|Reviews for Siblings
| Eyanid chapter 60 . 5/5/2016
Well, sitting here slightly stunned and mindblown, what an epic.
I looked to see other reviews and noticed most of the dates from years back, and of course how long ago you started this. I hope very much that all those who started this have read to the end because the story deserved it.
Some parts I did find harder to follow, conservations can get a bit jumbled, whose saying what, and motivations. But that didn't in any way effect the overall scope, which was majestic. The game doesn't really ever convey the importance of being Bhaalspawn, what it would mean (to the realms) ect.. TOB is a poorly strung together series of set pieces, rushed and under developed. Your vision restores some of the grandeur and story telling that should have been present.
I hope you get to see this review even if it is so late, nearly 10 years from the start, and thankyou for writing such a great story for me to enjoy.
| Randalish chapter 29 . 12/19/2014
"Knight's Attack;" or the chapter where I discover that -this- is where my tendency to play Helmite characters in D&D RPGs originated. Huh. I'd forgotten that.
What strikes me about these last couple of chapters is how incidental the goings on are to Imoen and Sarevok. They react to events, and warp them with their presence, but do not act with any great agency. In "Horse's move" they were... trying to find stolen horses. Here they're just minding their own business practising spells when Firkraag starts meddling. It works, so far, because the inconsequential nature of the side stories they get involve in provide a perfect backdrop for them to figure out their evolving relationship with one another and with the world at large, but I suspect this is what caused the slowdown I remember the story suffering from in the later parts.
In this part of the story in particular, Imoen and Sarevok seem almost secondary, almost stationary in their development for the first three quarters of the tale. Sure, they tug-of-war over Anomen's soul, in a manner of speaking, but it doesn't seem like it matters all that much to their personal development.
Of course, the finale of this section makes up for it and then some. Anomen's... betrayal? (That's not the right word, since in fact he did exactly what he was supposed to) hits hard, and Imoen's reaction to Sarevok's plight makes acute the slowly budding crisis of faith over the fact she now -cares- about her evil brother. Good stuff.
But not the best stuff. This chapter truly is Anomen's story, moreso even than Cernd in the last part. Funnily enough, he's far and away my most loathed character in the actual game. Bigoted, conceited, narrow-minded, self-righteous, obnoxious... but with such a good backstory to explain all of that, in a story that allows more space for exploring his perspective and internal struggles... it works. Family, social and societal expectations, the loss of loved ones, the conflict between faithfulness to one's self-image and that which actually makes us happy. Wonderful material. It also makes me want to give the poor guy a hug. In a way, Anomen's story puts Imoen and Sarevok's into context, showing how much of the ordinary human experience they lack due to their unorthodox upbringings and position outside of the fabric of ordinary human society. At the same time, seeing Sarevok through Anomen's eyes lets me appreciate him anew. (There's less perspective on Imoen to be gained, but that's okay since Cernd gave us plenty in the last chapter.)
The conflict with Firkraag itself isn't that interesting, except in letting us see the characters react to such a grand threat. That's what you get when the villain's main motivation is boredom and vaguely directed malice. Coran is and remains a wanker no matter what story he appears in, but such is his purpose in life. The Orcs are a good backdrop for other stuff, but I don't really care about them either. No, this is definitely Anomen's story. I remembered him appearing in the story, but had not expected to like him so much as I did. I must have liked him the first time around too, or I wouldn't have let him influence my RPG characters as much as I did. Though I have a vague sense of foreboding regarding his ultimate fate...
I'm not sure if I can trust my memory on that, but there's only one way to find out. Onto the next part, then.
| Randalish chapter 19 . 12/3/2014
I remembered this part less clearly than the first two, but I don't think it's for that reason that I may well like this best of all.
Three things stand out in this part. Firstly, of course, there's the rapidly evolving relationship between Sarevok and Imoen, culminating in the final scene. This is the part where they truly start to see one another as people, I think. I seem to remember later parts deal with Sarevok's ensuing crisis of identity over this and other developments, but for now it's Imoen who finds herself compromised and confused about what this makes her. I'd forgotten how engaging a character she is in this story: easily as complex and impressive as Sarevok, though - as per their respective natures - the latter does tend to hog the spotlight a bit.
Secondly, there's the sub-plot with the druids and Cernd. It's surprisingly involving for something that doesn't really affect either of the protagonists. (I mean, they're just involved because someone stole their horses! Can you say "Only here to eat popcorn and meddle?") That's because of Cernd, of course, and to a lesser extend the other druids. In the game, Cernd was... thoroughly boring, shall we say? But here the side-characters succeed in drawing me in and making me care about the plot, which therefore works much better as a backdrop for the abovementioned character development.
Thirdly and finally there is your take on what it means to be a god in this setting. This part is, for the first time, where the siblings (Or rather, Imoen) are more than humans with glowy eyes and/or some bonus special abilities. They're still people, with human needs and wants and desires, just like the gods in ancient pantheons the world over tend to be. But how do you relate to people when your very presence warps reality, not according to your own desires but according to your nature? Particularly when your nature is murder? Fascinating stuff, and fascinating fodder for future plots. I don't recall if this thread shows up much in later chapters, but I find myself hoping it does.
Definitely glad I started re-reading this.
| Randalish chapter 11 . 10/27/2014
This second part, unlike the first, does not have that fan-fiction quality I described in my last review, where the reader is required to use his existing knowledge of the source to flesh out the story and understand how it all hangs together.
There are still fun side notes for those who remember the game (Haer'Dalis' cameo comes to mind, and it's fun playing "spot the side-quest") but they are no longer required, and this part of the story does stand on its own.
I remember enjoying this part quite a lot, and indeed I still do. I hadn't quite remembered why, though. But it's the ground-level view of the politics of the shadow-thieves, the sense that these people are actually trying to live in this fantastical city, that there is such a thing as a day-to-day routine in a world where reality is as mutable as putty. It is in the sense of normalcy Imoen seeks and finds (perversely, in a guild of magical thieves pulling heists in temples and clashing with child-killing gnomes) and the time this chapter makes for concerns that aren't life-or-death. (or death-or-murder.)
I remembered liking Edwin despite it all, against better judgement. I still do, though now I remember what that "despite" contained. I love Imoen's aborted attempt at a quasi-relationship with him. On the one hand; so very unromantic, based not on love or desire or even any great attraction, but simply on availability and the vaguest common ground, and the need to feel something, anything more than the mere basics of survival. On the other hand; it is a gesture of defiance, a choice to seek life rather than give in to the prophecies fates. Either way, it is very human.
Until, of course, it ends. I remembered this part ending badly, but I had forgotten just how much of a clusterfuck this devolves in. I do feel for Imoen, even as her every move digs herself deeper, even as the bodies start to pile up around her, even as (especially as) she is finally moved to murder.
I'm curious about Sarevok's perspective during all this. On the surface, he seems to have everything, though in reality much of it is borrowed power. (From Aran, or from his sire.) For all the talk of queening, Imoen is far from his equal at the end of this. What has changed for her isn't the skills and powers she's developed, or the kills she's made. No, what will make her far more dangerous from here on out is the illusions she's lost. The desires and dreams that held her back are gone, or at least subsumed for the time being. I wonder what Sarevok made of that. I wonder if he sees his past self in her.
| Randalish chapter 5 . 10/18/2014
Well, my tastes do not seem to have changed overmuch, over the years.
I do notice more cracks in the writing. Perhaps I have grown more critical, or perhaps I always pay more attention to details on a re-read. The odd typo or strange turn of phrase, a few disorientingly abrupt shifts in the point of view.
In my old review I said something about how the story could work even for someone not familiar with the game. Perhaps an author's note in the old version stated this intention? Anyway, I disagree with my past self. Re-reading, this part at least clearly only works as fanfiction, because a familiarity with Irenicus' dungeon and the characters in it is required for the action to make sense. The moment where Sarevok kills Yoshimo, for example, is one of my favourite scenes in this arc. Shocking, surprising (I'd quite forgotten about it) and very effective in establishing the character of Sarevok. But it only has the impact it does because we know who Yoshimo is. Or, on a more basic level, we never get a very clear idea of the kind of prison complex they're locked up in. Specific scenes and places are well described (The library, Irenicus' rooms, the grove) but the scene itself isn't really set, just glossed over for an audience that already knows they're in a giant underground maze. This isn't really a criticism of the story, since it -is- fan-fiction, but more of my past self review.
But all that aside, the things that made me remember this story are still there. The things that make this story work have lost none of their power. Sarevok remains an amazing presence, larger than life even when not seem through Imoen's terrified eyes. Imoen remains engaging and sympathetic, but I'd forgotten how quickly she starts fighting back to claim her place as Sarevok's equal. She does not succeed, not yet, not here, but the psychological struggle between them remains as compelling as I remember it being. Traps, dead mephits, Dungeons and Dragons kill-and-loot gameplay... they do not much interest me as story elements now, and I don't think they did back in 2008 either, but as a testing ground for personalities they still serve their purpose.
I look forward to finding out what I make of this story as the plot progresses. I remember liking part 2 a lot, and thinking the D&D plot stuff started to become too prominent in act IV or thereabouts. I'll let you know what I'll make of it now.
| Randalish chapter 47 . 10/16/2014
Wait, what. This has been updated? No, wait... it is actually -finished-?
I remember I foolhardily offered to help you pinpoint some way of resolving the issues you were running in to back in 2008, and promptly flaked out on you when I didn't get anywhere either. (So uh, six years later, sorry about that. If you still remember it.) I never forgot this story, though. It's partially to blame for starting me on this "fanfiction" thing in the first place. On occasion, I'd remember this tale. The beginning, mostly. I'd remember how I'd felt for Imoen on her travails and misadventures, or the odd mix of utter hatred, fear and admiration I held for Sarevok. I'd remember the tale was unfinished, but shrug and accept that. It's the fate of such stories, as often as not.
But to see this is now actually finished... well, that's a weird experience, really. Disorienting. Like a fondly remembered but not -that- important pet goldfish suddenly coming back from the dead, or that plant you swore you'd killed through a mixture of ineptitude and negligence suddenly spouting new buds. After standing in a pot in the back of your mental closet for... oh, six years.
So now it's decision time. Obviously, I am going to read the rest of this story, whatever disclaimers you put in this interlude. But do I re-read the other... 150.000 words, or do I try to muddle through on very dated memories? (I think there were... adventurers. And... something happened with Bodhi. And... uhm... ... that Kriemhild name doesn't ring a bell.) On the plus side, the changes to the previous chapters shouldn't matter if I can't recall the plot-points anyway...
Memories aside, I've obviously aged a bit as well and I wonder if my opinions on the story would still be the same. I dug up that long review I wrote back in the day and apparently I liked this quite a bit. Hm. Forecast says more rain in the nearby future. Might as well stay in and read, right?
I'll get back to you.
| Blue-Inked Frost chapter 53 . 5/31/2014
I'm sorry it took me ages to catch up on your story and review, and I can't even think of much to say beyond a lot of repetitive praise! I really like how your version of Throne of Bhaal has the timeskip, has the character development, changes around the story, and provides what I think is the best interpretation of Melissan I've ever read. I like the epic sense of it all, and how Imoen and Sarevok are journeying on to become gods. This is unique and fascinating. I also like the individual writing style. I think it's clever and different, and I enjoyed reading all these latest chapters.
| Shadowhawke chapter 1 . 2/19/2011
Wow, this is an absolutely fascinating premise. I can't wait to keep reading!
| Belgalen chapter 47 . 12/11/2008
I find this history only recently, Is the best I reed (along with "Tales of a Bhaalspawn") I just hope that it would be finished some day.
| Falco chapter 29 . 11/12/2008
"There was a brief pause, just enough for the audience to fill in all the absent titles."
Very good! I like the way you write Ryan Trawl in general; he's almost kick-ass glamorous, except that he's a paladin, which rather limits his capabilities in that direction - more polite-tap-on-the-shoulder glamorous, really. But more people should say hello to Sarevok by shooting him through the hand with a crossbow! It's very stylish.
It was enjoyable to catch up with the other brother and sister. Irenicus is very Irenicus. Good to see he isn't roasting marshmallows in Spellhold instead of brooding on his plots. And Bodhi is very Bodhi!
"She turned in her saddle when they were making the turn in the gorge, and cast one last look at the eyrie, and the red, worm-like body coiled under it, and the people swarming around it."
A strong image and a strong sentence. It makes me think of Beowulf (a lot of things do) but I also like the way it reduces the knights to ant-like creatures crowding round a corpse. Not that I've got anything against knights, I just like the effect!
The final lines round this arc of the story off nicely.
| Falco chapter 28 . 11/11/2008
I think that's my favourite ever use of Edwin's addiction to asides. (Really.) It was good to see him again, even if the scene was painful as well as humorous. The best kind of scene!
I've always had a soft-spot for Firkraag, and unsurprisingly, I like him here - his charm must have missed Imoen and hit me. The description of him in human and dragon form is very striking, and I like the inclusion of the transformation - perhaps because there's something arresting in image of the richly-dressed human suddenly becoming a richly-coloured dragon. (Though not as striking as the time I cast 'Sphere of Chaos' and he turned into a rabbit.) :)
Not good at commenting on fights, but well done! I especially liked the introduction of ambiguity concerning Firkraag's motives into Sarevok's account of his dragon-riding episode. The idea of a dying dragon just wanting to chat about, you know, life, the universe and Germanic mythology is great, and makes Sarevok seem all the more the epic hero, while Imoen pursues her spiritual conflict in the dream-realm.
| Falco chapter 27 . 10/11/2008
Ouch, poor Anomen. I'd rather not consider exactly how he found out about his father's adultery. The phrasing of the implication is neatly done.
I like your 19th century-style third omniscient voice and I like the sections written in a tighter third person – but I have some mild doubts about, not so much the transitions between them, which work, but *checks Siblings Part 1 Chapter 1* what feels to me like the slightly uneven distribution of the strong authorial voice through the narrative; it seems to occur more and more prominently in the recent chapters than the earlier ones. This isn't a criticism – if there were any concrit, it would be to emphasise the s.a.v. in the very first chapters.
The more active, clever role given to Moira in the Delryn family is a nice change from the 'Patient Griselda' of BG2 and other fanfictions.
Helm is not a very fluffy, cuddly kind of deity; just the sort to reinforce all of Anomen's insecurities, in other words.
The skeleton of the dead king has a great description. And I want his armour! I could stand on top of a mountain and cackle maniacally in it. Until the next thunderstorm.
I like the circumstances of the introduction of Sarevok's bride-to-be and also his subsequent discussion of orc society with Anomen. The latter's line is priceless: "'Twill be a pleasure to assist the Lady Anchev..." Aw. Well said, Anomen.
It feels as if something should go between "...ever so often, brother?" and the explosion at "What?"
...And the previous comment on Helm was written before I read Sarevok's talk with Imoen, about Helm's fondness for testing his disciples.
"A one-night werewolf." Snerk. And Pangur/Altair - why not? I'll ship it... And Sarevok's doing some of his own shipping, too...
Good chapter. :)
Oh - and I think the final line would read more naturally with 'has' substituted for the pluperfect.
| Falco chapter 26 . 8/21/2008
First time I've ever encountered 'hecatomb' in a fanfiction. Actually, first time I've ever encountered hecatomb at all. I like the word, though. I'll maybe make a note to steal it for something myself. ;)
I enjoyed the description of the fight with the undead, especially the appearance of the vampires and Sarevok's exchange with Lassal. In addition, I loved the way Imoen's emptiness after being drained by a vampire is linked to Irenicus.
"I nearly died here, you know, she complained to the world in general."
Heh, very good. :) Not least because of the terrible fanfictions where everyone goes into meltdown when the leading lady stubs her toe.
The twist - that Garren and his children were the vampires - is a clever idea. Better than the adventures storming in and making everything at Windspear hunky-dory again.
I won't pull out anything, because there's too much to quote, but I loved the final section about the orcs.
| Ashimodo chapter 2 . 8/20/2008
Well done! Your descriptions are more than adequate, for the surroundings, at least. But you have yet to really tell the reader much of how the characters look, or sound, or smell for that matter. We know Imoen is wearing leather armor and uses a bow, while Sarevok wears would-be plate armor and wields a sword to big to swing properly in the "snaking passages". But we don't know what THEY look like. Imoen has pink hair; that's rather distinctive, and should be mentioned. Sarevok is bald and black skinned; it would be nice to know that. It is much easier to relate and identify with a character if a reader can picture them in their mind. We'll see how things are next chapter.
| Ashimodo chapter 1 . 8/20/2008
Ok, decent opening, good job staying In Character, and you seem to know how to say as much as possible while writing as little as you can. Excellent.
However, there's that little tiny thing we writers call "description". I, luckily, have played SoA going on a dozen times (I love it!), so I know what Imoen and Sarevok look like, as well as having memorized the first dungeon. Other readers, however unlikely it may be, have possible NOT. I say it is unlikely because they would not be here without knowing about what they're reading. Anywho, as interesting and character-developing dialoge may be, it doesn't do much for the senses of the reader. Describe especially the characters that are talking (otherwise we might as well listen to a radio) and elaborate on their surroundings. Observations, sounds, smells, feelings, tastes; all of these are necessary for reader immersion. Describe lighting, wall patterns, echoes, any smell that might be there, maybe even the taste of the air, and probably temperature as well, along with possible slime or some such, as well as wind ("no wind" is just as informative as "gentle breezes") and other 'feelings'. This will make or break a story, particularly an adventure story with lots of traveling.
That's it, for now. Thanks for being IC.