FimFiction Link - Short ID: 141549/the-celestia-code
Published: Oct '13 — Jan '14
Nearly at the end of The Luna Cypher. I really don't think that I can comment on the writing; It's still just about as good as The Celestia Code's.
I think that the fundamental flaw of the story is that it's misleading about its genre. As a sequel, you go in expecting it to be an adventure fic like The Celestia Code. You soon discover that it's a war fic with a romance subplot. That would be acceptable, but it's also a lie. The entire war consists of two battles. It's a romance fic with a war subplot. Overall, I think this is why the fic is so hard to review. You think the romance is a weird subplot, so you grin and bare it only to discover that it's like 90% of the fucking fic.
I hope the sequels will be better, but I've lost trust in the author.
I think the fundamental problem with iisaw's writing is that they care about character drama way more than their main plot. This is what made The Celestia Code so good. It had a relatively simple plot that's constantly renewed by unexpected character moments. Conversely, it's also why The Luna Cypher sucks. Whereas The Celestia Code convinces you that the changeling shit is relevant to the story of the ruins, The Luna Cypher does nothing to convince you that the romance plot is relevant to the war. That's ultimately where The Luna Cypher goes wrong.
The question is, are the sequels the same?
I think that after The Luna Cypher, the author of The Celestia Code dialled heavily back on the character drama. This was a good move in theory, but it means that the sequels to The Luna Cypher have virtually nothing in the way of character moments. Aside from Ao slowly coming to worship her dark and evil goddess and the Mane Six's shifting attitudes on pirates, I recall no notable character moments in the sequels. I say that having read all of the spin-offs and everything else but the last two third of The Skyla Pseudonym. I think that this is what ultimately makes so much of those fics forgettable. Although plenty of consequence to the adventure is happening, little of consequence to the characters is.
Nearly finished reading The Skyla Pseudonym. The airship battles are sometimes losing me, but the effect on the story isn't much worse than The Twilight Enigma's constant chronological bouncing around. I'm still enjoying it, but the conventional wisdom that says that the series never hits same peaks as The Celestia Code is holding true. I would agree with the "either read it all or drop it after The Celestia Code" approach, but The Celestia Code isn't completely self contained. If you have it in yourself to drop it there, then by all means do it. However, I don't think that most people will. Overall, I guess I'm forced to say that people shouldn't read the series at all. Although, I'm tempted to recommend The Quest as a good one-shot for anyone.
Finished reading The Skyla Pseudonym, which puts me at the end of the series. It looks like there will be another sequel, The Cadence Conundrum, on Ao3 at some point. I'm not excited to read it, but probably will when the day comes.
As for what I thought of The Skyla Pseudonym, I suspect that it will be as forgettable as The Twilight Engima. At least I can still remember the guy who dies in Engima. With Skyla, I expect to forget all but the most plot critical characters. Ao's an exception of course, she's pretty awesome in both fics but not worth reading either for.
I think what sticks with me the most about both fics is the concepts rather than the content. I can't remember jack fucking shit about what was awesome about Twilight being Captain Blackmare and I can remember exactly one scene where Twilight being one of "The Destroyers" was relevant, but both of those ideas were awesome and will stick with me after these fics.
Both fics seem to share an issue that I can't put my finger on. Engima jumps around in time periods so much that you know that whatever you see in any given chapter isn't going to matter too much (unless it's the climax) and Skyla largely happens in another world, so you also know that it's not going to stay relevant. That doesn't mean that I don't care about what I read because I know that it won't matter. Instead, I think that the author was one step ahead and wrote little that mattered.
Speaking of the climax, I feel like the Bright/Dark stuff that came up at the end of Skyla were just two Dues Ex Machinas. They're very relevant to the overarching plot of the series, but that's on such a slow burn that I expect the series to be dropped before it resolves. I wouldn't be against reading a fic focused on the meta-plot, but that's not how iisaw writes. After The Luna Cypher, they've only done adventure fics.
I feel like I'm rambling and switching from topic to topic quite a lot, so I'll stop here. I want to say that I can't make up my mind about these fics, but I think that the truth is that I just don't have strong feelings on them. Each chapter is enjoyable and I've never detected anything but good writing, so I can't figure out why the fics aren't obviously great. Maybe it's the plots that are at fault? I really don't know. I clearly need help making up my mind here.