Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ponyfic Roundup Extra: Outside Insight entries: top ten and final thoughts

Frankly, my first thought is one of admiration crossed with "What were they thinking?" for those who slogged through all 100+ stories that were entered into this competition. The 22 tales that I read were quite enough for me, and those were the good entries! Anyway, although this certainly isn't something I'd like to do very often, I did find some very enjoyable fics in my four-week journey. So here, after a little consideration to break some ties, is my personal top ten:

1. Moonlight Palaver by Carabas
2. Queen of Queens by JawJoe
3. Changeling: The Movie by Obselescence
4. Rise by Blueshift
5. Veni, Vidi, Verti by thesecret1
6. Cranky Doodle Donkey's Bad Asssssss Day by Einhander
7. An Outsider's Perspective by Kavonde
8. The Last Trumpet's Call by Cold in Gardez
9. I Am Demon by Aquaman
10. Pride by InquisitorM

Let me stress that this is a top 10 based on enjoyability, not strict adherence to the contest prompt. A few of those fics, including the winner, sailed quite close to the wind in terms of keeping to that prompt, and might have scored lower had I been focusing on that criterion. But Moonlight Palaver wins by virtue of being immensely enjoyable all round. I don't think it necessarily has the broadest appeal, but I liked its style and that's what matters around here.

Someone's bound to ask, so... where would I have placed my own We Who with Songs Beguile, had it been written by someone else? I'm not much good at rating my own stories, but I like to think it would have got good marks for originality of POV species choice, narrative voice, avian vocabulary and general enjoyability. However, it would have lost out in terms of its limited complexity and depth, as well as one embarrassing typo that went unspotted for weeks. ("Pink-Yellow" instead of "Yellow-Pink": significant in context.)

All that being so, I think WWwSB might have crept into the lower reaches of my top ten, though it would have struggled to have got any higher than that. Actually, I think I'm justified in feeling a little bit disappointed that it wasn't one of the 15 stories with some sort of mention in the actual contest's results. It did follow the prompt considerably better than some fics here, after all. There! For those of you who've stuck with me all this way, a little controversy right at the end!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ponyfic Roundup 28: Outside Insight finalists, 4/4

And that's the lot! Here are my reviews of the final six entrants for the EqD "Outside Insight" contest. Three excellent fics and three okay-to-good fics this time. I'll be making a special extra post tomorrow giving some final thoughts – and my top ten. There are several draws in terms of ranking scores, so I'll need to think a little about tie-breaking, hence the slight delay. Next week, it'll be back to the usual format for Ponyfic Roundup, with a wider variety of fics.

Pick of the fics

Moonlight Palaver by Carabas
Celestia and OCs
Comedy/Slice of Life; 7K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
Pushing it a bit in pure contest-prompt terms but as a story in its own right, which is how I'm rating here, I loved it. The sun doesn't rise one day (it's set at Nightmare Moon time) and the various other nations of the region meet up to discuss what to do. For which, read "bicker at each other". The characters are a great deal of fun (especially the Tyrant and the Crown) and the story rolls along at a nice pace. Even has a Colossal Cave reference slipped in. Should have an OC tag, though. 9/10

Other stories

Changeling: The Movie by Obselescence
Chrysalis, Changelings and Twilight
Comedy; 9K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
Chrysalis decides to make a documentary about ponies to assist in future invasion plans. This is pretty much the sort of thing I might write if I were a  better writer. It's very funny and I love Chrysalis's snarkiness. Unsurprisingly, then, it scores well: it came within a whisker of winning Pick this week, but a slightly predictable ending just cost it top spot. The relationship (such as it is) between Chrysalis and Twilight is undoubtedly the highlight. 8.5/10

Cranky Doodle Donkey's Bad Asssssss Day by Einhander
Cranky Doodle Donkey, Matilda, Pinkie Pie and Caramel
Romance/Dark/Comedy; 9K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
Ooh, interesting combination of genre tags! Cranky tells us, in his own inimitable style, how he wound up in jail for running over Pinkie Pie. On Hearts and Hooves Day, too. That narration is the best thing about this one: Cranky's tone is utterly believable and his complex relationship with Pinkie generally works well. The party pony herself is... well, she's Pinkie. A few mis-steps (since when did Ponyville have cops?) and it could do with a little editing, but the heartwarming ending got to this old softy. As such, 8/10.

Her Scarf Fluttered in the Absence of Wind by ArgonMatrix
Cadance and OC
Slice of Life; 5K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
A pre-ascension Cadance falls into a dragon's lair. The dragon is not inclined to help her out. I had a lot of trouble scoring this one: it all makes sense and I liked the parallels between Cadance and the dragon. It didn't move me quite as much as I'd have expected, though. Another story that teeters on the edge of compliance to the prompt. 7/10

Sylphidine by RazgrizS57
Slice of Life; 5K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
I'm a simple soul, and sometimes stories just confuse me. This tale of an air elemental's perception of the equine world was one such, at least for the first few pages. Things do get a little clearer after a bit, but for a short story I think that took slightly too long. From a contest perspective, maybe also too much bordering on pony POV when Twilight talks to Spike. (Only printing one half of the conversation doesn't get you out of that one!) Technically fine, but I found it a bit of a slog to get through. 5/10

Veni, Vidi, Verti by thesecret1
Changelings and Rainbow Dash
Adventure; 13K words; Aug 2014; Teen
Ah, a changeling story not from Chrysalis's POV! Here, we follow Crypsis on her mission to infiltrate Ponyville. Lots of quite detailed description in the first half, which some readers won't like (I do) but later on, things broaden out quite a lot. A take on how the hive mind works that I haven't seen before, and an interesting stallion OC. The ending is also interesting and one you might not see coming. 8.5/10

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Comic review: MLP Friends Forever #10: Fluttershy and Iron Will

MLP Friends Forever #10 main cover
This is an incredible cover. Geddit? No? Oh, never mind
It's comic review time again! This month, Friends Forever features a combination we haven't seen since "Putting Your Hoof Down" back in S2 of the show itself: Best Pony with Best Minotaur. What could possibly go wrong? Christina Rice, who wrote last month's pretty good Granny/FlimFlam issue, has the writing job once again, while stalwart Agnes Garbowska brings her distinctive artistic style to the table. (You see? I can write pointless advertorialese no problem.)

Monday, 27 October 2014

While I'm on a run of talking about fanfic...

...I might as well make a post I've been thinking about for ages: namely, how I choose the stories I read for Ponyfic Roundup. Obviously the current run are all taken from the "Outside Insight" contest finalists, but I usually prefer to cull my fics from a much wider range of sources. They need to be complete, but what else? Well, fulfilling these criteria, although they're (mostly) not absolutes, helps a fic to find its way up my list:
  1. On FimFiction. FanFiction is horrible and Google Docs is clunky.
  2. Under 10,000 words. Under 5,000 words is better still.
  3. Not clop. At least, not all clop and not clop for clop's sake.
  4. Not foalcon. This one is the only non-negotiable criterion.
  5. Not a trollfic. I find almost all of those boring beyond belief.
  6. By an author who isn't too Horse Famous already.
  7. Written in reasonably comprehensible English.
  8. Not a crossover. Yeah, I read "Fallout: Equestria". Lump it.
  9. Readable on a black-and-white, text-only e-reader.
  10. In the canon Friendship is Magic universe.
  11. Not a gorefest. The [Gore] tag covers a multitude of sins.
  12. Features Fluttershy. Or, to a lesser extent, Scootaloo.
I probably could have thought of some more had I not dashed this list off in five minutes, but it gives a reasonable idea. Note that this is just how I choose fics in the first place: actually rating them is another matter. That's very simple: I award marks on how much I enjoyed a story. MLP means escapism for me, so give me a light, fun romp over a savage allegory on the eternal nature of human suffering any day. Well, most days.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

New story by me: "It Doesn't Matter Now"

"It Doesn't Matter Now" fanfic cover image
"If you are sad or blue..."
I do now have the Fluttershy/Iron Will Friends Forever comic, so a review of that will be along during the next few days. Meanwhile, here's a little something I knocked up for a UK of Equestria writing contest (this one had a free prompt). It's short even by my standards at barely 1,300 words, but I think it turned out okay given that I had to write it in a couple of hours.

It Doesn't Matter Now by Loganberry
Pinkie Pie and OC
Random; 1K words; Oct 2014; Everyone
The Spirit Pony is responsible for the End of All That Ever Was. It has always been so. This job looks like being a particularly clean one – until a certain pink pony intervenes to prevent it happening. Pinkie has a very, very good reason for stopping the Spirit, too...

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ponyfic Roundup 27: Outside Insight finalists, 3/4

I wonder why so many people capitalise every word in their story titles? I was always taught not to do that. (That's why my fic's title is We Who with Songs Beguile.) Anyway, we're back with the Equestria Daily "Outside Insight" finalists, and there are another five stories to consider this week. Like last time, there wasn't one story that stood head and shoulders above the rest, but this week's winner triumphed on the simple basis that it was the fic I enjoyed the most.

Pick of the fics

An Outsider's Perspective by Kavonde
OC and Mane Six
Comedy/Slice of Life; 5K words; Jul 2014; Everyone
I'm perhaps not quite as much of a Lovecraft fan as quite a few of my fellow ponyficcers seem to be – but this story is just too enjoyable to pass up. It really is an alien POV, that of an eldritch abomination with eyes and tentacles to spare who just happens to be the being that will bring about the end of all things. And, of course, winds up in Ponyville. It's quite ridiculous: maybe not as much about ponies as some other fics, but as I said, too much fun to say no to. A comedy that's actually funny! Also, I'm impressed at the author's willpower in not allowing Pinkie Pie to dominate proceedings. 8/10

Other stories

Gazebo by NotARealPonydotcom
OC and Changelings
Romance; 6K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
Two ponies shelter from the rain in a gazebo. Except that one of them is a changeling. They talk a lot. Things happen. But not many. This is a Romance, and that in itself was a nice change of pace, but I didn't really buy the changeling-integration background or (rather more crucially) the budding relationship itself. A little nugget of moderately imaginative mythology is spoiled by a truly horrible name-drop. Believe me, you'll groan too when you get to it. Also, Manehattan: that spelling is canon now, so lump it. Otherwise technically fine: it just didn't move me. 5.5/10

Hello, My Name Is by LoyalLiar
Changelings, Chrysalis and Luna
Comedy; 6K words; Aug 2014; Teen
It's always fun to read an entry that has a sarcastic protagonist constantly complaining about ponies' shortcomings. (Hey, why do you think I wrote mine that way?) It's another changeling story – this time, he's disguised as Luna's banker (sort of) in the run-up to that attempted invasion of Canterlot – but it generally works well. An early reference involving the bank's name is poor: much too forced. And "scowling at high society over a discrete flask"? But most of the rest is great. Another genuinely funny comedy, and that's worth a lot. 7.5/10

Not In Bluff Nor Bravado Nor Loneliness by Vivid Syntax
Iron Will and OCs
Slice of Life; 7K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
Iron Will is among the antagonists I actually rather like, so I was pleased to see this: it's pretty much the minotaur's life story, from his days as a bullied weakling at school, to how he began his adult career and beyond. Yes, we do get a little bit of "Putting Your Hoof Down", but it's kept refreshingly short. Some nice interaction with actual ponies (one in particular) helped this to hold my attention. A few annoying typos ("their" for "they're" twice being the worst) but all in all, I enjoyed this one. 7.5/10

That Orange Colt With The Bare Wings by BlndDog [sic]
Diamond Dogs and OC
Dark/Slice of Life; 6K words; Aug 2014; Teen (Gore)
A grumbling diamond dog is dumped with a captured young pony to raise and train for heavy mine work. This story does well on the "alien perspective" factor: to ponies (and us) the colt's fate is horrifying, yet the otherwise fairly sympathetic central character pretty much ignores that aspect. A lot is left unexplained, which sometimes works nicely in the fic's claustrophobic underground setting – but I did find the ending rather unsatisfying. Another story that would have benefited from a good proofread to catch small typos. 6.5/10

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

My Little Pony feature film in the works for 2017!

I don't really think I need to add any more than that! Well, apart from a link to the Variety article that broke the story.

No, really. That's all you get. Honestly, isn't the news enough on its own without my posting a pointless load of babble to go with it? ;)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue #24

IDW MLP comic #24, cover A by Brenda Hickey
"It's all chaosy-waosy, really..."
Apologies for this review being quite so late: for some reason (I don't know what it was) IDW failed to get its My Little Pony comics to UK distributors until a full week after they were released in the US. This happened once before, in the comic's early days, but it's always a pain and I hope it was just a blip. Happily, Level Seven Comics really pushed the boat out to get it to me as fast as possible. Anyway, this month we saw the first collaboration between writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Brenda Hickey. With stalwart Heather Breckel doing the colouring, would issue #24 prove a hit?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Ponyfic Roundup 26: Outside Insight finalists, 2/4

Here's my second batch of reviews of the 22 (other) finalists in this summer's EqD "Outside Insight" contest. I'm discussing six stories this time round and, once again, there's quite a range in scores. I'm fairly sure about my choice for this week's Pick, but it wasn't the supremely obvious decision that I was able to make last time round.

Pick of the fics

Rise by Blueshift
Breezies, Apple Bloom and Twilight
Adventure; 15K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
To the Breezies, ponies are the enemy: agents of summer shutdown and even death. Young Misty's coming-of-age Quest may change that. My liking for Adventure fics is well known, and this one also has some brilliant world-building. There are also moments of heart-rending emotion: I found myself impressively offended by some elements of Breezie culture. Mostly wonderfully paced, and this was heading for a 9+ rating for a while, but the story only just slipped inside both time and word-count limits, and that does show a little in the slightly-too-quick resolution. 8.5/10

Other stories

I Am Demon by Aquaman
OCs and Others; 16K words; Aug 2014; Teen
This fic won the EqD contest outright. It doesn't win mine! Don't get me wrong: it's a superb feat of imaginative writing in terms of showing ponies (Clover the Clever especially) from a truly different perspective. However, the gimmick of using colours to represent Demon's emotions becomes increasingly trying as the number of those emotions increases: I simply can't fully enjoy a story that's as hard on my eyes as this. Immensely clever, but I can't help feeling dialling down on that a bit might actually have made this story even more impressive. 8/10

The Last Trumpet's Call by Cold in Gardez
Adventure; 15K words; Aug 2014; Teen
A gryphon [sic] goes to Cloudsdale to talk to his dead army friend's (Cirrus) family. This is one of my favourite genres, written by one of the best writers in the fandom. It shines brilliantly in terms of imagery, and I loved discovering how vital a weather pegasus could be for the military. So why doesn't it win for me? Partly, it has the same problem Pride did: I just don't really like militaristic gryphons, so the enjoyment factor is inevitably slightly limited. Cirrus's fate was a tad predictable, too. A truly wonderful last line, though. 8/10

Little Apple by Oroboro
Winona, Apple Bloom and CMC
Slice of Life; 4K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
This tale of Winona's relationship with (mostly) Apple Bloom is a good example of a solid story that didn't really grab me. Maybe I just don't find Winona a massively engaging protagonist, though Skywriter's Sun Princess (PR 6) got a decent enough score. Returning to this story, it has a slightly gimmicky style involving the use of bold: I actually thought this might have been too restrained, so much so that it didn't contribute much to my enjoyment. The climax is quite involving, but nothing made me go "Wow!" 6.5/10

What Do Ponies Call Stockholm Syndrome? by CogWing
Discord and Fluttershy
Comedy/Random; 2K words; Jul 2014; Everyone
"You can't write speech like this." I said. "Really, you can't." I continued. Ahem... I often like this pairing, but this story just didn't work for me, even aside from the aforementioned technical issue. I found Discord far more annoying than engaging, and Fluttershy rather forgettable. Apart from one hilarious phrase consisting of the same word five times running (seriously, it works) I was never caught by this fic. Also, if you're going to use the word "Brony" in a ponyfic for any reason at all, you need to make that story amazingly good. 4/10

Wisp by rockyrobben
OC, Twilight, Celestia, Blueblood and Fancy Pants
Slice of Life; 12K words; Aug 2014; Teen
My goodness, this one could have done with better proofreading. "Pegasi" in the singular? "Filly's" for "fillies"? There were more. The idea of using a... consciousness as POV character was one I found absolutely intriguing, and I was really interested by the concept of The Well. However, it's not exactly a rollicking ride and I did find my attention wandering several times, notably in chapter two. I wasn't massively taken with the Twilight stuff, either. Thanks partly to the poor editing, 6/10.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

UK PonyCon 2014 report

My haul from UK PonyCon 2014
My haul of ponyana from the con. Not bad for one day!
Well, things didn't go quite to plan as far as UK PonyCon was concerned. Ill health meant that I was only able to attend on the Saturday, but I still had a very good time. I'd go so far as to say that it might even have been more enjoyable than BUCK – and that takes some doing! Certainly, if this convention is held somewhere I can easily get to next year, there's a very good chance that I'll try to get myself there.

The venue for this con was the Mercure "The Grand" Hotel in the middle of Leicester. I hugely prefer city-centre locations, as being able to walk from the station, or nip out to the pub for lunch is great. (On that last note, "The Last Plantagenet" was about 50 yards away. Perfect!) The venue was really nice, a posh four-star Victorian place with a sense of character and presence sorely lacking in the big boxy exhibition hall that was Manchester Central.

As an all-gens affair with a strong base of collectors, unsurprisingly there were a lot of vendor stalls. The range was much wider than at BUCK, and prices were generally quite reasonable by con standards. The main hall was home to both the vendors and the main stage, so it did get very crowded on occasion, most notably during the cosplay catwalk. For the most part, though, I thought it was nice that the vendors weren't tucked away from the main con action.

The atmosphere was lovely. Seriously, I was blown away by it. Immensely friendly, warm, welcoming and inclusive. A huge range of attendees, from little kids with their parents right up to pensioners. The bronies, collectors and families all rubbed along well, and I didn't hear one single complaint from one group about another the entire day. It may have been slightly understaffed, but despite this the con people remained unfailingly helpful and polite.

This year's theme was "Ponies Rock!" and live music was provided by The Rainbooms, an (actually rather good) rock band formed by several of the staff members. We had the FiM theme, "Sweet Music" from G1 Tales, "Babs Seed" and the inevitable (though still welcome!) "Helping Twilight Win the Crown". There was maybe a little too much recorded music at other times, though, which did make one or two conversations with stall-holders awkward.

I only attended one panel, "G1 for Bronies, G4 for Oldies", but that was very well presented: the person doing it was easily heard and seen even at the back of the room. She also very calmly and pleasantly nipped in the bud a potentially tiresome and rather esoteric discussion between two audience members about IP. I didn't actually go to the karaoke, though, as they hadn't really got their mics and speakers working well.

The only real criticism I'd make, other than the crowding, was that some people paying cash on the day seemed to be allowed to go in before those of us who'd pre-booked tickets. We'd been told this wouldn't happen, and it was disappointing. But otherwise, UK PonyCon 2014 was a really excellent convention. An easy 9/10 and I would love to have been able to have stayed for the whole weekend. Maybe next time!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Almost time for UK PonyCon!

I'll be spending this weekend in Leicester for UK PonyCon. It'll be something new for me, in that it will be the first event I've been to that's aimed at fans and collectors of all generations of My Little Pony. I really don't know quite what to expect, but it helps that I will know some of my fellow attendees from elsewhere, either BUCK or regular meetups. I won't be doing the photojournalism bit this time, but there will be some sort of text-based report when I get back. :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ponyfic Roundup 25: Outside Insight finalists, 1/4

As I said quite a while ago, I'm reading all the finalists in the EqD "Outside Insight" contest that was held in the summer. I'll be posting my thoughts on them here, in the usual Ponyfic Roundup format, then re-assessing before producing a final ranking. There were 22 fics in the final (not including mine!) so I'll do four special PRs, covering five or six stories each time. As always, enjoyment is my primary criterion for a good score: a wonderfully-written piece that leaves me cold will do less well than one with a few mistakes that captures my heart. Here's the first batch.

Pick of the fics

Queen of Queens by JawJoe
Chrysalis and Changelings
Dark; 15K words; Aug 2014; Teen
This first-person look at Chrysalis's life was one of the (surprisingly few) stories where I had a "This is great" feeling all the way through, despite the (deliberately) basic style of the opening section. The world-building is superb for such a short story, the characters are utterly convincing and the author has the confidence to leave certain things unexplained and assume (correctly) that we'll understand it's not just an oversight on their part. Why not a 10/10? Two reasons: one, those song lyrics. Even from this good a writer, one line in particular felt shoe-horned in. Two, not enough actual ponies. Even so, essential reading and 9/10.

Other stories

Au Naturalligator by TantiMount
Gummy, Pinkie Pie and Other
Adventure; 6K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
Writing a Gummy-centric story is not taking the easy path. I didn't really have an idea of what the alligator's narrative style would be, so (to my surprise) I found myself not worrying about whether it fitted with the show Gummy. There are some oddities (since when did going from Ponyville to Manehattan involve customs duties?), the odd word choice is iffy and I wasn't entirely convinced by some aspects of the underground section. The story could also do with sharper pace early on, though the ending was extremely cute. 5.5/10

Let Them Eat Grass by Cloudhammer
Comedy/Slice of Life; 2K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
You'd think sheep would be ill-suited to a really short story, and you'd be... well, half-right. Set in the time of Applejack's parents, as far as we can tell, this is the story of the great ovine revolution... that wasn't. It's amusing and light, which made a nice change of pace from some of the serious-minded fics in the list. Not a great deal to it, though, and I found the ending a little on the dull side. As such, 6.5/10.

Old friends by Bad Horse
Philomena and Celestia
Slice of Life; 2K words; Aug 2014; Teen
Whether you like this tale of the Princess's phoenix trying to understand how death and rebirth apply to ponies depends to a great extent on whether you can cope with the (deliberately) simplistic language. I couldn't, not really. It's clever, but I felt that the style got in the way of the story to such an extent that it really didn't work. Some of the phrasing is memorable ("smells like thunder and lonely") but it doesn't all work ("Hot light is hot" – memetastic). Interesting, but hard going to read, so I didn't like it that much. 5/10

Pride by InquisitorM
Tragedy/Dark; 13K words; Aug 2014; Teen
The protagonist here is Osvald the griffin (so spelt), who finds his life spared after a failed raid on ponies' farmland: the setting certainly is a long way from the cosiness of Ponyville. This is Equestria under a harsh, unflinching gaze that shows us some things most of the country's inhabitants would probably rather not think about. It's very well written and (to use one of Osvald's favourite words) interesting in that the author refuses to do the readers' thinking for them: the question "Is Osvald the good guy?" simply doesn't have a Yes/No answer. I applaud that, but sadly I just didn't like Osvald or (most of) the ponies all that much and, as such, I admired this fic rather more than I enjoyed it. 7.5/10

Friday, 3 October 2014

Comic review: My Little Pony Annual 2014

MLP 2014 Annual, main cover
I can't help thinking the Pharaoh looks a bit like Sombra...
This year's My Little Pony Annual, which is a Power Ponies special, has been rather overshadowed by the brouhaha surrounding Ted Anderson's position at IDW, still unresolved at the time of going to press. This review isn't going to say anything more about that, but will simply concentrate on assessing the comic itself. As well as Anderson's writing, we also get Ben Bates' swansong as an illustrator before he moves to pastures new, and good old Heather Breckel doing the colours. Past the break for more!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Ponyfic Roundup 24: Special Edition

As advertised, here's this week's special edition of PR. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I'm going to be talking about a much longer story than the little one-shots I generally cover here. It's not, perhaps, one of the most well-known ponyfics around, though a view count north of 12,000 on FimFiction makes it extremely successful by any standards. It's also something I'd like to see more of: an out-and-out Adventure-tagged fic. So, then:

Integration by Raugos
Caramel, Chrysalis and Changelings
Adventure; 119K words; Feb 2014; Teen
I don't often find a really good story starring one of the side or background characters from the show: Caramel, for example. This is the story of how he came to be in Chrysalis's hive (after the events of the S2 finale), told in two surprisingly effective jump timelines converging on the point of "Integration". It has some brilliant world-building in the first half especially, and I liked the way Chrysalis was portrayed. More typos creep in later and the ending is a bit uninspired, but the journey to get there is interesting until close to the finish. Certainly worth a read. 8/10

Okay, that's the summary review. After the break, I'll waffle on in a bit more detail about what I did and didn't like about this story. If you go beyond this point, then here be spoilers. You have been warned!