• Member Since 8th Nov, 2011
  • offline last seen 9 hours ago

Soge


I post reviews with astounding irregularity, and a story once in a blue moon. Message me if you need some prereading or the like.

More Blog Posts65

  • 119 weeks
    Daring Do is totally George Lucas, guys!

    Chris posited on his blog an interesting bit of headcanon about Stranger Than Fanfiction: That the first three Daring Do books felt different because they were ghostwritten by someone that was brought on to smarten up the plot – who should be Twilight's Mom, in order to revive an old bit of

    Read More

    4 comments · 248 views
  • 122 weeks
    Bronycon: Lessons learned

    — Don't run on 5 to 4 hours sleep for the whole week prior.
    — Don't dump a whole cup of coffee on your jeans during your flight.
    — Don't pack an exact number of pants, in case the above happens.
    — Don't choose a flight which will get delayed for 3 hours.
    — Don't forget to check at which time your roommate with the room reservation will arrive.

    Read More

    8 comments · 262 views
  • 128 weeks
    BronyCon & BronyCan

    Hey guys, I am looking to share a room for BronyCon. Anyone knows someone with an open spot?

    Also, I'm willing to host up to 2 people going to BronyCan. Google says I am 40min from the convention center by bus.

    3 comments · 208 views
  • 128 weeks
    Stupid bit of headcanon

    In the Sombra timeline during The Cutie Re-mark, Rainbow Dash doesn't have one wing. The reason is that she also decided to get a pet, but didn't accept Tank's participation on the race, a side effect of her not having been friends with the rest of the Mane 6. Then, when she got trapped by the falling rocks on Ghastly Gorge, nopet went to save her, and she had to cut her own wing to escape.

    5 comments · 196 views
  • 137 weeks
    I cracked the code!

    By the end of Season 6 Sunburst will travel back in time in order to become Starswirl the Bearded.

    He is the first bearded magician we have seen, and his cape has a star motif. It is the only logical conclusion.

    4 comments · 281 views
Feb
28th
2015

Fanfic Reviews – Worldbuilding Edition · 1:59am Feb 28th, 2015

Early Access games are the most frustrating experience possible. You know what you are getting into, but it still feels like going to a theme park and finding a whole section closed. Even the good ones, like Darkest Dungeon, leave you with a sensation of incompleteness after you are done with them. I am a strong advocate for games with real conclusions, so when you find out that the last level isn’t done, it makes the whole prior experience feel hollow.

Anyway, I found a folder where I had stashed a ton of review drafts. They have been sitting for a while, but I am gonna try to finally post most of these, so I can focus on some fresher stuff.

Case in point: worldbuilding! Including some in a fic always seem like a great idea, making even the smallest situations feel grand and impressive. Hell, sometimes I feel like the goal of fanfic is, in fact, to do proper worldbuilding. However, in the following fics the worldbuilding isn’t a side aspect, but instead features front and center. And that can be hard, since way too often, by focusing on that, you can reach the adverse effect of making things too morose, or worse, preachy. But I do have a weak spot for fics that do so properly. Below you will find:

Ruled by Sin
Eclipsed
Einherjar
These Flowers Never Bloom
Wyrmlysan
Relinquish the Sun
The King in Crystal
Luna’s Landing

As always, the fics are rated on a 0~10 scale, with below 3 being where I actively dislike a fic, and above 8 being where I can say I actually like it.


Pearple Prose – Ruled by Sin – Fable

The legend of Sin the Black, and the fall of dragons.

This is a fic that does a great job in world-building and head canon dumping, with a tone that makes it sound like a fable. It really feels like you are reading the creation myth of a culture you have only passing familiarity with, and that does wonders in the story favor. Conceptually it is also very solid, and I really like how the dragons are set-up as this fallen race, now controlled by their sinful nature. This is an interpretation I am partial towards, and as so, it certainly resonated positively with me.

Sadly, the whole thing is held back by significant writing and pacing issues, with many parts dragging on and on, with some badly used repetition of themes and situations. The theme of greed (as the Sin most prominently associated to dragons in the show) is also very poorly explored, and it seems it is there mostly in order to acknowledge its existence, rather than because the author want to do something specific with it. The ending also suggests that Sin’s fragments are still out there, and I frankly have no idea what was the point of saying that “There is always more”. The way I see it, it is a cheap way of creating a cliffhanger, or some way of saying that Sin is always present and will always repeat itself, which is nice, but isn’t set up properly in the preceding story.

Why it should be read: For the style, and the general concept.
Stand-out Moment: Sin`s fall and how he tied it with Windigos, draconic Nature, and Discord.

6/10


InquisitorM – EclipsedReading by Scribbler – War Fic

Celestia envies Luna’s ability for war

This is a short story that thrives in an oppressive atmosphere of war. It is certainly well suited for a reading, since it is fully presented by Celestia’s narration. In fact, having checked out the written version, I can say that the reading makes the story better. I like the idea that Celestia is more of a “peacetime ruler”, while Luna is the fighter. In fact, that makes for a nice parallel considering how their relationship went. But despite the fic being perfect for what it is, this isn’t a story that does many things. It is short and interesting but, sadly, felt fairly unsubstantial.

Why it should be read: It is 1000 words (or 10 minutes) of well executed, evocative writing.
Stand out moment: There are no names in this story, likely a deliberate choice, but the characters come across very clearly.

8/10


Municipal Engines – Einherjar – Unification History

A soldier gets ready for a final stand to protect the fleeing pony races.

I love the feeling of this fic, absolutely hopeless but still very bright. It uses general Ponylore very effectively, as seen on the Hearths Warming pageant, with great original characterizations that hit hard, especially when you consider just how short this fic is. It has a laser-tight focus in a specific situation, but leaves just enough breadcrumbs to allow you to paint a general picture of a much larger world, one going through catastrophic changes. Old power structures and cultural constructs are crumbling, with a great migration from the old pony lands to Equestria changing everything. It makes it seem like a fragment of a much larger story, but complete in and of itself.

One thing that bothered me, however, was how the threat they were facing was explained. It is overly nebulous, and while it works well as a constant presence in the fic, there is no adequate explanation why them staying there would save the ponies, or the meaning of their impending sacrifice in the larger scheme of things. That drains quite a lot of the punch of the ending, dulling the emotional impact of a crucial part of the fic.

Why it should be read: For a great view of pre-unification Equestria.
Stand out moment: The ending, with Celestia and Luna leaving with a crippled soldier, and the remaining soldiers, who are ready to die, only asking to be remembered.

8.5/10


Cerulean Voice – These Flowers Never Bloom – Creation Myth

Celestia and Luna’s parents rise and fall.

This fic is less a story than a bizarre headcanon dump. Due to this, while it is a fairly disconnected tale, it stays interesting due to the concepts being presented. When seen in that light, it is pretty smart, and decently written, with a nice style. The OCs, particularly the creator (Dimiurgia), are interesting and substantial, feeling like an integral part of the world. The lore itself feels very inspired by the Silmarillion, specially in the nature of the two original Ponies, Ilias and Rose, and their relationship with their creator, besides many other things. There is some nice chemistry between both, enough to let you believe that they would be lovers, before the inevitable Fall. There is a constant undercurrent of darkness throughout the whole fic, and it pays off well thematically and atmospherically.

I recommend reading this on fimfiction instead of downloading to an E-book reader, since the pictures really complement the story. It is also based on an album, so if Deathcore is your cup of tea, listening to it might be interesting – the chapter names match the tracklist of the album.

In the end, this is a very contemplative fic, and in an style that I quite appreciate. However, much of it feels quite contrived, like the author had an endgame and did everything just to reach it, with some of the parts, specially Rose’s corruption, being too open to interpretation to have the impact that they should. Much of it is because Rose is more of a presence than a character in the fic, making her too inescrutable. However, I doubt that it could be fixed, since changing that would make the fic something too different to even be the same thing. Still, it bothered me quite a bit, and some better work in understanding her mental state would be helpful in many levels.

Why it should be read: If you like really distinct interpretations of equestrian history.
Stand out moment: Discord is an important part of the story, and he is very well written.

6/10


Chris – Wyrmlysan – Historical Fic

Luna goes Dragonslaying.

This is a clever and deceptive story, and saying much about the plot would be doing it a disservice. Suffice to say that it is very subtle in its presentation, smartly hiding or showing things in order to mislead the reader, but never outright obscuring relevant information. Chris is certainly well versed in the style, which walks the line between historical account and fable, and it is a perfect fit for the story. Characterization was also another strong point, being very effective in propelling the story forward. My only complain is that the pacing felt a little too morose at times, and that not all of the dialogue flowed all that well. Still, this is some outstanding work for all it does right.

Why it should be read: For the great mix of legend and prophecy.
Stand out moment: Luna destroying the egg at the end. It is a perfectly executed twist that says much about her character.

9/10


Error732 – Relinquish the Sun – Historic Fic

Celestia seeks an unlikely ally in order to defeat a dragon threat.

This is a great piece of speculative Equestrian history, with great characterizations and usage of Changelings. The final reveal of her assistant being a changeling all along, who would grow to be Queen Chrysalis was pretty obvious, but extremely effective in its execution. I love how at the end of the day, the story is all about Celestia’s fuck-ups, after all, it comes in the aftermath of Luna’s banishment, and much of the end is her trying to do better. Believable and sympathetic depictions of a vulnerable Celestia are rare and welcome, and even her actions against the Changelings at the end were understandable, even if monstruous.

However, the fic is plagued by multiple pacing issues at various points. The dragons were also too abstract a threat, ironically enough, and while I appreciate the war angle, there is little to indicate what exactly relinquishing the sun would even mean (letting it disappear? Allowing a natural night and day cycle?). In fact, the dragons felt pretty inconsistent, to the point it was hard to relate to her decisions. However, the danger in many scenes felt real, and while it certainly isn’t perfect, this is a very enjoyable story.

Why it should be read: For an interesting view of post-Nightmare Moon Equestria.
Stand out moment: The whole egg heist sequence was tense and very well paced.

8.5/10


Headless – The King in Crystal – Character Study

Twilight discovers that there was more to King Sombra than she suspected.

This is intriguing and perfectly atmospheric, but felt too inconsequential. What bothers me is that there is no good reason not to share Twilight’s revelations about Sombra. More than that, such a secret being held back reflects very negatively on Equestria as a whole. Still, I love the concept, and this version of Sombra as a tragic hero is very interesting. In the end, it is well written, but could have done so much more.

Why it should be read: The idea for why Sombra was a tyrant.
Stand out moment: How well Sombra alternates between bitter and resigned.

6/10


thescentedllamaofdoom – Luna's Landing – Character Study

Once upon a time, Discord challenged Luna to a game...

This story is well served by a very interesting concept, that of Discord’s game. It is formed by a sequence of seemingly disparate elements, and I love how well them all are everything tied together. Luna and discord interacting was also great, and the idea for the game felt a lot like something Discord would do, as well as the implications that Luna and Celestia were being pieces of a similar, but much larger version. The unfortunate implications of their messing around with pony lives is also well addressed, rather than ignored, and I like the little metaphors that are touched upon throughout the story, such as Luna’s ultimate realization of what she should do.

Sadly, the writing still needed some work, being plagued by run-on sentences, and a lack of commas. The pacing is also a bit wonky, specially during the middle parts, as it takes too long on certain realizations. However, I liked the good parts enough for the whole experience to have been a good one.

Why it should be read: For a good exploration of Luna.
Stand out moment: How the flowery language makes everything in the past feel like a play.

8/10

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Comments ( 11 )

It's funny how you should pick out that the characters were clear despite the intentional lack of names. One of the things that most confused me was that quite a few people got it backwards.

Perhaps more ironic is that your comment about not being terribly substantive is exactly what I've said about several of the stories picked out by the RCL recently.

Food for thought.

-M

Hey, I've read most of these! Einherjar really stuck out to me as a story that played its cards a bit too close to its chest for its own good; it was a great setup, but without knowing more about the what and why--without even being able to make intelligent guesses, in some regards--it sapped some of the emotion of the soldiers' last plea, for me. I still enjoyed it, though; "not as moving as it could have been" isn't at all the same as "not moving."

Also, thanks for the review of Wyrmlysan! I was a little surprised that you didn't mention all the titles, since most people who've commented on it thought I went somewhere between "a bit overboard" and "way overboard" with them. Regardless, I'm glad you enjoyed, and thank you for the comments!

2837360

Without getting into what stories any of us vote for or nominate, I will admit that, when the other RCL guys shoot down a story which I've put up for consideration, it's most often for "not being terribly substantive."

Er... mia culpa? :twilightblush:

I'm glad to see Luna's Landing get more attention. :twilightsmile: It was my favorite of the stories that entered AugieDog's Luna competition alongside mine.

Good god, are people still reading that thing! I can't believe it's been a year since I wrote it... Thanks for the review and your admirable resistance to atrocious punctuation :pinkiehappy:

2841488

I'm still a little amazed that you liked it that much :twilightblush: I have a confession to make. I have only now - in the past week - learnt what a ghazal is. I'm now itching to write one which can only end in tears. This proves that my brain works at continental-drift like speeds (without the excitement).

2842867
If it makes you feel any better, you'll beat me to the punch -- I don't think I've ever written a ghazal myself.

I still owe you an editing pass on that story, by the way. I dropped that ball a long time ago ...

2843008

Hah - at my current rate of progress I may be done in time for the heat death of the universe. But it'll be close.

Things got completely out of control work wise last year this time so I never followed up on that editing thing (that and the fact that in comparison I make Fluttershy look like a no nonsense go-getter)... if you're still up for it that'd be great but no worries if not - it feels like I blinked in 2014 and opened my eyes in 2015...

2843023
Sure! Let's take this to PM so we don't clog up Soge's comment section. Hopefully I should have some time I can set aside on Wednesday evening or Thursday day.

2837360 Yeah, I found that the strangest thing. I found Celestia's voice quite precise, so I wondered if you had even edited it somehow.

And since you mentioned the RCL, I tried to add a review for "Harder, Better, Faster, Strong" here, but I simply couldn't – mostly because I found it quite nice, but couldn't say anything of substance about it.

2840531 Considering how much I like the Silmarillion, I guess that an excess of titles doesn't bother me too much. It served to improve the atmosphere in my opinion.

2842867 You certainly haven't committed more crimes against punctuation than me. In the grammar police state, I would be public menace #1.

Yes! I can't say enough good things about Wyrmlysan. I found that story to be totally engrossing and extremely satisfying.

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