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Pony Stories 469

04 Sep

All of my recent reviews have been added to the big master review list. Was a bit more of them than I expected, as usual. Also had a moment of surprise from going back to that tab on the browser and had like seven guests present. Only for a moment, as usual, but even when adding stuff I don’t normally see more than 1-3 people at a time. Next is doing a recap post on FimFiction. Hopefully it will be finished and up by the time this goes up tomorrow. (Success!)

  • Scent of Roses by Winston
  • Scent of Roses: Now I Understand by Winston
  • Make a Plan, Take a Chance by Mooncalf
  • Sunset of Time by The Albinocorn

Scent of Roses by Winston

Emotional story about loss. Not a whole lot of pony here. Like the previous story Born in Equestria this seems like a author venting fic. Not that it’s a bad thing to be a story used to help the author work through something. I’m all in favor of pony fiction being used by an author for things like this. If you liked Born in Equestria, this is a continuation of the story and themes there. If you want to read a story about dealing with losing a friend, might want to give this a try. Otherwise I’m not sure I’d recommend this one by itself. The name six are present, but it really only focuses on Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Twilight to a lesser degree.

Scent of Roses: Now I Understand by Winston

It’s a very odd and hard to define if a story is ‘Pony’ or not. Sure there are shades, such as how much like the show a fanfic is, but it is so subjective that it isn’t the best feature to use when talking about or judging a story. Yet, especially in fan fiction, its one of the main things a reader is looking for. That hard to pin down sense of pony is what I enjoy and why I don’t read much original fiction these days. Though I’m hoping to do more of that on the trip I’m on.

Anyway, that is what I’m thinking about after finishing this short piece. My main nitpick of the previous story Scent of Roses was that it didn’t have much pony in it despite having the entire mane six present. Yet this story, which consists of a single letter from Twilight Sparkle to Princess Celestia felt perfectly suited for pony. I’m using that word so much it’s starting to lose meaning, but I persevere. I think it’s because I can perfectly picture Princess Celestia’s reaction to getting that letter, even what she might say to Twilight. It connects to the bigger world of pony in my head. Whereas Scent of Roses was pretty much self contained. Everything was either in the story or simply drew on very broad common emotional themes you can find anywhere.

As for the story itself, it was pretty good. Twilight Sparkle writing to Princess Celestia about how she’s learned how horrible war is from having a best friend come back a slightly broken military veteran. The prose is functional and it is sincere as heck, but other than !making me think about Princess Celestia’s reaction it didn’t really grab me. So, recommended only to those that read the previous stories to complete things.

Make a Plan, Take a Chance by Mooncalf

An amusing and fairly reasonable look at the idea of Princess Celestia as chessmaster manipulator. Not as fun/wacky as the other one (Princess Luna’s School for Gifted Young Alicorns by Tigerhorse). Had some fun moments, like Princess Celestia avoiding the question of Granny Smith’s age. All in all, a decent look at the topic. If you like stories about Princess Celestia as chessmaster (or more specifically reactions against it) you should give this a shot.

Sunset of Time by The Albinocorn

This is going to be another comments as I read it review-ish type thing. Or at least a lot more bits and pieces of reactions instead of just a short paragraph summing up my thoughts on the whole thing.

“With a look of pure apathy, and a touch of fear, Eliza fled from the emerald inferno, the tables now turned against her. “? That makes no sense. I suspect apathy was not the intended word. You don’t flee something with apathy.

The encounter between Sunset and Cadance reminded me a lot of the Winning Pony story about Sunset.

This was pretty good. I really liked the ending and most of the events in the story were well thought out in that they happened for reasons instead of because plot.

Other than the ending, this story just didn’t grab me much. I enjoyed reading it, often wanted to know what happened next, but it was just a little off from what I really enjoy. So here’s the part where I point out what didn’t work for me. Thus continuing the trend of two paragraphs of complaints for each line of compliments, even though I liked it quite a bit at the end.

The action scenes were a bit too much blow by blow, I was honestly just skimming over them by the end. Magic attacks and the villain shouting evil villian things every other attack. Might have been somewhat intentional, but it still got repetitive. I might have to read the opening magic duel in Duel Nature again, see if I can pin down why I enjoyed that one so much.

The villain was kind of cliche. Well done, but she never really was anything more than evil sorceress #7. There were one or two good emotional moments, but overall she felt shallow more often than not to me. Especially since I figured out who she was real early and spent most of the story waiting for the reveal. Which actually came late enough that I had given up on it. The big dramatic reveal just got a “finally” from me, confirming my early guess. Though figuring out the time travel shenanigans was interesting.

As for Sunset Shimmer, she had a decent story arc. I felt like it would have been stronger for me if I hadn’t seen most of it done well in A Moment in the Sun by Chengar Qordath with pretty much the exact same situation and themes. Though it’s unfair to compare a brief short story with a novel-length work since the short story is always going to be tighter and not have to deal with a lot of complexity. So take this part in particular with a grain of salt. Mostly bringing it up because having run into the same arc and themes for the character elsewhere lessened the impact of it when I got to this story.

The time travel wasn’t nearly convoluted enough for my tastes. Could have been a little twistier. The magic artifacts are really cool, but I would have liked more classic quest stuff. Each one was just find the location, go to location, fight villain, done. No cool puzzle solving or dramatic situations. Both times it ended up just zipping over and avoiding the obstacle to grab the item in question was enough.

I also wish they had used the elements of harmony at the end. The way the villain was defeated was fairly clever, but I would have still finished her off with the elements. It would have wrapped up the timetravel loop a lot better in my humble backseat driver opinion.

Enough complaints for the moment. The mane six were characterized nicely even if they kind of seemed like secondary characters sometimes. I think that’s mostly because they didn’t get any character arcs. When you focus on Twilight and Sunset having character growth and change, but the others are just themselves with no real character exploration, it doesn’t matter that they had decent screen time. That sounds kind of like a complaint, but it isn’t really. Just an observation.

So, good story but I wouldn’t call it great. It just narrowly avoided the buttons in my head that would have made me love it. I’d still recommend it. Just not as enthusiastically as it was recommended to me.

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2 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2015 in Ponies, Reading 2015, Reviews

 

2 responses to “Pony Stories 469

  1. Soge

    September 4, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Heh, your comments on Sunset of Time closely mirror mine. Except that I quite liked the middle parts (other than the extended fight scenes), but didn’t care for the ending.

    (Warning, spoilers ahoy!)

    Sunset disappearing felt like a stupid cop out so that the story could have an emotional ending. Had the fic pulled that shit earlier on I would have stopped reading on the spot. It doesn’t even make sense in the stories universe: If Vesper dying without having her soul split destroyed Sunset’s timeline, meaning she wouldn’t ever be born, wouldn’t it also destroy the current timeline, since without Sunset, Vesper’s original timeline would be the true one?

    Also, Lichs are stated to be absolutely immortal, meaning that Sunset shouldn’t have died (I know that she does return to life in a way, but the “disappearing” feels overly convenient. Also, it probably means that Vesper is still alive, only eternal tor

    Oh, and about the battle scenes, I have a pretty nifty explanation for why they felt so superfluous in this fic. Thing is, most of these battles, particularly all the gryphon fight scenes, lacked any real stakes, or real plot motivation. I’d contrast those with, say, their fight against Vesper on the cave, where there was some real confusion over whether they would succeed or not, as well as some interesting progression on Twilight’s and Sunset’s characterizations.

     
    • Griffin

      September 4, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      More spoilers, beware!

      Yeah, the action scenes were just kind of there to be action scenes. I really think the main struggle near the end should have been trying to stop Vesper from getting the immortality. On one hand, if she is prevented from getting it then she’s not the huge threat she becomes. On the other hand, if she doesn’t get it then Sunset disappears. Regardless, once Vesper is immortal you blast her with the rainbow laser and everything works out fine. Just make some preparations for undead soul thingy coming back.

       

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