Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fandom Classics Part 177: A Great and Powerful Heart

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

It's fantasy football season (which, conveniently enough, coincides with actual football season), and my team is off to a roaring start.  And by "roaring start," I of course mean that they got beat by a single freaking point this week to start the season 0-1.  It turns out that Tyrod Taylor was maybe not the best possible quarterback I could have drafted.

Okay, okay, I won't bore you with talk about my fantasy team.  Instead, I'll hopefully not-bore you with a review!  Click below for my thoughts on Deep Pond's A Great and Powerful Heart.

Impressions before reading:  Time for some Trixie circa 2012!  I must admit, unlike seemingly everyone else in the fandom who didn't run EqD, I never really got sick of her.  I got sick of a few particular types of stories about her, though: Twilight shipping, generic sad Trixie, and "the main six were the real villains" pieces all come to mind.  This doesn't look like it's any of those things, though, so it's all aces to me going in!

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  In lieu of jail time, Trixie agrees to help the sheriff of a small town find out what happened to a local missing foal.  But as she quickly discovers, there's more to the story than that--for starters, there's more than one foal...

Thoughts after reading:  Pacing is, perhaps, this story's greatest strength, so let's start with that.  At less than 14,000 words, this story manages to fit a complete adventure and character arc neatly within itself.  Moreover, it moves quickly to hook the reader: within the first couple hundred words, Trixie has already gone from "coming in to town" to "sitting in jail."  This approach does bring some issues--there's a lot of telly writing involved in getting through that much, that fast--but that kind of telliness isn't particularly inappropriate to the story style, and the pleasantly quick pace helps buoy this fic, especially when the more action-oriented segments begin and the lack of slogging gives a very appropriate sense of urgency to the proceedings.  The occasional bit of narrative lightheartedness ("'Timber wolves!' Trixie said as the four ponies tried to look in every direction at once. Only Derpy had much success") also helps to give the story a breezy, engaging charm.

Unfortunately, the story itself doesn't hold up as well as the timing it's delivered with does.  By far the biggest problem is the ending, by which I'm referring to everything after Trixie finds the missing foals (spoiler alert: she finds the missing foals).  At that point, the OC foal quickly becomes the focal point of the story.  This isn't all bad, as it allows the author to explore a little bit of pony-racial headcanon (the kind that doesn't really hold up six seasons in, but which wasn't quite so hard to imagine early in the show's run).  But by and large, the story takes a quick turn towards aggressively fixing all ills, delivering grandiloquent retribution, and otherwise becomes very protective/vindictive.  That's a tough sell in any story, and doubly so when the character in question is one the audience has no prior attachment to, and when the story has had a distinctly different tone and focus to that point.

That's especially a shame, because Trixie's characterization is a nicely understated variation on the "gradually growing a conscience" school of Trixiezation, and at the end... while the final developments in the story could be seen as some sort of outgrowth of what comes before, it's such a dramatic, life-altering shift that it feels utterly ridiculous.  Other characters don't even start strong; Derpy's a major player in this fic, and she's mostly defined by her grating spoonerisms and use of the word "muffin" every sentence or two.

That brings me around to another thing I should mention, which is how many references are in this story.  To its credit, they're usually context-relevant and not totally incomprehensible to those who don't know the reference, but I still found them distracting, both in their number and specifics.  In one stretch of less than 100 words, the fic manages to work in "emptying Carrot Top's fridge," "Trixie eating pinecones," and "Derpy is obsessed with muffins."  Granted, the last on feels omnipresent at times, but even so.

Star rating:

The ending was a pretty big letdown for me, but I still enjoyed reading most of this story on its own merits.  It's a quick, light bit of reading which is somewhat too straightforward (or at least, obvious) for its own good, but which does a decent job playing to its strengths.  In short?  It might not be a great fic--but "good" is probably fair.

Recommendation:  Given how rooted in its era (pre-S3) this story is, both in terms of story setting and references, this might not be a bad bet for readers looking for some nostalgic Trixie action.  Even without the rose-colored glasses, those looking for a quick-paced, simple adventure might want to give it a try.  But readers who find that speechifying leaves a sour taste in their mouth should stay away, and those who dislike characters being twisted or caricatured will probably want to give this a pass.

Next time:  Veil of Thoughts, by Starwin


  1. I find this a good fic to give to readers who are on the fence about reading a Trixie story. It's pretty inoffensive and gives a nice look into how Trixie as a character can grow past her show personality.

  2. The only fantasy football worth playing would be either Monsters of the Midway or Blood Bowl