Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 155

I am tired and it's late (relatively speaking), so I'm not writing up an intro right now.  Just head on down below the break for the stories I cleverly typed up reviews of earlier!

War Games Ponies Play, by Minds Eye

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight decides to run a surprise war game to test the Equestrian guard's readiness.  The scenario?  Princesses Luna and Celestia have been kidnapped.  But perhaps she should have been a little more clear on the parameters...

A few thoughts:  This story is at its best when it's showing the blinding, all but willful ignorance of the guards, and more generally when it involves excessively literal and/or clearly-wrongheaded-in-context interpretations of "the rules."  It's at its weakest, conversely, when it dwells too much on CMC stock jokes ("Sweetie is bad at food" is a key plot point, but also one which is repeatedly played without variation or expansion), and more generally when it turns to prank humor.  The reason the latter doesn't resonate as well is that much of it is very stock and broad-based, while the guard-ineptitude humor is often more story-specific and character focused (Twilight's increasing exasperation with the blatant disregard for her carefully-laid trail of clues, for example).  Still, as a light comedy, this is much more hit than miss.

Recommendation:  "Light comedy" is the appropriate description, here: this is no one-joke pony (it better not be, at nearly 13k words), but as a silly look at ponies behaving alternately way too seriously, and not quite seriously enough, it would be a good bet for readers looking for something consistently humorous and not too challenging.

Down by the Riverside Where Fireflies Are Found, by AliceA020

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Scootaloo, while feeling particularly dejected over her groundboundness, meets a similarly un-aerial pegasus.

A few thoughts:  The reason this made it onto my reading list is because of its title.  Isn't that just a wonderfully evocative title?  Anyway, the title's also the only really good thing on display here.  The writing is rough to say the least, the identity of the pegasus Scoots meets is painfully telegraphed throughout, and the entire story is built around a very shallow, obvious moral--something I'm usually very willing to forgive if it's presented in an inobvious or thought-provoking manner (there's an art to making people think about obvious things, and it's one I respect greatly), but here that simply isn't the case.

Recommendation:  Unless you're in the market for something which is very much a generic "Scootasad" fic, I wouldn't particularly recommend this.  Still a great title, though.

Outlaw Mares 1: A Hoof Full of Trixie, by DigioDragon

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Trixie spends her last hoof-ful of bits to head out west, where somepony's been appropriating her name.  When she gets there, though, she finds a town in the grip of outlaws... and herself an unwilling hero.

A few thoughts:  The writing here is somewhat questionable, with a lot of over-wording or unusual-for-no-gain adjectives, but the deadpan humor is spot on (and often, the two coincide: "Trixie had just stepped through one of the many large gaps in that barrier, a condition that was notorious for defeating the purpose of a fence").  There's also a lot of transparent over-explaining of plans and (more frustratingly) emotions, which is especially unnecessary when the plot ends up being relatively straightforward.  Still, the tone and core idea (Trixie vs. bandits!) were solid.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a well-balanced combination of straightforward adventure and narrative humor, and aren't too put off by writing problems, this might be worth a try.


  1. Now I'm intrigued to know who this telegraphed pegasus is, yet unwilling to dare the poor writing to find out myself. >.> Curses.

  2. War Games Ponies Play has Luna and CADANCE (not Celestia) both in the description and in the cover art. I guess Celestia could have been captured as well, but I'm thinking that you might have gotten your princesses mixed up. (To be fair, there's quite a few of them now.)