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It's kind of neat to see that, more than a year after I first posted it, my review of Eternal can still inspire passionate opinions and even outright ranting. Though not necessarily for the reasons you might suspect; check out the bottom comment here. And congrats to Bulbasaur for finally working it out; it almost makes me wish the payoff was in any way worth the wait.
So, no convoluted, half-formed puns this time; click below the break for my review of Adcoon's As Celestia Is My Witness.
Impressions before reading: Well, I dig the cover image, but the description's not giving me a lot to go off of, other than that this will be a random/comedy about Celestia. But heck, I can get on board with that! Celestia random/comedy it is!
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Celestia is tired of ponies swearing this or that on her name--mostly because whenever they do, she can hear them. So, she decides to start making sure they live up to their oaths.
Thoughts after reading: For a random/comedy (which this certainly is) there are a surprising number of interesting things (that is, things that make you think "hey, that's a neat idea") going on in this fic, not the least of which is the central premise: that oaths taken in Celestia's name are mentally audible to Celestia herself. Surprisingly, that's not just used as a setup point; it gets short history and some development along the way. Similarly, several bits of worldbuilding, both ridiculous and plausible, are worked into this story throughout. The result is that this story wasn't nearly as mindless as I initially suspected, and I was glad for it; mindless comedy is fine for what it is, but... well, there's a reason why "mindless" is more often used as a pejorative than as an accolade. That's not to say there was much depth here--there's not so much as a moral, twisted or otherwise, to be found, never mind a mind-opening one--but there was more here than just a frame on which to hang some semi-connected gags, and that's something I appreciate. I was also pleased to see that these ideas and bits of development didn't come at the expense of the comedy. Adcoon does a good job keeping the humor quotient high, even while discussing things that aren't inherently humorous.
That's not to say the comic quality was unerringly consistent, unfortunately; just that the problem wasn't trying to mix tonally incompatible elements. The humor is a mixed bag, and though there's not much of it that I'd call "highbrow," some of the referential humor (e.g. a "do you like bananas" gag) was too lowest-common-denominator for my tastes. And, although the stinger at the end is neat as a concept, it seems an odd note to end the story on; it's not terribly funny as a one-off gag (rather than as setup for a larger or repeating joke), and it doesn't tie directly to the conflict around which the story itself is centered.
The biggest problem here, I found, was the herky-jerk pacing. I think the author was trying to keep the amount of filler to a minimum, which is always a good idea with comedies--"get to the funny part and get out," as they say--but there were several places where either one scene ran into another with no transition, or where short timeskips seemed to take place within a scene; settings or character positions changing without explanation, and the like.
Star rating: ★★☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
This story did more than a couple of chuckles out of me, and I liked some of the concepts in it. But it's got some issues with pacing and humor tempo; ultimately, I'd call it a good fic, but I would struggle to find a lot of adverbs to gild that description with.
Recommendation: This is an excellent story for anyone looking for a short, lighthearted bit of storytelling that keeps the characters and setting close enough to its source that the zany departures stick out in a (mostly) good way. Readers searching for something with a bit more heft will want to keep looking, though, and those who are particularly sensitive to story flow issues may find their experience somewhat marred.
Next time: Wingmares, by CouchCrusader