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PaulAsaran


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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Dec
19th
2019

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVII · 9:49pm Dec 19th, 2019

We-hell, would you look at that? I checked my numbers today and saw that, as of this blog, I’ve written over 1,500 reviews. That’s a nice factoid to end the year on, considering we’ve got one more to go before 2019 leaves us for good. Out of curiosity, I went looking through all my bookshelves and determined that I’ve read over 45 million words… at least since I started assigning them to bookshelves, and not including those that landed in the None category. It’s amazing how it all piles up.

In other news, I’m really looking forward to this weekend. No, not because of Christmas (although that’s awesome too). As those of you paying attention will recall, in early November/ late October my review schedule was such that I had nothing to read but big stories, all at least 70k words long. The actual scheduling for that started in late September. So for months I’ve had no chance to remove anything from my RiL to my Reading Schedule. And all that time, said RiL kept growing a little bit bigger, to the tune of two to three stories a week. Watching it grow like that has been frustrating. But as of this weekend, I’ll finally be in a position to start adding to the Reading Schedule again. I know it sounds technical and pointless and silly to a lot of you, but for me it’s a huge relief. I want to see that RiL go down.

At this point, I can’t say with any certainty if my latest story will be out by this weekend. I’m still waiting on the last pre-reader to get through it, and even if they did finish it ASAP I don’t know if I personally have enough time to make the changes I’ve discussed with the others. The more I look at it the more I think it’ll be delayed to the New Years weekend or even later. I hope I can get it out before the end of the year though, just to add one more story for 2019.

Alright, enough of that. Reviews.

Stories for This Week:

Mortality by TwistedCupcake
The Most Beautiful Song by OnionPie
Filial by Dafaddah
Home by RBDash47
Starlight Glimmer: New Queen of The Changelings by Dr Atlas
Lament of a Spoon by Zytharros
This is a Clopfic by Tumbleweed
The Hypocrisy Of Tolerance by Estee
The Third Wheel by GaPJaxie
Twelve Years a Cat by UV Unicorn Laser

Total Word Count: 64,465

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 3
Pretty Good: 3
Worth It: 3
Needs Work: 0
None: 1


Pinkie is wondering something: if an alicorn can’t die by normal means, is there some way an alicorn could die? Twilight has a simple, if tragic, answer: magical suicide.

I hit this one up out of curiosity for why it was so heavily downvoted, plus an interesting topic in general. The story is pretty much what that summary above states. There’s nothing particularly odd about the story itself; Pinkie asks a question, Twilight reluctantly answers, they move on to other things. Simple.

Too simple. TwistedCupcake makes no attempt to explore the meaning and implications of the concept the story offers. It really is as basic as a question given an answer. Which just isn’t all that interesting, especially considering there are lots of questions and counterarguments to be made on the topic of alicorn immortality alone.

But the real problem is the writing, which takes Tell to a whole new level of absurd. Just take a look at the example below and try not to let your eyes bleed too profusely:

Twilight Sparkle was inside her library sorting through her books as she wanted to get her work done so that she wouldn't have any work to do tomorrow. She concentrated as she got the whole bookcase done. Once when she got done. There was a knock on her door.

She looked over at her door and walked over to it. She then stopped and then opened it up and she was greeted by Pinkie Pie. She smiled. She wondered why Pinkie wanted her. She spoke to her.

"What's the matter?" Twilight asked her. Pinkie tilted her head to one side as she wondered why Twilight said that.

The whole story runs like this. It is both emotionless and a chore to read. Thank goodness it’s only ~1,000 words long.

If this is typical of TwistedCupcake’s writing, I can see why they get so little attention and an endless stream of downvotes. Oh, well, it was worth a look, right?

Bookshelf: None

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


They came from across the southern desert, a nomadic barbarian horde. When they reached Equestria, they slaughtered thousands and enslaved thousands more. They even went so far as to murder Princess Cadance and her newborn daughter in their sleep. Now Princess Twilight finds herself alone in the desert, on a mission from Celestia to make peace with these monsters at any cost. The desert, for all its challenges, isn’t the hardest part. No, the hardest part is ignoring the hatred brewing in her heart.

OnionPie is a connoisseur of grimdark, and this story is no exception to that rule. He asked me to pre-read the story back when it was in its rough draft stages. The final piece is decidedly different from the one I read for a variety of reasons.

Ultimately, this story involves a child raised in a land of peace, prosperity, and ignorance encountering true evil for the first time. What it is about, however, is how she reacts to that evil. And in that reaction, we see the soul of one of Equestria’s princesses die. The story is atmospheric, yet also brutal. Twilight’s pain is intimately realized, and while one voice in my head feels she is entirely justified in her actions, the other staggers in horror with understanding of exactly what she’s done.

The Happy Ending Crusaders may reject this story offhand as being too dark to handle. Make no mistake, it is very dark, and I don’t blame them at all. But those of us with a penchant for pain in our stories may find that masochistic urge sated here. This is another solid piece of grimdark by OnionPie, an author who regretfully no longer writes for the fandom.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
What is LeftWHYRTY?
Tears of an Empty SkyPretty Good


Filial

7,314 Words
By Dafaddah

Twilight and Spike are enjoying a day at the beach with their friends when, out of nowhere, they get transformed into sea-ponies and teleported beneath the ocean. Turns out the sea-ponies are being threatened by an Orca Major. By sheer luck, they once overheard Trixie telling of how she and Twilight defeated an Ursa Major, so the Princess of Aquestria has summoned them to solve the problem.

This was… curious. Written waaaay back in 2012, it claims its primary focus is the relationship between Spike and Twilight. Except most of the story doesn’t address that topic, except at the very beginning and very end. The rest? It’s Trixie being Trixie and the three of them trying to drive off a really, really big whale. No TwiSpike friendshipping to be found. Which makes the claimed premise pretty weak.

Even so, the story does decently with what it offers. It runs not unlike an episode, complete with a Friendship Report at the end. This comes with the caveat of it going by somewhat swiftly, with no time taken to explore the potential worldbuilding inherent with the setting and bypassing a lot of the material readers expect to see such as exploring Trixie’s history.

All in all, this is a decent story, but it doesn’t stand out above others that have tackled similar subjects. The most unique aspect is its setting, and it doesn’t make full use of it. If you’re interested in a little show-like adventure then this may do it for you, but it’ll need more to get above a middle grade.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Home

1,844 Words
By RBDash47

Hearth’s Warming Eve. Applejack is home alone, the rest of her family indisposed for one reason or another. She spends the time making her favorite pie. No, it’s not an apple pie.

Before anything else, I should point out how gleeful I was upon hearing that Applejack, too, thinks adding ice cream to pie is a sin.

Ahem.

This is a powerful story, and if it is a sign of what RBDash47 does regularly then I will enjoy reading more by this author. It’s a story about family, traditions, and Applejack’s own personal connection to her dearly departed mother. Stories relating Applejack and her parents are plentiful, but I can say in safety that I have never read one this touching.

This was a wonderful tale. At times heartwarming, at times saddening, overall bittersweet, it achieves so much in such a small amount of time. I loved every minute of it.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Starlight Glimmer is kidnapped in and taken to a cave in the middle of nowhere. Her captors? Changelings. Their goal? To make her their new queen. Starlight might have something to say about this…

This didn’t go quite how I expected, but it was still silly, which is all I needed. Written before the return of Chrysalis in Season 6, the story runs on the idea that the changelings have no idea that Starlight is reformed. It also comes with the idea of having the changelings study Twilight & Co. for ages. What strikes me as really odd is that Starlight, who herself studied Twilight & Co. quite a bit on her own, somehow doesn’t know what the changelings are or even that there was a Canterlot Invasion. I mean, I get she was isolated in Our Town for a while, but you’d think in her return and study of her new-friends-before-they-were-friends she’d have at least heard about it.

Regardless, this is a fun little story about cultural differences and minions without a leader who are desperate for guidance (hmm, why does that sound familiar?). If that sounds amusing to you, have at it. I’ll be honest, I halfway expected Starlight to be seriously tempted by this. I’d have been happy with the results either way, I think.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
"I want to be a mother...NOW!"Worth It
"I want to be an uncle...THAT'S AN ORDER, PRIVATE!"Worth It
"I want to be an aunt...Pretty please."Needs Work


One night, Silver Spoon has an epiphany: why the heck does she keep being mean to the Cutie Mark Crusaders? For that matter, why in Equestria does she remain friends with Diamond Tiara? She is unable to find a proper answer. So, when Diamond goes too far the next day, she decides it’s time to change her behavior, and to Tartarus with what Diamond thinks about it.

This story is written in a rather quirky fashion. When there is narrative, it is only to talk about what Silver Spoon is doing while preparing or thinking about writing in her diary. At all other times, it is what she writes in her diary. It’s almost as though the diary itself were the narrator. It’s a curious method, but effective due to how unusual it is.

The story follows Silver as she tries, over the course of a couple months, to befriend the Cutie Mark Crusaders. She learns a lot in the process about friendship and honesty and standing up for oneself. I find it interesting that the story depicts Silver as being a Rarity fanfilly, to the point of going to the mare for advice on her problems (which Rarity, being generous, is happy to provide). I loved Zytharros’s depiction of Silver – which generally aligns with my own save for some specifics – as a well-meaning and highly intelligent young mare with hints of elitism.

As much as I enjoyed this story about Best Filly (tied with Scoots), I have some issues. The primary one comes in the last chapter, which feels as though it is sending mixed messages. Something horrible happened, and I mean horrible. Yet it doesn’t feel horrible. I get that this is leading to potentially good things despite said horrible event, but why would Silver Spoon write about all these terrible things in her diary now, long after it’s happened and the effect has worn off? It clearly has.

In fact, the timing of the diary entries is the strangest thing. Does she only write in it once every two or three weeks? Why not when big events happen? If she is writing in it every day or two, why is she repeating things that she almost certainly already wrote once? And other issues of that sort.

Again, I really enjoyed this story. That might be my bias towards Silver Spoon leaking out. Yet that bias can’t hide the underlying problems with the story. I’ll rate it well, but I’d say it only just edges its way above the middle ground.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


TumbleweedDiscord writes a fic that captures the basic essence of every clopfic ever written. TumbleweedFluttershy then explains why it’s crap.

With the very first sentence, you know you’re reading something special. The story is set in two parts: first, Discord writing a basic clopfic with all the ridiculousness that implies, and then Fluttershy pointing out that, yeah, sex doesn’t work like that. The first part is ridiculous, and the second part is making a point in a semi-serious manner.

I am entertained. You probably will be too, provided you don’t mind poking fun at clop.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


The Hypocrisy Of Tolerance

9,276 Words
Estee failed to provide cover art.
Sequel to Five Hundred Little Murders

Fluttershy is Kindness. At least, that’s how it seems. And a lot of ponies take advantage of that. Ponies like Caramel. But maybe it’s possible that being Kindness isn’t all that Fluttershy needs to be. Maybe, with a little help from her friends, she can be… a pony.

Five Hundred Little Murders is easily one of the best short stories on the site, and I say that with no qualifications. So when I saw Estee wrote a sequel, how could I not read it? The story, written back when Fluttershy was still canonically too kind for her own good, reveals the constant turmoil of Fluttershy’s existence. Ponies recognize her as Kindness, and since that must be her only quality, they can abuse it to their leisure. Thus do bills for her services go unpaid. Thus does she struggle to pay her own bills. Thus does she begin to fear the nature of her cutie mark and her link to the Element of Kindness. Because she must me kind. Mustn't she?

Luckily, Fluttershy has two ponies she can rely on, one being the ever-awesome and imminently helpful Rarity. The other comes in the unexpected form of what may be Fluttershy’s only enemy. If you’ve read Five Hundred Little Murders, you know who that is already. And take it from me, you need to read that story, not just because it’s beyond good, but because there are certain things in this story you likely won’t get unless you do. So go read it, because it needs to be done one way or another. Fluttershy demands it!

Ahem…

This is an interesting look into the life of Fluttershy. While it doesn’t offer the same emotional impact as its predecessor, it is by no means lacking. Our favorite yellow pegasus learns a valuable lesson about not being a pushover without once breaking character, and while she never quite achieves the goal on her own she at least shows signs of a willingness to learn and improve. And in the meantime we have unanswered questions (in a good way), wonderful character interactions, some solid theories behind Fluttershy’s earliest unusual actions, and even some great explanations for the behavior of everyone’s least favorite rabbit.

Yet another strong showing from Estee. I look forward to the next one.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Five Hundred Little MurdersWHYRTY?
Pony Up A TreePretty Good


Light Step. Sixteen. Gifted artist and mage. Intelligent. Sharp-tongued. Also, little sister of Shining Armor and Twilight Sparkle. Both of whom she hates.

In another typically personable story by GaPJaxie, we watch as Light Step continues to be the bitch of the Sparkle household. Much of the story is set in her school where she’s studying art and will soon have a wing named after her, a dorm where Twilight’s statue is outside her window, and the poor side of Canterlot where she builds a reputation as a graffiti artist that could challenge TheBrianJ’s Flanksy in being insulting to the royals of Equestria. A shame that we never get to hear Celestia’s and Luna’s opinions on the street art, that could have been fun.

We also get to watch as Light Step develops as a character, from her internal struggle to be a better pony to her romance with a reformed changeling, right up to her developing relationship with her hated big sister. In many ways, this is about a child going through her terrible teens and taking it out on her family (as all terrible teens do). But Light Step’s issues are deeper than a kid with raging hormones, and her relationship with Shining, Twilight, and even Cadance is far more complicated than a teenager acting out because that’s what teenagers do.

That’s the thing I love about this story, and about GaPJaxie’s writing in general: the story is always personal, about an individual and their development, and never resorts to obvious solutions. I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion and the way it finished off a solid character arc for our bitter, jealous protagonist. This story didn’t need a sequel, for it does everything it needs to, but you can bet I’ll be reading the one GaPJaxie made anyway. Here’s hoping the rest of the stories in this series are half as good as this.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Siren SongWHYRTY?
Would It Matter If I Was?WHYRTY?
I Forgot I Was TherePretty Good
InternPretty Good
Love Letters for a Girl I HatePretty Good


With the Mane Six out on a Friendship Mission (or something), Starlight and Spike are alone at the castle trying to find something to do. Then Twilight’s mom sends through Spike a letter asking for help and Starlight suddenly isn’t bored anymore. So, now she has twenty-four hours to figure out how to make a pet store rake in the bits. Luckily, she knows a thing or two about turning things around… even if said thing or two isn’t exactly ethical.

Yeeah, we all know what the purchasers are really doing with those cats. My favorite part is how good Starlight is a feigning complete ignorance to the fact. There’s also regular references to Spike being a pet, which may offend his fanbase and delight his detractors.

I am entertained. Highly. Funny thing is, I’m not sure I’d put it past Starlight to do this, at least in her early days as Twilight’s student (and maybe even now). At any rate, if you’re looking for a little sexual humor, this may do it for you.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Stories for Next Week:

It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door by Jetfire2012
In The Belly Of The Lights by Miller Minus
The Fourth Wall by TheTalentlessPony
Let Her In by TooShyShy
Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Eighty-two by Educated Guess
So Sunset Shimmer Doesn't Like Screwing Horses Now by a sick depraved bastard
Marble Madness by Twinkletail
Historical Fiction by OleGrayMane
The Princess and the Pupil by Alexstrazsa
The Princesses Friend pt.1 by Crystal Hoof


Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVI
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXC
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCII

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Comments ( 27 )

Estee and GapJaxie? A nice pairing here. Both darned good stories, too.

So many good recommendations to add to the reading list. :twilightsmile:

I remember reading The Third Wheel and feeling lukewarm-ish but fairly positive, then going back to read the first chapter again and being pretty blown away by how much characterization was packed into a single scene there. Been meaning to re-read it in full for a bit now :twilightsheepish: Not at all surprised it got such a good review!

It’s good to see OnionPie’s works continue to pop up every so often. Truly deep and painful stuff, but also beautiful.

I thought "The Most Beautiful Song" was well-crafted, in the sense that the narration is lyrical and flowing. But as a story, I felt like I didn't have near the context I needed to understand what was happening or justify how the world got to be this way in the first place.

I don't know what to make of that ending. For one, she remarks about not using her wings, which only raises the question I had from the beginning: why isn't she flying over this desert? Her own attitude is also strangely never backed up by the other princesses. I don't get a sense of how badly the war is going for Equestria, so I can't gauge whether they're pressing for peace out of desperation or a simple desire to end hostilities. It's not like they're pacifist, as they apparently sent their army to fight, yet Twilight's single-mindedness in not becoming directly involved is never traced anywhere beyond her. So Celestia and Luna are willing to send an army but not join the fight either? Is that where Twilight gets it from? Just seems like there's a pretty big piece of the puzzle missing. And after Twilight does decide to attack, she simultaneously realizes she's done something awful, yet doesn't acknowledge it. She heads off to some reward for her efforts, and we're just kind of left to figure out what message there is, since Twilight never expressed one.

Really, it feels like a sequel to something I haven't read, like there's supposed to be additional information I bring in from elsewhere. Vagueness can be a really tough thing to pull off, and I don't think it's serving this story, at least in its current quantity. Like if there's an open ending, but it's clear what effect all the possible outcomes would have, that can work, but when I'm foggy on even the character's motivations and mindset, then it's baseless speculation to decide what those effects are.

Twilight had spent the entire fic with a staunchly pacifist mindset, but once she snaps, her attitude gets very vague. She kept saying she could break free whenever she wanted, yet we're also given the sense she's at their mercy. She simultaneously shows regret and pleasure at her revenge, but once it's all over, she seems to be rewarding herself with a trip to a peaceful place, and I don't know whether she's now happy with her actions, or she sees it as a self-imposed exile, or what.

There's a lot we have to buy into to even accept the premise, but then all the emotional impact is based on a nebulous understanding of how and why it all got this way, so it's just Twilight propped up in this startling situation only to knock her down into an even more startling situation, but without that understanding behind it, it amounts to shock value and not much else.

"Home" was similar for me. It was clearly done by a skilled author, but I never quite got what point it was making. If taken as a purely slice of life thing, that's probably not a big issue, but I'm one who prefers a story to have a point, so I don't usually enjoy the scene-not-story SoL stuff. That's often the case with these stories where an author is trying to capture a sentiment from a real-life experience.

There's no goal she's working toward with obstacles in her way. Even so, a story can do character growth as the arc, where someone is seen to be a different person because of the experience, but I don't really see that here, either. There isn't a moment of discovery or permanent change for her, just kind of going with the flow.

For instance, I don't know why she wants to keep this a secret, since she's apparently baked these pies for her family before, but she doesn't struggle with her reasons for doing so or whether to hand this tradition off to Apple Bloom.

God, now my own writing achievements feel negligible.

I can’t believe you reviewed an Evictus story yo

5172043
It's an amazing piece. The later entries in the series, however, wound up being a bit... controversial.

Thanks for the review of Filial! Your analysis is spot on - I wrote this as an attempt to be as close as possible to the experience of viewing a show episode, which meant very limited access to the characters internal lives, other than what can be interpreted visually. It’s definitely an “early” work, but I’m somewhat sentimental about it because of the circumstances that led to my writing it, so I hesitate to do a revision more in keeping with my recent writing style.

RBDash47
Site Blogger

if it is a sign of what RBDash47 does regularly

Nobody tell him.

Thanks for reading; I'm glad you enjoyed it!

If this is typical of TwistedCupcake’s writing, I can see why they get so little attention and an endless stream of downvotes. Oh, well, it was worth a look, right?

I feel slightly compelled, apparently, to point this out (in case you haven't already noticed): Users, sorted by story count.
On top of that, it seems 49% of TwistedCupcake's stories are rated M at the moment.

I, personally, find TwistedCupcake to be a mildly interesting phenomenon that is best not thought about too often.

Oooh, Third Wheel.... I will come back to this when less drunk and read the words and stuff!

5172080 The later instalments were exactly what they needed to be!

It's a Dangerous Business... next time, eh? I'll be fascinated to see how Jetfire's oldie goes down all these years on. I can just about remember the days when it was mentioned all over the place. (That was before it was posted on here.)

5172144
It utterly blows my mind, given my new-stories-only-during-solar-eclipses-on-blue-moons-on-the-second-Thursday-of-a-week publishing schedule, that I am (tied for) the 243rd most prolific author on this site.

5172144 Page 3! There's hope for my addiction yet.

5172047
I've been through half their works so far, and I've yet to be disappointed.

5172071
Well, consider that I was pointing out my reading achievements, which are far easier to obtain than writing achievements.

I figure I'll mention those in my next blog.

5172072
...an Evictus story? I can't tell if that's supposed to be an author's name I've not heard of, an author's former name I also haven't heard of, or some story classification. Which I haven't heard of.

I feel so smart and in the know!

5172114
I understand. I have a "show-like" story I tried a while back that I never considered very good, yet am very fond of. I never recommend rewrites, anyway.

5172144
Huh. I wonder what drives them to be so productive?

On a semi-related not, I'm mildly surprised to see that I only had to go to page 6 of that list to find myself.

On another semi-related note, there are a lot of names on there I don't recognize and which have huge follower counts. Mayhap I should grab some of their stories just to see. If I can bring myself to damage my RiL even further that way.

5172328
Evictus is a name Twisted Cupcake used to have. He’s a troll who has made hundreds of troll fics.

Ice cream belongs next to the pie in a separate dish, to be eaten after the pie is eaten, and it should not even be touched before then.

Although the ice cream can be substituted for two more pieces of pie.

5172407
Oooooh, okay.

Honestly, had no idea the guy existed. I can't even remember how I found that story, although I do recall it was its high downvote count that made me curious.

5172453
For efficiency and purity, take ice cream out of the equation entirely and substitute one slice of pie for a single slice of 3x size.

Or, if you want to get adventurous, slices of three different pies. A substitution of turnovers (or other crusted sweet foodstuffs) and crisps will also suffice.

5172465
Which is understandable! Normally the comments, their shitposting aside, will carry the latest explanation about his saga. He's had other names and changes them a lot; TwistedCupcake being the newest. Evictus is his most well known, and name changes haven't exactly stopped him from getting banned or folks remembering when he had a Nazi phase.

Yeah, an actual my-avatar-was-a-swatstika-and-I-defended-Nazism-in-comments phase. It was weird.

[Adult story embed hidden]

This is more of his standard fare, if you wanted to review it.

5172473
Thanks to my current set of rules for how I add stories to my RiL, I likely won't get to another of his stories for a very long time, if at all. But it's certainly a curious thing, this fellow.

5172478
Count yourself lucky you've only read one of his stories, then, and certainly not one of the bad/weird ones.

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