Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Out of the Frying Pan..." - Tortall Fanfic Review

Next fanfiction on my old favorites list is another Tortall fanfic, "Out of the Frying Pan..." by Zurizip, posted May 10th, 2002--August 24th, 2002. A cynical Mary Sue goes to Tortall in the aftermath of the Immortals War. Some chapters have no paragraph breaks.

So, there's a girl named Kat, who's based on the author... When she travels to Tortall, she takes on a new name... her username... the name Xlelon Padrifamay.

Xlelon?

Xlelon???

...And she finds she has magic, not just the Gift, but wild magic. Not just wild magic, but in some ways stronger than Daine's.

Beep, beep! Mary Sue alert! And no, her difficulty riding horses does not void her Mary Sue status.

Well, the reason given for why she's more powerful is that in our world, humans are more evil and bloodthirsty. *sigh*

Okay, the Tortallan universe is based on medieval Europe, which was much more violent than our modern world. People didn't view each other as other valuable human beings until international trade began to flourish and cooperation became more valuable than warfare. "If goods cannot cross borders, armies will."

With our global economy, we're more peaceful now than ever before. Our sensationalist news channels bring up every bad thing happening across the country and list them all together, so it seems like bad things are more prevalent, but it's just that we know about them more now. Altogether, the incidents are fewer. Xlelon--Xlelon???--brings up the atomic bomb, which is a terrible weapon to be sure, but there is extreme controversy surrounding it because people in general don't like the idea of it being used. She derisively compares it to bloodrain, a Tortallan universe chemical weapon, but that really shows that people in that universe are bloodthirsty--at least to the same degree we can be said to be bloodthirsty.

When you come right down to it, the Tortallan universe is utterly filled with horrible violence. Civilized life in Tortall is based around the royal military forces, George's friends are murderers, bandits raize towns, spidrens eat pepole, feminism is based around giving women the power to slice up people too, and other countries are always trying to invade Tortall with scary weapons and beasties. Stormwings were created to discourage war. The books interest people, but I think most can acknowledge that it's a fraking dangerous place and don't want to actually live there.

Moving on, the story has some spelling and gramatical issues. Though the spelling is nowhere near as bad as "Into the Wrong Hands", the author does have some difficulty spelling things correctly. A common mistake is spelling "clothes" as "cloths". She has a problem with capitalizing country names, spelling the United States as "united states". She also has difficulty making paragraph breaks, and most chapters begin with a large chunk of text before the dialog starts. Chapter 21--25 are actually individually made up of one huge paragraph. *grimaces* I think Fanfiction.net's weird formatting takes the real blame for that, but man!

There's also a weird thing with a character named Nealan. No, not that Nealan; a completely different Nealan. The author just liked the name and decided to make a different character named Nealan. Well, it's confusing! Especially when the first one shows up. And, what's the point? It's not like the second Nealan has much character to him!

As far as the characterization goes, only Xlelon--*facepalms*--actually has a real character. Most of the canon and original characters are bland and only there to be amazed at the wonder that is Xlelon. Xlelon does have a bit more character than the standard Mary Sue in that she is cynical, but she's also like a saintly gift to the world. She actually cares for everyone in this horrible world (that is supposedly much better than ours), and she has internal evil that allows her to speak to evil immortals as equals while at the same time isn't evil and in fact is more moral than everyone. Huh?

Xlelon also speaks very oddly for a teenager from our world. She sounds like a fantasy character already, with that slightly archiac, well-composed manner of speech. I know she must be a geek to call herself Xlelon, but I'd appreciate some acknowledgement of her as weird. You know, most of these Mary Sues would be better if they were spun as comedic rather than serious characters.

So... yeah... It's your standard boring Mary Sue story. It does switch things up a little by having her cynical and working class--making her similar to Sookie Stackhouse--but it's mostly an author avatar with way too much power showing the Tortallan universe the right way to do things. She gets to be friends with the main characters and gets to be a page and everything. It's uninteresting, and I'm kicking it off the favorites list.

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