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Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords, and reviews both independently and for Seattle's Angels. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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Paul's Thursday Reviews LIII · 12:34am Oct 28th, 2016

I'm sorry to say I've not much to talk about today. Or rather, I do, but time constraints are keeping me from doing so. But I promise to be my usual talkative self come Sunday! In the meantime, have some reviews.

Stories for This Week:

"Mah Barn Door Don't Swing That Way!" by Cerulean Voice
Fluttershy's Musings by DeathFox4
Persephone by PresentPerfect
The Great Ponyville Snowball Fight by 8686
The Age of Wings and Steel by DSNesmith
Filly Twilight Sparkle and the Mystery of the Groaning Ghosts by Kudzuhaiku
Total Word Count: 259,994

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 4
Worth It: 0
Needs Work: 1
None: 0

Have another silly story. In this one, we have Pinkie going to visit Applejack in order to introduce her to a new type of cupcake Mrs. Cake has developed. To return the favor, Applejack let’s Pinkie try some new rum. One thing leads to another, and before we know it we’ve got two inebriated mares having a conversation that Applejack isn’t exactly comfortable with.

There’s not much to this one, folks. There’s a joke to be made, and once it is the story’s done. Although it is rather silly, it is at least made with the characters’ personalities intact, which gives it bonus points. What I liked in particular, however, is how the author dances around the underlying subject that Applejack is so worried about. One can’t help but wonder if there’s not a grain of truth to the suggestiveness, especially considering Pinkie’s odd manner.

What makes this work best is that you really can’t confirm or deny anything. Because Pinkie is in character for this story, it’s impossible to say whether she’s hiding something or ‘just being Pinkie Pie.’ It adds a subtle mystery to the story that makes it that much more interesting. The innuendo aimed at Applejack and Big Mac’s last line certainly seem to clarify things. You could make a whole – real – story based on the potential implications.

In my second reading of this story, I realize that it is a lot more clever than I originally thought. While it’s low scope and simple premise keep it from being elevated to my highest bookshelf, the underlying elements are strong enough to definitely warrant a solid rating.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Fluttershy's Musings

3,013 Words
DeathFox4 failed to provide cover art.
Sequel to Cadance's Musings

Cadance’s Musings was an attempt at philosophical musings that threw ponies in so it would fit into Fimfiction. Apparently, a lot of people enjoyed it, so DeathFox4 decided to write a sequel. The author takes a slightly different approach to this one though.

Whereas the previous story was almost entirely a one-sided conversation in which Cadance tries to answer Twilight’s question “What is love?”, Fluttershy’s Musings has the titular character do the same thing in regards to kindness. But instead of philosophizing and self-debating like Cadance, Fluttershy answers by telling Twilight a story from flight school.

The storytelling method is certainly a better approach for the general reader, or so I believe. However, the author refuses to move out of the style of the previous story: “dialog dialog dialog dialog dialog narrative dialog dialog dialog dialog dialog narrative”, and so on. There’s an overwhelming amount of talking, no sense of pacing whatsoever, and the physical and emotional reactions are once again rare and sorely lacking. As much as I wanted to feel for Fluttershy throughout the story, I found that hard to do given the way the story is delivered.

Throw into that a side note about Derpy that is exactly that: a side note. It doesn’t pertain to the primary topic and is forgotten the instant it comes up, which makes it entirely pointless to the story. We also have Rainbow Dash popping in at seemingly random moments without introduction or transitioning, much like Shining Armor did in the original story.

To make matters worse, the author decides to add a “bonus scene.” Said bonus scene is not even remotely related to the main story, is downright stupid in its humor (which we all know is bad in my book), and doesn’t even feature the characters related to the events. I have no idea why DeathFox4 would include this extra scene. It only makes me like this story less, and I already wasn’t all that invested. If you’re going to write an entirely different story related to an entirely different topic, publish a new story.

While I appreciate the author’s attempt to expand upon character relationships and backgrounds – especially the Fluttershy/Rainbow Dash element – I’m afraid this particular writing style just isn’t working. Throwing in the pointless extra scenes and topics only made things worse. While the story is better than its predecessor, it still fails to impress. If DeathFox4 had taken the time to slow down, describe things properly and not focus 95% on dialog, this could have been worth it.

Bookshelf: Needs Work


1,694 Words
By PresentPerfect
Recommended by Pascoite

”Tartarus is other ponies.”

In this quiet little story, we join Ms. Harshwhinny as she comes home from months of dealing with the Equestria Games. Home to simple food, calisthenics and, above all else, her wife, Prim Hemline.

There’s not much to this story, and in that way it meets its purpose. The entire idea here is that Ms. Harshwhinny longs for normalcy, and that just doesn’t exist outside her front door. This is a story about being where you belong, and the happiness that comes with it. It isn’t loud, it isn’t ‘fun,’ it isn’t energetic, and that is the point. The most unusual thing in the story would be the interpretation of the two characters, but that is only unusual in the fact that it lacks any unusualness. I enjoyed the interpretation, which I feel fits the two of them well.

I imagine there are people out there who won’t be all that interested simply because nothing ‘happens.’ And yet, while the story isn’t anything ‘amazing,’ it manages to achieve its own sense of special. Looking at every other fimfic out there, it’s easy to see this one as an island of peace in a sea of chaos.

If that sounds appealing to you, then by all means, give it a go. Think of it as a chance to let your brain unwind from whatever nonsense you just read.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

What’s that? You don’t want a serious story? You want something that lets you sit back, relax and not think about the implications?

Yeah, I can accommodate that.

The last 8686 story I read was Eclipse. It had an absolutely shitty opening premise, but once (or rather, if) you could get past it then it wasn’t all that bad. In this story, however, we aren’t worried about any world-ending events. Instead, we get to watch as Rainbow’s Rebels launch a snow-filled assault on Applejack’s Army, which starts off with just four ponies but steadily becomes a full-blown war featuring the entire town.

Honestly? I have nothing to complain about. It’s nice to occasionally discover a story that is relaxed, easy to follow and is written just for the fun of it. It’s 11,000 words of ponies acting over-the-top silly (but not that stupid silly I despise), and why would you want more? As long as you go into this story expecting it to be exactly what is advertised, you should have fun. Unless there’s some minor element that you happen to be nitpicky over, I suppose. I’d love to see something like this turned into a fan video. Hasbro couldn’t do it simply because they’d feel obligated to add some kind of moral issue in the mix (Viva Las Pegasus notwithstanding).

About the only thing that bugged me was the inclusion of Luna and Celestia, which almost felt like fan pandering. But hey, it’s a silly story full of nonsense written for laughs, so why should I take it seriously? Then again, if we're going to throw everypony in there... where's Discord?

I had fun with this one. Unless you’re just a sourpuss, I don’t know why you wouldn’t do the same.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

This brings back memories. I first read Wings and Steel back when I was just beginning work on my own Reddux the Tyrant, which turned out to be some curious timing. This was one of the very first ‘big’ stories I ever read, and it left a fittingly big impression on me. I was excited to know I’d be getting a second chance.

Taking place 300 years after the banishment of Nightmare Moon, this story finds Celestia ruling over an Equestria divided by petty politics. The different duchies of the land are so frayed that even when a massive griffon army invades from the south, the dukes and duchesses fail to unite against the oncoming horde. Unwilling to to take a proper leadership role and force Equestria to unite against the coming tide, Celestia instead tasks young civilian Rye Strudel on a quest to the frozen north, homes of the Sleipnordic ponies, to convince them to come to Equestria’s aid.

There are a great many things to talk about with this story, and alas, I couldn’t possibly cover everything. Let’s start with my intense frustration at Celestia, who proves more incompetent with every decision she makes. The loss of Luna has made her weak in every respect save magical might, and even that fails her when the chips are down. In a way, this works well for the story, as her gradual coming to terms with her mistakes acts as a side story while also enabling the main plotline. Even so, when you watch her prized student of the time trying her absolute hardest to defend Equestria and Celestia refuses to support her due to her own guilt-driven self-righteousness, it’s hard not to get a little annoyed. Especially when Celestia accuses Duke Blueblood of being responsible for the coming deaths, as if she holds no blame whatsoever.

But Celestia is only a small part of this story. Far more interesting and worth our time is Rye, a pegacorn (has wings and a horn, but can use neither) with plenty of room for character growth, and his companions, the royal guard Inger and Rye’s childhood friend/surrogate sibling, Cranberry. The journey these three take to the cold lands of Sleipnord, right to the Roof of the World, is an engrossing one filled with political intrigue, impressive worldbuilding, ghostly horrors, and regular near-death experiences for all involved.

But that’s nothing compared to the epic struggles of Clement Blueblood – the Duke’s son – and Windstreak Firemane – Rye’s mother. While our supposed main characters are off gallivanting around the frozen north, these two are leading the defense against General Shrikefeather, his legion of griffons, and their two dragon allies. This half of the story is the most breathtaking, intense, and all-around interesting part. Frankly, I feel they were more central to the plot than Rye and his friends ever were.

So we have three different stories going on at once. The great thing about this is that DSNesmith combines the three spectacularly; the story never lags because whenever a lull occurs in one, another comes around to pick up the slack. The pacing for this story is nothing short of perfect.

The character growth comes off as another big deal. All the characters change in a variety of ways, from Inger’s gradual shift out of stoicness to Windstreak’s troubled acceptance of her role as general. Balance this with some truly memorable villains; Shrikefeather is certainly one that stands out above the crowd as a griffon I love to hate.

There’s so much more I can praise, but I can’t do that forever, so let’s move on to a few things I didn’t care for. The most glaring, at least to me, is the big ‘secret weapon’ of the griffons. From almost the beginning of the story, we hear rumors that Shrikefeather has a superweapon that will render the defenses of Canterlot worthless, and it isn’t the dragons. Then, this superweapon is finally revealed… and it’s a crock. People can try to justify to me as many ways as they want, but all I see is a really, really stupid concept that has no strategic or tactical value under the circumstances. The first time I read the story, the big reveal actually pissed me off for its absurdity.

Everything else is minor to me. For example, the time jump. When it is all said and done, we learn that the war went on for a total of four months. Wait, it did? It seems to me like somewhere in the story we received a massive leap of time that is unaccounted for. By the time the story is nearing completion, I was under the impression that the war had been going on for just over a month. So where did all that extra time comes from? Maybe I just missed something. It’s happened before.

While most of the logic behind the story’s events make sense, there are some that struck me as awkward. Take for example Shrikefeather’s ‘clever’ plan to take a bridge early in the story. It involves… retreating and then coming right back? In the open daylight, no less! I can’t imagine how this is a good idea, since it is readily shown in the story itself to have given the griffons no advantage whatsoever. It does serve to introduce a bit of background to the world, but if that’s all it was for then I have to call shenanigans.

I’m sure there were other things, but honestly? I’m too high on the awesome bits to care. There is so much good in this story, with concepts influence by a wide variety of sources (and I suspect Tolkien was one such source). This is a historical tale of Equestria that is unmatched, at least to my knowledge. Epic conflicts, stellar character growth, pitch-perfect pacing, high stakes, vibrant visuals, impressive worldbuilding, this story has it all. You owe it to yourself to read this one.

My only disappointment now is seeing that the sequel was never completed.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These yet?

More than anything in the world, Twilight Sparkle wants to be a good filly. But every night, when her parents are away and she’s under the care of her BBBFF and the world’s best foalsitter, the ghosts show up, groaning in the vents and ready to eat little fillies. Her parents don’t believe her. They think she’s lying, which makes her a bad filly.

What’s a little pony to do?

After reading that introduction, do you really need me to say anything? Eh, I suppose this wouldn’t be a proper review otherwise.

So we have filly Twilight, who is written to be about as adorable as can be with her determined desire to be a good filly, not have to go outside *shudder*, and above all else, not have to face the pain that is her father’s raised eyebrow. We’ve got an interesting interpretation of, uh, the “ghosts” in the vents. And the entire story is wrapped up in enough time to ensure the topic doesn’t get stale, complete with an open ending that lets your imagination do the work for you.

What? Oh, yes, yes, it’s well written as well.

I have no reason whatsoever to dislike this story. Read it for a smile.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Liked these reviews? Check out some others:

Paul's Thursday Reviews XLIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XLIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XLV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XLVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews XLVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XLVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XLIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews L
Paul's Thursday Reviews LI
Paul's Thursday Reviews LII

Want me to review your story? Send me a request! Check my profile page for rules.

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Comments ( 10 )
Author Interviewer


I just became aware of a new Age of Wings and Steel audiobook. I fully expect it to never be finished because damn, that thing's a monster, but I'm keeping an eye on it nevertheless. :B

Oh man, for a moment I got excited that you'd finished your re-reads list, but it looks like they just weren't labeled at the top of the post. Still, you're making pretty good progress on those!

In my second reading of this story, I realize that it is a lot more clever than I originally thought. While it’s low scope and simple premise keep it from being elevated to my highest bookshelf, the underlying elements are strong enough to definitely warrant a solid rating.

Hmm. So by your standards, a perfectly executed low-stakes slice of life would merit a Pretty Good?
I'm not saying that's unfair, they're your standards after all. I'm just curious.

Y'know, I was once promised an audiobook for Audience of One. Such a shame that never came to be.

I certainly am gaining on them. I've been trying to beat them down fast. As for the top, I've decided to stop with those labels; they only seem to add clutter and make that section look busier than it needs to be.

Yes, because if you're really going to wow me, you've gotta go all in. As much as I appreciate skill in writing, I appreciate it even more if you're applying those skills to a purpose larger than just a few giggles. There are exceptions, but they are few.

Have you ever read End of Ponies by shortskirtsandexplosions? I'd give it a try if you havent. Im only 7 chapters away from the ending of it.

That is the most positive review of Barn Door that I've ever seen. Nobody can be more surprised than I to see it coming from you. :pinkiegasp::ajsmug:

As for Wings and Steel, it remains my all time favourite fic to this day. Probably always will.

Edit: Snowfight was also brilliant :raritystarry:

Author Interviewer

As I was just telling 24th Pegasus, you think writers are bad at finishing fics, you've never seen fic readers...

I have read a great many stories by SS&E, but I don't think that's one of them. Once they're cleared from my RiL, I may add that one to my list. Unless that was a request?

Actually, I as surprised myself. Goes to show how much my perspective has changed over the years, I suppose.

4275527 Both, It's good, if you can get through over 40 chapters. I do have a request for another too, It's called Mare in the Mirror by Adcoon, you might like it.. That one leaves you with more questions then answers though.

*actually takes a look at SS&E story*

Oh, come on! Another 500k behemoth? And this right after scheduling The Night is Passing WHILE trying to get through Project Horizons, and after a request that I try to burn through Appledashery? I swear to Luna, you are trying to kill me. Even worse, The End of Ponies isn't even finished.

About the only thing in its favor at the moment is that it was last updated in 2013, so it's likely never getting picked up again. But even then, I've got way too many huge stories already on my plate to go picking up another. Maybe in a few months.

On the other hand, Mare in the Mirror is fine. But rather than reading it, I'll do the proper thing and read Fillystata so that, when I get to Mare in the Mirror, I actually understand what's going on.

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