er...ouch. Don't quite know what to say to that.
I'm sorry; it's nothing personal. It's just that the novella didn't do anything for me, and surely you are no stranger to criticism? I realize that my comment was rather brusque and unhelpful, so I'll give detailed reasons as to why I feel the way I feel. They're probably quite pointless to you, but hey, might as well justify my remarks.
The first is the tone -- I'm unsure as to whether the novella takes itself seriously or sets out to be tongue-in-cheek. Too humourous to be serious, and too serious to be humourous. The commentaries by the gods are... cute, but I feel they detract rather than add. I couldn't take the mortal characters -- Lucian, Damian, Anlokam -- seriously, since all they are doing is being chesspieces in a show to amuse divine beings. It lessens the impact of their emotions, their characters, and their struggles. I couldn't empathize with any of them. Perhaps it's the novella's length and the need to fit the plot in under certain page count limits (not to mention deadlines), but I find the character development rather lacking. When the story can't make me care about the characters, for me, all bets are off.
The prose strikes me as... bland. I'd quote specific bits, but that'd violate the copyrights stated in the inside of the front cover. Suffice to say that the words didn't draw me in, and when I came across cliches, they jumped out at me. The frequent explanations in parentheses likewise grated. This is personal preference, but for me, if something's in brackets (as far as narrative is concerned), it shouldn't be there at all. It reminds me of in-text author's notes so often seen in a beginner's fanfiction. The narrative also frequently goes on a tangent to do what I call "textbook info-dump." (Explanations of how inborn magic works, for instance. It does begin to sound a bit like an expository essay at these points, albeit an informal one.) There are
some interesting descriptions here and there (such as the witty jabs at "narrative conventions"), but they don't stand out nearly enough.
It's not bad, IMO, certainly far from the worst things I've read, but it isn't particularly memorable, either. It's just... there
. And of course these are all personal opinions, and my views might just be a tad colored by some of the emotionally intense, amazing fanfiction I've been reading recently.