• Member Since 13th Feb, 2012
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GentlemanJ


More Blog Posts56

  • 343 weeks
    Non-Pony Project Up and Running

    Hey everybody,

    It's been a while. Life treating you right? Yeah? That's good, man. That's real good.

    Read More

    7 comments · 1,412 views
  • 361 weeks
    Final Remarks

    Ladies and gentleman,

    Over three years ago, I started writing the story of Rarity and Graves with the goal of giving them a happily ever after. Yesterday, I met that goal, and so I can finally say with a smile that it's all done. The stories of Graves are finished.

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    30 comments · 1,092 views
  • 375 weeks
    An Address to the Crowd

    Ladies and gentlemen,

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    34 comments · 1,213 views
  • 375 weeks
    It Is Done

    It is finished.

    10 comments · 834 views
  • 378 weeks
    The Final Countdown

    Guys. Guys. Hey Guys. Guys. Hey Guys. Listen.

    It's done.

    Three minutes ago, I finished the final rewrites, edits, and tweaks of Journey's End. I'm excited. Super excited, because I really, really want you all to see where it's all been going.

    So from here on out, the number is two. Updates will come out every two days at 6:30 eastern, until everything finally comes to a close.

    Read More

    12 comments · 586 views
Mar
20th
2015

An Address to the Crowd · 10:44pm Mar 20th, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen,

As most of you are now painfully aware, The Journey of Graves is over. The final chapter has been posted, and for the past few days, I’ve been absorbing the responses from everyone who’s followed Graves through to his final act. Some were happy and found this to be a suitable ending for the marshal. Other, however, ranged in response from slightly miffed to downright incensed. In their comments, I’ve been called a coward, had my greatest epic tale been described as awful, and even had readers say that the entire Journey thus far was spoiled, perhaps even invalidated, because of that one chapter. How am I supposed to react to this?

It’s actually quite simple. I accept it because it was my intent to do so from the very start.

If we look back on the stories I wrote, I’d like to think that there are some things I did very well. I had good humor, good action, good fluffiness, and of course, absolutely flawless cliffhangers. But if there’s one thing I’d like to think I succeeded in doing, it’s telling a story of true love between a broken man and woman willing to fix him. A lot of you loved the growth Graves and Rarity went through together and rejoiced at how deep and meaningful the bond they shared became. For this, I am truly thankful, but I will have you understand that this meaning could only come about because of a very crucial ingredient:

Pain.

As much as I loved writing happiness and joy in these stories, I spent just as much, if not more effort having the reader not just see, but feel the characters’ pain. From the marshal’s self-loathing in the cave to tearing apart his ideal dreamscape, from Rarity being abandoned and sacrificing her own happiness just so Graves could have peace, I worked to make sure the readers could feel every heartache as if it were their own. I did this not because I just wanted to torture you as the reader, but because I wanted you to really understand just what it was that Rarity and Graves were going through. If you could feel as they felt and really understand how much it they were hurting, you could understand them and hopefully, grow to love them, and once you loved them, you would be free to feel all of the joys that their moments of true happiness could bring.

As we came to the final chapter, it seems that all of that time and energy invested in struggling with them was finally about to pay off. I had put Rarity and Graves through every trial and tribulation that my demented mind could fathom, so surely, it must be time to reap the rewards of all this suffering and give them a happy ending, right?

Wrong.

See, as much as I’d done to the two of them, there were still things I had yet to do. Up till now, things had gone… well. In a sense. Tragedy would strike, but when it did, they got a chance to fix them. You got a down, but an up came out to balance the scales. It might have been hard and it might have been unpleasant, but in the end, it worked because it all came out to a somewhat fair trade. And yet, this ending spat on that very concept by tipping the scales and never giving them a chance to balance. It wasn’t fair, because if the universe were, Graves would have headed off towards happily ever after. I mean, he’s got to have earned it by now, hasn’t he?

Perhaps he has. But then let me ask you this: when were you ever promised that you could ever earn a goddamn thing? For those who said that it was too rushed, when did the universe ever promise you the time to get the closure you want after a battle well fought? For those who said that it wasn’t fair that Graves never got a proper send off, when did life say that heroic deeds would earn you a happy life, or even a noble death? Though Graves had lost things before, he’d gotten things of value in return, only this time, I took that away. And I didn’t just take it away, oh no. I gave him something in return that was even worse than making things unfair.

I gave him uncertainty.

People. Hate. Uncertainty. Absolutely hate it, and the comments I’ve read were proof enough. Though Graves still lived and thus, has a chance for a happy ending that could balance out the scales, many would rather have seen him dead and have that chance of happiness removed if only for the closure that it would provide. Why do you think I wrote it so that it was uncertainty that finally broke Graves? When he fell in the river, it wasn’t facing a demon or monster that motivated him to reach for the dark, but the simple fact that he didn’t know the outcome and couldn’t take the chance of being wrong. Uncertainty, especially when it’s between something you hope and something you fear, is a state that absolutely everyone loathes because it hurts, almost like having to live with a wound that can never really heal. Now where did we hear those words before?

This is why the ending is so painful. It combines our base aversion to the unfair and the uncertain and delivers it almost as a slap to the face. Why, after everything I’ve done, would I do something like this as my grand finale? The point, as it was and as it has always been, was so you could understand a person's struggle, and this case, it was the struggle of the unsung hero: Rarity.

Yes, the stories are named after Graves, but just like The Legend of Zelda, it’s the unnamed one that makes the story possible. From the very beginning, it was Rarity and her unceasing efforts that gave Graves a chance at happiness. When he was shy and awkward, she pursued. When he was stiff and unmoving, she goaded and teased. When he was sunk in self-loathing, she affirmed his worth. And most importantly, when he was hurt and despaired, when he lashed out and wounded and did everything he could to drive those close to him away, she loved. Life shit on Graves, but in key moments, Graves did the same to Rarity – she didn’t deserve being abandoned after the Gala, but he did so anyway. Yet despite being betrayed, Rarity pressed on to restore the things he broke. Rarity has always, always been the strong one because it was only through her unconditional love that happiness could happen at all.

Though Rarity is truly a hero, I’ve always dealt more subtly with her and her efforts. It seemed appropriate, as a designer like her would probably approve of my efforts in helping her beloved marshal shine, and considering the fact that few if any of the final chapter comments even mentioned Rarity at all, it seems that my methods were successful. Nevertheless, I wanted the final chapter to be one of dual purpose. I wanted to display Rarity's heroism once more while making sure that you as the reader could truly understand the weight of what it meant for Rarity to love like she did. How?

By leaving you, the reader, in the exact same situation as Rarity. The. Exact. Same.

Was it because I’m a coward and couldn’t write a decisive ending? Of course not, and it's actually very silly that some of the readers would even think so. It was all intentional and deliberate so that you could understand. With the rushed farewells and the lack of closure, I wrote so that what you would be left with is the exact same feeling of being cheated as Rarity would be. She, above any other would have expected a happy ending, and she, above all others would hurt at having been robbed of her right at the very last minute. I wanted you all to appreciate just what was required of her at that moment, of being willing to wait because she truly loved someone. After all, it’s often said that dying for someone is the ultimate act of sacrifice, but I’m not so sure. As Graves once said, it’s those who live on that have to deal with the pain of losing a love, and here, the pain is real. It’s having to stand and wait, powerless to do anything against a universe that has cheated you of everything, even the solace of a definite wound. Rarity willingly took that burden on herself because she loved Graves, and I wanted to make damned well sure that you could appreciate just how much it really cost.

So there we have it, and ending that features pain not just for the character, but for the reader in its most unpleasant, undefined, and unbearable form. But just like Rarity has never let the pain overwhelm her, I hope that my final words on the matter will help you do the same.

At the beginning of A Long, Winding Road, Rarity faced her greatest trial. Graves was gone and no amount of sense would ever have him coming back. Despite the mounds of evidence to the contrary, Rarity hoped against hope that something she did would change those facts. She loved Graves far too much to give up, even in the worst circumstances, and thus she continued to press on for their happily ever after. Her love kept hope alive, hope nurtured faithful action, and it was that faithful action that lead to miracles.

Despite the effort I put into making the last chapter hurt, know that the entirety of the story thus far was designed to help you stand strong despite the pain. There were dark times when it seemed like everything was over. When Graves left Rarity after his dream was shattered, it seemed like happiness had departed. When Rarity left Graves at camp because he was too fragile to embrace, it seemed like love had failed. Yet even in those dark times when all hope seemed lost, we saw that it could change. Rarity and Graves are an example of the miracle that occurs when love perseveres through the pain. They are heroes not because of great deeds or accolades, but because they stood fast and fought on, despite everything the world threw at them, because they knew what they fought for was definitely worth the cost.

And that’s the end of the story. Life holds many miracles, but they always come with a price. Sometimes, that price is to wait and endure in a state so painful that certain death could even seem a mercy in comparison. For those who struggle with this feeling, I don't blame you. I consider most of the harsh language as people lashing out because they're hurt by this themselves. If it's because you just don't like my writing, so be it. But if it's because you have really come to love Rarity and Graves and just want them to be together where they belong, then I want to ask you this. Will you let the pain of the present circumstances lead to bitterness that poisons even the memory of good things past till only hurt and resentment remain? Or will you, like Rarity and Graves before you did in their years of struggle, remain faithful and continue to hope for a happily ever after?

I have written this story to end with a question. Now it is your turn to answer.

Sincerely,
GentlemanJ

Report GentlemanJ · 1,213 views · Story: Journey's End ·
Comments ( 34 )

Will you let the pain of the present circumstances lead to bitterness that poisons even the memory of good things past till only hurt and resentment remain? Or will you, like Rarity and Graves before you did in their years of struggle, remain faithful and continue to hope for a happily ever after?

I would like to hope, but even for Graves, the odds... Even though you didn't write it, I don't see how he could've gotten out of there.

In a way, you have left it up to us to decide. Like the chapter where Graves describes his day off to Rarity. Some could and will believe that Graves makes it, and this is what happens.

Others, the more pragmatic, take note of his injuries and the opponents he faces, even with D's ring. In the end it comes to personal choice.

Whilst I do not hold much hope for him to show once more, I will not allow this ending to turn my thoughts to anger. To be honest, I expected an ending like this as soon as I saw the story title. I mean, what else could it mean? It wouldn't be the 'end' if he survived, as he'd still be a marshal.

Much like ME3's ending (It's not just that bullshit of 'chose which colour you like'. You also have how much damage the relays receive), I liked this one.

I shall wait. Because I have waited all this time for something similar in my life.

Will you let the pain of the present circumstances lead to bitterness that poisons even the memory of good things past till only hurt and resentment remain?

Well, yes. Because this isn't real life. This isn't the real world, where there is no such thing as The end, just... An end. Yeah, uncertainty sucks, but we can deal with it because we know that tomorrow will bring another day, another chance to succeed, another chance to try, another chance. Wherever there is life, there is hope.

In fiction, we don't.

There is The End, and we know that nothing will ever change that. There will never be another Graves story. There is no chance. So, this uncertainty is hellish because it will never end. It is the very definition of "Hell," if you will. We will never know, and while I will concede that it is a valid concept from a literary point of view—we will suffer with the characters—that doesn't mean it doesn't suck and leave us, the readers, feeling unfulfilled.

Now, I'm getting away from the realm of valid criticism, and going into personal opinions: Life sucks. You're right, the uncertainty is so depressing... which is exactly why I read fiction. If I wanted to hear about the bad guys winning, the good guys suffering needlessly, evil being rewarded and virtue being punished... I'll turn on the news. If I want to feel the pain of uncertainty, I'll go down the road to Arlington National Cemetery and visit the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. When I read about pastel-colored talking ponies—even humanized versions of them—I want to see a world where the good guys suffer through adversity, and then triumph. Where evil gets its comeuppance.

Talking of the Tomb, it brings up a valid point. The pain that those family members must feel. The thousands of servicemen and women still Missing In Action, the uncertainty they feel on a daily basis not knowing. I see that. Every. Single. Day. I'm stationed at Fort Myer, adjacent to ANC, and let me tell you, it is painful. I thank God Above that I have never known that pain with a real life person in my life. However, know I get just a taste of that from one of my favorite characters in literature.

"Life sucks, therefore the story will suck" is not a very keen viewpoint. Granted, the story does not suck in its entirety, but the fact remains that whenever I think back on this story from now on, I will always remember that it ended on such an uncertain note that it will tarnish the memory. Whenever someone asks me my opinion of the Story of Graves, I will have to have that asterisk attached, that while the story is amazing as a whole, the ending is so...

All these words you speak to soothe the ache are coming from the standpoint of the characters and in that regard, you're right: there is still hope that Graves will return. But for us? The readers in the real world? We know he won't, because you won't be writing another story.

So, to answer the posed question:

Or will you, like Rarity and Graves before you did in their years of struggle, remain faithful and continue to hope for a happily ever after?

No, I won't, because unlike Rarity, I know for a fact that the uncertainty will never go away. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there will never be closure. So, why hold out hope when there is none?

I've followed you from the beginning, what kind of fan would I be if i didn't honour what you wrote? I will wait as well. You gave us something amazing, a Journey, and we walked it together, all of us. So, in short, Thank you for this Journey, and I eagerly await the next one we all make.

the biggest problem anyone has as soon as you pull Discord up.

6th Day.

Pinkie breaking 4th wall.

In order to not have DEM, you have to forcefully cripple the characters, because several of them have been shown to be capable of transtemporal, duplication, etcetc, and its always explained away as a complexity or other such effect, and then have extremis where they exceed those requirements.

Having a few immorals is bad enough in their eyes, ebcause they cant handle the effect if everyone lives, which was attempted in Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer.

Lets just say the non material equivelence of an entity takes up far less resources, and in an enviroemnt where there are far more resources to go round. where the size of the numbers involved alone have millions of digits at least.

I absolutely love the story, Its just, well, simply put. Null might have been sealed, but as long as the dark is still there, he has won. And has been let free.

Its like on EQD where they ask, should we see more dark and gritty FIM tales. I look at th terrorist attacks and insane people on the news, and I say, why should our dreams be as dark and distressed as our relaity.

If we have nothing light in our dreams to head towards, how can we possibly expect to realise theres light possible in our life?

Per Ardua, Ad Astra. Except some accountant says its too expensive and you can get a tax break by donating 5% to this starving child in the 3rd world that your company just strip mined out of drinkable water.

Hell, I think I might start right back at When The Man Comes Around when I get some free time.

2895077

Per Ardua, Ad Astra.

Words close to my heart for the past 4 1/2 years, 'Through Adversity To The Stars'. I don't think that quote works here as the accountant saying you can't would be the 'adversity' part.

While I have some things to say about that ending, I felt that I should start out with some of your early words in this blog.

In their comments, I’ve been called a coward, had my greatest epic tale been described as awful, and even had readers say that the entire Journey thus far was spoiled, perhaps even invalidated, because of that one chapter.

I'm not sure what they were thinking, but writing the ending as you did does not make you a coward. You're the author. You can damn well write your story however you please... even if some people thought it to be unsatisfactory.

When were you ever promised that you could ever earn a goddamn thing? For those who said that it was too rushed, when did the universe ever promise you the time to get the closure you want after a battle well fought? For those who said that it wasn’t fair that Graves never got a proper send off, when did life say that heroic deeds would earn you a happy life, or even a noble death?

Also, while it is true that the universe doesn't play fair or nice, it doesn't exactly mean that ending your story on a similar note is one that literary fans will appreciate. It is fiction, after all. We don't care (well be do, but in a different way) if Graves lives or dies, we just want to know. Jake has a point with seeing enough bleakness and whatnot in the real world.

The point, as it was and as it has always been, was so you could understand a person's struggle, and this case, it was the struggle of the unsung hero: Rarity.

When you said that we could/would be able to think of Rarity at the ending... To be honest, she didn't cross my mind once I reached the end. I was (and still am) caught up in how unappealing it was to me. I can't even begin to contemplate a fictional characters state of mind when I'm barely able to form coherent, polite thoughts of my own on the ending...

If we look back on the stories I wrote, I’d like to think that there are some things I did very well.

Side note; The ending itself was well written, but some people don't like that much happening in one chapter (I actually did. Twas like a roller coaster of emotion!) I loved this story's (and entire series) writing, adore the series as a whole, but damn do I hate that ending.

And while I can appreciate leaving the fate of Graves up in the air, from a literary stand point, as a fan, widely versed reader, and fellow (burgeoning) writer, I would only have done so if there would be another story after. It inflicts the pain and confusion on the reader, draws out the cries for conclusion, and then BAM! You finish up with a short 1000 word finale. Doesn't matter if he lives or dies, but the resolution of it.... OH YES, I CAN PICTURE THE WAVES OF ECSTASY NOW.

You can see how the feeling would be cathartic and wonderful even in a depressing conclusion.

But you already said you were done. No more Graves. Which just inflicts pain on the readers. We can wish and hope all we want, but unlike Rarity, we'll never know the ending. Rarity could grow old and die, hell, even that would be a decent ending. We would know that Graves may still escape, but he won't get to be with the woman he loves. Gotcha, thank you, come again.

I get the whole "Uncertainty is cool!" thing. I do. But I'll tell you, I don't have a single series, or standalone novel, in my personal library that ends inconclusively. It will, and does, poison my view of the entire work. With time, I may be able to work myself back to reading again and forgive, but it is like Mass Effect 3 all over again. Rip my heart out, have the world end while Graves was gone and he commit suicide. Whatever, man. But having us suffer for the sake of it? That I don't appreciate.

You see, you are the God of the Graverse, not us. You are the sole person on all of Earth who could have any sort of consolation about the ending. Everyone else will either choose not to care, or feel angry at the lack of fulfillment. And I really don't want to feel that way about one of my favorite author's series....

Nice long winded justification. Doesn't make anyone think the endings any better. It's a story, I'm gonna judge it on my own, and this was not a good ending. Just becuase real life is a certain way does not a good story make. If graves died of cancer, well, that's real life. Wouldn't be a good story.

2895088

Tell that to the Skylon crew.

If I had wanted uncertainty about the ending, I would have read everything but the last chapter. As is, that's effectively what we got, everything but the last chapter.

Regardless of the philosophical justifications, ending the entire series this way was a bad idea that shows an immense lack of concern for the reader and it honestly makes me regret spending any time reading it in the first place. As it stands now, I would not recommend it to anyone else, and as such I am changing my upvote on the last story to a downvote.

If I might make a suggestion. Tragedy. This, with the intended ending is very much a tragedy. Tag it as such. I enjoyed it as it is. However, others I think might enjoy it more for what it is with at least that tiny warning. Alternatively, Sad. Sad works too.

2895251

If Graves died of cancer, at least we'd know what happened.

Truly genius can't wait to see what you create next.:pinkiehappy::heart:

Alternatively, give an ending through Rarity's eyes. Just a brief snippet of what she's thinking and feeling as she waits. Never say if he comes. Never mention him again outside of her thoughts. such a device could also do the trick and get your point across more effectively, also with less whining.

I am a little confused. On the one hand, I understand respect why you did not want to have a happy ending. In some ways, it is more cowardly to end an epic with, "and they lived happily ever after," or, "and then they had sex." But the vibe I get from your post is that "there are no happy ending in real, so why should this story have one." If that is indeed the case, why not have Graves die at the end? The impilcation I get is that you want us to interpret the ending as "Graves doesn't survive this."

It seems you are trying to go for a "Cowboy Bebop" ending. There are similarities between Spike Spiegel and Graves, as well as Julia and Rarity. There is one major difference. After Julia dies, Spikes loses his will to live. And thus, the ending, which had been foreshadowed ever since episode 1, has Spike dies at the end. Rarity is very much alive, and Graves clearly states that he is fighting to live for her sake. Some people believe Cowboy Bebop had an open ending. I think the ending was clear and definitive.

However, since you left the ending wide open, I will still go with the ending I have in my mind. Since time seems to be inconsistant down below, there is an oppurtunity to perfeorm an extraction mission. Ironside, Shinging Armor, et al up above were in a six-day battle. I find in hard to believe Graves and the girls were fighting Nul for six days straight as well. A team led by Chrysalis, and consisting of the newest Marshalls, can hitch a ride on the back of an elder dragon, get to the entrance in a few days travel time, and yet only minutes would pass for Graves. And who's to say Graves is fighting alone? He could have been tailed by Araneida the entire time, but she did not have the luxury of a griffon ride to cross the mountains, and thus was late to the battle. Weeks later in Ponyville, after hearing zero updates from Canterlot, Rarity receives an enimatc message: a request to commission one officer's uniform - and that she already knows the measurments. There is a 99.999% chance I am wrong, but with no more updates, there is nothing to dispute my head canon.

If you are truly done with the Graves-verse, so be it. I will still look forward to your next opus. It is a shame that after a great job of world-building that we will have no more tales from this 'verse.

tl;dr: I liked the ending. A clear "happy ending" or "sad ending" would not have been better. No need to get upset over initial negative feedback.

Will you let the pain of the present circumstances lead to bitterness that poisons even the memory of good things past till only hurt and resentment remain? Or will you, like Rarity and Graves before you did in their years of struggle, remain faithful and continue to hope for a happily ever after?

Happily ever after, of course.

The ending was great in my opinion. The aftermath of Nul's defeat was well written. It's feeling of panic and frantic concern for Graves was almost palpable. The fact that the girls could do absolutely nothing about it only added icing to this particular cake. They knew that could very well be the last time they could see him, but they did their best to convince themselves that Graves would come back. And really, why wouldn't they? He's overcome so much before, after all. And his determination to see Rarity again will only fuel his crusade to get back home. Discord's ring will no doubt play a role in his getting out, as I'm going under the assumption that he will, in fact, escape that hellhole.

In a lot of ways, the ending of this story reminded me of the ending of Shovel Knight. Those that know what I'm talking about, the very, very end of that game is how I see the aftermath of Grave's battle against those demons play out.

As an aside, loved that moment with the blood magic. The Ugly Side of Right is probably my personal favorite of all of Graves' stories. Very glad that he could use that dark, dark magic for a good cause.

GentlemanJ, even if the Journey is finished, I hope you continue to write. You really are quite the storyteller and have proven to be consistently good. That's rare enough with professionals and something almost unheard of in fanfic. I would lavish more praise on you, but I should get to the topic at hand.

When I first read it, I didn't like the ending all that much. Honestly, it was pretty disappointing and sudden. After thinking about it a bit, though, I found it grew on me. To me, it seems like the most natural conclusion to Graves' story. Oh, I would have loved to see it end with him on a beach with Rarity, but it would be hard to have an ending like that not be cheesy and really wouldn't have fit the character as well. I still think it was pretty sudden, but I think it's the right way to bring things to a close.

Hearing the author explain the reasoning behind the ending really only makes me appreciate it a bit more, especially since the reasoning makes sense. Rarity may not be facing down an army of monsters, but she is making a pretty major sacrifice. She's also been the only thing keeping Graves from going back to being a grim, brooding loner with no sense of self-worth. I think the ending shows just how effective she's been at that and just what she's willing to do keep it up.

I can understand why people don't like the ending, but I'm not sure I understand the level of vitriol I see in some of the comments. Maybe some people just wanted a happy ending more than others.

Myself, I think the ending is happy enough. After all, it's not like any army of demons is going to stop the Ghost of Thunder from accomplishing his mission. :raritywink:

This story and its characters meant a lot to me, and this ending felt like a knife in the gut. J, you're a great person and a skilled writer, but I don't think I'm gonna read any more of your work.

It's funny, people always talk about how they wish story downvotes were explained, but it never fails, the moment you do explain people downvote your comment.

Stop trying to justify your mistake. Just admit you made one.

Sorry, GJ. No matter how much rhetorical tap-dancing you put in this blog, I'm not satisfied. Okay, it's your story and call to make but 'Journey's End' will not be added to my favourites list. You have ruined the entire series for me simply because you had to indulge your sadistic need to hurt the reader simply because you feel that life sucks and you want the reading experience of the Journey series to suck too.

You could have done much better. A cliff-hanger with no possibility of resolution is the worst thing you can do in fiction and will always poison people's experiences of the story.

It's a shame because you are a very good writer. It's just that, for some reason, you have chosen to write the most negative ending possible, seemingly due to your own personal angst.

Sorry, but if that's your justification, forget it.

I always hope for a happy ending. The Storyteller taught me that much. And you are right, people hate lack of closure. Nice decision. In the end, I like to think that one day, very soon, a battered soldier will come marching up the path to Ponyville, where a young lady waits for him. There is hope for that, and I choose to stand by it. A great tale, and one that I hope sticks around for quite some time.

I waited to read it all until it was finished. As I tore through the chapters I was reminded of why I love this series. Your writing is superb. Everything tied together so well and it all just seemed to fit. I was entranced throughout the last few chapters, eager to see how it all ended, I desperately wanted closure of some regard.

Then all that build up, all that excitement, that compulsive need to know how Graves' journey ends...it just died. That ending was horrid. I never want these kind of stories to end, but if it HAS to end, then ACTUALLY end it. Don't give us a sequel hint when there is no sequel.

Normally feel rather melancholy as a beloved story comes to a close. This? This just makes me feel empty.

Seriously, J. This kinda just killed the whole series for me. Christ I've been reading this story for 3 years now. This is a colossal kick in the gut. I still love the story. I love it so much. But knowing this is how it ends...

And the worst part is, even if you caved in and went back and redid the ending, it wouldn't change anything. We've already seen the original, it's too late. And even if I loved the new ending I would still always know that your heart wasn't in it and that it wasn't what you wanted. And then THAT would ruin it for me. Fuck. :fluttercry:

I'll state this at the beginning, just to get it out of the way, I enjoyed the ending; I thought it was fitting for the series.

But, [of course a but was coming otherwise why would I bother posting?] if you wanted to make that ending hurt, well, you could have done better. I've had fiction hurt me before, this... didn't.
Note: I'm most likely not representative of the majority here and I don't expect this to change anything.
Personally the ending I thought was extremely fitting for the series in that Graves was left in a situation where he had few resources and a large number of big, powerful problems that would tear him to pieces because that's the sort of thing that the Marshals do for a living. You've told us as much multiple times in every story of the Journey. That's part of why the situation loses a bit of its impact. The other part is something you wrote in your point above, that the structure of the Journey so far has been for suffering to eventually make way for joy. I'm not saying that you can't create a powerful moment by changing the structure and cutting away during what looks like a repetition of that process, but the theme created and reinforced over and over again does undercut your efforts. Funnily enough this is also why I thought the ending was fitting, you've taught us to have faith in the characters abilities to make things right at the end, and this ending can be viewed as the ultimate test of faith in that regard.
Now, maybe what I wrote ended up being utter gibberish so indulge me while I back up and start anew from a different approach. If I were a gambler right now I'd rate Graves chances at survival at about 20% to 10%. This may seem unusually high, but I will provide a justification through my analysis of his situation. First Graves has shown that he can in fact fight and beat the creatures of Nul while under the conditions present during the length of the battle shown. Therefore his survival rate under those given conditions are, by definition 100%. The things that have changed from the beginning are those that will affect his chances of surviving. First and most importantly Graves is out of magic; pulling the fast one over Nul drained him of everything he could give and then some. Second Graves has suffered a large amount of wear and tear and fatigue from the fighting that he's been doing here in Nul space and he wasn't in the best shape to begin with. Third the number of enemies he has to fight have been reduced in number from infinite to finite as Nul's influence has been sealed away perfectly this time, as far as I understand it anyhow. Fourth Graves does not have to protect the girls any more, to me this is the most significant in his favor as it was demonstrated when he spoke to Nul that he could escape from the notice of the creatures for small periods of time to rest and recover. Fifth he has discord's ring which will rig the fighting in his favor, which could be all he needs to make it out of there alive. Last but not least Graves doesn't seem to have any sources of food or water. I feel that Graves could just kill them all off one at a time by running away very quickly if he wasn't at risk of dying of dehydration. Taking all these points together I feel that Graves best chance of surviving would be to obtain an opportunity to break out of Nul space before the various factors wearing him down keep him down long enough for a creature to finish him off.

Hopefully someone will make it through this wall of text to make it here where I'm going to lay out my to major questions that I thought of while writing this post-
1. What happened to the gift shard of Nul's power in Graves at the end? Did it disappear or could Graves still undo everything by drawing upon Nul's power through it?
2. Could Discord just pull Graves out of there now that Nul's been sealed away? As far as I understood it the only thing stopping Discord from interfering more directly in the events was Nul, so could Discord at least drop Graves a care package or something? I feel that the matter of finding Graves would be easy since Discord could just track down the ring he gave Graves. (Spiral Perception Teleport is a go!)

Well, in the end
Good luck GentlemanJ and thanks for taking us on this ride.

You are a brave, crazy, and asinine man. Regardless, I wish you to know that I do respect your ending. Do I have to like it? Not at all. Like many other's it is irksome to just mull over the thousands of what if scenarios playing out in my had. So much to go right, so much to go wrong, why can't I just enjoy the ending to the series that I not only love, but got me into writing to begin with?

It truly is your choice, though. I will never outright believe that something you fully decide on is wrong, because this story is indeed yours, and you gave us all the right to read it. You didn't have to, and from some of the responses I have seen, it's safe to say some wish you didn't, but you pulled forth the effort to do so regardless. So thank you for all your hard work. You are a total jackass, but having worked the profession I do, I deal with those on a daily basis, so it will take a whole lot more to actually piss me off. :pinkiehappy:

Best of luck in your future efforts. And please don't ever do this again. Please?

I've been mulling over this for a while. I can understand why you chose this ending, but even still I can't agree that it was the best way to end it. Part of it is because it feels like a sequel hook, and we know you won't be making another one of these. But instead of insulting you or saying other things I thought I'd take this in a more constructive manner

Ever since the first chapter of When the Man Comes Around, you've done an excellent job at showing us a world just like the one in the original show. A world of kindness, where no matter how bad things may look, there's always a way through. There's no danger that friendship (and love) can't beat. Sure bad things happen, but they never stand a chance to True Friendship! And kudos to you, the world building is some of the best I've read. The atmosphere also has this same feel, its positive even when faced against uncountable odds.

Your story was all about endings, going so far as having the last villain be called Null. So here you have entropy as the source of conflict in the story, it's a new take (at least for me) on an end of the world scenario. Yet rather than do what most people would do, cry helplessly as they prepare to disappear from existence, every character says: Screw it, we're not giving up without a fight. This is Hope at its finest. When Null came up with a pretty good offer for Graves, you had the soldier basically flip a finger to common sense. His reason? Graves had hope that someday this would all end and he would be able to fulfill his dream.

So you remember everything about hope against entropy and the positive world I just wrote about? Your ending grabbed them and tossed it into Null's Pit. I can understand you wanting to have us feel for Rarity, and I'll admit, you've done it in the past. But it sure as hell didn't work for me. And before you say "Well, you can only handle happy endings." I love Warhammer 40K, a setting made only for showcasing how despair and uncertainty feel. Let me read you the first paragraphs you encounter whenever you open the main sourcebook for Warhammer 40,000 Lore:

For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the Master of Mankind by the will of the gods and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power of the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium, for whom a thousand souls die every day, for whom blood is drunk and flesh eaten. Human blood and human flesh - the stuff of which the Imperium is made. To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. This is the Tale of such times.

It is a universe you can live today - if you dare - for this is a dark and terrible era where you will find little comfort or hope. If you want to take part in the adventure, then prepare yourself now. Forget the power of technology, science and common humanity. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for there is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter and the laughter of thirsting gods.

But the Universe is a big place and, whatever happens, you will not be missed...

Take a good look at this, because this is the exact opposite of the universe you crafted for Graves. Had you given us a darker world, a world where no matter your efforts, the only prize would be to extend everyone's miserable lives for a short while. Where the only for of rest would be death, and even still, you could be called back to action if there was a need. Only if this were the case would I agree for this to be a fitting end.


So in short: I know the ending must have been a difficult choice, but it feels like a catastrophic misfire to me. Your world, the actions and everything that leads up to the end clashes violently with your finale. It is an ending that offers no closure when the entire setup was promising one. And while I will respect your decision as an author to give us what you believe to be the best for us, your story is still open for critizism. And if these paragraphs help you understand how some people think and why they may disagree with you, it will not have been a waste of my time.

May the Emperor Guide you Gentleman J, and may your following projects always improve.

The coward thing and other hate comments are going too far, but you still slapped a lot of your loyal fans in the face with that ending. I get what your trying to say but honestly I think your confusing a sad ending with lack of closure. Yes an ambiguous ending lets us decide if he lives or dies but you still have to lean in one way or the other, like a finger on a broken corps twitching or a sharp inhaling of breath, something that makes you think "Well maybe he did make it." This just feels like it was canceled, and if that was your intention from the start, then I dont think I'll be reading any more of your stuff. The Graves series was amazing and thank you for making it but I no longer consider JE to be part of it.

I guess this ending was one that gives us hope in a way. It's up to the readers to decide their fate, huh?

Great series, I look forward to the end. After all, the journey may be over but the end result, the final chapter has yet to be seen. [Assuming the earlier foreshadowing holds true]

2902992

I have too agree with this guy. Or girl. The ending felt a little too well.... Like you couldn't decide what to do. Iam gonna also fave all the other story's you had on Graves but this one. Just a little disappointing really. All that build up for that? I mean I respect it and all. Just come on dude.

Shoot man, I love really long book and series, and I love it more when I can keep reading and they never seem to end. WHY AM I JUST NOW FINDING OUT ABOUT THIS SERIES?! Now that it's done, I can't keep reading without knowing that there is an end to it and how close it is... but then again it's better than getting on the train of a story but having it go into an indefinite hiatus...
Can't wait to jump in, but I don't know when that could be. So busy right now, and last time I read a long story (Fallout: Equestria, which is shorter than this...), it took me 2-3 months and it wasn't the best for my grades... I just get so sucked in that I can't think about anything else but that story.

ISKV #32 · Apr 9th, 2015 · · 1 ·

Alright. I'm a little late to the party and I'm going to repeat a whole bunch of things that other people have already said. But I just read the last chapter, and I just have to type it out.

Short answer. Was I satisfied with what I just read?

No. No I was not.

Anger isn't something I feel right now. I guess the most fitting word to use right now is disappointment.

As you said, closure is something that may or may not happen. I understand it. I do not like it, but I do understand it. I don't read fiction to feel bad. I read it for warm goodfeels. It's this or cocaine, and Verizon is legal, available in my area, and much cheaper.

Overall, you wrote well. It's one hell of a story.

But there is one thing that you definitely screwed up on.

By leaving you, the reader, in the exact same situation as Rarity. The. Exact. Same.

No. You did not.

Rarity gets to go home. Graves was just one part of her life. A rather large part, but a single person nonetheless. She gets to find out what happened. She gets to find out how many people died. She gets to be there when life goes on. There's two storylines, and you've only shown one. That is where people feel like there is no closure. Graves not being to escape is one thing, but you've left out an entire world.

We're not in Rarity's shoes. We're in Graves.

He doesn't know what happened up there. For all he knows, there's nothing left, the monsters have already destroyed everything and sending off his friends probably caused their deaths, making all of his efforts worthless.

Hell, for that matter we don't even know if this is a good ending where the world gets saved. The big bad is imprisoned, but his monsters still exist.

Anyways, you say that we won't get closure because life doesn't (always) give it either. Okay. I get it. But you tried way too hard to make us feel. We began to read this story because it is a good story. We continued to read because it was a great story.

I get why you did it. But what I don't get it why you decided that it should even happen in the first place. Like Jake said in his first comment, uncertainty is one thing when dealing with a close person who is now MIA. But every person who has military in their family can never get rid of that one little demon cackling on about how their loved one is going to come home draped in a flag.

There aren't words to describe when it actually happens, but deep inside, we kind of expect it.

But then we get this last chapter.

The rather somber, yet meaningful life lesson doesn't stop it from sounding pretentious as fuck because not only did you shoehorned it in at the very end, but you had to write up a blog post just to explain why you did it.

There are many ways of saying this but to be frank,

The lesson or the feels did not piss me off.

What pissed me off was the rushed, sub-par chapter to a rather enjoyable story.

I know I'm way late to this (honestly didn't find this till today) but I've got to say J, well said. You backed up the ending and answered the question I asked way back when the final chapter dropped (why you choose this ending). In short this post helped me to respect the ending even if I still don't agree with it (however even though I now respect it, it doesn't save this from being the worst in the series).

P.S It should be noted that ISKV makes a fair point. You've left us in Graves' (completely uninformed) shoes not Rarity's (uninformed about Graves only). If leaving us in Rarity's was your intention then an epilogue showing what Rarity returned to after teleporting away would be logical (but not required if you just want to leave it as is).

<inhale>

<exhale>

I know I'm late to this one, but it's how I always am with long stories; I'll start, get 1/2-2/3 of the way through over the course of a couple of days, stop and finish it another time.

when I first found this series, I think you had just finished Trouble Meets Disaster or Two Kinds of Complications. Since then I've followed every single story, usually reading them within days of them being finished (I've mentioned in a previous comment that I don't start reading things that aren't finished). After Lazy Summer Days and again after Return to the Gala, and AGAIN after Marshalls: the Next Generation I went back and read them all again. I love this series and I think you accomplished what you set out to do and made me really feel for these characters. Were there moments I disagreed with things that you had decided to do? Of course; different people, different tastes. Even so, I loved these stories, hell I still do, and having just read the finale to the last story in the Journey of Graves... No language on earth has the appropriate words to describe exactly how I feel, so I'll give you the best approximation.

I feel... empty. There's a sense of despair washing over me when I try to see how this story can go from here. Graves is trapped in the center of the Earth with a horde of monsters bearing down on him with only about half a body left to call his own and no magic left in him. Not only that, but he's just made Rarity promise to wait for him, knowing full well that he'll probably never make it out, meaning that she'll probably be waiting for him until the day she dies. I feel empty, confused and betrayed (by the world, not by you; think someone screaming "it's not fair!" like a five-year-old and you'll have a pretty good idea)

And yet, beneath all that... there's hope. I know that Graves has come out of impossible situations before (hell, he JUST DID not two minutes ago!) and that now he's going to be fighting harder than he ever has before because he knows that Rarity will wait for him. And I know that Rarity will wait for him because I believe that they truly are in love enough to do that for each other.

Actually, "I know" isn't the proper way to put it. It's not my story and you might not play it out that way.

I guess what I should say is... I have faith.

Congratulations GentlemanJ, you absolute bastard. You have unreservedly succeeded in what you aimed to do and I believe that it will work out for them.

Thank you.

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