• Member Since 25th Feb, 2013
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Titanium Dragon


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

More Blog Posts566

  • 28 weeks
    Agent Fluffy did a fanfic reading of I Can Explain

    Thanks, Fluffy!

    I have to say, the background music and poor Rarity's voice grew on me while listening.

    0 comments · 299 views
  • 36 weeks
    So, I was taking a walk this evening. There's been a cougar sighted in the area...

    So, I was taking a walk this evening. There's been a cougar sighted in the area, and so I, being the responsible citizen that I am, was carrying around a can of bear spray, because living in a rural area and walking around on your own at 8:30 at night when a cougar has been spotted less than a mile where you are... probably a good idea, right?

    Read More

    20 comments · 714 views
  • 38 weeks
    Read It Now Reviews #114 – Snowed In, Deathbed Confession, This is Not a Drill, A Slice of (Cake) Life, Mint Condition

    Happy Memorial Day! I was planning on having a story ready for today, but ended up getting distracted with reading pony fanfics instead. But hey, six of one, half a dozen of the other, right?

    Today’s stories:

    Snowed In by OkemosBrony

    Deathbed Confession by Dreadnought

    This is Not a Drill by Tumbleweed

    Read More

    12 comments · 730 views
  • 38 weeks
    Remembering Stories

    Over the last month or so I've been getting back into ponies in preparation for Everfree Northwest, watching episodes and reading old stories and doing reviews and whatnot.

    Read More

    12 comments · 556 views
  • 39 weeks
    Everfree Northwest Con Report

    Howdy folks! Well, I had a fun weekend. I ended up driving Thursday afternoon (managing to get to Portland at 3pm, just in time for the traffic to go to hell) and drove back Sunday evening (managing to hit a section of I-5 where they closed all but one lane at 10 PM, creating a huge traffic jam in the middle of nowhere), and had a total blast the whole time in-between.

    Read More

    17 comments · 403 views
Dec
26th
2015

Holiday Story Reviews #1 –There Is Love Beyond What Lingers, Hearth Swarming Eve, Three Nights, A Canterlot Carol, Hearth’s Warming Cookies, The Season of Grace · 1:10pm Dec 26th, 2015

I made the fatal mistake this holiday season of overcommitting myself. I tried to get so many things done, I failed to get almost any of them done in time for my online friends.

But it is the holidays. And just as my mother orders things from Amazon and sometimes gets them on December 30th instead of the 24th, it is still part of the 12 days of Christmas, right?

That’s totally how it works, isn’t it? :trixieshiftright:

So, in the spirit of late-arriving Christmas packages ordered online, so comes these reviews. A couple of them – Three Nights and A Canterlot Carol – are repeats, but the other four are stories that I never reviewed previously. There is Love Beyond What Lingers is a story I read long ago by ShortSkirtsAndExplosions, and it never really got the attention that it richly deserves. Meanwhile, Hearth Swarming Eve was promoted by me last year (I helped edit it for Horizon), but I never did a proper review of it. I might go into it more in some other post at some other point in time, dissecting it, but I figured that some folks might not have seen it before, and it is only fair to recommend it before I tear apart the mystery wrapped inside.

The other two stories – The Season of Grace and Hearth’s Warming Cookies – are brand-new stories posted just this year, on this very day, in fact (assuming, of course, you live in Australia, which I don’t, but still).

And so, without further ado, today’s stories:

There Is Love Beyond What Lingers by shortskirtsandexplosions
Hearth Swarming Eve by Horizon
Three Nights by Bradel
A Canterlot Carol by GhostOfHeraclitus
Hearth’s Warming Cookies by Everyday
The Season of Grace by Willow Wren


There Is Love Beyond What Lingers
by shortskirtsandexplosions

Sad, Slice of Life
12,943 words

A pony returns to Ponyville on Hearth's Warming Eve. Amidst the snow and festivities, he runs into a curious mare wallowing by her lonesome, and he does his best to cheer her up. Together, both ponies learn that no chance meeting is ever an accident, for there is love beyond what lingers.

Why I recommend it: It is a heart-warming tale about a pony realizing he doesn’t have to be alone at the holidays.

Review
A stallion comes home to Ponyville to be with his parents for Hearth’s Warming. It has been ten years since he fled to Canterlot and avoided this place, but now he is back and it is like he never left. Ponyville is full of warmth and cheer and love, both familial and otherwise, but the stallion is content to sit back and simply savor the sensation of Hearth’s Warming Eve without diving in himself.

But after a while, he notices another pony doing the same thing – a pony in a dark cloak, who seems alone and cheerless. It quickly becomes clear that Pinkamena – as she calls herself – has chosen this sadness for herself, hiding from her friends after making the mistake of trying to invite them for a party on Hearth’s Warming Day without warning, when they were all planning on spending that time with their families. None of them were willing to party with her, and Pinkie felt terrible that she had made such a request of them without thinking about it and made their Hearth’s Warming Eve that much worse for the pain she caused them.

But there is love beyond what lingers, and the stallion goes around Ponyville sharing it with Pinkie, playing carnival games and otherwise cheering her up to her prior perky self. But his time is running short, and he still needs to go join his parents…

This story is one of those sweetly melancholic pieces; it is obvious that there is something off about the protagonist, and that feeling grows throughout the piece (though if you’re a particular connoisseur of a particular genre of story, you might already have guessed where it is going). The start of the story is wonderfully atmospheric, and once Pinkie Pie shows up, we see someone trying to embrace joy with wild abandon regardless of the ridiculousness of the situation. It is really about the protagonist and Pinkie Pie choosing to embrace happiness rather than wallow in self-pity, and while on the surface the protagonist is spending the whole time cheering up Pinkie Pie, on a deeper level, he is being healed of his own wounds. The ending of the story is exactly what you’d hope it would be, and the whole thing is one of those heart-warming things that people seem to love so much, as the melancholy is broken through and the light on the other end of the tunnel shines on the characters.

Recommendation: Recommended.


Hearth Swarming Eve
by horizon

Thriller
15,059 words

Stress levels were already high, with Twilight directing her first royal Hearth's Warming pageant and unexpected snowstorms escaping the Everfree. Then the changeling army arrived.

Now, with Queen Chrysalis holding Ponyville hostage and the clock ticking on suspiciously pointless negotiations, it's up to Rarity to match wits with the invaders and save the holiday. However, as she digs ever deeper into the queen's tangled plot, what she learns could force her to choose between her friendships and her conscience.

Why I recommend it: A high-tension thriller where nothing is what it seems.

Review
On Hearth’s Warming Eve, a swarm of changelings led by Queen Chrysalis herself descends on Ponyville. Driven out of the Everfree forest by wildstorm after wildstorm, the changelings are cold, hungry, and miserable. But Chrysalis knows that she can’t win an outright fight with the ponies, and that their tricks won’t work on the ponies anymore. She claims that Equestria is no good for changelings anymore, and that she wants to get them out of the country (so they can invade the minotaurs instead), but after every changeling in Canterlot died as a result of Cadance and Shining Armor’s spell, the changelings lack infiltrators or much in the way of military strength. Chrysalis wants help from Equestria.

But Rarity is suspicious. There’s something wrong. There is no way that Chrysalis really believes that Equestria would help the changelings attack another country. The changelings must be after something else. But with Chryaslis putting a couple changelings in every house in Ponyville during the negotiations as insurance, but forbidden to feed on ponies or change shape at Twilight’s own insistence, time is short. They need to figure out what is going on, what Chrysalis’s real plan is, and how to stop her before the drones all starve. And what is behind all those wildstorms, anyway? Everyone has seemed a bit testy this year…

This story is a battle of wits between Rarity and Queen Chrysalis, as Rarity tries to outmaneuver the deceptive queen using her own knowledge of ponies. But outmaneuvering a foe is difficult when you don’t know what they’re trying to do in the first place, and the plans of the changeling swarm and Rarity collide spectacularly over the course of this piece. Nothing is as it seems at first, and there is a huge amount of misdirection as well as hidden clues interspersed throughout the piece. Little bits of dialogue and minor details come back to prove themselves to be major plot points, and in the end, the greatest foe is not Chrysalis or the changelings, but deception itself, as Rarity comes not only to hide her own plans, but those of the changelings as well, in her desperate scramble to save the day.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Three Nights
by Bradel

Slice of Life
18,539 words

Hearth's Warming Eve is supposed to be a happy event—Cadance knows this, but all she ever feels is lonely. Now, with Shining Armor gone and a freak snowstorm battering her kingdom, it's up to Cadance to salvage the holiday and teach her crystal ponies to care for one another.

A story about finding your family, on the coldest night of the year.

Why I recommend it: A heartwarming story about being with your family at the holidays.

Review
Three Nights is the story of three Hearth’s Warming Eves, three important days in Cadance’s life. The first is the day she was found in the cold by her adoptive parents, lost and alone. The second is the night she first babysits for Twilight Sparkle – and the night she first meets Shining Armor. The third, and by far the longest, is the story of Cadance’s first Hearth’s Warming Eve in the Crystal Empire.

The stories get progressively stronger as it goes on. The first captures the point of view of Cadance as a very young foal – someone who doesn’t quite understand what is going on, simply that she is alone, lost, cold, and hungry. She doesn’t even understand words, not yet. It is a neat little vignette, but it sets up for the other two.

The second one captures Cadance’s first Hearth’s Warming Eve in Canterlot. Her first Hearth Warming without her adoptive parents, Cadance doesn’t really feel like she has anywhere to be, and thus is willing to foalsit for Twilight Sparkle, apparently a young little terror who chases off other baby sitters and who is afraid of her own magic.

The third one is about another lonely Hearth’s Warming in the Crystal Empire, with the trains blocked by snow, and Cadance having to figure out what to do with herself in a land which doesn’t even really understand what Hearth’s Warming is. This third chapter gives live to a number of OC crystal ponies, but ultimately the story is focused on Cadance herself, which is fitting – despite Cadance’s efforts to spread Hearth’s Warming cheer as she should be, to fill up the void inside, she really just wants to be surrounded by her family, by Twilight Sparkle, Shining Armor, and the others who love her, and despite her bringing cheer to the crystal ponies, she’s still fundamentally lonely.

The greatest strength of this story is Cadance. She gets an enormous amount of excellent characterization across the three stories, and the story played her pathos very well, showing her struggle to do right by others and herself.

This is a great little set of Christmas Hearth’s Warming stories, all tied together by a neat little central theme of spending time at the holidays with family, and while melancholic at times, it ends exactly how you want a Christmas story like this to end.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


A Canterlot Carol
by Ghost of Heraclitus

Comedy, Slice of Life
6,464 words

The business of government never stops, and paperwork never rests, even on Hearthwarming. But this particular Hearthwarming, Cabinet Secretary and tea enthusiast Dotted Line plans to do his level best to see it, at least, take a break. His ponies need to go home to their families, and he, well, he has plans this Hearthwarming.

Why I recommend it: A simultaneously humorous and sentimental look at the meaning of Hearth's Warming according to one Dotted Line.

Review
There is an eldritch abomination in his chimney.

Prince Blueblood has insulted Mklai, the ambassador of Zebrica.

And it seems that his staff is all insistent on sticking around far too long, even though it is Hearthswarming and they should all be spending time with their families.

But Dotted Line, head of the Equestrian Civil Service, can’t let all of this just rest. He has plans this Hearthwarming, and he needs to get it all out of the way first…

This is an extremely well-written heartwarming Christmas story, in which Dotted not only explains his own view on the meaning of ChristmasHearthswarming to Mkali, but demonstrates it via his actions. We get an additional glimpse of his character, as well as the characters of Spinning Top and Leafy Salad, and see a bit more about Dotted’s working relationship with, and respect for, Princess Celestia.

But it isn’t just about fluff; the story is also funny. We start out with a laugh as we discover just what the “eldritch monstrosity” in Dotted Line’s chimney is, followed by his scene with Spinning Top as the press secretary tries to draft an apology to Mkali, then see additional humor in the scene with Mkali. Interestingly, the story’s more blatant humor tapers off towards the end, as the story gets increasingly feelsy, and at the end, we are left with a nice warm glow as we discover just what Dotted Line – and Princess Celestia – had planned for Hearthswarming, being not only told the meaning of Hearthswarming, but being shown in in action.

Incidentally, after you have read this story, Bad horse wrote an interesting breakdown of the plot structure, which you can find here, which you should also read – it will make you better understand just how the story accomplished the delivery of its theme and wove all the pieces together into a unified whole.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Hearth’s Warming Cookies
by Everyday

Slice of Life
1,021 words

Many ponies leave out cookies on the night of Hearth's Warming Eve. It's tradition, after all.

It's been a tradition for a very long time.

Why I added it: I liked it in the Writeoff.

Review

The little filly watched with curious eyes as her father levitated a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, carrying them to the nightstand beneath the window.

“Why do we leave out cookies every Hearth’s Warming Eve?” she asked.

“Because it’s tradition,” her father answered as he set them down.

“But why is it tradition?” she pressed with an exaggerated tilt of her head.

He looked from the cookies to the window, watching the snow fall through the moonlight as he considered his answer.

“That’s just how it’s always been.”

The rest of the story is spent explaining the origin of the tradition.

You won’t be disappointed.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.


The Season of Grace
by Willow Wren
Romance, Slice of Life
2,617 words

Fluttershy wakes in the middle of the night on Hearth's Warming Eve to find Big Macintosh waiting for her outside. He has a surprise for her, and their subsequent adventure rekindles old feelings and memories of Hearth's Warmings past.

Why I added it: JediMasterEd recommended it.

Review
Big Mac brings the traditional Hearth’s Warming sleigh by Fluttershy’s cottage. It is ordinarily there for the children, when Father Friendship takes the Snow Princess for a ride, but there are no children around at midnight. It has been many years since Big Mac and Fluttershy were Father Friendship and the Snow Princess, but tonight, for one more night, they will be again – and Fluttershy certainly likes the idea.

This is a sweet little shipfic about two older people making up for time lost, and making a different choice the second time around. It is wistful, but also hopeful, and is one of those heart-warming stories that seems to get so much air around the holidays, and then be forgotten the rest of the year. The scene is set well, and the whole thing comes together nicely at the end.

If I had a quibble about this, it would be that the point of view is a little odd – it appears to be a close third-person perspective at first, but it later switches point of view mid-scene without a scene change; most of the earlier part of the story follows Fluttershy, but there’s a bit of skipping back and forth between them in the middle before the end goes to Big Mac.

Still, the magical, wistful feelings course strongly through this piece, and you’ll want them to say something to each other at the end. This was Willow Wren’s first story on the site; hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them soon.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.


Summary
There Is Love Beyond What Lingers by shortskirtsandexplosions
Recommended

Hearth Swarming Eve by Horizon
Highly Recommended

Three Nights by Bradel
Highly Recommended

A Canterlot Carol by GhostOfHeraclitus
Highly Recommended

Hearth’s Warming Cookies by Everyday
Worth Reading

The Season of Grace by Willow Wren
Worth Reading

I just wanted to close out this post with a paen to perhaps the most underappreciated of Christmas presents: socks.

They are a perennial gift. Every year, without fail, you get socks. Or, at least, I do. In fact, every year, it is consistently the first present I open. They’re inescapable.

And yet, somehow, a year later, all of the various stocking stuffers are still sitting on the shelves, alone and forgotten, and sometimes given year after year because your mother forgets she got them for you before…

But those socks? They’re in your drawers. You’ve worn them. Probably repeatedly. You can’t show them off. They’re kind of a dinky present. But somehow, they are consistently useful.

And so, I salute the perennial gift of socks. Not because it is a great gift, but because it shows that, when all else fails, you can be sure that at least one gift that was given is going to be used.

I am not just saying that because this year, I finally joined in on the sock gifting.

But I did.

I got them other things as well – the gift of words in the form of a book (which has a 50-50 chance of not being read), a movie which will likely be watched once and then put on a shelf… and a pair of bicycle socks, that they will likely wear on a weekly basis due to them being an avid bicyclist and some of their old socks getting worn out.

As I said before, I wanted to close this out with a paen to the gift of socks, but I’m afraid I cannot do that in good conscience; it is 5 am now, and I’m feeling sentimental.

If you are one of my more recent followers, several of which came to me by way of my own holiday story last year, Mistletrapped, I bid you welcome. I’m glad my story about Spike setting up mistletoe over the front door of the castle, only to get kissed by the wrong pony, drew so many folks in an made them smile, and I was terribly flattered by the folks who were kind enough to promote it in their blog.

But my gratitude isn’t just limited to those who came to me by way of my Hearth’s Warming story last year; I’m grateful to all of you for reading my stuff. I was always one of the lucky ones on the site in terms of getting initial readership, and I’m grateful for all of you sticking with me, for all of your comments and in many cases, your assistance in editing my stories and making them what they are, and molding me as a writer.

I’m terribly grateful to Bookplayer for being one of the very first folks who followed me, and whose thoughtful pieces about love, shipping, writing, and ponies in general have all been a joy to read.

To RainbowBob, who promoted The Stars Ascendant last summer, and as a result, pushed me into heights I had never known before.

To HoofBitingActionOverload, whose writing has always been a joy to read, and whose great skill at writing and assistance editing my own stories pushed me to write much better. “You can do better” may not seem like the most encouraging pieces of feedback on a story to most people, but to me, I have always held that line close to my heart, because he told me that I could do better, that he expected me to do better, and that has always encouraged me.

To Bad Horse, whose excellent writing took me entirely too long to devour in its entirety, and whose blog posts about aesthetics and writing have encouraged me to be more thoughtful about it, and to see just how deep the rabbit hole runs.

To Horizon, who has been my companion in writing and feedback for some time now. He is an excellent writer who has produced a wide variety of high-quality works, and there are still more waiting in the wings for him to post someday. When The Case of the Cowled Changelings finally hits FIMFiction, you all can expect me not to shut up about it for at least a week. Be prepared.

There are so many people who brighten up my day every time I see they’ve posted something. From Skywriter and his brilliant sense of humor and marvelous writing, to Ghost of Heraclitus and his footnotes and self-effacing brilliance, to TheJediMasterEd and his wit and charm, to Wanderer D who warms my heart every time he comments on something, to GAPJaxie writing clever stories that constantly make me feel like I need to come up with more clever ideas, to Bradel whose love of statistics and excellent writing make me want to spend more time studying both, to SS&E's productivity and clever stories making me realize just how much writing you can do if you really devote yourself to it and encouraging me to do more, to countless others who have touched me over time. From the folks who regularly post on my blog posts to the admins who run contests, from the people of the Writeoff community who give me feedback and tell me when my stories don’t work to my fellow reviewers, both in the Royal Guard and beyond… so many of you folks bring me joy, it is hard to list all your names, and no list could ever hope to be exhaustive.

But thank you for the joy you’ve brought me since I joined the site, and for all that you’ve done to make me a better person.

According to tradition, today is the second day of Christmas, and there’s ten more of them coming down the line, so I hope you folks all have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and enjoy the holidays and the spirit thereof.

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 103

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 393

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 1765

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Comments ( 21 )
PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Well, this was a Christmas miracle. :B And as they say, nothing says Christmas like a pair of socks!

3644004
Is that where the whole ponies in socks meme is from? :rainbowderp:

My first official review from Titanium Dragon: Worth Reading

iambrony.steeph.tp-radio.de/mlp/gif/tumblr_mdn4qsw00V1qi6ke5o1_400.gif

Thank you for reading it and giving it a Like. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Guys, I think TD was replaced by a changeling. But... don't tell anyone. We might be better off.

Yeah, what happened for you to feel so mellow?

Anyway, thanks TD for being here. Without you, this site wouldn't be the same.

And:

As I always remind folks, after you read "A Canterlot Carol," you owe it to yourself to continue on to its immediate sequel, "An Afternoon for Dotted Line."

Mike

3644160
I agree. It is a great follow-up.

I’m terribly grateful to Bookplayer for being one of the very first folks who followed me, and whose thoughtful pieces about love, shipping, writing, and ponies in general have all been a joy to read.

Just wanted to drop a line to say I'm glad I followed you, and glad you find my stuff interesting. As often as we disagree, you're one of the people who makes me wish the site had a way to track where someone else is commenting -- I know wherever you are there's bound to be some kind of interesting discussion going on. :ajsmug:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

3644009
I do believe it is. Minty weighed heavily on the psyche of the early fandom.

from the people of the Writeoff community who give me feedback and tell me when my stories don’t work to my fellow reviewers, both in the Royal Guard and beyond

:twilightsmile:

3644327
An activity feed that one can set to private or public might actually be a great addition to the site. Might be stretching the servers a bit though, but who knows?

3645147
I wonder if it would be more doable it it was on the stats page or something where it would only need to be pulled when people went looking for the information...

Of course, I've always considered it a pipe dream because the drama potential is so high. I'm not sure Knighty would want to give people a way to follow whoever they're fighting with all over the site and potentially let story comment wars spill into groups and blogs. That happens often enough on userpages without bringing innocent third parties' blogs and groups into it.

3645184
I remember some folks arguing with Reality Check in the comments of one of my stories explicitly because Reality Check had blocked them from commenting on their profile/stories, so unfortunately, I suspect that any such feature would be abused.

One potential way of implementing it would be to allow people who are mutually following each other to see such things (as, presumably, such folks would be friendly towards each other) but I can still imagine it causing problems.

Look at all these great stories I didn't know existed!

I am actually in need of more socks. Did not receive socks for xmas. Figures.

Wanderer D
Moderator

Hey TD, catching up on blogs here! Dude, I hope you had a wonderful Xmas and a Happy new year! Now I have more stories to read! Yay?

3651154
Indeed, there are always more stories to read.

Always. :applejackconfused:

Hope you had a fun holiday yourself!

Thank you so much for just copying those repeats so I don't have to decide which post to link on the big master list.

3659042
Heh, you're welcome. :twilightsmile:

Figured if I'm talking about great holiday stories, no reason not to highlight ones I'd read off-season, but no real reason to rewrite the reviews, either. :trixieshiftright:

Sorry to be so late with this, but thank you so much for your review of "The Season of Grace." It was a real honor to receive such a nice welcome to this site. :pinkiesmile:

3742616
You're welcome! Always glad to see new folks writing.

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