/mlp/ Fanfic Reviews

Fallout: Equestria - Murky Number Seven

FimFiction Link - Short ID: 47300/fallout-equestria---murky-number-seven

Published: Sep '12Dec '16

Review in No. 39372125
Murky Number Seven is a 1.1M word long epic recounting the tale of of a slave living in the post-apocalyptic Fillydelphia.
While it uses the Fallout Equestria setting, knowledge of the original is not a requirement to understand the plot of MNS. Having a rough understanding of the Fo:E world can be beneficial, but I'd say you can gather most of it throughout the story.
Murky is a cowardly, small, and weak pegasus with terrible health issues. His life is far from easy, to put it very lightly, and that is precisely what makes the story such a good read. Watching the protagonist somehow overcome obstacle after obstacle that each seem completely impassable is an absolute treat to read, and watching him grow in the process is even better. Despite how obvious it is that the fic is going to have a good ending due to its hopeful tone, every single hurdle still manages to be extremely tense.
While that in itself would already make for an interesting story, where MNS shines is in its characters and their growth. While Murky's character arc is by far the best in the fic—and in all honesty, it's probably the best character arc I've ever witnessed in any form of fiction—the other characters still go through a lot of growth, and each of the five main side characters is compelling as all hell.
The fic really takes full (mostly; see below) advantage of its length. Those characters couldn't have been this good if the fic had been condensed to even 600k words, and the protagonist's journey would have been downplayed as well. It doesn't feel like it's been padded out, either (again, mostly; see below). It's actually chock full of meaningful plot and progression, which is what leaves it feeling like a complete journey.
The prose is good as well. The author has a very simple style devoid of most shades of purple. There are certain patches that are a bit rough, and there is a bit of "my sister" syndrome, but that's the absolute worst I can say about it. It is slightly jarring to see a character referred to as "my sister" over and over again, but it's a small price to pay.
The main antagonist is rather flat; he's evil for the sake of being evil. However, it doesn't hurt the fic in the slightest, surprisingly. The villain feels like a force of nature, or rather like a personified concept, rather than a living, breathing pony. However, this makes him seem that much more insurmountable, which is ultimately a great thing.
Review in No. 39372129
Of course, the fic isn't without its flaws. The biggest gripe I have with it consists of a few chapters near the middle of the fic that are essentially just misery porn. The story insists on showing, rather than telling, and it really starts dragging on. Thankfully, it's very much diagetic; it sucks to trudge through, but it also sucks for the character. Still, those few chapters could have been trimmed down a decent chunk and still have had the same impact.
The rest of my critiques are very minor flaws that I'm only able to pick up on because they contrast so strongly with the rest of the amazing stuff in the fic.
One of the character arcs feels a bit too parallel to the story. It strikes me like everything is put on hold to give that one character (Glimmerlight) her time to shine. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, there's four other character whose arcs flawlessly mesh with the main plot. Hers eventually ties into the main plot as well, but it's a lot more clumsy than the rest.
There's another character who's amazing during her story arc, but after it's concluded becomes very two-dimensional. Admittedly it leaves space for the protagonist to shine (and shine he does), but it's still a tiny bit frustrating to see.

Overall, in terms of quality, I'd consider it one of the best fics I've ever read. To me, it's on par with DOWAS or TBNE, despite its flaws. Considering I can hardly find anything negative to say about those two, this is a huge win for MNS. I finished it in May and was blown away by how good it was. Usually, if I wait a few weeks or months, my opinion of whatever fic I read cools down and I can look at it through a more objective lens. It's why I didn't bother writing a review for it at first. Well, after 7 months, I can confidently say it's a great fucking fic, because it has been living rent free in my head ever since I finished it.
9/10, utterly amazing. I recommend it to anyone willing to embark on a long, emotional journey, even if they haven't read or don't like Fallout: Equestria. In fact, it might be better to read MNS without being exposed to Fo:E's braindead decisions and just leave the worldbuilding up to your imagination.