Hey, maybe one of you can solve a mystery for me: has someone or somewhere I don't know about promoted to my FiMFic account recently? Because in the last few days, I've picked up several new followers, and had a bunch of my stories (i.e. it's not just one fic that's benefiting) added to different people's favorites folders. I haven't published any new stories recently, so I'm at a loss as to what's going on. Do you guys have any clues?
Let me know if you figure it out. Otherwise, I'll just keep on doing what I do: reviewing fanfics! Click down below the break for more.
A Chat Between a King and a Prince, by Poisonclaw
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Shining Armour visits Thorax at the now-friendly changeling hive to speak to him--and to apologize.
A few thoughts: I felt like this story meandered a bit too much for its own good. Digressions and a sense of directionlessness aren't necessarily bad when the payoff is something tangential but still interesting, but a lot of the side-elements here either lack intrinsic interest, or are too undeveloped to really draw one in (for example, Thorax reflects that the change is nice because now all the changelings look different from one another... but the story never does anything with the idea that their appearances were interchangeable, how that affected their psyche or interactions, etc.). There's also a lot of emphasis on Thorax's reflections, which are a bit too transparently audience geared--that is, the things he reflects on tend to be for the reader's benefit, rather than building him as a character. With that said, there's a pleasant sense of low-stakes, considering it's a meeting of two nations' leaderships, and it does scratch a slice-of-life itch.
Recommendation: If a low-stakes conversation between these two characters appeals to you, the dialogue is... well, not perfectly natural, but a good fit for both parties, and there's a sweet premise underlying it all. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it outside of that group of readers.
The Legend of Ash Frost, by Visiden Visidan
Zero-ish spoiler summary: The tale of a great warrior--and the price of her pride--as related through her own words, transcribed and given context by her apprentice.
A few thoughts : Although it's not labeled as such, this takes place in the author's Upheaval setting (I reviewed its first story back here). That's a bit of a problem when it comes to reviewing this: on one hand, the events are perfectly understandable without having read any of the author's other work, so from that perspective I understand presenting this as a stand-alone fic. On the other hand, it has exactly nothing to do with the characters, setting. themes, or world of MLP absent a grounding in the Upheaval-verse; without a fair familiarity with that, this comes off as a story that really suffers for not having been written as original fiction. In point of fact, even knowing the setting, I'd have prefered this story if it had lacked equinity; its events and locals would fit very comfortably in a historical or low-fantasy setting. Leaving that matter aside, however, this is a conceptually simple but nevertheless painfully lovely tragedy, that carefully builds up its protagonist for her inevitable fall, and the storytelling device is just novel enough to add a little extra interest without seeming too gimmicky.
Recommendation: If you either know the setting in question, or are totally unconcerned with the question of whether stories are "pony enough," this would be an excellent choice for readers looking for a well-crafted downer. If you're not willing to accept a pony warrior society (among other things) as a price of entry, though, this fic won't be meeting you halfway.
Bluebird, by TheCrystalRing
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Leaving the hospital after a tragedy, Dash is consoled by another pony who watches for lost souls in the night.
A few thoughts: Unfortunately, this story is very, very melodramatic. From the standard contrivances (like Scootaloo tearfully gasping out her "emotionally wrenching" last words) to more unusual fare, this story is overdone to an almost comical degree at all times, such that it's impossible to take any of its drama seriously. It's got plenty of non-drama-based narrative contrivance too, for that matter, but the main issue here is with tone: the story aims for "sad," but ends up overshooting by a pretty wide margin.
Recommendation: A glance at the comments shows that seven out of eight readers sited "feels" as their reason for liking this story. I think that's a pretty good sign of who will or won't like this fic: if you unironically use the word "feels" to describe what you seek from a drama-fueled tale of death and acceptance, then this will probably hit you right in them. If not, give this a pass.