Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Monday, September 23, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - Of Steam Gears and Wings

At this point things are back to the daily grind and late nights studying with Pandora Radio as my only companion. I personally don't mind for one reason: stories like RavensDagger's Of Steam Gears and Wings. Stories like this one are a breath of fresh air even if it is far from perfection. The characterization of the Cutie Mark Crusaders is fantastic as they are plunged into an epic struggle between an ambitious rebellion and an empire's monstrous armada; all made possible with the power of breathtaking world building and exposition. Scene visuals are well baked and the overall presentation is excellent. If there was one issue with Of Steam Gears and Wings, it would be that the dialogue gets a bit rough in some places. Nevertheless, Of Steam Gears and Wings is nothing short of excellent. Onwards to the review!

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Of Steam Gears and Wings by RavensDagger
Incomplete (Last Updated September 11, 2013)

Ten years after a massive war, Equestria has changed. The Empire now rules over all, giving peace and prosperity to those that deserve it, but some are against this new rulership.

The CMC, a small, raggedy group of smugglers working for the Apple family, are caught red-hoofed by an Imperial patrol. As the friends fight for their lives, they learn about themselves, each other, and the world they now reside in.

Meanwhile, in Canterlot, Emperor Blueblood has amassed a massive fleet and is preparing to smash what is left of the rebellion under the oppressive hoof of his Empire. Read it here.

Tags: Tragedy, Dark, Adventure - Rating: Teen (Moderate violence throughout including some characters dying)
Words: 119,455 words total - Feature on Equestria Daily
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The cast of Of Steam Gears and Wings, featuring Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Apple Bloom, are characterized excellently! As always, there are a few moments that feel strange, due to some odd humor thrown into the mix, but these moments are few and far between. I enjoyed the main characters because their narration is pretty well done in this aspect. The reader knows what the character's attitude and main intentions are, but the narrator never directly mentions their thoughts. It's a creative approach to character interpretation and I believe it leaves the original cast open to discussion. On the topic of the original characters, Bunnyhelm, Darius, and the more supporting roles lack depth but do their job well. They're not personalities you will remember after the story wraps up, but they are far from you cardboard cutouts.  

I feel it is important to talk about the cast for a moment. No worries, I will keep it spoiler-free as possible. One character in particular caught my eye: Bunnyhelm. This pony is menacing! Every scene he is in he just rocks the stage. His lines are the most well delivered out of all the characters and his character is brilliant but I never felt he was fake. The same could go for what could be seen as his opposite: Darius. The captain is calculating and compassionate to the point of making me wish I could see more of him, even during his antagonist role. His dialogue feels forced at times, but his mini-arc was sentimental, emotional, and relate-able. I would say Bunnyhelm works well for this story as he pushes the plot further along really reflects on the story's tone, but I would like to have seen more characters like Darius that still push the story along (even if at a slower pace) and have interesting back stories and character arcs.  

But characters are, of course, not built on their own. The other elements essential to the perception of these character don't at all hinder there development. The scene visualization in particular caught my attention because it is outstanding at establishing mood, setting up the scene and emotional feedback. I can see these characters. The way they interact and the way they convey their emotions to the audience always felt fresh and smooth. The scene setup is just as well done; scene transitions never interrupt the flow of the story and are well worded. Overall, Of Steam Gears and Wings features graceful visualization that never leaves the reader guessing and doesn't slam the brakes in the process.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Of Steam Gears and Wings has got to be its world building. The exposition and the first chapter does a great job at getting you interested and informed of the world's principle elements, and it's onward and upwards from there. From imaginative technologies and gizmos to the political dystopia of the Empire, it's hard not to get engrossed into this diesel punk universe.  

It's a big world and my main concern with stories featuring an ambitious plot would be if it flows well. Surprisingly, Of Steam Gears and Wings' pacing is excellent. Key plot points don't feel rush yet don't stretch too long. The story progresses well as it went from brief exposition to tension-filled rising action to its first climax. It's a nicely done arc which doesn't lax or speed up unexpectedly.

If I had one issue with Of Steam Gears and Wings, it would be that the dialogue needs some polish. It's feels organic for the most part, but I call name many moments where conversations feel choppy. Occasionally, there is a line or two that feels forced; usually as a result of the out-of-place humor. However, this usually happens in the first chapters as the story is unveiling. The dialogue underwent a major improvement after the tone became much steadier. Even then, there were some rough patches, but they are few and far between. 

To wrap this review up: I thoroughly enjoyed Of Steam Gears and Wings. While characters don't see much development, they push the story along with one or two personalities stealing the show. However, scene visualization is consistently superb while keeping the pacing well-done. It could still use some polish, but the dialogue greatly improves after some oddities in the early chapters. I can easily say I would recommend you pick this one up if you're looking for an action packed adventure with some neat world building. Before I go, this review premieres our Stories Back From the Read contest. If you enjoyed Of Steam Gears and Wings, make sure to click the banner below to vote for it when the polls open! This has been Admujica. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic week everypony!

Of Steam Gears and Wings gets a score of: 8.2 out of 10 - Excellent
Gorgeous writing and imaginative world building guide the reader through a brilliant plot with a few dialogue hiccups
Read it here

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  1. Sweet! I'll be sure to tell Raven about this. It is also really great to see a story I have edited on this site.

    1. I enjoyed Of SGW a lot and it definitely ranks as one of my top favorites. RavensDagger is actually very well informed of the review.

      In fact, he is participating in the contest going on right now! I'm sure he'd be happy to see some editors rally up some voters. (wink wink)