Friday, July 15, 2016

Fandom Classics Part 171: The Assassination of Twilight Sparkle

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

Almost home!  See you soon!  Have one more review before I return, though; click below for my thoughts on Rated Ponystar's The Assassination of Twilight Sparkle.

Impressions before reading:  An S3 response fic, I'd guess from the dates.  I'm looking at the first line of the summary ("One year after her coronation, Princess Twilight Sparkle is dead, killed by her own subjects out of fear and jealously") and thinking of how many ways there are to make that seem silly or unbelievable; hopefully this story finds a way to mesh its setting and its premise.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Celestia reflects on Twilight Sparkle's murder, as she tries to pull herself together after her student is assassinated by ponies fearful of the change portended by a new alicorn princess.

Thoughts after reading:  This story has a lot in common with a story by the author which I previously reviewed, Why am I Crying?  In fact, the commonalities (excluding the specific premises, obviously) are great enough that, were I so inclined, I could copy and past large sections of that review into this, with minimal changes.

I'm not going to do that, of course.  But I could.

As in that story, the great weaknesses here are twofold: a trite, cliche approach to fraught and complex emotional situations, and weak, melodramatic dialogue.  Neither of those, I think, need a great deal of expansion upon: readers with even a marginal amount of literary (or real-life, for that matter) experience will know exactly the kind of things I'm talking about: characters breaking out in wails in opposition to the narration's assurance that they're "calm and collected" at all other times, single tears, characters parroting funereal mantras, and so on.

The plot itself has some interesting post-S3 (and pre-S4) ground to cover, containing some (thankfully not explicit) meta-commentary on the fandom's reaction to Twilicorn, while remaining a coherent, self-contained story.  That was, perhaps, the part of this story that I enjoyed the most: around the edges, Assassination makes a deceptively cogent argument for acceptance and patience in the face of Twilight's alicornification. With that said, it's also a story that requires one to accept a certain level of bloodthirstiness on the part of ponies in general, and that viciousness is never really justified.  Personally, I was able to accept it as within the purview of the story's premise, but be warned: if you're looking for some attempt to reconcile murder and general violence with the show's vision of Equestria, it's not present here.

The writing is also an issue, both in terms of voicing and more general construction.  The former is inconsistent, especially with Celestia: she'll go from formal, contraction-less speech patterns to lines like "She's gonna be something else, I can feel it," often within the same paragraph.  The latter mostly consists of a hyper-abundance of pointless descriptive words and details, often presented in a clunky, inelegant format.  Take the phrase "The guards outside her chambers ran inside, weapons drawn for any danger but upon seeing no danger, and with Luna quickly calming them, they bowed and soon went back to their posts."  The repetition of danger, the need to tell us that Luna was "quickly" calming them, specifying that the guards who ran into her chambers had been outside her chamber before running in (pretty intuitive, that)... these are the kind of writing issues that pop up frequently.  As far as editing, you can see from the quote above that run-on sentences (and comma usage, generally) are an issue, but construction is otherwise solid; readers with a high tolerance for poor comma-ing probably won't find anything to complain about here.

As with Why am I Crying?, I found I ended up liking this a bit more than the review probably indicates, and for the same reason: for all that this is a cliche-laden slog through the most stock of scenes, it still manages to come across as a very sincere take on those stock scenes and cliches.  Rated Ponystar may trot out tired old  lines like "I understand what you're feeling" at every turn, but it's clear that s/he has at least put a modicum of thought into what a character in Twilight Velvet's situation would feel upon being told something like that.  Granted, her specific response is yet another example of lifting from cultural cues rather than any sort of real-world awareness, but the point is that the thought is there, and that by itself makes this story far more tolerable than many which have tried to tackle similar subjects.

Star rating:

There are a lot of ways that this story could have come across as extremely cringy, and it avoided that.  With that said, I didn't find it terribly believable or engaging, but it nevertheless touched my curiosity enough to keep me going, and even in its most trite moments, stayed sincere enough to keep me from rejecting it altogether.

Recommendation:  This will probably resonate more with readers who don't have any personal experience with death than with those who do.  Regardless, I wouldn't recommend this to those with an aversion to poor narrative descriptions, but who are those intrigued by the premise and have a reasonably strong ability to suspend their (emotional) disbelief might find this to be to their liking.

Next time:  No, I am Not a Brony, Get Me Outta Equestria!, by Bronywriter


  1. "...Assassination makes a deceptively cogent argument for acce..."

    Not sure what you intended to write there. Unfortunately, I won't find out until after TrotCon, as I'll be without Internet access :'{

    1. What I intended to write was "[...]eptance and patience in the face of Twilight's alicornification." And now, I have!

  2. So what you're saying is I did the concept better with Princess Cadence Takes One for the Team. :V

    Oh boy, Chris is going down the TD hole...

    1. "Oh boy, Chris is going down the TD hole..."

      Really? Chris said he could envision some people liking this rather than panning it outright.

    2. I follow BronyWriter, but I've always looked at that series rather askance, if only because there's just tons and tons of it.

  3. Hmm. I was moderately diverted by Why Am I Crying?, but probably not enough to read this too.

    I remember having very mixed feelings about next week's fic, so I'm more than interested to see what you make of it!