|Reviews for Empress in the shadows reworked|
| Un Ancien fan chapter 1 . 3/11
Salut question va tu continué ton histoire où pas sltp répond au moins à cette question merci
| LadyIrish chapter 13 . 3/5
So, I've never read the so called "original" Empress in the shadows, and after reading yours I don't think I will. I just don't want to end up comparing the two, I hate that. I think this is a rather well written and well thought out piece of fiction. You have some great ideas, just maybe not as fleshed out as they could be. I agree with one of your reviewers on several of their key points (ps I would take it as a very big complement that someone took that much time comment on something that I wrote, but that's just me). True constructive criticism is hard to come by, but from reading some of your author's notes it seems like you are already aware that in your writing you seem impatient to get to a time that is more relatable to the show. It's hard to move so quickly when you write from the point of view of solely one character. You might want to explore that, third person isn't a bad thing, sometimes it makes things flow better. You once made a comment that the day you gave up on this would be the day you die, and really hope that hasn't been the case. I would absolutely love to see more from you, in this work of fiction most definitely. So I know it's been awhile but, please update?
| Robertmc99 chapter 13 . 2/20
are you dead or did you leave through the gate?
| Just a Crazy-Man chapter 9 . 11/16/2016
| Just a Crazy-Man chapter 8 . 11/16/2016
| Just a Crazy-Man chapter 4 . 11/16/2016
| Just a Crazy-Man chapter 13 . 11/1/2016
lov oh lov.
| Rebel29 chapter 13 . 10/24/2016
No! It's been nearly a year! It's dead! Nooooooo it held so much promise damnit! (Cries)
| Guest Q chapter 13 . 7/4/2016
Pegasus, here we come!
| PascalDragon chapter 13 . 6/19/2016
Oh, interesting story! Interesting premise and interesting changes as well. I really like Lillith and how she's much more... uhm... let's say practical and cunning about her approaches and of course benevolent ;)
Well, I'm looking forward to what you've planned with the Tau'ri. According to your comment they'll at least get their hand on Atlantis (probably Destiny as well), though I hope they'll be able to pick up the mantle of the Fifth Race nevertheless, maybe even without the Asgard committing suicide...
Anyway, looking forward to what's to come with Lillith and her people :)
| grovepjp chapter 13 . 5/14/2016
| Geode7 chapter 13 . 5/7/2016
How do I put this into words. Hmm...
Simply put, your story is simply superior to the original story in every possible. Not one facet exists that you have not managed to outdo. Which is why I can't wait for this story to eventually overpass the original as well.
| Iskandr chapter 11 . 4/30/2016
And part 3. Next time I should simply pm this...
The Star Trek way, where a microwave oven can be reconfigured into a tractor beam assembly with the press of a few buttons, is a bad path to tread. Increasing the performance of a certain piece of tech requires major changes to said piece, including manufacturing new parts, which means changes to large parts of factories somewhere else. Making tweaks and minor improvements would be possible, yes, because every machine is designed to work within certain limits and margins. If you are going to do the later, you should however, explain this to be the case in story. If you don't, we as readers are forced to ask ourselves: Why exactly can she do this again?
Last, two pieces of advice:
First, get your research right. The Tok'ra movement, for example, by virtue of them dying of old age by 2000 AD, might very well be older than 2000 years, which is when Egeria was captured (Setesh survived for what we later found out were 5000 years, commented by a Tok'ra upon to be possible without a sarcophagus). The Series is one unholy jumble of factoids like those but luckily, episode summaries are readily available everywhere. We don't actually know when the movement started to be called "Tok'ra" or who named it, so what you call assumptions in your story do not actually contradict Stargate canon.
Don't contradict yourself either, please. Early on, you mention an improved version of the Ma'tok, which unlike the Goa'uld version, can be disassembled for maintenance. You are cloaking this as a feature while it is actually a bug. The regular staff simply does not need maintenance, which shows a problem a lot of authors have with Stargate. They try so hard to correct something that was wrong in their opinion that they deconstruct canon before they try to understand it. Before one goes and says, “Well, the Jaffa are stupid the way they are and it wouldn't work, anyway” – why not go the other way? Accept the Jaffa as what they are, namely highly trained and highly skilled warriors, who spend their entire life mastering the ways of war, albeit in a different way then modern earth soldiers.
Could there be a reason the Jaffa carry low rate of fire weapons?
Is there a reason their armour seems crap?
What is the role of a Death Glider, seeing how they cannot threaten Motherships?
Try to see if the way they are is actually viable when they are not going up against teams armed with automatic firearms or smart bombs, threats they have never faced before (and let's not forget the idiot ball SG1 seems to hand them whenever the Tau'ri put on their plot armour). Explore the thought of how they arrived at the present instead of condemning them.
It is surprising how good the Jaffa as an armed force actually work once you take that into account.
Second, do not ever use the words “I do this just for fun” in a way that seems to indicate you are pre-empting an attack on your competence. If someone ever accuses you of being a bad writer, write something in response instead and challenge him to point out your mistakes.
What more, telling us that you do this just for fun is redundant. We know this is not your job by virtue of you posting here. We believe you are not a professional simply because we have all read some stories on the site already and no one here is a professional. We already project our expectations on you as is.
But if you write this sentence, it reads like this:
I know my stuff is bad, don't judge me.
“I do this just for fun, do not expect me to put effort into this.
It sounds like a defence. It sounds like you are insecure in your own skills. Worst, it makes “I do this just for fun” sound like an excuse for both and like a justification for putting out low quality work. When people read this, they will remember shit stories that get a lot of flak from reviewers and have adopted this sentence as a defence. Thus, no matter how you yourself actually meant it, by writing this sentence on the very first page, you effectively judge yourself and your work to be of lower value than it actually is. You raise a red flag in the eyes of your readers. Don't!
Your story is great. I had a lot of fun reading it.
Believe in that instead!
| Iskandr chapter 12 . 4/30/2016
So, apparently reviews have a 10.000 letter limit. Who knew...
Changing the Jaffa from a pure warrior culture to one more akin to modern day humans is another weird choice. Why? Why would you try? Why would they want to? Jaffa are better warriors than humans. As a special caste they enjoy privileges that baseline humans lack. You make it sound like Lilith freed them from oppression, but you really just demoted them from demigod status to peasants and abolished 5000 years of tradition. And they didn't protest, they even loved her for it…
On the other hand, the whole “reason for why the Goa'uld are insane” thing seems water tight. Interesting idea I haven't seen before, nicely fleshed out, supremely communicated. And the end of that plotline saw an interesting twist in the form of Ra himself. Bravo.
Then of course comes the whole business with the great alliance. Never mind that the Ancients should all be gone by now, it is an acceptable break from canon, I guess. But they are overall far too trusting of her. She advances from “who is that girl” to trusted ally pretty much immediately, while only one faction should actually have an interest in doing so. The Nox do not care, or they would have done something themselves. The Furlings do not care, or they would have done something themselves. The Ancients should not care period, any population of theirs that has survived several millennia since the fall of Atlantis cannot possibly helpless against the Goa'uld. The only ones who have a vested interest in helping her are the Asgard, who truly want to help the humans, but simply can't. So yeah, weird direction the story took here. Very weirdly handled and poorly explained.
Second to last thing before this section of the review comes to an end: The death of Lilith's son. Very weirdly executed as well. It has been some time since I read the story, and when I read through it again to write the review, I found I had completely forgotten he even existed. Suffice to say, however, I would not have let my newborn son stay on earth, with their positively medieval medicine and health care. Then comes the immediate knockout via Alliance tech, which was only necessary so she couldn't go back and save him, and then he is simply gone… It is a step back for you in terms of story telling, things happen again, because you want them to happen, not because they make sense.
Finally, this last chapter of your story upsets me greatly. In the preceding chapters we have seen a very high degree of escalation, and I am not talking about the level of technology. Single Goa'uld, then household, then planet then empire, now a new galaxy. With all of the previous having gone to shit again and again, one has to mention.
Lilith is on very good terms with the great alliance, thus it might seem reasonable for them to provide her with maps or dossiers of other galaxies. They might even provide the energy needed to open a Stargate to those places. (which is an option even if no Stargate exists there at the moment, mind you.). But the linchpin is that the chapter title is more than accurate: It is a crazy idea. And it is not a good one.
The Stargate network is supremely suited to up and disappear without any means for anyone to ever find you again. The galaxy is big enough for any all out search conducted by the system lords to ultimately end without results. Finally, in the milky way the challenges you face will ultimately be hard, but known to you. In another galaxy, in addition to the gargantuan problem of relocating Lilith's people, which you should not, I repeat, NOT marginalize, Lilith will face entirely new problems that she knows nothing about.
Again, you have continued to escalate this story all throughout. Escalation is not the only way you can go with this story in the first place but I strongly suggest you slow down severely in this regard. At this point, after Bastet's defeat, you had backed yourself into a corner, really. Without the defeat of her empire at this point, she would have ruled the galaxy in another hundred years, so you had to reach higher. And higher….
And Still. You could justify most of this, by explaining Lilith's thoughts to the reader, by introducing some kind of Machiavellian plot, for example, but it better be a good one to undertake a risk of this magnitude (again, the Ra twist was amazing), without the need to reach for the next higher tier.
The “original” Lilith was pretty much a Mary Sue. She could leech “fighting knowledge” from Jaffa, translate and program that knowledge into machines within the span of a week, never mind build an underground training facility in absolute secrecy – In a society that has slave labour as the main productive and spying and backstabbing Goa'uld as the overseeing force. And let's not mention how she created advanced power armour out of nothing, again in absolute secrecy, right under the nose of her superiors – all in the span of a few sentences.
“Your” Lilith does away with most of those things. I say “most of those”, but I will start with:
“all of those”:
Lilith introducing her new first prime to computers was a good thing, indeed your depiction of the “Goa'uld Intranet” was a stroke of genius. But then you go ahead and give her the new, custom made armour, which is “better” than the Goa'uld counterpart and I go from “very cool” to “WTF?”.
Where did those come from? We don't know. We don't know because you don't tell us. (…)
This is all exacerbated by the fact that the seed is already there. We know she has an empire of sorts already at this point. That she embezzles funds from her betters and uses them to her own ends, but we only ever learn about her off the record activities through quips made by Maya. One liners, humour, nothing more. You have a tendency of just throwing these things at your readers in one piece, presenting us with the facts after the fact.
Her personal death glider: assembly mentioned in the same sentence that it is first introduced.
The Armour: Never before have we seen an indication that she can even do such things.
Marduk's Ship is at least mentioned to be the product of several years of hard work.
Yes, she has the skill, and yes, she even has the means. She has an intelligence network of her own, presumably bribed Goa'uld, all paid by Bastet, unwittingly. Yes, she could have a private workshop somewhere, in her residence when she is not on Marduk's ship. But you need to tell us these things, preferably several paragraphs or even a chapter before you show us their consequences.
Your character is not a Mary Sue, but by omitting these things – you make her look like one.
In short, you need to elaborate on those things, and you need to spread them out, not write them down and try to justify their existence in the very next sentence.
Now on to “most of those”:
Your Character does not read like a Goa'uld. She does not behave like a Goa'uld. And I don't mean psychopathic, idiotic, megalomaniac. All those are supposed to have been fixed by the Tok'ra treatment. But the lack of innovation should still be there. She invents things immediately, making her kind look more stupid than they actually are. She is benevolent to the point of self sacrifice with no justification. Her disjunction from her own memories make it obvious that she would draw her morals mainly from her host as she absorbs Maya's memories, like you show with her motherly instincts – something neither a male nor a female Goa'uld should even have – and a human mind commenting on the design process might actually help as you mention yourself – but she reads like a human. Not even an emotionally challenged one, like one sociopathic “Dexter Morgan”, who thanks to the disjunction literally cannot understand either the bad OR the good feelings, but like a paragon of virtue. And if you write her like human, we as readers eventually ask ourselves: “Well, why write about a Goa'uld then? What's the point?” Then we begin searching for the point. I give you three guesses what happens if we don't find one.
Your Lilith also is a weird mix of competence and idiocy, of objectivity and raging emotions. She pulls ideas of rapid fire and the tactical importance of sniper fire out of nothing, yet apparently realizes all of those in a clay hut, not in the high impermeable security lab that would be appropriate. She only ever “lets the Goa'uld” out when it serves her the least and serves the goals of the author the most. At every other time she confirms to the cliché of a “good” person to the point were it starts to be disgusting.
She also falls into the same trap the original did. Her host, Maya, learns enough in a few months for Lilith, who possesses enough scientific knowledge to work with shield generators, “to bounce ideas toward each other”. Considering she was an uneducated Bronze Age woman, that basically means she earned what? A bachelors degree in overall physics in a few months?
Lilith herself just up and improves Goa'uld technology immediately with little to no actual justification. To put that into perspective: If I wanted to increase the performance of my personal – and fictional – Lamborghini Huracán, through “careful calibrations, replacement of unsuitable parts and a good dose of imagination“, only the last bit would hold any water. The former assume that the machine is not highly and very precisely calibrated in the first place, the second assumes that there ARE unsuitable parts. Like for example a fifth wheel for some reason. The Goa'uld are not idiots. Idiots do not design working space ships, and the key word of the sentence is “working”.
| Iskandr chapter 13 . 4/30/2016
It has been awhile since you last updated this story, so I think it is the appropriate time to write a more extensive review on this. I have read both the original story written by Voider, “Empress in the Shadows”, and your “Reworked” rewrite. I enjoyed both and I am rather sad that Voider seems to have abandoned his.
I believe your work is my first contact with recursive Fanfiction ever, thus influenced my thinking on the matter a great deal and as far as I can see, you did a good job. Calling this a “Rework” is maybe a bit of a stretch, seeing how massively it diverges from the source material, but your character Lilith stays close enough in mind to the original, so whatever.
Overall I had fun reading this, despite me disagreeing with a lot of the decisions you made over the course of the story. Those are personal opinions, of course, which I will go into detail later, but this piece of my thoughts will also contain more objective feedback.
Let's start with
You make extensive use of line breaks, in combination with the way the website is displayed on a pc with a very wide monitor this leads to very small single entities to read through. Your overall textblocks thus seem very small.
You also start a new line every time every time direct speech begins.
This makes the story very easy to navigate and if one gets lost in between the lines for some reason, one can easily reacquire and read on afterwards. You should not, however, avoid big textblocks on principle. Making them too big might discourage people, yes, but keep them too small and you risk your story drifting off into the trivial. Every paragraph represents of course the end of a thought and the beginning of a new. Most readers can and will stick with you through longer thoughts, but you inhibit yourself and your story by only ever writing short paragraphs. The trick in writing long paragraphs is to make them feel like an entity. With larger entities, your story will almost automatically become more complex. Though I would encourage you to simply go through your story again and look at the line breaks. There are a lot of them which are frankly not necessary.
Your preference to using apostrophes instead of quotation marks is unsettling to me personally but nothing unusual, I suppose. I personally do not do it simply out of habit, preferring quotation marks myself simply because I have always done it, but it also has the benefit of higher visibility.
I have not however, ever missed the beginning of direct speech in your story, mainly because of your formatting is doing a good job of highlighting where it begins and where it ends.
Overall, it is very easy to navigate and neatly arranged.
Your story escalates very quickly at the beginning. It is a mere 2 Chapters from her birth to the rebellion on earth, after that you make prodigious use of time skips. And why not, since the story starts at 3000 BC and Goa'uld are immortal, time is a resource you can play with more than say a story about a high school kid could. Very nice. If I had anything to say about this, I would advice to take the life of Kyra as a measuring stick, spreading Lilith's adventures out some more over her first Prime's life, making more, smaller timeskips instead of few, larger ones. You continuously skip over the part where she actually builds her empire, though, presenting us with the done deal several times. Shit hits the fan, problem gets solved, timeskip – rinse and repeat. Every single Empire she builds breaks down immediately after we get introduced to it.
Overall, the flow is nice. Things happen, things get solved, things happen again. You could insert some periods of peace, of world building and humour, otherwise, there really isn't all that much to improve here. Very nicely done, very neatly organized.
This, I am afraid, is where I take off the gloves.
Your Goa'uld is far too nice, which is a comment I will use some more in this review. It is justified, of course, by the way Lilith was created, but you do not hold true enough to the idea. One would expect an individual totally disconnected from the emotional baggage the memories represent to be neither cruel NOR nice, yet your character is positively benevolent. What more, in her first conversation with her host she argues a long the lines of SG-1 reasoning, aka: "This is not magic! It is Technology! Trust me, I know!" This makes sense to the viewers. It does not, however make the slightest of sense to the people they were telling it to, to whom "technology" might as well be just another word for "magic".
You mention at the very start of the story that you want to “Integrate Lilith with the mythological figure that she was, yet hardly do anything about it aside from the comment about rumours in the city. The king who gets her pregnant in a later chapter isn't even named, much less has a spoken word until a chapter later. I understand this might be a plot device used on purpose, but it is still weird. And let's not forget the invention of written laws shoehorned into it, which seems like an afterthought. Again, it is just mentioned in one single sentence.
The beginning of the Tok'ra rebellion on earth is weird, to say the least. A lone Goa'uld makes her way into the city, accompanied only by her servant, who she trusts because reasons. Again, Lilith shows more concern over Iltani's life than about her own, again she acts like an over-exaggeration of what it means to be a good person. In the end, she comments on a grievous mistake she would not repeat, that presumably being trust in a servant she hardly knew. The real mistake was not taking guards with her into a city in a state of near unrest, even if she doesn't have her own yet.
Having the Goa'uld reside on what is more or less pre written history earth is a great opportunity. You mention the different Goa'uld present or involved at the time, mention how Bastet is offworld, demonstrating how Earth is pretty much a prestige object, even illuminate somewhat on how live goes on on our snake infested planet. It all is a little thin though. You mention interactions with humans offhand, when you could have displayed them. You mention a cutpurse, you could have expanded on that. You give us a lot of Lilith's internal thoughts on the outside, but very seldom do you actually show us the outside, thus despite her being there at the moment, it seems like she is floating in space, remembering things. A “The simple day in the day of Lilith the god in Babylon” episode would have been a nice prelude to the numerous crisis' which then followed.
Overall however, things in this story arc seem to happen because you as the author want them to happen, with you glossing over the actual times WHEN they happen. The crafting of Lilith's Jaffa armour and the defence of Marduk's Palace, which inexplicably just failed within minutes are the more egregious examples.
The Goa'uld Society and structure thereof is hinted at, but not described in any kind of detail, despite her living in the midst of it. Shame, really.
In the next story arc, Lilith starts to improve things and we are given some insights in her thoughts. She analyses strength and weaknesses of the Goa'uld military and formulates a plan to change it, something to be implemented later. Very good pacing in this regard.
But the highlights of this chapter, and of all the following chapters featuring her, are the conversational pieces with Bastet. Your Dialogue between Marduk and Lilith always seems a little tucked on, like you just want to get it over with, but the Bastet/Lilith chemistry is positively brilliant.
When you start to get technical, quality starts to drop again. You mention Ma'tok rate of fire to be “crippling”. Why exactly would Lilith think that, having never seen any weapon with a higher rate of fire? For all she knows, any weapon with a longer range – for example bow and arrow – is useless against Jaffa armour and if you have a hundred warriors marching on a target, you really don't need higher rate of fire. How did she even get the idea?
Three days later, we have a finished and improved Ma'tok staff, better in every way and radically changed, as became obvious through your very good, very technical description earlier. That seems like a very, very optimistic time frame. Take a look how long it usually takes to develop a new firearm, for example….
But then we get to the action and the pace picks up again. Overall, the action sequences seem to be your strength, even though your actual depictions of space battles need some work, while the whole intrigue thing, at least in every Tok'ra related plot, seems a little wobbly.
Going over the Empire she creates over the course of the story,, one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb however is this: Why exactly follow the people Lilith? Why exactly do her Jaffa?
All the humans have ever known is “might makes right”. Continuing on with a philosophy like this thus makes the most sense, slowly easing them into something else. Instead, Lilith rapidly degenerates from “goddess“to “just another person” and still the people all follow her. I think you overestimate what social inertia can do somewhat here. What more, her people learn to rapidly “govern themselves”, yet Lilith remains “their Immortal Empress”.
Why is that exactly? Considering how good of a job she does in breaking her empires, for example. You depict her as having serious skills, but the only successful governing she does happens in the timeskips. Everything else I see, would not make me want to follow her, and the voice of the opposition introduced later, despite being a jerk, actually has a point in this regard… I mean, she will later allow Bastet to get away for sentimental reasons, for crying out loud. If I were Romen, I would interpret that as treason and haul her up in front of a tribunal for real this time.
Changing the Jaffa from a pure warrior culture to one more akin t