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7/3/23 - Ace of Hearts - Everlasting Sunset sub 2, 3814 words (VL)

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Hi everyone!
Thanks for the feedback on the prologue and chapter 1! I'm glad to hear that the consensus is that the prologue is fine with some tweaks because the characters are more important for the larger plot of the story than it initially appears.
Today we have chapter 2, which introduces some new characters and (mostly) finishes setting up the plot hooks for part 1 of the story. I'm curious to see how it reads. 
Thanks! :)
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Still interesting, but I think this was weaker than the last chapter. I think we're still missing a big part of what makes this world tick. What is A's goal? What is P's? Are there people other than the soldiers and ministers and what are they protecting or fighting for?

The hook of "I need to make the soldiers better against a threat that may be coming sometime soon" is a bit vague. A knew P in a previous life. Was there an attraction? A bond? Is there a reason she cares about him?

There's a lot of talk in the middle section with L and M. I'm not really sure of goals for them either or why it matters. Basically we need a little more of what makes the world tick.

Looking forward to the next one!


Notes while reading:

Pg 1: The beginning of the chapter is a little sudden. I had to look back at last week to remember what was happening. Probably WRS, but worth noting.

Pg 2: okay, getting back into it.

pg 3: why is "woman" a strange word? They're using gendered pronouns here, right?

pg 6: Interesting banter through here, but it might be going on a bit too long. We still don't really know what's going on, all the way from the first chapter. Might be time for some worldbuilding.

pg 8: “I swear the forecast didn’t warn me about this yesterday.”
--I'm getting a bit lost in what the point is here. Why is the watch set up? What is it protecting?

pg 9: "and the soldiers didn’t bother to give chase."
--not a lot of tension through here, because I don't know what the soldiers are fighting for.

pg 10: "soldiers, to save them and make sure that they became ministers"
--Is the point of the fighting to transform the soldiers? I'm fine with not knowing all the details, but I need some goal to latch on to.

pg 12: "deserters"
--This is more interesting, but I don't know what they're deserting or why.

pg 14: "the reincarnation cycle"
--this gives us a little more, but I'm still confused on what the ministers represent vs. soldiers. Are there just regular people too?

pg 14: "but she also had to convince P to stay with her under this broken system."
--This hook is a bit weaker than the last. I think we need at least the start of an overarching goal in this chapter. Something to latch on to why we're reading.

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I found this chapter easier to read than the previous one.

I liked the mysteries coming with Magnolia hiding her physic and giving threats, and the news of deserters and the looming assault, which bureaucrats didn’t take care about. I enjoyed Lilac’s character, and the remark about Ash not knowing how it is to be a child was brilliant – for me, it added so much depth to the world.

The chapter still doesn't seem to give us enough to see further - Ash clearly wishes to help soldiers, but why? BEcause of personal attachment to Palladium? OR is there more. But at least we have the first mission - to survive the Zorite's attack, which will keep us engaged. And there are clearly hints for more.

Page 2: “Was it impossible for Ash to run into someone normal today?” This phrase made me wonder what normal means in this world. Because with all the reincarnations and monsters, it all feels so abnormal. It made me curious. Maybe, we’ll see later on :) but it’s a good remark.

Page 3: “I’m here to see the woman, the myth, the legend herself.” This intrigued me – does Belladonna thinks that only because of the fight she saw? Or is there more to it?

Page 5: Liked how Lilac is repeating Ash’s sentiments. Made me think if there is more to it.

Page 7: I was a bit confused by the chair/console mechanics. Did Ash guess it was out of use because the cushion was stiff or because the cushion was there? Was the chair channelling psionic powers? How? It would be cool to see a bit more mechanics of the chair / console here. At least you could tell us where the cushion goes when they start using the console :) 

Page 8: “It was a small attack, which gave off a weaker signal that the console’s energy readers didn’t always catch days ahead of time.” This is given through Ash’s  POV as is the rest of the chapter. So how does she know these things if she is using the console for the first time?

Page 10: “Ash sighed. Belladonna was right that it wasn’t fair to pin this all on Palladium, even if he did know better in his previous life.” This suggests that Ash knew Palladium in a few lives and that he reincarnated while she knew him. Perhaps, we could get a bit more on reincarnation now? From soldier to minister you are reborn into a baby’s body. And soldiers can be reborn in adolescents as far as I remember. But how do they know who is who? How do they recognise people in new bodies? I know it’s a steep learning curve, but isn't it exactly why we need to learn more about reincarnation?

I am also quite curious about what happens to Belladonna. Is she reassigned? Was it because Ash volunteered? Or because of her mistakes? Or it is a routine procedure? Where is she heading next? Hope we’ll have a glimpse later on. It will sketch the world in more detail. But maybe, you could give some of this info here already?

Page 11: I am still trying to make more sense of the age maths. They used to serve at a different station, but Palladium left before Ash reincarnated. And he was a deserter of sorts. Makes it all for a very intriguing backstory. Can’t wait to find out what happened. But I feel like we need to learn more about how Ash found him - how was it possible. Brings us back to how reincarnation works.

All in all, it’s a good chapter, also gave me a bit of a rest from the previous one. My only wish is to see more of reincarnation explained, because some of its aspects – recognition and keeping track of it – keep boggling me and I can’t follow the logic fully.

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Interesting continuation of chapter one, but it felt kinda rushed, or like the worldbuilding was on fast forward. After the tension built in chapter one this chapter feels kind of sluggish.

Page 3-  I will take Her Highness back to the place.”- is this supposed to be place? that seems somewhat vague.

Page 5- “All right,” A said. “You can stay with us. On my authority as overseer or whatever the official protocol is.”- this seems like a pretty quick concession given A doesn't really know L's motivations or the operations at the base. I feel like L would need to fight more for this, or gain A's trust. 

Page 7-  “I’m starting to see why children wait in line for hours to use recreational consoles,” A said after standing up.- A. seemed to use this technology very quickly. I felt like it should have been a bit more of a struggle to get used to it. 

Page 15- The bureaucrats must want us to lose so they can scare ministers into thinking a soldier revolution is happening.” - I feel like A jumped to this conclusion awfully quickly. This seems like something they would need at least a few more clues about. Or at least the reader should have those clues from somewhere. 

I guess these examples are why I felt it was rushed. Like the information could have rolled out a little more organically. Like the characters are making huge leaps without earning it. I like all the technology and where the story seems to be headed! Great story! 

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  • 1 month later...

P1:I was thrown at the start of the chapter because I ws expecting more interaction between A and P, but P seems to have totally disappeared.

“…but why was M trying to hide that?” A’s reincarnation situation isn’t as unusual as she thinks is the first thing that comes to mind.

P2: I did not realize that either the kid or P were still here. Can we have an establishing shot so we know who’s where? 

Well, my ears pricked (so to speak) the introduction of princess L. Still…  nobody seems that concerned that she’s running around (by herself?) on a beach infested with monsters.

“Yet another voice.” From where? Can we establish more clearly what the surroundings look like?

P3 Wait, so people use she/her pronouns but the word “woman” is unheard of?

P5 “…to see M scribbling furiously on her clipboard.” This reporting thing seems to be omnipresent – not itself a bad thing, I’m enjoying it as a running gag – but I am wondering how significant it actually is. Certainly B doesn’t seem overly concerned by the potential consequences, whatever they are. Neither does A, who just agreed to L’s request despite literally just getting into her position. I guess I’m feeling it works well as atmosphere, but not necessarily tension – it doesn’t actually feel threatening.

P7 “…showed a school of finish… conveyed the time and place of the attack.” Bit of a bump here, if she’s just observing potential threats that doesn’t translate into an actual attack, unless I missed a detail somewhere.

So does the console need to be actively monitored in order to alert people of attacks? If so, shouldn’t someone be on it at all times?

P8 “I can’t stomach watching the actual fights.” Interesting character moment here.

P9 A’s line at the end of the attack scene (which I won’t quote because Shard will yell at me – I tried to quote a censored swear word in a critique once and it auto-reported me!!) struck me as a little odd because it seems the soldiers won.

P10 “…but she wasn’t getting through to P” maybe it’s just because her goal is a little nebulous but this feels like a very mild attempt on A's part.

“It didn’t justify the system…” Unclear antecedent. What didn’t justify this?

P12 “and none of them taught you basic tactics?” I’m curious how much of this is a result of the rebirth thing. In the earlier pages A seems to lead us to believe that most people are born without their memories of being soldiers.

P13 “Is my lady… questioning the will of the bureaucracy?” Again I’m curious about how strong the taboos here are. We know this is frowned upon, but I don’t have a sense of what the consequences might be. B seems to get away with a lot, and M only ever threatens to report people without clear consequences so it feels omni-present, but a little toothless. Which, to be clear, I think is fine as long as that’s the choice you’re going for! That said, I do wonder if maybe an increased feeling of threat here would make the revelation at the end of the chapter about the upcoming attack feel a little more threatening as well.  Right now I’m not feeling a huge sense of urgency.

Overall: Still coming along nicely. At this point my biggest question is about the relationship between A and P in A’s past life. In the first chapter I had gotten the impression that it was a romance (whether requited or not) but that’s not the vibe I’m getting in this chapter – it feels more like a general conviction from A that this is the right thing to do.

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