FimFiction Link - Short ID: 7335/apotheosis
Published: Jan '12
Much of what I said about this fic's prequel, Off The Edge Of The Map (OTE), also applies to Apotheosis so I'll redirect (You) to the review in >>39426936 and >>39426945. Having said that, there are some significant differences between the two that I need to address.
The first thing you'll probably notice when starting the fic is that the author got noticeably better and grew more confident about his skills.
The former is great. Mistakes and typos are still unfortunately common here (it opens on a paragraph with two different speakers), but the fic is a lot smoother. The latter is a more controversial development. On one hand, it let the fic be more creative than the comfort of OTE's homely pony-flavored traditional fantasy allowed. On the other hand, it led to some 'creative' ideas of dubious merit. Similarly, the prequel slightly struggled with conveying what is happening. It was only really a problem once, but Apotheosis ran into this issue a few more times.
The main cast is different. RD and FS were the highlight of the prequel. They were written in-character and changed during their quest in a very natural way.
Well, Apotheosis has Twilight and Luna instead. Twilight is fine; maybe a bit unfocused, but she's a good character who doesn't feel too OOC.
I can't say the same about Luna. Chapter 1 states that she has been afraid and jealous of Twilight since she was de-NMM'd. This Luna was merely pretending in Luna Eclipsed to get along with Twilight, almost hating her instead. Subverting an established character so hard is the bad kind of OOC. She's also constantly haunted by her dark past(tm), spouting horse remorse at every opportunity. This is all meant to be a part of her "character development" and setup for a romantic relationship with Twi, but I strongly dislike Luna in the first half of the fic, the "change" felt super forced.
Credit where it's due, the Tuna ship has been done well, but even that suffers from parts where the subtlety gets thrown out the window just to move the arc forward. Speaking of, Twilight's main arc was rushed and underwhelming as fuck.
The fic tries to improve on OTE's signature format. There's a better in-universe excuse and the transitions are less jarring but–due to a weaker setting and OOC characters–the first chunk of Apotheosis reads like a worse OTE to me. Thankfully it improves in the second half. As Luna changes for the better, so does the fic. That part is good enough to make up for some of the issues I've had with the first chapters. The fic decides to focus on its own main plot over the mini-settings, and it works.
I don't want to make Apotheosis look bad. Even the half of it that I consider to be worse is quite good. The issues don't overshadow the good parts, the worldbuilding is nice and Daetrin's writing is pleasant to read. It didn't quite resonate with me like OTE did, even if I can see why many consider it to be a superior story. That's a respectable 7/10.
'Apotheosis' is a fortysix-thousand word adventure fic. Luna and Twilight end up stranded in a distant realm.
Compared to its predecessor, 'Apotheosis' feels like a step forward in some aspects and a step to the side in others. In terms of prose, it's still quite confusing at places, even when that is not the intent and I had to force myself not to have my eyes glaze over in some sections of particularly obtuse and purple prose. This is, at the end of the day, a stylistic choice and I do respect the author's wide palette of words, but still, the story is simply hard to read at times and that can really throw a wrench in an experience otherwise so much about strong feelings. Besides this, I did like the various typesetting tricks and colorful descriptions. This fic truly feels like one that was written before most of the "unbendable" rules of FiM fanfics were set into stone and even if this makes comprehension hard in some places, it also provides for a very interesting and unique experience.
In terms of plot, I'm at a bit of a loss what to think. On one hand, the "stages" Twilight and Luna visit are far more exciting and wondrous than Flutters and Rainbow did. From freeing an ancient prisoner, to defeating an enemy that cannot be seen nor touched, the stakes are a lot higher this time around. I really enjoyed how dreamlike and fantastical these locations were, it is truly where the author shines.
There is, as you might expect, a "but" though. That is the characters. I enjoyed Luna, even if she is at times edgier and more emo than a scene kid in the early 2010s. Her fearing Twilight is an angle I haven't seen in any other story before and it gave her character a really interesting angle. Her slow warming up to Bookhorse was also sweet and for a while I was certain I'll really love their interaction... Only for Twilight to be a complete autist. I'm genuinely sorry I have to phrase it like this, but she is insufferable. Despite being in a life and death situation and constantly being hunted by beasts of several varieties, she keeps on acting like a goofy "everything's gonna be fine!" character and while I'm sure the author wrote her this way to offset Luna's brooding, I really-really didn't like it and I felt it took away a lot from the story's seriousness. I also found the two characters' romance a bit too sudden. The flirtation is far more obvious here, yet the whole "Luna being forced to confess her love and then kiss Twilight into godhood" felt like three to four chapters crammed into two. At the end of the day, it's not the end of the world, but it was a bit too fast for what should've beeen the crowning moment and slow "victory march" of this fic.
Overall: 7/10 With its oddities and archaicisms, 'Apotheosis' is still a creative and fun adventure, that mostly improves on its predecessor, with impressive locations and whimsical characters. Can recommend.