Pony Stories 75

27 Feb

Okay, we’ve got a theme, or maybe a shtick. All we need now is a flag and a ship and we can be pirates! No, wait, that’s One Piece. I decided to try the  Alternate Universe (I think?) of The Journey of Graves. I pretty much read all the stories back to back. Not immediately, they didn’t grab me like Fallout: Equestria did so I put them down and took breaks between them, but it was still more or less a continuous read. So my impressions of the nine stories below kind of blend into each other so I decided to do this as one longer post because I’m pretty sure several of these impressions/reviews bled into each other a bit. Overall, I liked it.

When the Man Comes Around by GentlemanJ

Humanized pony fan fiction. Kinda odd, at least when I found myself thinking about it. Doesn’t take much to switch from pony characters to humanized characters in fan fiction. So when I was immersed in the story I didn’t see much difference. However, giving Apple Bloom a heavy lisp in text form, augh my eyes! Doing good vocal tricks like that in text format is a art, and this is not a good example of it. Might have to go read a Redwall book again after this to see it done right.

Did enjoy how the story, so different in concept, actually managed to stick to the basic outline of the show premiere episodes. Even to the order he meets the mane six in, with only Rarity and Fluttershy swapped for last and second-to-last on the show list, with Twilight Sparkle the very last. It turns out to be a pretty interesting take on the whole thing. I quite enjoyed it, and even though the main character is basically a cliche about a step away from becoming a Mary Sue, I plan to read at least the next one in the series. For all the cliche, it has pretty good writing. So I’d say this one is recommended. We will see how the rest of the series turns out. Hoping the little bits of worldbuilding we get a peek at get explored more.

So… What Happens Next? by GentlemanJ

Well, I’m enjoying this series a lot more than I thought I would. The descriptions of some of the later ones sounded a little like wish-fulfillment fan fiction and even the first one seemed a bit cliche-ish. Yet the writing is good, not great but functional with some above-average lines here and there on a regular basis.  This story is much shorter than the first one in the series, but still a fun read. Simple, but not shallow. However, Apple Bloom’s horrible text-lisp continues. I’m still liking the world this series is set in. It’s an interesting take on the MLP setting, though I personally don’t care for wand-based magic for the unicorns. Wands are just a bit, well… Twee I guess is the word that fits. The magic harness/wings for Pegasi are cool, though I do wish the Fluttershy had one, but the wands are not to my personal taste.

Trouble Meets Disaster by GentlemanJ

Not quite as good, but still a fun read. Wandering a bit more into normal fantasy/adventure stuff. Also a bit more of a tendency toward lavender unicorn syndrome, which is a bit odd when you don’t have the color/pony type combinations in this humanized version of MLP. I have, however, been enjoying the way the events of the show seem to be happening off-camera. This author handles it a lot better than, say, The Traveling Tutor and the Librarian. I think the difference is that they happen off-camera and in the past, rather than our viewpoint is somewhere else in the world and hearing about the stuff happening. In this case the events of the show are simply part of the backstory of this character or that character.

Two Kinds of Complications by GentlemanJ

First off, no more text-lisp for Apple Bloom. Hooray! Anyway, rest of this story is okay. Wandering a bit more into cliche time, but it also involves the Cutie Mark Crusaders doing something adorable because of a misunderstanding, so that was fun. Rest of it is wandering a bit more into cliche, but still well written enough that I don’t mind. If this was the second, or even third story with a grim-faced, heart-of-gold, scarred and highly competent lone wanderer protagonist I’d run across, I’d be calling it a really good story. Since it’s like the 728th story with that type of protagonist I’m calling it decent to above-average. A great story can lift up a cliche by putting a new spin on things. This story doesn’t manage that, but the author manages to avoid using cliche as a crutch. So it’s kind of in the middle of the two extremes. Still continuing the series though, so guess that’s a recommendation?

Untangling the Knot by GentlemanJ

More of the same. Enough to keep me interested, but not enough to get me immersed. Wish there was more worldbuilding stuff on display. The well-written clichés continue, but the cool stuff about the alternate world of humanized MLP isn’t getting any focus at all. Almost as if those pieces were simply there as hand-wave explanations for keeping some of the MLP elements. Which I kind of figured, but I was hoping the author would expand on them anyway. I’d love to see where the whole rune-harness wings/flight thing could be used for. But no, Rainbow Dash flies because her character in the show is always hanging out on clouds and zipping around. A bit disappointing, but again not enough to stop me from reading the next one. I’m liking the characters enough that I’m curious as to what happens next.

Lazy Summer Days by GentlemanJ

So, apparently all the events of the show happened, but nobody talks about them? I suspect this is another sign of poor worldbuilding. I still like the characters, but the seams are starting to show. This one is a series of slice of life shorts that are pretty good. Just is starting to feel even more like this would have been much better as original fiction with so much of the show either ignored or used as simple background scenery.

Return to the Gala by GentlemanJ

Okay, this one is pretty good. Fun look at what could happen at the second time the girls go to the Grand Galloping Gala a few years after the first. Rainbow Dash and Spitfire getting drunk together is hilarious. Applejack, Fluttershy, and Princess Luna trying to befriend animals goes topsy-turvy. All good fun. Still confused as to how much of the events in MLP happened in this particular variant. They talk about Discord as if they had met him, yet one off-hand comment in this story seems to indicate that the return of Nightmare Moon was just a big prank of the Princesses? Doesn’t really matter, none of it impacts the events of the story except the fact that this is the second Gala the girls have been to. The relationship between Rarity and Graves could have used a bit more build-up, but I suspect that is just my own preferences for drawn-out slice-of-life romances popping up. It has certainly been building and foreshadowed plenty in the previous stories, and word-count wise this would be the halfway point of a full length novel.

Happily Ever After by GentlemanJ

The writing is still a bit rough, but improved from what was in the first of these stories. The author is certainly getting practice. The quality of these has been pretty good with this one and the immediately previous one. Actually got a bit of emotional reaction out of me near the end. Not the very end, but when I realized what was coming up and anticipating the finale. Even though the plot is a bit cliche, but then again, if you are still with this series at this point the cliche isn’t going to scare you off.

A Long, Winding Road by GentlemanJ

Hey, they actually mention the Elements of Harmony in this one. So apparently the girls have been doing all the heroic rainbow-blasting of badness and it just is kinda not important enough for anyone to comment on as impressive. Anyway, this story was pretty much just straight fantasy. The mention of the Elements is pretty much the only bit of pony in this whole piece other than character names. What is in the story, for the most part, clashes a bit with the MLP of the show anyway. All the stories after this point seem to be mostly loosely connected short stories. At least none of them are numbered like the first nine stories are, and this seems to wrap up the main character arc/plot of our main character Graves. I’m planning on taking a break to read some unrelated fanfics, so figured this would be a good point to pontificate about this little series as a whole. Getting my thoughts about this story out of the way real quick. Plenty of cliche, writing is pretty good, no worldbuilding bits, was a pretty good wrap up to the romance plot.

Moving on to a higher level overview. This would have been a great original fantasy novel. Not award-winning, but with a teeny bit more worldbuilding and some exposition to stitch all nine stories together this would have been a pretty interesting novel. Take the rune-magic wing harnesses that allow flight, the magic-amplifying guns, kingdom ruled by a immortal divine princess, and a magical world filled with threats that get dealt with before the citizens even notice them? I’ve seen good stories start with less. So I wouldn’t recommend it as pony fan fiction, see previous comments about lack of anything pony in substance or theme (not that I put it that way of course), but if you want a somewhat cliche fantasy romance/slice-of-life story you could do a lot worse than this.

This story (set of stories) put my brain in a weird place. Not because it was surreal, but it felt like I was seeing two different stories. The only thing I can compare it to is the last time I lost a lens in my glasses. I’ve got a really strong prescription, so having one eye see perfectly sharp picture and the other basically just a mass of blurry color, well my brain didn’t like that. This story is the same. One eye sees a cliched and abysmal MLP fanfic, the other eye is seeing a somewhat original and sincere fantasy story. Both at the same time and my brain isn’t liking that.

Still, like I said at the intro piece. Overall I liked it. Some time in the future I plan to read the follow up stories.

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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Books 2014, Ponies, Reviews


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