I would like to address something briefly before moving on to the review. As many of you have heard, actor and comedian Robin Williams was pronounced dead in his home last Monday. The actor behind Genie in Aladdin and John Keating in Dead Poet Society brought so much joy and inspiration to my friends and I over the years. The news of his apparent (now confirmed) suicide came as a shock to all of us. Mr. Williams was battling depression leading up to this and his death serves as a grim reminder that anxiety and depression is something that many people suffer through every single day. My friends, I invite you to remember this amazing man and help in the battle against these horrible conditions. If you can spare the time and money, please take a moment and consider joining me in donating to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
And for those of you considering suicide, I've been there before. I understand even thinking about taking you own life takes a lot of courage. Whatever pushed you there might be tough to get through, but I beg you: don't give up. I'm sure you've heard it all before, but your life is worth so much more. Here's the number for the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or my inbox is always open if you'd like someone to talk to. Here's a link for other countries and their lifeline numbers.
Thanks for reading and now on to the review:
Do you like adventure? Do you like intense action that puts the main character's life in constant jeopardy? Then you'll like this story. AdrianVesper's The Sword Coast follows the journey of Twilight Sparkle, a young ward and apprentice of Star Swirl, as she tracks down the conspirators and circumstances behind her mentor's murder. It's a pulse-pounding tale full of well done action and interesting characters. Unfortunately, The Sword Coast has no lack of problems that can easily put off some readers. From it's lackluster exposition and choppy dialogue, its shortcomings are few but glaring. Head down below the break for my review of The Sword Coast by AdrianVesper.
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The Sword Coast by AdrianVesper
Complete! (Completed on 18th Oct 2013)
Tags: Adventure, Dark, Crossover, Alternate Universe - Teen: Gore (Strong Violence)
Word Count: 161,399 words total - Featured on Equestria Daily
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The Sword Coast's opening chapters fly by in blur and introduce characters quickly to get to the real meat of the story. While I personally believe stories that take their time to develop characters before jumping into the action are better off, I can't say The Sword Coast doesn't benefit from this charge through the introduction. Albeit the emotional scene with Twilight and Mrs. Cake is rather tedious, the scenes following really left the reader asking as many questions as Twilight and established that she's probably not going to get a chance to turn back or rest once she takes on this adventure. The sense of urgency in Twilight and company translates into how quickly the plot progresses and the tension throughout feels justified as an aura of urgency.
If there's one thing that really shines in The Sword Coast, it would be its many action scenes. I'm not using “many” lightly here. There are a numerous amount of exciting, high intensity action sequences that never failed to put me on edge. Twilight's foes steady grew in strength and kept the encounters fresh, something I feel authors forget to do with stories that contain several confrontations. However, I would say the excellent battle scenes can be attributed to AdrianVesper's scene visualization and writing style. It has a sense of motion that flows with the action and makes you feel every punch and stab of the fight. I also found it interesting how his writing style changes as Twilight's character arch, which touches on violence and the toll killing takes on her, evolves. In the case of The Sword Coast, it really is the small details that won the day.
If The Sword Coast had an Achilles Heel, it would be its dialogue. Nothing stood out to me but I'll be the first to admit lines felt organic and well voiced. This is perhaps due to the fact AdrianVesper certainly plays it safe and doesn't struggle with cheesy humor or cringe-worthy speeches. The real problems sprout when lines break the flow of the conversation. While it doesn't happen so much in between the Mane6, exchanges with other characters feel clunky and awkward at times. This is most likely amplified in the face of the well done narrative and complex themes presented in Twilight's character arch. Nonetheless, the dialogue is definitely one of The Sword Coast's weaker aspects.
As mentioned, Twilight's character is The Sword Coast's defining feature in more ways than not. I don't say this because she's the main character but because her quest to avenge her mentor's murder isn't the focus of this particular tale. Instead, AdrianVesper took a very unique approach to the killing we have often seen in video games, film and other mediums of fiction that puts the whole thing on its head. Twilight suffers throughout her quest due to the bloodshed she often causes in the name of answering the questions surrounding Star Swirl's murder and, unfortunately, faces serious emotional breakdowns when she doesn't find them. Twilight's arch touches on some deep and complex themes when she commits some crimes that are grave at best and heinous at worst. This is expertly done as taking someone's life becomes less and less difficult for her but Twilight's nightmares and paranoia become more and more concerning.
However, I feel this wouldn't be as interesting if it wasn't for one other character that accompanies Twilight throughout her adventures. Pinkie Pie plays the role as moral compass and often denounces Twilight's means of accomplishing her goals, even if she is Twilight's childhood friend. She plays her role excellently, especially in the first act of the story when Twilight begins leaning a bit too much towards psychopathic mass murderer. Even as she became less prominent in the second act, Pinkie was unquestionably one of The Sword Coast's best supporting characters.
Aside from Twilight and Pinkie, who share much of the same back story, The Sword Coast's cast remains relatively small with the rest of the Mane 6 joining their quest. While they stay dear to their elements from the show, their back stories might deviate greatly depending on who you ask. Rarity, for example, is a seamstress who has connections with some of the richest merchants and nobility in the Empire by day, but steals from the greedy and gives to the poor by night. Each has their moment with Twilight's attention sometime during the plot; mostly with personal requests to solve some problem from the past. While some are more interesting than others, they are supporting characters who really aren't all that memorable. Don't get me wrong, this is certainly not a bad thing. Just don't expect too much from the supporting cast.
World building certainly isn't the main focus of this story but that doesn't mean it isn't just as well done as some its other mechanics. There's obviously a lot of imagination behind the world of The Sword Coast and learning about it was greatly satisfying. However, I've had friends tell me it reminds them of something from a role-playing game, so it comes as no surprise to learn that it's greatly inspired by BioWare's CRPG Baldur's Gate. While the world was interesting to learn about, there are some unfortunate exposition drops that were big enough to break the reader's immersion. They don't happen often often enough to break the pace of the story as a whole but, particularly in the second act, they tend to be rather tedious.
From it's fantastic character development of Twilight and fast pace and exciting action, The Sword Coast is an excellently written and well thought-out story. If it wasn't for some clunky dialogue and huge exposition dumps, it would probably be one of the best stories I've read as of late. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend reading it.This has been Amy Clockwork. I'll see you next week.