His Mother's Son (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 25th May 2001 (7)

I'm not sure whether I should torment everyone by reviewing this story, because it's unfinished; only part one and part two exist. But I might as well make everyone share my frustration when I tell them to read it; maybe that will get the rest of it to us sooner. The summary of part one says: "Jim's birthday is just around the corner. Blair has been searching for months for just the right gift. Will Jim be happy with his gift? Or will he drop kick Sandburg into the next county?"

This one has had a really good explanation for Grace's absence from Jim's life, one that doesn't make her an insane Sentinel, nor a horrible person, nor (as in some stories) dead. And while the author puts a long (and amusing) smarm warning at the start, it didn't trip my saccharine overdose alert, though I'm not sure that grown men would really cry that much, however much of a once-in-a-lifetime emotional upheaval they were going through. But I could be wrong. Interestingly enough, possibly because this is a sequel to "Sibling Rivalry", we didn't get a potted history of Jim & Blair this time. Good!

Sibling Rivalry (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 25th May 2001 (6)

Despite my misgivings with this author's second story, I carried on to this one, because the summary caught my attention: " Jim's brother Steven is jealous of his relationship with Blair. Will Jim be forced to choose between his blood brother and his Guide?" This time there were six paragraphs explaining who Blair and Jim and Simon were, and their relationships to each other... but I skipped it again, and got to the real stuff. And it was good! Many authors don't do Steven justice, making him weak, or nasty, or a cipher. Yes, this Steven is jealous, but he's only human, not Evil!Steven. He has issues, he works through them, with a detour or so along the way. I loved how Blair was the one pushing Jim to reconcile with Steven, because Blair cared about Jim and didn't want Jim to throw away something that Blair had never had: a brother.

The Things I Do For You (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 25th May 2001 (4)

This was an interesting idea, which is why I read this story in the first place -- what if Blair got some police training, so as to be able to back up Jim better? (The fact that I didn't cringe at the idea just shows that it isn't the concept of Blair-as-cop that I hate about TSbyBS, but the concept of Blair-as-fraud.)

The police stuff in this story has the detail and the ring of truth about it; not just the dispatcher stuff (the author is a dispatcher) but the detail of what was taught in the Academy -- not just firearms and car chases, but other things.

There's also some good lines:
    Sandburg began to wonder if Simon was learning zone-out techniques from Jim. He waved the pen in front of the Captain for a couple of seconds, failing to grab his attention. Then he waved his hand, tempted to reach over and check him for a pulse.
    Banks dropped the application onto the desk, closed his eyes, and dropped his head into his hands. He shook his head, mumbling.
    "I need a vacation. I have been here too long. I need a vacation....I need coffee, that's what I need, coffee... a new brand of coffee. This last batch must have a hallucinogen in it. I'll have to have the lab test it."

Unfortunately one thing which socked me at the start was the five-minute summary of Blair-and-Jim's-life-so-far; it was needless exposition. Resist the Urge to Explain, as my favourite writing guru said. Firstly, fans already know this stuff. Secondly, non-fans don't need to know this stuff. What they do need to know can be slipped in as the story goes along. No need to tell the reader that Jim and Blair are friends, for example, when the friendship gets demonstrated in the course of the story.

It was fun, though a bit unlikely, that they managed to keep it a secret from Jim the whole time. Personally, I think it would have been more fun if Blair had cut his hair, and then come up with a really good obfuscation for it...

Warrior's Reward (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 25th May 2001 (5)

Unfortunately after such a good start, this author's second story didn't work for me at all. I skipped the three-paragraph let's-explain-it-to-the-reader bit, and went on with the story, but I'm afraid I lost all interest in it when the Spirit Guides started playing Lassie:
    One look at the girls told Blair that they wouldn't be any help. He glanced back at the girl, she still hadn't moved. Spotting movement out of the corner of his eye, he turned to see the wolf. Further down the pathway stood the panther.
    "We need help here," he whispered to the wolf. "Go get Jim. Get the Sentinel." The wolf raised his head and glanced back toward the panther. Blair addressed them both. "Get the Sentinel. Hurry!" The animals took off, running down the path together.

If you don't mind that kind of thing, then it's a light sort of story with some owies.