Ah, Tom Frost, I have wronged you. Despite thoroughly enjoying "Elevated" as it was being written and discovering the hidden-but-related "A Rose From the Garden", which you posted midway through, I neglected to review either of your stories immediately upon completing them. I could tell you to blame Lazarus Valentine for "The Omega Path" or Kid Wigger for "Flight of the Code Monkey", or a large number of other authors for their works, but no, this fault is mine.
Worse still, it seems that no other reviewer, or one of the 110,000+ people who have downloaded the story at the time of this review, has jumped on your Roman romp with a keyboard in the two months since it was completed. Shocking!
Where to even start with this? At the onset of this story's posting, I recall seeing that it was set in "New Rome" and being intrigued despite its as-yet short length and low (less than 6.5 at the time) score. Surely anyone competent enough to correctly spell "plebeian" and also mention "fast cars" in such a story's description was worthy of my time. And so it came to be that I began reading about Corvus Tullius.
Initially, Corvus has a somewhat impenetrable character; he appears to be a slightly-above-average intelligence teenager adjusting to a new life as a patrician, where wine, women, and more women are the most common ways of spending days. We soon see, however, that there is much more beneath the surface, both in Corvus and the complex world created by the author.
New Rome is a future-set throwback to historical Rome with all the vices of the present day added in. Greedy politicians vie for power, conspiracies abound, and the anti-Roman Hebrews are a constant military and terrorist threat that citizens live in fear of. All this in a world where computers and internet still exist, but are the sole domain of slaves--of which there are many.
I could go on and on about the intricacies of the setting, speculating about this or that, but I will cut myself off here on that topic to ensure that this review does not become a New Rome documentary. Suffice to say that the author has spent considerable time on detail here, and the atmosphere is perfect.
This story has a lot going for it on a technical basis. The author conveys ideas easily, with little to no awkwardness or phrases to jar the reader from the story. There are occasional typos as of the time of my reading, but the author claims to be creating a final draft which I would expect to be free of these.
In a novel change of pace, technical accuracy of this story also extends to Roman culture. The author has obviously done some research here because nearly everything is spot-on: Roman terminology is sprinkled in from time to time to enhance the reader's immersion. The only major issue here that I noticed, if I'm going to be an asshole and nitpick, was one usage of "Hera" instead of the Romanized "Juno", though it's entirely possible, based on the proposed cultural shifts, that this temple sees such infrequent worship as to allow it to not have been re-Romanized for New Rome. I know, I'm an asshole.
As mentioned previously, this story does a great job in its characterizations. Most characters seem complex and life-like, and the women especially, even those portrayed as slaves, are not just Plot Devices or Lust Holes. I strongly encourage anyone reading this story or review to, midway through "Elevated", read "A Rose From the Garden" as supplementary background information. It is worth noting that "Elevated" is set in a completely male-dominated society with a male main character who is not attending school; suffice to say that the focus is not entirely on sexual/romantic exploits, nor is there an excessive amount of page time spent on describing female characters to set them up as love interests.
On this topic, there is a considerable amount of well-written sex in this story. Slaves exist, obviously, and they are used as one would expect, including a very small amount of BDSM. I would say that this also is not done to excess, and slavery is more akin to a character attribute here than it is a way for the main character to get laid.
A number of plots are left unresolved at the end of this story, and I am hopeful that the author finds time to continue the series. While this segment can certainly stand alone, and I can imagine the characters riding off into the sunset in their chariots, it seems clear that Tom Frost has a clear plan of events--one that I'd like to read along with.
Keep an eye on the New Rome series. The first entry here was also the first "long" story by the author posted here, and it makes me optimistic about what will come next.