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Story Information

Story Title: Avenging Angel
Story Author: Noailiat
Reviewed By: Snigma
Review Score: 7

Story Review

This story is the sequel to Noailiat's first short story, Kran's Fall: Kira's Struggle. It is set a year after the events of the first story and once again follows the adventures of Kira Argmanov, now well established as the prophetic Avenging Angel of the Nali. While the original story was based on the locations and translator-message relayed back-story of unreal, Avenging Angel is entirely original.

Noailiat has once again used a near-omnipotent third person narrator and once again there are two threads - the captive and the rescue party. I wonder whether he would be better off writing in the first person. Having seen his 'introduction' to the third story in the trilogy (yes - there's another to come), written in the first-person from the point of view of an omnipotent narrator, this style seems to suit Noailiat better.

The characterization is still a little brief, typically a sentence or two per character through the entire story, and I must admit to being disappointed with the Nali, who seem to be little more than humans with four arms. This is something that many authors of science fiction/fantasy are guilty of - the aliens are often anything but alien in terms of their culture, motives, feelings etcetera. In Noailiat's defence, much of the Nali culture was established in Unreal, but I still felt there was room for him to have shown a few differences between the races. There are a few very nice snatches of conversation, such as the point about halfway through the story when Kira converses with a Nali bartender:

"Morning." Kira said.
"Good morning to you." The bartender replied, but the shadows under his eyes told otherwise.
"Long night?" Kira asked.
"The Skaarj who came here last night caused a lot of damage. I have been repairing tables and sweeping up broken glasses."
Kira looked down at the wooden bar top.
"I'm sorry." She said.

The story is once again very well structured. Noailiat is very good at timing the breaks between chapters. Having said this, the ending to the first chapter was weak and the last chapter considerably longer than the rest. At this point I have to mention the epilogue. It is unusual for a short story to have an epilogue (although this story is once again on the long side of short) but Noailiat has very good reasons for using one here. And what an epilogue! As strong as the ending to Kran's Fall was, Avenging Angel's epilogue is better. If you can find no other reason for reading this story then read it for the epilogue!

Unfortunately Noailiat's descriptive prose is still a little lacking. Although this story benefits from completely new locations not present in Unreal, the descriptions rarely go much beyond the construction of the scene. It is clear that Noailiat has a well-defined image of how the location looks but his work could benefit from a few more adjectives to convey the feeling of the various places, not just their structural layouts. An example occurs early in the story as Noailiat describes the castle in which Kira has taken up residence.

Kira and her friend left the bedchamber and stepped into a small stone hall outside. From there, a narrow spiral staircase descended clockwise, past another small hall, soon arriving in the large main dining hall of the castle. They crossed the plush blue carpet, passing the large stone table with its twenty-six seats, and proceeded through a large double door into the front atrium of the castle. From there, steps descended into the walled grounds of the fortress, through which Hrang's band of Krall guards paced up and down on patrol.

As you can see, the number of different adjectives here can be counted on the fingers of one hand and once you remove the adjectives describing dimension (small, narrow & large) you're left with just one - 'plush'. This leaves the locations feeling a little sterile, a real shame as Noailiat's vocabulary is obviously wide ranging enough to give real feeling when he tries. There are a couple of occasions where the descriptions do manage to give a proper sense of atmosphere:

At the far end of the building, a chimney stood at the centre of the pitch, the smoke rising from it scenting the air with the pleasant smell of burning logs.

and

The Skaarj jailer ascended into the cold, moist air atop the plateau, and shivered. This was a miserable planet.

Before I finish I must comment on Noailiat's spelling and grammar. While the spelling, whether due to experience or more careful editing, seems to have improved in this story the grammar is not as good. Noailiat seems to like commas - they appear often and every grammatical error I could find seemed to involve one. As early as the first paragraph we have:

It was a sunny summer evening on this naturally beautiful world, and outside the castle, hawks wheeled in the sky while the local rabbits hopped around in the grass.

This should have been either 'It was a sunny summer evening on this naturally beautiful world, and outside the castle hawks wheeled in the sky while the local rabbits hopped around in the grass.' or 'It was a sunny summer evening on this naturally beautiful world and, outside the castle, hawks wheeled in the sky while the local rabbits hopped around in the grass'.

So, not quite as good as Kran's Fall but still a good story in its own right. I wonder how Noailiat's style will change with the third story in this sequence.

Read this story

Review Breakdown

Style 8 Atmosphere 6
Structure 9 Flow 8
Language 7 Hook Factor 6
Characterisation 6 Spelling/Grammar 7

Overall Score: 7/10

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