Friday, August 16, 2013

Fandom Classics Part 1: No Quixote Here

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

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 grudgingly tolerate love, now applied to other famous, popular, and/or well-regarded stories.  Starting with Redsquirrel456's No Quixote Here, below the break.

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


  1. I liked this one and reviewed it way back when, although as I said there, I too thought the epilogue was unneeded and I wasn't a fan of some parts that got a little too sentimental for my taste. Still, most of the story made me laugh, and that's something a lot of fanfiction with the comedy tag can't seem to do.

  2. The "Fandom Classics" moniker seems odd when you consider this story's only been around for a year, tops. <.< But okay! And like you, I tend to enjoy fics about Blueblood. I remember when Best Night Ever aired, fan reaction was generally "Wow, I hate that guy, what a dick, how could he be such a jerk to Rarity like that?" but I immediately took him for a sheltered noble who was acting the only way he knew how. It was endearing, and like you, I find I don't care what role he's in in a story so long as the author recognizes that.

    Also, it's easy to forget he has a really deep, suave voice.

  3. I'm gonna be honest: I wrote the epilogue purely for the pleasure of those who wanted it. I wanted the story's ending to be seen as mostly happy, but Celestia apparently threw a lot of people off. Therefore, epilogue! I had fun writing it, but I'm glad to see it's more "unnecessary" than "bad."

    1. Was it more than just me? Because in reading this review, I kind of had this nagging voice in my mind going, "Didn't you bug him a lot for an epilogue?" c.c

  4. An old favourite of mine. I really like a well-handled Blueblood, especially in stories centred on him. I don't rank this above Best Night Ever (the Groundhog Day crossover, not the episode), but it is up there.

  5. Seeing as these classics get star ratings too, will there be a new page made for already reviewed classics?

    1. Yes! It's on my to-do list, anyway--sadly, that's not quite the same as saying that it will actually get done at some point.

  6. Alright, I've decided to start posting my opinions to Chris' 'fandom classic' reviews, like I talked about earlier. I hope to do these regularly enough so that I'll catch up to him at sooner rather than later.

    Like Chris, I enjoy fanfics involving Blueblood more often than I don't. I also enjoyed this one for the reasons stated in the review. I don't really have much to say on that front. It's funny, got good characterization, steers clear of most redemption fic pitfalls, and really fun interaction between characters. It's certainly a story that is quite good but doesn't stick out at me in any real way, so three stars seems appropiate.

    What I will touch on is that I didn't find the epilogue to be unnecessary, it finishes Blueblood's arc and helps Celestia's odd behaivor during the ending make more sense. I personally could have gone either way with it, but according to the comments page, a lot of people preferred the epilogue and were unsatisfied with the original ending.

    I have a hard time seeing something that I have no real strong feelings about, satisfied other readers and neither detracted from the story nor undermined the ending as bad or even unnecessary, since apparently someone did. It's a bit of closure, and I can understand both why it was written and why some probably would find it necessary to enjoy the story.

    I recommend this to the same people Chris recommends it to. Though, I'd probably recommend Best Night Ever first (I'm trying to use that fic to introduce a friend into the wonderful world of actually good pony fanfic. He loves Groundhog Day and was sold the instant I told him the premise after he offered to read a single fanfic that I personally recommended.)

    1. I likely won't respond to all your comments, but I wanted to let you know I'll be reading them and I approve of more people reviewing fanfics. :D Good show!