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for Ambition of the Red Princess

3/25 c157 Dareth
Yep...still the best "Shield Hero" fanfic..."A potato taught me what insanity is" is in a league of its own!
2/7 c157 ToothlessTheMagicDragon
holy shit it's finally over. I can't really provide an in depth review because all the different plots and characters make my head hurt lol but I've gotta this was an amazing journey to read through, what first drew me here was malty being a sort of heroine for once because barely anybody writes about it and I got so much more than I bargained for in terms of an in depth world haha. thank you for writing such an amazing story
2/2 c1 idekidk394
I love this story so much, ong
1/16 c155 Avalon2077
Some parts of this "review" are quite outdated because i wrote them shortly afterthe chapter's release, and I have not read the chapters you wrote after. So i've made a couple of "present day notes", bear with me please.

Aaahhhh... so good, so good.
- [Present day: What amazing couple of chapters this last two. The depth you have given to the characters and the world is so cool and so enjoyable to read. I really really wish this becomes an anime. And it has been so nice to have something to look for, believe me when I say this story feels like a blessing, even when life sometimes feels empty.]

-[PD: I had hope you did, so i'm very happy you are making a sequel. Thank you.]

'Malty should stop calling him "Master" Naofumi.' -[PD: It just feels weird to me that if they are now a couple she would call him that when they don't have to pretend in front of someone. (This was a suggestion i wrote.)]

'Motoyasu would be the only one to realise because of Naofumi's red face that they kissed.' - [PD: I thought it could have been funny. I imagine him being the wise man the other heroes seek for advice about girls XD. I mean, each of the other heroes look like a different case of not knowing any girls.
So, when coming back to join the others, Motoyasu would be the first to notice them, and would sense something romantic had happened. He would like, wink at them, or give them a thumbs up, and they would both blush XD.]

[PD: I personally think the kiss moment would have been better without the second phrase about the poison. It kind of killed the mood for me, with it being a moment I was waiting for so long.]

[PD: Very happy about everything, I'll start reading the two new chapters whenever i feel i have the time.
I would like to give you constructive criticism, truly, but i'm not smart, can't be of much help. Every time I write something here i feel I may be wasting your time because this are supposed to be reviews.]

[PD: Thank you for everything, and take care.]
1/12 c3 Guest
The references to other anime and games is cringe as fuck
1/4 c157 48reality deviant
its been amazaing to see how a not stupid evil malty would go on about things. a malty that is vein, and as flawd, but not the shallow caricature she was in cannon, was a great thing to explore - and i thank you for writing this, and sharing it!
12/25/2023 c157 DJman248
Before I start the review of THIS epilogue, I want to finish the last chapter's review, which was cut short on account of me...accidently pressing the post review button XD

I was saying that, as the final insult to injury, Balmus' body received a burial in accordance to his children's customs rather than the 3HC, despite him being recognized right then and there as worthy of a prestigious burial.

It all basically spells out just how in the wrong the queen is, in front of several of her country's noblemen, no less.

All in all, a perfect send off for the true end of Balmus...and the definite beginning of Mirelia's many headaches going forward.

Now on to this epilogue's review!

Love how you showed several main characters in regards to where they are going, and their new perspective in wake of everything that came to pass before. That you tied it all in the classic "stages of grief" format in a manner that is relevant to each character's struggle.

-Motoyasu, who's biggest character flaw was his denial of the fact that people who he's loyal to aren't automatically above critique or flaws (pretty much why in the fandom canon motoyasu's nicknames all involve him being a hapless simp), is overcoming it by accepting said flaws but still choosing to believe in his friends' best, rather than suddenly turning around and judging their worst. That it threw Iris for a loop after her grandfather just confirmed her biggest mistakes being swept under the rug was a nice touch. Though I think Motoyasu showing some surprise having some questions was still warranted, even if it doesn't mean that he wouldn't stay loyal.

(P.S: I think Iris is right about Barn perhaps needed a middleground between their grandfather's "sink or swim" teaching style and their parents' coddling. Not everyone works well with being borderline bedridden as a reinforcement tool for teaching, after all...and the scene felt a bit ambiguous on who had the right of it since Motoyasu took to the beatings like a fish to water.)

-Itsuki went from a young boy angry at the world's injustices who couldn't see the complexities tied to said injustices over his own preconceived notions, to a much more accepting self-reflective on his mistakes...perhaps with less than ideal focus on how to improve due to his overwhelming guilt, but I see Rishia and Crepe here to help him keep his focus. I do wonder if Raruk actually has intentions of seeing Itsuki produce results, considering the former's very unhelpful (albeit very understadable) hostility towards the latter to the point of physical violence that has nothing to do with the lesson at hand. Makes me wonder if another character should ask him that at some point and see how he responds. Could see an interesting point of exploration for Itsuki on how to navigate his wanting to make up for his mistakes...and recognizing when, even if he's at fault, taking abuse really isn't going to help anyone.

(...of course, I also admit that I could see this as Raruk just being THAT ruthless of a taskmaster. I'd like to know which one is it. XD)

-The Queen who had all the bargaining chips in the world has been reduced to very few options, all due to her own methods, fittingly enough. That the daughter that she intended to sacrifice made decisions motivated by that action resulting in her predicament makes it all the more appropiate...especially when her intended heir makes it clear that her disowned older sister was more family to her than her own mother.

What I like about this is that, while Melty is still a child, she's not stupid. She lost a decent bit of her innocence due to this entire ordeal, and she's smart enough to recognize her mother's fault in all this, even if she can't yet grasp at the more complex aspects. But even then, she does make a point on why Mirelia dug her own grave that warrants a simple question: Would this have turned out this badly between them if Mirelia was more willing to treasure her family, balancing it alongside her duty to her kingdom instead of being exceedingly willing to sacrifice them despite less effective alternatives existing?

The irony is...I could almost imagine Malty being more willing to sacrifice herself (though perhaps not entirely still) if she didn't grow up feeling like her mother considered her expendable or simply not good enough. The royal family has a duty to the kingdom first and foremost...but their lack of harmony as a result of the queen placing her family as a distant second in priorities ironically left them less capable of commiting to said sacrifice, at least from my perspective.

P.S: Leon getting proven wrong on his arrogant assumptions is always a treat to see. I do hope at one point he's forced to realize the main difference between him and Naofumi...and why that makes Leon WORSE on all accounts, despite his past success.

-Ren's side of things shows him being more open and cooperative with his allies. I love how you basically had him and Wyndia have a mentor/apprentice relationship. It fits pretty well since Wyndia's father figure basically trusted Ren with his daughter, and that would obvious include teaching her how to fend for herself, which Ren would arguably be the best out of the four heroes to teach someone since he's used to being pretty self-reliant, and is just now learning to connect better with others. As shown with how Ren is paying attention to how Wyndia's emotions are running wild in a rather potent manner due to her level-up puberty bonus, and already considering consultation to help guide her through it (more proof of him being the most perceptive hero of the bunch!).

I do agree that Ren's younger age and less developed emotional sense would mean that a potential romance between him and Wyndia would come across as much less problematic in this fic's setting when compared to Naofumi and Rapthtalia, who more naturally fall into a father/daughter dynamic.

But I wager that a romance between Ren and Wyndia happening in a well enough manner would have to take into account two things at least:

1. If both Ren and Wyndia would both develop emotional maturity (especially in the romantic sense) to start considering each other in that light in a serious manner...which would depend on what sorts of challenges they would overcome and how they would connect through said challenges.

2. If the Mentor/Apprentice relationship could develop into a more equal partnership. Because otherwise...we may run into a power dynamics issue even if Ren's closer to Wyndia in terms of maturity. To say nothing of his hero status and Wyndia, unlike the other heroes' love interests who all have or had noble backgrounds, not exactly having a background that results in her having any sort of equalizing prestige or experience that could do the same.

I could be overthinking it...but still, I think these are some points to consider moving forward in the sequel.

- And last but not least, Malty, alongside Naofumi and Raphtalia. This part feels like Malty has experienced a sort of rebirth after everything's said and done. Pretty much capped with the birth of a new batch of Filorials, with Malty naming one of them after Mein, the girl from her past that meant much to her, and whose' name lead to Malty changing in ways that she arguably couldn't imagine back then. I could see the difference in how she will regard and care for these new children as the most blatant indicator of how different she is in scope and regards for others when compared to before. DOES bring up one point I forgot about before. The fact that Malty maaaaaaay have been a big contribution to Filo's...aggression problems. I know that its not really a topic for now, but I do wonder if Malty seeing how potentially different these two filorials will grow up around her (since I doubt she will engage in baby bird bullying this time around) may result in an awful epiphany regarding Filo as a potential plotpoint. Something to consider, possibly.

P.S:You say that Red Princess Malty's character progression essentially took a life of her own due to a writing blunder...but I wager that blunder resulted in a very very VERY interesting version of Malty that we otherwise wouldn't have gotten. There's plenty of "true" sociopaths all over in media anyways, this Malty who has some sociopathic tendencies but ultimately is sympathetic stands out better due to her not being one, I wager. So very well done on that!

All in all, Seeing this version of Malty reach acceptance of who she is through her experiences with Naofumi and Raphtalia (among many many others) makes for a nice end to this first installment of her story.

And...that's it! Reviewed the last bit of this before I start reading Ascension of the Red Princess!

I must say...I have been following this fic for around 3 years, arguably its among the longest time I have ever given to any one fic since I have started reading fanfiction as a small pastime. Even if I wasn't there from the beginning, I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time following this tale the end...and am sincerely looking forward to reading its sequel.

You mentioned in the author's note that the sequel will likely be you doing more of your own thing rather than following canon's structure. To that I say...GOOD. This story has already been taking its own deconstructive spin on canon and has done a (in my opinion) excellent job at maintaining my interest in where the more natural follow up of all these deconstructions lead to, and how it changed the nature of the main conflict in an interesting manner.

I still appreciate RotSH fics that focus on improving the canon even beyond this point, but Ambition of the Red Princess hasd already proven a long time ago that it is a different beast playing by different rules.

So the fact that what comes next will deviate much more from the "stations of canon"? I say that's ultimately a positive. Especially since it will come with a sizable helping of world building (have you already figured out I like the expansive world bit, even though it admittedly slows down the pace if not balanced properly?) with a pop-culture-laden touch, which I don't mind it so long as the guest characters work well with what's going on, and for the most part...they have, in my opinion.

I am very grateful to have been given this story to read for all this time, and am hoping to keep up with the next step of it.

Until next time!
12/25/2023 c156 DJman248
Ok, here I am for the semilast review of this story.

This epilogue is pretty straight to the point and yet the implications and ramifications of it can definitely be felt throughout it.

First, and very quickly, Roger of Ajax' soul exiting the story stage left, in a similar manner in which he entered: Being loud, and in denial about himself and how he's perceived.

Second, the much more noteworthy occurrence: Balmus' soul being saved from the queen's unjust punishment by the spirit of Shirou Emiya.

The words shared between the two definitely carry most of the implications at hand:

-The public confirmation of the Chief God's sheer indifference to mortals, whether they be faithful or not, especially damning since its coming from a figure that has been revered as a saint by the main religion of the kingdom.

-The confirmation (for the heroes, in particular) on the existence of alternate simultaneous timelines in the scope of the Chief God's influence. I wager Naofumi and Malty in particular could mull over this information as a very important clue at some point for them to figure out just who the Chief God is. It also reminded me to ask, in case my memory isn't doing its job right: Has Naofumi talked to the three weapon heroes about those facts? Because they seem particularly relevant when we consider the Burning Legion's threat on Medea.

-A public statement on the King of Rape that basically admits that he had a valid point in his world view, regardless of the monster he became. This is especially damning because it's coming from the hero that put down the King of Rape, who, again, is considered a saint by the main religion of Melromarc.

And if these things weren't enough, the fact that nobody could stop Shirou from taking Balmus to heaven...while Balmus himself was RESISTING it, really just puts the cherry on top on Mirellia's humiliation Conga. Even the ruling that she insisted on was subverted, and this time literal divine intervention basically told her "You were wrong, take this L, and shut up".

And as if to add insult to injury...the very same sons of Balmus she liberated and knighted basically turned their back on her, the privileges she offers, but proceeded to take Balmus' corpse, the body of a man who, through unmistakable divine intervention was proven to be worthy of sainthood, and gave him a burial
12/22/2023 c155 DJman248
I can see that this story managed to reach its conclusion!

I won't lie, my heart practically stopped for a split second when I saw the "complete" mark on the story, honestly wondering if it got cancelled...which would have been quite a disappointment to taste after getting so far and finally reaching the end of the 3HC arc, on top of everything that was implied to come afterwards.

Sufficed to say, the header of this chapter was both a great relief AND excitement for confirming that this story (now a series, if I think about it) is far from over!

This chapter already started strong by following up on Archduke Wales' bold declaration after summing up all of the Queen's screw ups, and more or less making it clear to Mirelia that yes, she screwed up hard enough for long enough that a paranoid, very likely sociopathic mess of a noble like the Mad Prince was a plausible alternative when the world's in peril, because, even at a cost in long term, he knows how to prepare a military to prevent the worst case scenario.

It wasn't lost on me that in this rather tense stand off, the only reason the queen is still sitting on that throne is because her husband, who she just finished publicly chastising and punishing without mercy, decided to take the brunt of the blame for the current unstable state of the kingdom.

"Ironic" is the only word that fits this. But I also can tell that this whole affair has changed the state of play of the Game in Melromarc irrevocably. The queen is no longer secure in her position.

And it's all because of her refusing to own up to her mistakes when she needed to and her unrelenting ambition back when she was a princess.

Very fitting, to be frank.

Naofumi's punishment was painfully tense to read, which expected, since its arguably something that serves, alongside Firo's exile, to reinforce in Naofumi's mind his fault in regards to Jaune's death and his mistakes that led up to it. The subsequent moment with the three weapon heroes being ready and willing to make everything devolve into chaos when it was clear that Mordred was going too far was also a very nice touch, once again showcasinf how this batch of heroes have becomed a sort of united force, unlike their predecesors. It reminds me of a similar scene in Yu Yu Hakusho during the Dark Tournament Arc, which had a similar energy to it.

I did make note of two particular details in this sequence of events that I feel spell implications for the future:

1. Mordred's grief-induced grudge being leagues above every other family member, to the point that she's even turning on family in the middle of it all. It feels like it could make for a parallel comparison to how Aultcray himself allowed grief to consume him and lead him to make mistakes that costed his kingdom and his family dearly, on top of suffering to who know how many undeserving people. I could see Mordred, as she is now, making similar mistakes in her current mind set, refusing to see Naofumi as anything other that the Shield Demon that killed her brother.

2. Malty's musing on how Archduke Wales could have made for a powerful ally to Naofumi if Jaune wasn't killed. I feel this could be very relevant. Since, assuming that Malty and Naofumi will have to keep playing The Game in order to make important positive changes to Melromarc, which could very well include Malty still being able to claim the throne somehow, it means that Archduke Wales will remain a factor that has to be taken into account. I could see thinga becoming quite complicated if we consider Mordred potentially sabotaging things.

The scene with the queen and Malty was simply the highlight of this chapter. The tension was thick, and I could feel the sheer amount of antipathy betwen both characters in this scene. Malty's outburst and criticisms of her mother were just perfect in how they were presented. It feels like the culmination of every bitter thought she had involving Mirellia from the beginning of this fic to now, several frustrations and pain over the course of several years manifesting in one big diatribe that keeps emphasizes just how badly the queen has hurt her eldest daughter and her kingdom, even if she claims that it was all in the name of maintaining stability until a proper heir rises.

All in all, I feel like this scene is what encapsulates the title of this chapter, and this fic as well: Ambition of the Red princess. For this entire fic, that title was obviously associated with Malty and and how her pragmatic play for the throne started thia everchanging journey...but in this moment, I could say that it also easily fits with Mirelia herself, who's unchecked ambitions when she was but a princess and all of her subsequent actions afterwards have essentially set the stage for this entire story, which stars her daughter, who is more similar to her than either would care to admit.

And then...the final scene. Malty coming clean with Naofumi. I won't favorite part of this scene is how Naofumi, still thinking the best of Malty, practically gave her an easy out instead of being hinest about who she was/is as a person through her motives for lying to Naofumi...and Malty chose the hard path instead.

She chose to heed the advice of her mentor, and arguably understood the wisdom she brushed off at the beginning of this fic. Malty making this decision shows that, for all of the similarities she may have with her mother, she has managed to start properly deviating from going down the same path as her. Malty at the beginning of this fic would have taken the easy out Naofumi gave in a heartbeat, focusing on self preservation instead of showing vulnerability at a very important moment.

The fact that Naofumi just accepted her even with that took me by surprise at first...but his reasoning actually made it fit. Naofumi here is still prone to feeling guilty, and he's not wrong that, for as self-possessed and pragmatic as Malty was, she wasn't nearly as malicious as she could have been at several the Rising version of her could attest to.

I also find Naofumi finding Malty attractive because of her resolve to get ahead without being a complete monster rather interesting...since it arguably makes him someone who wouldn't be interested in Rising Raphtalia (issues of age and demi human biology aside) in the slightest .

Why? Because Rising Raphtalia doesn't have any personal goals separate from her devotion to her master in which to assert her resolve and determination on.

Which...I think is perfect, because it ties nicely with a small observation I made on how Naofumi self-reflected on the fact thats he gives up easily when it comes to himself: that, in a world where Alenko didn't have the world pander to him, this is arguably Rising Naofumi's fatal flaw.

One horrendous situation involving specific people betraying him and having no one in his corner , and Rising Naofumi wasnt just ready to not trust anyone easily...he only a step away from declaring the ENTIRE WORLD to not be worth saving. It's...actually pretty crazy the more I think about it. Rising Naofumi may have gone through some very rough experiences early on...but he was essentially rewarded for being an edgy self serving jackass at every the point that the Wrath shield could eve ln be seen as his own hatred of the world literally powering him up beyond belief...something that he did NOT work for. a world where Alenko didn't pander Naofumi and let his attitude and actions have consequences like with the three Stooge could make the case that the story would have been called "Fall of the Shield Hero" instead. A villain protagonist story ending in tragedy, which you alluded to several times.

Could just be me though thinking too much though.

Regardless, I do see how this Naofumi has essentially made big motions to move past his flaw, which only promises more interesting times in the future.

All in all, I am beyond glad to have made it this far in reading this story all this time. I will be getting to reviewing the two epilogues soon. Until then!

P.S: Regarding Mirelia's thought process on the other candidates for the throne, there is one small thing I would say that she was wrong about: Archduke Wales' lack of flexibility. Now, I won't say that he wouldn't be reluctant to accept a lesser evil to prevent a greater evil nor deny that he couldn't try for the throne without Jospeph plunging Melromarc into a civil war...but Mirelia made it sound like the man is utterly incapable of it. Except...isn't that essentially what he was doing when he nearly got Mirelia kicked out of the throne in favor of the Mad Prince? Archduke Wales is likely aware of Joseph's many many issues that could very likely lead Melromarc to suffer for years...and yet, in taking in consideration how at present the kingdom is poised to be utterly demolished...he made the call. He all but admitted that he considered leaving Mirellia in charge a greater evil than allowing Prince Joseph to unleash his brand of military paranoia cover the kingdom...because at keast there would still be a kingdom.
12/22/2023 c157 Svampmannen
Well, I guess this is the end for now. What a journey it has been.
It felt a bit odd that the last chapters weren't exclusively from one character's POV, but I suppose that this way was the best one to convey all the information and story-bits. And I think that you've got the right idea for the eventual sequal.
As for this story as a whole, I've enjoyed it.
Thank you for all your work. The expanded worldbuilding has been fascinating (even if I didn't get all the references). The storylines have been intriguing (even if they sometimes dragged in places). And most of all, you have made me re-evaluate the source material, if not the genre as a whole.
I am glad that I've read this whole story from beginning to end, and I look forward to the sequal.
12/19/2023 c157 1Mr.ziz
I can't believe this is the last chapter it's been a honor reading this masterpiece.
12/18/2023 c157 2Argus456
Heroes are growing in more than one way which is good and it seems that Firo will have some siblings of her own. Hopefully, they'll be raised to be better than their big sister cause you can bet she'll be raising hell over this, followed by potential fear of being abandoned...

As for Melromarc's royal issues, it seems the princesses were closer than I thought if Melty is causing such a stink over Malty leaving. And it seems that she's unintentionally villainizing Naofumi in her mind over it. Hopefully nohing will come of it later on in Cal Mira.

And keeping Leon chained to slavery...yeah, not the smartest thing to do but given that he has experience in such a situation, he'll be biding his time and scheme as he has done so far.

Maybe keeping a guy that found ways to betray their former master around isn't a hot idea and the queen probably knows this and add to her paranoia.

On a lighter note, I wonder if Leon will mess with Palmer in the background, either for his own amusement or to damage her standing. Or both.

Regardless, thanks for the fun read and I look forward to he next story. Cheers!
12/18/2023 c157 40Angel Wraith
So we have finally reached the end of this story...gotta say, I'm both sad and nostalgic that the story is over. Since this is the last chapter, figured I would leave my own thoughts/notes.

I won't lie when I say that when I left that review on chapter 8 back when I first started reading this story, I had no idea I would end up beta reading for it for the next four years but I don't regret a single moment of it. When I first started following Rotsh, I was a casual follower at first but after reading this story and chatting with Qin...I had a change of perspective on the series and started to see the numerous cracks with canon.

It has been quite a fun ride watching Malty and the other characters develop throughout this story. Ambition even inspired me to write my own Malty-centric fanfic, even if its a massive change from its inspiration which is more character driven but I digress.

I suppose if I had to summarize has been an honor to beta read Ambition of the Red Princess. Yes, I'm making this exact joke twice.

12/18/2023 c157 AngelFaux
Congratulations on finishing this, I may not have reviewed all that often, but thank you for all the effort you and your co writers put into all of this.
12/18/2023 c157 40lord Martiya
A masterful chapter, but it left me with a question: is Leon de Bartford brain damaged?! I mean, I get he's both arrogant and used to get his way, but it's a bit early for him to hit on the Queen...
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