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Complete no matter how brightly a torch may burn by mayfriend - ASOIAF

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by Otters, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. Otters

    Otters Seventh Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Jun 8, 2010
    High Score:
    Title: no matter how brightly a torch may burn
    Author: mayfriend
    Fandom: ASOIAF / Game of Thrones
    Status: Kinda complete, kinda abandoned - see review
    Pairing: Sansa/Cersei/Robert Baratheon
    Genre: Time-Travel
    Length: 42,868 words
    It is the end of the world, and due to magic and plot, Sansa's consciousness is permanently transported into the past; into Cersei's body immediately before she meets King Robert in the Sept of Baelor.

    How does Sansa, as Cersei, change the realm for better or for worse politically and personally as Queen? How does Sansa, as Cersei, deal with being married to Robert? And how on earth does Sansa, as Cersei, deal with being Tywin's daughter, Tyrion's hated sister, and Jaime's beloved?
    Linker: https://archiveofourown.org/works/8211029?view_full_work=true


    This is perhaps my favourite Sansa-centric story. It's flawed, as all Sansa stories are, but the flaws are ones which fit with the type of story the author is trying to tell. Sansa acts slightly Sue-ish, but doesn't feel it. Rather, it feels like she's a wreck of a person who's faking every action as a response to the trauma of her past life. That fits nicely with the prompt of Sansa travelling back in time and body-hopping to Cersei on her wedding day. Sansa feels very unresponsive, an emotionally numb robot more than a person at times. I liked that. I'm not sure if it was an omission or a creative choice, but I think it really works to sell Sansa in this role - a trauma victim reliving a parallel to her trauma, now with the skills and foresight to survive the situation better.

    In the canon timeline, Sansa was mentored by Cersei in how a queen can and should act. How to manipulate and control people, how to respond to the troubles of her role. Did she do a good job? No, not particularly. If anything, she was just another facet of the abuse Sansa faced, for all that there was some warped motherly vibes going on there.

    This story takes those lessons and applies them to the life of Sansa as a young Cersei - both explicit from Cersei's words and implicit from Sansa observing Cersei and choosing not to repeat her mistakes. Many events are summarised with things happening off-screen as often as on. That's absolutely fine for this type of story. We're looking at a tiny corner of the world, just from Sansa's eyes as she goes about her life in the Red Keep. It's not as engaging as a more expansive or exciting plot would be, but it works for this.

    Robert is shown in a deeply unflattering light. It's easy to understand how Cersei turned out the way she did, stuck in this situation. Sansa, unlike Cersei who devolved into vitriol, works hard to try to grin and bear it. Internally she hates what's happening to her, but forces herself to act through it for the sake of the realm.

    By the end of chapter 37 it seems like the story arc has moved to completion, with Sansa beginning to lay the groundwork for steering the realm away from canon and developing a Stockholmy attachment to her new life. Chapter 38 works great as an epilogue.

    And then chapter 39 shows up as some weird ass dream sequence which doesn't contribute much at all except to call into question whether this story is complete or abandoned. Personally I would suggest reading up to chapter 38 and then considering that an end to a novella-length story. Chapters are just 1k long , which is annoying to click through, so I suggest reading using the full story view I linked so you can just continuously scroll through.

  2. Methos

    Methos High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

    Sep 24, 2016
    High Score:
    What to add that Otters didn't touch already.

    The story has great potential the author doesn't bother to fully realize, it touched the true potential in few scenes only, which become rare as story continues.

    The focus on Sansei and Robert is both a bless and a curse, while we get view into their relationship, the author focus less and less on Sansei interactions with other characters.

    Resulting in more bland and boring tale, with Sansei appearing to be regressing, as the story continue.
    The author takes time to show us Robert faults, how poor king he is, awful husband and how Sansei life are difficult, however it is one dimensional look that doesn't give Robert more in depth look.

    In addition, Sansei has an end goal of how things should be at 300AC, while at early stages the author touched on how Sansei tries to move and change, Sansei her self is captured in her own limited version of what should be a better outcome for the future.
    Her goals and visions are limited, her ambition is lacking, after giving birth it doesn't change.
  3. Tempest

    Tempest Third Year

    Sep 22, 2016
    High Score:
    I actually thought the story tried to show that Sansa has been judging Robert too harshly at some points, although I know that is not what the author intended probably, given their replies to some comments.

    Still, despite Sansa's view of Robert, I kind of disagree with Robert is only shown in a negative light. I think the story found the balance it needed (regarding this topic) in the second half, and particularly after
    the birth of their daughter. Moments like Robert thinking about his own mother when he looked at his daughter worked well.

    That is not to say there aren't frictions between them, but I think there's a somewhat believable progression from the very beginning of the story.

    As for Sansa's actions... They're mostly okay for this kind of story, I think. As Otters mentioned, it's not without flaws, but there are moments I enjoyed to my initial surprise.
    The most interesting one being the friendship between Sansa and Stannis, mostly due to a funny exchange regarding Stannis and his "fear" of babies. That put a smile to my face.

    I think the story suffers from the authors' desire to write short chapters. The author mentioned they like writing small chapters of Sansa's life as it is easier that way. Which is a shame, because the author does touch on interesting character dynamics, but the full potential isn't realized for the most part.

    This isn't a great story, but I liked reading it whenever I had free time. 3/5 from me as well.
  4. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Chief Warlock

    Jan 19, 2008
    The Eighth Circle of Hell
    This story had a lot of potential and it realized some of it in a few little ways, but as Tempest noted, the chapters weren't really long enough to expand on anything worthwhile. Just when it was starting to go somewhere with the characters it was the end of the chapter and time to skip a few weeks or a few months. Just snapshots of a better story waiting in the wings.

    The last 'chapter' should be skipped and the story should be thought of as abandoned... it's that bad.

    Still, it was a decent time waster, and in hopes that it actually slows down and tells a more complex story in the future... 3/5
  5. Majube

    Majube Order Member

    Aug 2, 2016
    High Score:

    So, I read this back when it was still updating and finally reread it all today. I think the story kind of fell off at around 30 when it focused more on Robert and Sansa's relationship at the expense of others. I liked her feud with Jon Arryn though and felt that the chapter before the weird dream thing was a good ending point with Sansa being unnecessarily haunted by Petyr and her changes bringing him into contact with her earlier then expected.
  6. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage ~ Prestige ~

    Aug 9, 2009
    Department of Post-Mortem Communications
    High Score:
    It was a good enough story. Quite liked Sansa, the way she composed herself and the ways she tried to make things better. I found the story rather fair towards Robert as well. It explored his bad aspects, which he has, but also showed than he can be brought into a better direction and he, like everyone, can improve and become better.

    If anything, i liked how Robert was shown to have been a bit of a follower at heart. That he needs someone to tell him what to do, since by his very nature, he is not a very good ruler. A great general if he has a mission, good at inspiring friendship and loyalty from his soldiers and compatriots but not a good ruler. The Sansa x Robert duo with Sansa knowing which buttons to push and basically holding him by his hands really worked for me.

    Long story short, Bobby B as a bottom confirmed.

    That said, while interesting enough, it was also not amazing or particularly memorable. When i finished it and wanted to leave kudos, found out I had already read and liked this story before so, that's not a good sign.