Ever since I've gotten back from vacation--even well after I've gotten "caught up" on everything I missed--I've been feeling very behind on almost everything. Probably not a good thing to be feeling right as the school year is about to begin. Oh well, at least it's not quite time to face the music/children again quite yet. If you're looking for some suggestions on what to read (or not) on your last day of the Labor Day weekend, click down below the break!
Lyrid, by Corejo
Zero-ish spoiler summary: When her lover dies, The Muse will do anything to recover her--even travel to Tartarus itself.
A few thoughts: This is essentially Orpheus, but with ponies. I think Greek myths and ponies can fit well together (Tartarus being our exhibit A, given the subject matter), and the prose on this story is beautiful and appropriately reserved, done in classic fable-telling style. What dampened my enthusiasm, though, is that this literally is just Orpheus, re-enacted without variation in plot or adjustment to accommodate the new characters. I still enjoyed the story, to be sure, but it was less "adaptation" than "literal retelling."
Recommendation: If you enjoy Greek mythology and gorgeous writing, this is a very well-executed example of such, and I highly recommend it on those merits. It doesn't add anything to the well-known tale it tells beyond the quality and enjoyability of its prose, however, and so I suspect anyone looking for anything other than a retelling will be disappointed if they chose to read this.
The World Famous Flim Flam Brothers' Traveling Menagerie, by Sage Runner
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Spike is kidnapped by the brothers--along with a few other familiar faces--to be forced into participating in their new show.
A few thoughts: The one thing this story excels at is reveling in the idiocy of the the Brothers' plan (I'm sure you can think of some obvious flaws just from the description up above; trust me, those aren't the only ones), while still making it work in a way which fits the tone of the story. But beyond that, this story feels very paint-by-numbers in terms of plot and events. That didn't necessarily bother me; a predictable plot being used as a vehicle for comedy is a great thing, and especially when fellow captive's Trixie and Iron Will are chewing scenery, that predictability is really an asset in that it lets you focus on the ridiculous posturing and other character comedy. But throughout the fic (and breaking up that character comedy) there's a lot of setup that feels like, well, setup, the more dramatic moments do suffer from the feeling that their beats are preordained. On that note, this fic does get kind of dark if you think about it too much. Rally, it'd be hard for a story premised on enslaving other ponies/creatures not to be, but stuff like starving the slaves for disobedience--even if it's played strictly for laughs--made me feel more uncomfortable than amused. Obviously, that's a "your mileage may vary" issue, but it's one that bothered me more than once in this story.
Recommendation: If you're interested in seeing a bunch of minor characters (and one character who's fans never let you hear the end of it if you dare call him "minor") being wacky--and I dare say it's a good wacky--this will deliver. I wouldn't recommend it to readers who get put off by unsurprising or dark-comic plots, though.
Why Can't Rainbow Dash Manage To Become A Princess?, by Autumn Bramble
Zero-ish spoiler summary: All her other friends are long since Princessified, but Rainbow Dash still hasn't earned her horn (and attendant immortality), and at her age, she doesn't have long left to figure out what she's doing wrong.
A few thoughts: This story is tagged both Tragedy and Comedy. When I saw that plus the description, I immediately thought "that can't be right!"... but after finishing it, yeah, that's probably about right. This is some sort of middle ground between character destruction for the sake of comedy and headcanon dump, I think; casual swearing for shock value and "Dash is Dumb" played (really) straight sit next to discussions of the nature of the elements and what looks for all the world like a genuine attempt to build sympathy for RD. In any case, it's safe to say it wasn't my kind of story. It didn't help that there was a real need for an editor to help with punctuation, but that was more of a secondary issue, frankly.
Recommendation: This isn't a trollfic (or at least, it doesn't take the normal form of one), but I think it probably will ultimately appeal to a similar audience. If a random blend of drama and lowest-common-denominator humor sounds up your alley, this is probably for you.