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Abandoned The Saga of Kings, Book I: Hero by Vile Slanders - M - Pokemon

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by TallDarkStranger, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Fourth Year

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    Title: The Saga of Kings, Book I: Hero by Vile Slanders
    Author: Vile Slanders
    Rating: M
    Genre: Angst/Sci-Fi
    Status: Abandoned (author's note on June 6, 2018)
    Summary: I am not the King. That is a Ranger's Beret on my head, not a crown. So you want to know what happened after the Championships? You want to know my role in the disaster that unfurled when the Brink opened? You want to know if I stepped into the Brink, and how I'm still alive if I did? Well, I'll tell you. But Zane Bastard is starting from the relevant beginning. This is my story...
    Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11463818/1/The-Saga-of-Kings-Book-I-Hero

    The poke-verse is pretty elaborate in terms of worldbuilding. Scratching barely the surface of most of the ideas it introduces across 20-ish years and about a dozen different games, you have a lot to work with.
    And yet, 99% of stories involve:
    1. Smart!Ash/Aura!Ash/Wronged!Ash/Legend!Ash/WhoTheFuckCares!Ash
    2. Weirdshippingname (blech.)
    3. Talking pokemon
    4. Turning into a pokemon

    And he always gets the best goddamn Mons.

    Ugh.

    That's why stories like Lamora's A Game of Champions stand out. They're different. They make you feel like you're in a pensieve watching Red as he watches Misty's Starmie shoot water bullets at his Bulbasaur. You can see the light flashing between the display mirrors and the static crackling as Pikachu uses its discharges to confund Onix's magnetic orientation.

    That is why this story is so goddamn good. Our protagonist is a foulmouthed, crippled, pokemon ranger named Zane Bastard. This is a gritty, realistic-noir story of what life would be like if pokemon were more beast than cuddly smiley face. Imagine an actual pack of Houndoom slowly stalking your camp at night, blending into the shadows. Team Rocket actually organizing a Weezing squad to neutralize a revolt....only to let the electrode army roll in and blow up the protesters.

    The worldbuilding is downright fantastic. The main antagonist of this story, a ghost type trainer, is described as the main who brought down the entire Kalosian government with an army of specters who are tethered to his lifeblood. The description of his battle against Brock is mindblowing in terms of how the environment is described, how the pokemon's natural abilities are interplayed into the story.
    There is an elaborate description of how someone becomes a gym-leader (For every Elite Four member you beat, you earn a 'flame' to your league-finalist trainer medal. Elite 4 members are quad-flames (4 successful E4 wins, no wins against the Champion, who himself would be a Penta-Flame, etc). And how Championship battles are different from 4-6 badges, from 1-3 badges etc. One such scene describes how Rock pokemon are formed, what the constituent materials are, and how this is useful for someone battling a rock type opponent, in a chapter very reminiscent of Lamora's Red vs Starmie.
    I love the attention to minor details, such as this - the plural form of pokemon ending in s/x is made by adding -ia to the end - Onixia/Gyaradosia, to describe the species.


    For example, where Lamora describes Starmie's regenerative ability ("AION...Re-Rack!") by describing the leech seeds literally being torn out like little maggots, there is a description of a fight between a Jellicent and a Kabutops that is top-top class writing. Better than a Game of Champions, that was.

    There's a harsh level of army-realism to the story that doesn't try to hide anything back - diplomacy, politics, and yes, some sex.

    Minor cons: Lots of edgelord swearing - but it's done not for the sake of being edgy, but because the protagonist is a messed up, fucked up ranger who has lost a lot and doesn't care about anything.
    The intro has weird dots and a quote every time which may not be everyone's cup of tea.

    Easiest 5/5 I've ever given.

    Spoiler: I dont know how to add the tag, here is a snippet that describes swift swim + swords dance the coolest way possible.




    Even a reclusive Ranger like myself recognised that ancient bipedal figure, that scuffed trilobita carapace, and that massive pair of finely honed sickles.

    Lithe, The Harvest Dancer.

    Brock's star Kabutops.

    -The mon that had single handedly shredded through Bruno's entire Elite Four Championship team last season to earn Brock his second Flame.

    In comparison to most of Brock's Championship mon, Lithe wasn't particularly large.

    He was even shorter than Brock.

    -But those man-sized sickles and and those sleek razored plates were married to a graceful analogue.

    The Harvest Dancer.

    The Riverborn Reaper.

    Lithe, the Primordial Danseur.

    And Typhon had provided Lithe with his crucial theatrical environment.

    A reservoir of fluid.

    Brock's Kabutops breached the surface of the miasma with his silent plunge.

    Lithe took off in a circular descent, orbiting around Typhon in the Distortion lake at a speed of roughly forty-three knots.

    That Kabutops was fucking fast.

    Typhon released another moan, and Distortion flames formed at the red tips of his oral feathers.
    Brock roared a command, and Lithe put down another eruption of speed, juking in his revolution in order to evade the seeking flames of Typhon. The flames congregated in a cluster, moving on intercept with Lithe's orbit.

    That Kabutops dodged every single one of them like it was child's play.

    Lithe was displaying the agility and grace that had earned him his status as a legend.

    Brock was pulling out all of the stops.

    He wanted his Pit back.

    Typhon conjured up another volley of flames, but Brock was finished with the defensive tactics.

    The evasion antics had provided enough time for Lithe to procure the information that he needed.

    Brock and Lithe were preparing for an assault.

    While dodging every incoming flame, Lithe's sickles had been vibrating at micro oscillations, using the miasma as a sonic medium for calibration. Lithe was trying to gauge the physical parameters of Typhon's resonant frequency, all for augmenting the slicing capabilities of the Kabutop's cleaving edge.

    Now that the fine tuning was adequately calculated, Lithe's pulsating sickles could rend Typhon's physiology at the molecular level.
     
  2. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    Tried the first chapter and it's pretty...bad tbh. Like, it's such an edgy, tryhard badass version of Lamora's story, especially the beginning and it just fails to be either interesting or entertaining. The constant cussing is bad enough, the world being a joyless shithole because pokemon are vicious monsters is no better and worst of all is this sense of "I hate everything grrr" that just makes reading this a chore. The main character didn't endear himself to me at all and reading a pokemon story where the main character hates pokemon and thinks every other person on earth is shit except the elite soldiers is not really a fun thing.

    Maybe it gets better in the later chapters, once character development kicks in (one would hope) but seeing that this is end of story protag narrating his journey, I don't really see how that's possible.

    Also, that bastard is his name, and how every second line of his read like an edgy teenager wrote it didn't really help. it's like if that guy on reddit who claimed he was a navy seal who knew all the martial arts and could kill with his pinky wrote a pokemon story.

    So dunno, gonna wait for more reviews on this but chapter 1 definitely didn't make me want to continue.
     
  3. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Fourth Year

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    I completely understand how you feel after the first chapter.
    That's exactly how I felt after reading it. The main character is pretty much an edgy asshole throughout, but the story happens in spite of how he acts.
    It's not spectacular in the same way that Lamora's Red is spectacular - Zane's usually a bigger part of events waaay outside his pay scale and much higher on the food chain, and his fears are fully justified. Just read till chapter 3, and if you're not sold by then, you won't be. Chapter lengths increase from the last main chapter where
    there is a SNorlax attack

    I'll attach a spoiler for what you're in for, briefly.

    Zane leads a platoon of his own, they get torn into by a wild Snorlax and Zane loses his entire team despite his own actions. To save face and also punish him, they send him on a gym quest to get the Pokemon Rangers' name back in high stead. What he encounters there is faaaar higher than him on the food chain, a damn near invincible Kalosian champion, and gym leaders who are all running their own damn agenda.

    Like Lt. Surge's background, TH's phantasmagoria, ACE's high command, are all incredibly fascinating.

    If by the end of the event in the first mini-spoiler, you're not sold, that's very unfortunate, because the gym challenge is where it gets verrry interesting.

    Highly recommend pushing through, battle scenes and pokemon lore are this guy's forte, easily.
    --- Post automerged ---
     
  4. Lamora

    Lamora Definitely Not Batman

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    So, I've said this before, but my fic is definitely not the end-all be-all of pokemon fics by any means. It's just one particularly take, with plenty of it's own flaws - some of which are the reason I haven't touched it in years.

    But speaking as someone who did a decent amount of fanfic writing, and a decent amount of Pokemon fanfic reading and writing, this is fic is...not good.

    To start, I'm calling out the cussing; not because I'm a prude, but because the way they're written is just empty. The character cusses so much that the cussing loses all meaning. It'd be one thing if Zane swore a lot in dialogue - that's a conversational style which can be written well (not that is, here). But when he's cursing up a storm in monologue and dialogue, it just comes across as incredibly childish - something this fic is already over-saturated with. I don't use TvTropes much if ever, but this author is in bad need of education on the subject of the Precision F-Strike.

    The grim-dark is insanely overdone. I know this because it's one of the holes I myself tripped into with GoC in some parts. I really can't point to a single point for what's bad - the whole thing is a wanking-in-a-basement-while-gargling-gravel dark. Which can be a style, and can be good, but isn't here; here, it comes off as incredibly cheap shock porn.

    The military parts are straight garbage, full stop. The author is not egregiously guilty in person of this, since a whole lot of schlock military fiction is written in a manner similar...but speaking as someone in the military in real life and who has read much better military fiction before, this stuff sucks.

    No one with personality even remotely similar to Zane's would make it through a recruiting office, let alone anywhere near special ops. There's grade-A a-holes in the military for sure, but generally more of the jockish, sports-captain type which is sometimes abrasive but also conducive to forming tight-knit teams. Psychos, being a edgelord, hyper-pessimist personalities and blatant insubordination are each poison enough in themselves to wash someone out of the running for that kind of thing; next to no one would make it through having even two of those at the same time. The military looks for the ability to follow orders and the ability to fit into a team over literally all other traits and has since times immemorial, and Zane has literally the opposite of both those traits in many cases.

    There are a few bright spots. Some of the world-building is really good, and actually mirrors some of my own thoughts on the same stuff, especially about the relationship between Ghost-types and the Distortion World and the nature of the Routes and how they're maintained (not that agreeing with me makes it good, just that I think it's good and I agree).

    But...fucking Christ. Some of that military radio chatter had me cringing in my seat. Military radio etiquette emphasizes brevity and clarity, not violent abuse of the phonetic alphabet and wild cursing.

    2/5. At least the fic being abandoned means this poor author's Caps key can rest a bit.
     
  5. Lorkus Bazorus

    Lorkus Bazorus Muggle

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    Speaking as a long-time fan of the fic and as a person who gave a positive comment on the story, I can't in good conscience agree with the rating of the OP. In hindsight, I would give it a 2 or 3 out of 5 instead a full 5 out of 5.

    I'll just break down my overall view of the story in general.

    Positives
    - There are a lot of things that would appear great about this fic to the average lay-man.
    - Lots of great, iconic tiny moments that I remember but it's buried by a lot of bad.
    - TH fight with Brock was definitely awesome. Cements TH as an absolutely terrifying individual.
    - Only fic where a Magikarp goes toe to toe with a Blastoise and saves his own trainer's hide from toxic Venemoth.
    - Only fic where an Onix beats the shit out of two Gyarados.
    Negatives
    - Way too grimdark and edgy that it's pure cringe. You could make a drinking challenge out of this shit. Here's a list of all the grimdark moments in the fic that I can think of.
    - Zane is literally the personification of the Navy Seals Copypasta. The story is just inconsistent in whether it's trying to portray Zane's actions as justified or whether it's trying to deconstruct the 'military badass'. It just lands in this sort of grey area. Moral ambiguity does not equate to moral complexity in a story.
    - Name of protagonist himself. Zane Bastard is a psuedonym for Ted XXXX.
    - Bulbasaurs are used as literal bio-bombs by the military.
    - Nidokings rape humans.
    - Too much sex in this fic. Two sex scenes, one with Misty, one with a military officer who is two times his age and three incidents in the past.
    - Zane beats the shit out of his squad's medic Aipom for behavioural misconduct and slaps the squad medic in the face before nearly killing his own Growlithe for stopping him from beating the shit out of the medic and the Aipom.
    - The Legendary Pokemon are responsible for fucking over the world in general. Regigigas and Groudon were responsible for rearranging the continents, Dialga and Palkia destroyed Greenland and Kyogre and Lugia flooded the entire damn place.
    - Zane literally torches a bunch of Nido fetuses that splurge out of a Nidoqueen's belly with napalm.
    - Snorlax kills Zane's entire squad and then, he survives getting chewed on by it.
    - Zane nearly kills a beginner trainer's Ratata and then, beats the shit out of his Bulbasaur in a Poke-center for playing with a children's doll.
    - Lt Surge is a crippled war hero who had his two legs sawed off by Johto soldiers during the war.
    - Fairies are literally written as hedonistic individuals who will fuck your face off.
    - Zane literally beats the shit out of a news reporter in a sad attempt by the author to try and insert PTSD.
    - I will edit more in this post when I think about it. There is a lot in this fic that you can say to be grimdark.
    - Agree with Lamora above about the whole military accuracy of this fic. You could try and defend it by saying that the fic is in a universe where literal fire-breathing dragons and reality-warping ghosts exist but the fic deliberately sets itself up for this fall by trying to forcefully shove as much realism as possible up its own anus.

    Meh
    - Author seems to have an awkward relationship with dialogues in general at the beginning of every chapter along with a aversion towards paragraphs.
    - Aspects of the world-building are mostly derivative of Lamora's and that's not bad as a fan of Lamora's interpretation. The author has posted this story on other forums and by WOG, he has stated that Lamora's fics were a direct inspiration for his own material.

    The Saga of Kings is a marathon full of ups and downs, mostly downs. It's a slog to get through and it was clear by the time that the author was posting snippets rather than full chapters that he was losing interest. It's scattered, it lacks a definite direction in where it wants to go and what it wants to achieve. The author knows what the road is but he doesn't know how to travel on the road.

    Vile Slanders is not a bad writer by any means. He himself has recognised in one of his author notes that the Saga of Kings is a bad fanfic and I think it's sad that this fic has little recognition on the site (fanfiction.net).

    I recommend Reflections Divided (woefully incomplete) as another better example of Vile Slander's writing.

    I have plenty of more thoughts on the fic but I'm not willing to post it publicly. If anyone on this forum wishes to ask questions, feel free to PM.

    2/5, 3/5 if I was generous.
     
  6. Zombie

    Zombie John Waynes Teeth Prestige DLP Supporter

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    A clear YMMV fic. I didn't like this. Considering its the third or fourth pokemon fic I've read. I don't know why I did, guess I went in expecting something else.

    2/ 5.
    Went ahead and moved this to almost rec. Its abandoned. So the likely hood of it getting better will never happen, but its left there for people that need a fic to read.
     
  7. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Chief Warlock

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    I went into this fic, based on the reviews above, expecting an absolute pile of shit.

    And whilst this is never going to be one of the best pokemon stories out there, it isn't terrible.

    There's a decent amount of worldbuilding, and backstory to all the lore, and it all seems like it ties together. But it's all dropped on us mid-scene, where we go from a Gym Badge battle to a discussion on the silica formations that comprise rock-type pokemon. On one hand, it's really interesting, and I'm really enjoying the diversions. On the other, breaking up scenes like that feels clunky. Especially when the information is being delivered by another character.

    The author's spelling isn't the best, but isn't terrible. Lots of minor mistakes, including Pokemon names, which is pretty unforgivable. Also, I absolutely hate the stupid chapter opens. We have one person talking, and a few people saying '...'. The author also has multiple interjections through the text, and that really breaks up their paragraphs something bad.

    I've never been in the military. Further, I have no real interest in being in the military. Even further, the only (IRL) person I know in the military is an ex-colleagues half-brother, who I met once at a christmas party. As such, I have absolutely no knowledge of what actual military life is like, nor do I care.
    But the level of wankery about the military in this is about what I tend to expect for stories that feature a "bad-ass protagonist with a heart of gold". And given that the main character's whole shtick is that they have over 300 confirmed kills, and can kill anyone in over 700 different ways, I don't mind that they've put in the whole caricature. Sure, it's silly, there's no way it would ever work in real life, and it's immature militaryworship... But the central point of the story seems to be "Gorilla Navy Seal takes on GrimdarkPokemon armed with a knife, a magikarp, and RAEG!".

    On the pokemon abuse, this is actually explained in text. But it seems to maybe have been added in afterwards, when the author realized maybe they were actually making the main character into an unlikable arsehole, rather than an anti-hero.

    I also intensely dislike the encyclopedic knowledge several characters have - 1500 years have passed since the aPokelypse, which literally moved continents across the globe (and removed Africa?), but a kid who dropped out of school in his mid-teens to join special forces has information on the political make-up of current-day (to us) countries, and historic civilizations? Maybe if the characters were more frequently wrong about obvious stuff (say something along the lines of "Minoans were all half-cow, but some had the front half and some the back"; or talking about how "Isaac Darwin discovered apples, evolution, and electricity") that could alleviate the issue. But as is, it makes the end of the world look like... not much of a big deal, really. Just a thing that happened to set up the map how it was needed, and then basically forgotten about.

    As mentioned up-thread, the pokemon battles are MUCH better than most others I've read. The author's obviously been inspired by some of the greats, because there's depth and strategy to the battling, but at the same time manages to keep everything going at a good clip. The imagery is decent, and the story doesn't get too tangled up in writing every move made of every fight, and how it makes every bystander cream themselves.

    As is, this is exactly the sort of pokemon fic I'd add to my subscription list, but might not have bothered sticking in the Almost Rec thread. It's got too many problems to be incredible, but if you can stomach the bad stuff, it's not terrible.

    3/5 (as of chapter 7), but definitely a YMMV