The Chalice Quartet
by Forest Green
Four strangers are drawn together by a spell from a deitic chalice. One is a wizard, gifted but lonely and in need of adventure and companionship. Another a half-elven sorceress who is desperately searching for her siblings. The third is a giant, cast out from his home and needing guidance in the country he has landed in. And the last, an assassin whose advantages are being stripped from him one at a time.
Despite their initial reluctance, the four soon come to realize that they need each other in order to survive, for the chalice holds secrets that need to be discovered and obeyed.
*Chapters are published Mondays and Thursdays at midnight on my website, www.forestgreenwriting.com, and here in a more mercurial fashion, though you will always get at least two chapters per week.*
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Had problems with this one.
To start off, this is a really well-written story with an intriguing premise. I mean, just read the summary. The potential is there:
Where will the author take this story?
How is this journey going to be unveiled and the impact it will have on our four main characters?
What is this mysterious chalice and how it is connected to our characters?
I have read up to chapter 200 and yes there's another 10-ish chapters available at the time of this review but I don't think it'll change my opinion all that much.
With that said, the author has done a great job when it comes to the writing. I can't comment on grammar but reading from top to bottom is a breeze. Chapters typically follows the point of view of one of our four main characters. Sometimes POV will change mid-chapter which can be a bit jarring at times but I'm sure this can easily be fixed. The problems I have are with the story and pacing but the biggest issue probably lies with the characters so I'll start there.
Before I get started on our four main characters I want to briefly mention the characters outside of the quartet. In other words, the people our four main characters encounters along the way. Whether they're strangers, friends, family, or enemy the author has done a great job of using these moments to build and expand the world. The small snippet of information from these encounters are enough to make it feel like these characters are a part of this world living out their lives, with their own struggles and aspirations. So, kudos there.
Now, onto the four main characters or quartet of this fiction. This is frustrating because I started off liking these characters but as I kept on reading I realize I just didn't really care all that much about them. The members of the quartet are each given a standalone introductory arc. We're first introduced to Al, the wizard, then Anladet, the half-elven girl, then Tel, the gentle giant, and finally Raulin, the assassin. In my opinion, this is a pretty good way to introduce the members of the quartet because you get a sneak peek of who they are as a person, their motives, and how they got to where they are before the fated encounter that binds them together.
What I'm confused about is introducing Raulin last because for all intents and purposes he is the main character or "hero" of the story. A majority of the story is told from his perspective. He is the driving force of this story.
And that is what baffles me because...
Alpine Grey's (Al) intro arc is probably one of the best start to any story I've read on Royalroadl. He's a little off, shown to be fulfilled yet not content with his job. His marriage isn't working out. His best friend is a dumpster fire. Worst of all, he is blackmailed by one of the higher ups at his workplace to steal the Chalice (which you know started this whole thing). He's shown to be faithful, stubborn, resourceful, a bit hypocritical, prone to his vices, and yet when it is revealed
he raised his daughter full-knowingly she was not his because his wife cheated and still does so anyways because he wanted to give his daughter a good life.
That's nothing short of honorable. It showed so much about his character and by this time I, as a reader was pretty invested into his character despite his flaws. When he finally becomes proactive and decided to call it quits and leave I'm like holy crap what is going to happen next; because they're so many plot points that can be revisited, which resulted from him leaving. And that is why I cannot, cannot believe the author turn Al into this quote-spewing, whiny, miserable little prick after introducing him this way. Even with Al turning out this way he is still far more interesting than Raulin.
Raulin's intro arc was a-okay but overall he's not all that interesting. The conflicts, the tragedies that befallen on him so far... I don't care and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's because he was introduced last? Maybe the conflicts and tragedy doesn't change him all that much? Or maybe the story is just not all that interesting and since it's mainly told from his perspective I don't really care what happens to him? It's also kind of hard to root for a character who seems perfect (or near perfect). The guy is handsome, just about every other character besides Al seems to like him, almost all the women he's interacted with wants to sleep with him. After he's introduced a large portion of the story revolves around him and it only progresses when he decides it's time to move on.
Tel is a good character.
I didn't have a problem with Anladet until the whole romance subplot started between her and Raulin. It's unneeded to be honest. I really like her backstory which ties to her goal: find her missing family members (with a hint of mystery). Yet, a majority of her POV is spent wondering when she is going to let Raulin bone her in the name of true love. Why?... I can kind of see where the author is going with this but the whole falling in love thing doesn't feel organic. It feels forced and the chemistry between the two of them is flat at best. With what Anladet had to go through you would think she would be somewhat apprehensive around men but her actions suggest otherwise.
The pacing is off-putting because at times it feels like nothing is happening, like, at all or it feels very slow. Then you have times where its too fast because so many things are happening all at once. When this occurs the characters doesn't seem to take the time to process what just happened and sort of just moves on.
I'm all for a character-driven story with the plot being in the background but the story has got to be interesting. So far, this story can be summed up as: quartet helps Raulin out with his assassin work moving from one location to another to complete his contracts. Some arcs feels like filler and kind of pointless. For example the latest arc I read before typing this out is told in Anladet's POV.
It's another one of Raulin's contract jobs where he has to investigate a shrine/resort for any potential cult members who worships a volcano (rumoured to erupt soon). So he books about a one-week and a half stay at this fancy place with Anladet as his pretend wife. Raulin spends the whole time giving Anladet the cold-shoulder and dicks around with a woman whom he barely met; all the while, Anladet spends her time feeling jealous, confused, and tries to justify Raulin's actions in her head. That's the gist of the arc. Turns out, Raulin was thinking with his private parts and that's why he, a skilled assassin (and seducer, mind you) was manipulated into hating Anladet. Afterwards, they kind of made up when Raulin apologizes by telling her a secret about him and promises to court her by winning back her trust.
Notice how it's Anladet's POV yet it's still about Raulin?
This isn't to say there aren't great and interesting arcs, there are; but, as a whole package the story is not compelling enough to warrant a continued read. Raulin is not a good enough of a character to carry this story.
Overall, this fiction has potential, is well-written, and a committed author with a stable release schedule. I just had problems with the direction the story and characters were going.
I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a hidden gem of these proportions. The story starts a bit slowly and takes a bit of time to reach the points covered in the synopsis, but the neat writing style, excellent (but not perfect) grammar and a sort of dry wit that you can find in intelligent work can sway you to keep going.
Our of the four main characters, I feel that Alpine seems to lack focus and/or growth. His background doesn't cover his motives and his character seems to sway between likeable and miserable.
The world building in the story is great, and a lot of miniscule details added that make it feel fledged out.
Although two of the characters seem to be the driving force of the group, none feel left out, even if it sometimes might feel better to do just that to advance the story.
Overall, this story is a slow burner that should be paid attention to and I think it deserves a lot more recognition than it does currently.
I can only encourage the author to keep going (and maybe make RR his primary place of publishing, instead of his WordPress, I don't like switching sites).
It's really surprising that I'm the first to comment.
The story is original, the writing is good and the story of the characters is the best I've seen so far.
The only problem is the slowness of the main scenario ...
This is a solid character-driven story that follows a varied cast of characters who have been forced together.
The writing style is easy to follow, there are no major grammar issues, and the world-building has been happening slowly but steadily. The story is good and the characters have been well developed such that even if their behavior is frustrating to the reader it is still in character. The story could benefit a bit from more explanation into the workings and limitations of the various magic systems.
My only minor complaint is that the plot moves too slowly at times, but that isn't much of a problem and I'm sure it will improve as more plotlines develop.
I would recommend this story, since it is well-written and interesting.
(as of Chapter 168)
Fuckin amazing what else do you need me to say!I just finished reaching to chapter 148 and am very happy to say that it was more then worth it!This story should be on trending for god sake it has over 1k words,good characters with flaws,a world that while strange keeps you wanting more AND has a new trope I have never seen before like honestly this story right had more right then nearly half of the story's on trending!(not that I don't like them just some are a bit too meh for my taste)
But it does have a few flaws for me if you wanna kill all spoilers then banish them to the pits of the devil himself please stop reading this review.
Its just that the story is going a tad slow while I understand that a great story needs time not rushing from me just got here to me having a power of gods me now ruler of everything.Just a bit fast is all I need.
Next I fell the big guy needs some love I also understand he is normally quiet and preserved but at the part where he found theify mc maybe stab your face(Raulin) nearly dead from the hunters it really felt like he just showed up from no where maybe I don't get his magic fully tho.
Lastly if your reading this writer of this amazing work of friction.Thank you so much for making this amazing story and while your diamond might not be seen yet I know for a fact it will one day outshine all those story's that have a plot so basic that even a blind person can see where it's going so please keep writing this great story!
Surprised that this doesn’t have more attention. A gem. Lessee:
A mostly character driven slow build story.
No particular grammatical errors.
Pretty original premise.
Even though I’m usually not one for stories heavy on multiple POVs I’m doing quite fine with this one. I often feel like it needs more, actually.
Characters are nice and fleshy. Clear motivations and reasons for a lack thereof, give the author time he pulls through well. Suitable complexities that fit the logic of that character and make em more than just characters. Goals, dreams, fears, they have them. They learn and grow from mistakes especially Raulin and Alpine. The wizard is going through some well thought out, much needed, and superbly satisfying growth right now, in fact.
World is worldly (with your histories, politics, cultures and what not) and not monologued on about in obnoxious paragraphs of exposition. You learn about the world in a way that feels very organic, though slow because of it.
The overarching plot seems to still be in the making/shrouded in mystery and foreshadowing but the arcs in general are interesting. Again, mostly character driven, but you’ve got nice fight scenes, daring escapes, impromptu lawyering, assassinations, philosophical squabbling, mystery solving, romance, seduction and so much more to look forward to.
Not introducing Raulin first (this might be spoiler-y) or at least earlier on in the story. Our kind-hearted trirec is pretty much the “hero” of this story, the main driver and focus of plot— except for the beginning and more lately around arc 12 (chapter 160ish?) ofc. Placing him at the beginning of the story, even if you have to break chronology somehow, would give him weight his character and role in the story is meant to have.
I get that Alpine isn’t supposed to be the most likeable guy, but I feel like you take it too far at times. Some parts were so unpalatable that I just felt like dropping the story and moving on. If someone was going to make a mistake, be the butt of a joke, bring up a losing argument, or ruin a mood, it would likely be ol Al. You had me stuck between irritation at his actions and pity for his existence until his more interesting and redeeming traits started to finally shine through again. I guess you deserve props for getting me so emotionally invested though..
I feel like I had more but I’m sleepy now and probably won’t come back to this tomorrow so...