...Give up? It's "Luke-warm." Eh? Eh?
Hey, I liked it. And now that I've established my (lack of ) taste, let's showcase a bunch of my opinions! Mini-reviews, below the break.
Triptych, by Daetrin
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Following the events of Apotheosis, Celestia temporarily turns over responsibility for Equestria to Luna and the newly-deific Twilight. While Luna and Twilight try to carve a place for themselves in both the magical and political fabric of Equestria, Celestia travels to distant lands to speak with other gods, hoping to discover more about what Twilight's transformation means--for Equestria, for the world, and for herself.
A few thoughts: When I said, in the last mini-review, that I was going to read stories by authors whose stuff I knew I liked, this was near the top of my list: the sequel to one of my favorite fanfics, which I've never quite gotten around to reading. And it should surprise nobody that, now that I've read it, I'm kicking myself for not having gotten to it sooner.
Tryptych gives about equal weight to Twilight growing into her godhead (on that note: unlike the first two stories in this continuum, Tryptych does not stand alone; if you haven't at least read Apotheosis before coming into this, you'll be left very confused) and to Celestia's travels and dialogues, and while this felt unbalanced at times during the story--the connection between Celestia and Twilight's discoveries/growth is only gradually developed--the unwaveringly elegant prose makes this a pleasurable reading experience at all moments. And even as this story moves away from the setting-emphasis that I so enjoyed in Daetrin's earlier works, it does more than enough to develop its main characters (and to obliquely build up several other races via their deities (which is itself a plot point!)) to keep my interest high. The pacing feels a bit frenetic at times, cramming events that feel like they could reasonably take weeks into just a few days, but there are so many powerful scenes that the overall effect of the story is overwhelming in a positive sense, rather than incomprehensible. In the final analysis, it's strongest moments still stand out, rather than blurring together--and there are some powerful moments here, indeed.
Recommendation: I cannot recommend this to anyone independent of the story it's a sequel to, but for anyone who has read and enjoyed Apotheosis, this is a must-read. And for anyone who read Apotheosis, but found it merely okay, this story shows a significant improvement in the already-excellent writing quality (I looked for a choice passage to quote, but found a dozen... in the first chapter), and a tighter focus on character-building than its predecessor.
Babel, by Cold in Gardez
Zero-ish spoiler summary: One day, Discord takes away everypony's ability to speak to one another--and then vanishes without a trace, leaving the ponies to pick up the pieces he left behind.
A few thoughts: I've had this one on my to-read list ever since it was published, the description having caught my eye. I was expecting a rather different story from that description than the one I got; I thought I would be reading a story with more of a societal scope, while the actual fic has a very personal focus. Although that may have caught me off-guard, I thought the story was very enjoyable, and painted an interesting picture of the limits of the author's oft-quoted (by me, anyway) maxim that "ponies are people" by contrasting how Equestria's society would handle the destruction of their common language, compared (implicitly and titularly) to humanity. This isn't a terribly deep examination of its premise, but it's got enough thoughtful little touches to feel believable--and in such a short story, that's enough.
Recommendation: Readers who want a highly-detailed examination of the premise will probably come away wanting more, but as a piece of flash fiction, this is very successful at showing (the (lack of) fallout from) a major event through a single character's eyes.