|Reviews for A Home Far Away|
| Guest chapter 1 . 7/27
I am on the edge of falling over my seat man, keep up this incredible story.
| Magykool chapter 53 . 4/23
Spoilers for new readers!
Riley turning into sand is my favourite part.
Joke aside, now that I've finally caught up to this masterpiece, I want to really return the favour of giving such an interesting story with just a little review. I know it's not much, but I want the author(s) to know just how much I appreciate this epic fantasy.
While I have my grievances with the slow start and the way Gallade was just killed 'off screen', I stuck through, and have found myself heavily invested in the stories of Mergo, Riley, Rose and Pyro as they all try to navigate this brutal land in their searches for answers. During one's perspective, I find myself wondering just what another character is doing at that moment.
Even with characters like Espeon, Weavile, Bisharp, Festuum and Markus, the cast of AHFA never fails to capture my attention. I just want to know what's going through Bisharp's head, what Espeon's motives are, how Pyro will face Rose with the secret she carries, and on top of it all, I just want to find out how Riley will deal with all of this going forward. He's currently following Uxie's direction and is getting through the desert in order to find out just how he ended up in this world.
I love that Riley had his own arc of self discovery as he learns more about the body he inhabits and the memories he's forgotten as a human. Just what kind of person was he? I find myself excited to learn more.
I love how intense and colourful this world is. Each twist and turn has me eagerly waiting for more, and now that the latest chapter hasn't quite ended on a cliffhanger, I can leave this review without screaming about cliffhangers.
Please keep up the good work! I definitely can't wait to see how this story develops down the road.
| ShadowVulpi chapter 53 . 3/10
Alright, all caught up. I've got a lot to say, some of which I've already made at various points throughout my reviews. This'll be a review of the story overall, though I'll probably make a few references to current chapters here and there.
I'll start by saying that I did enjoy this story. That's always what the writer wants to know at the end of the day, and I'd say yeah, I'm glad I read your story. I apologize that it took me long enough to get into it after I started being petty about the foul language, but once I got started, I read all you had pretty quickly. There were times I didn't read for a few days just because I was busy with real life, but for the most part, I willingly read at least a chapter a day, usually multiple a day depending on where I was in the story.
Is the story perfect though? No, and no story is. However, I can give you some tips to help you make the story near perfect so your future chapters can shine bright.
I'll start with what you did right and can probably keep using and build upon. I like your world, that's one big positive that stands out to me. Your world is deeply crafted and I could never mix up your world for anyone else's just because of the thought you put into it. I know this is your world because of the civil war going on, the Corpse-Walkers, the illegal guilds like the Assassination Guild, the imaginative transportation like the fast travel with Arcanine and Rapidash, and so on. You're clearly talented at making your world and find that to be your main strength as a writer.
Your plot is also remarkable enough. Slowly, bit by bit, we're starting to understand what's going on with this world. Over time, we learned why humans are looked down upon, and exactly what Espeon is planning, why humans exist in the world in the first place. Everyone is slowly revealing their cards, unraveling a giant plot that's swallowing up the whole cast. It was a slow burn, but we're finally here and we're finally seeing just what is going on with this world and why everything has happened.
Now onto things that could be improved.
I'll start with your characters. Most of your characters are fine, but the problem becomes that their potential isn't fully reached. Rose for instance, being a human just like Riley, wasn't really expanded upon much. I mean sure, they had their one or two moments, but then Riley ended up getting forced out and now they never see each other again. Plus you know my whole problem with how I feel her humanity reveal played out. Then there's Pyro, who was apparently a wild-turned-sentient, which is intriguing on its own, except we never see that. We just see Pyro after he's become a normal Pokemon, robbing him of intrigue. We only see him as just the third wheel of the group, which is a shame because I really would have liked to see a Wilde struggling to become a civilian. Joker can have the same thing about him, along with Abby. They all have good ideas attached to them, they're just not implemented as well as they could be. I partially blame this on the fact that you have a huge cast of characters, so it's hard to give all of them focus and make it seem fair. This is a problem a lot of writers face and don't actually know how to tackle it until like 10 years into their career. So I might recommend that for your upcoming chapters, you give a bit more time to your characters you want to introduce so they have intrigue. And if you do write another story, you might want to try a smaller cast next time. Give yourself time to get to know these characters and bring out their potential. You'd be amazed how much a small group of characters can shine and make a story.
Next is the implementation of some plot devices. You know, Bisharp making the claim that Riley is human to his entire guild and everyone buying it, thus making Riley go on the run, Gallade's offscreen death, the Nidoking showing up in the Forest of Mirrors being a bit random, etc. Just like with the characters, you don't really execute them right sometimes. Because of that, these events just sort of happen and then I'm expected to get a reaction out of it. And yet, I don't because there was no build-up and it feels more akin to being slapped in the face while I'm walking down the street. If you spent a bit more time dwelling on the emotional aspects of these plot twists, they might have struck a chord better. Like if you had showed Bisharp killing Gallade, I would have felt something. Or hell, you could have just not shown the outcome and just cut to Bisharp strolling up to the Guild and showing off Gallade's head, sucker punching both the characters and the audience that way. Then you could describe the horror all the guild members feel at seeing their Guildmaster beheaded.
And I think that's all I have to say right now. I'm looking forward to what you have to write next, so you can consider me a fan of your work. Right now I'm personally waiting for more information on Festuum, who I get the eeriest feeling is actually a Zoroark in disguise. His talk about illusions and the whole thing about being able to make a convincing Substitute doppleganger further makes me believe this theory.
| Windskull chapter 6 . 3/3
First a note. I found this half- finished review the other day. I apparently started it way back in June then forgot to finish it. Went back to reread the last two chapters and finish this up. I'll be covering chapters 5 and 6 here. It has been way too long, sorry about that.
[The great mountain of a hill, cleaved in half by some godly power, where the entrance to the Guild stood.]
I get the feeling this fragment was intentional, but it's not working for me. It just left me scratching my head while i tried to figure out what it was saying.
[The sky to the east was beginning its transformation from night to early morning. It was caught in limbo between the murky depths of the deep ocean trench and the innocently childish blue of a robin's egg, and the stars were gradually beginning to fade away into the depths of space as the blanket of day shrouded them.]
This paragraph, on the other hand, I really liked. It effectively evokes a very strong, vivid image. And that's a strength I've seen in the prose throughout this chapter overall.
[The Drill Pokémon nodded and walked over to the fifth tunnel. He took a deep breath.]
Not gonna spend any time on these going forward unless they feel particularly out of place, but a lot of times These types of epithets don't work for me. This is one of those cases. I tend to recommend only using them when you're trying to draw attention to the aspect in question. For example, calling growlithe the "puppy pokemon" when drawing attention to how young one is.
["TWO MINUTES!" the Rock-type bellowed, contracting his muscles in his arm and firing a bell down the path. The heavy bit of metal inside the sturdy shell sounded with a resounding, unceasing ring]
I thought this was a neat use of a pokemons abilities outside of a fight. I appreciate things like this because it makes the Pokemon feel like Pokemon, and not just humans in an animal suit
Political conflict, eh? I have a feeling the guild wont be able to remain uninvolved and neutral for long, but good luck to them on that.
Hm, it sounds like Pyro is a bit of a fan of reading. I wonder how relevant the library is going to be down the road. Kind of have a feeling it will be…
["How long will it take to climb those steps?" Riley asked.
"Maybe… a week or so?" the Charmander guessed.
"Aww," Riley whined.]
Someones impatient, lol. It’s literally just a week, not that long.
[It goes from Churchwell Village to Knowall Town]
I’m assuming there's some sort of organized religion then. Or else, there used to be Duly noted. Also lol at those town names.
[Those had been his first words since he started his journey; that generic phrase he was required to say]
I think that should be a colon instead of a semicolon since the second half is a dependent clause.
[They were on the smaller side, maybe about 8x8x6 with a short balcony on the front and back ends.]
Nitpick, but the use of 8x8x6 kind of feels weird in prose.
["Bandits?" Riley repeated. An excited smile began to sprout.
"Don't count on it," the Roselia warned him. ]
Definitely count on it.
Hm… there were some interesting tidbits here, which I brought up as I was going through, but for the most part it seems like this chapter was used to set up what's coming next. I have some thoughts about Riley, in particular, but I'll get to that at the end of the review.
[Later, they would be informed that the trio's names are Riley, Pyro, and Rose. "Geez, their parents must hate them," Sneasel would mutter upon learning this.]
Initially I felt like this line was a bit out of place. It feels kind of weird just being interjected here. On the other hand, I can understand why it’s there since it allows the narration to refer to Riley, Rose, and Pyro by name without there being any weirdness. I do wonder if there might have been a more graceful way to work this in.
[He puffed up his feathers to appear bigger]
I liked this inclusion. It’s a relatively minor detail, but it gives character and makes sense in context.
["Wait, what?" asked a recovering Pyro. "Who was it?" The tip of a blue flame flickered out of the corner of his maw.]
Nitpick, but I feel like the prose here is a bit unclear. It could have been referring to either who the “help” was, or who fell. Reading on gives clarity, but I got the feeling the vagueness wasn’t intentional.
["Good… treasure the feeling it gave you." The Ice-type smirked, getting into a runner's stance. "Because that's the only hit you'll get!"
"Damn it, wait!" Rose shouted from the front, her panicked stare set upon the lagging wagon detached from the first two. "Hey, Bouffalant! Slow down! They broke off a cart!"]
Another nitpick. I feel like it would have done the prose well to have a scene break here, since the focus has shifted from the action at the back to the action at the front, and in a jarring way at that if it had been a more gradual shift, I wouldn’t have been as thrown off by it.
["Damn it…!" she weakly shouted, stamping her foot on the roof. The Ice Fang had torn out more than her Giga Drain could recover. The only move she had a chance of being able to summon would be Stun Spore, and without being able to move her flowers, she would only be able to hit with it if Joker walked through it politely, like testing a spritz of perfume. She couldn't win anymore. She couldn't even fight anymore.]
I really like this, conceptually. The idea that a more taxing attack takes more energy out of the user, and thus a weakened pokemon won’t be able to do as much. I wonder if this will come up again later?
[Pyro pulled himself up, tearing off a chunk of seared meat in the process. He chewed it slowly as the embers coating his teeth died off. Juices pooled in his mouth, both raw and cooked.]
Damn, that’s brutal.
Ok, time for some general thoughts. I’m not gonna go any deeper into the prose than I already have especially since this is pretty old writing. Instead let's talk characters. Or one character, more specifically. Riley.
Because good god, Riley just screams "overconfident cocky teen" right now. It was present in the first couple of chapters but is even more obvious now. He lacks patience, as seen when they are selecting a mission. And seems to think he's strong enough to take on anything. It feels like he's treating life as a game, and I can't help but wonder how long it will be before reality finally kicks in and forces him to behave maturely. I get a distinct feeling that this incident isn't going to be enough. But I look forward to seeing him grow.
Although I’d like to talk about sneasel, my thoughts on her haven’t fully formed yet. I’ll have to give a more distinct read on her later on. Same with Pyro and Rose. We’ve learned little bits and pieces about them, but nothing particularly jumps out at me yet as something to talk about other than what I already said.
Ok. More than likely I’ll cover 7 and 8 next time. Hopefully, it won’t take me literally a year to get to those two. Seriously, my last review was March 5th. I can do better than this.
Hope to read more soon.
| ShadowVulpi chapter 43 . 2/25
Figured I'd drop another review here. I get that there's one more chapter in this Forest of Mirrors arc, but it seems to be more of a Kirlia chapter than a Riley one. Plus, Riley's completed the character development he needed as of the end of this chapter, so it feels fitting to talk about everything here.
I'll start by saying I really liked the concept of the Forest of Mirrors and how you implemented it for the most part. It was a creative way of getting Riley to confront his inner demons and grow as a character after forty something chapters of just being a brash, impulsive boy. I liked the concept of this forest ripping characters out of his memories and toying with him using the characters, saying things that are perfectly in character with those characters. I knew they all were fake, but there were moments that it was pretty easy to believe that they could be real, especially when they said things like the scarf belonging to Mad Jack at one point and Gallade's encouragement. I'm still not entirely sure if the Jade thing was even real and it was just a way Uxie made to force Riley to take responsibility for stealing Jade's body, but it was touching watching the two Riolu interact.
That said, I'll admit I was really confused about the Nidoking. I get the whole reveal was that he was indeed real and actively destroying the forest, but my question is... how? He's usually someone else's property and always in shackles. Yet somehow, here he is on his own, and with Riley's scarf to add to it. Why? I don't think Uxie would willingly give Nidoking the scarf if he wanted the beast out, and it's strange that the Nidoking even wore the thing in the first place when it's such a primal beast. I already struggle with keeping a neckerchief around my dog, a fully domesticated animal, so I find it baffling that this savage animal has kept this scarf on him this whole time. The whole thing about Nidoking confuses me, especially when Riley kept going "I HAVE TO KILL IT BECAUSE IT'S ME". I get how the two are meant to be similar to each other as parallels and this was a show of character development, but also well... there's a difference between wanting to prove a point, and being suicidal. I would have thought with him realizing he needed to take responsibility, he'd realize how in over his head he was. He won, granted, but only by sheer luck.
I'm also pretty confused about why Uxie and his/her sisters were so okay with dying, but then when Riley drove the beast out, Uxie made it sound like he never wanted to die in the first place. It was kind of a mood whiplash right there.
Overall, I'd say that this arc had a lot of good ideas, though it kind of faltered a bit in implementing them. I feel like Nidoking didn't have to be there even though he was pivotal for explaining what Dungeon Lords are and the whole thing with the Uxie/Azelf/Mespirit graves. I feel like he took up way too much time all things considered and really drew out this arc longer than necessary. Maybe Riley could have just dealt with his inner demons, which was already enough on its own, still see the graves and get his world lore, and then leave with a new sense of purpose in mind.
Next time I review, I'll be reviewing the most recent chapter! So see you then.
| Dark Bloodclaw chapter 1 . 2/24
I love the way that this chapter started out. I have so many questions about Riley and what is going on in the world. You've hinted at the fact that human turned pokemon is far more common then most stories and you've touched on one subject I've seen few stories touch on. What happens if a PMD world has a dislike for humans and finding out that there is a human turned pokemon among them spells danger for the human and anyone who harbors them.
| CuriousQuinlan chapter 53 . 2/14
BLASTSEED'S FOR EVERYONE!
| ShadowVulpi chapter 31 . 2/7
Alright, time to leave a review here since this seems to be an arc-ending chapter right here.
I'll start by saying that a lot ended up happening since the last time I reviewed. Sableye's business got shut down, Riley and Kirlia had a bit of a showdown, and now the Guild's had its Guildmaster beheaded. Oh, and that mysterious graceful beast that slaughtered everyone in that one town, but no one knew what it was. Still don't know who that could have been since I know it wasn't the Nidoking. He doesn't really come across as "graceful" so much as lumbering.
I'll say that while I know most people don't really care as much for Weavile's side of the story, I found the interactions she had were more entertaining to read. Maybe it's because she's part of the villain's side, maybe it's because she has stronger written characters to interact with, maybe I find her circumstances more interesting than Riley's. Whatever the reason, I found watching her interactions with Persian, Mad Jack, and Espeon to be rather entertaining and well written. The whole date she had with Mad Jack and the whole Flynn thing were great. Actually, now that I think about it, I think the reason why I found her side of the story more interesting was because it was actually more dialogue based as opposed to constant battles in Riley's story. You already know my problems with how you write fight scenes, so I won't talk about it again here, but I think that's what makes me like Weavile's story more. She just as more dialogue as opposed to beating up people, even though that's her whole job.
With the end of this arc, everything's changed. Gallade's dead and Riley's on the run, separated from his friends. In theory I like this idea because it opens up pathways for Riley's character. He's clearly happy around his friends and now that he's a fugitive and lost the only real guardian looking out for him, he's pretty much at rock bottom. I'm sure he can go even lower than this, but this is still pretty far down for him.
However, I'd say the execution was a bit lacking. For one, I find it kind of cheap that we never actually saw Gallade die. We just saw the aftermath. It probably would have been more impactful if you actually showed the guy getting killed, since we could watch the fight unfold and the tension ramp up. Instead, he starts the fight, and then suddenly, he's dead. So my reaction when I saw that was "oh, he dead. Well okay.".
The whole thing about Mad Jack blaming the sacking of the guild on Riley is also kind of iffy. I mean yeah, humans are considered dangers in this world, but if you're going to accuse someone of something like that, you'd better have pretty good evidence. Just saying "HE'S A HUMAN AND THIS IS ALL HIS FAULT" wouldn't really work if you didn't have some credibility. It's like in an Among Us game where if you don't have some damning evidence that someone actually vented in front of you, people aren't going to believe you. Yet, everyone in the guild instantly believed Bisharp even though the guy is clearly a villain in their eyes, so they shouldn't really believe him anyway. It's pretty jarring.
Well either way, this has put the story in an interesting spot, so I'm gonna see how Riley ends up living his new life as a fugitive. See you again later!
| ShadowVulpi chapter 23 . 1/28
Another batch of chapters finished! Got a lot to cover here as well.
I think I'll start by saying that I'm really starting to enjoy this! I was already enjoying the story before, but now you're setting up a lot of pieces that have the potential to make for a great plot. Mainly, the whole idea of there being multiple humans in this world, the humans being there unwillingly, Pokemon having a stigma against them, and Weavile with her trying to overthrow the Assassin's Guild. Oh yeah and Espeon playing 4 dimensional chess. I know you're just doing the step up for everything right now, but I really am looking forward to seeing how you'll make it all pay off. Like maybe the humans will be found out by Pokemon other than Gallade and there will be a hunting party for them, like the fugitives arc in PMD 1.
That being said, I do have two slight concerns to make. The first one is with the reveal that Rose is a human. I feel like this development came a bit out of nowhere. Maybe I wasn't paying attention enough to the foreshadowing, but she didn't seem to act all that different from regular Pokemon. And if she was actually human, I feel she should have picked up on Riley being human more easily. I mean, he is pretty terrible at hiding that he's human. Just look at how he reacted to Scizor's accent (who by the way might also be human. Would explain his reaction to being called Scottish). So I feel like the reveal of her being human could have been done a bit better. Joker's reveal I can find more believable since he was clearly inspired by human circuses and had clown paint all over himself, which no other Pokemon seemed to be doing. Though I will admit it might have been good to draw attention to how odd his makeup is so that it serves as a better hint that Pokemon usually put on face paint.
The second concern was with Rose having a memory about her playing Ace Attorney and wishing she just could go home. That scene was kind of weird to me because I feel you could have achieved the same affect without spending a whole three paragraphs describing the game and actual moments inside of it. I will admit that I kind of do this in my own PMD fanfic, but mine is a comedy. It's outlandish and not meant to be taken seriously. When you drop this sudden real life video game in your story and describe it in pretty good detail, it's pretty jarring. I actually had to pause and wonder if I really read all that and then had to take a moment to get back into the mood.
With all that said, despite these things, I'm still enjoying this story. I'm almost halfway done and I hear it just keeps getting better and better! So I'll still be reading quite a bit.
| ShadowVulpi chapter 11 . 1/20
Now that I've given your story a chance again, I'm pretty surprised by how quickly I'm getting through these chapters! 8 chapters in just about a week for me. I can't remember the last time I read a fanfic this fast.
I really like how you set up this world and its pacing. Your world is similar enough to the regular PMD world that there is some familiarity, but it has its own unique twists. Like apparently there's not just regular guilds, but also Assassin guilds who have their own sketchy reasons for hiring children as recruits. There's also a war going on in the background. I honestly thought you were just going to drop that piece of information and then come back to it later, but nope, we just go straight to the war. Sort of. I know Riley and his team haven't exactly done anything in the war besides join Scizor's camp, but it's still a much faster progression than I was expecting.
You're also good about your descriptions and prose. You can paint a vivid picture pretty easily without going too crazy on the detail like some other authors I know. I can easily picture the dunes that Scizor's camp is in.
Really, my only complaints are things you already know about, which are just saying that a Riolu used Force Palm instead of just showing it, along with the large amounts of swearing, which feels a bit unfitting for this world. I know the last one is a bit of a personal pet peeve of mine, but it's still weird.
Anyway, I'll be reading this more. I'm really enjoying this and looking forward to seeing where it ends up going.
| LukerUpgradez chapter 52 . 12/21/2020
Hello, MJ! It’s been a long while since I’ve written a review for A Home Far Away. Turns out the whole ‘one review per two chapters’ thing I had going didn’t really work out. I review better in broad strokes, and what broader stroke could I make than a review covering everything currently released as of today? And I have to say, I’m glad I took that approach to this review because, after reading up to this point, I can safely say that A Home Far Away is easily the best PMD fic I’ve read in this fandom so far. It’s barely even a competition.
Let’s start with your characters. Your current cast is absolutely stellar. You started out with very simple, trope-ish ideas and have slowly and steadily evolved into something beautiful. Riley is a great protagonist and his development into the role he’s taking now has been gripping and compelling every step of the way. Mergo is a perfect compliment to Riley’s story, immensely well-realized and equally enjoyable. Markus and Festuum are an absolutely brilliant idea and the way they were incorporated keeps readers asking for more. Guildmaster Gallade, Rose, Pyro, Abby, and Sora are all excellent supporting characters that flesh out the world and the progression of narrative in interesting ways. Bisharp is an engaging antagonist that’s unreadable in all of the right ways. In summation, you’re doing a great job with them.
This cast is supplemented by a very strong plot. Though the story tends not to make it clear initially, every idea chains together in an organic way. Each event brings something interesting to the table for the characters involved, whether it’s Riley learning the difference between a fight and a hunt, Rose turning her knowledge of video games into power, or Mergo making a friend who brings out the most intriguing elements of his personality. It’s episodic in all of the right ways. Easily my favorite part of the story was the location of the Forest of Mirrors for the, though drawn out, incredible amount of expansion Riley’s character received, as did Mergo and even Bisharp. It’s no longer a surprise at all to me that it’s the cover art for this fic.
Speaking of locations, you have one heck of a world built here. There’s a wide variety of locales and dungeons that both draw on its canon origins and deviates in interesting ways. I can tell by the bits and pieces we’ve been shown that this story has a massive underbelly of lore just waiting to be uncovered. There’s such a thought-through history, and it always seems to connect nicely to the characters themselves, proving this is more than just pretty set-dressing you’re trying to achieve here.
I’m not going to act like I’m a fan of every single direction the story takes - I’m not the absolute biggest fan of dark fantasy - but your impeccable writing style makes me put that aside. Aside from a couple paragraphs here and there, your psychic distance from your point of view character is absolutely incredible. Your ability to dive deep into a character’s feelings without the need of dialogue unless when necessary blows me away. Your writing is detailed, it’s thoughtful, it conveys everything it needs to convey, and it’s even artistically experimental...what more could I ask for as a reader?! You always seem to put yourself on top of your game, and then top that. It’s the kind of writing I would expect from a published author.
And it’s the sheer height you set your own bar that makes it hurt all the more when you fail to meet it. Thus, we come to the elephant in the room: Weavile’s storyline
I could go into a lengthy diatribe studying how Weavile as a protagonist lacks the complexity that carries Riley and Mergo through the story easily. Describing how I dreaded this side of the story’s chapters because their plot was drab and predictable. Observing that Murkrow, despite being a species I love to death, has the character complexity of a piece of cardboard. Going over how mishandled Breloom’s character was just like everyone else before me while trying to find some kind of nuanced point that no one’s said before. Providing the suggestion that Joker would have been a much more appropriate main character for the syndicate side of the story.
But I can’t do any of that, because...you FIXED it. This was the reason I was glad I kept reading up to the latest entries into this story, as it was a complete and utter game-changer. Over the course of just four chapters, you gave a new, sympathetic development for Weavile’s character that brought her up to the standards of Riley and Mergo. You created a new and exciting direction for this side of the story with something no reader would expect. You found a place to lay Murkrow’s character to rest and wrote him out of the story. You proved you could write a good character death. And, most surprisingly, you proved that Sora, of all characters, was truly one worth following after countless chapters of an odd presence. You fixed the syndicate side of the story about as much as one reasonably could without redoing it.
Those four chapters were gripping, and for the first time, the syndicate side truly excited me. And that has me at a juncture I never thought I would face. I have...nothing to criticize. This never happens. I critique most everything that I try to read into deeply, even the things that I enjoyed. I’m not the fanboy who uses my reviews to speculate excitedly on the future of the story without much feedback, but that is what A Home Far Away has reduced me to. I’ve finally found a story so compelling, so entertaining, so dense, so up my alley, that I can forgive the rare moments of irritation and just enjoy it.
Anyways… If I were to guess where the story is going to go right now, I have a looming feeling that whatever Riley is going to find with Markus and Festuum is going to uproot everything we know about this story so far. It seems that humans are being sent to this world for some kind of great purpose involving these “stars.” Could this have something to do with all of the Legendary Pokemon that seem to have been slayed in the age of Gallade and Bisharp? Whatever it is, it likely will result in an eventual begrudging alliance between all of the human-turned-pokemon to fight against either Bisharp or whatever force brought them here in order to return to Earth. I imagine that Alice will have to go through an immense redemption arc before this happens, and where Mergo fits into all this depends on whether he and Riley manage to stop their feud and resolve this as a team. Wherever this story goes, I know it’s going to be a great ride.
I suppose that is everything I had to say. Overall, I would recommend this fic as a must-read for anybody interested in the PMD fandom. You have worked on this project for an immensely long time, MJ, and I can assure you those efforts are coming to fruition. Continue taking your time and putting your all into it, and I am certain that the finished product will be more than worth the wait.
Thank you for writing A Home Far Away, and have a wonderful Christmas.
| CuriousQuinlan chapter 52 . 12/15/2020
Welp, Riley's screwed..
| Namohysip chapter 50 . 11/13/2020
[This is Part II of the review said below because it was too long for one review and got cut off. CONTAINS SPOILERS up to chapter 51. Read at your own risk.]
Joker: Special mention to him despite his current circumstances. Also a lot of untapped potential. I’m not sure why he’s afraid of fire so maybe postmortem we’ll get answers on that, but otherwise he was sort of like Festuum with the comic relief of the story. Was good to see, even if he had a darker shade to it all. I’m kind of curious what the plot significant of the circus is at large now that Joker’s gone, though, and how that might come into play later. Too early to tell.
Murkrow: Genuinely surprised he’s still alive. But he’s also very interesting in how he contrasts to Weavile, especially in the most recent chapters! I loved the payoff there, since it was more or less calling Weavile out for all of the stuff she did in the past, despite never directly pointing at it. Weavile seemed to realize it herself, even if I don’t think she’s quite going to be able to redeem any of it. I liked him as a foil and I hope that he can actually make it out of this okay. Given the tone of the story I have my doubts.
Marcus: I don’t have a lot to say about him beyond the very obvious gimmicks. He’s a human, it’s a mystery why he’s an anomaly… That’s about it. A lot of the other characters here—like Absol, for example—are too early or too minor in my mind for me to quite give a full analysis of beyond the very obvious intentions of their presence. Hoping to see more of some of them, though, particularly the two I just mentioned.
Whew! Anyway, that’s everything I had to say. Overall, I wouldn’t have read as far as I did if the story wasn’t actually good, and I certainly intend to keep going. You’ve got a good setting, a very lore-heavy plot that I love, and solid characters to keep the ball rolling. The plot in particular is making a lot of promises and you don’t seem like the kind of author to leave them unanswered. I look forward to how you intend to resolve these plotlines in the coming chapters and arcs, and if you kill off Kangaskhan you’re dead to me. Thanks for the read!
| Namohysip chapter 51 . 11/13/2020
So. This has been… quite a ride, hasn’t it? This is an overall, sweeping review of the entire story, starting from chapter 1 all the way to the story as it stands, which is, at my last check, chapter 51. I’m not really sure how in-depth I’m going to be covering this story overall, but I will try to split things off in terms of overarching things—the world, the plot, and the characters. Three key components that I pay attention to in the story to see if the author knows what they’re doing. Overall, I think you do.
Quick aside before I get into the things I care more about: Mechanically speaking, your prose is solid, albeit flowery and a little purple. This was especially rue near the beginning, but it evened out more recently, so I don’t have much to complain about here. That being said, be careful of specific, repeated phrases. If I see another “thirsty sands” I’m going to constantly pester you about it.
The world establishes itself very early on as one that’s grittier than what you’d expect from a standard fare PMD story, and while that isn’t necessarily to my taste, it is consistent, and that’s an important factor in making a world seem believably alive. I will say as an offhand remark, though, that “Meluja” is surprisingly a name that escaped my mind, and I’m not sure why. Is it just not mentioned that often? Or I’m incredibly bad with names? Regardless, I only remembered the name because it’s in the summary.
There are a lot of locations that are mentioned, and it helps give the impression that this is a continent that is large and spanning, yet at the same time it also feels strangely small, or that the story itself is taking place in a small portion of the land. Isolated from the rest of the world, almost, with references to being from some faraway land, or of Groudon pulling the continents together. Those two things don’t seem to work together, but they’re so contradictory that I feel like there’s some lore behind it for what the answer really means—but I’m saving that lore for later in the review.
The impression I have of Meluja is a world that is harsh beyond the borders of civilization, and generally dark even within. Sort of a medieval dark ages sense, where we have smiling faces and the citizens during plays and festivals but a lingering darkness and gloom of a world slowly falling apart under the surface. Beyond the protection of the Guild, which eventually collapses partway with Gallade’s death one way or another, everything seems lawless and unsafe beyond its borders. At least, that’s how it’s generally depicted. And of course, there is also the constant presence of “corpse walkers” that come up now and then.
Now, I’m not sure if it was just me, but for a long while I was actually not sure if Weavile and Riley were living in the same city or not, or if they were a few roads apart or something from one civilization into the next. The Guild’s reach was described as far but not complete, and for some reason this became muddled near the middle of the story. At first I thought they lived in separate cities, but near the middle I was under the impression that they were in the same one but different sections, working in the shadow of the Guild in the case of Weavile.
To add, despite this world not having much teleportation aside from Espeon and a few others, I also have a very bad sense of scale from this world. I’m not entirely sure how far everything is from each other. They traveled for days and sometimes unknown amounts of time, but for some reason these locations still feel more like floating points on a nebulous map than an actual connected world. It’s a strange combination because I usually don’t obsess over this sort of thing, but maybe it’s the more political/dark fantasy lean of this story that makes me focus more on it.
Again, this could very well be me being bad with locations. Feel free to pull me aside and explain my dumb and the misconceptions I have about your setting on a geographical level. I’m frankly holding this part against myself than you, though I’m still stating it just in case I’m part of a larger pattern.
Anyway! One more aspect of the setting that’s been on my mind. I’m not really sure what to make of the power scaling. Now that I’m caught up, some of it makes sense (mostly) in that the ultra-powerful Pokémon appear to be humans, and there is possibly some kind of underlying augmentation going on. Whether that’s because of the classic human-augment mechanic that so many fics, mine included, do, or it’s because like half your cast is also secretly Legendries, or emissaries for Legends, or something related to that, I don’t know.
The point is, most of the high power of your setting is explained, but not entirely. There are still a few unaccounted-for powerhouses that don’t seem to have any relation to humans nor Legends that just happen to BE powerful, particularly near the beginning of the story when things were less focused on core characters and more focused on the world as Riley explored it. Blaziken is one example, crazy Banette lady is another, though I’m not sure if that one’s human.
This is where I feel the power scaling of this setting doesn’t make a lot of sense. It isn’t necessarily the ceiling of strength, which is perfectly fine, so much as that strength relative to the innate defenses and resilience of Pokémon in general. The sheer offensive power of Pokémon and their magical abilities MASSIVELY outpaces their magical, if any, defenses against such things. The scenes that pop out to me for this are the injuries suffered by that Steelix in the middle of a whatever-battle near the beginning, as well as the aftermath of one of Bisharp’s attacks and Gallade seeing one of the dying victims. That last part was particularly egregious because there’s a heal factor back at the guild that has repaired what I thought were much worse injuries.
It’s perplexing for me because I don’t understand how a society, or a species in general, can survive where everybody is capable of this kind of extreme harm within their own systems, but they don’t have a resilience to back it up or bounce back from it. Perhaps it’s just a part of the flavor of a darker setting, but it has me scratching my head. I’ve seen similar issues in other settings that have high destruction with low recovery; lots of Dungeons and Dragons settings suffer from similar things. It’s a massive power disparity.
But anyway, I have railed on something that is ultimately a minor sticking point for too long. Overall, I consider the setting to be a dark, mildly interesting backdrop to the story as a whole. It isn’t really my main focus nor something I’m extremely interested in, but there’s just enough allusions to the culture, daily life, and goings-on in the world that it feels alive and I’m curious to see what will happen to it as the plot surrounding the corpse walkers unfolds.
I can divide this story into four arcs so far. I’ll try to go over each one, but first, I want to say that in general this story has had a very good plot that hits a lot of the buttons I usually enjoy. The big ones are underlying lore, unraveling history, and something that seems to tie everything together despite starting off in such different places. Big fan of stories like that. And to add to that, this is one of the few stories where we prominently follow several different characters in different locations with the implied promise that they will eventually meet up later when things come to a head. I’ve read similar readings before from works like Swan Song or One Door Away from Heaven. Maybe give them a read if you ever have a chance.
Now, obviously the tone itself is a little dark, and I think some aspects of the setting suffers for it, but I went over that before. I just wanted to emphasize that this story has been getting better over time, especially now that it looks like some of the conspiracies are starting to come together. I don’t really know how long you intend the story to be, but it FEELS like we’re in the final third or so of the story, maybe a little earlier.
So, the first arc is what I’ll call the Guild arc. It spans everything from the start of the story to the Nidoking battle and its aftermath as a semi epilogue. This is, I feel, the arc that you used to establish the setting, establish its quirks, the key characters, and the general feel of the story and where it’s going. At this point, I had little idea what I was actually in for in terms of the story. There were a few hints, but Riley was aimless in what to do. I only had the impression that trouble was brewing. The highlight of this was the disk 1 final boss of the arc, which was the Nidoking battle. It was the first instance of truly high power battling, what with tossing buildings and so on. This was also coincidentally the moment I really started to enjoy the story proper. Before then, I was kinda iffy on what it was trying to do with itself. This showdown did, however, give me the impression that you knew what you were doing.
The second arc is what I’ll call the Downfall arc. It goes up to Gallade’s death and Riley running away due to being framed for things. This is where Riley reaches his lowest point and the superficial plots come to a dark resolution—in other words, the crippling of the Guild’s influence and the upheaval of the paradigm the story had established up to this point. Now the main characters are on their own, establishing themselves (Weavile), finding themselves (Riley), or pursuing foolish goals (Mergo.) But in general, this is the point where the training wheels are taken off and the setup starts getting put into motion.
Despite that, I felt that some parts of this arc were bungled a little. I don’t recall any egregious portions in the second half of what’s currently published, but the first half had a lot of plot points that were hinted at or shown as interesting threads that could be explored, or other character dynamics that it seemed to be going toward, only for those plot points to be cut off decisively. The biggest sticking point was Breloom, who had an entire arc dedicated to potentially running away and joining the Guild, and I felt like there was a lot of potential there for culture shock or dynamics like that, only for him to get unceremoniously killed off. In general, Weavile’s half of the story has the most interesting characters getting killed or sidelined, and there was one point where I was tempted to skip to Riley’s sections. I didn’t, ultimately, but the feeling was there just because of how it had such a habit of setting up interesting expectations only to take the less interesting choice every single time.
I was also a little perplexed at how everyone seemed to just buy what Bisharp said. I know there’s human discrimination and all that, but it’s already established that it’s barely even the humans’ fault to begin with. I feel like a lot more could be solved if Pokémon beyond just Gallade realized that instead of just scapegoating them, since there’s clearly something amiss. But that’s neither here nor there—it was just one part of this arc that perplexes me to this day.
Third arc is what I’ll call the Fugitive arc. Cliché for PMD I know, but that’s more or less what it’s become, and sort of what it still is. I’d argue that this was one of the strongest parts of the story, particularly the centered developments around Riley in the forest, and the way everyone reacted to the fallout. I appreciated the fact that it wasn’t necessarily the end of the world when the Guild collapsed—that people were still carrying on one way or another, even if a lot of people fled. While I do have some qualms about the things Riley is taking responsibility for (Seriously, he wasn’t to blame for a lot of the stuff he’s accepting blame for) I think his general character development, being similar but subdued to his old self, was handled quite well. He absolutely is still a shonen protagonist, though. Takes one to know one, and I think you’ve handled it very well.
And finally, the fourth arc is just underway. I’m calling it the Human Legends arc, because that’s sort of what I think is happening, though that’s purely my crackpot theory. Suddenly we have a lot of people showing their true cards. Between Bisharp, Espeon, Weavile, and so on, almost all of the key characters are being revealed to be humans, secretly Legends, or both. The mystery is still unfolding but answers are coming rapidly, and that’s why I feel like we’re getting near the ending arcs of the story. Certainly more than halfway, even ignoring the length already covered. I don’t really have ich to say here aside from a wayward comment that if Kangaskhan dies next chapter, it’s going to be another disappointment in how you like to handle your character deaths.
Overall, as mentioned before, the plot is picking up, and at this point I’m feeling prompted by the narrative that answers are inbound. I’m hoping that follows through soon.
Saving what I consider to be the most important for last, characters. I will say first that a lot of your characters have pretty clear voices in my head, which is a good sign. Sora, “Alice,” Riley, Mergo, Festuum, Joker, and Murkrow in particular are the ones that I seem to hear the most easily. Here, I’m going to just give some spitball commentary on their implementation as I roll down the line. I’m going to skip over a few that I had already mentioned previously in this review, like Joker and Breloom who were interesting but killed off, or other minor characters that I can’t think of anything worthwhile to say. Otherwise, though, here is some commentary and eval on some of the key characters of the story.
Riley: He starts off as a fairly basic and generic protagonist, but not in the sense that he feels bland, but so much that he is trying to fit the part of the stories he’s savvy for. In other words, the narrative is trying to portray him as ‘wrong genre savvy.’ Yet, ironically, as the story progresses, I think Riley had it right all along. As I mentioned earlier, the narrative around Riley is confusing, because while several people blame him for his recklessness (which is true early on), what he actually gains consequences for is something that he isn’t even at fault for, i.e. being a ‘corpse walker’ by no choice of his own. The idea that he’s a hothead is practically an afterthought when people evaluate him, or at least I do not see how it all adds up. To compound things further, any inkling that Riley is unimportant or is inflating his own role in the world is absolutely SHATTERED at the end of the second arc mentioned above, when Bisharp outright tells him that he has a path to choose, implying he is capable of making some grand change. And in part, I don’t really know if this was intended in the narrative. It can’t decide what to do with him, is the impression I have. So I’m hoping Riley can decide for himself later, because the world certainly doesn’t want to.
There are a lot of other characters, of course, but these are the ones that are at the forefront of my mind that I have a lot to say about.
Mergo: This is another one that really perplexes me for how the narrative treats him versus how his actions and consequences follow. Several characters peg him as one of the most deeply flawed characters in the story. Mergo is also in constant denial of this, even when the forest of mirrors outright hints at deconstructing it. That much I can agree with; what confused me a little is that despite everything that happened, he suddenly gained a companion that follows him along and is awarded his evolution. The world seems to be rewarding his antics despite everything else in the narrative furrowing its eyes. And while that is somewhat realistic in some ways, it seemed like an odd dissonance that nobody acknowledged it.
Weaviile: To be honest, she’s grown on me a little. I used to have little interest in her since she was just this bad person in general who took advantage of literal orphans (sometimes made orphans by her own doing) she has more depth than that, to an extent. She still seems to be trying to gain power for power’s sake, and when she finally achieved it she seemed to be squandering that position. Persian took a calculated loss, and I thought that was a really clever turnabout. These recent developments with her relationship with Sora, however… Now I’m very interested in how that’s gonna turn out. Let’s see if she dies.
Sora: Speaking of which! What a sleeper hit! Now, I know that personally you put a lot of highlight on this otherwise side character (for most of the story, at least.) However, the recent developments with him, and thus a slight explanation of his powers, have led to me taking a keen interest in him and how he ties into all this. Once a side character has now become possibly a central point in the overarching plot, and I thought it was handled very well. His deadpan, amoral approach to things shows him as deeply self-interested and means-to-an-end, and he’s certainly extremely tolerant of what he’s allowed Weavile to get into, but despite that, he’s still interesting for the lore. I do wonder how he managed to keep a PC with some form of Internet from crashing at all, though. Must be Nokia.
Festuum: Hilariously off-tempo character compared to pretty much the entirety of the cast. I don’t know if I would have quite enjoyed the story’s tone as much without some comic relief now and then from this guy, and it’s kinda too bad he’s so minor so far despite being named. I don’t really have much more to add with this guy aside from how interesting his gimmicks are in battle. Of all the characters, I think he’s the one who has made the most utility of his moves in terms of clever use. Hope I see more of that.
Bisharp: It’s kind of weird but I feel like he became less crazy as the story went on. At first he was just this crazy dude who liked to hump dolls and so on, and I don’t completely know the full story behind that yet but I have a few guesses now that we know he’s human. His obsession with Celebi makes me wonder if, somehow, he knew a human who became a Legend? That’s part of my theory, particularly with his multiple eye colors and associations with Reshiram. There was sort of a method to his madness, I guess? Something that I didn’t at all see in the early iteration. Unfortunately, I can’t tell if it was due to early installment weirdness or simply an intentional unraveling of his character which, ironically, made him slightly saner. Though, that’s not a high bar.
Rose: I feel like she fell off. Ironically, it seems that we both share a similar issue between one another in terms of our main characters’ team members getting sidelined in favor of the arc of the main. Riley had to depart from his team because of the Fugitive arc, but as a result they barely have any screen time. We know Rose is a human, and that’s more or less it for now. She surprisingly hasn’t even fallen into the main plot. Does she have hidden powers, too? Or is she just not? More to come, really. Untapped potential waiting to happen when they meet up again.
Pyro: Pyro is similarly untapped potential, but this one I have more confidence is coming soon. Between him hearing a strange voice that gave him sapience to the whole deal with his mother pleading with a seemingly Legendary voice, I’m thinking Pyro might be a secret type of human where the ‘human’ part loses out to the feral shell, or perhaps he is also a Legend coming up, or a disciple? Lots of possibilities, but in general he has a lot of potential here, too.
Joker: Special mention to him despite being dead, and also a lot of untapped potential. I’m not sure why he’s afraid of fire so maybe postmortem we’ll get answers on that, but otherwise he was sort of like Festuum with the comic relief of the story. Was good to see, even if he had a darker shade to it all
| TropicalCyclone chapter 1 . 11/7/2020
is this still being updated or is it dropped?