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Titanium Dragon


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

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Jul
19th
2016

Recommended Story Reviews #11 – Tea Time, A Draconequus’ Guide to Immortality, The Cost of Life, Shipping Goggles, Correspondence · 10:14pm Jul 19th, 2016

Weeks ago, I started on this set with the intention of including a review of Eternal. Alas, I ended up reviewing five stories before I got around to reading it, and consequently it (along with Skywriter’s Heretical Fictions) got pushed off to another review post.

Why?

Because sometimes, when I’m stuck on a story, I go back and read through stories by others in the hopes of capturing some of their magic.

These stories are all pieces I read in trying to get a handle on a problem I was facing while writing recently.

I hope they’re as interesting to all of you to read as they were to me.

Today’s stories:

Tea Time by Einhander
A Draconequus’ Guide to Immortality by ArgonMatrix
The Cost of Life by Softy8088
Shipping Goggles by AbsoluteAnonymous
Correspondence by Friendly Uncle


Tea Time
by Einhander

Slice of Life
4,894 words

Every week, Cadance and Celestia used to have tea and discuss everything. Now that Cadance has become Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, ruler of the Crystal Empire, those weekly tea sessions have gone away. So Celestia decides to visit the Empire, unannounced. Why?

Because, as Cadance is about to learn, when you are a Princess, making a pot of tea is more than just making a pot of tea...

Why I recommend it: It is a great character piece for Celestia and Cadance.

Review
At some point in the distant past, the fandom decided that Princess Celestia really loves tea. It has become such an integral part of her personality, it is easy to forget that it isn’t a character trait which has ever appeared in the show.

But still, some truly wonderful stories can come out of it.

Told in three scenes, we first see things from Cadance’s point of view, then Celestia’s, followed up by a scene which is entirely dialogue and nothing else. The dialogue, too, switches places – Cadance’s scene only shows Celestia’s dialogue, while Celestia’s scene only shows Cadance’s.

But the story still manages to come through.

This is one of those really good slice of life pieces which uses a seemingly ordinary setpiece – two characters sharing tea – to tell us a lot about the characters. We learn a lot about Cadance’s insecurities, Celestia’s wisdom, and finally, gain a greater understanding of just how Cadance and Celestia function, and what kind of people they are.

As the story’s tagline notes, a princess having tea is never really about them having tea, and this story drives that point home throughout – we see what it is that really makes having tea with friends so important, and why it is so critical that Cadance make time “for tea” in her life once more.

Recommendation: Recommended.


A Draconequus’ Guide to Immortality
by ArgonMatrix

Slice of Life
7,341 words

At her coronation after-party, Twilight gets a little freaked out at the prospect of growing into her new life, especially one specific aspect of it. She knows better than anyone that talking her problems over with a friend can help tremendously, but she doesn't have many friends with whom she'd be comfortable talking about this particular problem, let alone ones who would really understand what she's going through.

...unless she broadens her definition of “friend.”

Why I recommend it: It is a good look at immortality.

Review
Twilight Sparkle is having what should be the best night of her life. She has become a princess, everyone is partying, Spike is off dancing with Sweetie Belle in an adorable way, her friends are happy, her parents are happy, the princesses and her brother are happy…

But there’s just one problem – something Princess Celestia inadvertently reminded her of, when she made a reference to her own enormous age, and forgetting something as important as the story of how she acquired her own cutie mark.

And Twilight’s a princess now. Does that mean she’s immortal? How does that affect her life? In a thousand years, how much will she have lost?

She wants to talk to Celestia about it, but she cuts herself off.

But there is one other person who notices. And he has a thing or two to say about it.

This is the story of Twilight worrying about the future. A substantial portion of this story is devoted to capturing the party, creating a very special moment that should linger in Twilight’s mind forever – something which sets off Twilight’s worries about immortality. Twilight cannot properly enjoy the moment because she’s worried about the future, and whether her nature as an immortal princess of Equestria is going to cause problems – indeed, whether this special moment will even be something she remembers in a lifetime of a thousand plus years.

All of this leads up to her discussion with Discord, which is relatively short by comparison – an interesting choice, considering it is the title of the work, but it makes sense in the context it is given.

The problem with this story is that there are about two scenes between these two scenes, and neither of them significantly advance the plot.

But the conclusion to this story is quite good, and it illustrates an important point that all too many stories about immortality – and people worrying about immortality – miss. It is pretty obvious, and yet, judging by the relative scarcity of this moral, I have to suspect a lot of people just don’t think about it. Discord’s playful nature works well here, and his voicing here is quite strong.

The introduction to this story and the conclusion of it are both very memorable, but there’s more in the middle that really should be there. Still, I can’t say that the story wasn’t interesting, and while it has about two scenes more than it needs, the rest is interesting enough to forgive the the story its excess baggage.

Recommendation: Recommended.


The Cost of Life
by Softy8080

Dark, Sad
3,533 words

Twilight Sparkle’s own body has betrayed her. Her life hangs by a thread, and her only hope of survival is a vital organ transplant. But when the sole possible donor turns out to be a young, healthy, and honourable pony, Celestia proves just how far she is willing to go to save her student.

In the decision to trade one life for another, the most serious casualty may be everypony’s ethics.

Why I recommend it: An interesting look at medical ethics and organ transplants in a world with magic.

Review
As Twilight lays dying in bed, her only chance to survive comes to see her. He has good news – the doctors have found a pony positive for TLGH-1, a protein which would otherwise cause her body to violently reject her new organ. There’s just one problem – the mutation is very rare, only found in ponies directly related to her… in fact, there’s really only one pony who would be guaranteed to be compatible.

The pony standing right in front of her, giving her the good news.

Her brother.

This story is a combination of the fantastic and the mundane – the central tension of the story, Shining Armor’s decision about what to do to save his sister, is all too human, as is Twilight’s reaction, and the reaction of Princess Celestia and Cadance. The central question we’re left with at the end of the story is whether the ponies in question made the right decision, and whether or not Cadance and Twilight’s anger over the decision is justified.

It is a really interesting piece, and manages to do a great deal in a very small space. If you’re interested in thinking about the ethnics of one person trading their life for another, this is well worth your time.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Shipping Goggles
by AbsoluteAnonymous

Comedy, Random, Romance
2,778 words

Maybe that glance lasted just a little too long, or maybe a certain conversation could be interpreted as innuendo. Whatever it is, sometimes we see only what we want to see, and sometimes our fantasies get the best of us. Rarity is no exception.

Why I recommend it: Rarity is a gloriously shameless shipper.

Review
Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie decided to have a whipped cream fight. Perfectly normal behavior for two silly ponies.

But Rarity thinks there might be something more going on between them. After all, they are so unbearably cute together. And all that whipped cream is giving her ideas.

Twilight and Fluttershy know that look, though, and they know it can’t be good…

The story of Rarity being an inveterate shipper about her friends, this is a silly little short story that is just a little bit naughty in its implications. Rarity’s shipping goggles cast various totally innocent interactions between her friends in a very… interesting… light, and Twilight and Fluttershy’s reaction to them is quite amusing.

This clocks in under 3,000 words, but it manages to get a lot of silly thoughts and implied mini-scenes in, and is a lot of silly, fluffy, and slightly saucy fun.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Correspondence
by Friendly Uncle

Comedy, Romance
4,472 words

Twilight always thought that being able to send the Princess her letters instantaneously through Spike's fire breath was the best thing in the world. Instant correspondence with her mentor and secret crush could never be a bad thing, right? Unfortunately, Twilight has a habit of writing her secrets down on flammable materials. Now her secret's out, so what's a panicky unicorn to do? Panic, obviously!

Why I recommend it: A Twilight freakout story done right.

Review
Spike accidentally sent Twilight’s journal to princess Celestia.

It may contain some uh, interesting stories involving Twilight and Celestia. And poetry.

Love poetry.

If there is a good time to panic, now is the time.

The humor in it is the main attraction here – Twilight’s descriptions of Celestia, as well as off-handed mentions of what exactly she wrote in the journal, get funnier and funnier every time. Twilight’s friends are amusing in their brief appearances, with Fluttershy in being the major highlight.

This is a very old story – dating from season 2, possibly even season 1 judging by some of the content – so some bits might seem a little bit dated, especially given it seems to reference the Grand Galloping Gala as being a future event. Still, the story remains amusing to this day. It also knows what it is doing and does it – the story doesn’t waste a lot of time dilly-dallying, and the story swiftly move from start to finish, with quick pacing and not an excessive amount of time spent on anything.

If the story has a weakness, it is that the shipping in it is not particularly strong – Celestia’s voicing isn’t the best, and the rationale for the ship isn’t quite as strong as it might be (though Celestia does have a particularly good line about it – a surprisingly solid line of thought for a comedy like this). As a Twilestia shipfic, it isn’t the best thing ever, though I suspect Twilestia fans are likely to forgive it. People who hate Twilestia will probably not like the ending.

For the rest of you, well… if Twilight freaking out is funny to you, this story has a strong rendition of it.

Recommendation: Recommended.


Summary
Tea Time by Einhander
Recommended

A Draconequus’ Guide to Immortality by ArgonMatrix
Recommended

The Cost of Life by Softy8088
Highly Recommended

Shipping Goggles by AbsoluteAnonymous
Highly Recommended

Correspondence by Friendly Uncle
Recommended

May all of your writing be successful as well.

On the front of my own writing, editing of The Fated Hour continues apace and I worked on an entry for the writeoff (that I didn't end up finishing).

I’ve got some other stories waiting in the wings – My Fluttering Heart is about two scenes short of completion, and I really should sit down and try and get that done this week so I can kick it out to my editors. I managed to get 600 more words of it done last night; hopefully tonight I'll be able to get the rest done.

I’ve also been fiddling around with some art stuff recently in an attempt to spend my time more productively than I do now. I actually spent some time practicing inking last night. I’m going to have to spend some time practicing coloring as well.

Hopefully my new computer will hold up. I felt so diminished without it.

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 138

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 514

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 1956

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Comments ( 9 )

This is new, a review blog and you didn't loathe anything. I'm impressed. Are you getting soft TD?:raritywink:

4101658
I was thinking the same thing. :pinkiehappy:

I ought to at least check out that HR.

4101658
4101691
This is one of my Recommend Story Reviews posts, which is taken entirely from my Recommended/Highly Recommended stories list - namely, from stories added to those lists from before I started doing reviews. About once a month I try to put together a review post of nothing but those old, good stories, as there's no reason why they shouldn't get reviews just because I read them before I started reviewing stories, right?

Are you getting soft TD?

I'm trying to get more exercise. :raritydespair:

4101700 But then you'll be less snuggly!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

At some point in the distant past, the fandom decided that Princess Celestia really loves tea.

I know, right? What's up with that?

I'm not sure if I'm super excited or absolutely terrified to see you review Eternal. I guess the fact that you were intending to include it in a Recommended Stories compilation means I should be excited?

I've read the first two and the other three are on my read later list. I think that says more about the size of my read later list than about my good taste.

4101975
Well, that depends on what you're hoping for out of a review of Eternal. I assume you've read it?

I mean, yeah, I do like it, but I haven't read it in ages. I may do a long-style review on it, ALA Elantris.

4102310
I've read it twice and I love it, though I acknowledge it has flaws. I guess I'm just afraid that "it has flaws" could become "look at these gaping holes in its literary value" when you put your mind to doing a good and thorough review.
...I'm looking forward nonetheless, though.

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