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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:17 pm 
The Artist formerly known as Rhoenix
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(To mods: if there's a more appropriate forum for this post/thread, please feel free to move it with my blessings. My thanks in advance.)

A highly wordy and unnecessary intro title

So. We currently have Havoc's music reviews, Havoc's movie reviews, Frigid's book reviews, and Hotfoot's game reviews. While I don't have anything so high-minded as any of those things, I figured I'd throw out this review thread for people who like reading good fiction concerning a currently-established universe. In other words, fanfic.

I've collected a number of links to works over the years, but I'll only post reviews of the ones that made an impact on me in some way that was memorable. Don't worry, I'm not going to MST3K here, because I'm only going to review stuff I think is good enough to recommend to someone. Your mileage may vary of course, but I would welcome discussion here about them.

For them to appear in this list though, the work has to make me think, and in the really good cases, to wonder "what if." In the best cases, I won't have to wonder.




Title: Mass Effect: Kye Shepard's Story
Universe: Mass Effect (covers events of all three games)
Link: http://archiveofourown.org/series/4060
Score: 9

This review will cover all stories in this series: Iunctio, Iunctio: Wrex, Onus, Domus, Xun, Exitus, Resono, and Certus. The events covered in the stories cover all the effects of the games, focusing less on what was covered directly by the games, and instead expanding on "off-screen" moments at the beginning, though slowly grows to add additional details of the games later on - both with equally impressive results.

Onus, Domus, Xun, and Resono cover time between games, filling in additional events and history with characters, and all of them are done quite well. Shepard's old SpecOps CO is introduced, and some other interesting conjectures happen about just how deep Cerberus' fingers run within the Alliance.

This series sets out to be a character study of the characters in the games, trying to get more into their heads, and into the worlds in which they live, and with that, it succeeds admirably. The culmination of the series, Certus, is the work I am very tempted to recommend on it's own, as the author manages to slightly tweak the timeline and events of ME3 in such a way that it truly feels satisfying when you get to the end.

When you're novelizing the events of a game, the temptation can be strong to "tweak" certain things to make things easier for the hero, whether in small ways or large. In this series though, the author recognizes that some of the very best stories are borne of conflict and hardship, and even adds additional things that unlike the games, become very personal for Shepard. This culminates viscerally in Certus, and the author makes sure to weave a strong undercurrent of fighting against hopelessness and fear in the face of certain annihilation, something I didn't quite feel the games got across very well story-wise. It also ends with a properly satisfactory ending, one that in my mind makes much more sense than ME3 did. The events at the end of ME3 weren't changed, per se, but they are expanded upon in a way that makes them even more imposing, while also making an awful amount of sense.

Most chapters of each story focus on one character as the main perspective, seeing things from their view, which helps one to better understand and identify with that character. This is done impressively from the start, and only gets more impressively done as the series progresses.

You don't have to necessarily read the other stories before jumping right into Certus, but they're good enough that I recommend you go from the beginning.

My final score for this fan-fiction series of stories is collectively a 9. I would (and am) recommend them to a friend in search of reading a good story.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:06 am 
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A quick update - I have not forgotten this thread. However, in keeping with my personal commitment to not recommend things that are terrible and offend the eyes and mind, here are my criteria for putting stories up here. Hopefully, this will explain why at times this thread will go un-updated for a time. While I have several of these bookmarked, I feel it would be remiss of me to recommend them when they are not yet complete.

1. It has to be complete.

I'm not recommending a half-finished work. Few things irritate me more than reading a fairly good story, only to hit a wall face-first as I realize it isn't finished yet. Yes, I get that TV does this all the time, but I acknowledge that this is very much a personal quirk of mine. Nonetheless, it is true all the same.


2. It has to offer something of value to the universe for which it is a tribute.

In other words, it has to offer something that adds to the universe in which it takes place. Another dimension to characters, more depth of detail of events, a greater personal stake in what happens...something. If I don't feel as if it does so for the universe in which it is written, then it won't be posted here.



And lastly,

3. It has to not suck.

This is more a corollary to #2, but still true. A story must have human elements, some good technical elements, a coherent plot, and internal consistency for it to merit my approval.

So.

With all this said, I am considering 2 works to link here. Once I am satisfied that they are worth recommending, I will do so, and perhaps with more words than the first.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:34 pm 
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rhoenix wrote:
1. It has to be complete.

I'm not recommending a half-finished work. Few things irritate me more than reading a fairly good story, only to hit a wall face-first as I realize it isn't finished yet. Yes, I get that TV does this all the time, but I acknowledge that this is very much a personal quirk of mine. Nonetheless, it is true all the same.


So there goes most of my works, especially if you consider the ongoing series stories like UF or TPOAN. :evil: :razz:

Oh well....

Spoiler: show
Okay, yes, this is something of a shameless plug for my stuff. My ego needs the occasional feeding.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:19 pm 
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I likely won't include any reviews of works already posted here, for the simple reason that we're all members here, and know what quality of writing our writers here have. It'd be a bit redundant in my eyes, since we review one another's works anyway.

Now mind you, as I said earlier, I do have multiple unfinished works in my bookmarks; but as I said, recommending an unfinished work seems wrong to me, so I won't. Call me eccentric. :biggrin:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:52 pm 
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Title: Mass Effect: Glorious Shotgun Princess
Universe: Mass Effect, Exalted
Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8107629/1/ ... n-Princess
Score: 8

This is a crossover fic, and its author cheerfully blends madness with a proper story. It involves Reapers effectively being Abyssals, in case you're worried about this being a curbstomp. This story is glorious madness all the way through, never quite takes itself seriously, but instead revels in the complete insanity with great amounts of humor.

I won't spoil very much of this story, since it's too good to do so. It does begin with Shepard Exalting as a Zenith instead of dying on Alchera at the beginning of the ME2 storyline, and the glorious madness picks up from there.

I will say however that Legion is instead named Wuffles in this story, and they perform much awesome.

This story does apparently have a sequel, in which Kal'Reegar (chosen of the Maiden of Journeys) and Wuffles go on misadventures, helping Autochthon find his lost tools, with... very unpredictable results. Unfortunately, the sequel isn't finished, and doesn't appear that it will be.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:18 pm 
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I'm surprised the author finished this one. He has a tendency to jump from story to story.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:20 pm 
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rhoenix wrote:
I likely won't include any reviews of works already posted here, for the simple reason that we're all members here, and know what quality of writing our writers here have. It'd be a bit redundant in my eyes, since we review one another's works anyway.

Now mind you, as I said earlier, I do have multiple unfinished works in my bookmarks; but as I said, recommending an unfinished work seems wrong to me, so I won't. Call me eccentric. :biggrin:


I know that feeling well. I have.... issues with just sitting down and writing a "one off" fic, no, I end up creating massive storylines that will take hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words to explore.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:21 pm 
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Title: Of Paws and Hands
Universe: The Hobbit (LotR), A Game of Thrones
Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9522707/1/ ... -and-Hands
Score: 7

To begin with, I'm not overly familiar with A Game of Thrones, having only seen a clip or two here and there. This story basically takes the concept of an Amarok (evidently, something akin to a Garou, only without the gifts, drama, or crinos form), and runs with it. Literally.

The writing, pacing, characterization, and such all treat the original Hobbit source material with both gravity and respect - just because a mini-Garou has joined Bilbo and the dwarves doesn't mean the author gives into the temptation to "fix" everything. All too often in fanfiction, I see crossing universi as a way to basically have one universe go "ZOMG U R the AWSUM & WE R DUM LOL", which is grating on the nerves at best. Instead, this is treated as a character study - nearly all the events in the story unfold in more or less the same way they do in The Hobbit, though with a few understandable differences.

There's some wolvish mysticism (due to the Amarok being a thing), but, like before, it's not used to cheat - instead, it's used as paint to illustrate the character and her people better.

The one real complaint I could level at The Hobbit was that it was a bit of a sausage-fest, what with the severe lack of notable female characters in it. I completely understand that this is due to my perspective in the now looking at a work created several decades ago, and I get why Tolkien did it at the time. However, Peter Jackson's decision to add the character Tauriel to the Hobbit movie trilogy was made for the same reasons as I appreciate there being a good female character in this story, and I agree with both. Speaking of which, Tauriel and Legolas do make minor appearances in the story, based on their portrayal in the recent movies, which is another thing I'm okay with. Neither are in the spotlight any longer than they need to be, and like with all the other characters, they are treated with respect by the author.

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Last edited by rhoenix on Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 2:27 am 
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Amarok

I really hope the writer didn't just steal a word from mythology to apply it to werewolves. That gets annoying.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:56 am 
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Thanks, Frig, I was going to go look it up myself, because it's totally not in Song of First and Ice.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:10 am 
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Either way, this fanfic was my first introduction to the term, so I've honestly no idea as to it's proper use. I will warn potential readers though that how it ends is a good ending, but one that forces this tale to be one self-contained, and not as a lead-in to Lord of the Rings.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:44 pm 
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Well the Hobbit was not written as a lead in to the Lord of the Rings, the fact that it functions as such today and does so fairly well is a testament to Tolkien's writing talent and retconning skills.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:59 pm 
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frigidmagi wrote:
Well the Hobbit was not written as a lead in to the Lord of the Rings, the fact that it functions as such today and does so fairly well is a testament to Tolkien's writing talent and retconning skills.


This is very true - something I noticed when I read The Hobbit and then the LotR trilogy is that they have a very different feel to them. And you're absolutely right - Tolkien picked up the threads he wove for himself with The Hobbit, and expanded them by orders of magnitude for the trilogy. Reading them now impresses me even more, and I'm grateful that I'm able to pick up the nuances and subtleties of his writing more easily now.

As a quick aside, I do believe I hit upon a goldmine of fan fiction for Lord of the Rings. Yes, I know that reads as a contradiction in terms, but I assure you it is quite the opposite. The fanfic author Thundera Tiger has written many short stories to cover small gaps that happened in the LotR trilogy, and this author treats the language, dialects, and little things of language into account properly. To these eyes, quite a few of the stories read as if they were supposed to be included in the trilogy, which is something that impresses me to no small degree. My first recommendation is the story Hunting, which has this description: "On the slopes of Amon Hen, the Fellowship was broken. In describing this crisis, the books tell us that Aragorn detoured to the Seat of Seeing, that Frodo and Sam crossed the Anduin, that Boromir died defending Merry and Pippin, and that Merry and Pippin were made captives of the orcs. But what of Legolas and Gimli? All Tolkien says on the subject is that they went hunting..."

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:00 pm 
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As a sidenote for the earlier commentary though, reading Of Paws and Hands did make me wonder what a World of Darkness crossover with the Lord of the Rings story would be like, concerning the Changing Breeds specifically. I certainly acknowledge that adding the Changing Breeds to Arda might be a bit unbalancing if copied over in whole cloth, but considering the mentions of Beorn, the werewolves that fell to Sauron's control, and other tidbits here and there, it does make me wonder.

And suddenly, the idea of Merry or Pippin being a nuwisha makes me snicker uncontrollably.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:10 pm 
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You'd have to rewrite the WoD side of it so completely it wouldn't even be a crossover. It's not very unnecessary anyways, the Hobbit and Silmarillion make it clear that there are shape changers in middle earth, they just don't figure very much in the stories we're given.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:36 pm 
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frigidmagi wrote:
You'd have to rewrite the WoD side of it so completely it wouldn't even be a crossover. It's not very unnecessary anyways, the Hobbit and Silmarillion make it clear that there are shape changers in middle earth, they just don't figure very much in the stories we're given.


True - such a thing would end up basically just using the Changing Breeds' mythos as inspiration to creatively manipulate what's already there.

And this does bring to mind a tangential thing - something that never really sat well with me was that fact that apart from the "good" species (human, hobbit, elf, and dwarf), creatures that are as intelligent as they while also being good are very few and far between. Smaug was obviously deeply intelligent, but had a sadistic streak as wide as Sauron's skid-marks. Beorn wasn't really evil per se, but could be best described as neutral, or as a very occasional ally. The werewolves were universally evil. Many of the more interesting species Tolkien showed to me had potential to become much less one-dimensional. For instance - the Wild Men weren't all Sauron's minions, so why should beings such as werewolves and the like all universally fall to the Enemy's kind and gentle attentions?

The overall feel of this is that the free peoples very much have the deck stacked against them, and while this feeling is good for dramatic tension (as everyone likes stories of people overcoming improbable odds to succeed), it never really sat well with me. To me, it gives the impression that Morgoth and Sauron are very much on the winning side, being able to push all the Free Peoples onto the defensive, except for random and unlikely plans that the Free Peoples manage to come up with at the last minute.

I suppose there's a part of me that wants to see the Free Peoples be able to push back properly, to do audacious things that would knock Sauron back on his heels for a while. I get the impression from snippets of the Silmarillion that the elves did this to a degree in the First Age, but even then it appeared that they were fighting a defensive battle, which is not the best place to be, as one's opponents can better predict your next action this way. Yes, dramatic tension, I get it, and such circumstances make it more easy psychologically for dispirate personalities to become friends over time. Still.

Meh. I suppose if I want to see an army of wolves charging at orc battle lines, only to see the wolves change into large half-man, half-wolf forms, and begin terrorizing, I'll have to write it myself. Dammit, I want to see werewolves on the side of the free peoples, doing a mass charge that would make King Theoden and the Rohirrim proud.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:42 pm 
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Read. The. Appendix.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:47 pm 
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frigidmagi wrote:
Read. The. Appendix.


My friend, you are certainly not the first to suggest that I do so this week. I will as soon as I finish Return of the King once more.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:07 pm 
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Title: History Teaches Us
Universe: The Hobbit (LotR)
Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1127568
Score: 9

Let's get the bad out of the way first - this is a "character goes back in time and do things differently this time around" type of story, except it's played completely straight. Thorin is told by Mahal/Aule after his and his nephews' deaths that he'd better do a more impressive job this time around, and gets sent back to shortly before he left the Blue Mountains to begin his quest for Erebor. He is not given any special powers or anything else of the sort, just the full knowledge (and guilt) of his mistakes last time. This, as you might imagine, encourages him to begin changing things almost immediately, so the larger changes later will be easier.

His challenge, above and beyond simply doing better than last time, is to do better in such a way that sets the stage properly for things to come. It quickly becomes clear to him that despite the fire, Smaug is actually one of the easier and more straightforward of his challenges. Directly answering for the crimes of his grandfather, forging alliances anew, and acting properly as a king should turns out to be quite a bit trickier, even (and especially) when it comes to dealing with King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm, as well as the People of Lake-Town.

This story is more about diplomacy and intrigue than before, but this is one of the rare instances in fan fiction (or other forms of media, for that matter) where the idea and execution of that idea are both equally good. Thorin has resolved himself to be less headstrong, and more willing to listen to others, which has the result of people fearing him less, and respecting him more - even if Dwalin is more willing to mock his sense of direction in public. He listens to the rest of them, and doesn't take them for granted as he did before - and this has repercussive effects down the line with how they're seen and perceived by others.

If I were to level any complaints about it, it would be something that Peter Jackson did right in the Hobbit trilogy, which was to show what Gandalf was up to in Dol Goldur - which this story does not get into. That's however a very minor complaint, considering that Thorin is meant to be the main character for this story.

After all the changed events occur in the story, we are treated to the last third of the story unfolding rather differently than before, in a way that follows sense, and makes one chuckle more to read. How the author deals with events in the Woodland Realm alone is very different from the canon story, and I find myself quite liking how it was told, and how it turned out.

There are a few single chapter stories in the same series of this story, treated as "deleted scenes" of this story. There is also a sequel in the works to cover the events of LotR, and the author is doing their best to carry on from the somewhat changed Middle Earth that resulted from Thorin's do-over.

The characterization, writing, pacing, and storyline of this story all impressed me very much, and included much more of the diplomacy I always felt was missing from the events in The Hobbit. Your milage of course may vary, but I've found myself re-reading this story twice already.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:48 pm 
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I am reading this and hearing Movie-Thorin talking LOL

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 11:12 pm 
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LadyTevar wrote:
I am reading this and hearing Movie-Thorin talking LOL


If you keep imagining each of the characters with their movie representations, it gets funnier, and much more interesting fast. ;)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:41 pm 
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rhoenix wrote:
LadyTevar wrote:
I am reading this and hearing Movie-Thorin talking LOL


If you keep imagining each of the characters with their movie representations, it gets funnier, and much more interesting fast. ;)
Oh yes, it did. It was so good I stayed up all night and day to read it and the LoTR story that follows it. I am now all caught up on the chapters.... but the story is ongoing, dammit. Now I have to wait for them to post more chapters. :cry:

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 11:38 pm 
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Ok, so I'm breaking my "no incomplete works rule" with this one, and for the reason that at this point, this story is unlikely to be finished.

Title: The Mission Stays the Same
Universe: Crossover (Mass Effect universe, with some Warhammer 40k characters)
Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7436717/1/ ... s-the-Same
Score: 7

So. Yes, this story was last updated July of 2014, and is unlikely to be continued at this point. The author lives (hopefully still does) in the Ukraine, and the last update I saw was worry about the current state of events in that country.

That aside, this is basically a "transplant characters of universe x into universe y, and let hilarity ensue" sort of story, but handled relatively well. The characterization and writing are both good, and the dilemmas are handled pretty well, overall. Characters grow, change over time, and speak with one another in a way that flows easily, and reads well.

The character transplants are an Imperial Guard, and an Eldar Farseer, who are tossed into the ME universe during the earlier events of ME2. Note that at the beginning, they are nowhere close to being friends, despite the circumstances that conspired to throw them elsewhere.

Both people have their biases, and reading both reminded me of talks I've listened to from several people about Warhammer 40k, where each faction is perfectly understandable, as long as you understand their motivations - if you try to judge someone based on motivations familiar to you, they might just end up seeming inscrutable. This aspect is actually played up pretty well in this story, especially as this aspect begins to fade over time due to the non-homogeneity of Shepard's crew.

Unfortunately, the story is halted just as it really hits its stride. So, be aware that this is an incomplete work, and one that will likely never be finished.

However, after going through my list o' fanfic I still have links to earlier today, and remembered this one. In my eyes, it's good enough to not be forgotten, even as it fades into the dusty part of the Internet where things that haven't been updated in at least a year go.

EDIT: Damn copy/paste jobs. Reduced rating from 9 to 7.

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"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes."

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What? There's nothing weird about having a pet housefly. He smuggles cigarettes for me.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:01 pm 
The Artist formerly known as Rhoenix
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Location: "Here," for varying values of "here."
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Title: It's an Odd Coincidence
Universe: Crossover (X-Men, Lord of the Rings)
Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4828018/1/ ... oincidence
Score: 8

So. Logan Howlett, aka Wolverine, somehow gets transported to Middle Earth, shortly before the Fellowship starts out. One of the first things that endeared this story to me was the fact that Logan mistakes Gandalf for Magneto, and attacks him.

It only gets better from there, I assure you - especially when Logan thinks Glorfindel looks effeminate, and tells him so. The rest of the quest is done equally well, with many good character moments.

The author played this whole story concept straight, and it works quite well. I chuckled a good couple of times while reading it, and I've had it saved for a while now for being as good as it is.

_________________
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes."

- William Gibson


Josh wrote:
What? There's nothing weird about having a pet housefly. He smuggles cigarettes for me.


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