|Reviews for Sirens of Azeroth|
| Ihsan997 chapter 24 . 5/17
Very apt author's note - it is indeed a transition to the final chapter, but also important as it's necessary for chapter 25 to work. We find out a bit about Aetheras and her trials, the singing voice and the growing that she herself did before Leyla - traversing the same path. Leyla is seeing a much older version of herself who still only has a head start of a few years in ending isolationism, and the bonding with Shri also sets up the issue of stories - the inspiration she gets from knowing so many people who helped her grow. She did need her parents to stop clinging, but she also needed the good company to help her.
And now, the end - I've reviewed every chapter and can review no more. Chapters 25 and 26 were actually my first reviews, which I don't think I'll do with Fire Dancer in retrospect.
T. Mirai, thank you so, so much for writing this. It brightened many of my days as it did for so many other readers, and if this is how you wrote starting from seven to four years ago (three years, wow!) then I can only imagine how you'll do once you move on to brand new stories and characters.
I still have questions on this story I didn't find answered on your old Formspring account, though I understand that you're uber busy from comments on your DA, so I'll withhold - I expect to have a buttload from Fire Dancer as well. I'm especially wondering where life took Leyla most of all after six months but those can wait. You did a great job and made many people happy! Hooray!
| Ihsan997 chapter 23 . 5/16
The decisions you mention at the bottom author's note here were all for the better. And you're right - much of the story has been about Leyla understanding the world through the eyes of others, but it's here that we see more about HER. Leyla Jadefern is not stupid, despite what she thought of herself back in chapter one. She only needed to find herself and the sad truth is that as much as her family tried to help her, their controlling and overprotective nature got in the way. Once she was left on her own to make choices - and with a good group of friends fate brought her across before she drowned in the ocean - she was able to grow. The conversation with Azurian is so, so important but obviously the rest of the story must be read first, so it can't serve as some sort of a summary of SoA. But you wrote it so wonderfully, the way she gets a bit emotional remembering how her mere presence and sympathetic ear makes other people feel so happy, and how she feels happy having found herself through experiences with others.
This was amazing, incredible and so many other adjectives but I've gushed enough. Thank you for the good feels!
| Ihsan997 chapter 22 . 5/10
It's interesting that Raezel gave Leyla the option of leaving, though at this point, how could she? She truly does owe them so much, not in money but in life experience. What's even more beautiful is that none of them would ever view it as a debt nor would any force her to stay - she really did find true friendship after being sheltered for so long.
But then she goes with Azurian at the end...that sort of IS a cliffhanger, as we only know that her parents are kind of controlling and her dad broke her harp. So it's like...will they lock her up?
| Ihsan997 chapter 21 . 5/9
As a staunch Horde player aside from one of my mains, this was sort of difficult to get into - I've always viewed the leaders (except Tyrande, my other main is a nelf) as the bad guys. Your writing is troll-centric but I don't know how conflicted you felt with the portrayal here. Either way, it's interesting how you switch from Ironforge to Thunderbluff and then to Stormwind, finding the good in people as people wherever life takes Leyla.
The Scourge attack is yet another bump in the road as the life of a courtesan is much more exciting than Leyla expected. I am once again reminded of how accurate your story summary is - that alone is part of what attracted me to this, along with your story being listed on a fanfiction site as one of the "best on the net" Warcraft stories. The summary was copied there as well. I had only read a single fanfic in my entire life at the time, and when I saw the summary (which isn't a battle/action theme despite being Warcraft) I thought: "That's amazing, it's so freaking original and non-traditional for Warcraft novels and comics." This chapter proves that; while it is one of the more action-packed ones, it ends up with the group of civilian courtesans trapped in a cellar with only each other for support, and we wonder what will happen to Raezel. The cultured rather than exotic dancer aspect comes out here as well. Honestly you've created such amazing characters here - as annoying as it might be to still get questions after all this time, I can't stop wondering what happened to all of them after SoA concluded!
| Ihsan997 chapter 20 . 5/6
Perhaps it's the difference in time between when I first read this and now, but I'm unfortunately missing all the easter eggs. I wished I would find more but for some reason, it's proving quite difficult.
Regardless, this didn't seem merely transitional. Leyla standing up Azurian and then the ending of the chapter alone were a decent amount of development, as well as Darcen actually showing some depth were substantial. Though obviously, with the ball, this might be overshadowed. But it was still great.
| Ihsan997 chapter 19 . 5/5
Alright, easter egg hunt...umm...Rinji was looking out for Leyla because Raezel asked him to, he's Pallu's brother, Pallu is Shri's mate...still looking. Wow, you fit in a lot here...she learns a lot about the changes in herself as Pallu remarks, her time in Thunderbluff is a time for her to realize that you can't judge the world hwen you live in a tree your whole life, then on to Stormwind where we see her and the other courtesans almost as tourists, traveling the world and having an amazing time...learns about Aetheras...there's Azurian!
You once mentioned the oneshot in your series of oneshots with Leyla and Azurian should be read AFTER this story and I understand what you meant now. Not knowing much about him here made it a more interesting experience, and the dawning of the "ooohhh...I get it" feeling is better off after the story.
Elune, help me...help her what? She was clearly affected by Azurian, but in what way? Well, I guess not knowing when reading this the first time was part of the fun, right?
Alright, easter eggs. Coming back to this a second time, I've almost given up. Is there a tumblr post somewhere that details this chapter's...um...details?
| Ihsan997 chapter 18 . 5/2
One thing that's incredible is that you wrote a wonderful, super-popular story about a naïve nelf finding herself and you're not a nelf fan. And this scene between her and a belf...it was so beautiful and tender...how did you do it? They only knew each other for one night yet it came off as neither rushed for the sake of fanservice nor cheap/just a paid service, either. Technically a one-night stand and from what I can tell from your writing, Leyla may not ever see Taye again. And they both know that, and they still treasure the night for what it was; it was like healing for both of them, in spite of misgivings you mentioned and many of your readers have about what courtesans do. Well...it's good to be open minded, right? No matter what, it was such an amazing exchange.
And another thing...Leyla grew, but so did Taye. Many of the characters are teaching Leyla about life. Here, she took a big risk, ventured into a foreign city despite having seen so little of the world and met a hardened, widowed veteran and *she* taught *him* something about life. If they do meet again it's doubtful (again, both based on realism and your writing) that it would be anything more than two friends reuniting but that's beautiful in its own way. And if they do never meet again, one would like to think that they never forget each other and that Leyla never gives up that ring.
And the way she stood up to Shri...Leyla is growing up!
| Ihsan997 chapter 17 . 4/30
The political discussion here is so realistic. Leyla does come off as a bit naïve about it and to be honest, Pallu comes off as more sympathetic - it's like a land conflict between any two countries in the real world. The fact that Leyla is witnessing a speech by a foreign commander in one of their capitol cities is actually a huge step for her; it's interesting how you manage to weave two separate threads here.
The second part is totally different; it's more specific to the story, as she witnesses people offering prices (though the belf already comes off as less threatening) to spend itme with her and finally realizes that she will learn what being a courtesan is like. I can imagine what reading this when the story was still new would have been like; the part where it ends is a wonderful cliffhanger.
| Ihsan997 chapter 16 . 4/29
Leyla is 100 years old, though by elf standards she's young. One thing that may make this story so popular is how much character growth there is through others (which I gushed about once already). Pallu's brother Rinji showed Leyla that not all Horde are bad, but now she's in the middle of a city of what is basically an enemy nation. It's thrilling, it's scary, it's exciting...I mean, Raezel was right to think Leyla might quit after being assaulted and then kidnapped. She's freaking tough for someone who hasn't done much with their life, and now she's doing this.
Perhaps the fact that she hasn't done much and hasn't found herself yet, but found a supportive, kind group of friends, that spurs her on to be so adventurous? Were Amaru not with her at Blackrock, would she have fared so well psychologically? Either way, it's incredible to see how much she's changed already.
| Ihsan997 chapter 15 . 4/27
I have no idea how you manage to fit so much action and creativity into a single chapter; it's simply amazing, and yet it's all well-written. Leyla and Amaru get saved, we see serious backstory with Moira and Thaurissian, we find that Norfil truly feels sorry for what he's done and now Leyla is going to a Horde capitol city for a dangerous, audacious and crazy adventure...brilliantly done all the way.
| Ihsan997 chapter 14 . 4/26
Wow...Leyla can drink a LOT considering how small she's described as being. That was an ingenious plan - don't know where you came up with it! Honestly, the naughtiness here wasn't too graphic, more of the crude humor which actually works quite well. The image of Rocknot turning to see a very angry Nagmara with his lips still puckered was sort of funny (not totally considering, technically, what he did was assault, though him getting whipped afterward was certainly deserved).
The ending was so creative too! Absolutely loved it.
| Ihsan997 chapter 13 . 4/25
Oh my Lord, Nagmara whipped Leyla's ear? That has to be worse than a papercut, which is worse than being punched in the face. You do a great job of building up the demon as someone thoroughly unlikeable without going over the top. The entire Grim Guzzler is described in such detail that I can almost feel my back and fingers aching reading this; excellent work at displaying how awful and exhausting such work must be. It's like they're being fed well just to be worked to the bone and the way it's described, they likely wouldn't last much longer doing this day in and day out.
It's an important chapter, though, to describe how monotonous and hopeless their situation is. They may have some hope of Ironforge negotiating their release, but they likely can't focus on that at the moment. Amaru crying herself to sleep again is just a punch to the stomach too, just to punctuate the misery.
| Ihsan997 chapter 12 . 4/24
Dwarf food sounds awesome! And I like how you incorporate real, in-game characters here, it's pretty cool. Can't tell why.
One interesting thing is the depth of the dwarven characters - for some reason, dwarves often seem to be stock characters and stereotypes in fiction, but here they have varied personalities like anybody else.
Another thing here is that one gets the feeling you must have planned all these various arcs and storylines out beforehand; the way everything with Amaru and Norfil, then Moira and her connection to the dark irons works out...it's just very detailed. The whole time, Leyla - our inexperienced yet very understanding, inquisitive heroine - is the lens through which the readers view this world you've created. Wow...three years for completion, I just realized. It kind of feels like having missed out on something, what with not having read the story when it was still in the completion process. Just speaks for how magical the experience of reading this is!
Gosh, Amaru's situation just gets worse and worse...
| Ihsan997 chapter 11 . 4/23
Great start! And the chapter didn't seem rushed. Parts that didn't make it in, though, could always be in that oneshot series you have.
The dialogue in this chapter is so realistic, it feels like real conversations - both the fun parts and then the horrifying, traitorous parts - as though they were pulled from real life but then adapted to Warcraft. Which is powerful; we aren't just reading this because we love Warcraft but also because the characters are believable with realistic motivations we can relate to.
And poor, poor Amaru...Leyla was right when she said Norfil likely didn't have ill intentions. He was being a drunken idiot but will hate himself for it the next day. That doesn't excuse it nor does it make Amaru's plight any less tragic. And for the man she loved to do that to her...it's heartbreaking to read.
And the ending! Absolutely great!
| Ihsan997 chapter 10 . 4/22
Aw, the hardened, stone faced King wept from Leyla's song!
Ok first of all, I just realized something you excel at and it doesn't have a name. Couple fluff is disgustingly cute couple interaction, smut is inappropriateness and action is, well kicking behinds and taking names. What you do here and elsewhere, but with the entire Brewfest arc it really comes out, is pure FUN. It isn't romance or action, it's just friendship stories that leave me (and I'm sure other readers) with a big stupid grin because it's cute and funny and I feel like I'm there with them. I don't know how you do that.
Anyway, the racism here is sad but realistic and you touch on it in a good way. Amaru is either too cheery or too desensitized to notice the displeasure of some at her relationship with Norfil and it's so unfair. But even in a world like Azeroth that has more races than ours, such prejudices would still exist - especially with upper class people like princes and stuff.
So not only do we see loving friendship that culminates so well in chapter 25 along with Leyla's personal growth culminating in chapter 23, but also a lot of social commentary (like the Alliance-Horde thing at Booty Bay, or this here). My God, the whole story is multi-layered and it's like we become Leyla during this time, observing all the events, all the social ills, all the lovely, beautiful people she meets along the way and you still give her a unqiue personality as we see through her eyes. This makes me nostalgic (yours was the second fanfiction story I ever read) as well as excited for your other stories after reviewing this one is finished.