Okay, I've decided to start reviewing fanfiction because of late I've been finding stories that really work for me on many levels. What I discover in the fics that I love is that they take the usual tropes and put a spin on them that is memorable. A Letter Home by Winter Wren (over at AO3) has hit me in the feels. There're a lot of Dragon Age Inquisitor fics doing the rounds that are basically a retelling of DA:I from the Quizzy's point of view, and yes, all too often they're female Lavellan getting it on with a certain bald apostate hobo elf, so what Winter Wren has done has been fresh – for me, at least.
(Hey, I'm guilty as charged with writing mainly Solavellan smut, but jawellnofine, this is fanfiction we're talking about.)
Okay. So, I'm no huge fan of The Iron Bull. I appreciate him as a character, and as Patrick Weekes said in this most excellent interview that I totally recommend listening to, it would have been so easy to make Bull really one-dimensional. And yet ... He is a character who has surprising depth beneath that tough façade. Unfortunately he just never blew my hair back (though I admit that I had the horrible feels at the end of my second run through the Trespasser DLC, and now I will forever feel bad for all the Vashoth running around southern Thedas post-Trespasser in that particular version of the game).
And I so didn't see myself reading an entire fic featuring a Bull romance with a Vashoth Quizzy, but there you have it. I pretty much ate through and loved all of A Letter Home, even though it didn't truly cover fresh ground considering it's a reconstruction of the main game narrative.
Yet Winter Wren does absolutely amazeballs OCs. Her characterisation is beautiful, and she seamlessly blends in backstory in such a way to flesh out her characters without resorting to reams of exposition. Anaan Adaar (the Quizzy's father as wonderful secondary character) and Inquisition agent Turner's moments together are priceless – the unlikely friendship warms my heart. I particularly loved how Anaan interacted with Varric over an evening of Wicked Grace (I'd been dying to see the two hang out since the beginning of the story). My inner editor did very little twitching (as in I was more than happy to overlook a few bumps because the writing is so smooth), and in fact I'd happily say here is one fic writer who could most certainly file off the serial numbers and give it a go writing novels. Dialogue as well, between characters, is lively and sparkling, and had me chuckling at a number of points. (Note to authors, yes, characters can make off-colour jokes from time to time, and embarrass each other, or tease, and it's fun, and makes things feel more authentic.)
Essentially, this is the story about Bull coming to terms with his life after the Qun, and Meraad Adaar getting a handle on her role as Inquisitor while also processing issues from her past and finding love in a most unexpected way. The two together make a beautiful couple and yes, this is heavier on the romance angle, but the action sequences (especially the dragon hunt in the Hinterlands) are solidly executed.
There is more, and I'm looking forward to the other stories.
I will be reviewing more fanfiction as I go along, but my preference is for IPs that I'm familiar with and stories that resonate with me, mostly Middle-Earth and Dragon Age; and as such, I am not open to queries to read stories.