Tag Archives: Merlin (BBC)

In Spite of Everything, the Stars (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Polomonkey

Illustrator: mushroomtale

AO3 ID: 4647243

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience for slash and basically all the things, consider yourself warned (but it’s such a good story!)

Two boys have grown up in an alternate United Kingdom, one in which magic is real but where magic users are viewed with distrust and are treated as second-class citizens. Merlin Emrys is a powerful magic user, one who has hidden the extent of his power for years and who has in recent years as an adult become a leader of the political movement in favor of greater rights for Magicals. Arthur Pendragon has spent his entire life under his father’s oppressive thumb, being fed a Magic-hating propaganda he’s only ever half believed. Now, with an important vote to give Magicals greater freedoms on the horizon, Arthur has been tasked to kidnap Merlin in the hopes of stalling the vote. Only, he never counted on Merlin being so . . . Merlin.

In Spite of Everything, the Stars is one of those stories that hits hard and sticks with you long after you’ve read it. The prose is beautiful and moving, and mushroomtale’s art is just gorgeous.  We’re given a story that, on the surface, is a moving story about magic and about these two young men in an impossible situation who manage to roll with in and eventually find love and purpose and hope in spite of it all. But underneath all that, we’ve also got this powerful metaphor for minority rights and social justice that goes way beyond this imagined AU society and reaches to present-day issues in our own world. Having said that, I’m not typically a Merthur shipper (I’m actually pretty hard-core Arwen and Freylin, actually), but in this context, with the other issues being presented, it feels an appropriate ship. Also, fair warning that this story involves some pretty messed up stuff–kidnapping’s just the tip of the iceberg here–but it’s the endurance and courage of these two characters through all of this that makes the story so beautiful. So yeah, definitely recommended, if only for mature readers.

Note: You can find In Spite of Everything, the Stars at https://archiveofourown.org/works/4647243/chapters/10599906.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

The Visiting Prince (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Emachinescat

FanFiction ID: 6965383/AO3 ID: 1263553

Status: Complete (17 chapters)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Rated T, mostly for whump/violence

Prince Arthur remembers Prince Edmund of Stafford as a narcissistic, violent prat from their time spent together as children . . . but then, he was the same back then, right? It’s been years since they’ve seen each other, and surely Edmund has grown up and changed, just like Arthur has. As their kingdoms come together to sign a new peace treaty, Arthur finds this assumption challenged strongly when Merlin comes to Prince Edmund’s unwelcome attention. Because of course, Merlin can’t keep his mouth shut, and Prince Edmund was never one to let a challenge to his authority go easily. Or at all.

Emachinescat is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite authors–whether it’s fanfic or original fiction–and Merlin fanfic is one of the areas where her writing most shines. She’s got this great balance of bromance and whump that’s just a treat to read, and the characters and their relationships are just spot-on. That’s definitely the case in The Visiting Prince, although it’s actually not one of my favorite Merlin fanfics. In this story, we are presented with an OC baddie that we can truly love to hate; he’s really quite awful. As such, a lot of the story is focused on suspense and whump, with Merlin, Arthur, and the rest being backed into some pretty tight corners and not being able to do much about it. Because the threat is political and social rather than magical, we don’t get to see the BAMFery that shines in other Merlin stories. Also, due to the tight situations our heroes are stuck in, there is a limit to the bromance we get–mostly only the first couple chapters and then right at the end of the story. But what bromance we’re given is exactly in character and a lot of fun to read. So yes, The Visiting Prince isn’t my favorite of Emachinescat’s stories, but it’s a solid, well-written story that is definitely an enjoyable read.

NOTE: You can find The Visiting Prince on FFNet at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6965383/1/The-Visiting-Prince or on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/works/1263553/chapters/2607037.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

You’re Sure of a Big Surprise (aka The Adventures of Gwaine and Smelly Geoff) (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Kroki_Refur

AO3 ID: 11052399

Status: Complete (oneshot)

My rating:  4 of 5

Rated T for mild violence, innuendo, language, alcohol, and general Gwaine-ness

When an obviously unnatural beast comes at their small party in the woods, Gwaine uses his astounding observational skills to determine that it’s going after Merlin in a very specific, prejudicial manner. His equally-impressive naming skills go into calling the creature “Geoff” to Arthur’s chagrin. Actually, Gwaine’s just a font of useful skills today, which is good, because Merlin’s in trouble.

So yeah, Gwaine and Smelly Geoff is one of those stories that’s kind of challenging to summarize, and I guess there’s technically not a ton of plot–magical beast attacks, Gwaine &co. deal with the consequences, Merlin is saved, oh, and Gwaine’s not as unobservant as most folks would like to think. Where this story really shines is not so much in its plot development, however, as in its character observations. The entire thing is told from Gwaine’s point of view, and it’s done so charmingly. His personality is just brimming over throughout the whole thing, tongue-in-cheek humor, ambient innuendo, brusque caring, mostly-hidden smarts, and all. And even though the actual plot is kind of serious, because of Gwaine’s humor, the whole story is actually pretty funny to read. Also, major kudos to the author for writing the whole thing in present tense without it sticking out painfully; I was, like, halfway through before I even noticed! This was definitely a fun story and a great character study–recommended.

Note: You can find You’re Sure of a Big Surprise at https://archiveofourown.org/works/11052399.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

To Be Shared (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: clotpolesonly

AO3 ID: 2212308

Status: Complete (19 Chapters)

My rating:  4.5 of 5

Rated T for violence; otherwise, no warnings

Arthur is mortally wounded when their small hunting party is attacked, and the only way for Merlin to save him is to use magic–openly for the knights accompanying them to see. Not even a choice, in his mind, between staying safe himself and saving Arthur, his best friend and his destiny rolled into one. But, being Merlin and having a great deal of raw power but very little training in using it, he basically shoves his magic into his injured friend. It works . . . but it also leaves Arthur with magical powers himself, a warlock in his own right. Now they have to deal with not only Arthur’s reactions to finding out Merlin’s secret(s) and the knights’ reactions but also must keep Arthur’s condition from the king and teach him how to control his magic–fast!

To Be Shared was a unique and very enjoyable fanfic that I would definitely recommend. As the author mentions, it’s rare to find stories in which Arthur has magic, and I think both the concept and the execution of it in this particular fic is wonderful. The author does a great job balancing the shock and emotional conflict with the easy bromance and friendships that are present within Merlin and Arthur’s small inner circle. Add in the tensions brought by Morgana’s dark presence and the fear of discovery by Uther, and you’ve got quite a nice plot going–very engaging, and balanced by enough humor and warmth that it makes for a pretty great read. Seeing Arthur’s reactions to magic, both Merlin’s and his own, was very fun and in character. I loved how the relationship between Arthur and Merlin was handled too–“soulmates” of a sort, but NOT slash. So you’ve got that warm, supportive Arwen dynamic going on, coupled with this intimately close brotherly connection between Merlin and Arthur; let’s just say that it works really well and is also pretty consistent with what you see in canon. On which topic, it should be noted that this is a bit AU from canon right at the start, and gets moreso the further on you go, but in a way that works and is logical considering the plot development. Honestly, my sole complaint for this story is that I wish that author used clearer section breaks; you go from reading about one scene and the next topic is a completely different section, only it’s not indicated visually, so it took me a moment to recover and figure out what I was looking at a few times. Other than that, To Be Shared is a really great story that I would definitely recommend to Merlin fans everywhere.

Note: You can find To Be Shared at https://archiveofourown.org/works/2212308/chapters/4849671.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

The Big Reveal (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Anonymous

AO3 ID: 237304

Status: Complete (14 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

The cast of Merlin are filming a scene deep in a cave, working up to their upcoming scene where Merlin reveals his magic to Arthur. Unexpectedly, the lights go out, and Colin and Bradley find themselves alone together in the dark. When Bradley uses the magic he secretly has to light a candle, they discover that all the filming equipment and such is gone, and upon exiting the cave, it soon becomes apparent that they have been transported to the world of Merlin–and everyone there believes them to actually be Merlin and Arthur! Meanwhile, the real Merlin and Arthur find themselves in the baffling modern world where everyone thinks they are famous actors, not that they really know what that entails. Now they’re all going to have to play their parts until they can figure out a way to get home. At least Merlin and Bradley can finally reveal their magic to their best friends, right?

The Big Reveal was my first experience reading RPF (real-person fic), and I have to admit I’m still a bit conflicted as to how I feel about that. Because reading fictional stories about actual present-day people feels a bit . . . intrusive, to be honest. But, for this particular story, I felt like the discussion of these individuals was handled appropriately and with respect. A lot of the concepts and characterization used were pulled from publicly available sources like interviews and the YouTube videos they’ve posted. Of course, some bits are pure fiction as well, like Bradley’s having magic . . . but that did make a nice parallel to Merlin and his reveal, so it worked really well in this story. Merlin and Arthur’s characters were handled well, too–just in general, the characterizations were quite well done. The story was well written as well, again with some great parallels, solid plot development, and a good sense of balance between humor and poignancy. The final result is similar, in some respects, to something like “The French Mistake” in Supernatural, and it works surprisingly well. It makes me kind of sad that this was released anonymously, because I would read more by this author.

Note 1: You can find The Big Reveal at https://archiveofourown.org/works/237304/chapters/363763.

Note 2: If you don’t know what the fic is referring to when it talks about Colin and Bradley singing, please, please check out this video. It’ll make you smile. 😀

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

Enquiries (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: StarlightInHerEyes22

AO3 ID: 4943506

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Note: This is officially rated M, although I feel T+ is probably more accurate and the author’s just being paranoidly careful. There’s definitely some whump and blood, and yes some OC death, but nothing too crazy.

It all started when Gwaine and the other knights got the bright idea to go track down Merlin and find out his last name . . . since suspiciously no one seems to know. But when they find him in the marketplace of Camelot, Gwaine only just manages to warn Merlin in time for Merlin to avoid being stabbed by an assassin. And that’s not the only one to find him over the next few days. Not to mention, Merlin soon finds out that the twin Powysi crown prince and princess–officially at Camelot to sign a treaty with them–are actually there to “protect” Merlin. It seems that Gwaine and Merlin are the only ones who really know what’s going on, while the rest of the Round Table are clueless around them, but are these two friends even able to trust each other in light of recent revelations?

Enquiries was a very enjoyable Merlin fanfic for any number of reasons. For one thing, the writing itself is of excellent quality and is just plain fun to read. For another, the author did a great job of creating a unique, interesting plot and some complex, rich original characters–including Gwaine’s frenemy of a half-sister. Speaking of, we get some fascinating–and entirely plausible–backstory for the most secretive Sir Gwaine. Quite the can of worms to open there, I must say, but I thought that whole part was both well thought out and well executed. Plus, we get some great development on the Gwaine/Merlin friendship front, and that’s one of my favorite friendships in the whole Merlin fandom. It was nice to see a story focus so much on that, although it’s also weird to have so relatively little of Arthur in a story, if only because he figures so largely in most of Merlin’s stories. Still, both of Gwaine and Merlin and for other characters that don’t show up as much, I got the feeling that the author really understands the characters and the reasons the fandom loves them; these aspects of them are definitely highlighted. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good whumpish bromance that also has some solid plot.

Note: You can find Enquiries on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/works/4943506/chapters/11347294#comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

Please Help My People (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: M1ssUnd3rst4nd1ng

FanFiction ID: 12509765

Status: Ongoing (10 Chapters)

My rating: 5 of 5

King Arthur has had all too much experience dealing with both sorcerers and traitors, so when it is revealed that his best friend and personal servant Merlin is a liar and a sorcerer himself, Arthur thinks he knows what he’s dealing with. He demands that Merlin reveal his secret plans, his desire for power or revenge or whatever it is that sorcerers usually want. But what Merlin says in response shakes him to the core and forces him to re-evaluate his most basic beliefs about the nature of magic and those who use it . . . because Merlin asks nothing for himself, only for the good of other magic users and for Arthur’s own safety. And what is a king and a friend supposed to do when faced with a request like that?

M1ssUnd3rst4nd1ng is such a great writer of Merlin fanfic, and Please Help My People in particular is a fabulous, moving piece. It’s not so much a reveal fic (although the associated reveal itself is available as a separate fic, which I may review in the future); rather, it’s a thoughtful, rich development of the aftermath of the reveal. I love, love, love that the author actually takes into account all the various political and personal pressures that Arthur must consider when making his decisions about Merlin’s fate and about the laws regarding magic in general. Because yes, those fics where Arthur’s just like “Merlin’s my best friend, magic’s legal now, deal with it,” are adorable and sweet, but stories like Please Help My People show us the great, wise king that Arthur has always shown promise of being. The pacing in this story is slower because of the development, but the deliberation is part of the story’s charm rather than a detraction from it. I feel like the author absolutely nailed the characters, Arthur, Gwen, and Gwaine in particular. Merlin’s character feels different from normal, but seems in character considering the circumstances in which he is placed; no, really, if anything his character is richer for bringing out aspects that you don’t see as much of sometimes. And no, the story’s not all just political conversation; the balance of angst, whump, bromance, and humor is perfect. Of note, since humor isn’t really something I’ve mentioned above, I particularly love the part where the knights (sent by the king and coached on what not to do by Leon) exact revenge on the guards who hurt Merlin–satisfyingly vindictive and quite funny as well. I would highly recommend this story to all Merlin fans.

Note: You can find Please Help My People at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12509765/1/Please-Help-My-People.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

Old Habits Die Hard (Merlin/Elder Scrolls Crossover Fanfic)

Author: Emachinescat

FanFiction ID: 12160059

Status: Complete (oneshot)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Arthur’s finally back. And he soon finds out that Merlin has not been waiting idly for him. Oh no, he’s been quite busy. . . .

So, Old Habits Die Hard is a pretty random little oneshot–almost a drabble, really–set post-reincarnation. I like that it’s just an easygoing, fun picture of Merlin and Arthur enjoying their friendship with everything out in the open. The banter is fantastic. It’s also interesting the way the story is set up to play with the reader’s head (saying any more would be spoilers, for sure). Basically, this isn’t one of those epic reincarnation fics that involves huge, complex plot–but it manages to be quality writing, fun, and memorable, which is all I ask for in any story, really. Recommended.

Note: You can find Old Habits Die Hard at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12160059/1/Old-Habits-Die-Hard.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review

At a Loss for Words (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: staymagical

FanFiction ID: 9734242

Status: Complete (14 Chapters)

My rating: 4 of 5

Warnings: Mature Audience/rated T/mentions of drugs, forced addiction, mutilation, slavery, etc.

King Arthur has gone to great lengths to retrieve his servant (best friend) from the hands of the slavers who captured him. But by the time he finds Merlin, well, words like “safe” and “normal” don’t exactly cut it. Some of the things Merlin has endured are going to take a long time to recover from–like the drug addiction forced on him to make him more obedient and his stubborn determination to knock the addiction no matter how bad the withdrawal symptoms may be. Or the panic attacks and depression that plague him even after he beats the drug. And there are some things that will never be the same again . . . like the fact that they took away his ability to speak forever. All of it is so very wrong, but Arthur is determined to help his friend get through this somehow.

I know, it’s probably sadistic of me, but I really enjoyed At a Loss for Words quite a lot. Yes, it’s very whumpish, and a lot of bad stuff happens to Merlin in it, but it’s also a hopeful and sweet story; the best sort of hurt/comfort, right? I love how a great deal of the story is from Arthur’s perspective and how we actually get to see an Arthur who’s openly concerned, who takes the time to be there for his friend and acknowledge how much Merlin actually means to him. And Merlin’s sections, even though they’re angsty, are also filled with that great sass that so characterizes him. I felt like the author’s handling of some very difficult content–like addiction, withdrawals, PTSD, and depression–were tastefully handled and really added a lot to the story. And (although I love a good reveal), it was neat to see a story with lots of caring and Arthur/Merlin friendship that didn’t involve a magic reveal–but leaves us set up nicely for a potential reveal in the future. The writing isn’t always perfect, but it’s quite readable and has a nice flow and a good feel for the characters, which is honestly more important that perfect grammar and word choice. And yes, there’s at least one place in which concepts are presented that weren’t discovered until years later . . . but let’s face it, Merlin has always placed story before technicality and historical accuracy anyhow, so I can’t really bring myself to care. In all the ways that count, At a Loss for Words is a touching, intense, heartbreaking, and enjoyable story that I would definitely recommend.

Note: You can find At a Loss for Words at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9734242/1/At-A-Loss-For-Words.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Review