Monday, May 19, 2014

6-Star Reviews Part 149: Dresden Gets Schooled

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


Ahh, it's been a while since I've used that title for a blog post!  This week will bring three new-to-review fanfics which are or were 6-starred on Equestria Daily, back when they were still doing star ratings.  We begin below the break with a sequel to the previously-reviewed Forever! and My Little Denarians, Chengar Qordath's Dresden Gets Schooled.



Impressions before reading:  The primary reason I held off so long on reviewing this is because I hadn't seen Equestria Girls yet, and this fic is set in the EqG universe.

...I still haven't seen Equestria Girls, but I've come to terms with the fact that I have no plans to, and probably never will.  In any event, I know the setting pretty well just through my pony-themed internetting, so I don't expect there to be any problems on that front.  Now, I'd be lying if I said I was terribly optimistic about an EqG crossover based on that knowledge, but I did enjoy the author's previous two stories, so I'm hopeful.

NOTE:  This review may contain spoilers for Forever! and My Little Denarians.  If that's the sort of thing that's going to bug you, you can read those stories via the link up top (they're all listed on the same page), or read my reviews (here and here) and decide if you mind having them spoiled for you.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Harry Dresden promised he'd come visit the ponies in less life-threatening times, and now those times have come.  But while he's visiting the Crystal Empire, he ends up following a crown-snatcher through a magic mirror and into a world that's neither Earth nor Equestria.

Thoughts after reading:  As a reminder, I'm taking the first two stories as givens for purposes of this review; what I'll be focusing on here is how Schooled differs from what's come before, for better or for worse.

Whereas Forever! was a "pure" crossover oneshot ("Pinkie meets Harry Dresden!") and My Little Denarians was a genre-spanning adventure fic, this story is mostly an Equestria Girls parody, in that it's primarily about how the movie would have gone if Harry had been there.  Unfortunately, this one didn't particularly work for me.

Part of that is just the material: a lot of this story is set in whatever psuedo-high school world EqG takes place in, and watching the characters deal with hormones, talking to girls, and the like doesn't hold a lot of interest for me, personally.  Part of it is the humor level: where the humor in the first two varied from meme-hackery at the worst to blindingly incisive sarcasm at the best, Schooled goes primarily for physical comedy, especially via libido "awkward situations" comedy and ball-kicking (though thankfully not libido-inducing ball kicking.  Some people...).  There's still some of Harry's trademark snark here, but between the exposition-heavy opening and the HS sweetheart/erection jokes of the second part, it tends to get lost in the shuffle.

There are still some great moments to be gleaned from mixing modern wizards with humanized ponies; the disconnect between how Sunset Shimmer's threat to smash the portal gets dealt with in the movie vs. by Dresden is wonderful and in-character.  But when you get past the overlong setup at the start (and the overlong denouement, for that matter), what's left is mostly generic teen comedy presented through a slightly more sarcastic lens than usual.

Star rating:


I was originally leaning towards two, but I ended up talking myself up to three as I was skimming through the story after reading.  If I were to summarize how I felt about it, I'd say "occasional moments of greatness wrapped in a blanket of ramble and teen-level raunchiness."  The former still isn't great, but it is relevant to readers of My Little Denarians.  The latter is more "not my thing" than actually awful, and doesn't really detract from the fic's better moments.  A weak three it is, then.

Recommendation:  I wouldn't recommend this independent of its predecessors (or rather, of Denarians); although it probably could be read independent of that, at least by a Dresden Files fan, the opening would lose what little interest it currently has.  For readers looking for a short, comic epilogue to that fic, though, this is probably worth giving a chance.

Next time:  Silent Ponyville 3, by Jake Heritagu

11 comments:

  1. Alright! Looking forward to your Silent Ponyville 3 review. By the way, are you planning on reviewing the spin off fics like you did on the first two?

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    1. Yep! Expect similar treatment as in the first Silent Ponyville review.

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  2. Eh, probably gonna pass on this one, but I'll wait until I'm done with My Little Denarians before I decide for sure. I'm five chapters in and enjoying it so far, though it could still use some editing work

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  3. My only question is, does Harry turn into a pony when he goes back through the mirror to Equestria?

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    1. I assume you're being rhetorical, but it does bring up an interesting point. It turned Twilight into a pony because she was one. But what if the EqG Pinkie had come through, since she isn't actually one? I'd say still a pony, because a pony version of her exists. Dresden was human in Equestria (I'm assuming, since I haven't read it), so he'd stay human, in my reckoning. But what of someone who'd never been to Equestria and had no counterpart there? Stay the same? Get randomized into a diamond dog, griffin, thestral (I chose that term just to make PP cringe)? Always go pony by default, unless one of the previous rules overrides it?

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    2. Dresden had a pony form - to which he struggled to adapt - when he visited Equestria in My Little Denarians, as did all other humans. The reasoning was that humans don't exist in that reality, so they were transformed to conform to its laws

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    3. I only brought it up because I'm following a story that actually used that as a plot point.

      >thestral
      You're just being mean. ;_;

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  4. It's has been a while since your last "6-Start Review". I can't remember the last time you wrote one of those!

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    1. I don't even know what I'm doing...

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  5. SP3. That's not even technically complete yet. Okay, yeah, its canon ending was already revealed, but the author's not finished any of the usual alternate endings or extra neat stuff that he usually concludes the Silent Ponyville stories with, despite it being half a year now. And that's a real big problem, because those alternate endings and other stuff were meant to serve to explain a lot of things that the canon ending and main story most certainly did not. The ending left a lot to be desired.

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  6. EQD stopped rating stories in 2012. Equestria Girls came out in 2013. It's impossible for an Equestria Girls-based story to have any rating at all, let alone 6 stars. This is a sequel to a sequel to a story that had a 6-star rating.

    This story is not

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