And after that, go check out some short reviews, below the break. Only two this week, but they're both long'ns, so there ya go.
Animal Friends, by Elkia Deerling
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Fluttershy is accidentally transported into Radagast the Brown's neck of the (Mirk)woods. While Twilight and the girls try to get her back, she finds a kindred spirit--and finds herself situated in a very dangerous part of Middle-Earth's history.
A few thoughts: Speaking of Tolkien, here's a crossover! I'll start with the negative, and say that this wasn't really the story I was hoping it would be for a few reasons. First, it's clearly based on the movies more than the books (when it comes to Radagast's personality I can forgive that, since he doesn't have a personality in the books, but in terms of the larger environment, or the approach to presenting violence... it's clear this isn't the literary crossover I was hoping it was). Related to that, the writing style and presentation are far removed from Tolkien. And finally, there are a lot of things that just kind of get tossed in one's lap without any explanation--this is a story that requires a fair bit of reader buy-in, from beginning to end, to avoid losing one's suspension of disbelief (I found myself sorely challenged in this regard early on by a tie-in to the author's previous story about Frodo in Equestria). But those are mostly comments about what kind of story I wanted to read, not how this story does at what it sets out to do. Viewed through that lense, this is a relatively low-key adventure fic that expands on Fluttershy a bit while putting her in an environment that's both relatively comfortable(-for-her) and exciting. There's still a fair amount of fiat here, but certainly no more than the average true crossover story almost has to have.
Recommendation: If, like me, you're looking for Tolkien, this fic will leave you disappointed. But if you're intrigued by the idea of Fluttershy dealing with this-or-that while hanging out with Wizard!Fluttershy, this story executes its core premise competently.
Hive Versus Hive, by Impossible Numbers
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Seabreeze the breezie just wants to stay home with his family--or so he says. But when adventure comes to the hive, he isn't just thrust into it against his will... he also seems to be more in his element than he ever was playing board games in his hut.
A few thoughts: In my notes on this story, I jotted down "basically the opposite of aragon." Lack of capitalization in my notes aside, I think that's actually a pretty good description of this fic. Aragon's stories (or rather, his most famous ones; I'm thinking of Daring DONE! and the like, which aren't really his best fics) aren't terribly well-written in terms of sentence structure or construction, but they have a breezy effortlessness to them which makes them easy to plough through without losing any meaning or muddling any of the jokes. Hive Versus Hive, by contrast, is almost aggressively accurate in its writing; I'm not just talking about spelling and grammar, but technical stuff like the order in which elements of the setting are described always matching classic processing patterns. Consider this passage:
Dozens of Breezies hovered all around him; he could feel the slight curls through the air as they disturbed it just by being there. Cheeps and chirps slid easily through his mind while it scanned each note as clearly as if it were a solo among silence. Scents and perfumes that would pass by a bigger nose bumped and punched and caressed and tapped his smaller one. All his other senses were sucking in the world around him, taking it apart, and gorging on it. Nothing would escape his attention.It's well-written and evocative without being turgid, but it's got a density of information that makes it very, well, dense. That's a fine fit for a lot of the setting elements of the story; Impossible Numbers fills his fic with complex, three-dimensional antagonists, well-realized bits of breezie ecology, and the like. But the actual plot is pretty straightforward--not in a bad way, but its relative simplicity makes for quite a contrast to the construction and setting. For my part, I found that to be a mild detriment to my enjoyment; if the plot had left more motivations opaque or more long-running ambiguity to chew over, I think that would have been a more natural fit for a story that all but precludes skimming by its very structure. But despite that, I do have a soft spot for breezies and for mythological inspirations, and taking in the incompetence of seemingly everyone but Seabreeze at every turn (and seeing him grudgingly accept his own competence) didn't get old.
Recommend: This is a good choice for fans of writing on a technical level, and for breezie bros (I believe the female equivalent is "pollen sisters"). It might put off those who find dense writing slow to parse, however.