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Story Information

Story Title: Kran's Fall: Kira's Struggle
Story Author: Noailiat
Reviewed By: Snigma
Review Score: 8

Story Review

Ever wondered about the lives of the other Characters in Unreal? Human bodies litter your escape route, but why are they there and how come you survived but they didn't? Some of the answers to these questions can be found in the log messages scattered throughout the game. The rest can be found here.

This is the tragic story of Kira Argmanov, science officer onboard the ISV-Kran. Noailiat has taken the locations, logs and characters from Unreal and has fleshed out the story, building an epic short story weighing in at no fewer than thirteen thousand words. The story follows Kira's capture by and escape from the Skaarj, following the dramatic crash landing of her ship, the ISV-Kran. A second thread of the story follows a small search party, including Kira's fiancÚ, as they try to rescue Kira.

The story is told from the third person perspective, switching between the two story threads so as to keep each thread moving at a nice pace. The use of a near-omniscient narrator enables the author to explain the situations sufficiently for those unfamiliar with the story of Unreal. Noailiat does however assume some knowledge. Descriptions of locations are a bit brief, although all the locations are based on Unreal maps, so anyone who has played the game should be able to fill the details in themselves.

Characterisation is similarly scarce, we don't really learn anything about the characters histories, focusing instead on the job in hand. It would have been nice to have a bit of background on the relationships between the characters, particularly the central trio of Kira, Nikolai and Tatiana. I wasn't totally convinced about the relationship between Kira and Nikolai, towards the start of the story there is a very nicely written moment between them:

She looked up and smiled.
"Hi there." She said.
"Hey love, I'm sorry, I would have come sooner but we had a crisis in engineering. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine Nik, just a couple of cracked ribs."
"Ah, ok, I'd better not hug you too tight then."
"You can hug me as tightly as you want. I can take it, you big softie."

but after Kira is captured she barely seems to think about Nikolai at all - I thought Noailiat could have produced some powerful moments if he'd focused on the separation of the couple who were due to marry in just a couple of weeks time.

The language is generally fluid and varied, though there are a sizable number of occasions where the text is a little awkward, for example towards the end, as Kira attempts to train a small band of Nali in the art of war, we find the following sentence:

Kira hurried over to another Nali who was pointing a Flak Cannon in the wrong direction such that he would have shot himself, and corrected his holding of the gun.

While syntactically fine, the tone and structure of the sentence really don't fit with the story thus far.

At other times Noailiat really shows off his creativity and linguistic ability, such as the wonderfully evocative scene early on as Kira dreams about her honeymoon on the planet Corran:

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Nikolai was saying. Kira only nodded. She was entranced; swirling mauve clouds intertwined with a fading sky of magnificent red hue. And behind that, distant stars twinkled brightly. She couldn't imagine anywhere she'd rather be.

Despite the flaws this story really does flow well, although a little more care with spelling would have been nice, and the chapter breaks are very well placed - it can be quite difficult to put this story down at times. The ending is particularly powerful, but I won't spoil it by repeating it here. All in all this is a very promising start for a first short story. I look forward to reviewing the sequel, and reading the third story of the series when it is finally finished. I feel sure that Noailiat will quickly hone his talent and fulfil the potential that this story shows him to have.

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Review breakdown

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

Overall Score: 8/10

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