Still chugging away at my current ponyfic project. Probably about 2k words so far and almost done with part one of two. Wondering if I should stick with six characters or cut it down to five. I like six just because it would mirror the show, but at the moment I don’t really have enough, well, character to fill out six of them. Only up to about four and a half characters worth of characterization. Either way, it can wait until the editing phase.
Also, apparently I literally cannot comment on Louder Yay blog with my current browser setup. I’ve tried messing with everything I can think of and it just won’t let me. Frustrating since I do want to comment on other people’s blogs from time to time. Guess I’ll just have to use chrome or IE instead. That seems to work.
- Twilight Sparkle of the Royal Guard: The Rising by King of Beggars
Overall, pretty good but not amazing. I liked it but I understand that it is a bit, not exactly shallow but not really deep with substance either.
One of the things I judge a ponyfic is how ‘pony’ it feels. A mostly subjective measure and like most bits of my reviews I try to be very generous about it. So the vast majority tend to fall in a unremarked middle ground. Occasionally I’ll mention when one is really good or really bad about it.
One of the key points is physicality. Do the characters with each other and the environment like Ponies or humans? Body language, that sort of thing. Almost all of the time this is a nice blandness of could be either. However, this story does trip on one of the more common mistakes that authors make. As often with this type of thing, it happens in the more romantic moments.
In this case, the specific instance was one character coming up behind another character for a warm hug. For two humanoids this is a nice warm romantic gesture. However, for two ponies it just doesn’t work. At least for me. Each time I come across this it launches me out of immersion like a catapult. Well, okay, not quite that bad. Still a bit of a pet peeve though. There are a few other moments in this story of romantic gestures that involve the same ‘weird for ponies’ uncanny valley.
But that’s just a nitpick honestly. Plenty of other stories do it worse and I quite liked this one overall. It had the odd situation of I was never really invested or grabbed by the story. I had no trouble putting it down for a bit to do something else before coming back to it. On the other hand I also stayed up late on two nights reading it. Not to finish it, just an hour or so later than I had planned. So, kind of a tasty but bland cracker experience. No cracker itself is very tasty but you’ll find yourself wondering where they all went after a while.
I even read the starting story for Twilight Sparkle Royal Guard again before jumping into this one. Just to refresh my memory. Turns out I didn’t really need to, not a whole lot of nuanced or complex details. Still was fun thinking about how Shining Armor would have handled situations. The main premise of the stories being that Shining Armor and Twilight Sparkle have basically switched places. The main bad guy makes a big deal about Twilight having ‘lost her leash’ which I assume is him rambling on about her having broken free of her destiny. Yet I never saw it that way. As far as I can tell Twilight and Shining haven’t broken free of their destinies, they’ve just traded. Sure the details vary but I can easily see how Shining Armor would have dealt with the same basic situations. The end of this story is the biggest change, but even that isn’t wildly different from the show.
I do like how this has one of the best Spike and Rarity shipping situations. Because of the sibling switch, Shining Armor was the one that hatched Spike and it happened a year before Twilight was born. So Spike is basically the same age as any of the mane six, which means when he gets to Ponyville and meets Rarity he isn’t a kid and the two of them actually have a foundation for a relationship. It’s always in the background, it only gets mentioned like a handful of times across both stories, so it won’t be a deal breaker for anyone that doesn’t like it. I just found it a cool way to handle things.
The biggest change from the destiny switch is actually Spike. He doesn’t get much of a presence in the stories, given that it’s focused on Twilight and not the Ponyville crew, so he can’t avoid being ignored. Yet I did enjoy the scenes where he actually got to be a character and not the usual “Spike was there too” situation.
As for the pacing, it wasn’t as tight as it could have been. From the author’s notes and the general feel of it I would put this down to the write-as-you-good method used. There really isn’t much foreshadowing and things just kind of happen when they happen. Not that things are arbitrary. The author works everything out quite well. Just no little hints in chapter 3 that get paid off with a big reveal in chapter 15. As well as the emotional bits and actiony bits and the restful bits aren’t as well balanced as they could have been. I think the story is good as is, but if it was getting a front-to-back edit I would recommend adding a few scenes here and there just to try and balance the pacing out a little bit.