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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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Nov
3rd
2016

Read It Later Reviews #59 – The Color of Promises, Somepony’s Daughter, If You Came To Conquer, Inexcusable, You Too Will Deteriorate · 5:44pm Nov 3rd, 2016

I’ve been on a roll lately. I feel increasingly reinvigorated as I do more actually productive things that result in actually meaningful results. Going through pony stories again on a regular basis is nice, and I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the season 6 episodes I’ve been missing.

But first, more reviews!

Today’s stories:

The Color of Promises by Deathscar
Somepony’s Daughter by bookplayer
If You Came to Conquer by cleverpun
Inexcusable by cleverpun
You Too Will Deteriorate by cleverpun


The Color of Promises
by Deathscar

Sad, Slice of Life
1,628 words

A few months after the incident at Ponyville, Applejack is determined to meet up with Rara. Especially after hearing that her career hasn't exactly went the direction AJ hoped it would.

Why I added it: I like Rara.

Review
AJ comes to talk to Rara and offer her a place to stay after Rara’s music career goes down the drain.

That’s it.

On the one hand, this isn’t a bad idea for a story. On the other hand, this isn’t actually a story the way it is written right now. It is a slice of life piece, but it doesn’t want to be a slice of life piece; it wants to have more of an impact, but the way it is right now, it just doesn’t really go anywhere. Applejack shows up, Rara says yes, Rara moves to Ponyville. There’s no real emotional rollercoaster here, no question of whether or not Rara moving means giving up on her dreams or seeking another opportunity or whatever. It just sort of happens.

And that really robs it of its impact. If the purpose was to give us the emotional impact of Applejack reaching out and helping Rara, then the story needed to start earlier, show us how sucky Rara’s life is, make us see how low she’s sunk, and then throw the tube to her. If the purpose was to show Rara starting over, it needed to give that decision more significance, show us what Rara was giving up on, either in terms of actual opportunities or in terms of emotional connection to what she was trying to do.

It just doesn’t give us the space to feel for Rara, and without that depth of emotion, there isn’t much here.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


Somepony’s Daughter
by bookplayer

Romance, Slice of Life
2,450 words

While coming home from the Canterlot rodeo with Applejack, Rainbow Dash spots a strangely familiar pony. The weird coincidence seems to mean something more to Applejack, leading to a conversation about family that may bring two friends even closer.

Why I added it: I read it a long time ago.

Review
After the Canterlot rodeo, Rainbow Dash goes to find Applejack… and instead finds an older mare with a Stetson that bears a striking resemblance to her friend.

Turns out she got the wrong pony.

After finding the real Applejack and congradulating her friend on her victory, Rainbow Dash mentions the other pony, only to get a slightly strange reaction out of Applejack, who thinks that the pony might be a relative.

You see, it seems that Applejack was left in a hat at Sweet Apple Acres as a tiny foal…

This story is a brief little piece which contrasts Rainbow Dash’s feelings about Applejack – and questioning how anypony could give up a pony as awesome as Applejack – with Applejack’s acceptance about how her life turned out, and lack of desire to go talk to a mare who could very well be her mother. It does a good job of showing off their feelings about the situation.

This is also, ultimately, a shipfic to some extent, giving Rainbow Dash a bit more of a reason to push Applejack on the issue.

Overall, this works. It is a simple story idea, but it is executed well. If semi-casual shipping bothers you, you might not be super enthusiastic about that angle, but if the idea here seems interesting to you, it is worth checking out.

Recommendation: Worth Reading


If You Came to Conquer
by cleverpun

Alternate Universe, Dark, Drama
5,959 words

Nightmare Moon won. She defeated Celestia, broke the Elements, banished the sun. This all happened a very long time ago. So long ago, that she has had plenty of time to change her mind.

Of course, fixing our mistakes is never so simple, and never without consequences. Even with particularly potent help.

Why I added it: I read it a long time ago.

Review
A thousand years after her battle with her sister, Nightmare Moon waits in the old, shriveled garden for Discord to wake. He is intemperate, inconsistent, and not particularly helpful at the best of times.

But she has a plan. The only plan that could possibly work.

The world is dead and she is alone. Her victory is the worst thing that ever happened to her.

She wants to go back in time and fix things, change how things played out. And she needs Discord’s help to do it.

Her past self’s assistance is purely optional.

I have to admit to having a soft spot for this idea, but I like this story. Discord doing something to get himself toys, Nightmare Moon working to change things so that she does not make the same mistake she made before, and Celestia being left none the wiser while Luna is left to struggle with the weight of it all.

If the idea sounds interesting to you, you’ll likely enjoy this piece.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.


Inexcusable
by cleverpun

Alternate Universe, Drama, Sad
6,350 words

Princess Nightmare Moon had tried to keep it secret. She had suppressed her power, feigned ignorance, played the outdated fool at every opportunity. She should have known that something like this would happen. A threat that would reveal her, whether she played dumb or not.

If she had to reveal herself, then at least she could protect Equestria in the process. She nocked the arrow. The bow felt so flimsy, but she could not risk him absorbing a spell. She laced magic across the arrow and the string and the air, enough to make it fly faster and aim smoother. She sighted him easily; Tirek was a large target. Now he only had to turn around. An arrow to the spine would kill him simply and instantly, no matter how much magic he had absorbed.

Once he was dead, the hard part would come: explaining herself to Celestia.

Why I added it: It is the sequel to If You Came To Conquer.

Review
Nightmare Moon kills Tirek, and is forced to confess exactly who and what she is to her sister, and explain just what it is that drove her to kill – or, should I say, drove her to kill again.

Nightmare Moon is still damaged. What she did, she did for the good of Equestria – but really, for the good of her sister. She’s colder now, more distant, but she does truly love Celestia.

It is too bad Celestia isn’t sure she can say the same anymore.

This story fundamentally is about the fallout of its prequel – Celestia struggling with her feelings towards the new version of her sister, that killed her original sister and replaced her. It focuses very heavily on how Celestia is feeling about the whole thing.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t given a strong sense of closure by this story. The scenes are short and choppy, and breaking it up into chapters makes it feel a bit disconnected from itself. It feels like we’re left waiting for another sequel to conclude the arc of Celestia and Nightmare Moon truly reconciling with one another.

On top of that, I’m not quite sure if I bought Celestia’s freakout. Her freakout feels off for some reason; she ends up accusing Twilight and Cadance of working with Nightmare Moon at one point, which felt very strange and out of character for her. While I can understand her freaking out because everything she knows is wrong, it felt kind of weird for her to behave in the way she did, and that reaction ended up making me feel a bit strange about her for the rest of the piece, as I didn’t really quite feel like I grokked that scene emotionally, which made me struggle to really empathize with her on the whole. She feels oddly cold in this story, which is a bit strange as it is not implied that her usual warmth is a façade.

Recommendation: Worth Reading if you plan on reading the sequel, but as a stand-alone piece, it lacks true closure.


You Too Will Deteriorate
by cleverpun

Alternate Universe, Drama, Slice of Life
9,840 words

She looked just like Princess Celestia, except marred and broken. Her ceremonial barding had rusted slightly, and her coat looked dingy and unkempt. Most noticeable was her hair; black streaks accompanied its usual multicolored luster. They looked like discolorations in an old photograph.

Worst was the scar across her chest. Her armor covered it, but nothing could hide what it meant.

The tarnished Celestia smiled at Luna. "H-hello, monster. I would say I am glad to see you, but that w-w-wouldn’t be quite accurate."

Why I added it: I read the first two stories in the series.

Review
The Celestia killed by Nightmare Moon comes to the living Equestria. She wants one thing – to bring her murderer back to the dead Equestria from which she hails to serve penance and to undo the damage she did.

But Celestia – the living Celestia – does not like the idea one bit. Nightmare Moon has served her penance, and regardless of her own feelings towards her sister, she cannot allow her undead self to drag Nightmare Moon back to that other dimension.

This is a very psychological piece, focused on trying to convince the undead Celestia that Nightmare Moon should remain in the living Equestria, as well as the living Equestria’s Celestia having to figure out just how she should feel about Nightmare Moon. It lends resolution to the previous story, Inexcusable, and gives us a better idea of how Celestia sees and feels about all that has transpired. I felt like Celestia was a bit more relatable here than she was in the previous story, and we see the central question of all three stories – the question of penance, and whether Celestia, Twilight, or Nightmare Moon are right about what it means, or even whether it is a meaningful concept to begin with, as well as the idea of forgiveness.

Like its predecessor, however, this story is choppy; the chapters are all very short and to the point, and while this ensures we aren’t wasting time off-topic, it also gives the story a strange sort of rushed quality to it. We have little time to feel the implications sink in, and the chapter breaks (as opposed to scene breaks) make it feel more broken up than it would if it was presented as a single chapter short story.

Still, I can’t say that it wasn’t interesting. The ideas of penance, forgiveness, and whether or not Celestia could truly love what her sister had become run throughout this trilogy of stories, and ultimately the whole thing comes full circle and we get final emotional payoff in the final peace as Celestia and Nightmare Moon seek to make their peace with each other, while the undead Celestia goes off to make her own choices, but with perhaps a bit more perspective on things.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.


Summary
The Color of Promises by Deathscar
Not Recommended

Somepony’s Daughter by bookplayer
Worth Reading

If You Came to Conquer by cleverpun
Worth Reading

Inexcusable by cleverpun
Worth Reading

You Too Will Deteriorate by cleverpun
Worth Reading

Four worth readings in a single review set? I must be losing my touch. :trollestia:

Or just doing a better job of finding stories I need to read.

I’ve already got some stories from the next Read It Now and Read It Later review sets read. But I think first, I shall go and see if I can’t finish up some of my own prose fiction.

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 157

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 551

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 2042

Comments ( 6 )

Huh, didn't know about You Too Will Deteriorate. Thanx. I had read the prequels as well, my thoughts largely the same as yours.

Thanks for the review :twilightsheepish:

This is one of those reviews that I can't really disagree with: as usual, your commentary is accurate and fair. Since I agree with you, the most I can do is offer some small insight into why the story is the way it is. And that insight can be summed up rather simply in this case: fear of commitment.

I broke the story up into three stories because I was skeptical of my desire to finish it. In retrospect, it would have been better as a single continuous story (perhaps even one continuous chapter, but I'm always worried of aping Terry Pratchett that heavily). Smushing it together after the fact, however, seems like it would create too many logistical issues.

The story had other foibles, certainly. But I think the presentation was much more noticeable than any other aspect of the story, be it the weaknesses (like melodrama or unclear motivations) or the strengths (like the philosophical ramblings or the characters).

If nothing else, perhaps it serves as an object lesson in the importance of story planning and awareness of the big picture :derpytongue2:

As always, thanks for the insightful commentary :raritystarry:

4289608
You're welcome!

In retrospect, it would have been better as a single continuous story (perhaps even one continuous chapter, but I'm always worried of aping Terry Pratchett that heavily).

I have to admit, Terry Pratchett's lack of chapter breaks actually bother me while reading his books.

4289931 It's a technique that has its pros and cons. It can control the pacing more effectively, but one loses the impact and narrative tricks that chapter breaks can create.

It also annoys me slightly, but that's more to do with my lack of self control :trixieshiftright:

4290016

It also annoys me slightly, but that's more to do with my lack of self control :trixieshiftright:

To be fair, not having natural breaking points is a disservice to the end consumer. It is an important consideration to be able to make for natural breaking points so that people can put something down for a while and come back to it for anything that takes more than a couple hours, which is part of why three hour long movies feel so long.

4290028 I suppose. But conveniencing the reader can come at the cost of story construction. I often make stories with multiple shorter chapters because that's how I read: some people like it and some people don't (:raritywink:).

Ultimately, I think that one should just write the story in a way that benefits the story. One should consider the reader's needs, but it's not exactly easy to predict how each person is going to react to it

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