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1/12/2019 c7 52Martin III
An amazingly good chapter, particularly for one which doesn't advance the plot in any obvious way. The ship battle between the Rhea and the Red Fury is clearly the meat of the chapter, and even if the Blue Rogues get the best of it, it's an exciting conflict from start to finish.

The Black Pirate's pointing out that the Blue Rogues indirectly feed off of innocent ships, and Vyse's response, add a great deal of needed perspective to a milieu which perhaps too easily treats this piracy vs. that piracy as an issue of black and white. Both the Black Pirate and Vyse's statements ring very true.

Fina's reflections on her Silvite heritage made an interesting interlude. As always, you do a great job writing her and Aika together, but it's not often that we get to hear from Fina alone. Esteban's coming to check how she was doing was very sweet, and the half-awkwardness, half-warmth of doing it in the company of Vyse and Aika genuinely stirs the emotions. Here's hoping we don't have to wait so long for the next chapter.
6/27/2018 c6 Martin III
So, I'm finally all caught up. This chapter feels like it's treading water, to be honest; after the previous chapter's setup, I thought for sure we were going ahead with the infiltration of Nasr. It's light and enjoyable to read, though, with the usual strong points of your writing.

You've introduced me to a new word! After looking up "constate", I can see why it's not used often; it seems to be a perfect synonym for "confirm", which also sounds much the same. Still good to know just in case, though!

I like the line "It still wasn't easy for a guy and a girl to be just friends." Good subtle awkwardness in that scene. It's hard to even explain it.

One typo of note: "Try see it as camouflage" is missing a "to". Also, I couldn't follow what the characters are talking from "But I want to learn" up through "But it doesn't take much of a genius to forge such a thing." I re-read that passage a couple times, but it's still not clear to me what they're alluding to.

Fina getting Aika braids was a hoot. I still remember you broaching this idea in one of your earlier fics (though I can't remember which one), but you still made its happening in actuality fun.

The banter over the card game is in your typical good form. The wit is not laugh-out-loud funny but solid enough and friendly enough to pull the reader into the Blue Rogues' comradely get-together.
6/18/2018 c5 Martin III
Another good chapter, though at this point I'm starting to wonder if the plot's ever going to take off. The situation with Esteban now seems pretty well wrapped up, and the Nasr has yet to really get going. Tairon going undercover is a good first step, but there's been no clear stakes set, and the gang are increasingly less concerned about Nasr's threat, which naturally makes the reader less concerned as well.

I really like the inn scenes, both here and in the previous chapter. Esteban and Fina's mundane comings and goings and hygiene care are laid out in enough detail that they lend a certain reality to the scenes, and ultimately to the fic as a whole. Picturing oneself in the hotel with them is kind of a cozy experience.

Esteban's scars from "Raiders of the Lost Heart" was a nice touch indeed, and made for good character interaction between him and Fina.

The doings on The Red Fury are a good sample of believable pirate politics, though it's still not apparent how this connects to the rest of the story.

One problem is that in the paragraph starting "Aika realised at once what that would mean", I couldn't figure out what that would mean. The writing there is very hard to understand. Also, there are a couple more typos that stood out: "pretty grouse" should be "pretty gross", and "Mindly she prepared herself" should be "Mentally she prepared herself."

I had a suspicion that Esteban's newly expanded relationship with Fina might arouse jealousy in Aika. Looks like I was right. I wonder how far it will go. One of the amazing things about human relations is that certain things can make you feel awkward even with people you've known all your life.

And the final scene between Aika and Esteban is solid. That he would suspect her of trying to get rid of him came as a shock, but it fits. Also, Esteban realizing how Aika's words had led to his ultimate change was most gratifying.
6/17/2018 c4 Martin III
So I'm finally getting caught up on this fic again. Actually, you've been slow on posting chapters too, so I can't take too much blame upon myself. Hopefully you'll have at least chapter 7 up by the time I review chapter 6, so we both can stay on track.

Anyway, this is a good follow-up. Aika's plan is not exactly mind-blowing, but it's a satisfying answer to the clue planted in the previous chapter. And the misunderstanding with the flowers made for a great stepping off point for the plot, setting off plenty of naturalistic and amusing awkwardness.

Even with essentially nothing going on in terms of physical plot, the tension through this chapter is pretty intense. I could never guess which way Esteban was going to turn with his thoughts, and I certainly cared about the outcome. You had me doubting that he would figure things out right up until the end.

Fina and Esteban made for good one-on-one interactions. Their banter succeeds at both the humorous moments and the moving moments. Esteban contemplating hitting on Fina got a good laugh out of me, and successfully avoided crossing the line where the reader can no longer see those two characters without a romantic association. I can imagine you taking things farther along that line, but as it stands Esteban and Fina make a perfectly platonic couple.

There are a few typos, one of particular note: "Someone who wouldn't be afflicted with us." That should be "affiliated" or "associated".

I really like the line, "once again make his cameo in normal people's world." A very evocative metaphor that, rather than being mere literary filler, puts a fresh perspective on Esteban's lifestyle. It's also interesting that he's much better at engaging in conversation in terms of what he actually says than in terms of what he thinks. With most people it works the other way around, or so it seems.
5/21/2015 c3 Martin III
Wow. For a while I thought that this chapter was just treading water, but then you really got things moving with Esteban. Which isn't to say that the preceding scenes were bad... I like how Esteban took what Nina and Paco (or is it Pacco? Can't believe I've never noticed it before, but in both this fic and "Far Above the Skies" you favor both spellings equally) said and, without actually misinterpreting it, assigns it negative intentions that aren't there. It's a very realistic reaction for someone of his background, especially when you consider that while he was with the syndicate, most of what his cohorts said to him was in fact said with malice.

I also appreciate the wit in the subsequent scenes, like Aika's reference to "the non-boomerang option" and the analogy of "it could make Gordo look fit and agile". The banter between the Blue Rogue trio is entertaining as always. Actually, I'm more impressed every time it pops up, because it's hard for me to imagine how you don't run out of ideas for scenarios like the fight over the ship's name.

Speaking of which, I also liked the more serious appreciation of the crew having a wooden ship. Mainly because I myself always missed the old Little Jack after getting the Delphinus in the game.

Ultimately though it's all a fun diversion before Esteban's little spat with Aika. What's great here is that there are so many different factors playing into Esteban's problem; besides his background and habitual solitariness, there's low self-esteem and class elitism. His reflections afterward are beautifully painful, especially the line, "He'd live all his life knowing what he was missing."

It seems Vyse was the right person to have a talk with Esteban, and that makes sense too. Aika can't help being pushy, and often it gets good results, but this time Esteban's got himself so backed into a corner that pushing him only makes him push back. Vyse's ability to inspire is of more use in this instance. It probably helps that they're both guys, too; I still don't know whether or not Esteban has a thing for Aika, but either way, sexual tension is a fact of life.

Showing Aika's reaction to what happened with Esteban is a good move, as it's good to see some sincere emotion out of her now and then. And finally, you leave us with the teaser of Aika's plan for Esteban. Well played, and I have no hypotheses as to what she's up to yet.
4/9/2015 c2 Martin III
And here we have a very good followup. The wake-up opening scene manages to make the mundane entertaining, though perhaps I just appreciate it because I've used that same technique for getting out of bed myself. The followup conversation with Aika is great fun, and I laughed at Vyse's accidentally claiming Aika lost her virginity. Knowing her imagination, he really should've known better than to assume what she was going to say.

Good that you're keeping Esteban's personal stuff in play. Methinks Aika is taking the wrong tack with him; Esteban doesn't seem to like being pushed into anything. And we get more foreshadowing of a conflict between him and Rodrigo. It's nice to get some more back story and general fleshing out of Rod's character.

Finally we have the plot really moving at the end. I like the twist of the Nasreans turning on the Blue Rogues. It creates a nice, sudden element of danger, and more importantly it follows very naturally from the ending of "Far Above the Skies". It's taken a bit to get to this point, but in the meantime you've had the characters all thoroughly developed. Now it's time for some fireworks!
3/25/2015 c1 Martin III
Great to have a follow-up to "Far Above the Skies", since that fic of course left things rather unresolved with Esteban. You do a fine job with following them up here, making Esteban somewhat aware of his problems without making it seem like he's mastered them. After the ending of "Far Above the Skies" there was the danger of making Esteban a totally different character from the one in "Raiders of the Lost Heart", but he's holding together just fine so far.

I couldn't remember who Izenhof or the Red Fury are, and after running a text search of "Far Above the Skies" I don't blame myself; they only got a few brief scenes which don't seem significant to the plot. Funny that you have them pop up here. Nina, Nicole, and Rodrigo, on the other hand, came back to me pretty quickly, and I appreciate the added depth given to those characters.

The scene with Aika drunk is great. There's plenty of good laughs, certainly; I especially chuckled at "Woooo, that's too compeli... icated." But there's also a wonderful tenderness to the scene, and its depiction of two old friends who know and trust each other in every state of mind. Definitely the most heart-warming part of this chapter.

I feel like more of a hint of conflict in this first chapter would not have been amiss, but as always I enjoy your take on Skies of Arcadia. Looking forward to more.

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