Reviews for A Home Far Away
TropicalCyclone chapter 1 . 11/7/2020
is this still being updated or is it dropped?
Pbugle chapter 3 . 10/5/2020
Greetin’s MJ! Just gave ‘The Don’ a read, and I will say… it’s definitely an interesting change of pace. Same format as before, so without further adieu…

-The first thing that struck me about this chapter was its much shorter length compared to previous. I’ll admit it was more than a bit jarring, but I appreciate the variety pace wise. The length, style, and characters all take a pretty significant adjustment, and… from what I already knew before diving into your story, I think I know the reason.

-In any case, I did appreciate how the very beginning of the chapter almost makes it look like Sneasel is on a guild mission. The for lack of better term, ‘gang’ really does seem like tit for tat the neutral evil doppelganger of the guild. The lost and abandoned of Meluja that are taken in, offered community and identity in exchange for loosened morals.

-Sneasel is the centerpiece of this chapter, and I suspect her willingness to order the deaths of others is from an upbringing filled with that same abandonment. Not exactly enjoying bringing pain to others, but raised so pragmatic that it becomes numb. It’s pretty interesting, honestly. What would have happened if Riley had appeared at their doorstep? Wonder how much of the Riolu is nature, and how much is nurture.

-Pretty cool bit of symbolism with Persian’s home being a decrepit manor. He seems the king of this forest, and a shadowy, hard to read king that keeps things close to the chest deserves an equally unkempt castle. Sneasel is Persian’s most trusted agent, yet neither seem to fully trust the other, if the former’s item quest and latter’s recruitment mission are any indication. An organization held together by shared abandonment, and mutual distrust. How sustainable can it be? Afterall, if Espeon’s data is always faulty, what exactly keeps Sneasel coming back?

-It was most apparent in the fight scenes that the style does seem to be very straight to the point. The quick and functional descriptors of pokemon attacks during combat are almost enough to see the actual pixelated game from their actions. Hell, the dark type duo even described their dungeon as ‘low level’. It’s a double edged sword in that it leaves a lot for the reader to interpret and imagine, while keeping the chapter focused on the character dialogue, rather than appearance or actions.

-Some interesting tidbits for worldbuilding from this chapter. Just how deadly is the pokemon world that a single cut is enough to spell doom for even a non feral pokemon? I suppose it makes sense how many orphans there are. The multiple manors and nobles definitely show a feudalist society. Some pokemon go by their species names, while even never human pokemon have names like ‘Joker’. Might just be my bad memory, but I believe this is the first time that’s established outside of Riley.

-As a whole, I’m liking Sneasel as a character. She’s more imbedded in the community and informal than the likes of Gallade, and in spite of her apathy to murder seems to at least care for Breloom (even if she won’t say it). She’s a character that always seems to find out how to have things her way, and I’m curious how that will put her at odds with Riley and the rest of the guild.

And, that’s that. Another enjoyable read, MJ. More questions on my mind. What was Persian looking for? Why did Gallade destroy the Ocarina? (Perhaps those answer each other). Keep up the great work, I look forward to reading more when I have the chance!
Pbugle chapter 2 . 9/16/2020
Hey MJ! It's… been a while, but I’ve definitely enjoyed getting back into this story. Thought I’d give my thoughts on chapter 2. Will go with my standard format, essentially bullet point thoughts in no particular order. Without further adieu…

-There’s two characters introduced in this chapter that I’ve seen in a manner of speaking, but never got the full story context until now. Kirlia definitely comes off as the standoffish type meeting Riley. Type of dude to get straight to the point, who you’d want by your side in a group project but couldn’t imagine sharing a drink with. Even now, his character seems to reflect someone who has high expectations to them, constantly having to live up to a sense of order and decorum. Festuum was a bit of a shorter intro, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll work into the story, as well as… where *that* line will be for the frog.

-Interesting bit of symbolism comparing the scarlet scarf to a rusted crown. Gallade holds that it belonged to a dead friend, though in my mind it represents Gallade wanting someone to carry on his legacy. Besides team Hellraisers, Gallades been more or less the only form of support that Riley has, and while their relationship is pretty formal now, there seems to be something almost… paternal about Gallades actions. As the adage goes, the only way to immortality is through ones children.

-Astraean’s intro gave me a lot of iceberg symbolism vibes. Riley came to the tip of that iceberg only seeing a tiny house and expecting the smaller guild that the PMD world often has, only to find something far greater. There’s a pretty unique feel to the underground city, though if I had one minor gripe it's that the actual tour did seem to meander for a little bit. At least for Riley, it seems like this town is a home faraway.

-Nice bit with Riley having to adapt to a now foreign maw eating the apple. Since Riley can read what was once a foreign language, how many instincts got carried over in the isekai transfer? It is peculiar just how easy Rilley is able to lie to his teammates. Gallade provided a cover story, but I honestly doubt he’ll be able to keep it up for long. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in pmd, it's that trust is often paramount in these teams.

-You did a pretty cool job blending gameplay mechanics into something that seems warranted and adds to the story for mystery dungeons. As of now, I think your story is the only one that integrated the corridor based, randomly generated nature of PMD mystery dungeons in this fashion. It’s a nice touch.

-The dungeon exploration scene gave some nice characterization for Pyra, and development for Riley. The former shows himself as similarly no nonsense, almost soldier like, though with some compassion underneath fighting that rattata. And as for Riley… that nidorino battle was a hell of a turnabout. From helpless terror just a day or two ago to adaptation, like someone getting used to seeing spiders in a room. And then? I’m a bit worried just how quickly Riley is starting to enjoy things. I’ll admit the transition could have been given just a bit more time in my opinion, though I’ll chalk it up to the crimson scarf inflaming his sense for battle and/or impulsiveness.

-You told me once that Riley encompasses the potential darker side of living out an anime protagonist power fantasy, and I’m starting to see where that comes in. How many times is Riley gonna wake up in the infirmary, or worse?

-lil typo I found, nothing too major:
"In skilled hands, far from it. But yours are not that." Riley's ears twitched as the Guidlmaster smirked, though he quickly went on before the boy could say anything. "It's an instrument. Rare in these parts, but still just wind and holes. No sorcery. No trick."

-The consensus was that the ocarina didn’t belong to Riley, though perhaps Gallade is throwing him for a loop? Couldn’t imagine any other reason why he’d destroy it. Could be the gallade trying to prevent Riley from discovering the details of his old life, maybe even creating a sense of control.

-"We have Truths and Ideals too”-Heh… neat detail. There’s a lot of complications to those board games, aren’t there? They aren’t so black and white.

And… I think that’s that. A lot of interesting setups in this chapter. I’m curious how Riley’s relationship with Team Hellraisers will develop, and just just what the hell Gallade’s game is, with Riley as a piece on the board. Thank you for the read, MJ. There’s another story I’m also going to be catching up on, but I’ll do my best to keep this decently consistent. You have my word on that.
SparklingEspeon chapter 50 . 8/16/2020
~Review of Chapters 49 - 50~

FINALLY, ANSWERS :D

I’ve wanted to get back into reviewing for a while, and seeing as you just released two new chapters I thought I’d start here. And, like said above, even though these two chapters are essentially one big flashback/exposition dump, the biggest attraction here is the answers! Since this was pretty well-written all around (the amount of effort put in to make these as polished as possible shows very clearly here), that’s mostly what I’ll be covering in this review.

Aside from the obvious purpose of explaining Weavile and Joker’s backstory, one of the biggest things these chapters accomplished is showing Espeon in a more flattering light than the story before has. He’s quickly becoming more and more of a “Severus Snape” character, in that he appears to be stock psychopathic/evil at first, but is in truth doing what is necessary to maintain order behind the scenes at the expense of his public image. In these two chapters, he comes off more like a grumpy dad figure pulled into something he desperately doesn’t want to be a part of anymore. And he’s not at the top of the food chain. It’s chilling to see how coldly he’s treated by his superiors – even thrown around and borderline maimed, when it suits their fancy. (Although I don’t quite think Bisharp is completely a part of this, as he seems to refer to “them” as a separate entity from himself)

What interests me in particular is that Espeon has a laptop. Granted, nothing too high-tech, but unless he built it himself (and I don’t think he did, because he’s using it as a communications line), that means whoever is behind the outworlders had a way to send something in physically. Presumably, what happened to Markus – was he an experiment of some kind? If so, it would paint a chilling picture of how and why Espeon’s superiors turned to possessing bodies. I also wonder if/who “Sora” possessed when he became Espeon, and what on earth justifies a scheme of this magnitude. There are some whisperings of a “null/bright star” (the latter of which appears to be in possession of Bisharp and is a technique? I notice that Espeon has a folder marked “Stars”), and later a comment about how there’s nothing left to go back to, but aside from that little is said here. I’m either going to assume something something apocalypse or something something greed.

Espeon aside, though, the main attraction here is Weavile and her backstory. I was… *way* off, it seems. It’s surprising how much of this makes sense, even though there was very little buildup for it before now. What immediately strikes me about this is how similar “Alice’s” backstory is to Pyro – a feral suddenly gains sapience, then ends up in the hands of a civilized pokemon that introduces them to society. And yet, there are differences too – Espeon was specifically briefed and sent to pick up Sneasel, while Pyro was seemingly left to his own devices until Rose found him. Sneasel ended up in the hands of someone who immediately spilled the beans and then she went crazy as a result; Pyro had a much gentler introduction to society and never even had to consider that he might be human.

The second thing that jumps out at me here is that both Sneasel/Alice and Joker/Hayden had some semblance of their previous identities and why they were sent here – on top of apparently knowing each other – meaning that this isn’t some thing where humans are randomly being kidnapped and thrown into the PMD machine. These people knew what they were in for, whether they wanted it or not. And Alice clearly didn’t want it. Which again, paints very chilling implications.

-“…I’m a what?”

“You’re a wizard, Harry”

I had to okay

-lyuhJGjuygHK01#f

That password is so overcomplicated, lol

And yet… it fits him so much. My first thought when I saw it was “cat”

But on a more serious note, the thing that interests me the absolute most in this chapter is easy to miss at first glance: It’s the folders on Espeon’s computer. Staff is pretty self-explanatory, but the other four are an apparent gold mine – in particular the two that Espeon opens.

Travelers – Apparently, people who travelled in but didn’t get “Starred”? This is either Espeon, Joker, and (possibly) Bisharp, or hasn’t been revealed yet.

Attempts – This might be because I’ve taken a pretty long break from this fic and don’t remember all the details, but I only recognize half these names. In particular, the ones that jump out to me are Alice, Alexander, Mergo, and Amber. Given that Alice’s name is on this list, it’s probably safe to assume that attempts are humans/pokemon who were unsuccessfully “starred” (whatever that means). However, Pyro is seemingly NOT on this list, meaning that he’s either here under another name, in another category, or my assumptions on him are wrong.

Stars – Assumedly, successful attempts at whatever Espeon’s superiors are trying to do. This probably means Riley and Rose, and (possibly) Pyro, at the very least.

Unknown is just that – unknown. Not even Markus himself knows, or he’s a very good liar. As for Festuum… I’m still wary here.

The codenames are very telling as to the roles of the people involved. Espeon’s work involves going incognito a lot. He’s their spy/”Phantom”. Hayden was mostly there for glamour, glitz, and as a distraction – he’s the “Joker”. I’m not sure what Shepard’s identity is, but it looks like they’re gearing up to be a big bad, at least as the “Shepard” of this entire project.

-Gwynevere and Carrion… Rose and Pyro?

That the crazed nidoking turned out to be another, failed, attempt at whatever “Starring” is also interesting. I’ll also be keeping an eye on the storms from here on out, as they seem to be an important factor and coming again quite soon…

Overall, these two chapters were very interesting, and offered a lot of things to think on! I feel like I have just as many questions as I do answers, even though a lot of questions were answered here. I suppose that’s inevitable, though.

I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next chapter!

~SparklingEspeon

Listening to: What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World? – Hans Zimmer
CuriousQuinlan chapter 48 . 7/29/2020
:c
CuriousQuinlan chapter 19 . 7/24/2020
Gallade the troll master.
SparklingEspeon chapter 48 . 3/6/2020
OMFG

You guys have destroyed me.

:'(
Windskull chapter 4 . 3/5/2020
It is time! 8D

So to start things off, I’ll say that I think you did a great job of setting the tone of the story and showcasing the level of danger in the world just within the first chapter. The scene with the nidoran hunting him down came off as realistic and believable, though I will admit, I’d never pegged nidoran as carnivores. Nothing wrong with it, just something I felt was worth mentioning.

[The wound had to be more than just a cut, because when he looked at his paw again almost half of it was covered.]

I’m assuming you mean it was covered in blood here? I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with this sentence, but it might be worth it to make things a bit more clear since it made me have to stop and process what it meant.

[With her hand still over her heart, Audino could almost feel it stop. “A...another one?” she whispered.]

Dear lord, just how many humans are there out here? Now, I think it’s probably a little too early for me to speculate, but I can’t help but wonder if the reason there are so many humans being pulled over to the world is due to the previous one not doing what they need to. After all, it sounds like there are several that are secretly under Gallade’s protection. At least, that seems to be implied here.

I also find it interesting that Riley can’t remember anything despite the fact that he seemed to remember a few things before passing out. Considering he seemed to remember that he should have a bag, and he could remember the advice of some professors you mentioned. I may be looking too far into this, but I can’t help but wonder if the scrap of cloth being burnt away was meant to symbolize something, possibly related to his memories and/or his previous life.

Moving on to chapter 2…
I appreciate how large and important you made the guild feel. We also get a little glimpse into the inner workings and actually see the guild being run like a proper business, and operating on more than just word of mouth. It’s a nice little touch that makes the place feel just a bit more real, in my opinion

Gotta wonder what kind of significance the stuff in the chest holds. It’s obviously important, and my gut says that it’s related to a human. But I could be totally off. Regardless, I’m sure we’ll find out more about it later.

On a related note, I can’t wait to see what Gallade’s deal is, because you make it quite obvious that there’s something fishy going on there, for better or for worse.

I appreciate that you explain how to pronounce “Astraean” in text, because I was about to go pronouncing it as “Astray-ean.”

Another thing I really liked is that you addressed how different and off certain actions would feel in a different body. Like eating the apple, for example. I thought it was a nice little touch.

Man, Riley just keeps having terrible luck with those nidos.

And once again, I see fishiness in Gallade’s actions. I find it particularly interesting that he can identify the ocarina when the others didn’t.

And that wraps up our first two Riley chapters! If there’s any complaint I might have about these opening chapters, it’s that Gallade feels a bit *too* obvious. There’s definitely something fishy going on with him, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s a bit too telegraphed. Then again, it’s a bit early to say for certain, so I think I’ll have to wait and see how things go.

But I’m not done yet, so let’s move on to something a bit more… sinister.

Chapter 3 and 4
I… actually don’t have a lot to say about these two, since they’re a bit shorter, so I’m just going to combine our thoughts. This fic already felt a bit grittier than canon PMD, but these chapters in particular give insight to the seedier part of the world, with the introduction of Sneasel.

Of particular note. I remember going “oh, this is dark, but not too bad.” And then Sneasel said the line about orphaning kids and I went “...oh.” It caught me off guard, but not in a bad way.

I will briefly mention that I noticed the prose in these two chapters were a bit different than the first two. I believe you mentioned having a co-author at some point? I can tell the difference in writing style. These chapters felt a bit less... flowery, I guess? I definitely noticed there were less metaphors and simles and what not. It's not necessarily good nor bad, just an observation.

I do want to point out, however, that it wasn’t immediately clear to me that they killed Empoleon. I know they said he’d pay with his life, but in the fight itself, I’d initially assumed he was just knocked unconscious and left for dead, as opposed to actually killed.

Other than that, I’m quite interested in this bisharp character and looking forward to seeing him play a row down the line. He’s… quite menacing to say the least.

I also want to briefly mention that the ending of chapter four felt just a little bit abrupt. I’m not really certain how it would be fleshed out though, without dragging out needlessly.

Anyways, I think that’s everything I had to say. So I’ll pop back hopefully sometime soon with my thoughts on the next chunk of chapters. Until then, take care.
Guest chapter 46 . 3/1/2020
Hey man I’ve been following your story for a while now and I just wanted to say keep up the good work. I love the story you’ve built and the amount of depth you put into all of your characters not just the main one. The story keeps getting better and I find myself looking forward to the next chapter more and more. As far as criticism goes I don’t have much to say as I’ve been more focused on enjoying the story than finding its flaws. The only issue I’ve had up to now is that sometimes it seems like you’ve spread yourself out too much, like you are adding too much detail to an otherwise unnecessary event and some of the alternate story lines seem to drag on. It’s not as if I don’t enjoy these parts they could just use some more fine tuning. Regardless I love your story and as always I’ll be eagerly awaiting your next chapter.
SparklingEspeon chapter 46 . 3/3/2020
...Alright; then. I guess we know what the word count cap for review limits are now?

Annyways, picking off from:

Things I didn’t like:

Firstly, how long it dragged on for. There are parts that are fun to read, like Riley’s interactions with Phantom Weavile and Gallade, but there are also boring parts as well that really make it drag on, like all those scenes with Riley chasing after the Nidoking. Those in particular feel like plain filler, and even though Riley needed time to open up the way he did, it just got grating to read him endlessly stalking after and getting chased by that thing. The reader doesn’t even really realize that it’s truly real until that scene were the Lake Trio pose as Riley, Markus, and Joker, so there’s also not a lot of tension in it. I think that I really began to get bored by the point where Riley began to stalk it outside its cave. Pretty much all my enjoyment of this arc came from the latter two chapters, instead of the former two.

After Riley defeats the Nidoking and earns his way out of the forest, before he can leave he’s immediately greeted by a new obstacle: Kirlia. While there’s nothing *wrong* with the battle itself, I feel like it came directly after Riley’s final showdown with the Nidoking, and therefore the reader is extremely tuckered out and not even the slight reprieve granted from the Kirlia flashback isn’t enough to truly get readers back into it. It felt like there should have been a slight calm in between these two battles, but there wasn’t for plot reasons.

But on the overall, I still think that this was my favorite arc of the story. It was a much-needed self-reflecting session for Riley, as well as a chance for the reader to truly digest and break down everything that happened from the sacking of Gallade’s Guild to the present. It was also brilliantly written; structured in a way that almost made the reader go crazy along with Riley (Although in some parts it did stray for a little too long).

Chapter 44: Kirlia

So, before and after the fight between Riley and Kirlia, there are short portions with Kirlia alone. The first one details him travelling through a town called ‘Yellowseed’, which – as Kirlia points out – is fairly barren and not full of many things to ponder. (Except that that headline pops up again.)

The second one is far more interesting. There’s some more insight from Bisharp (Who I went into above), and then he essentially forces Kirlia to trade one of his psychic bracelets for a dawn stone. There are several questions raised – most importantly; what does Bisharp, a dark/steel type, want with an item meant for psychic-types? – but I’m also wondering what Kirla receiving the dawn stone before he’s achieved Gallade’s wish for him mean thematically. I assumed that his learning of ‘dull point’ (Or whatever it was called) and his evolution after that would symbolize him growing out of his edginess; and he *does* seem to slowly be moving on from it, now that he has the ever-shady Abby travelling with him. But the other point wasn’t fulfilled either—does it mean that he’s growing up, but on his own terms; not what Gallade mean for him? That’s how I interpreted it, anyway, and it seems to fit Kirlia when all is said and done. I assume Mergo will be his title going forward; since he is neither Kirlia nor nameless anymore. That’ll take some getting used to.

There’s one final point regarding the battle between them that I quickly want to go over, but it doesn’t involve Kirlia: rather, it’s about Riley’s use of aura powers. I get that him finally utilizing it properly is a big character beat in his arc, but I kind of feel like you’ve made Riolu/Lucario too overpowered. Here, Aura seems to be the equivalent of Swiss-Army-Knife Psychics in other fanfics: Riley instantly knows about, can predict, can manipulate, and can even put a stop to Kirlia’s attacks just by shutting his eyes and concentrating. And while that works amazingly for this particular battle, doesn’t it seem like a bit of a crutch he can just lean on to instantly win any other battles he might face? I might be wrong, but I just thought I would point it out for future reference.

Chapters 45 – 46: Ashen Flower

After all that page-time Riley had, it’s only fair that he passes the torch to another character group, and it’s one we haven’t properly seen since the Sacking of Gallade’s Guild: Rose and Pyro.

It’s no surprise that the rest of Team Hellraisers is considered bad news after what happened with Riley, but I’m quite surprised the word spread so fast. It wasn’t like they were celebrities, and unlike Riley they definitely laid low for a while. It’s still horrible to see what happens to them after they have their names smeared in the dirt, however.

It’s ironic; really, how Pyro hates humans so much. Mostly because he’s friends with two of them and doesn’t even know it 9For the time being), but also because his origins are so dubious. He seemed to have been born a feral, but then something happened to him and he suddenly became sapient. I don’t want to say he’s also a human just yet because I feel like that would be pulling the human card a bit too much (Although it would make for the most interesting dramatic irony), but clearly he’s not normal and all the cards do kind of line up. Even Our Sun noticed something, and apparently tried to slap some sense back into him. I wonder what that voice telling her to back down was, though? Is it responsible for bringing the humans into the pokemon world? Clearly it’s some kind of divine entity, and that far up into the atmosphere I’m placing my bets on Rayquaza.

I can see why Team Camelot was held in such high regard now; if they were able to take on something as mighty as Our Sun since before Team Hellraisers even existed. Mergo seemed to be in much higher spirits back then too. He’s so much more unhinged when Riley first meets him… I wonder what happened?

Something that also made me wonder is the fact that Pryo declares himself and Rose partners initially (And unlike Rose, who was clearly just making up a cover story, Pyro probably meant it), but as soon as they reach Gallade’s Guild they temporarily split up. What happened? Did they both agree to split up? Did it just happen over time? Did Rose do it? It didn’t seem like it worked out too well for her if it *was* her doing. At the very least, they did end up back together again.

And the chapter ends just as Pyro all-but-confirms his suspicions of Rose’s humanity. I wonder what he’ll do, though. He *hates* humans with a passion, but does he hate them enough to turn on the rest of his team? What if he ends up being a human? Can he hate himself? I don’t think he can continue. I think there’s going to come a point where it comes down to hating humans or wrecking what little of his life he has left, and god knows he’s standing on fairly dubious ground as well. I think he’s going to break and eventually change his mind; especially since he seems to have come to that opinion through cultural osmosis and not his own conclusions.

Chapter 47: Fly Away

The pagetime torch is passed to Weavile once more, and it feels like she hasn’t had a chapter in *ages*. Before I go on, I have one really big gripe with this chapter, and it’s the overall clumsy implementation of Gen VIII ‘mon. It’s nothing major, but I just feel like having a raboot guard and then a section devoted to corviknights is a bit weird when they haven’t popped up in the mafia thus far. I feel like it couled have been a bit more subtle, but it wasn’t and it stuck to me weirdly. Just something to keep in mind for the future?

As I predicted, Weavile is not having as much fun being The Boss as she probably expected. Mostly because I don’t think that’s really what she really wanted; more what the mafia culture around her pushed her into. Sure; she’s tough and she’s mean and she apparently doesn’t have qualms about killing other pokemon when if suits her needs, but somehow it just strikes me that she isn’t the hardcore mafia boss she’s trying to be; only a mock-up. And I think other pokemon (Including herself) are finally beginning to notice now. (How long until Espeon barges in with a replacement? Probably not long after he finishes sorting off his current business; I imagine.)

Aww, Murkrow deserves his happy ending :) (Plz don’t kill him)
I think he’s beginning to reach the same conclusion that Breloom reached before him, and Weavile will probably reach after him: Crime doesn’t pay- not where it really counts, anyway. I think it’s a nice ending for him, if you really are segueing him out. I don’t think a downer ending like Breloom’s would have suited him anyway.

And then there’s the last part, with Markus, Joker, and Espeon. It’s interesting to see what Markus and Festuum have been up to while Riley’s been essentially uber-meditating, but Espeon didn’t surprise me one tick— He’s given ample clues he was human (From his weird coma thing to the overreaction to the word ‘god’ to the fact that Bannete’s OK symbol is an upside down peace sign). I still think he’s the villain. Or at least he works for the actual villain. I wonder if it has anything to do with the way he reacted to ‘god’.

I don’t know if I expect Markus to survive. Probably not, if I’m being honest. I think Espeon might eventually come after Joker too, but not after he gets help *at least*. I’m definitely awaiting their next chapter eagerly.

~General Comments~

The final part that I’m going to go over is some general comments on your story.

I think I mentioned back in the first review I ever did for this story that it had a very lofty tone to it. I think this is mostly due to the expansive world that you set up immediately from the opening chapters, and all the little details that you slot in that hint towards things not being completely as they seem (Such as Riley waking up with a random ocarina, and the little things Gallade does that are just… off). Things start off fairly simple, but get more and more layered as they go on, instead of introducing like 23523 completely different plotlines and just hoping they all make sense in the end. At this point, many of the things from the first arc (Like the Nidoqueen battle and Riley’s origins) have mostly been paid off, but there are still some things that haven’t been touched yet (Like Kit and that ralts child from inside the cave), but it looks like those are for later; especially since you’re introducing Scizor and the Desert Arc characters again.

I feel like the problem where the prose kind of flipped into present tense for certain sentences and then suddenly flips back into past immediately after never really did go away. It gets less and less prevalent as the chapters go on and I’ve never encountered anything like that one chapter opening in the desert arc after it, but I think it might be something to consider trying to eliminate?

There are a lot of stories that feature Charmander/Charmeleon main characters, but no pokemon has ever gotten the spotlight in PMD more than Riolu has, and to write a Riolu MC and write it well, I think at this point it requires a lot more writing skill than it normally would just to rise above all the flak Riolu MCs get. I think that Riley is a very good example of how to write a Riolu MC well. At the beginning, there isn’t much special about him—he’s pretty much the average riolu protagonist. But instead of running with victory after victory for him, you slowly begin to deconstruct the tropes that make Riley a Cliché Riolu MC, and by the time that the story has reached its current point Riley can never be that ever again. He’s become a deeper character on his own merits, but because he literally grew out of the cliché riolu persona he can’t be accused of being ‘just another Riolu MC’. The early chapters still make me want to strangle him sometimes; though.

I think that A Home Far Away is a very well-crafted story that’s deceiving at first glance. And that’s by design—nothing in this story is what it initially seems, and those few who stick with it past the first ten-or-so chapters will be rewarded with a rich world that slowly unravels itself to both the reader and the deep, well-written characters that dwell within it. It’s clearly a high fantasy, but it’s written with a realism that helps it strike a balance between Tolkien’s LOTR and Game of Thrones—not too dark, but not too fanciful either. Those who read will be quickly enchanted, and many a sleep schedule will be ruined as they end up spending the entire night unable to tear their gaze away from its pages ~~like I did~~.

And as for one final closing note for this review...

...I still ship RileyXWeavile fight me~

~SparklingEspeon

Listening to: Battlestar Galactica: Season Four – Bear McCreary
SparklingEspeon chapter 47 . 3/3/2020
~Large Arse Review of chapters 30 – 46~

So… I took a break from this story for a while, because I just didn’t have the energy to stop every three chapters and spend an hour writing a review individually. But now, I’ve decided to come back and read them all at once and do this large-arse review instead! …Which I hope to god is legible, lol. ~~I’ve never done a 16-chapter review before plz help~~
Anyways, there is so much stuff to go over that I’ll cover it all in groups of chapters/’mini-arcs’ of sorts. Firstly, the payoff to that arc you’ve been building up to for just about ten chapters now:

Chapters 30 – 31

So – like I expected – there’s a *lot* of fighting in these chapters. Bisharp finally decides to attack Astrean, and he succeeds in killing Gallade; what he came here to do. In fact, that’s what I want to cover first: Gallade.

It’s implied that Bisharp and Gallade were brothers (And later confirmed, but I’ll get to that later), right before Gallade teleports them both off for their ‘duel’. What currently interests me, though, is that this is the second example of a psychic-type teleporting a half-dark type in A Home Far Away. The accepted headcanon for Pokemon fanfic in general is that Dark-Types are completely resistant to Psychic-type meddling and can’t even be teleported for some reason, so seeing that subverted more than once here makes me believe it’s on-purpose instead of an oversight; given how detailed everything else in the story is. It’s probably not important to the plot, but I’m interested to see if that goes anywhere regardless.

The actual duel kind of disappoints me; however, just for how little of it we actually *see*. At the end of chapter 30, we see both Gallade and Bisharp gearing up for a duel: they trade their opening insults, then attack, and suddenly next chapter we’re back to Riley’s POV. And then, when we see Gallade and Bisharp again, it’s just Bisharp being crazy and he has Gallade’s head with him. I can see how it was *supposed* to work (? – Oh wait did he – OMG he *did*), but when I read it, it came off to me less as “OMG Bisharp killed him now what’s going to happen?!” and more as “…Oh. He… died. …That’s it?” In fact, when I read it, I thought it was so ambiguous I actually wondered if Gallade had survived somehow and was just waiting to attack once again.

While I think the fight between Team Hellraisers and Bisharp’s ‘army’ was written well, in-universe it’s kind of a let-down. What the damage equates to is essentially ‘Gallade is dead and some walls got knocked over’. Which… in the big scheme of things? That second one isn’t really too big a deal, so I don’t understand why the guild is as broken as it is the next time we see it. Gallade pretty much kept them moving, but if his guild was any good at all (And it clearly is), then it should be able to move without him, and here they’re acting like all of Astrean was burned to the ground and half the population was killed. I’m interested that you brought back the Nidoking, though. I thought that was a one-off thing.

If one glances closely Bisharp has several slips of tongue in these chapters as well, which just don’t sit right even without the context of future chapters. For instance, his relationship with Gallade. They’re apparently adopted brothers (Or at least close enough to have once considered each other brothers), but Gallade won’t have anything to do with Bisharp; and I wonder if it’s because either he or Gallade are ‘corpse-walkers’. And I’m leaning towards Bisharp. Initially it makes more sense for Gallade to be one; considering that he’s so amiable to them and hates Bisharp for some reason, but upon looking closer Bisharp is more involved that Gallade is—he knows that Riley is a human, he knows more than he’s letting on about it, and he’s the one so desperate for Gallade to acknowledge him as a ‘brother’—which implies that something might have happened between them before Gallade became guildmaster. It also might explain part of why Bisharp is so crazy. Either way; that’s my theory going forward.

Chapter 31 is called ‘The End of an Era’, and this is where I initially took a break from the story to digest it all, because even if it was a downer ending it seemed fitting along with the title for the end of a ‘Part I/II/whatever you want to call it’. Especially since the story begins to veer in a completely new direction for the next arc, so that’s probably something to keep in mind for later. I personally think it might read easier that way.

Chapters 32 – 34

There seems to be a large tonal shift/’skip’ between Chapters 31 and 32. When chapter 31 leaves off, Riley is still in the forest where Bisharp left him, and everyone is still reeling from the destruction of the guild. However; when chapter 32 opens, it’s at lease a couple of days later, and everyone has had some time to get their act back together. Weavile and Murkrow report to Espeon, Joker returns to his circus, and Riley is on the run and attempting to track down Bisharp. It’s a rather large shift now that Riley is a fugitive, and many of the chapters to come pretty much involve him on the run, wandering, or getting chased. It also marks the start of him slowly beginning to realize the world in something other than blacks and whites, and from here on out he is *much* more tolerable to read about! :D

The sections of the chapters involving Joker were interesting. Obviously you weren’t going to drop him – especially not after his involvement with the sacking of Gallade’s Guild – but seeing how he handles Riley when Riley no longer has the backing of an entire guild to help him was a whole new level of interesting. I think it plays towards Riley no longer being able to see things in black and white, now that he’s what the version of him two weeks ago would have considered a ‘villain’, and it painted it in a more vibrant way than any fight between them could have. I’m looking forward to seeing that plot-thread develop more as the story continues. Assuming Joker remains useful to Espeon and therefore alive; of course.

I wonder what was in the letter, though… it doesn’t get mentioned the next time we see him (Although; granted, he’s about to fight a war).

So my theory about Outworlders turned out to be correct after all… interesting. I think I remember something about that particular Lucario being namedropped in the Desert Arc, but I might be remembering something else, so IDK. It’s hard not to feel horrible for her, now that her child is essentially dead, but I don’t think that Riley would have done much except unwittingly bring more misery upon her once she realized that he wasn’t Jade anymore. However; I don’t think that’s her final appearance, either. Also waiting on the continuation to that plot-thread as well.

I figured Festuum wasn’t going to be a one-off character as well. I don’t have much to say on him for these chapters, but there is one thing about him that kind of bugged me: When he fights Lucario, he’s a skilled user of Substitute Duplicates- in other words, he’s making copies of himself and using them to dissuade and throw off other pokemon from his trail. When the chase drags all three of them through Joker’s tent, Lucario attempts to kill Festuum and instead hits a duplicate, and then… Festuum just *stops*. And has a short mourning session over what wasn’t even a sentient copy of himself. And because he stops, Lucario nearly kills the real him for it. It just seemed so out of place to me, since later he’s shown bringing up and dismissing these copies like avatars on a whim, so here it just seems melodramatic. And if he’s trying to mock something it’s definitely not the right time or place to be making a mockery of anything.

I think the Gatekeepers knew. I think they were keeping Gallade’s secret for him, even after he died and that’s why they sent the rest of Team Hellraisers after Riley. IDK what to think about Rhyperior yet… only that he probably doesn’t share Gallade’s sentiments. The line “That was the last time Rose saw the Gatekeepers” also uneases me, since I only see that going two ways- either Team Hellraisers never comes back to Astrean again (Unlikely), or Rhyperior finds out they sheltered humans and has them killed. I’m probably going to bet on the second one, sadly.

My; what an overdramatic news headline. Last I checked the only thing Riley did was some scarf twirling.

Chapter 35

I’m tackling this chapter alone because it’s pretty self-contained; in all honesty. It’s just Weavile offing her boss, and there’s a battle and that’s pretty much the end of it. Arcanine ends up in a cage, Persian is probably going to end up in Kuroba’s hut in 24552308590 pieces on a pike or something, and Weavile wins… for the time being. I don’t think she’s out of the woods yet, though. Espeon is *definitely* using her for something- either she’s a temporary replacement until Espeon finds someone else more convenient to him, or Weavile’s role is to keep the mafia tangled up in pretzels while Espeon goes off to hunt some bigger catch or something. I still believe he’s the villain; however.

…And of course Joker trained his circus performers to be lethal as well. It’s almost like he *knew* they’d get involved in the mafia’s affairs sooner or later; but that’s silly. It’s not like he’s taking jobs for Bisharp or anything.

IDK why they were surprised; really.

Chapter 36- 37: The Hunter and the Blind Prince

If I must confess; out of all your characters I think that Kirlia/’Mergo’ is my least favorite. He doesn’t seem to have that many redeeming qualities to him – and if he does, it’s completely drowned out by the rest of him. He’s rather unpleasant by default (Which was forgiven a bit when it was shown how much of his childhood had been kept from him), and it seemed like he was finally getting better after Riley kicked some sense into him, but then Gallade died and Kirlia just devolved to the point where even his team abandoned him. And quite frankly; by that point I don’t really blame them. He literally would have led them all to their deaths, and he nearly dies himself.

I’m not entirely sure what to think of Absol/’Abby’ either. Judging by the context I have of him from future chapters he seems to have been a spy for either Gallade or Scizor (Or both), and yet he’s also absolutely crazy. I’m not really sure what to make of him, even after reading all the way up to Chapter 46. All I really know is that he *definitely* had connections (Probably to Gallade), which ended within the last decade if that absol Jade sensed was him, he apparently has no qualms about killing and skinning other pokemon and even attempts to do it to Kirlia for a little while despite knowing in full that Kirlia is Gallade’s son, and something is apparently wrong enough with his aura that Lucario and Riolu automatically avoid him by default. I’m not sure I like him either, even if he’s sworn himself over to Kirlia and agreed to go along with his convoluted schemes. Not until I know more about him.

Overall, I don’t think these chapters interested me that much. Mostly because I just can’t deal with all the Kirlia Edge, but also because I don’t much like Abby either—there’s no-one to like here but Buizel and Luxio, and they abandoned Kirlia at the start of the chapter, so only Edge remains :(

Learning about Snow Blindness was interesting though.

Chapters 38 – 39

The next couple of chapters open from Riley’s POV, and he and Festuum are busy running (Not that it was a surprise). At this point; I’m wondering why Riley takes so well to Festuum—for all he knows this is one big roundabout trap, and the non-guild party Festuum works for doesn’t have his best interests in mind. Even though he’s desperate, he’s also running, and just a couple of days ago Festuum was nothing but a kidnapper to him. I suppose I can see it as the other side of the black-and-white morality theme? Especially since the topic of him being too trusting comes up later.

I like the use of Slurpuff here. The pokedex also has that tidbit of info lying around waiting to be snatched up by a clever writer, but I’ve never ever seen anyone use a slurpuff that way before this story… Very scary. But now I have to wonder: if the slurpuff could track them just from that far away, then even though the ‘Funhouse Dungeon’ threw it off shouldn’t it eventually be able to track them all the way from the river to the Safehouse? Assuming it could *find* that river, but if its nose is as powerful as Festuum makes it out to be that shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t very much see why they think they’re safe there; in all honesty…

So… let’s talk about Funhouse Dungeons. I think the idea is interesting. I’ll be honest; the first time that Festuum mentioned it I thought that he was talking about the Devil’s Labyrinth, but what it actually was is also interesting. I wonder how they really work, though. It seems like they’re an instant random teleporter- the one Riley and Festuum enter just does its shaky thing and then yeets them both to the river, but the Forest of Mirrors is also a Funhouse Dungeon and it doesn’t yeet pokemon anywhere. It just… yeets things out of pokemon’s kinds; I guess. Is every Funhouse Dungeon different? That’s something I hope gets explored more in the future; although it might come at the cost of exploring regular old mystery dungeons.

I wonder if the Devil’s Labyrinth classifies as a Funhouse Dungeon.

A human? Like, an *actual* human? That’s what Markus was this entire time? Many interesting. I must know Y. There’s probably more to come on that in Chapter 47, assuming Espeon isn’t a jerk and kills him first like he’s probably going to.

Exposition dump! :D It’s definitely Shameless Exposition in its purest form, but it’s earned at this point so I don’t really mind. I’m still attempting to figure out what to make of it all – If humans are getting randomly dropped into these pokemon bodies and it’s clearly happened enough for pokemon to notice, then why are they ganging up on the Outworlders witch-hunt style instead of trying to figure out why it’s happening? And how does Markus have HIS body if he doesn’t have any idea how he wound up here either? I’d also wonder why Joker and Buizel’s mother didn’t catch onto the fact that the original Joker had been overwritten long ago; since Buizel mentions that the personality change was so drastic. The entire thing seems very fishy and the only thing we really know about it is that there’s ‘a gate’… very suspicious.

Y do these news headlines keep getting more and more dramatic. *It was just scarf twirling darnit.*

I agree. Riley dumping all those secrets to the group he didn’t know if he could trust yet was definitely not a good idea. Luckily for him they don’t seem to be parties that want him *dead* (At least not for the time being), but I suppose he just hasn’t learned not to trust everything he sees yet? On the other hand, Markus and Festuum seem to be overly paranoid—even going so far as to keep everything from Kangaskhan. But poor Kangaskhan lol. I doubt the ‘pokemon’ she’s sheltering are very polite by default. Especially to each other. I imagine she deals with that daily even when there aren’t any visitors.

Something that occurred to me is that with the exception of Espeon (I’ll get to *him* later), no-one in the pokemon world even knows that a human looks like. And that makes me wonder why Markus feels the need to dress up in those robes like that. It feels like he could get away with being some sort of pokemon in a world where sentient flying apple dragons and rock snakes are the norm, so I don’t really see why he feels he needs the clothing unless it’s just something he brought over from the human world and didn’t feel like giving up even though he could technically go without it. It also brings up the question of why Festuum freaks out about Markus being naked in front of Riley when pokemon aren’t so crazy about clothing themselves and Festuum doesn’t have any proper gauge on human customs.

Well, that’s risqué. I don’t think I could have handled hearing that conversation either; lol.

They fight a lot, but I think the game of cards Markus and Festuum play after Riley has gone to sleep shows how close their bond is. It really does seem as though they work like one mind after 12-or-so years of knowing each other. I’m sure the way the cards are played is symbolism of *something* but IDK what it is yet.

Chapters 40 – 44

Alright; this is the big one. It’s hard to believe that this all took place within four chapters, because it feels like so much more than that. I’d even argue that it dragged on a bit much in the first two chapters, but it’s also one of my favorite arcs of the entire story so far. I’ll go into detail about what parts I did and didn’t like below.

Things I liked:

I like the concept of the Forest of Mirrors. The way it plays tricks on people and seems to have a mind of its own reminds me a lot of Erebus Woods, and I think that the italicized dialogue describing what would happen in there and Riley’s reaction to it sets it all up well.

What really made me love this arc so much, though, is that it’s less of a plot device and more of a character study of Riley- up until now he’s basically been – as you said – “a shounen protagonist in a non-anime world”, and he needed some pulling down to earth now that the world wasn’t going to let him be a reckless spoiled brat anymore. And slowly, piece by piece, the Forest of Mirrors peels back his barriers until he has no more barriers and there’s nothing for him to do but open up. And when he does finally open up, it feels like one of the most truly earned and fun-to-read parts of the story.

I also like the way that your use the obscurity of the FoM to confuse the reader at certain points of the arc. At first, it’s pretty obvious what’s an illusion and what isn’t, like the taunting Rose and Pyro. But then the (real) Nidoking stumbles in and begins to attack, and Riley – not realizing it’s not an illusion – is now cast into a shade of doubt: can illusions really hurt you here? None of the other illusions he sees are malevolent; not even the apparition of Bisharp, which just casts the entire thing further into obscurity. The question becomes something else entirely once we’re shown the illusion presumably created by the lake trio to allow Riley to listen in upon their conversation, and all the things you set up during the confusion of the first half come back in the second.

I consider the conversation between Riley and ‘Jade’ the climax of Riley’s character arc for this section of the story. It’s the point where he finally comes to terms with all the things he isn’t and strives to become more careful and fill the boots he was thrust into. I also suspect that Jade is more than just an illusion as well. Firstly because if Jade really is just a figment of Riley’s imagination, then half of what Riley said is ultimately meaningless, even if he’d like to think otherwise. And secondly, because Riley’s an amnesiac. If he can remember the person who used to exist in that body before him, then something of that person must be stuck in his brain somewhere . Maybe even the whole person. That’s probably just me and wishful thinking, but I just don’t think that Jade is completely gone.

‘Dungeon Lords’ is an interesting take on the Dungeon Bosses in the PMD games. As well as the fact that the Nidoking used to be intelligent before he apparently went crazy and lost all but two minutes of his memories. I’m having flashbacks to his introduction just before the Desert Arc started, and now I’m wondering if Alakazam did that to him. If so, that’s scary.

Things I didn’t like:

Firstly, how long it dragged on for. There are parts that are fun to read, like Riley’s interactions with Phantom Weavile and Gallade, but there are also boring parts as well that really make it drag on, like all those scenes with Riley cha
SparklingEspeon chapter 29 . 2/13/2020
Review of chapters 27 - 29 (The Exiles' Resolve)

I HAVE RETURNED ONCE MORE :D

So I guess *these* three chapters are the last of the setup before everything starts to fall like a domino stack. Or not. IDK yet. But overall, it seems that tension/anticipation is strung up about as high as it can get here. Bisharp and Weavile are posed to attack Astrean, Riley and Kirlia have basically made up with each other in their own way, Joker is sitting around in prison, and it seems like Gallade has a shady thing or five going on. It's just about time to rock the boat, but first the calm before the storm must be studied down to its very core.

It seems that mystery dungeons are back, and you immediately dial it up past whatever the maximum limit is with the introduction of the 'Devil's Labyrinth'. It reminds me a lot of Erebus Woods in the way it's presented; being such a mysterious and dangerous place. The fact that you could literally bake something on the top of the canyon both intrigues and scares me O_O

I wonder if you'll ever bring it back, though. You put so much emphasis on how this dungeon is such a large setpiece, and it would seem weird if it just never came back at all. I wanna know more...

We also get some backstory on the outlaws that Team Hellraisers are hunting. Obviously these are more than just plain old outlaws, but I still think it's interesting that you decided to layer your mission like that. Outlaws are pokemon too :)
You haven't shown much of him yet, but now that you've mentioned Garchomp again I'm actively wondering about how/why he founded the guild in the first place. He either was or was mixed up with nobles, so that might mean his reasons were less-than-honorable.

Your battle here is written with the same wordy style that pervaded the battle between Aggron and Steelix, and I don't think it bothered me as much here as it did there. Riley learning aura was interesting as well. As a reader I never even thought about that, but it seems like something you might have been trying to slip in there because there was just no other place for it and you wanted it out of the way? IDK. Either way it did kind of seem a bit out of the blue, but it's nothing storybreaking. And quite frankly for something this insignificant I'm not sure it's worth nitpicking.

When I did my first review of this story, I mentioned that I thought Gallade was up to something- handing Riley that scarf (supposedly a prized possession) with no qualms at all, and then when he didn't bat his eye at the salute Riley did (Which I'm assuming is the human salute since there was no way for Riley to even know if the pokemon had a salute; let alone what it is, although that could be a fluke). Now, after reading the last scene of chapter 29, my suspicions of his shadiness have been all-but-confirmed. Clearly, something went down over in the Desert Kingdom that Gallade wants covered up, and we don't know whether that thing is good or bad yet. At this point, there's just no way to tell what his intentions are- clearly he cares for all the people in his guild and even the humans/'outworlders' when no-one else will at all. Whether he's using them for some ulterior purpose or not is yet to be seen.

I think it's interesting that he's taking in all these humans in the first place. It doesn't seem to be a sentiment that Garchomp shared (As little as we've seen of him), and Gallade's parents don't appear to be among the pokemon Garchomp fled with to start the guild in the first place. Scizor isn't really explained yet; and neither are the reasons for why Gwynevere died. There's a lot about Gallade that isn't in the open yet, and I'm wondering if there's a specific reason he knows so much about the humans and shelters them anyway (Maybe he IS a human in disguise?). Doesn't explain why Riley got the scarf; or what's with that ocarina, though...

On that note, I wonder how many pokemon in Gallade's Guild are humans in disguise. There's just no way that Riley and Rose are the only ones when the guild is almost functioning on the level of Hogwarts Castle. Should I start suspecting anyone whose name starts with 'R'? :P

So there *are* nations that exist outside of Implentur. At least, that was what I got from Odun's constant remarks about 'hearing back from Levaunt'. It seems to be a water kingdom; but what do they want with this oh-so-compromising letter that apparently only threatens the Gallade Guild and its associates when they clearly aren't the highest rung on the ladder in Implentur? Either way; Gallade's reasons for burning it are probably better than Odun's reasons for keeping it. I wonder what was in it, though...

…I imagine that'll be revealed in due time, though. Pokémon trash is probably going to hit the fan next episode, so I look forward to reading about that.

~SparklingEspeon

Listening to: The Time of Axe and Sword Is Now - Sonya Belousova, Giona Ostinelli
allen Vth chapter 20 . 2/4/2020
Only a few days have passed since the desert battle! That's kinda crazy when you think about it. Riley's second encounter with Joker was better than expected.

And it's good to see the impromptu team is still sticking together despite those events.
SparklingEspeon chapter 25 . 2/3/2020
Review of chapters 24 - 26

So; definitely the last of the setup, then. Unless The Exiles' Resolve is its own special chapter type thing, in which case it's really the precursor to the last of the setup. But either way, they were interesting to read, and surprisingly neat.

One thing that surprised me a bit is the fact that the chapters on Riley's side seem to be getting longer, but they still hold just about the same amount of content that they always did. Just something I thought I would mention. For instance, Weavile's chapter is probably over 10K, but there's a *lot* in there- Festuum's introduction, Bisharp's retrieval of his scarf, the torching of the harbor, Weavile's 'date' with Bisharp, etc. And then we switch over to Riley, and the next chapter that pretty much just focus on a duel. And then there's a chapter that's sort of really shared by everyone, (but Kirlia gets a good portion of it so I'm just gonna go ahead and say it's his chapter), and despite being roughly the same length or even a little shorter there's much more in this chapter than there was in the last. It seems to be specific to Riley- whenever the story is in his POV, things get long and drawn out, while everyone else has fairly condensed scenes. I wonder if it's an artistic choice? Given that Riley has a tendency to be selfish, he might be literally 'hogging' all the chapter and drawing it out for fun.

Festuum is interesting. I hope he won't be a one-off thing, because otherwise that seemed like a weird place to drop him. (I don't expect Kit to be gone either; just... benched.) I don't think he burned the town, though. I think that was Bisharp and he was just framed somehow.

It's really not hard to understand Espeon. Even without the privilege of omniscient narration, Espeon basically outright admits that he's out for himself, and himself only. He disowns Persian right in front of her, then helps her plot to overthrow him because it suits his needs at the minute. He'll just off her the moment she isn't useful to him anymore. After all the stuff he did and all the things she went through, I'm not really sure why Weavile *still* isn't picking up on that. She seems to be incredibly naïve; trying to impersonate a hardened criminal but giving in to her better instincts every time and just screwing things up for herself. I wonder if that's why I've had trouble figuring out her character- maybe I've just never seen the *real* Weavile, because she curbs it anytime it comes out in favor of her criminal persona.

In fact, I wonder if she was originally one of the orphans she and Murkrow now watch over. That makes more sense than it should... And it's not any less disconcerting.

Sneasel is only 16? I would have thought she was in her 20s at least; given that she seems to act with more sensibilities than a general teenager would. Breloom was probably almost as old as she was... It *does* explain some things, like her overall recklessness or how Murkrow graduated to become her partner despite being one of the orphans himself; but unless pokemon have shorter lifspans than humans do (And you don't seem to imply that being the case) it seems a bit odd.

OMG Bisharp's going to attack Astrean? Is Gallade going to be your Dumbledore? I can absolutely see that as a character point for Kirlia, so now I'm legitimately scared for the Guildmaster. On that note, if it's *this* easy to just storm Astrean, then why haven't they done anything? The Astrean 'Gallade's' Guild is apparently the largest threat to the mafia in all of Implentur- if offing a guildmaster is this easy, then why don't they just 'replace' Gallade with someone in cahoots with the mafia? And if they couldn't get to him for some reason, what's changed now?

Furthermore, knowing Bisharp, this isn't a discreet assassination- he's going to burn Astrean to the ground. There probably won't even be a guild left if he has his way. Unless I'm misconstruing something, it just doesn't seem like the smartest plan. The only benefit the mafia gets from openly attacking Gallade's Guild is to make a public statement- but even that eventually will backfire on them, once all the Astrean Guild's allies jump in (And there's at least one other functioning guild, so they *do* have allies). I just... don't get it. Y?

OMG. Audino refers to Gallade as 'whimsical'. You're definitely going to kill him aren't you.

Using Weavile to get to the lower-class 'cannon fodder' is a smart move, though. For all his axe-craziness, Bisharp isn't a dummy o_O

My god; Riley's such an arse. It's like, he does a good thing, but then he reveals his reasons and they're just so selfish... he basically used Kirlia's partners to make himself look noble, and then mentally admitted that his two biggest reasons (with the one he presented as a close third) were 'I'm bored' and 'I wanna fight Kirlia'. I think the simile involving screeching and Disney World more than speaks for itself here...

Riley's memories are interesting. IDK where you're going with them, but I assume his older brother is going to be important soon; given he seems to be a recent constant in Riley's dream-flashbacks.

Kirlia *technically* won, but he upheld his side of the bet anyway... At least he's mature enough to keep his word and admit he made a mistake.

I do have to admit that I kind of share Gallade's surprise that he doesn't know more about his mother- Why didn't he ask anyone else? Was he trying to remain loyal to Gallade? Was he scared to? Did he just not think of it? For someone who was apparently an acclaimed writer, explorer, and former wife of the guildmaster I don't believe her name would just fall into obscurity like that.

Now I'm *really* sure this world is post-apocalyptic PMD. I find it very very odd that in all their years of existence pokemon have only lived (or have only been recording history) for 800 something years. That sounds less like a natural world; more like 'humans messed up and pokemon took over'. It would be ironic if the pokemon were directly related to the humans somehow when they seem to spurn the 'outworlders' so...

Either way, these were interesting to read, and definitely a change of pace from the other chapters that came before it. I assume this is the point where the story is beginning to drop the joyrides and games and get serious; given Weavile's plan, Joker's arrest, Riley's continuing epiphanies, and Bisharp's upcoming attack. Somehow; I get the feeling that the Astrean Guild isn't going to exist a week from now...

~SparklingEspeon

Listening to: Why Can't We Go Backwards? - Alan Silvestri
SparklingEspeon chapter 23 . 2/2/2020
Review of chapters 21 - 23

Onto the next three chapters! I must say; I'm surprised by the sudden swerve this story is taking. It essentially went from run-of-the-mill PMD to a gangster film to a high-fantasy battle in the desert to conspiracies and supernatural occurences, and it may even change several more times in the future. I'm impressed that you've managed to preserve the story's feel through all of that, though. Even after being like five different things at once in the span of 23 chapters, A Home Far Away still has the distinct feel of A Home Far Away, and I'm grateful that it hasn't turned into a complete mess instead (Like would be very easy to do with a story as large as this and with more than one author... the consistency displayed here amazes me!)

There are several key pieces of information revealed in these three chapters from the POVs of almost every pokemon that's a main character at this point. There's Gallade's talk with Joker about the 'outworlders', Riley discovering Rose was a human (Called it!), Rose's memory resurgence, etc. Even the mission Team Hellraisers starts and finishes in both parts of 'Dreaded Investigation' is just framework for a larger plan planned by none other than Espeon and Weavile. I think these are more exposition-based/setup chapters than they are major plot-advancing ones, so I think that calls for a different type of review: A critical one.

For critical reviews, instead of going chapter by chapter and leaving my thoughts, I split them into three parts: Positives, Negatives, and Neutral Speculations.

I always like to start with the negatives, so I'll just get that out of the way first:

I feel like the problematic prose is slowly beginning to make a comeback, especially in parts I and II of Dreaded Investigation. Not really in present tense and boring description this time, but more in the sudden appearance of a bunch of purple prose out of nowhere. Once the team splits up to look for the counterfeit coins in Sableye's Storage, what had once been pretty normal prose suddenly becomes monster paragraphs that even spaced look like a wall of text on the page. It might be the way that it's formatted, but I don't believe that these paragraphs are really as tight as they could be either. Either way; I feel like either some pruning here and there or more white space on the page might make that read a bit easier, but that's just me.

I also feel like Riley hasn't been very well developed as a character at all. You're *sort* of getting there now, with the entire 'hero VS warlord' plot that you're setting up, but for now he remains a sort of flat character. I assume he gets deeper as it goes on; though. I'm only halfway...

The Positives:

Other characters like Gallade and Espeon; though, are *amazing*! They feel and read like real people to me, with their own wants, fears, and hopes (Although if Espeon has fears he doesn't show them...). I think really the only character that bugs me is Riley, but that's mostly just due to the fact that he needs to grow *a lot* and we haven't spent much time with him because he's sharing page-time with Weavile and the mafia. I also like his anime-style dialogue if the point of it is to stress how much he just *doesn't* fit in with actual pokemon.

Something that Gallade mentions after listening to Buizel's story is the name 'outworlder. ' I assume that he means 'human', but even though this is the first we see him confronting someone of Joker's stature I'm surprised we don't hear this term before. But even so, I like it! It adds some alien spice to a world that (like Rose mentions) is a bit similar to our own even by PMD standards.

Something interesting I've noticed is that once Riley and Co. decide to guard that caravan, mystery dungeons disappear from the story entirely. IDK if you've decided to ditch that or are just taking a serve and you'll come back to it later, but either way it's a breath of fresh air- MD trips are usually the amalgamations of all my least favorite things to read in PMD fics, and I like the more original direction you take with it here. I wouldn't be surprised if they came back in the future.

I think it's interesting how you're choosing to merge the plotlines here. It would have been *so* easy to have X thing happen and all your characters get thrown off their groove and have to team up with Team B to get what they want, but instead you're slowly bringing them together. Gallade arrests Joker. Weavile decides to use that to her advantage and rats out Sableye's Storage. Team Hellraisers investigates. Only once do the two parties communicate during this arc, and it's only by using Espeon as a messenger-mon.

Neutral Speculation:

So Espeon runs the world's *only* library. In Knowall Town. For a moment, I thought his *name* was Knowall and I was going to write in the box how fitting it was before I realized it was just the name of the town, lol. It does put a lot of his comments about library rules under scrutiny, though. If the only library in Implentur is located in Knowall Town, then how can he expect 'how libraries work' to be common knowledge?

So, now that I've been given enough clues, I think I can finally try to put a pin on what the 'outworlders'/humans are, and why they're hated so much. Based upon Buizel's comments, Gallade's comments, and the general stigma against human-turned pokemon in general, my theory is that the outworlders are humans who somehow fell into the PMD world but didn't take their bodies with them- meaning they had to take the bodies of other pokemon instead. It's a bit out-there, but unless I'm still missing a large piece of the puzzle I don't know about yet it's the only way the dialogue between Gallade and Joker makes sense. Rose's comments also seem to imply that it might really *be* a post-apocalyptic PMD world, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out.

Only... that still leaves two questions unsolved. Why are humans landing in the PMD world in the first place? And who was that riolu before 'Riley' possessed them?

…I feel really horrible for Buizel. If my theory is correct, then... that's just awful. I wonder if it will get out and Joker will end up being killed for it (As an example of what happens to human-turned-pokemon; as you have yet to really show us that yet).

So, I get that's only been 10 days for them, but I feel like Riley being a human was so obvious that Rose would have been onto it a lot sooner. Quite frankly given how bright she seems to be I'm surprised she didn't know it from the beginning? Or maybe she did and had to work up the courage to ask him first?

Riley's vision of his older brother is interesting; especially given the earlier scene with the hospital and how it seemed to get 'corrupted' hallway through. I'm sorta half-wondering if his older brother is Joker, but that's probably wrong. I'm a conspiracy theorist. lol.

So, overall; these were interesting! Like I mentioned above, they're clearly the setup for something so there isn't much payoff that happens in these chapters, but I think that the way you've tied the exposition into the story here works so flawlessly it actually made me want to keep *reading* the exposition instead of treating it like the plague (as is popular treating method for exposition). I assume the next three chapters will do some final set-up (The only character 'prince's pride' can really refer to at this point is Kirlia; I think?), as well as maybe give Riley some more character development. I wonder if I'm about to reach the scene depicted in that piece of fanart you posted a couple of days ago...

~SparklingEspeon

Listening to: That's Not How the Story Goes (S1 Version) - Nick Urata; Daniel Handler
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