Tag Archives: magic

Ransoming Emrys (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Emachinescat

FanFiction ID: 6735319

Status: Complete (25 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Warning: Rated T, mostly for whump

They were only out there hunting that impossibly hot summer day because Prince Arthur wanted to annoy his manservant Merlin–something he would later kick himself for, repeatedly. Because as unreasonable as it was to be out doing anything in that heat, the two young men were not alone in the forest. Set upon by a band of renegade druids, Arthur finds himself magically incapacitated and incapable of doing anything to help Merlin, the object of the druid’s attack–clearly a case of mistaken identity, since they keep calling Merlin “Emrys” and claim he has powerful magic that people will be interested in paying lots of money for. Arthur ought, by rights, to be insulted about being left behind (a prince!) while his manservant is taken to be sold to the highest bidder . . . but the truth is, he’s mostly worried. About where Merlin is and what’s happening to him. About what the druids will do when they find out the mistake they’ve made, kidnapping the wrong person. Or worse, about what could happen if they’re right and Merlin actually is this Emrys person.

Emachinescat consistently crafts some of the best fanfiction out there, and Ransoming Emrys is no exception. The writing is excellent throughout, and moreover, it manages to capture the feels that make me love Merlin and these boys so much. The author manages to get in their heads, to show us not just what is going on at any one time, but also why. And there’s definitely a lot going on in this story. It manages to be a big plot sort of story while also giving us all the worried tension and emotional strain of a good whump story. And yes, there’s definitely whump here, but it’s the kind that brings out the BAMFery in Merlin, which is always fabulous. And we get a solid reveal here, with just the right amount of tension and bromance surrounding that and a nice open-ended conclusion so there’s some things left to the reader’s imagination. I loved the way Gwaine, Lancelot, and Percival get drawn in to the story, even when they’re not knights at Camelot yet at this point. The coincidence of Lancelot and Percival happening to show up on the scene would, in another author’s hands, have been just too convenient, but here it fit. And using Morgana and Morgause to move the story along was brilliantly done. It was also interesting to see the druid’s opinions on Emrys and his loyalty to Camelot and Arthur developed more, to see the disillusionment of some people in him. All in all, Ransoming Emrys is an exciting and feels-rich fanfic that I would highly recommend to Merlin fans.

Note: You can find Ransoming Emrys at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6735319/1/Ransoming-Emrys.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

Wisdom’s Kiss

Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

My rating: 4 of 5

You might say that there were many different things–different people’s lives interacting–that ultimately contributed to the debacle that later became known as Wisdom’s Kiss. The Princess Wisdom (better known as Dizzy) herself, for one, what with her tendency to belie her name and throw herself headlong into drama and adventure. The Duke Roger whom she was to wed, as well, although he was truly a pawn in the hands of his overbearing and scheming mother. Then there was the dowager queen Benevolence, Dizzy’s grandmother, who with her far-too-intelligent cat Escoffier discovered the schemes of said Duchess. Less immediately obvious, yet equally influential, were the presence of Trudy, a young kitchen maid with second sight; Tips, her childhood sweetheart; Felis el Gato, Tips’ mentor and a grand performer; and the Emperor of the whole land himself. But it was the interweaving of these individual lives that allowed even the possibility of such an event, one that would shape the course of the land for generations to come.

I’ve enjoyed Murdock’s writing before in her story Princess BenWisdom’s Kiss actually ties in with this earlier novel, although it is certainly not necessary to read the one to enjoy the other. They’re more loosely connected tales rather than anything like a series. Wisdom’s Kiss is really fascinating in the way it’s written. You don’t really get any straight-up narrative, although the sections taken from Trudy’s memoirs read essentially like a regular novel. But for the most part, the story is told in letters and diary entries and, yes, even articles taken from an encyclopedia. It’s honestly enough to be a bit hard to piece together where the story is really going at times, although everything comes together nicely by the end. And I did enjoy the different perspectives and the way the different characters’ personalities came through from the different sources. It was interesting–and something I haven’t seen done much–to see the same character from multiple different perspectives, including their own; it gives a different appreciation for the individual. As for the writing style itself, I’ve heard the author’s writing described in the past as “frothy,” and I can’t honestly think of a better word to describe it. There’s a lightness and wit to it, even in the sections where things seem dark and awful–but in this particular story, there’s also a busyness and a constant activity from all sides that I might almost better compare to the fizz you get when you first open a soda. I think that this is one of those stories that would tend be polarizing; you would either love all the novelty and the different perspectives or it would drive you mad trying to keep up and make sense of it all. Personally, however, I enjoyed Wisdom’s Kiss and look forward to reading more by this author.

Note: It’s implied at the end of the story that this is a retelling of Puss in Boots . . . and I guess it sort of it, but I would never have caught it if it hadn’t been mentioned directly. For what that’s worth.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Compromising Position (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: staymagical

FanFiction ID: 10589062

Status: Complete (18 Chapters)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

While out on a hunt (by themselves, of course), King Arthur and his manservant (best friend) Merlin find themselves captured by mercenaries. Naturally, in his attempt to keep the heat off of Arthur, Merlin manages to get himself injured pretty seriously, leaving him weak and sickly. Desperate to get his friend some help, Arthur finds a way to sneak them out of the mercenaries’ camp in the night, and it looks like they might just make it back to Camelot–none too soon, as Merlin’s condition continues to deteriorate. But the mercenaries track them down and catch up, taking Arthur and leaving Merlin for dead on the roadside, too ill to help Arthur even if he had been willing to use his magic and reveal his secret. Will either of them make it home safely? And even if they do, will they be able to handle the fallout of the events leading up to their return?

Compromising Position is one of those stories that, while in some ways following a lot of the usual Merlin fanfic plotlines, manages to be unique and memorable. I enjoyed the treatment of the characters–especially Arthur, Merlin, and Gwaine. We get at least one chapter from each of these three’s perspective, alternating depending on what’s going on. Gwaine’s chapter is probably my favorite chapter in the entire story; staymagical’s portrayal of his character is . . . flightier than I usually picture him, but very amusing and still quintessentially Gwaine. This is a pretty whumpish story, heavy on the hurt/comfort and angst fronts, but with enough bromance and humor to keep it from getting too heavy. Although the tension does run high at some points–one of the things I actually really enjoy about this story. I liked the way the reveal was handled, again, more angsty than some, but with a nice resolution. On a technical front, there are some minor grammatical issues and the occasional logical jump (most notably when Arthur sneaks away from the outskirts of camp after being tied up–no mention of rummaging around to find a sword–only to later somehow have a sword on him, how I have no idea). But the overall writing style is remarkably readable and enjoyable despite that. I really liked Compromising Position and would recommend it–and will likely re-read it myself several times over, as I have with staymagical’s other stories (also recommended).

Note: You can find Compromising Position at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10589062/1/Compromising-Position.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

Gods of the Mountain

Author: Christopher Keene

A Cycle of Blades, vol. 1

My rating: 4 of 5

Summary from Goodreads:

““If that’s true, he’s returned from the grave, and you better believe he’s got something in store for this city.”

Accused of murder, Faulk is on the run after his chance at redemption went horribly wrong. He finds himself allied with the mysterious Yuweh, a woman sent by her gods to capture an assassin who is spreading forbidden magic.

Journeying across a land where all magic, cultures, and wars are dictated by its cycles in nature, they uncover a plot that threatens to destroy everything they hold dear. Faulk and Yuweh must reconcile their clashing cultures to prevent the chaos from repeating…

…as another attempts to use it for his benefit.”

Having greatly enjoyed the first two volumes of Keene’s Dream State Saga, it was with great anticipation that I approached his newest work, Gods of the Mountain–and I was not disappointed. While the Dream State books are of the LitRPG genre, having more almost of a light novel flavor, this new book is more of a high fantasy/dark fantasy, so it’s definitely a different style, and I think the author does a great job of expressing that and adapting to the genre styles while staying true to his own personal storytelling voice. One of the ways in which this is most true–and one the things I most loved about this book–is the magic system and the way the reader is introduced to it. I feel like the magic in this story is quite unique and well imagined; it’s different enough that I wasn’t just like “oh, there’s the magic, let’s get on with the story,” but was rather actually interested in the mechanics of the system. And we get a good explanation of it through the eyes of a character who is first introduced to the magic himself, getting to learn about how it works alongside him. The worldbuilding and the complexities of the political situation are also quite well done; in fact, I’m reminded of V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic books in that regard. Keene does a great job of displaying an overthrown country, with conquering overlords but also with rebellious former soldiers still around and unsettled at the situation. Moreover, throwing in the complications of an isolated mountain theocracy dominated by tradition and taboo adds an extra layer of complication, especially when these worlds collide forcibly. There’s some interesting commentary on religion there for those who fancy venturing into those waters. The plot was intense, with lots of twists and surprises, and the pacing worked well–not particularly fast or slow, but steady, which honestly works best for a book of this length. As for the characters, they were probably what I liked least; not that they were uninteresting or poorly written–quite the opposite–but simply because I didn’t find any of them particularly likeable. Surprisingly, that didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story, though. I would still certainly consider Gods of the Mountain to be a solid read, one that I enjoyed and that I would recommend.

NOTE: I received a free review copy of Gods of the Mountain from the author in exchange for an unbiased review, which in no way affects the contents of this post.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Men of Legend: The Butterfly Effect (Merlin/Supernatural Crossover Fanfic)

Author: hells_half_acre

AO3 ID: 7506826

Men of Legend, vol. 2

Status: Complete (3 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

When Sam and Dean Winchester were in Camelot–summoned there by Merlin himself to help handle a supernatural threat dragged over from their world into his–they gave Merlin some advice. Sound advice, probably, but advice he’s having an awfully hard time following through with, nevertheless. Because the brothers told Merlin to take fate into his own hands (yay, Team Free Will!), trust Arthur, and tell the king his secret–that Merlin has magic. Only, telling Arthur goes against everything Merlin’s been raised to do since he was a child, against everything the Great Dragon has told him to do. Not an easy decision to make. . . . So when Merlin does decide to go to Arthur about his magic, he is understandably nervous about the whole thing.

loved this short fanfic exceedingly, as I did the previous volume in this collection, Men of Legend. Unlike the first volume, The Butterfly Effect is really just a Merlin story, with the SPN part limited to references to Sam and Dean’s time in Camelot–although those references are important since they influence not only Merlin’s decision but also Arthur’s and Gwaine’s reactions. I love the way we get a chapter each from Gwaine’s, Merlin’s, and Arthur’s POV, with each bleeding into the next a bit and giving a different perspective on the events as they unfold. And I love (and this is something I love about this author’s work in general, not just in this story) the insights into the characters that we get–the motivations behind Merlin’s fear, the loyalty and insight hidden behind Gwaine’s usual goofiness, the wisdom and understanding of Gwen, the uncertainty of Arthur and the tiny things that shape his decisions. It’s those insights that transform this from just another fanfic to something powerful and lasting. Another thing I loved about this story is the fact that Merlin actually tells Arthur about his magic. Like, that never happens. In almost every magic reveal I’ve ever read, as well as in canon, Merlin is forced to reveal his magic, shows Arthur by accident, something along those lines. He almost never willingly trusts his friend with his deepest, scariest secret, even though that is the way that it should happen. So it’s nice to see these friends getting it right. Fabulous story, and I’m hoping for a sequel!

You can find Men of Legend: The Butterfly Effect on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/works/7506826/chapters/17064571.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

Facing the Truth (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Sanguine Ink

FanFiction ID: 9431009

Status: Complete (18 Chapters)

My rating: 5 of 5

On the way back to Camelot after ridding an outlying village of dangerous monster (and of course, Arthur just had to leave his nice magic sword home when dealing with a scary magic monster), the king and his knights find themselves ambushed. Arthur finds himself separated from his knights by a magical wall of fire, and naturally, Merlin finds a way through the fire wall to Arthur, is unwilling to risk Arthur’s life by fighting, drinks the poison that suppresses his magic, and gets himself stuck in a dungeon with his king (who is also his best friend, whether he admits it or not). And oh hey, they’re not actually after Arthur at all; they want Emrys and his powers at their beck and call. Oops. Merlin may not get out of this one with his secret intact.

I have to say that I really love the way this author writes Merlin and Arthur. I mean, the writing style in general is fabulous–easy to read and grammatically correct, yes, but also just really fun to read. But beyond that, the characters are excellent. They are definitely in character, but more than that, they are the best of their characters. You get tons of Merlin sass and a good bit of Arthur attitude as well. What’s more, you get inside Merlin’s head, so you get all his little sarcastic comments to himself that are just brilliantly funny. And the bromance between them portrayed here is great–the same feeling as the best parts of the show and their interactions there. While the other characters are not involved in this story as much (what with Merlin and Arthur being locked up together then traveling together for a good chunk of the story), when they do show up, they also evoke the best of their characters in the show, the things about them that I love the most. As for the plot, it’s a nice balance of whump and hurt/comfort combined with adventure. There’s enough actual plot to keep things interesting, and it’s really cool to see Arthur’s development as he adjusts his ideas regarding magic and actually communicates with the magic users in his kingdom. Plus, you’ve got a really awesome battle scene at the end which is quite original and engaging and generally amazing. Merlin is totally badass, and it’s super cool. I think Facing the Truth exemplifies the best of a lot of the things I love most about the Merlin fandom, and as such, I would highly recommend it.

Note: You can find Facing the Truth at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9431009/1/Facing-the-Truth.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

The Ancient Magus’ Bride (manga)

Mangaka: Kore Yamazaki/Translator: Adrienne Beck

Status: Ongoing (7 volumes currently)

My rating: 5 of 5

For her entire life, Chise Hatori has been able to see fey and spirits, beings that no one around her was even aware of. You can imagine the troubles she’s had because of it. Now she finds herself orphaned and sold at auction to a strange magus with a rather horrifying skull-like visage. But surprisingly, Elias (the magus) doesn’t want to just use her for her powers–although it turns out she has some rather rare and significant powers indeed. Rather, he invites her to live with him in his home in England and apprentice under him. And gradually, Chise blossoms, going from a sad old woman convinced she brings misfortune to everyone around her to the youthful girl she should be, capable of loving and caring for those around her with a smile. And she’s not the only one who’s changing because of her presence there.

Apologies for the cruddy summary; this has to be one of the weirdest and most difficult to summarize stories I’ve come across to date. One of the reasons I’ve not read this before–most of the summaries I’d read sounded pretty awful. The trouble is that The Ancient Magus’ Bride is different from basically any manga I’ve read before, although there are certainly elements that remind me of other stories. It has a good bit of back story that develops gradually, for one thing. Also, a great deal of the story is a gradually developing drama that reads almost like a slice-of-life story–just with magic, lots and lots of magic. I really love the flavor of the magic that’s used here; it’s heavily tinged with older English folklore, enough so that it’s easy to forget sometimes that this is actually set in contemporary England. I would say that the story’s flavor is equal parts Fullmetal Alchemist (which is totally weird, I know), xxxHOLiC, and English folklore–it sounds crazy, but it’s a really beautiful combination in practice, kind of a josei/seinen magical slice-of-life story. I absolutely love the way the characters grow and develop over the course of the story, as well as the ways their relationships change over time. It’s both heartwarming and dynamic. The art goes along with this well, being unique and attractive in a clean, seinen sort of way. I would highly recommend The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and I look forward to what the mangaka will bring with the remaining volumes.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review