• Member Since 25th Feb, 2013
  • offline last seen January 11th

Titanium Dragon


TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Jul
9th
2015

Read It Later Reviews #20 – Long Live Sonata Dusk, Enchantè, Dear Sweetie Belle, The End of Immortality, One Evening at Emmy’s · 11:24pm Jul 9th, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Read It Later Reviews. Today, I’ve got three stories that I had read previously, plus a story from a writer I had never encountered the works of on previous occasion and a Horse Voice story I hadn’t yet read.

I also did something a little different in that I removed my “Why I added it to my list” bit; while I had been using this previously to keep track of why I added stuff, I’ve come to realize that I’m not really sure that the audience is really getting anything out of that, other than the odd bit of humor, and I have a slot for it on my personal tracking spreadsheet anyway. Did you folks find that information useful, or is it just a kind of “Eh, it is part of the structure of his reviews?” thing?

Today’s stories:

Long Live Sonata Dusk by Horse Voice
Enchantè by Cavendish
Dear Sweetie Belle by Jade Ring
The End of Immortality by DemonBrightSpirit
One Evening at Emmy’s by Horse Voice


Long Live Sonata Dusk
by Horse Voice

Dark, Comedy, Human
3,141 words

As an immortal, Sonata never thought she might someday run out of time. But a supernatural encounter on a quiet back road will show her just how precious a mortal's life is.

Review
Sonata meets Death on a lonely road while walking home from the Taco Shack. It seems she has died from a terrible food-borne illness, and he is here to usher her to the beyond in his black Chevy. But Death is a musician, and he wants her opinion on his song before she goes…

This is a kind of strange story, and has a very urban fantasy feel to it; Sonata intuitively recognizes Death for what he is, and it is something of a case of one monster (Death) preying on another monster (a now-mortal Siren). I got a bit of an American Gods vibe out of the story, with supernatural creatures eking by in a mortal, not very magical world.

It is an unusual piece, and the ending may have been a bit obvious to me, but I’m also used to reading stories like that; still, I can’t say that I didn’t find it interesting. It doesn’t really have any profound statements to make, it is just a scary thing that happens to Sonata one evening that makes her suddenly understand her mortality.

Recommendation: Worth Reading


Enchantè
by Cavendish

Romance, Adventure
31,652 words

A unicorn scholar from the Royal Academy at Canterlot named Pawise travels to Ponyville against his father's wishes, who is not keen on his son consorting with the other races. Pawise's expectations are very low, having heard that Ponyville is a rustic town, but will soon see a sight that changes his life forever.

Review
Pawise Pansophy is a young unicorn at the “Royal Academy” in Canterlot, busy studying to be a zoologist. After passing his final examinations, he gets his posting… in Ponyville, studying the Everfree Forest as a graduate student.

And the moment he steps off the train in Ponyville, he immediately falls in “love” with Fluttershy.

I’m never quite sure what to expect when wandering into a story written by a new author, but this story had some major issues. While there were some mechanical issues that bothered me, along with the use of inappropriate saidisms, the single greatest issue this story had was that it struggled to engage me.

The story is extremely telly, and this was a pervasive issue which made the story a very dull read. Almost everything is told to the reader in a very straightforward way, especially the emotions of the main character, and this resulted in making the characters feel very shallow and distant – we never are lead to think of them as people because everything is being spoonfed to us. This makes it hard to care about them – or indeed, even seen them as people – and it disconnects the reader from the action of the story.

Likewise, the protagonist just isn’t very likeable. He feels kind of generic, and his emotions don’t feel terribly deep. He isn’t a very interesting person to me, and him falling “in love” with Fluttershy at first sight didn’t help matters. Moreover, it bothered me that the other characters in the story didn’t recognize this as infatuation rather than love, as they treated it as if he was in love with Fluttershy, even though he had only seen her once, and never spoke to her.

Indeed, all of the characters felt quite flat emotionally, and I never really got much out of a lot of them. All of the protagonist’s old friends filter in and out of the story in the first chapter, but they never were around long enough for them to leave much of an impression on me. Likewise, the story ran with the “unicorns/ponies are racist” trope, which never really sits very well with me in present-day Equestria stories, and this did little to really exploit the trope in a new or interesting way.

I tried reading through the second chapter of the story, but afterwards, I ended up putting it down, as it just wasn’t much fun to read and I didn't have any investment in what was going on. Even if the story works to add more depth to the characters afterwards, I just couldn't get that far.

When writing a story like this, it is really important for the reader to bond with your protagonist; the worst curse a story can have is “I don’t care about these people”, because if you don’t care about the people involved in a story, you’re not going to care about the action of the story either, because none of it will affect you emotionally. As this story is meant to be sympathetic towards the protagonist, and make us care about his struggle with his parents, racism, and his feelings towards Fluttershy, the story needs to make me sympathize with him, but he felt very flat to me.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


Dear Sweetie Belle
by Jade Ring

Sad
5,343 words

After an accident robs them of their parents, Rarity writes Sweetie Belle a letter laying bare a secret kept all the little unicorn's life.

Review
The core stories of one of Jade Ring’s two ‘verses, this is about Sweetie Belle going home with Rarity after her parents die in an accident, only to be given a letter from Rarity and told that she has a decision to make.

As it quickly becomes obvious, it is the story of Sweetie Belle’s birth – and her mother was Rarity, who had given her up due to her young age at the time.

The story cuts between the letter and scenes from the past, and then finally, at the end, goes back to the present.

This is one of those kind of glurgy pieces; despite the situation, the story’s final tears are happy ones, and is probably the best “Rarity is secretly Sweetie Belle’s mom” stories I’ve read.

If I had a complaint about this story, it is that Sweetie Belle is very accepting of calling Rarity “mom” on the spot, which feels weird; there isn’t any real awkwardness between them, it just skips immediately to them accepting the situation, which felt off to me, especially given Sweetie Belle’s general attitude towards her sister – and general character in general. Indeed, her reaction seems more like what Rarity would WISH Sweetie Belle to respond like, rather than what she actually would.

Still, if kind of glurgy pieces about one of the CMC secretly being the daughter of one of the mane six, this is probably the story for you.

Recommendation: Worth reading.


The End of Immortality
by DemonBrightSpirit

Tragedy, Sad
4,582 words

For more than a millennium, it was believed that the princesses were immortal. But as time marched ever forward, it become clear that even the alicorns won't live forever.

Princess Celestia is at the end of her life.

While Equestria must find a way to cope with this new reality, those that are truly suffering are those closest to her. None are struggling as much as her sister, Princess Luna. Not only is she forced to handle the duties of ruling Equestria and taking care of the transition, she must also cope with the imminent death of her beloved sister.

Review
Princess Celestia is, at long last, dying of old age, and Princess Luna must rule in her stead. But many ponies do not trust Luna – even Shining Armor is wary of her, after the Nightmare Moon incident.

This story focuses primarily on the contrast between Celestia – who believes her sister can rule – and the world outside, where Luna struggles to gain any trust. Luna does not believe that ponies will change their minds about her, and desperately seeks some way out, some way to keep Celestia alive.

This story is a compact little tragedy, and it does a reasonably good job with its very limited space. We’re shown the distrust, we’re shown the contrast between Luna and Celestia’s view of how things will go after Celestia is gone, and we see why Luna is desperate by the end.

That being said, this story still felt kind of abbreviated, like there were numerous loose threads. Twilight, Cadance, and Shining Armor all feature heavily for a few scenes and yet the resolution does nothing with them; they’re just kind of there, and there is a scene between Twilight and Celestia that goes nowhere.

Still, the ending is reasonably strong, and overall, the piece is a little look at a what-if, even if it has become very implausible by this point as Luna has become more integrated into pony princessdom.

Recommendation: Worth Reading


One Evening at Emmy’s
by Horse Voice

Comedy, Human
2,163 words

"Everyone's got an opinion why Emmy's Diner burnt down. But I was there, and the truth is weirder than anyone thinks. It all started when these three smokin' hot chicks walked in..."

Review
Told from the first person perspective of a diner, One Evening at Emmy’s is the story of the Sirens going and eating at Amy’s Baking Company Emmy’s, a notoriously terrible restaurant which is, in reality, a front for organized crime.

The Sirens apparently used to come to the restaurant to feed on the local discord due to the place’s bad service. Now, they actually have to eat the food they order – and, as it turns out, it is terrible, and the situation quickly devolves into a heated argument, then an actual battle, between the mafisto restaurant owner and Adiago.

The best part about this story is the voicing of the first-person protagonist; he has a very distinct voice, and his commentary on the situation is quite good, with some pretty funny lines:

Emmy's Diner is a smokin' ruin now, and most people call it an improvement. Nobody knows how they managed to stay open as long as they did, but after what I saw the other day, I got a pretty good idea. I used to drop by there Sundays when nothin' else was goin' on around South Canterlot. Not to eat—I knew better 'n that. But you always got a free show if you waited long enough.

Old Man Krabs was the main villain of the show. His job was to make sure complaints didn’t make it back to the kitchen, and no one who ordered anything ever left without paying. He was Emmy's husband, but I thought he was her dad when I first saw them. But sometimes when customers started arguin’ with him, Emmy herself would come stompin' outta the kitchen, usually wavin’ a big kitchen knife around. She’s a scary one—wears more makeup than a clown, and she has these huge eyes that never seem to blink, and she's one of those people you can't talk to at all. Even my exes have nothin' on Emmy.

The evening it burnt down—couple hours before closing time, I guess—the Old Man was more pissed off than usual, which is saying a lot. This one guy had managed to sneak out without paying, which woulda been a dick move if he hadn't just waited two hours for an order that never came. Get the picture?

So the Old Man is stalkin' around, lookin' for someone to take it out on. The poor waitress—this little mousey woman called Valley—is walkin' on eggshells and tryin' not to look him in the eye. She's the only one they got, 'cause all the others quit. Hell if I know why she stuck around. I'd have ordered something just so I could tip her a lot, but I knew the Old Man would steal it.

The door opens, and in walk three of the hottest babes I ever saw. Like, we're talking tip-of-a-welding-torch hot, okay? First is this yellow one, and the first thing I notice is her big, poofy orange hair, and the second is her hips. I mean, dayum. Then there's this kinda purple one in these really, really tight jeans. Then there's this blue one trailin' behind the other two, and at first I think she looks kinda young, but then I see she's got the biggest tits out of the three of 'em, so what do I know?

The blue one's smiling and kinda staring off into space, but the other two look like they just bit down on a sandwich that some asshole put a dead rat in. And at Emmy's, you usually have to wait a few hours before they bring your dead rat.

That being said, the story goes downhill as it goes deeper and deeper, and by the end, the ridiculousness of the situation largely overwhelmed the strong narrative voice, and the rather sudden outburst of violence on the part of Adiago just felt kind of weird. The jokes at the climax of the story came off as more of a “Take That!” against the owners of Amy’s Baking Company than actual jokes, and while the implications of insurance fraud at the end are okay, I just didn’t feel like the story really “pulled it off” in the end.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


Summary
Long Live Sonata Dusk by Horse Voice
Worth Reading

Enchantè by Cavendish
Not Recommended

Dear Sweetie Belle by Jade Ring
Worth Reading

The End of Immortality by DemonBrightSpirit
Worth Reading

One Evening at Emmy’s by Horse Voice
Not Recommended

Tomorrow I am going to see if I can’t get some writing done. Until then, hope you enjoy your stories.

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later – Important: 67

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later – High Priority: 288

Number of stories listed as Read It Later: 1601

Comments ( 20 )

Tomorrow I am going to see if I can’t get some writing done.

This is the most important part of this blog post. :pinkiehappy:

Also, it has now been a month since you have reviewed something you liked ('Recommended' or higher). Hopefully that changes soon. :twilightsheepish:

3224022
I recommended something two days ago, actually, and indeed, devoted an entire post to just that one story. It is possible that you missed that post, though. :ajsleepy:

3224035 True, and I did add that one to my bookshelfread-it-later. I was excluding that from your regular review series, though, since it seemed like something special. :derpytongue2:

Okay, so you've liked one story out of, what 31 reviews in the last month. We're still batting way below the Mendoza line here... :twilightoops:

3224108
Doing some quick number crunching, looking only at stories I have never read before:

Highly Recommended: 4.9%
Recommended: 8.6%
Worth Reading: 31.5%
Not Recommended: 54.2%
Read It Later: 0.9%

So a story has about a 1 in 8 chance of getting a recommended or highly recommended from me.

Since the start of June, I have highly recommended 2 stories and recommended 4 stories out of 37 stories, which is about what you would expect. It is true I've had a bad streak since Read It Now #34, as I've only HRed one story and recommended one story since then, which would be pretty below average out of 27 stories, but that's a matter of your start point/end points, and even then, it is only half of my average rate - that could just be bad luck. Honestly, a lot of it depends on my reading choices, and my delays on reading some of the longer works by some good writers.

My "Read it Now" list has also sort of dried up for the moment, so I might turn towards that this weekend, assuming I'm not busy writing or doing other things.

3224187 Walks away while he's still ahead alive :twilightoops:

P.S. While I didn't notice it until I reread the post and saw the notification, I always thought the “Why I added it to my list” was kinda fun, and wouldn't mind seeing it back. :twilightblush:

P.P.S. I really didn't mean anything by the original comment. It just felt like it'd been a bit since I saw anything recommended on one of your RiN/RiL lists, and briefly skimming back through the posts over the last month seemed to verify that. I make an effort to read anything you review as >Worth Reading, that's all. :raritycry:

3224234
Oh, no, I don't mind at all! Sorry if I came off as snappy; I wasn't being snappy at all. You just interested me, and goodness knows that I'm interested in numbers.

So I went back and actually crunched the numbers and added a new sheet to my spreadsheet so I could automatically tabulate how frequently I'm recommending stories.

I may be a bit of a nerd. :trixieshiftright:

You didn't offend me at all; I was curious about what the last time I had recommended something was.

Really it just tells me that I need to choose my stories better, as 7% is well below average.

Hopefully I'll find something tonight to recommend, if I don't end up finishing this story. But it is actually coming along pretty fast, so there may be a new TD fic up in the next day or two. :twilightsmile:

I liked the why you added it part.

I have to admit, I enjoyed the "why I added this" feature. It helped me figure out if this is something I had heard about, or should have heard about, or if you were randomly grabbing things again. I'm not sure how useful that information was, but... it was information I used to get, and now I'm not getting it.

I dunno if I'd call it useful, but I did enjoy the "why I read it" section if only because of the peek inside your head it gave.


EDIT: And 3224499 said it way better.

Two in one? You spoil me, sir. :twilightblush:

It's pretty cool of you to go so into depth on stories you don't recommend, because it's not only amusing, but also legitimately helpful. Emmy's was a potboiler written as practice for its particular narrative style, but the issues you bring up are still food for thought.

3224822
I liked the narrative style of the piece; you did a good job with that. I really need to practice messing around with different narrative voices more often myself. Maybe I'll have to practice it next write off.

I think I've read almost everything you've written thus far; the only things I haven't are Molly and The Day of the Million Billion Octavias, and both are on my various lists. I'll probably also cover Wild Fire and Biblical Monsters at some point, but I've been lax in doing my recommended story reviews.

Again? I can't keep up with you!

3225163
Well, right now it is looking like there won't be another set of reviews tommorrow...

Of course, that's because I got a TD story edited up. Working on its cover art right now.

3224865

That's more than I could have reasonably asked for. I'll look forward to them. :pinkiehappy:

Although, be warned: A critic reviewing Monsters is usually a cue for a flame war to break out. :ajsleepy:

3225896 :trixieshiftleft:
It can't be any worse than people spending the last week arguing over whether or not souls exist because of an off-hand joke in my last comedy story. :trixieshiftright:

The real irony of course being that I then followed it up with a story which relied on the existence of souls.

Because clearly the only reason I would mention souls is to convince people one way or the other, and not to tell an interesting story. :unsuresweetie:

3226224

I know your pain. Actually, this means you're better prepared than most people who have reviewed it. The holy war between hardcore atheists and theists is not the most violent history has known, but it's certainly the most stupid. :facehoof:

3226631
Well, at least they haven't burned down Constantinople over chariot races.

Though I suppose the fact that they'd have to get out of their computer chairs to do so puts a crimp in any real rioting plans they might have.

You've got Long Live Sonata Dusk linked to the chapter, not the story page.

3257662
Whoops! Fixed it, now. Thanks for the catch.

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