an idiot for divulging information about chronometrics and time remotes to someone who’s not even in his family, I can actually understand the human side of that too. I mean, it’s fascinating stuff, and who wouldn’t want to gloat about it to someone who they’re seeing?
All-in-all, a very well-written character-based chapter.
| Will9035 chapter 15 . 10/30/2016
Not quite sure I understand why Kyle is getting off totally scot-free for disappearing for a month at a time, just because he's trying to start a new Seminary Gang. At this point it's still just an informal group of friends (or at least acquaintances, in this case) and not an officially recognized organization in the military, right? It's just a little nitpick, but it confused me a little.
I liked that conversation with Kyle and his Dad. It added another layer of emotion to see Dad angry with Kyle's behavior (for VERY understandable reasons) and then reluctantly accepting that his rambunctious son is coming up with an idea that will actually help keep things in check. That's quite the sticky predicament for him to be in, and the way you depicted that situation for Kyle and his Old Man was extremely well done. The tension and less-than-eager acceptance of the new Gang really permeated that scene.
Something tells me there's bad news coming for Mr. Porter. Before this conversation, he struck me as someone who would make for a good potential villain - not someone in the same sense as Hakim, but someone trying to thwart Kyle's (and the Gang's) efforts because he thinks they're going about this war in all the wrong ways. Now, he's striking me more as an inevitable casualty whose death may or may not have something to do with Kyle's actions.
Of course, I could be totally wrong and Kyle and his Pop could be on the road to total reconciliation as of this chapter. That's what I like about your work-I'm never positive about where you're taking it.
| Will9035 chapter 14 . 10/27/2016
So this is the new Gang assembled? I’m kind of surprised; judging by the pace, I wasn’t expecting them all to come together until the end of this story. I know I only have eight chapters left to go in this, so I thought this entire story would be an explanation about Kyle creating the Gang. Now I’m not quite sure what to expect as we head into the third act. I have far too much faith in your pacing and storytelling abilities for you to have this new gang resolve everything in eight chapters after you’ve spent 14 chapters assembling them and building them up. My money is on the Gang stopping Hakim, and then realizing he was only the first part of a much larger threat that they’ll have to stop in a future installment.
Talks about a marriage? Now there’s something that usually doesn’t end well. I suppose it’s theoretically possible for Kyle and Morgan to end up happily ever after, but somehow I get the feeling instead that either she or Kyle will end up dead by the time all is said and done.
| Will9035 chapter 13 . 10/25/2016
Hmmm, I’m not quite sure I understand the point of this chapter. This took place four years in the past—is this supposed to be the event that kickstarted/permanently implanted Kyle’s desire to form a new Seminary Gang? Perhaps this scene will come into play later, but right now I can’t figure out why you included it here. The other flashbacks have given exposition and showed Kyle slowly learning about the past Gang, and what their descendants are dealing with. This chapter seemed like Kyle just randomly decided to go back in time (which you made perfectly clear is a risky endeavor, despite the whole this-timeline-is-okay-so-I-can’t-have-screwed-up-if-I-already-went-back-in-time spiel) to have a conversation with someone, and it didn’t seem to move anything forward.
Of course, from a character perspective, I can totally understand why Kyle would want to travel back in time and meet one of his ancestors. That’s a pretty cool ability to have, especially if he’s looking for insight on how the old Gang functioned so he’d know what to do if he was going to try starting his own. But like I said, I don’t see what it adds to what we’ve seen already. But maybe it actually will become relevant later. “Table setting” seems to be a common thread in your flashbacks.
At least Kenzi wasn’t horrendously unlikable this time.
| Will9035 chapter 12 . 10/23/2016
Kyle showed some restraint for once instead of mouthing off or being sarcastic to someone he's known for years? I applaud his judgment, despite the fact that it would have made for a much more amusing scene if he decided to rub it in Allie's face that their superiors were on board with him trying to start another Gang. But based on what you told me last time, I'm not banking on Allie just reluctantly accepting the leadership's decision to let Kyle start the Gang anew. And even if she does accept it, I get the feeling her role in this story isn't even close to over.
I liked the increasingly tense and personal tone of this confrontation. I think you wrote the seething tension between Allie and Kyle extremely well; by the end of this chapter, I could feel just how much they probably would have liked to punch each other. Should you ever decide to write a strictly character-based drama, I think you could handle it.
| Will9035 chapter 11 . 10/21/2016
Ah, the old Mormon Chapel. One of the few details from the old SG stories that stuck with me is the fact that it all began there. (I mean, it's usually the beginnings and the ends that you recall most clearly, right?)
I think this chapter was officially the first time I have seen a two-person fistfight teleport from place to place, out of any story I've ever encountered in any form of media. Kyle is also probably the first person who actually found some joy in getting his butt kicked. I could be forgetting something, but I'm not quite sure what necessitated his older sister to beat him up like that. She's not against him in his quest to bring down Hakim and revive the SG, right? So giving him rug-burn and doing everything short of splitting his bones seemed counter-intuitive. But I've never had an old sister, so for all I know, it could just be a thing they do.
Once again, I really dug the imagery, especially the grittiness with which you treated that little...er, "scuffle" between Kyle and Allie.
| Will9035 chapter 10 . 10/19/2016
Getting shown up by a single old lady working security, and then being escorted away by your father (And all of this happening when he's in his late teens, early 20s, if my math is right). What an embarrassing outing for Kyle.
That was a good conversation between Kyle and his old man at the end. You've really set Kyle up as the sort of guy who knows how to read the people he (presumably) loves and play to their weaknesses to get them to say/do what he wants, or at least stop them from giving huge lectures about how irresponsible he was. That entire last exchange was really well-written, to the point that I think it overshadowed that quick but curt confrontation with Dr. Dresden.
I hope Dr. Dresden and Samuel appear again later; there's something fun about them, or maybe it's just fun watching Kyle's normally stoic and serious mindset disappear as he begins sassing/sweet-talking them to get what he wants.
| Will9035 chapter 9 . 10/17/2016
That'll teach me to think I've figured out your storytelling patterns with Kyle's recruitment patterns. Best of all, he didn't even have to lift a finger this time around. Alex did it all for him, and it sounds like it was pretty unintentional as well. Maybe that was all part of the plan? I'm starting to think I underestimated him, especially given his humble beginnings in "Raquel in Cadence."
I liked how you explain the "so much for that" moment for Alex when she realized Skylar wanted to join the new Seminary Gang after spending so much time agonizing over how she would let them know what he was up to. That was a pretty believable little development. I can easily picture a group of kids getting excited to pick up the torch from their ancestors and embark on the kinds of adventures they've only heard stories about. Now that I think of it, that was a more natural scenario than a long-winded, melodramatic one where Skylar and Terra fight with each other about whether they should report Kyle's plan, or whether they should join him.
One nitpick, but it's so small that I seriously debated whether it was even worth it to mention it. But I shall. It concerns the line "disappear off the grid for over a month." I, too, have been taught a few writing techniques over the years, and one of the ones that was hammered into my head to an annoying extent was that you should only use the word "over" if you're talking about one subject's position in relation to another. (i.e., "the dog jumped over the fence," or in the more general sense like, "She got over that bad day.") The phrase you were looking for there was "more than a month" or better yet, "Longer than a month."
Yeah, I know that's a wicked nitpicky thing and I'll acknowledge it's not even a big deal. But since it's the sort of "mistake" you can catch in future writings, I just thought I'd mention it.
| Will9035 chapter 8 . 10/15/2016
Again, I'm loving the imagery. The gnats "dive bombing" Kyle's face, and this line when Maggie realizes what Kyle's up to: 'Then understanding flashed across her face, registering first with insight and then with mild exasperation'...both were wonderfully evocative. I'm noticing that at least each one of your chapters has me going back and re-reading one line a second time because I love the imagery (and not because I'm confused!)
I still do have the same minor issue that I had with two chapters ago, in that it felt like it took kind of a long time for Kyle to get to the point about extending the invitation to the new Seminary Gang, but like I said, that's only a small note. This chapter certainly wasn't an ordeal to read through, and you did mention after chapter 6 that you're doing some "table setting" so I'm sure the extra bits to this chapter will serve some deeper meaning.
So now there's three people in the Seminary Gang, and it's taken three chapters for Kyle to find members 2 and 3. Maybe another three chapters and the squad can be rounded out with an even 5?
| Will9035 chapter 7 . 10/13/2016
This is going to be one of those bad news-good news things.
Bad news: a lot of the recapping from the last stories in the SG series was quite puzzling to decipher. There were a few parts where I had to go back and re-read multiple times, and I’m still not sure I fully understand what you’re trying to convey. Some examples:
“They won’t find her body because she time-traveled at the last second, teleporting back twelve years ago where she already died.”
“…a part of her was already immortalized in a future that hadn’t happened from their perspective. Now these events had caught up with them, sending Charlie back to the past where she was good and dead.”
I’m sure those make perfectly good sense to you, but to me I really don’t think I could explain to someone else what those passages were saying.
Now the good news: If your header at the start of this chapter is any indication, then I understand the parts of the conversation in this chapter that are actually important. Some of Charlie’s descendants potentially escaped the Divergent Reality that was destroyed before in past stories, and they’re coming back with a vengeance.
Now *that* is a cool concept. I remember Charlie and Kenzi being rather sadistic, so I can only imagine what their PO’d offspring will be like. I think this will make for quite the conflict.
There are only two other lingering thoughts that I have. One, I’m a little surprised that this group of adults would have this conversation in a house where two kids with chronometric abilities are present. Yeah, the kids were supposed to be in bed, but surely the grown-ups knew that teenagers could very well not be sleeping when they should be. Maybe they were actually banking on Alex and Kyle overhearing this conversation, so that they would spring into action 13 years later?
And that brings me to my second question: so time-travel is very much a possibility, and this scene takes place several decades after the last Seminary Gang story, right? So why are the people who know about the Time War just now saying ‘Oh, some of Charlie’s descendants might be up to no good. Something should be done about them!’ I doubt any of their ancestors would be foolish enough to discount that possibility, so why are they waiting until the Fourth Generation to realize that things might not be over?
Of course, in a series like this, it’s entirely possible these questions will be answered in a timebending, mind-screwy way. But I just thought you should know the questions I had immediately following this chapter.
From a writing standpoint, I didn’t see much to complain about. Sure, some of the dialogue sounded a little clunky and expository, but when you’re talking about time travel and divergent universes and family trees, I’d imagine it’s difficult not to do that. So I think a pass on that one gripe is fair.