Reviews for The Zenith
romandesimone chapter 98 . 1/19/2014
I loved the story, thank you very much.
Sorry I can't say more than that but the journey has been very emotional for me, and I feel almost as drained as Fritha must feel.
The characters were very well written and there were times when I felt I was there with them all.
There were also moments when I could relate with what Fitha and Anomen were experiencing.
I look forward to more stories from you.
Minthis chapter 98 . 7/27/2009
It was a thrilling trip tragging along with Fritha and her company through their adventures, and I would like to thank you for sharing it with us.

It was a sad through understandable ending on Fritha's journey and I am sorry that it will end here.

I particuarly like how her mind drifts back to Candlekeep at the ending, and it so well written that I almost felt the same.

All in all I think it is a wonderful story that has been made and told, and many times I have reread a chapter finding myself thinking that "If only I could write as good" :)

I don't know if you feel your writing has improved as much as you had hoped, but I personally think it is wonderful.
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 98 . 7/25/2009
So here we are at the end of the story, and what a long journey it has been. I came into the tale a few chapters into it, having only discovered it after ‘Zenith’ was begun. I did go back and read ‘Sunrise’ and while it makes for a great story as well and a fine introduction, ‘Zenith’ surpasses it in terms of depth and just the sheer power of the narrative. I can only imagine how much more you could do with Throne of Bhaal and I anticipate it greatly, but you’ve earned some rest and I hope you enjoy some time off from writing before you delve back into it.

A flaw I see all too often in Baldur’s Gate fiction is the characterization of the player character, this seems even more true of female protagonists though I’m not sure why. There are several stories that had great potential, but the protagonist was so unrealistic or difficult to like that they fell far short of becoming memorably epic. To me, the supporting characters are just as important as the protagonist. To really feel the PC you need to understand why their companions would love them, fight for them, and travel with them to the very ends of Toril and beyond.

You triumphed in this endeavor, and it makes Zenith a true epic that I will always hold close to my heart.

The way that Anomen’s search for Fritha translated into scenes of the other characters and how they were relaxing, was wonderfully smooth and the end of the chapter was bitter sweet but held a note of truth. It reminds me a bit of Samwise at end of the Two Towers, where he relates tales of old, where you wondered if anything could ever be right again after everything had gone so bad, but in the end the heroes triumphed and those were the stories that were remembered, those were stories that stuck with you.

Going into Throne of Bhaal I hold out hope that Fritha can find herself again, but I do not think she will ever be as she was, but to me that doesn’t mean she will not ever find peace. It will just be that she has grown and changed, matured into a different Fritha. That is not always a bad thing.

To end this, I want to thank you for having gifted myself and the rest of your fans, with such a lovely story and I wish you luck in any future endeavors. Whether the winds of writing take you to more Forgotten Realms stories or your own original fiction, I know you will capture minds, hearts and imaginations of those lucky enough to discover your tales. Congratulations, Blackcross-Taylor, and thank you!
Kateling chapter 98 . 7/21/2009
Hi

I came late into this story, I think you were just a few chapters away from finishing when I stumbled across it during an impromptu visit to this site in an effort to avoid exam revision. But now, having finished all 98 chapters, I thought I'd offer my sincere congratulations and praise for a wonderful ride :)

Truly, you have a beautiful knack for characterisation. Of both published and unpublished writers, I have rarely been so impressed by a protagonist's development and character arc, particularly over so long a story as Shadows of Amn. You have created an entirely credible, complex, multi-dimensional character, one who is both delightful and tragic. Her gradual disintergration over the course of the story was so well done, and I am glad you did not end on a sugar-sweet, happily-ever-afer note. It was a sad, but realistic ending - although one does hope that Fritha, although irrevocably changed, will one day find some measure of happiness. (Hopefully with Eiryn/Wren!)

The supporting cast (i.e. Jaheira, Nalia, Anomen etc.) are equally as rich and well drawn - I was particuarly impressed by your interpretation of Jaheira and her own development. You succeeded in making me fall in love with many characters I had previously loathed, namely Nalia and Aerie - and whilst I confess I don't believe I'll ever be able to like Anomen, you are certainly the closest anyone has ever gotten me to it! The proliferals (i.e. Wren, Simon, Renal etc.) were just as delightful and really gave your story a lot of depth and colour. As I said above, what really struck me about your writing was just how good your ability to develop compelling, genuine characters was.

I am a great fan of the game, but I find I'm almost afraid this story has ruined it a little for me, for I know that I could never relive the richness and fullness of the world of Amn as I have discovered in following the troubles and trials of Fritha of Candlekeep. You brought the characters and the setting so fully to life - and it seems right now, that no other could compare :)

Overall all, you have a lovely writing style and your story line is very well structured. I liked the places where you exercised poetic license, and was impressed how much of the game you included. Given the restraints of the general game plot, and the hard slog nature of Fritha's journey, it really is a testament to your writing skill that the story didn't drag. For the same reasons, you could also easily have rushed to get from plot point to plot point, particularly towards the end, but instead you achieved the right balance in terms of pacing. I find I have very little to offer in the way of criticism; my only *slight* disappointment was in the Fritha/Imoen relationship, which at times felt a little underdrawn and I didn't feel it had much in the way of closure at the end.

I would love to see the story continue up until the Throne (I did like Irenicus' nod toward the Five during the Tree of Life sequence), if only to give Fritha the oppurtunity to learn how to smile and sing again :) Still, this works stands entirely complete, even with its open-ended, more bitter-than-sweet ending. I wish you all the best with your writing, and can only hope to read more of your work in the future. Once again, thanks for an amazing character and truly wonderful ride. Truly, this is something quite special you have created here.
Red Haired Stranger chapter 98 . 7/19/2009
Wow.

...

Wow.

I can't quite believe it's done, with 98 chapters, no less.

What a roller coaster of awesomeness. I don't think I can really say anything else. Your writing these past two years has ensnared all I could ever hope for from an already awesome game. Be in no doubt of your talents concerning your writing. I hope to see your name pop up again with a new story soon, and I'm certain that it will be as magnificent as your past two.

Congratulations on your second complete story! Now please come out with a third!

Until then,

Cheers.
misty chapter 98 . 7/17/2009
This is not the end right? There's still Throne of Bhaal to get through...

I do hope we'll get to see more of your writing in any case as I'd happily put this story on a bookshelf next to some of my favourite novels.
Sombre Destin chapter 98 . 7/17/2009
It feels weirs to see the conclusion of this great story approaching.

I've been following Fritha's adventures for years and it was incredible to see the evolution of such an original character.

I seldom felt so attached to a fanfic character, to the point that reading the post-Spellhold chapters was almost painful.

Still, I like that you didn't just treat the loss of Fritha's soul as just another incident, but as a major change with dire, and lasting consequences.

Still, it would be nice if she could get back some of her joy before the end.
AutumnFire28 chapter 97 . 7/14/2009
I can't believe it's almost over! You are a brilliant writer, and I SO hope you continue to tell Fritha's story in another installment...maybe "Sunset"? Anyway, your last few chapters have been great. Regarding your most recent, I really like how you've condensed the Abyss by telling about each character's trials. The way you melded them together by connecting the last sentence of one trial with the first sentence of another was very creative and clever. It made the story flow together very nicely.

There are three things that give me hope that you'll post a new story after "The Zenith" is over: First, you've introduced Sarevok, and it doesn't make sense to incorporate him unless you're planning to continue his character development and/or redemption story in a sequel. Secondly, the romance with Anomen, while very well-written in "The Zenith", is incomplete. This makes me think that you're planning on fleshing it out more in another story. Which, really, is very smart. When you think of all the great T.V. shows that peaked after the romantic tension was resolved, it makes sense to draw it out. I know I've mentioned this in previous reviews, but what makes the romantic aspect of your story so believable is that you take your time. I don't know quite how to put this, but it's almost hierarchical, or tiered. You slowly and gradually build, mold and develop the relationships between the two characters so when you finally DO introduce the 'romance', it makes perfect sense. I have found that many authors rush through the character development to get to the 'good stuff', and the characters are in love by chapter two. To me, this makes the story unbelievable and cheesy. But I digress.

Anyway, the third thing that makes me think you'll continue the story is that it is so very rare to find an author that is willing to FINISH what she's started. My hat is off to you, Blackcross-Taylor. To have consistantly updated this story nearly every week (or two) for over two years is unbelievable. You were born to be a writer, and I think that before long you'll feel that writerly urge to finish what you've started. :-) At least, I'm hoping. But if not, I thank you now for all the immense enjoyment your writing has brought to this community and to myself personally.
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 97 . 7/14/2009
I almost wanted to say ‘wow this chapter was SHORT!’ but really, compared to most chapter fics around here it is still fairly long. I’ve just been gorging myself on your novel length chapters before now so I suppose I’ve gotten spoiled and now find it difficult to settle for less. *Unless I’m reading a one-off, of course*

Even shorter as ‘Hell’ was, I liked it. The checkered landscape made me think of Alice in Wonderland briefly, where the chess board was stretched out across the land. It is also fitting that it was so barren as Fritha herself was very barren until she got her soul back . . . Which I see you saved for the VERY end of the chapter. Naughty girl! Tsk tsk.

Switching off between the different party members as they faced their own personal demons was quite effective, as you let the scenes bleed into each other. As always though, Fritha’s interaction is the least expected. I suppose I would’ve thought Sarevok would be angrier and I still wonder if it was really him, or just a conjuring of Fritha’s mind. Such as that ‘Hell’ was. It seems you might be readying Sarevok for the redemption arc in Throne of Bhaal, if it really was him.

The battle with Irenicus was over quick, as I recall your battle with Sarevok in Sunrise was over in a short time as well. However, I think that tactic worked better here. It has a certain irony to it. All that suffering and fighting, expecting a big moment, and in so short a time Irenicus was left with nothing.

Lovely chapter here, though it DID leave me yearning for more. ;)

I very much want to see how Fritha is with her soul back. All her hopelessness was pretty unfounded, she made it anyway. Yay for happy endings! Though I do think not EVERYTHING will be sunshine and roses after this, certainly not with Throne of Bhaal yet to come. I also must say that I’m very glad you chose to continue. The tales of Fritha just wouldn’t feel complete if they ended in Shadows of Amn. You can be assured that I will be taking the next journey with you, hot on your heels as I read every chapter. :D
Ariquelle chapter 96 . 7/8/2009
I know I have reviewed very little, but I have been reading your story for a while now. I find your writing so good, that there are honestly no criticisms I can offer.

Seeing as this story is drawing to a close, I thought I might leave a single review.

Your writing style has to be one of the best I have ever encountered, in fanfictiondom and professional writing alike. Your skills in characterization, description, and dialog are especially potent. You have analyzed the storyline and characters of the original baldur's gate games and vastly improved upon an already excellent story.

I look forward to seeing how you will conclude this brilliant work, and hope that you might continue it through the Throne of Bhaal storyline. (Although judging from what you said at the beginning of this chapter and some things Fritha said herself throughout the story, I can see that it may not turnout that way.) Either way, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to reading anything you may write now or in the future, be it fanfiction, or original work.
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 96 . 7/5/2009
As a special gift to you for all your hard work thus far, I’m going to write this review all ‘official’ style. ;)

It isn’t much of a return on this wonderful epic you deliver to the readers but here it is all the same.

Blackcross-Taylor has a wonderful sense of inner-story continuity, as even details that seem minute become part of the tale later in a way that speaks of a tightly woven romp. This is by far one of the more detailed Baldur’s Gate themed stories to be found in the community.

The protagonist has such a toxic-fragility about her that just as you find she can be frustrating, you realize that is because you have come to care for the character and her companions as if they are real people. Through good times and bad there is always a sense of realism that can be both uplifting and heart wrenching.

Set in the detail-rich world of the Forgotten Realms, this fantasy epic will take you on a thrilling ride, into horror and adventure so tense you might wonder if you left the real world behind.

The villains avoid clichés, and have a surprisingly sympathetic origin that it is hard to find in the literature of today, where attempts to humanize evil winds up destroying it and turning into something not nearly as interesting.

A highly entertaining and will written series, Blackcross Taylor has surely triumphed among the Baldur’s Gate class.
greyfall chapter 96 . 7/5/2009
I'm so glad you have shared this story with us, I look forward to every update. You capture every character's voice so well and Fritha is a well rounded personality. You combine plot with character development evenly so that both are accomplished smoothly. If I had to pick one writing area to improve on, I would suggest that you work on maintaining one narrative voice at a time; sometimes the narration will start with Jaheira in one section, switch over to Anomen, and then end with Fritha. I think it's best to keep only one voice per section, and transition to other voices when the section is clearly over and the next one begins. It can be slightly confusing to tell when the voice has shifted to the next character. Not to say that each chapter can have only one voice, just that if the narration changes in that chapter, make sure the section is clearly separated from the next section.

I'm hoping you continue into ToB or your interpretation of that game. I'm sure your creative mind will make whatever happens next in Fritha's journey to be more entertaining than the normal ToB story, and I think I'd go into withdrawal if I didn't get more of Fritha's adventures after her current adventures are over. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of her fight against Irenicus, in any event. Thank you again for sharing this story with us! :)
Minthis chapter 96 . 7/4/2009
I am shamed to say that this is the first review I have ever done on the site, but your story is such that it more than deserve it!

I found the story while it was still around chapter 20 or so, and I will say that I have read it from there on and been happy each time I did so. I do not pretend to correct your English as my own is likely worse, but my thoughts:

I am awe struck by your use of Fritha's internal voices, be it inspired from her mind or the taint (or both!), as I don't believe that it is an easy thing to incorporate into a story. In the last part of chapter 96, where it actually gives sound combat advice, is particularly well done. It gives a glimpse of how the taint actually influences her, which I am very fond of.

Also letting there be an army of Drow to back Irenicus up was a nice touch!

The elven name of Irenicus was JonEleth though, as far as I recall, not JonOleth – though it is of cause your choice to name them as you please.

Also letting Fritha's life 'pass' after she killed Irenicus was a fine way to end it, and you thankfully let the other people be occupied other places in town - I find soul searching best left to the self. It was always an odd thing to do, to “drag” all your friends to die with you simply to be able to face the trials ahead...

Other than that I hope that you will continue to favor us with your writing, even through the Throne of Bhaal. I found this part of the game over far too quickly, but I hope your writing may not be!
Pirate Jenny chapter 95 . 6/27/2009
I second Italian Empress on that one: Go people, review!

(Coming from the girl who's leaving her second review ever).

This story just keeps getting better and better with every chapter... I like how Fritha is affected by the loss of her soul, and I can't wait to see how she copes with everything she's done once she gets it back. How she's treated her friends, the way she acted in the drow city, Solaufein...

I also love to see her clinging to her old self just because she remembers how she was and how she felt. It must be hard when all you have left to dictate your actions is the souvenir of what you would have done before. She's a very strong girl!

Anomen's abduction was very well-done. I must admit at some point I though you wouldn't write this subquest because Fritha really did seem not to care one bit about him... and yet it was very clear in this chapter that everything is not over. I loved her little confession to him at the inn. It could have been so sappy and yet you kept it simple and to the point and that was very realistic and believable.

Next chapter promises to be something to remember, if they finally reach Suldanesselar. I can't wait!

And once again sorry for any mistakes... Still working on my english :P
Italian Empress 1985 chapter 95 . 6/27/2009
I‘m really surprised that no one has reviewed this chapter yet, it certainly is one of your best ones of late and has some nice payoff in it as well. Some hope in all the doom and gloom, as it were. :p

-*-‘lopping off an arm and thrusting one of those behind her’-*-

Eww! But nice descriptions on the battles, you paint a clear picture of what is going on without becoming long winded about it. The same goes for the Anomen/Fritha ‘vampire moment’ It came to the point quickly, no pun intended, and yet still had enough meat to it that it didn’t seem like you were just trying to get it out of the way. Great job with the whole fight! *thumbs up*

You found a sensible way for Fritha to discover the vampire cure. It works fine to just go checking everything out in the GAME but to actually put it in a story . . . Well it comes off a little wonkey to be reading books after you just cleared out a vampire nest. You avoided the oddity of it, and I applaud you.

-*-”The only words I would hear again are his!”-*-

I liked that bit a lot. I also was touched by how she stroked his hair, though clearly it is nothing she would do whilst he was alive. Her soliloquy to him at the Imnesvale Inn was especially nice.

Simon intervening to let Fritha take Anomen’s body at the last second was BRILLIANT (in the smart meaning, not the color-related version I use) I hadn’t seen that coming at all and I was wearing a huge smile when it did. Woo! Go Simon! :D

Imoen’s pretense of flirting with Simon in the letter was just so ‘Imoen’ and a nice bit of lightness before the darkness that is the following chapter.

Great work as always!
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