A crew of steampunk bounty hunters decide to make the immortal and tyrannical Queen of Queens their next mark after discovering the sacred power of the Witch Tier.
This is a shounen style story written by a screenwriter. It's inspired by a lot of anime such as Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, DBZ, and many others.
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So, I read all of this in one go as my ‚Sunday project‘. Can’t say that I regret it.
Right off the bat, there is one thing that sets this novel apart from the rest here. That being that it’s not written in a classic novel style, but rather as a screenplay. So the format is very different from what you might be used to, but this screenplay style certainly offers a lot of advantages over the classic writing format for certain things, such as quick dialogue between characters that isn’t cluttered with details in between.
I appreciate a lot that there is a glossary/index as the first chapter, as I get confused easily, especially when it comes to things like different species, deep-lore, many characters, etc. I have a very shallow memory, haha.
As for the writing/grammar, I found nothing that I could call wrong. I feel like maybe I would have liked a comma more here and there, but maybe that’s not done so often in this format? I am unsure, so I will leave that as is. Given the screenplay format, the story feels quick to read and there is a decent flow that carries you over from chapter to chapter. Especially given that each chapter feels like an episode of a show, or at least a segment of one.
The story has a lot of characters, for my feeble mind at least, so I found myself going back to the glossary once in a while to double-check who was who. But they all stand out and are unique in their personalities and in their dynamics with each other. Inter-character dialogue is definitely the strong suite of the writer in my opinion.
The world itself is steampunk-oriented with a generous sprinkling of magic. The character abilities/talents reflect that fairly accurately and there is certainly a power-dynamic present between all of them that sets them apart from another. I think the scriptwriting-format makes the worldbuilding a little less detailed than I would prefer personally, as I am not very ‚visually imaginative‘ and I like long descriptions of places.
All in all, there are some things that I had personal difficulty with, but there is nothing that I would call wrong. The story is compelling, the characters are strong in personality and I enjoyed spending my morning reading it! =)
If you’re interested in something different, then you should give this one a fair shot!
Obviously this isn't a traditionally written story and it's surprising just how much i genuinely enjoyed it. Very few stories are able to stick it more to character duologue and have that carry the story.
The world building was well thought and extremely detailed, and as a guy who just loves world building alternate worlds this brought the world alive to me.
Overall: The story begins with Rivna and her two comrades in search of a crystal in a forbidden cave, which goes about as well as such a set up would make you expect. Further along, we meet Loc, a prince whose kingdom is now under the tyrannical control of the Queen of Queens. You have steampunk ships, steampunk weapons, and a Witch Tier, who has powers of a witch wielding ice magic as well as some curious steam abilities. Add on the humanoid lizardmen and chipmunk races. A couple of crazy psycho-killing princess, and a green-haired non-human bounty hunter whose now been sent after Loc and you have a whirlwind of potential presented in the unusual style of a script.
Style: As a scriptwriting piece, there is the usual lack of dialogue tags that are substituted by the Characters Name: which works well for those familiar who pay attention to the warning that this is a script. This also means this fewer exposition, world-building, descriptors, transitions, and at times detailed action as well.
You will find some action scenes well described, but in other areas, objects or weapons seem to jump into being (or out of thin air) as they become necessary to the stories script. It can be a bit jarring, and while I can accept this might be a natural flaw of scripting writing, it did not work for me since it left quite a bit of confusion (see chapter comments).
What this story does do well is character dialogue, which can range from corny, to comical, to brilliant. It definitely amused, occasionally gave some much-needed details, and kept the writing active. I would consider this a bonus to scriptwriting that does tend to heavily rely on dialogue.
Story: The story in and of itself is fine. The steampunk world is well presented. The overall quest of Loc is defined. The nemesis were disturbingly unnerving. Heldine’s obsession for Loc on top of her monstrous strength for one. But where the story did present a bit of a weak link was the backstory of the Witch Tier, which Rivna seemed to be almost conveniently sacrificed to become. And the worldbuilding as far as the different races, kingdoms, biases, and circumstances that are causally presented yet not very well expounded upon. Again, I would consider that a flaw of scriptwriting, not necessarily a flaw on the part of the writer, but the pace with which we jump from scene to scene with only sparing details meant to provide us what we need to know of this world left me more than a little bit confused by the time I reached chapter 8. I almost wish there had been a chart of some kind to better break this down on top of a world map perhaps.
Grammar: I recall a few places that were awkwardly worded but nothing major.
Character Score: Solid. Interesting. Unique. Definitely Memorable characters. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Rivna at the end of chapter one, but I definitely see hope for her as the story continues. Possibly a love interest between her and Loc as well. Overall an enjoyable cast of very vibrant characters who each have a role to play.
Ok, so this story isn't written in traditional prose. It's the first thing that anyone will notice, and it will turn a lot of people away. BUT- as mentioned in the summary, this is written by a screenwriter. So take this as a play, or an episode of a tv show. There is a lot of 'telling' to set the stage, and then there's just dialogue as the actors say their lines. I would suggest coming up with different 'voices' in your head for each character and reading it like a play.
With that out of the way- I want to see watch this TV show. High budget, Game of Thrones level money. It's a wonderful fantasy world with deep worldbuilding. We have steam-tech, we have magic, we have really fun and interesting creatures. It reminds me a lot of Firefly too.
This is not your usual traditional novel (the author clearly stated that). The story is written from multiple perspectives and characters, all combined together in one piece of writing. Its like watching anime, but in words rather than on screen.
The world building are beautifully written and described. We have monsters, magic and machines, not to forget the various characters with their own personality.
Grammar wise, I have to no comment on that. I didn't notice any mistakes.
If you love anime, you don't want to miss this!
As you will see, this story is written as a script and should be read as one. Imagine every movie scene as you read it and it will throw you into a steampunk themed Sin City atmosphere that is filled with action, violence and fedora-wearing gunslingers combined with (steampowered) superpowers!
I can recommend this to everyone - at least take a look and see if it is for you.
So first of all, the action in this screenplay really makes you want to see it live. Ships rising from the desert, spirits in the snow, big explosions, cool monsters... it would make for a really awesome movie or series. Each chapter ends with a bombastic (sometimes literally) cliffhanger that certainly carries the reader forward to the next chapter. I want to learn more about the queens and the princesses, I want to learn more about what will become of Rivna and her curse, I want to see more cool places and machines in this world. Also, it's a personal bias, but I love the Jewish touches (shekyls, Jewish names, etc...). It’s a flavor so rarely found in fantasy, so kudos for the representation.
The biggest problem for me was the prose. While not terrible, it feels like it needs more editing. There's a lot of missing punctuation, especially commas when people address one another (“men, kill her!” vs. “men kill her”), misuse of the possessive apostrophe (“queens, queen's”) confusion of “whos” and “who's” and some phrases that are correct but just unwieldy or feel out of place (“so-and-so, who's African-American in ethnicity”). However, these are just technical things and should be easy enough to clean up.
This story is a screenplay, so it's easy to read and formatted so each chapter is an episode. The scenery is described very concisely, but still vividly enough to get a good picture of what's happening. The story is set on a massive scale, with the heroes fighting the supreme ruler of the world. The characters for me are the main drawback, but they are classic anime character types.
This writer has chosen to write their story as a screenplay, which works very well for the story. The one drawback to this is the overreliance on descriptions and categorizations in a lore chapter at the beginning and long/difficult to read names for the many people and classes in the world. However, once adapted to anime, this becomes a non-issue, and the story does read faster due to the lack of physical descriptions.
I enjoy the mix of steampunk, old west, and high magic throughout the story, Aziel handles this very well! The story itself is not unique, but is filled with enough unique elements and twists it's enjoyable to read and holds your interest.
The grammar is excellent throughout. Toward the later chapters a few more misspellings made it through into the final product, but these are easy slips, and easily corrected with a bit more polish! No problems that impact readability or enjoyment.
As I already mentioned, this is the area with the most room for growth. With a history like Aziel has developed for the world, and such diverse backstories, I expected more. At the start of the story, the characters feel deep and like they will continue to develop as the story goes on, but after a while they become shallow anime tropes and characterization takes a backseat to flashy action sceens and fanservice. I would like to see more depth to the character motivations, and their thoughts and feelings. As one of many examples, Rivna, a hero with apparently legendary abilites as the Witch Tier, is easily pushed beyond all reason and control with a few words from a child, with no logical explanation for why she's flying off the handle and working against her team's interests. But again, this is typical for the anime genre, so it may be fine for the target audience.
Thanks for writing, and sharing your work with RR!
Edit: Since posting this review, the author and I messaged several times about character development. I provided detailed feedback and offered to revisit if they make changes. This author asked me repeatedly to change my rating.