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Complete Enslaved by Sharkflip - T - Avatar: The Last Airbender

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by Quiddity, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. Quiddity

    Quiddity Auror

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    644
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Title: Enslaved
    Author: Sharkflip
    Rating: T
    Genre: Romance
    Status: Complete
    Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
    Pairings: Katara/Zuko
    Summary: A triumphant war party returns with an exotic slave, a gift for the ruling house. Katara and Zuko AU
    Length: 109,414 words
    Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5306755/1/Enslaved

    Thanks to a (very) old recommendation from Nemrut for finding this one.

    The basic idea of this fic appears to be a reaction to a trope of slave!Katara being captured by Fire Nation, flipping this. I compare it to notes' Centopah in that respect, as it transcends it's ignominous beginnings to stand on its own rights.

    The AU here is basically that there's no war with the Fire Nation (or there was, but it only involved the Earth Kingdoms, and appears settled), so there's a full and thriving Water Tribe for Zuko to be captured by.

    The substance of the story, it's main attraction for me, lies in the worldbuilding that is established. Sharkflip builds an intricate, fleshed-out, and realistic Water Tribe culture, with Zuko as the perfect introductory mechanism and hints at a broader world. For instance, there are numerous Water Tribes shown, with subtly different worldviews and social structures that are touched lightly on. I read a Sesc post recently which described effective worldbuilding as knowing every tiniest detail about the world you describe, even as you hold back from ever mentioning it, and I think that fits this to the tee. You get the real sense that Sharkflip could write a book on every one of the tribes customs, but there's never an info-dumpy feel to it.

    There's also an excellent language barrier sequence. And by sequence, I mean maybe half of the work this is a challenge that is being worked through. But it never drags. It feels realistic - although I'm sure the progression is far too fast - as we slowly see his understanding more words, and then later concepts.

    The writing is good, very evocative, but not...exciting. Whilst much of that is the chosen content - it feels in some ways like more of a writing exercise than anything else - there is a brief action sequence but the tone of the writing doesn't change. Sort of like Brandon Sanderson in that you can feel the same stylistic beat beneath the surface.

    The story is utterly predictable. Read the first few chapters, and you basically know how it's going to end. That doesn't undermine the experience, however, as the romance is never really railroaded. Even the slightly on-the-nose premise (slight spoiler: Zuko is given as a slave to Katara to replace her husband that he killed) never broke my suspension of disbelief, because the way it is done never breaks the narrative, and the details are trickled out slowly.

    The ending feels a bit rushed. Not stylistically, but narratively it feels like there perhaps could have been another 10, 15k words in it.

    Generally, the romance is good. Builds leisurely, has it's ups and downs, and never unrealistically. I've saved it till here because honestly, it doesn't feel like the focus of the fic, even though it is. I reckon Sharkflip could cleanly excise that entire aspect at only slight detriment to fic quality - although it would likely cost him all his audience. It's needed, and it's executed cleanly and well, but it's only real a small part in the tapestry.

    Zuko's character arc is done well. Again, highly predictable - identity, normalZukoproblems, etc. - but executed well. None of the others really have an arc. Katara has a bit of a one subtly delivered, in the way she relates to him, but everyone else ends pretty much where they began.


    All in all, it's good, well-written, and hits basically every mark it tries for. But it doesn't try for greatness.

    4/5
     
  2. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

    Joined:
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    High Score:
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    Oh yeah, forgot this one existed. Has been a while since I've read this, think I'm a few updates behind. Might have to go for a reread one of these days.

    Yeah, basically what Quiddity says. Engaging read and a cool exploration of the water tribe cultures. I feel like I have to stress that this is not a gimmicky shitty slave master dynamic a la 50 shades or anything, like most slave Katara fics were. It's really more character interaction and culture exploration.

    4/5
     
  3. Quiddity

    Quiddity Auror

    Joined:
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    Location:
    New Zealand
    The last chapter is from 2016, everything else was done by end of 2010.
     
  4. Sorrows

    Sorrows Seventh Year Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
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    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    High Score:
    1,819
    I referred this a while ago somewhere I am sure. You had me all excited there, thought it had updated. Really great read, not completed though, stopped at a really frustrating place actually.

    One of my favorite Avatar fics. The master/slave component is about as far away from the usual treatment of that trope as it is possible to get. The writing is almost anthropological in its approach to the water tribe culture and the slavery in it is historically based rather than sexploitation.

    5/5 easily for me, wish it would update already and put me out of my misery.

    Edit: or perhaps it is finished, that note she left at the end is pretty ambiguous, damn I always took it to mean she was taking it up again but considering she hasn't updated in a year perhaps not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  5. Quiddity

    Quiddity Auror

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    644
    Location:
    New Zealand
    It feels completed to me. What would you add?
     
  6. Republic

    Republic The Snow Queen Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Messages:
    1,502
    Location:
    Germany occupied Greece
    High Score:
    4,495
    I remember reading this and finding a disappointment, 2/5 material. I can't recall too much of it beyond a general dissatisfaction, but not being memorable is telling in itself, I think.