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According to my FiMFic "Reviewed" bookshelf, I've now reviewed just shy of 23 million horsewords. Factor in stories not on FiMFic, and that probably gets a bit higher, though it's mostly shorter stories from the fandom's older days which aren't on that site. Further, FiMFic claims to contain 2,075,243,567 combined horsewords as of my writing this. In other words, I've read significantly more than one out of every 100 words published on the site!
Or to put it another way, nearly 99% of the fandom's fanfiction has managed to elude my gaze. Hmm, that doesn't sound nearly as impressive.
However you slice it, here's my latest attempt to claw away at the ever-growing ponyfic chasm which yawns before me! My review of Kavonde's A Teacher With No Class, below.
Impressions before reading: I have a soft spot for Blueblood, and the setup seems to lend itself to easy comedy--which, in a comedy-tagged story, is a good thing. Also, the author had at least one RCL-worthy fic in him, which is always a good sign. There's not a lot here that screams "incredible story," but there's nothing that doesn't say that either, and enough saying, "you'll probably enjoy this" to make me feel positive.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Cheerilee's class is excited that a royal is coming to speak to them, but it turns out it's not any of the ones they were hoping for. Though to be fair, Blueblood doesn't seem to be much happier than they.
Thoughts after reading: This is a classic piece of lesson/comedy which splits its attentions between entertaining dialogue and communicating a character arc--the latter, in this case, being "Blueblood comes to terms with what a ponce he is." That's a setup that can easily fall int the "fine, but unmemorable" category, but Teacher does a couple of things which help it stand out from the pack.
First of all, there's the simple matter of the quality of the writing. Kavonde has a knack for spinning similes (e.g. "Cheerilee's melodic voice cut through the noise like a silk machete"), and uses rapid-fire dialogue well, effecting the babble of a class full of children. Additionally, this helps keep the pace up during comic exchanges, while providing a welcome contrast to the more sedate portions of the story.
Second, there's Blueblood himself. Without getting too far into spoilers, this is a self-loathing take on his character, not wholly dissimilar from a story I previously reviewed, Glory. Unlike that (rather depressing) fic, this one initially uses his failings as a simple punchline, before diving in a bit to how someone must feel when they're perfectly aware of all those failings. It's a pleasant bit of depth in a story that could have been paper-thin, and it gives the back half of the story a significant impetus.
That said, the way that that depth is introduced and then expanded on is rather lacking. Essentially, Blueblood is reduced to monologuing the entire thing, and while the first burst of that is well set up, this story gets heavy on exposition via one-sided dialogue in its back half.
There's also the matter of unresolved story elements. Some of these (Diamond Tiara's schoolfilly crush on Blueblood) are minor enough notes that they don't really demand closure, even if touching on them one more time before the end might have been nice. But the story ends on a blatant sequel hook which, without knowing at least a little more than we're given, can't really stand alone.
But even if the story events don't fully resolve, Blueblood's character arc does. He even gets to write a letter to Celestia at the end! Ah, 2012. To be honest, I miss those letters. In any case, my point is that the story's character still completes his journey, and ultimately, that's what's most important.
The comedy here is mostly in the first half, but the transition to something more introspective is clean and well-prepared enough that one isn't left wondering where the jokes went partway through. All in all, this is a fine example of mixing goofiness with a lesson.
Recommendation: Although not a single main-six pony makes an appearance in this fic, I'd still call its approach to storytelling "show-tone." Readers looking for that kind of humor and sincerity will definitely want to check this out, though those wary of sequel bait and soliloquies might approach it with a bit more caution.
Next time: Gazing to the Ocean of the Sky, by David Silver