And now for a special episode of FiMFiction Reviews: Crossover Edition!
A Study in Rainbows (finished)
Synopsis: Returning from Zebrica, Rainbow Dash finds her lot cast in with the brilliant and eccentric detective, Rarity, as they unravel a crime most foul. Starring Rainbow Dash as Watson, Rarity as Holmes and Fluttershy as Lestrade.
Review: Even amongst crossover stories, it amazes me how much variety there is. Some, like the previously-reviewed Dresden Fillies series, merely transplant one or more characters from one universe to the next while maintaining their trademark writing styles. Others (such as the Fallout: Equestria series) apply the concept of ponies to an established framework, exclusively crafting entirely-new characters to fit the altered setting.
A Study in Rainbows takes a heretofore-undiscovered (by me, at least) third option, matching characters from the show with various personalities from the Sherlock Holmes universe, subtly melding them until elements of both clearly shine through. The result is a delight to read, capturing the feel and word-choice of the early Holmes novels while adapting the plot and character motivations to a distinctly pony-like flavor. I felt that the ending in particular was well-done, to the point that when the climactic scene rolled around, I was wearing a wide grin after realizing that it really couldn’t be any other way. All in all, this is a delightful set-piece, thoroughly enjoyable despite its short length (it clocks in at just under 19k works).
Synopsis: Characters from MLP interact with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld universe. Specifically, his anthropomorphic Death (in Binky Pie) and Rincewind (in The Wizzard and the Pony) settings.
Review: There are some authors whose writing styles are so transcendent that I’ve read everything they’ve ever written, and will read anything they ever write, just to get another hit. Terry Pratchett is one of those writers — not only is he incredibly prolific (coming up on 35 books in the Discworld series alone), but all of his books have an amazing penchant for orthogonal, witty, giggle-inducing description. Some examples from (from the original Discworld books):
“They called themselves wizards, and they had less magic in their whole fat bodies than I have in my little finger! Banished! Me! For showing that I was human! And what would humans be without love?’
RARE, said Death. NEVERTHELESS.
‘What shall we do?’ said Twoflower.
‘Panic?’ said Rincewind hopefully. He always held that panic was the best means of survival; back in the olden days, his theory went, people faced with hungry sabre-toothed tigers could be divided very simply into those who panicked and those who stood there saying ‘What a magnificent brute!’ and ‘Here, pussy.’
Now, I’ll be clear: Neither of these stories are consistently Pratchett-quality. They do, however, both have frequent flashes of genius that strongly evoke their respective Discworld sub-genres, and for that I love them to pieces. In particular, the concept of the First Cathedral of the Pink Pony of Death (from Binky Pie) cracks me up, and The Wizzard and the Pony’s skillful use of Pratchett’s trademark footnotes was quite entertaining. Both stories are incomplete, and haven’t updated for a while; one can only hope that more chapters are being written, as I for one am eagerly awaiting them.
Whip and Wing (finished)
Synopsis: The Medallion of Light and the Medallion of Shadow are some of the most powerful yet obscure artifacts of antiquity. Created by a now-vanished cult of assassins, the two devices together give their bearer the incredible power to walk the worlds with but a single step. Nefarious forces are closing in on both artifacts, and very little stands in their way. Heinrich Himmler’s agents covet the medallions for the greater glory of the Third Reich. Ahuizotl’s simply want their master to get what’s coming to him: the world, and everything in it. With the fate of all good people and ponies in doubt, one thing’s for certain: saving two worlds would be one hell of an adventure. And if adventure has a name, it must be Daring Do… or is that Indiana Jones?
Review: I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve never actually read an Indiana Jones novel. I’ve watched the movies, but that’s the extent of my contact with the franchise. This, however, is almost exactly what I picture a good Indy novel would be like (minus the ponies, of course). All of the traditional elements are there — cartoonishly-dastardly villains, multiple plot upsets, lightly-foreshadowed betrayals, and, of course, a large dose of enthralling fist-, hoof-, wing-, and whip-centered action. The story centers around Indy and Daring swapping universes, dealing with each other’s rogue’s galleries, and tackling the problems that come their way using their own, surprisingly distinct approaches.
One of the things I especially liked about this mashup was that it quite handily walked the line between too much parallelism and not enough. On the one hand (hoof?), Indy and Daring go through many of the same experiences in each other’s worlds, learning pleasingly-complementary lessons. On the other, each half of the story is quite distinct, with no “Daring met a mook, so Indy meets the same mook as a pony”-type nonsense. Each world (and set of characters) is nicely defined, with their own plots/dangers. The action is everything one would expect out of an Indiana Jones movie, with antagonists buying it in various grisly fashions while the main characters do what they can to up their badass quotient.
If you like the narrative feel of Indiana Jones, you’ll love this. I thought it was an enjoyable summer-popcorn-flick diversion, and it kept me engaged all the way to the end.