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So now that the 6-Star Reviews have come to an end (more or less--there're a few stories that may yet finish up, and I'll review them when they do), it's time to move on to something new! And by "move on to something new," I of course mean "do something that's almost exactly the same." Thus begin the Fandom Classics reviews: the format you've come to know and
Impressions before reading: I've read one or two other stories by the author, and enjoyed them well enough. This is a comedy, though, and I haven't read anything comic by him yet. Not every author can "do" funny and serious with equal dexterity, but I guess we'll see; I believe I recall learning that squirrels are ambidextrous.
Also, as much as he was a one-note joke in his sole appearance in the show, I've got kind of a soft spot for Blueblood in fanfiction. I couldn't tell you why, exactly, but I've found several stories that used him to great effect as an antagonist, comic relief, general dunderhead, Wooster-type protagonist, and more. So I'm optimistic going in, all told.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Blueblood decides that he's going become a great and renowned hero. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to do that.
Thoughts after reading: Redemption fics--stories that take an antagonist and, either by showing that their canon actions were simply misunderstood or by having them grow beyond those actions, attempt to make them sympathetic to the reader--are tough to write well. The basic problem facing every redemption fic, especially one from a setting like MLP that doesn't have a whole lot of moral grey space, is that the character in need of redemption has by definition already been established as a villain, a boor, or whatever. Many, many authors have tried to turn Blueblood, Trixie, Gilda, or the like into relatable, likable characters, and only a fraction of those have succeeded.
This story doesn't go far out of its way to justify Blueblood's behavior, but it does ultimately explain it. The key here is that it never ignores the fact that Blueblood is a pompous, self-absorbed jerk, but it does look at why he is that way, and does so in a way that makes him understandable. Not sympathetic, exactly, but a realistic character instead of a strawman ninny. The interactions between he, Celestia, and Shining Armor all carry an air of realism that sells the entire fic.
The epilogue, however, is something of a letdown. Since the focus of the story proper is squarely on Blueblood, changing directions at the very end seems an odd choice. Moreover, seeing Blueblood follow through on the conclusion of the main fic is nice, but doesn't really add anything to what's already been presented. While not poorly written, or even particularly unenjoyable, the epilogue does feel unneeded.
As far as the comedy aspect was concerned, I was largely pleased. Much is made of deflating Blueblood, and while that's the comic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, it's no less funny for that. Redsquirrel also does a good job of keeping even the more serious moments of the fic full of gentle levity; never do the more serious scenes feel out of place in the larger story, nor do the flat comic segments feel at odds with the overall tone. There were a few bits that strayed from the character-tone comedy of the overall fic (some of the sex comedy comes across as overly slapstick-y (though it's not explicit, not tone-inappropriate) compared to the rest of the work), but for the most part the author did a good job of maintaining a consistent mood, both between the humor and the more serious sections, and within the comic areas themselves.
Star rating: ★★★☆☆ (what does this mean?)
In relatively short space, this fic manages to turn a (literal!) one-trick pony from the show into a character who is, if not exactly nuanced, at least complex enough to be believable. Moreover, it does this without sacrificing his canon characteristics, and manages to be funny along the way. Some of the comedy falls a little short, it's true, but on the whole this story hits all the marks it intends to.
Recommendation: Readers sensitive to unfocused or overlong denouements may find that area of this fic disappointing, and those with no patience for even the best of redemption fics will probably find that this falls more into the category of "really good example of a type of story I don't like" than "expectation-shatteringly good." Still, readers looking for a very strong blend of comedy and characterization will not be disappointed by No Quixote Here.
Next time: Mendacity, by Dromicosuchus