Reviews for Call of the Heron
Raphiael chapter 1 . 3/20/2011
I'm really at a loss for words, so forgive the really not-useful review.

I think this is honestly the most beautiful fanfic I've ever read. The imagery, the ideas, the concept, everything about it. It has the feel of classical mythology without the distance. It's really just fantastic, particularly the descriptions and subtle emotions of Ashunera.

Thank you for linking me to this.
R Amythest chapter 1 . 12/18/2010
[Review Santa]

This piece charmed the stuffing out of me. There's just something irreplaceably precious about the relationship between Ashunera and Lehran here. It's a little bit like a girl and her stray puppy, mixed with just a dash of mother-child charm, topped with a wisp of the wonders of creation.

My favorite passage is from "She didn't know why or how he learned this" to "if that was her original shape." Between whimsical guesses of what she was before she knew she was, to Ashunera "boop"ing Lehran, to Lehran's logic... there's just so much awesome in these little wonderful lines. It's such a sweet exchange that touches on both the motherly and creator-creation aspects of their relationship.

Many aspects of this story cleverly touch on developments that mirror that of early humankind in our own world. I like how, at Ashunera's guidance, Lehran engages in crafts such as knotting and weaving that the earliest people also learned shortly before society bloomed. Language, too, enabled the evolution of culture and was once considered by 19th century linguists to be a prerequisite to thought and consciousness. (This is no longer held as truth in that field, but it does make for a nice bit of fanciful olden atmosphere.) This tale feels like it can belong in Tellius's origins because it feels almost as if it could be a part of our origins, like a folktale, but with a greater focus on narration over exposition/explanation.

Concerning the serpent... Mind you, I'm not entirely certain what you mean by "a Leviathan legend/figure". The serpent is interesting and mysterious, as are the lands beyond Tellius, but it was Ashunera's search for an equal that compelled me. I liked that there was a sense of "someone else" out there. The game alludes softly to the fact that Ashunera may not be the Ultimate Being; that there may exist other gods, or gods above gods, and especially before Ashunera found company in her own creations, perhaps she sought someone like herself. "He tried to shape another with his hands ... Was he like her? And what was she?" I believed entirely in Ashunera's search for another god. Going back through this, however, I wonder if I have read too far into this one line, since there is little explicit exploration of Ashera's desire for a companion - even though Lehran believes that she needs one - until the end. I believe this could use more attention. It would also give her a stronger motivation to leave Tellius.

Incidentally, I liked the serpent's remark that his creator took the shape of a bird and flew away - perhaps inspiring Yune's later form, or perhaps because all gods are more alike than they know. There are a few other details I found particularly interesting, such as the part with Lehran's sandal, the allusion to galdrar, and Lehran's delicate bird bones.

As usual, your description is wonderful. A thousand small choices in diction create an atmosphere of tales across immeasurable distances before time: "balmy green sea", "warbling sound", "brown seaweed wrapping her ankles"... And the early fruits of the world are deliciously depicted. They sound exotic and beautiful even to modern jaded Americans with imports from a small league of tropical countries.

Hmm, prose thickness. No passages struck me as particularly thick, but the last scene did strike me as slightly too sparse. This would be from the beginning of her journey to other places until the ending.

One line that stuck out a bit was "How disrespectful" - which is cute, but the first incidence of sarcastic humor in the whole piece. I did a bit of a double-take, because my Sarcasm Senses were in hibernation due to the story's otherwise earnest and whimsical style.

And now, canon! I had written up some tl;dr about canon as it matches up to the this fic. Since you state this originated as speculation, I feel such comments are therefore relevant, but they got too long (considering that I should be focusing on the writing itself) so I have only included the most important points here. The details can be found in a post on my LJ.

From the opening of 4-F-3: "At first, the girl was excited by her new world, and she thought of little else. Then she started feeling lonely. Everyone, every being she'd created, was different from her. Not a single person that could truly understand her. All alone, she grew sadder and sadder, crying for thousands of years. Then some creatures began to grow and change, becoming more clever and sophisticated. They tried to comfort the girl and eventually grew closer to her... That was the birth of the Zunanma." - Yune

In this piece, after Ashunera has met Lehran, I think it is indeed implied that she enjoys his company and was lonely without him. The presentation seems to imply that before Lehran, however, she did not know what she was missing, whereas fear of loneliness is in many ways central to Yune's (and so at least half of Ashunera's) character. She recounts "crying for thousands of years"; she brought about the flood out of fear of loneliness ("I...I was just...lonely." 4-F-5); she helps you out in Endgame because otherwise, "I will be lonely forever" (4-F opening, before team selection for endgame).

So I find the omission of Ashunera's loneliness and need before sentient life to be significant. I think its inclusion would not necessarily harm the story - in fact, it would make Lehran's friendship more compelling, and her search for the serpent more substantiated - although the beginning would change somewhat in atmosphere.

The other major difference here is that the Zunanma were the first companions to Ashunera. Lehran is distinctly depicted both in this piece and in canon as something new that came forth from Zunanma: a laguz, as we know them now. The most important effect of this change, I think, is a rich explanation for Lehran's bond with the goddess (and this story existing) at the cost of a major argument for the game's theme of racial equality.

There's one small discrepancy within the story itself that I spotted: "Her Zunanma called her ashunera because the sounds were reminiscent of the words 'goddess who walked out of the dawn'" whereas Lehran was the first to speak. Canon seems to create the same discrepancy within its framework, so I can't say I mind.

On the flipside, there are quite a few speculative points I liked, and compare well to canon. For example, the idea that the animal form at first was more natural to laguz is an interesting one and matches up well with Janaff's offhanded implication that hawks once hatched from eggs ("We haven't hatched from eggs for many generations now" base conversation "Janaff" PoR 19).

Mm, I see I have one more inquiry of yours to answer! I do not feel that more Ashunera-Lehran anecdotes are necessary, per se. I certainly had the attention span to read perhaps one more anecdote post-acquisition-of-speech. However, I do believe that their bond is well-communicated regardless.

Overall, this piece is a sweet and poignant take on a subject rarely explored in fiction but overripe with story potential. This fic makes the most out of the creation story framework, although it overlooks some canon leads worth exploring. Still loving your birds, Myaru
Cheezbuckets chapter 1 . 7/30/2009
Absoloutely beautiful. I swear, I got goosebumps while reading this.
Out of the Orange chapter 1 . 2/25/2009
Oh. I really, really love this.

I could go on and on about how sweet and whimsical and lovely and poignant I thought it was, but to sum it all up, I'll just say that I actually teared up at the part where Ashunera leaves Lehran behind.

I enjoy all of your stories very much, but I think this one has been my favorite.
Measured chapter 1 . 2/14/2009
I already gaped at this at your journal, but it really needs to be poked again. This is a bit of utterly gorgeous speculation, it feels so epic and mythic - I know you said it bothered you that it had some holes, but I think it's better to be left to mystery at times. It takes away the sort of wonder and awe left with the story.

Anyways, this is amazing and it's a travesty that it doesn't have more love here.
Silvara chapter 1 . 2/10/2009
After much thought... , I think I prefer to picture Lehran with an OC -as you paired him here- or whith Asunera than Sanaki when regarding romantic durable relationship. I can't help it.

I felt like something on this again cause I love those stories of yours within which you show us a nice amount of your imagination and bring to live eras, events and countries so little exploited in the game. The feeling of discovery it brings build in me an insatiable need to find more and more about the targeted topics. On the other side, I fear I am no longer a fan of classical shipping fanfiction. Blame the saturation. I've read too way much of these. The first thing (okay second if I regard the rafiel nailah) the second thing that made me a fan of your work was the originality of all of it. You have a different way of visiting the themes you deal with. It was rejuvenating.