Taismo: Dark Guardian - Epilogue: Settling Down
TO ANYONE ELSE WHO MAY HAS NOT READ THIS, THIS CRITIQUE HAS SPOILERS. SO READ THE STORY FIRST BEFORE READING THIS CRITIQUE!
Again, reviewing as a whole.
This one had a much different tone than the previous story, with more a few more "sunshine and bunnies" moments than "dark shadows and despair" ones. It had LOTS of romance in it; even some slight romantic tension between Sonic and Amy, from what I interpret. It was nice to see Eggman as the big bad villain again. I hope he shows up in the next few books, still being the devious villain he always has been.
Now I want to talk about this Jaran Kai. I am almost convinced he is a Jedi, or at least has ties to the order; his powers, hints in the backstory...and the lightsaber all point to Jedi origins. Now the next question I am sure will be answered in the next installments; How did he get to be a guardian of the omniverse, leaving his own timeline in the process? I find him intriguing to say the least, as most Jedi I've seen are warm, compassionate, wise, and easy to talk to. But his cold, calculating, distant demeanor just seems...offset of the typical Jedi to me. If not for that, I think I would have really disliked this character, but he's interesting enough for me to overlook is status of being "over-powerd". I don't have a problem with him being powerful and being an ally, nor do I have a serious problem with a Jedi being in the Sonic Universe, as I am can be a sucker for crossovers. But I have yet to see him in a vulnerable moment. I personally would have preferred it if Eggman did legitimately capture him and used him as the battery for the machine. Then the heroes could have pulled some epic win out of their hats and rescued a Jedi from trouble, showing that they are not so helpless. The fact that he freed himself and then restored the chaos emeralds was a little strange and tough to deal with, but I suppose they had to be restored somehow without sacrificing Cosmo...again. And at least you're keeping some element of mystery around Kai. If he just came out and blatantly said that he was a Jedi, spilling the secrets of his order, his universe, and the Force would have shut me off of this pretty quick. But that fact he doesn't adds to his character, instead of him being just a Mary Sue (Oh...how I hate that term).
Story and Emotion: Honestly...this would have been TONS better if there was no dimension crossing with Star Wars, but not to say it was bad. This was still very enjoyable to read, and among the stories that involve Sonic and Star Wars, this is the only one thus far that is intelligently written, opening up the idea of MANY different dimensions, timelines, and worlds out there, giving this a sort of bigness. The prologue itself gave a sense of perspective, giving Jaran Kai a purpose to be there in the first place, although I fail to see what makes Tails and Cosmo so important (again, I'll probably find out later). The conflict in this was overall AWESOME. Eggman rolling out the big guns gave Jaran a reason to be a badass and show off his powers. And now that he has some of this technology, who knows what he could do with it. Your ending just hit off my interest in the next story though. Black Arms being nonchalantly discounted as a non-threat to this entity is nothing small. Black Doom is all business. I'm not going to say this story feels complete, as the ending blatantly says "We aren't done yet, folks," and the fact that I know that there are two more books
Characters: I already pretty much touched on Jaran, but I suppose there's one more thing. When I look at a new character, I ask "Does this character have a legitimate purpose to be there?" And despite the gripes I may have with him, my answer is "yes." His service to a higher power and new purpose make him an important part of the story. At least you didn't lose sight of that. And as with this Jedi/Sonic crossover (as I see it), these things should be done smartly...and you did do that. Instead of just dropping a Jedi in this for the hell of it, you seem to have thought it through and gave a decent enough reason for his existance. And...Jedi are powerful, who's to say they can't see or even travel beyond their own worlds. Soul Calibur 4 did that, so why not here? ^_^ As for the others, Vanilla still proves to be that caring individual, but still be strong when she has to be. The others were still true to their origins, personalities, and reactions. There was a little less character evolution here than the last one, but this is more of a story of Tails starting over and picking up where he left off with Cosmo, and not a journey of self-discovery. Now the new guy on the block, Xemus. I am still fixated on Star Wars, so I'm drawing a parallel between him and a Darth Nihilus from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2. He's an entity who is more of a would in the force, draining life wherever he goes, surrounded by his crew, who seem more dead than alive. I'm interested to see how this plays out.
Setting and Pacing: Again, nice mentioning of other Sonic places, like Emerald Coast. You still don't fail in explaining the world and emotions conveyed in those places as well. I could feel my heart swell with joy at those close moments between Tails and Cosmo, and feel very angry with Kai when he appeared to have betrayed his charges. Most of it was well paced, although I did wish at times that Tails and Cosmo would stop being so self-conscious. However, it was fitting given the circumstances of their reunion, so I'm giving props for that bit of writing, not hating on it. That bit where she jumps into his arms after he asks her to live with her was a nice ending to all that they've been through. Most everything resolved smoothly, Although I felt like that final battle was a little rushed. Kai got free a little to fast in my opinion.
To finish things off, I thought this was a lot more action packed than the last one, mostly involving Jaran Kai. This story set the premise for what is to become a lot bigger in scope (and probably danger) in the next books. Now I can recommend this to Star Wars and Jedi fans as well, as this character, Jaran Kai, just might click well with them. Despite my critical view of this story, I would still recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good read and a rocking good time; filled with good character interaction, drama, romance, and action.