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WIP Black Luminary by YakAge - M

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by Sataniel, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. Sataniel

    Sataniel Groundskeeper

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    Title: Black Luminary
    Author: YakAge
    Rating: M
    Genre: Adventure/Mystery
    Status: Work in Progress
    Wordcount: 183 864 as of 2017-08-07
    Library Category: The Alternates
    Pairings: None so far, but recent author note limited potential Harry's partners to:
    Aenor Rose (OC Defence teacher)
    Amy Lestrange (OC daughter of Rodolphus and Bellatrix)
    Astoria Greengrass
    Daphne Greengrass
    Hermione Granger
    Tracey Davis
    Summary: Magical Britain is upside down; the ancient pure-blood families are being prosecuted, the old ways are dying out, and Harry, adopted by the Blacks, has to suffer the worst of it. Currently Year Two! AU, Dark!Themes, Slytherin!Harry, No!Bashing, Balanced political factions, enemies and magic
    Link: Fanfiction.net


    With the first year arc over, I think it's a good time to put Black Luminary for review.

    I think you all know the type: students have their serious politics (especially Slytherin ones), there is a cultural conflict between muggleborns and purebloods, and so on, and so on.

    But, despite featuring all those cliches, this fic is actually good. How is it possible? I will try to explain.

    As can be guessed based on the introduction Black Luminary is a pretty AU story. One of the key differences is that the war between Grindelwald and the rest of Wizarding World had a bigger impact on Wizarding Britain. One of the key changes is that students start Hogwarts education at the age of thirteen, but are allowed to learn magic earlier. This makes the usual" first years behaving like fifteen years old" (aside from Harry who acts older, but that's actually justified) less jarring. It also allows basically every character to have a certain degree of magical skill from the start. It also shaped politics, with a current system where "Pillars" - families which led the hunt after Grindelwald supporters after the war, basically hold the power in Britain.

    That brings me to wordbuilding - it is pretty good, though many important things are still left unsaid. Some things are said outright (there is an infodump on the political climate), some are suggested (wand core made from dementor's bone suggests that they are killable) but generally what we saw of the world so far is consistent and fairly interesting. Actually, the politics stuff reminds me a lot of Sescs' stuff from Pillars of Power (and not only because of the word "Pillars" being used).

    Of course, being myself, I have to mention magic. I'm mostly of positive opinion about it. So far almost all seems to be good. Various people have various expertises, being good with a spell allows the caster to modify its effects, there is no "it's all intent" or "it's all matter of right pronunciation and gestures" stupidity. There is a research, there are some creative spells. So why "mostly". Well, there are some big signs of magic being some kind of energy or something similar. Signs that are pretty important to the plot and those worry me.

    Onto characters then, the protagonist is Harry Black - overly mature of his age boy with some heavy problems stemming from his past. Originally known as Harry Potter, he was adopted into the Black family under dramatic and still largely unknown circumstances. He has problems with connecting with his peers, loves obscure knowledge, and overcomplicated plans. He is definitely a flawed character, that sometimes fails, but I'm afraid that his over-complicated plans may continue to always work, and get more overcomplicated at the same time.

    The other members of the cast are pretty well done, a mysterious Defence teacher Rose is mysterious enough, Hermione is fittingly annoying, Draco keeps right levels of feeling better than others despite his being in Harry's circle, and Bellatrix is definitely unstable.

    The plot manages to pull high stakes despite there not being main antagonist so far. The dangers also didn't come in a form of magically powerful enemy, but were of more interesting variety. But the plot so far had one, really big problem - pacing. The first year was terribly slow, but the author promises that with the worldbuilding groundwork done, the story will progress faster. With the Harry being in deadly danger in the first chapter of the second arc, it seems that he may very well deliver on this promise.

    The fic has a lot of promise and I hope that it will manage to deliver on it. So far I would rate it 7.5/10 (4/5).
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
  2. The Pro

    The Pro Seventh Year

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    You linked Harry/Draco slash, mate.

    This is the correct link.
     
  3. Sataniel

    Sataniel Groundskeeper

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    Ups, fixed. Thanks.

    That was some serious mistake on my part, considering that I not only copied ID of a different fic, but also managed to copy it without the "1" at the beginning.
     
  4. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    I saw this and skipped it because of the summary. How is the pureblood stuff handled and what is Harry's opinion on it? I have no desire to read muggle wank and how the Hermiones of the story are awesome and ruling the world. Yes/no?
     
  5. Donimo

    Donimo Seventh Year

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    Haven't read the fic, but she's Lily, right?
     
  6. Sataniel

    Sataniel Groundskeeper

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    We don't really know Harry's opinion, but it seems to be something like "Muggleborns should be treated equally, but they have no rights to push their ideas onto others." the pureblood so far is largely mostly conflict between pureblood families, just with some using progressive spiel as a means of securing their positions.

    Zero mugglewank and Hermione did some pretty stupid stuff so far.


    99.9% chance of no. Nothing points to it, and many things point against.
     
  7. Darthlawyer

    Darthlawyer First Year

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    This story progresses nicely and the author is back to updating regularly which makes following the story far easier.

    The author writes the story without feeling pointing out the differences between canon or other fanfics and this story you get information as you read along at moments where this information pretty naturally comes up.

    You are kept in the dark because there seems to be a culture in the magical world of don't ask don't tell about the past. You know or you don't which makes info dumping scarce but also functions as a way to not have all knowing characters still making dumb mistakes.

    The magic is done nicely although magical cores are beginning to pop up which can mean trouble for good story development.

    Aenor Rose the authors OC character is on the one hand pretty mysterious but also to me a little annoying at times because she is wildly inappropriate as a teacher. Which for Hogwarts maybe is fine now I think about it.

    Solid 4/5

    The muggle vs pureblood situation seems to be handled pretty balanced it is mostly part of political battle going on outside Hogwarts while inside Hogwarts there seems to be an a little bit forced PC culture. Everyone pretends everything is fine.
     
  8. startrekfan

    startrekfan Squib

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    Wouldn't you like to know...
    Despite having already encountered this story several times before, the summary was so reminescent of rather unbecoming storys so I never read it. Boy was I missing something....

    The story theme has in my opinion a rather precarious history, as very few writers manage to write a decent political fiction, but this story is ultimately captivating. The writing manages to hint and tantalize, showing rather than telling and keeping you on edge, claiming your attention and keeping it.

    While the author uses several stereotypes (the way that girls are falling all over him, his near prodigious skill ...) that usually are considered a sign of ultimately a bad story, YakAge manages to pull them of in a surprisingly good manner and carefully crafts an AU that the reader only slowly begins to grasp but is ultimately fascinating.

    So I would recommend it to those who love carefully crafted AUs and rate it an very good 4.5/5.
     
  9. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    It really is, isn't it? That was exactly my reaction. Now I read the first two chapters, and I'm hyped like I haven't been in ages. Figures that the one and only time where "story is better than summary, promise" is true is when it's not written in the summary ...

    Two other impressions: The one thing I noticed was that for once, Harry seems too young. He sounds like 10 or so, when he should be a regular teen (14). I don't think I ever encountered the age problem in this direction. Very strange.

    On the other hand, a happy House Elf named Cranky is just delightful.

    Edit:
    Hermione in Slytherin :/
    I don't know if I can get over that. For that matter,
    I really don't see this. He is supposed to be 14, and appears like a child. What gave you the impression? The way he interacts with girls (Hermione) is easily the worst and most annoying part of the story --making sorting her into Slytherin even more annoying.
     
  10. Darthlawyer

    Darthlawyer First Year

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    Yes Harry's girl issues in this story are quite annoying but won't be a major plot point.

    For the age thing Harry lacks social skills due to his upbringing i guess. He becomes a lot more mature in a few chapters.
     
  11. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Beyond not seeing, personally, what is appealing in writing social-retard!Harry, I'm also struggling to see how this makes sense in-universe. You have Grandpa Black, who is all about representation and raising Harry to be a worthy Black heir. To this, necessarily, belongs learning how to deal with people. So how could he be lacking social skills due to his upbringing?

    And, again, Harry is supposed to be 14. The first two chapters read like the author flat-out forgot he had bumped the entry age of Hogwarts to 14, and instead wrote a (for some reason) insecure 10-year-old. It's not just the girls thing. The way Harry speaks, acts, the stuff he asks, all that doesn't fit the stated age (and I'm not talking about the flashbacks, but it's telling that there's no basic difference between them and now-time).

    It's off-putting, and combined with the Hermione in Slytherin issue, a deal-breaker for me. I put the story aside for now, which may just be the only thing more annoying, because it otherwise has/had a fuckton of promise.
     
  12. Darthlawyer

    Darthlawyer First Year

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    Too bad i would give a few more chapters a go. It's quite a good story even if the start is done poorly. I dont remember the first few chapters that well i read them a while ago but the issues you raise arent really an issue in the later chapters.
     
  13. gokieks

    gokieks First Year

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    I'm not sure where are people getting the "Harry lacks social skills" from, or rather, what are they defining as social skills? He has problems being close to girls, but that's a wholly separate issue from having no social skills - he is seen pretty clearly at being able to deal with others in (formal) social occasions quite well, and even his interactions with girls (at least the semi-familiar ones) aren't that bad anymore. (His scenes with Rose especially are a great deal of fun).

    Anyway, I'm glad for this thread because like others have mentioned, the summary does in no way justice the actual quality of the story. I finished all the available chapters in one day, and it's shot right up to near the top of my list of most anticipated new chapters.
     
  14. Sataniel

    Sataniel Groundskeeper

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    The few first chapters are slightly weird in this regard, but author quickly gets a better handle of his vision and starts presenting Harry as obviously more mature. Also, his problems with interacting with girls are a plot point and don't represent his maturity in general.

    I don't really see how this is an issue. She isn't infodump machine (which was her usual role in canon), she isn't perfect (as she often is in fics) and she sure as hell don't get reactions in the veins "IMPOSSIBLE! She is a muggleborn but with perfect grasps of pureblood customs! Now I understand why she was taken in the protection of Houses Potter and Black!" (which also happens too often).
     
  15. soczab

    soczab First Year

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    Hmmm. I would say not library worthy myself.

    It was an interesting idea, definitely. And the first few chapters I read caught my interest somewhat as a result. But once we got into hogwarts I started to have too many cringe worthy moments and sub plots. The thing with Hermoine. And the girls in general as some mentioned, yes. Also the whole 'distancing' thing.

    But also I just didnt find myself caring that much. I had some intellectual curiosity about the world and scenario because it was unique. But as we moved from world building into the actual plot, I found myself not connecting with the characters or their motivation.

    Its not BAD, but neither did it stand out to me as something special.
     
  16. deyas

    deyas Slug Club Member

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    Harry's issues with women have been hinted at having something to do with an "event" earlier in his life. My only issue is that the only thing that could justify, in my mind, his extraordinarily over-the-top response to being in the presence of women, nevermind physical contact, would be some type of seriously major trauma intrinsically linked to a female; those who would seem to be in the know on the subject, however, and Harry's grandfather in particular, treat the issue far too lightly for that to seem to be the case.

    I would argue that a young teenager, whose social skills have primarily been cultivated with those older then them, or their own family, might well have issues communicating with their peers, particularly those not their own gender; unfortunately, this goes well beyond that, into pathological fear. It seems promising that their seems to be some progress being made on this subject, but coupled with this stories serious issues with pacing (200k words, nearly, for the first year) it starts to become increasingly irritating.

    Especially so, given that this story actually has a good deal of promise, in so far as writing unique and interesting characters, and one of the more fascinating depictions of a post-Grindelwald AU I've read. The characters are a touch one-dimensional in the early chapters, true, but the author seems to be making progress on this front in the most recent updates. In particular, with Draco and Daphne.

    For what it's worth, if you can grit your teeth and just skim over the sections where Harry has to deal with a female, in particular one in which he does not have a great deal of familiarity, there are a lot of good elements to this story. Harry does make progress in his dealings with women he has little choice but to become comfortable around, it just happens agonizingly slowly; most of the characters are depicted as having reasonable and sane justifications for their/their families actions, and there's so far been nothing that I can see in the way of bashing. That being said, most of the characters are also depicted as being flawed in some way as well, which is always a plus. Rose's whiffs of Mary-Sue type characterization notwithstanding. Hermione's development as a character, in particular, has been handled rather well, I think. No immediate and overwhelming character changes, no assassination of her canon characterization, either. Just a, relatively, slow adjustment of her opinions in the face of new ideas and values.

    3/5, currently. If the author can find the will to move the pace a little bit fucking faster, and handle or at least wholesale explain in a reasonable way some of the story's continued annoyances, it could easily be a 4/5 when completed, to my mind.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  17. GeneralLee01

    GeneralLee01 Squib

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    I loved this story. Like people mentioned before, I was a bit cautious going in, due to the summary. The lack of knowing what was going on for a while got me annoyed, because in some fics, it stays that way for the entire story. There are major turning points, especially in recent chapters that help explain Harry's actions around girls and what was happening at Hogwarts right under Hermione's nose. The most recent chapter, posted a day or two ago had a pretty well planned out info dump that didn't feel like an info dump.

    I'm definitely looking forward to any new chapters. 4.5/5
     
  18. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    It's an issue, because I don't want Hermione in Slytherin :p

    I think other people call it 'pet peeve'. Slytherin = no Muggleborns >:

    Beyond that, I generally don't want to hear about her, read about her, see her, or be otherwise reminded of her existence. Just ... place her somewhere and never mention her again. Gaahhh >.<


    But even so, you only end up with what I said above. For the life of me I can't understand how anyone would think this makes for an good plot point. It adds nothing to the actual story, and if you left it away, the rest would flow 100% more smoothly. That's all downside, no upside. It doesn't even work as comic relief, because it's, as you said, so over the top, that the only context in which it would work as humour is a straight crack fic.

    The ability to enjoy this story hinges for me directly on this issue in general and Hermione in particular, and so far I couldn't bring myself to swallow that. Maybe if I really have nothing else to do. And that after such a promising start. Sigh.
     
  19. deyas

    deyas Slug Club Member

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    For what it's worth, Hermione has little to no impact upon the plot or the main characters, after the encounter with Daphne in the early chapters, for at least 100k words or so, as an estimate. There are occasional Hermione-centric bits, but they're pretty rare. Certainly less rare than you would think, given how early on they met, and the impact Harry had on her sorting. Of course, it does seem like in the most recent chapters (I haven't yet finished what is posted) that she is going to have an ever increasing role in the main plot, so, take that for what you will.

    Also, while there isn't much progress really being made with Harry's fear of women, it becomes less obnoxious if only because Harry rarely has encounters with women he doesn't already know, and the more obnoxious elements of his fear seem to be being described less and less in first-person, and more as an observer.

    I'd say it's worth reading as a time-waster if nothing else, but then, I don't seem to have quite the volume of dislike you hold for Hermione. :p
     
  20. darknessfalls

    darknessfalls Squib

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    No but I have a pretty good suspicion that she's a female Tom Riddle based on the backstory given of her so far.
     
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