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WIP Heretical Edge by Cerulean – T – Original Fiction

Discussion in 'Original Fiction' started by Zill, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. Zill

    Zill First Year

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    Title: Heretical Edge
    Author: Cerulean
    Rating: T
    Genre: Urban Fantasy, Detective, Action/Adventure
    Pairing: None
    Fandom: Original Universe
    Chapters: 500+
    Worlds 1.5M+
    Updated: February 4, 2020
    Published: October 3, 2015
    Status: Work in Progress

    Link: Year One Table of Contents + Chapter One

    Author Summary:

    Most easily classified as an urban fantasy/detective/action, Heretical Edge revolves around Felicity 'Flick' Chambers, a teenage girl who is brought into the hidden world of the supernatural when she is accepted as a student at Crossroads Academy, a place where humans known as Heretics train to hunt and kill the creatures known as Strangers, monsters from mythology who secretly prey upon humanity. Heretics fight these Strangers using a combination of fighting prowess and a unique blend of magic and technology.

    Soon, Flick learns that not everything at this school, or her own past is as it appears to be. Questions continue to mount, as Flick and her new classmates struggle to survive in this dangerous new world, while discovering the truth about the connection between Heretics and Strangers.

    ---

    I’m putting this up for review as the first year was completed a few months ago and the second year is off to a great start so far.

    As mentioned in the summary, Heretical Edge involves the main character (Flick) being introduced to the supernatural side of her world after being recruited by a magical academy to be trained to fight monsters. She then begins to learn more about the supernatural side of the world and gets involved with ongoing events, investigating various mysteries and conspiracies and learning more about herself, her family and the true nature of the world in which she lives.

    Heretical Edge might sound like your standard urban fantasy/magical academy type series but it has a variety of attributes that make it stand out from the pack in my opinion.

    The series has an interesting power system. There are a variety of ways for the species that inhabit the universe to obtain powers. With regards to the main cast, the method used gives them access to magic (which is not fast) and the ability to gain additional powers by killing the Strangers that prey on humanity. I personally think this was a great choice from a writing perspective. The main powerset allows for continuous growth. I really enjoy seeing characters become more skilled over time. Whether that comes from learning new magic, learning new uses of an existing power or gaining a completely new power is a lot of fun. The massive variety of powers that are available can result in some interesting uses of power combinations as well as some pretty cool fight scenes.

    The series also has a very large cast of characters (of varying degrees of importance). Something I appreciate is that in general everyone (who should be) is competent. Characters have flaws that can result in them making wrong choices or mistakes, but characters who are supposed to know what they are doing generally do and aren’t picking up and running with the idiot ball. If characters are making mistakes or bad decisions there is very often a reason why that is happening.

    Another thing the series does regarding its cast that I really enjoy is that everyone seems to have something going on in the background. A semi-common joke among the Heretical Edge readers is that Flick’s class at Crossroads is a class of protagonists. Even though Flick is involved in a lot of what is going on at Crossroads she isn’t involved in everything. The various side and background characters have their own adventures of lesser or greater importance going on whether or not Flick is aware of them.

    Heretical Edge draws from various pieces of myth, legend, history and folklore when building it’s world and draws them together to form a cohesive whole. Heretical Edge puts it’s own unique spin on a lot of the elements that it uses to build its world. For example, some of what has been revealed of Arthurian myth so far in Heretical Edge is probably one of my favorite takes on things that I can remember seeing in a very long time.

    As with anything Heretical Edge isn’t perfect. It does have a bit of a slow start and takes a bit of time to really get going. It is also a web-novel series with some of what that implies about pacing. I haven’t done a complete reread recently so I can’t say with complete certainty whether or not the pacing works better when reading everything in one go then when reading it chapter by chapter as they are released.

    As I said previously one of the things I enjoy about Heretical Edge is how much is going on in the background of the world. However, the Heretical Edge does have a large amount of interludes and commissioned interludes which does result in some cases where the audience knows a lot more about what is going on then the main characters and sometimes cuts off what would be a really shocking reveal for the audience and character to experience together (for lack of a better turn of phrase) because the audience already knows what is going on from an interlude.

    That being said I really enjoy this series and think that it is criminally unappreciated.

    Cerulean is an updating machine. He updates his original fiction Monday/Wednesday/Friday like clockwork. However, he recently started a second original series Summus Proelium so the update schedule switches which series releases a chapter every scheduled update. Commissioned interludes are also released outside of the standard update schedule.

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5 (Rounded up to 5/5)
     
  2. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    Cerulean wrote the very technically able multi-protag worm fic a while back, I think?

    I found him good but lost interest in worm as a whole. An original work has my interest, but at 1.5 mil words I can’t imagine I’ll be able to review any time soon. I’ll definitely add it to my to read list though.
     
  3. thejabber27

    thejabber27 Groundskeeper

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    So, I'm on arc 16 (of 41 or 44 for the first year), I think I can safely review this and will update later if I need to.
    So if you just want a number this is a 4.5/5 rounded up to 5/5. The points that take away from it are small, but do add up a bit.
    So the good:
    Fantastic world building: history, geography, politics, species they're all there but not in over bearing ways they add on in layers and generally relate to the plot at hand or add onto it. The Overarching plot is straightforward and so far most of the side plots have been small bits adding more into the B and C plots, each introducing the side plot then resolving it in a way that ties into the next part of the next side plot.
    The magic system is good, it's divided into three parts (spells, enchantments and abilities) as of this post the focus has been mostly on abilities. This is a result of the main characters being mostly new to magic so the time to build large libraries of the other two haven't really happened yet. I do hope this is remedied because while the other two have been fleshed out they're still just flavour text in most instances.

    The bad:
    The interludes aren't handled the best, mostly I find myself not caring about them because I want to get back to the main plot most of the time and with quite a few I had a hard time finding the POV in the first few paragraphs.

    The weird:
    There seems to be just the edge of too much LGBT representation, not a homophobe, it's more like in a small ( I think it's like 48 students in this year) we've already met four in the LBGT group (all major or major-minor characters) with an additional one referenced in an upper year, one student has a gay uncle. This is all written way that is good, but I guess it all feels a bit too coincidental. Additionally there's recently been a bit of a push towards polygamy being acceptable and not-uncommon (again written in a good way). But some of it comes off more as an agenda to justify an eventual harem than natural in the story. It hasn't happened, it might not happen (it hasn't as of the time of this post) but the flags are their and it could make or break parts of the story. But I feel the rest of the story more than cover any of these things.
     
  4. Zill

    Zill First Year

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    @thejabber27 your mileage may vary, but to ease your mind, as of the most recent chapter there has been nothing in Heretical Edge that I would consider a harem.
     
  5. Tomster10010

    Tomster10010 Third Year

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    I caught up to this a few years back and then haven't kept up with all the updates since. I've been meaning to binge it again for a while. Good stuff, 4/5 for some slightly weaker sections
     
  6. Murr

    Murr Squib

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    I just got into this yesterday and I'm on 8-4 at the moment.

    It's an addictive read, and I'll probably continue for lack of things to do during isolation. I really like the way Cerulean has established the sides of the story, the magic school and its unique quirks, and the society all within this short span. There have already been threads completed and more starting and stopping every chapter. Best of all, everything feels connected and in a small, manageable universe, not a sprawling panorama like Worm, which I could never get into. And because of the way Cerulean uses the stereotypical monster hunter academy as a prop of safety and security rather than developing it as a permanent setting, it feels fresher than something like The Magicians, for example.

    Really, it reminds me a lot of a more spread-out, less straightforward, postmodernish version of Alexandra Quick.

    I like Alex a lot, but reading Flick's character has made me sympathize a lot with those of you who hate her - I can't stand reading Flick! She comes across as shallow, excessively sardonic and goofy, dorky and horny at the same time - perhaps she simply lacks the gravitas for my taste. It is a bit much to have her narrating every aspect of the story, and I think at times Cerulean gets so in her head that the interlude chapters fail to switch perspective fully, resulting in a bizarre hodgepodge of generic urban-fantasy writing that doesn't quite encapsulate the personality of the occasional POV characters.

    The other characters are also a mixed bag so far - I like Asenath, Sands, and Avalon a lot, but the boys in the team seem completely undeveloped. It's curious that Flick's father's character is so undeveloped for how much he's been involved in the story thus far, but perhaps that's a conscious choice of the author.

    For me the writing in general is fine. I'm not a fan of this semi-stream-of-consciousness narrative style that I've seen a lot in YA and web fiction. But it's technically good and has some individual character.

    3.5/5 so far with potential to go up to a solid 4 should the plot start exploding farther down the line.
     
  7. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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  8. Murr

    Murr Squib

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    Thanks for the reminder, Halt. This is solidly coalescing toward a 3/5, so that's where I'll rate it.
    I'm on 25-4 now and somehow I'm still reading this, although I find myself increasingly disliking the work as a whole. This is getting very animelike, which the author is aware of, but making self-referential jokes about it doesn't help fix what it is.

    Flick is growing on me as a character, but her, uh, "relationship" isn't exactly what I wanted to read all the time, and is just weird and completely unrealistic. I'll spare it since it takes a backseat to a lot of the other stuff that's going on, but the justification for it seems a little weak and doesn't entirely convince me that Cerulean wasn't just after writing steamy femslash. Zill is probably right that it's not a harem, but it's teetering on that edge.

    I liked how everything was tied together after eight chapters, but now everything is too interconnected. Everyone is some degree of relevant; we don't see the lives of ordinary people, and the structure of how the author has set up the society (not the society itself) just seems very rigid and unnecessarily tight. The reality of everyone knowing each other is incredibly jarring considering how big the Heretic society in the US seems to be.

    The writing still irks me. Cerulean seems to be so concerned about putting out content and writing fast that he doesn't do edits beyond basic grammar and spelling. There's a lot of deadwood and sentences that seem to just be streams of thoughts where he's normally avoiding stream-of-consciousness writing. And his tendency to slip into Flick's narration style during interludes is very annoying. Like in some Sanderson novels, I've found myself skimming a lot of the interludes as they seem to introduce very little content for their length in general. There are also serious problems with pacing, the most flagrant being the scene where
    Sands learns about her father's betrayal and gets so angry that she punches a hole in a tree, then is completely fine twelve hours later.

    For all that, though, the characters are still fun, the supporting ones in particular. Sands has become one of my favorite characters in the series, the whole Sariel/Larissa plotline is great, and I like how the story seems to be going down a path toward Flick having to make the choice between humanity and becoming a heartless killer. So I'm looking forward to seeing how this ends and maybe following Book 2 as some biweekly bedtime reading, but probably won't pick up Summus Proelium or really any other webfic in this style in the near future.
     
  9. thejabber27

    thejabber27 Groundskeeper

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    Funny enough, my phone screen broke before I finished, but I'm gonna it 4*/5

    The star is because it does turn into a harem ish thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
  10. Murr

    Murr Squib

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    I just caught up completely on Heretical Edge 2 and Summus Proelium.
    I'm changing my rating to a 4/5, as the second half of Heretical Edge and the first couple arcs of Heretical Edge 2 are a vast improvement over the beginning. Summus Proelium is even better - 4.5/5. I don't know if that story merits a separate thread or whether it's fine to count it in this one. I'm happy to make one if that's something people feel would be appropriate.

    Still not sure how I feel about how the Edge universe went from The Magicians-scale to Star Trek-scale in, like three arcs. I'm also not a huge fan of Flick's and Cassidy's characters being so similar, but those are my only real gripes with these two new serials. Cerulean's writing has gotten a lot tighter, direct, and likable over the beginning of these two fics.
     
  11. Erandil

    Erandil Minister of Magic

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    Okay, since I haven't had much luck with webnovels in the past, I find most of them lacking in quality and suffering from serious bloat and other effects resulting from the lack of true reworking once written stuff (which in my eyes is an elemental part of writing), I wanted to clarify a few things before I attempt to embark on this multi-million words story.

    Firstly, how bad is the bloat? The initial review mention a million words (?) for a single school year which even for somebody like me who loves detailed world-builing and meandering storytelling seems excessive. Will I find myself skipping practically entire chapters like I did with the mid/later parts of for example worm without losing anything of note or find myself reading the same stuff written in a different way like in your typical xianxia story?

    And related to that, I am not the biggest fan of multi-PoV stories, especially not when they reach GoT levels. A few interludes with different are okay and I can even enjoy stories with two or three main characters but I really find it hard to get into a story once the cast of PoV characters gets much higher than that.
     
  12. Murr

    Murr Squib

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    The story gets pretty bloated midway through. There is wasted space and wasted characters. I don't think any of Flick's chapters are worth skipping, but like in Worm there are interludes at the end of each arc that add context, foreshadowing, worldbuilding, etc. The problem is midway through the story he started writing mini-interludes for people who donated to him that don't really contribute much to the story. In general, I found a good rule of thumb is to read the interludes that cover Flick's team and the main villains, and power-through the mini-interludes and those of any side-characters. Someone might take offense to this, but the Marina Dupont interludes are utterly useless and you should skip them.

    POV is not an issue here: 80-90% of the story is narrated by Flick. If you want an introduction to Cerulean's writing before diving into this, I'd start with Summus Proelium, it's in progress and only 10 arcs in. It is far more compact and under control, although less of a ridiculously expansive and universal world.