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BLACK MERIDIAN

Swashbuckling Swords!

By Hejin57, author of Music Masters

Mar 22, 2019: Fantasy has often been a difficult genre for me to review. Mostly, this is because the genre as a whole is defined by various trappings, and it becomes difficult for stories to stand out in a sea of cliches and generalizations whenever swords and sorcery is involved.

Today’s story though, Black Meridian, succeeds where other fantasy-type ventures do not, with a mix of genres and tones that create a delicious and rich concoction.

The story in question revolves around a wandering warrior named Zeta, whose goal in life is simple: to serve humanity. He views his fellow man as his masters, and takes it upon himself to improve their lives for the better. In Zeta’s case though, his talent lies in swordplay, with his prized blade Black Meridian being the favored tool. What follows is a series of vignettes as Zeta travels different parts of a fantasy-esque world, fighting enemies and meeting allies along the way.

Among these is the concept of sigmas. They, essentially, are the powers of this setting, with each sigma granting a different ability be they mundane or fantastical. What intrigues me most is how the sigmas are applied to each specific person, and how they can be mixed and matched to create new, strange abilities. It’s an expansive and potentially endless system, and I applaud the author for making something so unique within this kind of setting.

Plotwise, Black Meridian is simple and straightforward. Most of the strength lies in the dialogue, which is playful and romantic enough to give the image of pulp stories and other swashbuckling tales. The action is fantastic as well, evoking a sort of anime-quality of sword-fighting that never feels out of place. Z.Q. Spark’s sense of humor is also very well utilized in the story, and it helps to make the reader laugh despite all the battles and swordplay.

As for the characters themselves, Zeta is a standout. His skill combined with his almost Edwards Scissorhands-level lack of social skills makes him both endearing and impressive. Other characters like the shifty and sometimes difficult Hera, her henchmen Berto and Igel, and villains Terrent, Marc and Rex Balder, form an entertaining little universe that is simply begging to be expanded on.

Of the few cons I have with this story, most of them revolve around some aspects of the pacing. There are some points in the story where the action drags, while at other times we’re sent at a blinding pace through fight scene after fight scene. It could certainly be balanced better, but in the grand scheme of things this is a very minor flaw.

All in all, this a unique gem of an action story with interesting lore, fun characters, and a memorable power system. For someone who usually despises the anime-esque "power-level" stories that populate the web serial scene, this was a welcome surprise.

Final score: 4/5

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DESCENDANTS AND CHAMPIONS

Good ideas in search of lots of polish

By theredsheep, author of Pyrebound

Feb 24, 2019: The blurb sounds cool. The author came up with loads of lore, all available on the story’s website. It seems like it could be the basis of an awesome story—but it needs a lot of work. The story, as it currently stands, sounds very rough and stream-of-consciousness, like it was typed out all at once and not edited. It’s not always clear what’s going on, and moments that should have heavy emotional resonance aren’t given the weight they need by the slapdash narrative. The chapter titles ("With Great Responsibility Comes a Whole Lot of Death," "A Body Falls Out of the Sky and they Get Chased by Demon Dogs") sound tongue-in-cheek, but the story plays it totally straight. Honestly, I’m just confused there.

It seems like the author had a bunch of cool ideas, got excited about them, worked them all out . . . and then wrote the story itself as something of an afterthought. You can’t really tell what a Protadon is from the text (etymology suggests "first tooth"); you have to lean on the glossary and other supplements. Supplements need to be supplementary—either a courtesy to readers who forget a term introduced and made clear a few chapters back, or else a little addendum for people who understand the story but wouldn’t mind learning more about the world. They can’t do the heavy lifting.

I don’t want to discourage this writer, because there’s something to work with here. I would advise her to give it a sentence-by-sentence overhaul, making sure the story is self-sufficient and slows down when it needs to. As-is, it’s an embryo.

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HOW TO AVOID DEATH ON A DAILY BASIS

Funny And Insightful

By robertotest26, member

Feb 16, 2019: Is you are a racional individual and open minded i believe you can enjoy the story. Don’t take it too seriously just enjoy the good stuff and tolerate the bad (there are moments in the story that are subpar but there are few in my opinion). The MC is a cynical prick, His way of expresing his ideas to both readers and characters is with a variation of sarcams, pessimism and self deprecation but even then you would enjoy his take on the world both because there are very funny (plenty of times his internal monologues are hilarious but not all) and insightful (if you reflect on the core idea of what he says you would find that is a very valid argument, again not every time). Anyway is a pretty good read, it is not a exeptional novel but i don’t think that the author had that kind of goal. Enjoy and Think.

I have just read the other reviews now so i’m adding this paragraph. The best one that i think that the person actually read most of the whole thing is "the cynic’s progress". It really describe the story well.

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