Monday, November 3, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 57

Halloween at work was... weird.  Plenty of people dressing up, which I expected, but I didn't anticipate five different people independently deciding to dress as bananas.  It wasn't like they'd all gotten together and decided to go as bananas; just five folks, all in banana costumes.  Are bananas a thing this year or something?  Whatever, it was strange.

Three short reviews of stuff, below the break!

Blank Book, by Regidar

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight examines a book with no writing.

A few thoughts:  This is a post-S4 finale fic, and while it's definitely a reactionary story at its core, I think it holds up as more than an episode followup.  The slow intro does a nice job of setting up the second half of the story, and the ending is very appropriately optimistic.  The writing doesn't always impress--there are a lot of odd phrasings, and some of the non-deliberate repetition sticks out--but it's competently executed for all that.

Recommendation:  Readers looking for something short and reflective, and who don't mind a little sap (dohoho), will probably enjoy this.

Leviathan, by Horse Voice

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The deposed king of the diamond dogs is brought before Celestia's court, and tells the ponies of the terrible mistake they've made.

A few thoughts:  I couldn't get into this one for two reasons, one textual and one conceptual.  The former was the king's narratively convenient but realism-shattering habit of repeating everything important which was said to him (stuff like "Oh? I have the "right" to tell my story in full? How quaint").  Telling an entire story via one character's speech is a challenge, but that doesn't excuse (for me, anyway) resorting to sitcom telephone conversation-style contrivances.  My issue with the concept was that the tragedy of the story basically hinges on there being an extended military campaign between the ponies and diamond dogs during which no communication between any members of the two species occurred at any point.  Given that the impending tragedy is common knowledge to the entire diamond dog race, and is in fact their primary cultural touchstone, I never bought the idea that none of them bothered to try telling the ponies what was happening until it was far too late.

Recommendation:  If the narrative style doesn't bother you, this story does still set a nice atmosphere.  Anyone who's going to think about the premise too much will probably not want to bother, though.

Chess, by KitsuneRisu

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight and Celestia play a game of chess, but both of them are thinking about much more than just the pieces on the board.

A few thoughts:  The biggest question mark on this story is the characterization; Twilight comes across as awfully angry and bitter, considering.  But while that was occasionally offputting, the internal dialogue was consistently hilarious (and often more in-character than the dramatic elements; my favorite line was Twilight frantically thinking "My brain is starting to melt! It is figuratively melting!"), and the way that the narrative alternates between Twi and Celestia's inner thoughts is interesting.

Recommendation:  This isn't one for readers who are sticklers for accurate characterization; Celestia's also a little wonky at the start, though unlike Twi, her attitude basically comes together at the end.  People interested in some good comedy in an interesting format might find it worth checking out, though.


  1. Yeah, Chess earned the odd downvote from me, odd because it's KitsuneRisu and he's generally good.

    1. It's really strange to disagree with you here, because I remember you saying in writeoff reviews that you don't mind character destruction for the sake of comedy and that's very much not a favorite thing of mine; but Chess is character destruction for the sake of … drama?, I guess, and I liked it and you very much didn't. I guess there was just an AU switch that silently and automatically flipped on in my head, and once I spotted the story its starting approach, I felt things held together well.


    2. I think my review pretty much explains everything.

  2. @Chris
    Do you like bananas? :trollestia:

  3. Hey, thanks for reviewing Blank Book! Most of my stuff hits the site unedited, so that explains the weird writing in and such, but I'm glad you still found it of merit besides. I'm glad you enjoyed it! My grotesquely obese ego and I thank you. <3

  4. You can't deny the appeal of that costume...

    1. I'm going to have to ask you and Baxil to leave the blog now.