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for The Zilos Chronicles Volume Three: The Vengeful Inferno

4/13 c1 mssarahadams057
I really love your story, it deserves a lot of audience. If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on NovelStar, just submit your story to or
3/24 c22 2Flute Ocean
I've purposely not reviewed this last post so I could be free to put up anything that would come to me in the future, and today's the day. Something I didn't notice until now but I actually admire.

One of the recurring themes throughout the trilogy is the idea of "Growth via Adversity, Hard Work, and Determination" vs. "Entitlement". The major unifying thread that the villains share is a sense of Entitlement as justification for their actions. Steiner sees himself as right because he comes from the historical elite of his society, so he believes society should be structured toward serving him. Troy sees the fact that he was born stronger and tougher than other people absolving him from needing to care about any interests other than his own, and that his friends should do little more than prop him and his own ego up. Fraction sees that because he's brilliant, admired, and provides a useful and universally desired service he's exempt from rules of morality and decency.

However, Ares is a bit different from the others in that he's the only one whose entitlement leads to his downfall.

At a more surface level, one can get the idea that Ares' eventual defeat comes from a mixture of arrogance and narcissism. Ares has shown himself to not only be incredibly powerful, but organized and clever. He knows the individual strengths of his team members and organization and how to utilize them best. He knows how to manipulate potential opponents; relying on them being distracted by more trivial matters, causing their focuses to shift off of him and his organization, or outright just being so stealthy that no one ever even realizes he was there or even exists.

However, his power and intelligence also make him egotistical and act inefficiently. He doesn't view anyone else as a serious threat to his plans. All individuals who oppose him are either toys for his amusement at best, or anticipated obstacles to be resolved at worst. (The same way a person trying to drive from point A to point B might view an accident forcing them to make a detour as opposed to something that could possibly ruin their trip.) He and his followers had opportunities to outright kill Richard and the Crimson Tengu Ravens in the past, but his penchant for sadism and his desire to flex his superiority, both in terms of his power as well as his ideals, gives them opportunities to escape. He expects his opponents to remain stagnant and ignorant, as opposed to adapting, becoming stronger, or applying their past knowledge to better deduce his next moves.

While he eventually recognizes that Requiem is a potential threat to overcome, he handles it poorly. He assumes that the Crimson Tengu Ravens will operate the same as all other major powers in the world-useless without a central "head" to govern things, and he fails to realize that the individual members have unique talents and ingenuity that could make them problematic in their own right, and even more so when they combine those talents. He delegates their destruction to an underling in the most inefficient way possible in the first volume, and in the second he expects that he will simply be able to overwhelm them with a combination of sheer numbers and the aid of an insider-whose own simple-minded and selfish ambitions he believes are a reflection of the minds of everyone else of Requiem's followers. Instead, he not only fails in his goal, but loses one of his most valuable minions in the process. As shown in the third volume, an infiltration and assassination approach would have not only been possible for the Iblis Corps but ultimately far more effective, yet he fails to go that route until his opponents have already aligned with stronger factions that render it impossible.

Worst of all, because of his expectation that his opponents will not continue to learn from their own past mistakes and grow progressively more threatening, he's too quick to write individuals off. He rarely, if ever, encounters an opponent that he doesn't dismiss as being weaker, less intelligent, less skilled, and even morally inferior to him. Hence, he never tries to test them or gauge their own powers, so he ends up unnecessarily unprepared when weaker opponents manage to pull out a surprise move he wasn't ready for. When an opponent manages to overcome one of his techniques or exceed his expectations, he doesn't take this as a sign that this opponent is someone who needs to be neutralized quickly or that he himself needs to keep improving, but rather that he simply needs to "try harder". It would have made logical sense for him to have Gargan, while impersonating the king, set up a situation where royal succession could be passed on to a lesser individual, and then eliminate the true king, have Gargan fake the king's death publicly, and then transfer power to a new authority that would also be impersonated by Gargan; such that he could have eliminated the only opponent he knew could surpass him in a straight battle. Instead, he assumed no one would ever be smart enough to find out about his plan and intentionally kept a major liability around.

Yet at the core of this is WHY does Ares believe all of this? And the end reason is entitlement. Ares ultimately believes that he suffered more than anyone else not only in the world but in human history. Whether or not that is true, he jumps to the conclusion that suffering entitles him to be morally superior to the point where he believes he is the only one capable of passing judgment on the human race. As a result, like a modern political ideologues on the Internet, he believes that anyone who agrees with him is worth heartily embracing, and anyone who disagrees with him is just a dimwitted idiot not even worth considering as a sentient individual-let alone someone who might have a point. He believes his resulting philosophy not only sets him on a standard above other people but, like a teenager having a "shower thought", that he's somehow reached a stage of enlightenment that makes him transcend the human condition entirely. (And while what happened to him might be tragic, all of this was ultimately the result of a passive life experience...something that simply happened to him rather than something that arose from his own decisions or efforts. Even the power that he flaunts makes him superior to humans didn't come through his own efforts either, but was simply given to him.)

And as a result, Ares doesn't just fail to view other individuals as a threat...he's incapable of viewing them as a threat. He's incapable of viewing other people as stagnant. That all his opponents eventually cap out at some "bar" that he'll always be set higher than. He's incapable of seeing his own need to secure himself against elements of chaos. Because in order to do that, he has to recognize the potential against him that people represent. And to do THAT, he has to acknowledge the potential in other people, which conflicts with his world view that he is innately superior to everyone who disagrees with him. To be able to see his enemy as a calculating, resourceful, challenging opponent, he must first acknowledge them as an individual. However, due to his entitlement, Ares is incapable of seeing anyone who isn't on his side as anything more than a maggot. And no one takes a maggot as a serious threat.

So ultimately, this first trilogy of the Zilos Chronicles also ends up having a good message against the concept of entitlement. Not just for people who are rich and powerful, but for anyone who believes that past misdeeds and hurts give them the excuse to act out violently or hurtfully themselves, or think that the world needs to change to accommodate them as opposed to needing to grow and mature past their own pasts. And I, for one, appreciate that.

Good luck on your next project. :)
12/29/2020 c21 Flute Ocean
Phew, finally had time to finish.

So Dan ended up getting the position of Magna Centurion along with Roxanne, eh? I think I found that the most intriguing part of all. Both of them have proven they have sufficient physical/magical capability to be in the ranking, but I do kind of wonder if this is going to lead to any clashes or infighting in the ranks, especially since both of them were from more "blue collar" backgrounds than some members and they got the position without going through the normal channels. (If Richard's own story is any indication, normally you either have to be someone of privilege or put in a ton of work to get approved.)

In particular...I'm seeing bad things on the horizon with Dan. Even if he has good intentions, I can see him abusing his authority in the future. (Maybe not like Steiner did, but overstepping his bounds just the same.) I'm also dreading the first time that the king gives him an order he's expected to obey. It's not going to end well... On the flip side, they might not entrust Dan with anything-revealing that his whole appointment was a publicity stunt to pacify the citizens of Los Midas. That could be even worse.

Claire seems rather blaise about her new appointment. In retrospect, I realize now that it's kind of hard to see if she's actually connected with the others or if even her actions in volume two came from knowing that she "needed them" in order to succeed. I tend toward the former explanation, but even with that in mind she probably only cares about the Aurino Kingdom so long as they provide her with what she needs. Could trouble be coming from her in the future?

I suppose it would be the pot calling the kettle black if the Aurino Kingdom got down too hard on Barney Whitman to the point of banning him from the celebration, what with Gargan and all, but that being said it seems clear that several of the higher ups in Aurino are wanting to do an "internal audit" of the kingdom and, as such, I would think they would at least want to know all the details of how Alec Steel ended up in their employ.

And Nathan pretty much has Kristen pegged, even if Richard (and Raphael, for that matter) is too blind to see it. I'm both for and against what the king said. I still think it's better that Nathan bring this matter up sooner rather than later, preferably just the facts. I doubt Richard will pay attention, at which point it will have to be just as the king said and he'll have to get burned to learn to stay away from fire, but at least hopefully this can keep him from hating himself later about it.

Now for the whole volume...

First of all, congratulations on finishing another volume and congratulations on the trilogy.

In comparison to the previous two entries, much of this one felt like a "climax" of everything in the earlier volumes. After the initial events at Primus Sanctus and when the real king returns, everything takes a shift from that point on to pretty much sail straight into the finale even accounting for the brief stopover in Rakthia. That makes sense as there's not as much interpersonal drama and conflict in this one versus the previous ones, nor is there as much time devoted to side conflicts as there was when they were still in Los Midas. The return of the king essentially focuses the plot entirely on the Iblis Corps and the Dragon Helix Emeralds.

The end result is that it feels like the previous two volumes were essentially building up to this...which, of course, they were, but in the sense that they were both the conflict introduction and the rising action for the ultimate climax in this one. It's a good thing in that there's resolution here for everything that's been building up, which should be the case as, after all, this is the wrap up of the original trilogy. On the flip side, it does mean none of the main focus characters really go through as much personal growth as they had to in the previous volumes, especially volume two. They seem to be pretty "stable" in this one. A few of the royals are forced to change their opinions and Kristen tactfully decides that being outwardly angry isn't going to get her what she wants, but those aren't quite as deep as everything Richard, Dan, and even Roxanne have been through. Yet like I said, if this volume serves as the climax to the first two, one could make the argument that such things aren't necessary at this point or even detract from the final conflict resolution.

This volume also saw the "end", at least in the short term, of the Iblis Corps. I already stated my thoughts in regards to them in their appropriate chapters, so unless you ask me for more detail I don't really have anything new to contribute. The only thing I might add is that I picked up on some parts that were designed to try and make Ares look more rounded and "human", but I feel those don't tend to work when the villain is already so flamboyantly villainous and over-the-top because it's impossible to see a natural, human reaction coming out of him that the audience can identify with.

That being said, this was a monumental achievement and I'm glad to accomplished it. Everyone gets a measure of stability, peace, and reason for hope in the future in the wake of an extreme set of circumstances, and even if the future looks to be a bit in question with a few lingering shadows, things end on a nice and optimistic note. For now, Richard has reconciled with his father and his family, although I do question if, in time, that will become as strained as it was with Gargan...but for now he's gotten everything he's ever wanted, and grown up a bit in the process. That makes for a good ending to me. :)

Good luck on your next project.
12/29/2020 c21 49Nerissa-McC
Congrats on finishing volume three and getting American Tango published!

LOL at Greymont nearly agreeing to a scam because he was offered food XD I was afraid another enemy might attack during the ceremony, so I'm glad to see that didn't happen and Richard and his friends will finally get some peace :D

Overall this book was very exciting and action-packed. I love how dramatic the fights were! And of course I love Richard and his friends, especially Greymont :D
12/15/2020 c20 2Flute Ocean
And now for the aftermath.

Well, based on the interactions, if it wasn't clear already the czar is mostly a Stalin-esque figure. However, based on the context, it looks like he knows the main idea behind being a totalitarian dictator-keep only the people who stand to benefit from your rule in the positions of power, then just concentrate on eliminating the opposition. On that note, Trevelyan better watch his back. The czar strikes me as the type who sees potential enemies in his soup. One misstep is all it will take to get him "retired".

More interestingly, by contrast, is the mandarin. With his nationalistic ideology, I assumed he would have either had more public backing or would have worked on creating his own cult of personality. I didn't realize his own respective hold on power was tenuous. Well...that facet alone likely makes him the weakest of the three leaders, and in the most sensitive position. If he wasn't so paranoid and didn't have his ego wounded he would probably see that siding with Aurino against Rakthia makes far more sense than Rakthia against Aurino. Just from a political standpoint, if he doesn't realize which of the two, the king or the czar, is the one who has far greater ambitions to take his own country for his own, he's either crazy or stupid.

As for the end...well, if you're interested, I'll PM my private thoughts. For now I'll say, after three volumes, I had been looking forward to the Iblis Corps being retired in favor of newer antagonists.

I'm guessing there's still at least one more chapter to wrap up this volume, so see you then. :)
12/14/2020 c20 49Nerissa-McC
I love Greymont's wish to have a future full of food and friends XD Hopefully he'll get his wish! *crosses fingers* Though it looks like Jekyll and the Necro-Mizer are going to cause trouble, so he might not get his wish after all 0_0
11/30/2020 c19 Nerissa-McC
Alphonse's "This did fall within the data" line made me giggle while also making me wonder just what how bad things would have to get for them to fall outside the data 0_0 So that's where Greymont came from! That's both cool and pretty creepy! Uh-oh, I hope Ares and Xorgoth are really dead 0_0
11/29/2020 c19 2Flute Ocean
Normally this would be where I would say Ares' end was rather miserable, even for him, but...nah, that was too quick and too simple. He's not gone. But if he still wants to destroy the world, he's going to have to find a way to do it now that doesn't involve Xorgoth. Or his minions, for that matter.

It looks like Xorgoth did create the "ultimate version" of himself by purging the "good" inside him. Just not in the way he intended. A metallic dragon against a chromatic... I can't believe I didn't see it before now.

And now, it's finally over. There's more than enough problems still "in the background" that didn't get resolved through this victory, but the main conflict that's been preoccupying Richard for so long is finally done. Now to see what's coming on the horizon...

Looking forward to next chapter.
11/15/2020 c18 Flute Ocean
Veronica still seems to have an almost child-like optimism about her, or maybe it's just her not wanting to accept that her children are getting older... Sorry, just something I noticed in the opening segment.

I'm wondering if Natalie is putting two-and-two together, though. Namely that if Xander is still running around...maybe her mother is too.

As for Ares himself, well...he forgot. No matter how many souls he absorbed, at the end of the day, he was still human himself. So in the end, he'll never have what he wants so long as he's still alive.

Funny...he said he believed in true justice, but I don't think he had really believed in anything for a very, very long time. In fact, I think whatever faith he had died with his family.

Although I do wonder if Ares ever knew that Zandoris looked down on him for being a Zenjyu.

Nice to see the Jiodisans showed up...but something tells me a power struggle is coming soon as a result.

Ah, going with a variation on depiction of Tiamat for Xorgoth, eh? And each one "hates" in a different way to boot. Guess we'll see soon if that means they can do more than just destroy madly.

See you next chapter. :)
11/15/2020 c18 49Nerissa-McC
All of the fight with Ares is awesome! I especially liked him trying to convince Greymont to join him, and Greymont refusing to betray Richard :D Yikes, a five-headed dragon? 0_0 That'll be hard to defeat!
11/11/2020 c4 Deez Fitz
Getting pretty intense, looking forward to seeing how the fight with Ryuji progresses. Looks like we got us a real race against time on our hands.

See you next chapter, space cowboy!
11/5/2020 c3 Deez Fitz
Andross feeling like he enjoys practical jokes. Coughing hard and spooking the others when it looks like what happened when he was poisoned is pretty trolly, lol.

The blitzball style game is cool. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

See you in the next chapter, space cowboy.
11/5/2020 c2 Deez Fitz
Nice developments with Claire and some lighthearted fun with Richard, Dan & the crew were a good way to get back into reading your story! And I caught that Zach inside joke, nice.

See you next chapter, space cowboy!
10/28/2020 c17 Nerissa-McC
Zandoris can emit radiation?! 0_0 I hope he hasn't used that power before, or hundreds of innocent people could have gotten cancer because of him :o Wow, Queen Helena sounds like a real piece of work! I hope she's really dead and isn't going to come back too 0_0
10/27/2020 c17 2Flute Ocean
Hmm...I expected more of a reaction out of Ares over Morganna, but I guess he's really just some hate-filled mad dog.

Zandoris was the one who was really surprising in this one. So for all of his coldness, calmness, and collectedness, he's really just a "Super Steiner" when push comes to shove? Heh, I almost want to look back through volume one to see if he ever looked down on Steiner back then, knowing now that he really wasn't any better than him. The only difference is someone came along and gave him a cybernetic body when he died. He didn't even have to work for it.

Interesting tidbits on the old queen, though. I guess we can see where Raphael gets his side.

Not sure if the ending means that Xorgoth is already on his way or not. Guess we'll find out soon... Although if the Dragon Zomas definitely aren't differentiating between Jinn Cadre and protagonists, I wonder what makes Ares think Xorgoth won't simply crush him like an ant if he shows up... Then again, he might not care either way. Like I said, it's pretty clear he's just a hate-filled nut at this point who wants everything to die and doesn't care how.

See you next chapter. :)
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