George vs. the Dragon Review

Title:  George vs. the Dragon                                 Author: Galaxy1001D

Source: King Arthur (Legend)                               Character(s): George, Merlin, King Arthur

Rating:  K+                                                          Genre(s): Humor / Romance

Chapter(s): 1                                                        Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: In King Arthur’s Camelot, young Squire George must find a magic ring to stop a dragon from terrorizing England, but finds out the hard way that a dragon has no fury like a woman scorned.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5492003/1/George-vs-the-Dragon

 

Welcome Readers, we’re closing out another week and this time I wanted to end it on a high note.  I found this story a while back, saved it, then read it after seeing the new King Arthur movie, “Arthur: The Legend of the Sword.”  Seeing the movie made me want to read some stories based on Arthurian legend and I came across this one in my collection to read and review.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

The synopsis is actually pretty accurate; this is a retelling of the George slaying the dragon.  The dragon Goldenfire has turned its back on the people of England due to an enchanted artifact from Morgan Le Fey.  The artifact causes the dragon’s moral alignment to make a 180°, thus the dragon kidnaps maidens and terrorizes the countryside.  Now the only way to return Goldenfire to its former glory is to put the Ring of Matrimonial Bliss on it.  Squire George volunteers for this venture as it’s the only way he will be pardoned for his less than moral behavior.

It’s a clever, entertaining story that knew its source material and its strengths, playing certain aspects up a bit more than others and making nods when appropriate.  It’s a nice balance.

Whenever I come across a retelling of Arthurian myth (part or whole), I normally expect a dark, grittier version – like the latest trend in Hollywood.  I don’t expect the story to be light hearted and fun, but this story defies my expectations.  This is less of a dark Hollywood story and more like the ‘90s Saturday morning cartoon adventures – with some adult humor.

For instance, on the one hand there’s Merlin’s behavior during the initial meeting where he’s an elder(ish) man caught up in what he sees in his crystal ball then a bit clumsy as he comes out of his trance.  On the other hand, there’s Queen Guinevere who in an almost air-headed way mentions how George has been peeking in on her while she and several other maids undress.  There are just little subtlies like those that give the story it’s comedic, light-hearted feel yet adds a bit of tongue in cheek with the hint of voyeurism.  I enjoyed the combination.  It made the story more enjoyable.

Another strength, is the story’s sense for the source material.  Even people who have never read a single King Arthur book or seen one of the movies knows King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Merlin; but those same people wouldn’t know Sir Kay, Sir Gawaine, Sir Tristram, Gareth of Orkeny, Sir Hector, or Sir Alisander.  There are so many characters in the Arthurian myth and this story takes the time to recognize it.

The begin is a meeting of The Knights of the Roundtable as they discuss the crisis and plan their counterattack on Goldenfire; the meeting isn’t just King Arthur and Merlin speaking, all the knights engage in the discussion.  This isn’t engage like “Oh my” quips but actual sentences expressing concerns and strategic thoughts.  While the number of lines might be small each line is not wasted; each utterance by the Knights gives a brief glimpse into who that knight is and their personality.  I applaud the effort the story put into including so many characters without making them feel like furniture – there to fill space.

Finally, the twist.  This would by an M. Night Shyamalan type twist if Shyamalan could do lighthearted.  I don’t want to give it away so I won’t say what the twist entails.  I, however, give credit on it being simple and fun.  Karma comes full circle. In this one.

Normally, I’d point out how the 2D characters bring down the story but I can’t with this story.  It’s a shorter story so there’s less growth and time to spend with the characters.  Plus, in the older Arthurian stories the focus is less on the characters and more on the adventure.  This story reflects that mentality by focusing on the task to defeat Goldenfire rather than on who George is as a character.

Even so, the story does a good job of establishing the type of persona the characters are meant to personify.  Lancelot is the brash warrior with more brawn than brains, Arthur is the judicious ruler, Merlin the knowledgeable wizard, Guinevere is the compassionate, ignorant queen, and George is the hormonal bachelor.  The story gives Readers enough information to develop an opinion and enough to figure out how the ending affects them.

In the end, anything I would gripe about isn’t an issue with this story.  So, there’s nothing really wrong with this story, it’s a delightful retelling.

I would recommend this to any Reader, whether you are a fan of Arthurian legends or just a fan of fan fiction.  It’s a fun story that doesn’t require much Arthurian knowledge before reading and while such knowledge helps with the tongue-in-cheek references, it’s not required.  This is just a fun story about a young Squire sent to neutralize the dragon threat.

Personally, I hope to find more stories like this one by Galaxy1001D in the future.

 

Stars: 8.5/10

Dreams Review

Title: Dreams                                                                Author: A Ghost of the Past

Source: Disney                                                             Character(s): Various Disney

Rating:  T                                                                    Genre(s): Tragedy / Angst

Chapter(s): 1                                                                 Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” Or so they say. This is the true story of the Disney girls, their tragic lives and the dreams they used to escape them.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10658046/1/Dreams

 

Welcome Readers, today I have less of a story and more of a collection of snippets to review.  It’s a bit different from the other stories I’ve reviewed lately and it’s a darker version of what really happened in these fairy tales.  Not necessarily dark like Grimm’s but definitely not the light fluff that Disney wraps its characters in.   I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

The synopsis is pretty accurate; each fairy tale is summarized in a brief paragraph that shows the dreams (fairy tales) the ladies used to escape their – often times – tragic realities.  However, the dreams only last until something forces the girls to stop dreaming (death, growing up, rape, etc.).  For example, the tale of Beauty and the Beast is Belle’s dream until she is dies by her abusive husband’s hands.  Not all endings result in death and not all of them are necessarily “bad” either; it’s just none have the happy ending of fairy tales.  The fantasy juxtapositions the reality beautifully.

This collection does really well in conveying what fairy tale it’s referencing, the girl’s reality, and the ultimate end with a few sentences.  None of the snippets end happily but they convey so much and it’s easy to imagine these Disney characters escaping into these dreams based on the reality described.  Plus, each snippet ties into the next one; the transitions are nice and smooth, never disrupting the flow as the Reader goes from one fairy tale to the next.

I think that the shortness of each retelling really helps this story; the endings are dark and depressing, the type of endings that normally prevent a story ever being finished.  Lengthy stories with depressing endings rarely get finished because people (those reading and writing them) don’t like constantly dark and depressing endings.  We all enjoy the happy endings and even the bitter-sweet/hopeful endings, but not the constant depressing endings.  Sure, each snippet could be its own lengthy one-shot, but then they become overburdened with depressing events or throw characters through every imaginable, dark situation.  So, to present a collection of dark tales, this fic did well in presenting each tale as a snippet.

Another aspect that I enjoy is that each woman is at a different stage in her life when she’s dreaming these fairy tales.  Most people know that the leading Disney females are typically 20 years or younger (the eldest is 21 and that’s Elsa).  It’s refreshing to have these girls at different points in their lives.  Instead of following the teenage girls who are unhappy with their lives and wish for eternal love, it’s the married woman with 3 kids, the preteen, the orphan as she grows up, the middle-aged woman, etc.  Having such a ride range of ages and backgrounds opens these dreams to all ages rather than limiting it to the youthful.

Finally, I love that it’s kind of a psychology study of these characters.  How far is someone willing to sink into their daydreams to avoid/cope with reality?  For some of these ladies they cling to their fantasies so much that they’ll die just to avoid reality.  Meanwhile, others ultimately accept their reality and allow their dreams to be shattered.  One lady holds onto her fairy tale for life and is able to cope enough with the present that her fairy tale doesn’t drive her to suicide.  Another one is forced to let go of her fairy tale when she marries and becomes pregnant.  It’s fascinating to see where each fairy tale leads the Disney ladies.

I don’t think there is a lot of room for improvement in this collection.  The snippets keep everything brief and the nods are made to the original sources while not having to explicitly say which fairy tale is being represented.  There isn’t much in the way of grammar to improve.  I think the only thing that could be done is to do a second chapter but now from the men of Disney’s perspectives.

I highly recommend this fic.  It’s a great little treat for anyone who enjoys the darker sides of Disney and it’s a great fic for getting the creative juices going for struggling authors.  I’m not saying steal the ideas from this fic, but rather use it as a springboard for possible stories.

Stars: 10/10

Change of Season Review

Title: Change of Season                                                                                Author: Icy Fire 7

Original Source:Greek Mythology                                                          Character(s): Demeter & Hades

Rating:  T                                                                                                            Genre(s): Angst & Romance

Chapter(s): 1                                                                                                      Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Demeter is known to despise Hades because he kidnapped her daughter. But is that really the whole story? Or even the truth? One-sided Demeter/Hades.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10287509/1/Change-of-Season

Here’s a retelling of an old tale with a twist. It’s an interesting twist and certainly works yet would ultimately have the same outcome as the original myth. I guess my major complaint is the execution. The story is not bad and it is obvious that research and fact-checking has been put into the story—all awesome qualities—however, the execution does not quite match the effort.

Let’s start at the beginning when Kore (which is another name for Persephone) goes missing and Demeter searches high and low for her. The description of her search is very frantic and feels like she truly is a worried sick type of mother. At least until she tries to steal a mortal child and make him her own then all that build up kind of falls flat and it makes me wonder if she ever truly cared about her daughter. Sure the story explains that grief drove her to commit the act but it feels more like an excuse for her to just have another child to complete her set of children.

If the bit about Demeter trying to steal a mortal child was written different, like in less details and more as a general statement. For example, “Grief-driven, Demeter turned to other means to fill the emptiness left by her daughter’s absence. Going as far as to try and steal a mortal woman’s child and make him immortal. An act thwarted, dragging Demeter further into a great depression that affected the world’s seasons and the mortal lives.” Something similar to that would work because it illustrates how desperate Demeter becomes yet it doesn’t make her seem callous to the loss of her actual child.

Next, the confrontation between Demeter, Zeus, Kore, and Hades was not quite as dramatic or impactful as I expected. I know that Demeter is being portrayed as a woman who will not allow herself to display her true emotions so she metaphorically grabs any other grievance to throw at Hades. So it surprises me that she doesn’t yell at both Hades and Kore (now Persephone) for never telling her where her daughter was while Demeter was losing her mind searching for Persephone. I would think it’s a good way to shame both her daughter and Hades, yet she doesn’t point that out. Instead she points out how Hades can’t have her daughter and such, while thinking that her daughter is a bitch for capturing Hades’ attentions.

Overall the scene is not nearly as dramatic as it could have been when there are such huge forces such as Gods vying for what is theirs while making negotiations to keep mankind alive. Plus, Hades doesn’t really do anything in that scene except just stand there, glare at Demeter because he must share his wife with her, and mouth the word “bitch” to her. He doesn’t seem to be as affected (he is affected but it’s more like instant hatred) by the loss of this “bond” he and Demeter supposedly had prior to the story. Having him rather unaffected makes it difficult to see why Demeter ever thinks she has a chance with him when he apparently does not care one way or another about her.

Another issue that I have with the story is that it summarizes parts of the story that could have (and should have) been further explored. For example, there’s a part where Demeter helps comfort Hades after he has discovered that Persephone is pursuing another man, Adonis. The time spent comforting him and rebuilding their relationship is mostly summarized when it should have been illustrated. Instead of using exposition, show scenes and interactions between Hades and Demeter where their relationship is being mended and Demeter begins to believe that she has a chance to be with him again.

Sadly, the story opted to just tell the reader that Demeter sees this as her second chance and takes the opportunity to try and nudge Hades back into the marriage mart. Nudging him subtly enough to not say “take me as your bride” but not subtly enough that Hades goes out in search of a new woman.

*Sigh.* I’m impressed that this portrayal of Demeter thinks that Hades will ever choose her when she knows that he sees her as a sister. Let’s face it, if he has only seen her as a sister then the thought of being romantic with her probably has not entered Hades’ mind and probably won’t unless the idea hits him in the face. Yet, this version of Demeter continues to delude herself into assuming that Hades will figure out he’s attracted to her on his own. *Rolls eyes.*

Another scene that is actually missing and would have made a great addition is Demeter trying to persuade Persephone to return to Hades and remain faithful to him. The scene is only mentioned in terms of Demeter promising Hades to speak to her daughter and implore her to return to him. That’s it! If the scene had been included then the story could have shown this struggle Demeter has with her own feelings as well as struggling to convince her daughter to do right by Hades. Hey, the scene could have turned exciting and have Persephone call Demeter out on her feelings for Hades and how she resents Persephone for being chosen. Man…that would have been great Goddess cat fight to see. Unfortunately, it does not happen and becomes another missed opportunity.

Now, the story does some things really well. There are events that happen to show the passage of time and they’re summarized nicely. These paragraphs are great because they illustrate Demeter’s struggle to return to her former self, how she rebuilds her relationship with Persephone, and the ultimate realization that she cannot come to terms with Hades’ choice even with the passage of time. These parts are small but they show a great deal and the progression of time.

Is this story bad? No! This story is pretty good, it just hasn’t gone as far as it could have and with a bit of tweaking it could be an exceptional story about unrequited love and the consequences of a Goddess’ broken heart. The concept is nice and it provides a nice twist upon a famous story that still produces the same results. It becomes all about perception.

Would I recommend the story? Yeah. It’s a nice retelling of Greek mythology and with the twist it brings to mind the question, “why not?” Why couldn’t the truth be that Demeter was more upset that Hades had taken her daughter for wife instead of her? It all makes sense!

So Readers, if you enjoy Greek mythology this story is a good one to check out.

Stars: 7/10