Reviews: Fairy Dance of Death

The Best Novel Length Non-crossover SAO Fanfic

Catsy has breathed fresh life. Having taken a Tolkien class and studied linguistics, it was interesting for me to see the straightforward rules for magic follow a clear method of manipulation consistent with a simple language. A new map was also made to better flesh out the continent, which is mostly glossed over in canon and never describes many of the cities in the setting. Characters from both the SAO and ALO arcs are present, with reasonable actions and motivations considering the conditions they're in. The narrative follows several characters at once, but consistently gives Kirito segments every three or so perspective switches. The first arc is almost entirely major SAO characters, but later arcs have perspective shifts that focus on characters that are effectively OCs (i.e. Argo, Sakuya, Tetsuo). There are obviously certain contrivances for the sake of the plot, but they have purpose and mesh well with the story. The larger story arcs being revealed hint at deeper conflicts to come, while the characters keep us engaged with the concerns in the forefront of their minds.

The concept is interesting, but as with any fanfic (or literary work), the execution is what sets it apart and makes it shine. Switching perspectives allows us to delve into the motivations of characters, and their development and relationships naturally change over time compared to the canon work. The PVP conditions of the game allow for reasonable conflict amongst the cast even as they struggle against the death game, as opposed to the generic "beater" background in canon. In short, Fairy Dance of Death is much more than just "SAO, but in the world of ALO." It successfully brings the world of ALO and characters of both franchises to life.

Updates have been sparse recently (most recently a gap of 4 months and counting, and the few chapters before that had gaps of 3-7 months in between), but it's definitely worth reading what's there so far. Currently just about or more than halfway through Arc 3, five arcs are planned total. If you absolutely hate perspective switches, you may not like this, but anyone else familiar with SAO should give this a go.

What if the novels were called ALO instead of SAO?

NOTE: AT THE TIME OF THIS REVIEW, ONLY UP TO CHAPTER 8 HAVE BEEN RELEASED.

What I find to be the strong point of this fic is how the protagonists are handled.

Fairy Dance of Death is written in third person, so far telling the story through four different characters. These are:

Kirito; he is a very hard character to handle due to having many Marty Stu traits. So far he only serves to push the plot without participating much. And it somehow works. We know Kirito is strong, so we donít need to be reminded constantly and early on Kirito serves as a pair of eyes to see how the world of ALO works. I expect that as the fic advances, Kirito will become less trivial. But so far, his role works very well early on and is a nice way to avoid his Marty Stu tendencies.

Asuna; she serves to show how people are reacting to the game and her plot revolves around this. We are not dealing with Asuna The Flash, sub-leader of Ko B. We are dealing with Asuna Yuuki, a teenager that hasnít touch a game in her life. Her story is the more slow paced and IMO least interesting, but it serves its purpose well and as Asunaís character develops, I expect the same to happen to the her story.

Kleinís story, like Kiritoís, allows for the viewer to see the state of the many races in ALO as the events unfolds.

Finally, and incredibly enough, Argo. If only because her character is fleshed out into a badass social character, I find her story the most entertaining. She serves as an exposition to the more intangible elements of the setting, such as the political status of the races and such. While the other three characters are fairly fleshed out in the original material, Argo is not and IMO Catsy does a wonderful job with the character. Plus, she totally owns, socially, two different characters.

As a whole, the story is very well written with a strong main cast that, once again, so far helps develop the story. And it is interesting seeing how the world of ALO is brought to life in this setting. As the story progress the characters will need to develop out of their current role, but Iím positive Catsy will be able to make the transition.

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