Reviews for Cenotaph II: The Monolith
Mandalorian Runescaper chapter 24 . 12/5/2020
It's been ten chapters since my last review by my recollection, so it's high-time I put together another one.

As has been the case with all of your stories so far, the character interactions and development are realistic and narratively satisfying. Never has there been a moment that took me as a reader out of the story, which is always a risk when characters develop. If a change is too quick then it can really kill immersion, even if the change itself represents a final point that would otherwise work. So far, though, Roahn and your other OCs, as well as the characters we all know and love from the games, have all felt like themselves throughout the story while still changing as people naturally do. So, as I've said before, major props for that.

The side stories revolving around a smaller number of characters had the potential to be much less interesting than the main plot, but they so far have justified their place in the story by being different enough to keep the reader engaged while also being similar enough to not feel out of place. The characters you chose to include in each of them work well together, and it's never dull to see them interact. It's certainly been intriguing seeing how the various strands of the overall story intersect, and I can't wait to see how things end.

The only thing that I think could be an issue is the number of antagonists, or rather not the primary antagonists but the other characters they have working for them. So far while the main villain of the story has had enough 'screen-time' to feel both intimidating and compelling, some of the other bad guys suffer a little by comparison. Obviously the main villain should have the most time dedicated to them, but it seems like their subordinates, given their importance, could be even better than they already are if there were fewer lesser characters in league with them. But really, I'm looking for things to comment on here, so that I've had to resort to personal preference rather than unbiased criticism should tell you just how much you've done right so far.

Anyway, I'm off to read the last third of the story!
ivandundalov7 chapter 36 . 8/20/2020
I haven't been reviewing much..but holy shit. What a story. Thank YOU!
dogboat333 chapter 36 . 8/19/2020
Fuck. That was good.

I don't even know what else I can say without spoiling it, but goddamn. That was a brilliant way to end it. PM me if you want more info, but gosh darn it, you did well this go around. Take a break, man. You deserve it.
dogboat333 chapter 35 . 8/15/2020
Shoot. I guess I'll have to find another story that'll fill me over soon. Ah well.

Decent stuff as always. The fight was nice as always, with the little bit of internal thought at the end of the first section really standing out. Aleph proves as tricky as ever, and his reveal near the end is pretty devious. I also appreciated the last bit of dialogue with Shep and Roahn at the end, I thought it was really nice.

One chapter left. I'll be back when I get the email, my friend.
dogboat333 chapter 34 . 8/5/2020
Hoo, alright. How the turns have tabled. Is that how that goes?

Decent chapter. A bit short and punchy, but it gets to the point and I like it. The revelation of the motivations as well as the unveiling of the bigger surprise was nice (and I kind of called that last bit, too, so I'm proud of that). The fact that we're on a time limit really ramps up the tension, as well, so I like that. Part of me thinks that the reveal here would have worked better in the last chapter and then this chapter would be a big battle, but at the same time, I don't mind a shorter chapter. I'm more or less satisfied with what I got and what details were revealed, so well done.

Until next time.
dogboat333 chapter 33 . 7/26/2020
Only a two chapter gap between my last review and this one. Damn, I'm catching up.

In the words of a legendary Swedish pop group, mama mia. This was a really intense set of chapters, probably the most important two of the story (although I'm gonna have to reread this and decide for myself). First, the battles of the first two chapters was nice, especially with the Cardinal. That felt really personal and it was really satisfying to see how she ended up. I've expected decent action for the most part, and it has delivered.

But the second set of chapters is what really stood out to me. As always, I'll try to be vague for the sake of not dropping spoilers, but the Aleph stuff was top notch. How he utilized his prisoner was clever, and I like how you tied that in. His explanations were interesting, and, I'm not gonna lie, reading the reveal of what the Monolith was and what it did caused my draw to drop, metaphorically and quite literally. I'm also really excited about the weapon that the rest of the crew found, and I'm curious how they're going to use it and the possibility of collateral damage.

And that last twist. While it was surprising, it did feel a bit out of left field and my initial thought is that it took away from some of the impact of earlier events. That said, I do like the twist. The finality of the earlier events might have been taken away from it, but this twist does create a lot of interesting conflicts. I'm really curious as to what's next and how everybody is going to react to this, especially the two main characters involved in the twist.

Well, I kept it as vague as possible. If you need any clarification, my PM's are always open. You're keeping me on the edge of my seat, and now I'll have to drop everything to read the next chapter when it comes out. Damn you, Rob!
dogboat333 chapter 31 . 7/11/2020
As a wise man once said, "Ah shit, here we go again."

Excellent work in the last three chapters as always. The Cirae arc is going in a really interesting direction, and I'm really curious as to what you have planned next. I also really liked the personal stuff here, especially Garrus talking to Kasumi.

But my favorite part in the past three chapters was the return of James and Jack. Holy crap. From that brutal way that Jack managed to break out to the stuff on the Denali to the grand escape and reunion. I was anticipating when the next Jack and James scene was gonna arrive, and I was not disappointed.

From here, I'm excited. Crazy stuff should be on the horizon. Hopefully, I'll be able to review the next chapter and not wait for a few parts. Until then.
Mandalorian Runescaper chapter 14 . 6/28/2020
This particular review covers chapters 12-14, though I'll keep it spoiler free as usual just in case anyone happens to be browsing through the reviews who hasn't got that far.

One of the first things that struck me upon reading through the aforementioned chapters was how well you continue to write each of the individual characters we know and love from the games in such a way that they all continue to feel like themselves. I believe I've mentioned this previously, but it's worth me praising it again because of how difficult it is and also how much thought has clearly gone into deciding how certain characters word their thoughts, and what they might be doing absentmindedly while talking. As a result, I've yet to have a moment where I've been taken out of the story when a character has acted out of character, because, as far as I can tell, none of them have in any significant way.

Another thing that is impressive here and has been in your past stories as well is how you handle some of the more unique elements of the plots you tend to come up with. The more political aspects of this series in terms of the subterfuge and squabbling remain really engaging since they are addressed through the perspectives of likeable characters, both of your own creation and also not. Similarly, the more graphic (bloody) parts feel as though they are in the story for more than mere shock value, existing to communicate how truly evil certain characters are and also to keep the reader guessing as to what their goals truly are.

In terms of what could be improved, there are a few typos (which is a really minor thing as I've said before) and a few sentences here and there which could have perhaps been worded slightly differently in order to sound a little more natural. The vast majority of them are perfect as they are, but a small minority sound slightly off, which may be the result of you as the author having read through your own work multiple times, meaning said sentences sound perfectly fine to you but maybe aren't quite as natural to a fresh set of eyes many months after you uploaded the chapter.

On the whole, another great few chapters and I look forward as ever to reading more!
dogboat333 chapter 28 . 5/27/2020
Holy crap. Just... holy crap. I'm sorry I haven't been around to review the other chapters until now, life got in the way. But after reading the past three... just... fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I had to finally write something about this.

I'll try to go over the content of each chapter with as few spoilers as possible. For 26, while I do get why you might have wanted to rewrite some aspects of it (some of Roahn's internal monologue seemed kind of off to me), the action was great, and the choice between the two characters was incredibly well executed (pardon the pun), especially in how it turned out at the end.

For 27, the dialogue surrounding the aftermath of the last chapter was good, and all of the actions and lamenting felt appropriate and were presented well. The scheme that Roahn hatches, while it is kind of impractical, is something that I can see her wanting to go through with, and I can believe that her character would do that. Same goes with good old Gar-bear and his decision to go with Roahn.

And finally, the most recent chapter. I don't know if I have anything to critique about this one. Everything falls into place here, and it feels great. From finally getting a sense of Aleph's motives (brilliantly done and explained, by the way. That scene is honestly one of the best I've ever read on this website, if not in general) to the action scene to the cliffhanger at the end. I love how all of the decisions in this story actually seem to have consequences, and this chapter really proves that.

If you have any more specific questions for me, send me a PM and I'll go more in depth on more specific stuff. For now, though, good job as always. Keep it up.
Mandalorian Runescaper chapter 11 . 5/7/2020
Okay, so this is for chapters 8-11, though I won't get into spoilers here just in case someone who hasn't got that far comes across this review.

As was the case with chapters 1-7, the pacing is very much on point. There was never a moment when I felt as a reader as though something in the plot needed either more time dedicated to it or less focus than it already had.

The characters are likewise still very engaging and likeable (well, the good guys are). Roahn is as compelling as ever, and your decision to give her personal challenges to overcome as well as the obvious main hurdle of her mission makes her feel like a real person rather than just a "hero". The others, both canon and OC, similarly all feel as though they have a reason to be in the story, with their own struggles they have to contend with alongside the one they share with Roahn.

There are still occasional typos, but they are still very minor. As a reader, they don't detract from the experience at all really, because they are so small and the overall structure of the sentences that have them is clear enough that the reader instantly still knows what was meant. So while they are a point of criticism, they are so minor as to be negligible.

This is less a criticism and more something that could become a criticism, but there is a possibility that the number of villains could become an issue. Obviously they are all still rather mysterious, but there are some that are more compelling than others currently. However, that might be because much more will be revealed about the ones that the reader knows less about at the moment at a later stage.

Overall, chapters 8-11 have certainly lived up to expectations, and I'm still excited to see what the next few have in store!
dogboat333 chapter 25 . 4/24/2020
Ho boy. We're in the endgame, now, aren't we?

I'm getting more and more excited about this heist. The build-up is really exciting to me, and I'm curious about how it's going to go and how it might go to hell. The Cirae/Miranda arc is also messing with my mind with the possibilities of what they're about to get up to. The action scene was very well done, although I have come to expect that, and now I'm excited to see Cirae go after a bunch of blue bastards.

One of my favorite moments of this chapter, though, was the Roahn section. Sky coming in to ask Roahn for alone time was a fun callback to the romance scenes in the games, so Roahn telling Skye that she wants alone time made me chuckle a little bit. It was a nice subversion of expectations, and the videotape of Shep and Tali was a lot more interesting than another sex scene (although the gross hormonal male part of me wouldn't have minded another scene :P). I have a lingering feeling that something bad is gonna happen related to one (maybe many) of the core characters of this story, so this moment of normality is nice.

This is going to get good. I'll have to get some popcorn for the next chapter. Stay safe, my friend, and I'll see you next chapter.
dogboat333 chapter 24 . 4/13/2020
Good stuff. The Sam and Nya stuff is nice, although I feel that I'm missing some more context from their relationship since I haven't read the Quantum Error (fully, at least), but that just gives me a reason to read it. I thought the exchange between Sam and Roahn was pretty amusing as well, and I enjoyed it.

But I really enjoyed the build up that you set up for the next chapter(s). I like how Korridon stepped up and helped figure out the next move, and the way that the next move is going to have to go down (I'm being vague on purpose to avoid spoilers) has me excited for the next chapter.

I'm waiting in anticipation for the next chapter. Stay safe, my friend.
Mandalorian Runescaper chapter 7 . 3/28/2020
Good to see you still know how to keep a mystery unfolding at just the right pace, giving us enough to keep us engaged and wondering while also not giving us so much information that it's possible to work out everything that's happening too early.

A lot has occured in the five chapters since I last reviewed, and it's great to see more characters, both canon and OC, being introduced, as well as how you've chosen to pair or group them. The previously established ones all feel like themselves for the most part, meaning the reader never really feels like so and so is out of character, which demonstrates just how well you understand the universe.

The antagonists are certainly interesting, with their designs in particular standing out on account of their uniqueness and how descriptive you've been so far. That's something you've always been good at, even going back to the "For Her" series; it's nice and easy for the reader to visualise what you're describing.

The pacing is just right in my opinion. Breakneck speed at the start of the story, then slower as the initial action ends and the calm before the storm if you will takes hold. As much as you do tend to write very long chapters, they never feel unduly lengthy, which is a testament to how well-written this story is.

As before, the only criticism I have is the occasional typo. But if that's the only thing I can think to complain about, then rest assured you're doing a huge amount right.

Basically, the first seven chapters have been great and I can't wait to sit down and start reading through chapter eight!

I've kept this review spoiler-free, so if there's anything specific you'd like my thoughts on, just let me know.
dogboat333 chapter 23 . 3/22/2020
Before I start anything, I gotta say I vehemently disagree with that first quote. As a Vanguard main, charging in with no plan is the only real way to play Mass Effect.

Now that I've made that clear, ho boy, this was good. It was nice to get some more insight on Huston and figure out what makes him tick. I more or less expected what happened with Roahn and Skye would happen, but I thought it was sweet on how it went down.

And then, the bar scene. Ho boy. The dialogue in this was great. The mercs talking about how rough the galaxy is was a great bit of worldbuilding. The poker game altogether was great. And that one line that was dropped before the fight scene broke out, holy shit, that was good. The fighting was tight and I was curious about what might happen. One thing that I do have to say is that I felt that this came a bit too early in the chapter and I think it would have fit more later on.

Other than that, absolutely great. I'm thoroughly excited for the next chapter. Stay healthy and best of luck with the new job.
dogboat333 chapter 22 . 3/20/2020
Ho boy. When it rains, it pours, and hell if it didn't rain down on this chapter.

Let's start easy. The stuff with Roahn, Korridon, and Skye was nice, and while I have a feeling of how their relationship is going to go, I'm still enjoying the tension between Skye and Roahn. It's nice to hear from Cirae again, and it does make sense that a lot of what's happening might go to the very top. Decent intrigue and character stuff, though that was more or less what I expected.

But holy shit, that Jack and James section. I figured that their situation wouldn't last forever, but I didn't fully anticipate Admiral Huston's response. It makes me wonder how the hell they're going to get out of this one (if they even will).

Well done. Stay healthy, my friend, and I hope you publish the next chapter soon.
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